Category Archives: Inspiration

Make It A Good Day!

Need a pick-me-up?  Need a quick break from the same type of YouTube clips?  Take a moment to view the following animated shorts to jump-start your day:

Feel Good About Yourself!

Don’t Be A Stumbling Block

We all feel depressed from time to time and we have all been in situations or know of others in situations that baffle us. Hopefully, these videos will provide you with a different perspective.

Make it a good day!

This Man Called Christ

Until now, you have been indifferent.

This Man, the one they call Christ, has been performing miracles throughout the land. Your neighbors tried to coax you into traveling to see Him, but you always resisted. Certainly, He is a madman, proclaiming Himself the Son of God when He hails from Nazareth. No, you would tell them, go ahead and chase after lunatics. I have better things to do.

As His fame grew, however, your stance began to soften. After meeting with Him, men lame their entire lives were walking. He restored a blind man’s sight in Bethsaida. There was even talk that he had raised this one man, Lazarus, from the dead. But right as you were deciding to see Him for yourself, the religious leaders warned, “Do not be fooled. This is the work of the devil, not God.” The leaders are men you have known your entire life and respect; you have never had a reason to doubt their word or their authority. So, again you resist.

During the night, however, there is a great commotion. You hear the cries from the crowd, “Crucify Him!” You shake your head in dismay. It is Passover, you think. We should be focused on our deliverance!

When your neighbors beckon this time, you follow but stand at the back of the gathering. The crowd has been whipped into a fever pitch. You see a procession from a distance. An acquaintance, Simon, is carrying a cross for a badly beaten Man as He is being mocked and struck. Ah, the murderer Barabbas is finally meeting with his fate, you think. Why would Simon assist him? When the procession stops at Golgotha, you see a crown of thorns have been fastened and placed upon His head. You find this odd.

You avert your eyes when He is crucified with two others. This barbarism sickens you. When you open your eyes, you see the Man has been placed between two others. But it is not Barabbas. You are shocked when to learn he has been released.

“Who is He, then?” you ask and someone points to a notice fastened to His cross, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.

“That’s Him?” you ask aloud to no one particular. Near the cross, women are gathered, weeping. You want to leave, but can’t. Your feet are cemented. You are at once repelled and fascinated. You hear others say what you are now thinking, “Why doesn’t He save himself? He saved others!” You wait, but no miracles today. The leaders were right.

Without warning, the sun stops shining. Fear and uncertainty grip you as the darkness takes hold for the next three hours. The Man, the One called Christ, cries out and dies. At that moment, the curtain of the temple is torn from top to bottom and the earth shakes. You fall to your knees as others beat their chests in mourning. Surely, He was the Son of God!

You will your body into motion and walk home. There, you sit at your table and try to rationalize what you just witnessed, but you can’t. You only know your life will no longer be the same.

Come Together

It is Holy Week. It was during this week many centuries ago that the prophecies were fulfilled. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, completed his mission on Earth and died on the cross for our sins. He split in two the barrier between God and man (Luke 23:45). He then overcame death and was resurrected. Through Him we now have direct access to God. It is from His sacrifice that salvation is available for all men, not just a chosen few. Let’s use His sacrifice as an example in our lives. Let’s turn away from selfish thoughts and actions and put the needs of others before our own. Let’s come together as Christians; instead of focusing on each other’s faults, let’s embrace the one similarity we share – Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

May God bless you and keep you. Praises and glory to the Most High!

The Closed-Minded Christian

I had a conversation recently where I referred to homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle. The person to whom I was speaking became indignant.

“There is no such thing as an ‘alternative lifestyle’. Jesus didn’t give an alternative. I don’t care what they say, I believe what Jesus says.”

When I advised that I had purposely used that term to prevent offending anyone listening to our conversation, I was met with more of the same. The person actually began talking over my words to drown out and nullify what I was saying. That got me thinking. Not about the issue of homosexuality. God’s position on this is clear as Paul reminds us in Romans 1: 26-32. The purpose of this post is not to offer my opinion. Rather, I was struck by the absolute closed-mindedness of the self-professed Christian.

I knew what the person meant, but I couldn’t help but wonder how someone unfamiliar with Christ would internalize our conversation, especially if he or she were living such a lifestyle? Would that person feel comfortable approaching us to discuss and therefore learn why we take such a position on the lifestyle? Would that conversation make the person seriously consider making a change in his or her life? Or, would that person become apprehensive not just of us but of Christianity as a whole? As Christians, we have to be mindful of our speech and our actions. Proverbs 15:1 ” A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” We should be vessels that direct one to Christ but sometimes we are brick walls for those seeking the Lord.

We should stand firmly against sin, but standing firmly against sin doesn’t mean we should discard the sinner. In Matthew 9:9-13, we are told of the time when Jesus and the disciples had dinner at Matthew’s house with tax collectors and other ‘sinners’, When the Pharisees (a Jewish religious group that zealously followed the Old Testament laws as well as their own religious traditions) saw this, they asked the disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Upon hearing this, Jesus replied, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'”

As followers of Christ, we should reach out instead of closing ranks. Christianity is not an exclusive club only for perfect people. If that were true then none of us could be members. In our zeal to confirm our Christianity to ourselves and to others, we tend to vehemently condemn sin by invoking Jesus in our speech. When we do, let’s remember to also take on the characteristics of Christ so we don’t turn away seekers but invite them to the most important relationship they will ever have.

A Beautiful Outward Appearance, But What About the Heart?

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’. 1 Samuel 16:7

Who among us has not felt convicted by this verse at some time or another? For me, it is usually after averting my eyes from that homeless man or woman on the street. When shaking my head “no” from inside my car as they panhandle at traffic lights. Sometimes, it’s when I cross the street or take a different direction to keep from passing a person who just doesn’t look right. You see, I have been conned by people posing as homeless and physically threatened by mentally unstable people while walking to the parking garage from work. So, I’m leery but I do tend to go against instinct and let my guard down. I’ll still offer money and a blessing to the men and women holding signs on the street corners. I’ll push aside past experiences and walk by that person on the street.

When reading the verses leading to 1 Sm 16:7, you will discover the context in which the Lord spoke these words to Samuel. Samuel was sent to Jesse to appoint one his sons king. Samuel saw Eliab’s impressive appearance and thought surely he was the anointed one. Thankfully, the Lord guided Samuel. For it is from the lineage of David that Jesus was born.

Like many, I have no problem with guarding myself against individuals who appear unsavory. But how many times have I been pleased by the outward appearance only to be hurt when the true nature, or heart, shows through? Often, we see people for what we want them to be, not for who they actually are. God doesn’t have these limitations. He sees the heart and knows the person’s strengths, weaknesses and intentions. Before rejecting someone God has placed in your life, pray for discernment. Outwardly, he or she may not be what you expected, but his or her heart may be everything you need.

Thought for Today – and Everyday

Have you ever had a problem that kept you awake at night?  A hurdle so prevailing that you have actually lost your appetite and couldn’t focus on routine activities? An issue that, despite all your concentration, planning and maneuvering, you cannot solve?  Instead of relying on your own strengths and understanding, rely on God.  His power and abilities are limitless.  Your problems are powerless before Him.  But, first, you must make the decision to rely on and trust in Him.   Once you humbly submit yourself, you will feel the yoke of your burdens being lifted.  Do your part and be amazed at how God does His!

Don’t Be A Stumbling Block To Your Reward

Times are difficult. Many are facing financial hardships. For those not experiencing financial hardships, there may be health problems. If not that, one may be facing relationship or emotional hurdles. Some are facing all of the above. Personally, I don’t know of a single living person who is not navigating some sort of roadblock, including myself.

When dealing with someone who is experiencing problems in his or her life we, as supportive friends and family, attempt to alleviate the situation. The first thing we do is offer encouraging words to show that we are sympathetic and empathetic to our loved one’s problem or problems. By instinct, we speak from the natural or as humans instead of spiritually. That was Peter’s misstep in Matthew 16:22.

While speaking to His disciples, Jesus informed them, for the first time, that he would suffer at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law. He told them he would be killed and raised back to life on the third day (Matthew 16:21). Peter, who no doubt loved Jesus, rebuked Him by stating this would never happen. We are then taught in Matthew 16:23, “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’ (NIV). When I first read this passage many years ago, I was taken aback. Why would Jesus respond so strongly to Peter whose response seemed to be stemmed from love and dedication?

Although Peter had the best intentions in mind, it was just that – his intentions. He was thinking as a man and did not want Jesus to endure the suffering and death that was to come. However, if Jesus had not died for our sins, we (mankind) would have died in our sins. Jesus had to endure unconscionable hardships in order for us to achieve the ultimate reward – eternity with our Father. Jesus rebuked Peter’s attitude which, essentially, removed God from the picture.

No one wants to experience discomfort and we feel a special pain when witnessing a loved one go through trials and tribulations. In our efforts to comfort our loved ones and ourselves, let’s not take God out of the picture. Always think from a spiritual standpoint instead of instinct. The discomfort we face now may be a station in God’s journey that leads us to something far greater.

Note: This devotional was inspired by the February 24 2011 Our Daily Bread selection.

39, Single and Childless – Whoa!

Today is my birthday. Since I have never been ashamed or embarrassed about my age, I say with pride that I am 39 years old. My weight, well, I’ll keep that to myself, but I will admit that while I am not overweight, I am noticing some softening around the midsection. I guess that comes with middle age. Nothing sit-ups and crunches won’t cure.

A few days ago, I was introduced to someone who wanted to know little more about me. So, I revealed my background and my age to which I received the question, “Are you married?” The answer is no. That response was immediately followed with, “Do you have any children?” The answer, again, is no. I braced myself and sure enough it happened.

The Pause.

I first noticed The Pause around my 35th birthday when I was still unmarried and childless. I was taken aback at first, not just by The Pause but also by The Look; that mixture of sympathy and pity sprinkled with the relief of, “At least that’s not me!” I received so many Pauses and Looks that I began to view myself differently. Up until that point, I had considered my happy and content, but maybe I was just fooling myself. As each subsequent birthday approached and I was still without a ring or a baby, The Pauses and Looks had me thinking there might be something really wrong with me. I became acutely aware that peer pressure doesn’t end in high school. To clarify things, I will answer questions I have actually been asked and you may be wondering yourself:

1. Yes, I like men.
2. Yes, I like children.
3. Yes, I am open to marriage and children.
4. No, I am not a lesbian.
5. No, I don’t have any physical or mental handicaps.
6. No, I don’t think I’m being selfish.

To be fair, I doubt if the person delivering The Pause or worse, the Pause/Look mix, is even aware of his or her actions. I certainly don’t think it is meant to hurt or cast doubt. I believe it is an instinctual thing. Aren’t we, as women, supposed to get married and help populate the earth? Isn’t there this strong biological clock whose incessant ticking propels us to carry out this duty? I never imagined I would be my age and not married with at least one child. While my marital status is not something I planned, it’s also not something that keeps me awake at night wrought with guilt and worry. I have a good life and I am happy. If tomorrow I met The One and this time next year gave birth to healthy baby, I would feel immensely blessed. Just as I feel immensely blessed today.

So, instead of spending the day bemoaning the fact that I am not living up to society’s expectations, I plan to kick back with family and friends and celebrate the gift of life and all the blessings the Lord has given me. Being single and childless does not equate to lonely and without purpose. I am happy for today and excited for tomorrow, even if some still want to view me as a pitiable spinster.

A Child Should Never Be A Secret

Oprah Winfrey announced today that she has a younger sister, something she had only become aware of within the past few months. It was a family secret that only her mother and cousin knew. Wow.

I have some experience with family secrets and discovering a younger sibling. I was fifteen when I learned I had a younger brother. My father had a son with another woman. It wasn’t as exclusive a secret in my family as it was in Oprah’s. My mother knew and so did several other family members. I was the only one left in the dark.
Like Oprah, I finally met my sibling and hopefully, like my brother and me, she will develop a bond with her sister.

I’m not writing this to show a type of kinship with a celebrity or elicit compassion, empathy or understanding. I’m certainly not writing it to air my family’s dirty laundry. I am writing this for one reason and one reason only – to call a time-out on major family secrets.
Every family has its secrets, those things that the elders only whisper among themselves and will carry to their graves. I don’t believe children have the right to know everything. Some things are best kept in the past. Some things. Not a child.

One’s life is turned inside out upon learning of a secret sibling. For me, there was a sense of betrayal on two fronts – the first is obvious, that of my father to my mother and then to me by both parents for their failure to tell me. There was also a sense of loss on two fronts – my life, my world, as I knew it would never be the same plus I had been cheated of precious moments with my brother. And I was angry but honestly didn’t understand why and at whom. Was it the betrayal? The loss? My parents? The kid? Luckily, my anger subsided and my relationship with my parents went on as usual. I’ve had many years since then to think about it and now understand and accept the many layers at play in my own family drama.

My brother and I eventually met and forged a beautiful relationship. Was it easy? Of course not, situations of this nature are rarely easy when emotions are involved. It won’t be easy for Oprah and her sister either, but it’s possible. One thing in their favor is their maturity. They are able to understand things at a level that is impossible when you are a teen or young adult.

If you are currently harboring such a secret, please confess it to your loved ones. Get past your feelings of (fill in the blank) and let your family know. It will be a burden lifted from your shoulders plus your family deserves to know it’s true history and genealogy. Your intentions in the beginning may have been to spare hurt feelings but the longer you hold on to it the harder it will be to explain when the truth comes out. The truth will come out. Let your family hear it from you.

Feel Good About Yourself!

It’s easy to question your worth as a person, especially in a world that lauds physical beauty, accomplishments and material possessions. If you are feeling down about your place in this world, remember Psalm 8:4-5: “What is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him glory and honour.”
God created us a little lower than the angels an has crowned us with glory and honor! No one is here by mistake but by design. So if you are heavy-hearted this day, know that you are highly valued and loved by the Most High.