To Be Renewed

With each new year, social media outlets are inundated with slogans, resolutions and promises. We vow to become healthier, we promise to be more productive, we make plans not to engage in whatever sin we feel plagues us the most, we claim we’ll leave that significant other for the 18,494,808 time. This is the effect that the new year has on us. We want to be better, we want to be changed, we want to be new.

While the idea of being new is exciting and the desire to grow is commendable, if we are honest with ourselves, we know that a 10 second countdown does not result in a miraculous change. The struggles that we have had all throughout the previous years will not disappear. When the ball drops, the confetti is swept up, the New Year’s prayer is over and January is through. We find ourselves back in the swing of things, headed to Valentine’s day and sometimes, the dedication to our resolution has waivered. We get to the end of what was once a new year and we begin to make the old promises to ourselves for a new year and the cycle continues.

New Year’s resolutions are based on the premise that we have the complete power to change who we are and what we do; the reality is that we do not. We can play an integral part in self-growth and development however, true transformation cannot come in the absence of Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it states, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come into being.” This scripture tells us that once we fully accept Christ into our lives and come into his will, he renews us. He gives us the power to transform ourselves into the person that we desire to be while also allowing things that we could have never imagined to manifest in our lives.

This new year, I encourage you to spend more time with Christ and share your desires and aspirations with him. Allow God to play the most important role in the new you. And remember, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” -Philippians 4:13.

Happy New Year

Mingo ♥

A Step Beyond Appreciation

We often show appreciation for God but, do we display gratitude for him?  As defined by the Oxford Dictionary, appreciation is “the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.” For certain we recognize and enjoy who God is in our lives. There are millions of memes, gospel songs and hymns that express joy for who God is: a healer, a friend, a counselor, amazing, mighty, powerful; the list can go on. And while we often acknowledge and enjoy the attributes of God, do we offer God purely appreciation with the absence of gratitude? Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. While appreciation embodies thankfulness and value, gratitude calls for reciprocity and a mutually beneficial relationship.

Knowing this should move us from a point of reflection to a call to action. How do we show God that we are grateful for all that he does for us aside from singing or saying it?  God is not even calling for grand actions to prove our gratitude; small, repeated, intentional actions to show thankfulness is what is required . In relationships, when we feel that someone only says they value us but does nothing to prove it, we often quote, “Actions speak louder than words.” The same goes for our relationship with Christ. We cannot continue to claim to love, appreciate, and be thankful for him while neglecting to take action to show him that we are indebted to him. 

What does displaying gratefulness look like? The specific action will look differently for everyone. If you thank God for for giving you a source of income, gratitude could be practicing good stewardship, using your resources to be a blessing to someone in need, or using your income to fund a greater purpose that God has for your life. If you are thankful for God giving you another day of life, gratitude could be spending time with him in daily devotion or bible study or dedicating a portion of your day to pray; after all why do we thank God for giving us another day and then give our time to everyone but him throughout the day?

By no means is this post suggesting that appreciation means absolutely nothing; we all want to be appreciated. What I am suggesting is that we be sure to move beyond just appreciating God and we start to show him by our living that we are truly thankful for all that he is and all that he does for us.

Mingo ♥

 

11.9.2016

This morning, Donald Trump was elected as president of the United States of America. I wanted to stay home & in the bed. Then I thought of my ancestors. They endured beatings, tireless days with unbearable manual labor, witnessing their loved ones hanging from trees, being spit on at counters in diners, being blown into pieces in their house of faith, being raped repeatedly by their oppressor, feeling the pain of their family being displaced due to the slave trade, being stored worse than cattle in ships across the globe… & each day they got up and went to work… each day they got up and fought against their oppressors and the systems in place to keep them disenfranchised. The same God that empowered them to fight through the middle passage, battle through slavery, find strength during reconstruction, overcome Jim Crow, & trail-blaze the Civil Rights Movement is the same God that will give you and me the power to fight injustices in these yet to be United States.

Today more than blacks are crying and more than blacks are hurt. I stand in solidarity with the Latino/ Hispanic community. I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. I stand in solidarity with the Muslim community. I stand in solidarity with the economically disadvantaged community. I stand in solidarity with the immigrant community. I stand in solidarity with every minority group that has been targeted and disrespected by our country’s newly elected president. I hope you stand in solidarity with me as well; we will surely need each other in the years to come.

To the majority, those who were vocal and silent, I pray for you. I am convinced that even you do not understand the magnitude of which your actions and beliefs have changed the trajectory of World History…. even you will feel the wrath of the terrible results of the US Presidential Election of 2016.

He may be president, but I serve the King of Kings who even Trump has to bow down to and declare Lord.

Mingo

Even Me

For a while, I’ve heard God calling my name. It wasn’t a loud call; he didn’t use a booming voice. Instead it was an insidious, gentle and haunting call. While insidious and haunting may not seem befitting to describing God’s voice, if you’ve ever tried to run from God’s purpose, you can understand why, in this context, I have given his voice these attributes.

I was born and raised in the church. However, throughout my childhood, I was always in trouble: I was suspended repeatedly from third to tenth grade, I had no respect for authority, I tried to run away, I had charges almost pressed against me. During my high school years, I truly began to build my own personal relationship with Christ and my behaviors started to change as my love for God increased because I saw how he changed the trajectory of my life. Despite my transformation as a teenager, as a young adult,  I was entranced and enticed by the world in a different sense. In the midst of being lured by a lifestyle that seemed most easy and fun, I heard God’s call. At the time, I did not know what to do and,  I was nervous about being young and living what I thought was a restricting lifestyle for Christ so…I ran from it.
 Circa age 25, the call began to become louder. It was the Summer of 2015; I went on a women’s cruise with my church titled, “The Completely Yes” Conference. Without a doubt, while staring at the ocean, I heard God tell me that I would spread his gospel across the world. It shook me so much, I walked away from the window. I spent the entire day second guessing myself, second guessing God. “Like, maybe the salt in this good sea water has me tripping or maybe God whispered in the wrong ear. You know who I am, you know what I’ve done. Why would you choose me? I am not even living right Jesus.”
I felt God’s overwhelming presence and tug that left me dumbfounded and confused. After choosing to live a lukewarm lifestyle, after choosing my will over his, after choosing to practice fickle faith,  I could not understand why God still was still persistent in telling me that he chose me over it all. I did not understand what he saw in me.
For a while, I continued with this same dialogue with God. I’d hear his voice and feel his gentle nudges and then, I’d inform him of all of my flaws and shortcomings. There was no way God could use me and I just felt like I needed to let him know this.  Oddly enough, during the time I struggled with walking in my purpose, I began to see a quote quite often:
 ” Jacob was a cheater. Peter had a temper. David had an affair. Noah got drunk. Jonah ran from God. Paul was a murderer. Gideon was insecure. Miriam was a gossiper. Martha was a worrier. Thomas was a doubter. Sarah was impatient. Elijah was depressed. Moses stuttered. Zacchaeus was money hungry. Abraham was old, and Lazarus was dead…God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”
This quote made me stop and reflect on all of the people I had read about in the bible. There was not one person who I could find that did not possess whose life was without blemish. As a matter of fact, some of these people had what were just a hot mess before Christ and all struggled with their issues even after accepting the call; There were whores, cheaters, liars, and crooked politicians all transformed and used by Christ. I began to understand that God uses imperfect people to carry out his perfect will.
In the bible, one of the greatest crusaders for Christ was Paul. Paul was a Pharisee who vehemently persecuted Christians prior to being transformed by meeting Jesus & becoming filled by the Holy Spirit. His life teaches us that there is no transgression or past that will prevent God from using you, not even denying Christ and killing his people. In 1 Timothy 1:16 Paul states “This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners– and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.”
I spent years running because I thought I was not ready;  I did not walk in my call because I was not perfect. And then, I realized, if I waited to be perfect, I would never fulfill my purpose.God is not waiting for you to be perfect. He is waiting on you to accept your purpose. While I am not suggesting we play with our lifestyles and find reasons to justify our sin, I am encouraging you to become deliberate in living for Christ, while accepting the flaws that we all have. Do not give yourself the requirement of fulfilling the prerequisite of being before you walk in what God has called you to do. God is calling flawed souls walk in his will in order to give hope to a flawed world.
What call are you ignoring because you deem your imperfections as enough to count you out? Don’t allow your past to haunt you. Do not ignore his call because you know your downfalls. The creator does not need to be reminded of the limitations of his creation.  If he is calling you. Answer.
Mingo

I Never Said Sorry

Last week, as I went through my Facebook feed, I saw a rest in peace tribute to an old friend that I hurt yet never reconciled with. It’s kind of crazy scrolling through Facebook and finding out that someone who you once hurt is now gone… what’s crazier is knowing that you never took the steps to right your wrong. The days passed on and you moved along.

Asking for forgiveness is just as necessary as granting forgiveness. We focus so much on those who hurt us and never apologized that sometimes we fail to be attentive to the offenses that we have made and neglect to be accountable for our actions.

Asking for forgiveness is so important that as Christians we are instructed to do so before presenting an offering to the Lord. In Matthew 5:23-34 we are instructed “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” God is more concerned with our reconciliation with those whom we have hurt than he is with you giving him your tithe. This is because above all else, God is a God of love and if you cannot be in harmony with other people then you cannot fully carry out the lifestyle that he demands of us.

Don’t wait for something “big” to happen to reach out and seek forgiveness or reconcile with those whom you are estranged. What hurts have we caused that we still ignore? Who needs to hear us say, I’m sorry in order to heal? Whose name crossed your mind the entire time reading this? Pick up the phone, schedule a conversation, write that letter… Use whichever form is most sincere for you and can be best received by the one you are asking for forgiveness… and ask for forgiveness.

-Mingo ♥

 

Cranes

On Friday, September 30, 2016 Solange Knowles dropped what could be considered a musical masterpiece, “A Seat at the Table”. At 7:54 the morning of, I woke up with a text from my best friend Fatimah, who has been a solidified Solange fan since the early 2000’s , that read “You HAVE to listen F.U.B.U off Solange’s new album…like HAVE.” –why she had listened to Solange’s entire album before 8am on its release date is another topic—But, she wouldn’t be the only one to text me about the album. In fact, I received a few texts about the album and I could not scroll through my social media without Solange references, all of which praised the album. People were loving it.

Initially, I put off listening to the album. I like listening to new albums while doing nothing, or driving in my car with no interruptions. For a few days, I just didn’t have my optimal “listening party” scenario. While I put off listening to the album, there was one song in particular that continued to be posted by people of social media with hashtags like #mood, #inmyfeelings, and #yasssss. Then I received a text from a male friend, he said “Did you hear Cranes from Solange’s album? It’s really good. It’s the best to me, I relate to it even though I’m a guy.” At this point I had to listen to it…I needed to know why almost everyone in my personal and social media circle felt so tied to this one particular song…So I opened my Tidal app, found the song and heard…

“I tried to drink it away. I tried to put one in the air. I tried to dance it away. I tried to change it with my hair. I ran my credit bill up, thought a new dress would make it better. I tried to work it away but, that just made me even sadder. I tried to keep myself busy. I ran around in circles, think I made myself dizzy. I slept it away. I sexed it away. I read it away.”

I immediately understood why her song resonated with so many; I understood why it immediately was pulling me in. Solange spoke about doing something that we all do: attempt to fix our issues with tactics that give us temporary healing.  There has been a time in all our lives that we tried to seek refuge in a drink, a person, a job, money, etc. There’s been a time when we thought we could heal our issues and even when we engage in the activity, afterwards we still feel like “cranes in the sky”. We feel burdened with heaviness looming over us, ugliness characterizing us, bleakness surrounding us.

While listening to this song, I couldn’t help but to think about the very story I decided to name this blog after, the biblical story of the woman with the issue of blood. The account from Mark 5:24-34, tells a story of a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and was only healed once she sought Jesus in the midst of a crowd and touched his garment with the faith that she would be made whole.  When sharing the background of the woman, the bible tells us, “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.  She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.”

Because the story does not give specific detail about the woman’s diagnosis, I believe that the important point is not to focus necessarily on the issue but to reflect on what we do to find the cure to the things that plague us. This woman spent years trying to self- diagnose, going from doctor to doctor to only to find that she became worse with time.

What do we turn to fix ourselves? To feel better, to “look better” Do we turn to alcohol, sex, overindulgence, excessive shopping?  Do we have the mindset that if I just do this, it will make everything better? If I get this position, I’ll receive my drive again. If I give myself to this guy, this girl, I’ll feel loved. If I join this sorority, fraternity I’ll be affirmed, I’ll fit in. If I purchase this home in this neighborhood, I’ll feel like I have value. If I lose weight I’ll think highly of myself. If I do this…If I do that…If I go here, if I go there, if I put in these bundles, if I wear this waist trainer…If I, If I, If I…& while nobody wants to admit it, at one point in our life we think that the attainment of something will fix something that is wrong with us, we think we’ve found the prescription and the cure. But, how many know that there is no worst feeling than obtaining that which you thought would heal you yet, after getting it you feel worse off than you were before?  You went where you thought you would be healed only to keep getting worse.

The woman with the issue of blood’s testimony teaches us that we don’t have to spend years trying to find the cure. While the song is beautiful, we don’t have to endure the ugly emotion of feeling like cranes in the sky. Jesus is always present and always there. Like the woman, you may have to push through your own personal crowd –trials, tribulations and obstacles— in order to reach him, but the work to get to his garment is worth your while. Once you encounter God, he won’t leave you disappointed.

Well what does touching God look like? In 2016, what does it look like for you to reach out and touch him. First you must realize that a touch is intentional and takes effort. Begin to build a relationship with Christ. Increase your prayer life and take your concerns to him. Spend time in devotion with him; allow space in your day for quality time with you and him. Just like the woman in the story, Jesus will notice you placing your hands out to him and he will respond to your hearts desires and your pleas to be made whole.

I invite you to reach out and touch him. Seek his face and have faith that he is Jehovah Rapha, The Lord Your Healer…Those things that you have been trying to cure yourself with have yet to be proven successful. Try Jesus.

Mingo ♥