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?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire!

Picture it being the holiday season and you aren't cooking. You are an invited guest to someone else's house where you know the meal is going to be delicious. You have anticipated the evening the moment you received the invite. As you enter the home, being greeted by the host, the house is beautifully decorated but it pales in comparison to the wonderful smells wafting from the kitchen and embracing the pangs of your stomach. It smells so good, you have to ask what's on the menu. The host tells you all of the things you were hoping for and so many of them are your favorites. You skipped lunch for this meal and she tells you, it won't be long now. The other guests have some mindless chatter that you try to be gracious mingling into but your mind is on one thing and finally she comes back to the room to tell everyone - dinner is served.

When taking your seat, you see the formal table is set to have more then one course. That's fine by you because you came to chow down. Out of the kitchen comes a staff to serve. Man, she has really gone all out for this dinner party! The plates are all covered and placed in front of all of the guests. When the covers are lifted what is revealed are jars of warmed baby food. Each of the labels are the exact things the host said was on the menu. A little puzzled you look up to the host hoping this is all a joke but the guests are delighted and the host is telling the staff not to forget the bottles of milk making sure the nipple holes are big enough to enjoy the beverage. Feeling like you entered Bizarre-o World, do you act like its normal and enjoy the meal like everyone else? Do you ask your host off to the side, what is going on? Or do you stand and excuse yourself to leave because there is no way this meal is going to sustain you? Funny, why doesn't anyone think of these things while sitting in church service expecting a sermon that will make a difference in their lives.

I woke early this morning and instead of lying in bed, I went to the family room and turned on the t.v. to hear a Word from God. A few well known ministers were scheduled to speak and I was looking forward to hearing what I had missed. One of the messages I heard was absolutely on point and I had to take a little time to ponder on what she said. I took a few mental notes to make some changes in my life. Its what we expect when going to church every week. That was an excellent appetizer. Now for the full course. The other speaker was on a different channel. I quickly tuned in. The program began with him already into the message so I needed to really listen in order to see where he was going with it. He mentioned the fight of faith we all have to go through and must still endure especially when people who are close to you are acting like they don't have the good sense God gave them. Then he said something that took the first portion of the message and messed it all up. He said, "...but the devil is a lie."

He might have said something poignant to match up with that statement but my point is, why say that at all? Who cares? We all understand who and what the devil is (John 8:44 AMP). What purpose is it to keep bringing him up? Is it a filler? Does it take up time? What does it serve to use the devil in any message? Afterwards, the speaker directed the congregants to give God a crazy praise. This not only took more time but allowed for the speaker to run from one side of the altar to the other. Did he run out of words? Was there nothing left for him to say? Had he not noticed that these tactics no longer work? For the most part, the congregants were watching him but the crazy praise which used to be all of the people practically running around the church was more of a dismal wail and a wave of the hand.

Ministers, speakers, evangelists, prophets, pastors, teachers, and all else including themselves in administering God's Word, must realize that while God is the same yesterday, today, and forever - His people are not. We, as Christians, change to be more like Him. Unless you start doing that change too for the betterment of the bride, you will see where all of that devil talk will get you. Now while you gather all of your theological armor to dispute the purpose in talking about the devil so much, I invite you to open your concordance and gander at how many times the devil is mentioned in the Word (57X). Now see how many times Jesus is mentioned (983X). Compare how many times the words thief and Lord are mentioned in the bible. Compare how many times the words liar and savior are mentioned in the bible. With this information, look back at the sermons you have spoken and compare how many times you have mentioned those same words. On the average, are your sermons equivalent to the Word of God? Check yourself!!!

Jesus is the ultimate over comer. He conquered the flesh, death, and the devil. He defeated it all!!! He gave us the whole armor to do the same and guess what? It will never be as difficult as what He did for us! Yes, it will be hard, but only at first because we must understand what He did and why He did it. Once we have the understanding - we overcome too!!! The difficulty of it all is done...we are over comers too! We are more then conquerors through Christ Jesus!!! How hard is that to preach? Now that's good news and worthy of some RADICAL PRAISE!!!

We have not forgotten the 23rd Psalm. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Don't have me come to church services only to run out to another church for some fast food! He prepared a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. If the food is already prepared, then there doesn't need any remixing of any other recipes. Serve only what He has prepared and there will always be enough time to eat, to fellowship, and enjoy. Its time out for the stale excuse that the speaker has so much to say and not enough time to say it. You aren't fooling anyone! In God, there is more then enough. If you don't have enough time to minister what the Lord has prepared....maybe its not what the Lord prepared!

Now here is where the rubber meets the road: that table already prepared, its in the presence of mine enemies. I often wondered about that. Greater is He that is in me then he that is in the world (1 John 4:4 AMP). Those that love the world are an enemy to God (James 4:4 AMP). When you preach your message, do you make that separation from what the world wants as opposed what God has called you to serve? Is it really a difficult decision? But I thought that decision was already made when you chose life. Why are we still going over this same old stuff (Ezekiel 34 AMP)?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Finding Respect

The common phrase that has been said all while I was growing up is, respect isn't given its earned. Now this phrase was never taught to me by my parents or any of the ministries I was affiliated with; yet, I have heard Christians say this thing as well. Its sort of surprising seeing its no where in the bible (Proverbs 24:23, 28:21 AMP). If we were to listen to what we were saying, most of us would not say it. Living by such foolishness would put plenty of people in jeopardy. As crazy as some parents have acted when raising their children, its God's mercy that has kept them safe once those children have grown. Children don't automatically respect their parents because the parents don't respect themselves or their children. Respect, most definitely, needs to be taught (1 Peter 2:17 AMP).

A few years ago, I wrote about Christians being treated like punks while believing that it was all in the name of Jesus. Hoping that it would give the sinners a heads up for them to stop treating people in such a manner but it also made me realize that the biggest culprit taking advantage of believers aren't sinners. Oddly enough, its us! Or rather, those that profess being Christian and then abusing the title as if privileged to do so. I have written about ministry, ministers, and other clergy that have used the pulpit as a means for all sorts of things other then feeding the sheep. I have been distracted by the verse, "touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm (Psalm 105:15 AMP)." Having the utmost respect for God's Word, I have been watchful of the words I use and not to mention anyone's name unless its in a positive light. My purpose for using very popular messages is for the believer to see the path for him/herself and know what the Word actually says. Those who are anointed to do as God has called them to do, can see for themselves. They study. That's why they are anointed. You cannot receive an anointing without relationship. Prophets have also a relationship with God. They are not out for their own gain. That would be selfish and not indicative of what a prophet is because its not who God is. So in using the scripture, there is a tiny two letter word that distinguishes what sort of prophet not to do harm to. That word is MY. I recognize when God is speaking and with whom He is referring. If a man or woman of God has issue with what I write because I refer to a message that is tainted with anything else but the Word, I welcome the comment and/or email.

Nevertheless, in our everyday lives, there are so many things to be distracted from where we are all supposed to be. There can be temptation at every turn depending on what your weaknesses are. If you are doing your best from using profanity, get ready for your temper to be tested (Hebrews 2:18 AMP). If escaping stress with alcohol or drugs was your vice, know that stress is going to try to creep back your way. If road rage was your resident for a moment, understand that it is trying to get back in the house (Luke 11:20-26 AMP). So ready yourself with the armor provided. You are more then a conqueror and able to withstand the storm (Romans 8:37 AMP). It makes you stronger for battle and gives you the experience and desire to stand in the gap for someone else (intercession).

Personally, I have been tested this year like gang busters. With the job I have, I must also compensate my income with other means. I chose to use the talents God has given me. In order to do this, I had to study and practice. I still have a ways to go, but earned some income. When this happens you become respected in the artist world and you begin to have a name for yourself. Little pieces of wisdom come your way to improve your craft. The reason for this is that well established artists see that you respect yourself and price your work accordingly (Zazzle). Then you have those that see what you are doing. They have their own comments which aren't always glowing. An elderly woman came up to me and made fun of me as if I was coloring in a child's coloring book. I smiled and said nothing. She then asked where she could get such a coloring book for her grand daughter. I gave her the name to an art store. She said she didn't have the means to go out there and if I could pick one of those books up when I am out there again. I said I had one right here for her. I gave her a brand new sketch pad. She opened it and saw all of the blank pages. She was so disappointed and asked what it was that I gave her. I closed the book I was working on to show her it was the same book. She asked where did I get all of the pictures. Then she knew. That look on her face after all of this time - priceless!

A young woman saw the work I was doing as well. All of the positive things she said of my art work, it seemed as if she was interested in buying something. She was. She asked for me to design a cougar pattern for her so she can get it tattooed on her back. She then told me how much she was going to pay me to do it. I never agreed to the pittance she suggested and she expected me to finish it in the few hours she had in the building. I chuckled to myself not making any sort of an attempt in what she asked for. It reminded me of when I used to sew for people. They asked for the work and then minimized the work that was put into the garment. If I did a wedding dress, there are many layers to a dress and many different fabrics that have to be used in order for the dress to lay and fall well. This is also true when drawing. The hours it has taken to study a craft to get to the point where people enjoy the work, the supplies aren't cheap nor is it cheap to sit in one place to complete the piece. Respect the craft as you would a doctor, lawyer, plumber, mechanic, or anyone else who have done the same thing.

As a young woman going to college straight from high school, I needed extra income to purchase books and supplies. How convenient it was for me to find a job so close to my home and a position for my sister as well. It was a candy company and we were so eager to be one of the first employees to a fledgling business. The owner also had parts of his family working for him. He made mention of all of the ideas he had and asked for us to grow with him. I understood he was saying all of this to keep morale at it highest but never did I think it meant that he wasn't going to pay us for all of the work we did for him. He said it would take time and there had to be a certain number of sales before he would get a profit. Three months in, I started proceedings to have him sued. He had the state, the Better Business Bureau, and some other legal mess knocking at his door when I was finished with him. I knew I no longer had a job with him but he also knew that he would never treat people like his own personal property to do with as he pleased. During this time, I had a family member discouraging me with the procedure. She kept saying that I should let God handle it. I did. I prayed and then I sued him for what he owed me. The other workers could have done the same. If they didn't, they missed out on the pay they deserved. After he lost the small claims dispute, that man still went out of his way to speak to me. I still don't have too much to say to him.

There was this young man that received a much deserved promotion. He was a valued employee and the upper management wished to show their appreciation. When he got word of the promotion, he shared the news with his co-workers who immediately congratulated him. He also shared that with the promotion, he would need to travel a little farther for the new site of his destined workplace. It was something he needed to consider but after speaking it over with his family, he was ready to make that transition. So he waited. A week or two passed and he waited some more still doing the job he had before the promotion. Upper management contacted him and asked why he wasn't at the new site. The young man was a little befuddled and said, "while you did offer the promotion and I thanked you, you also told me where the new position would be and I went out there to see if it was doable. You never discussed what my increased duties would be nor my increased salary. I figured when you were ready to do that, we could get this thing going." The managing team were taken aback never thinking of their due diligence, they assumed he would be too happy to even notice.

My point in showing these examples is that people will do what ever they need to, to get over. They might say they are Christians when the moment warrants it, but their behavior when push comes to shove shows something completely different. How will you handle it? Can you be calm across the board even when you are being taken advantage of? Do you have enough respect for yourself to speak up or do you think if you remain quiet that it would be the best thing? Do you ask God or are you assuming what the best thing is? In that assumption, where did you learn that? Is there a verse in the bible you are standing on that strengthens your position?

People believe all sorts of things and if they don't make waves then they believe Jesus is at the helm guiding the deceit because they are trying to keep the peace. How convoluted is that? A woman worked for a company that she thoroughly enjoyed. Management changed and her supervisor was promoted to a new position. The woman had to answer to someone else. She was looking forward to meeting her new supervisor until she did. The new supervisor was cantankerous all of the time. There wasn't one thing the woman could do to make it better. She never complained and internalized everything until it showed up in her skin as hives. She didn't know what the matter was believing that if she remains quiet then it would all clear up eventually. The woman continued with the matter for 12 years as her health deteriorated.

This is also true in ministry. How long will you allow for others to tell you what to do when you have a family and marriage to concern yourself with? God does not require that you sacrifice the time with your spouse for the sake of the ministry. He does require that you put things in perspective so that you can have success in your life (3 John 1:2 AMP). With respect, God shows us what the principle thing is (Proverbs 4:7 AMP). You must respect that He shows us these things. Him, being the greater one on the inside of you, you must have respect for you. People see how you carry yourself. They know what to and not to say because of that. Yet, if you don't have any respect for yourself, the behavior of the people around you will change. You see, respect is not something that is earned. Its something that is understood.