Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christians, Let's Look in "The Mirror" and Act Accordingly

Ephesians 4:13 - "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:"


Ask almost any Christian what Christianity is, and many will not be sure exactly what to say. You might hear, "It's when you follow all the Bible rules until the Rapture or your death." "It's believing in Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection so that you can get to go to heaven." "It's when you go to church every Sunday." "It's when you always feel bad about and repent of your sin." "It's when you are nice to everybody like Jesus would have been if He was still physically on the earth." All of those are a part of living like a Christian to an extent, but lately I've found a new way to look at Christianity. After leaving a phenomenal sermon, I learned that Christianity is a process to make us look like Abba! We're supposed to look like Abba! (Abba is Aramaic for Daddy. Aramaic is the language the Jesus sometimes used in the bible.)

Think of it this way. The Holy Bible is like the mirror. It shows you what you look like and what you might want to fix.

I Corinthians 13:12 - "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

I'm sure that before leaving the house for the day to go to work, to run errands, to go to school, or to wherever, everyone at least glanced at the mirror. You looked, and you might have winced at it depending on how hard you slept the night before. Your hair might be all over your head. It might be flat on one side, if you have hair like mine. You might have what we call "matter" in the crevices of your eyes. You might have dried up saliva on your cheek and chin. Your skin might be blotchy on the side of your face that you slept on. Your eyes might be puffy. Your teeth might be yellowish. You might even have line indentations on your face from sleeping too hard on your sleeve or a book. You might even have woken up to a new pimple on your forehead. If you have any type of self-respect and good hygiene, you will wash your face, brush your teeth, comb or brush your hair, and if you're a woman, you might put on some make-up for the blotchy skin, the zit, and the puffy eyes. If it wasn't for that mirror, you'd probably go off to work looking a hot mess - just an easy target for teasing or for staring. Thank God for that mirror!

The Holy Bible is much the same way. It's like a Holy Mirror. It shows you what is UGLY in you. However, the outside is not nearly as important as the inside. It shows you that the lust in your heart is wrong and needs to be flossed out. It shows you that envy needs to be washed off. It shows you that the unforgiveness needs to be brushed away. But guess what though? The reflection in the Bible is not the same as the reflection of you in your bathroom mirror. This reflection is actually the image of Jesus and God that you're trying to get right!

Genesis 1:27 - "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

In the beginning, Adam was made in the likeness and image of God. He looked like Daddy. He looked like Abba. That was what he was made to look like all along. He didn't have the Bible back then, but as long as he obeyed the word of God, he'd be looking like God. However, he let an outsider tell him and his wife Eve that they needed some "plastic surgery" - so to speak. He told Eve that they needed a tummy tuck. So Eve, forgetting who she was because she discarded the word of God, went under the knife. And because of this, she no longer looked like Daddy! She produced children whose children produced children whose children produced children.

There was the occasional child that was willing to look at God to see how his face should look like, but many wanted and continued to get "plastic surgery". They got rhinoplasty of revenge. Liposuction of lust. Botox injection of backbiting. Tummy tuck of tattling. Porcelain veneers of prejudice. Breast augmentation of bribery. Througout the centuries, these people who were supposed to look like God went under the knife because of the suggestions and wiles of the devil and his servants. They did not look like God anymore.

But God!

God did some things to remind us of what we are supposed to look like. God came down in the form of His Son Jesus Christ, and God collected the image of what He looked like in the scriptures and stories of the Bible because He knew we'd forgotten in the past and that we'd forget today. When we saw Jesus, we had a standard. We knew what "hairstyle" we should now wear. We knew what "lipstick" to wear. The Bible shows us that Jesus didn't get revenge on people. Jesus didn't withhold forgiveness from people. Jesus didn't backbite, steal, lie, party, get drunk, get high, fornicate, manipulate people, embezzle from the church, and molest children! He did what His Daddy did. He looked like His Daddy. And both of them want us to look like Daddy too. So sometimes we have to go to the surgery table to undo our "plastic surgeries". We have to go to the sculpting table to get some "reconstructive surgery."


Isaiah 51:1 - "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn..."

Think of men who make sculptures out of ice, marble, wood - whichever you prefer. I like to think of marble. Maybe some of you have seen the statue of David in Florence in the Gallery of the Accademia. People travel from all over the world just to see this marble carving of a man. It is huge and breathtaking, and you notice it as soon as you walk through the doors. The block of marble was rejected by other sculptors because of the many veins that ran through the marble, and that meant that the stone could fracture easily making the work of the sculpture almost impossible. Compare us to that statue of David. At first, that statue was just a big, gigantic rectangle of a block that was shipped to the sculptor's table. That marble block didn't know what it would be; it just knew that it had to sit there and wait patiently. It would take a very long time to get all of that excess stuff off of the David that was waiting on the inside. But it was coming! Even when everyone else rejected it, Michelangelo knew he could work wonders with this stone!

So hypothetically speaking, you're that block of marble. You are sitting on this table surface with the master and his sculpting tools surrounding you. You know that this is going to hurt real bad because you have a lot of extra marble on you! The less you have on you, the less it'll hurt. Babies and toddlers don't have much work that needs to be done on them because they haven't sinned yet. The longer you live in sin, the longer the process will take. However, The Sculptor knows what's under there. He knows your beautiful potential; YOU just have to be patient. You might want to leave half-way through the process, but that'll result in you being a monster. You have to wait. And it hurts as you feel these tools bashing into you. You see pieces of the life you've always known dropping to the ground all around you. But because you trust The Sculptor, you wait on that table. You've seen his work done on others, and they are in museums all over the place. Spectators are marvelling at the other marble blocks he's worked on.

II Corinthians 3:18 - "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."

Imagine The Sculptor thinking this: "I know just what I'll do with this one! I can see it now. She'll be a beauty! She'll be set on display before thousands. But I'll get the glory out of this because I made her. She has all this extra on her though. This may take awhile. She's got a lot of lust on the left. That's okay, I'll just get my hammer and chip that off. There! Oh, what's this over here? I see some lying on the bottom corner. No biggie. I'll just break that off. Wow! Every day, she looks more and more like me! She'll be a MASTERPIECE! When I get done chipping away at all this filth, people all over will be sending in marble blocks to me to get sculpted. They won't even recognize her when I get through. Yea, it'll take awhile, but it'll be worth it because I believe in her. I want these things to look like I made them. I want them to be made in my likeness, in my image When people see them, I want people to be like, 'I know so-and-so made this! This is so characteristic of his work. So thorough and beautiful. And they're all priceless!' Let's see...I see some violence over here. That sure doesn't look like me! Pass me that pick over there, I've got to get this off quick!"

Now the hard part about us humans is that we can get up and move as we please. Marble can't go anywhere, but we can; and God doesn't sedate humans and then do the work on them. We have to choose to sit on the table and get done. God is trying to make you look like Jesus and Him. He works on you every day. When it hurts (like when you don't want to let go of a particular sin), you might be tempted to leave the workshop. But when you come back, you can bet He's going to work on that sin.

You might have a particular sin you want to keep doing. You might want to shack up with your boyfriend before marriage. Well, when you come to Jesus with a commitment, God is GOING to get on that with His hammer. But you can't be offended and run off. You can't say, "I'm working on this one, God, by myself. I'll give up the weed today, but my boyfriend is something I'll have to get weaned off of." Nope. God is going to get His hammer and knock that block off! He wants you looking like Him! Christianity is about being conformed and transformed more and more to be like our heavenly Father.

Now imagine if Michelangelo had let David keep a big monstrous nose because the statue knew that "rhinoplasty" would hurt. What if the statue David said, "Okay, Mr. Sculptor Man, you asking for a little too much here. I've sat on this table for months and years. Surely you can let me keep this big, ugly nose! I've given you the idolatry, the hatred, the covetousness, AND the gossiping!" If the sculptor had said, "Okay," THE WHOLE STATUE WOULD HAVE BEEN RUINED! The statue had to be totally finished. If you die before your time, you might not get finished in this lifetime, but when you wake up in heaven, you'll get your new, glorified body. But as far as your time on earth is concerned, you must get finished or you'll be the type of Christian that people call fake. Look at how ugly this unfinished statue is!


Zechariah 13:9 - "And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God."

I know that when I came to Christ over three years ago, there was one wrong I had a hard time letting go of. I let go of alcohol, weed, cursing, partying (to an extent), and many other things, but this one sin I held on to. I felt that I was "good enough." But "good enough" don't look like God and Jesus. I was just a monster that was on the verge of being made a beautiful masterpiece. I was going to settle for being good enough, but every time I looked in the Holy Mirror, I would see this huge "zit" on my forehead! The Mirror showed me that I was almost finished. My hair looked good, my teeth were clean, my outfit was cute, but I had this one sin I could not let go of. I knew that if I let go of it, I would risk a lot of rejection. And when I let go of it, I did get a lot of people mad at me and lost some "friends". But I don't regret it because I'm a masterpiece now! He refined me. I was a precious metal in his eyes, but he had to get off the dross of the silver to let me shine to bring Him the glory!

Malachi 3:3 - "And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness."

Now I'm not saying that I'm perfect or complete because it takes almost a whole lifetime to get complete because you might pick up more sins along the way (and you might "return to your vomit" on some old, discarded sins). But as far as the sins I knew of at the time were concerned, I had let them all go. And it was such a huge relief! It's a great feeling when you go to church and know the pastor ain't "talking about you." It's a great feeling when you can go to church and don't feel like a hypocrite when you stand up and clap in agreeance with the pastor. It's a great feeling when you don't have to avoid certain passages of the Bible because it has an ugly mirror reflection. It's a great feeling when you can give your offering and not have to worry about it "counting" because you know you have forgiven your trespassers. It's a great feeling when you can tell a friend about living right because you know they can't throw that one sin in your face.

Isaiah 48:10 - "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."

I'm sure you know people who have a "precious sin" they can't let go of. Some of the hardest sins to let go of have something to do with sexuality. Some of these people will avoid church, avoid bible passages, and avoid people who will reflect this unholy image of them. They will even get mad at people and might even throw something at the mirror to break the reflection so that they won't have to see it. But the thing about that is that you still look like that, you just choose not to see it. If I don't look in the mirror today, I still know my hair is sticking up on my head. I still know my teeth need brushing. I'll admit it hurts, but you have to be real.

There are people who want to get divorced for silly reasons -- some call them "irreconcilable differences". It's one thing if you know your husband is a homosexual, has molested your child or has continually cheated on you; but "she gained weight" is not at all what I would consider irreconcilable. These people will avoid like the plague such bible verses that say they will be adulterers and adulteresses if they get remarried. I'm not judging anyone, I'm just holding up the mirror to your face, and those who don't like it will accuse Christians of being judgmental and condemning. No, sweetheart, I'm just handing your my compact mirror because you got something on your face!

I used to get a little upset when pastors in church would say things about Christians getting divorced and remarried because both my parents did, but then I realized that if I was getting mad at them, I was getting mad at God for handing them that reflection to show to me. It wasn't like they drummed up some personal scriptures! "Turn to the Gospel according to Reverend Billy Sampson chapter 13 verse 6. Let's read! It says, 'Tell those Christians that they wrong for getting divorced cuz Rev. Sampson said so.'" No! Those pastors get those divorced and remarried verses from the Holy Bible, some of which were JESUS' words." Not Paul or Moses or Peter, but Jesus Himself said it. So if I got mad at the pastor for saying it, I was actually mad at Jesus for raising the mirror up in front of people and showing them ugly things that might make them sad. It's awkward when you're sitting beside someone who has divorced and remarried, and the pastor mentions it, but Christianity is not about making you feel good about yourself or your sins; it's about making you like my Jesus! Besides, God will forgive you of any disobedience that you confess to Him.

Matthew 5:32 - "But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."

Before I got to that point of discarding ugly aspects of my spirit, there was a simple question I had to ask myself. I had to ask myself, "Self, what is that one sin are you willing to go to hell for?" OUCH! One pastor has a sermon titled, "What In Hell Do You Want?" Try answering that question OUT LOUD to yourself. When you do that, you can look in that mirror and pop that symbolic zit with the quickness because disobedience is sin. And delayed obedience IS disobedience. I tried to bargain with God and say, "Okay, I'll let this sin go when I graduate. It'll be easier on me that way." Nope. He wanted that sin chopped off then and there! I won't lie; I did delay it because I had to psych myself up for what people would say, but eventually I did what I had to do, and I actually wish I had done it sooner. Because I ain't going to hell for nobody. Let it be known on the record that I said that I ain't going to hell for nobody! I don't care if I have 6,000,000,000 people mad at me, I'm going with Jesus when it's all said and done.

So here's a few questions for you. If you have a hard time giving a direct, honest answer, you might have a huge "zit" on your forehead you need to get rid of.

What is that one sin you would hold on to if God told you it had to go?

What aspects of your personality and character would others say make you NOT look like Jesus to them?

Are you willing to wait on the sculptor's table as long as it takes to look like a masterpiece?

What would you do if 90% of your friends and family members and your significant other said that they would leave you for letting go of something that God told you didn't look like Him?

Are willing to be a Christian masterpiece, or will you settle for being a Christian monstrosity?

What Mass, Matter, and Light Can Tell Us About Christianity

Matthew 13:22 - "He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful."

MASS: noun: the property of a body that causes it to have weight in a gravitational field

MATTER: noun: that which has mass and occupies space

LIGHT: noun: (physics) electromagnetic radiation that can produce a visual sensation
adjective: of comparatively little physical weight or density
adjective: (of sound or color) free from anything that dulls or dims
adverb: with few burdens

Does your mass and matter stop you from being a light to the world?

Matthew 5:15 - "Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house."

John 12:36 - "While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them."

The Bible often refers to Jesus as being the light of the world. These two verses are speaking of the first definition I listed for light which we know comes radiating from the sun, light bulbs, and fire. This type of light is a noun. It can be seen. But I’d like to compare Jesus and His followers to the other two definitions of light.

But first, let’s get “physics”al. Light has very, very little mass. Mass is what causes different objects to be pulled down to the ground by gravity. Because light has such little mass, it moves very fast through the vacuum of outerspace (Wikipedia says 186,282 miles per second!). It also moves fast on the earth. When you cut on the light, it doesn’t take long to see it! It’s said that it takes sunlight 8 or so minutes to get from the sun to the earth. That’s a 93 million miles distance!

But like I touched on, things with mass can get pulled down to the ground because of gravity. And the more mass you have, the faster and harder you come down towards the center of the earth. For example, a feather has much less mass than an elephant. So if you were to drop both of those from a 10-story building, the elephant would make a dent or an ugly stain on some concrete. It would fall fast and hard. But a feather would just take its time because gravity does not have as much as an effect on feathers because of their low mass. They don’t weigh very much. God actually designed feathers not to weigh much because He knew that His birds would be spending a lot of time flying and didn’t need a lot of mass holding them down and making it hard for them to soar through the air. If you try to hold on to too many material things, you’ll get pulled down to you-know-where quicker. Jesus said:

Matthew 19:21-24 – “…If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Light has very, very, very little matter. Physics say that light is not just energy that comes out in waves, but that it is made of little packets of photons (which are subatomic particles like neutrons, electrons, and protons). So since photons are a “thing”, they have to have mass. But you can kind of compare them to helium. We all know that helium-filled balloons float in air. Helium-filled balloons and hydrogen-filled blimps float up in oxygen because they are lighter than oxygen.

I like to compare living like Jesus to living “light” (4th definition). Experienced travelers travel light. They’ve traveled so much that they know not to bring a bunch of bulky luggage. They know just what to bring to make their trip enjoyable.

Matthew 8:20 - "And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head."

Jesus was a “light” traveler. He knew what He was set on earth to do, and He set himself about the business of doing it. He had three years to do His ministry. He knew that His purpose was to teach us some important truths and then to die for us on a cross as prophecied so that we can be reconciled to God. He had no time for a wife and kids. He had no time to get established in a career and to get settled in a home. He had work to do. He didn’t even worry about where He would lay His head when He went to sleep every night! Now THAT’S what I call packing light.

Something tells me that Jesus probably didn’t have a lot of change of clothes and jewelry and whatnot. He didn’t get caught up in material things like we do today. Of course, few people probably did because those were the Bible days. No electronics and cool gadgets like we have nowadays. But I believe that Jesus had even fewer things than others did. He probably didn’t carry a lot of money either. You see, Jesus was the light of the world (and still is), and light doesn’t have much mass or matter. Missionaries who travel around the world sell all they own to go to a different country and help and lead souls to Christ. They have to "pack light" because that’s what it takes to do a lot of work on most foreign mission fields.

I believe that Christians should live more like Jesus did. The second definition of “light” is “adjective: (of sound or color) free from anything that dulls or dims”. I like to think of this with the example of a light bulb. You can add color or stickers or stencils to light bulbs to make different colors and shadows and shapes go over the room. You might buy a light bulb that has star cut-outs all around it. So when you cut the light on when it’s dark outside, all you see are cute little stars around your room. Of you might get a red-colored marker and color the light bulb so that your room looks pink. Or you can just buy a light bulb that’s blue and that makes the room blue. All of those things are cute and pretty and unique, but they all tend to dull or dim the intensity of the light.

Matthew 5:15 - "Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house."

This verse says that when someone lights a candle (because back then, there were no light bulbs), they dare not put it under something to shield people from the light. If you want people to see in the nighttime and not walk into things and fall over things, you’re going to let your little light shine throughout the house. It’s pretty neat how far a little candle can reach in a dark house.

The other neat thing about candles is that if 100 people are surrounding you without a flame on their wick (the little rope inside all the wax) you can share your fire with all of them and STILL have just as much light as you did at first. You couldn’t do this with money, water, or food. But with fire, you can share with an innumerable amount of people and your light will never go out (as long as you have wick, wax, and oxygen). People are usually cautious about sharing some things because they’re afraid that they will run out of the stuff for themselves or they want to have all the control by being the only one with the power. But when it comes to sharing the good news (the gospel) you’ll never run out of it for yourself. And if the gospel really gets inside of you, you won’t want to keep it all to yourself. You’ll put your light on a candlestick and give light to all that are in the house!

But back to the definition of light that says free from anything that dulls or dims. I think that the problem with religion is that it is not pure and undefiled religion. It has accumulated so much matter and mass that it no longer looks like the pure and undefiled religion that Jesus had intended for us. Our religion of Christianity has become so boggled down with clutter. It’s no longer the light of the world but a burden to the world. Instead of the following:

James 1:27 - "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

Christianity has instead turned into a list of dos and don’ts. We leave love out, we leave holiness out, and we leave Jesus out. Christianity is less about “visiting the fatherless and widows and keeping ourselves unspotted from the world” and more into asking God to make me a millionaire, have God get rid of all my diseases and troubles, having an on-beat step in the church, having a grand choir, having a fine suit and fi’ hat, speaking in fake tongues, getting the pastor a new house, getting a gospel artist record deal, having a sold-out gospel concert, etc. etc. Instead of being light like Jesus and letting our “light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16),” we want all the praise and attention on us.

Let’s start packing light, Christians. Let’s stop looking to accumulate stuff that dims and dulls the light that is within us. Jesus’ light shines within us, and the less of us there is, the more of Him that shines through just like with the example with the decorated light bulbs. We get more glory if we have on our cut-out shapes, stickers, paint, and colors, but Jesus gets obscured in all of that. If we just remain plain and simple (or pure and undefiled), more of Jesus’ beauty can shine through. For those of you who want to know how to be truly attractive, holiness is attractive. People will be drawn to something in your spirit and won’t even know why. It’ll be what Mary Mary calls “the God in me!” But if you have on tons of makeup, flashy jewelry, and all these expensive name brands, people will be distracted from seeing the true beauty of God in you.

Think of a baby. They are so beautiful without even trying. They just laugh or smile and everyone who hears or sees it will be drawn to the baby. Babies don’t need make-up, cute hairdos, fancy clothes, or jewelry to be adorable. Their purity and light-spiritedness makes them attract people. Jesus was the same way. He put on no airs, He did not brag, He was fine being born in a stable! Jesus didn’t say, “Before I go down to the earth, I need to be sure that I will be born in the finest king’s palace and I need a nice crib." He was put in a pig’s trough! But His inner beauty shined through as a baby, as a kid, as a man, and now at the right hand of God. The light in Him (which is the same light that is in us) is so attractive! Personally, I can only be attracted to a man who is saved and who has the light of God in Him. I can see the God in saved people, and I’m attracted to that!

I John 1:5 - "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all."

Revelation 21:23 - "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp."

Revelation 22:5 - "There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever."

God’s glory is so bright in heaven that they don’t even have a sun or moon there. I know that this verse is referring to the New Jerusalem which will be the Holy City that is being prepared for all the saints when the world as we know it is over, but I believe it also means that right now in heaven, God is so bright, that there is no need for a sun! Imagine if there was no sun or moon shining on our earth but that all the light we needed came from a being. That very same being can shine through you! I've met Christians who were so on fire for God (a church term meaning they were sold out to Christ and super-zealous about Jesus) that their eyes actually shine bright. Their eyes are just glossy and you just can't look away almost. You can tell that there's not much of them left, but a whole lot of Jesus!

Ezekiel 36:27 - "And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."

I Corinthians 3:16-17 - "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."

So as you see, His spirit dwells in us, in our bodies. It doesn’t dwell in the temples mentioned in the Old Testament in an inner room called the Holy of holies where only the high priest could go in and minister after being sanctified by the blood of an undefiled animal sacrifice. Now His Holy Spirit dwells within us. But we have to live holy. We have to shed off all of this excess baggage (our sinful flesh) that covers up the light. High priests had to be totally purified to go into the Holy of holies.

It was/is commonly believed that they actually tied a rope around the high priest’s ankle in order to drag him out in case he was unworthy of going into the holiest of holies and dropped dead from God’s wrath. (However, some sources say that was totally false because it’s not written in the Bible, but it still gives us an idea of how serious it was taken.) The Bible does mention the priests wearing bells, so that might have been the reason why. The priests had to leave their clothes in a separate room when they left the Holiest of holies room because of how holy God is! So don’t you think you ought to shed off the dirt and sin and live holy for Him to dwell in you?

Ezekiel 44:17-19- “And it shall come to pass, that when they enter in at the gates of the inner court…they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat. And when they go forth into the utter (outer) court, even into the utter court to the people, they shall put off their garments wherein they ministered, and lay them in the holy chambers, and they shall put on other garments; and they shall not sanctify the people with their garments.”

He’s so holy that the clothes the priests ministered in would have sanctified the people!

I know that shedding off our excess baggage takes time, but please note the importance of it. I’m not talking about sin in this post, but just about Christians sacrificing more of their lives and dying daily to their flesh. Let's take up our crosses and follow Him! I’m still shedding off things that block out the light of God in me and that hinder it from shining on others (my sarcasm for example), but when I finally get rid of my light-blockers, people will really see the God in me and benefit from it. I've argued rudely with so many Xangan atheists on my posts. I would just tear them down with my words. But I realize that there was so much Mistye covering my light that they could not see God through me. They just saw my self-defense through my words. But I've learned to answer lovingly and not to do much arguing anymore. When Mistye steps out of the way, God can be seen more!

Hebrews 12:1 - "…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."

Let’s lay aside weights that cause us to slow down as we run our race. When your mark or goal is the first prize that God has set for each of us, do you need a backpack, some high heels, and a wig? When people are running a race, they have their hair slicked back, some running shoes, and clothing that is close to their skin and not at all baggy. Some runners pretty much wear athletic underwear because they know that they can't wear some blue jeans and a baggy t-shirt to get first place. They “pack light”. So while we run our race, if we want to get to the finish line in first place, let’s shed all the extra. Erykah Badu told the Bag Lady to lay off some of those bags because they were slowing her down and making life hard for her!

I Corinthians 6: 12 - "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."

I Corinthians 10:23 - "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."

I take these last two verses to mean that while everything is not a sin, it is still not expedient. Expedient means “serving to promote your interest” or “appropriate to a purpose; practical”. Sure I can listen to whatever music I want and still go to heaven, but it’s not promoting my well-being. Sure I can go to a club every once and awhile and not drink or dance, but it’s not edifying my spiritual walk. Sure I can drink wine in moderation, but it’ll slow me down. So Christians, let’s evaluate our spiritual walk and see if we’re carrying around too much. PACK LIGHT!

When Pigs Fly, They Won't Be Happy Until They Lose Those Wings!

How come birds, bees, and apple trees don't suffer from low self-esteem?

Why is it just that adults do?

One difference between a man and a bee is that a bee does what it's supposed to do. Unlike a human who might be predestined to be a painter, but who decides to go ahead and get a 9 to 5 behind a desk selling insurance, a bee only does what it was meant to do.

Some of the most miserable people I know are people who are doing jobs they weren't meant for. Imagine if Michelangelo had been a physical trainer. Imagine if Beethoven had chosen to be a doctor. What if Maya Angelou was only a door-to-door saleswoman? Something tells me they'd all be miserable to an extent. I think that's the case because God had so many plans for these three people to be amazing artists in their own field in their lifetimes and also for their work to carry on in the future after their deaths. I've found myself in their predicament at times. I like to sketch, design, write, and counsel people. If I knew that my whole life I'd only get to be a telemarketer, I'd be so sad! I don't think I'll be as well-known as the three aforementioned artists, but I know what I'm good at and what I like.

Imagine a bee trying to be fish. The bee would fail miserably. The bee wouldn't be able to swim in the sea because of its buoyant body. The bee would be eaten quickly by other fish. The bee would drown because it has lungs with no gills. The bee could not move under water because it's not designed by God to swim. Bees are most happiest when they're doing what bees are made to do. Hanging with other bees, getting pollen from pretty flowers, taking the pollen to a beehive, and making sweet honey in the honeycomb. They'd be happy doing nothing else. Yeah, their life looks pretty dull and monotonous, but they don't mind. Bees die soon after they sting someone, and most know that they'll never be the Queen Bee. But they dpn't mind doing just what God made bees to do. Be bees!

A crocodile that would try to be a bird would also be sadly disappointed. All the other birds would run from it. It couldn't retrieve worms from the ground because its pointy snout isn't made for digging in the dirt. It couldn't fly. It would move so slowly. Crocodiles move better and faster in water. It would be so sad to be perpetrating life as a bird because it loves water and loves being with other crocodiles. God made it for such a purpose, and it would be miserable anywhere or as anyone else.

I never met Michelangelo or Beethoven, but something tells me they were so very content with their careers. Even if they had terrible love lives and personal lives, they loved their careers. Beethoven loved nothing more than being a composer. He could probably sit for hours and write music for an entire orchestra full of different instruments. Michelangelo could spend hours upside-down on his back facing a ceiling while painting. I hear he actually went blind from the paint falling into his eyes after it dropped from the ceiling, but I bet that once he found his talent of painting, he wanted nothing more than to do that. He also loved to sculpt. He painted the very popular statue of David.

Maya Angelou was sexually abused and raped by her mother's boyfriend at age eight. She confessed it to her brother, who told the rest of their family, and then her uncle killed the man. Afterwards, Angelou became mute. She said it was because, "I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone..." She remained nearly mute for five years. Even though the devil tried to utterly destroy her life through this abuse and her mutism at a young age, God had a plan for her. She is a poet, dancer, film producer, television producer, playwright, film director, author, and actress. At least some of these things were things that were in predestined for her to do. The devil tried to steal her destiny and joy with those early traumatic experiences, but when she found out what she was supposed to do in life, she did it. When she came to UTK to speak a few years ago, she said she had 50 Ph.D.'s! (I'm sure most were honorary, but nonetheless, a great success.)

I don't believe that everyone has an artistic ability like these three aforementioned artists do, but I believe that others get great joy from helping others, volunteering, preaching, being stay-at-home mothers, being housekeepers, acting in movies or on stage, being comedians, or being carpenters. Some men love working on cars. Being a mechanic would get old and dull for me because I'm not made by God to be a mechanic. But those men on "Pimp My Ride" seem very fulfilled working on those cars the way they do. They were made to do that. They're not aspiring to be presidents and rappers. They found their niche, and they thoroughly enjoy it.

Some people have even more specific talents. I've seen wedding cake designers bake and decorate the most amazing cakes! Not everyone could do their job. Beauticians can do the most amazing cuts and colors. Culinary artists and chefs amaze me with their knack for making various foods blend well together and taste mouthwatering. These people are happy at what they do. I even had a manicurist who LOVED her job. She had been doing it for over a decade with no desire to stop. I'm not trying to say that all 9 to 5 jobs are boring and for people who have not discovered their God-given talent because my dad used to do real estate and he really, really enjoyed it. My mom's an attorney, and she loves doing her 9 to 5. I used to feel sorry for them because they were behind a desk for much of the work day, but they enjoyed it. When I would work for them every once in a while, I could not understand how in the world they did it because I hated it! But it's not for me to understand; it's just not for some other people to do.

In middle school, I would draw and design clothes all day when I got a break from schoolwork. I had every intention of studying fashion design when I went to college, but I kept listening to people say, "Art majors don't usually end up with well-paying jobs because fashion and art are purely subjective. It's a risk because people may or may not like your designs." And so I started to doubt my abilities. I was afraid that I would waste four years in school and then design a bunch of clothes people hated. So I went another route with a field I didn't really want to do. I just picked something because I was a sophomore and all my other ambitious friends knew what they were doing with their lives. I didn't want to be aimless or careless so I let one of my friends help to pick a major for me! I wish I hadn't done that. I wish I had went in to study one of my hobbies or talents. I didn't know I could write like this at the time, but I knew I had important things to deliver to help other people through words. So now I have a major in Child Development, and I don't even necessarily like working with children! I want to counsel all ages, but not just children. And with only a four-year degree in my field, you get to do the crappy jobs with the horrible-behaving children. I should have honed my design and writing skills! I guess I could handle that in grad school.

Making money doesn't make you happy long-term. Doing the job God made you for makes you happy. Angelina Jolie is happy acting. She might not be happy in herself because of other issues, but she enjoys acting I'm sure. She also enjoys helping the less fortunate. Imagine her serving fast food all her life. All that talent and service would be wasted. Imagine Beyonce being a high school science teacher! Ask any person who has found their niche, and they'll tell you that there is no greater feeling than to have that thing done or validated. For example, I was called to lead people to Christ. So there is nothing more rewarding to me than to have a reader say, "You just don't know how much that post helped me. Because of your latest writing on your blog, I am going to restore my relationship with Christ. That post is exactly what I needed today!" Nothing more rewarding to me. I'm still waiting for the atheist commentator who will say, "Because of God using you to write this note, I have prayed the prayer of repentance and have given my life to Christ." I've had some say they're going to go back to God, but I'm waiting on the people who have never been saved or who have never known God to feel led to Him. I'm sure some have, but just haven't told me. But just planting those seeds are good enough for me.

So basically what I'm saying is that God made you for a certain reason. He does nothing haphazardly. He didn't just plan for a bunch of humans to make more humans who become miserable at jobs, homeless, unemployed, or hopping from one disappointing job to the next. He made YOU - yes YOU - for a certain reason. Ask Him what it is. Sometimes you kind of already know though. Many Xangan bloggers are supposed to be authors, poets, journalists, preachers, teachers, speakers and comedians from what I have read. Everyone on Xanga is writing to some extent! Some are kind of restrained because they are nervous about exposing their skills in case they're not good enough compared to others, but the constant improvement will come with exposure and practice. If you look at some of my first writings and some of my latter ones, there is a big difference. We Xangan bloggers have some pretty amazing things to say, but we need to let it out.

Find out what you are made for. Discover it. You pretty much know if you have a beautiful voice, if you can dance, if you can play an instrument, and if you can draw. But there are different other things that God makes people for. It is all for His glory. If you have a beautiful voice, sing for Jesus in the choir! If you can dance, do interpretive dance in church! If you can play the drums, play for Jesus and not Jeezy. If you can draw, draw for cartoons for Christian children's books or television cartoons.

I compare it to us being faucets, and God being the beautiful, life-giving water. A faucet is just a faucet no matter how expensive or cute it is. It has no use if it can't be used to pour water for people. Some people use their faucets to pour "dirty water". But some people use their faucets to pour clean, clear water. Let God use your "faucet". Even if you are a beautiful, pricey Behr faucet, you are useless if you can't be used to pour water. You will be miserable if you can't be used. Of course there are many other aspects of feeling bad about oneself, but when it comes to our purpose in life, I feel that when we get our puzzle piece into the right place in the world that is our puzzle, things will start to look up.

Being Emotionally Sensitive is a Blessing (and Occasionally a Curse)

What does it mean when you say someone is too sensitive?

I've been seen as emotional and sensitive all my life. I've fought it all my life too. Because I was born on July 15th, people who believe in zodiac signs say that I'm a Cancer and that Cancerians are ubersensitive. They also say that to protect their oversensitivity, Cancers exhibit a tough outer shell that makes them seem tough when they're actually the opposite. I don't do horoscopes, but I will admit that I have been guilty of using a hard outer shell to protect myself from insults and insensitive comments that impact me much more than they should. Insults that most people could care less about tend to sink into my mind and stay longer than they oughta. I'll admit that my sensitivity is one thing I HATED about my personality for a long time. I would actually pray repeatedly that I would care less about what people thought or felt about me. I prayed that every negative (and unconstructive) thing that someone said about me would bounce off without my even noticing its hostile intent. But, it appears that God has not honored that request.

I explained to a friend of mine about how the whole sensitivity thing works. I love that God gave me insight into it. It helped me not to HATE it so much in myself. I compared it to someone with a food allergy. I had a teacher who taught me that some people have such strong peanut allergies that they will get an allergic reaction if someone were to throw away PART of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a garbage can TWENTY MINUTES EARLIER. They can walk in the room and begin to itch and swell.
So this is how I related this to my friend. I told him something to the effect of this:

Just because that person has an allergy does not mean that they are weird or to be looked down upon. Just as you wouldn't look down upon someone who is very sensitive to shellfish or peanuts, you should not look down upon people who are sensitive to insults and unintentionally insensitive remarks. The people with either type of sensitivity CERTAINLY didn't ask for it. I promise I was not in the womb and asked God to make me hypersensitive to the comments of people. I PROMISE I did not. And neither did people with allergies for pet dander, pollen, peanuts, shellfish, diary products, and gluten. So treat emotionally sensitve people the same way you would treat people with other sensitivities. You wouldn't ask a friend with a pollen allergy to have a picnic in the spring under a tree unless you were evil. You wouldn't invite a lactose-intolerant friend out for ice cream unless you were cruel. You wouldn't invite your friend who was allergic to cats to your apartment with the five fluffiest cats ever unless you were a meanie! So why would you keep making hurtful comments to someone who you know cannot tolerate it?

I bet my two sisters will laugh if they read this because they've always thought I was too sensitive over the silliest things. They think I read WAY too much into comments and other's behaviors towards me. But that's because they don't have the same "emotional allergy" as I do. For example, I have a friend who is not at all sensitive to what people do or say to her; and for the longest, I envied that in her. She will have a guy not call her for three days and will not be the slightest bit offended. But I, on the otherhand, think that's disrespectful for a guy who claims to want to be with you not to contact you. She'll call or text the guy first, but I'll say, "No way! If he likes you like he claims, then he'll call or text first!" She doesn't understand why I think the way I do, but I do.

Now, I have a new appreciation for my sensitivity. My sensitivity helps me to weed out the bad guys. And she always finds out that I was right about the guys she was dating. My sensitivity is like the people with strong peanut allergies. She can't sense the "peanuts" - so to speak - like I can. I'm so ubersensitive to the "peanuts" that I can smell them a mile away while she'll just bite into a cookie without even noticing the label that reads "Warning; This product might contain peanut products."

Does that make me any better than her or her any better than me? No. We have our different strengths. Her strength is that she can tolerate a lot of male crap, and I can't. As soon as she tells me about a guy and how the first date went, I can IMMEDIATELY tell her whether he's good or not because of my intuition (mental sensitivity). That's why my sisters need to listen to me! :)

To make the point clearer, I will give a scenario from the point of a nonsensitive young lady and from the point of a very sensitive young lady. The scenario is that they are both seeing very similar guys. The guys have the same behaviors. On the first date, this is what happens for both of them:

Both guys pick them up 10 minutes late. Both guys tell them that they look really good in their outfits. Both guys take them to a drive-in movie theater. Both guys receive a phone call that they leave the car to answer. Both guys buy them what they want to eat. Both guys ask them if they want to go home right after the movie. Both guys don't call the next day. Here's how both of them interpet the date.

The nonsensitive young lady would say that the date went very well and that she is excited about going out again.

The very sensitive young lady would say, "How dare he pick me up late? Everyone knows that first impressions are often last impressions. If he really respected me, he would have come early. Then he told me I looked good in my outfit which was cool. The only problem was that he stared a little too long. That's disrespectful; what kind of a Christian guy stares at a woman's chest like that? Then he took me to a drive-thru movie. Is he embarrassed of me? Is he trying to hide me from a possible girlfriend? Was he just hoping to get some in the car? Then he left the car to talk on the phone for a whole 5 minutes. Was that his girlfriend that he didn't want me to know about and that he didn't want to know about me? Then he asked me if I wanted to go home right after the movie. Does that mean he wanted me to go so that he could see the girl he was on the phone with? Or did it mean that he was not enjoying himself and did not want to spend another second longer with me than he had to? And to make matters worse, he didn't even call to see how I was the next day! That jerk!"

Both people could be right. But the sensitive person is so in-tune to the fine details that the nonsensitive person wouldn't notice. Of course, the sensitive person could be WAY off. But what if she's not? What if the nonsensitive young lady is just ditzy and in La-La Land? The good thing about the sensitive person is that she won't end up in a bad marriage because of her missing the warning signs on the FIRST date. But the bad thing about the sensitive person is that she MAY NOT GET MARRIED AT ALL! She seems so sensitive that she may blow things out of proportion!

The nonsensitive person's good quality is that she is very easy-going and can have a good time without being paranoid. She won't let insecurity and paranoia ruin a good relationship. The bad news about her is that she has no intuition and can end up in very bad relationships because she can't pick up on the early warning signs that say "DANGER! DANGER! Turn back now!"

I'm not nearly as sensitive as I used to be; I used to be like the overly sensitive girl in the scenario. But I've learned as I've gotten older that NO ONE is perfect. I still notice the small things, but I also cover them with grace. If someone is late, I give them the benefit of a doubt now. I think to myself that perhaps they spent a little more time in the mirror trying to look just right for me. Or maybe someone in traffic or at a store held them up. Or maybe he got lost. I say that if he stares a little too hard, that means I look great! (And the truth is that many women intentionally dress in clothes that accentuate their better features.) If he leaves the room to talk on the phone, it could be because it's just an important, private phone call he was waiting on that's none of my business, or it could be that he doesn't want to disturb the movie for me and yet really needs to take that call. (THAT would be rude if he talked while I was watching a movie!) I still don't have much patience for a guy who doesn't call the next day, but just to make a point, it could be that he heard a bunch of lame advice from his friends that said, "Dude, if you call her too soon, she'll be turned off because she'll think you're desperate. Don't call until two days later! Trust me!" Maybe he's not had a lot of dating experience and doesn't know that you are supposed to call a lady the day of or the day after a date.

Another example I gave my friend that I was explaining emotional sensitivity to is this:

I told this person that if he knew of a little person who had difficulty working in the same workplace as him because of her height, would he be so cruel as to tell her, "Oh, well! Get over it! I'm not short, so your shortness is a personal problem. It has nothing to do with me!" I explained to him that if you really care about the little person and desire to have a close friendship with her, you're going to have to get over yourself every once in awhile and accommodate her height. You'll start using the lower shelves so that she won't have to get assistance or use a ladder every time she has to get that thing off the shelf. If you really care about her, you'll "inconvenience" yourself every once in awhile to make life easier for her.

The bible says to bear the burdens of one another. So if her height is a life burden for her (just as some people will ALWAYS have peanut allergies and some people will ALWAYS be emotionally sensitive), then you are supposed to put self aside to accommodate this loved one. If someone is in a wheelchair for life, what manner of person would not leave a chair off of the table so that that person can fit at the table? What manner of man would not hold the door open for them? What manner of person would not help them get in the car? If somebody is destined to be emotionally weaker than you for life, get over your emotionally strong self and help them by not saying every thing that comes into your mind.

I've met SO many people who seem to feel that it is their God-given duty to let me know that I am very skinny. I used to be very sensitive to that as a child, but I'm not anymore because I realize that I look good at my size. But I don't go around calling them fat even though, ironically, most (if not all) of them are overweight and are currently on diets and workout plans. And the reason I don't do this is because I know that many people are sensitive to that even if they're not naturally sensitive. I have NEVER went up to someone and said, "You're fat." It's just good common sense not to say things that hurt people. My sensitivity makes ME feel sensitive towards them whether they're sensitive to me or not!

After reading some of a book called The Highly Sensitive Person, I now see my sensitivity as a definite plus. I consider myself so fortunate that I can detect small details and warning signs that are important. It's done me well. I've never had a bad relationship. Never been cheated on or abused. That shows me that my sensitivity works! But I have friends and family members who have little intuition, and because of that, they end up with the greatest jerks. I feel sorry for people who can't perceive evil in people because they end up getting hurt unnecessarily. Also, my sensitivity helps me to write great notes that help many people. I can feel people's pain and struggles because of intuition. People without that hypersensitivity can't be the best psychologists, therapists, counselors, etc. because they won't have that natural ability to empathize without treating the person like another number or paycheck.

But just so that it doesn't seem like I'm bragging, I'll reemphasize the negative parts of my sensitivity. I can be so sensitive that it makes me not take risks that might be well worth it. I may not get married if I don't lose some of that sensitivity because I'll find something bad in every guy I date! I need to accept that NO ONE is going to be flawless. I have bad parts and so does everyone else. So if I can perceive bad in others, I need to understand that I too have bad parts that I would like for others to cover with grace. Another negative aspect of hypersensitivity is that you may be paranoid about things that aren't necessarily true. I may wrongly attribute a comment to be someone's attempt to tear me down, but it might just be constructive criticism to make me a better person. I may call a genuinely helpful person naive or a hater. You can think many people are "out to get you" when they aren't even thinking about you. (My big sister drove this point home for me!)

So if you're emotionally sensitive like I am, there's nothing wrong with you! You're actually special! Don't let your sensitivity take over your life though. And if you have friends and family members who don't respect that, it just makes good sense to me to distance yourself every once in a while - if not permanently - if they insist on hurting you (if they were friends). (People with pet dander allergies are not evil people for avoiding fluffy pets!)


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I'm 100% real reaching for the ideal.