Tuesday, July 11, 2017

HELP WANTED: A Few REAL Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to Titus 2:3-7

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

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

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

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

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

SPIRITUAL REWIND: Living In The Pink!


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


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

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

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

END OF EXCERPT

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

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

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


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, June 5, 2017

DEAR YOUNGER SISTER....

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

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

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

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

1.  WE ARE JUDGMENTAL!

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

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

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

 2.  YOU CAN' T TRUST US!

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

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

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


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

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

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

WITH LOVE FROM YOUR OLDER SISTER,



UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

THE SHACK:Criticism or Critical Thinking Needed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

STORM PROOFING YOUR HOUSE!

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


UNTIL NEXT TIME...


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Monday, May 1, 2017

A MOTHER'S HEART!


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UNTIL NEXT TIME...


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Monday, April 17, 2017

FUNCTIONAL LEPROSY: A Spiritual Pandemic!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS..NOT UNANSWERED PRAYERS!


For now we see in a mirror dimly,
but then face to face
(I Corin. 13:12a)
By and by, when the morning comes, all the saints of God are gathered home, we'll tell the story how we've overcome, for we'll understand it better by and by! -(Lyrics by Charles Albert Tindley, 1851-1933)

Here's a tune that comes to mind as you sit in God's Waiting Room!  I know it has for me a time or two.  Inquisitive by nature, I'm known to ask questions about things I desire a deeper knowledge about and for the most part with a little research I can find answers that satisfy my curiosity,  I tell you sisters, Google is a wonderful tool!  

However, there are some questions that Google can't answer.  Learned people can't provide it, and even experience falls short of a satisfactory answer.  Questions that only you and God talk about lest others would think you stupid, naive, or at the very least, unspiritual! So you commit these things to prayer...but what if God doesn't answer? 

First, if you are a Believer in Christ, God hears all our prayers (He's just not obliged to respond the way we want Him to!) Proverbs 15:8 tells us that He delights in the prayers of His children.  He also invites us to come boldly to His throne and make our requests known (Hebrews 14:6).  So it's not a matter of Him not hearing, He is omniscient after all, but whether our prayers meet the right parameters.  There could be other factors to consider.

We may be hindering the answers to those oh, so important questions: When we hide iniquity (sin) in our hearts (Ps. 66:18); God hides His eyes from us and our circumstances (Is. 1:15)!  Dealing  with personal, unconfessed sin is a bigger priority in God's eyes than our prayer requests! 

 Something else, the Bible teaches:  Our prayers must line up with God's will (I John 5:14) and we need to ask with the right motives (James 4:3)  I believe God answers every prayer in one of four different ways:  YES!   NO!  WAIT!  and  YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER!

Now getting back to those unanswered questions!  The problem is not God but us!  Often when we ask God the big WHY question it's not because we really want to know the reason but we want Him to let us in on His itinerary!  His timing!  His plans now and in the future! Let me tell you why He doesn't share these things:

1.  These are Secret things, reserved for the Trinity  (Deu. 29:29). Stop worrying about what you don't know...work on what you do!  We've got 66 books that show us God's plan for our lives, now that's good place to start!

2.  It's Really None of our Business! (Acts 1:7-8) One of the last things Jesus told His disciples when they asked when He would restore the kingdom,  was that it was not for them to know the times or season for this is under the authority of the Father


3.  God is merciful! Frankly, we're way out of our league, trying to handle things in God's In Box! Man's limitation is no match for God's infinite wisdom! (Exodus 15:11)

Now here's the Number One reason God doesn't always answer our questions...HE WANTS US  TO TRUST HIM!  He created us with free will, the power to make choices. He wants us to choose to trust Him even when we can't trace His hand or understand what He's doing!  He takes us often  from the Prayer Room, to the Waiting Room, but one day we'll be in our Heavenly Home and there...Trusting in the Lord, and according to His Word, We'll understand it better by and by!


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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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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