Making Monday Matter

After all the holiday traditions and celebrations have ceased, will the Resurrection continue into the “Monday after” or will it be put up on the Easter shelf in the attic to collect dust until next year?

Over the last 40 days leading up to Easter, we journeyed and labored towards the Cross with Jesus, looking deep within the dark caverns of our soul, begging the Lord to painstakingly search us for every sin stained thought, word and action; constantly reminding ourselves of our desperate need for a Savior. The emotional rollercoaster of Lent prepared our hearts and minds for the spiritual high and victorious triumph that we would finally experience on Easter Sunday when Jesus would conquer sin and death for good! Truly, it is FINISHED!

Hard to beat that kind of emotional experience, right?

Now that the sun has set on Easter Sunday, what will Monday morning bring?

All the Easter eggs have been colored, Easter baskets have been emptied, the egg hunts have ended, the loot has been counted and the candy comas have ensued; while the last of the Easter grass has been swept up and thrown away.  After all the holiday traditions and celebrations have ceased, will the Resurrection continue into the “Monday after” or will it be put up on the Easter shelf in the attic to collect dust until next year?

In our world today, it seems like we can talk about catastrophes and atrocities for hours on end, we can debate politics and slander leaders for countless hours on our Facebook feeds and we can celebrate our national championships with fist bumps and victory dances all day long, without tiring.  But, when it comes to the Easter miracle that would literally save humanity from eternal damnation, we are quick to put the conversation to bed after the last Peep has been enjoyed.

As Believers in Christ’s death and resurrection, “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you”(Romans 8:11, NIV). I don’t know about you but I think that is definitely something to celebrate and continue the conversation about! We idolize celebrities and professional athletes for their “super power” capabilities yet we forget and all too often marginalize the fact that we have the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us and that the living Christ has infused us with the same Resurrection power that emptied the tomb on Easter Sunday! I’m not sure there are enough “hearts,” emoticons, “likes,” tweets or shares to do this truth justice.

In 1 Peter it is written, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the death, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5, NIV).

We have the responsibility as Christ’s church to go far beyond confessing with our mouths that we believe.  It is not enough to give the saving power, transformative nature and hope of the Gospel, lip service.  As followers and ambassadors of Jesus Christ, we are required to put feet to our faith and live in the fullness of Christ’s resurrection!

Resurrection, Rebirth, Rejuvenation, Restoration, Transformation, HOPE!

These words are not limited to Lent and Easter Sunday.  These themes should penetrate every fabric of our being, they should flood every circumstance we face and should determine every decision we have to make.

Christ’s victory on Easter Sunday does NOT end at sunset on Sunday.  Jesus defeated death! Jesus conquered the grave!  Forever. Period. Amen!

We cannot crawl back into our own tombs; enslaved by fear, shackled to complacency and married to the bondage of this world! We serve a living God who has called us to be vessels of a LIVING HOPE, conduits to a broken world who so desperately needs to know of our LIVING SAVIOR whose body was broken on a rugged cross, whose precious blood was shed to cover all of our sins, past, present and future, who breathed his last to unlock our tombs that would allow us to live freely and fearlessly as a result of his resurrection power over eternal death.

Jesus’ last breath on the cross was our first breath into a newly resurrected life in Christ.

So, how can we make Monday matter?

My prayer for you and for me as we begin our post Easter journeys on this Monday morning.

“Heavenly Father, keep the precious blood of your son’s broken body on the cross, fresh in our minds and raw on our hearts; allowing it to permeate into every part of our lives and to drench our souls.  Lord, help us to fully embrace our newly resurrected lives in Christ and make us bold ambassadors of the Gospel, in thought, word and deed.  Precious Jesus, strengthen us with your resurrection power, use our lives for Kingdom work and let our callings be fresh and our purposes be renewed with each new breath.  We pray Father that our Lenten transformations will take flight beyond the temporary of this world.  We pray that our hearts will remain on fire for you and that we will share the Good News with all that we come in contact with and set their souls ablaze for you and your Kingdom. 

Risen Jesus, wake us up!  Do not allow Monday to lull our spirits to sleep! Keep us alert, refresh our weary souls with your living Word and infuse our spirits with the power of your resurrection so we can minister to those in this world who desperately need to experience reconciliation and resurrection.  Father, we are called to take up our cross daily and by dying to self, we will gain our lives in You.  Please give us more of you and less of ourselves.  Help us live in reckless obedience to our Father in Heaven and live a fully reconciled and resurrected life in submission to your Son Jesus.  Make our next steps be all about you Jesus and your Father’s Kingdom work. 

Help us make Monday matter.

Precious blood of Jesus, continue to crucify our sinful nature so we may live cruciformed in your name each and every day.  Saturate our days with Resurrection and show us how to take Easter off of the attic shelf and incorporate its TRUTH into the very air we breathe.  We love you Jesus, we thank you for saving our wretched, unworthy souls and covering us in your grace and showering us with your unending mercies.  It is in your Son’s most precious name Jesus, we pray”

AMEN.

LeRyiah Arant

Leave your comments for LeRyiah on our Facebook page

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

When you look in the mirror, who do you see? Is the reflection staring back at you someone you recognize or does the person looking back at you seem different? Not quite like you remember?

When you look in the mirror, who do you see? Is the reflection staring back at you someone you recognize or does the person looking back at you seem different? Not quite like you remember?

When God looks at you, do you think He sees what you try to portray to the world or does He really “see” you; with all the good, the bad and the really ugly?  We work so hard to put out this Pinterest perfect, flawless life on our social media accounts.  We throw layer upon layer, filter upon filter until the image staring back at us is “post-perfect.” However, it couldn’t be farther from reality.

Sadly, the world around us may be fooled, but God is never blinded by our sinful stains and He certainly does not buy into our Pinterest-pretty facades.  We think we have everyone duped…we even have ourselves convinced…but God, He truly SEES us for exactly who we are and who we are NOT.  We can go on pretending but after a while the façade becomes burdensome and exhausting.

Trying to keep up appearances is draining life from our souls. With every false attempt to make ourselves look or feel “right,” on the exterior, our insides begin to harden, our spark grows dim and our souls begin to morph into something we do not recognize.

God detests sin.  Sin is a pollutant to our souls and severs our connection to our Holy God and Father.  In God’s economy, ALL sins are created equally.  Unfortunately, in our fallen world today, even Believers tend to excuse “small sins.” We glaze over them, sweep them to the side, or even worse…we attempt to justify them.  We seem to give more attention to what we consider “bigger sins” based on what consequences they yield in the world’s “economy.”  Sin is sin! Like it or not. God views them all as a severance in connection between Himself and the individual.

Many of us are more than familiar with the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

“…She took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves…I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Genesis 3: 6-8,10, NIV).

How many of us shake our fists at Adam and Eve in judgement for their disobedience and poor judgement that caused the fall of the entire creation? They were given everything their hearts desired and with that, a simple instruction from the Lord of what they must not do…and they screwed it up! As a result of one act of disobedience; shame, blame, deceit and ultimately death were woven into the fabric of our existence.

Last week we began the Lenten season with Ash Wednesday.  Growing up in the church, Lent was marked by getting an ashy cross on our foreheads and our conversations centered on what we could give up for 40 days (that wouldn’t hurt too much).  I’ll be very transparent with you. I was really good at “religion” and checking off all the right boxes when it came to the religious obligations and offerings.  It wasn’t until this Ash Wednesday, that the Holy Spirit convicted me that Lent was about so much more. It was not a time that was supposed to begin and end with giving up ice cream and getting ashes.  Those things are not “bad” in themselves but that does not even begin to scratch the surface of what these 40 days leading up to Easter are all about.

Lent is a time of introspection; searching the deep caverns of our soul.  These 40 days should be a painful process of dying to self; asking for less of ourselves and for more of Jesus.  Easter preparation should be an ongoing conversation with the Lord, confessing our sinful nature and our desperate need for a Savior.  But, as we die to ourselves and this world, beauty arises from the brokenness of the ashes.  After the sin reflection, painful confession, and repentance, new life and resurrection are ushered in.  As Christians we believe in the HOPE of resurrection and new life eternally.  Jesus is the hope that we so desperately long for.

This Lenten season, I have committed to take a brutally honest look into the mirror of my soul. Unfortunately, the reflection staring back at me resembles that of Eve more than it is does Jesus.

What image is being reflected back in the mirror of your soul?

Heavenly Father,

You are a good and loving Father but you are also a jealous God.  You are jealous for our affection, our attention and our worship.  You hate sin and will not tolerate playing second fiddle to anyone or anything in our lives.  Search our hearts, O God.  Make us uncomfortable and probe our hearts and minds and dive deep into the hidden caverns of our soul and leave no stone unturned.  Lord Jesus take every tainted place and stain ridden sin from our hearts and make us pure and acceptable in your sight.  Father, purge us and cleanse us of ourselves and make us white as snow.  Please make our reflection crystal clear and allow us to die to ourselves and see only you in the mirror of our souls.  Father God, refine us, restore our brokenness, slay our idols and remove them from the throne of our hearts and take your rightful seat on the throne of our lives.  Jesus, resurrect these dry bones and make us a new creation. We love you Father, we plead for your forgiveness for all of the ways that we have fallen short in our thoughts, our words and our actions and we ask that you will put feet to our faith and set our hearts ablaze for you and you alone.  It is in your most holy and precious name Jesus we pray, Amen.

LeRyiah Arant

Leave your comments for LeRyiah on our Facebook page

Ringing in the New Year

Ringing in the New Year

How many of you look at January 1st as a continuation of God’s blessings?  Or, do you find yourself in the opposing camp where you boldly shout from the roof tops, “Sayonara 2016! Adios! Good riddance to the last 365? Often times, so many of us focus on all the negative that the past year brought our way versus acknowledging the blessings we were able to experience. We lack gratitude. We tend to be laser focused on all the things that God did NOT do for us versus giving gratitude for all the things He did do.

It truly is amazing how powerful one little flip of a calendar page can be to so many of us.  The impending New Year carries fresh excitement, refreshment, energy and renewed hope. We are about half way through the first month of the New Year and for many of us who set out with high hopes, big, audacious goals and New Year’s resolutions, we are probably feeling some degree of regret or disappointment already.  How quickly the “newness” fades away. Chances are, whatever we set out to accomplish two weeks ago has already morphed into a different version of the original plan.

Now, hear me. There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals or tweaking things and course correcting to set us up for more success.  Even carrying a hopeful attitude into the New Year is a healthy posture as long as our HOPE is placed in the right person (Jesus Christ) versus in the right things. Do you see where I am going with this? The real problem ensues when we decide to only consult with ourselves when concocting these grandiose plans and fairytale endings. We tend to prioritize and overemphasize our own personal wants and hearts desires while relying too heavily on our own strength and abilities.  What do you think would happen if we began planning our New Year by having a good, honest conversation with the Lord before we hit January 1st?  We are so quick to blame God when things don’t go well or they don’t go the way WE think they should.  Do you find yourself approaching His throne humbly before you start making your own plans or do you delight in pointing the finger and throwing around blame when life does not live up to your expectations or plans do not unfold in your desired timing?

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”(Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

I’ll be honest, I have not always found myself to be a joyous member of the Gratitude camp.  I can remember many New Year’s Eves thinking “It’s all going to be better in the morning!” or “Tomorrow will be the first day of _________” fill in whatever phrase you like best.  I was living in a constant state of tension between the past, present and future.  I was constantly wrestling for control and trying to force my agenda on God and demanding He honor my requests, as if mine were better and more appropriate than His, the King of the World, Author and Perfector of our Faith. Sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it? But how many of us do this EVERY…SINGLE…DAY? We invest so much time in our thoughts, goals, plans and strategies that we forget to include the most influential and powerful factor of all into our equation…the Will of God.

Nothing that I said thus far has been rocket science.  If you are a Believer and have grown up in the church, all of these words are familiar.  I like to call this our head knowledge.  But real, transformational change occurs when we begin making connections between what our head knows and what our heart truly believes.  Words become beliefs and beliefs evolve into action and action and obedience lead to true change.  Consulting with the Lord about His will for our lives sounds great, wonderful and even simplistic, right?  However, our humanness will try to get in the way.  Trusting ourselves and making our own plans is fallen human nature.  According to Ephesians 3:20 “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (NIV).   The Lord will never fail us or disappoint us.  Furthermore, He is waiting to blow your socks off!  However, it requires reckless abandon of self and stepping out of the safety boat and audaciously walking on water towards Christ.

It is never too late into the New Year to make another life changing goal.

Today, why don’t we decide together, to ask the Lord to give us less of ourselves and more of Him and His will for the next 300+ days and beyond?

What would happen if we fervently prayed the Lord’s Prayer and faithfully prayed, in full confidence and expectation, the phrase “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven?”

LeRyiah Arant

Leave your comments for LeRyiah on our Facebook page

 

 

The Gift

When Jesus arrives and knocks at the door of your heart, will He encounter a sign that says, “NO vacancy-there is no more room at the inn?” Or will He knock and be received with His room already prepared in advance for His arrival?

I entered into this Advent season, fully loaded, with a bullet proof plan of how we were going to embrace the “less is more” concept during the time leading up to Christmas and we were going to be armed and ready when facing the many temptations to get caught up in the excessive gift giving mode and the commercialization of the season.  There was no elf on our shelf, cookie exchange on our calendar or lots of festive obligations to keep us running in the fast lane like we have in past years.  We were going to center ourselves and our activities around the true reason for the season.

I was very convicted by the Holy Spirit this week on multiple accounts and at varying degrees.  It was like an all-consuming tidal wave washing over me at once.  Every emotion was evoked and every sense was engaged.  There was no denying that the Lord was trying to get my attention.  Everywhere I turned on social media, I was being bombarded with louder and louder knocks on the door of my heart.  Two words, in BIG, BOLD LETTERS might as well have been trailing behind the Good Year Blimp across the sky with my name written beside them… GRATITUDE and PRESENCE (not presents).

This past week I found out I was going to be the lucky recipient of a very expensive, ultra-luxurious gift that any woman would be elated to receive for Christmas (cue the sarcasm!) My posh “mom van” was getting an awesome Christmas upgrade…a brand new Torque Converter! I know, I know…please try to hold your excitement and don’t let the green monster of jealousy ruin our friendship.  I realize that many of you would love to get transmission work put under the Christmas tree or in your stocking but its only reserved for a select special few.  This “gift” was so unique, I had never even heard of it before and it must be something special because the exquisite price tag was big enough to take my breath away!

Let’s get real here for a second…in my mind, this was NO gift at all!

Or was it?

Without this repair, I could be driving down the interstate, with my kids in tow, and my car could conch out without warning.  Talk about a scary reality.  Without this repair, I would not have a vehicle to drive my kids to school and their activities, we would not be able to drive to get our groceries, attend Sunday worship or to meet a friend for coffee. Bam! Then the reality and conviction hit me like a line drive square between the eyes…BUT… “I have a car”.  Matter of fact, for our small family of 4, we have not one but TWO reliable vehicles! What began as a pity party crashed by a major inconvenience, evolved into an eye opening lesson on gratitude and presence.

How often do we chum up with negative Nelly Sue and use our Grinch filter to view our circumstances when unexpected, unwanted things come our way instead of taking the opportunity to seek the GIFT in the moment?  Now hear me, I still think a torque converter is a lousy thing to get for Christmas!  However, this repair gave me the gift of safety and peace of mind when shuttling my family from place to place.  This new car part gives me the flexibility, independence, and convenience of being able to freely go from place to place a whole lot faster than my own 2 feet could carry me.  Simply having my own vehicle to fix is a huge blessing but one that I take for granted each and every day! Owning a vehicle is a luxury. Yet, when it ceased to serve me well, it became coal in my stocking! How easy it is to lose our perspective and to hang our gratitude out to dry.

In the hustle and bustle of this time of year, it is so easy to get distracted and be abducted into the rat race of the holidays and the “grinchy” cynicism.  If we aren’t intentional and vigilant with our thoughts, our time and our heart’s desires, we may miss the true gift of Christmas altogether…

 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, NIV).

As we prepare our hearts for the birth of our Savior, have you stopped and given any thought to what Jesus might want to receive for His birthday?  In this week’s sermon, our Pastor said it perfectly, yet simply, “it is what Jesus wants for you, not from you.” What is the status of your heart this Advent season? Is it overwhelmed, distracted and unsatisfied? Or, is it open, grateful and present?  I want to suggest that the best present we can give is the gift of our presence so that we will be in a position to receive the gift of His precious presence in our lives.

When Jesus arrives and knocks at the door of your heart, will He encounter a sign that says, “NO vacancy-there is no more room at the inn?” Or will He knock and be received with His room already prepared in advance for His arrival?

“Let every heart prepare Him room…”

LeRyiah Arant

Leave your comments for LeRyiah on our Facebook page

Sparks Ignition & Illumination

The only way to get rid of the darkness is to add more light

“The only way to get rid of the darkness is to add more light” (Holly Gerth)

I think we can all agree…the world needs less of us and our opinions and way more of Jesus and His TRUTH!

You only need a weak pulse to sense the tension and be choked by the blanket of fear and uneasiness that has descended upon us over the last few weeks.  Hate is hijacking our news feeds.  Our smart phones are blowing up with the latest political debacles, text messages are riddled with fear, anger and dissatisfaction and our conversations are seething with strong opinions, ugly words, differing standpoints and uncomfortable interactions.  It all seems so dark and depressing.

Where is the light?

The sun rises and resumes its assigned position in the sky but oh how my soul yearns to see, feel and experience the powerful, comforting rays of THE SON.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life”(John 8:12, NLT).

The world is losing its luster.  What was once full of bold color and life, seems to have digressed through time to feel more like the picture on a 1950’s television screen…grey, full of static and void of vibrancy.  Darkness is scary. It can be overwhelming and paralyzing. I feel so small and insignificant in the midst of it all.

What keeps us from shining?

According to Paul, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2, NLT).

As believers, we are reborn to stand out!  The Lord set us apart from the fallen world by infusing us with the unique and powerful gift of the Holy Spirit.  The light we are called to share however, is not ours, but His.  “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father”(Matthew 5:16, NLT).

What happens when we plug our lives into alternative “sources” other than the Lord?  We find our lights growing weak, dim and even on the verge of burning out.  Our Holy Father is our everlasting source of light and eternal life that will never fail us, lead us astray or disappoint.  Instead of plugging our precious lights into our smart phones, tablets and things of this world, we must look to the endless power source of love, strength, and TRUTH…JESUS.

In times of trouble and uncertainty, negativity and cynicism become powerful magnetic forces. If we are not vigilant, we fall victim to conformity.  Instead of being a bright spot in the world, we fade into the background, becoming unrecognizable and indistinguishable from the rest of the world.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world”(Philippians 2:14-16, NLT).

To protect our lights from dimming and burning out, there are things we can do to proactively safeguard our spiritual flames.  Before we can shine outward, we must plug in to our life giving power source.

How We Can Re-ignite Our Sparks

  1. Take time for a spiritual check-up. Are you harboring any sin that might be keeping you at a distance from the Lord? Unrepented sin will dull our lights and make us less effective in doing our Kingdom work.  Spend time in prayer and ask God to reveal anything that might be standing in the way.
  2. Turn to Scripture NOT Social Media. Are we nourishing our souls with life-giving fuel or are we draining ourselves by plugging into our culture or our devices? Try spending more time in prayer and in the Word before turning towards the news or social media to fuel your spirit and meet your needs.
  3. Spend time in Worship.
  4. Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude. When we pay more attention to the condition of our hearts and are intentional about looking for all the ways that the Lord has blessed us, it is difficult to not experience true joy.  Joy in the Lord does not go unnoticed, especially to a grieving world.

We must infuse ourselves with Jesus before we can radiate Jesus to the watching and waiting world.

As believers, we are able to be a contagious spark that can ignite the stagnant sparks of others through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Sparks jump and carry great potential and power to lift heavy burdens, heal wounds and abundantly bless weary and wounded souls.

Make Your Spark Jump and Illuminate the World

  1. Be Mindful of Your Words: Words are powerful. They can heal or bring harm. Speak life and infuse truth. We not only speak with our mouths but we exchange words with our fingertips.  What we say via text message, email or on social media, is just as important as the words that physically cross over our lips.  Build others up. Encourage those who are hurting. Bring hope to the hopeless. Speak truth into the darkness.
  2. Guard Your Attitude: Make a choice to choose gratitude over grumbling, choose joy in Christ over despair due to the world’s circumstances. Our attitudes are a reflection of the power source of our souls.
  3. Have a Servant Heart: Prayerfully ask the Lord to lead you down a path of service. In addition to asking in prayer, we must remain alert and aware of our surroundings.  There are opportunities all around us to use our time, talents and treasures to serve others. You have the potential to dramatically impact lives for Jesus with small random acts of daily kindness.
  4. Body Language: Simply offering a warm smile to a stranger, leaning towards someone while they are speaking, and making eye contact with others are all simple things that we can do to share the light of Jesus that does not require more time or cost us money.
  5. Discipleship: There is not one “how” but there is only one “WHO.” The goal of discipleship is the same; bringing others into a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Discipleship requires creativity and stepping outside of our comfort zone for the sake of the Gospel. Many times, our most transformational work occurs outside our self-limiting sphere of comfort.

Go out and be a beacon of light to the world.  Let your sparks shine brightly in the darkness and may you never grow weary of igniting your spark and setting the world’s heart on fire for Jesus Christ!

LeRyiah Arant

Leave your comments for LeRyiah on our Facebook page

A Lizard and His Lunch

A Lizard and His Lunch

I was sitting outside last Friday afternoon waiting on a ride.  We had just returned from the brain tumor cancer center at Duke the night before and like all other trips over the last 3 years, I was emotionally drained, mentally spent and spiritually exhausted. A twenty four hour trip felt like an eternity played out in slow motion.  As a result, my body ached. My weary soul felt like a 5 ton ball and chain weighted down by a Pandora’s Box of emotions with a black rain cloud looming over my head.

…and this was after a good appointment!

If you are or have been a caregiver of any kind, maybe I just described a day in your life.  Those feelings may deeply resonate with the troubled caverns of your heart and that little voice inside your soul may be shouting, jumping with hands waving in the air, saying “Yes! Yes! Me too! I’m not alone after all.”

I have really wrestled with the complexity of being a caregiver.  I have found that the harder I try to find the perfect balance in life, the more unbalanced I become.  The more I attempt to figure “it” out, the more lost in the weeds I feel.  Frustrating? Absolutely! Coincidence? Not a chance!

“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”(Matt 11:29-30, NIV).

A simple posture shift from “me” to “He” and from “I” to “We” can turn the chaotic world of caregiving back on its axis. In theory, this perspective shift is simple but the process of change is anything but.  We are human and our pesky sinful nature craves control like a rebellious teenager.  The idea of releasing our white knuckled grip on the steering wheel of our lives or those that we love is not only uncomfortable and unsettling at times, but terrifying and seemingly impossible.

“Easy” and “light burden” are not among the phrases I would use to describe life as a caregiver.  If I’m honest, it would be the exact opposite. “Crushing” and “Burdensome” sound more appropriate.  Don’t you agree? Yet, the Lord commands each of us to lay down our troubles, relax our clenched fists and take HIS yoke because it is easy…the burden is light…and He’s got our backs!

So why then do we buck God and wrestle tooth and nail for that control that we feel is better off in our hands than those of our Heavenly Father? As I type those words, I feel the absurdity wash over me. Who am I compared to the King of Kings?  What could I possibly think, say or do that could possibly one up God? The answer is so simple…

NOTHING.

But isn’t that how we live so often? Satan is a cunning opportunist.  He will not waste time or opportunity to plant his seeds of fear, doubt, desertion and desperation in our lives.  He seizes every moment of distraction and weakness to infiltrate our thoughts, feelings and behaviors to give us a false sense of entitlement and security that our way is the best way and surrendering the authority and control of our lives to the Lord will only lead to devastation, heart ache, longing and despair.

Unfortunately, it happens. I have been set up and taken down by the enemy’s ploy on more than one occasion during this difficult season of my life.  But praise God, He is so faithful and he showers me with abundant grace and endless forgiveness each day.  God is so patient with me.  He is just like a Daddy teaching His child how to ride a bike.  He gives me a push, but he is never far out of reach.  If I fall down, He dusts me off and picks me up.  When the tears flow and I am scared to get back in the saddle, He wipes my eyes and puts my feet back on the pedals to begin again.  When I say “I can’t,” He is there to say “oh yes you can.”  “With God, all things are possible” (Matt 19:26, ESV).

As I waited alone in my driveway; wallowing, wandering and waiting on God to show up, my attention suddenly turned to a small brown lizard on the hosepipe beside our home.  I am not your stereotypical outdoorsy kind of boy momma that loves that kind of thing.

So, on a typical day, I would have done my best to ignore this lizard altogether or I probably would’ve run away from it.  But this day, I was captivated. I could not take my eyes off of this lizard.  I watched him change colors as he moved from one position to another on the hose and I watched him breathe and move along with ease.  It was fascinating.  As I am watching this one lizard show unfold, a new character is introduced…enter Ant, stage left.  Follow me here, I promise there is a point to my story.  Almost in a blink of an eye, what looked to me to be a tiny, insignificant insect, turned in to something life giving and nourishing for God’s lizard. My point is not to give you a lesson in God’s food chain but to illustrate the difference between what we think we need and deem as significant in our lives versus what God deems as necessary, significant and life giving in our lives.

Other humans, including ourselves, will fail us every, single time.  God never will!  He provides for us in ways that we never even knew we needed Him to.  He gives us exactly what we need, just when we need it.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt 6:25-34, ESV).

I walked out into the driveway that day feeling alone, tired and forgotten.  But in that moment as I sat mesmerized by the lizard feasting on his lunch, my eyes were opened to the gift the Lord surrounded me with.

It was one of those picturesque kind of days where the sky looked as clear as blue glass, not a cloud in the sky.  The fall breeze gently whistled through the trees, the leaves danced…the birds sang joyfully off in the distance…God was all around me and He was showing off! He orchestrated His creation to play a perfect little symphony just for me.  Every sense stimulated in a harmoniously, balanced way.  God used this sacred moment to get my attention, to slow me down, to quiet my racing thoughts and to just be in that moment. It was exactly what I needed.  The perfect provision in the midst of my lonely drought.

There I sat. NOT just me, but WE.

LeRyiah Arant

Leave your comments for LeRyiah on our Facebook page

 

In, Out or On the Line?

The last two weeks are a blur.  Can anyone go there with me?

The only remnants left behind are feelings of loss, failure, physical and spiritual exhaustion and an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction looming in my soul. I abdicated the throne of ownership and control over my life in regards to time and my commitments.  Reality sucker punched me in the gut twice in one week and if I’m honest, both situations could have been avoided. I had the best of intentions entering into Monday morning.  I even made an all-inclusive “to-do” list, down to the snack times and bathroom breaks.

Come on, don’t roll your eyes.  Let’s be honest! We all enjoy checking something off the list, even if that “something” doesn’t advance our day, right?!

However, let’s just say that my best intentions led to some of the most unfulfilling, underwhelming days.  Instead of being the “driver of my own bus,” I laid down, waved the white flag of surrender and allowed the bus to run right on over me.

Why?

When everything is deemed important, nothing is important.  When the word “yes” is used more than the word “no” and when your mouth moves faster than your brain, you find yourself living reactively versus proactively. I was fighting the fires of urgency instead of answering the divine calls of sacred work the Lord placed in my life.

Simply put, I was living boundaryless.

To some of us, the word “boundary” is unfamiliar and the concept, foreign.  Others may be comfortable setting boundaries around certain things but, to others, including myself, the sheer thought of uttering the word “no” makes our stomachs turn and our palms sweat.  Most of us would rather say “yes” out of fear or obligation than enter into confrontation with another person where we might be called upon to “defend” our decision or risk hurting feelings.

I think we are most comfortable with the concept of “boundary” in regards to something visible, like a property line, a street sign or even our own personal “space.” But what about those boundaries that are invisible? Our personal feelings or our time? For me, there are certain relationships in life where boundaries just don’t exist.

Contrary to what we might believe or to how we were raised, boundaries are necessary, critical and biblical.  Boundaries are not just recommendations by God but actual commandments.  It is imperative for us to establish ourselves and our priorities, against our relationship and position to the Lord.  The best real life examples of boundary setting can be found in the life and essence of Jesus Christ.

We want to be people pleasers, peace makers, doers, givers, and servers; but to what extent will we go to fulfill those desires?  What price are willing to pay to try to be everything to everyone?

As a culture, we are obsessed with “busyness” and we are addicted to being well liked. We forget the WHO and the WHY behind it all.  We allow the opinions of others to speak into our lives louder than we do the voice of the Lord. We allow the desires and feelings of others to dictate our actions, influence our decisions and control our thought processes with little to no regard to how it will affect our ability to walk in God’s purpose for our own lives.  We allow the agendas of others to become the priorities of our lives.

Well defined boundaries are synonymous with fulfillment, joy, connectedness, balance, peace, health and an overall sense of well-being.  Non-existent or poorly defined boundaries lead to frustration, resentment, stress, anxiety, loss of control, fear, overwhelm and dissatisfaction.  Boundaries are critical to our emotional, spiritual and physical well- being.

If we do not take the time to figure out what God says about boundaries and understand what it looks like to walk in obedience with His commandments, the world will decide for us and impose its boundaries on our lives.  If we do not take a proactive role in establishing healthy boundaries, we will live in conflict with ourselves and with others. We will be plagued by stress, loneliness, spiritual apathy and disconnect….all the things we were looking to avoid by NOT setting boundaries from the get go.  We believe we are doing ourselves and others a favor by leaving things “loosey goosey.”  In doing so, we give up the gift and fruit of the Spirit of self-control.

Our souls yearn for balance and peace yet we don’t know what to do or how to go about doing it.

I believe we self-sabotage. We know what to do but we resist doing it.  Often times, we find ourselves living in complete opposition to what we desire most.

I challenge you to take an introspective look at your life and identify at least one area where your boundary lines are blurred or non-existent.  Go to the Lord in prayer. Dig deep into His Word and see what He has to say about that “area” of your life.  When you know what God wants and you study examples found in the life of Jesus, then you can begin building healthy boundaries. Be specific and intentional and share with someone you love.  Not only are these conversations liberating but they are critical for the establishment of healthy, life-giving relationships.

Healthy boundaries show LOVE.

What area of your life is “in, out, or on the line?”

But the fruit of the Spirit is…self-control. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

(Galatians 5:22,24-25, NIV)

Leryiah Arant

Leave your comments on our Facebook page

Are You Eternally Vested or Bankrupt?

Are You Eternally Vested or Bankrupt? By Leryiah Arant | liftupyourday.com

Today, we live in a transient society where the norm is never staying in one place too long.  However, it hasn’t always been this way.  My Mother, who is 59 years old, lived in the same home for 50 years.  Her world was made up of the same neighbors, surroundings and 4 walls, almost her entire life.  A lifetime of “treasures” and memories were stored up in 508 Wellesley Road.

Recently, my parents made a difficult, but necessary decision to move from the comfort and familiarity of their home to a downsized cottage that has been in our family for decades.   Even though this new home is just a few miles away from the original homestead, in many ways, it seems worlds apart.  The transition has been uncomfortable and heart wrenching at best.  The process has closely paralleled grieving the death of a loved one. Even though it’s just a house, filled with stuff, it was the security and comfort of 50 years of life, love, mementos and memories.

We are consumed by a competitive society of consumerism and materialism where bigger is better and more is best. We value our possessions over people and we identify with stuff over our Savior.  There is an unspoken pressure that hovers heavily over our world to keep up with our neighbors.  We feel like we have to do more, be more, have more…no matter what the cost. At the expense of time with our family, in worship, or in conversation with our Lord, we invest our precious resources in the mundane over “Kingdom” things and relationships.

Be on guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15 NIV).

In the parable of the Rich Fool, Jesus warns us against being razor focused on the things of this world and life before death.  The rich man in the story had stored up all his value and treasure in materialistic goods and spent his days on earth making deposits into his “bank accounts” over eternal investments in discipleship and his own eternal salvation.  Remember, we are born into this world with nothing and we will leave this world the same way.  If we spend our moments pouring into finite accounts, we will miss the rich opportunities to pour into the people and things that will carry eternal wealth and value.

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and his rule” (Matthew 5:3 MSG ).

Wealth in and of itself is not sinful.  But, when possessions and position begin to dominate our thoughts, words and actions, they take over places in our heart and soul, reserved only for our Lord’s occupation.  When we allow things to usurp God’s place on the throne of our lives, we not only commit idolatry, we bankrupt our lives of true and eternal treasure and fulfillment.

We tend to find comfort and security with the familiarity of our earthly possessions and surroundings.  In our limited humanness, we tend to run to the tangible.  Like my Mom, many of us become very uncomfortable when we are pushed outside of our comfort zone and stripped of our familiarity.  We feel safe when we feel in control.  Our level of comfort and circumstances tend to dictate our reactions and feelings.

I believe the Lord intentionally pushes us into unfamiliar territory and takes back the reigns of our life to show us that the only true treasure worth living and working for is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Eternal life is priceless.  Our ultimate peace and security will not be found on the shelves of our homes or in our bank accounts; it is only found through the reality and sacrifice of the Cross.

Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” (Matthew 16:25-26 MSG).

To become truly “blessed” and live as authentic, Kingdom people, we must align our thoughts with the Lord’s, be intentional to make His priorities our priorities and set the rhythms of our lives to the heart beat of Christ.  When we view our life on Earth through the lens of the Lord, our perspective shifts.  The white knuckled desire for worldly things and control fades away. Our personal agendas cease and our priority is no longer to live for ourselves but to live for Him. We may find ourselves bankrupt of fame, fortune and earthly treasures but we will live in abundance with overwhelming blessings with Christ, for all eternity.

Are you depositing your time, talents and treasures into the temporary or into Eternity?

Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity” (John 12:25 NLT).

Leryiah Arant

Are you depositing your time, talents, and treasures into the temporary or into Eternity?  Leave your comments on our Facebook page

Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking…

Auto Pilot…

Walking Dead…

Blind…

Robotic…

As a Mom of two small children, the words above often describe the state of my being and existence in this world in the midst of all the chaos and busyness.  I often find myself merely existing, void of vibrancy and true, authentic LIFE.  I’m fully present in body but far removed and displaced in my mind, with a searching soul desperate for nourishment. We often find ourselves living captive to our calendars, enslaved to our jobs, distracted by all of our modern day “conveniences,” all the while holding on just a little too tightly to the things of this world that have subconsciously become our idols.  My eyes are open for about 16 hours a day but I wonder if I am really awake?

Is this living?

In the Book of Ezekiel, the Lord takes Ezekiel to a valley, full of dry, scattered bones.  Ezekiel learns that the bones represent the nation of Israel and all of the Jews that have been held captive and have fallen asleep or died spiritually.  “These bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.” Do you ever feel like the pressures, distractions and calamities of our fallen world, cause us to feel void of hope, empty or detached? We live in a time, plagued by sin and darkness, danger looming on every horizon. We are burdened by constant comparison and judgement, we are tempted by ungodly desires, we flirt with idols and we are dead in our addictions.

Is this living?

We go through the motions of life. Our empty bodies appear to be alive because our hearts beat, we take in air, move about, talk with one another, and interact with our surroundings, BUT, our precious soul, the core of our being…is there a pulse? To the outside world, the “appearance” of life exists.  The heart of our physical being may beat but our one, true lifeline is plugged in to the wrong power source.  Our life dances to the rhythm of the world instead of in step with the Holy Spirit.

Is this living?

I feel like we live in a time where being busy is considered better, where being strung out, run down, utterly exhausted is exulted.  We have turned into a society full of busy bodies and weary souls.  We are smothered by the pressures to do more, be more, have more, while our souls are suffocating and dying a slow, spiritual death.  The constant clamor of the mundane, wrestles for our time and undivided attention and ultimately, tunes out the subtle, yet ever-present voice of the Holy Spirit.  We often blame God for abandoning us in this upside down and inside out world, when really, He was there all along.  We were just tuned in to the wrong station. We are living on a completely different wave length to even notice His overwhelming and wondrous presence.

Is our soul tuned in to the station of the world or the station of the spirit?

Are you walking through your days physically present, with eyes wide open, yet you find yourself feeling your way around in the darkness, stumbling at every twist and turn, aimlessly grabbing for anything you can find to hold on to, with a weary, spiritually blind soul, trailing behind, just trying to exist?

As Ezekiel stood in the presence of the Lord, he was commanded to prophesy to the bones to come together physically, and they did…yet, there was no life, because there was no breath.  But then God commanded, “Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live…breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet…” I can relate to the dry bones in the valley. Can you? If I were tried in court, I would be found guilty of going through the motions of life. You can find me saying my rout, robotic prayers, hurrying through my quiet time just to check it off my list of to-dos, attending church in body, while checking my mind and soul at the door, zoning in on the revolving door of Facebook status updates, while simultaneously, accepting the unacceptable and living with my spiritual blinders on.  Is this the breath of life?

No.

Today, we are a people desperate for renewal, restoration and revival for our tattered and torn spirits.  If we are honest, I think we could all benefit from a breath of fresh spirit infusion.  Our world today resembles the people referenced in Matthew 13:13-15, “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand…you will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.  For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears and they have closed their eyes.”

The Lord is constantly at work around us.  His heart’s greatest desire is to woo us, amaze us, and to captivate our hearts to enter into a personal relationship with Him.  Our God is WONDERFUL! He is constantly giving us gifts and opportunities to experience new life, to get that much needed breath of fresh air, to ignite that spark of spiritual infusion.  But, how often do we miss the gifts?  How many times do we pass up the opportunities or ignore them altogether? Has God ever given you a divine appointment but you were just too busy to show up?  According to 1 Corinthians 2:14-16, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”

Precious Father, I beg you to stop us dead in our tracks.  Arrest our self-righteous hearts. Breathe life into our dry bones and infuse us with your Holy Spirit.  Lord, we beseech you to remove our spiritual blinders and to keep the shades of our life wide open so we do not miss a second of your goodness, wonder and awe.  Inconvenience me and my sisters Lord, in any way that you see fit, to break the endless cycle of complacency and detachment.  Father, I pray that you will light our souls on fire for you, that will you will revive our spirits and restore our weary souls.  Help us find your extraordinary in the everyday ordinary that surrounds us and draw us into a state of expectancy and urgency. “You are all children of the light and children of the day.  We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6).

As children of God, we were not meant to be of this world; we are just merely passing through.  Our life here on Earth is “… just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away”(James 4:14).  I pray we can seize every opportunity to experience and encounter the Father, while being renewed and refreshed daily with the constant presence of His Holy Spirit.  In the poetic words of Adelaide Proctor,

“For life is all too short dear.

And sorrow is all to great,

 To allow our slow compassion

That tarries until too late.

And it’s not the thing you do dear,

It’s the thing you leave undone,

That gives you the bitter heartache,

At the setting of the sun.”

(Things Left Undone, Adelaide Proctor)

Leryiah Arant

Leave your comments for Leryiah on our Facebook page

 

You Are Never “JUST”

You are never "just"

A month ago I attended a writing conference full of medical professionals and published authors. No prior experience or credentials were required to take the course, but I took one look around the room and my stomach sank.  I felt ill equipped and unworthy of being there.

We were asked to break out into smaller groups and I feared what was to come…introductions. What was I going to say? Each participant introduced themselves with their name and identified what they did for a living. I wish I could say I was engaged but I was consumed by my own thoughts of how I was going to introduce myself.

“My name is LeRyiah.  I just stay home with my children right now.”

Contrary to my expectations, no one was gasping or staring at me in disbelief.  Instead, the instructor said, “the first thing I would like you to do is take the word “just” out of your vocabulary.  Wow! Park on that for just a minute.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart, I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

The Lord knit us perfectly together, infused each of us uniquely with His perfect best because He isn’t capable of giving us less.  If this is true, how can we consider ourselves to be “just” anyone or anything?  God created us to be extraordinary.  The Lord is ALIVE in and through our lives.  He has equipped us individually, with intention, on purpose and for His glory.

Each of our “hows” might look different but our WHO is always the same. How amazing is it that the God of the universe created us and loves us unconditionally, before we ever did anything to deserve it?

Words, especially personal self- talk, carry POWER. Power to build up and give life or the power to pierce souls and slay hearts.  Words can be healing or harmful; creating wounds that fester and spread like a cancer to the core of our beings.

In Psalm 139:13, David says, for “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Does the image staring back at you reflect the identity of the One True King or is the reflection a result of what society says about you? Do any of these phrases sound familiar?

“Hey, it’s just me calling…” or “I just stay at home…”or “I am just a writer…” You fill in your own blank.  I am “JUST” _____________.

The word “just” is a single syllable qualifying word that is flippantly and frequently used in our culture today and the power of the word is often underestimated.  The definition of the word “just” (adv.) means simply, only, no more than.   Do these phrases reflect how God sees us? Qualifying words can be helpful but they can also be limiting and devaluing.  We enter dangerous territory when we tie our God given identity to anything but the Lord.  When we define ourselves by our mundane roles and perceptions of others, we discredit our worthiness and marginalize our impact.

If we are brutally honest, I think we are all guilty of devaluing our roles, accomplishments and our service, through our self- talk or in conversation with others, in an attempt to sound overly kind, politically correct, or humble.  Sadly, our self- sabotage through our speech and writing have become so commonplace, that over time, it has evolved into a harmful and unconscious habit.  Not only are we self- inflicting deep wounds on our soul but we are not embracing who God created us to be.

We are all called and equipped for the highest, most sacred service that surpasses all earthly standards and expectations.  The world may try to limit us or belittle our roles but sweet sisters, we are daughters of the One True King and our Lord is limitless.

In Exodus 3:14 the Lord appears to Moses in the burning bush and when He reveals his identity to him, God says, “I AM WHO I AM.”

“I AM” are two of the most powerful words put together but what we put directly after has tremendous effect on the way we view our reality and can dramatically skew our perspective.  We must learn to move past our titles and labels and allow the Word of the Lord to take root in our lives and continue to grow in His image, for His glory, not the accolades or acceptance of this world.

As a child of God…I AM blessed.  I AM worthy.  I AM loved beyond measure.

Dear Sister, quiet your racing mind, lean in close and please hear me when I say:

YOU are adored.

YOU are called.

YOU are more than enough.

As women of faith, come on this journey with me and enter into “JUST” rehabilitation. Take this word out of your self-talk!  There is no role more sacred than what the Lord has called you to.  As His precious daughters, there is no such thing as “just” cooking dinner, or “just” staying home with kids or “just” going to work.  Whatever our role, whatever our service, it is SACRED work being done for the Lord.

Promise me, when you find yourself up to your eyeballs in dirty dishes and laundry and the baby is sick, you step in cat puke, and your kids go to school without their lunches, all on the same day (and it will happen) and you ask God, “Is this really all there is? Set your heart to the tune of Matthew 25:40, “And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’”

There is no such thing as being “JUST” a child of God. 

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him”(Genesis 1:27).

LeRyiah Arant

Leave LeRyiah a comment on our Facebook page