Faye Bryant

Represent!

When I was younger, I saw this “representation” as binding, even hindering if you will. I felt like I was missing out on something because I had to represent Jesus. I wasn’t very fond of this concept.

Now I understand more. As I have surrendered more of my life and will over to God’s care and control, I realize that by wearing the label “Christian,” I receive scrutiny. Others watch me. Some waiting to see me fall and fail, others just curious what I do and why I do it.

I used to be concerned with what those watchers would think about what I say and do. Now, I choose to be concerned with what God thinks about what I say and do. It’s been a long road, this transition from people-pleaser to God-pleaser.

Now, I know that when I do or say something, it really is as a representative of Jesus. I get to represent the God of all creation. The One who spoke light into existence and scattered the stars with a word. I get to represent the God who split both the Red Sea and the Jordan River so His could walk across on dry ground.

I represent the God Who sees, the God Who heals, the God Who provides.

I stand as an ambassador from the Kingdom of God, walking in full authority of the greatest power in the universe.

As a believer, you do, too.

Yes, I need to be cognizant of what I’m doing or saying, but if I focus on Jesus and listen to the Holy Spirit who lives in me, honoring Him comes easily.

It’s a choice, y’all. #ChooseWell.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Praise is not situational.

There’s a difference between joy and happiness. One is dependent on circumstances, the other on the knowledge of who God is.

There’s a difference between praise and gratitude. One is dependent on circumstances, the other on the worthiness of the one being praised.

We could praise God in the midst of financial troubles because even without us having income, God is worthy of our praise.

I could praise God minutes after hearing, “You have melanoma,” because He is always worthy of my praise.

I could praise Him in the midst of an afib episode because God is so worthy of praise.

We can praise Him as we ache over the loss of a loved one because God is worthy.

No matter where we are or what is happening in our life, God never ever changes, His worth is the same. Our praise of Him and to Him should remain the same in every circumstance. When we continue to praise Him, we realize how much bigger than our situation God is.

Let’s make praise a daily habit. Even if we don’t “bother” God with our requests, let’s take a few minutes to praise Him for who He is.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Is He a Way-Back-Then or Current God?

We just celebrated Easter, talking about that day when Jesus got up, the grave unable to hold Him. My social media feeds have been chock full of reminders of God’s greatness and His righteous acts for the past week.

More people crossed the thresholds of church buildings yesterday than in the past four months. And they heard of the righteous acts of God.

These words found in Psalm 22, inspired by Almighty God, were penned by David hundreds of years before his 25th great-grandson came along, within a Psalm declaring the majesty and righteous acts of God.

I believe they are apt for both times, David’s and 25 generations later, and even today, April 22, 2019.

We learn of the righteous acts of God and we share them. We tell others about how amazing He is … or do we?

Sadly, some have abdicated that telling to the priest or preacher. Instead of seeing what God has done lately and sharing the story, they let the preacher tell the age-old stories and leave it there.

As a result, many only see a “way back then” God who doesn’t do much today.
I believe this makes God weep and hinders people from coming to salvation. God has revealed Himself to His people through signs and wonders, yet they don’t point them out and tell others what happened.

Let’s start mixing the stories of old, the Red Sea, Goliath, Joseph in Egypt, Israel’s rescue from Egypt, with the stories of today. For me that includes telling of healing from cancer – twice, my husband’s surviving a brain aneurysm and more.

What miracles have you seen? What righteous acts of God have you experienced?

Let’s start the telling today. Let’s choose to no longer let the preacher be the only one who gets to tell the amazing stories of God!

Are you ready?

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Everyone who calls?

Everyone who calls will be saved?

Whazzat mean? Saved from what?

The Amplified Bible expands the English to include the fullness of the Greek, “For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord] will be saved.”

Paul knew the Tanakh, the Jewish Bible. He had studied the words of Joel and here, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in this letter to the believers in Rome, he repeats them.

This doesn’t mean the quickly tossed cry of panic when a horrid situation engulfs. It’s not the “Jesus, take the wheel!” scream in a moment of fear.

This means surrender. The moment when we recognize that we really aren’t cutting it as the lord of our lives, and we turn that job over to the Lord Jesus. It’s that crying out for rescue from sin that holds us and leads us toward God’s wrath.

It’s what Easter and
Passover are all about.

As we consider Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, let’s remember the why behind them: US.

God loves us so much! He doesn’t want us to suffer the eternal penalty for our rebellion against Him, so He came to take those sins on Himself and die in our place. But that wasn’t enough to secure our eternity. He was placed in the grave. He endured that complete separation from the Father.

And finally, He got up.

He left the clothes of death in the place of death and walked away. He defeated that eternal death for us, once for all time so we don’t have to spend one moment separated from the Father.

If you have never called on the name of the Lord to invoke Him as Lord over you and your life, I pray you’ll do that today. Right now.

If you have called on the name of the Lord to invoke Him as Lord over you and your life, I invite you to revisit that decision. Look again at the eternal condemnation He rescued you from. Realize what separation from God looks like and choose Him again. It’s not a renewing of salvation, it’s taking a moment for understanding and gratitude for the rescue.

#ChooseWell

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

That first “Good Friday”

On that day, that gory, horrible day, Jesus endured pain most of us have never considered.

His day started the day before. He had had no sleep, no rest. His unlawful trials held at various places all happened overnight.

He felt at least 39 lashes of the scourge that ripped his skin away and tore at his muscles, such that he was unrecognizable as a man.

He was mocked mercilessly.

He was stripped of his clothing.

He felt the beam of the cross laid across those raw shoulders.

His hands and feet were nailed to the cross with spikes large enough to hold His weight suspended on the wood.

About noon, the earth responded. A thick, can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face darkness fell across the land. The earth shook. Graves opened. The ten-foot tall, layers-thick temple veil tore completely in two, from top to bottom.

After about three hours, Jesus declared, “IT IS FINISHED!” His suffering was done.

Then He gave up His spirit. No one took His life. He freely gave it, knowing it was the only way you and I could be reconciled to God.

Let us deeply consider the cost of our salvation today and begin to make the daily choices to live in a manner worthy of our God who walked that path so we don’t have to.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Jesus’ Last Passover Seder

The room had been prepared, all leaven removed, all elements of the Passover meal obtained – the roasted lamb, the bitter herbs, the charoset, the salt water, each with deep meaning to the men who reclined at that table.

Jesus’ closest friends gathered with Him to celebrate the high, holy day as they had in years past. This one seemed different. Everything seemed to have a deeper meaning than before.

When Jesus lifted the bread — special bread made for hundreds of years the same way, bruised, striped, and pierced — at that expected time in the  Seder, he called out the age old blessing so many rabbis still sing. He broke that bread and said it was His body.

He also said as often as we do this to do it in remembrance of Him.

My question is: Do what?

Every time we Christians take communion of cracker and wine/juice?

I really don’t think that’s it.

I think Jesus was saying that from then on, whenever His followers celebrated the Passover, they were to change their focus from the old understanding of rescue from Egypt to the new understanding of our rescue from sin through Jesus.

Somewhere down through history, our “Christian” fathers decided to separate themselves completely from the Jews and thus, few of us have ever learned about this version of the Lord’s supper.

Personally, I believe we simply cannot separate Jesus from His Jewishness – especially in this remembrance. Every moment of the Seder, ordered by God Himself after He brought Israel out from Egypt, points to Jesus as Messiah. Every element, every scripture, every cup of wine, and especially the bread.

Today, let’s do as our Jewish friends and neighbors. Let’s look hard for the leaven. They will be looking throughout their homes for every possible source and internally so as to be cleaned of any sin.
We may not clear our homes of the physical leaven, but we can look at the leaven in US, the sin that rises up and explodes into behaviors that shame our Savior.

Let’s agree with Him that it is indeed sin. (Confession)
Once we find it, let’s get it and all traces of it out! (Repentance)

And let’s remember that Jesus gave Himself as the sacrificial lamb, taking God’s wrath for our sins so we don’t have to. Let’s turn to Him in awe and wonder and bless His name.

Let’s make this year different as we walk into the celebration of the Messiah/Savior.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Just love one another, will ya?

Jesus was talking to his followers, believers, a fairly large crowd of people who were looking for something new, something more than the life of rules and laws and oppression – from their religious leaders and the government.

Some had no clue what that meant as far as their own thoughts and behaviors, they just wanted freedom.

Jesus told them there was more. That they were to also love one another. That the one-another love He was commanding was His love. He was calling the townspeople to love the shepherds and the upstanding to love the lowly.

In this verse and the next, Jesus was telling believers then and now two major things about this one-another love:

1.) It’s my COMMAND that you do so. (Meaning, it’s possible for you to do.)
2.) There is a higher purpose to this command.

See, people who are not believers watch those who say they are believers. Closely. They either want a reason to believe or proof as to why they never would.

Our behavior toward one another provides their answer. Jesus said when we love one another, they see that we are truly His. Though left unsaid, we can understand that when we don’t love one another, they see we really aren’t His – or they get a horrible misconception of Him.

In my mind, this is what
separates
the church attender
from the true believer.

According to Jesus, we who follow Him are to love those believers who look different than us. Tattoos, dirty, clean, piercings, tan, pale, ancestry, makeup, no makeup, more clothes, few clothes…

We’re to love those believers who think differently than we do: Catholic, Protestant, uncertain, conservative, liberal, Coke, Pepsi…

We’re to love those believers who have offended us and hurt us. (Hear me, sometimes that means loving them from afar without communication, with love that refuses to belittle or denigrate them.)

We’re to love those believers who fall. We’re to love the man with the moral failure and the woman with the broken promise.

We’re to love our spiritual brothers and sisters through support – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, instead of pointing fingers, calling names, and vilifying.

Sadly, there’s an adage that says the Christian army is the only one that shoots its own wounded. We’ve earned that distinction. That behavior is absolutely against what Jesus said and every one of us who have done it have some confession and repentance to take care of.

It’s time we make the determination to do what Jesus said: love one another. Whoever that person is that says they are a follower of Jesus, love them. PERIOD.

Love them by privately calling them out on sin according to Matthew 18.
Love them by encouraging them.
Love them by coming alongside in trials. Love them by listening.
Love them with compassion.
Love them.

And when we get this right, people will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that we belong to Jesus.

Don’t we all want that?

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Criminal Jesus

Crucifixion wasn’t new when Jesus walked the Earth He created. It had already been around hundreds of years.

The Romans, though, adding what they had learned from the Babylonians and Persians with what they knew of human anatomy, perfected the torture aspect of the death sentence.

This mode of death was reserved for those the Romans considered the worst criminals. This included slaves who had run away from their masters and thieves. The worst crime to the Romans, though, was insurrection – being an enemy of the state. If you resisted military action or worked to overthrow the Roman government, your punishment was the cross. (Some of us would be in deep trouble if this existed today.)

The reason this very tortuous, very public, very humiliating capital punishment was used had more to do with crime prevention than criminal punishment.

See, this death sentence was carried out in public. From lashings to death, the criminal was naked before the people, physically and emotionally. Their body completely uncovered, every cringe of pain visible, their every groan of anguish heard. The horror of their struggle to breathe, pushing down on the nails in their feet to raise up enough to catch a breath then dropping their weight onto the nails in their wrists to exhale until they could no longer, was right there, impossible for the townsfolk to miss.

As a result, every slave, every thief, every person who hated the way the government did business, saw what could happen to them. For many, it changed their minds about taking action on their thoughts.

The Jewish leaders who despised Jesus knew all about these dynamics of Roman law and they used them brilliantly as a tool to rid themselves of this rabbi of unconventional teachings.

Now, before we get all excited that the Jews killed Jesus or the Romans did it, let’s revisit Philippians 2:8.

“he humbled himself in obedience
to God and died a criminal’s death
on a cross.“

Jesus WENT to the Cross. To the bystanders it looked like He was dragged there, but that doesn’t take into account that Jesus is fully God even as He is fully man. He was stronger than Samson. He could have knocked over ALL those soldiers with a word, much less his strength. BUT he did not.

He walked calmly from the Garden of Gethsemane to his first unlawful trial, on to the next and the next.

He allowed Himself to be tied to a scourging post and whipped past the point of recognition.

He endured those thorns being driven into his head, a robe placed on bloody open flesh then ripped off again.

He permitted the soldiers to lay the beam across His bruised shoulders, the muscles and blood open to the wood, and He began the walk to the mount outside the city where He knew He would be put on display.

The leaders wanted to curtail any thoughts of anyone else doing these radical things Jesus did or taught. Crucifixion was a perfect means of accomplishing that.

God wanted this heinous, torturous, humiliating death viewed by so many so that the depth of His sacrifice for mankind was evident.


Side Note:

Hear me, y’all. If Jesus has not allowed this, it would not be a sacrifice. I bring this up because for far too many years “Christians” have hated Jews for causing Jesus’ death.

First of all, He HAD to die. It was part of the plan to rescue us from the penalty of sin: our own eternal death.

Secondly, it was a small group of Jews who were used as a tool by God to secure salvation for those of us not born as one of His Chosen. While we hate it had to be this way, we should be grateful that God made the way, whatever tools He used.


As we consider the cost of our salvation during this time we call Holy Week, let’s remember that Jesus knew exactly what was going on. It’s why He asked the Father to remove this cup of wrath from Him. It’s also why it’s so important to us that He said, “not my will, but Yours be done.”

He allowed Himself to be treated as the worst slave, the worst thief, the worst enemy of the state.

He humbled Himself.
In obedience.
For you.
For me.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

The End of Hunger and Thirst

“I am the bread of life,” He said.

Sustenance.

“Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again,” He intoned.

Sustainability.

“Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty,” He declared.

Permanence.

These words confused me, the woman who started dieting at age twelve. I longed for never being hungry, so that I’d lose weight and look good. And let me tell you, summers in the South, I’d have loved not being thirsty again.

That’s all flesh, though. And that’s not what Jesus was talking about, even though He used those terms. He got our attention by talking about hunger and thirst, didn’t He?

Our bodies are incredible machines. All interactive. When there is a lack of a certain nutrient, our brain kicks in a hunger for that food which will provide that nutrient.

For example: if you’ve ever taken a calcium supplement, you may have noticed a sudden craving for chocolate. Why is that? Because your body requires the magnesium found in the chocolate in order to use the calcium you’re pouring into it.

All of us are born with a lack in our lives, something our spiritual self knows we need. Our spiritual self, like the brain calculating the magnesium we need to use the calcium, then causes hunger for that which is lacking to rise up and make itself heard.

Our spirit seeks for rest and peace and joy. It longs for meaning and hope. So, it signals for the search to begin. We’ll feel that hunger and start looking.

The world has all sorts of answers for this search. All manner of shiny pretties that offer what we’re looking for, yet fail in delivery. Our souls hunger for permanent sustenance.

Jesus is that permanent sustenance. He offers Himself as the meaning, the peace, the joy, the rest, and the hope we are craving. Nothing else we encounter comes close to fulfilling the longing inside us, though there are a lot of fakes out there that take the edge off and fool us.

What is it you’re looking for? What is the craving in your soul?

Do you want to feel like you matter?
Do you long for peace, but find it elusive?
Do you crave understanding?

Walk right up to the Savior today. Tell Him you’re tired of being hungry and never being filled. Explain your thirst that you want quenched.

“Come!” He said.
“Believe!” He intoned.
“Hunger and thirst are done.” He declared.

Coffee, Bible, Journal.

Stop striving. Just stop.

What are you struggling with? What’s that goal you keep striving for but never reaching?

What is that thing you long for so much that it occupies your every thought and often determines your actions?

What is it that you haven’t attained and that fact clouds your thinking and mars your moods?

It’s time to stop.
Just stop.
Stop striving.
Stop struggling.
Stop letting that chase change who you are and destroy your relationships.
Just stop.

It’s high time we who follow Christ examine our goals, our dreams, our hopes through the lens of God’s plan for us. Some of the dreams we’re after aren’t His will for us. Some that are His will for us we haven’t even considered yet.

We MUST align our will, our dreams and desires, with His. When we refuse to do that, we make ourselves god in His place. Don’t do it!!!

When we have our alignment right, we should work toward that goal or dream, but the incessant striving, the drive that brings out the snappish responses, the pushes that keep us from being with family, the strain that takes a toll on our health, should not continue.

God says STOP.
Cease striving, says the One Who Made Us.

Then that next part? Know that He is God? That’s keeping our focus.

Elohim.
Ancient of Days.
Jehovah-Rapha (the God who heals)
Jehovah-Jireh (the God who provides)
YHWH
Adonai

Many names that reveal attributes.

Yet He called Himself “I AM that I AM.”

Do you see that? He didn’t describe Himself as the God who DOES. He described His BEING.

If we’re to be like Christ, we have to become more identified with our being than our doing.

It will be hard at first. When we introduce ourselves, we usually say our name and what we do for a living. What if we introduced ourselves with our name and a declaration of our being – who we are?

“Hi, I’m Faye Bryant, I am an encourager.”

“Hi, I’m John Doe, I am a great friend.”

“Hello, I’m Marcy Smith. I am a dreamer.”

In complete transparency, those
three statements took longer to
compose than the rest of these
words. It requires a total mind
shift to move from DO to BE,
and I have a ways to go.

Today, let’s start that shift away from striving in our doing and focus on who God is and who we are in Him.

Who ARE you?
What is your “I am” statement?

Coffee, Bible, Journal.