Tuesday, July 11, 2017

HELP WANTED: A Few REAL Women

Teach older women to be quiet and to be
 careful how they act also..
(Titus 2:3)
Now a days, it's hard to tell what's real and what's not! I mean how many of us have been duped thinking we were getting a bargain and found out our stuff was fake?

It reminds me of a story about a Christian brother whose friends kept teasing him about settling down.  Every time they asked him about getting married, he'd always respond, "Man, I'm waiting for a real woman."  Well, one day he found her right there at 10:30 a.m. service.  They dated for over two years and he just knew she was perfect for him.

On his wedding night, as he anticipated the "big moment," he looked up and a stranger walked into the room!  His "real woman" had taken off her false eyelashes, her wig, took out her partials, and on the floor was a push-up bra and a pair of bootie pops!  Just as he started dialing 911, she sweetly said, Honey, it's okay, don't you know?  It's awful hard to find a real woman!

I wonder if our hurting teens and young adults (some in church and out) look at the behavior of Self-proclaimed Super Saints say the same thing...it's awful hard to find real women in the church! Let that not be said about you my Sisters.  A few weeks ago, I penned a letter to my
 younger sisters, sharing an older woman's perspective on cross-generational relationships.
http://alittlewiser63.blogspot.com/2017/06/dear-younger-sister.html

As  expected I got a lot of "AMENS" from women in my season and older.  However, I want to be fair!  I do understand for some young women, the church may be the last place they go for an authentic Titus 2 relationship.  Let's remedy that while we still have a chance!  

Wisdom teaches that before I start pointing fingers at others to look first at myself.  I've been doing that recently but not trusting my own assessment; I also went to the Word of God and have been praying Psalms 139:23-24

23 Look through me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. 24 See if there is any sinful way in me and lead me in the way that lasts forever. 

From my own experience, I see that some older women need to be taught how to look and act like seasoned women of God.  Sisters many of us are suffering from an identity crisis!  We don't know who we are as older women and as a result our younger sisters are totally confused.  I hate to break it to you....but younger women don't really want YOU to be their Girlfriend! They want a REAL woman they can depend on to give them TRUTH with LOVE and RESPECT!

According to Titus 2:3-7

REAL WOMEN TEACH CHARACTER (vs. 3) Reverence has to do with holiness, Holy living!  There are some things that real Christians women won't do!  It's simply not in our Spiritual DNA.  Paul mentions gossiping and drinking but being mean spirited and nasty is just as bad. Trash talking and bullying young females whether on the internet are in person is demeaning and detrimental to any relationship you want to nurture.

REAL WOMEN TEACH MODERATION (vs. 4-5) Simply put, to be sensible. What has happened to common sense, Mother wit, Horse sense, things like don't spend more money than you make (accrue credit card debt); Don't talk to strangers (meet, date, hook-up with men you know nothing about); Keep your children out of your personal business (expose them to your on again, off again relationships, vices, etc.) Go to sleep at a decent time and stop eating so much junk food (two reasons many women and their children suffer from obesity and ensuing health problems.) 

REAL WOMEN TEACH GOOD THINGS  (vs. 7) They not only do so with words but by example.  How to value and respect their bodies, to lead with grace in their private and public lives (integrity) and to prioritize what God values and not the present culture.   We do this not to impress or to appear spiritual  but to bear out the Truth of God's Word...to show that God's way works. 

So, the next time a young woman puts up a symbolic HELP WANTED: I NEED A REAL CHRISTIAN WOMAN sign...why not...Step up and Say....APPLY HERE!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

SPIRITUAL REWIND: Living In The Pink!


Hello Readers, I'm all giddy, about an upcoming women's bible study scheduled for August of this year!  Stepping out of our comfort zone, our women's ministry team unanimously chose a book by a great but under publicized author, Sharon Tubbs.  It's called, Living In the Pink and it's published by Moody Press.  I read it a few years back and mentioned it in my blog post, Drifting Through Fifty Shades of Pink!  I tell you this book is more relevant now than its ever been! Here's an excerpt from that post below:


Isaiah 1:18..Though your sins are like
scarlet, they shall be white as snow..
Coral, blush, rose, hot, salmon, fuchsia, magenta, fandango puce, amaranth, or lemonade, I love the color pink!  But I must say, it has a different meaning for me now that I'm engulfed in a novel that a sweet sister gave me over the holidays!  It's entitled, Living in the Pink, by Christian author, Sharon Tubbs.  When you get a chance pick up a copy...it's riveting, eye-opening, and well, if you're one of those people who seem to be constantly drifting spiritually...very convicting!

Straddling the fence between worldly living and holy living is what Sister Tubbs calls living in the pink...just a tinge of Jesus' blood characterizes our life...we're not completely low-down and heathenish, we just slip in and out of sin periodically!  We show up for church every Sunday, but hide out in the corners and the balcony because we don't want anyone to smell the weed and liquor that still lingers after clubbing the night before!  (That's living in the pink!)

Don't get me wrong...I know what it means to live in the pink!  Denying my faith for a season of fleshly pleasure...but as my Mama used to say..."When you know better you do better!" 2015 should be a time to do better --DON'T THINK PINK...THINK RED...THE COLOR OF CHRIST'S PRECIOUS BLOOD (Hebrews 9:22) Without it Where would we be? 

END OF EXCERPT

Pretty convicting isn't it?  I've met this wonderful author and dialogued with her a bit about her incredible insightful look into "church life" ion many urban black communities! All the sisters I know who have had a chance to read it say the same things..."These scenarios are so REAL!...I can relate to more than one of these stories!...We've got to do THIS one!!!

This is the kind of study that I pray will bring authenticity back to the church and bridge the generation gap between Old and New School Saints.  It is an opportunity to look back (in a wholesome way) at our past, celebrate the present, and joyfully look forward to our future!
No longer do we have to walk through life with the stain of sin splattered on Christ's robe of righteousness! (Ephesians 4:22-26).  No longer once we've tasted victory of the flesh need we feel condemned (Romans 8:1). 

It's time to yank the masks off all those Super Saints and talk about some real needs in the church!  As Sis. Pinky (a character in the book) says: "Don't let your past be your shame..turn it around and make it your testimony!"


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, June 5, 2017

DEAR YOUNGER SISTER....

"Older women must train
younger women to live wisely...
(Titus 2:4-5)
I love you, in spite of what you think of me and many older women present in your life! Because we are both products of our own specific culture and moment in history, we don't always see eye to eye!   This is not necessarily a bad thing for it leaves room for us to learn from each other.

I do have an issue however, when these facts contribute to a twisted theology and therefore a twisted reality!  I do not place all the blame on you, as some in my generation would do!  For too long we sat back and watched you run head first into destruction, either too apathetic or too afraid to say anything because we wanted to be your friend rather than your parent!

I do think, Dear Loved One, that we have now come to a crisis of sorts. Neither of us are happy with the results.  Let me try to put it in your own vernacular.  We do no good to our relationship or honor God, by throwing shade, when we should be trying to understand one another.

Let me begin with what I've heard and experienced firsthand, your view of older women.  I'll be speaking in generalities rather than facts because I've appreciated the love and respect, shown to me by many your age and in equal amounts.  It's important for me to say that.

1.  WE ARE JUDGMENTAL!

 You believe we sit back just waiting for you to make a mistake so we can pounce on you for every little indiscretion.   I still grapple with the word, judgmental.  It comes up so often in our conversations and always as your preferred defense mechanism when we have a disagreement!  But what Love, are you defending?  Surely not the behavior (and it's always a particular behavior we're discussing).

When all the smoke and fire clears, we both agree that what you're doing is not in your best interest! The irony is that even while you're accusing, you are in fact, judging me!  You say that I couldn't possibly understand what you're going through! That I'm condemning you and putting myself in the place of God!   Did you ever consider Who actually set the standard for holiness?
Why, when I say the same thing He says, am I the bad guy?

Quote:  Correction is only seen as judgment to those who still love their sin!

 2.  YOU CAN' T TRUST US!

Little Sister, this really hurts!  You say you can't trust me with your thoughts and deepest feelings.  You are afraid that I will gossip, put your business in the streets, and perhaps use your vulnerabilities against you at your lowest point.  I cannot be your confidant and advise you privately and biblically, but Facebook counselors (some you don't even know) weigh in on every area of your life publicly! Many of them in no better shape than you! This confuses me!  Tell me why you are more tolerant and often kinder to them than me?

Quote:  With the ancient is wisdom and in length of days understanding! (Job 12:12)

3.  WE ARE NOT SUPPORTIVE...ONLY CRITICAL OF YOUR PERSONAL GOALS!


Now here is where I must draw the line!  If we did not care about you and see your God-given  potential, we wouldn't bother to tell you when you've gone off the rails!  This is not only good counsel but a biblical mandate! If we weren't supportive, after working hard for social security and pension, we wouldn't dip into our limited savings to bail you out financially.  We wouldn't let you disrupt our peace of mind as you move into our paid for homes (often with your children) while you get yourself together!  We wouldn't concede to functioning  like the cable service, we pay for and you enjoy in our comfortable guest rooms, playing Grandparents on Demand while you go out with friends or handle work situations that  keep you from parental responsibilities.   This we do to maximize godly influence and minimize harm to our grandchildren.  Unfortunately, they become the collateral damage from your personal choices! 

Quote: Older women are to teach the young women to love their husbands and children. They are to teach them to think before they act, to be pure, to be workers at home, to be kind, and to obey their own husbands. In this way, the Word of God is honored. (Titus 2:4-5 NLV)

Now this is what I know:  We are better together than we are apart!  Older women, the spiritually mature ones, that Paul speaks of in Titus, are not interested in imposing themselves into your life! We've been there and done that! We only want the opportunity to share with you in a bond of sisterhood the wisdom of our own experiences! Older women are proud of your beauty, intellect, and skills in navigating this complex and confusing world.  We just want to show you how to claim your place in it and to do so with godliness, poise, and a grace that befits who God made you to be!  Won't you give us a chance?

WITH LOVE FROM YOUR OLDER SISTER,



UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

THE SHACK:Criticism or Critical Thinking Needed

Sanctify them in the Truth. Your Word
is Truth (John 17:17)
An outing with a few of my church sisters led us to a movie that created somewhat of a buzz in Christian circles years ago.  We caught it at a theater just before its ultimate descent to DVD.  You've probably heard of it.  It's called The Shack!

Based on a controversial book by William Paul Young  in 2007, I read the book years ago and was curious as to how faithful the movie would be to the original work.  I also wondered with the declining passion for Biblical discernment among Christians; if it would stir up the same kind of excitement as it did ten years ago.  I can't say that it has!

If you do an internet search you'll find a few movie reviews by noted Christian outlets, but in essence it's just about par with what was written when the book first came out.  Hard to believe that by the release of the movie this year, 20 million books had been sold! This being so even with its ban by some Christian book selling outlets.

I would need to write another post if I was to recount the plot of the book in detail but let me just say that it involves a typical Christian man with unresolved wounds in his past having a crisis of faith as he endures the violent and tragic loss of his youngest daughter.  Mack, as the character is known,  has to make some critical choices along the way to his healing and among them is the Choice to Forgive!  Forgive first himself and then the murderer of his baby girl!  He is invited to go back to the scene of the crime, an abandoned shack in the woods, where he has an intimate encounter with God!

After the show, the ladies and I grabbed lunch and discussed the movie, our thoughts, criticism, and revelations after viewing it! We had plenty to talk about as you can imagine.  From the depiction of God, by a black woman (Papa) who in one scene bopped to contemporary music, to the vague allusions and endorsements of other religions that conflicted with our Christian faith!  We sort of came to the conclusion that you could be a Buddhist, Mystic, New Age practitioner, or Atheist and find something you could relate to in the movie!  Was this good or bad?  The verdict is still out!

If you have not seen the movie, I'm not quick to recommend it! Why you might ask since I purchased the original book,  and a follow-up companion to it entitled, Finding God in the Shack: Seeking truth in a story of evil and redemption, by Roger Olson, and consider them both good reads!  I don't recommend it for Everyone! Only those  with a strong Biblical foundation! 
If you're still willy-nilly in your faith or as Paul says in 2 Tmothy 3:7, easily swayed and always learning but never able to acknowledge truth, I suggest you stick with the Bible!!

The major themes of the movie however,  I found compelling and common to all humans: the undeniable presence of evil in the world; the pain and suffering of loss; the need for forgiveness to attain peace, and finding the will to go on.   As a Christian, I found each answer in Jesus Christ!  If you're of another faith, this movie might give you another view, but my hope is that it will lead you to Christ as well!

As for criticism of the book and the movie (and there are many) I think that we need to be less of a Critic and more of a Truth Discerner! We need to practice and teach biblical truth everywhere we go, especially to the younger generation.  It begins with Critical Thinking! The ability to skillfully analyze, assess, and reconstruct our thoughts (Rom. 12:2) based on what the bible says.  We need not fear what movies like this may do to the untrained mind, we should be about training those minds in the ways and thoughts of God... in the absolute truth of God's Word. 

As I perused my old copy of the book, I found a note I wrote at the end. I think it summarizes this post well: 

 People who would have problems with this book (and now the the movie) are (1) Those with an extremely high view of scripture and fear these views will be challenged.  (2) Those who are virtually ignorant of scripture truth and are easily influenced by "anything" they deem spiritual. 

We don't have to be fearful or ignorant...All we need to be is prayerful, obedient and discerning!


Read God's Word with a Heart for Truth and You will always find Truth!



UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

STORM PROOFING YOUR HOUSE!

The wise woman builds her
house...the foolish one tears 
hers down. (Prov. 14:1)
It's been too many mornings recently that I've had to wake up to a rain storm pounding against my windows!  My basement has a tendency to leak so I generally hop out of bed to see if there's been any damage!  I've been blessed over the years. Even without a sump pump, we've escaped flooding!

Sadly, I can't say that about other kinds of storms I've had to encounter in my life!  But here's where age and experience really comes into play....After surviving a few of them, God gives you wisdom and you learn that things turn out better if you do some preventative work ahead of time. You learn how to storm proof your house!

In the gospels (Matthew 7:24-28 and Luke 6:46-49), Jesus related a parable that you probably remember from your children's Sunday school class about the wise and foolish builders.  Take some time this week to read it again from an adult perspective and relate it to the trials that I know each of you have had to face.  I did so recently and found some maintenance work I needed to do on my Spiritual house to keep it in good shape when the storms of life come raging!  Here's what I came up with:


  • Both the wise and foolish builders had a lot in common:  Both wanted a house. Both had a vision.  Both worked hard and finished the job and both experienced the same storm.  This taught  me that God understands humans desires (Ps.37:4).  That even good plans don't always bring success (Prov. 16:3, 9).  That our motives determine the character of a thing (Ps. 127:1) and bad things can happen to good and evil people (John 16:33)
  • Building my Life House is all about the choices I make! (Luke 14:28-30): I asked myself: Is what I desire a true need or a want?  How far will I go to get it? What am I willing to sacrifice? Who will suffer from my decision? and Is the risk I take worth it?
The answers will determine whether your choices are built on Rock Solid Truth or Shaky Sand!

1. To Storm proof your Life House consider the Location:  Build in the right spot.  A safe and secure place (John 10:29).  Build with the future in mind.  Will it hold up in a storm? (Mark 4:39)  Build with the right materials.  Will it do the job when needed? (I Cor. 3:10)

2. To Storm proof your Life House consider the Foundation:  The foundation of a house is invisible but is the most important part of any house (I Cor. 3:11-14).  The foundation holds the house in place.  It anchors it.  The foundation supports the structure that its built on and keeps it from sinking.  The foundation helps carry and distribute the load.  It provides balance. 

3.  To Storm proof your Life House consider the Ramifications (consequences): Am I properly prepared to wait out the storm?  What's my back up plan? (Ps. 91:1; Ps. 27:14).  Do I have the right insurance coverage (Is. 43:2; Matt. 16:33).  When is it time to evacuate? (Phil. 3:13-14; Gal. 6:7-8)

My Sisters, what kind of Builder are YOU?  Wise or Foolish? (Prov. 14:1)

  • Build on the Sold Rock of Jesus Christ
    • Put your faith in Christ today if you're not saved! (Rom 10:9-10)
    • Read God's word (the Bible) daily and obey it to make good choices!
    • Get used to talking to God about everything. He's the Storm Master!
    • Live a life that reflect the Spiritual House He's built (I Peter 2:4-5)
IT'S YOUR CHOICE!!


UNTIL NEXT TIME...


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Monday, May 1, 2017

A MOTHER'S HEART!


Wow! Can you believe it's May already?  I can't.  Although April showers still linger. all you have to do is look around and you know warmer weather is on the way and Mother's Day is right around the corner!

Merchants really capitalize on this time of year: graduations, Memorial Day, but especially the sentiments of Mother's day! It's big business!  After all, even the most thoughtless child will often spend a few bucks on a card or a small trinket to give to their Mom.

But those of us who have taken that nine-month journey,  spent time and sacrificed as a maternal surrogate of sorts, know that there's more to it than that!  Something unexplainable happens as you raise your children and watch them try to maneuver the pitfalls of life.  You develop a Mother's heart! There's nothing quite like it!

I've heard it said, that when your children are young they're on your lap, but when they grow up they are on your heart!  Boy ain't that the truth!  On more than a few occasions, I along with other mothers have commiserated over the trials of our children.  When they hurt WE hurt!  When they fail, WE feel responsible!  You see, that's a Mother's heart for you.  Even when children become adults and make their own decisions and face horrible consequences in the aftermath, somehow we find a way to feel bad, even devastated by it all. 

Jesus must have felt the same way when He grieved over the sins over the Jewish nation. All of His preaching, teaching, healing, and illustrations of love and grace weren't enough to counteract the desires of His strong-willed children. All of it was rejected! Hear His heart:

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it." (Luke 13:34)


How many times did His Mother's heart yearn to protect His children. Protect them from foolish living, from dangerous situations, reckless or careless choices. We mothers, like Jesus would love to gather them beneath our wings, to continue to nurture, to advise, keep them from all kinds of harm, safe and secure, ever present before the Lord.  But that is not the way of life!  It is not even the way of wisdom! For each person must come into God's presence willingly!  And the hard lessons of life may be the only way that will happen!  It's small comfort to an aching Mother's heart... but it is true!

What we do know is this.  A Mother's heart never gives up hope! It sits by hospital bedsides; in court rooms, and across tables in prisons.  It holds the head of the addict going through withdrawals, and prays for the prodigal sons and daughters living in the far country of disobedience! 

Jesus lamented but never forgot the Jewish nation even though they rejected His love (Read Romans 11:25-29) and such is the Mother's Heart!  Here are a few reasons:

1.  It is God's will that all be saved and come to the knowledge of truth! (I Tim. 2:4)

2.  God is faithful even when His children are not. He will not disown Himself! (II Tim. 2:13)

3. He continues to show grace (unmerited kindness) that leads to repentance! (Rom. 2:4) *There is a reality that some of our children may choose to reject even this grace, but only the Lord knows when they've reached that point, so keep praying)

4. Jesus is moved with compassion for grieving mothers' hearts! He understands. He cares. He will always make provisions! (Matt:15:21-28; Luke 7:11; John 19 25-27)

I may be a couple weeks early Mothers, sending this encouragement to you but I dare not wait for a day on the calendar.  You may not hear from your child;  may not get a card, gift or a call. Might not get to spend precious moments alone with them on that special day, but know THIS: God loves you and is covering you and your children under His feathers, He has a Mother's heart, just like yours! (Psalms 91:4)  So,  HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...


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Monday, April 17, 2017

FUNCTIONAL LEPROSY: A Spiritual Pandemic!

If I regard iniquity in my heart,
the Lord will not hear me. (Ps. 66:18)
I watch a fair amount of television  and I am always amazed by the number of commercials there are for medications. Talk about coming to grips with your own mortality! As humans there's a lot of diseases we have to deal with, but there's one drug and commercial that I've never seen.  It's a remedy for Functional Leprosy.  You see, it's a spiritual disease!

Ah, hah!  Never heard of it?  Me either, until a couple of weeks ago.   I joined about 300 women at my church for the Priscilla Shirer 2017 Simulcast!  If you're a student of the Word and love good women bible studies, the name is very familiar!  If not, then you might recall Priscilla as the prayer-less wife in the movie, War Room. 

Simulcasts have been going on for many years in Christian circles.  But this was my very first one.  I generally like to be in the same room with a dynamic teacher or preacher (even if it's 40 rows back in an auditorium with thousands). But I've got to tell you this turned out to be a great experience!  The Word of God, like the God we serve is truly omnipresent! His Spirit was so powerful that it didn't matter that Priscilla was hundreds of miles away in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  

Taking her text from 2 Kings 5:1-14, Naaman's Leprosy Cured, she unpacked the text with deft skill and precision telling us what it means to be a spiritual leper and how a little Israelite girl's faith was the key to the cure!  Here's how Priscilla's described the condition she calls Functional Leprosy.  It is hiding our sins, fears, and insecurities under a guise of spiritual health and wholeness.  To the outsider, we function well. We attend church, serve and even lead ministries.  We go through all the acceptable motions of emotionally healthy spirituality but inside we're dying from this dreaded disease.

Just like, the physiological symptoms of the leprosy disease, we become numb to the pain that is often afflicted upon the assumed spiritually weak.  The parallels between the two diseases don't stop there however.  Fearing the isolation, shame and loathing that so often comes with the disease (and the sin that is at its root), we keep the mask of functional leprosy glued on tightly.  Even when we are finally able to admit to ourselves that we are suffering, our pride attempts keep us from the cure! 

Such was the case of Naaman, a well respected, commander in the Syrian army who at the behest of a servant girl went to Israel seeking healing.  When he didn't get the reception he thought he deserved, rebuffed by the king and later refused a private audience with the prophet Elisha, he got angry and said forget it! The cure in his opinion, did not befit a man of his stature.  But like the servant girl, his underlings, had his best interest at heart.  They persuaded him to be obedient and thus as the prophet said, dipped  himself in the muddy Jordan river and found himself cleansed from the disease. 

Two powerful lessons resonated with me from this study.  Both of them required the dipping of my own sin in the blood of Jesus as I John 1:9  before I got it.  Both to this day fills me with hope: 

First, none of us are immune to Functional Leprosy!  It's sad to admit but often church is NOT the  best place to show your weakness and vulnerabilities! This is not to discourage Christian fellowship, theres really nothing like it!  But somewhere in our sanctified minds we still believe church is only for Super Saints! Those who have it all together! God's word says something totally different.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Paul tells us that God's grace is sufficient for every weakness and it is in this weakness that God's power is perfected.  Also, Romans 8:1 assures us, that there is no condemnation in those who are in Christ Jesus! So go ahead... Go to church as you are...just remember you don't have to leave the same way you came! 

Second, I so identified with the servants in the story of Naaman.  In my early Christian life, I felt that I was out of sync with my destiny.  I wasn't where I needed to be to get the most out of my life I thought!  Not in my personal ambitions and certainly not in my marriage!  But God's Word showed me something completely different.  I Corinthians 1:27 says that God will often choose the foolish things in the world to shame the wise and the strong.  Psalms 37:4 taught me to Delight myself in the Lord where I was and He'll give me the desires of my heart; and I Timothy 6:6 says contentment with godliness is great gain.

I love the way Priscilla Shirer put it in the Simulcast:  Like the servant girl, I thought I was displaced but I was actually being divinely used!  I thought I was being cheated but found I was chosen!  Maybe the same can be said of you!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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