Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Struggle Is Good?

I had a discussion with a group of believers some years ago about the struggle Christians are destined to have. I had another discussion about the same subject matter with a group of Christians online. The consensus was that those I was talking to were in agreement to be in some sort of sorrowful struggle and they were fine with this horrible thing that was going to happen to them. It baffled me then, now, and if God doesn't reveal something to me quick, it still baffles me as to why intelligent believers could make such a sound decision in making Jesus their Lord and Savior and then also accept that with Him, there will come peril and destruction? So what happened next was for me to do as I have been taught and go seek out the answer for myself as to why there are 2 opposing views with the same intent: for the betterment of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13 AMP).

I wrote about the woman before who had an ailment that she was hoping God would cure before she had surgery. She said she hoped and prayed for God to do a suddenly on her behalf. In that time; however, the woman refused to listen to the sound advise of not eating certain food items which exacerbated the ailment she was having (2 Timothy 4:3 AMP). She claimed that her doctor never told her to stop eating such food items. The woman had the procedure done of which she resented but sought no other choice. Another woman was given the diagnosis of having terminal cancer. When I asked if the doctor put her on any special diet, she replied that he had not. She continued to consume her daily allowance of chocolate pudding and diet cola. Within months, she passed away (Titus 1:9 AMP).

Both of these women had different belief systems. One is a Christian and the other wasn't. Both said the doctor did not tell them to change any of their habits for whatever the reason, according to them. Both went through horrible suffering. Was it because of the habits they refused to give up? Was it because of not using sound wisdom? Was it because of sin not confessed (1 John 1:9 AMP)? Well, the Christian is still here and can do something about her circumstances so not to be in the same predicament again. The Christian can stop the pain and the horrific struggle she is going through even after the surgery. Can you see what that is?

You see, when Paul said that we would go through suffering, it was on a scale that has not been considered or taught (Philippians 1:29-30 AMP). He said that Jesus went through suffering and if you don't as well, then you are not of Him (Romans 8:17 AMP). As I read through those passages, it bothered me (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 AMP). It bothered me more when pastors and speakers did not explain them any better then my own studies (1 Peter 4:13 AMP). They expected horrific things to happen to those who believe as well. Why? Because it has happened to them.

Why did these things happen to them? Why didn't they tell us a complete testimony so that we could understand and not do the same mistakes? Why was this lesson skipped or merely skimmed over?


Its quite simple and a matter that I have written about with the analogy of the seed coming from the ground, a chick trying to get out the egg, or a baby getting through the birth canal. The struggle all serves a purpose. The seed is blown before enabling the correct end to be propped in the soil and the elements getting it to where it needed to be (or by a farmer). In so doing the seed cannot grow into a sapling without getting rid of the outer covering. The chick struggles to get out of its shell and while doing so, it clears its lungs from any mucous and strengthens its muscles to be able to walk about. The baby squeezes through the birth canal with a host of benefits for the baby and the mother when the process is done correctly. So thank God for the struggle.

Now with the acceptance of our Lord and Savior for us to live in abundance, what struggle is left?
Jesus requires for us to pick up our cross and follow Him. He requires for us to receive the Holy Spirit and develop the fruit thereof (Galatians 5:22-23 AMP). He requires for us to crucify the flesh daily...and there it is. There is what we would be crying over. There is what we scream about and fuss and refute. There is where we cry out to God why hasn't He done this or that for us yet. There is where the separation of the lambs and the goats come in (Matthew 25:31-46 AMP). Its where He, and those who maintain, can see if the love of God is in you or is it just lip service. Its the struggle of living Holy and not go back to the life we left behind. Its saying the right thing when angry rather using the profane vocabulary you used to use that could make a sailor blush. Its being able to give you shirt to someone in need and if asked to give your coat also without so much as a hint of regret. For it is written that God loves a cheerful giver. So recognize and see when any of the aforementioned used to cause you grumbling to do....and when you knew to do better, how much effort did it take for you to actually do it?

Paul suffered. No I don't mean the thorn in his side (2 Corinthians 12:7 AMP). I mean when he was persecuting the Christians and then told Jesus that he would stop (Acts 22:1-8 AMP). How long did it take for him to stop being angry? He stopped killing people but his argumentative ways took some time (Acts 17:2-17 AMP). That had to be a hardship for him to go through. What about those that followed Paul? Did they do what Jesus did or did they do what they saw Paul do? After all, he did say would that you could follow me. Then he added, would that you could follow me as I follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1 AMP). He had to grow up and in so doing, there was a struggle for all of the wrong things he did and said in the process. He could have said all of the right words and not believe any of them. But that would only be noise to the Lord and not that sweet savor that we hope for.

Do you believe that everyone that goes to church services have the right intentions? It seems that everyone knows what to say and do, but do they believe those things for the rest of the week when they aren't in church? You see, we can't FAKE it until we make it. Faking isn't real. We have to believe it to receive it (Mark 11:23 AMP). And the believing isn't solidified without crucifying the flesh daily. How do we do this? By saying the right thing the moment we begin our day. Its the spiritual version of brushing our teeth and taking a shower. Do we struggle to be hygienic? Was it always easy to bath and get dressed or did you put your shoes on the wrong foot, skip brushing your teeth every now and again like everyone else when you were growing up? Well, its sort of like that when walking in the Spirit. It takes time for new ways to become habitual. Once they do, its as easy as Jesus said it would be. Don't be fooled anymore. You now know better so you MUST do better. Amen?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Quenched

When I was a child, I used to reside in Europe. At the end of the school year, the administrators would sponsor some function where all of the students were to participate. My last year in the school, the function was a 10 kilometer walk (6.21 miles). Most of my class thought it to be boring but it was better then sitting in the classroom the whole afternoon. In the beginning of the walk, everyone was pretty talkative. Towards the middle of the event, we took on the scenes of the hot, sunny day so there was plenty of oohing and aahing. At the last few kilometers, no one was saying anything just focusing on getting it over with so we could go home. Being from the United States and again, a child, I had no idea how long a kilometer was. It was a missed opportunity for an enlightening lesson the day before the event. I guess the teachers were looking forward to the end of the school year too. Yet by the end, I felt like I walked at least 30 miles.

Oddly back then, no one had the foresight to carry a canteen of water; no, not one child or educator. So by the time we could see the school's campus, most of us ran, I assumed for the event to be completed. But they saw something I didn't. It was a table with tubs filled with ice and cans of soda. Most of the boys out ran the girls, especially when they saw that there was no limit to how much soda we all could have. I never drank a full can before but that day not only did I drink a full can, I was looking to see if I could have another for the walk home. Before I could get off of the school's grounds, I finished off that can too. I recall not quite 2/3rd's of the way there, when my mouth felt sticky and back to needing something to drink again.

I thought of this again as a grown woman studying the Word and remembering a passage when Jesus was talking to the woman at the well. He told her about herself and what she was doing with her life just after He asked her for a drink of water. He never did get the water from her; what she received from Him was an understated warning that if she knew who she was talking to, she would realize that there is a drink He could give to her that will cause her never to thirst again. She listened but her hearing was superficial. Until she heard Him tell her about herself, she changed her position, put down the water pot, and went to tell of all she heard from Him (John 4:1-42 AMP).

What Jesus gives will cause us never to thirst again. There is no want or need that cannot be met. With God hearing the prayers of the righteous, how can a believer be dissatisfied? When i was in that school event and consumed all of that soda, my thirst was still there moments later. What I was looking for in those tubs was some water. That wasn't supplied, even though it would have been a better option and my thirst would be quenched. Quenched, meaning the thirst would be gone.

The scriptures tell us in the New Testament not to quench the Holy Spirit. I didn't see that verse though it had been preached about in the services I attended. The verse I did heed to was Psalms 51 where the writer asks not to take your Spirit from me. Though it used to be one of my favorite passages, it bothered me to know that the writer believed the Spirit of God would be taken from one who believes. I pacified myself thinking the passage is from the Old Testament and has no bearing on the Christian lifestyle of today. But then I found the verse, not to quench the Holy Spirit as I read the entire chapter of 1 Thessalonians 5. The entire chapter was instruction what to do in the last days. Its funny, how this time, in this manner, I was not bothered by what we are directed to do (verse 19).

You see, in Psalm the writer is asking for God not to cast him out of His presence and to not to take His Spirit from him. Why would there ever be a time that God would do such a thing when He continually tells us that He loves and will never leave nor forsake us? But then the writer tells God what he would like for God to do and then it sounds as if there is a bargain at the end of the verse..."then, I will teach transgressors thy ways and convert sinners over to you (Psalm 51:10-13 AMP)." Is that arrogance?

Saul received gifts from God and was well aware of who God is, yet became jealous of David and resorted to seeking out a psychic (1 Samuel 28:7 AMP). Sampson was well aware of his gifts from God and was given instruction as to what to do and not to do to keep himself strong and powerful. Yet with as much knowledge as he had, he still ate honey from a carcass, gave the unclean product to his parents to eat, and kept company with a woman that did not have the same faith as him. Elimelech knew his family was supposed to stay in the land that God gave them. The whole of Bethlehem was told this, yet he took it upon himself to leave the land because of famine and go into a place with people that knew nothing of Jehovah Jireh (Ruth 1:1-5 AMP). Would not these acts quench the Holy Spirit? Would these acts cause these men to be taken out of the presence of God? In His presence, there is light, peace, and joy. What happened to these men? Answer: They all died.

Granted, that is the Old Testament; nevertheless, there are many that teach from the Old Testament and live according to it. The Word tells us that the man that lives by the law will also die by that law because it is of the old covenant (Galatians 3:10-12 AMP). If we were to put this in the perspective of the new covenant and where it can be applicable for today, it looks like it is the same as God describes Himself: the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Too Ruined To Serve?

A minister said he would rather use an old rot gut sinner just getting saved to do a job for the Lord before getting someone who is more seasoned in the church. Why? Is the minister looking for the zeal the seasoned Christian used to have? Interesting.

How did a more seasoned Christian get that way? How long will it take for an old rot gut to get the way of a seasoned believer? Whose fault is it that Christians get that way? Who do you believe should be doing the changing first? How can you keep from loosing your zeal? Is it always good to have? Why would a minister or pastor need a zealot to do anything for them? Is there a ministry for the zealot? Should there be? Do they need special protection? Interesting...isn't it?

Think about someone who is always excited. Can an overly excited person listen to do what is
orderly? Or will he/she run to do something they believe will be pleasing to the person they are trying to impress? Are overly excited Christians impulsive? What can you do with this sort of person? Is there a way to redirect someone without hampering their spirit?

There was a middle aged man just coming into the knowledge of the truth and realizing the importance of making a joyful noise unto the Lord. Every praise and worship service, he would be in front of the congregation dancing and worshiping God. He didn't care what people thought or how much they talked about him (if at all). He just loved the Lord and wished to express himself at every given opportunity. When he decided to volunteer in one of the auxiliaries, his reputation preceded him. All of the leaders and/or ministers of such groups already established how they liked for things to be and didn't need any shaking up. They tried to be subtle so not to hurt his feelings but how else was he suppose to perceive what was going on in the ministry where he would also like to serve? All of the leaders/ministers suggested for him to try this group where Sister such-and-so needs some help or try Brother so and so because he asked for volunteers...and so forth and so on. Finally, someone heard from God and asked for him to join the young people service to keep the children excited during praise and worship but manageable during the message portion of the service. That was it! His place where he fitted in comfortably. Not only was he a good influence for the young people, he was able to settle down to hear poignant portions of the sermons that assisted him in being a mature Christian.

There is always a place for someone who truly loves the Lord. All gifts and talents given by God are welcomed to be used in the body of Christ. Is there a time when gifts cannot be used (1 Corinthians 12:27-31 AMP)?

A well known celebrity had a horrific accident. He was bed ridden for months and the doctors did not have a favorable outlook. A minister heard of this celebrity's plight and decided to have a few of his colleagues go to the hospital to visit with him. The celebrity was awake and welcomed the visitors. They introduced themselves then proceeded to tell why they came. Afterwards, they witnessed to the man and he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Personal Savior. Then they prayed for him. They explained that by faith he could be healed. During his stay in the hospital, the ministers came to see him regularly and rejoiced at the man's speedy recovery. The doctors were astonished. The ministers told the man that he was more then welcome to attend their church but if he chose not to, it was very important for him to attend a bible teaching ministry. He thanked them and asked when was their next service. The news traveled fast that this celebrity would be attending this ministry. That Sunday, the church was packed. The celebrity sat on the front row. When the pastor came to speak, he told of the celebrity's accident and asked for him to come and have a testimony about what God's goodness has done for him. Reluctantly, the man came and spoke. There was such a stir in the congregation by his status as well as what he endured but God delivered him out of it. When he was finished, the congregation stood and applauded God's goodness. But because the man knew nothing about Christian principles, he received the applause as he would in making a performance and thanked the people with a slight bow. At the end of the service, visitors came to the celebrity and asked if he could speak at their church or event they were having as well. He accepted. From that church came another speaking engagement, then another, and another. Finally, he was too exhausted to keep up the pace and began declining the invitations. As much as he would have liked to attend services, he couldn't. Eventually, he reconciled within himself to go back to the only life he knew. He would not receive any other phone calls other then from other celebrities and/or those that had paying jobs for him. Slowly but surely even the paying jobs stopped. Where were the original ministers that visited him in the hospital? Do they see the harm they did to this newborn Christian who happened to be a celebrity? He did as they told him to but he was never fed the Word. Where was the protection from all of those who wished for a piece of him as well?

There are a number of different incidences that has happened to me while in ministry. I have seen ministers do things that caused me to pause not knowing that my mouth was still open in shock. In asking questions and was flabbergasted at the answers I received back from those who have been serving in ministry far longer then I have been a Christian. In all of that and those other things not worthy to mention, it took maturity to realize it wasn't them I was trying to please. The Word is magnified in my life to where resorting to means that would have resurrected the flesh wasn't a thought; however, if it was, there would be a disillusion of what I believed Christians should be (actually, that has happened). Should there be a ministry for that? Is there already one set up for that? Should the shepherd in charge of the flock be checking on that? Isn't that what he is supposed to be doing or am I expecting too much (Romans 8:8-17 AMP)?

In all 3 incidences described, ministers were involved in one capacity or another. Were they not prayed up? Did they not hear the voice of the Lord and just chose to disregard it? Are the ministers/pastors overwhelmed with their duties? How can that be? What is the responsibility of the church in that regard or in the place of the 3 incidences described?

There was a black out at my place of employment. The administrator had all of the staff come in to assist the elderly. For whatever the reason, the administrator failed to call one of the newest employees. When the administrator left for the night, I was responsible to do some designating to make sure all of the residents were safe. I called the new employee not only because we could use the extra help but so that she could feel needed. I would think the church would do the same thing. When the pastor or the minister fails at a small detail, pick it up and keep going. There is a job to be done. We have all been assigned to do what we must. Prayer is the first thing and knowing what to do comes right after. If you believe you have done all you can, stand therefore (Ephesians 6:10-18 AMP).

To the pastor that would rather have a rot got sinner just being saved to use for the Lord then a disciplined, more mature Christian, shame on you (Matthew 24:39-51 AMP). The reasoning is clear whether it was said or not. You are not looking for that baby in Christ to be a well rounded servant of God but rather one to serve you in whatever capacity you choose. This entry is for all pastors to know that the congregation isn't at all as naive as we use to be and if there isn't a ministry to keep the babies close and watch out for them, there should be (Matthew 7:15 AMP). We know that these are the last days. We have learned to read the scriptures for ourselves and whether the clergy aren't as steadfast in their prayers anymore - we are. Calmly think on that one (Selah).

Its On Like Donkey Kong!

Now, you do realize that we have a Lord and Savior that has been in the process of waiting for His bride. You also know that His bride is the church (Revelation 22:17 AMP).You have to know that we are the church and have to all be in one accord for us all to walk together to do what we have to do (Amos 3:3 KJV). You have to see that because it just looks crazy for a body with all of its limbs doing whatever each of those parts want to do. There is a head to that body and the head operates the body. We progressively yield our will to the Lord so He can rule and reign in our lives.

This is the same order in a successful marriage, in a well constructed business, in raising a healthy well adjusted child, and so forth and so on. If it works, there is no reason to try to fix it or believe you can do better then the One that created all things. Its absolute foolishness to think that you could. Humble yourself (James 4:10 AMP). Jesus didn't take the role of being judge and defendant for us. It was given to him because of who He is. We are also promoted in the same manner because of allowing Him to be magnified in our lives. We are because He is. Living with these principles in the forefront of our minds, we have peace and conduct ourselves accordingly (Isaiah 26:3 AMP).

Can we change our minds? Yes, but why would you? There is nothing better out there without Him. Once we understand who we are in Him, we have the liberty to do as we please. All of those things that would have caused us hurt, harm, and/or danger is no longer enticing because we know better. Therefore, we do better (1 Corinthians 10:23 AMP).

With these things in mind, what happens when tempted from the other side of the fence? Well, picture it. There we were trudging through so much mess and mire and then Jesus came along. He introduced Himself and taught you a better way. He took the burden that was loading you down and told you He will carry it from now on (1 Peter 5:7 AMP). Then as you both were walking together and He kept showing you what He has for you, you noticed that the mire had gone away. You noticed how clean you felt and the love that just seemed to be oozing from your pores, you just have to share with someone else (James 4:8 AMP). Why, when you have never done this before? Its because of Him, being around Him and developing that relationship, you just can't help yourself. But after so many years, you might get use to those wonderful feelings and skipped on a few services, missed some time you use to have in prayer, and made excuses for not reading your bible on a regular basis. One of your "old" friends sees you and remarks how long its been. He/she tells you that such and so is in town and is having a get together at the house. You are invited. Those were some of the best times back in the day. It was so much fun and the antics you use to do is what's going through your mind. Those entertained thoughts of a life from the past you are having with that smirk is just like peering over the other side of that fence. Its like Lot's wife looking back at the life she was leaving. Its as if you don't appreciate what Jesus did for you when you were at your worst. How could you miss the mire (Proverbs 26:11 AMP)? Why would you want the filth? Why would anyone desire to be burdened?

Understand the above scenario as you would teaching a toddler how to walk. If the toddler falls, it is expected. He/she doesn't get punished because of a temporary fall. You have to be taught some things and with practice the toddler will be walking in no time and trying to run. Its in him to do.

So, you say you are a Christian and you said it out loud too. God smiles. Its like, "awe, that's so cute." Then you go a little further. Got some moxie and now when you say you are a Christian, you got a little base in your voice like no one can ever change your mind (Hebrews 10:35 AMP). God smiles. Its as if He, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are elbowing each other to show, "that's our child!" Still walking the walk and talking the talk. Nothing is going to stop you now. It looks like its time. Time for what? Its time to enlarge your territory. Its time for you to use all of the lessons you learned. Its time for those that talked about you to stand up and notice what God is doing to and for you in your life. Its time for you to recognize that this was no fad, not a ritual, no religious ordeal that's here today to be gone tomorrow if not sooner. This process was as real as God is. He has watched you all of this time and now is not the time to withdraw, or pretend that you aren't as grown as you were when you were talking the talk. You cannot shrink and go back to diapers making believe that you didn't learn or haven't seen God's glorious power at work! If you do, that would be a lie....and you know what's about to happen if you continue on that route.

This is not play time. This is for real. The position you have been called to do is a necessary work for
the body to function properly. We don't have time to go over the same stuff that you already learned. You cannot claim to have dull senses (Hebrews 5:11-14 AMP). If you do, you might have to move out of the way for someone else to take your place. We have to be in position for each member to operate in the way God created for the body to function. Jesus epitomizes patience as He waits for His bride (Revelation 19:7 AMP). His return is closer then ever before. Are you on your mark? You have a place and should be set. When God says go..... no man will stop this from happening.  Go means go - we learned that way back in kindergarten.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Paying For It

There are several passages in the bible that gave me reason to furrow my brow and ponder for great length. Some of the verses gave more freedom then thought was allowed while others caused fear making me even more aware of who God is. Yet for this particular entry, the verse about buying the truth and selling it not made for an interesting topic when I called an evangelist that was accepting questions for his radio program (Proverbs 23:23 AMP). He chuckled knowing that it was a stalling tactic he was using so his assistant could either pull the verse up on the computer or come up with a viable answer to my question.

You see he, as with many others from ministry, have received a variety of gifts from the Lord. These gifts are for the perfecting of the saints (Ephesians 4:11-13 AMP). We are to be strengthened so that we can continue with what we are called to do. So why have some of us used these gifts for our own livelihood (1 Corinthians 2:14 AMP)? When did God give approval for that seeing that He would not go back on His Word?

The evangelist chuckled again and tried to make me feel ridiculous for asking the question. His reasoning was that how I was stating the question wasn't plausible because there wouldn't be so many versions of the bible and other books from those in ministry - including his. What he was avoiding was his own accountability. Just because everyone is doing it doesn't make it right. Everyone used to sing and preach climbing up the rough side of a mountain until some of us decided to read the bible for ourselves and found that hymnal to be a fallacy (Mark 11:23 AMP). In all, there was a whole heap of words being said by him and my question wasn't sufficiently answered (Colossians 4:6 AMP).

Since then, I have heard a sermon preached about the poor widow with 1 son. She was going to make her last meal so she and her son could die. Elijah came to the woman's home and told her to make the food  for him. He ate and told her what to do in order for her to have the finances she needed for the both of them to not only to survive but thrive (1 Kings 17:8-24 AMP). The sermon answered my question, yet I wondered why the ministers didn't use that passage so not to go against what God gave them to do?

Notice when the church is in "the red", it becomes the congregation's problem. There has to be bake sales, dinner sales, car washes and the like so that the bills can be paid. My question is, what were the tithes and offerings used for? When the DVD's and CD's of the sermons were being sold, what was that money used for? Why when the members of the church have volunteered to do everything else, that there happens to be so much more to do? I know the answer to that is going to be made simple as if the pastor was supposed to receive an income from what was given. Then the ministers get their portion and the worker's that come throughout the week must also be paid; otherwise, why would they do it? Now what to do with the bills and everything else? This sort of reasoning has been going on for years and it answers why there are so many conventions, revivals, and various speakers asked from all over the country to come and speak. Does it revive the "spirit" or rejuvenate more income? Is the incentive to teach the Word to all of the land or the "love offering" after the TRUTH has been preached?

A pastor spoke to a room full of believers. He said that he was a guest speaker and had preached the Word about prospering in Christ. At the end, he saw the congregation come to give a love offering above and beyond their usual giving. Some tried to give the guest pastor the money in his hand but was intercepted by the ushers to put it in the basket along with everyone else. The baskets were gathered and were all overflowing with cash. The ushers took the baskets in the back for those who are assigned to count the monies. At the end of the service, the pastor was handed an envelope from one of the head ushers. He then made a grand gesture before the congregation and gave the envelope to the guest pastor that came all that way to speak. The guest pastor graciously received the envelope, as he told us, thanked the members of that ministry and returned to his seat. Off to the side, he looked in it to see $50.00. Those of us that were listening to him gasped including me but then I thought, which is worse? The pastor that was controlling the money to keep for whatever he chose or the guest pastor for telling us what he thought was as appalling. What is the incentive?

I thought about this when a minister said something that was so poignant. He said being a minister was something that he does because he believed God called him to ministry. But it is not how he makes his income. He then divulged what he does as a career. He said that his other colleagues have other jobs as well. This, I didn't know and had all the more respect for them because of it. However, as time rolled on, I later learned he sold his business and became a full time minister. He received a paycheck and soon many of the other ministers did as well (Ephesians 4:28 AMP). Was that God's intention or was there so much money it had to be shared rather then being used for the perfecting of the saints?

Is there a better way? You see in the complete passage, the Word says to "buy the truth and sell it not; not only that but also get discernment and judgment, instruction and understanding." So if this way was received of the Lord, then the church should never be in "the red" - right? It is written, "... never hath the righteous been forsaken nor his seed beg for bread (Psalm 37:25 KJV)." What if the tithes and offerings were used to pay for the building where the services are conducted and if any remainder to be used for giving to those that are without. Why not save money to purchase cars for those that really need them or pay off the tuition for a member or members that have been diligent in good works? Why not assist a few members in paying their household bills, or purchasing new appliances for those in need? Why aren't the ministers put on a schedule so that they can have jobs outside of the ministry and the rotation is for all of the ministers to use so that the congregation is given free time for their families? When it is done like this, there is no burn out and the people can be appreciated while the Word is going forth without anyone being stressed not having enough money to purchase it!

I never understood the purpose for the telethons on the Christian networks that broadcast the Word of God. Would not God provide for his Word? Is it necessary to pre-empt the regular programming for believers only to see their beloved ministers begging on the air for people to give even more then what they already have? When will the ministers decide that the money they receive belongs to God and they give it back to the church for the perfecting of the saints? A pastor said that he doesn't designate how much he should receive as a paycheck. There is a board that makes that determination. He then said that "the board" told him because of the offices he holds as a pastor, teacher, and administrator, that he should be paid for all of those positions. If he agreed to it, that's one thing. If he accepted the 3 paychecks for the one position as a pastor because its what a pastor does, that's another thing. But if he took those 3 paychecks and cashed them in for himself - that's something else! Is the love of God there?

This particular blog serves to answer the believer's question, "is this all there is?" or "why has my life turned out this way when I have been obedient?" For those in the ministry, I hope your question has been answered. Pastors, preachers, and evangelists should know better after all, they are teaching and feeding God's people - right? So why are they living in lavish homes and driving luxury vehicles when the ones they are preaching to, aren't? What happened to feeding God's sheep so that we are all on one accord (Ephesians 4:13-17 AMP)? What happened to the perfecting of the saints? Shouldn't we all be as mature as God has called us all to be? After all, we are all one body - right?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Abundant Life and Suffering Too?

How do those 2 things come together? Many Christians chose life because what they were dealing with was much worse then what Jesus was offering them. Course, many believers chose life having no idea what they were doing until they did it. Yet, who made the decision to choose life and when finding out what that consisted of, decided to go back where they had nothing?

Choosing life as opposed to death consists of having a completely different life style (Deuteronomy 30:15-20 AMP). Yes, there are rules to live by on a regular basis but death has its own boundaries as well (Romans 8:8 AMP). Is it changing the life style that is scary to those that haven't made a decision yet? I find that interesting. Let's uncover the scariness to reveal why that emotion even comes about and in so doing we will also answer the entitled question: Abundant Life and Suffering Too?

Oddly enough, this topic came to me while I was whimpering about my hair. My hair journey consisted of both: abundance and suffering. Why? Because I didn't recognize the voice that was giving me wisdom. All I knew, at the time, was my hair keeps reverting in the humid weather. I need something to stop it from doing that. The products for me to achieve that goal, at first were weak and smelled like burning tires laced with cat urine. It took almost 6 months for me to stop using those products....well, along with people asking what's that smell when I would enter the room and remain for more then 10 minutes. Eventually, I found the products that did keep my hair from reverting. But then, there came a new elixir. It not only keeps the hair from reverting it also offer the hair to remain bone straight. Now, the word bone in front of straight absolutely has no purpose other then to emphasis to the consumer who wants straight and silky hair. Of course, I gravitated that way as if I was lifted from my feet and placed right in front of the product. I couldn't wait to try it. The results were amazing. My hair was glorious. It grew so long and was easy to manage. I could wear all of the different hairstyles with ease and envied by so many. Going to the hair salons, all of the operators asked to be the ones to do my hair. Many of them were scissor happy but it really didn't matter, it took a few short months for my hair to grow and be back where I was even before I met those scissor happy fiends. Seriously, I was in my own little world, skipping along this path with a knowing that I didn't need to use so much product and to lighten up on the heating tools.

"But its so nice and pretty", spoke louder then common sense. Over 2 decades of changing perms, stylists, heating tools with no rest in between took its toll. I was at work and one of my co-workers started brushing off my back. When I turned to ask, she said, "you must be shedding. It isn't much." Shedding? Animals shed. But every time I came to work, she or someone else would do the same thing. I then started to check myself closely by grabbing the ends of my hair and pulling downward. I opened my hand and there was a handful of hair. This is shedding? I kept grabbing the ends and pulling until there was nothing else in my hand. I looked in the mirror a little horrified. I calmed myself by saying over and over again that it was fine. It must have been dead split ends. A few more years passed. I looked in the mirror and saw the faint glimpse of my scalp looking back at me. I don't think fear is an adequate description of what I was feeling when I saw that which should have been hidden by thick, glorious, silky, and bone straight hair. I recall a slight whimper that sounded like, "oh no!"

Fast forward, I have drawers and a linen cabinet filled with different combs, brushes, natural products, cremes, conditioners, shampoos, essential oils, elixirs, vitamins, minerals, and supplements all promising to do this, that and the other for my scalp and hair. I have researched, bought books, clipped articles and continue to hope that one thing is either going to work or do a better thing then the other thing (Hosea 4:6 AMP). I have changed my diet, I drink more water, I brush my hair while lying down, only comb my hair when wet, but haven't relinquished the grooming tools entirely which was the advice from someone else who only uses her fingers. I have eaten spicy food because it's supposed to encourage circulation in the body and in so doing cause the hair to grow (I know, right?). I have a recipe that I used for almost a year of hair adrenaline where I seeped black tea with garlic, onion, cayenne pepper, 5000 milligrams of biotin (crushed) jojoba oil, olive oil, and coconut oil was supposed to be the thing to use. None of these things worked. In fact, I have learned that too much coconut oil makes my hair feel like straw, hot oil treatments need to be washed out thoroughly, co-washing is not washing your hair but adding more product to it, and vitamins are not for topical use. This experience and what I took from it lasted for the better part of 6 years.

In those 6 years, I began wearing a ponytail to cover the thinning of my hair. Covering the ends
helped the length to grow out but where the ponytail was positioned, caused for that spot to thin as well. I have retired that hairstyle and using heating tools about 8 years ago. I have allowed for the perm to grow out about 7 years ago and had to calm myself from being tempted to go back several times. I relapsed once. Last Autumn, I wore a wig in public for the first time. I hated it!!! It took too long for me to feel comfortable with it and all awhile I felt it was a matter of time before someone pulled it off of my head. After all, when I wore my own hair, people thought it was a wig and instead of asking me, they would come and pull my hair. When I screamed ouch, not one apology - not one. So why wouldn't I believe someone would do the same thing?

Last week, in what seems to be a regular thing, I was doing more hair research and came upon a video where a woman was losing her hair in patches. She was so distraught. She claimed that she was going to allow for her beautician to take over the task of doing what her doctor signed off as being a case of alopecia. The beautician proceeded to shave this woman completely bald. Afterwards, she gave her some products that she was trying to market. Within 6 months, the woman had an even amount of hair all over her head. She was so pleased; however, I was not moved to purchase yet another failed promise or cure all for one. I had enough. I spent too much and I am tired of it. What I did take from that video was to shave it all off and treat my scalp rather then the hair.

Is that prophetic? In the last days that there would be women having bald heads? My crowning glory...I asked what happened Father? Why has it come to this? Well, in my mind anyway. I knew and could see the framework that shaped this journey and I had no one to blame but myself. You see, its how we minimize what we do for the moment. Back in the day, it used to be said to live fast, die young, and leave a good looking corpse. The reasoning behind that was for the person not to be conformed by anyone else's rules. No regrets, take chances, and anything you want to do - go do it! The reasoning sounds good, but is it? Without wisdom, what sounds good can lead to hurt, harm, and danger. Who wants to be strung out on drugs seeing no light at the end...no goal in sight? Who hoped to be an alcoholic, drug dealer, gang leader, bank robber, extortionist, and/or executioner? Never are those positions written on a resume, neither has any child wrote a report on such aspirations in grade school; nevertheless, some neighborhoods wreak with the stench of them.

The analogy of my hair journey shows what many of us go through in our lives. The purpose for writing was for you to see where you are and to stop to go back to pull up that root system and sow better seed. Its going to take time for you to reap that harvest but it took time for you to get to where you are now. I knew when I began using all of those chemicals on my hair that I would have to stop to allow my hair to rest (just like my body), but as the years passed, I kept making the promise to myself and breaking it because I liked what I saw. It was only for a moment and now, I have to deal
with it (Romans 8:13 AMP).

Some of you liked the feeling of being loved for a moment (sex). The after affects weren't so nice (no relationship), and the end result didn't feel as good (disease). The responsibility of that decision didn't go away (unplanned pregnancy) and eventually you will have to answer some pretty tough questions (paternity).

Others went to a party for harmless fun. The gang was taking shots and your buddy gave you one (acceptance). Not even liking the taste of liquor, you did it because everyone else was doing it and you didn't want to be the one to put a downer at the party (compromise). Before you knew it, 1 turned into 20 and they said you were the life of the party (camaraderie). They had to tell you because you don't remember a thing until you walked outside to begin your day only to see your car in a mangled mess and blood on the fender (confusion). You call your buddy to ask what happened last night, he says he doesn't know but you can tell he does and he hangs up on you (rejection). The police pull up to your residence and asks for your name and if that is your car (fear). Because if it is, they need for you to go to the police station with them to answer a few questions (solitude).

Or a decision was made to make a little extra money and there was no other way you could see clear then to do a little drug run for some quick cash (problem). In asking around, you are introduced to a gangster from the old school. This isn't what you wanted (bigger problem). The dealer doesn't care especially now that you know who he is and where he works. He puts you through a test to see if you have the moxie to handle the course (problem is growing). He tells you to take some of his guys to a particular house to pick up his bags (mountain of a problem). There are 7 guys and they are all big (mountain with giants). They all talk as if they have your back. When you get to the place, you have to wait outside and the guys tell you what the job is about. They all pull out their guns from various places hidden on them then ask which one would you be more comfortable with (monumental problem).

You see, the suffering is choosing to do different from what your flesh would have you do (Galatians 5:19-21 AMP). Many times it will take work to do it. All the while your flesh will tell you to quit or give it to someone else to do. Your flesh would have you listen to foolishness and make you think it is a better idea then to do the right thing. Your flesh will justify laziness. The suffering is overcoming those ways, thoughts, and actions. Changing your habits by walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25 AMP). Along the way you learn when choosing life God is right there with you and will walk you through it. It won't feel good at first because you have to overcome what your flesh did. Its a lesson learned and one you are not soon to forget. Life is good. The problems are only tests that can easily be resolved when choosing life. That means when in doubt, ask God, find scriptures that are similar to what you are asking for. Speak those verses....activate those words. That's choosing life.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Joy Comes In the Morning

We hope, in continuing with this journey, doing as we are called to do, that in Christ there are no pitfalls or rough sides of the mountain that we have to climb (Mark 11:23 AMP). Yet as long as there are people being influenced by each other, there will be error for us all to drudge through. Now I know that doesn't sound like a happy place to be in nor does it give a reason for anyone to continue on reading, but I promise you, the latter will always be greater than the former (Haggai 2:9 AMP).

My mother graduated from this life and has passed on to be with the Lord the beginning of this year. I miss her though I was angry for a little while thinking that she should have been stronger to get through it. I thought the same thing at the passing of my father 10 years ago. Its because we think are parents can get through anything. They always have. But they are both in better places and I had to come to terms with that rather than wallowing in resentment for them leaving me. It would be childish to continue thinking that way which could only be justified by dealing with grief and mourning (Matthew 5:4, Romans 12:15 AMP). These two emotions are allowed but only briefly. We still have tasks to do. People are still watching and expect us to do what we have been doing all along. It is how the body of Christ functions. Its like when you close your eyes, you can hear better. Its not that you don't need your eyes but one (or more) of the senses takes over even for a little while. But this is when there is action going on. If you choose not to do anything, then eventually the body ceases to function. People will stop believing you are the responsible one, the go-to-guy, and look for someone else to fit the bill. Not doing anything at all moves from grief and mourning right into depression. This is not the place to be nor is it acceptable by any stretch of translation in God's Word (Psalm 30:5 AMP).

In the ministry I used to attend, there was a sermon that I have not since forgot even when it was taught over 20 years ago. The pastor was on vacation with his family and he believed that he left the church in capable hands with his assistant pastors. All that week, one of the pastors had the opportunity to teach a lesson which they believed they received from the Lord in their time of study. We missed our pastor but knew that the entire week was going to be such a treat. Each day the congregation was full, nevertheless, something happened because the messages were tainted. Not to go through each of them but one that serves as fodder for this particular blog. All of the speakers brought a bible with him/her to the podium, but not all of the speakers used the Word when they spoke. That's how I knew some of the messages were tainted. This particular assistant pastor was no different. He spoke on depression and that it was alright to be depressed. He testified about his own personal experience and as horrible as it was, he could not make me believe that God gave him permission to wallow in that mire. He repeated himself as if he was allowing for anyone going through a tough time in their life, that they too can be where he decided not to leave. At the time, I was very young in the Lord and had no idea why he would tell a group of people something that was so very wrong to do. If I had not been that young and didn't need the spiritual nourishment so much, I would have prayed for him and those around me so that those words wouldn't send anyone in a direction that was not paved for them to be in.

While in college and still a babe in Christ, I happened to come upon a website for those that are
grieving. It promoted the site to be one of Christian origin and I was intrigued to see what it was they were doing to help Christians in their time of grief. There were categories for those that lost members of their family, pets, jobs and the like. People were asking questions and the host of the site would take the time and counsel by way of an email. I read through some of the questions and answers, Not once did the host mention anything having to do with healing. So I posed the question. She answered me immediately. Writers have a voice whether they know it or not. As I read the email she sent to me, she appeared as someone with an abundance of compassion and sympathy. I suppose being called to do what she does, she would have to be. Initially, its how I wrote to her. When I asked about the scripture she was using to justify what she was saying, the voice of this writer changed. She approached my question as a challenge to her character. To give credibility to her means, she never answered my question about scripture, but testified about a death in her family. For a moment, I was ashamed that she felt attacked by me. Then I continued reading and found her grief was a pet that she lost over ten years ago, I felt that it was all a scam and she was using people in order to maintain her site. She never answered a simple question. When was she ever going to get to the healing portion or did she expect for all of her members to continue functioning in depression? She deleted my question and then blocked me from the site. The internet was pretty new back then. All I had to do was open a new account to pursue the answer...but to what end? It is what she chose to do with her life and has grabbed a few unsuspecting viewers along the way. It was like she found an open wound and kept picking at the scab just to watch it bleed. Its been quite a few years since that happened, yet every once in awhile when I think of her, I pray.

The bible is clear when it comes to mourning. Its not hard to do and it is for our benefit. I read the different personalities that have been through the same emotions and how they dealt with the matter. Because we are not all the same, these men also made decisions with this emotion that affected them all differently. Still we are to to choose the better portion and that is the portion that sustains life. As you continue to study these references, you choose the one that best fits your needs.

David lost his firstborn son. (2 Samuel 12:14-31 AMP)
Solomon lost his reign as king. (1 Kings 11 AMP)
Job lost all of his children. (Job 1:13-22 AMP)
Jesus lost His cousin, John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-23 AMP)

Notice in your studies how all of these losses were devastating to the one going through. There was only one who had the understanding as to what would be happening. Whether he was going to maintain what he was called to do or not, what God planned was going to be done. Would it be better to do nothing or complete what God has called you to do? The best choice and place we need to be in is for God to be pleased. What other purpose is there?