7.28.2015

All Is Vanity


The above piece is entitled “All Is Vanity” (1982) by Charles Allan Gilbert based off of a verse in Ecclesiastes which states (depending upon which translation you look up) “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1:2 (KJV) Admittedly, when I was first drawn to this picture it was for the skull itself. As you may or may not know about me, I have a visual appreciation of (some) skulls equating them to the truth that we must be dead to the world around us, living for the Creator and also since the place where Jesus was crucified is called Golgotha aka Calvary, which translates into place of the skull.


Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon. THE SOLOMON. The man who knew it all (well mostly), had it all, could get it if he didn’t have it, and it is he who said, without God everything is meaningless (NASB). He did have bit of a nasty ending, all because he failed to keep this truth to be at the forefront of his mind. 

It’s is easy for us to get caught up in our day to day lives, to get sidetracked by working to pay the bills, or napping to relax after our  60+ hour work week, but truly without God, all of it is meaningless.

He is the one who created you.
He is the one who sustains you.
He is the only one who can save you.
He alone will judge you.

I write this not knowing if it is a message that can even be taught my mere words. It is a truth that perhaps one “knows in their knower” (as my diddy would say), when they come upon the realization within their own being. It may be something you realize more than once, as with the ups and downs in life, sometimes our walk with God follows the same pattern. However, the important thing is that we always return back to Him. That we continue to grow in His will and wisdom all the days of our lives, and that we share the truth of salvation with others.

Some of you reading this right now, may be wondering what this whole God thing is about – what can He really do for me … Peace and Life has that questions answered for you.

He Can Comfort You
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the
God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any
troubles with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4
He Can Give You Confidence
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret
of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me the strength.   Philippians 4:12-13
He Can Take Your Worries Away
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.  Psalm 55:22
He Can Give You Eternal Life
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never parish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to revealed in the last time..  1 Peter 1:3-5
He Can Help You
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have  one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16
He Can Give You Hope
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:23
He Can Give You Joy
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  1 Peter 1:8-9
He Can Provide For You
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Matthew 6:25-27
He Can Give You Salvation
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.  Luke 19:10
He Can Forgive You
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  Romans 8:1-2

Now, some of you reading this may be wondering what God CAN’T do … since He is after-all the Creator of all things and Christianity Today has that answer for you …

God can't get tired.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. Isaiah 40:28
God can't take on a job he can't handle.
Ah, Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you. Jeremiah 32:17
God can't be unholy.
And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" Isaiah 6:3
God can't be prejudiced.
In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him. Acts 10:34-35
God can't break a promise.
My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of my lips. Psalm 89:34
God can't remember sins he's chosen to forget.
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins. Isaiah 43:25
God can't make a loser.
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:14
God can't abandon you.
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, he is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
God can't stop thinking about you.
How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:17-18
God can't stop loving you.
Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Jeremiah 31:3

So coram Deo my friends. Coram Deo.


7.02.2015

The Favorite Phrase Potential of coram Deo



While pondering recently on potential future permanent something, I came across the phase "coram Deo" which (per Wikipedia) “is a Latin phrase translated "in the presence of God" from Christian theology which summarizes the idea of Christians living in the presence of, under the authority of, and to the honor and glory of God.”



R.C Sproul (admittedly I know nothing much of the person), recently wrote the following blog article on coram Deo.

What Does “coram Deo” Mean?

I remember Mama standing in front of me, her hands poised on her hips, her eyes glaring with hot coals of fire and saying in stentorian tones, “Just what is the big idea, young man?”
Instinctively I knew my mother was not asking me an abstract question about theory. Her question was not a question at all—it was a thinly veiled accusation. Her words were easily translated to mean, “Why are you doing what you are doing?” She was challenging me to justify my behavior with a valid idea. I had none.
Recently a friend asked me in all earnestness the same question. He asked, “What’s the big idea of the Christian life?” He was interested in the overarching, ultimate goal of the Christian life.
To answer his question, I fell back on the theologian’s prerogative and gave him a Latin term. I said, “The big idea of the Christian life is coram Deo. Coram Deo captures the essence of the Christian life.”
This phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.

LIVING CORAM DEO IS TO LIVE ONE’S ENTIRE LIFE IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD,
UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF GOD, TO THE GLORY OF GOD
To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze.
To be aware of the presence of God is also to be acutely aware of His sovereignty. The uniform experience of the saints is to recognize that if God is God, then He is indeed sovereign. When Saul was confronted by the refulgent glory of the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, his immediate question was, “Who is it, Lord?” He wasn’t sure who was speaking to him, but he knew that whomever it was, was certainly sovereign over him.
Living under divine sovereignty involves more than a reluctant submission to sheer sovereignty that is motivated out of a fear of punishment. It involves recognizing that there is no higher goal than offering honor to God. Our lives are to be living sacrifices, oblations offered in a spirit of adoration and gratitude.
To live all of life coram Deo is to live a life of integrity. It is a life of wholeness that finds its unity and coherency in the majesty of God. A fragmented life is a life of disintegration. It is marked by inconsistency, disharmony, confusion, conflict, contradiction, and chaos.
The Christian who compartmentalizes his or her life into two sections of the religious and the nonreligious has failed to grasp the big idea. The big idea is that all of life is religious or none of life is religious. To divide life between the religious and the nonreligious is itself a sacrilege.
This means that if a person fulfills his or her vocation as a steelmaker, attorney, or homemaker coram Deo, then that person is acting every bit as religiously as a soul-winning evangelist who fulfills his vocation. It means that David was as religious when he obeyed God’s call to be a shepherd as he was when he was anointed with the special grace of kingship. It means that Jesus was every bit as religious when He worked in His father’s carpenter shop as He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Integrity is found where men and women live their lives in a pattern of consistency. It is a pattern that functions the same basic way in church and out of church. It is a life that is open before God. It is a life in which all that is done is done as to the Lord. It is a life lived by principle, not expediency; by humility before God, not defiance. It is a life lived under the tutelage of conscience that is held captive by the Word of God.
Coram Deo … before the face of God. That’s the big idea. Next to this idea our other goals and ambitions become mere trifles.

~~~~


Squee, isn’t it like the bestest phrase you’ve heard as of late? As you ponder upon what this means to your own life, I hope that you feel a sincere sense of peace and comfort, knowing that you are loved beyond measure, and that you are never without hope. I pray that you become willing, bold, and unshakable in your faith. That you will not be bound any longer by past sins or regrets, habits that you think can never be broken, but know that you are a new creation in Christ. His mercies are renewed every day, and that as a believer you have the HOLY SPIRIT INSIDE OF YOU; so victory is really yours for the taking to be claimed in the name of Jesus! 


6.30.2015

Hope, Hypocrisy and a Hallelujah


This month I received quite the blessing, as you may or may not have seen yet, Loved + Blessed (a monthly faith based subscription box), included a copy of 31 Rays of Hope this month. To say that I am grateful, excited, and humbled does not begin to cover it. I am in awe of what the box is doing for people across the world, and I am joyous and expecting that the words penned in the book will inspire hope, and foster a better connection with the Creator of the world to those who read it. I’m an actual subscriber to Loved + Blessed, and surely do recommend you check it out for $10/month as a lovely little pick me up and truth reminder of His word. Not to mention a portion of the proceeds from the box go to helping the homeless (bonus!).



Growing up I was always told a hypocrite was one who “said one thing, and did another”. Quite the blanket statement, but as believers, we could all be grouped into this category, even-though we are continuously eager to be more aligned and in step with the Perfect One. Right?

I mean the biblical moral advice that we give to others, may always be more on point than what we do in our own lives. Eh? Recently, I heard a preacher as to go so far, as this is one of the reasons we should keep personal opinions and advice to ourselves, lest we don’t look like such. I’ve even gone so far as to say to friends after hearing that, do you want to know what it seems is the best option or what I would probably do that isn’t the best way … how about I just share both (as admittedly I have had no problem spewing commentary in the past). Now I find myself sometimes just telling them (who are believers) to seek God for the answer because He ultimately knows better than I, and I honestly don’t want to be included in the Matthew 23 version of the word. Alas, as Paul shares in Romans 7 we can all be a bit backwards at times. 

Broken Hallelujah by phasingirl on DeviantArt

But even so the first topic washes over the second and breaks way into a hallelujah, as in Christ alone our hope is found! There is an abundance of grace, forgiveness, mercy and love awaiting everyone all thanks to the Creator of the world, shown through the actions of His Son, and through the comfort of His Spirit, and just the  mere fact that we all taking another breathe in the very moment.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world."
John 16:33

May you take a moment this morning, regardless of where you are – what you are doing, just to simply thank Him for all that He has done, is doing, and will do. May peace rule in your life today, and may you be engulfed in His love, apt to show that same love to others. As believers we not only have the answer(s) to this life, but the key to life here-after, for all eternity. Thanks be to Jesus, for by Him alone we are saved and it is in His name we pray.

Now enjoy these bonus tracks that have been blaring through my speakers as of late!


 

6.25.2015

A Call To The Hunted

Photo Credit God in All Things 

Me: Do the bugs feel pain from the bug spray?
Mom: Well they probably feel pain, but it more-so messes with the neurological system.
Me: Well I hope they don’t feel pain, perhaps they could just go out on some drug type trip.

This may sound like a conversation that I had with my mom when I was younger, but in fact it happened this week. We have these hard-shell bugs that come out in droves at night, have a sort lifespan, but awesome flying capabilities. Albeit bugs can be annoying, I still don’t desire for them to cause pain when they must be killed. Likewise, more-so important, I don’t desire for anyone to feel pain. So naturally it grieves me that the world around us is suffering. Their souls are crying out through words and actions for the need to know true love, that which is only offered through God.  

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:8

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
1 John 4:16

It has been a little over a week since the shooting in Charleston at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in which rattled the core of believers of the faith, and non alike. If you work the Google machine, and search “Christians killed” under the news section, you will find many accounts of people being killed for their belief in Jesus Christ as of late. Though it might seem somewhat bleak, it is my thought that this will only get worse. As even as it is written in 1 Timothy, it is my desire that all people are saved, although I know that not all people will. It is important in this time of persecution that we, as followers of Jesus, lean to what we know … love. Our future is secure, body piercing saved our lives, and we should be fervently praying for the world around us, for the people who are committing this acts of hate … not dreaming of repaying them in kind.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,  who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.
1 Timothy 2:1-6

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:9

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21

And as always, please never think that I write anything down in a finger pointing manner. All that I write are lessons that I have been taught, are being taught or even re-taught for the 50 millionth time in some cases. It is my desire to simply help you grow in your faith, in your walk, in your life.


May you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, be at peace in the midst of the chaos and shift of this world. May you not look to the television, your bank account or another person as your source of comfort and security, but to God alone. Know that your salvation is secure in Christ, live for Him, seek His truth and share His message with the world. Live by grace, rather than by law, and know that nothing can separate you from His love. In the name of Jesus, we pray.

6.19.2015

Theresa Tese - Founder of Comfort Socks



It is with a warm heart that I am able to interview Theresa Tese, founder of Comfort Socks, whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for about two years. She is without a doubt a faithful and humble servant of Christ who has a sincere heart for helping those affected by homelessness. As such thank you Theresa for allowing me this opportunity! I hope you are doing well, and for those who have never heard of Comfort Socks before, I wanted to start off by sharing your video from the website. 


So, as a distributor of donated goods, what importance would you place on community to your organization, as well as, the well being of society as a whole?
Community is important for support to our cause. Local sock drives contribute largely to our sustainability. We also appreciate our national supporters. We couldn’t accomplish our goals without those who understand in their hearts, the importance of socks.

On the website you do go into detail about how Comfort Socks came about in the Our Story section, which reads as a true testimony of faith, calling, and a new life through/in Jesus. As you have almost 7 years under your belt, as an incorporated entity, how would you compare where you are now vs. then (as a company and personally)?
Some aspects of the ‘then and now’ have remained the same (the vision, the drive, the excitement of the mission). The NOW is a deeper relationship with what helping the broken really means, and also I have been touched by the ‘2/3 of the angels that did NOT fall’. The network of people all across our nation that truly care about their fellow man inspires me over and over again.  I have truly learned and solidly stand on, that when one is obedient to the call of the Lord, then He unveils deeper and deeper parts of the father’s heart. There is nothing like experiencing God in all three persons. So in short – It is so much more than socks!!

Did you have a passion to help the homeless before the change, or was it something completely new to you?
I always wanted to do good, but helping the homeless never crossed my mind until the Lord gave me this mission.  Recently the Lord asked me “Do you want to know why I have put caring in your heart for the homeless?” I excitedly said “Oh Yes, Please Lord”.  Immediately the Lord brought to my remembrance the night before I left home. I was 17 years old again, staring at myself in the mirror, experiencing the bruising that led me to leave. And then I heard the Lord say “You see, you never realized you were homeless then, but I, the Lord, have taken your hurt and turned it into a victory in your life.”

Do you believe that everyone has a specific calling upon their life? 
Yes

 If yes, how would you encourage someone unsure of what they should be doing to seek it out?
You must first be born again (be in relationship with Jesus), then seek the Lord and His will for your life. Do not ignore it once you have heard from Him, and rejoice in what He has placed in your heart. The Lord is our guiding light, PERIOD. He is our provider, PERIOD. He will never leave us or forsake us, PERIOD. Stand on Him always.

What about someone who knows what they should be doing, but is just fearful of taking a step out into the unknown?
Rejoice in what He has placed in your heart. Praise is powerful, Faith is necessary, and offensive prayer leads us to His destination quickly. Stand, love and embrace the Lord’s calling on your life.

What would be your inspirational Bible verse, quote and/or song of choice?  
Matthew 9:36  But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were faint and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Song: From the Inside Out (Hillsong)

As we have a similar area of interest (homeless), what would you say (if anything) to counteract the very negative stereotypes that surround people who are affected by this?
We are called to love – it never matters what another does or did, it only matters what Jesus did.

Do you have a particular story of awesomeness that you would like to share about a particular group, event or person that you have helped along the way?
One of my favorite places to send socks is the church of the commonground in Atlanta, GA – this church is an outreach church that each week wash the feet of the homeless and  give them new socks and shoes. They also encourage those that have had their feet washed to wash the feet of others. So pure and powerful, we simply love it.

Photo used by permission of Comfort Socks
Lastly, is there anything else you would like to add before we close?
I appreciate the opportunity to share the spiritual side of our mission. Using such a simple thing to give comfort to the lost is such a profound thing, and it is totally God. We pray over every pair that leaves us, with full faith that His healing will touch the person whose feet the socks will cover.  I thank Him for you and your dedication to share His love. 


Thank you again so much Theresa for the interview! You are a true inspiration, and may you (and your entire organization) be blessed for that which you do.


If any of you would like to link up with Comfort Socks you can find them on all the different social media platforms, so you can spread the word to all you know about what a great thing they are doing via  FacebookTwitter and G+



6.02.2015

Our Sense of Shame & The Lack There-of

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, 
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:12


While listening to today’s broadcast from Ravi Zacharias (Unplugging the Truth In a Morally Suicidal Culture Part 2 of 4) he touched on a topic that has been swirled around the lips of a few people in conversation as of late: shame and the lack of it in today’s society.  Things that were once considered wrong are now considered right. It is not enough to merely just tolerate something; you must approve and applaud it, take it upon as if it is your own. I speak in generalities, so please do not attempt to draw a conclusion that I am pinpointing one particular subject matter.  

Shame is defined as a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.

So, if by simply deduction all feelings, ideals, and actions are given a pass and are considered rightly acceptable (henceforth good); then shame will cease to exist.

But as we know, not all things are good … not all things are right … not all things are just. Shame exists for a reason.

My own shame has brought me closer to God. The shame which I have felt in my life, more often than not was brought about due to my contradiction to God’s ideal way of living (a la I was convicted by the Spirit). Now, we are by no means to wallow in guilt over that which we have done (or even anything you may do in the future), but alas we are to recognize, repent, remove and move forward. 

Shame is a topic found through-out the Bible from in Genesis where as Adam and Eve hid themselves because of their nakedness to David declaring his dishonor in Psalms for what He had done to the inevitable shame that will come to all those who do not believe (Jeremiah).

Here are some verses on the topic as listed out by GodVine:

For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
Isaiah 50:7

For your shame you shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be to them.
Isaiah 61:7

Whoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Mark 8:38

For whoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
Luke 9:26

Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:38

There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

And one of the elders said to me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Revelation 5:5


So I urge you brother and sisters of Christ, read the scriptures, listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, train yourself to know what is right, acceptable and pleasing to the Lord. In the end, His view and opinion is the only one that will truly matter. 



***This is a simple disclaimer, as I know that the word "shame" can come with various subtexts. It is my sincere hope that no one will experience shame for too long of a period, and that no one will let their disobedience to the will of God keep them separated from their communication with Him.  God's grace and forgiveness extends to all people. You will never do ANYTHING that can separate you from the the love of God (aside form ultimately not accepting His son as Savior and henceforth ending up in hell - which is separation from God). Conviction of the Holy Spirit is not the same as condemnation from the evil one.If you perhaps are reading this and would not consider yourself saved, please know that you do not have to "get yourself right" in order to come to God, He accepts you just as you are. All He desires from us is a willing heart, one that will openly invite Him to come into our lives and allow Him to be guide of all that we say and do.