"Give me a Word to sustain the weary; awaken my ear to listen." - Isaiah 50:4

Tag: growth

Taking Inventory…

The beginning of a new year is often accompanied by a time of reflection and self-evaluation. We tend to reflect on what we’ve accomplished over the past year and those areas of our lives that still need improvement. In my own reflection, my focus has been on my associations and connections. How are they influencing me? Have I grown as a result? How have I influenced them? Have they grown as a result? It’s important to assess this as your selfevaluation is most directly impacted by your connections. Let’s discuss this idea…

You are who you attract. If this statement is accurate, that means I can examine my “circle” to get a good sense of who I am. You see, we often complain about the shortcomings and weaknesses of those we are connected to, without realizing that they are a reflection of us. It is impossible for us to be closely connected to people who are our polar opposites – after all, it’s our similarities and commonalities that bring us together. So, for example, you cannot be someone who believes in the value and character trait of honesty, but simultaneously be closely aligned or connected to a circle of thieves or liars. That’s incongruence between who you say you are and what you attract. It’s self-deception at its highest. The old proverb says, “Show me your company and I’ll tell you who you are.” The reality is, there are unexplored areas of weakness that may reside in you that allow you to: (a) be attracted to dishonesty and (b) attract the dishonest.

We have to be willing to do the hard work of going deep into those unexplored places of our hearts and lives and take personal responsibility for everything that is there – even the negative stuff. We can’t blame others for weaknesses or shortcomings that we continue to tolerate and in some cases, enable. The fact that we tolerate and enable what we dislike or what has proven to be of no benefit to the friendship/relationship says more about us than it does the other person(s). Which raises the questions: Have we been tolerating/enabling these negative traits in our connections? Or have our associations/connections just been reflecting the negative traits hidden inside of us?

The Word of God tells us in Genesis 2:7 that God breathed the breath of life into man’s nostrils and man became a living soul. So for Disciples of Christ, we should resemble the One who has breathed into us. It’s just like the movie plot for Catwoman (starring Halle Berry), where an Egyptian Mau cat breathed into Halle Berry’s character and she in turn developed catlike abilities. In examining our connections, we have to reevaluate who we are allowing to “breathe” into us. We cannot attach ourselves to people who may in fact be feeding our own weaknesses and/or even weakening our areas of strength. “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33); and “He that walks with the wise will be wise, but a companion of fools will suffer destruction” (Proverbs 13:20).

So, the question is, where’s the balance? How do we connect with the right people, while helping those who may be struggling with some of the same things we have struggled with or are struggling with? I think the key is what (Who) has your heart, attention, time, and commitment. Jesus Christ helped as many people as He could while on earth, but He had a very small inner circle that consisted of men who reflected His values and were on one accord with His mission. I think the issue is that God sometimes brings people into our lives for us to learn and grow from them, and/or for us to teach them what we know….. but we get attached to the “assignment” and try to extend it beyond its current lifespan. Instead of fulfilling the assignment, many times wefraternize with the assignment and this is often where we get in trouble.

While we’re still in the beginning stages of this New Year, let’s spend some time in self-examination and evaluate the people we’re connected to, how much they are reflecting our values, and whether or not they are merely “fulfilled assignments” with whom we continue to fraternize. The choices that we make in our associations and connections should never betray the integrity of who we are. It’s time to take inventory.

Prayer: Lord, show us ourselves and give us wisdom to discern our current connections. Help us to release fulfilled assignments and realign us with the people You have divinely ordained for our growth and development in You. Let this be a year of divine connections! Amen.


Focus On The Flow, Not The Movement

Even though oxygen is flowing, the bag may not inflate.”

Some of you may have already caught the Message in that message! I know just typing it made my soul rejoice!

As I listened to the flight attendant say this while we were getting ready to take-off last night, it resonated in my spirit. How many times do we conclude that “nothing is happening or working out” or “God isn’t moving”, when we feel either stuck or like things aren’t getting any better? The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:16 that “althoughthe outward man may perish, the inward man is being renewed day by day.” This Kingdom principle holds true for every debilitating or distressing situation we find ourselves in. It doesn’t matter what it LOOKS LIKE, all that matters is what IS REALLY HAPPENING! Don’t miss that.

Too often we allow our perceptions of a thing to rob us of the promised outcome God already established before there was ever a problem to begin with! Just as the oxygen bag on the airplane may not inflate (or show any signs of movement) even though oxygen is in fact being released, your situation is also being revived and resuscitated even though there seems to be no movement. As Disciples of Christ, our focus should be on what’s really happening on the inside (fact) and not the chaos occurring on the outside (fiction). We don’t take our verdict from our situations, but from the GOD who is bigger than our situations! For we walk by FAITH and not by SIGHT (2 Corinthians 5:7).

I just want to encourage you today: I don’t care what it looks like or what you feel may not be happening for you, GOD is working it all out….your inward man is being renewed….and oxygen is yet flowing to your point/area of need! As Believers, we don’t believe it because we SEE it; we believe it because God SAID it! Too often we focus on the END-result of a situation when God is more concerned about the IN-result! He is building your character, smoothing out your rough edges, repairing the breaches and broken places of your life, and renewing your spirit-man day by day.

Adjust your perspective and look at your situation through eyes of faith today. Dare to go beneath the surface and you’ll find that your “oxygen bag” (whatever this may be for you), despite its lack of movement, is in fact being filled to capacity!

Prayer: Lord, help us to trust and believe that You are yet working on the inside, even when we see no evidence of movement or change on the outside. Give us eyes of faith today! Amen.