Man Down!

Man Down

Being a former Marine (we never say Ex- Marine), one of the tenants of our creed is to never leave another Marine behind in battle.  I’m sure you may have heard that before, and usually it’s in the context of “men” in the heat of battle. There is a camaraderie and respect level between two soldiers that goes beyond race, creed, orientation, religion or other category.  It doesn’t even matter if you don’t particularly like the person in the foxhole with you.  Your life depends on them and their life depends on you. You protect each other, fight for one another, and as in many cases are prepared to give your life for your fellow comrades. What makes a man on instinct, throw his body on a grenade to protect his men, or face enemy fire to rescue a fellow soldier?

An even greater question is this….In the context of marriage, why is it so difficult for a man to go and rescue his wife when she is “down”?  You have been through so much together, but in moments of anger and frustration (fighting the enemy) he listens to the enemy and just leaves the weaker vessel out there.  I know his thought process. “Her mouth is not weak at all.  She knows just how to push my buttons and doesn’t really care what she says to me. If anything, I am the weak one because I will never win a war of words with her.”  So, his answer is to leave her alone, thinking that is what she wants.   Plus, it lets him off the hook and he waits until it’s safe to come out of his cocoon again.

I imagine many marriages have ended this way… In frustration and defeat. I imagine that there are many men who lost “the best thing that ever happened to them since Jesus” and now wonder how it happened.  She felt like he didn’t care and he felt like she didn’t understand his point of view.

God spoke four words to me a couple months ago and they have continued to resonate in my Spirit…. “Marriage is For Grown-ups!”…… Really Lord?  Duh!!  But it’s so true.  Men, I have some tough news for us…news that I didn’t want to face or acknowledge.  It lies within this verse….

 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.  Ephesians 5:25

I know, I know.  We’ve seen this verse many times.  But let’s look deeper.  We are to love our wives as Christ loved the church.  Well how did he prove his love?  He paid the ultimate price.  Jesus suffered ridicule, disdain, mistrust, harsh words, beatings, and ultimately death for his bride.  He’s not asking us to die literally, but we must be willing to go through enemy fire and not leave our best friend, comrade, lover, spouse, behind. She may tell you that she doesn’t need you, but if she didn’t you wouldn’t be there.  Man up!

Holy Communion

Growing up in the Baptist church, I remember the practice of Holy Communion.  I remember the Deacons dressed in black with white gloves and the Deaconesses (Deacons Wives) dressed in white. The  table containing the communion elements was covered by a white tablecloth meticulously prepared by those ladies in white. The congregation intrigued by what lied beneath or behind the table cloth once the preacher went behind the table to begin distributing the elements to be served by the deacons.  Holy Communion was and is held in high regard as a church ordinance, in as much as the table itself was set apart and reverenced.  You couldn’t lean on it, sit something on it, or anything.

I also remember the droves of people that came to church late on the first Sunday of each month, the traditional time set aside for Holy Communion, or stayed outside until after it was over because of this verse:

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

1Cor 11:27-30

This is probably one of the most misinterpreted passages in the Bible. On the surface, it seems to suggest that whoever participates in communion unworthy, or as we thought, with sin in their life, would be damned.  Nobody wants to be sick or die prematurely if they can prevent it.  Now, when one rightly divides the Word of Truth” and use a little common sense, the aforementioned application cannot be true. “For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God”.   Well, that disqualifies everybody, so it can’t mean that.

Paul was speaking to the mega church at Corinth who had turned Holy Communion into Sunday dinner at big Mama’s house.  They were not “properly discerning the Lord’s body”.  Think of it, all that Jesus went through, and they were using communion as a social event.  He said “This do in remembrance of me.”  Holy Communion is about re-connecting to what Jesus accomplished for us through his death, burial, and resurrection.  It’s remembering who we are in Him and recognizing the rights and privileges of being a believer. It’s about recognizing that “in Him” we live, move, and have our being. Examining yourself has nothing to do with looking at your behavior, but making sure you have the proper mindset and focus on the one who paid the price for all sin.

The ordinance of communion was never supposed to be about you.  That’s why it doesn’t matter what you have done.  It’s all about Jesus.  A revelation of who Jesus is, and who you are in Him, will change your behavior to conform to his image.

The Stuff That’s In You

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  Romans 12: 2 KJV

The metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly is so amazing.  How can something so plain, ugly, mundane, and unsightly as a caterpillar turn into such a beautiful creature as a butterfly?  All a caterpillar does is eat and eat and eat, until one day it just stops. Then it hangs itself upside down and spins itself into a cocoon.  No one can see what is going on inside that crystallized outer shell lined with silk, but transformation is taking place. Here’s brief overview of what is taking place inside the cocoon:

First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out. But the contents of the pupa are not entirely an amorphous mess. Certain highly organized groups of cells known as imaginal discs survive the digestive process. Before hatching, when a caterpillar is still developing inside its egg, it grows an imaginal disc for each of the adult body parts it will need as a mature butterfly or moth—discs for its eyes, for its wings, its legs and so on. In some species, these imaginal discs remain dormant throughout the caterpillar’s life; in other species, the discs begin to take the shape of adult body parts even before the caterpillar forms a chrysalis or cocoon. Some caterpillars walk around with tiny rudimentary wings tucked inside their bodies, though you would never know it by looking at them.    

From the article “How Does a Caterpillar Turn into a Butterfly?   August 10, 2012|By Ferris Jabr< Scientific American Magazine

When we were born again, we were caterpillars that consumed everything in sight, until one day the Holy Spirit changed our hearts and we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  That moment, how ever amazingly significant in our lives, was not the apex of our existence, but actually marked the beginning. One of the things that stood out in the passage above is the  phrase “imaginal discs”.  The root word I immediately recognize is “image”.  We are created in the image and likeness of God and he put in us what He imagined for us to become.  Your purpose and destiny lies within you.  Satan wants to disrupt the growth process but He cannot as long as we remain in the precious silk  lined  cocoon (protection) of the Word of God.  For I know the thoughts and plans I have for you, He says (Jeremiah 29:11) ; thoughts of good and not of evil…

Others may not know it by looking at you. But just let them keep on looking. Let them watch God change you by his word from the inside out. Let them see what’s He placed in you before the foundation of the world. God will even use the mistakes you’ve made in the past for your good.  He knows all things so nothing you do surprises Him. What a mighty God we serve!  He can take the mess that is your life and transform it into the miracle of a butterfly!

A Child Is Born

Bicycles, playstations, Jordans, gift cards, cash, etc…..- Christmas is a time to give and receive. Once the festivities are over, family and friends are gone, the torn discarded wrapping paper is bagged and placed in the trash receptacle; there remains a child to be born.
The day you accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior; Emmanuel, God with us, moved inside you. With Him came his entourage…joy, peace, wholeness, health, riches, success, and all that is good. He moved inside you; not just for you, but so that what He placed in you could be born and shared with the world.
The scripture says she(Mary) brought forth her first born son.  The baby had to be born. Just as the Word was spoken to that young virgin, and conception took place: what Word has God spoken to you by His Spirit that is yet to be born? What dream or vision has He placed in you that cannot be aborted?
Child birth is a process. Though painful and challenging,
filled with plenty of failures and setbacks; these are only contractions that ensure that childbirth is inevitable. Sometimes the pain is excruciating, but your baby is coming. Don’t lose hope. It is Christ in you that is the hope of the glory that is soon to be revealed in your life. (Colossians 1: 27)
You must know that the reward far outweighs the pain and struggle. How else do you explain a woman going through the childbirthing process again after the first experience?  I’ve seen childbirth and there’s no way as a man I would do it more than once!!! Walk in your destiny, your purpose, His plan for your life.
Can you hear the Angel’s voice saying….
“UNTO YOU A CHILD IS BORN
UNTO YOU A WORD IS GIVEN
AND HIS NAME SHALL BE CALLED__________”

Destined For Greatness

God is a God of purpose. Everything He says, everything he does, is directed toward an expected end. The book of Matthew begins by announcing the geneology of Jesus Christ. God chose a specific family line through which He would get His son into the planet.  The family did nothing to deserve or earn being chosen. He not only chose a family, but a dysfunctional one at best. I mean, look at Abraham, the Father of Faith.  He was a liar (well he told two that we know of) with two kids by two different women and they all lived in the same house. And his wife ok’d him fathering the first child with her handmaid because she figured it was too hard for God to get her pregnant after He said He would. Then, look further down the family tree and see Jacob whose name was later changed to Israel.  Mr trickster, who tricked his brother out of the blessing and his birthright, got played by his uncle and married the wrong girl. Leah was not the one he had worked seven years for. Jacob then worked another seven years for Rachel.  All this after one kiss!!!  (Must have been some good sugar! LOL!) So now he has one wife he loves and the other one, well, not so much. There is even a prostitute in Jesus’ family tree….remember Rahab!
God chose imperfect people to get His
Son who was perfect into the planet. Everything He does is purposeful. He did it to show you and I that we have purpose on this planet. That it doesn’t matter what side of the tracks we are from or how dysfunctional our families might be. He can take a mess and make a miracle. He can take sour lemons and make the sweetest tasting lemonade. There is nothing to hard for Him. We are created in His image and likeness which means we are destined for greatness and there’s nothing the devil can do to stop it!

Grace vs Works

“Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable; always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know, that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1Cor 15:58

 

On the surface, this passage of scripture might seem to contradict the gospel of grace as a whole. If the grace of God is not contingent on our works, then why does this scripture mention anything about our labor. I believe the definition of labor is work, is it not? Anytime the Word of God seems to contradict itself, then a deeper look into the scripture in context is necessary. God is not schizophrenic. He certainly would not contradict himself. The church of Corinth was struggling in their belief system regarding the resurrection of Christ. Yes they had heard and some of them had seen him resurrect the dead, but resurrect himself was hard for them to fathom. Especially since there was another voice (doctrine) suggesting that the resurrection was a farce cooked but by the disciples to keep the movement going.

Isn’t it strange that most believers today do not struggle with the resurrection of Jesus, but do struggle with receiving that there is nothing we can do to earn righteousness. Why is it so difficult to understand that Jesus paid it all? We feel like if we do, or don’t do something that God will bless or not bless us.

We are urged to be steadfast and unmovable in our believing. Hold fast to what we have been taught that lines up with the Word of God. Let nothing separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Oh, what love; unconditional Love He has shown! We couldn’t ever be good enough to earn it. But He gave it anyway!

We are to abound in the work of the Lord, not our works! To abound means to be filled, rich, to be well, abundantly supplied. We do the natural things in the kingdom of God because of our stand in Him. When we really come to grips with how much He loves us, there is nothing we won’t do for Him. Our only labor is the work involved in believing. It’s work to take a stand and believe something we cannot see. Our entire faith is based on what we believe. For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Growing Pains

Today I am proud to introduce a guest blogger.  My beautiful anointed wife Torrecca will share a thought that I know will bless you.

Life itself eventually leads us to a place where we must ultimately decide…… At this point, Will I allow life to continue to “break me” or will I begin to let it “make me”?  Much of my life was spent broken, holding on to the past, wavering in the present and unsure about the future. But God!  The deal is this; He knows the thoughts that he thinks toward us, thoughts of peace and not of evil to bring us to an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11). So with that being said, He knew who we were in the past, He knows who we are now, and He knows who He has called us to be in the future. Therefore, whether the consequences of negative circumstances in our lives were the results of things individuals have done/do to us or things we have done/do to ourselves; all things work together for the good of them who love the Lord and those who are call according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  We must grow up in the things of God; recognize the call on our lives and hold on to His promises made specifically for us.

Letting go of the past and embracing the promises that lead us to our purpose and destiny is truly a sign of maturity. Understanding, God is for us, it matters not who or what can be against us!!!

“Maturity is the ability to start again even when it hurts and the courage to stand in the midst of the pain”. © 2014 Torrecca Nicholson

How often have we seen a football player after being hit hard, jump right up as if it doesn’t faze him, and run back to the huddle?  He may be hurt, but he doesn’t let his opponent know it.  He does not give his enemy a target to go after on the next play. He continues to play in the midst of the pain. God has mapped out the course for our lives and the navigation system is His Word. When we choose to follow His plan and His way we are able to walk out our purpose with joy and peace. So even when we fall and it causes injury, we are able to get up and continue on the path set before us. You’re standing on a sure foundation, planted like a palm tree, not being moved, even when the winds try their best to blow you away (Psalms 1:3). Now, let’s walk in peace, joy and liberty, the finished work that is already ours. Whom the Son has set free is free indeed – Amen

Torrecca Nicholson “TNick” –