Thursday, June 17, 2010
”Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.” Jeremiah 32:17
When I was a kid, I was taught early on in Sunday School that with God, all things are possible. I believed it too! I was never an “I can’t” person. Although this is true, like anyone growing up, I had my bouts with insecurity and self doubt. Through it all, one thing was for certain. I may not be able to do it, but God can.
In college I was a music major. This meant one thing for me. I needed to get my core curriculum out of the way so I could focus on what I really wanted to do. The last class I recall taking to satisfy core requirements was Natural Science. Natural Science could make a junior in college feel as if they really wasted their time all four years of high school, because the science was so seemingly basic. About halfway through the course, my friend Tashuna and I began to really take it seriously. Why, after coming all this way, passing all high school requirements regarding science, and having no intention (as far as we could see) to need another science class again, should we not only pass but pass with the best grade possible. We began to study early in the morning and late at night. A friend of ours gave us the perfect verse to couple with our new proclaimed tunnel vision for this class!
”Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.” Jeremiah 32:17
We began to post this verse everywhere. It was in our science book and our dorm walls too. When we took tests, we would open our small bibles up on the edge of the desks, just so we could take an occasional glimpse at “nothing is too hard for thee”. We believed God would bring to remembrance that which we did not remember. We believed God would help us succeed in a totally unrelated course, not because we had something to prove to the world, but because His Word is true. Nothing is too hard for thee! Not even Natural Science. We got all kinds of stares and remarks from classmates, but our faith and support of each other, we were not discouraged from our goal. We did pass that class with an average grade, but we worked hard and believed God for it. Maybe had we taken this “nothing is too hard for thee” attitude on earlier, we might have done even better.
Recently, I gave myself a new task. I wanted to create a literary sanctuary for our daughter. Who better to start her reading journey out than the well known literary giant Dr. Seuss. I researched how to adorn a nursery appropriately for a growing baby girl. It didn’t take me long to find a style I liked, and we decided to go with it. Aside from the paint, the furniture, the shelves and the books would be the gigantic Horton Hears a Who mural I intended to paint on the wall. I began to show my design to friends and family. The consensus response was, “Uhhhhh, why don’t you just buy some stick on stuff? Who in the world is going to draw that? Are you going to hire a muralist?” I responded, “No, I am going to do it myself.” Well, they all pretty much secretly and professingly thought it was not a good idea. Why would I draw a mural when I could just purchase one? Well, because I wanted her surroundings to reflect the love I have for her and for reading and writing. When she is big enough to ask, I will tell her, “Mommy did that for you. She wanted you to know as soon as you came home that ‘A person’s a person no matter how small.’ This is the motto from the book Horton Hears a Who. Nothing is too hard for you with Christ.”
Now that the mural is completed, so many are shocked. But I know it was the handy work of God and an overhead projector that made it all come to life. My prayer for you is that you embrace the fact that nothing is too hard for you. No class, no test, no mural shall separate you from the love of God in Christ. The power of His hand is in your hand. Many people in our lives don’t intend to be discouraging, but they are. That is why, no matter what they say, you must know the truth. And the truth will make you free… and maybe even an artist!
Monday, June 14, 2010
MSNBC runs a political roundup show each morning called Morning Joe. I became quite acquainted with the show during the last presidential election. There is a segment at the end of each broadcast called “News You Can’t Use”. This involves a litany of stories that really have nothing to do with politics, society, or anything they deem relevant to the life of the public at large. Celebrity shenanigans, major company blunders, political spoofs- just about anything that really matters to no one. This segment reminds me of my mother’s trusty saying when we blabber on about senseless things. She simply states, “What good is information you can’t do anything with?”
“But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer.” 2 Timothy 2:16-17a NKJV
You know, there is just nothing like your first love. I enjoy reciting the many lessons shared during my first real relationship. You see, we hit it off from the moment we met. Not long after, we were dating. We didn’t attend the same high school, and to this day little things are revealed through friends and acquaintances regarding his “other life” there. Nevertheless, as the story goes, we were on the phone late one evening, and out of what had to be sheer fatigue he called me another girl’s name. Well, needless to say I was up after that! Of course this lead to his discourse of “she’s just a friend”, but even I knew at age 15 you don’t just say another girl’s name unless she means something to you, or you mean something to her. I demanded that he call her on the almighty 3-Way, so we could settle this matter once and for all. Like a cool guy, he did.
Well, almost as soon as we got on the phone I began to regret this arrangement. She was loud, high-strung, and determined to set me straight on this particular fall night. She let me know under no certain terms she cared for him. He belonged to her. The conversation was foolish in her eyes, for she wanted me to understand she would have him, and that was the way it was going to be. She never admitted to dating him or that he had any reciprocal feeling towards her. Neither did he. She just gave me a good “woman-to-woman” run down, and I had no choice but to take it. My only response was, “Okay. If he decides to be with you, there is nothing I can do. I don’t fight over boys. If he wants you, you can have him.” And that was it for me… I went to bed.
Lesson Learned: At the end of being cussed, fussed, told and harangued, I felt there was really nothing I could use from this conversation. Yes he called me her name, but we seemed to just move on after that. Even then, I knew we were just kids. I wasn’t going to let some loud mouth keep me away from the cutest, smartest football player I had the pleasure of dating. In the end, I am so glad I didn’t. We had so much fun together. He became great buddies with my girls and I got to know his friends very well. We had great dates, great laughs, and two years of high school sweet heart bliss. It inevitably ended in heartbreak with yours truly on the receiving in. Although this is true, even in retrospect, it still felt good trusting until I could no longer trust. How awesome it was to enjoy a great friendship as long as it was meant to last.
We often allow news we can’t use to spread like cancer in our lives. Just an idle word, a single thought often changes the course of our lives. Why? Most of the things people tell us is simply information we can do nothing with. It puts no food on our table, no clothes on our backs; it does not raise our children and certainly does not edify our relationships. However, when we take in the useless, it spreads like a useless disease. Cancer can kill in every form, and there are those that just never go into remission. Maybe your cancer is a broken heart, joblessness or a bad habit. Whatever it is, shun the profanity out of your mouth and out of your life. With God as the head of your life, nothing is too hard for you! No one has the right to take something away God gave to you, because what God has for you is for you! Remember, entertainment to some can be humiliation for others. My prayer is that you live above the temptation of loose-lipness. It serves you better to know the difference between what is reusable and what is disposable.
Peace & Blessings,
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
What do “Thou shall not steal” and “Don’t provoke your children to anger” have in common?
I try to avoid the morning news at all costs. The first news of the day seems to take my mustered inspiration and trample it, as I watch arrest after arrest in my area and abroad. Media just doesn’t take to the adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say, just say nothing at all.” Rightly so. If they did, nothing would be reported, for seemingly almost every bit of news has an element of satire and sadness. When I think back to what took me down this initial track of headline avoidance, I believe it started by watching daily, adolescent after adolescent being charged with everything from theft to murder.
Just recently, a young man of college age, I am associated with through family acquaintance, was charged with robbing a pizza delivery man twice and took the pizza to eat in the last robbery. I looked back and took short inventory of what I knew of his up-bringing. Aside from the identity of his real father being revealed to him as an older child, he endured his home life with his mother as man after man was put before his wellbeing. Although this is true, he was the oldest child and was expected to be “a man” in the home. He was eventually put out by the time he was eighteen. He lived from pillar to post, with several family members, in a van for a short period of time and eventually on the streets, all while being a college student. He, unlike many, had unprecedented hope and ambition for his future despite a tumultuous rearing. Now here he is…sitting in the jail. His first television debut has been captured in the frame of a mug shot. My pity for him does him little good. But I think about his life and present disposition. What would provoke an over-comer as he to resort to such a horrible display of wrath? The answer was easy. Hunger! Hunger would provoke many of us to steal, rob, cheat, and every sorted manner of evil. But the underlying reality of a plight of this nature can stem from this simple thought and passage. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 NLT
The Bible explicitly admonishes against stealing, robbery, and plundering what is not yours. It also digs into the trenches of the wages of sin which lead to death. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to know that. Similarly, it instructs parents to be mindful of the predicament they place their children in. Anger is a multipurpose word that can demonstrate and produce a variety of evil. Neither the sin of provocation or robbery can be omitted for the sake of selfishness or hunger. But there is an initial responsibility parents and adults have to children. As adults, we all play a part in the lives of children we come in contact with. That part can make the difference in their entire path of life.
1 Timothy 5:8 “But those who won’t care, (will not provide), for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.” Wow! Which simply means you can be a Christian, but are still worse than an unbelieving person because of your unwillingness to provide.
We shake our head at our children, but as a village, we are much responsible for the anger and frustration so plaguing the young. Denying this and accepting this changes nothing. Only the willingness of our heart to provide all we have to those we love can cause a paradigm shift in our youth. As my husband and I anxiously await the arrival of our daughter, I can’t help but to remember the young people whose faces have lit up over the years because of my approval of them. Small gifts, cards, birthday reminders, and I love you. They all mount up to a hopeful child. They know it is someone that is proud of them. That would expect more of them. That would love them at their worst, even if they have a mug shot on the morning news. Who will you love better today and every day? If you don’t have a child, think of a relative, family friend, mentee- someone in your immediate reach. Your provision of hope and love today could make the difference in how they satisfy their relentless hunger in the future.
Can Kinky and Straight Walk Together Less They Agree?
Amos 3:3 “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”
Hair is a funny thing. Of course, most familiar with my discourse regarding hair will reveal my terribly analogical way of framing life through its various evolutions. So for the sake of today’s blog I will keep it a little less analogical and a little more practical for living “The Scriptured Life”. The question is posed: Can kinky hair and straight hair dwell on the same head less they agree?
One of reasons many African-American women have difficulty going from a permanent, relaxed hair style to a more natural, less processed one is due to letting go of the growth they have. This is why the industry has termed something called “The Big Chop”. “The Big Chop” let’s go of the old hair in full expectation of the new hair growing in…well…different. Those who try to grow their hair out natural with relaxer still on the ends have a really difficult time staying natural. For the two states of hair are at odds, both physically and stylistically. Not only are the chances of your relaxed breaking off greater, but it just doesn’t look good. You see yourself as needing a relaxer rather than getting rid of one.
This is not a blanket observation I am making, but one I have witnessed played out in the lives of many in this predicament. It is understandable to revert back to the relaxer. That was all I knew until college. But when I got there, I had the support I needed to not hold on to length for the sake having length. I had to make a sacrifice for the look and the health of my hair.
The bottom line is this: If you decide to be natural with no relaxer, you will have to at least flat iron your hair for the look. If you decide to wear a natural look, you will let go of the relaxed ends sooner than later. My answer to our question is a simple NO! The styles cannot be rocked together unless they agree which way they are going! One has to reign. Natural or relaxed. Kinky or straight. God or other gods.
Such is our relationship with Our Lord Jesus Christ. We either serve Him as Lord or we don’t. The scripture can speak for the rest of this lesson. My encouragement for you is to not be afraid of “the big chops” in life. A friend, a job, a lifestyle can all be transformed by it! God bless you!
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will live with them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-16
Friday, June 4, 2010
God or Google: Big G or Little g?
"You shall have no other gods before me."
In our quest for information in today's society, search engines like Bing and Google have become our best friends. Facebook and Twitter are how we keep up with our friends, family, and colleagues. Amazon and E-bay are how we make many of our purchases and business transactions. These conveniences can even allow us to go an entire day without speaking to a single soul, yet completing our work, cultivating our social life, and creating our recreation.
I have found as a Christian, it is easy to stray away from the faith considering such conveniences in my own life. It is one thing to look up a Bible verse on biblegateway.com or read a devotional from Dailybread.com or even listen to a sermon on streamingfaith.com. But it is another thing entirely to grow in the word of the Lord, fellowship with others and get the real insight needed to encounter life transformation.
For instance, I could put in a topic like, "failure to launch" and receive numerous articles on the subject. I may even find Christian literature to read on this matter. However, everyone's life is different and not transferable to my situation. It is not going to give me the answers to the real questions I need addressed. Why am I here? What brought me to this place? How can I get there? Is a deferment a failure? After all this, does God still have a purpose for my life?
These are real concerns, but the truth is, Google, Bing and Yahoo cannot respond as needed. It is the God of lights that knows all and sees all. Those engines may attempt to be a temporary god, but their fulfillment is easy and takes no real meditation on the word of God.
Before visiting my alma mater this past weekend, I prayed that God would use me in some way. Teach me as He had on this beloved campus. Illuminate Fisk in my eyes like I have never experienced. He is a God of His word, and as my husband and I wandered about the grounds, He did just that. There were so many I connected with from college who seemed to be grasping for air, trying to obtain understanding concerning their present disposition. Not where they want to be and needing hope, like myself. Needing encouragement once again, like myself. The truth is none of the afore mentioned sites could obviously reach those needs adequately. Oh, I hear what you're saying. "I know googling my troubles won't really help me." And I believe you know that too. I just believe we would try anything when we can't see our way. I just wanted to remind everyone reading this that the true and living God is still imparting great truths regarding our lives. He knows your disappointment and has a message for you. Put no God before Him, ever!
No matter how lonely you are, jobless you are, broken you are, hopeless you feel, damaged you seem, under qualified, overqualified, spouseless, childless, or even faithless, God will restore you. Spend more time on God. No matter how big the "g" gets in Google, it will never be as big as the "G" in God! Allow Him to be your favorite search engine again. You'll be surprised at what you already know!
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Today, I went through an automatic car wash. The gentleman unscrewed my antenna, got me all lined up for the machine, and off I went into the world of suds and scrubs. As I sat there, the cool of the wash rustled through the vents, brushing my skin lightly. For a moment, I thought back to an amusement park ride my family enjoyed each summer when we were kids called “Smurfland”.
My little brother, sister and I were premature children. Sickly to say the least. And although we looked forward to our yearly trip to Paramount Studios at Kings Island in Cincinatti, Ohio, there were only a few rides we could get on. My sister was terribly asthmatic, so her theme park adventure was even more slighted, but you would never know it. The best family ride we could all participate in was “Smurfland”. It was cool, breezy, had little ups and downs, but was filled with our favorite characters. Smurfette, Papa Smurf, Brainy, Grumpy and even the terrifying villain Gargamel. What a happy place Smurfland was, on the cartoon show and the ride. It was short but it seemed to last forever. It may have lasted a minute or so beyond my car wash adventure.
As I sat reminiscing on those peaceful times, I recalled Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Sometimes a brief meditation of a memory and the word of God can change the course of your entire day. This world seeks to take our peaceful moments. It would even assume we forget peaceful moments from our past. But in the heat of the day, when the villain enemy comes to infiltrate our camp, it would behoove us to sing our theme song “La-la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-laaaaaaaa!” Simple isn’t it! That’s all the Smurfs had to sing. They enjoyed their life, in spite of impeding attacks that were sure to come. What a great way to live.
My prayer today is that you think of whatsoever things are lovely and make a decision to hold on to those things with all of your might! May the peace of God guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. If it takes you a while to get there, just think of little blue people… it could be a start!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
A Ode to Beverly, My Mom
“For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.” Ephesians 6:3-5
Wednesday’s blogs have been dedicated to my mother and her various ways of revealing great truths to live by. Today I use a simple one I hear almost daily, “There are no free services.” It took me a long time to understand her concept of “free services”. Especially since every day I see people rendering services seemingly for free. In a world of hookups, bootlegging and bailouts, free is who you know, how well you know what they know, and what you are willing to do to get what they have. However, I now view her colloquialism from a doctrinal perspective. For her, there are no free services.
She has a firm belief in paying for what she gets, working for what she has and encouraging others the integrity of doing so. Giving a gift is not a free service, it is a gift. Community service is not a free service; it is a pro bono act of kindness toward society. Wherever we went as kids, she was determined we would not have an expectation of being handed anything, and if given something, we were to be gracious. She was strict on fundraising in school, often comparing it to borderline pan-handling. Mom wanted our anticipation of “extra” to be in God, our work ethic and the overflow that comes from knowing you have contributed to your own wellbeing. How many times have I been told, “You don’t get extra credit for stuff you are suppose to do. Do something extraordinary and I will be the one to let you know just how extra-ordinary it is.”
I never really saw it as a matter of pride, because we were never too puffed up to ask for help. “Just remember, no one owes you,” she said. If you don’t get what you asked for, don’t be mad. Rejoice in your own work and bear your own load. To this day, her nieces, nephews, coworkers, friends- really all that have been blessed by her insist on giving of their talent to her for free. Short of them boxing it, shipping it directly with no return address and denying her phone calls, will she accept it. What a determination to demonstrate love with the same measure demonstrated toward you.
There is not one time I pass a group of young football players, boy scouts, or band members in the middle of the road that I don’t think of her pan-handling analogy. We have not because we ask not, but I understand we have less, because we work not.
My prayer for all of us today is that this scripture and my mother’s mantra remind us that many disappointments can often begin and end in our hearts and our intent. Oh how God rejoices when His people have a mind to work…and how pressed down shaken together and running over are the rewards!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The Kohathites were assigned by God to carry the holy things out of the temple, only after they had been covered by Aaron and his sons, who had permission to physically touch the holy things. (Numbers 4) Korah, a descendant of the Kohathites and cousin of Moses and Aaron decided this was not good enough for him and his descendants. He felt that Moses and Aaron “took too much upon themselves”. (Numbers 16:3) As the story is told in Numbers 16:31-33, “Now it came to pass, as he (Moses) finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.”
That’s it. God gave the Kohathites an assignment, they complained about it, and when they went before God, He created a huge sinkhole and swallowed them up. When God gives an assignment, we should not covet the assignments He has also given our brothers and sisters. No matter how small it may seem to us at the time, it is important that we follow His guidelines and His word.
This past weekend, a great sinkhole was formed in Guatemala as an aftermath result of the season’s first tropical storm. A three story building was swallowed up into the earth. It is terribly deep, so much that all that the building was made of is gone without notice of where it once stood. The media has reported that old drainage systems compounded by heavy rains caused such a catastrophe. Whatever the case may be, the elements have once again shown us our limited control on natural circumstances.
I wonder how many of us would covet the gifts, things, and possibilities of others if we had to imagine our life ending in that sinkhole. Many of us live in spiritual sinkholes every day, for we have no appreciation for what we have been blessed with or called to do. Oh sure, maybe we don’t make the money we know some make, have the children some have, or the house we want, but have we praised God with such as we already have? It’s a probing question. One I don’t take lightly myself.
My encouragement to you is take inventory of the many creative ways God has made you, can use you and does indeed use you today. No man knows the day or the hour when God will come for us. Let us be found worthy when God calls us! Have a blessed day.