My Treasure Lies

My treasure lies on angel’s wings,
Where His presence rests and cherubs sing.
Not where moth and rust destroy,
Or in the arms of a girl or boy.

My treasure lies upon a lamb slain,
In an eternal place where the Son of Man reigns.
Not in a bank stored up where thieves steal,
Or in a lie that appears to be real.

My treasure lies in the Spirit realm,
In He who calmed a ship at sea and arrested its helm.
Not in the opinions of those who whisper and standby,
Or on the lips of politicians who tell swift lies.

My treasure lies in the will of the one who hung on a tree,
Whose blood was shed to save a wretched soul like me.
Not in broken promises and deceptive cries,
Or in those who would betray me in the blink of an eye.

My treasure lies where my true heart also rests,
In the bosom of the Father who knows His children best.
But in His purpose and His love, my vision is very clear,
Because I’ve got work to do in His name and time is drawing near.

©️ FREE 2021 All Rights Reserved.

Is That All You Have?

Let me be the first to say that I detest grocery shopping. From the lines, insufficient registers, and crowds, I could do without all of it. Let’s just say I try to avoid it at all means. I make every effort to get everything I think we may need every time I go because I hate to go back. It’s so bad that I smile when I see the checkout. I feel like an Olympian approaching the finish line and taking the gold. Last week as I stood in line, an elderly woman came and stood behind me. As the cashier began to check me out, the Lord laid it on my heart to pay for her groceries. I told the cashier to add her items to my tab. The lady looked at me and said, “No. You don’t have to do that”. I told her it was fine and that I wanted to. Then, I asked, “Is that all you have?”. She handed me her items. I paid for them. She thanked me and left the store. The cashier said, “That was nice”. I told her that people are always blessing me and that we all need each other. We need to help lighten each other’s load.

As I walked to my car, I thought about how the Father deals with us and lightens our loads. I could imagine Him standing with outstretched hands asking us, “Is that all you have?” Like the lady, we hesitate to give Him what’s in our hands because we are ashamed or think it may be too much. Yet, Jesus tells us in Matthew 11: 28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He wants to take it all upon Himself. Isn’t that exactly what He did on the cross? Isaiah 53:4 states that Jesus bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. He also bore the weight of our sins, pain, sickness, disease, disappointments, and everything we could experience in this life. Before He even hung on the cross, He felt every emotion we could feel. What are we saying when we fail to give it all to Him? Are we are saying that we don’t think what He has already done is enough?

So, I ask again. Is that all you have? Abuse. Is that all you have? Rejection. Is that all you have? Illness? Is that all you have? Heart-broken. Is that all you have? Debt. Is that all you have? Depression. Is that all you have? Pain. Is that all you have? Sexual sin. Is that you all have? No matter how heavy it is. Bring all of it. Whatever it is. He can handle it.

© 2021 FREE All Rights Reserved.

Deciduous or Evergreen: Which One Are You?

Fall is my favorite season. It is representative of the transition from the smoldering heat of summer to the cold of winter. Now, I am speaking from an ideal perspective. However, I live in Texas. So, it usually doesn’t happen that way. It is not unusual for Fall to have 90-degree weather but due to the change in scenery, no one can deny the arrival of Fall. One can’t help but notice the once green leaves turning into brilliant oranges, yellows, reds, and browns. Our lawns become a sea of leaves that add raking to our chore list. On the other hand, some trees keep their lush green leaves all year round and are called evergreens. Why? Because they are Ever-green. They tend to keep their foliage unless they become old and need to be replaced. Some common types of evergreens include firs, spruces, pines, magnolias, eucalypti, and many of the trees found in the rainforest. Unlike evergreens, deciduous trees shed their leaves during dryer seasons to prevent water loss. Types of common deciduous trees include maples, oaks, birches, aspens, and willows. While thinking about this from a scientific standpoint, I couldn’t help but meditate on it from a spiritual perspective.

What if these two words could be used as human characteristics? How would a spiritually evergreen individual differ from someone who is spiritually deciduous? The evergreen would be someone who appears to always have it together. One who is happy, perfect, and to be envied. One who has the outward appearance of godliness and gives others the perception of holiness. Naturally, evergreens trees are usually found in areas where there tends to be an abundance of sunshine and rainfall. Those that are spiritual evergreens tend to be comfortable because their needs are met and they don’t experience a lot of changes or fluctuations in their environment. Their perspective is formed and limited by their own personal experience. Sometimes, this makes it difficult for them to relate to others from different environments.

Now, let us take a look at the spiritually deciduous. A spiritually deciduous person is adaptable. They understand that change is essential to survival and growth. They know they must shed their leaves because seasons bring changes in resources. Therefore, they must adjust to prepare for new seasons. The deciduous is ever-changing and willing to let go of the old to embrace the new and even willing to evolve into something completely different to sustain themselves. They have no problem with letting go of things that no longer benefit them spiritually to reach their full potential in God.

The problem with being evergreen is that it causes people to have a false sense of who we are and robs us of our true identity. It can make us unrelatable and self-glorified. In nature, the kind of evergreen trees usually found in rainforests are so dense that they prevent the light from touching the ground. From a spiritual standpoint, this reminded me of how one can become a distraction or hindrance to others seeing the light of Christ by being so focused on shining and bringing attention to themselves. It can also lead to us being perceived in a way that gives others an unrealistic view of what being a follower of Christ looks like. 2 Timothy 3:5 warns us about having the form of godliness and lacking the power thereof. The truth is that life is full of ups and downs. In this life, there are seasons for everything as stated in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

3 1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Being deciduous allows our potential in God to be the focus and doesn’t give the illusion that we have arrived. The “shedding of leaves” in our lives during trying seasons and times of purification allows others to recognize the hand of God actively at work in us. It is representative of His transformative power because we can look back at seasons past and measure the growth that has taken place. Also, it strengthens our testimony because we can share our “see where He brought me from” stories with others and show them that He can do the same for them. That’s where our power comes from. We are to make His word alive in a tangible way in the earth so He may be glorified.

When I think about all of the changes that I have experienced in my life, the “leaves” I have had to shed or let go of, the different seasons the Lord has brought me through, I can’t help but rejoice. Some of them have been sunshine-filled and others have been dark, cold, and lonely, but I count them all joy. When we try to be evergreen, we make the finished work on the cross more about us and less about Him. When we are deciduous, we place the spotlight on the power of His great love and grace during our journey. Regardless of what season we find ourselves in, His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). Honestly, we will never become evergreen until we become surrounded by His glory in eternity. Until then, I plan to remain deciduous and “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you (me) will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6-7).  How about you?

© FREE 2021 All Rights Reserved.

What’s In a Name?

What’s in a name hundreds of centuries-old?
That’s still able to move mountains when upon it’s called.

What’s in a name? Whether Gentile or Jew?
That is full of power and mighty to save both me and you.

What’s in a name that makes demons tremble and flee?
And yet gentle enough when spoken to calm a raging sea.

What’s in a name that lives and speaks from within?
And exposes the state of all hearts ridden with sin.

What’s in a name that reveals the mysteries of Heaven?
And manifested all of its glory on the third day when risen.

What’s in a name that burns like fire in the soul?
And refines all that call upon Him like purified gold.

What’s in a name that has overcome the world?
And for generations has rested upon the lips of many boys and girls.

What’s in a name that regardless of whether men believe or men doubt?
It is to this name in the end, every tongue shall confess, every knee shall bow.

What’s in a name?

Yahweh. Emmanuel. Wonderful Counselor. Prince of Peace.

The One Who Makes the Least the Greatest and the Greatest the Least.

The Lily of the Valley. The Bright and Morning Star. The Lion of Judah. The King of Kings.

Jehovah. The Cornerstone. Mighty Deliverer. DaySpring.

The Good Shepherd. The Holy One. The Horn of Salvation. The True Vine.

Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and Ending of Time.

What is His name? What does it mean?

His name is Jesus and in His name is everything.

The question should be… What do you need Him to be?

© FREE 2021 All Rights Reserved.

Make His Name Great

We hear alot about being great. There is a saying,”They won’t let me be great” which has become quite cliche’. Great is defined as being above the norm or average, extraordinary, exceptional, significant. The world has its own view of greatness and it usually correlates with worldly gain, status, or success. However, God’s standard of greatness is measured quite differently. It is Christ centered and not self-centered. Kingdom greatness rests on how great of a foundation we establish by building God’s kingdom here on Earth.

Jesus eludes to this in Matthew 18:1-5 which reads,”At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ [Jesus] called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me”. The disciples had witnessed great demonstrations of Jesus’ power, helped perform miracles, and knew He was the Son of God. So, they were interested in what status they would have in Heaven. They were probably expecting Jesus to reply with a list of qualifications or tasks to complete but instead he answered by telling them to come humbly as children.

However, they were so caught up in what they were doing and what it would get them that they missed the entire point of his response. We often do the same. We get so caught up in performing works for recognition and notoriety that the focus is often shifted to self glorification and not God glorification. This is not an attribute of the humility Jesus described to the disciples. Instead, He wanted them to understand that it wasn’t about who was doing the work but moreso about the name the work was being done in. We need to examine our motives daily. What is the motivation behind all that we do? God has given us abilities and resources to build His kingdom and not our own. Yet, we continue to do so only to end our lives with very little of a legacy. Our goal should be to bring God glory and Him alone.

Being great in the God’s kingdom is not about privilege or popularity. It’s about sacrifice and denying ourselves. It’s about being responsible for bringing others into the kingdom by being the hands and feet of Christ. It’s about bringing light and love to a dark world.

If we examine the life of Jesus closely, he was very intentional in making everything He did point back to the Father. In John 6:38 Jesus said,”For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me“. This is also evident in John 5:19 which reads, “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise“. We are to follow Jesus’ example and reflect the Father in all we do.

Ultimately, the real definition of greatness is found in trusting and serving the only GREAT one. When we do, His name is exalted and we’ve made His name great.

@FREE 2021 All Rights Reserved.  

Forgive Yourself

Romans 8:1-2
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

I have always been very analytical. That can be a good thing but it can also be a bad thing because I can over analyze a situation in a heartbeat if I am not careful. By the time something has taken place, I will have broken it down about 10 times and put it back together 20 different ways in my head. Now, that works if I am working or trying to solve a problem but it can become quite problematic when it comes to relationships. There have been times in my life where it has been just that. I’ve caused myself to think about things so much that it placed guilt on me because I began to harp on what I should have done in different situations. God wants us to be free. He wants us to be free in our minds, bodies, and spirits. As believers, one of the greatest ways we can is forgiveness; the forgiveness of others and of ourselves.

Over the years, I have allowed myself to hold on to regrets. Due to me being a person who always wants to be reflective and do what is right, this has occurred quite often. However, I have learned that the enemy will use the smallest thing to steal our joy or hinder us. He will use our care and concern. He will use our love and loyalty. He will use whatever he can to get us off of the path God has us on. Therefore, we have to learn how to move forward when unfavorable situations in our lives occur. Romans 8:1 says there is no more condemnation for us because Christ has set us free. This is one of my favorite scriptures to go to when I find myself in a place of guilt or shame. I have to remind myself that I am human and imperfect. I have to remind myself that Christ died for my mistakes and sins. Therefore, it is not my job to make myself pay for them over and over again. I don’t have to allow the weight of the things I’ve done to consume me. If I do, that pain is self-inflicted because Christ didn’t come to condemn me but to set me free. That means if we are experiencing guilt, regret, and shame it is coming from Satan himself because he is the accuser of the brethren.

I’ve also learned that if I ask for forgiveness and the person doesn’t grant it; that’s no longer on me. My responsibility is to ask with a sincere heart and commit to doing better moving forward. Then, it is out of my hands. Sometimes, people will try to project their guilt and shame unto you. If you are a feeler as I am, you will tend to carry the burdens of others on you which can become unhealthy. In times like these, you have to discern and recognize what is going on. Once you do, set guidelines for yourself and boundaries that will allow you to maintain your emotional health. Also, pray and ask the Spirit to show you those areas and guide you on how to steer clear of them.

The enemy wants us to remember our sin and mishaps constantly because he knows the destructive power that it has. In Jeremiah 31:34, we are told that when God forgives us, He remembers our sins no more. Therefore if He is the one whom we have transgressed against and He can forgive us, why can’t we forgive ourselves and move forward. Furthermore, when we reject the forgiveness of God, others, or even ourselves, we make room for spiritual traps such as pride. Proverbs 16:18 states that pride comes before destruction. When we become prideful and fail to forgive ourselves, we set ourselves up to fall and rob ourselves of the peace that comes along with true forgiveness. Not only do we steal our own peace but we rob those connected to us because we can make them targets for the hurt we are experiencing within ourselves. The longer we harbor those feelings and try to punish ourselves, the more likely we are to act out on others and hurt them.

Friends, it is so important for us to understand that we cannot take anything back that we have done or change anything bad that has happened to us. However, we can make a conscious effort to do better moving forward and live differently. Personally, I’m grateful that I have been able to release myself from the mistakes I have made. It has made me a better person and has allowed me to love the people around me in an even greater way. What the enemy meant for bad, God turned it around for my good. Where the enemy tried to tear me down and make his lies about me echo louder than God’s truth, the Lord has made His voice even louder. What have you not forgiven yourself for? What have you allowed others and the enemy to hold over your head? Beloved, there is so much more life for you to live on the other side of your mistake. When you forgive yourself, the enemy can no longer use those things against you. Will you be free and made whole today?

Forgive Yourself!

©️ FREE 2021 All Rights Reserved.

Hold On to the Vine

John 15: 1-8
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

In John 15, Jesus refers to Himself as the vine and the Father as the gardener. When I envision this, I see the Father as the one who tends to the vine and its fruit. The gardener, the Father is responsible for the care of vine by providing all it needs to grow and sustain itself. The vine, Jesus, is what connects the fruit to the gardener. He is the channel through which nutrients flow to the fruit. We are the fruit. We are products of the vine and there is no life apart from it.

At times, I have felt the strain of being disconnected from the vine. During these times, an emptiness and dryness of the soul exists. We were created to remain in tandem with the triune nature of God. This is why there will never be true peace outside of Him. We were created in His likeness and His image. His signature is written all over and within us. This is why our spirit hungers for connection. When we fail to attach ourselves to the truth of who He is, we find ourselves looking for nourishment in dry places. Such places lead us into a state of spiritual malnutrition and eventually emaciated if we stay there too long. Along the vine, there is life flowing through and satisfaction. Such satisfaction is never achieved when we find ourselves in dry places. We are left empty because there is no sustenance capable of providing what only our Father can give.

The Father’s purpose for us staying on the vine is to allow us to be positioned for growth. While on the vine, we are close to Him so He can inspect us for parasites, the influence of the enemy, and signs of damage. It is the Holy Spirit that is the Fruit Inspector. He reports anything unusual back the Father so He can remove or prune anything that may be a threat to us flourishing. Then, the Father carefully goes along the vine, using His word as a guide, and cuts off anything that is not like Him.

Is there life outside the vine? In nature, the fruit separates from the vine and its seeds are dispersed to allow reproduction. However, if the fruit separates prematurely then it will not reach its full potential. God wants us to reach our full potential in Him. Therefore, we are instructed to remain connected. When we fail to do so, we stunt our spiritual growth. Also, we hinder the progress of spiritual reproduction in ourselves as well as those connected to us. In the natural, the seed is physical but in the spirit, our seeds are spiritual. When we remain on the vine, we can receive from the Father via the true vine and the Holy Spirit. Eventually, God’s word takes root in our souls and is shared with those connected to us. As a result, the kingdom of God grows and our fruit remains.

As we mature, we should be able to identify when there is a disconnect between us and the Father. There are also times when we may feel that we are distant from Him. During those times, we are instructed in James 4:8 to, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”. Like the prodigal son, the Father is always waiting for us with open arms. When these times arise, we need to come to our senses like the son and return to the Father. He wants us close so He can protect and guide us. He wants us to find refuge in His presence and peace in His perfect love.

Friends, there is life in the vine.

Stay Connected!

©️ FREE 2021 All Rights Reserved.

Stronger Than Before

Our oldest son has always been a big guy. When he was born, he was so large that his collarbone was broken during delivery. We couldn’t pick him up under his arms for at least the first 6 months of his life because the bone had to set right in order to heal. So, we would swaddle him and leave one of his arms out. One of the first things we were told was that a bony callus would form around the bone where the break was. We were also told this area would eventually be the strongest part of his collarbone.

Have you ever wondered why God would allow us to be broken? I have asked that question quite a few times over the years. Yet,God always seems to show me the purpose of my brokenness. The main reason God allows us to be broken is to remake us so we can become more like Him. He uses every break to make us stronger in that particular area than before.

Think about an area of your life where you’ve experienced brokenness. How is that area now? Are you a better person than you were before your experience? If so, God has fortified you in that area for His purpose. He wants to use our breaks to make us more suitable for His glory. He wants us to be living epistles amongst men. So, we can go out and fortify others for His name’s sake.

When we think of a callus, we usually think of an ugly spot that has accumulated extra skin that needs to be removed. I want to challenge us to find the beauty in the “calluses” that have formed in our lives as a result of God’s healing and restoration just like He did in my son’s bone. Think of them as a reminder of what was once a place of weakness that God has strengthened. It would have never formed had we not been broken. You see. There is beauty in our brokenness. They are monuments of God’s work in our lives.

Because of them, as Marvin Sapp sings, “I am stronger, wiser, and better.” Let that be our testimony. Thank God for His power. Amen!

©️ FREE 2021 All Rights Reserved.

Come Back Home

As a teacher, I would always tell students to consider that the further away from home they go to school, the less trips home they’d get to make. Why? Because of the expenses of airfare and other means of travel associated with a longer distance. Being closer to home, would provide them the luxury to visit home more often which would be beneficial when they missed their loved ones.

Today, I asked myself a question,”What if it was that way with God?” What if the further we strayed away, the less likely we would be able to come back to Him? I don’t even what to entertain such an idea because I’ve been there. I’ve strayed away from God only to feel the torment that comes along with broken fellowship with Him. So, I’d certainly not want to be in that position again, God forbid.

However, the truth is just the opposite. There are no penalty guidelines as it relates to our salvation in regards to the amount of sin in our lives. Jesus changed all of that on the cross and I am so very grateful. I am grateful that a wretched soul like mines can come back to the Father and be restored. Prodigals like us can come back and run into the open arms of our Father. In fact, no matter how far we go, He still beckons us to come home. Even when we are drawn away by our own iniquity, He patiently waits for us. In fact, He pursues us and tugs at our hearts. I’m so glad about that. Aren’t you?

So dear friends, regardless of how far away we go, we can always back home. Our Father is waiting to bring us in, love us, clean us up, clothe us with His grace, and cover us in His righteous. He desires to have all of His children close to Him…WHOEVER let him or her come. No matter what shape you’re in…Come.

As Cory Asbury sings, “Lay your burdens down. You’re in the Father’s house. Check your shame at the door. It ain’t welcome anymore. Your in the Father’s house.”

Come back home! He is waiting. He has everything you need. You’re always welcomed in the Father’s House.

©️ FREE 2021 All Rights Reserved.

%d bloggers like this: