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Category Archives: communication

Jesus and the Teddy Bear

Just trust Me

I know that most of you have probably seen this meme on social media over the past year or so. There is that saying that says “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but I think this photo meme is worth about ten thousand words lol. There is so much spiritual meat that can be pulled from this illustration, and I imagine that a ton of sermons can be preached off of it as well. However, in this post I just want to share some of my personal revelations that I take from what this meme is saying…

What God has in store for us is bigger than any IDOL that we try to hold on to. His plan is so much greater than the plan that we concoct for our lives. However, in order to ever see this reality manifest, we must be willing to let go. We must be willing to DIE to ourselves and allow His spirit to live through us. He has to become LORD over our lives.

Matthew 16:24-26 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (NKJV)

The big teddy bear that Jesus is holding behind His back in the picture can represent your destiny. I believe it can also simply mean the “bigger picture” and represents something that is of eternal value. We have our own ideals, interests and infatuations with whatever moves us, or gives us instant gratification. This is represented by the small teddy bear to which the little girl clings. The small teddy bear represents the temporal and the rewards that will eventually gather up dust and rust, just like Jesus said.

I also believe that the small teddy bear represents selfishness and ultimately the desires of the flesh, while the larger teddy bear represents something that is much greater than ourselves. The little bear also reminds me of when Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for some soup. He gave up the bigger teddy bear for something temporary, something that would give him instant gratification. In his case, it was the very course of his destiny that he forsook. We all have a marvelous journey He has planned out that will end with eternal rewards being reaped due to the spiritual fruit that will be bared, but only if we find that narrow path and stay the course.
The big teddy bear can even represent rewards in the natural, however, we have to be willing to embrace the process that the Lord desires to put us through because He is shaping our character so we can properly handle the enlarged territory that He desires for us to claim. However, this process can only began when we are willing to forsake our way for His way; just like in the photo meme.

John 12:24 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. (NKJV)

The choice is ours. Either we trust Him or we don’t. People like me have held on to disappointments and have harbored some resentment towards the Lord because He shut some doors that we desperately wanted open. We need to be reminded that He is lord and is constantly protecting us from ourselves and dangers seen and unseen. We also have to realize that He already knows the beginning and the end. It would be in our best interest to get back to reverencing Him and understanding that His plan will always be far greater than our plans, despite what we appear to experience in the natural. The world says to live in the moment and we should. However, we who are followers of Christ Jesus are peculiar people who are supposed to be living from an eternal perspective. Do we have enough faith to believe that the teddy bear Jesus is holding behind his back is in fact bigger and greater than the one we want to cling to? Are we willing to embrace transformation so that our hearts are moved more by spiritual things (big teddy bear) and not the things of this world (little teddy bear)? I wonder if we truly realize that by clinging on to the smaller teddy bear, we are in fact settling for less. I declare that it is time for many of us to truly die to ourselves so that we can live the abundant life; hence, the giant teddy bear. Blessings to you all.

Nathan Allen Copyright ©2015

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You are NOT the Father

A few years ago, I was in Kroger looking for Father’s Day cards for family and friends. As I was picking out the ones that caught my eye, I spotted a couple that did in particular. But not in a good way… There were two distinct cards that were Father’s Day cards addressed to single mothers! To my knowledge, Mahogany Cards is the only company that makes such cards and they cater primarily to the Black American community. So I paused for a moment and picked one of them up just to get a closer look. At that moment, all I could do was shake my head in disbelief. Well, now I’m kicking myself for not buying one of them just to have as an example of how God’s plan for family is surely being eroded before our very eyes. We have been deceived into believing that issues like gay marriage are the primary cause for this, but we have been bamboozled. The family structure is completely out of order! Since when did a woman gain the ability to teach a boy how to become a man? Since when did she gain some supernatural ability to become a “father” to her children? Did I miss this cosmic event?  The last time I checked man and woman were created with innate abilities to be father and mother. Only a MAN can give the masculine affirmation of a father that is needed by all children. Only a WOMAN can mother a child and nurture it. A woman might be able to use her intellect and knowledge of the Word to raise a son, but that void of affirmation can ONLY be filled by his father. Obviously, the ultimate affirmation can only come from the Heavenly Father. But none of this can ever come from the mother. The same rule goes for a daughter, as she can only be truly affirmed in her femininity by her mother, no matter how much of a Daddy’s girl she might be. A man cannot teach his daughter how to be a woman from a feminine perspective. It’s just not God’s design.

Please know that I have the utmost respect for single mothers. I have lady friends who are single mothers and I try to be a blessing to them in any way that I can. I’m aware of the pressures they face and the sweat and toil that they endure trying to raise kids on their own. They run their own households and often work more than one job to make ends meet. However, this does not give them the title of “Father.” I have heard that saying for a long time that “single mothers have to be the mother and father.” This is a LIE from the enemy! We have allowed this kind of language for so long now that we are reaping the fruit of those words. If ever there was another obvious sign concerning the breakdown of the family, well now we have it: Women being honored on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. You see it is exactly this type of negativity and DISHONOR of men that has contributed to the emasculation of men. There is a DIVINE ORDER that God established that we now seem to reject.

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Now I’m going to say something unpopular… A man does not have to be perfect to be respected as a father! He may be doing the wrong things in the natural and he may even be a terrible father. He might be in prison or on drugs, he just might be many things. But does that give us the right to strip him of the title or role of father? According to worldly standards, yes. According to biblical standards, no. You still honor the position. Despite his loyalty to David, Jonathan still honored his father Saul who had been dethroned by God. Whether or not you like your boss, you still respect and honor the position.

A friend pointed out to me that it’s just like our relationship with the Heavenly Father. Now obviously He is perfect in all of His ways, but we often times don’t understand why He allows situations to occur or things to happen to us. But we still honor Him… This same model goes for our natural father. I have a tremendous amount of the respect for the man who was my active father for most of my life, but I’ll be transparent and say that I don’t like the person that my biological father is currently. However, I can honestly say that I’m praying for his salvation and have vowed to not speak ill of him. I will still respect him. After all, the Word says to “honor your father and mother so that it may go well with you.” (Paraphrasing)

Nowadays we joke about “baby mama drama,” but we need to look deeper at what this has caused. We laugh at talk shows that play this stuff up (like Maury Povich) but the family has taken a form very different from what God intended. There’s no point in playing the blame game and talking about how there aren’t any decent or godly men around. You see, that is a part of the problem. There are two sides to every equation, despite what the popular rhetoric might be. There are in fact good and decent men who are purposely being kept away from their children by the mothers of their children. So is it surprising to see so many young women easily giving their bodies to men because they are looking for the affirmation of a father? Is it surprising that so many young men have no vision or purpose? Is it surprising that so many remain “boys” even when they reach adulthood? True enough, even if Daddy wasn’t around, the distorted image of father is being created further when they go buy their mothers cards on Father’s Day. Lord help us! They are being led to believe that their mothers are also fathers to them as well, which couldn’t be further from the truth!

I pray that whoever needs to read this will be convicted and repent. The family cannot be restored until the fathers are restored because they are the God-ordained head. If we decide to respect the men and just pray, watch as God does what only He can do. Engaging in nasty, nonproductive conversations will only yield the bad fruit that we are continuing to see. Trust me, the enemy is rejoicing and having a “demonic wet dream” over the way that the family has been destroyed. Maybe I should send this message to Mahogany Cards? Maybe they’ll gain some wisdom and insight to not make any more of those abominable cards for Father’s Day. What do you think? Who knows? Change starts within each of us individually, so let’s start there. Let us put His plan above our mere emotions and watch Him restore. Blessings to you all.

Nathan Allen Copyright Revision ©2015

 

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The Best Wine: Restoring the Years

Joel 2:24-26 24 The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil. 25 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust,[a] My great army which I sent among you. 26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame. (NKJV)

Several months ago, I was counseling with my spiritual mother and her pastor. He shared a revelation with me that has remained lodged in my head and in my heart. It was about the first miracle that Jesus performed when he turned water into wine and restoration.

Many of you are looking at your lives right now and probably asking “What the heck happened?” The years have flown by like a whirlwind and left you in the dust, and when it cleared; you don’t like what you see… Some of you probably thought you would already have started a family, while others had business ideas that they thought would’ve changed their lives by now. Some of you had aspirations involving education, careers and even ministry, but life happened… Fast forward to now and those dreams seem light years away based upon your circumstances and you’re fearing the worst; that it might be too late. Some of us just thought we’d be much further along in life in general.

The truth is that sometimes our desires don’t line up with God’s will for our lives. The influence of the world has us focused on things that were never meant to be a part of our individual paths. Other times, His plan does involve our dreams and desires, but it is all about His timing and our character development. After all, we are supposed to be conforming to the image of His son, and to Him; that is all that matters.

However, despite these factors, the other truth we must acknowledge is that bad decisions and sinful behaviors have often played a part in the delay of our blessings. They are very much a part of the reason why God’s promises haven’t manifested and why we haven’t attained certain goals and dreams for our lives. All of these factors can be overwhelming and ultimately make our hearts sick, just like it says in the book of Proverbs.

dry ground

So what does this all have to do with “the best wine?” Well, it takes several years to make what is considered to be a “fine wine.” These wines often cost several hundred dollars and are considered to be a luxury. Producing a fine wine is a lengthy process, according to the ways of man, but it can be done in an instant supernaturally.

John 2:6-10 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” (NKJV)

Isn’t it fascinating how the wine that Jesus made was far better than even their “best” wine? Yet, this was wine that was created instantaneously! This means that the years that we have lost can be restored in an INSTANT. However, it also means that our best is yet to come! Remember, the new wine was even better than the first. That tells me that the things that we think we missed out on fail in comparison to the reality that He can bring forth! I believe that when He restores, it’s like we didn’t miss a beat! Hence, the BEST WINE. Hallelujah!

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But there is something I want to draw our attention back to… His restoration of our years in our lives is contingent upon our OBEDIENCE.

John 2:1-5 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” (NKJV)
In verse 5, Mary tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. The miracle took place in part because of the servants TRUSTED in Him enough to follow His instructions. The same holds true for us. We must be obedient to the Holy Spirit in order for the Lord to restore the years that the locust has eaten. He will not restore the years of someone who is living in sin and disobedience. He will not restore the years to someone who still doesn’t trust in Him. However, we see clearly that the servants’ obedience to Him led to a miracle and the very best wine being produced. I don’t know about you, but I want that in my life like yesterday! I believe He will exceed our expectations when we are willing to yield our lives to Him completely. He is a good father who will not disappoint us. I believe we can all taste and see that He is good; the best wine.

Nathan Allen Copyright ©2014

 

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Thicker Skin: The Benefit of the Doubt

I’m currently in a season where I believe the Lord is molding me into having thicker skin. This is simply a part of growing up and maturing, not only as a Christian, but even just as an adult. I’ve learned that overly sensitive people have a pride issue that they are usually unaware of and they require so much validation and affirmation to the point where it pushes people away. For me personally, one way of developing thicker skin is simply giving people the benefit of the doubt. I am learning to choose to believe the best about people, despite their actions or inactions because this is the only way to remain at peace with others and not allow offense come into your heart. Because in actuality, I’ve found myself getting offended with people for a variety of reasons, but I realize that it’s solely based upon my perception of what they did or didn’t do. I’ll give you a couple of examples…

I was part of a men’s small group at my church for about a year and overall it proved to be somewhat of a hurtful experience. However, the good news is that I also learned from it. God will sometimes allow us to experience situations in order to grow us up and to remind of us of our need to keep our focus on Him. During my time with the group, I would often get left off of the email list when it came to group activities and overall, I just seemed to remain on the outside looking in… I would think I was making a connection with some of the fellas through conversations before, during and after group but would soon realize that the connection was only in that setting… However, some of their relationships amongst each other clearly extended outside of the group. Yes, rejection sucks (especially within the body of Christ), but I now realize that it is not always intentional and sometimes it can be more perceived versus being reality. Yes, it would have been nice to have connected with some of the guys on a deeper level, but friendships can’t be forced. Being in the same small group with someone doesn’t guarantee friendship, no matter how much you might try to show yourself friendly, like the Bible says. Hard lesson learned, but it has made me stronger. As a result, thicker skin is forming in my personhood. Now in retrospect, I don’t believe the rejection I experienced was necessarily intentional or malicious. The other men are genuine followers of Christ and just have different interests and have had different life experiences than I.

Develop-Thicker-Skin

As I said earlier, I’m in a difficult season of growth and maturity. Unfortunately, I lost my grandfather and father within months of each other. What shocked me during this whole experience was the number of people whom I’ve known for a long time who didn’t seem to show a whole lot of compassion or empathy. Some folks still to this day haven’t reached out to me or even asked me if I needed anything. As a result, I began questioning my relationships and was very hurt by my perception of their lack of compassion. However, Holy Spirit reminded me that there were those that prayed for me and my family, even though I was unaware. Also, through conversations with others, I also had to consider that people respond to situations differently simply because of the fact that they’re human. What’s best for me is to release the offense and move on. I can’t expect everyone to respond to situations the way that I would. I now realize that’s unfair. People are different and process life events in their own way, and so another layer of thicker skin is being added to me, as I choose to believe the best about folks, even in this situation. I must have peace because offense only keeps me internally conflicted and suspicious of others. Thick skin is a must in order to get promotion from God. Thick skin is a must in order to walk with Him even when you’re disliked and/or ignored. I must have thick skin if I’m ever going to truly be Christ-like. I must have thick skin if I’m going to love God’s people in a way that truly honors Him.

Colossians 3:12-14 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. (NKJV)

Jesus Christ’s willingness to the cross as a sinless man was evidence of His thick skin. He had to rise far above human emotions as He was beat, marred, mocked and ultimately killed. But I also notice that he evangelizes one of the thieves on the cross, despite the horrific brutality that He had already suffered. That’s the ultimate example of having thick skin!

Lord help me to continue growing layers of thick skin that will help serve as armor on the battlefield so that I’m not unhealthily dependent on others. I will be the clay as you shape and mold me into who You desire me to be. Help me to love people even when that love isn’t returned and help me to keep my eyes fixed on You. Affirm me with Your love and hide me in the shadow of Your wing so that I am free from the opinions of others. Amen.

 

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How to Get Away With Murder – A Spiritual Perspective

I remember anticipating and then finally watching the first episode of “How to Get Away With Murder” with an enthusiasm I hadn’t had in a long while. For the most part, I don’t usually watch television drama series because a lot of them just haven’t interested me in recent years. However, when I saw that Viola Davis was going to be starring in her own series, I was ecstatic because she is one of my favorite actresses. I set the DVR to record the entire season after the first episode was over because I was immediately captivated. The character of defense attorney Annalise Keating was intriguing, dark, cut-throat and even sexy in a sort of interesting way. The plot was slowly established over the course of the season and a number of questions that we the viewers wanted answers to, which kept us tuned in each week. Who killed her husband? Did her husband kill the young college student? The dialogue was sharp-tongued and laced with punch lines, even though they weren’t necessarily comedic ones. Each episode ended in a way that was designed to keep viewers thirsting for more and eagerly anticipating next week’s show. As a creative writer, I was drawn in by the plot, entertained by the sassy dialogue and just overall fascinated. Heck, I even imagined what Shonda Rhimes’s checkbook must look like these days, since she is now the writer for three very popular shows… However, I was also uncomfortable at times when I watched this show because it glorified several values and behaviors that are completely contrary to the Word of God.

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So despite my intrigue with this show, I think that I may not be watching season two… (Sigh) The truth is that when Holy Spirit begins to rain down conviction, you can either take heed or be disobedient. There has to come a point in the life of a believer where you decide to be a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ and not be carnal-minded. I have to decide if I’m going to be entertained by the very things that offend God. Now I imagine that many of you may be rolling your eyes, or thinking that I’m trying too hard to be spiritual. All I can assure you is I’m just speaking what’s in my heart and I’m now at this crossroads. Am I willing to give up entertainment that glorifies what He has deemed as sin? If I am truly trying to be Christ-like, how can I enjoy being entertained by sinful situations where redemption and restoration are not even a part of the show’s concept? At what point do I began to make the sacrifices necessary to become His disciple? After all, Jesus Christ stated to his disciples that there is a COST to follow Him, and often times we don’t want to pay it. The situation of me watching this show is just a small example of this.

As a man who is trying to enter a season of consecration and who is trying to walk in sexual purity, is it profitable for me to watch a show where everybody is having sex all over the place? There are all kinds of affairs going on and the sex is so pervasive that they might as well all be attending one big orgy. There is also the element of homosexual activity between men. All of this sexual perversion is completely opposed to the moral order that God established in His Word. Yet, Annalise is agonizing over the fact that her husband cheated on her with one of his students, but she is having an affair herself! Am I missing something here??? By the way, there are too many scriptures to list that deal with sexual sin. I think we all know what the Word says for the most part… (smile)

As much as I like Viola Davis, Annalise Keating is over the top. She has stated many times that she doesn’t care whether or not her clients are guilty. She is only interested in defending them and winning her cases, even if justice isn’t served; all while instructing law students to think the exact same way! That’s pretty ruthless when you really think about it… In spite of my curiosity about this character, she doesn’t appear to be the warmest personality and also seems to have a really jaded outlook on life. The fact is, we still don’t know much about her, and I think the mystery of this character only adds to the intrigue of this show. But alas, I may not get to find out more about her. I have a decision to make. Am I going to be obedient and stop following this show, or will I succumb to my thirst for “creativity” and silently wish that I was as successful as a writer as Shonda Rhimes? Sounds like I have some soul searching to do…

Nathan S. Allen Copyright ©2014

 

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