Monday, November 6, 2017

Giants in the Valley

"You come against me with sword and spear... I come
against you in the name of the Lord, God Almighty..."
(I Samuel 17:45)
Giants have been favorite characters of mine for most of my life!  From the fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk read as a child; to the true account of David and Goliath heard often in sermons, Sunday school and Bible study.

Never once however, did I think that I would encounter giants in my own life. Or find them lurking in the shadows of my bedroom! Especially at this late date!

 Recently, as I prepared to retire for the night, out of nowhere they appeared.  A flash from my young adult past! A past that has taken me years to recover from.  I was caught completely off guard, which was exactly the Enemy's intent.  For a few hours I revisited that dark, miserable place.  Surprised at the tremendous power it still held over me!

Decades ago before I learned to walk confidently in the righteousness of Christ, my life was filled with foolishness and regrettable decisions. By the grace of God I learned from them and was able to survive it all so it was natural for me to ask my giants: Why now after all these years are you showing up?   You see it was the Giant of Guilt and its twin Shame trying to haunt me and steal my joy!  Why?  Because the Evil One never gives up, even on an older Saint.  He has to try to win a few more battles even if he can't win the war! 

As a Christian, I know this will not be my last encounter with Spiritual Giants. They will show up again, and again and usually when I'm most vulnerable.  During those times when in self-pity, I saunter into the valley of depression, discontentment, or despondency.  Praise the Lord, I now know a God Who does His best work in the Valley!

All I need to do is remind myself of the life of David. In the Valley of Elah where he slew Goliath, a human giant, I Samuel 17:1-4  and went on to defeat the Giant of Fear, Psalm 23:4 ; the Giants of Guilt and Shame, my old foes, Psalm 51:1-3, and the Giant of Apathy concerning his family woes, 2 Samuel 13.

The Prophet Ezekiel knew about giants as well.  In Ezekiel 37, God gave him a vision of  Dry Bones in a valley.  These bones symbolized God's people at a spiritual low.  Dead and lifeless, desperate for a purpose; scattered from their homeland.  Everything they knew and loved had been taken from them.  They faced the Giant of Hopelessness.  There seemed to be no solution for their current situation. 

BUT GOD never left them.  Just as He will never leave us in our valleys!  We will stay there as long as He deems necessary for us to feel His presence but we do not have to linger there. Although our Enemy comes with powerful weapons, David in the Valley of ELAH said, we come in the name of the Lord, God Almighty (I Samuel 17:45).  Perhaps these strategies may prove helpful when your Giant shows up!

1.  Refuse to Engage! Even though taunted, teased, and tempted by those who continue to bring up your past, don't defend yourself. Don't try to justify or explain your actions.  It is Satan's pleasure to accuse Christians (Rev. 12:10).  It is God's pleasure to forgive! (I John 1:9)

2.   If Forced into Battle Confront Giants with God's Word! Jesus used this strategy in the gospels and it is a sure fire way to turn the Devil on his heels. (Matthew 4:1-11).  If you've never done so start memorizing scriptures that you can recall and draw from at a moment's notice. (Ps. 119:11)

3.  Refuse to Dwell in the Past! For every painful thought replace with God's promise (Isaiah 43:18; 2 Cor. 10:5; Phil. 4:8).

4.  Embrace Your New Identity! You are no longer that person in your past. You have a new ID with a new name and a passport bound for heaven! While here on earth you have Spiritual Immunity against sins committed in your past and they cannot be held against you.  (Romans 8:1, 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 3:13)

5. Choose Not to Remember Your Past! This is different than simply forgetting. (Although perhaps psychologically one can forget past trauma at some level.) This is taking a cue from our omniscient Father when He chooses to forget our sins (Psalm 103:12). In His dealings with us our past never enters the picture. We must learn to do the same thing - See ourselves as God sees us!  


When Your Giants Show Up Lead them to the Shores
of Forgetfulness and then Wait for God to Show up!
 (Micah 7:19)


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, October 23, 2017

How to be a S.M.A.R.T. Woman of God!

His divine power has given us
everything we need... (2 Peter 1:3)
I'm the first to admit that some technology scares the heck out of me!  I mean there's something quite terrifying (if your birth pre-dates the Digital Age) about a little apparatus, called a smartphone that really IS smarter than you are!

Although it's been several years since I gave up my flip phone begrudgingly; I still struggle with keeping up with the changes and options available to me. My children and grandchildren tell me that if I'd just try them, these new apps would make me more savvy and efficient in my life.  I can't however seem to get past the simple mundane functions I've gotten accustomed to!

It's like that in my Christian life as well!  I don't use nearly enough or efficiently, the options God gives me that could make a radical change in my life spiritually! This was never more evident to me than at a Joyce Meyers conference last weekend! Among the many thought-provoking insights she shared, there was one thing she said that struck a chord: "Everything you need is already downloaded into you by the Holy Spirit when you are saved!"

I think it was the use of the word download that grabbed my attention!  You see, at home I'd been clicking Remind Me Later for a week, putting off a message to install updates that would help my computer run better and more securely!  I wondered... how many times have I said the same thing to the Holy Spirit?  He says: My Friend, time to stop texting and spend some quality time with me.  My response:  Remind Me Later!


Ironically, 2 Peter 1:3 is one of my favorite scriptures.  I think it speaks not only to me but busy Christian women, everywhere.  We say we can't get along without the modern conveniences of smartphones, i pads, e-readers and the like.  Having these items at hand makes us smarter and are essential tools for achieving a successful life!  Really? If you've got the time...let's take a fresh look at this verse:


His divine power has granted to us
all things that pertain to life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him who called
us to his own glory and excellence, (ESV)

I believe God wants us to be smart Christian women but S.M.A.R.T. in Biblical ways! After all as Joyce reminded us. When He saved us, He downloaded us with the Holy Spirit and we get all these wonderful user friendly options:

 S - The ability to take SELFIES from any given angle:  John 16:8-9


M - Unlimited MEMORY no purchase necessary:  John 14:26

A -Convenient APPS for life (prayer, relationships, etc):Romans 8:26
             Galatians 5:22
R - Eliminates ROAMING charges: John 14:17

T -Maximized TALK TIME with clarity and speed: Acts 1:8

Let's Begin to Live Smarter not Harder!


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, October 9, 2017

The Only Thing Worse than Death...

Where, O death, is your victory?
(I Cor. 15:55b) 
It's been a bloody week for America, both nationally and locally!  News media and their pundits are still speculating on the motives behind the Las Vegas Massacre that took place last Sunday!

Grief-stricken families like many of us are shocked and sickened by all the violence we're witnessing.  Yet I've been trying to keep my thoughts on a higher plane. I'm choosing to blog this week about life rather than death.  The Divine rather than the Devil.  

It's not an easy thing to do in our current culture where bad news is aired 24 hours a day.  I must admit that I frequently check out emotionally refusing to watch the news and instead opting to read something inspirational or engulf myself in a silly or romantic movie. (The made-for-TV Hallmark movies are a guilty pleasure!)

Last night however, I settled down to watch a movie I spotted weeks ago on a free HBO preview.  I didn't know a lot about it except that it was snubbed by the critics even though it had some good actors in it.  I put off looking at it because from what I could tell it was about grief, pain, and death!  Surprisingly, after viewing Collateral Beauty, the profound take-away for me was the value of life!

Will Smith, Kate Winslet, and Helen Mirren are all A-List actors who gave outstanding performances. The supporting actors weren't shabby either.  Without giving away the plot I'll just tell you that its about a grieving father who deals with his pain by personifying Time, Love, and Death writing letters to each one and is eventually given the opportunity to speak to them directly.  Sounds a bit too far-fetched and dark?  Bible readers will tell you that there are similar personifications throughout the bible. The Apostle Paul speaks to Death in I Corinthians 15:55 and the Apostle John visualizes Death, as the Pale Rider in Revelation 6:8.

As mysterious and frightening as Death is to many, for Christians we are assured that it should hold no terror for us! (I Thess. 4:14-14; Rev. 14:13; John 11:25-26, Is. 57:1-2: 2 For. 4:17-18). 

 A Wasted Life is Much More Frightening: 

--A Life Consumed with Coveting and Possessing (It's been established that Stephen Paddock the Vegas shooter was a millionaire! He gained some of the world's riches but lost his soul -Mark 8:36

--A Life in Bondage (Drugs, alcohol, food or any other abuses of pleasures) - Eccles. 2:1-9

--A Life without Purpose, Passion or Hope (Violent crimes by and against black youths are increasing each year.  Pew Research compared 2016 deaths with 2015. Up by 900 the total came to 7,881. I have no stats for 2017). The Thief's purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy.  God's purpose is to give life more abundantly - John 10:10

--A Life spent worrying, grieving over loss to the detriment of viable relationships. A life of anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, and hate. - Phil. 4:6-7; I Thess. 4:13; Ephes. 4:22-24

-A Life of paralyzing fear that prohibits you from taking reasonable risks; that conditions you to accept less that God's best, and allows His wondrous gifts in you to lay stagnant or dormant in the midst of unmet needs -  2 Timothy 1:7; Ephes. 5:20; Ephes. 2:10

When one thinks of the Sanctity of Life, this precious gift God has given that allows us in our humanity to commune, relate, and enjoy all things that are good! We need to do so with more appreciation.  WHY WASTE LIFE ON SELFISH AMBITIONS AND UNKINDNESS? (James 4:3) DEATH INDEED WOULD BE PREFERRED!

Even in grief and the complexities of life and death; God provides ethereal beauty and power.   As His children we can endure it all with a depth and hope many will never understand. (2 Peter 1:3)  Don't Waste Your Life, wondering what could have been! Christ came to give you life and that more abundantly!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

SMILES: A Different Kind of Ministry

A joyful heart makes a cheerful
face, but when the heart is sad the
spirit is broken (Prov. 15:13 NASB)
Sundays are not just a day of worship and rest for me; it's  also the day I catch busy friends and relatives for long and pleasant chats!  Such was the case a few days ago when I called a nephew in Chicago and he blessed me with news of an incredible ministry he is now involved in!  Well, he didn't realize it was a ministry, but tell me what you think!

Due to a recent and painful season in his personal life, he found himself with too much free time and too little money for his comfort!  So he decided to become an Uber driver. With his quick wit, charming personality, and surprising vast knowledge of the bible (he's not a member of any church) this has proven to be a perfect fit for him!

He of course meets all types of people as you would imagine, but there was one that he definitely made an impression on! It was a celebrity television news anchor who was so infatuated with his positive attitude and great smile that she posted a selfie with him on her Facebook page and mentioned him by name on the air!  Her simple tag: You have the Power to Brighten Someone's Day! got me to thinking. What if we all made a conscious effort to SMILE more!!! 

Now, I know this sounds too simplistic for a lot of Christians.  We want something with a little  more spiritual oomph to it...preaching, teaching, street evangelism, healing, and praying for deliverance sounds more like we're doing God's work!  Sitting and grinning doesn't quite make it in our Book of Righteous Works!  But Sisters, do you realize what the power of a smile or the lack of one can do?  Just as the moon gets its glorious brightness from the reflection of the S-U-N, every ministry done with a SMILE, reflects the love of the S-O-N (Jesus Christ) in us!

Here are some things we need to consider:

First, God loves to see His children smile!  He's concerned when they don't!  Take the case of Cain in Genesis 4:6-7.  When his sacrifice was rejected by God for being inadequate, Cain didn't say anything but his face and attitude betrayed him. His lack of a smile showed disappointment and even after being instructed lovingly how to remedy the situation continued the sullen behavior until the whole matter became too much for him and he killed his brother, Abel!  (Proverbs 18:14A man's spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?) A smile and a good attitude might have prevented a murder! 

Second, God is not the only One concerned when you don't smile, others are too! If you've ever had a job involving customer relations, you know how important it is to present yourself to the public with a smile! It helps people relax. Engaging in conversations, even difficult ones gets easier, and whatever you have to deal with begins on a more positive note. Nehemiah, cupbearer to the King in Nehemiah 2:1-3 found this out when his usual cheerful attitude was missing and drew the King's attention.  This gave Nehemiah the perfect scenario to describe the suffering of his brethren and get the needed resources from the King to help them out of a difficult situation. (Proverbs 12:25 - Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word make him glad.) The lack of a smile can be a strong indicator of a need that can only be met by you!

Third, a smile doesn't always mean that one is truly happy! Some people smile only when things are going well. Having their way is the only time a smile is worth showing!  But happiness is a poor substitute for true joy isn't it? I think King Ahab would agree! In I Kings 21:4-7, the king is unable to clinch a deal with Naboth for a desired vineyard. So he goes home and sulks and grows increasingly depressed.  Jezebel his wife tires of his attitude and hoping to lift his spirits has Naboth slandered and  murdered seizing the property.  However, Ahab's smiles of temporary happiness soon turn to sadness as he and his family suffer under the judgement of God prophesied by Elijah.  (Proverbs 15:15 -All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.) Smiling (especially when you don't feel like it) shows you are waiting on Someone greater to bring you joy!

What have we learned about this unique but often neglected Ministry of Smiles?
  • Heartaches, disappointments, and trials in life must be mastered.  Don't take your frustrations out on others.  Smile no matter what's going on.  It's good medicine for the broken-hearted! (Proverbs 17:22)
  • God is greater than any of our fears and anxieties. Read God's Word, Pray and Seek out the very best resources available to help relieve the situation, but remember that you also must avail yourself to be the answer to another person's prayers! (James 2:16)
  • Smiles need to be genuine and not just reserved for times when you get your way or to impress certain groups of people.  Be a reflection of God's love,  grace and wisdom wherever you go and in whatever you do! (Eccles. 8:1b)
  •  Smiles are not just for ushers, greeters, church receptionists, or those serving on the hospitality ministry.  This is a ministry that EVERYONE belongs to!

WE SHALL NEVER KNOW ALL THE GOOD THAT
A SIMPLE SMILE CAN DO! 
- Mother Teresa

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

From Mediocrity to MAJESTY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Changing Our Minds About CHANGE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUCCESSFUL CHANGE REQUIRES PRAYER AND TRUTH BUT ABOVE ALL TRUST!



UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wounds of My Sister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Up Where We Belong: Reach For It!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Eagles see and seize opportunities

--Eagles influence others

--Eagles add value to others

--Eagles possess an uncommonly great attitude

--Eagles have excellent relationship skills

--Eagles have an eagle track record of success

--Eagles think differently

--Eagles continually grow

Pray This Eagle's Prayer

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

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


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

HELP WANTED: A Few REAL Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to Titus 2:3-7

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

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

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

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

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

SPIRITUAL REWIND: Living In The Pink!


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


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

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

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

END OF EXCERPT

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

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

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


UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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Monday, June 5, 2017

DEAR YOUNGER SISTER....

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

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

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

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

1.  WE ARE JUDGMENTAL!

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

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

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

 2.  YOU CAN' T TRUST US!

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

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

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


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

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

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

WITH LOVE FROM YOUR OLDER SISTER,



UNTIL NEXT TIME...

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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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