Less is More

We are approaching the end of another year.  Time is flying by.  Like many others, I tend to feel very nostalgic and introspective at this time of the year.  Perhaps, because it is the Advent season where we celebrate the arrival of the Christ child, while also practicing His presence each day. Christmas, 2015

Today, as I reflect, I am reminded of a significant word that the LORD gave me at the beginning of this Advent season.  I am not much for focusing on one word, but it looks like this year is different.  What is the word you ask?  Downsizing.

What a strange word to be pondering during Advent.  And yet, not that strange at all.  Advent is a time to prepare our hearts for the arrival of Jesus as a baby in a manger and then to celebrate His birth on Christmas Day.

Plain and simple…right?

Unfortunately, we tend to do the opposite.  We make it complicated.  We fill our houses, calendars, fridges, credit cards, minds, and stomachs with all the treats and trimmings of the season and allow ourselves to indulge, with excuses that end in “Tis the season!”.

I am not trying to be a scrooge.  I like Christmas, just not in the way most people in my life do.

For the past 2 years, I have seen a trend in my heart.  The dislike for what I call, “Christmas clutter.”  Because of some personal circumstances, our family has taken a break from decorations, shopping, gift giving and many other common festivities that happen during this time of the year, here in America.

Sounds dreary and scrooge-like to many of you, I am sure.  But we have found a Joy unspeakable and a Peace that passes all understanding as a result.

Isn’t that the real reason for the season?  Joy and Peace?

I am now being called to downsize to make even more room for Jesus in my story.  Just like when Mary & Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, there was no room at the inn for them.  I don’t want my story to go like that.

The more I get the more I want…of Him.

I asked God where He wanted me to downsize, since His view of my story is better than mine.

He gave me this… “boundaries in pleasant places” (Psalm 16:6), so I could gain clarity about how and where He wants me to downsize.

Physically – house size, clothes, body size, possessions.

We are not changing our address anytime soon (unless God decides otherwise).  I clearly have too many clothes than I know what to do with.  Although we have had garage sales for various reasons over the past few years, I am sensing that God is asking us to sell even more of the items we own.  Perhaps He already knows something we don’t.

Emotionally – deal with all my feelings (good, bad, otherwise), put boundaries in place that guard and protect, remove certain people from my life that cause undue emotional stress (toxic people), implement healthy social media boundaries.

This past year has been full of feelings new and old, shallow, and deep.  God has been faithful in leading and guiding every step of the way.  In some cases, it was easy in this area. But in other ways, it was quite challenging.  I want to continue to pursue emotional health not only because it is a special gift that I give to the people in my life, but it also strengthens my witness.  I learned a phrase last year, “one cannot be spiritually mature while being emotionally unhealthy at the same time.”  This statement has impacted me deeply and helped me downsize effectively.

Mentally – evaluate what I am feeding my brain, determine how I am strengthening my brain to function the way it is supposed to, identify lies I am believing and replace them with the truth.

God’s Word has been the most effective tool that does the above for me.  Just being in the Word isn’t enough, I have to let it do its work in me.

Spiritually – tighten down on my theology, step into the Gospel more intentionally, seek the presence of God in the deepest parts of my story so I have more of Him and less of me, push away teachings and practices that don’t line up with God’s Word.

If I don’t have a good handle on the Gospel, then my life will show it.  In 2015, I survived an earthquake that resulted in a deeper pursuit of Jesus and the determination to live like I want to die.  With integrity and deep resolve.

In a couple of weeks, we will celebrate Jesus’ birth. In the meantime, I will continue to downsize by dying to myself so there is more room for Jesus when He arrives.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!!

REFLECTION:

How about you?

Is God calling you do downsize?  If so, where?

How will you respond to His invitation this advent season?

Is there room in your story for Him or will you turn Him away?

 

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

Kinita

Satan is a pimp…

[I wrote this back in May, but haven’t posted since then.  I have been writing pretty faithfully so watch for more posts in the near future.  I started my own business in June called Seema Ministries, LLC.  Checkout our website at http://SeemaMinistries.com and let me know what you think!!]

 

…kick him to the curb.

I have a picture burned in my brain’s photo album and because of the sensitivity of the subject matter, the actual location this picture was taken and the danger it might bring to people I dearly love, I cannot post it.

The picture is of men standing on a balcony of a nearby dingy building with their phones in hand and their eyes fixed on the women prostituting themselves on the street corner below.  They were the pimps, watching their possessions.

(These facts were given to me by the trusted people we were serving with).

Please, stay with me a moment longer.

I took the picture and stood there watching them watch them.  I was overcome with emotions of anger, disgust, a deep sadness, and a sense of “why???”.  These men are made in the image of God, right?  So why the deep feelings of disgust?

It’s the behavior y’all.  They stand around prowling and waiting to steal, kill and destroy the spirit of innocent young girls, young boys, and women.

Sound like anyone you know?  It did to me. Satan.

As I embraced the negative emotions that I was experiencing in that moment, the Holy Spirit revealed that those pimps are no different than the Enemy (Satan) himself.  I also have a deep disgust for him and a sadness of how he tries to infect the lives of those I love and hold dear to my heart.

As we read in John 10:10, “the Enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy…”

Also, in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”.

The only difference is that we can’t always physically see the Enemy prowling.  Is God’s Word enough for you to believe he is?

As the Enemy prowls around (like a pimp) looking for someone to devour how are you making yourself available?  How are you guarding yourself?

There are so many little (and big) ways that the Enemy pimps his way into our lives.  It seems the big ways are “easier” to fight off sometimes. A few little ways he might be trying to pimp us with.

  1. He keeps us busy.
  2. He provokes us.
  3. He deceives us.
  4. He feeds our idols.

The list goes on and on.  I would love to hear your thoughts!

2 Timothy 3:16-17, “Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man (or woman) of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I am a firm believer that God’s Word fills me with His truth to fight the lies that I believe.  He corrects my thinking, so it doesn’t become “stinking thinking”.

Satan wants to be the pimp of our minds which then affects our behaviours.   Prostitutes have been physically prostituted, but I think Christians are being mentally / emotionally prostituted in many ways.

Where our thoughts linger, so go our behaviours.

Quoting Tim Keller, “sin is a kind of practical atheism – acting as if God were not there”.

Since God’s Word is teaching us that the Enemy is going to do it anyway and we can’t change him, then I believe what we need to do (as followers of Christ) is protect ourselves as we remember the second part of John 10:10, “…I have come to give life and give it abundantly!”

  1. Confess your sin. (unconfessed sin opens the door to the Enemy)
  2. Put on your spiritual armor (Ephesians 6)
  3. Get accountability from a truth teller and Jesus lover. (sorry to say, that not all Christians fit this description)
  4. Choose to walk in the freedom that The Gospel of Jesus Christ has afforded you.

Doing these things doesn’t mean the journey will be easy.  It means that you will be able to grow stronger in your faith and understanding of God’s love for you because He is the one that does the protecting as we engage in this way.

Several years ago, one of my dear mentor/friends, Patty, said these words to me during a very challenging season in my life.  “The Enemy plays dirty”.  Through her stories, experience, and wisdom she worked with the Holy Spirit to develop in me the confidence to stand firm in my faith and not sway towards what the world, the flesh and the devil do.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, I have learned to “play nice” and allow Him to pour out His Grace whenever evil is present as He is protecting me.

I have been back from that trip for about a month now and the picture I have burned in my brain continues to sit at the forefront of my memory.  I realize that I am still sad because I can’t really do anything about them.  But God gives me HOPE, and I can do something about the Enemy wanting to pimp you.

I can point you to The Rescue, Jesus Christ.  He Rescued us by pouring out His blood as a ransom for our sin. He paid the price, so we wouldn’t have to.  As a result, we are free.  We aren’t getting the life we deserve (mercy), we are getting this life as a gift (grace)!

Please dear friend, LIVE into that freedom.  LIVE into that Truth.  For your sake, and mine…and theirs.

 

REFLECTION:

Where do you see the Enemy pimping you out?

Are you on standing on the curb too?

What are you willing to do about it?

 

Thank you for joining me on the journey,

Kinita

Do you see what I see?

From my heart:  It’s been awhile since I last wrote.  Life has been very full and very complicated and I haven’t been able to blog the way I have wanted.  I decided I wanted to finish out the year better than it started. I have many pieces waiting in the wings.  I hope you will continue on this journey with me and that you will receive peace and insight for yours. 

I love to write and share what God has put on my heart and I THANK YOU for joining me!!!! 

“I’m looking at the man in mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways…”

You might recognize those lyrics if you, like me, are a child of the 80’s.  “Man in the Mirror” was one of Michael Jackson’s most critically acclaimed songs released in 1988 and nominated for “record of the year” at the Grammy awards.  Many radio stations continue to play it today, nostalgically taking me back in time.

A song I turn up in the car and sing along to my hearts delight.

Truth be told, I was a huge Michael fan growing up and even remember seeing him in concert when I turned 13.  Sadly, his life ended at the age of 50 leaving behind a legacy of music, fashion and talent that no other artist has ever measured up to.  He was aptly named “the king of Pop” for those reasons.

In the past several months, the lyrics of this song have taken me into deeper intimacy with Jesus causing me to have a lump in my throat and tears to follow.

2012-08-17-20-43-43

Here’s why.  I have been asking God to change His ways.  I have had more requests for Him than affirmation, praise and gratitude for Him amidst the many storms surrounding me and many others in this country.  I sat with these lyrics and God showed me something different.  He changed the lyric for me to read, “I’m looking at the man in the mirror and He’s asking me to change my ways”.  Who is this man you ask?  Please read on.

I look in the mirror and see a woman.  A woman of strong convictions that aren’t always received by those around her.  A woman with scars, blemishes and character qualities that aren’t always welcomed, accepted or admired. That’s ok, because God isn’t finished with me yet.  More importantly, He loves me just the way I am.  I don’t spend a lot of time looking in the mirror.  But the glimpses I get I haven’t liked because the messages of rejection seem to be louder.  I confess, surrender and ask God to show me what He wants me to see.  To show me how He has created me and what He wants me to do with it all.

That’s when it happens….

Amidst the pain and struggle in my journey, I see the Man in the mirror.  It is Jesus.  The King of kings.  I see the tenderness of His eyes and He is smiling and delighting in me.  He tells me I’m beautiful and reminds me of His healing in my life.  He shows me His scars, on his hands and feet as He reminds me that I have been crucified with Him, therefore I no longer live but He lives in me (Galatians 2:20).  He reminds me that I have a Companion and Comforter in the Holy Spirit especially for all those times I feel alone.  I feel the Holy Spirit’s presence while I look at this Man in the mirror and He has become my Advocate.  He points me to the things I need to think on as He has written them in Philippians 4:8, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and whatever is admirable.  If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” 

Do you see what I see?

This Man in the mirror is asking me to change my ways.  Not because He doesn’t love me just the way I am but because they aren’t ways that reflect Him.  He loves me more than I will ever know yet for today I receive that correction and walk in the way He wants me to.  I tell Him it is hard to change some of those ways in my own strength and He assures me that when I am weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).  I need to surrender to Him and He will do the changing.

I am learning to sing out those verses to my heart’s delight as I grow forward (and older) on this journey to find Jesus in the small moments of life.

A song written the year I graduated from high-school has become a landmark in my heart for the woman I am and the woman I am becoming as God grows me to hopefully reflect Him more and more each day.

Look in the mirror.2013-04-16-23-06-56

 REFLECTION:

What do you see?

Who do you see?

Is God asking you to change your ways? How will you answer Him?

Is God asking something of you that you feel is impossible to do / change?

 

 

 

“Be the change you want to see in the world” –Mahatma Ghandi

Thank you for taking this journey with me,

Kinita

My Wake-Up Call

Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money”.

Our team at the top of the Monkey Temple for Buddhist and Hindu believers.

Our team at the top of the Monkey Temple for Buddhist and Hindu believers.

Saturday April 25th, 2015 will forever remain in my story for many reasons. That was the day of the tragic earthquake in Nepal that killed over eight thousand people and rendered millions homeless, not to forget all the people that will live with the trauma of that day in the deepest parts of their soul for months and maybe years to come. I am discovering that being a survivor of a tragedy like that challenges me to think about “what is really important to me”.

Since my conversion to Jesus Christ at the age of 14, I have grown to really love the LORD and have chosen to serve Him ONLY. Like most relationships, there have also been ups and downs in my relationship with Him. There have been times when I have grown in trust, faith, understanding and strength while at other times I was afraid, doubted, or held on to fear, pride, self-protection or other things that I believed were important to me. Yet, time and time again, God would bring me to scripture passages that would gently turn my heart away from those ups and downs and help me to focus the eyes of my heart on Him.

That day when the LORD shifted the tectonic plates, ultimately destroying physical Hindu idols and monuments made and worshiped by man, I believe He also crushed my idol of self-protection.

You see, protecting myself (aka: porcupine – see “blog post called “Anger Management”) was what was very important to me leading up to that day. You could call it my idol. Although I had confessed and surrendered it on several occasions, I guess it was never completely gone.

The Porcupine I used as a visual aid.

The Porcupine I used as a visual aid.

That day not only did the earthquake take down physical idols that were important to Hindus, my idol of self-protection was crushed – permanently.

Idols can be defined as things that are so important to us that we would be devastated if they were gone. They block our view of Jehovah Jireh (God as Provider). We then run the risk of missing the way He is providing for us in our crisis.

At noon on the day of the earthquake, the Hindu “rain god” was to be paraded through the streets of Kathmandu. The Hindus had prepared a way for the 7-story-tall rain god to move through the city by taking power lines down and blocking area roadways for it’s safe passing. The earthquake hit at 11:56 and was so powerful it toppled and destroyed that structure. To me that was a wake-up call to the church (Church = who we are not just where we go), the Body of Christ, the Body of believers to acknowledge our idols.

The remains of a Hindu temple following the April 25th earthquake.

The remains of a Hindu temple following the April 25th earthquake.

In the Hindu faith, the religion includes worship of stone gods and idols that are in plain view of passersby. In the Christian faith, however, as much as it is a religion, it is more specifically a relationship with a living God. This relationship with Jesus produces a transforming of our hearts and lives so we reflect a living God and not the things of this world.

Unfortunately, some Christians tend to hide idols (in their heart) while showing great commitment to God on the outside (perhaps through service or words). Let’s not forget that, “…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). I assure you, I am not exempt from that. The Holy Spirit reminds me everyday to hold things loosely so as not turn them into idols.

I believe that Christians would experience the abundant life referred to in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly” more effectively if we grew in our understanding and awareness of our internal idols.

I like the way author and pastor Tim Keller says it. In his Epilogue, he writes, “…idolatry is always the reason we ever do anything wrong”. He then quotes Martin Luther, “the fundamental motivation behind lawbreaking is idolatry” (referring to the Ten Commandments). There is something you feel you must have to be happy, something that is more important to your heart than God Himself.” (pages 165-166; “Counterfeit Gods”)

All this might sound judgemental to you (believer) but the truth is, as we read in 1Corinthians 5:12 and 13, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside…”. We are also called to “build each other up in the faith” (1Thessalonians 5:11) and that is my hearts desire. In reality, when idols are brought into the light, they not only lose their power but we make more room for Jesus.

Want more Jesus?

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him….They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than The Creator”. (Romans 1:21, 25)

Hey believers, can we please stop feeding our idols and instead, can we be united in Christ and share Him with the world?

REFLECTION:

Ask God to show you the things or people that “if they are removed from your life” you would be devastated.

How powerful are the idols in your life?

What do you need to take down so you can make room for MORE God in your life?

Are you being lead by your idols or lead by Jesus?

Thank you for joining me on my journey.  Blessings on yours.

Kinita