When Leaders Mislead!

When Leaders Mislead!

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD. “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.  “Both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness,” declares the LORD. “Therefore their path will become slippery; they will be banished to darkness and there they will fall. I will bring disaster on them in the year they are punished,” declares the LORD Jeremiah 23:1-4, 11,12. NIV

When I finally understood God’s calling upon my life, this passage of scripture took on a life of its own, rising up in me every time I opened my mouth to speak. It is a constant reminder that when I teach God’s Word, I teach what He says, rightly dividing, analyzing and explaining for the benefit of all who belong to Him. This keeps me honest before Him in all that I do because I am an ambassador of Truth, not seeking to make my name great, but to make His name great.

As an ambassador of Truth (God’s truth, not mine or man’s), I know I must hear Him speak to me before I speak to others. I also know that many will disagree with what I say, but God has reminded me time and time again, it is not me they are rejecting or disagreeing with, but Him. If I taught my opinion, then I would be in a position to receive the just punishment for ignoring God. “Woe” would be my destiny.

But since I do not teach my opinion (and I certainly have one) as it relates to living a righteous life, I have no fear of what destiny holds for me, for my destination is heaven and I will not allow anyone to become an obstacle in reaching my destination–either by believing a lie or teaching one.

Observing what other “leaders” in the Body of Christ are doing–I can only hang my head in shame–for them–for they will receive the just punishment for misleading God’s children. Whenever man (mankind) gets beyond himself and thinks that man is right and God is wrong, there is only thing we can expect–desolation in the land. And when we deliberately mislead others in order to gain favor or control of others–then “woe” is all we can expect.

I claim no greatness when it comes to teaching God’s Word, but I diligently study and seek understanding from Him and I know when He speaks to my heart. That is my claim to greatness–hearing Him speak and obeying. I am a watchman–and as such, I must sound the alarm when danger approaches and when I do–my job is done. Either people will heed the warning or they will not. Whatever they do–is not my responsibility–as long as I know–I’ve completed the task given to me. Therefore, I thank Him daily, that I do not have to worry about the end because He is my beginning, and I can do absolutely nothing worthwhile without Him.

It is to You O Lord, I give the glory! It is to You I give the praise. For You have done so much for me and I will bless Your Holy Name. It is to You, Holy Father, and no one else I give Honor, and all the days of my life–I will bless Your Name!


Why Patience Is Needed!

You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.  Titus 1:1-5 NIV

Patience is mentioned 34 times in the New Testament and patient mentioned 9 times in the Bible (once in Old Testament in Ecclesiastes). I’ve concluded–speculatively–that patience was not a strong character trait in many before Christ made an appearance. I base this speculation on the fact that the Children of Israel were so impatient with God, that they moved away from His guidance in an effort to more like other nations (needing a king,etc).

Here–in Paul’s instructions to Titus--we see a reason for patience and that reason is to teach others how to walk in the light of God’s love. If we really want to others to learn something well, we must be willing to patiently teach them–expecting them to make mistakes, but will be quick to hear correction.

This then may explain why some people are not good teachers–spiritually or naturally. If we get angry or frustrated with those we attempt to teach–we actually inhibit their desire to learn. One of the reasons we tend to get impatient with people is because we forget the road we traveled to get where we are. Someone had to have patience with us in order for us to know what we know. Even if much of what we know was through an inquisitive nature where we sought information on our own, we still had to exercise patience with ourselves.

Not to long ago, a person who observed my teaching a class told me that I had the patience of job with my students. I was amazed at her assessment because I do not always think I’m very patient with students when I’ve repeated myself–ad nauseum. At any rate, I realized that she was referring to my ability to give them time to think about a question before providing them with an answer. In fact, I seldom provide answers to questions when reviewing information–I simply wait until someone comes up with the right answer and I confirm. Teaching is not about trying to pour information into someone’s head, but about giving them the tools they can use to draw conclusions on their own.

Think about it! How long did it take us to realize that the answers we needed were found in Jesus Christ.  Questions about life and direction–found in Jesus. The voids we felt in our lives–filled with Jesus. And with me–He was very patient until I honed in what life really meant.

So, with patience–with self and others–will we move forward in teaching others about how to live the life God wants for us.


What’s Hanging Around Your Neck?

What’s Hanging Around Your Neck?

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. Proverbs 1:7-9 NIV

In teaching the role of words in a sentence and in understanding word usage, it is important to note that a pronoun can never be used without an antecedent (the noun it is replacing). Looking at verse 9 in this passage–“They” is referencing instructions and teaching. If obey the instructions and teaching received from parents becomes grace on our heads and adornments around our necks, how on earth did we get to the place in which so much sin abides in the world?

By deductive reasoning we can conclude that since there is so much sin in the world that one of two things have happened: either parents are not instructing and teaching children how to do what’s right or the children have deliberately disobeyed and ignored the instruction and teaching of the parents. On a natural level–the interaction between a parent and child most people can relate to this. However, on a spiritual level, most have apparently missed the intent–God is our Father and we are His children–therefore, we should obey His instruction and honor His teaching.

When we ignore and disobey His instruction and teaching our heads explode with delusional thinking–we can get away with it and even entice others to ignore and disobey, not realizing what we have set ourselves up for with the consequences. “We should never be a stumbling block to others.”When we’re exposed our heads hang in shame and guilt, while our necks strain from the weight of our hanging heads. The foolish can never hold their heads high–unashamed of their deeds because there is no pride in being foolish.

Given this thought–about instructions and teaching–what’s hanging around your neck? Is it pride in honoring God’s Word or shame and guilt from ignoring it?

Lord, help us to develop and maintain reverential fear of You in obedience to Your Word so all might see wisdom enacted in our lives as we honor Your instruction and teachings.


A Different Idea in Teaching!

A Different Idea in Teaching!

Supplementary Reading Materials
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On The Journey–He!

On The Journey–He!

Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.

Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.

Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
And not to covetousness.

Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.

Establish Your word to Your servant,
Who is devoted to fearing You.

Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your judgments are good.

Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me in Your righteousness. 119:33-40 NKJV

The fifth letter and the fifth segment is demanding, commanding or imploring–with seven of the eight verses beginning with a verb. The implied subject (from the English educator) is “You” and in this case, the Psalmist is talking to God.

Teach, give, make, incline, turn, establish–all designed to let us know, the writer was serious about what they needed and their understanding of what they needed to do.

Teach me–and I shall keep it until the end. For most of us, if we are taught something thoroughly and if our comprehension is not hindered, we remember what we have been taught. There’s a saying that everything we ever needed in life, we learned in kindergarten. And if we take the time to think about all we learned in a kindergarten class, we realize this is true–not just from an academic position, but with socializing as well. Have we forgotten our alphabet or how to count or our colors? Have we forgotten how to say, “thank you” and “please?” Have we forgotten (in this country) to always move to the right?”

Teaching, however is more than just presenting information, it requires application, and analysis, and synthesis–ability to strategically see the concept and principle at work in more than one venue.

Give me understanding–again whenever we are taught anything, if we cannot comprehend what has been taught, we have not learned anything.

And sometimes, we have to be made to work on what we have learned–homework comes to mind. Do we practice what we have learned on a consistent basis?

Create a desire–incline my heart–in me to appreciate the testimonies of others without allowing me become jealous and covet what You have done for others.

Turn my eyes away from things that don’t matter and keep my focus on learning of You. Have we asked God to turn us from seeing, greed, manipulation, deception, the desire to impress others when we have nothing by which to impress them?

Establish your word–cause what you are teaching me to take deep root in my spirit and soul so I’ll never forget who You are and how much you love. Do we have reverential fear of God? Do we want His Word so deeply rooted in us that even thinking about doing wrong, brings conviction?

And when I have fallen short, don’t let my shortcomings be exposed to others, but judge me according to Your righteous judgment. Is this our attitude when we’ve messed up or do we always blame someone else for those things we do  that cause us shame?

Look at me God! I long for your principles and want only to live according to Your righteousness! Do we long to keep God’s principles in place in every area of our lives? Do we even understand them to keep them?

From everything we see on the news, it is obvious that many have either never understood His principles or they have forgotten them, since there is little evidence that they are being applied to our daily lives. Do we treat others the way we want to be treated? If that was true, lives would not be lost on a daily basis.

It’s time to re-think our actions and meditate on God’s Word so we can see change in the new year–making it better than the last!


2016 prayer list

Why Jesus Said, “Judge Not!”

“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” John 7:24 KJV

The NIV version states, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

In order to understand what He was referencing, we must know to whom He was speaking and why. If we read (with understanding) the verses “before” this one, we know that it is the religious leaders of that time who were seeking Him to kill Him because they did not understand who He was.

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. (John 7:16)
This is His response who wondered how He could know so much when He was taught in the Jewish synagogues.

Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. John 7:17

Here, He lets them know they can choose to examine the scrolls used for teaching and determine whether He was saying what God said or whether He was speaking on His own. Jesus never said anything that His Father had not said, because He is God, the Son. Why would He oppose Himself? This is part of the mantra and rhetoric used by those who “want to believe in half of the Bible, but not all of it.”

In order to get a right understanding of Scriptures–we have to study them and know why things were being said and to whom and when it was said. When some “cherry-pick” what they choose to quote, they are misleading others and of course, we who know God’s Word, know that it is a trick of the devil to deceive. Remember this–a half-truth is a whole lie as far as God is concerned. When we know God, we know we cannot selectively choose which parts of His Word to believe and which to ignore.

Wherever Jesus went while He was preaching, He addressed the situation confronting Him and He related His teaching to the people on a level they could understand.

Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?” Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed.Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? John 7:18-23

Now this is the conversation Jesus had with the Jewish leaders BEFORE He said, don’t judge. From all who recorded what He said, in Matthew, Luke, and Mark–The intent of His conversation, never changes God’s Word.

As I’ve said before, Jesus said a lot more than, “don’t judge,” or just for people to “love.” He also preached about sin, hypocrites, lying, fornicators, murderers, and much more. More than anything, He talked about the need for Him to be here and how a person can be saved and the benefits of salvation. He prayed for us (who Believe) in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest and it was His love for us, that kept Him from coming down off that cross. His bloodshed on the cross was for those who “choose” to Believe Him as the Son, and God the Father and obey His Word.

Judge not pic

More of what Jesus said coming in the next week or two on a daily basis. We need to know so we can counter Satan’s lies.

Changing Our Society by Receiving God’s Love!

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.” (Proverbs 3:1,2 NIV)

From a father to son and daughter,

Keeping us from Satan’s slaughter,

Teaching us to remember and obey,

Walking in God’s favor, night and day.

When we learn to adhere to the sound teaching of parents and God, we have a promise we can rely upon for long life, peace, and prosperity. If we look around at our society today, it would appear that not many have remembered anything worthwhile and obedience to sound teaching is not evident–anywhere.

But notice where we have to start--remembering what we were taught and keeping those sound teachings and instructions in our heart. If our heart is receptive to instruction and guidance, we will do what love does–obey. If our heart is hardened and we reject sound teachings, then hatred takes the place of love and all the forces of hell, break loose upon a society that refuses to hear and obey.

With the recent passing of the oldest woman in American, at 116 years-old, I wonder if she credited her long life with remembering the things she was taught by her parents and obeying. Her long life appears to be a testament of obedience–but I don’t know that for a fact. What I do know is God is not slack to keep His promises to all who obey and He is not a man that He should lie.

If we want to see a change in our society, we must see a change in what people are keeping in their hearts and what they are teaching their children. Parents must learn to give their children righteous, sound instruction. Children must learn to obey and not rebel. We must all learn to receive God’s love and allow it to overflow in our hearts.

For where love is, hatred doesn’t stand a chance. Where love is–people are respected and given consideration. Where love is–we all seek to assist all who are in need. Where love is–we honor God and keep all His commands–to love Him and love others. Where love is--there is peace and no confusion.

I would love to see and experience for the rest of my days–love being the guiding force in our society so I can live the rest of my days in peace. I would love to see children obeying their parents and parents loving and teaching their children to do what is right. I would love to see all saved and walking in God’s favor. I would love to see people living in the reverential fear of God and negating all of Satan’s influence. I would love to see it, but unless something drastic happens in the minds and hearts of people, my desire may not be obtained, but it won’t stop me from seeking God’s Wisdom in all things.

We can stop all the madness in our society and the lack of respect and value for life. All we have to do is receive God’s love to overflowing and allow it flow onto others, remembering all He has taught and keeping His commands.

Teach The Children!

“All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.” (Isaiah 54:13 NIV)

Have we dropped the ball? Are we know longer demonstrating what The Lord has taught in our own behavior? Are we the reason the children are the way they are?

We have all been “children” at sometime or another and unfortunately, some fully physically grown adults are still children. They were not taught the basics of socialization--common courtesy, sharing, consideration, respect, self-control, and self-respect. If we didn’t learn these as children, chances are we never will.

I remember when I first started working at one of the high schools and I was trying to squeeze past a young lady blocking my path. I said, “Excuse me.” Her response was, “Excuse you?” and then she sat there staring at me like I’d grown horns. She had no idea what I meant.

Too many of the children in schools, at home and in the general public take their “anger and frustration” with them, everywhere they go.Why are they angry? Their home life is less than desirable. We have kids going hungry, being abused, sleeping on mattresses without linen, sleeping in their clothes because they’ve never had pajamas, and then they have mamas who have different live-in boyfriends every other week, there’s never enough food or money, some in the dark without heat or light and then mama’s boyfriends are abusing the children and daring them to tell it.

It is not their fault that their parents never learned to parent, but someone has to teach them right from wrong and how to get along with others in this society because we do not live alone in isolation.

This happens because the parents were not taught when they were children and so they cannot teach their children anything worthwhile, but those of us who know, can and should teach them whenever we find a need to do so, wherever we are; it is our responsibility to teach the children in the ways of the Lord, by example not just by what we say!

So, let’s make a pledge–a commitment–to correct lovingly (if we can) and show those children who were never taught the things that they ought to know and do, so our communities and school and homes, too will know peace and harmony will reside in the midst of it all–Let’s Teach The Children!

My name is Mary M. Hall-Rayford. As an educator, parent, grandparent and child of the Most High, I approve this message!

When God Calls!

“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.” (I Corinthians 1:26 NLT)

What a sobering revelation to know that the world–those who knew us and some who didn’t–considered our calling into the ministry of the Gospel–foolishness!

Re-reading this passage of scripture this morning, reminded me of the reaction of people when I informed them that God had spoken to my heart and told me to “teach His Word!” Very few people who knew me, believed me (they were stuck on my past life) and many thought I had just lost my mind (they thought I read too much). There were even a few who told me flat out, “My pastor said, God don’t call no women to preach!” This came from men and women who professed to be Christians.

While I struggled with understanding this calling into ministry, I also leaned on The Word and was in constant prayer. One of the first things I did was to tell God, “If You want me to teach Your Word, then You’re going to have to teach it to me.”

I headed for the main library in our city because I knew it held a large religious section. I pulled information from book after book after book. I purchased books about Jewish history and studied the illustrations that were available of how people dressed, the culture of family, and worship. During a commercial advertising a center for Bible Study, I recognized God’s leading me to see it and went to the school.  I refused to try to tell anybody anything that I didn’t understand about the Bible.

On Father’s Day, nine months after I knew I had heard God’s instructions to me, I delivered my first message and people received it. Their positive response to what was said, gave me the confidence I needed to continue to discover all I could and I am still seeking knowledge because I realize that no matter how I live, I will never know it all.

Over twenty-five years later, there are still people who are skeptical about God’s calling me (and many others) into ministry. There are still some people who refuse to understand that God is not concerned about what we know, but our willingness to obey Him. It is He who qualifies those whom He calls. It is He who speaks to others who are in a position to confirm and recognize the calling on our lives. It is He who leads us to get the recognition and certification (ordinations) needed to operate according to the church and state protocols. It is He who has the first and last Word about what He wants us to do and say!

When God calls us to do something, we have no need to worry about what others will say. When God calls us into ministry, and we follow His directions–everything works together for our good and for the good of the people. When people call people into ministry–they are out of order and where there is no order–chaos reigns!

Now while there may still be those who consider me foolish and unwise–they say–God knows who I am and what I am capable of doing because it is Him, still molding and shaping, me to do His Will. Hallelujah!

Follow The Good!

“Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.” (3 John 1:11 NLT)

As I was re-reading this passage of scripture this morning, what John was saying to the church in his letter reminded me that we are indeed “without excuse” when it comes to knowing how we should live.

The bad example John references is the “church leader” who throws people out of the church when people don’t do what he says, rather than what is good. John was encouraging people to help support “the traveling teachers” (evangelists), Diotrephes was opposed to welcoming or supporting those traveling to teach The Word and told people not to help, and when they did help, he threw them out of the church. Considering this church was probably meeting in his home–he felt he had every right to control what occurs in his home.

Are there any church leaders who are doing the same thing today? There are some who are so puffed up with their own importance and what they have to say, that if a person doesn’t support what they want, they invite them to leave the church! I have been in churches where the leaders were dictators and felt they had a right to be so since it was their “father or mother” who had founded the church. What they failed to realize is that a relative may have established a ministry in a local building, but that does not give them the right to dictate to people who do not support their “self-righteousness”.

In one church in particular, I got tired of the attitude and left. When a person can “see” that God is not in charge of the situation, the only recourse one has to stay in right relationship with God is to just leave–the madness–not God.

That’s the other thing that baffles me. When people do leave a church because they do not see God’s hand in anything that’s taking place, why do people assume that person is “leaving God” and not just a building?

It is amazing to me that some get so caught up in themselves that they do not even recognize when they have taken charge in a church and left God completely out of the situation. Oh, they “posture” at teaching, using The Word, but then they negate The Word with their own sense of righteousness and setting standards for others according to what they do–not what The Word says. God is not mocked–He sees it all and understands the motives in the person’s heart–and only that person is deceived–by their self-righteousness.

This is why John was writing this letter–to encourage people to follow the “good examples” and influence of those who are not only teaching God’s truth, but living God’s truth for all to see.

I am a passionate advocate for those who have want to follow truth and have been deceived by people. And my advice is similar to John’s. If there is no indication of a person or church leaders doing things according to God’s Truth–RUN and don’t look back! When we know what God has said, we are held accountable for what we do–on all levels and what we say.