Sunday, July 27, 2014

GOD'S SPEAKING....Are You Listening?

This is My Beloved Son, Listen to Him! (Mark 9:7)
Some of you may be old enough to remember the old E.F. Hutton commercial from the 1980s.  The one where the young professional is at a dinner party and says, "My broker is E.F. Hutton" and suddenly the room grows silent. Everyone stops talking.  The sound bite there was, When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen!  Wouldn't it be wonderful if God got the same response?

It reminds me of the story of young Samuel, Hannah's little boy who was put in the care of the prophet Eli over in the first book of Samuel (I Samuel 3:1-10).  It took both Samuel and Eli a minute to figure out it was God who was talking but they finally got it!  There are a lot of  us walking around here today who are still clueless!  We haven't the foggiest notion how to discern God's voice although He's talking to us every day through His Word, The Holy Spirit, Circumstances and People!

I think it's because of so many distractions.  Most of them self-imposed. Every thing and every one is in our ear but Him!  We don't listen when God talks because frankly, we're not sure who's talking--we don't recognize His voice!  This is true even if you're a regular church-goer. Don't get me wrong, there are many preachers and teachers who are faithfully expounding the truth of God's Word...but folks don't want to hear them. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Tim. 4:3-4)  My sisters it is very popular today to be spiritual but not necessarily holy! There's a big difference and weights are piling up on the spiritual side.

Another voice that we hear is that of the intelligentsia-the smart folks of our time.  They have an answer for every situation we find ourselves in. Today, it's all about getting needs met.  It doesn't matter whether it's biblical or not.  We can find a study, survey, or academician to support just about any stance we want to take to justify our behavior. 

Maybe you're thinking,  if I can't trust the preacher and I can't trust popular culture perhaps I should listen to myself--go with my gut!  Bad idea.  There's a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof is destruction (Proverbs 14:12). So what are the steps you need to take to hear God. There are none!  No formula.  No quick, sure fire guarantees (after all this is not an infomercial!)
Just some conditions that the Bible says must be met:  

1.  You need a personal relationship with Christ based on love and trust--spend time with Him in His word, in prayer --talk to Him,  consult Him, obey Him! (2 Corin. 1:9)

2. Develop a heart of worship (Rom. 12:1-2; John 4:20-24).  Make God a priority, have an attitude of gratitude for everything. Give Him respect and honor.

3. Study His Word:  Read it, Meditate on it, Memorize it, Obey it!  Line upon line, precept upon precept. (Psalms 119: 97-99).  Let it be your counsel. 

4. Surrender your will, your thoughts and desires to His will! (Ps. 37:4; 2 Cor. 10:5, Phil. 2: 5-11)

So there you have it!  Let everyone who has an ear, let her hear what the Spirit says to the church..Now let's try this again...God's Talking...Are You Listening?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our Christian Legacy For Sale!

Strivers Row: A Priceless Treasure of our Past
I just returned from a few days in New York City.  It was my first visit.  I had a wonderful time seeing  the common tourists sights:The Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, 9/11 Ground Zero, etc.  But at the top of my list was a trip to Harlem, the epicenter of black religion, art, culture, and history.  I was both thrilled and disheartened as our charismatic tour guide told us what the tour books didn't.  Very few black visitors  take the Harlem tour. The whites who do are generally from Europe and elsewhere. Our group of 20 was entirely black and he was so overwhelmed that he took a picture of US!  Younger blacks, he said don't appear to have an appreciation for the contributions of their forefathers.  They either don't know their rich history or they don't care!

Secondly, he described what has become a normal urban phenomena.  Historical districts, rich with the sights and sounds of an ethnic group's past are rapidly being renovated to appeal to the rich and affluent to the tune of millions of dollars.  The result is that previous homeowners not being able to afford the expensive renovations are forced to move or willingly sell their inheritance (that which their parents worked so hard to get) for a small percentage of its value. They are in fact selling their legacy!

Such is the case of  Strivers Row  pictured above.  It is a couple of blocks of row houses, exquisitely designed at West 138th and 139th Streets (between Adam Clayton Power, Jr. Boulevard and Frederick Douglass Boulevard ) in the St. Nicholas Historic District.  These houses sell for several million dollars a piece.  They are considered architectural works of art and are highly prized.  Just not by us!! Pretty soon the only hint of its black origins will be the famous names on the street signs that defines its boundaries!

Lest you think I'm on a racial diatribe, let me explain why this topic came to mind. On the airplane coming into New York, I sat next to a young Indian Jehovah Witness returning from a huge conference in Indianapolis.  In our conversation, he explained that he was a minister who received no salary and was totally supported by the Witnesses. He has traveled all over the U.S. and abroad not knowing where he will stay or eat but is welcomed, fed, and housed everywhere he goes by other Witnesses who practice the law of love.
This ironically he describes as carrying out the legacy of Jesus in Matthew 10: 5-15 and 22:34-40. To love others as yourself and to receive brethren with hospitality and kindness.

 He also went on to tell me that JWs do not tithe or pass offering baskets in their service. They don't run building campaigns, have fund raisers and such because faithful Witnesses understand their obligations and wish to do whatever is necessary to carry on the work and preserve its legacy.  One building they owned in New York recently sold for 8 million dollars.  The money will get reinvested into the ministry.   

It brings to mind something I heard: "If Christians would only do for the Truth what False Religions do for a lie" we would be oh so much further along.  I have to ask the question then.  Are we as Christians becoming Sell Outs like the descendants of the Strivers Row generation?   At  what price are we selling our spiritual inheritance?  This wonderful legacy of faith,  morality, gratitude, perseverance, patience and love.

What is it then if we are willing to buy the latest electronic game for our children to play with for hours but won't get up and bring them to church for praise and worship!  Why would we rather sacrifice all to get them into the best schools but think nothing of providing them biblical instruction. What are we teaching them about their spiritual heritage and the faith of their godly fore parents?  Have you ever talked to them about their hardships and their victories in Christ.

 I see others coming to America hidden in boats, riding on train tops, sneaking across our borders even sending their babies simply to get what we already have but don't appreciate!  Don't let the same be said of us as Christians.  For the sake of Christ let's take back our heritage and tell the world that our Legacy is not for sale!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

CONSIDER THE SOURCE: Our Faith Under Pressure!

Under Pressure but Still Shining!

Are you like me...sick and tired of all the crime and violence in our cities?  It's easy to point the fingers at great metropolitans like New York, Chicago, and L.A. which are pretty much known for these sorts of things, but it's not just the big cities.  Small town America, like my little hometown in Missouri is rife with drugs, murder and senseless preying on innocent victims.  As that old song says, Don't It Make You Wanna Holler?  Well I did and I still do from sheer frustration!  I know I'm not alone.  Every day I talk to saints with the same feelings but I just want to say, now is not the time to give up!  Consider the Source and continue your walk of faith (Gal. 6:9).

 My pastor is in week two of a powerful sermon series: How to Handle a Crisis (Matthew 14:13-20).  More than once this week I've had to review my notes in order to  refresh my spirit.  I mean there's something always going on.  When I'm out and about I'm on High Alert, watching where I park, making sure that my packages are out of sight.  With my keys in hand, I walk briskly to my car and that's at 9:00 o'clock in the morning in the middle of the week!  My door bell rings and instead of opening up with my usual smile, I play detective.  First looking out the window to see what car is in the driveway, then the peep hole in the door to make sure I recognize the person.  We have lots of solicitors that troll our neighborhood.  Time was  I felt no qualms in opening my door for a small child or a woman, I pause now to think before doing so.  We know that the Evil One will use anyone to cause harm!

I'm not paralyzed with fear because of what I read or see on television. Not some old lady praying and shaking behind closed doors.  But I do believe what Jesus said, that you should "Watch as well as Pray!" (Matthew 26:41).  Here's the temptation I face and perhaps you do too. Yes times are tough and we need to be cautious.  But as children of the King we cannot live in fear!  ( 2 Timothy 1:7)  We cannot become so frightened that we are lulled into inactivity.  Where we no longer are confident and brave enough to name Christ as the Deliverer and the Answer to the world's ill.  Where we no longer fight but succumb to the Enemy's attacks.  That's just what old slew foot wants us to do.

Like a precious diamond, we only become beautiful and the precious jewel we are when we survive the pressures and heat of adversity! (James 1: 2-4)  When your marriage comes under attack--Consider the Source, the Lord Jesus Christ who reminds us that there is nothing impossible with Him (Mark 10:27).  When evil lurks around every corner and even those who are hired to protect us are themselves murdered in the streets, Consider the Source (Psalms 91).  No trouble can harm you but what God allows and He will not put more on you than you can bear (I Corin. 10:13).

So my dear Christian Sisters, let me give you My conclusion to the matter!  There's nothing wrong with you!  Your praying has not been in vain!  Your service to God gone unheeded, nor your time spent abiding in His Word a waste!  Our faith is just under pressure right now...but now is our time to shine.  Like the diamond sparkling on your finger. Once it was dark and dense as coal, but under pressure its facets sparkles and shines with the Light, the Source of our strength.  Remember what the writer of Hebrews says, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."     

Sunday, July 6, 2014


The Power of the Tongue (Prov. 18:21)

If you're a fan of riddles, here's a good one for you!  Often held but never touched, always wet but never rusts, often bites but seldom bit, to use me well you must have wit... What am I?

Okay, that's a pretty easy one.  Did you guess that it was the tongue?  Riddles and jokes are fun past times if you're in the mood for games and such.  But let me tell you what isn't funny.  Being attacked by a Toxic Sister with a vicious tongue!

The word tongue occurs 129 times in the bible. Forty-nine times in the wisdom books of Psalms and Proverbs.   I guess that's why in the above riddle it says, to use it well you must have wit. A skillful, clever, and perceptive way to express oneself.  It makes sense then that throughout God's word He cautions us about the powerful results that can come from a single utterance! (James 3: 1-11)

In past posts, I've written about the power we women possess.  The power of influence, wisdom, and beauty all wrapped up in that elusiveness that drives men crazy--our femininity! No doubt about it, God gave us something special.  Something that He didn't give to men, but there's one other thing He gave women. Something that can be potentially wonderful or potentially lethal, the Power to Wound!

Lisa Bevere in her book, Fight Like a Girl, The Power of Being a Woman writes:

  I thought again of the differences between boys and girls.  I believe women are more intimately connected at many levels with their emotions.  This is often a vulnerability with men, who are not as emotionally wired as women.  This would mean we women have the capacity to wound men like no other because we have the ability to access an intimate target... the heart.  I have to be honest--in the story of my life, I have been disappointed in men, but I have been wounded by women. 

Wounded by women, she says and what do you think is the favorite weapon?  The tongue of course! Honey, if using our tongues was a martial art...we'd all be Black Belts!!  It is true as Proverbs 18:21 says, Life and death is in the power of the tongue!  But we can choose to speak life!!

 According to Proverbs 18, we can:

-Speak life by loving instead of gossiping or starting rumors about our sisters! (8, 17, 18, 21)

-Speak life by complementing a sister instead of boasting of our own accomplishments (12, 20)

-Speak life by avoiding bickering, fighting with each other using angry words (2, 6, 7, 18, 19)

-Speak life by showing wisdom and compassion (4, 13, 14)

 In addition to speaking life to others, speak life to yourself!  It is not prideful to affirm in yourself God's gifts of talents, service, and personality if you're using them to help others.  If He has shown you favor don't wallow in His goodness share it with others and give Him the glory!

Sisters in Christ, Let's Unite in Stamping Out Toxic Sisters who tear down instead of build up other sisters!  That discourage instead of encourage when they see another Sister doing well.  Let's unite and celebrate God's goodness together not with a chosen few.  Speak Life!  Speak it Now!  And Speak it Continually!