Needs, Wants, and an Anxiety Attack

But God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.-Philippians 4:19

Blog photoThis morning, as I thought of all the things that I was in “need” of this week, I found myself in a slight panic. My money hadn’t been funny for awhile, but this month has been a reminder of those days. As I sat trying to figure out how to handle things financially, I felt my body bracing itself for  an Anxiety Attack. My palms were getting sweaty. My heart was starting to race; and right before I started to hyperventilate, Philippians 4:19 came to my mind.  It says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” This was Paul’s response of gratitude for what the church of Philippi did for him; but it became the anecdote for the anxiety that was trying to overtake me. As I continued to recite the verse, peace started to flood my heart. Repeating the words “God shall supply all your need”  began to put things into perspective for me. I had become so flustered over the temporary loss of certain luxuries that I allowed it to rob me of my peace. I had completely ignored the fact that ALL MY NEEDS were met.

As I searched for commentary on the scripture, none of the writers bothered to discuss what a need entailed. They may have thought it is one of those things that is understood; but I took the liberty of finding a definition for those of us who are unable to distinguish a need from a want. It was difficult finding a detailed definition for the word “need,” but Wikipedia defines it as “something necessary for an organism to live a healthy life. Needs are distinguished from wants in that, in the case of a need, a deficiency causes a clear adverse outcome: dysfunction or death.” Basically a need is something you literally cannot function properly without. You need food, but you want a meal from Fogo de Chao. You need clothing, but you want Oscar de la Renta, BCBG, and etc. You need shelter, but you want a 2,500 square ft. home near the beach. We often fail to miss the beauty of God’s provision being made available to us because we allow our wants to dictate our lives. When our wants are pursued over appreciating what has already been provided, we exchange our peace for anxiety/worry. Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that desiring the finer things in life is bad. I enjoy nice things. However, when our future desires rob us of being content with Today’s provision, we have to stop and put things back into perspective.

To add to the internal madness, many of us listen to “Christian” teachings that make God appear to be some kind of genie. We gravitate to teachings  that suggest “whatever you ask for, you shall receive;” “God wants you to ONLY have the best;” and things of that nature. As a result of such teachings, we often internalize but rarely verbalize, “If my wants are not granted, God has failed to be God for me.” However, God is not responsible for granting our wants. As our Creator, he is solely responsible for providing us with the things that will sustain our lives (Luke 12:22-30). This is something he does on a daily basis, and he reminds us in Matthew 6:31-34 not to worry about those things:

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV)

Today,  I encourage you to look around and see if you have access to these three things: food, clothing, and shelter. If you do, God has kept his promise to you as your Creator. Yes, housing conditions could be more comfortable; the food choice could be better; and the clothes could be more fashionable; but you are NOT without. I hope this truth will allow you to live free from the worry that wants, bills, and envy can bring. I pray you find rest in the truth that God has provided all you need for today. Enjoy this day, and trust God with your tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,

Charity Israel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note to Self: I am His!!!

Fact: There are days when I question, “am I saved enough?” This isn’t because I’m not secure in my salvation, but moreso due to me looking at how others respond to God or what they consider the things of God. I’m​ not into “churching” aka being in church for the sake of being in church(powerless services, conferences, and etc.). I don’t observe Jewish holidays, and I don’t care to be so “deep” in the things of the Spirit that I fail to love in my pursuit of this knowledge. As I start to focus on what others are doing, I begin to think simply loving Him and loving others is not enough. Then these two verses come to mind, and I get back on track:

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12, 13

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”- John 13: 34,35

He provides me with the will to do what pleases Him, and ultimately that is to love Him and others more. Sometimes the reminder is needed that I am His and his love flowing through me proves it. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

Nuggets from Noah: The Perks of Living in an Ark

This reflection was written July 8, 2016 in one of my journals. Today I was reminded of it. I was encouraged all over again. I pray it encourages you:

Today I felt led to read the story of Noah (Genesis 7:9-17). While reading, I tried to rush through it assuming I knew everything there was about Noah. The Holy Spirit, said “slow down and read all of it.”  As I started to take my time to read, I recognized the time it took for Noah’s world to return to its regularly scheduled programming (i.e. no animals, no living in an ark, and etc.). It took well over a year for things to return to “normal.” It took 40 days to flood the earth and over a year to restore the land.

As I read this story, I started to see my life. I too have been in an ark, a place of protection during the flood of life.  It is as if all that was good, honest, and true were permitted to remain while every lie, deception, past mistake, and negative mindset were left out of my ark. The world as I knew it was being destroyed around me; and I was forced to be by myself as things from my past were being drowned by the torrential rains of God’s love, truth, forgiveness, and grace. It was cold and dark, but I was never alone. Being in similar situations, I assumed it would not take as long to get out the ark. However almost 7 ½ months later, I am still in the ark. Things are slowly returning to normal, and the sun is starting to shine again. It is not quite time to come out, but I have more hope that the doors will be opening soon.

I must retract my statement about Noah’s life returning to normal. Nothing was normal about Noah’s life after leaving the ark. In the beginning of the story, he had just a piece of land to call his own. Now, he had the world as his possession. He already had authority as the patriarch of his family; but he obtained dominion over the earth upon leaving the ark. His family had been entrusted with replenishing the earth for the glory of God. He went into the ark as a servant, and he left it as a Ruler. He went into the ark following commands, but he left it free to do what his heart desired.  Noah was a completely different man a year or so later after being in the ark. He had become wiser; skilled at taming animals; and a great strategist dealing with the issues that arouse on the ark. Noah’s patience was perfected while waiting to be released from the ark. He became a master at caring for creation. He developed a deeper understanding of God while enduring the flood. Building the ark proved God to be a provider. Living in the ark proved God to be a protector and sustainer of His creation.

 Today you may be in what appears to be the greatest storm of your life. Having gone through a few storms, you assumed God would have responded by now. However, you do not know what is being prepared beyond your limited view of the situation. God is developing a place where you can thrive, have dominion, and enjoy His creation. Take a lesson from Noah and wait on God. Allow God to handle what is outside of your power, and you tend to what you can fix. Allow this time to perfect your love and skills. Let the truth of God’s love for you assure you that this time will not last forever.

Noah received new instructions upon leaving the ark, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:2) Initially, he was restricted by what could go into the ark. Once Noah was released, he was given permission to produce as much as he could for as long as he could. Authority is given to those who submit themselves to God’s will during the time of a storm. I pray you will be found submitting yourself to God’s will while in your storm. There is something God is working inside of you and outside of the ark. Yield to the process and watch God keep his promise of protection and provision. You’ll be released from the ark at the perfect time. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

 

 

 

 

Confessions of an Ex-Racist Christian

This morning I woke up and felt led to open one of my journals. As I read it, I laughed at a few of my foolish request, and I smiled at my growth as a human trying to learn how to live this life. Since it is  Throw back Thursday, I will share an entry of Introspection from September 9, 2015:

I believe one of the hardest thing for a person to admit,especially a Christian, is he or she is a racist. No one who claims to love God wants to admit they have a problem with His creation; but it is  part of the Church’s reality. It took me roughly 25 years, six years ago, to admit racism lived in my heart. It was something I tried to ignore, but, living in the South and becoming more aware of the injustices of my tribe, I found myself HATING white people. I  found it difficult to admit my racism because I had friends I genuinely cared about although I could care less about their kind. To my credit, I did not hate my friends just all of the “other” white people smh… I figured, if I refrained from watching slave movies that it would go away. I thought, if I tried harder to befriend them that it would go away. I assumed, if I tried to replace negative thoughts about them with good ones my problem would be fixed. Oh how I assumed incorrectly! The more I attempted to fix a heart issue with my logic, I despised them more. Finally, I had a moment of truth with God because the hate in my heart was conflicting with the cry of my heart to love him and his people.  I poured my heart out to Him concerning the matter. I confessed that I was in fact a racist, and I held deep hate in my heart towards Caucasians. I confessed that my knowledge of how their ancestors treated my tribe and how some treat us today makes it difficult to forgive and love them. I even admitted that I felt I had both the right and plenty of reasons to stay angry with them. I repented for claiming to love God and hate his creation. I knew I could not be an effective dispenser of God’s love to the world with this kind of hate in my heart towards people. I asked God to change my heart and teach me how to gather knowledge without hate being attached to it. When I decided to be honest about the condition of my heart, God did an amazing work in it. I no longer carry that Hate I did towards my lighter brothers and sisters. I stopped  accusing them all of being one way based on the actions of a few. I truly make a conscious effort to judge a person by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Life has truly been much sweeter with hate out of my heart. Thank you God for helping me!-Charity

For those who will read this, particularly those who claim to be Christians, please consider your ways.  Take the time to tell God how you truly feel about certain groups of people. 1 John 4:20 says, “If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” My encouragement to each of us is to be honest about who we are in God’s presence so that we can love as God commands us. We as believers cannot expect the condition of the world to change when we refuse to change and deal with the hate in our hearts. I am praying for each us that we would truly allow the love of God to permeate our hearts and be the change this world needs. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

Freedom Friday: 20 Years of Torture & Unnecessary Shame

img_20160930_144721You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous.”-Psalm 139:13,14 NLT

I will admit that this has been one of the hardest scriptures for me to believe in the bible. It has been very difficult for me to say, “Thank you for my body.” This is due to all of its deformities. I have a severely clubbed right foot that makes my right leg and foot significantly smaller than the left side. I was born with a dislocated hip, congenital scoliosis, and missing chest bone. I will admit that after my hair and face, in my most jaded opinion, my body goes downhill.

To add to the disfigurement, I am also left with scars on my foot, leg, and back as doctors made attempts to correct the way I was “knitted together in my mother’s womb.” It has been very difficult for me to believe that a God who carefully created creation seemed to have missed a few steps while creating me. Of my mother’s four children, I seemed to carry the physical deformities for everyone. No one else was born with a physical deformity. For years I never questioned it, but I would be lying if I said at one point or another that I did not find myself envious of their “normal” bodies and disgusted by mine.

At 12 years old, I pronounced a life sentence of shame and hiding upon myself. I stopped wearing clothes that would reveal what I hated most about me. I stopped wearing sandals because I no longer felt like explaining my condition to people. I did not want pity or sympathy. I just wanted to be normal. So I became a hider, and into my closet I went hoping to never have to face these legs of mine again. If I hid them, they would eventually go away. Now that I am 31 years old, I can say that was the dumbest idea ever in the history of Charity’s dumb ideas. I literally signed my life away when I decided to start hiding my legs. I stopped swimming. I did not try out for any dance or cheer team because it meant I would have to show my legs. I almost quit softball one year because I thought they were going to make me wear shorts. I removed myself from any activity that required your legs or feet to be seen.

As God would have it, the one activity I could continue was dancing. Our liturgical attire was always long and covered! The only thing that gave me assurance that God meant to put me in this body is that even with my deformities, I am still able to dance. Some of my moves are limited, but I am able to dance unto His glory. He gave me a voice, and I use it for his glory. He has given me the gift of counsel, wisdom, and writing. I use them all  for his Glory. The interesting thing is nothing about my physical deformities have stopped the gifts of God from operating through me. The only thing that has hindered those things at any time have been my mind. I have allowed the “what ifs” to keep me from doing. What if my legs become a meme? What if the men who follow me find out and unsubscribe? What if people start treating me with pity because they discover the truth? I never considered what if I share my story and help others overcome their own insecurities? What if my process of freedom convinces others to find freedom? What if God placed me on this earth as an example that the package is only limited by the mind not by its deformities or flaws? For 20 year I have allowed something that I had absolutely no control over ruin and rule my life. I was completely convinced that because I was born this way I was undeserving of love, friendship, and fulfilling my dreams. That was all a lie.

For years I was afraid of  photo tag notifications. I just knew that someone from elementary school would post a picture that would expose the secret I was hiding, and I would lose everyone once they found out the truth. None of my friends from junior high up until now have been privy of this information, minus those who knew before I started hiding and those who were at Oral Roberts University my Freshmen year. I was just too afraid of rejection, and the enemy had my mind convinced that if people knew the truth about me they would not want me around. However, now that I understand my purpose I must take that risk. God cannot get all the glory that is due Him if I remain in hiding.

The photo being used for this blog was taken on my birthday, July 25th, as I declared the 31st year of my life to be my year of freedom. I asked my sister to capture it because I wanted to see what freedom looked like. It has been twenty years since I have seen myself photographed in a dress and sandals. I had every intention of posting this pic that day but fear convinced me to wait. Well i’m tired of fear and shame ruling my life, and I did not consult them this time. I am tired of preaching freedom and living enslaved to thoughts of fear, rejection, and shame. I am tired of worrying myself with how people will respond to something beyond my control. I am tired of being hot during the summer LOL, and today is the day I free me for good. Even with what is deformed, disfigured, and ugly about me, I am still His workmanship. I am finally choosing freedom over fear, and that my friends is a marvelous thing!-Charity Israel

Throwback Thursday: Fearless, Free, and Five Years Old

I have roughly 56 minutes before the clock strikes 12 and Throwback Thursday will be over; but I could not let the day end without writing this blog. Have you ever ran across one of your childhood pictures and instantly remember everything you were experiencing that moment the picture was captured? In this particular picture I had just finished dancing with a few of my cousins, and I was thrilled that people were impressed by my moves. This picture was taken shortly after what I considered to be the best performance of my life at that time! LOL

I chuckled and happiness instantly hit my heart as I reflected on that joyous occasion of hanging with family. Then the joy became bitter-sweet as I longed for that boldness I had back then. I miss that Charity, and I have spent 20 years trying to be her again. That Charity was fearless, and she believed that anything was possible. That Charity did not allow her physical condition to determine what she could do. That Charity was unfamiliar with shame, and she loved the skin she was in completely. That Charity was not acquainted with how bad life could wound your soul. Her innocence was her superpower! She did not doubt herself, and she was not afraid to try anything. She believed that she was in fact “fearfully and wonderfully made by God!” She was amazing, and I’d be lying if I said that I have not been on a search for that Charity for years now.

After I turned 12 something died inside of me, and I felt like hiding in shame would be better than living as I was.I have spent almost 20 years of my life trying to find that freedom, boldness, and courage that I once possessed. It took me awhile, but I can say i’m finally starting to experience it again. I do not want to hide any more, and part of my purpose requires that I stop. The hypocrisy of preaching freedom and living captive to things I cannot change about me has finally caught up with me. How dare I preach freedom and not live it. No more running in shame, and tomorrow I will finally share what has held me as its slave for over twenty years. I have spent the last year of my life confronting the deep wounds of my life, and now that healing has occurred shame is no longer needed for me to function in life. Tomorrow a piece of me will be shared that I have tried to keep hidden from the world. Freedom Friday will be just that for me, and it’s about time I told my story. Until then thanks for riding down Memory Lane with me.

Do not RSVP: A look at Proverbs 23:6-8

So today I had prepared to write a blog on the scripture “for as a man thinketh so is he…” I had all my great points written out, and I was excited about what I had to say. Then something amazingly awful happened. I read the passage and had to start from scratch. The scripture in its proper context did not support the words I wrote, and I had to discard my thoughts because I had no biblical support for them. I soon discovered that all my life I have been paraphrasing  this scripture, and using the misinterpretation of others to interpret it for myself. Here is the passage that I am speaking of Proverbs 23:6-8:

Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. 8 The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words. (King James Version)

Every time I have heard verse 7 preached it has always been in the form of encouraging people to watch their thought life. However, this scripture is not encouraging people to watch their thought life. It is a warning for us to be mindful of the character and motives of others. It is encouraging us to consider those we fellowship with and be conscientious of the fact that some people will invite you places and have no desire for your presence. For those who may think I am off my rocker let’s try the same passage in the New Living Translation. It says:

6 Don’t eat with people who are stingy; don’t desire their delicacies.7 They are always thinking about how much it costs.“Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it.8 You will throw up what little you’ve eaten,and your compliments will be wasted.

Nowhere in this scripture are we being warned to watch our thoughts, but we are being warned to consider the character of those who request our presence. It is ensuring us that if we eat with people that we know are selfish, we will eventually regret every bite! Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible suggests, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he, He is not the man his mouth speaks or declares him to be, but what his heart thinks; which is discovered by his looks and actions, and by which he is to be judged of, and not by his words. Eat and drink, saith he to thee, but his heart is not with thee; he bids you eat and drink, but he does not desire you should…” Everyone’s table is not worth a visit. We should consider their character before accepting their invitation.

Since the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:1 that “…every fact shall be sustained and confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses,” (AMP) allow me to present one more translation on this text to validate the true meaning of Proverbs 23:6-8. The Douay-Rheims Bible says:

Eat not with an envious man, and desire not his meats: 7 Because like a soothsayer, and diviner, he thinketh that which he knoweth not. Eat and drink, will he say to thee: and his mind is not with thee. 8 The meats which thou hadst eaten, thou shalt vomit up: and shalt loose thy beautiful words. 

For the third time, we see our personal thought life has nothing to do with this scripture; but the text is warning us to be aware of the intent of others. The addition of “because like a soothsayer and diviner” comes from the late fourth-century Latin translation of the Bible known as the Vulgate. I actually wish the modern Bible translations would have kept that in there to make the text more clear. Just like the soothsayer and diviner deceive, bamboozle, and cause great havoc in the lives of those who take their bribes or use their services; so is the envious or selfish person who invites you to dinner. It is best you go without for the day rather than dine with the person you know is never doing good for anyone else except themselves.

So if you are still with me let me conclude with these few points:

  1. Make it your business to find out what the scripture says for yourself.
  2. If you discover that your interpretation was wrong, admit it and adjust your life to the scriptures not your feelings or misinterpretation.
  3. There are scriptures in the Bible that will support the need for us to change our thinking but Proverbs 23:6-8 are not the ones to use.
  4. Do not eat at the table of a person whose character consist of envy, jealousy, and selfishness. If you ignore this warning, you will regret it.
  5. Make it a point to never to be the person described in Point 4. If those words describe you, today is a great day to allow the Lord to change your heart.

 

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope this has encouraged you! Have an awesome day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: https://www.buzzfeed.com/emofly/hannibal-food-secrets-janice-poon?utm_term=.slVbY3wJZl#.gye7dE3xKr

Ask for Help: Tips on Surrendering to the Will of God

” Teach me to do Your will. For you are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.”-Psalm 143:10

I truly believe this verse should be the prayer of every Christian. Our hearts should long to know and to do God’s will. We should desire to know His plans for our lives. We should long to fulfill those plans. This longing is admirable, but we should at  some point in our spiritual journey  go from simply desiring His will to submitting ourselves to His will. Here a four ways to ensure that you are doing just that:

1.Recognize Your inability to do God’s will outside of His help. The first sentence in this scripture indicates one man’s recognition of needing God’s help in order to do His will. As I was studying, I came across a beautifully written description by  MacLaren’s Expositions that helps illustrates this point :

We may learn from this prayer, then, that practical conformity to God’s will can never be attained by our own efforts. Remember all the hindrances that rise between us and it; these wild passions of ours, this obstinate gravitating of tastes and desires towards earth, these animal necessities, these spiritual perversities, which make up so much of us all-how can we coerce these into submission? Our better selves sit within like some imprisoned king, surrounded and ‘fooled by the rebel powers’ of his revolted subjects; and our best recourse is to send an embassy to the Over-lord, the Sovereign King, praying Him to come to our help. We cannot will to will as God wills, but we can turn ourselves to Him, and ask Him to put the power within us which shall subdue the evil, conquer the rebels, and make us masters of our own else anarchic and troubled spirits. For all honest attempts to make the will of God our wills, the one secret of success is confident and continual appeal to Him. A man must have gone a very little way, very superficially and perfunctorily, on the path of seeking to make himself what he ought to be, unless he has found out that he cannot do it, and unless he has found out that there is only one way to do it, and that is to go to God and say, ‘O Lord! I am baffled and beaten. I put the reins into Thy hand; do Thou inspire and direct and sanctify.’

If we are ever going to do the will of God, we must recognize that it can only happen with His help.

2.Surrender your free will to God’s will.  The interesting thing about God is that He does not typically force His way on people. In his kindness, He has given us “free will,” and our free will often conflicts with His. This is why the Psalmist plea of asking God to “teach me to your will” is so important. It is by asking to be taught that he simultaneously surrenders his own free will and submits himself to God. The moment we ask for God’s help is the moment we surrender all that we know and yield to what He is willing to teach us.

3.Know Who God is. After praying that God teaches him, the psalmist points out, “Your spirit is good.” By this phrase we come to understand why the psalmist was able to surrender his will. His understanding of God’s goodness made surrendering to His will the only proper response. The goodness of God compelled him to trust God with his life, and it should compel us to do the same.

4.Know where God leads. After acknowledging God’s goodness, the psalmists then cries out, “Lead me in the land of uprightness.” This gives the psalmist a measuring stick of whether the places his feet trod are God’s will or his. As he pursues what is right He can rest assure he is being led by God. God will rarely lead us to a place that His goodness and righteousness cannot be found. For the most part, he leads us beside quiet streams. When we are committed to doing life His way righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost is our portion.

If we truly desire to surrender our lives to God, we must be like the psalmist and recognize we cannot do it without Him. We must drop all of our pride and ask God for help. We have to be convinced of who God is so that in the moments He requires more than we would like to give, we trust what we know about Him over our desire. I will not pretend that a life of surrender is not difficult at times. It can be excruciatingly painful in those moments you would prefer to do things your way. However, his grace is sufficient and he helps those who ask for it. My prayer for us all is that we would drop our pride and lift our hands in total surrender to the purposes and plans of God for our lives. He is ready to lead us when we are ready to surrender.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/03/12/new-research-confirms-black-students-better-taught-black-teachers/

#TBT: The Prude and the Prostitute

Tonight, I took one of the many goofy quizzes that pop up in my News Feed on Facebook. It was titled Which Biblical Heroine Are You? I took the quiz sure that I would get someone like Esther, Ruth, or Anna; but to my surprise, I was Mary Magdalene. I literally chuckled considering the fact, my past was nothing like hers. I mean we are complete opposites! She was a prostitute, and I am what some may call a prude. She had a plethora of men, and my list of men is practically non-existent. I honestly was a tad bit offended, and then I read the kind description attached to it. It said:

You’re a woman with a past, that’s for sure… but your past has made you into the person you are today and you wouldn’t change a thing. Even though you’ve been hurt, you’re an incredibly sensitive and caring person who loves deeply and passionately. A people person, you love going out with your friends for a night of fun and mild debauchery. You have a steady, comforting presence that draws people to you effortlessly and you’re the most true, loyal friend that anyone could ask for. Ignore the haters and keep being your fantastic self.

“You’re a woman with a past, that’s for sure…”  I let those words sink in, and I began to reminisce on what my past entailed. I considered my environment, my friends, and a many  dumb decisions I made in my life. Growing up I desired to be “bad,” but the fear of my mother kept me away from most things. I considered the many flesh fulfilling thoughts I contemplated,  but I never managed to act upon them. After taking a trip down Memory Lane, Mary and I had more in common than I thought. She was a broken woman, so was I. She was in dire need of a Savior, so was I. She was wise enough to accept the grace of God, and so was I.

I grew up in an environment that ONLY manufactured those type of people.  If God’s grace had not intervened on countless occasions I would be a hood rat, a prostitute, a crackhead, a drug dealer, an alcoholic, and etc. I go to bed tonight grateful for the unmerited favor that God has shown me. Who I am today is not based on any goodness of my own but SOLELY based on the loving-kindness of God. I look at those who are what I should be with eyes of compassion not judgment because it should have been me too. In my self-righteousness I could not see how the prude and the prostitute could have anything in common, but after looking through Grace’s lenses we are one and the same. Two broken women who lives were transformed after meeting Jesus. Neither one of us are bound by our past, and both of us free to share the Good News. That’s pretty amazing to me!

 

Tonight’s Challenge: Take a moment to reflect on the goodness of God in your life. Take some time to remember where he brought you from and the situations he has pulled you out of in life. Surely you can take a few moments out of your evening to say “Thank You Lord!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/55439/20150508/exclusive-interview-a-d-the-bible-continues-actress-chipo-chung-discusses-mary-magdalene-and-her-special-relationship-with-jesus-christ.htm

The Inclusivity of the Gospel

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!”-Romans 10:13

Before you freak out, this is not my Coming Out Speech in support of  The Gospel of Inclusion. This is my little exhaustive list of what the Apostle Paul meant by the word “everyone” in Romans 10:13.  I believe this scripture reveals the love, equality, and mercy of God to mankind. Everyone is welcomed to receive salvation if they so desire it. There are no prerequisites.  There are no background or credit checks. Your I.Q is not taken into consideration. Your family history does not keep you from it. Your past is not held against you. Everyone means EVERYONE.

It does not matter if you are liberal or conservative. It does not matter if you are a democrat or republican. It does not matter if you are voting for Trump or Clinton. It does not matter if you watch Fox News or CNN. Salvation is yours if you call on the name of the Lord.

It does not matter if you were once a Satanist. It does not matter if you grew up in a Muslim home. It does not matter if you were once a Buddhist. It does not matter if you were once a Five Percenter. It does not matter if you were a Voodoo priest or priestess. It does not matter if you were Wiccan or you worship St. Lucia. Salvation is yours if you call on the name of the Lord.

It does not matter if you enjoy telling little white lies or large white lies. It does not matter if you have found yourself to be a thief, gossiper, and a cheater. It does not matter if you have had an abortion. It does not matter if you have a proclivity towards pedophilia, pornography, homosexuality, or bestiality. It does not matter if you are murderer, rapist, or what most consider  to be the lowest of humanity. Salvation is yours if you call on the name of the Lord.

I will admit it took me a while to be comfortable with the idea that everyone can receive salvation. It was only a problem because in my humanity I considered some sins greater than others; but in His divinity, God sees them all the same. He provides the same remedy for every sin we will find ourselves entangled in, and that is SALVATION! God never intended salvation to be so complicated. It has always been a matter of simply confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life; and anyone who believes and confess is a recipient of this wonderful Salvation. It is available to “EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD!” Let us stop making Jesus so unattainable to people. Let us keep the Gospel message as simple as Jesus made it in John 3:16, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”(New Living Translation) It really is as simple as believing in Christ and confessing him as our Savior. I pray that will be the Gospel we share with others. It is really the only one worth sharing!-Charity Israel

 

 

Photo Credit: http://billypenn.com/2015/08/04/the-pope-in-philly-how-many-people-could-actually-fit-on-the-ben-franklin-parkway/