Tuesday, September 12, 2017

From Mediocrity to MAJESTY!

"You have made them a little lower
than the angels and crowned them with
glory and honor." (Psalm 8:5)
Joy, pure joy! That's the only word that comes to mind when I think of Sunday's celebration of women at my church.  How does that old hymn go?  What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms... 

This was the finale of our annual women's bible study and while jubilant over the book, Living In the Pink, by Sharon Tubbs, I think we all felt a bit overwhelmed and surprised by the bonding that took place over the six weeks we were together.

It was a journey of transparency, reflection, and revival as we compared our lives with those of the characters in the study, wincing often when one of them stirred up some familiar guilt or pain.  But somehow we always came away inspired and never condemned; evidence of the grace of God permeating this wonderful book.

The highlight of course was the author,  Sharon Tubbs as our guest speaker for the day!  Having met a few celebrity writers, I couldn't vouch for the character of any one of them if you asked me!  But Sharon's passion and authenticity is readily apparent!  She desires to do her part in bringing every Christians into the divine power and authority for which they were created (Psalm 8:5; Ephesians 2:10; Hebrews  2:7).  In other words, to take us from Mediocrity to Majesty!

Here's a brief summary of her message:
  • Mediocrity is going to church on Sunday.  Majesty is trying to be like Christ seven days a week!
  • Mediocrity is praying for where God wants to take you. Majesty is praying for where God wants to use you!
  • Mediocrity is encouraging your significant other to come to church. Majesty is not sleeping with him the night before!
The move from Mediocrity to Majesty is all about Stretching!

1. Stretching beyond a life of "Me" - Nehemiah 1 - Comfortable in Persia, Nehemiah was concerned about his brothers suffering in Jerusalem. He sacrificed prestige and a plush environment to do something about it!

2. Stretching beyond "They and Them" (Living to please others) - Genesis 29:31. Leah, the unloved wife of Jacob tried to win his favor by producing multiple male heirs. She finally comes to the realization that God is the only one she needs to please and it is He that deserves all her praise!

3. Stretching beyond Your Blessings - 2 Kings 4:8-17 - The barren Shunammite woman settled for a mediocre life of complacency.  She had no son and hopelessness almost denied her the opportunity. But God taught her through her selfless service to the prophet, Elisha, that when you Delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart! (Psalms 37:4-5)

Sharon Tubbs asked a question of herself that we should all ask!  Where is the greatness in my life?  Are my dreams, gifts, and talents buried beneath a facade of mediocrity? If so, it's  time to do some Spiritual Stretching:

Stretch UP toward the hills which comes our help! (Psalms 121:1) 

Stretch BEYOND the ordinary to the Extraordinary! (Ephesians 3:20)

Stretch OUT, bringing someone else with you as you discover the majesty of this truth...we are made just a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor! (Ps. 8:5) 


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Changing Our Minds About CHANGE!

"Be not conformed to this world
but be ye transformed... (Rom. 12:2)
Little Fox, one of the stories in the book, Living In the Pink, by author Sharon Tubbs, is about the difficulty of change. This is one of several vignettes about Christian life, the women in my church is studying.  Sharon takes a very humorous but revealing look at the practice of saving seats in black churches.

The whole matter was brought to light recently by brilliant cast members (also from my church) who performed it live in a session of our annual women's bible study.  We laughed ourselves silly at the antics of Sis. Sho'Nuff and her Bestie, Sis. Towery, but in the end, more than a few of us were convicted of the spirit of rebellion when it comes to change! How silly of us! Is there any other way to become more like Christ? That IS our goal isn't it?

For so many years we have been taught to fear change.  Call it mass insecurity if you like! And to be truthful for a lot of people good things have not always come in the aftermath of most of them.  But in Christ we need not feel that way!  In fact, we should embrace change because we know Who the Change Agent is and He always works it out for our good (Romans 8:28-30)

My challenge to you and a reminder for myself is to learn to recognize when it is time to change and to accept it with faith in our Lord Jesus Christ!  I'm not asking you to toss out the beneficial and valuable traditions that have proven to add to our faith and character. I too, am a product of a rich and undeniable strong familial, church, and ethnic culture. All have stood me well and I proudly pass them down to the next generation.

 I'm simply calling to your attention, that our entrance into eternity and into a world free from the evil, violence, sickness, and devastation we're witnessing today will only come on the wings of change! (I Corin. 15:51-57, I Thess. 4:15-17) We will not be able to claim fully God's promises in the next life nor will be able to withstand the difficulties of this one without embracing a mindset of change!

 No one is saying that change is easy!  But change does NOT have to be ugly!  You know what I'm talking about don't you?  In  I Samuel 15:23 the Prophet Samuel spoke these words to King Saul: Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and arrogance (pride) like the evil of idolatry.   I thought about that for a bit. When I resist change so vehemently as to cause chaos and confusion who am I serving?  I can only conclude that I'm not serving God, but MYSELF! 

The Only Antidote For The Fear of Change is Trust in God! It works because:

1. "I the Lord do not change." (Malachi 3:6) Change will not destroy you because God's faithfulness toward you does not change!

2. "We are made new in the attitude of our minds...created to be like God" (Ephes. 4:22-24 
To grow in righteousness and holiness requires that we change old attitudes.

3. " Forget the former things; do not dwell on them.  See, I am doing a new thing!" (Is. 43:18-19) What God has in store for you is more glorious than what you think you've lost!

SUCCESSFUL CHANGE REQUIRES PRAYER AND TRUTH BUT ABOVE ALL TRUST!



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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wounds of My Sister

Faithful are the wounds of a friend...
(Proverbs 27:6)
I thought I was done with talking about hurt after a women's bible study I facilitated a few years ago.  About 150 women and myself took a deep look at the wounds in our life.  Those we endured and those we inflicted on others!

Although we had no expectations that the study would answer every question we had about our pain; with the Lord's help, surely we could come away with a better understanding and coping strategy! I think for most of us we were able to do just that!

However, recently as we've ventured once again into a study of self revelation and reflection, I've discovered a pain that didn't quite manifest itself in the past one.  We talked about Church hurt, Father wounds, Self hurt, and the like from both the physical and emotional perspective but not so much this one. It is a form of Self hurt, I suppose, as it cuts deep into our own souls, festers, and spreads its poison into our family, work, and all other social circles.  It's called Sister Wounds! 

Sister wounds are the intentional (and sometimes unintentional) infliction of pain upon another female to render victims powerless, in order to achieve feelings of significance, value, or wholeness missing in other parts of our lives. [my definition]

It is very much like the crab in a bucket metaphor. Women in similar situations, face a common fate or opportunity, sees one rising above the fray, and pulls her down to perish with the rest!
We do this by discouraging, isolating, and otherwise minimizing her gifts and talents! Its root cause is jealousy fueled by insecurity and is one of seven deadly sins women commit against other women far too often. Interestingly, I came across an internet post that really explained it well.  Take a look at it when
you get a chance. http://oldgreenshoe.blogspot.com/2005/11/seven-deadly-sins-of-sisterhood.html

Apparently, Sister wounding is as old as the sin that it is because I found evidence of it even in the Bible.   Take the case of Sarai and Hagar (Genesis 16:1-7).  Sarai, Abraham's wife could not have children but an acceptable custom of the time was to use a surrogate.  She chose her handmaiden, Hagar but when she conceived and bore Ishmael, Sarai's old insecurities cropped up and she put both Hagar and her son out!  The bible doesn't tell us all the details but I believe there was enough blame on both sides.  Hagar no doubt flaunted her fertility in the face of her broken sister so we see that the Sister Wound sword was perhaps slashing both ways! Their inability to coexist in harmony is one of the reasons Muslims and Jews are mortal enemies today!

Another situation, this too having to do with child bearing, was the story of Hannah and Peninnah (I Samuel 1:6-16).  Verse 6 tells us that Hannah was teased continually by her Sister wife, Peninnah because she could not bear children, again exploiting another sister's weakness to fulfill a selfish need. Even the love of Elkanah, the husband was not enough to soothe her pain.  This shows you how deeply devastating it can get.

Yet all, wounding is not bad!  Sometimes the truth hurts for a short time but brings long-lasting good in a situation!  Just as a surgeon may have to open a wound to release the poison lying deep within, in our Sister relationships we may have to do the same thing!  The difference is our motivation (Ephesians 4:15) .  Proverbs 27:6 tells us that a Sister Friend's words, even when they hurt is faithful (can be trusted) to have our best interest at heart!  It is the so-called friend who flatters and allows us to behave recklessly to our own detriment that is the true enemy.

Sister wounds are often generational, pain passed down from a mother to daughter then from a sister to a sibling. It can come from experiences early in childhood, never dealt with or betrayals of many sorts still existing.  But this we must remember!

Wounding that is malicious is comparable to murder! (Prov. 18:21)
Wounding that is compassionate and loving heals many pains (Prov.16:24)

My Sister, If you must wound me, 
Wound me with the Truth
Then Pray with Me until I Heal!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Up Where We Belong: Reach For It!

But those who trust in the Lord
will find new strength. They will
soar high on wings like eagles
(Isaiah 40:31 NLT)
In this 21st century, it seems implausible that women are still seeking empowerment!  Now I know that covers a lot of territory depending on where you see the lack.  Maybe its on the job where the proverbial glass ceiling is holding tough.  Or perhaps you're still nursing your wounds over the fact that Hilary Clinton wasn't elected President of the United States. If you're a Feminist, we could stay on this subject all day long....but do we need to?

As a woman, I too am tired of women being the butt of every joke. Demeaned in every rap song, objectified in media of every type, and a cliche in every serious discussion.  But what saddens me most is that for some of us, we've  begun to drink the Kool-aid (believe that it is so) and have started acting the part!  I'm here to remind you that it is time to grab another sister and victoriously Rise Up Where We Belong...To Reach our highest potential in Christ!  To Become More of Who We Already Are in HIM!

I don't know about you but when I'm in need of inspiration, I don't run to the nearest bookstore and find a New York Times best seller on the subject.  I look in God's Word, and it never fails me.  I get just what I need to put me on the right path.  More times than a few, His Word  points me to the simple things in nature, for example the awesome and majestic eagle!

In Isaiah 40:31, I'm encouraged to wait on the Lord and He shall renew my strength and I will mount up with wings as an eagle, run but not be weary and walk and not be faint. Is that not the perfect remedy for weariness of the mind and soul?  

The great eagle in many pictures looks fierce and intimidating but don't you know it has the gentle heart of a mother beating beneath its wings.  Deuteronomy 32:11 shows me the crucial balance between sternness and maternal protectiveness.  Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. Doesn't that sound like the God-given perseverance every mother must have for rearing healthy children?

What I'm saying is this...Stop letting other people define you!  Keeping you stuck in a box of their own making! 2 Peter 1:3 says, His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life  through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  His calling in our lives is to reach our full potential in Him!  But the only way we can break through to these new heights is to:

1. Avoid Negative Self-Talk (Eph. 4:29). Take these three phrases out of your vocabulary: I can't...(I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me. Phil. 4:13).   I don't... have the qualifications; the experience, the boldness, the finances. (And my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus, Phil. 4:19).  I'm not...smart enough, strong enough, attractive enough. (I am the Lord, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me? Jer. 32:27)

2. Affirm Yourself in God's Word. (Create a personal affirmations statement to help you grow in God's grace) Here's an example.  I know I'm Somebody, Cause God Don't make No Junk!

3 Learn these Lessons from the Eagle,  by John Maxwell's Law of Magnetism  (Prov. 30:18, 19)

--Eagles make things happen (they don't sit around and watch!)

--Eagles see and seize opportunities

--Eagles influence others

--Eagles add value to others

--Eagles possess an uncommonly great attitude

--Eagles have excellent relationship skills

--Eagles have an eagle track record of success

--Eagles think differently

--Eagles continually grow

Pray This Eagle's Prayer

The road is long, there are mountains in the way,
but we climb each step with You every day.
  Lord, lift us up where we belong, where the Eagles cry
on a mountain high!
Lord, lift us up where we belong, far from the world
we know, Up where the clear winds blow.
Amen

(Words adapted from a song written by Buffy Sainte-Marie)


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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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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