Weekend Informational

Earlier in the day I read a post from another friend:

“Sometimes it can be EXTREMELY overwhelming trying to figure out where to begin with all the Lord has put in you, in addition to dealing with all that life brings you!”

I responded with many comments:

“and trying to discover the balance between the two! Just know you are not alone in this battle! Many (including me) are going through this…Then you get all these great ideas, and you think now how am I going to do THAT! Then comes the thought, God must be giving me these ideas because He believes I can do it. My question is HOW? I haven’t finished the other ideas given me! So I truly understand.”

I had been asking God for His direction on a myriad of issues, from health concerns to starting a business, to writing (which by the way had come to a screeching halt on my part). I knew this weekend would be full of attending two friends’ events: one yesterday, and one today. I didn’t feel my best yesterday, but knew I wanted to attend both events. Saturday evening’s event was inspirational on many fronts. I got to hear many points from three presenters that really got my attention:

  • one spoke of leaving Chicago, moving to LA with not much financially, and though it took a few months, he realized his musical dreams, which included starting a business, and working in the entertainment field with top talents and realizing another dream of traveling the world while on tour. He encouraged all who attended to not only believe the dream can be done, but to invest in yourself, even if that means leaving the familiar and venturing out into the unknown.
  • the next person was also in the musical field, but left her good paying job in one field moved to another city for an intern job (no money), and discovering yet another field of helping others increase their finances through investments. She had no idea where her journey would take her, but was willing to get out of the familiar and realize her dream of no longer being broke while helping others in the process. Now her clients are nationwide and beyond.
  • the host, a talented singer/musician, discovered her dream of creating this event of giving to others, and said “don’t bring your million dollar vision to penny minded people.” Therefore, one has to chose to be surrounded by those who are encouraging (rightful connections), not by ones who are not motivating. Dreams need to be written down (as recorded in Habakkuk 2:2), keep watch over what you say in the atmosphere, and the most important one I think: just do it.

As I sat in the back listening (sitting in the back was on purpose: I was the oldest one there), I thought of how often I have come up with ideas – and by the way, God keeps giving me even more – and I am not doing the equivalent of the Nike commercial: Just Do It. Awe, but there’s more.

This afternoon I attended another friend’s event that launched her latest book entitled Pursuing Purpose: 5 Keys to Fulfilling Your God-Given Purpose. This book is right on point, meeting me where I presently am. It was a joyous occasion, and one I hope to experience of my own by the end of this year hopefully. This same person has also launched her own business of being a publisher; just what I need – a right connection.

Everything I saw and heard was very informative this weekend. I got to see two women forging ahead, trusting God by coupling their faith with their works of realizing their goals.

This morning I sent my friend (the one I first mentioned) another message:

“I went to an event last night of a friend. I wish you were there. If you only knew what she talked about! It was on the … comments of yesterday. I am so encouraged. I started not to go. Just be encouraged that God will see to it that he will tell you he is for you, and will send a word to you through others to tell you to follow what he has deposited in you. Be encouraged to strive and continue….”

“And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.  For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”  Habakkuk 2: 2,3

This weekend which was full of confirmation of what I already know, and has shown me I need to be the next spokesperson for the Nike commercial…stay tuned while being strenthenized.

 

 

An Honored Request

How do you pray to God?  Does it contain thoughts about what is wrong in your life and how you want God to change it? Is the reason for the prayer more about you than about God? Do you ask for things to be given you to fit your agenda in place of asking for God’s will to be done?

Pastor Marc Poland of West Park Church spoke on these and other thoughts in his most recent message, part 3 of the Teach Us to Pray Series. It had many who listened thinking about the content of our prayers to God. Then he presented the contents of the Jabez prayer, found in I Chronicles 4: 9, 10:

“And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.  And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.”

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Goes to his source of blessings, who is God
  • Requests that his territory or span of influence be enlarged
  • That God’s hand of protection would be with him, and
  • That God would keep him from any evil that would cause him pain

Jabez’s mother named him based on the pain she endured while he was being born. Imagine having a name that means pain! Nevertheless, Jabez was described as more honorable than those around him.

Pastor Marc stated that this prayer did not give detail on life’s despair, and further did not (in a round about way) demand that his will be done. How many times have we asked for God to do something to fit our agenda? What if we modeled our prayers as kingdom prayers, shifting the focus on God’s will be done instead of our own? On the surface it appears the prayer of Jabez was attempting to get things from God. At closer review, Jabez was asking for help to enlarge his spiritual territory, that through Jabez the kingdom would be expanded! It is similar to some of the elements of the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6: 9-13):

  • Acknowledging who God is (verse 9)
  • that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven (verse 10)
  • to be delivered from evil (verse 13)

So what would happen if we prayed in this manner? It only took one verse to record the prayer of Jabez, and God responded in a positive way; as Jabez honored God, God returned the favor, honoring Jabez his prayer request.

We don’t have to tell God the details of what is going on in life; He already knows, and He knew before the foundation of the world the details of the present situation. However, when our prayers recognize the God of the universe, requesting God’s will to flow through all we do, God not only recognizes the prayer but honors it with all he does. And that is yours for the asking.

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we could ask or think…” Ephesians 3:20

 

NUHTIA…

These are challenging times you see, for it’s difficult to see

If you will be taken care of or disposed of, thrown away like a ragged doll

Like a ship crashed against a rugged terrain with not much left to retain

What can be done,  all seems lost, you say, bills are piling up with no greenbacks to pay

And speakin’ of pay where is it?

Locked up like a hostage in jail, with me feelin’ financially frail,

My plight is real, not imagined, but complicated

As two sides of leadership pit one against the other in this riddle

There’s a third side: me and others like me caught in the middle

And as week three continues with no concrete answer

I offer a solution of spiritual evolution, and the direction is N.U.H.T.I.A.

When all is crazy, bundle up the fear and the frustration, the anger coupled with

Impatience, and give it all to Him:

Now Unto Him, Ephesians 3:20 starts, That Is Able, the next phrase imparts

God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we could ask or think

According to the power that works in us, The us is the one who lives by faith

Despite what’s currently happening, stand on what God provides

Never leaving nor forsaking you, gifting you with His endless supply

And when your mind gets cluttered with fear and frustration

Allow Him to overtake it, giving your heart and mind a peaceful revelation

To get you through this time of furlough, an answer awaits your plateau:

NUHTIA…

” Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”   Ephesians 3: 20

 

 

 

 

 

When a Situation becomes a ‘Sitiation’

Situation: the way in which something is placed in relation to its surroundings; all the facts, conditions and events that affect someone at a particular time and in a particular place.

Sitiation:  a critical, trying, or unusual state of affairs; an important or sudden problem; an obstacle that has elevated to another level – it was a situation, but is now a sitiation.

Whatever level of your predicament, either can be stressful. It can cause one to lose sleep, suffer from pain and worry, to mention a few. Usually in the middle of this event in life is an obstacle through one’s efforts appear to be insurmountable, something that can’t be overcome. It is probably the way the woman recorded in II Kings 4 felt in her situation…

Can you imagine how this woman must have felt, being bombarded with calls from her creditors to pay up or we’re taking your sons? Can you think of how distraught she must have been, all the stress and worry as time went on, wondering what she was going to do to solve her dilemma? As she poured her heart to Elisha, the prophet listened to the widow woman regarding her plight. She was in debt and could not pay her creditors, and was told they were coming for her two sons, to put them to slavery as payment for her bills. Elisha asked what he could do to help, but at the time, the woman said she had nothing in her house…except for some oil. The bible records that Elisha told her to get flasks from her neighbors, the oil was poured into as many containers as she could obtain, and with the selling of that oil, was not only able to pay her creditors and keep her sons from being thrown into slavery, but have oil left over, to use to sustain her and her sons.

What do you do when your situation elevates to a sitiation? Many are in a similar plight, as they are enduring not being paid as a federal government employees (me included). As of this writing, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are either going to work daily or being forced to stay home without receiving their pay checks, all the while dealing with their creditors, some of whom understand, and many who don’t, demanding the bills be paid. As saying goes, you can’t get blood from a stone, but this is a critical, trying and unusual state of affairs, an obstacle that appears to be insurmountable. Now this could be handled in a myriad of ways:

  • worrying about it won’t solve the problem
  • allowing the issue to invade your body with pain and stress won’t solve the issue
  • But if you are a believer, being steadfast in faith, make your obstacle an opportunity

In his message Masked,  Pastor Michael Todd of Transformation Church spoke this:

“Obstacles and opportunities are almost the same, depending on who’s on your side.”

“So when God is on your side…When debt is in front of you, God says don’t retreat, step towards it, I’m Jehovah-jireh, your provider, I’ll meet every one of your needs…because your obstacle is no longer an obstacle, because if God be for you, who can be against you? “

So how do you view your problem when is becomes a situation and gets elevated to a sitiation? I vow to believe God will supply all my needs according to his riches in glory. I vow to make the shift from what appears to be an obstacle to a God-opportunity.

And I hope you will come back for Part II of this issue, but in the meantime, be strengthenized…

Stirred Up

” Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God…”
(2 Timothy 1: 6)

I wasn’t sure if I would be participating in  the Christmas program at Broad Street Ministries. I would be coming straight from work, and I wanted to keep on driving until I got home, not wanting to deal with Friday evening traffic, driving around to find a parking space, etc. But I finally decided to go, and participate in the program.

So glad I made the right decision.

When I arrived I saw many familiar faces (like Tony, our music director) along with new ones (student musicians from Curtis Institute of Music). Throughout the collaborative effort, Broad Street group would sing some songs, then Curtis Institute would either sing or play music, and vice versa. When it was time for Curtis Institute to rehearse, I heard Kendra and Sage practice their selections…

OMG!

Their operatic sound was simply amazing. At the same time (knowing I would sing O Holy Night), I immediately experienced an inner roller coaster of pure intimidation, thinking my sound was nothing compared to the quality of their gifts. I thought of how could I even attempt to sing when they were more than capable of singing such a classic Christmas song. My voice felt tight when I practiced; it didn’t seem to open, and I was afraid to attempt the high notes I planned to put in the song. Maybe I shouldn’t have come after all, I thought, coming very close to asking Tony to have someone else sing the song.

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to Timothy, a young minister who with Paul founded churches in various cities at the time.  The letter was to encourage Timothy in the faith to light up the fire of the endowment God had given him known as the gift. The next verse is a familiar one, which talks of God giving us power, love, and a sound mind, and not the emotion of fear, which seemed to be what I was feeling at the moment.

Before the program began, one of the professors of Curtis Institute came to me and complimented me on my voice…

(another) OMG moment!

But this time, it was a good one, as I was very encouraged by her words. I think it helped me relax a little.

All the participants gathered for prayer, with Tony prompting us to have fun and enjoy it all. I decided that I had my own sound, and while I was concerned about its quality, I asked God for help, after all, my participation was not because of my efforts, but because of His, and I wanted to do my best by singing for Him.

Everyone did great, (I have never seen someone play the trumpet with one hand and play the piano with the other at the same time, but I witnessed it! From the crisp and clear sounds of the trumpet and violin coupled with Tony’s eclectic arrangements to traditional Christmas songs that the Broad Street group sang, all went well. And as for me, after praying the prayer that no one knew about but God, I felt the stirring of the gift (my voice) open up, while being able to unlock my hands that were tightly gripped behind me, and hit the high notes with ease, surprising myself in the process. Feeling the power of the inner gift, fear had left the building as the sound I created was the best I could do for the moment, and I was pleased for a change (instead of being a mental critic as I usually do).

From hearing words from Psalms being beautifully sung, to classic Christmas carols, to a song sang just for fun (Signed, Sealed Delivered by Stevie Wonder led by me), there was much I gleaned from the experience. I need to relax and let things happen, whether it be singing or writing, allowing the stirring to generate the creativity God has already provided from within. When that is allowed, I can experience lovely OMG moments of my own…

Be strengthenized…

Forgiveness

“Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave.”                                                                                                Indira Ghandhi

“When you forgive,  you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” Bernard Beltzer

“Forgiveness is about empowering yourself, rather than empowering your past.”                    TD Jakes

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”                                 Lewis B Smedes

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you;”                          Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:14a

Whether it be watching a Law & Order episode that had forgiveness (or the lack thereof) as part of the plot of the story, to  listening to a sermon online, or listening to a daily devotional, the word of the week for me seemed to be forgiveness. First, this could stem from being hard on myself for not doing things I know I should be doing (like writing, which lately has been shelved). I have been feeling like time is quickly wasting away, thinking God will take the writing gift from me.

Secondly there’s the issue of caring for my mother. Dementia is a disease that has entered my mother’s brain and induced her to believe things her mind conjures up, different from what I tell her actually happened. Her words are hurtful and full of mistrust that I did not cause; yet, it continues. The relationship we have now is strained, the whole process of lessening stress levels has become difficult, the frustration becomes hard to contain, becoming a victim of a disease that lashes out at will. Not wanting to hear the same accusations I have heard for almost a year, I shut down during the one-sided conversation. Before eventually hanging up the phone I say to her “I don’t know what to tell you, Mom” after explaining something that I have told her many a time, with her response being one accusation after another, calling me a liar regarding actions that never occurred.

And through it all, I must forgive.

So I thought to start this post with some quotes on the subject. One that is not listed  says the first step to forgiveness is the willingness to do so. Before stepping into the realm of forgiveness one has to want to be there. And, as Indira Ghandhi is quoted as saying, there is bravery when entering into forgiveness. Hopefully the reason to go there is because one has to admit the prison that unforgiveness causes.  The lack of forgiveness is full of negative actions and responses, shrouded in darkness that can cause one to be in an abyss of anger and ill-will towards the person. This is the definition of the prison Smedes speaks of in his quote. How can one experience freedom while covered in the realm of unforgiveness? This kind of atmosphere attaches itself to the thought stream of the mind,  keeping record of past hurts that keeps one hinged to the past without considering the future. Thus the empowerment comes not from the present but from the past that chains hope for a bright and open future.

When one decides to make a change and forgive, the doors of the future are opened. One must decide to no longer be chained to adversarial statements that have been received as hurtful. Here is where the strength and bravery must be adhered to. As long as the disease continues I will continue to hear the same statements over and over from my mother. And every time I must forgive, detaching myself from any negative response regarding me coming to my defense. Tonight during the usual conversation, the thought came to do just that. I decided not to go down that lane anymore, as it does not accomplish anything. It is as Jesus said, I have to turn the other cheek, regardless of what is (in this context) being said to me.

Forgiveness is an action that must be accomplished, though it may take a lifetime to achieve. I hope to release myself out of this prison, gifting myself with the empowerment of the freedom forgiveness provides. If I forgive, God will forgive me. Perhaps you are in a similar situation, a crossroads of what to do next. With the strength from God who is always willing to help, you and I can be brave enough to forgive, checking out of prison, and empowering ourselves to experience the freedom of forgiving ourselves and others.

Be strenthenized…

A New Reality

 

 

“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing;” Isaiah 43: 18-19a

Recently I was talking to a friend who asked me how things were going. I told him I was frustrated, that I had so many ideas I believed God gives me, yet I don’t know how to bring them into reality. So he asked me a bunch of questions for one of my ideas (recording an original song), next taking me through how I could accomplish that. Then he looked at me and asked, “so what is keeping you from for doing that?”

Frankly, I didn’t have an answer.

He continued to go over what needed to be done, adding, “I have known you for three years, waiting on you to do this; now we are going to do it my way.”

The first part was meeting with a musician who could assist me in getting the music on paper: first listening to the musical concept, recording the song by my singing it, and then meeting with him for another meeting once he has completed the manuscript, and together we would make revisions. After that, I would teach the song to the singers and musicians, with the goal of recording it at my friend’s studio.

Oh my! This is territory I have never set foot on! Something completely new. Years I have created this in my private realm of imagination, but now it is about to spring forth.  Since the conversation I had with my friend, his question kept circling in my mind throughout the week: why hasn’t it happened? (By the way, this song was written ten years ago).

I told him I didn’t know how to go about it, but when we mapped out a plan, it seemed so simple a task to do. Perhaps I was too afraid to step out, discover how to do it, getting out the boat to accomplish it. Past disappointments of things tried and failed have kept me from venturing out. But, God has provided words of encouragement. Forget the past,  reach for those things that are within your grasp and cause them to happen! Remember not the things of old! They are old, they are not new. God is of the new, ensuring it will happen!

Being in the realm of the unknown can be scary. But (thanks to my friend), I am willing with his help to make it happen, and with God steering the way, it will become a new reality.

 

 

Free Indeed

I’m free indeed, In Christ I’m free indeed

No chains are holding me, It’s who I choose to be

Lyrics from Free Indeed, by Timothy Reddick

What does it mean to be free? The word has many definitions to many people. For instance, to a dog who for months has been literally been chained to a post, being free means the ability to run without hindrance. To a person who has been locked up in prison, and is let go, being free involves the ability to walk with no boundaries. To a person who retires from employment after working for decades, being free involves sleeping in, no longer needing to hear the alarm clock go off early in the morning. The dog can now experience freedom of running. Once a prisoner but now free, the experience involves a newness of life, perhaps years in the making that has finally arrived. The retiree looks forward to having the freedom to travel and take long naps in the afternoon, and not feel guilty for doing so.

From a spiritual standpoint, there are many believers who have not experienced such freedom, even though they confessed Christ, and know scriptures that include the word free. The lyrics above are from the song Free Indeed, by Timothy Reddick. It is a simple song with powerful lyrics. Why do Christians struggle with freedom?

Perhaps it is like the song says that believers don’t do. While Jesus provides the freedom, it is our choice not only to accept it, but embrace it. Isn’t that what choice is all about? Choice is a preference, a decision, it’s an action. The act of choosing can be a powerful thing. It extends to the act of faith. When faith is extended beyond a concept of what has been taught, and what we understand, freedom moves from the realm of thought to the sphere of reality. Freedom, then becomes real to the person who chooses to allow themselves to experience it. This is what the lyric in the song means:                                      I choose to be free… and to choose to be free in Christ.

Many choose freedom by their own terms as a way of escape, delving in alcohol, drugs, an extramarital affair, spending beyond financial means, and so on. This type of freedom is temporal, and does not last, and because it doesn’t last, the results of doing these things brings on more troubles. But here is a long-lasting way of being free:

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36

If you open the door to allow the Son to gift you with freedom, you will be free indeed. The Greek word for the first word free is eleutheroo, meaning to deliver, set at liberty, and verb tense is without regard of the past present or future time. Jesus can provide the freedom regardless of has happened in either timeframe. That’s a wonderful thing. The Greek word for the second word free is eleutheros, meaning free born, not bound by any law or obligation. The Greek word for indeed is ontos, which means of a truth, in reality, not fictitious, but certainly. So,

             If the Son shall deliver and set you at liberty, you will be of a truth certainly                     not bound but free.

I have a pastor friend who is trying to lose weight. She’s lifting weights, doing cardio, and sweating during the process, but her goal is to be free of the extra weight she knows she should not be carrying. She is choosing to do whatever it takes to lose the weight, which will give her the freedom to set herself at liberty. Being a pastor has her including God in this process, but the key thing is she has made the choice for the Son to deliver her in this regard. The chains of weight are still there, but she is making progress. Would you like to experience chains dropping off your life situations?

Ask Christ to gift freedom to you, and choose to be Free Indeed…He will do the rest.

Free is Good

Though I have been in my new apartment for about three months, I am still not fully unpacked, but I am almost free of boxes.  I noticed I needed something to solve my storage problem. Important papers and other stuff needed to get off the floor and in some type of storage system. So I started on a quest to find what would fit my space and be large enough to fit my needs. Many stores had units on sale, so the price was on point as well as the style. But something was keeping me from making the purchase.

Did I really need it now,  and could I wait a month or two when I had more funds? I went to the store three times, only to stay in my car and drive away. I couldn’t bring myself to buy anything, and perhaps now I know why.

My apartment complex has an area in back where the trash containers are located, and also where furniture is placed by those who are moving and no longer want. Such things are up for grabs for anyone who wants it. A couple of days ago, that space had a lot of furniture people left, and my eye noticed a piece. It was on its side, but after inspecting it looked similar to a bedroom dresser I had, and I knew it was well made, and was an old piece, constructed in a time when furniture makers used their craftsmanship to make dove-tailed drawers, curved drawers. Though it had been outside for a couple of days, it looked to be in pretty good shape.

Today was the day to wheel in my treasure hunt piece and see if it could fit in the space I carved out in my living room. After getting it inside and rearranging the living room, which didn’t take long, the freebie piece not only fit the space, but it had the six drawers of I wanted for storage! All it needed was to give it a good cleaning, some furniture polish, and my storage problem would be solved. And it was free, and my finances didn’t suffer!

Sometimes one needs to heed the inner tugging of not doing something to reap the blessings God has in store. How about you? Have you been feeling perhaps you shouldn’t do something while at the same time not knowing why? Consider this: If you want to do something but you feel an inner tug-of-war going on regarding if you should do it or not, chances are you should put it on hold. When I decided not to make a purchase, the blessing came that was exactly what I needed. Peace replaced the ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ thoughts, and all worked out well.

I know I am only talking about a solution to storage, but this process can be applied to anything you are tussling over. Asking God for help helps, and who knows, maybe you can also be able to say Free is Good…be strengthenized.

Impossible Invisibility

When listening to a sermon by Steven Furtick, he spoke of a conversation he had with a friend who told him while he was aware of God doing something new in his life, he was not aware of the path he was to take. He also said during the sermon that God allows his chosen to be put in what appears to be impossible situation, to prove His presence is with you while you are experiencing it. I am in the realm of the experiential presently.

Some areas of my life seem to be impossible, with no solution in sight. Yet, at the same time, I know God is with me. those areas could be so much worse, yet it appears God is not allowing the worse to happen. I am learning to go to God for the least of requests to (in my mind seem to be) the large with no light at the end of the tunnel, and yet God is still God, and I am still here, and the things I need to continue living life are available to me. Little by little I am making changes, thinking of how things could be done differently, and better. The situations still remain, and I don’t see any solution, and wonder why I have not been given the answer.

This is the time when faith has to step in and rule the mind. This is the time when you can’t develop solutions of your own just to get out the invisibility of it all. It is the time when one is taught patience, maturity, and humble quietness of thought that deters wallowing in worry.

Here’s another thought. Until the invisible becomes visible and the answer comes to the forefront, I have to faithfully stand strong, and be obedient to God. How does one do that? Constant reliance in the Word of God, after all, how can one know how to be obedient, if one does not know what God Word says?

Next, allow God to teach you how to just hang with Him. Psalm 91 speaks of dwelling in the secret place of the Most High. And even those that are not of God seem to be finding their solutions, we are not to be envious, but rather Trust in the Lord, Delight in the Lord, and commit thy way to the Lord, as Psalm 37 says, even if you don’t know where to go. In time, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free from the invisible and the impossible, for with God all things are possible.

Be strengthenized.