Spring

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NKJV

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
    And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;
A time to love,
    And a time to hate;
A time of war,
    And a time of peace.

Happy Spring….

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3 Steps to Living Your Best Christian Life

“Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

-Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV

No one ever said this life was going to be easy. In fact Jesus tells us quite the opposite.

I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

-John 16:33 MSG

Yet the Word of God makes it clear that there is a certain way He has called us to live that not only minimizes the drama and stress of this world (plenty of which we bring about ourselves due to disobedience, reckless living, and sin) but allows us to live our best lives. Here are 3 steps to living your best christian life

1 . Put Off The Old Man – (Remove the tattered Rags)

So you may be wondering what is the old man? Well, the old man is anyone who wears the ways of the world thinking, acting and believing as the world does. His mind is not set on Christ nor the ways of God. He is always seeking his worth, value, riches, satisfaction, and pleasures from the world (Colossians 3:1-3).

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices

-Colossians 3:5-9 ESV

The character of the old man is fueled by his carnal passions. From promiscuity and lies to anger and lust, he gives into whatever he feels whenever he feels like it with no regard to God. However, when we come into the salvation of Christ we give up and surrender these tattered behaviors (taking off the old man). We no longer give in to our old desires that are contrary to the will of God but we strip away our former practices, mindsets, and behaviors.

2. Renew your Mind – (Cleansing)

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.

-Ephesians 4:17-18 NIV

Once we have accepted Christ and stripped away our old ways; before we can put on our new selves we must first wash away the residue of our old ways, thoughts and behaviors through the renewal of our minds. We do this by changing the way we think and how we behave by aligning our thoughts with the mind of Christ and our behaviors with the will of God. As believers we are constantly in the process of renewal, in fact,

“The christian life is a (continual) restoration to the image of God” – Dan Mohler

A renewed mind is always receiving new knowledge according to God and no longer according to the thoughts and ways of this world. So, instead of saying, “I can’t!” A renewed mind says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”(Philippians 4:13) Instead of saying, “That’s impossible!” It says, “Nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37) Instead of saying, “I’m not worthy enough or good enough.” A renewed mind says, “I have been made the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

 

3. Put On The New Man

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

Now that you have removed the tattered rags of the old self, renewed your mind and spirit through the cleansing of the word and wisdoms of God, you must now put on the new man by clothing yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, thankfulness, encouragement, constructive instruction to others, and most of all unselfish love; doing everything to the glory of God.

As believers we no longer fit into our old self and our former ways. The new man has no need to go back into the closet of the old man and put back on the ways of the world. While none of us are perfect we strive to continuously be remolded more and more into the likeness of Christ.

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Ministry as a Lifestyle

When you think about ministry what comes to your mind? Do you think of pulpits and pastors; worship leaders and sunday school teachers? For many years these were the only ideas I had of ministry. I thought that in order to be considered “in ministry” I had to be a leader of a christian community or receive a paycheck from the church. It wasn’t until the last few years had it become apparent to me that ministry is more than just a title or a position held in the church.

Diakonia, which is the Greek word that is often translated as ministry in the New Testament, means service.  While there are those who are called to “church ministry” i.e pastors, evangelists, prophets and teachers, the bible makes it very clear that each of us is given gifts for the purpose of serving thus enabling all of God’s people to do ministry.

It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service [diakonia], so that the body of Christ may be built up.

Ephesians 4:11-12

This diakonia or ministry is any biblically consistent work or service that benefits others and brings glory to God. We are all called to this service however, to each of us, God has given specific roles to play better referred to as purpose. And in order to achieve that purpose He has bestowed the use of various gifts and talents to each of us.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10 NIV

Each of us has a role to play in this ministry called life. As a blogger I know that I have been given is the ability to write and I utilize this platform known as the blogosphere to edify the body of Christ through words that bring encouragement to others and glory to God. (See Blogging with a Ministry Mindset) Each of us has been given talents and gifts that we are to use to complete the good works and purpose God has appointed to our lives.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV

When we begin to see our lives as not just a series of events tied together by time but as endless opportunities to be witnesses of Christ and servants of the body we then strive to do everything to the glory of God.

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT

Whether we are school teachers, waitresses, lawyers, doctors, or artists our lives are a ministry of light pointing to the source of eternal love that is found in our Father and everlasting life that is accessed through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

 

 

Blogging with a Ministry Mindset

I never used to think of blogging as more than an online diary where you share your thoughts and hope someone along the way likes what you have to say. But after many years of on again off again writing, I’ve learned that blogging is actually a powerful platform and a very useful tool to the body of Christ. I would even dare to go so far as to say that blogging can also a form of ministry too.

Ministry, in essence, is any biblically consistent work or service that benefits others and gives God the glory. When I began to look at my blog and posts as more than just ramblings and journal entries but as a source of demonstrating God’s goodness, sharing my faith, and bringing hope to others, a profound change occurred. As I started to view my blog as a ministry I began to treat it as such. Here are the 5 things I consider when blogging with a ministry mindset.

1: Is blogging my calling?

Each of us is called and designed for a specific purpose and God has equipped us individually to achieve that purpose by giving us various talents and gifts. For me it has always been writing and photography. I could sit for hours in my closet or under my blankets scribbling away. It was only natural that as I grew older, coming up in an age where social media ruled, that I became a blogger. When I decided to start sutanamonae.com I was very prayerful asking God not only for direction but for confirmation it was a part of the calling He had for my life.

2: Blogging from wholeness

I am not perfect, none of us are. There are some areas of my life that still need major work and other areas I am making progress in. Nonetheless when I post I always try to write from a place of healing and wholeness. I don’t claim to have all the answers, I do not give advice on topics I don’t know the answer to or have not overcome and when I fail I do try to be as transparent as one can safely be on such a public and permanent forum. Since I see this blog as a form of ministry I do not use this particular platform to vent negatively, rant unnecessarily or complain. I remember that I am a conduit for christ and this is his forum.

3: I can not give what I have not put in

As a blogger, especially when you are blogging with a ministry mindset, it is crucial to maintain your spiritual health by investing time in the word, private time with God through prayer and meditation and striving to live a life of obedience and holiness. (see 6 Keys to Spiritual Health)

4: Importance of Fellowship and Community

We all need one another in fact we were created for one another. To lean on and learn from. As a blogger I’ve found so much inspiration, encouragement and direction just by reaching out to fellow bloggers and writers in the faith. Like any ministry there are good days and challenging days. Sometimes I feel like I’m in the right niche and others I can feel entirely out of place. During those times there’s nothing like reaching out to a fellow blogger or reading a really good post that makes me recall my purpose and remember why I’ve been called to do what I do. Also, community helps to guide me, advise me, and correct me wherever I may be error.

 

5: Don’t get caught up in the numbers

At the beginning this was reaaallyyy hard for me. I used to base my posts, my blog and sometimes ashamed to say myself on the number of people liked, followed, or shared my blog. That was a killer of esteem and I was always questioning my worth, value, and purpose. The truth of it all was I was more interested in what the people said and less focused and intent on pleasing God and bringing Him glory. Once I started writing from a heart fixed on God and a desire to be obedient to His calling on my life I no longer looked for approval in numbers and likes. Whether  reaches a thousand or whether it only reaches one, it is all to the glory of God and that has made all the difference in the world.

6 Keys to Spiritual Health

I can always tell when I’m starting to get the spiritual sniffles because the evidence of my spiritual health begins to spill over into my day to day life. Symptoms often include a running mouth that finds itself gossiping and complaining. A craving for bad behaviors and unhealthy vices. Lethargy and laziness accompanied by discouragement, distractions and a headache full of lustful thoughts and negative thinking. When I begin to notice symptoms like these I know I have not been maintaining my spiritual health. Listed below are 6 keys to monitoring and maintaining a healthy spiritual life.

 

1. Meet with the Dr. (PRAYER)

Prayer is an essential component to the believers life. It is where we communicate with God by expressing our gratitude, acknowledging God’s goodness, and removing the gunk out of our lives through confession and repentance. Most of all, prayer is our act of worship and obedience to God.

  Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

2. Read the Prescription (BIBLE STUDY & DEVOTIONALS)

The word of God is our sustenance and source of life.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God

Matthew 4:4 NIV

It is our hope, our health, our instruction, and within its pages it points to the cure for all mankind, which is Jesus Christ. The Bible is literally the God breathed, God inspired  word from heaven to us; good for use in all things we may be facing, questioning, or going through.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

2 Timothy 3:16 NLT

3. Follow the Doctors Orders (OBEDIENCE)

If we are going to live healthy spiritual and physical lives it is important that we are vigilant and obedient to follow God’s instruction and design for how we should live. Furthermore, we obey God not only because it is the wise and profitable thing to do, we obey out of our love and reverence for who He is.

“If you love me, obey my commandments.

John 14:15 NLT

4. Get Plenty of Exercise (BE A DOER OF THE WORD)

It wouldn’t prove very beneficial or profitable to have a gym membership and a personal trainer yet never lift a weight or heed the trainers counsel and instruction. The same goes for us. When we only read what the bible says yet we never take any action and put to work the principles and wisdoms of the word our spiritual lives only decline and rarely if ever improve.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

James 1:22-24 MSG

SIDE NOTE: The promises of God, in many cases require action and obedience. “If you do this…God promises to do that.” Action is required to live whole and healthy spiritual lives. Every day we make decisions that either bring us closer to a fuller more abundant life with God by becoming more and more of the person He created and designed us to be or we drift further and further away from the completed work in us and our true identity. Every day we have to choose to put into practice what we know the Lord has called and commanded of us if we are ever going to live in the fullness He has promised to us.

5. Eat a Healthy Diet (WHAT ARE YOU CONSUMING INTO YOUR HEART, SOUL, AND MIND?)

Every moment of our lives we are constantly consuming information. Especially in a day and age where social media, television, movies, music, news and opinions are at our fingertips 24/7. Its important that we are consciously monitoring the things we are taking into our hearts and minds. From the conversations we choose to engage in to the books we read we should always ask ourselves, “Is this activity, media or substance benefiting and bringing life to myself and others or is it contrary to what I know is acceptable in the sight Of God?”

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Philippians 4:8-9 MSG

What we consume becomes a part of who we are, it has the potential to shape our lives and it will be these things that overflow from our hearts through our actions and words that will spill over into the lives of others and those around us.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Luke 6:45 NIV

6. Get Plenty of Rest (REST AND WAIT ON THE LORD)

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.

Lamentations 3:25 NASB

Lastly, when we are walking in faith we can find rest in knowing that God is on our side, that He is always faithful to those who trust Him. There is no need to be anxious for anything. As believers we are always allowed to pray about a matter but once given to God we are not allowed to worry about it! We rest in the faith knowing that God will always keep his promises. He is waiting on our waiting…

Yet the Lord still waits for you to come to him so he can show you his love; he will conquer you to bless you, just as he said. For the Lord is faithful to his promises. Blessed are all those who wait for him to help them.

Isaiah 30:18 TLB

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

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A Case of the Mondays

Ya know, it’s so unfortunate Monday’s  get such a bad wrap. It’s almost as if everything is destined to go wrong on a Monday huh?

Your alarm doesn’t go off at 7am so you start your day off 30 mins behind schedule. Traffic is a mess and the D train has been stuck at Penn station for the last 12 minutes with no move insight. Finally you arrive above ground rejoicing  with 15 mins left to gleefully spare. So you pop into your usual coffee shop because who are we kidding? We already know that all work and no latte makes Jack a dull boy. But there’s a problem. Your usual barista is on vacation and the newbie behind the bar has not the slightest clue what you mean when you ask for a carmel vanilla latte with 3 shots, 2  raw, whip, and extra sauce in the cup.

“Okay so is it the vanilla cream or the vanilla flavoring you want?” she hesitantly asks.

“Umm, Im not sure because I dont work here …You do! My job is two blocks away of which I am now 3 mins past due thanks to this unfortunate interaction.”

This of course is what you want to say buuuuut you dont because you have Jesus in your life today. And like every good Jedi knows His force is strong. Particularly at this very moment seeing as while you stood sardined between two armpits on the train for 45 mins you were able to get up to date on all of your YouVersion devotionals you missed over the last 5 days. (For which you kinda should be proud of because you didnt even have to use the “catch me up” button… Hurray you)

So instead you pause, then force a hopefully convincing smile, and in a sweet voice say, “The cream is fine.”
And thats Monday.

Or is it?

Sure, some days are uppers and others are downers. The cards may land in our favor or like a vegas night we dont want to remember, leave us treking home dry. We have the power to reset our day by resetting our perspective and speaking life, positivity, peace, and prosperity into the situation.

Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses. Ecclesiastes 3:1 GNT

My mother, brother, and I were running late to an event one evening and to make matters worse we were stuck behind a stalled train. With no way out on a one way street I gripped, sucked my teeth and complained. Then my mom turned to me and said,

“You dont know Tana… God could be slowing us down to save our lives from an accident up ahead.”

In that moment my mom’s perspective of the same situation, in the same car, behind the same train was utterlly and totally different than mine. I went from being frustrated and anxious to thankful and very patient.

Our perspective, when its through the eyes of positivity, goodness and Christ can take a Monday and make it feel like a Friday. Take an unpaid bill and turn it into an opportunity to grow your faith. Take the wrongdoings of another and turn it into an opportunity to demonstrate Gods love, mercy, and forgiveness. The proper perspective can even take a heartbreak or a loss and turn it into the foundation God wants to use to build something great.

Today, tomorrow, and beyond I encourage  you to change your perspective on a situation, a circumstance, or even a person that is challenging, seemingly negative, stressful, and uncomfortable. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the spiritual eyes spiritual to see things through the eyes of faith, the eyes of positivity, but most of all, through the eyes of God.

 

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On the Shelf: October 2016

(Click image for more info)

  This is an awesome read for those wanting to know, discover and pursue the calling and purpose God has placed on their life. Learn how what we most enjoy doing is intricately tied to our calling and how our life experiences, ups and downs are training grounds that contribute to equipping us to effectively take hold of our destiny.

This is a very fun book that offers simple and fantastic ways to live fulfilled without the use of destructive substances or behaviors.

Creativity, ideas and inspiration are everywhere, you just have to open your eyes and look around. Austin shows readers how they can turn an average day into a work of art just through a shift of perspective and by getting in touch with your creative side.

How to get over a funk?

Have you ever felt like you were in a funk? Maybe things that were once exciting and enjoyable now seem a bit dull. What were once pleasures are now obligations. You’re hot and you’re cold. You’re yes and you’re no. You’re basically a really bad version of a Katy Perry Song? Yeah, I’ve had those kind of days too. Left unchecked they have gone from days of joy and peace to just pieces. If you are currently in one of these moods, here are a few ways I overcome those days when I’m just feeling funky.

 

Connect with others

We were made for connectivity. I am more inclined to enjoy and value being alone more times than not. But just spending time with my laptop and library books can get a bit depressing after a while. Yet, while I do love and value my solitude there is nothing more energizing and uplifting to my spirits than connecting with other positive and fun loving people. Its hard to enter into a room of laughter and good times and still leave with a frown. How does the saying go? “A burden shared is a burden lightened.” So get connected, share with trusted people if you feel led to do so and allow others in who can uplift and support you.

 

Do something you enjoy

I’m not a jogger or anything but I hear a good exercise when you’re stressed or a run in the park is one of the best ways to relieve negative energy. I think for me just getting down the block would only frustrate me more because by the time I got down the street, I know I’ll have to walk winded with chest pounding all the way back to my house. Nonetheless, I do enjoy walking…to Starbucks mostly. I also enjoy miscellaneous train rides, writing music and even crocheting. It gets my mind active on something outside of my bad attitude or sour mood. Finding something you enjoy and treating yourself, perhaps even indulging a bit will be a great mood booster!

 

Do something for someone else

Have you ever noticed how good you feel when you do something for someone else? It’s like totally amazing right? Some find solace in knowing that by helping someone who is less fortunate or perceivably worse off than them it is a reminder that it can always be worse. However, I don’t necessarily see it that way. I see it as a reminder that if I, someone who is broken with so little to give can find it in my heart and means amongst my brokenness to do something kind, good and helpful for someone else, how much more is my father capable of blessing me? The God who is everlasting, ever faithful, never ending and in all abundance. It is my privilege to be a blessing towards others because it is a blessing and an honor to be blessed by God. Cant help but to feel good about that.

 

Study the Bible on a topic that has you funktified

If you can pinpoint the area or issue that is causing uneasiness in your life I challenge you to go to the word of God and see what it has to say about the circumstance or condition. When I’m going through something it’s so easy for me to think that I am the only one who has ever felt this way and no one in the whole wide world could possibly know how I feel…I know, dramatic huh? However, as you may know, that is completely false! You’re not the first and you’re definitely not the only. As Ecclesiastes so eloquently states “There is nothing new under the sun.” The bible is littered with all forms of circumstances and solutions related to the human condition and the healing, direction and overcoming power of a loving God who is always present and faithful to us every step along the way.

 

Meditation

Most times when I’m feeling uneasy and all funky about something it’s usually a good sign that something is stirring in my heart and God is tugging at my spirit to get me to recognize or deal with something going on inside of me. For example, a typical meditative conversation for me usually looks like this:

I notice I’m losing patience or lately I’m easily irritated and angered.

“Why?”

“Well…I’m overwhelmed.”

“Well why are you overwhelmed Sutana?”

“It’s probably because I have a lot on my plate. I’m trying to manage every aspect of my life and figure out what the next move should be and all the while still maintain the outcome of…. ooooohhh, wait…I see…I’m overwhelmed because I have placed all my faith in my own efforts and haven’t put much trust in God who is obviously far more capable and exceedingly faithful.

“Ugh Duh.”

“Thanks God.”

“Anytime Sutana!”

That’s a very rough draft synopsis, but on a more serious and literal note, meditation on God’s word, honestly searching through the concerns of your heart and allowing the Holy Spirit to have His way in and through you to fully reveal and speak to the hidden areas that need addressing is one of the best ways to get to the root of any funky issue.

 

 

Use your senses

I’ve always found that for me music penetrates my heart in a way I can not describe. Take a shuffle through my spotify I can go from jumping up and down to tears in a matter of 185 seconds.  Listening to music that uplifts my spirits, or validates my heart is a great encouragement to me. Others of us may be more visual or imaginative so a thoughtful movie or a good book may do the trick. How about cooking a great meal or a delicious dessert? Getting outside and smelling the roses as my 5th grade teacher Ms. G used to say. Just finding your own way of getting outside of negative thoughts and feelings for only but a moment and investing your attention elsewhere might be the mental pause you need to refresh and reset.

 

 

Still feeling Funky?…..Take a bath!

Seriously, baths are amazing 🙂 

My Bookshelf

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