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Category Archives: discipleship

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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Can you be Jonathan?

We are living in times now where so many desire the spotlight, or at least their fifteen minutes of fame. This holds true for even those of us who profess to be in the Kingdom of God. Lord knows I have been guilty of this mindset and still have to cast it down at times. I remember when my pastor spoke on Jonathan and David, and for some reason, I have been thinking a lot about the life of Jonathan. Questions have arisen in my mind about various aspects of his life and whether or not I could handle myself in those times when I appear to be in the position he was in with David. In the past, I’ve read and listened to the story of Jonathan and David a few times and ended up feeling kind of sorry for Jonathan. Yes… To me it seemed like he got screwed over big time! He gives up his right to the throne because God chose David. But then to add insult to injury, then he dies in the midst of war at a young age. But of course, my perspective has changed because I’m now more spiritually mature… (smile)

I admire people that seem to be “wired” like Jonathan. They are comfortable being in the background and seem to have no desire to be seen. And I’m not talking about fear either, but genuine people who naturally like being behind the scenes. After David killed Goliath, Jonathan knew that David was the chosen one, despite him being heir to the throne after his father Saul. Check out I Samuel 18:1-5. (NASB) Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. 2 Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father’s house. 3 Then
Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 4 Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt. 5 So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and prospered; and Saul set him over the men of war. And it was pleasing in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.

humility

Dang… That’s some serious HUMILITY right there… He willingly gave up all of the rights and privileges that came with being king. He gave David all of his “princely” attire and weapons because he loved David as much as himself. He made a covenant with David, meaning that he would always support and protect him at all costs. If you read further, you’ll discover that Jonathan even helped hide him from his own father Saul who was trying to kill him. Yet, at the same time he still loved his father until the end when they were both killed.

One thing that seems obvious with Jonathan is that he was in NO way threatened by David’s anointing. Unfortunately, many of us today are quite the opposite. I would like to think that if I’m in a position to be around someone who is in a position of honor, I would sit under their tutelage. I believe that we miss opportunities to grow and develop when God places people in our lives that are in a higher place of authority and/or who are experiencing a greater level of success. We get threatened because we compare ourselves to them, usually not knowing the price(s) they have paid and the character they have developed in order for God to trust them in that high place. Instead of learning from them, we compete with them or find ways to get offended. So sad. Our egos must die! They have no place in the Kingdom. It is all about Him.

Something else I can confidently conclude about Jonathan is that he was COMPLETELY SECURE in who God created him to be. He didn’t need to be king in order to be affirmed or feel accepted. We obviously knew that God smiled upon him and that was enough for him. Serving David was a great joy because he was the ultimate servant. He knew that he was called to under-gird David and was perfectly comfortable in doing so. Paul said it best in I Corinthians 12:14-18. 14For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body,just as He desired.

We have forgotten that we are all on the same team, which is the Kingdom of God. We all have one purpose that is carried out through the different paths and unique gifts. Jonathan was obviously more than okay with this reality. I also believe that he saw the bigger picture. He knew that Israel would be restored under David’s rule. He embraced his path and trusted God with his life even unto death. I realize now that Jonathan died an HONORABLE death and that the generations of his relatives were blessed for it. This is a teaching point. Our blessings, whether we see them or not, often lie in our willingness to be HUMBLE. Some of us could be missing out on promotion because God is requiring us to be a Jonathan before we can be a David. Very simply, you have to learn how to follow before you can be an effective leader. There are many people in high places who will tell you about their small and humble beginnings. They will tell you of the character-building situations that they have endured.

So are you willing to die to yourself for the sake of the Kingdom? If God has chosen someone for a certain task or role, who are we to question or to get offended because it’s not us? Do we really believe that God’s plan for our lives is the best? The truth is that we are all CHOSEN, but to walk down our own unique paths. Jonathan embraced his path and as a result, we are reading about his life thousands of years later! His legacy of being a servant still lives on…

Nathan Allen Copyright ©2011

 

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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!

fine_wine_1

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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I Want to Know Purity…

I want to know purity
I want to be like the water that flows through artesian wells
Filtering away everything inside of me that doesn’t give life
Transforming me into a vessel that can manifest miracles
Because of His power flowing through me

I want to be clean like the water that rushes down mountainsides
Quenching the thirst of those who seek righteousness and truth
I yearn to shine like the purest of gemstones
Radiating a piece of heaven here in the earthly realm
I want to be like the unique diamond that has never been found
I want to be the hidden treasure that is buried deep in the ground
Sparkling with His rays of splendor
Illuminating truth in the most inward parts

I wish I could recapture the innocence of a child
The smell of a newborn baby
That would somehow manifest the reality
That as far as the east is from the west
He has buried my sins
Only this would be tangible in some form
Making me pure…

I want to be like the sunset’s reflection over still waters
Peace residing on the shoreline
Giving rest to all who desire to be one with Him

pure water

I hope my passion for His Kingdom
Becomes hot like the lava that bursts forth from nature’s fury
I want to be a part of the remnant
The church without spot or blemish
I want to walk in truth as a vessel
A part of the fruit that was bared
When He hung his head on the cross and declared
“It is finished”

I want to be pure
Like the nectar of wild orchids
That bumblebees use to form the sweetest of honeycombs
I want to lose my fear of total surrender
To the One who formed me in my mother’s womb
I want to be adorned with righteousness fit as a bride
Prepared to be eternally joined to the bridegroom

I want to know purity
In my thoughts and in my deeds
From impure motives and unclean thoughts
I yearn to be set free

I want to go from glory to glory to glory
Until I am simply a reflection of the One
Who knows the beginning and the end of the story

May I desire purity just as a man desires his wife
May purity itself give this temple life
So He will always dwell inside of me

I want to know purity
Embrace her mystery
Be like the oxygen released from Amazonian leaves
Breathing in purity
And following her into eternity

Nathan Allen Copyright ©2013

 

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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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