New Year, New Story

New Year, New Story

Ushering in the new year can fill you with bubbles of elation, infusing your mind with dreams and possibilities of the next 12 months to come. So it should. We all need that jolt of motivation and inspiration that charges us to take that extra step.

Though December 31st and January 1st feel the exact same to some, others look at it as if we have crossed through a magical portal that makes us a clean slate with a fresh path ahead of us.

I can’t help but compare God’s power to the wonder of the new year. His love made us pass from death to life just as simple as passing from 2017 to 2018. Through Him we can continue to live as a clean slate with the knowledge that He shares a piece of the future with us each step of the way.

Like leafing through the crisp pages of a new book or journal, adventure is waiting for you. This year is another chapter in the story that will make you the person God created you to be.

I will always encourage you to make time to spend with your Savior this year. My last new year’s post suggests how. Why? Because with a new year comes new difficulties and probably some tough times. But blessings are also coming your way and maybe even some miracles. We must accept whatever happens with the strong faith that Jesus is in it all.

Keep going. Those words are the beat to which my anthem will follow for 2018, what about you?

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God bless!

-LJM

 

 

 

Hanukkah Truths for Christians

Hanukkah Truths for Christians

I never grew up celebrating Hanukkah. Everything I ever associated with the holiday was just a vague understanding that it involved gifts, candy, and candles like Christmas, but only for Jews.

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Downtown Hanukkah Display

I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’ve come to believe Hanukkah holds spiritual truth for Christians and plays an active role in the faith. 

Surrounding each flame on the menorah is a story that reoccurs throughout history and one that is not over until the end of time. It is the story of Satan, the adversary, taking the form of a person driven to wipe out God’s people.

But God.

That is the refrain of history. God’s people always seem destined to be defeated by a tyrannical ruler with a vast army.

But God is sovereign.

But God is in control.

But God intervened for His people again!

His people, usually small in number, held tight to His ways, and that was enough reason for them to fight. Instead of sitting back and letting the world take over with their ideologies and traditions, they were willing to defy the odds even unto death.

Once the evil was purged from the temple, they could rededicate. They cleansed what was impure and shone light into what was dark. Our hearts should be open to follow their example by letting the light reveal our impurities so we can take them to God and be set free.

With the prayers, the fried foods, the menorah, and of course the history, we celebrate the encouraging truth that in the battle for God’s people, we are on the winning side. But victory comes with the charge to follow His ways, to be a light to the world, and to keep our temple pure.

Hanukkah not only reminds us of God’s people, but it prophecies of a future to come. Satan is gearing up for another attack and will continue to do so until Jesus returns. But if we stand on these truths, we will be an unstoppable force for when Satan strikes again.

As we wrap up this season and I’m asked why I, as a Christian, celebrate Hanukkah, my brother had the best answer:

“This is our father at work; it should be remembered and celebrated, and we should be thankful for it.”

If you want to know more about Hanukkah, you can find the historical account in the first book of Maccabees.

Happy Hanukkah!

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God bless!

-LJM

True to Your Heart or Your True Heart

True to Your Heart or Your True Heart

If I were to take a special X-ray of your heart–not the one that pumps blood but the one that dreams and feels–what would I find?

I asked myself that question and decided to paint the results.

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When I examine my passions and dreams, I see a performer who runs after goals, who hopes for love, and who maybe drinks a little too much coffee.

You may look and think these elements are what makes me a unique person and see nothing wrong with that. But, let me share what I see.

I see a heart that is consumed.

What looks like personality traits or unique characteristics can actually be disguising what’s truly underneath. The heart I see is vain about appearances, obsessed with career goals, addicted to coffee, desperate for love, and thirsty for praise.

I’m not downing myself; I’m being honest about what makes me–me.  God has given me dreams to pursue and interests to enjoy.

BUT, there’s a fine line. The line separates God’s intentions for these qualities and my intentions. If I allow these things to control me in honor of “being true to my heart,” then I’m damaging my relationship with God in the long run.

!!!BREAKING NEWS!!!

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. -1 Corinthians 3:12-15

One day, we will all stand before Jesus and he will let us look back on our lives. Then, we will watch as a fire consumes everything we believed, everything we worked for, and everything we were passionate about. What was true and pure will remain and shine like silver, and what was in vain will burn like chaff.

I want to start testing my heart now to be sure of what will come through the fire and what will be burned. I don’t want to suffer from the loss of a life doing wasteful things. I don’t want to find out that everything I thought was good enough could have been better or put to better use.

I challenge you to look at your heart. Not only at the negativity that resides there, but also look at the good. Look at what you believe is harmful and harmless. Examine your time, your hobbies, your dreams, your deepest desires and ask, “Is God over all or just a small piece?”

God has work to do in our hearts, let’s not stand in his way, but let’s give him the torch.

God bless!

-LJM

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How To Get Through One of Those Days

How To Get Through One of Those Days

Is it just me, or does everyone have one of those days where they feel like a pathetic loser?

You know those days. Those days when you’re getting ready for work, eating breakfast, or driving and you’re just plagued by everything you haven’t accomplished, everything you don’t have, and everything that hasn’t changed in your life.

To be honest, “those days” have been a little too frequent for me lately. They can give you a sharp detour into a pit you can’t easily climb out of. Though you can’t always avoid the wave of discontent that follows these days, but you can get through them.

I know it’s best to seize those feelings before you let them take over, and I’ve come up with a few optional and necessary steps to help.

1. Talk to God (necessary)

Praying without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17) means talking to God about the good, the bad, and the ugly. The victories and the failures. The praises and the problems. Believe me, it’s probably the last thing you feel like doing, but it’s the most important step to propel you through the day. Do it on your commute to work, or if you’re at home, light a candle and make it a sit down occasion for you and God. We have that privilege thanks to Jesus. If you don’t know how to start, let me help:

“God, this is how I’m feeling today…”

2. Buy yourself something (optional)

You may not have the money and you don’t want to depend on things to make you feel better, but a treat can go a long way. When I was feeling down one day, I bought a new gym outfit so I could have the pleasure of getting something while still promoting a healthy lifestyle. Enjoy the little things and remind yourself that you’re special. No one has to do that but you.

3. Count your blessings (necessary)

With every disappointment or complaint you have in life, there is a blessing to counteract it. For instance:

Problem: The air conditioning in my car doesn’t work.

Blessing: Lord, thank you for my car so I can drive wherever I need.

Self pity comes from dwelling on the negative in your life. And I don’t doubt that we all deal with serious negative forces, but I also believe that we’re blessed far more than we realize. Dwelling on those blessings will ease up on the pity and balance it with a heart of thanks. (1 Thess 5:18)

4. Do something (optional)

The last thing you want are for those gray feelings to immobilize you. Do something you enjoy. Workout because it helps release endorphins. Watch a movie. Cook something. Retreat to your hobbies. If you can get together with people who will either listen to your feelings or help get your mind off them, you can be free from, let’s face it, yourself for awhile.

Join me in getting through the funk of those dismal days before they begin to control you. If any of these steps helps you in anyway, feel free to share it with me!

God bless!

-LJM22473552_10156700163428502_951317549_o

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Happened on September 23rd 2017?

What Happened on September 23rd 2017?

The world didn’t end.

Whenever someone claims that the world will end, the mocking begins because we know better.

Or do we?

You only need to know one verse in the Bible to know these people aren’t right. “No one knows the day or hour…” (Matt 24:36)

So what was the significance of that specific day, and if Jesus wasn’t coming back that day, should Christians still be concerned?

The answer is yes.

For those who are unaware, on the evening of the 23rd constellations and planets formed a unique image in the night sky.

Venus, Mars, Mercury, the Moon, and the Sun lined up at the constellations of Virgo and Leo. Biblically Virgo is “The Virgin” and Leo is “The Lion or Tribe of Judah.” A serpent named Hydra slinked underneath both the Virgin and the Lion’s foot touching its head (Gen 3:15). Jupiter represents the “man child” exiting The Virgin’s womb and the serpent is ready to devour it.

Below are pictures I took from the star-gazing app “SkyView Free” on that night.
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The above description is an accurate description of a sign in the heaven’s laid out in Revelation 12.22068966_10156647184308502_1951770134_o.jpg

Some facts to take into consideration. This exact same formation has been seen 4 times in the last 1000 years. The new moon at The Virgin’s feet is an annual September occurrence symbolizing the Jewish New Year.

If Christians think that this sign is just a coincidence and nothing more than the universe doing its thing, I’d advise you to take a closer look. The universe may be following its natural clock, but God has purposed everything and the Bible demonstrate God’s love for images, patterns, numbers, and more. They all work together over thousands of years to proclaim God’s sovereignty.

His timing is no different.

This same star/planet formation appeared around the time Jesus was born and we all know how the night sky impacted that event. If the same formation appears to us now, God is trying to tell us something.

Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 43 But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. – Matthew 24:42-43

Just because there wasn’t any cataclysmic event or rapture on the 23rd doesn’t mean that in God’s timeline, the day is significant to God’s plan.

It is never wise for God’s people to be asleep or numb to His voice. The parable of the ten virgins in *** constantly reminds me that some people will not be prepared or be asleep when he calls.

We should live knowing each day we get closer to His coming. But the event in the world during that time will be far from pleasant.

Be alert, seek and you will find, and be ready for anything. This is all advice from the Bible. I encourage you to be wise and test all you read and listen to. Let the Holy Spirit guide your thoughts and give you more understanding every day.

God bless
-LJM

4 Addictions Christians Ignore

4 Addictions Christians Ignore

“I struggle with pornography.”

“I have a problem with alcohol.”

“I can’t stop smoking.”

These statements often result in prayer and intercession, counseling and possibly rehabilitation. Christians have a heart to help the people who fall into these addictions, because God wants His people to overcome them, right?

If that’s the case, shouldn’t that include all addictions?

These are just a few of the addictions that Christians, including myself, let slide under the radar.

1. Coffee

I’m a coffee lover, and though it started as an occasional indulgence, college ushered it into a daily habit. After being confronted, I realized I needed coffee more than I believed I did, and the thought of giving it up made me almost angry. Do you see the red flags? Coffee has become more of a trend than a drink, an appearance over the nutrient. For those of us who cling to this beverage, we need to ask ourselves ‘why?’

2. Social Media

Nowadays having social media is almost as necessary as having a cell phone. How else are you supposed to stay connected with friends, market your talents, or stay up to date with current events? I find myself browsing through my media accounts seeing the same dozen posts because I just checked it five minutes before. It’s something for our fingers and eyes to do, and we spend hours scrolling because we haven’t reached the point where we’re satisfied. How many minutes do we waste a day and is that healthy?

3. Video Streaming

“Done with this TV series, what should I watch next?” I’ve seen this post and I’ve shared the same thoughts. With Netflix, watching TV or movies is at our fingertips. When we binge watch a show and feel the loss and sadness when it’s over, we jump right on to the next to fill that silence. We justify vegging out to our feel good show, but we should consider, what we watch, how much we watch, and how it affects our minds in the long run.

4. Junk Food

Salty or sweet, we are simply drawn to foods that will never be healthy for our bodies, and every one of us has their weak spot. Mine is chocolate. Like coffee, if it’s difficult to give up even for a few days, you may need to reflect on the root of addiction. Foods that become addictions lead to gluttony and I don’t think I need to prove that point in our society.

“[The grace of God] instructs us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” -Titus 2:12 (NIV)

The only reason I can point any of these out is because I can relate to all of them. They all have some hold on my life and as a Christian, I believe God wants to break every chain, not just the ones we declare harmful. Addictions of any kind affect how we live for God and that alone is why Christians should take them seriously.

What I’ve learned is that we keep coming back to these things because we’re not satisfied. And though something may seem harmless, like an idol, our dependency on it can sneak in and distract us from the One we’re supposed to depend on.

Pray for me as I begin to wean myself from these things as I will pray for those of you who may be caught in these snares too.

God bless!

-LJM

 

What Kind of Bible Reader Are You?

What Kind of Bible Reader Are You?

Growing up, reading the Bible was like pulling teeth for me. I had trouble understanding the flowery language, staying engaged with the density of historical facts, and applying the truth to my relationship with Jesus. Have you ever felt the same way?

When I started college, I was determined to read the Bible for myself which I believe was a turning point in my spiritual journey. From then I’ve experimented with Scripture reading methods and have come to the conclusion that there are 5 types of Bible readers.

Which one are you?

The Readers

These people approach the Bible like a trilogy combined into one book. They will most likely use an easy version to read and their priority is to tackle each book from front to back. Entering into one book, they will read all the chapters before going onto the next. Each one completed is a small victory until the day finally comes where they’ll celebrate having finished the entire Bible.

The Artists

A trend has emerged known as “Journaling,” but instead of pens and highlighters, these maxresdefaultreaders decorate their Bibles with water colors and calligraphy. Special Bibles have been printed with wide margins and even coloring templates to encourage the process. Their priority is to tap into their artistic mind and meditate on one verse or passage at a time. While savoring the intricacies of Scripture, they result in aesthetically pleasing pictures.

The Writers

When these people pick up their Bible, they come armed with highlighters, pens, pencils, and maybe even a notebook. Similar to The Artists, they prefer a wide-margined Bible so they have plenty of room to take notes. Their goal is to interact with the text, and they do so by writing questions, comments, and applications. Their Bibles are covered with rainbow streaks of color, underlined words and phrases, and notes squished in every possible empty space.

The Students

Scholars who want to understand the depth of Biblical mysteries fall into this category. They open the Bible with the goal of diving into specific topics or issues and research everything they can find about it. The versions they use probably include commentary from the original Greek and Hebrew translations. Their findings help make connections, support beliefs, and gain a better understanding of God and His ways. The students may be the best and most thorough group and one that bleeds into the others.

The Collectors

You may assume the collectors have something to do with the many versions of Bibles this group collects, but instead, it’s actually something their Bible collects.

Dust.

The Collectors use their Bible when needed whether on Sunday mornings, Bible studies, or in desperate situations. The rest of the time Bibles sit on shelves or nightstands while dust sneaks onto their leather covers.
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I believe the Bible speaks to us in diverse ways. I believe His angels swarm around and minister to us as soon as we open the Scriptures. I believe that spiritual growth is stunted without consistent time in God’s Story.

The world will suffocate the life out of us, and even though we have the means, we choose not to take a breath of fresh air. Choose to breathe in the clean air of Jesus’s love, The Father’s presence, and The Holy Spirit’s truth daily.

Choose to be less like the Collector and more like the Student, but whatever group you fall under, take something away from the Word every time you read it. You never know when it may come in handy.

You are loved and Jesus wants a relationship with you even more than you with Him.
So who are you?

God bless!

-LJM