Monthly Archives: July 2013

Just Be You – Rediscover the King in the Mirror

The phrase ‘just be you’ is usually spoken in the context of telling someone not to conform to every norm and not to live a life trying to please everybody. While this is sage advice, the advice only ends positively only if we know who we truly are. Now, we cannot answer the question of ‘who we are’ until we know what we are.

The scripture reveals to us that ‘what we are’ are spirit beings. We know this because God, who is spirit (John 4:24) decided to make us in His image (Genesis 1:26). Seeing that we are spirit beings, this means that this body is simply a garment that cloaks our true nature. And just as a garment shows wear and tear over time, the physical garment of our body also deteriorates over time.

Light-bulb moment: The man in the mirror is not the real you; the real you is hidden.

This hidden person inside of you is not like your body which changes over time. The spirit only has two states of existence – it is either dead or alive. Therefore, the first question you have to ask yourself is this: Am I dead or am I alive?

If you do not know the answer to this, then consider that it is the Holy Spirit that gives life (John 6:63). Hence, any person without the Holy Spirit is spiritually dead. Such a person cannot ‘live’ their identity for they are not even alive. How does the Holy Spirit give us life? He does this by taking up residence within our spirit when we accept Jesus as our Lord and savior. When He does this, He seals our spirit with His Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22) so that our spirit and His Spirit become inseparable. Here is what it all means:

Light-bulb moment: Our living identity is given by the Holy Spirit and is found in the Holy Spirit

Since ‘what we are’ is spirit and ‘whose we are’ is the Holy Spirit’s, the only we way can ‘just be us’ is to live by the Spirit. The moment we stop living by the Spirit is the moment we become imposters! As imposter, we no longer as who we are but have started acting like someone else!

Remember the ‘You are not you when you are hungry’ snickers advertisement on television where the teen turned into a grumpy Liza Minnelli when hungry? It is just like that with us when we do not live by the Holy Spirit. Living without the influence of the Holy Spirit is akin to starving ourselves of life. It makes us grumpy and cranky; we begin to act like who we are not. In truth, we are no longer controlled by our true selves (who are identified with the Holy Spirit) but are controlled by our hungry flesh.

Light-bulb moment: The only way to ‘just be you’ is to live by Spirit. If you are not being you, then you are being whatever your flesh (your senses as impact by things and people) wants you to be.

So then the question is this: Are you being you or are you acting like who you are not? Today, choose to be you! It is so much more difficult trying to be someone else anyway. Furthermore, whomever you are trying to become is not as good as who you are! If you have been running away from yourself, I want to encourage you today to stop, look inwards, and rediscover who you truly are. I promise that you will love yourself!

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‘The lamp of the body’ needs regular oil change

Ancient Brass LampThe lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! – Matthew 6:22-23

In biblical times, the lamp used was an oil lamp. Now, if an oil lamp is to give light, it must be filled with oil. The quantity and quality of oil the lamp contains determines the quality of the light the lamp gives. Moreover, it is the oil lamp that leads the way since it gives the light shows the way and illuminates a path.

So when Matthew 6:22 says ‘the lamp of the body is the eye’, it is telling us that the lamp of the body is the mind. In other words, the mind is the oil lamp that leads our body.

Light-bulb moment: The mind is the oil lamp that influences and controls our ways and actions.

For the oil lamp of the mind to be judged as good, it has to fill our entire way of life with light (Matthew 6:22). Since Jesus is the light of the world (see John 8:12), the only way for our entire being to be full of light is for us to be filled with Jesus.

Light-bulb moment: It is not just enough to have Jesus; our minds have to be filled with Him if we are to be a light to the world

Since the only way Jesus can lead us (fill our body) is through the Holy Spirit, then it becomes clear that the only way our light is good is if the oil lamp of our mind contains the pure oil of the Holy Spirit. Simply put, just as Jesus completely surrendered his mind to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we must surrender the oil lamp of our mind to the influence and control of the Holy Spirit.

The problem is that we tend to allow impure and junky bad oil to enter our oil lamps. Note that this ‘bad oil’ is like water to the pure oil of the Holy Spirit – it cannot mix with the Holy Spirit but can only displace the oil. Once bad oil is introduced, we can no longer say that the oil lamp contains pure oil.

When the oil lamp of our mind is contaminated, sometimes our mind operates on bad oil (flesh) and at other times it operates on good oil (Holy Spirit). In those times our oil lamp is running on bad oil, the light it produces is dim to the point of darkness. But when the oil is good, the light it produces is as bright as day. In other words, yo-yo like behavior is a result of good oil mixed with bad

Light-bulb moment: If we are being led by the Spirit in an area of our life but cannot get it together in another area of our life, then we need an oil change!

So how do we change our oil? First, we must dump the bad oil through confession – 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. Then, we must flush the residual junk out by renewing our mind with the word of God. Once flushed, the purified oil lamp is now ready to be filled with the pure oil of the Holy Spirit.

Light-bulb moment: The word of God is the valve that activates the inflow of the Holy Spirit into our minds. Moreover, without confession and the renewing of our minds, we find that our lights will begin to grow dark.

After this infilling of the Holy Spirit, we must then apply the right filter. Indeed, the oil lamps of our mind run smoother and shine a brighter light when we apply the filter of spiritual disciplines – reading the bible, prayer, fasting, fellowship, serving, giving, and worship.Without this filter, all we do is go through a cycle of confession without shining much in life.

So I ask you once again, when was the last time you had an oil change? If it was not today, then your light is already becoming dark.

Food for Thought: No spiritual oil change is complete without the application of spiritual disciplines


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How to stay in the will of God for your life when struggling

If we are honest with ourselves, following the instruction of God and staying in the will of God for our lives can be very difficult. If this is you, then do not worry – you are not alone. Even Jesus had the most difficult time staying in the will of God for His life.

The thought of having to endure all that pain, suffering, and being separated from God left Jesus sorrowful and deeply distressed (Matthew 26:37). Here is how Jesus put it Himself: “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” – Matthew 26:38

Talk about dreading what you know is the will of God for your life. But instead of giving up and saying ‘I can’t do this, it is just too difficult…I give up’, Jesus took another route.

If you are finding it difficult to stay in the will of God for your life or you are dreading what God is asking of you, try doing the following things that Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane. If it worked for Jesus, it will work for you!

Do Not Deny Your Struggle

We see that Jesus did not keep the fact that he was deeply distressed to himself but told his disciples. Although He was their Lord, he did not worry about what they would think about him if he showed weakness. The lesson is that we should not fool ourselves if we are struggling to keep in the will of God. Furthermore, we should not be too prideful to tell other people that we are struggling.

See, Satan loves to convince us that we are the only one’s struggling. That way, he can murmur all sort of lies into our heads that lead us down the path of loss of transparency with our loved ones. Since there is no true fellowship without transparency, we see that what he is trying to do is isolate us. Just like the lion who tries to isolate the gazelle from the rest of the pack, he wants to isolate us so he can mess up our lives. Do not let him!

Light-bulb moment: Admitting you have struggles is the first step towards opening the door of opportunity to getting them fixed.

Ask Mature People for Help

Jesus not only admitted his struggle but called His top disciples (Peter, James, and John) to help him battle the sorrow that he was experiencing (see Matthew 26:36 -38). It is important to note here that He did not tell every disciple but only the ones that were mature enough to handle what he had to say. Just think about the kind of ‘help’ Judas would have offered?

So, who are the ‘prayer warriors’ that you need to ask for help today? Is there a very wise person that you should call to help your through your situation? If you can think of no one, it is time to develop those relationships and keep those people close to you. If Jesus needed help, so will you!

Light-bulb moment: Saying ‘I need help’ is a sign of maturity.

Shut the door to distractions

In dealing with His struggle, Jesus tells his disciples to stay while he went a little farther (see Matthew 26:39). See, Jesus did not need any distractions but decided to go a place that was quiet so He could do battle with the anxiety that was attempting to overtake Him. Moreover, I believe He did not want His disciples to be distracted by Him either. He wanted to give them time and solitude to seek the Lord without worrying about whether He was okay physically – for Jesus was sweating profusely!

This tells us that we must give the people that know our struggles time to seek the Lord on our behalf so that their solution is from God and not their own opinions or life experiences. Furthermore, we have to be willing to shut the door to whatever may be a source of distraction to tackle our fears, doubts and whatever else is trying to cause us to falter.

Light-bulb moment: You open the door of clear communication with God when you shut the door to your distractions.

Be persistent in Prayer

The last thing that Jesus did was pray. He not only prayed once but prayed three times! If the Son of God needs to pray multiple times before experiencing victory in His mind, then who are we to give up just because we do not see the result immediately.

If Elijah had to pray seven times to see the rain, then we need to be persistent in prayer if we want to experience the goodness of God in our lives. Prayer will not only bring you peace (see Philippians 4:6-7) but it will also bring you a solution (James 5:16). Prayer magnifies who God is and keeps you calm in the storm.

Remember, He who has promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23)

Light-bulb moment: A prayerful person is a person who has victory over Satan and experiences the peace of God in their life.

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How Do I Guard My Heart (Part II) – Prayer and Thanksgiving

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God  and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus – Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Instead of guarding our own hearts, Philippians 4:6-7 makes it clear that is it the job of the peace that comes from God to guard our hearts when we go to Him in prayer and with thanksgiving. Once we submit our request to God, we can rest assured that He is not hiding His face from us (Ezekiel 39:29) and that He who has the whole world in His hands loves us so much that He is working everything together for our good.

See, prayer and petition is the way we cast our cares upon God (1 Peter 5:7). It is what guards our heart and mind from worrying (anxiety) by unleashing the peace of God into our hearts. Therefore, when the bible says to ‘guard our heart for out of it flow the issues of life’, it is saying that we should guard our hearts from worrying (through prayer and thanksgiving), because worrying which comes from fear (or a lack of trust in God) causes the issues of our lives.  Indeed, it is a lack of trust in God that causes us to choose the world over the word (see How Do I Guard My Heart – The Word) and so unleashes turmoil in our world

Light-bulb moment: The way to stop worrying is to start praying wholeheartedly in trust and surrender.

In conjunction with Part I of this two -part series, we see that the way to guard our heart is to spend time in the word, through discernment, via prayer and supplication, and with thanksgiving. It is these spiritual disciplines when done in trust and surrender that allows us to walk obediently in the Spirit. They are what guard our hearts and minds from the filth of the world.

Without understanding this, the tendency is to guard our own hearts away from people out of fear. Since there is no fear in love and fear involves torment (see 1 John 4:18), it is no wonder so many people are tormented in their relationships. Let me explain:

Many times for a person – let’s say Kevin – who has been hurt before, guard your heart means ‘do not allow yourself to be hurt again’. If Kevin does not understand how to guard his heart with the word, prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, and through discernment, then ‘do not allow yourself to be hurt again’ for Kevin turns into ‘scrutinize my partners every move, try to control her life, and never allow yourself to fully trust her’.

Alas for Kevin, fear-based doubt and self-preservation leads the relationship instead of love-based faith. In response, Kevin’s partner feels suffocated, controlled, and imprisoned. As a result she fights back and the relationship goes through turmoil and fails.

Kevin, not realizing his fear was the culprit of the turmoil and failure feels that he successfully protected himself from hurt. He says to himself ‘Aha, I knew she was going to hurt me’. He does not realize that he has hurt himself. He has made his worst fear come to pass by taking fear-based actions which made it so – all because he did not know what is meant to guard his heart.

In the example, Kevin thought he was protecting himself from hurt, but all he was doing was keeping himself from love.

This also applies in our relationship with God. If we do not know how to guard our hearts, we guard our heart from love (God) and so are unable to unlock the power of God over our lives.

Food for Thought: When we guard our heart, we guard love (God) right out of it. When He guards our heart, He allows love to flow right into it.

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How Do I Guard My Heart (Part I) – The Word

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it – Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Proverbs 4:23 clearly says that the reason we should guard our hearts is because everything flows out of it. This scripture is further explained by Jesus when He tells us that ‘from within , out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness’ – Mark 7:21

Hence, we see that we must guard our hearts so that filth does not to flow into it. Why is this? It is because whatever flows into our heart will ultimately flow out of our hearts. Once filth flows into our hearts, it becomes sin and leads to sinful actions.

Now, while it is clear that we should guard our hearts away from the filth of the world, what is at times unclear is how we actually go about this. Should we keep lock ourselves up so we do not get contaminated by filth or is there another way? Here is the answers: The way we go about guarding our heart away from the world is by keeping our minds filled with the word of God. Since the mind is the gateway to the heart, whatever we keep in our mind will ultimately make its way to our heart. If we keep out mind filled with the word, our hearts will reflect the word of God and so we develop a heart that is akin to that of God.

Moreover, our mind is either being influenced by the world or it is being influenced by the word. By filling our minds with the word of God, there is no room for the world in there; hence we have effectively guarded our hearts from the world and its influences.  Put another way, by filling our heart with the word of life, we find that only life flows out of our hearts.

Light-bulb moment: An effective way to guard your heart is to fill your mind with the word of God

The alternative to guarding our heart with the word is trying to avoid the world. Doing life this way requires that we cease to be salt and light to a fallen world because everything in the world would cause us to backslide since there is no ‘word’ barrier. It is not the will of Jesus that we seclude ourselves away from the world. Jesus did not do seclude Himself but spent time with tax collectors and other marginalized people so that He could be salt and light to them. Furthermore, He said He does not want us to be taken out of the world but to be protected from evil (John 17:15). Why? It is because He wants us to influence the world by shining our light in the darkness – instead of hiding our light under a basket and away from the darkness.

Light-bulb moment: We should never turn the guarding of our hearts into something we force to happen instead of something that happens naturally as we spend time with God.

So how does God protect us from evil that works through people? He does this through the Holy Spirit via the spiritual gift of discernment. Thus, it is the Holy Spirit that protects us from evil. This is why Jesus prays to God that He protect us from evil. He does not pray that we protect ourselves from evil through our own prejudiced and experienced based thinking. Hence, just as Jesus kept away from certain men because he discerned their hearts (John 2:24), we must keep away from evil company through spiritual discernment – not experiential or cultural discernment.

To conclude, guarding our heart with the word allows us to insulate ourselves away from the effects of the turmoil of the world and the actions of people, without alienating ourselves from people out of fear. Since guarding our heart Jesus style allows us to be salt and light to the world, we see the guarding our hearts has everything to do with love and has nothing to do with fear.

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10 Things a Champion in Life Keeps in Mind

        

      While it is good to learn how to make lemonade out of lemons, it is better to learn how to avoid the lemon trees in the first place

      It is our life that makes us a light to the world, not just our words.

         Legacy requires that we choose not to settle but grow; learn to choose destiny over comfort; learn to choose significance over security.

        Fear always delivers what it promises to avoid but love always delivers more than we think it could ever promise.

          Animals have little to no control over their natural instincts but man was created to exercise spiritual control over his nature.

·        You should never allow the worries of tomorrow to cloud your thoughts of today and you should never allow the worries of today to cloud the path towards your destiny tomorrow.

         No man, woman, or demon can stop the promises of God from being fulfilled in our lives. Only we have that power to stop it by holding onto fear, resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness.

·         We have the choice between struggling in the world to win the prize of emptiness in life or we can rest in God to win the prize of fullness of life.

     When what God tells us to do becomes about us, then what we do no longer brings fulfillment and joy but becomes a chore that enslaves us

          Jesus is the manna from heaven that we must feast upon to gain everlasting life and to live life more abundantly on earth

      Friends, if you found these quotes to be worthwhile, you can keep up with more thought provoking quotes by connecting with us via Facebook or following us on Twitter (@SuperChampDiary)

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Guard Your Heart – What it does Not Mean!

If you have attended church for any considerable amount of time, you have probably come across the statement ‘guard your heart’.  

If you tell me that it means we are to guard our hearts away from people who may hurt us, then I beg to differ. Jesus certainly did not adhere to that interpretation in that He chose to have fellowship with a traitor called Judas and in that all twelve disciples betrayed Him by scattering after His arrest. If Jesus was trying to guard Himself from hurt, He would not have chosen any disciples to follow Him. If He was so worried about being hurt and looked for perfection, He would not have found it and He would have had to go it alone. If He had gone it alone, then there would have been no one to give the Great Commission! Hence, no disciples = no believers today.

Light-bulb moment: When we guard our hearts away from hurt and so block people away, we open our heart to being alone, being depressed, and missing out on God’s best.

See, Jesus was not looking for the perfect heart (a heart that would not hurt Him) but was looking for hearts open to chasing after perfection. He understood that since only God’s heart is perfect, some level of hurt is inevitable when dealing with man!

Like Jesus, we need to make our peace with that right now. If we are dealing with man, we are likely to be hurt to some degree whether the person meant to do it or not. But most people I know do not desire to hurt people. Most people I know hurt people out of weakness rather than out of wickedness! We must know the difference just as Jesus did for Jesus separated Himself from those who had a wicked heart (Pharisees) but did not separate Himself from those who had a weak heart (His disciples, Tax collectors).

Light-bulb moment: Wickedness welcomes evil (falsehood) but weakness simply loses to evil.  

How was Jesus able to stand being hurt by those who had a weak heart? He was able to because He understood that the individual simply lost his/her battle against the forces of darkness they were fighting. He understood that His gripe and anger was not against the individual who did whatever they did to hurt Him, but against the powers and principalities ruling them (Ephesians 6:12).

Now we see why Jesus remained so calm with Judas. Jesus knew that Satan had entered Judas (Luke 22:3) and so Judas’s actions were now being controlled by Satan. While Jesus was no doubt angry at Satan for deceiving and using Judas, He felt sorry for Judas because he was now a puppet under the influence of Satan!

While Satan thought he was using Judas to hurt Jesus, all he did was use Judas to bring to pass the purpose to which Jesus was called! Simply put, Satan cannot thwart your purpose! Only you can by the way you react to His antics! 

We now see why Jesus was able to say ‘forgive them Father for they do not know what they do’ to those who were crucifying Him. He actually felt compassion for them because they were like silly putty in the hand of Satan – they were actually in bondage. All their actions did was further reinforce why He had to set them free through His death.

Forgiveness is easier when you realize the truth that the person who hurt you was being manipulated by a force that used them as an instrument to hurt you. Consider that the way Satan tries to hurt you most is not by the actions of that person but by the way you react to their actions. Satan wants you to respond in prideful unforgiveness. Why? It is because it gives him room to operate in your life. Do not give him that pleasure but forgive just as God has forgiven you.

Now that Jesus has set us free from the power of Satan, Apostle Paul explains that a struggle still goes on between the Spirit and the flesh (Galatians 5:17). See, the moment we allow the flesh to take over our heart is the moment we have missed the mark (sinned). Moreover, the moment we sin is the moment we hurt God! How glad I am that God does not guard His heart away from us when we sin.

Food for Thought: I cannot truly love if I walk around afraid of being hurt

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Relationship Rant – How is Your Mindset affecting Your Relationship?

A society that is too reality-focused always settles for the flavor of the day. This society allows itself to be carried away by the ebbs and flows of life in fatalistic surrender. It seldom strives to make tangible improvements. The people of that society are likely to say ‘well, there is nothing I can do about this’.

Now, while the positive aspect of being reality-focused is that it allows for peace of mind and unnecessary wrangling, the problem is that putting too much emphasis on reality allows for much needed improvements to fall in between the cracks. Moreover, people who are in overly reality-focused societies many times fail to live the best life for they are okay with just about anything.

Conversely, a society that is too ideal minded is never satisfied with the status quo.  The people of these societies cannot stand it when things are not as they should be and are always looking for improvements. The people of these societies are likely to say ‘there must be something I can do about this’. Standing still and doing nothing is usually not an option for the ideal-focused society. Innovation is the name of the game!

Now, while the positive part of being ideal minded is that it always allows for continuous improvements, the snag is that people in these societies are never satisfied with where they are and so never truly get to be fully happy with life as it is.

Our ability to balance the ideal and the real determines our ability to cope with life and our ability to find happiness in life

If we attempt to divide the world into these two camps (ideal-minded versus reality-minded), we find that Africa is on one end of the spectrum with it being highly reality-minded while North America (especially the US) is on the other end with being highly ideal-minded. While this is great for the US with regards to living standards, it has a deleterious effect when it comes to the sphere of relationships. Let me explain.

Most people I know are looking for the man or woman of their dreams. For the ideal-minded believer, nobody but Jesus will do for only He is ideal or perfect! In fact, most people consider going for someone who does not look like Jesus as ‘settling’. Here is the problem: no one truly looks like Jesus yet because we are all being conformed to His image of daily (Romans 8:29). That means we are not ideal but simply heading towards it.

Unfortunately, most people out of fear of being single (because of not being ideal enough) set themselves up as being closer to being ideal than what they really are. In essence, they fool their partner into thinking they are something they are not. When finally the relationship happens, they both stop pretending and stop the charade overtime and then the partner sees the reality of who they are. Once past the initial shock, each partner starts to access whether they can live with the reality they now know. If they cannot, and the other person does not move any closer to a level of idealism that person can stand within a particular time horizon, the relationship suffers and is usually severed.

Why severed? It is because highly uncompromisingly ideal minded people set up for themselves unrealistic expectations that make them susceptible to being disappointed and hurt – even by the most menial offense. Once hurt, the ideal-minded person starts to look for ways to fix the problem because waiting it out is not an option. If Innovation (counseling, change, fearful control) does not work, then the ‘there must be something I can do about this’ query only leaves two options. Cheat by finding someone that seem closer to being ideal or sever the relationship! Seems a familiar problem doesn’t it?

See, the end of looking for perfection in people is unhappiness, loneliness, and depression.

In truth, we look for people who are perfect because we are afraid of getting hurt – so it comes from fear. Furthermore, it comes from a sense of entitlement or greed in that we are looking for something we are not ourselves. Unfortunately, when we do get something that seems perfect, we become afraid of losing it and then try to control the other person’s life. As a result, that person falls or starts to become imperfect.

If we find someone that is perfect, we should stay away from them because our own imperfection will only sully whatever is making that person seem perfect.

Today, instead of trying to find someone who is ideal (perfect), look for someone who is chasing after the ideal – someone who desires to be conformed to the image of Christ. Befriend the person and make the person comfortable so they feel free to show you who they truly are. If you can cope with the reality of this person and this person is chasing after the ideal, then you have hit the jackpot in that things are only get better as the person continues to be conformed to the image of Christ.

Food for Thought:  Is my unrealistic expectation of perfection the root of my unhappiness? Is it driving people away and encouraging them to be phony around me?

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