Monday, March 20, 2017

MASTERING DISTRACTIONS!

There is an old Pennsylvania Dutch proverb that says, The hurrier I go the behinder, I get!  Do you ever feel that way? That you can't seem to get anything done but you're still exhausted at the end of the day? You are not alone!

This is common among busy people. We start a project over here, get interrupted,  go to another, and before you know it you're late for work, church, picking up the kids, and then rushing off to an appointment you just can't miss!   Bottom line:  Nothing you wanted to do got done at the end of the day!

There are many culprits in our chronically busy life styles. They suck up our time, wreak havoc on our body, and yield very little results!  But the one that has cropped up in my life lately with a vengeance is DISTRACTIONS!!  Chalk it up to old age if you will, but I've been seeing the symptoms in people of every age!  The difference in my case is,  I'm determined to do something about it!  I just believed the Lord had a remedy for all of this nonsense and you know where I found it?  Right in His word!  Let me drop a bit of God Knowledge on you this morning if you're feeling FRUSTRATED with DISTRACTIONS:


  • Take your Super Woman Cape Off!  You can't Help Everyone! Beware of over committing to projects, responsibilities, that take you away from the things God really wants you to do!  This is particularly hard if the things we're asked to do are helpful, and meet a real need.  Moses, in Exodus 18:17-18 was told by Jethro, this very thing in the Voice paraphrase translation: What you are doing is not good for you18 The responsibility is just too much. You are going to wear yourself out. Not only that, you’re going to wear out the people too. You can’t do it all by yourself. 
  • Keep the Main thing the Main thing! Look for God's Will in the matter first! The Lord is more interested in us Being With Him, than our notion of Doing Things For Him! Jesus told Martha, in Luke 10:42 as she was stressing over Mary's lack of concern for kitchen duty: There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken from her."   Our distractions are sometimes nothing but more busy work to keep our minds occupied and our hearts far away from more important things! 
  • Surrender Attempts to Control Every Situation! Know and Accept Human Limitations! Ministering to the needs of others is a God-Size job and we can not do it alone. (John 15:5a) As women we often forget that because nurturing and serving is in our DNA. We become worried and concerned and will often Take on More rather than Trust God More!  The Apostles had to learn a similar lesson in Acts when they were forced to surrender the needs of the widows to God and Spirit filled servants. Acts 6:3-4 -  3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” They learned to master their distractions and frustrations by sharing the load with others.
Summary:

In everything we do we must ask ourselves these questions:  Why am I doing this?  Who gets the glory? Am I using this as a substitute for spending real quality time with the Lord? You may be like me frustrated with everything that didn't get done, but have you considered....God may be using these very things to get us back where He wants us to be ON OUR KNEES?


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Tea And Symphony!!

What a weekend I've had dear readers!  I spent a glorious couple of hours with beautiful sisters enjoying a little tea and a symphony!  If this sounds a bit archaic and too old school for your taste...hold that thought until the end of this post!

Generations of women at my church recreated an age-old bonding ritual of sisterhood, in what I believe combined both tradition and contemporary. The traditional part was the ambiance of low lighting, classical music, elegant styling, and a variety of teas, sandwiches and pastries served right at your table.  

The contemporary part was that no hats or gloves were required (ladies dressed in their best black and white); and tea time started at eleven a.m. rather than the formal two or three o'clock afternoon setting (we're busy women with lots of responsibilities). One particular joyous sight for me was that the older generation of women were served by younger women, many who had their own daughters and nieces beside them,  teaching them how to serve! Now that's a flash from my past!

The program was a bit different as well.  While one usually think of gifted musicians displaying their honed skills, our symphony was composed of only five women,  it was A Symphony of Sisters.   Each in a different season of their life: a college freshman; an aged widow; a working mom with five children; a caregiver wife to an ailing husband, and a busy mother in ministry raising three boys and a teenage daughter.  Their instruments were their voices, testimonials of God's goodness and grace in their lives and I tell you, they were in rare form!  It was truly inspiring.

So what did we learn about true sisterhood as we sipped our tea?

1.  Sisters are Still a force to be reckoned with!  We are Strong, We are Survivors, and with God's help, can get through anything!

2.  The Differences in our ages is not a Liability but an Asset. Younger women are fearless but sometimes reckless, they are forging new paths for themselves.  Older women need to trust them more to do the right thing, but be there for them when they get off track!

3. Women can indeed work well together. Love, Respect and the Appreciation for each other's gifts and talents were quite evident at this tea. We need to stop believing the negative rhetoric that younger women won't listen to wisdom and older women don't have anything useful to say!

As demonstrated at this particular tea: Our Lives are Like a Symphony...Everyone has a key part to play....Don't let hitting one sour note keep you from playing your part..we need you!


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Simple LACK of Respect!!

I praise You becauseI am fearfully
and wonderfully made...(Ps. 139:14)
In a recent post, I mentioned how inspiring the movie, Hidden Figures, was to me and thousands of women nationwide! There are so many untold or scarcely mentioned women who have made astounding contributions to our world and if not for a few diligent journalists, the general public would never know them!

I was reminded the other day of yet another one, Henrietta Lacks!  Oprah Winfrey will portray her in an upcoming HBO biopic, airing in April!  Let me give you a heads up!  This is a MUST SEE movie!  It is based on a book by Rebecca Skloot, entitled, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, published in 2010.

I first became aware of Henrietta four years ago when I traveled with my granddaughter to NCAT (North Carolina A&T) for a college tour. A student adviser gave her a copy.  Thought she ought to read it since she planned to study biomedical engineering.  I read the entire book on our nine-hour trip back home!  I literally could not put it down!

Henrietta Lacks was a ordinary black woman living in Baltimore who got sick and was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1950.  She died a year later at the age of 31.  John Hopkins, a world famous research hospital upon examining her cancerous tissue after her death was intrigued. Performing innumerable tests on her tissue they found like the Psalmist, that she was fearfully and wonderfully made  (Ps. 139:14).  They had never seen cell structures as unique as hers! 

These cells became known as HeLa (HE for Henrietta and LA for Lacks).  The studies and experiments done using these cells revolutionized medical research and was shared globally to scientists in many fields of medicine. They were critical to the production of the Salk  Polio Vaccine.  Polio was a horrific disease at the time. Thus, hundreds of medical patents have been established improving human life and the cells are still being used today! Sounds Great doesn't It? There's only one problem..They never told Henrietta's family they were doing it!!! 

(Read more about this amazing woman at: http://www.biography.com/people/henrietta-lacks-21366671#synopsis


So what message can we derive from this woman's story?  What can we tell our daughters and granddaughters?  Let's start with this:

1.  Every Woman's Body Has Value!  You are a precious jewel in the eyes of God even to the very cells that comprise your innermost being!  Your worth is immeasurable and therefore the price you put on it should be of such a high standard that you' will not defile it, contaminate it with strange flesh and should certainly not be used as a play thing for someone unwilling to pay God's price for it... a committed covenant relationship called marriage (I Corin. 6:19; Song of Songs  3:5) 


2.  Every Woman's Body Has Beauty!  Stop allowing people who don't KNOW you, DEFINE you! Your specific body type, skin color, and  hair texture is what makes you UNIQUELY YOU!  (Henrietta's body, although ravished by disease retains a measure of beauty today because it is providing for others a better quality of life.)   No one but the Lord has the right to ascribe a standard of beauty to you and He's already assured you that it is the inward beauty that counts not the outward (I Peter 3: 4; I Sam. 16:7) Most of what is called beautiful and alluring is based on profitability and popularity!

3.  Every Woman's Body Deserves Respect! Does it surprise you that the general lack of respect and the objectification of women's bodies seems to be growing? Pornography and rape on campus is on the rise. Politicians think nothing of talking about grabbing women by their vaginas and equating our emotional wiring to menstrual bleeding!  I can't imagine what this is doing to the minds of our little boys and girls growing up in this environment.  This is not of God!  Our bodies are a living sacrifice (His altar) acceptable and pleasing to God! (Rom. 12:1-2) It should be treated and honored with that same kind of  respect! Let's start demanding that others do so!

So there you have it!  The month of March is traditionally Women's History Month let's take a cue from those who Inspire and Aspire, then Conspire with one another to be all we can be in the Lord!


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Apostle John, C.L.O.

Greater love hath no man
than this...(John 15:13)
Steve Harvey (the clean version), is one of my favorite comics, and is fond of referring to himself as C.L.O. (Chief Love Officer).  His Chicago-based T.V. show routinely features men and women with relationship problems and as a best selling author and cultural icon, Steve considers himself an expert in matters of the heart! 

Well, I found another that has more experience, whose advice is more reliable, and who has been on the World's Best Selling list for years!   It's the Apostle John of the New Testament!

John, the Apostle, not to be confused with John the Baptist or the others you'll find in the Bible has long been known as the Apostle of Love!  It could be because love is a favorite theme in his New Testament writings (Gospel of John,  First, Second, Third John, and Revelation) or because he had the privilege of walking, talking, leaning on, and learning from its Original Creator, Our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Depending on when you're reading this, Valentine's Day may already be fading fast, but here's a message about True Love that never gets trite or stale and John is just the one to remind us!


***True Love is Experiential!  Are you still trying to figure out why someone says they love you but their words and actions don't seem to jibe?  Maybe you're basing love on worldly perspectives rather than Christ's!  Okay, so he forgot the card and candy! Didn't make dinner reservations and you ended up eating take-out or leftovers! I'm not saying you're not deserving of more and certainly not giving Brothers a pass for being insensitive, but hear what the C.L.O. says in John 21:15-22.  He recounts Jesus restoring His fellowship with Peter, 
an apostle who denied and abandoned Him in His time of need!  We often learn how to love others as we have been loved in the past!  Your significant other may not be able to give you what he has never experienced.  Your compassion and willingness to forgive him of this flaw, may be a critical first lesson!

***True Love is Unconditional! How faithful has your loved one been the other 364 days of the year? Can you depend on him to work and pay bills?  Is he there when you're sick? During times of crisis or when you need emotional support?  Now here's the  kicker...how faithful are YOU?  If he drops the ball, even once on any of these...does he dread having to face you!  We are all imperfect in some area! Yet John tells us in I John 4:18-19, There is no fear in love.  We shouldn't be afraid to make mistakes, fall short in areas of weakness, especially if past behavior proves that our real intent is to be true to our roles and responsibilities. We hang in there and believe the best about our loved one!

***True Love is Sacrificial! Let's be honest, we don't always get our way when it comes to how we want to be appreciated!  As Gary Chapman, says in his book, The Five Love Languages, our love tank may be on "E" most days!  But do we stew in frustration, let the Enemy have his way or do we continue to Pray, Communicate, and Look for opportunities to rescue our relationship from certain death?  John 3:16, says it all:  God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!


CHRIST DIED FOR A HOPE THAT HE DID NOT SEE YET BELIEVED EXISTED!
ARE YOU WILLING TO DO THE SAME FOR TRUE LOVE?




UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, February 6, 2017

MORE HIDDEN FIGURES: The Women Behind Great Bible Events!

There's nothing hidden
that will not be revealed...

(Mark 4:22 (GWT)
Black folks got a wonderful Christmas present from the film industry in 2016.  Two outstanding movies portraying authentic black experiences... Fences and Hidden Figures! I tell you, I've never been prouder or in the case of the latter, so inspired!

I was quite familiar with playwright, August Wilson (Fences, The Piano Lesson), but like many, I'd never heard of these extraordinary women: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson.  What's more incredible is that I lived through this dramatic time in history.  Watched it all go down on television and never knew that  black female mathematicians and a budding engineer made it all possible!

It started me wondering, how many other women made significant contributions (skills, intellect, finances) to well-known historical events but go unrecognized and uncredited.  I discovered them in every field of study and not too surprisingly, even in the BIBLE! 

Let me test your Bible knowledge and challenge you when reading God's Word again, to pause and give Him praise... for they too are Hidden Figures:
  • The Hebrew Midwives in Egypt (Exodus 1:15-17) - When ordered to kill all male babies of the Hebrew race, they stood up to Pharaoh, defied his orders and saved many, making them incredibly important to the Exodus!  Shiprah and Puah are named but two million Hebrews left Egypt. Thousands of babies were born during this time. Reasonably it would take  hundreds of unknown women acting as Midwives to save a generation which by the way, included the tribe of Judah, from whence our Savior, Jesus Christ claims human ancestry.
  • Tabernacle Tapestry Weavers (Exodus 35:25-26) - God's dwelling in the wilderness was a fantastic display of artistry and skill.  Every tent covering, table cloth, wall hanging woven to decorate or adorn its rooms, from the tent entrance to the Holy of Holies was magnificent. The scriptures tell us that they were woven by the hands of unknown womenGifted artisans filled with wisdom! This beautiful representation of God's presence kept Moses, Joshua and the Israelites moving forward to the Promise Land and women were a part of the movement too!
  •  Women Disciples of the New Testament  (Luke 23:49; 24:10, 22;  55; 24:24: Mark 15:40-41, Acts 1:14, Acts 16; Romans 16: 1-27) -It is in the New Testament that we get a greater picture of the significance of women.  As followers of Christ, some are named outright: Mary His mother, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha, Joanna, etc.  But there were more only referred to as, The Women! These Hidden Figures were with Christ at every juncture of His ministry, some contributing finances and monetary assets.  We find them at the   Cross of Calvary; the Tomb of His Resurrection, and present in the Upper Room before and after His ascension.  The Women were praying with Lydia in Acts 16 when the gospel came to Macedonia and from there Asia Minor, and Europe. Unknown and Unsung Heroines!

 These Hidden Figures of the Bible:  Praying Women, Praising Women, Prophesying Women! A verse here and there or silent Serving Women in the background THEN and NOW...will one day be known by us all!  For as Jesus explained in this Mark 4 parable. A lighted candle is never meant to be lit and then hidden under a bowl!  



SO TO ALL MY TALENTED AND GIFTED SISTERS!
 SHINE, SHINE, SHINE! 
(The World Needs to See Your Light!)

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, January 23, 2017

GET IN....WHERE YOU FIT IN!!

Ever felt like you just don't belong? In a place way, way out of your comfort zone?  PRAISE GOD!  You might be just where He wants you to be!

It's been said that Complacency is the Enemy of Success! After all the hard work, time, energy, and money spent reaching life goals you're now faced with the inevitable...how to maintain and stay on top of your game!

Or, perhaps for you, it's the opposite! You don't WANT to do anything different than what you're doing now!  You've earned the right to go to church once a week, Praise awhile, Pray a little bit, Enjoy the sermon and then Tip God on the the way home! You paid your dues long ago (teaching, ushering, committee work, and the like)...let the young folks take it from here!

 To both groups the Lord is saying ... It's time to get a bit uncomfortable.  Time to get off the Career track and off the Church pew and back into serving the needs of others!!!

Listen, my sisters! The world is hurting and if the Church is to make a difference we ALL have to do our part!  TWO GREAT RESOURCES ARE A.W.O.L. FROM SERVING NEEDS: The Wisdom of the Aged and the Energy and Expertise of  Millennials (18-34 year olds).  Let me remind you: 

Everything you have is because of the Lord! (Psalm 24:1) Your talents, your gifts, personality, and ability to achieve is from His hand (James 1:17).  If you are seeking significance and sustainability and disappointed with the world's definition of success, come on back to the Lord!  Use what you've learned IN the world to SAVE the world and be richly rewarded in the process! 

God's work has no Glass Ceilings! And Senior Saints, God's work has no Retirement Plan! (Jeremiah 29:11)

Don't Let Complacency Keep You From Being Your Best:

1.  Keep Learning- Challenge yourself to try something different! Take a class in something of interest, learn to play an instrument, travel then share these experiences with others. Keep your mind and body active as you grow older!

2.  Welcome Change -  Don't close your mind to new ways of doing things!  Get a fresh perspective from those who may be younger,  do things a bit different but have a common goal!

3.  Keep a Future Focus - The world's future may seem bleak but in Christ yours is as bright as ever! Shake yourself out of the habit of complaining, criticizing, and negative thinking.  No one wants to be around this attitude!

Don't Let Complacency Keep You from Giving Your Best:

1. Discover and Use Your Gifts For God - If you don't know your Spiritual gifts, take a class or access one of the free gift assessments online: https://gifts.churchgrowth.org/analysis/index.php
It is relatively easy to transition technical, communication, and social media skills used on your job to ministry and it is much more rewarding to do so.

2.  Learn From the Best, Not Books! - Find a mentor who may not have your education but has experience; godly wisdom, and valuable insight gained over years.  Learn from her, share your thoughts about where God may be leading you to serve, but most important.. LISTEN!!!  There's a big difference between Thoeory and Practice!

3. Stay Humble and Persevere - Today's culture is known for providing formulas for success, building you up with lofty expectations, then telling you to wait for a speedy outcome!  That's not the way it works in real life!  In ministry as in life, you must be willing to stay the course, stretch yourself, reinvent your method of outreach occasionally, and when things don't turn out the way you desire be satisfied that God will work it all together for His good! (Romans 8:28-29)


God's Purpose and Passion is  embedded in your very soul!  Your gifts have already been earmarked for success  (Ephes. 2:10; Joshua 1:8)  Don't squander your life on that which has no eternal value. (I Corinthians 3:13)  The Body of Christ already has a place for your unique Talents and Gifts.  All You need to do is....


GET IN WHERE YOU FIT IN! 
  

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, January 16, 2017

SEIZING YOUR SEASON!!

Erratic winter weather this year has caused my poor little Boxwood shrubs to sprout with what looks like new leaves!  Here in the Midwest we've had days that felt like Spring complete with rains that come with it; below zero temperatures, and forecasts nearing the 70s!  Not your typical winter is it?

SMH (Shaking My Head)! It makes me think about the old folks of my childhood who would point to the bible and warn:  Time is getting short.  If you've got something you want to do, you better be about it! 

Now learn a lesson from the fig tree: when its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near.  In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know His return is very near, right at the door." (Matthew 24:32-33 NLT)

Biblically speaking the use of this verse in that way is out of context. Yet, I take the sentiment to heart! Now is the time to Seize Your Season in Life, for the future in so many ways is very unpredictable! 

I sometimes look back at the various seasons in my own life, those times I took a big bite of  luscious looking fruit and found it bitter because it was out of season for God's plan in my life!  (Song of Solomon 8:4). When I was discouraged in a season, thinking I would never realize my dreams for college, a career, spiritual, and cultural enrichment, but in its appropriate season got it all! (Matthew 6:33)  

Even now as I am aging, I wonder if my season has passed for fruitfulness and significance! Can I still add value to others. Is it foolish to entertain these dreams I still have! While I would admonish every young person to: Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say,  I have no pleasure in them...(Ecc. 12:1).  I am also comforted by these words of King Solomon: (Ecc. 3: 1-5)

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain 

Perhaps after reading this you've concluded as I have....There's STILL a lot left for me to do in MY Season!!!!   A lot of planting, a lot of healing, a lot of building, a lot of serving, a lot of living

 This is my Prayer!  (From the lyrics of a popular song)


"Lord, whatever You're doing in this season, Don't do it without me!"


DON'T WAIT...SEIZE YOUR SEASON!


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