“A la Carte”

Have you ever been out at a restaurant and none of the set meals on the menu seemed appealing to you? Maybe you wanted the entree but with different sides, or maybe you only wanted the meat, or perhaps you only wanted the sides. Did you just order A la Carte? I don’t eat meat, so when I am dining out, if the establishment doesn’t offer a vegetable plate, I usually find myself ordering A la Carte, thus creating my own meal consisting of only the things I like.

Recently, I was conversing with a close friend and we discussed how, as Believers, we don’t want all of God, only certain parts. I said, “We want God A la Carte.” Think about it: We want His Goodness, Kindness, Mercy, Grace, Blessings, and Favor; but we want no parts of His Correction, Rebuke, Conviction, Redirection, or HIS Will for our lives. We want to pick and choose the parts of God that we want, but God is an “All or Nothing,” God. Either we are “All In,” or we are “All Out.”  Scripture says it like this:

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold (invigorating, refreshing) nor hot (healing, therapeutic); I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm (spiritually useless), and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth [rejecting you with disgust]. Because you say, “I am rich, and have prospered and grown wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked [without hope and in great need], I counsel you to buy from Me gold that has been heated red hot and refined by fire so that you may become truly rich; and white clothes [representing righteousness] to clothe yourself so that the shame of your nakedness will not be seen; and healing salve to put on your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I rebuke and discipline [showing them their faults and instructing them]; so be enthusiastic and repent [change your inner self, your old way of thinking, your sinful behavior, seek God’s will]. Revelation 3:15-19 AMP

One thing we must understand is that we also need those parts of God that we don’t like (especially those). Remember how your mother used to make you eat your vegetables and you hated it? Maybe she threatened you with not getting dessert, or she made you sit at the table until you had eaten all of your food. Now (hopefully), you eat your vegetables because, even though they may not be your favorite, you know they are good for you. Likewise, God gives us what we need (even when we don’t want/like it), but if we digest it, then comes “Dessert,” all the Blessings that He promises will come on us and overtake us.

So, That Settles It. Let’s learn to embrace and accept ALL of God. Remember He does not offer an A la Carte menu, neither is He an All You Can Eat Buffet (where we overindulge in the things we like and skip over the things we dislike). Because He gives us Free Will, He allows us a “Create Your Own” option, but we must still choose wisely…

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20 ESV).

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“Perfection vs. Reflection”

If we are honest, many of us spend the bulk of our time striving for Perfection; whether in our careers, marriages, friendships, businesses, or our Christian walk. We try everything in our power to attain it, only to end up disappointed, because it’s unattainable. Even if we were to achieve great success in a certain area, chances are someone else will eventually come along and do it better.

If we were to obtain Perfection how would it change us? Would we become (more) proud or arrogant? Would it drive us to become more selfish and self-centered?

I am no longer concerned with Perfection, but rather Reflection, and I hope I am not alone.

In life, Perfection should not be the goal. Instead, let’s aim for Reflection. Our greatest achievement should be to resemble our Heavenly Father.

Why is this so important? I’m glad you asked. Striving to be more like our Lord and Savior does a few things:

~It causes us to maintain a heart of humility.

~It takes the focus off self.

~It provokes us to consider the needs of others before our own.

~It compels us to live a moral and sin conscious lifestyle.

~It causes us to become more involved in our communities, cities, states, and nations, not just ourselves and our immediate family.

~It will not allow us to lose sight of what’s most important: God’s Perfect Will being done in and through us, and seeing God’s Kingdom here on Earth.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 ESV

The truth of the matter is this: If we devote our time to being transformed into the image of Christ, that is Perfection. And we will know that it’s because of our submission to God, that the Holy Spirit is doing the work in us. The end result is becoming a Reflection of Christ, the only One Perfect to have walked this earth.

So, That Settles It. Make a declaration today. Declare that you will no longer strive for Perfection, but you will instead endeavor to become a Reflection of Christ.

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord, who is the Spirit, makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

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“Gifted Does Not Mean Flawless”

Why do we expect perfection from “Gifted” people? We don’t expect them to make mistakes, and when they do, we stop at nothing to shine the light on it. I want to remind you, just as I had to remind myself: Gifted Does Not Mean Flawless.

Gifted –  having great natural ability; revealing a special gift

Flawless – having no flaw or imperfection

No correlation…

Example: We see it all the time with Entertainers or Athletes who are extremely talented, but may have a flawed personality, or they do something distasteful. We (the self-appointed judges and jurors) don’t know how to separate their shortcomings from their gifts. We condemn them for their poor decisions, but oftentimes, we take it a step further and try to discredit their gifts/talents. We must learn to separate the two. We can disagree with something a person does, without trying to discredit his/her talents and abilities. Gifted Does Not Mean Flawless.

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. Mark 10:18 ESV 

I wonder if we persecute “Gifted” people because our perception is that “They are perfect.” I recently caught myself doing this (to myself). I beat myself up for making a poor decision, and before I knew it, I was having an internal dialogue about why I shouldn’t make mistakes. I know that’s crazy, but it’s true. Talk about Unreasonable Expectations…

The truth is, we are all human, and though we should strive for perfection (and not intentionally do wrong), we will make mistakes, and that’s okay. The key is to learn from it, grow from it, move forward, and along the way help someone else avoid the same mistakes. If we are not careful, we could overlook/dismiss some gifted people because we are too narrow-minded to look beyond their faults. Why not pray for them, show them the right way, and applaud their talents/abilities???

So, That Settles It. Let’s remember to extend to others, the same measure of Grace that has been extended to us. Let’s not place others (or ourselves) on a pedestal that’s so high it causes their stumbles to look like big/hard falls. Remember, as long as we are in these fleshly bodies, it is possible that we are both Flawed and Gifted. Gifted Does Not Mean Flawless.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. Romans 7:18 ESV

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“This is Not the Time to Quit”

Have you ever felt like quitting? Was it your job, school, your relationship with a significant other, or your relationship with God? Don’t be shy, it’s okay to admit it. I have, even as recently as this week. Sometimes the perils of life can become so overwhelming, that if we aren’t careful, we can easily fall into the trap of thinking about taking the easy way out. Guess what? THERE IS NO EASY WAY OUT!

Even if you try to quit, especially if there is greatness inside of you (trust me it’s in there), you will still not escape misery. How can this be, you ask? Because when you are destined for greatness, you will not become truly satisfied until you are actively pursuing your Purpose.

Does this sound like you?

If at one point you really loved your job; you were the first one in the office and the last one to leave. Now you barely make it in on time, and when you are there, you can’t wait to leave. The projects that once excited you, now seem boring and no longer challenge you.

You were once excited about working in ministry. Whatever was needed in the ministry, if you could do it, you did. Even when others didn’t show up you were there; now you dread going. When you are there, you try to make your way to the nearest exit after service, hoping that no one will try to fellowship with you, or ask you to do anything.

Let me encourage you: This is Not the Time to Quit!

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 ESV

Maybe you are so fed up right now that you don’t want to hear what I have to say, but I must say it anyway. This is Not the Time to Quit. Oftentimes, when we are at our breaking point, it is a sure sign that we are on the verge of something bigger/greater. It’s liken unto a woman laboring in child birth. I have heard many women recount how they endured some of their worst pain right before the baby came. I am speaking prophetically that you are getting ready to birth something Great! This is Not The Time to Quit!

So, That Settles It. Your enemies (spiritual and natural) would love to see you quit, to abort your purpose and destiny. Don’t give them the pleasure. You will regret it tremendously. If you need to take a few minutes to cry, scream, yell, or vent, go ahead. Then get up, wipe your face and get back to work. This is Not the Time to Quit.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

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