Is there a Broken Vessel in the Room?

In times past, I can recall how my limited perspective and personal bias in situations of prejudice, racism, or ways in our world skewed my view. It was not until I stepped outside of myself that I could truly see. Friend, we live in a world filled with hatred, envy, and jealousy for one another; but on the other hand, there are glimpses of love and hope that we miss. We encounter selfishness over selflessness. Those stepping over some, the weaker, as opposed to helping to lift one another. The attacking of some because we may disagree personally instead of finding what Christ says about an issue. Let me call it as it is, SIN. As long as we water down the truth or cover it up with band-aids, we will never deal with the source of pain. We will continue to make statements such as, “well, we all have something,” or false justification of right and wrong. With this thinking, we can never operate in humility. This may be why we can see the church and church denominations divided on issues – focusing on some but overlooking others that are just as important. Or we see the government concentrate on some and ignoring others. If we say we are followers of Jesus Christ operating with the leading of the Holy Spirit in humility then our actions should demonstrate this truth. Why preach to those outside of the church if we are not acting within the church as we should?

If we want to see the presence of Jesus released in a dying world, then we all need to be broken. I am not talking about a physical breaking of body parts, but the surrender of our mind, body, and soul. We all need to consider what we are willing to surrender in the presence of Jesus? Again, are our motives selfless or selfish? An excellent example of this is nestled away in the Gospel of John.

Then Mary took a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet, wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

~ John 12:3 NASB ~

There are so many thoughts found in this passage of scripture that is applicable in our lives. I love this scripture for so many reasons, but one is the heart of Mary. She had developed a relationship with Jesus. Mary was so grateful and she desired to express that through her actions. In this chapter, Jesus is preparing to be crucified and endure much suffering and death within days. So there is a desire for Mary to spend time out of selfless love for Jesus. She is operating from a space of humility and wanting to be with Jesus. It was not about what she can get from Him or learn but just being there- a good reminder of an essential truth for us today. We all can get so busy in our day to day lives that we forget to enjoy Jesus. There have been times where I have found myself studying the Word, spending time in prayer or worship –just because I am trying to finish a blog post or hear a word from the Lord. I am caught in the doing and forget about just being in His presence. Not trying to get anything from Him. Not attempting to complete a task but simply communing with a loving Father in a relationship. Mary’s heart helps me reflect on where I am with Christ and areas where I still need work.   

Secondly, Mary operates in humility. At this moment, she gives Jesus her best by serving Him wholeheartedly. Jesus had her undivided attention, and Mary expressed her love for Jesus in those few moments with him. Do we give Christ our attention as we should or when we have time? Such a loving Father, He never complains but trusts and believes that we will get better. Like a Father to an immature son or daughter, He patiently waits for us to catch the lesson. In our world today, the Father desires us to be broken in humility, to place Him above our wants and desires. He is waiting patiently for the world to acknowledge who He is in the room. Have we put science, church edifices, our titles, careers, and needs above the Father? I wonder what would happen if the world ever stopped to acknowledged Jesus Christ wholeheartedly. Not because of what we can gain from Him but just because of who He is in the room. Perhaps Covid-19 would cease, or violence and hatred would subside? If we wholeheartedly served because we would learn to seek the Father first and everything else after that.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

~ Matthew 6:33 NASB ~

Our commitment to Jesus is a sign of our brokenness before Him. I thought about Mary and how she was unwilling to give to Jesus what did not cost her much.A sign of being broken is the level of sacrifice we are willing to make for others. Some commentaries explain, the perfume she gathered required a year’s wages from a common laborer to purchase that ointment. Her sacrifice was great. Some would consider it a sign of disrespect for Jewish women to let their hair down in public, but Mary humbled herself and laid her glory at His feet. (1 Cor 11:15) She laid her best in the presence of Jesus. Those in the room misunderstood her sacrifice, but the One who mattered most felt her commitment. My prayer is that we don’t let people take us away from doing what is most important for the Kingdom of God. It may seem strange or unpopular to the masses, but let us continue to keep our focus and trust on the Lord, no matter what.

Finally, Mary took what she had and put it to use, not just to be seen but felt. Unless the alabaster flask breaks, the worth on the inside (the ointment of pure nard) is not released. Many appreciate the alabaster flask, “the packaging ” – i.e., their career, the appearances of having it together, popularity, financial gain, etc. If Mary only focuses on the beauty of the flask but never releasing or experience what is inside; then she would miss Jesus in all of it. He should be the focus not what appears costly or lavish. Friend, we must be broken for the Lord’s Spirit to come alive. Only then can we truly live on this earth and realize that nothing else in the room matters except Jesus.

Here is food for thought: We are not antique collectors; we are not admirers of the alabaster flask (the packaging). The Lord wants us to release that which is inside – to see the value.

When we allow what is on the inside to be in the presence of Jesus – transformation occurs. I am concerned about those who may never experience being introduced to a Father who desires to transform our lives from hardened pots to broken vessels.

May we remember to encourage all we meet to get to know Jesus Christ. Not only get to know Him but build a relationship with Him. And may those who already know Him never forget the sheer power of His presence in the Room.

Don’t Believe the Hype Psalms 64

Evil can and will come in many forms. Sometimes it is recognizable, and at other times it is not. It can go right up to your door, walking on the same street, in your workspace, and even in your own home. As Black History Month comes to a close and I pondered what the Lord would give me to write, I came across this psalm in the Psalter. No, this is not a post that necessarily pertains to black history; however, I believe that there are some truths that we all can learn and help us to navigate through all the evil that masquerades in our day today.  

Sometimes there is nothing we can do to prevent it from striking. I don’t know about you, but I wish I could remedy or just not even have to deal with a lot of evil. Evil can move our pity and stir our indignation at times. Perhaps we argue, and even in a moment of generous impulse, we may try addressing the problem. We have seen countless examples of various evils that we as humans have attempted to address and stamp out, but it did not happen to our disappointment. From racism, political concern, police brutality, or movements believed to further our views of oppression, evil is still here and thriving. I am not glorifying opinions, but I am attempting to find a consensus that no matter your ethnicity, gender, economic status, political beliefs, or historical backdrop-evil is not a people problem but a sin issue.

It has been said of poets that they learn in suffering what they teach in song, and this is the experience of the psalmist David.

Psalms 64 gives us the perfect backdrop to understand or provide circumstantial evidence to prove our point. King David was such a prayer warrior, but more importantly, he was wise. He knew that he could do nothing about his situation. However, he knew who could. Talk about phoning a friend or using a lifeline. David was the best that did it.

1 John 5:19 tells us, “we know that we are of God and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Evil does not always warn that it is on the way; however, we realize that we have power with a secret weapon by prayer. We are victorious, friend. When we see wrong or evil accounts on the news or daily, we can still find hope. It will take work from all of us, however. We like to address one side of a coin, but we must handle it all. Yes, our country is going through much political unrest. January 6th is a prime example of what happens when evil’s power gains a foothold. Police brutality is wrong in the black community, but so is the killing of innocent police because of some in all communities’ actions. We cannot say we are Christians, but in our mind choose what sin matters to God and us and overlook others that are just as unfortunate. We outwardly profess Christianity, but our hearts inwardly still are filled with hatred, jealousy, and entitlement as humans.   

Here is a King David talking to God about a problem. King Saul has been attempting to ruin David, even kill David. And most of Saul’s officers were involved in this conspiracy to destroy him. Why were they trying to kill David? God anointed him as king, but it had not come to fruition, but was that the real reason?

People may give us all kinds of trouble, not “good trouble” like the late Congressman John Lewis termed. We must remember our battle is not against flesh and blood, but the enemy and his hosts. And when we are aware of Who fights for us, we can get into “good trouble” and not fear or concern ourselves with what is transpiring because we have the King of Kings and Lord of Lords going before us.

Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.

~ Psalms 46:10 ~

Keep hope and do not believe the hype but rest in our Lord and Savior in these times. I wish I could say they are unprecedented, but they are not. Though packaged differently we have been here before. Yet we must remember we serve a God who has given us a blueprint in His Word to meet us where we are and provide us with hope, the ability to change, and even to repent.

1) Seek the Lord’s protection. (v.1-2) David begins with “Hear my voice” – he didn’t say this because God wasn’t paying attention but because he was coming with sincere intention.

a) David did not ask God to change the circumstances but fortify his own heart and deliver him from fear. The fear of the Lord mobilizes us, but the fear of man paralyzes us.

b) Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked, from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity. (sin)

Insurrection here is not referencing a civil revolt against authority but the people speaking evil against David and taking action to ruin Him. Let’s face it; some people will not like us. Not because we have done anything but just because of what we represent. David represented something pure and different from what was, which scared the forces in power. His commitment was only to the Lord and not to his plan, even when David fell- he admitted he was wrong and was convicted and changed. That is the difference. Groups today stand for their belief systems and are driven more by emotional stirring (how this affects me personally), but we openly say it is spiritual. Still, if it were spiritually motivated- we would address the wrong on all accounts.

My mother used to say, “the more men indulge in sin, the blinder we become.” In other words, the more persistent we break the second great commandment, the more indifferent we grow to the first. In (v.5) of Psalms 64, David says, “they hold fast to themselves an evil purpose.”  David is addressing the evil of the hearts of conspirators set to harm. How disturbing it is for David, who fears God, to be experiencing this. David grieves over the waste and, worse still, the misapplication of human power; he confesses with shame and sorrows the sin that has brought such terrible outcomes into the world. What about you today, are you grieved by all that is going on in the world? Or are we grieving over parts and turning a blind eye to the rest.     

2) Ask for the Lord’s wisdom. (v.3-6) David knew what the enemy was plotting. We need to know the strategy of our enemy when he attacks. (2 Cor 2:11) Like a lion, he comes to devour (1Peter 5:8); as a serpent, he comes to deceive (2 Cor 11:1-4). David compares his enemies’ tongues to swords and their words to poisoned arrows (v.3). One of the enemy’s main weapons is an accusation. (Rev 12:10; Zech 3) God will always lead us in what to do when we ask Him for wisdom and not just react. The evidence of a life changed by transformation and not moved by what unfolds before our eyes define wisdom.

3) Trust the Lord for Victory (v.7-8) This is not always so simple, but by trusting in the Lord and obeying the Father’s direction, David was confident that God would defeat his enemies. Don’t get caught up in what you see in the media and even what others say on social media platforms. I even found myself chiming in and feeling a bit irritated at all that has been occurring, and no, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but when I check my heart- God showed me it was more emotion than trusting in Him. Let God’s love and Word help us not allow emotions to drive us. Because let us be real, there are many incandescent with rage over all that has been occurring, and it shows no matter where we are, what or whom we believe.

These application steps seem so universal, but they really can apply to every area of our lives.

Everyone has a perspective, but the only view we should be striving to imitate is Christ’s, as disciples of Him. And when that becomes our aim, the Lord has promised to fight our battles for us. God himself will shoot arrows at our enemies (v.7). Perhaps you are saying, Lord, how long or God do you not know what they are getting away with? One thing I know from my experience-nothing or no one gets away from our God, and in His time, he will make all crooked paths straight. All we need to do is do not believe the hype.

Be encouraged today.  

“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