Peace Be Still

HOLD ON TO YOUR PEACE. PERIOD. Let no one or nothing impede on the PROMISE of peace that God guarantees His children. It’s so easy to be more protective over our natural possessions than our spiritual possessions. When we get a new car, we don’t want anyone hardly touching it. When we a wearing new shoes, we guard them relentlessly to avoid getting them dirty. When many of us move into a new home, we establish a rule that shoes must be removed at the front door to preserve the floor and maintain its cleanliness. It is important to guard such possessions; however, it is far more important to guard our spiritual lives through our hearts and minds.

When we allow life’s circumstances to rob us of our peace, we are actually acting in disobedience, which is displeasing to God. We are not to worry or dwell in negative emotions. While we are human, we will experience a wide range of emotions, negative and positive; however, we are always to take our concerns, hurts, offenses, worries, etc. to God and by faith, trust that He is just and will answer our prayers. This is so much easier said than done, as is everything in life; however, it is important to remember that we do not draw from our own natural strength – it was never meant for us to. This leads to exhaustion because the carnal mind is not wired to operate in the holiness that God requires, which is only possible through His Spirit. We draw our power and strength from Him through prayer, worship, and the study and application of His word. Period. This is what it means to sleep through the storm.

Guard your heart. Guard your mind. Guard your peace. At all expenses, guard it all! As a wise man once said, get rid of everything that interferes with your peace. While we cannot always control and remove people, situations, outcomes, etc., we can always control ourselves by governing ourselves according to the Spirit, which always produces peace and joy. Tap into that higher power and soar high above the things that try to take your peace. Always.

Want to learn more about the peace available to every Christian by faith? Check out the books of Philippians, Romans, Colossians, Mark, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter (just to name a few). These are a few of my go-to books for reminders on the peace we are promised as God’s children.

Pray up, read, worship and stay connected!

The Greatest Invitation

The Greatest Invitation

The door is WIDE open. The invitation is extended to all. There is a global call for all of mankind to yield to the everlasting love of God through surrender, repentance, and worship. It’s simple. It’s not complicated. It’s not hard. It was never intended to be. God loves ALL. He hates sin because it separates us from Him (Isaiah 59:2), but He loves ALL. He wants ALL. He is calling ALL. He sent His son for ALL (John 3:16). Salvation is available to ALL. Don’t let anyone lie to you and convince you otherwise.

There is a global call to repentance because God’s kindness is indeed meant to draw us to repentance (Romans 2:4). He’s not this vengeful, tyrant king who just seeks to strike us down for every little mistake. I once had this misconception of God and I’m sure I’m not alone. Before truly understanding the nature of His love, my focus was simply trying to stay out of sin to avoid “punishment”. This is legalism and Jesus did not shed His blood as the ultimate atoning sacrifice for our sins for us to adopt a legalistic response to His love. Once we really accept Jesus into our hearts as our Savior, allowing His love to fill hearts, and His Spirit to fill ever fiber of our being, our love for Him drives us into righteousness and holiness (2 Corinthians 5:21), which are the characteristics God seeks to mature us in. In other words, His love makes us want to live our lives and conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to Him, and when we stray from that standard, we feel deep conviction. We will never be perfect, but Jesus is perfect, and He sacrificed Himself to reconcile and reinstate us back into the place in which God originally (and always) intended for us to dwell – in His perfect will through relationship (2 Corinthians 5:16-20).

So many feel that they aren’t ready. I did at one time. In fact, I was scared that giving my life to Christ meant forfeiting all enjoyment and living a dry and boring religious life where nothing is allowed. Who would want that? I spent years with my focus on everything but God. I tried to justify myself by being “good” rather than trusting in the power of redemption that is able to change my heart and life. I experienced one of my greatest breakthroughs when I finally learned to stop depending on my own strength and depend on His. I stopped trying to fix myself. My focus shifted from merely trying to avoid sin to allowing the love of God to heal my soul. I learned to accept the freedom that His Spirit brings (2 Corinthians 3:17). I learned that repentance is not just about a vocal proclamation, but yet it is the position of the heart turned to allow God (through His Holy Spirit that lives in us) to help us turn from sin. A good way to describe it is this way: If you’re sitting in between two people and turn your head to the person at your right, the person to your left is out of your site. You cannot look both ways at the same time. It’s impossible. So, when we choose to turn to God, we turn from sin because God is the polar opposite of sin, which is evil. Because we’re human, we will mess up and make mistakes, but by the atoning blood of Christ, we’re acquitted of the wages of sin which are condemnation and death (Romans 6:23).

As God’s children, our commitment is to Him, not sin. Got weaknesses? We all do. I’m far from perfect. But I’ve learned to lean into the truth that God’s strength is truly demonstrated in my weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). In other words, when I’m struggling, when I fail, when I’m weak, God’s strength will always fill the gap to complete me so there are no deficiencies. He makes me whole. I know that He can surely do what I cannot. This is what I aim to rest in each day, and His Spirit helps me (Isaiah 41:10). I have experienced the power of God at work in my life that severed chains of sins I simply did not have the power to destroy. If we could fix ourselves, addiction wouldn’t exist, nor would many of the other issues that plague humanity.

This is the greatest invitation: to ascend beyond our human nature into a divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4) through the ultimate relationship provided through salvation. Only Christ could have done this. Only Christ would do this.

This is the greatest invitation.

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All Roads to Peace

It is imperative to get rid of everything that disrupts our peace. Everything. Nothing exempt. This doesn’t mean that we can always remove or alter situations, circumstances, dilemmas, people, issues, or anything else less ideal that life brings our way, but it does mean that we can rid ourselves of the burdens that cause us to forfeit the peace, joy, and victory that God wants us to live in and enjoy.

What we must realize is that we do not have to worry or remain upset about anything. We always have complete access to the peace and joy in Christ. Always. He’s never-changing and He’s always available, so there’s never the need to wait for the relief through any other means of pseudo-remedy. The Lord is present with us…always. We must be ever more aware and cognizant of His consistent, glorious Presence with us. He wants us to lean on Him, withholding nothing. He who bore the weight of the cross is surely strong enough to bare the weight of our burdens. Though many Christian already have this knowledge, actually putting it into practice is far easier said than done.

I have wrestled with rumination for as long as I can remember. It’s basically a form of negative meditation where you get stuck in a loop of negative thoughts. It’s truly a form of self-torture and it’s completely illogical. Rehearsing the same negative thoughts over and over brings zero change. Zero. It only drains us, causing us to plummet to a low state of emotional agony and depletion, which effects how we function and live. We must identify faulty thought patterns and abolish them. This is where the mind renewal comes in to action (Romans 12:2). When we come to Christ and receive His Spirit, we are not necessarily given new minds; however, the Lord helps us to reform our thought life through the understanding and application of His word, prayer, worship, and faith.

As a very intellectual and logical person, I can get really stuck in my head sometimes and it can be hard to snap out of it. For some reason, sometimes it feels like the only way to get peace is to mull the issue over in my head until it makes sense. Funny enough, it never makes sense, and peace doesn’t come until I truly let go. One of the main ways I have learned to interrupt rumination and gain peace is by rehearsing scripture that combats it. Sometimes I’ll even speak it aloud. We have to know that God’s Word is powerful, and it is a weapon (Hebrews 4:12) that we can always use to combat the enemy (2 Corinthians 10:4), demolishing every lie and winning victory with the truth. This is how we make our thoughts bow to Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). We have to remember that Jesus gives us peace (John 14:27). Peace is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Such a wonderful gift. Through faith, we also rely on prayer, knowing that God hears our prayers and He will surely answer (James 5:18) and come to our rescue every time.

We are called to truly release our burdens at the feet of Jesus (1 Peter 5:7) and we are guaranteed peace when we do (Philippians 4:6-7). Once we release our issues and concerns, we are officially free of them! It doesn’t mean that our problems just go away in that instance, but it does mean that the worry goes away and we have peace in Jesus because, through faith and trust, we know that everything will be ok. Even when issues aren’t resolved as we would like, the Lord will give us the grace we need to endure and the peace and strength to persevere. This is part of the many privileges of belonging to Him. We can literally drop off burdens in prayer and stop thinking about them. What a relief…true relief. This is the ultimate anti-anxiety and stress relief.

Join me the commitment to worship God and not our problems. Join me in the commitment to get rid of everything that interferes with peace. If a thought is stealing your peace, you should not be entertaining it. Replace it with the truth set forth by God’s Word. If an experience or encounter is interfering with your peace, release it in prayer and trust that God will handle it best. Regardless of what we’re facing, we have an Advocate who’s for us and with us always. We don’t have to forfeit our peace for anyone or anything. Our peace isn’t predicated upon anything in our natural lives, but it is a supernatural gift from God that allows us to soar above the many dilemmas and issues of life (Isaiah 40:31). When keep our eyes fixed on the Lord, we are kept in peace beyond this world (Isaiah 26:3). That’s how we can rest through the storm.

Take a listen at this sweet worship song from Elevation Worship. I had this on repeat while I was writing this entry. Hope it blesses you. This is the stance we should always keep as believers and followers of Christ.

Keep up with me on Instagram @diana_arlana

The Parasite

I refuse to submit to hatred and anger. I refuse. Period. I can’t afford to. It costs me my joy. It cost me my peace. I just can’t do it. Hatred kills- literally. What we all must realize is that hatred is like a parasite looking for a host to latch onto for survival. Without a host, it cannot live. Like hate, parasites are contagious. Like parasites, hate is desperately seeking a host so it can spread and thrive. The challenge is avoiding the infection. 

George Floyd is just one of the many unarmed black males who have suffered brutal deaths at the hands of white officers in America. Was he perfect? No. Did his actions deserve death? No. To say that racism doesn’t exist (as some ignorantly claim) is not only incredibly foolish and callous, It’s a blatant lie. If race didn’t play a part in the officer’s knee on his neck, then what did? Why didn’t he release enough force so the man could at least breathe? When did forgery become a death sentence? Sources claim he resisted arrest. When did that become a death sentence? To believe that the blackness of his skin didn’t play a part in his death is naïve. They didn’t have to kill him. I’ve heard asinine comments such as, “Well the officers were probably afraid. Their lives matter too.”  A lame and failed attempt to downplay the issue at hand. 

Officers are equipped and trained to handle all types of situations, from robbery and assault to resisted arrest and shootouts. Even more so, the families of these officers have the privilege of welcoming them back home, while the family of George Floyd is preparing to lay him to rest. A pretty silly comparison, right? There is no excuse or justification for this man losing his life under the knee of an officer. Period.

I find it most appropriate to identify the root of racism, which is hate. Hate is sin. Hate is demonic. Those who are filled and consumed with hate are under demonic influence. This is why it is so important to avoid the infection of hatred. Like a parasite, it drains, depletes, and ultimately destroys. Like all sin, it leads to death (Romans 6:23). Racism is extremely sickening and angering. The audacity of delusional individuals to believe that their racial identity makes them superior to others, generating illogical hatred across several generations. What they fail to realize is that the suffering their hatred brings upon their own lives is far greater than any harm they could ever inflict upon others. In a world that is charged with hatred (in various forms), we must guard ourselves from the infection. If we are not careful, we can become victims of harboring toxic hatred.

It is so easy to become consumed with what’s going on all around us. It’s so easy to get angry. George Floyd is not the first unarmed black man to suffer an unjust death at the hands of a white officer. If you simply Google his name, the disturbing photos and video emerge instantly. The officers’ actions were inhumane. The man was pleading for his life and the officer showed no mercy. If that doesn’t stir up some type of emotion in you, I’m not sure what will. I was highly disturbed.

I am a black female with a family full of black males. I wholeheartedly love the males in my family- my father, brother, nephew, uncles and cousins. I couldn’t image losing any of them the way George’s family lost him. I hurt for his family. I am hurt that they are grieving over a death that didn’t have to happen. I am angry that some people consistently choose stupidity and foolishness over truth and knowledge regarding these matters. I am, however, not consumed.

I will not be infected by the parasite of hatred. I make that choice. I take a strong stand against injustice and racism; however, I cannot drink from the cup of hatred and anger. Those who drink from that cup drink self-destructive poison. No. I just can’t. I will not yield to it. The second most important commandment is to love your neighbor as your self (Matthew 22:39). I have not mastered this yet, but I am trying, praying for grace and mercy as I fail along the way. In other words, hate can’t drive out hate. Only love can do that. Martin Luther King, Jr. left us with those great wise words that will always be relevant. We have the right to feel what we feel, but when we make our emotions a permanent dwelling place, we enter into the perpetual cycle of destruction.

The Bible ( Matthew 4:4), prayer, worship, sermons, and healthy conversation. That’s how I get through. That’s how I see the light. That’s how I keep my light shining, avoiding the effects of hatred and darkness. Never be afraid or intimidated by darkness. If you turn on a light in a dark room, does it not cut through darkness with illumination? If you are a Christian, you are a light and the world needs you (Matthew 5:14 16). As tempting as it may be, we cannot hate those who hate us. This is not the way of God.

Matthew 5:44–46 instructs us to love and pray for our enemies. After all, if we only love those who loves us, what makes us different from the unbeliever? Now, I really struggle with the thought of praying for those who’ve unapologetically wronged me. The thought of praying for a murderer is even harder. But the good news is the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17) is a gift that is given to every believer so we can fulfill God‘s purpose on this earth and experience His will done on earth as it is in heaven.

This is a time to really pray –  pray for justice, pray comfort upon the grieving family of George Floyd and others whose lives were unjustly taken, pray over our own families, and above all pray that God‘s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Prayer is powerful. Prayer shifts things (James 5:16). I have experienced the power of prayer first hand. Watch the news and read up on things to stay informed, but don’t get consumed, as it does no one any good. Right now, more than anything, we must guard ourselves against the infection of hatred. Don’t be the parasite’s host. Deny access! Lean on God, not your own logic (Proverbs 3:5).