Wrestling with Existential Realities – Does God Exist for Us or We for God?

questionmarkDo we want God to bless our efforts or do we want to be a part of efforts God is blessing?

Do we want God to go with us, or do we want to go where He already is?

Do we want to know God’s will for our lives or do we want to know how our lives play a role in his will?

Do we want God to be on our side or would we rather be on His?

These questions are more than just a play a words or their ordering. They get at the heart of the age old existential question of why we exist, taking it one step further asking: does God exist for us or do we exist for God?

The idea of the creator of the universe existing for our fleeting pleasures is as preposterous as it is comical (not to mention heretical since He is existence). He was not made in our image, but we in His so that we reflect His glory, not the other way around. Everything begins and ends with Him, not us.

Many of us know that at an intellectual level (at least I hope). But this knowledge has fallen short in reorienting the way we live and think and move. We are a very selfish and prideful people. We seem to think that everything in life, including God, exists to serve us oblivious to the fact that our lives our just a microcosm in the grand scheme of things. We are just grains of sand – too innumerable to count individually. But together, we reflect before God a beautiful image on the shorelines of the beach.

We are like flowers of the field, here today and gone tomorrow. And yet God chose to sacrifice His son, for dust, not because we were worthy for we are not! Dust is not worth much. But for His namesake, and his glory and his great love toward us, He sent His Son while we were challenging Him and each other for His position and power.

We exist for God. So let us find where He is moving and be there. Let us discern where He is blessing, where His presence is and plant ourselves in that place. Let us ask the bigger existential question – what is God’s purpose and plan for the earth – and reorient our lives around that plan, abandoning every other that places us at the center instead of God. And perhaps we will find that life gets a little bit easier. Maybe it’s not as difficult, as taxing, as competitive, as draining as we have always imagined it to be. Maybe it’s not about building our individual kingdoms, our towers of Babel if you will, but building and proclaiming His kingdom as it exists now and forever will be. Not our names, not our success, not our jobs, not our careers, not even our vocation (which I need to remember), but Him and Him alone.

I Don’t Care About the Poor and Other Stories About Injustice

Seek JusticeI recently came across an old journal entry of mine from the spring of 2006. For the majority of the piece, I rambled on and on about what I can only describe as nonsense. But right towards the end I wrote these words “I don’t care about the poor.” For many people who know me now, these words seem preposterous almost anti-Ebony, but I know and remember very well where they come from.

For years, I had been having this inner war waging on the inside of me. A war where one part of me wanted to engage in biblical justice issues, such as poverty, and the other part of me that wanted nothing to do with it. The part of me that wanted to engage in these issues took passages like Matthew 25 seriously – whatever you do to the least of these you do to me. The part of me that disregarded the poor tried to reimagine these very same passages, defining terms like the poor and oppressed to mean those who are ‘poor in spirit’ or ‘oppressed spiritually speaking.’

To make matters worse, perhaps, I entertained this idea that the poor were to be blamed for their own problems. Never mind the fact that I came from poverty myself. Back then I blamed my parents for the financial struggles we faced, thinking that if they had their act together things would have been better for us (years later I now know that is NOT the case).

Not only so, I thought that if poor people would just believe in Jesus, He would make things better. Yes, my Pentecostal/ Evangelical upbringing reinforced this line of reasoning in me to the point that this was the lens that I saw EVERYTHING out of. In my mind, refusing to embrace Christ was a one way ticket to hell on earth in the present as well as in eternity. Jesus, to me, was the magic fix-it upper, genie in a bottle who made all of the problems in one’s life disappear like a good magician should.

Since I blamed the poor for what they experienced, I felt like I was let off the hook. Sure, I would donate to some good-willed mission every now and again, and I sponsored children in far off places with swollen bellies who were living on less than a dollar a day. That felt right. That felt safe. But I never did anything to meaningfully engage nor did I allow myself to really sit and ponder the systems that were at play that caused their hunger and poverty.

That is, not until I went to Rwanda. The trip absolutely messed up my theology and changed my life. As I prepared for the trip by reading and studying the nation’s history, particularly around the genocide that occurred in 1994, the lenses that I wore no longer fit quite right. In my mind, I thought that if people were saved, they wouldn’t face any problems and that they would get along marvelously with others (what Bible was I reading and what world was I living in?). But in Rwanda, there were two main ethnicities – the Hutu and Tutsi – who are a largely churched people, Catholics and Protestants who espoused deep faith in Jesus. However, their orthodoxy didn’t quite translate into right praxis so that there were priests, pastors and other religious leaders and believing congregants willingly and complicity murdering their neighbors, families, and friends. This reality challenged my thinking so I had to readjust my thinking to fit reality.

I came back to the states and immediately began to study the intersectionality of faith and justice. And I made a mess of myself because all too often hubris and inexperience got in the way. I thought that this epiphany I had would automatically launch me into a place of knowing, having all of the answers to questions that most of the people around me were not asking. I kept chanting, reconciliation, and didn’t fully understanding what reconciliation was or what it would look like when it was accomplished. Even so, even in my naivety God was faithful. God delights in starting where we are to get us to the place He needs us to be. He is not looking for perfection, just availability.

As I studied and read and studied some more, I also wanted to get practical. At the time, I was working for a bank and while I enjoyed it, I started to get really anxious about moving on. The problem is that I didn’t quite know what I should be moving on to. All I knew was that I wanted to work with people, so I applied for dozens of direct service jobs. I didn’t get any of them (and this is before the economy tanked so we can’t blame it on that).

In hindsight, I thank God that none of those jobs materialized. Failing in this way, if you call it failure, opened up an internship working with youth at a Christian organization for the summer which was a good experience for the most part. It gave me the opportunity to formalize some of the thinking that I had done on faith and justice issues, particularly around race. But more than this, it opened my eyes to some of the challenges that the church in America faces when it comes to dealing with manners of justice. For the churches that involve themselves in outreach or justice ministry (which are few and far between) many of them are doing relief work. Painting and repairing houses. Handing out food. Giving out clothes and other toiletries. All of these activities are good and temporarily relieve the short term pain of people. But all too often they fail to address the systems that perpetuate the pain.

After my internship and a few more arduous months at the bank, I landed a part time job as an administrative assistant for a nonprofit that was doing advocacy work on hunger and poverty.  Although I loathed my job, I loved the organization which really addressed the faith and justice tension in its advocacy work. Not only so, but they were seeking to change the systems that caused hunger by trying to pass legislation that expanded and strengthened existing hunger problems both nationally and abroad.

While I appreciated everything that I was learning as a result of being a part of this organization, I still felt that those who were poor, disenfranchised, marginalized, had a role to play in their own suffering. I kept thinking that as much as we needed better legislation that provided safety nets for those who were without, that the poor were still individually responsible for their own problems. That they just needed to work a little harder. That they just needed to stop doing X and start doing Y, which would of course put them on a path to financial freedom.

But I thank God that He didn’t allow me to persist in this line of thinking. As I continued down the nonprofit path, specifically working in organizations that did justice work with a racial and class analysis, I really began to understand the systems that were at play that restricted people’s freedom, making their choices for them while still holding them responsible for the outcome. I began to see people who struggled to find employment were often discriminated against because of their skin color, regardless of their experience and education. I began to see people who could afford to own a home being sold mortgages with ridiculous interest rates that their white neighbors were not being sold. I saw how black men (and a growing rate of black women), were targeted and sentenced for drug crimes that they did not commit which limited their ability to find aforementioned housing and employment. And I saw how food could be used as a weapon of war, and how something as basic as health care is not easily accessible to everybody, and how the educational system is failing our children of color, and how the opportunities that are readily available for whites are often missing for people of color.

As I began to recognize these systems, I subsequently began to understand that this idea of individual responsibility is one big, hairy myth because you cannot hold individuals responsible for decisions that they don’t get to make! You cannot say to an ex-felon go get a job and then reprimand him for not finding one because you refuse to hire him. You cannot shame him when you lock him back up when he fails to find housing when you won’t allow him to look for it. You cannot tell people that they have an obesity problem when they have no access to fresh fruits and vegetables and the only thing close to them is McDonald’s and Super America. You cannot take away a mother’s children for failing to put a roof over their heads and clothes on their backs and food in their mouth’s when you won’t pay her a livable wage. You cannot tell children to stay in school and get an education when you keep closing schools and defunding the ones that are still in operation.

It’s been almost seven years since I started to passionately pursue justice and reconciliation. I have learned a lot and I still have so much more to learn. So much more! Yet, gone are the days when I didn’t care about the poor, the suffering, and the marginalized. Those days have been replaced with periods of weeping, agonizing, advocating, studying, giving, sowing, working, learning, and praying so that I can be an instrument in God’s hand to right the wrongs in our midst.

I tell this story because I don’t want to walk this journey alone; I need my brothers and sisters in Christ to walk with me! There are SO MANY Christians – well-intentioned, loving, and compassionate no doubt – who are where I once was but God is calling us all out and up to do our part.  It will take ALL OF US to get to begin to stand for justice because evil is just that pervasive. But armed in the power and Spirit of the living God, we can move this mountain of injustice together.

I Am Not My Hair…So Who Am I?

Although its been almost 15 years, I still remember the time I lost my hair because of a bad relaxer. It was 1997 and I was 14 and going to this hair dresser down the street from where I lived in Milwaukee. Unlike other hair dressers I had been to in the past, she knew how to give me style that was appropriate for my age, meaning that when I came out of her shop I left feeling grown up instead of like a little kid.

However, I began to notice that my hair seemed to need a relaxer a lot quicker than it had before. I also noticed that it was thinning out. My mother noticed it to. She took me to her hair dresser, who I had been to before, and she told me that my hair was falling out due to being over-processed. I did not like the sound of that. But rather than cut it off and start over, I waited it out. I got braids and after taking them down, I waited a few months before getting another relaxer so I could give my hair a break. Slowly but surely it started growing back, but it was not very long. It never really was. But still, at least, I was not bald-headed.

Over the next few years, my hair just kind of existed. I mean, it was not unhealthy but it sure was not stellar. I guess somewhere down the line I just accepted that this was the way it was, but deep down inside I longed to have long, flowing hair. I envied my sisters and other black girls around me who were able to grow their hair past their shoulders aimlessly. I wanted that for myself but did not know how to get it.

After moving out of state for college in 2001, it took me a few years to find a hair dresser I really liked. By the end of my sophomore year, I  found a lady who was pretty good at keeping my hair healthy and stylish, but then she went and cut off nearly half of my hair. I was so irate, I did not know what to do. But she said that I needed it because my ends were so badly damaged, which was true, I had been having problems with them for months. So I suck it up and after a few months, my length was back where it was before.

Over the next few years, I went back and forth between me losing my hair and then growing it out to a certain length and plateauing before I would start losing it again. I have never dyed my hair, I didn’t wear a lot of extensions or put a whole lot of product in it, but something was not working. Somewhere in between my senior year in undergrad and first year in seminary in 2006, however, I started seeing another hair dresser who thought that maybe it was time for me to give up my relaxer and go natural. It was not that I was diametrically opposed to the idea, actually I had tried to do it numerous times before, but I could not get over the fact that not having a relaxer would mean that my hair was not straight. I did not want to walk around with a fro or nappy hair, so I resisted even though my hair remained trapped in this vicious cycle.

But then the hair dresser I was seeing informed me that she was leaving the salon and referred me to someone else. I was okay with that, and she was a good stylist. Yet from the moment that I started seeing her, she kept saying that the sides of my hair were frail and thin, and that she wanted to cut them off and leave the back long. Now I don’t know much about hair styling, but in my mind, what she was describing was a mullet. She assured me that it would not look like that at all, so I let her cut it. And guess what; it looked like a mullet! I tried to hide the sides behind headbands but there was not much else I could do because it looked bad.

So, I decided to get the rest of my hair cut, by someone else mind you, and give this natural thing a try…again! By then it was 2007. Knowing myself and my tendencies all too well, I just kept my hair braided during the transitioning period and cut it off in between me getting it braided again. It took less than six months for my natural hair to grow out long enough for me to feel okay with cutting off the relaxer and sporting a short fro for a while. Honestly, I loved my new style, but I was still self-conscious about my hair not being straight.

I was having an identity crisis about my hair in its new state, so as soon as it grew out long enough, I started flat ironing it. There were times when I would twist it or wash and go, but for the most part, I kept it flat ironed. Although I could tell my hair was healthier as a result of me getting rid of the relaxer, and it was growing a bit longer a bit faster, my ends were still breaking off every once and a while. And I would get so frustrated because I could not figure out what I was doing that caused my hair to react this way, or at least, I did not want to admit that I needed to lay up on the heat as well. I thought I could have the best of both worlds and would pride myself in being able to have my hair curly one day and straight the next.

Then I got married and got pregnant. That was in 2009. Half way through my pregnancy, the ends of my hair broke off again, but by time my daughter was born they had come back stronger than ever. For the first time in my life, my hair was noticeably past my shoulders and I loved it. Of course, I continued to keep it flat ironed, after having a baby the last thing I wanted to do was put up with the fuss of my own hair. However, right before my daughter turned one in 2011, my hair started to break again and I knew that it was not breaking from the pregnancy, I had already experienced that. No this was something different.

And so, I decided to lay off the heat for a few months. I wore my hair in protective styling, kept it conditioned, and did whatever I could to keep it healthy. After two months of wearing it like this, I could tell that it had grown quite a bit, at least the front and sides of my hair had. When I went to my hair dresser, however, she told me that the breakage in the back of my hair was even worse than it was before and recommended that I get it cut. So I did, knowing that in a few months it would be back.

That was November of 2011, and after three months of no noticeable difference or growth, I knew something was wrong. You may think that I did not get myself a whole lot of time here, but I know my hair, and I know that it grows back quickly. On top of that, I saw that even more of my hair was breaking off. I instantly knew what I needed to do; I needed to stop flat-ironing my hair.

But here was the thing, because I had flat-ironed my hair so much, most of my ends were straight even without heat. So I cut them off myself, yes I am a little impatient, and basically started the process of growing out my natural hair all over again. And it has been a process that has required a lot of hard work. I have to keep my hair moisturized and conditioned on just about a daily basis because my hair has a tendency to get a little dry and brittle when I don’t which means more breakage. I have invested in essential oils and frequent youtube videos and blogs to get advice about what I should be doing and how I should be doing it. Even though it has taken a lot of time, the results have paid off. My hair has come back! Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus! And my flat irons are at the bottom of my linen closet buried out of eye sight.

I am grateful for the strides that I have made with my natural hair, but I have to be careful and understand that no matter what I do with it that I am not my hair! This knowledge has been key in me transitioning from a relaxer to being natural, from wearing it straight to keeping it curly and everywhere else in between. As black women, and women in general, we get so tied up in our looks and ideas of who we should be, what we should look like based on what society says. But who we are runs much deeper than these things. We are mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, cousins, friends, pastors, neighbors, leaders, bankers, nurses, and so much more. We are loved, favored, blessed, talented, resourced, intelligent, beautiful and powerful. We are the image of God, expressed through Christ. So our identity, my identity, ought to come through these things. Not our hair!

When Our Problems Begin and End With Ourselves

Most people when confronting a problem or a difficult situation like to figure out where to place the blame. They want to find out who or what they can point to for the mess that they find themselves in. Children blame parents for an awful upbringing, wives blame husbands for a turbulent marriage, nations blame other nations for instability, poverty, and hunger, politicians blame other politicians for the lack of economic recovery. In life, there just seems to be a whole lot of blaming going on, and in all honesty, not a lot self-reflection to figure out if we may actually be the source of the problem we are up against.

This is not to say that the other party isn’t guilty; there may be some of that too! Parents can do some really awful things to their children, husbands can be very negligent to their wives, nations do play a role in the ability of other nations to thrive economically, and some politicians as well as other entities are very responsible for the present economic crisis that the United States finds itself in. All of this is well and true. However, have we ever stopped to consider how we ourselves are contributing to the mess before us? How our are actions creating problems and stirring up strife for ourselves and others around us? I would guess that all too often we don’t ask these questions of ourselves because our pride and need for self preservation gets in the way. It is just so much easier to blame the other.

And that was the case for Haman in the book of Esther in the Old Testament portion of the Bible. Haman was this guy with a big name and a big title in Persia, who apparently thought too highly of himself. This guy really liked to have his ego stroked, and he was threatened by anyone who refused to do that. Mordecai, a Jewish servant, refused to play a part in Haman’s quest to exalt himself and so, when all of the other king servants bowed down and paid homage to Haman, Mordecai didn’t budge. As you can image, Haman was irate. But instead of just ripping into Mordecai, Haman decides to go one step further and annihilate the Jews.

Craziness.

You see, because Haman could not see that his own pride was the source of his discomfort, he chooses a target, a scapegoat if you will, where he could lay all of the blame. So now, not only Mordecai but the entire Jewish nation is on the hook for this guy’s inability to check his ego at the door. For Haman, it was so much easier to point the finger at the other, rather than to take responsibility for his own actions.

Before you start to berate Haman, let me remind you that we all do this in some form or capacity, some much more than others. We are constantly pointing the finger to those outside of us, and many times those who are unlike us, and we make them stand account for our own pain. ‘The other’ has become our fall guy, and as a result, we don’t have to deal with our own sin.

At least that is what we think. But we should know and understand that our pride will always come back to bite us right in the rear end. And this happened to Haman. As much as he tried to label and blame Mordecai, Haman’s pride eventually cost him his life. Haman thought that he would never have to deal with his biggest problem in his life, himself, but in the end, his refusal to own up to his shortcomings did him in.

Now, our pride probably won’t cost us our lives. Probably. But it will destroy us and the lives of those around us until we take control of it. As long as we refuse to own up to our shortcomings and recognize the role that we have played in the problems that we face, we will never do well. We can keep blaming others all day long, but it wont get us any closer to the solutions we need to move forward.

A Good Nose Bleed Could Change Your Life

I still remember the day that changed the rest of my days completely. Curled up on the floor in the bathroom of the church I attended, nose dripping with blood because I had cried so hard, I honestly didn’t know how I could go on. Of course, being in my early twenties, I was overly dramatic and far too naive, still I didn’t know that and so, I was depressed. With very little hope and only a handful of people I could turn to, I picked up a pen and started writing.

Inspired by the truth and vulnerability in Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, and out of a need to cope with the absolute hell that I was living through, I wrote ferociously. Though it was a time filler, something I desperately needed back then, it also gave me an opportunity to look at everything that had happened in my life up until then and figure out why. As I chronicled  the events, starting from my present moment of pain, moving to my childhood back up to my adulthood, I saw a lot of overarching themes. Rejection. Hurt. Feelings of worthlessness. Fear. Betrayal. And these were just to name a few. The more and more I wrote, the more and more I discovered just how messed up I was.

But my being messed up, although very true, was only a small piece of my reality. Yes, there were many points in my life were I experienced heartache and heartbreak, but these things didn’t have to be the theme, they did not have to define me. So what was the one thing that did? Because in all honesty, if my circumstances and what I went through dictated who I was or who I would become, I didn’t have much hope. But if there was something bigger, something larger than all of these themes, something, someone who could use all of the crap I had been through, and boy there was a lot of it, to refine me, to make me stronger, well…

I am glad that I found that someone early on in life, oh, and his name is Jesus. Bet you knew I was going to say that. You see, in spite of all of the mess, all of the tears, all of the pain, He has been there, ever present, ever true, pulling me out of it. Picture a car on fire with a person trapped inside and along comes this heroic firefighter, rescuing thr victim. That is what, this is who Jesus has been to me. My hero, my rescurer!

This hope did not exempt me from figuring out how I found myself in these wrecks in the first place. What happened in my life, what took place, that caused me to be at the same point over and over again? As I wrote, I just saw the same scenario playing itself repeatily, how and where did I get stuck?

I got stuck in a pattern of rejection and pain, and I came to realize that I would not get unstuck until I allowed God to speak to this hurt, heal it, and be conscious, diligent about not falling into the same pattern again.

I must confess that this healing was not an easy process. In fact there were a few more nose bleeds and moments of extreme agony that I wasn’t sure I could endure. Rejection sucks and healing from a history of it takes hard, intentional work. But as I stand, now seven years later, I can honestly say it was worth it.

Dancing on Hot Coals is the product of my experience. In it I tell the story of how God took this history of mine, of brokenness, despair, and extreme hurt, and used it for His glory. I have learned that in spite of all I have been through, that God is for me, no He is truly for me. My pain does not define his love for me, but rather he can use the pain to bring about a glorious future in my life.

My only hope and prayer is that by sharing it, I can encourage someone else. Specifically, someone who finds themselves in the same circle of circumstances I found myself in years ago on that bathroom floor. The Bible says that we overcome by the blood of Jesus Christ AND by the word of our testimony. My sincere hope is that my testimony can be a source of victory for you.

Dancing on Hot Coals is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and kindle formats. If for some reason, you can’t afford it, let me know, we can work something out.

What Taebo Can Do For Your Prayer Life

When it comes to working out, I am a wimp. Usually after fifteen minutes or so of cardio, I am ready to call it quits and justify me doing so with the few beads of sweat running down my face. But today as I was doing Taebo, I pressed in. I worked out good! I knew I had to if I am really serious about shedding a few pounds off my mid-section. And if I keep it up, by the grace of God I will, the results will soon bear witness to my efforts.

As I was doing my thing, counting the minutes that were going by, truly proud of myself for bringing it, I realized that many of us often struggle with the same thing when it comes to prayer. At least I know I have! After a few minutes, when I am all out of hallelujahs and thank you Jesus’, I am done. I don’t press through, I don’t tarry, and as a result, I have very little to show for it. And when I actually do pray about something, say a need or a promise that God has put on my heart, I give up praying for that thing far too soon, believing that maybe perhaps God did not want to meet that need or that promise.

This too is beginning to change, and I thank God! Over the last month or so, I have been reading the Circle Maker with a woman’s group I am a part of at my church. In this short period of time, God has revolutionized my prayer life. For the first time in a long time, I am excited to pray, really pray. I am praying and believing God for things that I could have never dreamed of before, and get this, HE is answering them. Prayers about jobs, finances, destinies, ministry, and so many more things are being answered left and right and its amazing. And it has a lot to do with the fact that God allowed me to get a dose of perspective about praying through. I began to see that I needed to not just voice a prayer or concern to God, and leave it at that, but that I needed to start ‘circling’ those things in prayer. This means that I literally drew circles around my prayers and kept going over them, knowing fully well that God was not only able but willing to answer them.

Many of us believe that God is able, but if we are real with ourselves, we do not necessarily believe that He is willing. Deep down in our psyche, we have allowed ourselves to believe that God is not really for us, that He really does not want to bless us, that perhaps we are the exception to the rule when it comes to His promises. But let me say it, and say it clear – God is not only for you, but He has great things in store for you! Seriously, He loves you and is only waiting for you to trust and believe in the miracles that He can bring about in your life.

So spiritually, really prayerfully, speaking, I am getting in better shape. Now if I can get my physical being to follow suit.

If you, like me, have grown a little discouraged or slightly bored in your prayer life, I encourage you to read the Circle Maker as well. I am telling you that you wont regret it. 

More Reflections on Living a Simplified Life

A few days ago, I shared three guaranteed steps that will help you live a simplified life: Pursue Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with your God (Micah 6.8). What do these things look like?

Pursue Justice: For me, seeking justice means overturning systems of injustice. It means putting an end to the oppression and exploitation of the marginalized in our society and in our world. This oppression manifests itself in different ways but includes human trafficking, poverty, hunger, genocide, infanticide, rape, lack of food access, high rates of unemployment relegated to a given community, and subprime lending – just to name a few.

Although marginalized communities look a little different around the world, they most often represent persons of color (or ethnicities other than European), women and children. These groups suffer from exploitative systems at rates over and above those who are not in this group. Pursuing justice for these persons and these groups in the way that God requires involves challenging the systems, institutions and governments that allow them to persist. It will be uncomfortable and will demand a huge sacrifice on the part of those who are doing the challenging – but the world is longing for a people of God to step up and do the messy work.

Love Mercy: As humans, we are so prone to give to others what we think they deserve. We want to make sure that criminals are put away, disobedient children are chastised, cheaters punished, and those who scam the system through fraud and tax evasion made an example of, lest they repeat their offences again. And I think that there is an element of truth to these actions, but sometimes I wonder where is the place for mercy? Where is the opportunity to treat people not the way their actions deserve, but the way that Jesus did. With the woman caught in adultery, mercy (John 8), with the sinners and tax collectors, mercy (Luke 15.1, 2), with the Samaritan woman at the well with WAY too many husbands, mercy, with the thief who hung next to him on the cross, mercy (Luke 23. 39- 43), with all of humanity, mercy (Romans 5.8)

If Jesus could demonstrate such great acts of mercy to us, when we wanted nothing to do with him, and took  all of our sins upon himself, how much more us? We have received so much, let us give of the mercy we have received – in spite of whether we think those we are giving it to deserve it.

Walk Humbly with Your God: Walking in humility is not easy. So often we pride ourselves in our accomplishments and our abilities, and putting those things aside for the sake of knowing God is not very appealing. Yet, the apostle Paul, someone who I feel had a right to brag of his credentials, found a way to put all of those things away and instead choose to identify with the resurrection and suffering of our Lord. Compared to Christ, Paul considered his accomplishments rubbish, dung in fact, so that he could be found as one who walked with God. If Paul, someone who upheld the Jewish law, was righteous by the standards of his day, and highly educated, understood that what he possessed was nothing, we would be wise to see our lives and our successes in the same vein.

For me, this is what Micah 6.8 looks like and is thereby what God requires of us. Although these things are not easy to do, I believe that if we can grasp hold of them we will find our lives not only more simplified, but more fulfilling. I believe that any purpose or calling of God on our lives flows from these three things here, in that no matter what we are doing or profession we are in, God asks justice, mercy and humility from us. I would strongly recommend us to re-evaluate our lives if we find ourselves in professions, lifestyles or situations that do not model these things.