The path less traveled

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“Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of ever lasting life.” – Psalm 139:24 NLT

I like to think of myself as a Giants football fan by association.  This means I have no idea who the players are or how the game is actually played but because my sister is a die hard fan, I’m also a Giants supporter. I’m the person asking a thousand questions during a game and yelling “yessss” at the most insignificant times. But nonetheless, I’m a fan by association. If there’s anything I’ve learned with the football season just a month away, is how offense and defense works in a game. To put it simply, the team with the ball is on offense trying to score points while defense is the opposing team trying to stop offense from scoring a touchdown. Which side are you on? 
By definition, offense is that which serves as a hindrance or obstacle.
In Psalm 139:24, the Psalmist David is essentially praying to God and he says God, “point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of ever lasting life.” If you’ve ever been offended by someone then you know how powerful an offense is. They stir up and provoke uncomfortable feelings that can cause someone to shut down, fight back, ignore, or run. But if they aren’t addressed, they will fester and become a hindrance or an obstacle to you. Offenses essentially tell us something is wrong and it needs to be repaired or restored. In the spiritual sense, being on offense, you automatically attract defense which hinders you from scoring spiritual goals. Being on offense you are carrying a burden that was never meant for you to carry. If you are carrying an offense against someone, it needs to be addressed because that offense will serve as a hindrance and an obstacle from you achieving your goals and reaching spiritual maturity. It will stop you from learning very vital lessons about yourself. They will cripple your ability to have healthy friendships and relationships. An offense can be something within you that isn’t allowing you to move forward.
For me, it was something I recently needed to address with someone in my family. This person hurt me in the past and that hurt wasn’t allowing me to have a healthy relationship with them. Every time I prayed, I didn’t feel close to God because there was this issue I wasn’t facing. When I finally addressed it, I was able to see that I too had some things within me that needed work. God was using the facing of that offense to refine me and heal me! When you face your offenses, you clear the pathway toward righteousness. When you do this, there is nothing hindering or obstructing your view.
How offenses hinder us:

  1. Harboring offenses mask how you’re really feeling by giving you a false sense of security.
  2. Offenses cloud your vision.
  3. Offenses stunt communication.
  4. Offenses attract defense which serve as obstacles toward achieving your God-given goals and dreams.
  5. Offenses limit you from having a healthy relationship with the Lord and with loved ones. They make you feel like you’ve been separated from God. This is a lie because there is NOTHING that can separate you from God but offenses can cloud your vision and hinder you from getting full access into wholeness and spiritual victory.
  6. Offenses will weigh you down and make you feel prideful. They will make you feel like you’re carrying a burden greater than yourself but also make you feel as if you’re too proud to surrender to God.
Identifying your offenses requires a willingness to learn about yourself and the truth is, there are some things you won’t like. But it is necessary to know because then you access freedom from your offenses and your vision becomes clear.
How to work through offenses
  1. Ask God to reveal to you what needs work within you and what area of your life needs healing.
  2. Identify any feelings of discomfort toward a particular thing, situation, or person. This is a huge indicator that there is an underlying offense. Once you identify them, surrender them to the Lord.
  3. Explore if there is someone you need to forgive or ask for forgiveness from. Forgiving someone requires strength and courage while asking for forgiveness requires self-awareness and humility. When you do this, you are identifying the very thing that may be offending God within you! God is a God of unity and reconciliation. If there is division in an area of your life, call it out!
  4. Be willing to go on a journey of self-reflection, self-acceptance, and most importantly self-love.
  5. Open a line of communication with yourself by writing out what triggers you emotionally and how you can respond in a healthy way.
Reflection: Is there something offensive within you that you need to address? What is hindering you or serving as an obstacle in your life and stopping you from being whole? In what ways can you work through your offenses?
Let’s explore this together! Email me to my personal email and let’s talk about it. 🙂 My email isNeli.Betancourt@outlook.com 

You are equipped

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“By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭13:21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God provided for the Israelites to travel by DAY or NIGHT. It doesn’t matter the time of day, the season, the amount of light there is or lack thereof, ; you have the resources to travel by day OR night. God doesn’t leave His children without. There is NOTHING stopping you from continuing forward. You cannot make excuses for something you already have. God has equipped you for the journey, it’s up to you to use the resources. Locate the cloud and find the pillar of fire, this is your heavenly compass. You have it in your spiritual tool box. You have your faith, your godly confidence, your resilience, your experiences. Let me encourage you today that you are NOT stuck. You are equipped to move forward.

A spiritual house

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“As you come to him, the living stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” –1 Peter 2:4-5

I recently brought my youth I teach through a series titled “living loved” and we focused on the life of Jesus from His birth to when He performed His first miracle. One thing they kept bringing up was if Jesus was always all knowing from birth. And I stressed that just as Luke 2:52 says, Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man just like we need to do. He wasn’t born with all this biblical knowledge and spiritual maturity, He needed to grow in  it. The same is true for us.

Sometimes we want to rush the process of being molded and built into a spiritual house but it takes work. It takes willingness of heart and spirit in order to become who God has called us to be. We need to be content in the process allowing God to build, to add, to take away, that we would be mighty soldiers for the kingdom of God. I’ve learned what God does through us on earth is for spiritual kingdom purposes. Whatever your current walk of life, God is using it to prepare you for future preordained plans. So my encouragement for you today is to allow God to build you up which may sometimes look like a breaking down. God is the holy potter that wants you to explore with Him what needs to go and what needs to grow in order for you to be built into a spiritual house.

Love is patient, Love is kind.

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Being that Valentine’s day just passed, I want to address the huge elephant in the room. The one in the form of bubbly hearts, expensive chocolates, even pricier roses, and cuddly teddy bears. One thing you should know about me is I love valentines day; not for the excuse to eat chocolate but because it’s a great reminder to show love and be love. And to put it simply, we all need reminders. We need to be reminded to be kind and patient. But mostly, we need to be reminded to love even when it’s hardest to love because that’s when it counts. But what exactly is love? Not that artificial, high caloric, sugar drenched love made by humans on valentines day but that real, authentic, raw, unconditional love.

The other day I was watching a movie on Netflix that really got me thinking about human love versus godly love. In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul the apostle was writing a letter to the church at Corinth. In this letter, he addresses many things the Corinthians were concerned about. One of those things was love. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, it says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always, hopes, always perseveres.”
I’m sure you’ve heard or read this somewhere. But I believe God wants to remind you what you have forgotten or maybe what you haven’t known. Let’s break down these verses and really reflect on the nature of Gods love and how we can reflect the love of Christ.

  1. Love is humble and zealous. That means you lay down your own desire and eagerly desire the well-being of the one you love.
  2. Love is self-less and slow to anger. This means it isn’t selfish or quick tempered. Next time you do or say something to someone, question your intentions. Is it for personal gain or godly reward?
  3. Love does not keep a checklist of what people have done to you. It is forgiving.
  4. Love is always honest. It isn’t merited on human standards but on biblical truth.

Godly love is without conditions. This simply means whatever you do cannot exempt you from the love of God. In the same way, our love for others should not be contingent upon what they can do for us or what we’ve done for them. It should rest on who our foundation should be: Jesus Christ. 1 John 4:8-9 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” We need to love as if we are living through Jesus. This means we must be his hands and feet, his heart and ears. But this can only happen when you place God as “the one” for you before a wife, a husband, a girlfriend, or a fiancé. Knowing the love of God first hand places you in a position to spread love the godly way. Let us strive to love as God loves us.

Watch my spoken word poem “The One” on youtube here

Project Healing

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When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
– John 5:6

             In honor of bringing in the new year this past Sunday, I had the youth I teach do a praise report for 2016. They had to think of good things God had done in their lives for 2016. Oftentimes, we focus on all things that go wrong that we leave no room to see the blessings. It was important for them to reflect on the goodness of God in their lives because it would set up the atmosphere for 2017. It would enable them to believe God for even greater things in this year before us. So, for my praise report I wrote how I was graced with the privilege of teaching the youth. Had it not been for God orchestrating events in my life, I wouldn’t have this beautiful opportunity to teach them. I wouldn’t have been apart of what God is doing in their lives individually and as a youth ministry. It has been a tremendous blessing to say the least.
As a youth ministry, I recently brought them through a teaching series titled, “Meeting God in different seasons in different ways”. For one particular lesson, they learned about “The God who heals”. During Jesus’ ministry on earth, He healed countless people from a myriad of diseases, blindness, ailments, possessions, and spiritual unbelief. As I studied the aspects of healing, I realized how much we have control over our own healing. Let me explain. . .
In John 5:1-9, Jesus is in Jerusalem near a healing pool called Bethesda. While He was there, He noticed a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. Now it’s important to note this man was paralyzed in some way for a full 38 years, yet the first question Jesus asks him is, “Do you want to get well?”. When we are in a certain state for a period of time, we become conditioned to being that way. We become accustomed to living with the aches and pains, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. It becomes our normal. So the first aspect of healing is to actually Choose healing. We have to choose to want to get well. The second aspect is to realize only Jesus can heal you. In John 5:7, the invalid says he has no one to help him into the pool. He comes to the realization that only Jesus can help him because no one else has been able to.
The third aspect is to believe in the healing. In Matthew 9:28, Jesus is in his hometown of Capernaum and He comes across two blind men. As they are following Him, Jesus goes indoors and asks them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Healing isn’t a question of whether Jesus can heal or not, Jesus is healer. But it is a question of “Do you believe?” You need to believe to be healed. You have to believe in the healing even before it comes.
The last aspect of healing is being aware of what you need healed. In Matthew 20:32, Jesus comes across two blind men as well and the first question He asks is, “What do you want me to do for you?” In order for healing to begin, you need to be aware of your need for healing. Awareness is powerful because it means you are no longer blind to your wounds.
I want you to pay attention to the fact in all these stories of healing, Jesus asks the person in need of healing a question. Sometimes we go to God asking Him what to do but because we aren’t expecting a question, we misinterpret God’s answer for silence. Sometimes God speaks in questions too. So as you go forward, remember the acronym: CRBA.

  1. Choose healing
    2. Realize only Jesus can heal
    3. Believe in the healing
    4. Awareness of what you need healed

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An open letter from me to you:

When I began Project Healing in November of 2014, I had no idea what God had in mind. All I knew is I had this God-given dream birthed in my heart and I needed to take action. I needed to share what God had done in my life in hopes of you too being infected with the healing bug. Project Healing was birthed because of tears found in open wounds, failed friendships, and broken relationships. But more because of transformation and healing. So while I haven’t made time to write newsletters as frequently, you are all in my prayers.
Entering 2017, my prayer is that you, yes you, realize your God-given potential and more-so your God-given dreams. I pray you would take courage and follow Jesus into the unknown. I pray you would see God’s hand in your life because I assure you, He is there. I pray when you hear His voice, you would not harden your heart. I pray you would grow in love and be stretched in wisdom. I pray you would bring every little thing that fills you with guilt and embarrassment to the foot of the cross and not to the pit of shame. But most of all, I pray you would be healed from the very thing(s) that may be stopping you from entering freely into the love of God.

As always, with love and tons of blessings,

Neli

HAPPY 2017!

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Strange Fire

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“That same day Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons, took their censers, put hot coals and incense in them, and offered “strange” fire to God – something God had not commanded. Fire blazed out from God and consumed them – they died in Gods presence.” – Leviticus 10:1-2 MSG

The bible says Aaron’s sons offered up strange fire to God in the context of a holy and sacred offering. They tried to mix holy with unholy and God consumed them; they died the same way they tried to cheat God. The moment you try to bring in an unholy thing into the holy things of God, you automatically negate the sacredness of a holy act. For example, the bible speaks on meditation; to meditate on the word of God but if you begin to practice yoga as a means of meditation, you are bringing “strange fire” into a sacred act. You cannot do yoga and expect it to be a good offering to the Lord because it is a spiritual practice that has its origin in offering incense to other gods.

In the same way, you cannot incorporate practices from other religions into your relationship with the Lord. It is strange fire that is an abomination to the Lord. While God is all loving, it’s important to be aware of your practices and habits. If it is not biblical or biblically supported, you should always bring it to the foot of the cross.

The way everlasting

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“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24

This is a dangerous prayer. David was so bold when he asked God to search him. I’m in a season of God revealing to me things within me that need work; things that do not lead to the way everlasting and it’s hard. You feel bare and naked. You feel exposed. But here David is giving God access because without that invitation, God is not going to force His way in. God is patient and has given you free will for a reason. So if you don’t give Him access to search you, healing won’t happen. Now God doesn’t need to search you, He already knows your heart. But David is saying, “Okay God, you can come in. I invite you in to help me, to mold me, and ultimately to heal me.”

Because the moment you give God that invitation, you are on the road to healing. You are on the road to wholeness. David says, “Lead me in the way everlasting.” What he’s saying is that he can’t get himself to wholeness. Another yoga class or deep breathing exercise is not gonna get him on the right path. Another bible study class or life group isn’t going to open the door to fulfillment. Another diet or self help book isn’t going to set him on the straight and narrow. But Jesus is. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the light.” These things might help but you need to allow God to search you so that He can heal you from the inside out.

Jesus can bring light where there is darkness. He can set you on the right road when you are lost. He can guide you out of the lies and into the truth. And the truth is, we all need work. I know I do! We are all a project only God can take on and bring to full completion. The bible says God brings every good work He begins in us to completion; you know why? Because He loves you, He cares for you, and He’s concerned about the smallest details of your life. He wants you healed that others may be Healed too. The way everlasting is to say “Hey, Jesus, come on in. There’s more than enough room for you.”