Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Art of Selflessness

Like an artist, altruism requires certain abilities in order to bring out the full fruits of its labor. Christ is the only instructor capable of bringing those abilities in line with God’s word.

 The art of selflessness needs the best instructions. And there is no Greater Teacher to learn from than Him.

God has designed the selfless picture Christ has painted for you. Inside its frame holds all the details about your path of altruism. And the only thing you need to focus on is paying attention to the way Jesus has so masterfully revealed the actions you are to take within its scenery.

Christ’s selflessness witnessed at the time of His crucifixion is all the evidence any Christian needs to know about living selflessly. The Messiah courageously and graciously fulfilled God’s will by giving His life for the remission of sins. Our salvation proves this fact.

 Now if that isn’t enough to convince anyone the actual meaning of selflessness, then they are still blinded to God’s word.

Remarkable things happen when Christ’s hand is present in our lives.

 Look at all the extraordinary solutions He has allowed you to find in troubling circumstances. Those times when you felt your problems weighing heavily on your shoulders and the serenity He provided to your soul. The difference He made when your grief was overbearing, the strength He supplied in moving beyond calamities, not of your making and the godly way of responding to the sins of others. 

The Lord well provides your needs in human survival and spiritual welfare. God is constantly giving and eager to continue doing so for as long as you faithfully follow His fathering lead. That’s His way of demonstrating the selflessness. When you follow the Lord’s lead, there is no way but to live unselfishly. 

Unselfish living is a conscious decision to live in God’s will.

 Selflessness is a spiritual craft that continues to evolve because God frequently places us in the position to get out of ourselves. It can’t be mastered or endured for we never know when Christ will call upon us to lend a helping hand to one of His children in distress.

By humbling ourselves before God, ensure us, we won’t miss the mark when He guides us to make a difference in someone else’s life.

  There is no better way for us to radiate Christ’s love with others than giving of ourselves without expectations. No matter the personal cost, it’s always better to give than to receive. Here we are expressing a type of giving that has no price tag on it and the rewards Christ gives are incredible. As the result of living this way we draw closer to God. And the closer we are with Christ the better we become at living a life free from selfish motives.

 One of the things I cherish about my journey with Christ is how He continues to make me a useful instrument of God’s will. I’ve  discovered the most devoted I’m to Christ the easier it becomes in moving away from my personal agenda. That has allowed me to have pure motives in regards of helping others.  Another benefit from building a daily reprieve with Christ is being able to accept difficult people and assist them without being emotionally entangled with negativity.
When I become spiritually unbalanced one of the ways, Christ restores my equilibrium is directing me to someone who is in need of comforting. As soon as I act on that command (almost instantly) the Holy Spirit presence becomes noticeable, and a peace is evident. That puts an end to my instability and back into the realm of Christ.

Christ’s portrait for all of us is eternal life, and part of our Christian responsibility is helping our neighbors without expecting a reward. When we act selflessly, God will reward us in ways that are exhilarating. In return, our desire for God increases and the love for others becomes an important part of our daily bread.

How has selflessness helped you in your life?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


   In the spring of 1985, I found myself at the doorstep of mom’s house. She was expecting me, but unprepared for the shock of her life. I had called to inform her that I was coming back home. I hopped into my car and drove the four and half hour trip. I was a physical wreck for it took every bit of strength I could muster up to complete the journey. I had the shakes and a severe hangover from the previous night. I cannot remember the last time I had taken a sober breath.

   I pulled into the childhood driveway, threw the transmission into park, and walked up to the front door. With my right hand, I reached for the doorknob, twisted it and walk through the threshold. She embraced with a loving hug followed by sobbing. The tears falling down the cheeks of her face were not joyful but terror. She did not recognize her youngest son because she remembered her boy being full of life. Bewilderment radiated through her expression, and she was devastated. I was one hundred and ten pounds and the skin on my face was sunken inward, giving the appearance of a sick and frail young man. I was speechless, hopeless and desperate.

   I was only away from home for three short years. I never thought it would end up like this. I was full of ambition, ready to take life by the horns. I had visions of prestige by planning to make a name for myself. I had a lot of good intentions. These should have been achievable goals, but the demons inside myself stripped away anything worthwhile.

   I had reached that point where alcohol had its way with me. I could not stop this insidious reoccurring nightmare, because everything I tried to stop drinking drove me deeper into the black hole of powerlessness. Bottle after bottle, time and again, I would repeat the same mistakes always expecting a different result. Instead, I was faced with the fact of being an alcoholic. I had turned into the one thing I despised and a spitting image of dad.

   I was baffled, ashamed and did not know where to turn. My parents agreed to provide me a place to stay under the agreement of  seeking help. I was willing and took them up on their offer. Mom knew of a counselor who specialized in alcohol addiction. So I contacted him. After the first face to face session with Mr. Barfield and just before leaving his office, he handed me a flyer with a list of twelve-step programs. He highly suggested I start attending meetings.

   I decided to choose one and did not know what to expect from the twelve-step program. I was scared. I cannot recall the topic at my first meeting. I continued attending and began to identify with the medical description of alcoholism. The way they laid it out made perfect sense because for the first time concerning my drunkenness there was a logical explanation. It spoke volumes, and as I looked back at the past, there was concrete evidence staring me in the eyes.

   Then came their hook, line and sinker that would be the only solution to my predicament. God! That presented me with a major stumbling block because I was agnostic. There could be no God in this world riddled with evilness. I was highly offended by their seemingly shallow outlook. How could God do anything for me?

   Well, they said to me, just hang in there a little longer. Don’t give up before the miracle happens is a frequent slogan. Things did change. God began to work on me, and I gradually found faith. As a result of seeking God, a transformation began taking root, and I learned a lot about how He works. I came to understand that through trusting Him everything will be taken care regardless of the current situation.

   The power I received from His strength allowed me to make amends for my wrong doings as well as healing my heart. Even though, I found the effect of God, I failed to maintain it and became complacent. I was content with the way my spiritual life was and started to slack off in my devotion. I did not realize the danger this type of view would bring. This blindness cost me dearly and after eighteen years of sobriety I got drunk.

   I remember the moment I started using alcohol again was not wise. Everything God had done for me was tossed aside because I decided to get drunk. The insanity of alcoholism returned with a fury taking me places of degradation. I was in the grip of wickedness unlike any I had known. I was dying a slow and miserable death.

 God did not give up on me and continued calling me back. I finally heard Him after eight years of misery. He opened His arms, and I embraced Him. God picked up where He had left off and quickly showed me the light at the end of the tunnel. As I walked down God’s tunnel, He delivered me to His Son Jesus Christ and into salvation. I now know the Light at the end of God’s tunnel is Heaven. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What are Your Stumbling Blocks?

   Quite often, when a particular issue goes unresolved, there is a blockage. Living a saved life does not eliminate the truth of our existence. Faithfully following Christ by applying the principles of His teachings will provide you the strength necessary to handle anything. Even when understanding the power of Christ our human psyche blinds us from the answers.

   Sin is tough to talk about because it’s unpleasant and painful. Who wants to see the subtle ways pride penetrates our hearts? Why look at anger? What about lust? How about greed? Who cares to admit they are sometimes envious? What good will come from reviewing gluttony? Why bother seeing sloth?

 Observing the sins we commit and how they affect us is unattractive. They remind us of our wrongful behavior. It’s an uncomfortable feeling to know we have faults. Sins are part of our character. And God wants us to realize sins are stumbling blocks preventing us from His grace.

   Let’s take a look back in time when Jesus was on earth concerning sin. In the Gospel according to Matthew; Christ left us this command:

 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye”. “Or how can you say to your brother, Let me remove the speck from your eye; and look, a plank is in your eye.”  Mathew 7: 3-4 (NKJV) 

Those planks are the sins we commit.

   Now that Jesus has explained the need for you to see your sinfulness, then what actions can you take in carrying it out. The answer to that question lies in your personal development with Christ. None of us is exactly alike, nor is our experience with salvation. Those differences are not by mistake, but designed by God. However, there are some steps all of us can apply.

 So, where can you start?

   As a Christian, you know praying is powerful. Every one of us has been touched by it and bear witness to the powerfulness of God’s responses. You can use prayer to ask God to help you look at your sins.

  By formulating the habit of relying upon Jesus,  you will find the courage to become fearless and in return your ability to see your faults becoming stepping stones to a deeper consciousness with Christ. This type of interaction with God unlocks an incredible wisdom about you, and a whole new perspective on your existence emerges.

   Another useful tool for reviewing your sins is writing about them. Keeping a journal is a good demonstration of action because you are physically exerting yourself. There is something beautiful that happens when the pen hits the paper. You might not like writing or have never tried it. Do not let this deter you from at least giving it an honest effort.

   What is the objective of writing about your sins?

    The main purpose is to identify the stumbling blocks preventing you from finding the difference God makes in your attitudes and behaviors. The better you are at finding out the ways you act and react (good or bad) to life on its terms, the less likely you will cause harm to yourself or your neighbors.

   In the business world, companies continuously take inventories to keep up with their products. They do this to discover the items to keep or discontinue. Companies who are unaware of those import facts go bankrupt. Our saved life is like that too. Being blinded from excessive sinning keeps us unprotected and makes us vulnerable to relentless suffering.

   We need to be aware of how we are presenting our saved lives to the world. Building a personal relationship with God includes looking into our hearts. None of us likes misbehaving and by having tangible proof of the way we are both good and bad leads to a better way of living.

   Coming up with the list of sins to write about may seem difficult. So, let us revisit those seven sins listed earlier. 

   We will start with pride

   God wants us to feel confident about ourselves. He wants us to be secure in our skin. Christ grants us the ability to be useful, helpful and purposeful. However, sometimes we step out of bounds and begin taking credit for those God-given attributes.

   Questions about pride may run like this: Have I been selfish? Do I boast? Do I judge others? Do I feel superior to anyone? Do I feel my intelligence places me above others? Am I intolerant? Am I consumed with achieving my wants? Do I bring attention to my accomplishments? Do I expect something in return when I help others? Am I prejudiced? 

   Answering these types of questions will disclose the lesser way pride takes over our minds and souls. The antidote to pride is humility. The more humble we become, the better we are at knowing we are all equal in God’s eyes.

   Anger is an emotion embedded in all of us, and we cannot avoid it. When we are mad, there is usually someone else involved.  And holding onto anger makes us ineffective in spreading the message of Christ.

   Tackling anger could go like this: Am I resentful? Do I get mad easily? What are the circumstances that make me angry? When others harm me do I stay sore? Do I want to get back at others when they hurt me? Do I throw a temper tantrum when I do not get my way? Does my anger reach the point of rage? Do I believe anger is justified? Can I easily forgive others? Do I want to hold onto the incident from other people’s injurious acts? Do I become frustrated over things that are out of my control?

  Maybe you have some different ways of looking at anger, and that is precisely the action Christ wants us to take so we can find the planks in our eyes. We need to be as searching as possible, and it matters not the way we do it. But the importance of reviewing anger is to see how it affects our minds, bodies, and spirits. Once God reveals to us the wrong ways we handle anger, then we understand how ineffective it actual is. Anger is the blocker of forgiveness.  

Sex is a troubling subject. The world is full of sexual misconduct. In today’s society, there are a lot of discussions about sex and many different views about its intended purpose. Most of these concepts are saying it frankly wrong. Many of the so called experts on this matter leave out God in their views because they fail to understand He created our sexual drive.

   God made us partners in creating a life. He allows us to experience the physical part of love in such a unique way. The joy on the faces of parents giving birth to newborns is not by accident, but a response from God’s unconditional love. He wants us to populate the earth. He also has given us specific instructions on how to exemplify it. Sexual difficulties arise when we move away from God and use this incredible gift as a means of selfish gain.

   When lust drives our sexual desire, the results are disastrous. Reviewing sexual behavior may look like this: Do I use sex as a means to make me feel good? Am I unconcerned with my spouse’s feelings regarding sexual activity? Do I try to talk my spouse into trying unconventional sex? Do I dominate my spouse? Am I promiscuous? How do I behave when  denied sex? Am I dissatisfied with sex? Was I sexually active before becoming married? Have I cheated on my spouse? How do I react to my sexual frustrations?

Lust brings on unwanted pregnancies. And even more inconceivable abortion. Writing about our sex lives allow us to gain a better picture of how we are aligning it with God’s intended purpose. God is the judge of our sexual morals, and it pleases Him when we can see the way we fall short of His guidance. By following Christ’s commands, we stay in partnership with God and the correct way of experiencing sex is added to our character.

   I have learned a lot about myself from taking, a journal of my sins. One of the benefits from this process is finding the sin behind the motive. For example, one of my brothers is a surgeon and I felt entitled to a share of his wealth and by writing about the way I reacted to him the sin behind the motive was envy. Another dividend has been seeing a pattern of recurring sins in situations that have a tendency to repeat themselves. As a result of this exercise a desire to get to know Christ better and better has emerged.

   These are only three of the Seven Cardinal Sins we have discussed. The others are for you to ponder over. Christ isn’t concerned with how we look at our sins, but that we are following His instructions in doing so. Discovering our stumbling blocks is only the first step in resolving excessive sinning. In order to continue following God’s command, then we need to confess them and make amends for our wrongfulness. When we take these rightful acts, then our hearts have become pure opening the door to true forgiveness.  

                                            How do you identify your stumbling blocks?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Praising and Glorifying God Daily

  Worshiping God begins with faith. Until faith is firmly planted, we remain cut off from His sovereignty. Praising the Lord goes beyond the obvious of attending church. It’s all about praising Him every day. In order for us to fully receive God’s grace, then we must be prepared and embrace Him with our hearts, souls, and minds on a daily basis. Anything less limits the difference He makes in living a righteous, just and godly existence. Without a solid commitment to Christ, the struggles of life will continue to haunt us.

 The first way to worship the Lord is believing in Christ as the savior of the world.  Belief is not a spoken action. It’s a commitment to abandoning our self-will coupled with personal exertion to seek salvation through abiding in Jesus. Without a personal desire to continue growing in the image of Christ the door to worshiping our Father remains locked. And the only one who has the key to unlocking the door to God’s kingdom is the Messiah.

The primary objective of worship is to honor God. And honoring the Lord is moving away from the worldly influences that stand in the way of glorifying Him. So, that means you have to look at your personal life and see how you are aligning your actions with His words.

The only way to honestly take an accurate self-appraisal of where your maturity in Christ lies, is to be searching, fearless and humble. It’s evaluating your attitudes and behaviors in regards to temptations that will lead you to a deeper understanding of the changes you will need to worship Christ better. It’s an inside job, and nobody else can do this for you. 

   It won’t be easy discovering the stumbling blocks that prevent you from worshiping God because pride wants you to remain distant from the Lord. Pride is a worship killer and uses many subtle ways to keep you away from Christ. Pride generates doubt and makes it tough to look within yourself. And when pride is threatened, then fear takes over causing more difficulties. Those two destructive shortcomings are too much for you to handle alone and without the aid of God, there is no way out of their paralyzing grip.  

 So, how can you move past those obstacles (pride and fear) and see the level of your worship?

   Well, the answer to that question has to do with humility and courage. Humility is the antidote to pride and courage overcomes fear. Both of those Christian principles derive from building a personal relationship with Christ. The more you center your life with God the clearer it becomes in recognizing the ways the world tries to draw you into its web of deception. And the results of your faithful obedience paves the way to worship God more and more.

   For me, this has meant a total reevaluation of the way I interact with a society full of temptations. When I first started taking a look at the things in my life that stopped me short of worshiping God, the list was long. Pride had a strong hold on me and allowed selfishness to infiltrate all areas of my life. I would spend hours watching sports and engage in all sorts of behaviors associated with team spirit. I would vigorously follow all the team’s statistics and could cite their position by position and player to player. I followed that same path with music, books, movies and social events.

   My whole life was centered in self-will, leaving no room for praising Christ. When God got my attention from the unrighteous lifestyle I was living, then it became my responsibility to see my disobedience. Here I had to rely on prayer and allow Christ’s strength to take away my fear, so I could constructively identify the infractions of my wrongfulness.

By humbling myself before God, a plan for me emerged, and a course of Christian action was exposed. I am no longer blinded to His truth and have found the Light of Christ. I’m not afraid to discover, accept and move beyond my sinful nature because it’s through the suffering that keeps me seeking God’s will.

   I still have moments where I fall back into those old ways and let them distract me worship. I know that I’m not perfect, nor do I strive for perfection. There is nothing wrong in enjoying sports, music and other things of life, but allowing them to be placed above God is wrong. In my journey with Christ, it has been a gradual progression of changing, redirecting and allowing Him to guide my attitudes.

 With Christ, I’ve been able to find the courage to stay away from those worship obstacles for longer periods of time. God has freed me from their bondage and has provided a new path for my life. I try to give Christ my best efforts each and every day, and when I fail to worship Him my conscience speaks loudly. Salvation takes away any excuses for me not to worship God daily.

      God is always watching and takes notice of the ways we interact with Christ. The Lord is pleased when our faith is actively involved with Christ. It’s by allowing Christ to guide us in all of the affairs that we are glorifying God that is an integral part of worship. Praising Christ is not to be taken lightly because our eternal lives are at stake.

   It’s by eliminating the things standing in our way of praising God that allows us to honor and glorify Him. We all know the difference Christ has made in our lives. Witnessing the powerful impact the Lord has done in our lives and those around us is all the evidence we need to worship Him each and every day. The core of worship is giving God the praise He deserves!

How do you worship God daily?