“Mirrors” Genesis 1:26

Mirrors come in all shapes and sizes. From elegant to the ordinary. Various shapes and sizes. They leave their mark in foyers of homes, in marble bathrooms on Capitol Hill, and the everyday places of our lives. I don’t know about you, but it is never hurts to have a good mirror nearby. Right before I leave the house for work or to meet a friend, it is good to have a look. Some are grateful for the compact mirror, nestled in a purse or bag, which serves as a necessity.

I wonder in 1835 what problem Justus von Liebig was trying to fix when he created the mirror? The history of mirrors can be traced back to biblical accounts. In times past, natural mirrors were found in lakes and clay pots. The reflection of a mirror can be so magnificent when viewed with our eyes; it helps us fix what may be out of place. I must say I’ve had a time or two when the mirror allowed me to see something that I would have missed if I did not stop to look.  Mirrors serve an essential purpose, but more notably, it is not the mirror that is important, but what the mirror reflects.

Then God said, “Let US make man in our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)

The significance of the reflection on a mirror is two-fold. I recently learned that there is a law of reflection. When a ray of light hits the surface of a mirror, it bounces in a certain way- like a tennis ball thrown against a wall. Can you picture it? The light reflects back and forth, this way and that way, to give us a particular image. The light itself is invisible until it bounces off the mirror and hits our eyes perfectly as an image, creating the reflection from the light by the mirror. So consider the next time we give ourselves a once over, what are you reflecting? The light we reflect, like the mirror, to others.

God created us to reflect the image of Christ. In all we do, we should want the light to shine. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) Our actions, motives, and thoughts should reflect this light. Here’s the question: If God created us to be mirrors for the kingdom of God in His “image and likeness,” how are we doing? I don’t know about you, but that hits home for me. I don’t always reflect HIS light- the light of His truth, way, or life- twenty-four seven. If a mirror has a crack on the surface, the light does not focus in one direction, but many. We can find ourselves just like the cracked mirror, in moments where the light can’t reflect (one way) because of hindering cracks in us, creating an altered reflection.

Mirrors don’t scatter light. With a smooth surface, light reflects without distorting the incoming image. Think about that statement for a moment.

Did you catch that? The light that we reflect should never give someone reason to say that we are not real or represent a terrible image. That would be considered a broken mirror. May we hope that it is not often said of us, “they profess to be representing the light, but the way they speak, act or treat people leaves question?”  They conduct themselves with certain people at times or are always posting on social media, but do not reflect the right light.

Sometimes, my mirror in the bathroom is motley with fingerprints, water stains, and toothpaste residue. I can still see, but I am distracted because it is not a clean surface that I am looking into. I usually have to grab the Windex and wipe the mirror down for a clean surface. How is the surface of our lives? How am I viewed daily by others?  If I do not examine myself from time to time, I could miss out on reflecting my best self. If I’m honest friend, there have been moments that I have not reflected an image of light. There have been too many moments where I did not reflect Christ’s love by His light. My surface has dimmed my reputation, character, and ability to be useful for His kingdom in some critical times. If you are reading this, think back to a time when you have not reflected Christ’s character, commitment, or ideas. What did you do about it?  

This may not be your truth, but I think there are some steps that we can practice to help us be mirrors that reflect light.  Or see where the reflection is not representing the best light and want to do better.

  1. Look in the mirror often. Friends, we are here to reflect Christ daily. What should this look like? And then I remind myself of Christ and how he lived, in humility.  The more we know what we should imitate, the more we reflect. I am striving at this every day, striving to be more like Him in the little things. How I talk, what I think about, even how I carry myself in my everyday dealings. Even where I have failed the Lord, I have to look and see.
  2. Please don’t ignore the little smudges; they lead to bigger ones. The small areas that we say are no big deal; will lead to larger problems if we do not clean them up. If I know my attitude needs work or I have a bitter place in my heart, I need to deal with it before it turns into something that I cannot control or consumes me. Eventually, those streaks will keep the light from shining and create holes of light unable to peek through from time to time.
  3. When you see something, do something. This may be the hardest to follow through with. It is one thing to see a problem, but it is another to work at correcting it for the better. I will be the first to say that sometimes it is tough to change your thoughts or behavior when things around us appear dark. It can be a battle to reflect light, but this is the mirror’s function- to reflect light in various spaces. Friend, nothing is too hard for the One that created us in the first place. Let this be your strength and know that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Mirrors attract more light from surrounding areas. The light reflects off of the mirror, which brightens the room or atmosphere. If you are picturing this, you can see a warm, embracing room with mirrors that illuminate the light creating an inviting atmosphere that all who enter can feel. Be the mirror for Christ, and watch the light reflect everywhere friend.

Father, help us to reflect your love and your ways in our everyday life. Give us the wisdom to know wherever we are that we represent you. Allow us to brighten atmosphere’s everywhere with your image portrayed on our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen  

Great Expectations

I recently accepted a new position in a different field. As excited as I am, it has left me uncertain of where God is leading. What is certain is that I am feeling a little uneasy.   This new season requires a different level of faith. But that is just like God to stretch our faith. Faith is like muscles, they grow with resistance and pressure. That may look different depending on the situation, but for me, it is: what type of work environment will it be? Is it team-oriented? Will the benefits package be enough for my family? These questions and more began to formulate in my mind. Then God reminded me of 1 Chronicles 28:20.

Then David said to his son Solomon, Be strong and courageous and act; do not fear nor be dismayed for the Lord God, my God is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.  1 Chronicles 28:20

With great promise, comes great expectations. Often, we can’t see the reward until we make the sacrifice to move beyond our fears. Until we make the decision to act.  What makes the sacrifice worthwhile is the expectation of what is to come. That is the reward.  

Sacrifice is always a prerequisite to any upward movement for any area in life. If I only focus on the end, I miss out on what is happening in the process. The process is the road that must be traveled on the way to change. We cannot get there if we are not willing to take a step. Lately, I have felt the Lord has had me in constant process, and to be honest, it is a challenge. There are some days where I ask, “Lord, are you still with me?”

The Bible often gives me or reminds me of what I need to move forward. The reminder here is hidden behind a father (David) encouraging a son (Solomon) to have great expectations in what is to come. The expectation of things unseen. David spoke directly from the Lord. The reminder David speaks over Solomon’s life positions his thinking for an expected end. God wants us to find comfort when we rest in the Holy Spirit, and trust how He leads.  

Great expectation is the confidence I place in God that He has my situation worked out, but not for the reasons I want. It is easy to focus more on where the benefit is for me more times than I should. When this happens, I try to refocus on Christ and say, Lord, what are you saying to me? Maybe he is trying to get me to see where my identity is. Is it in Him or me? I have to remind myself it is not about me. Daily we strive to train our minds to stay faith-focused, especially in these uncertain times. I know this applies personally to me. Accepting a new career path is exciting but nerve-racking. When I think about all the intricate details, it can be overwhelming, but God’s great expectation (not Charles) reassures me.  

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

I found a few things in 1 Chronicles 28:20 that I think we all can implement to help us move forward: Be strong, Be courageous and Act.

When I think about strength, it means different things. Being strong can be applied to life circumstances such as loss, struggle, and confusion. It signifies the power to move past hindrances—the ability to press beyond our ability. Strength is grown by endurance, and this is one area God has been challenging me to grow in- not in my own but His power. When I am strong in His strength, nothing can stop me. It is almost like having a spotter while lifting weights. He assures me I am not alone, and with His help, I lift/handle far more than on my own.

Courage often gets misrepresented. Courage does not mean one is not afraid; sometimes, it is just the opposite. It is not the absence of fear but the ability to continue despite. I wonder what Solomon felt when his father encouraged him to build without experience? He was young and did not know all this process would entail but his father told him to have courage. I have had moments where fear tried to grip me. But friend, we must push through the worry and unknown and believe that we can. If we never do, we never will. If we stay stuck in fear and don’t try to become free—we know our ending. It stares us in the face screaming defeat. If Solomon never moved from fear to want more, great expectation could never manifest.  

I remember an exercise I had to complete while attending an old job retreat. We were asked to climb a rock wall 80 feet up. Once at the top the only way down was to jump and grab a trapeze bar that was suspended in the air, pretty scary, right? I wanted to go first and get it out the way, so I did. I did not think about the consequences; I did not look down; I just climbed up and jumped. Sometimes we have to act when we know the instructions are clear.  

 Have you been holding back? What is something you had great expectations for, and you have grown cold hoping for?

Father, allow us to rest in You when the direction is unclear and the path uncertain. Teach us to trust Your voice to lead us to an expected end. Help us to depend on You in the process and build on that what You have called us to. Give us the courage to trust You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

So, This is LIFE

This post really blessed me and I wanted to repost for a fellow Brother in Christ and I pray it blesses you as well

Basic Bible Thoughts

There is a board game entitled “Life”. It brings with it a certain set of boundaries and rules for a successful life. The game has a starting point and a path that will lead you through the life, ending in retirement. The journey is dictated more by chance than it does the choices that you make. With each spin of the wheel you travel the path predetermined for your journey, following each direction you find when landing on a certain square. You begin your life with $10,000, a car, and a set of cards that will determine your education level, pay, and secrets that will be unveiled in retirement. You make purchases and borrow money from the bank that must be repaid by the time you reach retirement with interest. Retirement is at Millionaire Estates or Countryside Acres, but to be the winner of life you must create the greatest…

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Where Are You Going?

We were lost, and it did not make sense. As we listened to my phone give us directions. I began to wonder, did I miss a turn? The further we drove down the windy, dark road, it became more difficult to see up ahead. My high-beams were like matches that had served their purpose and were gracefully fading out. At the same time, looking at my palm-size, dim-lit phone displaying the road ahead, numerous times the words “rerouting” displayed on my screen. I realized there was no signal and I needed to shut my phone off and turn back on.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.
(Proverbs 3:5-8)

The incident I just described is an actual occurrence of where I found myself one night coming back from a weekend conference. Perhaps you can relate to the story. I want you to know that you are a part of a very elite group of individuals that have placed too much dependency on our phones or our small boxes in our vehicles, called “navigation” devices. According to Webster, Navigation is the method of determining position, course, and distance traveled. (emphasis added)

My navigation that night was solely dependent on my phone. I had placed complete trust in a handheld device to lead me home. You may be thinking, why didn’t I turn around or I didn’t realize that something was wrong? The short answer is “no.” I allowed a small box to talk to me and give me directions on how to get to my destination. Where the source of instruction was coming from, I never questioned. Technology is impressive, and the satellites in space transmit signals apparently, but how do we know? We believe, right?

Why is it easier to believe a device telling us play by play direction than it is to accept God’s Word or the whisper of the Holy Spirit? Listening to a phone is a perfect description of what happens when I trust in my guidance instead of placing my trust in the Holy Spirit. Just as I lost my way traveling on that windy road when my signal dropped, sometimes in life, I lose my way. Sometimes I am not connected to the right source. If I listen to the wrong voice or trust without question the voice speaking to me- it can leave me lost. It can leave me lost and searching for familiarity or some resemblance of light.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
do not depend on our own understanding.
(Proverbs 3:5)

In today’s society, it is easy to get sidetracked or concerned about what is around us. Events or circumstances leave us feeling confused. We may feel lost and uncertain about what lies ahead, but this verse reminds us that we have a full-proof plan. That is the first step in getting to our final destination; what are we trusting? The problem is that many of us do not take full advantage of placing our complete trust in the Lord. I don’t know about you, but if I am not careful, I depend on my alleged robust understanding as opposed to the Holy Spirit’s whisper. I began to have an inflated sense of confidence in my efforts and this is where the problem lies. Trusting in Charles’ way leads to a dead-end.

Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.
(Proverbs 3:6)

We are to search out what God wants for us, and this is done by listening attentively for His voice and trusting His process even if we don’t see the result. To seek describes a conscientious effort put forth to find something. I was seeking to get home that night, but I was listening from a limited perspective, not observing what was before me.  My navigation was leading me down a one-way road to nowhere, and I was seeing it unfold before my eyes, never stopping to turn around. Reminds me of a Proverb that discusses listening to good counsel. Let the wise hear and increase in learning and the one who understands obtain guidance. (Proverbs 1:5 ESV)  The Holy Spirit is good counsel and helps us improve our knowledge. This statement about the Holy Spirit is easy to say and admit, but it is harder to put in action. I confess plenty of my blunders in life are the result of not seeking or following the sweet, gentle counsel of the Holy Spirit. I found myself hearing and seeing the need to reroute but often failed to follow the promptings.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.
(Proverbs 3:7,8)

When the navigation is on, the rerouting feature comes in handy. It reminds us that not only has the way been redirected for us, but our destination is still obtainable. The reason may not be our fault; sometimes, we can miss a turn. Let’s be honest. Sometimes we are lost because we are focusing on our way of direction and not listening to that voice intended to get us to our destination safely. It is not always the best way to get back; in fact, it often comes with more twists and turns. There is a way that seems right to a man, but it ends in death. (Proverbs 14:12 ESV) Stop for a moment. Think about the reroute feature as God’s grace towards you and I. Grace is unmerited favor. If we acknowledge the fact that we have veered from the navigation and change directions and follow where it leads, we can still reach the destination. Yes, it will come most times with more steps, but that is why it is called a reroute.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to deliver us after missing or taking the wrong turn, we must do two things to get back on track. We admit first that we are off-track. Then we listen to the instructions to correct our particular predicament, being lost. If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)  

What if after so many times of rerouting-the navigation just turned off, leaving us to find our way? What would we do? More importantly, what could we do?  We probably would have to calibrate our navigation. This calibration is sometimes our last hope in finding our way back home. We calibrate navigation when a connection breaks with the source giving directions. Communication no longer transmits to us. In turn, they are leaving us to trust our sense of direction to do anything—a dangerous place to find ourselves. The question is, where are you going?

If you need to calibrate your sense of direction, stop and do it. Allow Christ to come in and take control to restore that connection with the Holy Spirit so that you can hear pure instruction to get you through this journey of life. Call your Pastor or godly counsel, if you don’t have a church home, ask God to lead you to where He wants you. To get what you need to put you on the right path.

Lord, we thank you for your Holy Spirit. Thank you for the reroutes in our lives when we were going the wrong way. We thank you for the ability to calibrate with you to regain the connection we so desperately need. Please help us to know where we are going and not lose our way.

In Jesus’s name, Amen

Be Encouraged Friend…

Rocks to a Swordfight 1 Samuel 17:40

He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:40)

rocksoverwater

 

Reading the Word of God is so refreshing and insightful. There is so much packed in the Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth that sometimes I just am in awe when I think of those that the Holy spirit inspired to weave the pages together

The story of David has always been one of those that I was drawn to. So many principles that can be applied in our daily lives. When I reflect on the account found in this story, I feel empowered to think: little faith leads to great victory and big faith means unstoppable.

What made David so confident that he was able to defy the odds, emerging victorious in the battle with Goliath? Was it the fact that he was a skilled warrior back on Jesse’s sheep ranch? He had proven himself by killing a lion and a bear. Was that enough for him to feel qualified to defeat this enemy? Or was it something deeper that compelled him? Did he feel there was no way to allow anyone to talk about his God? Perhaps, he knew it was a testimony for the living God to be magnified.

This morning while in prayer with the Lord, this verse took on new meaning. I am usually not one to share when I am in a spiritual battle. However, I felt led to share that there has been a Goliath facing me in my mind. No, it is not a physical giant but oftentimes it can feel like one. The giant of doubt. The thoughts or feelings of inadequacy when trying completing a task because perhaps you feel too small. I want to encourage you that little things can do big things. Let me rephrase. That is partial truth. The truth is little things can do big things when God is at the forefront. David definitely proves that.

The giants we often face can create fear in the mind. If we do not know where our identity lays it can cause a devastating battle in our mind. Think about it, not only was David faced with what appeared to be overwhelming odds physically, but he also encountered doubters from his own camp.

His brother Eliab heard, when David spoke to the men of what will happen to the man that kills Goliath? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God? (1 Samuel 17:26) David had a courageous spirit. Eliab says, why have you come here. Who is taking care of the sheep? You only came down because you are trying to see the battle. (1 Samuel 17:28) In other words, his brother could only see David from his perspective in the eyes of Eliab. David was only in the way and only capable of taking care of the sheep. We can truly underestimate the power of faith when God is behind us friend. I think it is interesting Eliab believed in the Lord but missed completely that God can use any means for His will to be accomplished.  David’s brother was defining him based on natural means but did not see little things can do big things when God is there.

David was also presented with doubt from King Saul. Then Saul said to David, you are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth. (1 Samuel 17:33) Saul doubted because he was afraid of failure and could not get beyond his own thoughts of what it looked like. It looked like David was not qualified. Sometimes intentions of others can be in the right place but with the wrong motive.

We should not allow fear to be the reason that prevents us from not stepping out to trust God. Saul was not only afraid for David but he was afraid of losing the kingdom. A lot was at stake here. Think about it, David was just a little boy (teenager) and Saul’s entire army had been facing this giant daily and no one, from Israel, has stepped out to challenge him. The Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days and took his stand. (1 Samuel 17:16) Why? They were paralyzed by fear. And the truth is Saul wanted David to be likeminded in his approach to be afraid to fight. All Saul could see was an inexperienced and young boy that had dreams. Some people don’t have the vision to go against the norm. To remind their hearts that they don’t have to fear with God. David was not the norm. David saw beyond those in the camp and David had a disdain for anyone that tried to doubt his God. And he was about to be used to bring God glory in a big way.

faithoverfear

 

Has God called you to do something that seems against the norm? Does everyone and everything seems to be against you? Circumstances, doubt, fear, finances, resources, time. It may not be as big as a Goliath but whatever it is face it. My prayer is that you don’t let any of those reasons stop you from trusting God. If the Lord is for you who can be against you. (Romans 8:31) This was not just David doing something haphazardly but it was truly about proving the might of His God. It was not David seeking bragging rights or attention.

The next verse in this text is so powerful I think we miss what David was truly saying. David said, I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. (v.34) The lifestyle of David had been one of protection before this moment. His protection was always for someone else’s interest. In this instance it was his father, Jesse and the sheep. But what David spoke to Saul had a two-fold meaning. David was saying this is nothing new to me sir. I was born for this. This is what I was called to do. Second, David was speaking his calling into the atmosphere in this very moment. I am doing the work that my father has called me to do. I have been tending the father’s business for a long time. Tending means to regularly or frequently behave in a particular way or to have a particular characteristic. You don’t have to really know what God has been preparing you for but you must be ready to respond when it presents itself.

 Now here is the hard part -the self-reflection. I know what it’s like to feel doubt in my mind. To believe that where I have been or what I have been doing up to this point has no significance. You may feel as if no one sees how you have been working because you have been in a secluded place by yourself, behind the scenes. Don’t worry friend. Just know that when God is ready to present what you have been preparing for, God will let you know. He wants to make sure that there are no traces of self in our heart before He presents what we were created to do.

Remember, no matter how minor or major, it is all for the glory of God. If David had only wanted to go to the battle because he could defeat Goliath (self-reliance) but not for God’s glory, the battle might have been lost. Because David had God’s interest in mind with rocks to a swordfight, he was victorious. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. (Ephesians 3:20)

As we face the Goliath’s of today, Covid-19 and the rising death toll, racial tension and the future of our world, we don’t have to fear. We can be confident and courageous in knowing that we are backed by an Almighty God. Not only backed but He is the Rock in the fight. He is the one that is confident and reminds us that we are able to stand. David understood that the stones that he grabbed had no power in them. But the Rock that he was standing on represented the bedrock foundation of something bigger than him. Just as Peter understood when Christ reminded him. I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church. (Matthew 16:18) Peter means a small stone (petros) but the word for rock (petra) means bedrock or large foundation. What Jesus foretold to Peter was parallel to what David used to fight against the giant Goliath.

Jesus was saying to Peter, and I am paraphrasing, Peter you are a small stone but I am going to build my church on something much larger than you through you. Just like the Lord was saying to David, you are a small stone but I am going to use you to accomplish something so much bigger that will bring me glory. By bringing rocks to a swordfight.

Be Encouraged,

Charles Blog Signature

 

The Little Foxes We Don’t See

Catch the foxes for us, The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom.   Song of Solomon 2:15

grapevine

 

The last few days have been challenging to say the least. It is interesting how God will reveal Himself through teachable moments (if you will) to us in what appears as a most inopportune time. The other morning, around 2:30 am, my household was awakened by the sound of an alarm going off from downstairs. When I went downstairs, I was shocked to see water pouring from our kitchen appliances and from a vent in the ceiling. The alarm was coming from our stove letting us know there was a problem. That problem, water, was about to cause an electrical issue with the stove. I never even knew this model stove was created with a feature that if water ended up consuming the wiring, it would sound an alarm.

When I turned the light on to adjust my eyesight, there was about 3 inches of water on our hardwood floors. It was definitely not what I expected to awaken to on Monday morning. In order to give this blog context, let me go back to a few days earlier. I noticed a small spot on the ceiling in which we did not think it was a big problem. It appeared to be a minor leak in one of our pipes. My initial thought was, I would just open that small portion of ceiling up on Monday and take a look and see if I could fix it myself. I did not think it was claiming my attention at that time so I put it off. Fast forward to Monday morning and what appeared to be a small little leak ended up ruining our kitchen, kitchen appliances and our hardwood floors. Something that appeared to be minor that I decided to put off, until later to take care of, ended up creating a major crisis.

Through this experience, God had given me a sure indication, a step by step, hands on experience of how sin in our lives wreaks havoc. We see it and we don’t pay attention to the seriousness of it based on limited perception and privilege. We cannot see what is going on behind the small spot. We don’t see the raging disruption that is about to cause serious damage to our daily movement if we just ignore the warning. Or better yet, if we just say, I know it is a little problem and I can just get to it later. We can marginalize sin in the same way. I marginalized that small spot on my kitchen ceiling. If only I had taken action right away and accessed what I was seeing correctly. I saw it and in my arrogance thought I could handle it on my own. That was the problem with privilege, believing that I could handle it because of how I saw myself but with really no definitive justification. Never really taking a closer look at what was festering under the surface.

I say arrogance because in truth I did just think I could handle it and it was no biggie. Often, this is how we treat sin. We downplay it, oh it is not adultery, it’s just an “entanglement.” It is not lust it just happened because I was up surfing the television late night. Or it was just one look, all men do it. It is just a little fib not really a lie. We marginalize our sin. We marginalize what we see that can potentially grow into a deeper problem. The lesson for me is two-fold: not only pay attention but take action.

Don’t ignore the signs but take action to prevent or to repair the problem.

  • When we see a small issue deal with it right then don’t put it off.
  • When we don’t deal with the small issue other things are affected inadvertently.
  • When we don’t deal with the small issues, the effects are long lasting and even destructive to everything around us. (A domino effect)

The good news is that we had insurance to replace the mess. Insurance is what allows us to go through the process of review, removal, recovery and restoration. All of these are important after a major crisis. And all of these are important when it comes to fixing the problem of sin in our lives. It is not enough to just see the problem but we have to begin the claim process. The claim process is proclaiming that we are sinners in need of a Savior named Jesus Christ. If we confess with our mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)

Once the claim has been put in for approval then we are cleared to begin the process for review. This review is where the work of the Holy Spirit begins to shine light on those dark, dampened places that are in need of replacement.  Without the review work of the Holy Spirit, the road to recovery is a back and forth process that often ends without work completed.

After the review the removal process begins. The removal of sin does not take place until the Holy Spirit is allowed to take us through repentance which literally means change of mind. The change of mind is from old habits, old attitudes and old ways of doing things. This removal of sin leads to the turning away from sin. The removal is the heavy lifting that often comes with great suffering. Removal of sin does not go without physical work having to be done to cut, break, pull and sever deep connections that have been under the surface for a long time. Remember my ceiling and all the damage that was exposed after I decided to contact my insurance about restoration. It was not a pretty sight, in fact, the work required had to be accessed and then evaluated to see how much time would be needed for removal. This is how sin is, it takes time for the Holy Spirit to work and remove us from old to new thinking but when the process has begun and we are on board. Great things will come about. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.   (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The recovery process is where we begin to see results leading to restoration. Once we have allowed the old to be replaced and begin to bring in the new mindset and new way of life. What was damaged before begins to take on new purpose and meaning. It is the first signs of the new taking root in our lives. Some decide to do the work themselves but I implore you to allow the professionals to take you through the process. The professional in this scenario is the power of the Holy Spirit that we must be willing to surrender (or relinquish control) to. This is the surest way to make sure that what is replaced is done properly. We must trust the process friend. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). The recovery process is that which is able to take a liar and make him a person of integrity. It will take an estranged spouse and make them available. It will take an impatient person and make them mild mannered. It will take our blunders and blossom beautiful moments out of them. It will take this pandemic we are in the midst of and create people more grateful for family and God. The recovery process can be good news.

Last but not least, restoration is the end result. Its good news knowing that the things that we ignore and think are destroyed opportunities can be restored. When we look back over the process of what can occur when we allow the Holy Spirit to come in and do a complete work. Its better news taking action before things get to this point so that there does not have to be restoration.

Nestled away in the Song of Solomon 2:15 is the verse giving a warning about little foxes that can destroy a vineyard.  What they do is nibble at the vines where the grapes receive nutrients from, causing the vines to wither and die. The little foxes need to be dealt at the root of the vine before they destroy the beauty of what could be produced. It was determining the problem and saying what needed to done. The same is applied with the spot on my ceiling and the same as sin in our lives. Don’t allow sin to continue so that it can be dealt with before the consequences are detrimental. Don’t allow the reading of this blog to just be another read but deal with that which is underneath.

Be encouraged

 

Charles Blog Signature

“Get Set”

Since you have been raised to new life in Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at Gods right hand. Think about the things of heaven and not the things of earth.  Colossians 3:1

 

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I don’t know about you but as of lately it has become a little hard for me to concentrate. Not just because of the global pandemic and social injustice at the forefront of the world. Yes, these are taking up a lot of time for many people. But they should. However, I was convicted last night while in devotion with the Lord. There were some key things that stood out to me in the midst of this passage that I know for a fact I am falling short in.

Paul reminds me that I have been raised to a new life in Christ. But it is not just the language it is the reminder. It was almost as if Paul was saying since you forgot, let me tell you where the standard is. When I say “forgot,” it’s more like Paul is saying your behavior has been less than what I would expect of you, so let me remind you Charles. We focus too much on what is in front of us at eye level but miss out totally on what is behind what we see.

He is speaking to the church of Colosse, about this new life. Paul was saying since you have been positioned with me- we must stay humble but look up. He was encouraging them and us today to remember where we are focusing our attention. What we as believers have been challenged to represent and conform too. We should be prioritizing our lives, with heaven as the goal, not the world or the attitudes and ways of the world.  If we are not stopping to reflect and make sure we are aligned with Christ we can lose sight of the goal. The sight is of upmost importance. If we do not know what we are directing our attention too we may miss the target.

When we hear the word sight what comes to your mind? Do you think about vision or seeing what is ahead of you? If so, you are on the right track for what we are discussing.  The type of sight I want us to think about is that which gives you keen vision. Like that of a sniper on a target. A sight is what a sniper looks through before zoning in on his target. He doesn’t just look through it, he sets his gaze upon. He does not lose it and never take his eyes off of it. He is set. I have heard stories that when a sniper is set on a target that oftentimes they are sitting on those for hours at a time. With no movement or concern for movement. They are affixed to the target. Nothing else matters in that moment. What about you-What is your sight set on? Is it affixed to Christ? Is your spiritual sights set to doing the will of the Father today? No matter what?

Truth be told, I have been so focused on what is around me -that honestly friend I have not looked up. I have listened to the reports of the news and looked on Instagram and Facebook. Sure, I have prayed and even read my word but, if I am being transparent, I have not truly set my sights on God and nothing else in a while. I have been about doing the work of God but not just affixed on Him. I have been slack just taking time to just be still and focus in and see Him alone.  Truly He is the real reason we are placed to do His work. I know we have careers, families and life in the midst of a pandemic going on but Get Set on Jesus Christ. If you need to reset your sights on the kingdom, do it friend.

Last thing before I let you go. When I think about a target sight I think again about the military engagement of a sniper. No this is not the focal point of this blog but it helps to make a point of focus. Have you ever heard of a sniper affix his weapon without having his sights set? Once they are locked in there is no altering that but they wait to hear the command, from who is in charge or from whom is called a spotter.  After the sniper is in position, they make sure they are in sync with the spotter and what is being accurately seen as a good target.

At this point, everything outside that sight has either disappeared and become blurry and all the focus is on the target. If you have ever been in the military or paid for lessons to attempt to teach you to learn about firearms. Instructors will always ask you on the range, do you see your front site? If you can see your front sights you are ready to take the shot. Everything else must become blurry, to include the other two rear sights you are peering through, to see your front site. Only then are you truly focused and set on what is ahead of you.

My prayer is that you will focus and forget everything else around you that can possibly be considered a distraction and affix your eyes to Christ. No this is not easy. In fact, it takes determination and focus so that the best outcome may be reached. Get Set and remember that we are here in the earth with a job to do. Paul is just reminding us to make sure that we stay on task and keep on our sights.

 

Charles Blog Signature

The Work of a Bridge Builder” Colossians 1:9

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Recently while coming back from travel, I crossed a bridge that caught my attention.  This was not my first time crossing but this particular time it was a little different. I could see a glimpse below of endless deep blue water. Crossing over, I pondered not only the amount of time spent on constructing this bridge but the power of this bridge. The Lord impressed this upon me as a golden sun began to disclose itself setting to the west of me.  Think about it, the laws of gravity a bridge defies. How we drive over these daily and how is it possible? How a bridge connects two obstacles together by what appears to be effortless but we know that is not the case.  As I drove, I thought of how a bridge connects and reflecting on the Apostle Paul’s words in Colossians of how he interceded for the saints of God.

The connection between bridges and the purpose of an intercessor danced in my head. An intercessor is an intermediary between a person and God.  Those that pray on behalf of someone else. They are able to connect with God in a specific way to move in circumstances and obstacles. Just like obstacles surrounding a bridge, the bridge is able to connect that which is not to that which is. As I proceeded again the thought came, how can this bridge stay in position and defy gravity. The Lord quietly whispered because it is held together by forces which makes things move but also makes things stand still.

When I picture a bridge my first thought would not necessarily be balancing force. I never would have assumed the controlling of force being a benefit when discussing bridges.

However, many benefits of bridges lead me to realize they have a greater purpose.  We don’t really pay attention to them until we are crossing one. Even then we don’t appreciate these constant structures. A bridges purpose is to connect, span over obstacles that we cannot reach apart from them, without closing the way underneath. It is constructed for the purpose of providing passage over an obstacle-normally something that can be detrimental to cross otherwise. It connects that which is seen without distraction from what is unseen. A few examples are rivers, ravines, canyons or any other interesting gap that is too vast for us to cross alone.

Do you ever cross one and sense they have a clandestine embodiment to them? A few things about bridges. The positioning of a bridge is pertinent in connecting two specific points together. The bridge is responsible for allowing safe passage where previously it is not possible or where it is more difficult. (I know I keep saying it different ways but I want to drive that point home) A bridge that is constructed correctly has the ability to balance two main kinds of force. One type of force is compression, which is described as a pushing or squeezing that forces action inward. The other is called tension, which is described as a pulling or stretching that forces action outwardly. With these working together to bring purpose to the bridge.  Those that use the power of force to build bridges are called force balancers. Force balancers are those creating the ability of the bridge to connect obstacles to one another. I want you to think about that word for a moment, a force balancer.

I believe we have force balancers in the kingdom of God. We have those who are behind the scenes creating balance between that which squeezes or presses us and that which stretches us.  This is the duty of the Intercessor.

Friend, despite all that is going on in this world. Not much has changed since Paul informed the church of Colosse of his interceding for them. Let me ask you, who have you been assigned to intercede for? Who are you balancing the pressing and the stretching for? The strength of the intercessor is their ability to be able to consistently pray for Christ to move in a situation. When we hear or know of someone that is going through a season of being squeezed or crushed, what do we do? Do you understand your assignment or possibly what God is calling you too? Recognize you are the bridge builder in that situation. You bring balance to what appears impossible. Rejoice in the assignment that God has placed you in. You may be wondering, what does this assignment look like.  It is you standing in the gap for another person to bring them to an expected end.

One last nugget I want to point out about a bridge and how it relates to intercessory prayer. The bridge connects without closing the way underneath. Meaning it does not replace the ravine or canyon below, it just builds over it. This means the problem does not go away but the distraction is no longer there because it is covered. The bridge builder covers the problem that seems to be insurmountable making the way easier for the one who is going through. Intercessors cover others in prayer because this is what Christ has purposed them for. This is their power.

The enemy never wants us to pray for others and he definitely never wants intercession. This is where the bridge builder (you) balances the pressure, through prayer, bringing others from tribulation to crossing into victory. This is the assignment. Paul says, so we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. (Colossians 1:9) We have to stop living beneath what God has called us too. Start believing that God created you to build bridges in the spiritual realm. You were put here to connect the kingdom of God to someone. We have been placed here as believers to do the work of the Father. We are not here to just live life and reap the benefits. God has given us spiritual authority to defeat the schemes of the enemy and connect the spiritual over the natural.

I have a couple of reflection questions I want you to ask yourself. Are you functioning as a bridge builder in your sphere of influence? Are you the prayer warrior that stands in the gap to balance chaos? If you are not certain seek God and ask Him. The bridge builder takes the impossible and the possible, placing them before the Father and creates balanced changed by confident, powerful prayers. We are living in times that the body of Christ needs more bridge builders. We need to build bridges that help connect God to a fallen world, so that there can be balance. Think of someone today who may need you to stand in the gap. Begin praying for their connection to the Father and for their situation to change. So many people have been created for this very purpose but are squandering that which God created you for. If this is you it is never too late to start building.

 

Be Encouraged,

Charles Blog Signature

More Than Just A Father…

The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. (Psalm 103:13)

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As another Father’s day approaches, today we celebrate those figures of strength that in some capacity have helped to develop us into the people we are today. I pray that for those of you who are blessed to have someone to call father-whether by adoption, biologically or spiritually, you will have time to reflect on the gift that it truly is. There are plenty of sons and daughters that have a deep positive connection when they think about their father. They feel a deeper connection that goes far beyond the title. But there are also those who do not. Whatever side of the spectrum you find yourself on know that you have a Dad that cares for you.

While we call this special day Father’s day, as I have been reflecting on the term father- I believe we should distinguish there is a difference between a father and a dad. A popular article reported by The Daily Republic reported by on June 17 2012 posed a question about the difference between a father and dad. Authors Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar go into details about the disparities:

A father is someone who believes that by donating his sperm for your creation, he has done his duty in life. A dad is someone who gets up every day and does whatever he can to put a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food on your table. He might have to dig ditches, flip hamburgers, deliver pizzas, work in a factory — or all of the above. He might not own a suit and tie. He teaches the value of hard work not because he’s looking for help mowing the lawn, but because he knows idleness leads to trouble. He realizes his job is to make his children productive citizens, and to do that, he can’t always be his child’s friend.

In the article they discuss what appear to be differences in connection to the child.  There is a greater love for the children with a dad. This is not to say that the father does not play an important role in the child being born.  However, the true relationship is developed by the one who is called dad.  I know we call it Father’s day and I am not attempting to start a movement to change the national holiday, I just want to bring attention to the privilege of having not just a father but being able to call him Dad.

In Psalm 103:13, King David has learned and wrote about some of the benefits of having a dad, in his later years of life. He is expressing the things about the love of a father. Not just an actual biological father but a spiritual Dad that cares so much about us. The Dad we see here and His representation cannot be matched. David wants us to know of the ultimate Dad who goes above the call of duty for His children.

A child that is loved and cared for is a blessed child. David begins Psalms 103 with an overly grateful heart by saying let all that I am praise the Lord.  That is the amount of love he has for the Lord God almighty. What words for a dad to hear from his children. That everything in David he wanted to express to the Lord. The spiritual benefits of our heavenly Dad alone are amazing. He forgives our sins, heals our diseases, redeems us from death, crowns us with love and tender mercy, fills our life with good things and renews us when we know him. Oh the relationship that is established between David and God he could not just keep it to himself. I believe David created the best Father’s day card in the history of man when He pinned this Psalm.

I am thinking about my own Dad and how instrumental he is in my life. My dad stuck by me at some of the most difficult moments. I must confess some of which were my own doing. But even in those times he was with me, showing tough but unconditional love. He still was my Dad. The lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love (vs 8) is a wonderful depiction of attributes of a good Dad. Our loving Dad that so graciously sent His son Jesus and gave us the greatest gift of sacrifice known.

All dads need to cherish their children. And in return the children should hopefully recognize and love their dad. This day may be great because your earthly father is active in your life or perhaps it brings pain because he was not there, whichever the case we can look at the blessing in Psalm 103 that David pinned for us. In expressing the love of a Dad to all of His children from the One who created you and me.  All the ways the Lord expresses unconditional love for us and continues to do.  We can be thankful today.

To the fathers that are reading this, as you move throughout your day Fathers reflect on how much of a Dad you are. Most importantly, we all can reflect on how much the Lord has been a Dad to us and not just Our Father. I challenge you today to spread this message to at least one person about the privilege of being more than just a father.

Happy Fathers Day,

Charles Blog Signature

 

 

“Check Yourself” Leviticus 19:16-17

Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the Lord. Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives. Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sin.

 

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Initially reading this the other morning, it almost knocked me out of my seat. God’s word is so rich and prophetic. This was found in some of the greatest instructions given to man. This was really two commands but let me ask you when you see these words, what do you hear God speak to you?

In the midst of a time of social injustice but then seeing God give instructions to the children of Israel about the treatment of mankind- not much has changed. So why do we not take His commandments to heart? God is such a planner that He knew the world would not follow suit with certain key instructions if they were not put in place. Let me ask you, where do you position yourself? Do you say “that was the Old testament but we live in the New.” If that is your response you may need to check your perspective.

God’s word does not change. We change and we attempt to twist the Word to fit our own desires and benefit.  When I read this, while studying, it spoke to me because of where as a nation we are right now. Perhaps you are experiencing it too? This command was spoken to Moses by God but it was for the entire community of Israel. God’s standard always requires the bar to be raised. That bar is the standard of true living in a world where injustice and sin is prevalent. Will you check yourself?

When I say check yourself it is a mantra to examine and see really where one is. It is the ability to stop and take introspect on what is happening in our own existence. There was a song released in 1982 by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five album titled “The Message”. The primus for the song was giving insight into what is happening even now in our communities and this was over 35 years ago. I am not writing to give credence to Grandmaster Flash (for those who know who they were) but I am making a point that bringing awareness to what is prevalent in society is our duty. If you do not feel any connection to what is around happening, please do check yourself.

There are three things that God is addressing in this passage of scripture. Often just as we view a lake from the surface all appears to be serene from above but when you immerse yourself within; there is an entire system in place that if we never take time,we miss. We miss the undercurrent that is aggressively flowing from within. We miss life that we never thought existed until we take a look.

The undertone of this passage addresses checking our level of compassion, our commitment and our convictions. When God declared these words to Moses ages ago, he was giving a blueprint of how to conduct ourselves personally in community. How God had originally designed things man has stepped away from.  What he had for us as a whole. An entire list of instructions was given but for whatever reason these two caught my attention and felt compelled to unpack them here. My prayer is that as you read your Spirit connects with the essence of what Almighty God wanted to say and find yourself in these two commands. Please do not misinterpret, I am not saying that there are those not following the Lords instruction. What I am attempting to do is get us to find ourselves, slow us down enough so that the Father can speak to us right where we are. Let us check ourselves.

Three areas that I believe we all can learn in if we think about them:

Check your level of compassion when it comes to the broken or fainthearted. When injustice or wrong is taking place what comes to mind? Do you feel saddened or compelled to do something? Do we stop and think if we were in another’s shoes what would Jesus want us to do? If it was our children or parents going through such a time what would we do?

Check  your level of commitment to God? Do we commit only when we see the return on our investment as the stock market but when there is no return we look for another? Do we look the other way when the command says don’t stand idly by when a neighbor’s life is threatened. You may be thinking this does not pertain to my commitment to God. In actuality it does because if we are to love our neighbor as ourselves- how are we doing that if we do not want to embrace or even attempt to understand our brothers and sisters. Yet this was what Jesus was teaching. Jesus loved the unlovable people and it was all because of His commitment to the Father. Where is ours today?

Check your level of convictions for what is right? Do you confront or address problems or shutter or keep silent on the sidelines. Please do not misunderstand me I am not saying that we need to rise up and take aggressive action but some action should be pursued. Even as simple as educating a peer or stranger about a thought that is not correct. Or perhaps educating yourself with what is happening. This could be among family or others that we do not normally say anything but sometimes through our silence we can be part of the problem. Do we speak out about Christ love and show it in our daily interactions. Check your convictions.

Take a moment to really have an honest look on the inside. I am asking the Lord to work on me as I check myself in these same areas. If you find yourself as I did lacking in some of these just work on it. Please let us stop and pray and ask God to help us to do better. Let this be the starting point to do better and ask God to reveal ways of how this can be done. Thank God for the check.

As always be encouraged

Charles