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A Moment with My Mother

Sometimes God does little miracles just to prove that He is God.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Years ago, I had very little relationship with my mother. I loved her intensely as a child but distance, time, and her own personal problems pulled her away.

She dealt with drugs the majority of my life. Due to that, she never really was allowed to come around unless she was sober and by herself. I didn’t really “know” who she was until adulthood. She was my mom but wasn’t “Mom” for years. Grandma Gwen was Mom.

When my grandmother passed in 2015, I spent my first night in my adult life with her. I was filled with apprehension but we talked until I couldn’t hold my eyes up. Since then, we’ve grown significantly. We’ve had long conversations. We’ve talked about relationships, love, and loss. She even sends me occasional gifts that surprise and brighten my day.

Recently, she sent me a letter that reduced me to tears (rightfully so).

Image of the card received and the included photo of Miles & His Mother.
The Flash USA Matching Short Set was peak 90s High Fashion

Dear Miles,

I just wanted to take a minute to tell you I love you. When I sit here with a paper & pen. I can’t think of anything but warmth and love and peace. Because I know you are safe and able to make it in this world. You are strong, you are loved, and you know what family is! Stay strong son.

Love Mom,

Shelia

There’s no way I can truly explain how much this means to me.

I didn’t know how wounded I was when it came to family until recently. The shock and surprise I’ve experienced from people saying they love me in the past showed me how cynical I became. Expectations left me wounded, so I decided to not to have any. Moments I hoped for were often left unfulfilled and I lost hope.

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

Genesis 50:20 (NKJV)

God said that it’s time to let go of that hurt, forgive, and move forward. Just receive love so that you can love others.

I feel loved back. I reach out to my mom and she reaches back.

There’s no big revelation or sweeping meaning I have today. I just wanted to share with you all something good in my life. I hoped for a family and God is building it right in front of my eyes.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

If life has broken you over and over again, trust that it will all work together for your good and keep faith. It makes all the things you hope for real. Keep the faith.

Turn Your Brightness Up!

#BeMagnificent🔆

Not Good to be Alone

One of my favorite stories in the Bible to learn from is the Garden of Eden. A vast majority of people focus primarily on “the Fall” and the eating of fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but there are other, more important lessons I like to focus on here. As a single man, I read this story to get an idea of how I’m supposed to live life before sin entered the world.

The the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

Genesis 2:15 (NKJV)

The first thing God did was give Adam a task, a purpose. God had Adam tend to the Garden, maintain it, and keep it. This is extremely important because it shows that there was always work. Work predated the Fall but became difficult afterward. There is always a purpose placed over our lives, even before we truly understand it.

And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Genesis 2:18 (nkjv)

This is often the first scripture people read to stress that marriage is important. However, I don’t think this verse is just confined to marriage. Being the only one of your kind is lonely, isolating, and not fully reflective of the multitude of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1) Even God was not in full isolation. Aloneness not being good is interesting because God created many things and called them all good. We don’t see something being declared NOT good until this verse.

Another important distinction is the phrase “comparable”. The NRSV Bible says “I will make him a helper as his partner.” ESV says “…a helper fit for him”. NIV says “a helper suitable for him.” but COMPARABLE is really different and important.

The NKJV, compared to all of the major translations, is the only one that gives us a hint what all the others might mean by “suitable” and “fit”. It doesn’t mean identical but it also doesn’t mean lessor than. Adam’s mate is purposely chosen as to meet each other’s needs.

Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that wasits name.

So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. 

Genesis 2:19-20 (NKJV)

Adam was deep into his purpose at this time. He was a steward for all of creation for God and working through everything requested of him. I imagine Adam taking account of every creature, naming and noting their differences, but after he finished for the “day”, him going home alone. He pets his prehistoric pet and sits on his La-Z-boy stone as the “uniqueness” of his existence eats away at him. Even the dogs that he counted had others like them.

I take this section to be about the importance of exploring your purpose. You aren’t expected to complete it (He still didn’t name all the fish, etc.) but you expected to be well on your way. Your purpose is too large for you to finish by your lonesome. It’s by design that once we have reached the limits of what we could do alone, we are brought together with our comparable helper. We are supposed to develop relationship with God and understand our purpose before we reach that point.

It’s also important to note that God stated that it was not good for man to be alone before He created all the creatures on the earth then He created woman. I don’t believe good did not know that Eve would need to be made for Adam. He knew, but chose to wait because Adam needed to work first.

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

Genesis 2:21-23 (NKJV)

These verses might be the most important in my eyes for understanding the balance of relationships in Christ. Adam was given momentary rest while Eve was being prepared to be brought to him. Adam probably was preparing for Eve thinking she just might be there among the other creatures of the earth but she wasn’t there. He was let down from that and God told him to rest up. Then, while he was sleep, God created Eve. She was still a surprise even though he understood what he desired. You can’t fully compare for what God has planned for you, even if you know it in advance.

Woman was made from his rib. Particularly, why is the rib? The rib protects the heart and lungs, supports the body, and allows a person to breathe. The rib is a vital part of the human body. Eve was also formed from his essence mirroring God & the Word, and Jesus & the Body of Christ. They all are apart, dependent, and reflections of each other.

Typically, whenever we talk about courtship, it is connected to Proverbs 18:22

He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord.

Proverbs 18:22 (NKJV)

We often only focus on the “He who finds a wife” part but I think we miss other equally important messages throughout the word about courtship.

Houses and wealth are inherited from parents,
    but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

Proverbs 19:14 (NIV)

God brings Eve to Adam. He could not find her on his own. He did not pick a random creature to be his helper. God gifted Eve to Adam. Anything from God could only be good. Eve was an SIGN of favor towards him. Eve was a blessing. Eve was good and perfect in her purpose and creation.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

James 1:17 (NKJV)

Most importantly, you would not receive favor from the Lord if you did not know the Lord. He wouldn’t gift someone that He views as precious and valuable to someone that wouldn’t value it properly (Matthew 7:6). God will not give a godly woman to an ungodly man and vice versa. You two will be unequally yolked and it will only hinder you on you path towards God’s purpose for you. Even though Adam “found” Eve, it was really God bringing Eve to him.

The beauty behind the entire love story before the fall is that God provided all of Adam’s needs: a purpose, food, shelter, and love. Adam could not do any of it without God. If we listen to the things God has already told us and hold on to those truths we are guaranteed a fulfilling life. When we step out of that and do it on our own, that’s when we get into trouble. Single people*** remember:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

He really meant ALL things.

Turn Your Brightness Up!

#BeMagnificent🔆

***I believe this entire post isn’t just for men but women also. (Galatians 3:28)

Tree Rooted by Living Waters

The day-to-day stress of life can sometimes be enough to crush boulders. Between finances, politics, loved ones, planning for the future, and reflecting on the past, the pressure of daily life is sickening. I know that I’ve had moments where sometimes I threw in the towel and said I’d try again tomorrow. Somewhere in the world, a college student is re-watching the Office with three papers due in the morning.

Continue reading “Tree Rooted by Living Waters”

Eating Good, Seeing God

Food has always been very important to me. Not just because it tastes good (it does) but because it is significant. Great moments in my life have always been shared around a meal. This year, God has been doing something new for me regarding food and how I interact with it within my life.

In January, I participated in a 21-day fast with my church. It wasn’t just about food, it was to remove whatever you deem a distraction from in the way of your relationship with God. It was a truly humbling experience that opened my mind to further interaction with the Holy Spirit. No food, no water from midnight to 6pm was challenging but it smoothed a lot of my metaphorical edges. The denying of self to create space to interact with the Father was really eye-opening. It also made me reflect on my interactions with God.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)

Every time I got hungry, I had to depend on God to bring me past that point. Every time I became irritable, I had to hold on to God’s goodness and continue to be a reflection of Him instead of what I was in that moment. Each day that I spent fasting, taught me not to be swayed by my emotions, feelings, and body, but to focus on the Lord. The 21 days were hard, but when I got to the end, I felt different.

I didn’t crave the same things that I did before. I didn’t go back to secular music. I was mindful of the movies and shows I watched. I held back on social interactions that I wasn’t strong enough to be in. I started to routinely spend time with God. I talked with Him. I read my Bible more. I listened to more gospel. I spent time with Him and my life changed. I couldn’t even go back to the same foods. I cut my portion sizes, lost 20lbs, and felt healthier for it. Around the same time, I walked out on a promise that God had for me.

God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

Numbers 23:19 (NKJV)

On April 1, 2018, on Resurrection Sunday, I was called into the front of the church and delivered from my Seafood allergy. Without going too heavily into it, my allergy was attached to a lie that I broke agreement with that day. The experience was new to me. I’ve never seen deliverance before. I definitely cannot recall experiencing it personally before. I had to believe in what God said was true. I said I believed it, but it wasn’t until a little less than a year later that I decided to put that belief into action.

Last month, I was sitting next to a friend at a restaurant after church. She was eating salmon. I took that opportunity and tried a tiny bit. I tingled a bit but no reaction. A couple weeks later I tried some fried calamari and a piece of shrimp. No problems at all. A couple weeks after that, I tried an oyster for the first time. I was blown away! For the first time in my life, I ate seafood without breaking out into hives or my mouth and throat swelling up. I praised the Lord!

At the end of March, I came across Acts 10.

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.

He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.

Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

Acts 10:9-16 (NIV)

All of a sudden, I understood the freedom that God had given me. I even went out of my way and tried Pork for the first time in 15 years. I used to get horrible tension headaches from Pork. This time, no problems at all. God wanted to show me that nothing was unclean if it was from God. I saw the food, but then I read further into Acts.

Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Acts 10:28 (NKJV)

This resonated with greatly with me. Peter proceeded to go into detail about God using Israel as His chosen ones to reach the rest of the world. If I looked at my deliverance from food allergies as just the food or something for me, I would be missing the most important part. God’s miracles and works in your life are not just for you, but for others in the world. Peter’s vision opened him up to speaking and saving a whole group of Gentiles. Peter moving beyond his preconceptions to what God designed brought the Gospel to those that would never hear. It changed lives.

Since then, I’ve started to think deeper. My blessings are supposed to be vehicles and windows to God’s goodness in my life. I had to remind myself of that as I re-conceptualized my blessing. I didn’t truly care about eating seafood and pork. I cared about the missed opportunities of community building and relationship development. I want to break bread with more people. When I go to new places, I don’t want to be held back by dietary restrictions. I want to eat, interact, and grow with others in the world. Each interaction I have gives me more opportunities to share God’s light.

It’s not about food. It’s about life and the moments that stick with us. Sharing life with others is a blessing and God knows I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

What blessings are you asking God for? In what ways can those blessings be used to give God glory? Let me know in the comments below.

Turn Your Brightness Up!

#BeMagnificent🔆

Waiting on Fruit to Grow

When I first TRULY started to give my life over to Christ. I felt like nothing was happening. I would feel great in church on Sunday but Sunday night, I would be tempted again. Monday morning, I would be depressed again. Tuesday morning, anxiety came back from a weekend away. By the following Saturday, I would be begging for the spirit of the Lord and revival on Sunday.

Everything seemed so difficult. The more I crept closer to the Lord, read my Bible, and tried to live life right, the more I felt like I was getting nowhere. Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26), but we were saved ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ (Zechariah 4:6). I didn’t get it. I was working to get closer to the Lord but I still felt the void, empty, dry, and dark.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

James 1:2-4 (KJV)

We can use God as a drug sometimes. The same mentality we used before we came to Christ, we often use afterward. Before, when you had a rough day, you’d go to the bar, call up a “friend”, or head to your favorite restaurant. Now, you look for that void to be filled by something else. I just need another shot of God and everything will be okay. Sunday comes, you feel refilled, but then it fades away. God told me I was still doing it wrong.

We have to realize that we can’t expect use earthly mindsets to interact with a spiritual God. God doesn’t want us to only use Him like “break in case of emergency” with a Bible in a case. He wants us to interact with Him all the time. Good and bad. Happy and sad. My happiness faded away because it was dependent on what happened in my life. I had to let patience finish her work.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12 (NIV)

Something new happened when I stopped working trying to make things fit and let patience finish her work. Especially since a major theme in this year has been Working the Land, I’ve been reflecting on being the farmer, tree, and the land. What lessons can I get out of all three?

I figured out that I am the farmer when I need to pair work with my faith or hope (1 Corinthians 9:10-11). These are moments where God gives us a dream or vision, and we have to do something with it. We are the land when we are newly interacting with the gospel and deciding to give our lives to the Lord (Matthew 13:3-8; 18-23 ). Then we are the tree after we have decided to trust in God and received the gift of eternal life from Jesus Christ (Jeremiah 17:7-8). We shift between these roles continuously and finally everything clicked.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Psalms 1:2-3 (NKJV)

The Bible talks about the Holy Spirit being the “Living Waters” (John 4:1-26) that Jesus would give after He was glorified. We are the tree bringing forth fruit in its season. A tree does not decide to drink water or sunshine occasionally or at a certain time of day, it’s constantly absorbing what it needs to survive. We aren’t supposed to only use God sometimes. He is supposed to become a constant part of our life.

I stopped trying to force it and make everything fall into place. I accepted my powerlessness in the world and somehow that gave me strength. I could plan, pray, and work towards something, and if it didn’t work, I accept that it is God’s will and something better is on the way. School, work, relationships, family, and more just started to line up. I just focused on co-existing with God and if it didn’t align, I didn’t partake. Everything got easier. Even prayer time had less pressure on me. All of a sudden, I was at peace. I was joyful. I didn’t mind waiting. Everything became easy.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

What I didn’t realize is that the relief I wanted was the fruit of the Spirit that God promised. The thing about fruit is, it takes time to grow. Faith is like a mustard seed, starts off small but grows into a mighty tree. Joy, love, peace, kindness, etc., all started off small but the more time I spent in the Word, with my Father, and connecting with the Holy Spirit, the more I stopped calculating the pace of change. My fruit was growing right below my nose.

The more I focused on God’s love and the Father’s will in my life, the more my trust grew. The more my trust grew, the more I stopped worrying and stressing. I did my best everyday and things worked themselves out. My depression went away when I stopped blaming myself for the past. My anxiety vanished when I stopped worrying about the outcomes and started trusting God’s will in my life. Self-control became simple when I stopped putting so much weight on the decision and got comfortable with waiting. Waiting isn’t bad, its just another opportunity to see what surprises God can come up with next. All I had to do is let time do what it needed.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

The lesson I learned is that fruit takes time to grow and it is always growing. We don’t have to work for the seeds we are earning. Receive and they just grow.

Turn Your Brightness Up!

#BeMagnificent🔆