Monday, August 29, 2011

Liberty Held Captive?

How can you be held captive and set free at the same time? Is it at all possible? Jesus came to set the captives free. I understand this is as being free from the laws of sin and death, though there are ministers that get deeper into that understanding to find that we are set free from much more, I like the simplicity of the main idea - free from sin and death. Nevertheless, there are those that continue to hold fast to the ways of this world and because of that belief, the laws that Jesus came to disintegrate has little to no effect on them. It is as if they returned back to vomit that they were once cleaned from.

For instance, this last weekend one of my youngest sons got married in the church that he and his siblings were raised in. I hadn't been there but a few times since their father and I separated and later divorced. The members of the church, the families of both sides, and all of the members that had moved to other parts of the country and in ministry themselves came for the wedding. There were so many people I had not seen in years and age comes into perspective when you see others. I had to be introduced to what I thought were strangers but actually the children I recall still in diapers all grown up. Usually when someone has to help me remember who they are, all that is said is their name and it takes me a little while to see that same little face in the expression of the now adult hoping for a little recognition. One of those that had to introduce himself to me was a man I didn't recognize at all. When he said who he was I remembered that his father was diagnosed with diabetes and had later passed on due to complications from the ailment. His father was a kind, gentleman, and always a cheerful giver. I didn't know much about his son other than him being so quiet and a few years younger then me; however, his sisters and I were about the same age. I really wasn't thinking to see that man this past weekend. I recall hearing that he was diagnosed with the same ailment as his father, his wife had left him, and he wasn't raising his children. He asked me at the precession line if I remember him. I had to be honest, this man asking me the question looked as if he were 70 years old. His glasses were so thick I couldn't hardly see his eyes and his body was so tiny and fragile. I answered him, "no." When he told me his name, I am not one to hide much expression, especially shock, amazement, or inner pain. We hugged each other and I had to quickly get it together for the next family member or guest to shake hands. I got through 10-15 more people before I started to cry. My sons thought it was because of the ceremony and tried to give me words of encouragement. I couldn't explain to them that it was something completely different.

I spoke to another woman who I thought I didn't know. We just began talking and waiting for the wedding to begin. My youngest son came into the room to check on me and saw all that were in the room with me. He saw the woman I was talking to and greeted her. It was a family member! I had to apologize because this had happened at least twice before. I said to her that she looks different every time I see her. She explained that because of the medication that she was prescribed, it has done so many different things to her body. I replied that one drug has one side effect that the doctor gives another prescription for but that one pill has two side effects as well. She agreed. Then I began to tell her that many times, the original ailment could be an allergic reaction that could be defeated with a change in diet. She nodded but the expression on her face told me that she wasn't hearing nothing I was saying. I stopped talking.

As each and every member of the church and visitors came through the reception line, they gave their hand to congratulate me or speak words of adulation about by son, the groom. Some recalled the sour words I heard from gossip in the past and didn't have anything to say. I saw it on their face as they tried to create a sincere smile or force my body to welcome their pseudo hugs of love. I never practiced that but it did give me insight to the house cleaning I still had to do with myself. I watched all of those people and how they have fared over the years. Some weren't walking as straight as they had been 20 years ago while others did a lot of talking to drown out the words spoken to them. There were people that only talked about keeping the weight off of them in years passed and while they did exactly what they said they looked like they were carrying a steamer trunk of regret and other unresolved problems on their backs. Smiling through all of those frowned lines looked so painful to do, still we got through it and the wedding was a success.

My youngest son made a toast that had many in tears. He was very eloquent if I may be so bold to write. The pastor and his wife had finished eating and said their good-byes. Once they were out of the building, the real reception began. Many who attended got up and danced. I use to wonder why the reception couldn't be this way with the pastor there as well. What was being done so wrong that he could see and hear it? Would it have been disrespectful to have the music playing and the dancing with him being there? In the Word, there was a celebration of the marriage. All that came celebrated! Still, it had been done this way for years. If it were up to me, I would like to see what would happen, if the dancing started with the pastor being there. Is he being excluded from the celebration or are we truly set free as the Word tells us that we are? I found that interesting.

Actually, I find the entire concept of freedom interesting. How far can we take this freedom in Christ? Is the sky the limit or are we afraid to venture forth? There is a reason why the angels asked God what is man that He be so mindful of us. Do we hold restraints on ourselves because we don't trust what we will do without the boundaries? If the family member believed that she would be totally healed if she changed her diet as opposed to her taking that same medication as she had been doing for years, would her entire life change? What would she have to complain about? Would all of that free time be too overwhelming? What if the man that was younger then me and looked 70 stopped believing that he didn't have to accept the generational curse of having diabetes because his father had it? What if he believed that Jesus actually did heal him by those many stripes and his health did a complete 180, what would he do with the rest of his life? What would happen if the woman walked straight again and the frown lines of worry disappeared? Could life be good for them again or would she find something to worry about?

When I took pictures of the wedding and the reception, I focused on my son, his bride, my family, and the new members of my family. I couldn't take pictures of all of the rest. It just put things into perspective as to why Jesus wept.

Friday, August 26, 2011

When You Turn Your Head To The Left

In the last 8 years I have come to have this fondness for Public Television. One of my favorite programs is the Antiques Road Show. I watch through all of the stuff that I would normally consider junk if I saw it in a yard sale, flea market, or second hand store and I learn some things and what to look for which could be absolute treasure. My family and I have actually cringed at the things we have seen and knew we had at one time or another and have thrown it away calling ourselves keeping free from hoarding (pack rat-itis).

I still think about the time where I drove for about 45 minutes to this out of the way second hand store just to see what they had. It is one of the reasons why I don't like window shopping to this day. I had a shopping cart, I think just in case I saw something and the clerk could possibly hold the item for me so I could go ask a family member for the money to purchase it (another thing I don't like to do). As I looked around, I didn't see anything I particularly liked and was about to leave as I made my way through the rows and rows of discarded framed art. I saw these two men with a painting, they were discussing if it was real or not and if they should purchase it. Having some education in the field I tried not to look so conspicuous in seeing who signed the piece. It was a Picasso! Holding back a shriek because the signature looked authentic to me, I walked away believing if it is mine to have, God was going to make a way. I had to take a deep breathe and believe to receive as I prayed looking at the picture frames not too far from where the two men were. They left and also left the painting behind. I quickly went to the art and picked up the painting. It wasn't a print. I could feel the brush strokes of the oil painting and the frame looked as if it were crudely made. The front of it looked like some French Provencal design while the back looked as if pieced together with pine board and tacked with entirely too many nails. Even the canvas wasn't stretched very tight across the frame, but I was almost positive the signature was real. I looked at the price of the piece. It was $10.00. I don't recall if I had that amount, I do recall needing gas to make it back home and having both was out of the question. I kept looking at it and right when I was about to put it back, those two men saw me with the painting and started mumbling to themselves. I kept the painting in my cart and walked around the store not knowing what I was going to do. After 30 minutes, I talked myself in believing that Pablo Picasso wouldn't have such a frame as this for his artwork. I put the painting back and forced myself to stop thinking about the matter.

Well, of course I saw on the Antiques Road Show later how the paintings of back then looked one way in the front and as if a third grader put it together in the back. I just couldn't settle on that I had to do my own research. In all of my education, I just couldn't recall Picasso ever painting any scenery. I was at the ready about to look up all of the painting recorded of Picasso...and I stopped. I just couldn't. What if I find it? It took about a year before I could actually do it. Pages and pages, website after website and still  no scenery painting from him. Just when I was about to move on, there it was. Looking back at me in a wall of cubism and abstracts. It was a small thumbnail (tiny display), so there was just a slight glimmer that it might not be an actual...authentic... yeah, right! Don't ask of my demeanor then and for days after. Aaaarrrrggggghhhhhhhh [eye twitch]!

Recently, I was looking at the very same show and saw a woman going to the professional curator to tell her of her treasure and the approximation of what it was worth. Her husband was socking money away for their anniversary. According to her, it was the plan for them to celebrate those years in Italy. While they were shopping and just before leaving for their trip, they came upon this rather horrendous table clock. It was cherry wood with gold painted scroll work around the edges of it. Their son was with them and convinced his mother to use the anniversary money to purchase the clock. He said that if she decided to go on the trip, once it was over - its over but if she purchased the clock, she would have it forever. So she took the $7,000.00 dollars and bought the horrendous clock. As she finished the story, you could tell that she believed she made a sound investment and was waiting for the curator to tell her that the clock was worth so much more then she paid for it. She was literally beaming right up until he told her to get the clock insured for ..... $7,000.00. She tried her best to maintain that smile but she knew as well as anyone watching that she no longer had the Italy trip nor did she have that sound investment she thought she had. If I were her son, I would have packed and left before she got back home!

I asked God, how could the enemy ever get in my camp to take what belongs to me? I have the whole armor on (Ephesians 6:11 KJV). I have the garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3 KJV). I have the blood of the lamb (1 Peter 1:18-20 KJV). I am anointed. I am the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus. I sought Kingdom Living (Matthew 6:33 KJV). How then, how did he get permission to take anything from me and without me knowing it (Ephesians 4:27 KJV)? It is one of the most frustrating aspects of Christian Life to me.

I was reminded of one of those times after prayer where I sit quietly in His presence (Psalm 16:11 AMP). As I sat on my bed, the morning sun shone through the curtains and one of the beams landed on the floor where it just sparkled and caught my attention. The sparkle continued to dance until I got up to see what it was. I picked it up and thought it was a rhinestone at first but the cut was too specific and a rhinestone usually has a glued metal backing. I then did what most of us would do and bite it. I have no idea what that would prove. If my tooth chipped it has to be real? I took a mirror and used that test. Yes, it cut the glass. Ecstatic to have been given such a jewel, I made my way to a jeweler to see if it were truly authentic. The jeweler looked at the stone and I did not take my eyes off of him, thinking he might do some slight of hand trick or drop and pick up a cut piece of plastic. He picked up some electrical device and put the stone in it. The device made a ping noise. He then said, "oh well. That sound tells me its not real. Sorry, but hey, if you are still interested, I could put it in a setting for you." I thought that was an odd thing for a jeweler to say if the stone was a fake. Why would I want a fake in a setting? I thanked him for his time, wrapped up my stone and left the store. Still pleased with what the Lord gave me, I waited for sound instruction (Hosea 4:6 AMP).

Once we have established that we are anointed in Christ Jesus and we have a calling on our lives, we maintain this focus until the goal has been complete. We don't find that what we are talented in and not seek Wisdom on the matter (James 1:5 AMP). This would be foolish; however, also having the wisdom and education and still not relying on the voice of the Lord, is still just as foolish. It is much like a pastor, speaker, evangelist, and or prophet, gaining so much from the Lord with the praise of the listeners from one speaking engagement to the next and then he/she decides that with the next engagement, instead of praying and studying like he/she has done in the past and successfully so, he/she decides to "wing it" or speak from what is already known. The outcome might be taken in well enough but it will never be as powerful as those times when God was acknowledged first (Proverbs 3:6 KJV). When we think we can manage the task at hand on our own, it is giving the enemy permission to have place for him to do his job (John 10:10 KJV). It takes sometime to realize when the talent is being pilfered away; though the listeners are noticing a difference. Don't ever take the chance to think that the success you have been experiencing is because of you. Remember it is the diligent that reap the reward (Hebrews 11:6 KJV).

The woman who spent her anniversary money on a clock that wasn't worth what she spent took the advice of her son who nothing more about antiques then she did (Proverbs 15:22 KJV). she didn't ask the clerk to hold the piece for her until she did some research or brought anyone else to see what she was considering to purchase. Worse yet, she didn't mention at all of saying a word to her husband. He was the one saving the money to go somewhere that they both had dreamed about. She turned her head to the left and what she thought she saw was fool's gold (Proverbs 4:26-27 KJV).

I, on the other hand, decided I wanted to go to that store. I recalled passing by one day but I was not the one driving. The driver didn't want to stop so I was going to make it back there one way or another.  I didn't acknowledge God in my decision to do so, I just felt like going. I knew what I had in my pocket and what the gas tank looked like. There was no reason for me to go to that store but to do something that I don't like doing anyway - browse (Proverbs 10:22 KJV). When I asked God why did He allow me to see something like that and not be able to buy it, I didn't get an answer right away. Why would He answer me now when I didn't ask Him about going there and making that way plain for me? You see how I turned my head to the left and  found a treasure I couldn't take out of the least not without establishing a criminal record (Joshua 1:7 KJV). Lesson learned.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Attitude of Gratitude

Coming from a place where I am tired of cliches, the title of this entry (as with some cliches) is a means for us all to remember. There are times in all of our lives we could have lived without having to go through them and how many times have each of us wanted to turn back the hands of time, but with all of those issues came experience and a means by which we can teach the younger generation for them not to go through the same things but to have a better life. After all, we couldn't be where we are without those going ahead before us.

Now there are those that have the mind set of, I got mine the best way I knew how so you have to get yours. Those are the ones that don't have it so easy and are jealous of the ones that do. Stay away from them. It is a warning. They can drain the blessing right out of you. I remind you of Lot and Abraham. It was Abraham that had his faith tested. It was Abraham that finally was blessed with a son and had to believe that God was going to provide a ram. It was Abraham that had to be obedient and move away from his kinfolk (Genesis 12:1-4 KJV). Lot had nothing to do with all of that action yet he was right there to receive all of the blessing. When Abraham left King Abimelech's palace, he walked away with more then what he came with and Lot got some too (Genesis 20:14-16 KJV). How do I know? When Lot and Abraham separated, they also separated the possessions. Did the Word tell us that Lot came with anything?

I am finding that the church does teach for us to be givers and I suppose it has not been taught to the point of exhaustion because there are still those that believe that the church is trying to take from the congregants all of their financial gain. It is just not the case. Giving to be a blessing to others is a means for us to be more like God (John 3:16 KJV). So when one tells me that he/she can give on their own to be a blessing without having to keep pouring their money into the church, I would have to disagree (Malachi 3:8-11 KJV). Because the world has separated church and state, we have more of a reason to give to the church simply because we are one with Christ and not the government. The government makes sure that he will get his portion of any financial income you have. He takes it right from the top. Personally, that use to frustrate me especially if I wanted to give to the Lord first. Well, there is a way to make that happen even before the government can touch your check. Look at the gross of the check and give the percentage from that. This action is giving before the hands of anyone has touched it.

Second, if the government takes that percentage from your check and you are not fighting against it, why then do you show opposition with the tenth (tithe)? I can understand that there are some ministries that don't seem to know when to stop passing the offering plate around in one service, but it doesn't take away from your decision to give a specific amount and be done with it. No guilt. No pressure. No stress.

I think many of us lose out on our blessing because of that constant offering plate. It seems like there is an offering for everything and all at once. Take notice of how you feel every time you have to open your wallet, write another check, or make a notation of another debit from the credit card. How pleased are you? If agitated, then how pleased is God with your giving (2 Corinthians 9:7 AMP)? Is it the offering plate being passed around so many times or are you getting worried that your giving is going to cause a deficit somewhere else (Matthew 6:24-26 KJV)?

Honestly, I look at my financial giving like this: I have made a plan and made it plain. This is the amount I will give each month in my tithes and offering. This is the amount that will go into this area of the household, insurance, car, miscellaneous expenses and etcetera. This is called a budget and God will honor that. No one knows the vision God has given you. So why do you allow for people to convince you to take from that plan? The agitation that you feel by giving again and again and again is what you allowed place in your life (Ephesians 4:27 KJV). That agitation is stealing from your Kingdom Life. Let this be the recognition point: if your peace is troubled, stop and recall when you lost it. Agitation, frustration, depression, oppression, confusion, irritation, aggravation, with the outcome being grumbling, complaining, arguing, fighting, disrupting is proof of the enemy getting over on you. You have the victory so let that be.

Once you begin to realize that you are not getting in God's good graces by giving away what He has blessed you with to pay your bills, life will become so much easier for you and you will be able to appreciate more of the messages that go forth from the podium without resentment. Volunteering of your time and talent will also become easier and the church will benefit from you receiving this understanding as a son of God rather than a child being influenced by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14 KJV).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Crap Can't Attach Itself

I was listening to a woman on her internet ministry giving advice to all of her listeners. She said something that I had an immediate response to. Yes, I do talk to screens and to anything else that is trying to give me life lessons where there is no Word to back what is being said. She had started off well, as with most messages. The listener relaxes believing that what is being said is a Word from the Lord; however, it is written for us all to watch and pray. Just as she was teaching that one must be "prayed up" for daily living, you still must have all of those prayers in order when listening to church messages. Because the next thing she talked about was going through spiritual warfare. I listened attentively for the verse to back that up. I didn't hear any and  therefore could not receive the message she was giving.

I had contemplated whether I was going to subscribe to her ministry because there are so few ministries that preach the Word of God online on a regular basis. I decided otherwise because of the message I heard. Did I judge her (Matthew 7:1 AMP)? No, I examined the meal that was placed before me. I don't like receiving a plate that I have to pick over to find the nutritional bits and pieces. If I have to pick over a plate, I am not going to eat from it. In deciding not to subscribe to her website was turning the plate she was offering back to the waitress. I was not interested in upsetting the peace I searched for. My Kingdom Lifestyle is fine without adding what she was offering into the mix.

I am a firm believer in the 23rd Psalm. It was the first passage I memorized. Even though I had no idea what it meant, in due time, when I could pick it apart to see all of the benefits that righteous has and there is no way I was going to eat anything different then what the Lord prepared. Everything He has for me is good and will sustain me until the next meal. Why pick up something that He did not prepare? If you don't hear the Word of God with the messages, it was not from the Lord!

Now, with that preface, take a hold of this example and apply it to your life where it fits: A woman, having the  position of a social worker for a population that is not used to the American culture, was given the task to find resources for this group of people. She had to make sure that all that was needed was in place for them to become American citizens. In so doing, she got attached to many of them and when their behavior was less then exemplary, she made excuses for them or defended them so they would not get into trouble. At times, this was admirable but when the people became residents for more then 10, 15, and 20 years, she was no longer their confidant but an accomplice. She continued to defend or minimize the rebellious behavior. One day, one of her clients had a disagreement with her. He became belligerent with her and threatened her life. For weeks he would see if she came to work and then threaten her. She believed his threats and the last straw was when he brought a gun to her office to intimidate her. She let the administration know what was happening and how she was being treated by this client. Oddly, administration listened to what she had to say and began to minimize the threat as being just a slight misunderstanding. The client continued to harass her and she was beside herself as to what to do. No matter who she went to, their answer was she couldn't prove it or it wasn't taken seriously. Eventually, she was placed in a cubical so her clients didn't have free access to her anymore. I found the entire matter extremely interesting and wondered if she learned any lesson. I did.

I understand that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but principalities, powers and evil spirits in high places (Ephesians 6:10-20 KJV). Here is where is gets tricky. When you are doing what you are called to do, those evil things cannot come anywhere near you (Psalm 91:9-11 KJV). When Jesus said to seek the Kingdom of God first and all things will be added unto you, this was a command that has some necessity to it. It is a paramount act to gain the full abundance that Jesus came to give. There is a scripture that I refuse to place here because there has to be some effort on your part to seek what the Kingdom is. Spiritual warfare is a term that is not used in the scriptures. It is not in King James or the Amplified versions of the bible (as far as I have researched. If you find otherwise I will make a retraction). Jesus was around throngs of people that were seeking to kill Him; yet because of His calling, He walked right through them without being touched at all. Daniel in the Lion's den and in the fiery furnace - he was compliant to what he was called to do. It is why the lions didn't touch him nor did one singe of hair was burned on his head.

The fact of the matter is spiritual warfare is a religious term for trouble. When trouble happens it just doesn't come about out of the clear blue sky. It manifests because it was created by words and actions of the individual. Job created trouble for himself and his family because of his fears that his children were sinning even when they never went to him and confessed a thing (Job 3:25 KJV). David's son died because of his pre-meditation on having sex with a married woman and then sending for her husband so David wouldn't be saddled with a child out of wedlock and a product of adultery (2 Samuel 11 KJV). Solomon's blatant disobedience was what caused him to lose his reign and change his tone when writing Ecclesiastes (1 Kings 11:1-4 AMP). If all of these men were in right standing with God there wouldn't have been the trouble that was written about them.

Here is where believers state that it is what is suppose to happen in order for us to learn lessons and have maturity in Christ. I would really need the scripture for that. God doesn't give us trouble for us to learn lessons. Trouble comes because of disobedience. Why would Jesus come for us to have an abundant life and  have trouble included with it? That is not written. It wouldn't make any sense. We were in trouble as sinners! Being in Christ takes you out of trouble, out of sin, out of death, out of lack, out of poverty. If these are the things you are battling, you must with all diligence, consider your ways (Haggai 1:7 AMP).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Guilt Free

As children we do what we use to because of training and those that told us what to do were older and had already been there. We paid attention to our elders because it is what the Word tells us to do. Honor our mother and father so that our days may be long (Deuteronomy 5:16 KJV). Having the fear of the Lord, we hold fast to these verses including to hold those of the faith in the highest esteem. So when is it time for us to do what we please in the Lord rather then adhering to what ever body else thinks we should do (Proverbs 10:24 AMP)?

Back in the day if two people had pre-marital sex, there just was no question that those two people needed to be married. "He should make an honest woman of her",  they would say. That really never made sense to me. If she laid down with a man and wasn't trust worthy to begin with, when marrying her doesn't all of a sudden make her honest. Nevertheless, it was the principle that was held fast to and seemed it kept wild behavior tame. I recall in another ministry where two single people were found out of their behavior and the pastor told the man that he needed to marry her. That single man, I was told, said he wasn't going to marry that woman and no one was going to make him do otherwise. He held fast to what he said even though the woman he had sex with was distraught over his decision. What he did do, months later, was marry someone else, move out of state, and as far as I know, are still together even now.

In another ministry, the pastor told one of his security officers to go to one of the sister churches out of state and train the men there to do what he was doing at the mother church. He said he would knowing that he was going to get paid for his time. The problem he was having was that he was a newly married man and had the responsibility of caring for his elderly mother. His wife was attending school at the moment and it just wasn't feasible for him unless they could come up with a resolve. The pastor couldn't see the problem. Nonchalantly, he asked the man could he find someone to take care of his mother and his wife could commute to see him on occasion. The man having been faithful to the ministry for decades found the demeanor of the pastor insulting and asked him, "would you have your wife travel back and forth and someone else care for your mother?" The pastor was quiet and agreed that the man was right. The pastor found someone else to do the task.

I use this two examples because it is where we become stagnate in our quest to get to where God would have us to go. Pastors are sent to give a message and make sure that what they are teaching is what God told them to teach (1 Corinthians 12:1-28 KJV). They are accountable for making sure people understand what they are assigned to teach so that the people can live a better life. The pastor cannot live the life for you. They cannot make you do what you don't desire to do. Here is another epiphany, if the pastor did not do what God told him/her to do and he/she preached a message that didn't set well with you, you are not obligated to abide by what was taught (Psalm 56:11 KJV). The Word tells us in all of our getting get understanding (Proverbs 4:7 KJV). If the pastor has issues himself and starts to sugar coat the Word to accommodate his fears, then how are you suppose to enjoy that spiritual meal? The Lord prepared the table already (Psalm 23:5 KJV). This is one of the main reasons why you have to read the bible for yourself.

People use guilt and don't have to be in ministry. Italians and Jewish people joke all of the time about the mothers of these nationalities using guilt to make their children do as they tell them. Then when the children do as they are told because of the guilt, they are praised as being good children. These same tactics are used in ministry. Recognize them and govern yourselves accordingly. When you live in someone else's home, you have to abide by their rules, because it is their home and apparently you have no place else to go. If you don't like the rules, you can't try to make changes when you have your name on nothing and pay none of the bills. You must move from there and establish your own home.

Recall Abraham and Lot. Both men and heads of their homes. Should one bow to the other when they both of their own possessions? They had to separate to keep the peace. It is the same in ministry. When you feel guilted into doing something - anything, you must be able to recognize where your peace and joy are (Romans 14:17 KJV). For it is written, God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7 KJV). This scripture is gladly used when it is time for tithes and offering in the church; however, I am using this same verse here. If you have no joy in volunteering in those various areas of the ministry, don't do it. If you have no joy or peace in giving again and again of you finances - don't do it. If what you do is cumbersome and even in ministry it has become so burdensome that it causes you to grumble and complain and wish that you did something else with your life........selah!