THE RISE & FALL OF ANTONIO: A SHORT STORY

Antonio was a cocky man. He had the “high- paying job”, the nice truck, the nice home and my, oh my, did he ever have the ladies bowing at his feet. He was the most handsome ever and he knew it. He wore his pride proudly every day. Now Antonio did go to church and he did pay his tithes faithfully. In his eyes, this is why he was so blessed. He gave to the poor and participated in fundraisers so of course, in his eyes, he was blessed. But what Antonio loved most was being in the spotlight of it all. His name was known and he loved that. Every time he opened his mouth, he was bragging and boasting about something. He loved being the man the women flocked to and fought about. He loved being known to have plenty of loot in the bank. He loved being known to pay the most in church. He was THE MAN and he loved being THE MAN.

Soon, Antonio’s arrogance came off as irritating to many. The women begin to despise seeing him walk their way. They began to turn their heads. His conceited ways had ended up being a major turn off. No one wanted to entertain his conversations anymore because they were only based on “him” and what he had done or what he had gotten. They despised for him to participate in anything because he would take complete ownership of everything. He took it as both men and women being jealous so he couldn’t care less. That was another thing about Antonio – the world thought he cared but he had a heart cold as ice. He did everything for the show. He did keep going to church and of course, he kept paying his tithes faithfully.

One day, Antonio took sick. He didn’t want to miss work but he had to because his health was really at risk. His bills started getting behind. His savings was gone. His looks began to deteriorate. He wasn’t so handsome anymore. He missed days quite often. A short time later, still feeble and sick, he came in to work only to find out that they decided to let him go. A short while after that, his nice vehicle was repossessed. He tried to find a job but no one called him back. Unemployment benefits weren’t enough to help him. He ended up losing his nice home. He ended up having to move in with an aunt – one who he had shunned for so many years. He often had to borrow her car from time to time to get back and forth. Antonio became bitter and even sicklier.

On his dying bed, Antonio lay in a gaze. He had no one by his side. God came to him and he asked, “God, how could you allow these bad things to happen to me? I went to church. I paid my tithes. I gave to the poor.” God told Antonio, “My son, you did all of this for the glory of YOURSELF and not for the glory of ME. You gave to just be seen by others. You showed off just to be seen by others. You became trapped by your own arrogance.”

You can find the moral of this story in 1 Corinthians 10:31 which states, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” -S.L.M.

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LET THEM GO!!

The term, “abuse”, is often referred to as physical. Abuse can fall into many categories but the ones I am focusing on right now is  – emotional, verbal and mental. You give love and your love is mishandled continuously. Love is an emotion. That is emotional abuse. You are kind but everything you do and say is mocked. Mocking is a verb. That is verbal abuse. You try to think your best but your thinking is constantly beat up by bitterness and rejection. Thinking is mental. That is mental abuse. To me, all of these type of abuses tie in together. The world contains abusers of all kinds. Sometimes, it is our kindness that drives them around. They take advantage and get comfortable with taking advantage. They don’t ever see themselves as doing wrong; you are at blame. But that is what abusers do – anything to take blame off of them. Abusers are toxic people who don’t deserve a spot in your life. They are liars, manipulators and those who don’t know the meaning of respect or love. They do nothing but try to purposely rip your entire world apart. Your peace should mean more to you than that. At some point, you are going to have to stop driving them around in your car of kindness and let them out. No need to even feel guilty about it. When you let them out, leave them with a mirror in hopes that they can finally see themselves. 2 Timothy 3:1-8  tells us, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” – S.L.M.

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FAVORITISM

Favoritism…..we may all have to deal or have dealt with it. Many of us call ourselves Christians. Many of us go to church. And ALL of us  know better to indulge in such character. Yet we do it anyway. We indulge in favoritism because of race, looks, intelligence and sometimes, just to be noticed by others. What does God say about favoritism? James 2:1  says, “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.” How much more clear can that get? Favoritism takes place in frieñdships, the workplace ànd in families. It can take place in any atmosphere. Favoritism shows our lack of respect for another. It shows our lack of concern for another. It can result in feelings of bitterness, jealousy and hatred. God warns about showing favoritism. “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers”(James 2:8-9). Favoritism is not designed in God’s will for our lives. No one should possess such character and no one should be the victim of such character. But it happens. It’s happening now. Everywhere. In every kind of atmosphere. We must all grow in grace and knowledge by treating others fairly and loving them with “Godly” love. No one deserves to be treated in such a way that they don’t belong or that they are not good enough. God doesn’t show favoritism to us so why should we do it to others? -S.L.M.

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MINDING YOUR OWN BUSINESS

“I found your nose! It was in my business again!” I laughed when I saw that quote online but to be honest, it is definitely true. There is no better place for us to keep our nose other than in our own business. Tending to the affairs of others serves us no good. It brings about confusion, frustration and let’s not forget – it brings about TROUBLE. This tending can involve family, friends, other loved ones or even people we hardly know anything about. Some of us may find ourselves tending to the affairs of others out of pure nosiness. It’s a case of “we just want to know.” It’s a case of “we just need to have something to talk about.” And nosiness will definitely land us in a sea of trouble. Some of us may find ourselves tending to the affairs of others out of true concern. But that tending may not be not be viewed as a “concern” to others and unfortunately, that is something that we must accept. We cannot offer concern where it is rejected.The best thing to do in this case is just leave it in God’s hands. Yes, it hurts but it’s not your business. Then there is the case of tending to the affairs of others out is insecurity. The case of wanting to know to secure doubt , assumptions or heresay. You have to find security within yourself somehow because you won’t find it tending to other people’s business. If anything, we may find out things to make us feel more insecure. Sometimes we have to let it go. We have someone who sees and knows all and His name is God. We cannot control what others say and do. But we can control our nose from snooping to see what they say and do. If it is something going on that will harm us, we already know that God has it taken care of. If we are simply being nosy, we need to stop and delegate that time to tending our own. If we are concerned but wasn’t invited to care, then we must give it to God who has all power to help anybody. -S.L.M.

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TRUST THE PROCESS

Many of us can hold on to much pain and anger. Although going through difficult times is a process, eventually we have to let it go before it destroys us. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but pain is a part of life. Hurt can really change a person but it is up to us as to how that hurt will change us. Either we can let it destroy us or build us. Yes, it is easier said than done. Yes, it is a process. But we have to let that pain go or it will devour us whole.

Some of us suffer from the death of a loved one that may have left us feeling alone. God can fill that void. It may take some time for us to embrace that but He can. It takes us drawing closer to Him so we can lose the pain, loneliness and anger. We still have a life to live. We still have to take care of ourselves and our children. We have to find a way to move on. We find that way in God. Death of a loved one can cut us deeply and many won’t understand how we feel. They empathize but they just don’t quite get it. God does. And He has what we need to get through it.

Then there are some of us who have been hurt by someone we love. We sit, depressed, eyes fills with tears, and lethargic while whoever that has caused the pain has gone on with their life. We are still holding to pain and they could care less. We are still trying to understand why we were hurt and they have moved passed it and could care less. We have to stop missing out on life because we want to find the answers for something that happened in the past. Face it….many people who cause us pain cannot even justify it so how can we even expect them to empathize with our pain? Yes, there are some who are truly apologetic and will walk through the process with you wholeheartedly even when they get frustrated. Then you have that select group that will just tell you to get over it and move on as if they have no respect for the extent your pain. Your pillow is soaked from tears every night while the one that hurt you is out laughing and talking with friends.

In times like these we must trust the process for it will empty us of all of the pain, the disappointments, the loneliness and anything else that tries to tear us down. We must look for God in the process. We must keep holding on to God’s hand in the process. We get stronger and wiser in the process. We grow in the process. We are never alone in the process because God is there and it is HE who will get us through the process. “That’s why we are not discouraged. No, even if outwardly we are wearing out, inwardly we are being renewed each and every day. This light, temporary nature of our suffering is producing for us an everlasting weight of glory, far beyond any comparison, because we do not look for things that can be seen but for things that cannot be seen. For things that can be seen are temporary, but things that cannot be seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

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