Monday, December 14, 2015

TO SERVE AND SHARE THE JOY-The True Christmas Spirit!

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy...
(Galatians 5:22)
There's a familiar chain of liquor stores in my neck of the woods called, Community Spirits and believe me it has a booming business all year round not just during the holidays!

Wish I could say the same about the real community spirit we ought to be sharing.  Instead, I find that folks are probably at their worst this time of year.  Rushed and stressed with all the expectations and entertainment we have associated with  Christmas, one hardly has time to take a deep breath and reflect on why we have this celebration any way!

It's been a consistent and steady move of another spirit, to take Christ, The Real Reason for the Season, out of our minds and hearts.  Nativity scenes are banned on government properties;  employees are cautioned to say, Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas to make sure they politically correct.  Recently, I even had to dig through mountains of Christmas card selections to find one without a Santa Claus, Reindeer, or Snowman on it! I finally settled on one with a cardinal on a pine tree branch.  The only one that actually had the words, Merry Christmas printed on it.

So as the days grow closer and the store ads become more frequent, it is my hope that perhaps a few of you will take time to read the following.  It's from a wonderful little tract printed by The Tract League of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  If you commit to do one or two of these each day until December 25th, I think you'll discover the True Christmas Spirit!  So go ahead....GET YOUR CHRISTMAS JOY ON!

10 Guidelines For Keeping Christ in Christmas!

TAKE - time to be alone and ponder your relationship with Christ.

READ- the story of Jesus' birth and note how people responded: Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna.

PRAISE - God at Christmas. Join other Christians in celebrations of music and praise.

HELP- those in need at Christmas.  Follow the example of Jesus whose heart was filled with compassion for those who were suffering.

KEEP- your TO DO list as short as possible.  Limit your social obligations so there is time for reflection. 

USE - cash when you buy gifts to avoid holiday debt.  Invite your relatives to support a mission cause instead of giving you a gift.

TELL - others about the Savior.  Find opportunities to give a tract or a Bible. 

REMEMBER- Christ's church around the world.  Some of these churches are enduring great hardship.

LIVE- like Christ in this season.  Be compassionate.  Be forgiving (especially in mall parking lots and with harassed sales staff).  Be sensitive to the people with whom you work and play.

BE JOYFUL - at Christmas! You are celebrating the greatest event in the history of the world - the arrival of God in human form. 


And the angel said unto them,
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you 
good tidings of great joy, which 
shall be to all people.  
For unto you is born this day
in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10, 11)


Merry Christmas and See You in the New Year 2016! (Lord willing of  course!)

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Monday, December 7, 2015

FAITH versus FEAR: YOU "DO" HAVE A CHOICE!

Fear!  What a powerful emotion!  It can drive sane folks crazy; turn the meek into a ferocious beast; make the brave keel over in a faint, and it is pushed daily into our psyches by the shovelfuls!  Every since the tragedy of September 11, 2001 when terrorist breached our supposedly impenetrable security borders, America has been gripped with fear!  It doesn't look as if we'll get any relief from it very soon.

It saddens me that this is the world my grandchildren must grow up in! That this legacy of hate and deception, fueled by anger and self-defined justice is what they can look forward to.  But surprised?  Not really.  We've been spiraling down this path for centuries, it's what has been described in God's Word as the End Times! (Matthew 24:6) You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.  Such things must happen, BUT the end is still to come."

I'm a bible dispensationalist, so I'm not attributing what we're seeing in our world today as The Tribulation period described in Matthew's gospel and the book of Revelation.  I hold to the belief that we are still under Grace!  But sometimes, when you've had a week in America, like we had last week, it sure feels real close to it!

Domestic violence: police shootings, gang wars, black on black crime, and the San Bernadino, California massacre killing 14 people and injuring many more, only heightens this thought. They are all rather senseless! We tend to accept tragedy better if there's a plausible motive behind it.  If we can put a neat little label on it, we can move on a bit easier.  But why so many and why now?

So what do you do?  You shut the television off for awhile,  quickly turn to the comics, past the scary front page headliners and sit down to think about how you're going to survive the fear that is just waiting to hijack any sense of security you're feeling!  Some fears like those described above are valid, even reasonable, others are mind games we play on ourselves based on what could happen!

 Imagined or not, we all have to learn how to face our fears in a way that helps us to exercise our faith rather than cave in under the consequences--A life devoid of hope, godly potential, and good will to our fellow man!

Here are some things to remember.  I need to add a disclaimer however.  They only work if your Faith source is in JESUS CHRIST!  READ and find comfort in knowing that GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!
  • Fear is the opposite of faith...if you deal with your fear your faith will automatically increase because you are properly connected with your Faith Source, God.
  • Prayer and meditation of scripture is essential in changing your fearful attitudes.
  • Remember that God permitting adversities in your life is one way He increases your faith. 
Scriptures to read as you Faith Your Way Through Fearful Times:

1.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear  but of power and love and discipline. (2 Tim. 1:7)

2.  No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent.  For He will give His angels charge concerning you to guard you in all your ways. (Psalm 91:10-11)

3.  In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.  What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:11)

4.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:4-5)


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, November 30, 2015

The Truth about TRUTH!

Living my truth!  That's a common phrase of our time, isn't it?  But what does that really mean?  Such wisdom escapes both the influential and intelligentsia now and in the past; for it has teased the minds of many philosophers and proponents of religiosity over the ages.   The question was even posed to Jesus by Pilate, just before His death sentence after being swayed by the people to do so. (John 18:37-38).  And here we are in the 21st century, still searching for it!

Mainstream thought says,  it is living authentically, according to one's own individual bent, or preferences (some say it isn't even a preference but who they really are) without guilt, regret. fear or constraints. Sounds good doesn't it?  But it doesn't do much for me!

How about those who become innocent victims or unwitting pawns in the Truth game.  I surmise that it is quite dangerous! Case in point. Should a man like Jared Fogle, the former Subway spokesperson, be charged with child pornography and sex with underage children, if by his assessment he was, living his authentic sexual truth?  Can I not believe, to assuage my own damaged conscience, that I can do and be and live any way I want in this pluralistic society without accountability of any sort?

Years ago while pursuing my undergraduate degree I became fascinated with the thoughts of truth myself.  I,  like many in my young adult years (18-35 yrs) went on the search for truth in a way that was significant to me.  I wanted to find a premise that I could wholly accept and understand relevant to my own life.  I heard these years described recently as times of Odyssey.  A journey of discovering who we are and what our truth might be!  

Eureka, I found it!  And it was not hidden in New Age or Postmodern thinking, for it is Absolute, Attainable, and provides the Answer to every question I have had about myself, my existence, the world now and even the future.  I FOUND THE TRUTH IN GOD'S WORD, His HOLY BIBLE.   Psalms 119:160The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

Take a look at God's response to the World's idea of Truth: 

--Cultural Relativism: Truth exist in relation to culture, society or historical context.

Colossians 2:8Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.


-Existentialism: Man has the ability through the act of their will to determine what is truth.

John 14:17a - The Spirit of Truth determines what is TRUE - The world cannot accept Him because it neither sees Him or knows Him.  1 Corin.  2:11 -For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

-Rationalism: Opinions and actions should be based on reason and knowledge rather than religion or emotional responses.

Proverbs 2:6 - For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
Coloss. 2:8 Christ - in whom  are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 


BOTTOM LINE:
GOD'S TRUTH IS THE ONLY TRUTH!!!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...


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Sunday, November 22, 2015

If You're Thankful...JUST SAY SO!

Let the redeemed of the Lord say this...
(Psalms 107:2)
Here it is, another Thanksgiving Day fast approaching and what do I see? Neighbors pulling down Halloween decorations and frantically putting Christmas trees and lights up!  I've boycotted my favorite television channel, Hallmark this month because all they have been airing are Christmas movies.   Each day the newspaper gains an extra pound or two with ads for Black Friday! Gee Whiz, I haven't even bought my turkey yet!

WHAT HAPPENED TO THANKSGIVING?

A better question might be what has happened to us Giving Thanks, period.  Not  just to God for His bountiful blessings, but just saying thank you in general!  When someone holds the door for you as you enter a building, Thank you!  The bag boy at the store puts your groceries in the shopping cart and sometimes even pushes it to the parking lot,  Thank you!  At a crowded gas station, a customer motions you to a newly freed up pump, Thank you!  And how rare is it to hear a child say Thank you, for any gift or kindness extended to them...too many parents have ripped the page on Common courtesy, right out of the Parenting book!

A few days ago, my pastor shared his vision and our church's theme for 2016, Back to The Basics, and I am so excited! I think everyone should start by stop complaining and just start being grateful! With so much going on in the world today surely we can feel it!  But this bit of encouragement is so important for those of us who name Christ as our Savior.  We've GOT to exhibit an Attitude of Gratitude.  THE WORLD NEEDS OUR WITNESS! (Matt. 5:13-17)

Psalms 107:1-2  from Eugene Peters, Message translations says this:


Oh, thank God- He's so good!
His love never runs out.
All of you set free by God, tell the world!
Tell how He freed you from oppression,
Then rounded you up from all over the place,
from the four winds, from the seven seas.

Let's pause a moment and think about where we used to be and what used to hold us in bondage and  simply say Thank You! When you sit across the table from your loved ones and there's a plate missing...still say Thank you for all the great memories! Before you put one morsel of that wonderful dinner in your  mouth, bow your head reverently and remember so many who have not or can not eat this day, and say Thank you!  JUST BE THANKFUL! LET THE REDEEMED OF THE LORD....SAY SO!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, November 9, 2015

IT'S AN ANGRY, ANGRY WORLD!


Man's anger does not promote
the righteousness God requires.

(James 1:20)
Nap-ghanistan and Chi-raq!  Those are the names given to two of our nation's cities who have skyrocketing numbers in violence and crime (Indianpolis and Chicago)!  Indianapolis used to be snidely called Nap Town or as Hilary Clinton infamously referred to it, India-No-place.  Compared to other midwestern cities, there just wasn't a lot to do here and was a virtual  snooze fest when it came to excitement ... NOT ANYMORE!

It's never been easy living in America, and as my husband is fond of saying, look at our country's history, we were founded on violence!  So true.  Instead of a chicken in every pot, as was promised by Herbert Hoover in 1928,  decades later we now have instead, a gun in every house! 

And not mere firearms mind you, for general protection but assault weapons. Guns used in war, to bring down the enemy, devastate any and everything in their path, designed for mass destruction and readily available to anyone with a hundred bucks--chump change for the average American teen!  WHY DO WE NEED THAT MUCH FIRE POWER?!!

We live in an angry world! A world without conscience or pity for the innocent, but allows one to not just get pissed off (pardon the language but the word actually is in the bible, see I Kings 16:11) but to RAGE against perceived injustices by people and/or circumstances! Anger is one of those negative emotions that we really need to get a grip on! Our survival as a people depends on it!

As you might imagine the Word of God has much to say about Anger!  Some equivalent of the word appears about 234 times in the King James Version.  That being said, in the human context it is usually about how to avoid  it, the destruction it causes, and the management of the emotion in ourselves in order to produce the righteousness that God desires (James 1:20).  Still, it's a real problem, even among Christians!  Here are a few things to think about: 

1. GET REAL ABOUT YOUR ANGER- ADMIT YOU HAVE A PROBLEM!
If people you were once close to start avoiding you, leave the room when you enter or you keep hearing that you need help with your temper, believe them!  Nobody wants to be around a hot-tempered person (Prov. 22:24)

2. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN HEALING!
Stop making excuses.  It's not just who you are. Your loved ones don't just have to take it, or leave it!
Get the help you need and cover all the bases.  Sometimes irritability has a physical cause (see a medical doctor), sometimes it has an emotional cause (see a mental health specialist), but most of the time it has a spiritual cause (see a biblical counselor), Leave no stone unturned! (James :17)

3.  DEAL WITH ANGER ON A DAILY BASIS!
There is something called righteous anger.  Jesus displayed it in the Gospels when He overturned the money changers tables in the temple. Anger can be used to motivate us into action for good and just causes, but one must be careful even in that. We can be angry but sin not, as Ephes. 4:26 says. Exercise your anger in wisdom and don't forget the latter part of that verse. Don't let the sun go down on your anger!  CONFESS IT,  RESOLVE IT OR SIMPLY LET IT GO! But DO NOT LET IT FESTER!!!  This is the catalyst for much of the anger we see in the world, a root of bitterness that cannot be contained.  (Hebrew 12:15)

JESUS IS THE HELP AND HOPE  FOR  VIOLENCE IN THIS ANGRY, ANGRY WORLD! TRY HIM AND SEE WHAT A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE HE WILL MAKE!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, November 2, 2015

FOR THE NEXT 60 DAYS...

Be careful then how you live...
(Ephesians 5:15-16)
Turning both the clocks in my home and the page on my calendar to a new month this weekend, I had an incredible Ah hah moment!  Only sixty more days (Lord willing) until a 
brand new year!

Suddenly it occurred to me.  Why wait until December 31st to start thinking about much needed changes?  Today is as good a day as any to start thinking about refreshing, renewing, and revitalizing my life.

So for the next 60 days,  I'm going to do a few small, simple, but significant things that I believe could really revolutionize the time I have left here on earth!  I'd  like to share them with you and if you want, come join me for the discovery!

Like the proverbial Three-legged Stool, my strategy will affect the three basic components of all humans:  BODY, MIND, AND SPIRIT
  •  BODY - For the next 60 days, I'm going to step out into the fresh air and take 10 Deep Breaths!  (Breathe in slowly to a count of "5," hold for a count of "5," then slowly release.  Experts say that  deep breathing not only helps you reduce stress, it oxygenates your brain so you think more clearly, rids the body of harmful carbon dioxide, and strengthens your immune system. (Genesis 2:7) Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. 
  • MIND - For the next 60 days, I'm going to change my mindset and focus on positive thoughts. (limiting my news intake on T.V. and newspapers, taking note of only what is necessary to keep me informed for my basic safety or welfare) When I begin to spiral down into negativity, I will meditate on scripture. ( Philippians 4:8) Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 
  • SPIRIT - For the next 60 days,  I will affirm myself and find one thing a day to laugh out loud about! (For once, I will agree with God that since I've been redeemed, I am the Apple of His Eye, Deeply loved, Totally Accepted, Perfectly Pleasing and Complete in Him. (Proverbs 17:22) A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. 
UNTIL NEXT TIME... 



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Monday, October 19, 2015

TRACEY'S TRUTH: A Sad Story of a Misguided Youth!

Thought I was sort of immune to absurdities on prime time television.  Not a lot moves me emotionally any more, especially since I've been watching the Dr. Phil Show on a regular basis. You see just about everything there. But the episode he aired on Friday, October 16th  did!

The second story of the hour featuring extreme social media behavior was one about 20 year old Tracey, a beautiful black and confused young lady who thrived on negative attention she got from posting outrageous claims on the internet.

Here's an example: "I love posting crazy things just to get people's reaction," explains Tracey, who has shared details about her body, her hopes of marrying "a rich white guy," and her experience having unprotected sex on social media, for which she says she's proud she received more than 80,000 "likes." 

"I even posted I wanted to get raped just to get attention. Then, I said being raped felt amazing," she says in the video above, pointing out that her post received more than 26,000 likes and 4,000 comments. "Ninety percent of the comments were negative, but I loved it."  (Here's a video clip from the show, copy/paste address in your browser if link doesn't work)


http://www.drphil.com/shows/page/Extreme_Social_Media_Behavior/


Speaking in an exaggerated Valley Girl like cadence, she giggled and recounted her many risky exploits with sheer abandonment...except, if you looked closely you could see a sad and hurt little girl (she acted and looked much younger) that just needed someone to genuinely love her!

I  have to say, I was not impressed with the way Dr. Phil handled it.  Generally, after giving his psychological assessment of the situation, he offers free counseling or resources.  I didn't see that here at all.  After telling her that she had no self worth, no self respect, no self esteem, he left her blowing in the wind! Tracey probably left that show pretty much the way she came. And to be frank, it felt like another venue for public exploitation.  This was her TRUTH and she was determined to live it!

That's what touched me so deeply,  seeing the reality of danger from her behavior in my own personal and church family.  I kept asking myself,  where were her parents at that critical age when she was being bullying? (She did mention that her father was chronically ill and that she didn't get along with her mother--so maybe Mom's attention on caring for father left her with abandonment issues).  Where are we? I'm not placing blame but wondering, are we too, missing red flags?

My Pastor gave a thought-provoking sermon yesterday, Looking At Your House!, Joshua 24:9-15.
A Three point sermon that ought to motivate us all to action:

Point One: EXAMINE YOUR OWN HOUSE, Be a leader, speaker, commander of what goes on in your home! (vs. 14a).  Check the phones, computer cookies, nothing's off limits in your house!

Point Two: STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR YOUR HOUSE, Stop doing what's comfortable, convenient and culturally acceptable! Excuses don't empower good behavior they enable, bad ones! (vs 15) If you find something awry, do something about it!

Point Three: MAKE A PUBLIC EXHORTATION (Declaration), Your family needs to know what will be tolerated in your house and what won't and stick to your guns!  Like Joshua and the Mama character in the movie, Raisin in the Sun,  don't be afraid to say: IN MY HOUSE, THERE IS STILL GOD!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

WALKING WORTHY...The Goal of Holiness!

I beg you....walk worthy of your calling
(Ephesians 4:1)
I guess I just can't shake this topic of holiness!  This morning I turned to one of my favorite devotionals, In Touch, Dr. Charles Stanley and my fingers went directly to a reading from earlier this week,  Responding to God's Holiness, Isaiah 6:1-8.

Then while studying my Sunday school lesson, I found that our second unit for the quarter is a study on holiness, and the lesson passage again is Isaiah 6:1-8.   I don't believe in coincidences and although I had planned to take a break this week from the blog (recuperating from an outpatient procedure), I feel compelled to share just a few more biblical insights gained from my study.

An old song says:  What the World needs now is Love, Sweet Love, but I beg to differ.  Three college shootings in as many weeks, continued gun violence, war breaking out consistently all over the world...What the world needs is HOLINESS!

I explained last week that holiness had nothing to do with clothes, rituals, or isolating oneself from sin and sinful things but had everything to do with a right relationship with God! (2 Cor. 5:21).  Simple faith in Christ puts us in the right position; but it's the practice (how we respond to it) that's missing and where we're failing to make the greatest impact on our surroundings. 
  • Keeping Sacred Things Sacred. In a world where the number of twitter followers and Facebook friends are used to validate your worthiness and likability, it's hard not to try to fit in!  But by virtue of the fact that you're a Christian, you must maintain separateness! Sanctification, another word for holiness, means to be "set apart"from the world and unto God!  Keep social media in it's proper place! Refuse to malign God's name or allow others to use your page to dishonor God, to propagate sexual filth, or to post pictures that desecrate the body, (God's Holy temple). Sanitize and Sanctify your posting and let it be known that you will not allow your page to be used for maligning, trolling, or perversions of any kind.
  •  Refrain from texting, scrolling, posting, viewing messages while in church!  I've been      shocked at the conduct of even so called mature Christians, who during praise and worship, and the preaching of God's Word, could not resist the lure of, bings and bongs of incoming messages, long enough to hear God speak!  Don't be fooled with placing your bible or program over your telephone or pretending you're looking up scripture from a bible app.  We know what you're doing!
  • Beware of Personal Style in Dress and Speech. I'm not double-talking here.  I know I just said that holiness wasn't about what you put on!  It's not, but it can reflect your insecurities and vulnerabilities.  What you wear and how you speak portrays what you think about yourself. Clothes can be a costume to hide behind or a uniform to identify what you really are deep in your heart!  I'm over women of all ages who profess to be Christians (Holy women) who think it's okay to dress provocatively, in the name of trendy styles.  The root word for provocative is to provoke, to excite, to stir up,  an action or a feeling.  Let's face it, if you must dress or talk in a way that draws attention to yourself, you are saying you have no confidence in your God-given gifts of a pleasing personality, natural charm, and ability to converse wisely.  You deny God's ability to make us content with His masterpiece created and rooted in godliness (Ephesians 2:10). 
  •   Don't be fooled by Popular Culture.  I've written about these disgusting shows before:  Preachers Wives, Preachers Daughters,  Preachers of L.A. (thank God it's cancelled), Impastor, and now a new one Preachers Exes. Shows that exploit every facet of unholy Christian behavior one can imagine for the benefit of dollars and entertainment.  No!  Holiness does not mean Sinless, but a saint growing, pursuing, and practicing a lifestyle of holiness does not put on display their struggles.  They are humbled by them and like Isaiah, feels chastened in the presence of a Holy God. 
The Goal of Holiness is this from these powerful Scriptures: Romans 12:1 -2 and Ephesians 4:1--3.

1. Presenting your bodies as a living sacrifice Holy and acceptable unto God
2. Conforming not to the world but being continually transformed with a new mind
3. Walking worthy of the calling to which you have been called 

Persevering with all humility, gentleness, and patience, eager to  maintain the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Are You HOLY or HOLIER THAN THOU!

Growing up Baptist, it took me a long time to get comfortable with the "H" word!  HOLINESS.  Like many people, I had a gross misconception of what that actually meant.  It didn't help that in ignorance, my wrong ideas were reinforced by preachers and teachers from various Christian denominations.  Thank God, I've learned to read and study the bible for myself!

Let me start by telling you what HOLINESS is not:  
1.  It is not what you wear: No make-up, no pants wearing, long dresses, no bare arms showing and absolutely no cutting of the hair!  Whereas I can certainly identify with the need for modesty in dress and have no doubt that there actually are some holy women under those long dresses, it's not the clothes that make them HOLY! (Matt. 22: 27-28) Jesus told the Pharisees, Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.

2.  It is not isolating yourself from sinful people : The Amish religion tried this and if you've ever checked out the reality show, Breaking Amish, you'll see that it doesn't work! They too, have a list of No, Nos.  No electricity, no cars,  no clothes of bright or gaudy colors, no taking of photographs. They separate themselves as much as possible from non-Amish people to lessen the contamination of sin in the world.  That's impossible to do and not biblical at all.  Jesus said in Luke 5:32: I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.  You can't hide from sin or sinful people, you have to deal with it or them when and however it comes. 

3. Rules and Rituals:  Church laws,  kind deeds, no smoking, no drinking, no dancing, etc. some have great benefits in practicing, much you do as the result of spiritual growth but in and of themselves, DO NOT MAKE YOU HOLY! Any time YOU do something trying to earn the status of Holiness you're on the wrong path. All our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  Not by works of righteousness that we have done but because of Christ mercy are we saved! (Titus 3:5) 

So if these things don't cut the mustard for holiness, how can one possibly call themselves HOLY?  It's quite simple actually.  Biblical holiness is to be in right standing with God, conforming to His will and His Word!  YOU see it's all about having a Relationship with Christ.   He is the one who justifies us (declares us righteous)- 2 Corinthians 5:21.

We are Holy because He is Holy (I Peter 1:15-16).  Positionally, God already sees us this way!  But do not think this gives you a pass to sin as much as you want!  Absolutely not!

 Holiness is to be pursued, practiced, and held up as our daily goal throughout our lives!  It is a commandment not an option;  It is imperative to have fellowship with God and have our prayers answered.  It fulfills our divine purpose for living,  and the rewards and benefits are beyond compare!

HOLINESS IS STILL POSSIBLE - EVEN AS SIN IS MAKING A POWERFUL RESURGENCE IN OUR WORLD!  

What changes do you need to make in your life style to live in obedience to God?  When will you start reaping the benefits of this wonderful inheritance, a life of abundance (John 10:10)?

If you would like to leave a comment please send an email to: sisters4sisters@att.net OR  scroll to the bottom of my blog page at  http://alittlewiser63.blogspot.com  click on the pencil and the no comments will change to a writing space.

Monday, September 28, 2015

"That's the way the money goes ... POPE goes the Weasel!"

Pope Francis of Rome
Hey, I ain't hating on the Pope, so don't get your panties in a wad! But I'm sure glad that I can now turn my television on without getting a blow by blow description of his trip to America last week!

I suppose all the hype is to be expected with more than 69 million registered Catholics in America (22% of the U.S. Population) and many more who vied just get a glimpse of him. (These stats are two years old so, the numbers may be slightly different.)

It just struck me odd as a non-Catholic just how inspiring this visit was for those who are!  I read of people weeping, standing in lines for hours, altering their life drastically; bringing their children, traveling miles just to be in close proximity of His Eminence.

Truly, it looked like something out of the Gospels, when Jesus came to town!  Only, let's get this straight...The Pope ain't Jesus!  And he wasn't healing (at least not physically) diseases and infirmities.  Folks gathered around, kissing his hand, bowing before him and feeling oh so privileged to just be near him as if this was their main purpose for living.  

 Powerful and revered as the pope is and no matter the traditional teaching of Catholicism;  He is no more God's representative on earth than we are!  I just don't get it! But then, maybe this trip has a higher calling! I'm sure God has some unrevealed purpose.

In all fairness, I do have to say that this Pontiff comes off quite different from former popes.  First of all he seems more vibrant and healthy.  Remember Pope John Paul, II's bullet proof ride?  He was so frail that I wasn't sure if the glass covering was meant to protect him from outsiders or to catch him should he hit a bump in the road and fall out of the vehicle!

He also seems to be more in touch with the real world and it's social issues. Not hiding behind his papacy but actually addressing the hard stuff like sexual abuse, abortion and same sex marriages.  Got to give it to him, he's sticking to his spiritual guns and does have a certain charm about him!

Still, I'm jealous of the attention he got by the masses!  Would they treat my Jesus the same way?  God the Father is the only Holy Father I recognize (Abba Father,  Mark 14:36).  I bow before no one but  God, (Daniel 3) for even the apostles rejected this kind of treatment. (Acts 14:15) But God deserves every praise!

 I believe that Jesus, would have barely gotten His feet on American soil before being profiled as a Terrorist! You do know that in human flesh, He would present as an olive skinned, bearded middle eastern man, dressed in ethnic garb!  How many photos of men like this have you seen flashing across your T.V. screen since 9/11?

People hung onto every word the Pope spoke and he did have wonderful things to say!  But did he really say anything different that what Bible preachers and teachers have been saying?  His key themes were: We need to love each other more, attend to the needs of the poor; humble yourself before the Lord, judge no one and work toward peace and harmony!  I don't know about you but I get that every week, in Sunday school and morning service!

Having said all this, I ask you to do as I'm going to do.  Search the scriptures more thoroughly regarding End Time events.  Revisit a study of the book of Revelation and pray to God for discernment.  What did this trip really mean for America and the world? My heart tells me THAT GOD IS UP TO SOMETHING...AND THE POPE'S VISIT IS ONLY A PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTIONS!

UNTIL NEXT TIME!...

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Monday, September 21, 2015

A Woman For All Seasons

I Thess. 5:17 Pray continually!
(image, picturespider.com)
Excuse me while I get my shout on!  I'm just so full of joy this morning.  After six weeks of a liberating bible study at my church and a couple days bonding with some sacred sisters at a retreat, all I can say is GOD IS SHO NUFF GOOD!

I'm no stranger to prayer mind you, but I can't tell you what the ministry of prayer has done for me over these past weeks!  The sheer number of opportunities increased at least ten-fold.  With all the violence, sickness, health scares visited upon my community, friends and family, it seems every hour or so somebody was calling me to pray for or with them!

Couple that with the nation wide release of that phenomenal movie, War Room, and another, Captive, being released this week...if you've missed the message that God is calling us to pray...then something's wrong with your God Meter!  

Like you, I'm well aware of those rare breed of women, called Prayer Warriors.  I grew up with them!  Generally, they were the older women of the church.  Real strict looking, starched and severe in their white dresses.

They had eyes that looked like they could see sin in your life ten miles away! And if you even whispered you needed prayer for anything, they would gather around you, lay hands on your body, toss their heads back and wail to the Lord on your behalf! 

Now I have to tell you, I didn't understand much of what was going on then, but Lord, I sure appreciate it now!  Those women had spiritual discernment!  They knew when you, or your family, or your job, or your city was in trouble and they entered into intercessory prayer instantly.  We need to do the same thing!

God has broken that stereotypical image of a Prayer Warrior today! We don't have to be scared of the term any more! Don't have to worry that we don't fit the mold, can't meet the standard of those women of old. He's not just calling older women to seek the Lord in prayer, He's calling women of all ages to hold up the banner! He wants us to be a Woman for All Seasons!  What Seasons am I talking about? Here's only a sampling!


  • A Season of  Lies - Satan, with the help of some very influential people are telling the world that Biblical Truth doesn't matter.  You can be, live, talk, and malign Christians for the beliefs and it's perfectly okay in the name of Tolerance! (1 Tim. 4:1-3)
  • A Season of Hedonism (pleasure seeking) - The sexual abuse of our children by people in trusted authoritative positions (teachers, ministers, child care workers) is sickening! There's no facet of our society it has not touched. (Ephesians 4:19)
  • A Season of Greed - Over consumption of everything is evident in our world today.  America is especially guilty because we have more access to excess than a lot of nations.  But who is paying the cost? Those who can afford it least.  We have super-sized ourselves into obesity, national debt, chemical dependencies of all kinds, and have become technological gluttons, with each new gadget draining our financial resources. It's as if we have forgotten Who owns it all! (Psalms 24:1)

Here's my challenge to you:  Go Right Now to your Prayer Closets, Your Prayer lines,  Your Prayer Meetings, Your Prayer Partners, near and Far...

BE A WOMAN FOR ALL SEASONS....BECOME A WOMAN OF PRAYER!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

JOURNEY TO SISTERHOOD: If You Say It, Do it!

"For the upright will inhabit the land,
 those with integrity will remain in it."

(Prov. 2:21)
A woman of the Word is also a woman of her word! There's nothing more harmful to a person's reputation than to be known as one who does not keep her word.

We make promises so frivolously.  Even before some of them come out of our mouths, we know we don't intend to keep them.    The fact that we take so little time to even consider what we're saying is proof enough.

Some make promises out of guilt.  Sister Friend went with you to a certain place and now you feel obligated to return the favor.  When the date comes around, you find a convenient excuse therefore reneging on your promise!

Some make promises to try to fit in.  People Pleasers, always find themselves over engaged and pressured into events and tasks that they don't have the slightest interest in. They constantly find themselves weighing in the balances--Do I go or risk not being asked again and left out for the next big thing?

Once there was no need for contracts, IOUs, promissory notes and the likes because a a woman's word was her bond!  Not any more.  Verbal agreements are now being videotaped and audio-taped for  business purposes. Too many trusts have been broken by people who you thought you could depend on.  Or at least could count on to give you a straight answer.

Let me tell you one Person who doesn't think integrity is pass√©, out-of-style, or simply blas√© -- God! Check this out:  


  • “This is what the Lord has commanded. If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. (Numbers 30:1-2)
  •  You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth. (Deut. 23:23)
  • “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. (Matthew 5:33-37



  • But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: (I John 2:5)
From the Old Testament to the New Testament, the message is the same.  Good human relationships are based on honesty and integrity.  Think before you speak.  Keep your commitments few and your integrity always intact.  If by chance you cannot keep your word, make sure you own it, and/or reach out to the one depending on you, with a sincere apology and an act of good will.  Perhaps offer your time or service for another occasion. 

Knowing integrity's importance to horizontal relationships, how much more do you think it influences our fellowship with the Lord?  W.O.W your Lord and your friends!  Be a Woman of Your Word!


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

JOURNEY TO SISTERHOOD: Apologize, Already!!!

Something short of a miracle happened to me last week. Two sisters took me aside and apologized for possible wrongs done to me!  One, I had forgiven long ago.  The other, came as a shock, as frankly, I couldn't recall any incident or moment of discord.

I can't begin to tell you what the gesture meant to me.  I can only hope it was equally as humbling and freeing for them.  It started me thinking about the power of these two little words...I'm sorry!   Of course it needs to be sincere but is there any easier way to get on in our relationships after a misunderstanding?

Along with three other phrases: Please, Thank you, and I was wrong, we just might have the answer to World Peace! Here's what I've learned.

 First, an apology is not meant to assign blame or elicit retribution from an offending party. It's not about catching my sister friend in a vulnerable position and sadistically twisting the knife of guilt.  Giving back some of the pain I experienced.

HERE'S WHAT AN APOLOGY WILL DO: 
  • IT ACKNOWLEDGES YOUR PAIN.  As a human you have feelings.  You exist as a person with God given rights and dignity.  When wounded emotionally and/or physically, the perpetrator violates both of these and depending on your vulnerability, your self worth may have suffered. 
  • IT RESTORES POWER TO THE INJURED. There are few things so devastating as to be in a position of powerlessness at the hands of another.  The loss of control and helplessness causes a fear and anxiety that's really hard to describe because it's different for everyone.
  • IT CLEARS THE WAY FOR DEEPER HEALING. I don't know a lot of women who wait around for an apology before moving on with their lives, but for a few this step is absolutely necessary.  An apology shows that there is remorse and may even allow for an explanation. The more details you have about the nature of an offense, the more you can learn from it and avoid the negativity that caused it.
  • IT COULD FACILITATE RECONCILIATION. I'm sorry will not fix every problem or heal every wound, but sometimes it is the beginning of the process that restores a relationship.  We must never underestimate the impact wounding has on us and others.  The collateral damage that occurs could take hours of prayer and spiritual counseling to help us become whole again.  Still, even if you never regain the warm and fuzzy you once had for a sister friend; the Grace of God will enable you to resume a cordial, even pleasant association honoring Him and the past you once shared.  Just ask the Lord to show you how!
Galatians 6:10 is a wonderful reminder:

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
   
UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

JOURNEY TO SISTERHOOD: Can you Take the Truth?

I love that commercial where a woman asks her husband or maybe it's her boyfriend, "Do these pants make me look fat?" And he hurriedly crams a Twix candy bar in his mouth to keep from answering!  It just shows the slippery slope we all tread when trying to maintain good relations with people we care about.

It begs the question though: Is a friend truly a friend if she won't be honest with you?  The politically correct answer is, of course not! You want a true sister friend to be  comfortable and trust worthy enough to tell you the truth about yourself when it is needed.  But what happens when that's put to the test?  When she tells you something you don't want to hear and can't even believe!

I'm not talking about making judgment calls, character assassinations, or otherwise petty comments we women indulge in.  Just being brutally honest in order to protect you from harming yourself or another and desiring to see God's best for your life.

The truth is that we all have blind spots when it comes to admitting to things that put us in a bad light!  It might be our behavior, our attitude, sometimes even our loved ones.  All these are deeply personal and can trigger emotions in us so ferocious that it would make a football defensive linebacker cower down!

Very much like when driving, a blind spot is something very close and so obvious that it should be readily seen, but isn't.  In this case it is something we ignore because it is unpleasant or too difficult to deal with.  Now who can't relate to that?  But this is where a true friend is needed to help us out!  To give us perspective.  Take a look at Proverbs 27:6.

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy."


There is a two-fold interpretation of this saying from the Bible's Book of Wisdom, Proverbs.  First, it tells us that we can depend on a friend telling us the truth about ourselves in a trustworthy and reliable way.  She's not going to go behind our back and bad mouth us to someone else.  She's coming straight to the source!  That's actually the meaning of the Hebrew word emunah in this scripture.  It's literal meaning is "faithful".

But it also means that she does so with great risk!  She may wound you temporarily to bring out the good in a situation but takes the chance of losing your friendship and suffer the consequences of years of anger and bitterness if it is not received well!

Still, isn't it better to hear it from someone you love than in the streets?  That's where those phony friends (the kiss butt  enemies in the the verse) will take it.  They have no qualms about allowing you to live in the devastation of your blind spots then blind side you with insults and abandon you when you hit the wall! 

On our journey to learning what real sisterhood is all about.  Let's think about what matters most! Instead of gathering to ourselves silly sisters willing to tell us what we want to hear; let's find some mature women with enough love to tell us what we need to know, and back bone and patience enough to take it, when we go foul on them and lash out because we don't want to hear it!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, August 17, 2015

JOURNEY TO SISTERHOOD: Handling The Drama Queen

Why is it that just when a sister friend relationship starts coming together, the Drama Queen shows up?   It never fails somewhere between those wonderful fun-filled social activities and long chats of sharing, she makes her appearance!

One little comment gets taken way out of context and before you know it...here comes the drama!  All of a sudden the conversation gets strange or even non-existent and when you ask what's wrong, the face drops to the floor, eyes water up and it all comes out...I never thought you would ever treat me like that...After all we've been through I thought for sure you would have my back!  Always over the top with everything normal stuff doesn't happen to a DQ, it's a national crisis in her life.

But Lord, you gotta love those Drama Queen Sisters.  I mean really, the Lord says you really HAVE TO!  I Corinthians 13:7 says this: Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The best way to handle a Drama Queen friend is to not feed into her theatrics.  Down play the seriousness of the situation and although it will take a few times for her to get the message; it won't be long before she moves on to the next person.  Remember no Diva wants to play to an empty theater! It's no fun if she doesn't get the right response.


A second way, is to set limits to how long you will give them a listening ear.  If on social media, simply stop responding!  If you're face to face, find a way to shorten the conversation.  Move to another conversation as quickly as possible. Not rudely but firmly give your attention to another person in the room or even distance yourself by focusing on an activity that will take you away from the situation.  

Now of course a real Drama Queen will want to tag along or even hunt you down if you escape too quickly. But you can honestly tell her that this is time that you must spend by yourself to do some thinking and when isn't taking a break from the busyness of this world not warranted.  Even Jesus did this!  (Mark 1:35-36).


An opposite approach may also work.  You pick a time and place and actually spend some time with her!  These dear sisters are starving for attention, but seeking it in highly annoying and inappropriate ways!  Let her vent for a few minutes and then stop her with some thought-provoking questions.  Keep them rational and objective, free from emotion:


Did this really happen, just like that?  Have you prayed about it?  What three things could you do to address this issue?  The point is to try to reduce the emotional fuel behind all the theatrics and help her think through the issues.

Last but not least,  make sure the Drama Queen knows that she is not the only sister that you can connect with as a friend, companion, or acquaintance.  As much as she would like to believe that you simply cannot live without her, prove to her that her friendship although cherished will not be allowed to consume you emotionally or your time!


By all means, treat your Drama Queen sister with patience and tenderness.  Pray for her, pray with her but do not handicap her by feeding into a behavior that will eventually devastate all her relationships and actually pushes God off the throne of her heart.

UNTIL NEXT TIME...


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Sunday, August 9, 2015

JOURNEY TO SISTERHOOD: Bearing With One Another!


Bear ye one another's burdens...Galatians 6:2
                Me and you, us never part, 
(Makidada)
                     Me and you, us have one heart, (Makidada)
                     Ain't no ocean, ain't no sea, (Makidada)
                     Keep my sister away from me...

(From the movie, The Color Purple, 1985, Warner Bros. Films)


I can't help it.  Every time I come across a rerun of this Stephen Spielberg film, I have to watch at least this part: Celie and Nettie's heart wrenching love expressed so poignantly in their clapping song.  It could be that it conjures up afresh, the love I have for my own sisters, all four are now with the Lord.

Somehow, all those things they used do that drove me up the wall, don't really matter. The personality flaws, annoying habits, and even the occasional underhanded schemes to get what they wanted is of no concern.  This fact remains...ride or die...we are sisters and not even eternity will change that!  Nothing will keep us apart!  Our relationship was not by personal choice but came down biologically through our parents...simply put, we're blood!  

This is not unlike our spiritual sisters which did not come by choice, but through our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We're also blood.  United and sealed with His blood throughout eternity (Ephes. 4:5-6).   Why then do we exhibit such intolerance, impatience, and down right hostility when offended by a Sister in Christ?  I understand that we are all human, with real feelings and emotions. It hurts when wounded by another Saint! But I also realize that none of us are ALWAYS operating in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).  Which means we're open to attack by another Christian at any time.  And by no means are we exempt from doing some sniping of our own. So get used to it!

Still the Bible refuses to give us a pass!  You know what will happen if you took that eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth adage literally (Matt. 5:38)...you both end up blind with no teeth!  God insists that for the sake of Spiritual Sisterhood that we learn to rejoice when persecuted (Matt. 5:11-12) and forgive those who wronged you (Ephes. 4:32). I know...I know, it sounds straight up crazy, counter intuitive, inane, even impossible....But doesn't it sounds just like Jesus?

Relationships are incredibly complex and none are so complex as those between women!  It takes work, it takes prayer.  But let me tell you if you can find a way to work it out, it is well worth the effort!  I'd like to start a little Sister Good will with a list on this blog.  Let's create some positive love language for sisters. I've put some thoughts down and I want to hear yours.  Please read and then add your own statements: 

 Send an email to: sisters4sisters@att.net OR  scroll to the bottom of my blog page at  http://alittlewiser63.blogspot.com  click on the pencil and the no comments will change to a writing space.  HERE WE GO!

ONLY A REAL SISTAH .....

1.  Will tell you about a good store sale even though you've just had a big argument! 

2. Listens quietly to your drama but won't let you hang up until she's prayed for you!

3. Gives you space to develop a relationship with others without getting offended! 

4.  Loves you enough to tell you when you're wrong and tries to get you back on track!

5.

6.

7.

UNTIL NEXT TIME....ENJOY THE JOURNEY TO TRUE SISTERHOOD!!



Monday, July 13, 2015

Heroes with Clay Feet!

Nothing is covered up that will
not be revealed
...(Luke 12:2)
Well it's been a minute since my last post. And I really hate to start this one off on such a sad note!  But there's something to be learned about this whole Bill Cosby media storm.

 Just when you thought all had pretty much died down (Wasn't there more important things to report on than the Cos's sex life? ) And really where was the proof behind all those allegations?  

Here comes the release of a confidential legal deposition  in a sexual harassment case settled years ago where he admits obtaining drugs for the purpose of seducing women!  Whoomp, there it is!   The proof in the proverbial Jello Pudding, so to speak!  Goes to show you, that nothing happens in this world that is really confidential or settled when it comes to sin!  

Come on People!  (The title of one of his books) when are we going to learn to stop making role models and idols out of humans.  With all this coming out, there's not much of a defense we can make for the character of this once respected, black educator, actor, author, and social commentator.  For many in the black community he was more than a media icon.  He was one of the few celebrities we could share our Christian values with!  

Don't take my disappointment as bitterness!  Bill is just one more person I've admired for years and pointed to for young people to emulate, who has bitten the dust.  Just another lesson God is teaching us that we must learn....there is no one worthy of  Hero Worship but Him!  As long as we continue to make people idols, revering the creation more than the Creator, God is going to tear them down! (Rom. 1:25b)

We are all guilty! Presidents John Kennedy and Bill Clinton are still heralded as two favorites among Black people for their benevolence to the poor and disenfranchised.  In the 1960s, most black homes had three pictures proudly displayed: Jesus Christ, JFK and MLK!  We forget that the latter two are rumored to have cheated on their wives, possibly more than once!

We exalted Barack Obama, the first African-American president, almost blameless; thinking him to be a staunch Christian!  Then in his second term he begins to back-pedal around the same-sex marriage issue and is now evolving from his original moral stance! We know not what else will be revealed before he leaves office!  I'm not casting stones...just doing a reality check!  These heroes have clay feet, weaknesses and flaws!  Bill is just another Cultural Icon Shattered!   Let's Deal with it!

There's only One desiring the title of ROLE MODEL.  Only One we can put our total faith and devotion in and that's the Lord, Jesus Christ!  He is:
  • Elohim, The Creator (Genesis 1:1)
  • El Roi, The God Who Sees All (Genesis 16:13)
  • El Shaddai, The All Sufficient One (Genesis 17:1)
  • Jehovah Jireh, The Lord Who Provides (Genesis  22:14)
  • Jehovah Rapha, The Lord that Heals (Exodus 15:26)
  • Jehovah Shammah, Aways Present (Ezekial 48:35)
  • Jehovah Tskidkenu - Righteous and Holy (Jeremiah 23:6)
  • Jehovah - Nissi, The Lord My Banner (Exodus 17:15
In Him You Will Never Be Disappointed!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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