The Struggle

For some, the struggle to do what is right is a daily fight. This struggle includes making wise decisions, being considerate of others, standing up for justice, doing what God says to do, and do it well. Why is this struggle so great?

The struggle to do right is greater because it is so much easier to give in to temptation. It is easier to think and act selfishly. It is easier to cuss someone out than to think about how to say what you want to say. It is easier to go along to get along than to stand on principles aligned with God’s Word.

If the struggle to do right was easy, many people would be saved and living abundant lives. But it is so much easier for people to live unsaved, without thinking about the consequences of their action, and how what they do impacts others. Since there are so many people struggling to live–without fear, without concern about finances or what the economy will bring or what the politicians will do, we know the struggle is real, we know there are people who have yet to find peace with Jesus, who are yet unsaved.

Lord Jesus, help us in our struggles to do what is right and help others to do the same. Help us to fight the good fight of faith in You, not self. Help us to resist the devil and watch him flee from us.

Blessed, Not Cursed!

“He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28 NIV)

While Jesus was teaching, a woman in the crowd (vs. 27) cried out and said to Jesus, “Blessed is the woman who gave you birth and nursed you.” She recognized that Jesus had been not just nursed, but nurtured in the way of righteousness from the time He was born. And His response to her was–in essence–the person who hears The Word and obeys it is more blessed than He was.

Something to think about. He knew who He was. The woman thought she knew who He was, and yet, He deferred–to all who hear The Word and obey as being the greater one blessed. If all who hear and obey are blessed, then all who don’t hear and won’t obey are not blessed. Simple logic for those who understand syllogisms.

Right before He said this, He was discussing the state of a person who had been harboring a demonic spirit and what they did. We have to be careful about what we claim because demonic spirits are looking a place to reside. If we think we have changed for the better and yet do those things that are not of God, our fate is worse than it was before we made any proclamations.

The bottom line for me is this–when we did not claim to know God or understand His purpose in coming to earth, we were better off than if we claim to know Him and understand His purpose and yet live in opposition to His Word. If we live in opposition to His Word after claiming to know Him, we very simply, lie to ourselves.

And like everything else–we can go to The Word for understanding and Truth–if we hear The Word and obey–we’re blessed and if we don’t, we aren’t.

Today, we need more than ever for people to hear The Word and obey it because if they don’t, what we think has been calamity will seem like a walk in the park on a warm, sunny day, when God removes His hand from the nation. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to obey His Word and promote His truth, no matter what a Supreme Court says about anything that opposes God’s Word. I’d rather be found on the side of right than the side of might–when it opposes God.

Cultural Ignorance! Part I

The diversity of people should be celebrated instead of being used as a benchmark to divide and segregate. What happens when people are ignorant—have no knowledge of anything—is that we create even greater divides—an ever-widening gap—between people when we should be coming together as one race—the human race. And then we wonder why we can’t get along with one another.

If we took the time—and it will take time—to review history and to cultivate our knowledge of each other and the ills of the past in order to keep them from resurfacing, then and only then will we understand the need to stop blaming one group of people for the demise of things and get ourselves together to build instead of tearing down. When we think that the world’s ills are because of one group of people, we deceive ourselves. The problems of our world are not problems caused by White people, Black people, Red people, Brown people or Yellow people. The problems in our world are caused by greedy, needy, and lazy people. And many of the greedy, needy, and lazy use religious banners to justify what they do—in error—or they use what they think is their superiority over others.

Here’s a newsflash—there is no superior race or religion—there are simply people who have chosen to think they are superior by the very nature of their birth or affiliation with others who think they are superior. And while there is no superior group of people, there is also no inferior group of people. We are all in the same boat—living on planet earth—an environment that desperately needs to be overhauled so this planet—the only one in which know has life—can continue to support life for future generations.

Instead of hating one another because of skin color or religious beliefs or nonbelief, why can’t we take the time to get to know one another, share what we know and help one another to grow—increasing awareness of need and perspective based upon how we all view life through the lenses that have been a part of our growth?

For the most part—many Black people do not understand how to amass wealth because we are too busy spending money rather than investing money—in our children and in our futures. We’d rather spend two hundred dollars for a pair of gym shoes than ten dollars for a book. We’d rather look good—spending tons of money beyond our means—than in reading and expanding our knowledge on how the world really works. We’d rather complain about minimum wage jobs than to continue our education in order to obtain the skills we need to live the lives we want. We know nothing about volunteerism because we think we should be paid for every little thing we do. We have our children grow up thinking that someone owes them something, when the reality is no one other than their parents owe them anything, but the parents haven’t figured that out yet and we know this by those who still think, everything they want—should be handed to them.

We complain about White people and how they do things, but we don’t understand that it’s not about how White people do things to accomplish goals, but about people understanding that without goals and purposes and work to accomplish them, nothing ever happens or changes. A quality education makes a huge difference in the perspectives people have in life—knowing that nothing worthwhile is ever simply handed to anyone, but must be earned.

On the other hand—many White people think that Black people are lazy, good-for-nothing, trouble-makers. There are just as many white people who are lazy and good-for-nothing trouble makers as any other group of people. The problem is the perception of any group of people is colored by media coverage—the news, the movies, and the music. If we bothered to take the time to get to know one another, we might discover that underneath the surface lies the same color blood, bone, tissue, marrow, and muscle. Our hearts have the same rhythm (for the most part) and the blood flows in the same direction, carrying oxygen to our brains—allowing us to “think” before we act. We simply choose to have differing opinions and likes and dislikes which should be respected, not abhorred or demeaned. If God had wanted clones—He could have managed that, but He chose to create us uniquely, wonderful, individuals with a purpose designed by Him, not people.

Part II–coming soon!

Getting Back to The Foundation of His Truth!

“But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.”(I Corinthians 7:2 NIV)

No matter how hard we try–at least some of us–we cannot get away from the fact that the bible addresses every aspect of our living right before God. Through Paul, God’s purpose for us is emphasized in a number of chapters–how husbands and wives should treat each other, how to raise children, how to conduct ourselves in worship services, and how to establish order in the church. Whatever question we could possibly have, the answer–is in there.

The problem for many in accepting what is in there is the fact that whenever a person or persons choose to dispute the information or instruction in the bible, they do so selectively, without understanding, totally missing what is being said because they choose to take things out of context. This verse of scripture is one of those people “prefer to ignore” because Paul said and not Jesus (it’s not written in red).

It’s amazing how people can “discount” the value of what is being said based upon who said it. They do so because they did not read further–“all scripture is written by inspiration of God” no matter who He uses to say it.

Moving along–when the early churches had questions regarding behaviors that were once considered “okay” based upon the environment in which one found themselves, Paul addressed them. There had been “temple prostitutes” and many other unsavory behaviors operating because of unbelief. Adultery and fornication were the status quo and because some dared to seek truth, Paul spoke it as it pertains to sexual activity. Here it is very clear--sexual activity should be reserved for those who are married and then the married should have only sex with their “own husbands” and “their own wives.”

When we choose to ignore righteous instruction because of fleshly dictates, we set ourselves for disaster and until we can right the wrong, nothing will change the devastating course of events that will be the result of sin. If we claim to accept one part of the bible as God’s truth, then we must claim it all–with understanding and keeping all of it in context of God’s purposes for mankind.

This is not the only passage of scripture that is often refuted in the church world. Many in the church have disputed women’s roles within the church because they overlooked what Joel said. Many have claimed that people of color are the result of the curse on Ham, lacking understanding that the first man, Adam–was a man of color–a fact simply deduced by looking at where God formed him and how. People use the bible to promote hatred and superiority because of a lack of understanding. God has no respect of persons and He sees us all as equals–no male or female, Jew or Gentile, all one in Christ Jesus.

But we don’t see us as God sees us and as a result, we tend to overlook passages that go against our flesh. This is why there is confusion, hate, and unrest in the land–we allow our flesh to dictate what we want and when others don’t agree, we rise up and promote hatred–either with the bible or refuting it. Either way–God is not pleased and when He is not pleased, none of us has peace.

The sooner we see things the way God sees them (and we can if we truly develop a relationship with Him), the sooner we’ll see peace in the land. We have no excuse–His written instructions–given to and by all who desired to please Him–provide us the foundation of His Truth. It’s time we got back to that foundation, rather than attempting to build one that is bound to crumble and fall.

Momentary Anger, But Enduring Favor!

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 NIV)

What is a moment in God’s timing? If a thousand years is as a day then a moment could be hundreds of years. At least it could be about 400 if we estimate timing accurately between the time the last prophet spoke to the children of Israel and His appearance on earth as Jesus.

But that’s another discussion. As a grandparent who is parenting, again, I often get upset with my grandson–a teenager–going through puberty. I can only imagine how many reading this can relate, but at rate, this is trying time for both of us. We both get angry and sometimes, I have to remove myself from the moment so I won’t say something I will regret. Fortunately, for him, I don’t stay upset. Within a couple of hours, if he hasn’t done too much that’s foolish, I’m over my anger. He holds onto his anger a little longer, but for the most part, it doesn’t last long.

When I think about how we all must transition through stages of life, I’m really glad that God’s anger doesn’t last–if it did, where would some of us be? I know I can look back on my life and shake my head–thinking about all the foolish things I did and know that some of them had to anger Him, but He kept me–even in my foolishness–from any lasting harm because of His plans for me. Today, I am thankful for His plans for my life since they have brought me to a place where not only have I acknowledged His great mercy and love, but have accepted Him as Lord of my life and I’m living please Him.

Because of His favor, I am able to live my dream–teaching English and writing to my heart’s content, exercising the gifts He’s given. Because of His favor, I have been able to make an impact in the lives of others by being who He wants me to be and not who I was without Him in my life. Because of His favor–doors have opened that none can shut and doors have closed than none can open. Because of His favor, I walk with my head held high, knowing who I am and who I serve and know nothing by any means shall harm me. Because of His favor–shown towards me--I can show favor–towards my grandson, knowing that the phase of life he’s in shall soon pass.

Thank You, Lord for favor and a desire to do all things to please You. Thank You for new mercies showered upon every day and because of the new mercy, we can continue to show mercy to others. What a wonderful thing to know that Your anger only lasts for a moment–not in our timing, but in Yours–and we can rejoice when we wake.

What Song Are We Singing?

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25 NIV)

For anyone who pays attention to time–as we know it–it is always darkest at midnight, which is really the indicator of a new day. Think about it. We usually see the dawning of a new day when the sun rises in the east and we see it settling into its end at sunset in the west. Whether it is dark or light, time keeps moving forward to get to the next day.

If we were to view the challenges and problems in our lives as simply a moment in time, then we would be able to arise above the “feelings” of defeat, knowing that a new day is dawning and with it, new opportunities to achieve the success God has promised us. “Whatever you put your hands to, out of obedience, you will have good success.” What He said to Joshua still applies to us. When we are obedient, we must do something, not dwell in pity and caterwauling. 

Paul was obedient in promoting the Gospel and doing everything he knew was by unction of Holy Spirit. And because he was obedient, the naysayers–the arrogant and envious, and the greedy–found fault with him and he and Silas were beaten and thrown into jail. Now, they could have had a pity party and sat there singing “woe is me” songs and the other prisoners would have heard that, too. Instead, they sang songs of praise to God and prayed, believing they would be delivered, doubting nothing.

So, when the earthquake freed them from their chains, they could have taken off in the midst of confusion, but they chose to stay where they were. As a result of their decision, the jailer and all his household, chose to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and were saved.

Would the other prisoners have seen the power of God at work had they been singing sad songs? Had they muttered and grumbled, would their shackles have been broken? When we face challenges and trouble seems to know our address by heart, what songs are we singing? Are our lips and tongue saying what aligns with The Word or what aligns with the moment–our feelings?

Our reaction to challenges and troubles will determine whether we see the new day dawning with a new attitude and new mercies or whether we sink deeper into despair, not realizing that time moves forward whether it is dark or light outside. A new day, a new opportunity, new mercies each morning–thinking on the promises of God, not the darkness, creates an inner light within us and we know we can get to the next day.

What are we doing in the midnight hours of our life? Are shackles being broken or are the depths of despair shoveling deeper, preparing to bury us alive? Make sure our song and communication align with The Word and even in our midnights–hope in Jesus Christ will sustain us and because others will hear and see what we do, they will understand the power of God and believe.

His Delight To The Faithful!

“For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds.” (Psalm 149:4,5 NIV)

When does the Lord delight in His people? In the beginning, the children of Israel were His chosen, but since all Believers have been adopted into the family, we are all His children. Now the “delight” referenced in scripture is really about our efforts to please God and when we please Him, He gives us the desires of our heart.

How do we please God? We please Him when we honor Him with our obedience in all things. When we love anyone, most of us want to please the object of our affection. If we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and love each other, we please Him. If we truly love self and others, we will not cause harm to them or see them harmed.

When we truly love, we can forgive and let go of those things that happened in our pasts and keep moving forward in the marvelous light of Jesus Christ.

When we truly love, we can see the good in people and caution them against opposing God with loving kindness.

When we truly love, we seek the best in everyone’s life around us and certainly promoting the Gospel will lead them to receiving God’s best.

When we truly love, what we do is not so much about us as it is about others as we stay in position to hear God and obey what He would have us to do for them.

When we truly love God, we acknowledge our imperfections and flaws openly and allow Him to transform us, no longer concerned with conforming to the world’s way of living, but living life according to God’s plan.

This is what happens when we love God and He is pleased with what we do (His faithful people)–He crowns the humble (not the boastful and arrogant) with victory in everything they do. He makes us glad and when we’re glad, we praise Him and honor Him from sunrise to sunset–no matter what happens in between.

Let’s take some time today to remember that our living is not about us, but when it is about Him, He makes sure the world knows we function in His favor!

Holding Hands!

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13 NIV)

Remember when…

After we crawled or scooted to move

From place to place until we found

The courage to wobble and hold onto

Whatever was sound, pulling up into a stand,

Getting ready to take that first step, but

First, someone–mom, dad, sibling–held our hand,

Or both, with our arms raised, hands held high,

We held them tight, afraid to let go, and we heard,

“Don’t worry, I’ve got you, keep going.”

From the cradle to the grave,

We’ve had to move from one point to the other,

Sometimes, fearful–but moving to go forward,

Building our courage and hope in God,

Once we know Him, we know we have no need to fear,

Following His instructions, obeying His voice,

Keeping our focus on Him and using the gifts He gives,

Plotting the path for our success and then we hear,

“Don’t worry, I’ve got you. Keep going.”

And then sometimes in our golden years,

When bones and muscles tend to yield

To aches of aging and we rely

Upon canes, wheelchairs, and sometimes,

Those who are younger and stronger,

Holding our hands as we cross a street,

And when unable to do so on our own,

Pulling us up, holding our hands, to our feet,

And we hear–if we can–

“Don’t be afraid. I’ve got you. Keep going.”

Remember when…

We first held hands with that special someone in our lives,

Taking that fearful step into romance, standing side by side.

When we first realized that God is always holding our hand,

With the greatest love anyone could offer and then we hear,

“Don’t worry. I’ve got you. Keep going.”

Every once in a while, we need to hold someone’s hand,

Bringing them comfort, reminding them, they’re loved,

And when they’re afraid of life’s events, we can say,

“Don’t worry. I’ve got you. Keep going.”

Grab a hand and hold it–don’t let go,

Someone needs to know today,

They’re not alone and someone cares,

Enough to stand with them, side-by-side,

Reminding them they have no reason to fear,

For perfect, unconditional love, makes no room

For fear or doubt or unbelief, in Him who says,

“I am The Lord, Your God, I’ve got your hand,

Don’t be afraid, I’m here to help you.”