Professional Christians by Trish

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A professional exemplifies one who is skilled or well trained in the work in which they do.  A true professional has the ability to hold one’s composure so to maintain an expected image of what they represent. While we celebrate the professional mindset in the work place let us look at how this “professionalism” can easily affect our lives as Christians.

When you are an employee of a company you are provided with a code of conduct, a set of rules if you will, that mandates certain behavior in order to represent the company well.

As Christians we have been given the ultimate handbook on code of conduct and while it is imperative that we live a life pleasing to the Lord and choose a lifestyle that reflect holiness, I can’t help but notice how many of us, myself included, have easily become “Professional Christians”.

To better explain, I’ll use myself as an example. I grew up in church and in essence it’s all I’ve ever known. I don’t have the stories of wild parties, drunken weekends, promiscuity and rebellious teenage years. My testimony is that I was kept…not by any means perfect but nonetheless, kept.

I thank God for my journey; it is to no credit of my own that is for certain. While grateful that I have been kept from a lot of foolishness, I have also been subject to religion and rules. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I crave structure, I have to have rules and boundaries.

I was once told by a previous boss to not get uptight if rules were bent. That goes against my nature, if I don’t know the rules, I don’t want to play the game and I will be the first one to make it known when a rule has been broken.

While there is safety in structure there can also be missed opportunities for true growth, development, relationship building and yes, ministry if all we ever do is focus on rules and regulations and not cultivate a lifestyle that values relationships.

Having been a believer for most of my life, I know how to act, what to say and what “rules” to follow. I know the code of conduct necessary to withhold the image of what and who I represent. But what happens when I focus so intently on the rules instead of directing my passion towards my walk with Christ? This, my friends, becomes the life of what I call a “Professional Christian”. Trying to maintain an image or keep all of the rules is exhausting and can lead you straight in perfectionism.  You trying to do things on your own will end in disaster every time.  We are all in need of a Savior! Truly His grace is sufficient and it is all too amazing!

The Bible says it like this, there are those who have a form of Godliness but deny the power, meaning it appears as though they follow the blueprint of what a Christian should look like and they keep those rules but there is no power because there is no relationship. There are those who honor God with their lips but their hearts are far from Him.

How does this happen and how can we stay in proper alignment?

1)      Understand that God is interested in a RELATIONSHIP with you

His Word has provided us with structure and it is not to be ignored. We are grateful for grace but we don’t abuse it! We obey and follow His principles out of our love for Him and relationship with Him. If all we do is follow the rules to be seen or noted as “good” then we have completely missed the mark and misunderstood the depths of what our relationship with Him should look like.

2)      Be Sensitive to the Holy Spirit

For some, you may not understand what that means. When Jesus left the earth, He gave us an incredible gift called the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our guide or our inner witness.

It is imperative that if we’ve invited this gift into our life that we then make room for His presence to lead us.

I love the story in the Bible where Jesus healed on the Sabbath day. He broke a religious rule to come to the rescue of someone in need. Religion said you can’t heal on the Sabbath but Christ who was a man under submission was able to discern what was necessary in the moment and obeyed even if it meant breaking protocol.

Religion gives you a bunch of regulations which can result in a prideful heart. Be cautious of this, it can and will destroy. The Spirit brings LIFE!

3)      Be a Grace Giver

Understand everyone is at a different place in their journey with Christ and many don’t know Him at all. Who are we to throw stones at those just learning how to crawl in the faith? While I don’t believe in compromising the truth or altering values for the comfort of another, I do believe in being an extension of grace and God’s love. While I may not agree with those around me, I still have a choice to be a reflection of His love and in that choice pray that God be revealed and His truth be made known.

Ladies, let’s choose to not “play the part” of a Christ follower but rather BE the part. There is no room for Professional Christians among us. Instead of focusing on upholding an image, let’s focus on investing our time and energy in an authentic relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  In doing so, the rest will fall into place including a genuine representation of the One who has changed our lives and loved us like no other.

 

Uniting Hearts by Sonya

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My husband and I just returned from an amazing two week vacation traveling through the countries of Italy, Greece and Turkey.  We celebrated ten years of marriage and this was a trip of a lifetime.  This trip felt like our second honeymoon reuniting us all over again. I can’t explain it but it felt like we were newlyweds and having the passionate love for each other where you get giddy just being together.  This reminded me of our relationship with Christ when we first come to know Him we can’t stop being in fellowship with Him.  Like our spouse, we fall hard for Him and want to please Him in every aspect of life.   Then as time goes we get busy again, our priorities change, and we tend to put less focus on our spouse because of work or children. Or we tend to go several days without reading God’s word, praying or fellowshipping with Our Heavenly Father.  This can be a challenging time because your relationship gets sacrificed and hindered when other things take precedence over what is really important. The relationship then gets taken for granted and we may not realize the importance until we are in a crisis or challenge. I have realized taking the time out for what is important in my life has blessed me and allowed me not to take for granted those relationships.

Realigning my heart with God’s and reuniting with my husband has been the best thing for me. It makes me yearn to keep those relationships in check and taking the extra effort to keep my heart united to my first love. I know I have to pray that the distractions of work, home, and church don’t get in the way of whom I worship and love. God first, my husband second, and then my family and church.   I encourage each married couple to take time away for your marriage and reconnect in a way that you have no distractions but focusing on each other. For the two weeks we didn’t use our phones other than connecting with our kids and we didn’t go online or take computers. This was such a huge blessing because work or social media wasn’t right there to distract us from our time with each other and with our time with the Lord.  This time with the Lord, or your spouse, is priceless and it is worth the effort to make it a priority. God desires us through all circumstances and constantly wants us united with Him. Our purpose should be united with Him.  “Choose today whom you will serve…But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

 

The Perks Of Being An Underdog by Kenika

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One of my lifelong dreams and goals was to be a model. I honestly cannot remember the first time this bright idea popped into my head, but I do remember my first pageant as early as age 16.  More than the pageant itself, I recall that I lost.  This loss was preparation for the rest of my career and life.

When I first started modeling I did so right out of high school going into college.  At first it wasn’t something I was too terribly invested in, therefore if I won some great, if I didn’t, no big deal.   Through a move to another state, life, school and other transitions I made a decision after a while to put this attempted career on the shelf.  Fast forward to present time, and I really felt as if God laid it on my heart to pursue it again.  The same attitude I had at 18 was pretty much the same attitude I had this time around, if it works great, if not what do I have to lose?  Jobs and auditions have come in on a regular basis all praises to God, but that’s not my point right now. You see it was an amazing moment to share with my friends and family that an advertisement I was in made it’s way into a national magazine. That was a dream come true!  Everyone praised God and rejoiced with me of His faithfulness, but what most may not have realized are all the rejections I had to go through in order to get a breakthrough. Dozens of auditions, castings, and go-sees where they looked at me and in a sense said, “You’re not good enough.”  Whether you’re too tall, too short, too thin, too thick, too brown, not brown enough…I’ve been through the gamut. As a result I know that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was.  Experiencing rejection after rejection, “no” after “no” and then one day you get a “yes”.

This industry will either build your self esteem as you grow more confident in your strengths and aware of your weaknesses, or it will completely tear you down because you continue to compare yourself to others, or feel as if you don’t make the cut. There were times in modeling and quite frankly in life, where being the underdog felt awful, like the end of the world, but then I learned something.   I began to understand that when the expectation of you is low, God has so much more room to show off.  I recently did a hair show and all the stylists were looking at me and my naturally curly hair and they didn’t want to say it out loud, but I could see it all over their faces, “How are we going to tame that?”   They were all completely skeptical and even treated me funny every time I showed up, as if they would include me in the show as a favor.  Once they got to work on my hair, coloring, straightening and then cutting, it ended up being one of the hits of their show. So much so that they sent some other people home and created an additional segment for me to take part in. They were all raving about the hair and complimenting the stylist.  One more point for the underdog.

The truth of the matter is we will all experience some form of rejection maybe not in an overt way like an audition, but in family, career, church, ministry, friendships or relationships.  There will always be someone who says, “You are not enough”, but I am so glad that even if I’m an underdog with everyone else, it doesn’t change that I am an overcomer with my King.  I love Chris Tomlin’s lyrics to his song “You are my King”; he says that because Christ was forsaken, we are forgiven, because He was condemned, we are accepted.  I’m so glad my Savior is not fickle like man (kind), I am truly grateful that no matter if the world rejects us, the underdogs find acceptance in Him.

Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

What To Wear by Bombi

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Do you ever lay awake at night wondering what you’re going to wear to your upcoming interview, a friend’s wedding, or that birthday celebration?

Maybe you’re packing your bag for that weekend trip and need to made a list to ensure sure you don’t forget anything.  What if I told you that there’s a “must have” list that never goes out of style? You can use it for any occasion. What if I told you that you couldn’t find it at a special boutique or secret online store given only to privileged stylish folks? What if it turns out that what’s put into your heart and in your spirit is more important than what you put on your body? “What are you talking about Bombi?”   Allow me to share with you the perfect ensemble. These pieces are classics sure to stand the test of time. I promise you these clothes will never go out of style, never, ever.  These “must haves” are yours to wear every single day. The following essentials come from the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 6:10-18).

This particular outfit is the Armor of God that includes:

*Belt of truth buckled around your waist

*Breastplate of righteousness in place

*Your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace

*Shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one

*Helmet of salvation

*The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Sounds a little hardcore eh? Well, this life is hardcore and can tear you to pieces, you need to make sure you have the right gear to protect you and ensure you will overcome.  Do I have your attention? Great, there’s more! Paul gives another “what to wear” list specifically made for God’s own people (Colossians 3:12-14).

This list includes the following wearable virtues:

*Compassion

*Kindness

*Humility

*Gentleness

*Patience

*And over all these virtues put on Love, which binds them all together in perfect unity

Did you read that? Above them all, put on love. Is this not what the world sings about, cries about, prays about, and begs for? This is something we as believers have and can cover ourselves, and those around us, with. How beautiful! Finally I will leave you with one of my all time favorite ensembles. This one has caught my eye ever since I was a little girl and first read about it. This outfit comes from the Proverbs 31 Woman. What does this special woman wear? Why this lady is clothed with nothing other than strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25), talk about class! What a beautiful ensemble to wear, I know I desire these clothes!

Sisters, I speak to you directly. I know it’s hard sometimes to feel like you’re the only one around you who thinks twice about the length of your skirt or the tightness of your pants. I want to say “bravo” to you for your desire to keep it classy.  But even more importantly is what’s on the inside of you. I pray you remember that you are God’s beloved. He has His covering over you.  You are a beautiful child loved by the most amazing Father who has the most beautiful things for you to wear. So I say wear these virtues, put on the full armor of God, and He will clothe you with His strength and His dignity.