Monday, February 19, 2018

There's A Future After FAILURE!

"And he went out and wept
bitterly" (Luke 22:62)
In my last post, I shared with you my desire to become all that God wants me to be!  My pastor's current sermon series:  Being Brutally Honest, has given me much to pray about while on this path.  One in particular,  maintaining a pure heart was eye-opening (Matthew 5:8).  As I examined my own heart, I wasn't totally surprised with what I discovered... but it was quite sobering.

You see, like some of you, I suffer from atychiphobia (fear of failure).  Yep! I finally found a name for my obsession with details, over preparation, and the level of frustration I experience when things don't quite turn out the way I want.  Especially, when in most cases, care was taken to cover all the bases and I thought I had anticipated every need! 

My ministry philosophy for more than three decades has been, My excellency for Christ Who does all things well (Mark 7:37). That coupled with this warning: Not many of you should become teachers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness (James 3:1-2) has set me on over drive.  So much so that I put too much emphasis on verse 1 and not enough on verse 2.  For we all stumble in many ways.  And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

The stumbling part, a confession of error, as one bible commentator put it, was what I was trying to avoid. But today, I thank God for revelation! God CAN use imperfect people and imperfect situations to accomplish His will!  Sisters, I've decided to cut myself some slack the next time I perceive that something is a failure!

Perhaps you should do the same. I'm learning that: (a) Perfection does not equal good character! If my motives are not right, and to get things just so, I must offend or alienate someone; I should fear my own character flaws rather than any flaws in the task!

(b) My personal worth is not measured by how many times I fail!  Nathan Chen, USA figure skater in this year's Olympic, had a terrible showing, his first two rounds of free-styling. Yet he came back the third time with more determination and performed with such finesse and skill that his two other failures became nothing more than sports anecdotes.  God doesn't expect perfection, only progress toward the end goal of spirituality!

(c) The bible is filled with people who failed and failed miserably only to be heralded as men and women of great faith!  The Apostle Peter readily comes to mind. How many times did he have to swallow his prideful words when tested only to find himself inadequate! Denying our Lord, not once but three times in the high priest's courtyard (Luke 22:54-62).  Yet, before Christ's ascension He restored him to full apostleship in good standing (John 21:15-25).

So dear ones, I'm telling myself Get Over Yourself and put that atychiphobia in check! Failure is not the end!  In many cases it is the necessary means to assure that God gets all the glory and I stay dependent on Him.  Learning how to fail is the key to being joyful in success!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, February 5, 2018

Becoming MORE of Who You Already ARE!!

 "His divine  power has granted
us all things that pertain to
life and godliness...(2 Peter 1:3)
The year 2018 is already showing wonderful possibilities for the Saints at my church! We're being challenged corporately to Become all that God would have us to be! (Psalms 1:1) This is our church theme for the year and of course spiritual growth is the ultimate goal!  (2 Peter 3:18)

It has been declared boldly, through sermons, prayers, and bible studies that this is not the time for nominal Christianity. We must live out our faith in Christ, both passionately and vibrantly! How else can we expect to make a difference in this increasingly dark world.

This whole concept of Becoming, speaks to change and deliberate movement toward an end. These are two things that most of us are not especially comfortable.  It is so easy to become complacent with Sunday morning religion isn't it? Put on a little Jesus once a week, come home, eat, and forget about Him until next Sunday!  Easy but no longer efficient!  We need MORE to survive these turbulent last days. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) But as the accompanying quote to this blog states: Life isn't about getting more. It's about becoming more! [end of quote] Becoming More of Who You Already Are!

God's Word assures of that we can and will change if we have a sincere faith in Jesus Christ.  From the moment of salvation our raison d'ĂȘtre (reason for being) is to conform to the image of our Lord (Romans 8:29) -- to become more like our Savior! This is not a hopeless task! We have a Helper, the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) and His divine power has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence. (2 Peter 1:3)

I read once a great illustration that described the difference between a costume and a uniform and in our case, some who call themselves Christians:

A costume is something you put on and pretend that you are what you are wearing.   A uniform reminds you that you are in fact what you wear!  Often we need to be reminded that in Christ:

1. WE ARE a new creation (2 Corin. 5:17)

2. WE ARE no longer slaves to our past but Heirs to the kingdom of God (Gal. 4:7)

3. WE ARE bought with a price and every part of you is precious (I Corin.  6:19)

4. WE ARE Salt and Light in this evil world (Matt. 5: 13-14)

5. WE ARE more than conquerors and can live victoriously (Rom. 8:37)

Living Holy is not about how much you tithe, how often you go to church, and calculating every good deed you've done since salvation.  It is the knowledge of knowing that YOU ARE fully equipped and motivated to become more of who you already are in Christ (Ephes. 2:10).

BE ENCOURAGED MY SISTERS!

**Attention Blog Readers: Sharon Tubbs, author of Living In The Pink, has just released her new book, The Healing Place, now available on her website only: GoMoveForward.com  Check out what the indomitable Sis. Pinky is up to to see if she has what it takes to face her biggest challenge ever!  

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

WORDS THAT BESPEAKS THE HEART!

...for out of the overflow
of his heart the mouth speaks.
(Luke 6:45c)
Like many of you, I'm still suffering a bit of righteous indignation at the alleged remarks by the P.O.T.U.S.
about Africa and Haiti!  I can't say that I was surprised but I did feel tremendous sadness!

Sadness for the timing (not that there is ever a good time), days before the celebration of a great Son of Africa, Dr. Martin Luther King! Sadness for our nation, another huge embarassment to the world as we prepare for Black History Month.  But my most profound sadness was reserved for the man!

This scripture immediately came to mind: The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).   Neither you nor I are qualified to judge a person's heart.  That's God's job! But as the context of this verse confirms, we can know a tree by the fruit it bears!  For this president... it has not been a good season!

Believe it or not, I've made it a point to pray for the hearts of my leaders! You should too!  Not just in the White House, but in the House of Prayer, and even in my own house!  For I understand, personally what the Prophet Jeremiah says:  The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

A quick word study on the heart (kardia, Strongs 2588 in the Greek) tells us that physiologically, it is the most important place in the human system.  Life cannot exist apart from it!  But spiritually, I think it even more important!  For all the brokenness in our lives spiritually can be measured by our hearts!  Here's why:

  • It reveals the hidden man (I Peter 3:4)
  • It  explains our bad choices and behaviors (Hebrews 4:12)
  • It is the seat of our emotions (2 Cor. 2:4; Luke 24:32)
  • It verbalizes our worldview about good and evil; right and wrong; value and significance (Prov. 21:2; Prov. 10:11)
We don't need a polygraph to know if a person is lying, just listen to their heart.  What do they talk about most!  We don't have to see every good deed that a person does.  Just follow their actions -- what things are they involved in! We don't have to wonder if a person cares.  Track their giving and where their hearts of compassion leads them.   The people they spend time with, listen to, and come to their aide. 

February, is the month set aside for Matters of the Heart. But we can't afford to WAIT!  Examine Your Heart!  Watch Your Words!  And don't forget to Pray for the Damaged Hearts of the Unredeemed!   

 UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

NEVER TOO LATE ...TO BEGIN AGAIN!!

Here we are...entering another new year!  For many this is a time for reflecting.  For gathering our thoughts about what we accomplished or  perhaps what we didn't.  Let me caution you to be careful and not become too overwhelmed with the latter!

The great thing about being a Christian is that it's never too late for us to begin again!  No matter what it is!  This is what makes our relationship with God so different than other religions! It is what keeps us who really know Him, centered and free from the stress and pressures of the world.  We don't need a new day or even a new year to to start all over. All we need is a new resolve and commitment to finish the course! No matter how long it may take! (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

I love Philippians 1:6.  It's a simple statement of God's truth that emboldens my faith and fills me with the knowledge that God has my back!  Maybe this is what you need to hear right about now! A bit of encouragement to inspire you to climb right back into the saddle, and ride toward your divine destiny!  Those things that you treasured in your heart; your goals and aspirations did not die in 2017 when the calendar rolled over to 2018.  If God is in it you can still achieve it!

Paul tells us that we first must have confidence (faith, belief, and assurance) that it can be done! Where is your confidence today?  Is it in your abilities, finances or in others who look like they've made it?   I John 5:14  tells us this: And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. 

Once, in a study of the Holy Spirit, I came across a term that changed the whole meaning of Psalms 37:4 for me: Delight yourself in the the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. We hear that verse quoted so glibly don't we as if it's a sure-fire way to get our selfish desires met. But in this study I learned that the true desires of our hearts are Spirit planted desires!  That's when God replaces our fleshly desires with holy ones.

When we surrender to these desires we never experience failure for He that began a good work in you will carry it on to completion. (Phil. 1:6b) Can you see how important it is to evaluate our successes according to God's will and not our own?  We walk around thinking that we have not made significant achievements because we are weighing them on a faulty scale.  We need to let God judge them. (2 Cor. 5:10).

Time seems to be another parameter that sucks us into the depression of underachievement! The Enemy keeps telling us we're running out of time to do things that please God! What a bunch of  Hooey!  It's never too late and we're never too old to do what God has told us to do!  We impede our own progress with the temptation to compare ourselves with others!  Older Saints become obsessed with their lack of energy, prowess, and seemingly respect that younger Saints are getting and just give up on their dreams. This is not the time to do so! Your influence can only be felt if you continue to inspire by your good words, works, and testimony of faith! ( Heb. 11:2)

This is the promise given in Philippians 1:6c: Our salvation, our ministry, our testimony is sealed, complete, relevant and efficacious (effective) until the day of Jesus Christ! Don't get bogged down with what you didn't do or didn't get done in 2017. Pray up and Gear up for the opportunities ahead:  IT'S NEVER TOO LATE...TO BEGIN AGAIN!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Seeking CHRIST at Christmas!

Christmas feels different this year.  At least for me.  So much devastation has taken place over the past  months.  Families are still reeling from the effects of loss during the hurricanes; fires are raging in the west, and political upheavals and scandals abound!

My Christmas cards and decorations are still in the storage bin, packed away neatly from last year and although the overabundance of store ads on television; in the newspapers, and even on my phone try to lure me to shop; I'm just not moved by any of it!

 The idea of supplying others with  more of what they already have doesn't give me the kick it used to. There are just so many  true needs that I see! Mind you, this is NOT the holiday blahs or depression that's evident this time of year!  I still have the Joy of Jesus!  I'm just yearning for something more! Maybe you are too!

In reading Isaiah 9:6, I think I've found what that is!  Seems really hard to miss when you think about it but isn't that the strategy of our Enemy?  To divert our attention from the worship of the Savior and instead waste time on self-indulgence and materialism?  The Magi of the Old Testament felt this same compulsion to seek not only something but Someone better than what they had grown accustomed to! 

They had all the riches one could hope for: gold, expensive perfumes, finery and gifts only enjoyed by the wealthy. They were endowed with wisdom and basked in the respect and accolades of the masses. Gained audiences with kings and queens; ate sumptuously at their tables and was held in high esteem. Yet something felt different as they studied the stars thousands of years ago!  Something that was worth a journey to the other side of the world to check out (Matt. 2:7, 13-15). Thankfully, we don't have to go that far. We have access right at our finger tips.  All we have to do is embrace the CHRIST of Christmas right now, especially in THIS season!  Find Him Dear Sisters, no matter how hard the world tries to distract you. 

  • Seek CHRIST in His Presence not temporal presents!  For to us a Son is given...
  • Seek CHRIST in His Sovereignty not corrupt politics!  and the government shall be on His shoulders...
  • Seek CHRIST in His Wisdom not faulty advice! and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor...
  • Seek CHRIST in His Power not worthless policies! Mighty God...
  • Seek CHRIST in His Protection not changing social programs! Everlasting Father...
  • Seek CHRIST in His Promises not vain boastings! Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
"YOU WILL SEEK ME AND FIND ME
WHEN YOU SEEK ME
WITH ALL YOUR HEART."
(Jeremiah 29:3)
UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, November 27, 2017

GOD'S COMPASS or Man's Conscience!

We can make our plans,
but the Lord determines
our steps (Prov. 16:9 NLT)
Not many folks would think twice about coming out on a cold rainy Saturday morning to view a movie, even a good one. Especially if it happens to fall on the weekend before Thanksgiving!

With so much preparation to be done and the anticipation of family and friends converging for the holiday; the idea of kicking back and enjoying a  feel good flick seemed ridiculous! But a few of us did it anyway and I must say it was time well spent!

Sisters4Sisters, one of the women's ministries of my church hosted their last fellowship of the year sending out an invitation to anyone needing a break from the embarking hectic holidays! Matinee with the Master was the theme and all the usual snacks were provided: popcorn, candy, nachos and drinks!  All you had to do was bring your favorite chair or blanket and join the fun!

The movie was one that you probably won't see nominated for an Academy Award but is equally worthy.  It's entitled God's Compass.  Produced by Dove Christian movies and starring War Room headliners, Karen Abercrombie (Miss Clara) and T.C. Stallings (Tony Jordan); it's all about faith, family, and gaining a biblical focus during times of crisis. Great to watch over the holidays so head over to your nearest Christian bookstore or check to see if YouTube is still showing it for free! 

We make life-altering decisions everyday but rarely stop to consult with the Master.  Yet, in a split second our world can be turned upside down.  How do you navigate through those turbulent times?  You've heard the phrase, let your conscience be your guide, haven't you? Not always a good strategy for success let me tell you!  Instead, as this movie shows if you would only let God direct your life and allow Him full control, you'll find just the right answers even if it comes in unusual ways!

I readily admit that I'm directionally challenged! If not for GPS and familiar landmarks I couldn't find my way around this city!  And I've been living here for over forty years!  So I really respect any navigational tool available to me.  It's the same way in my spiritual life.  If not for God's Compass (The Holy Spirit) moving me in the right direction; placing me in the right place at just the right time I would be lost!  Lost to His best in my life! Lost to His will for my life! Lost to the opportunities He orchestrates to be a blessing to someone else!

The use of our conscience without the infusion of the Holy Spirit is nothing more than a crap shoot!  Our consciences can be influenced by emotions, sinful motives, manipulated to be hardened or deadened to the ways of God.  Paul says in I Timothy 4:2  we can become like hypocrites and liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.  We no longer can hear God speaking! Doesn't sound  like a reliable source of guidance to me!

Our conscience can be a grave deceiver allowing us to make decisions and plan courses of actions without having guilty feelings.  The downside of this is that there is no guarantee that things will turn out the way we want!  It is the Lord who determine the outcome (Proverbs 16:9).

In the movie we follow the lives of three characters: A highly respected retiree seeking purpose for her life.  A successful doctor seeking contentment in his life, and a homeless juvenile seeking love and security for himself and little sister.  God's Compass skillfully guides them to a crossroads where they must learn to trust not only God but the kindness He places in others!   If you let Him, He can do the same for you!


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Giants in the Valley

"You come against me with sword and spear... I come
against you in the name of the Lord, God Almighty..."
(I Samuel 17:45)
Giants have been favorite characters of mine for most of my life!  From the fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk read as a child; to the true account of David and Goliath heard often in sermons, Sunday school and Bible study.

Never once however, did I think that I would encounter giants in my own life. Or find them lurking in the shadows of my bedroom! Especially at this late date!

 Recently, as I prepared to retire for the night, out of nowhere they appeared.  A flash from my young adult past! A past that has taken me years to recover from.  I was caught completely off guard, which was exactly the Enemy's intent.  For a few hours I revisited that dark, miserable place.  Surprised at the tremendous power it still held over me!

Decades ago before I learned to walk confidently in the righteousness of Christ, my life was filled with foolishness and regrettable decisions. By the grace of God I learned from them and was able to survive it all so it was natural for me to ask my giants: Why now after all these years are you showing up?   You see it was the Giant of Guilt and its twin Shame trying to haunt me and steal my joy!  Why?  Because the Evil One never gives up, even on an older Saint.  He has to try to win a few more battles even if he can't win the war! 

As a Christian, I know this will not be my last encounter with Spiritual Giants. They will show up again, and again and usually when I'm most vulnerable.  During those times when in self-pity, I saunter into the valley of depression, discontentment, or despondency.  Praise the Lord, I now know a God Who does His best work in the Valley!

All I need to do is remind myself of the life of David. In the Valley of Elah where he slew Goliath, a human giant, I Samuel 17:1-4  and went on to defeat the Giant of Fear, Psalm 23:4 ; the Giants of Guilt and Shame, my old foes, Psalm 51:1-3, and the Giant of Apathy concerning his family woes, 2 Samuel 13.

The Prophet Ezekiel knew about giants as well.  In Ezekiel 37, God gave him a vision of  Dry Bones in a valley.  These bones symbolized God's people at a spiritual low.  Dead and lifeless, desperate for a purpose; scattered from their homeland.  Everything they knew and loved had been taken from them.  They faced the Giant of Hopelessness.  There seemed to be no solution for their current situation. 

BUT GOD never left them.  Just as He will never leave us in our valleys!  We will stay there as long as He deems necessary for us to feel His presence but we do not have to linger there. Although our Enemy comes with powerful weapons, David in the Valley of ELAH said, we come in the name of the Lord, God Almighty (I Samuel 17:45).  Perhaps these strategies may prove helpful when your Giant shows up!

1.  Refuse to Engage! Even though taunted, teased, and tempted by those who continue to bring up your past, don't defend yourself. Don't try to justify or explain your actions.  It is Satan's pleasure to accuse Christians (Rev. 12:10).  It is God's pleasure to forgive! (I John 1:9)

2.   If Forced into Battle Confront Giants with God's Word! Jesus used this strategy in the gospels and it is a sure fire way to turn the Devil on his heels. (Matthew 4:1-11).  If you've never done so start memorizing scriptures that you can recall and draw from at a moment's notice. (Ps. 119:11)

3.  Refuse to Dwell in the Past! For every painful thought replace with God's promise (Isaiah 43:18; 2 Cor. 10:5; Phil. 4:8).

4.  Embrace Your New Identity! You are no longer that person in your past. You have a new ID with a new name and a passport bound for heaven! While here on earth you have Spiritual Immunity against sins committed in your past and they cannot be held against you.  (Romans 8:1, 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 3:13)

5. Choose Not to Remember Your Past! This is different than simply forgetting. (Although perhaps psychologically one can forget past trauma at some level.) This is taking a cue from our omniscient Father when He chooses to forget our sins (Psalm 103:12). In His dealings with us our past never enters the picture. We must learn to do the same thing - See ourselves as God sees us!  


When Your Giants Show Up Lead them to the Shores
of Forgetfulness and then Wait for God to Show up!
 (Micah 7:19)


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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