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What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas! I’m sure most of us are familiar with this popular phrase. I remember visiting Vegas for the first time as a 16 year old and being amazed at the sights. The water show at the Bellagio, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, and CircusCircus are a few of the attractions I remember seeing. I was in Las Vegas for a summer camp at UNLV and remember going out to sight see with the group one day.
After walking around during the day and checking out various attractions we all meet up for dinner at one of the casinos and later went to go see a Lance Burton magic show at the Monte Carlo. This was the first professional, well the first ever, magic show I had been to so I was really interested to see what it was like. Upon walking in the lobby of the Monte Carlo, there was an amateur magician at a table entertaining people with a few small tricks. I recall watching them very closely so that I could pick up on any kind of flaw and call it out. Yeah yeah…I was that person lol. Finally it was time to go inside to watch the show so I went to find my seat. At the beginning of the show, there were a few smaller acts by other magicians and then I remember the main magician, Lance Burton, coming out on the stage. I honestly don’t recall all of the tricks that he did during his show but I do remember his performance being bigger and more daring than the first couple of acts. Of course I watched all of the performances closely looking for even the slightest flaw but I found none. I was amazed! Although I tried to rationalize in my mind how certain tricks could have been done, I didn’t figure it out. The show really was amazing!
Vegas was tons of fun (in the most PG way possible…perhaps just the G) and I didn’t even think about the time I attended that show in the past until the Holy Spirit recently started revealing something to me. He gave me a visual of a lesson He was teaching me and reminded me of the magic show in Vegas. He showed me that a magician relies on deception to be successful. If they are able to deceive their audience the magic show is a success. Similarly, Satan relies on deception to be successful. He’s a deceiver (Revelation 12:9) and the father of lies (John 8:44). If he is able to deceive his audience, you and I, he succeeds. The success of both a magician and Satan hinges on the ability to trick our mind and make things that aren’t true or real appear real. This is mind blowing because we operate and literally live based on the truth we believe. If you believe a lie, you will operate your life around that lie because that is what you believe to be true, although it is actually a lie…crazy huh?
This revelation reinforces why it is so important that we fill our mind with the truth of God’s Word and believe it! Not the lies of the enemy! That’s why the Bible tells us to meditate on God’s Word day and night! We operate on the truth we believe and we need to make sure the truth we believe is aligned with God’s Word! Deception from the enemy starts with a lie! Most of the shortcomings I’ve personally had, I can trace back to a lie I believed. Even Adam and Eve were deceived into believing a lie (Genesis 3:1)! I find that many times the enemy likes to attack our identity. To make us unaware, or have unbelief, of who we are in Christ! Check out Jesus experience with this in Matthew 4:3-4. Satan’s job is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10)! That’s what he does and he will seek to do this by any means necessary. So, the next time the enemy tries to deceive you with a lie replace it with the truth of God’s Word! Believe God’s Word! DON’T BELIEVE THE LIE!
Have you ever wondered if there is any meaning or significance in a wedding veil? A while ago as I was attending a wedding, I realized that many brides no longer wear veils over their face as they are walking down the aisle to get married. It’s that time of the year when many couples everywhere are making that walk down the aisle to become one but what ever happened to the veil? When I attended weddings as a child, I remember the majority of people having their faces covered right up until the point where the minister said, “You may now kiss the bride.” Then the groom would remove the veil with a huge smile on his face and go in for the kiss. Afterwards, fireworks would go off in the background and they would live happily ever after as they walked into the sunset. I know…super romantic But seriously more recently as an adult, I could probably count on my hand the number of brides I’ve seen who still wear a veil over their face. I was curious as to why this transition happened and what wearing the veil signified in the first place.
As I was reading my Bible one night I came across the story of Isaac and Rebekah. I remember being in awe of the story of Abraham and now I was reading about his son Isaac and how he was looking for a wife suitable for him. Abraham, old in age, decided to send his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. The servant was given specific instructions in regards to the wife he should select for Abraham’s son. After receiving directions and sealing a promise by placing his hand under Abraham’s thigh (I know…seems a bit awkward), the servant then started out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor along with ten camels and gifts (Genesis 24:10). He eventually stops at a well right outside of the city and makes the camels get on their knees. It was evening, the time of day when women came out to the well to get water and knowing this the servant turns to God and asks for favor in selecting Isaac’s wife. The young woman who came to the well and gave the servant and the camels a drink of water was supposed to be Isaac’s wife. Rebekah passed this test with flying colors and was quickly adorned with gifts. After going to the house of Rebekah’s family, the servant received permission to take Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife and she left her family to go with Abraham’s servant. Now this is the part of the story that really caught my attention,
“Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?” “He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.” (Genesis 24:62-65)
This was the first time I realized there was something in the Bible that seems to be related to a wedding veil. And then as I began trying to piece everything together, God revealed to me the bigger picture in regards to the meaning behind everything. He showed me that the veil is more than a fashion statement. It has meaning…significance…purpose. Christ’s selfless act of dying on the cross allows us to have intimacy with God because the veil of the temple that separated us from God was torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). In the same way, marriage is a selfless act and once the veil is removed from the bride’s face it symbolizes that the groom is now able to be intimate with his bride. How awesome is that! What a beautiful reminder of God’s love! I absolutely love how marriage is symbolic of Christ’s relationship with the church
Prior to God’s revelation to me about the significance of the wedding veil I thought it was just an accessory. Some wear it…Some don’t. Now, the veil has new meaning and will never be viewed the same. Who knows, maybe this blog post will encourage more women everywhere to wear wedding veils again. As we continue to gather in celebration of weddings let us be reminded of God’s love that is displayed though The Veil.
A friend kindly gave me a pack of gum that I like one day. I told him I no longer chew gum but he left the pack at my desk and I thanked him anyway. A few hours after lunch, he returned to my desk and saw the pack of gum sitting there. He wanted a piece so he took it and opened it to get a piece because he said he initially gave it to me so it was still somewhat his. He believed he still somewhat had ownership of it since he originally owned it. As he said the words, ‘It’s still mine,’ I could only sit back and say wow!! How many of us have done the same thing with God! We tell God, ‘I give you my life! I give myself away! I’m all Your’s God! Use me!’ But as soon as we feel like He’s not using us the way we want to be used we say, ‘It’s still mine. I owned it in the first place, right? So I have the right to take it back.’ When you’re all in for Him though, that’s it…you’re ALL IN!! No turning back! As silly as it sounds to give someone something of yours as a gift and then treat it as if it’s still your own, it’s silly to give your life to God yet still act in a manner that conveys it obviously still belongs to you.
It’s always great when we have an opportunity to get together with family over a great meal. At least once a year, our family tries to find a way to get together so that we can laugh and just simply enjoy the company of one another. One particular year, my family decided to have a Thanksgiving gathering in the country at my grandparents house in Alabama. Growing up, I used to complain about the lack of activities available there but as an adult I’ve grown to love these visits.
Each family member was assigned a dish to bring so that our meal would be complete. From turkey to vegetarian macaroni and cheese we had it all. Yes, half of my family is vegan or vegetarian so family gatherings are always fun. After everyone had finished eating we talked, played games, watched football, and laughed. Monopoly was a game I remember playing that year because one of my younger cousins dominated the game. Future businessman After wrapping up the board game and getting ready to leave I started to feel a little weird. Before my family was able to make it to the hotel I was extremely nauseous and knew that either one of the dishes somehow became contaminated or I had just caught a bug.
After calling family members and discovering that I wasn’t the only one sick we found out that one of our baby cousins had the stomach flu before our gathering and spread it to us. I literally think that was the worst sickness I experienced in my life. That bug was a beast, no lie! Thank God it didn’t last more than three days. I was surprised that something so powerful could be transmitted by a little baby though. Once I got back home I started thinking how awesome it would be if we as Christians had that same kind of impact in the world. Imagine what it would look like if we were as effective in spreading the gospel like that stomach bug spread. Like think about it…what if the people we came in contact with on a daily basis were so impacted by the power that resides within us simply because they interacted with us. The same power that rose Christ from the dead lives within us and trust me, that power is way stronger than that stomach bug. Catching the stomach bug was not fun at all but I like to make lemonade out of lemons and found a pretty cool lesson in the midst of everything. Each of us have spheres of influence. It could be your family, job, school, or another group. The question is how contagious are you? What kind of impact are you making with the influence you have? Are people being pointed toward Christ? I want to encourage you to be an ambassador for Christ and to love others the way God loves you…unconditionally. God’s Word says in John 13:34-35:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
As you go throughout the day, be mindful of the impact you are making. You have the opportunity to change peoples lives and be a light for Christ simply by the way you live your everyday life. Who are you influencing?
As I was driving home from church after a Sunday morning worship service recently I was talking with God and asked Him, “How do I lose myself without losing myself? Like how do I become selfless without losing myself?” This particular Sunday, the pastor at my church delivered a sermon which was focused on putting God first in everything. If I can be honest, prior to attending the service I remember saying to God, “I think we’re good in the area of keeping first things first.” Quiet Time…check. Tithe…check. And so on…you get the point. From my understanding, I thought God and I were good when it came to putting Him first. Haha! Gotta love the Holy Spirit and how He illuminates things before your eyes. In a nutshell, let’s just say I left that sermon with areas that had room for improvement. God had definitely convicted me…in a good way I asked the Lord the question of how to lose myself without losing myself in the car because I was really meditating on the scripture in Mathew 16:25 which says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” I was like, “Lord! How much of our life can we lose?” And as quickly as this question came to my mind I felt Him gently whisper to me, “All of it.” Then I was like, “But what about my personality? Like all the little quirks and things about me that make me…well…me?” I seriously felt like He was giving me the side eye at this point and said, “Really? Do you hear yourself?” He lovingly reassured me that it’s so not about me. Life is beyond what I can see. What I meant by my question was how do I lose my life as it’s mentioned in Matthew 16:25 without losing my identity. But as I continued thinking about this, I remembered that my identity is found in Christ so it’s a win-win. If I lose myself in Him I will look more like Him In the midst of all of this, I asked the Lord to change my heart and my perspective and He gave me an analogy. Imagine a person who loses their identity in another person, particularly in a romantic relationship. Let’s say a girl has a certain group of friends and is involved in numerous extracurricular activities. She then meets a guy and now her entire world literally revolves around him, so she pretty much lets go of anything that doesn’t have to do with him. Whatever he likes, she likes. Whatever he wants to do, she does too. Wherever he goes, she goes. They are literally inseparable as a couple! When you see one, you see the other. They literally are like one. But imagine if instead of losing herself in another person, this girl loses her identity in Christ! After the Holy Spirit revealed this to me everything seemed to make sense. When we lose our life, for the sake of Christ, we actually find it
It’s interesting to me how much information we receive on a daily basis. There are so many how to videos, articles, and books out nowadays that you can pretty much gain access to anything you want to learn with the snap of a finger. The abundance of information on many topics is limitless. As I was researching something on the internet one day, I ran across a concept called “The Cone of Learning” by Edgar Dale that caught my attention. In a nutshell, the idea behind the concept is that we retain less of what we read, hear, or see; and more of what we say, do, or teach. As I was reviewing the diagram associated with this concept, I immediately thought about how it not only applies to learning in general but it also applies to spiritual maturity as a Christian as well. On average, a typical Christian attends church every Sunday or so to hear a word from the preacher. But is this enough?
The Bible tells us in James 1:22 that “we must not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive ourselves. Do what it says.” Going to church is good because the Word tells us that we should not neglect our meeting together (Hebrews 10:25). Church is also a place that can aid us in growing in our faith. Romans 10:17 tells us that “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” So going to church is good! Though church should not be the only place we are spiritually fed because we should also “study to shew thyself approved unto God.” (2 Timothy 2:15a). According to the “Cone of Learning” diagram, we retain the least amount of information, estimated to be under 10%, that is received in lectures (which seems to be the teaching style of most preachers). Yes, that’s right…under 10%. Imagine how dangerous it would be if someone only knew 10% of the information associated with driving. If they knew how to press the button on the key fob to open the car but had no idea how to start the car, reverse it, park it, or use any other features in the car, yet alone drive it! Not to mention that the car has an operator’s manual in the glove compartment yet they never bothered to read it. This is analogous to our life as Christians. God has given us everything we need for life similar to how most cars come with an operator’s manual. You can sit and hear lectures about a Ferrari or read all the books you want, but until you drive one or teach someone else how to drive one you won’t get the full experience. In like manner, going to church and just hearing a good sermon from a preacher or merely just reading the Word isn’t enough. We have to put it into action and do what it says. As we mature in Christ, there should be an increase of saying, doing, and teaching God’s Word. I think of Hebrews 5:12-14 where Paul says,
“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
Can you imagine putting time and effort into teaching someone something to then only have to go back later and teach the exact same thing? Someone of you have done this and know the frustration associated with this. We as Christians should never be content with being stagnant in our spiritual walk. We should continue growing and striving to be as much like Christ as possible. It’s interesting that many times we’ll hear someone say that a person is strong in their faith if they are fluent in the Word but spiritual maturity isn’t measured by how much of the Word you know. Geez…the devil himself knows the Word. Don’t believe me? Check out Matthew 4. But it is obedience to the Word of God that is a measure of spiritual maturity. If we look at Matthew 4 we can learn from Jesus dealing with temptation from the devil in the wilderness. Each time Jesus was tempted by the devil, He responded with a scripture. Jesus not only knew the Word though, He acted in obedience to it and He knew how to rightfully apply it. He wasn’t easily deceived. I want to encourage you to continue to be in environments to see, hear, and read The Word of God. But not only that. Let’s go beyond that and actually do and even teach what it says. This is what is pleasing to Our Heavenly Father! I triple dog dare you to DO IT!