Monday, August 30, 2010

I Don't Want To

My three year old nephew walks around saying, "I don't want to..." for almost everything. "I don't want to eat that. I don't want to walk. I don't want to go that way. I don't want to go to sleep. I don't want to watch that..." he says. So on Saturday I said to him, "Just because you don't want to doesn't mean you don't HAVE to. There's a lot of things Auntie doesn't want to do as well, but I have to do them anyway."

Then Sunday morning an associate pastor preached a message he entitled, "I Don't Want To." My sister, the mother of my three year old nephew, turns and looks at me and laughs. We both softly mouthed her son's name. At the end of the message however, I substituted my name for her son's name. I thought I've been pretty obedient to the Holy Spirit. There's a lot that I do that I don't want to do, especially in recent months. There's a lot that the Lord asks me to do that I don't want to do in my flesh but that I do anyway. But the Holy Spirit was prodding me, convicting me and saying to me, "There's more and it's on-going."

I went to bed around 1:30am this morning and the Holy Spirit woke me up at about 5:45am to pray. I said, "I don't want to get up yet." Then I remembered the message yesterday. What's more ongoing however, is something the Lord reminds me of every now and then when I don't want to do something He's telling me to do. He says, "Didn't you tell me that you would do whatever I asked you to do?" He gently reminds and rebukes me. It gets me moving to do His will when my flesh says, "I don't want to."

Romans 12:1 is also ever present in my mind, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as LIVING SACRIFICES, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship." Can I be transparent here? God forgive me if I'm wrong for saying this, but sometimes I think it would be easier for me to just die one time and be over with it than to continue to be a LIVING SACRIFICE. I suppose this is along the lines of Paul's struggle in Philippians 1:21-23 where he says, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain...I am torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body." Well, let me temper my little diversion here by saying, that I do rejoice in the honor that is mine to serve Christ and explore the depths of having life more abundantly. It's exciting really, but dying daily to my flesh is not easy, i.e., "offering myself as a living sacrifice" is not easy; it's just worth it.

I don't want to wake up early,
but I'm always glad to wake up.
I don't want to get up and pray,
But Oh, how sweet it is when I press my way into His presence.
I don't want to read the Word of God,
But Oh, how sweet it is when He speaks to me through it.
I don't want to worship Him,
But it is the "garment of praise" that lifts the "spirit of heaviness."
I don't want to talk to people,
But I learn so much and grow when I do.
I don't want to eat right,
But it keeps me out of the doctor's office.
I don't want to forgive,
But God won't forgive me if I don't forgive others.
I don't want to face conflict,
But blessed are the peacemakers.
I don't want to...........

How am I any different from my three year old nephew? I do it anyway. Because love motivates me to be obedient. After all, it's not about me. It's about glorifying His name.

Every time my flesh says, "I don't want to...," to God, it's a test of my faith or trust and obedience to him.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Do You Know Your Purpose?

"When purpose is not known, misuse is inevitable" -Walter Charles.  It's a simple but powerful quote I've borrowed many times. Along those lines, I want to share with you a couple points of a message that an evangelist named Elder LeBaron Hedgemon from Meridian, MS brought to the youth this weekend at First Cathedral Church. He titled his message: "I Can See Clearly Now."

He began by saying you have to "See your life from a kingdom perspective" and to do so we need to see a few points clearly:

  •  You have to see clearly your PURPOSE,

  •  You have to see clearly your PARTNERS,

  • You have to see clearly your POSITION, and

  • You have to see clearly your PROMISE.
Now there's no way I can repeat the entire message to you in this forum, but there are a few thoughts on it I'd like to share with you. In fact it relates so well to my book, "Celebrating Men- Predator, Protector or Confused" and a relative passage that also comes to mind, "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law." (Prov. 29:18, NKJV)

If you don't have revelation of your purpose, you won't hook up with the right parnters, you won't have understanding of your current position or season and you won't obtain God's promise(s). Having said all that and believing the latter part of the verse quoted above, "happy is he..," it still isn't easy.

Now not knowing your purpose leads not only to misuse as Walter says, but often to disaster. Even simply knowing your purpose is not enough, but it's a start. It is as the AA and multi-step rehab programs for addictive behavior teach, "you have to first acknowledge you have a problem." In knowing your purpose, that's only the first step, but the most pivotal one. If you don't know your purpose you roam through life without aim, or it's like going on a long trip without a map or a plan on how to get there.

I really like how Elder Hedgemon outlined the process. There are partners along the way who work with you in different seasons of your life. You have to know who these people are; some are quite unlikely and even unwelcome. He used the example of how even Judas was a partner in the plan of God to facilitate the salvation of man through Christ Jesus. How does that saying go, "keep your friends close and your enemies closer..." or something like that? He also insightfully used the illustration of Peter, one of Jesus' closer disciples, as being a partner with the enemy at one given time when he tried to stop Jesus from going to the cross. When you know your purpose you're alert to those who come in and out of your life. Who's consciously or unconsciously partnering with God's plan for your life?

Then what position are you currently in? The journey is part of the developmental process to fulfilling your purpose. The journey is part of your purpose.

If we get in alignment with God's purpose for our life His promise is: Life more abundantly and eternal life. Who doesn't want a more abundant life or a happy eternal life?

As I write this blog, I'm reminded of my book, Celebrating Men. The focus in the book is primarily on men, of course, but the course I recount is applicable to all. God has a purpose for your life.

**You can check out my website for further info on the book, Celebrating Men at

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Martha, Martha...

This world is so loud. How can we hear God among the constant flow of voices and constant bustle of activity? Is it any wonder stress and anxiety govern so many lives?

God wants our attention and sometimes if he has to knock us flat on our backs or allow us to fall to get it, He'll do just that.

[How sweet it is to hear his voice and how sweet it is to be in his presence. No other voice or fellowship can compare. Draw me Lord, keep me near.]

The Martha Syndrome: "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!'

'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her.'"

Sometimes you have to cut the music, hire a babysitter, cut the TV off, stop the texting, turn off the cell phone and get away by yourself if you will, so you can hear clearly from God. Scared? Some people are because they don't know what to do with silence. However, you can often hear God better in the quiet. Jesus often left the crowd and his disciples to get off by himself so that he could talk with his Father. If he did, how much more do we need to?

I've often said, one of the primary ploys of the devil is to keep us so busy, so occupied with activity that we don't have time to hear from God or spend time with our Heavenly Father. Everybody, everything else captures our prime time and when we get around to it, we give him our leftovers or our hasty snatches of the morn. We give him so little, but expect so much. We miss our way.

[How sweet it is to hear his voice. How sweet it is to be in his presence. No other voice or fellowship can compare. Draw me Lord, keep me near.]

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In Some or All Of Our Ways...?

"Trust in the Lord
with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding.
In ALL your ways
acknowledge Him
and He will direct your paths."
- Proverbs 3:5,6

Whether we've been following the Lord for 3 days, 3 months or 30 years, most of us still fall short of "acknowledging" the Lord in ALL our ways and sometimes it's in some of the simplest ways too. It's a process to be sure. We're told to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling." (Phil. 2:12) That is, the journey just began once you gave your life to Christ. That was just the starting point of your new life, now life truly begins. So it's going to be a process of learning how to acknowledge the Lord in ALL our ways.

As true as it is, I don't know that it gets any easier sometimes. I think it's sometimes easier for the babe in Christ to do than for the veteran in Christ who can become so used to ministering to others and so caught up in being "mature," going through the routine of life in Christ or church politics that we miss the simplicity of acknowledging God in ALL our ways.

One day when I was about 20 years old I tested God's Word and His Spirit in this area. I'd heard someone talk about giving up your whole paycheck and watch how the Lord would provide. I decided to try it. I put my entire pay check in the offering and watched to see how God would take care of my needs and monetary commitments at the time. I wanted for nothing that week. I no longer remember how it all came about, I just remember marveling that week how everything just came together and was taken care of. So another day during that same time period in my life, I awoke and felt the Holy Spirit very strongly guiding me. You know how we pray, "guide us each step of the way"? Well, this particular day he did - literally. He guided me each step of the day, even to do some of the strangest things that if someone was looking on they would have thought I was very weird indeed.

I remember at one point during the day he told me to bend down and pick up something off the ground as I walked along. (I no longer remember what it was- it wasn't money or memorable. :-) That's when I started feeling like a robot or a puppet. I remember thinking, wow, "I see why you gave us a free will and a mind to develop and use". However, he still says, in ALL our ways to acknowledge him and he will direct our paths.

I believe him. But do we believe only up to a point? Do we only acknowledge him for the big things, the difficult things? The less we have of material things, the more we tend to acknowledge and depend on God because we can't do for ourselves. The more we have, the less we think we need him until trials and trouble hit, like illness, trouble in our relationships, divorce, loss of income or even death of a loved one. Is it any wonder why Jesus said, "It's easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God"? His next words however were, "with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:23-26).

He is still the same God who said he came to give us life more abundantly and that nothing we have given up for him we wouldn't receive back a hundred fold in this life. (Mark 10:29-30) However, we must acknowledge him in ALL our ways. "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" and all these other things will be given to us, down to the clothes on our backs and food for our stomachs.

Most days when I wake up, I quietly ask the Lord what I should wear today? Because I don't know what or whom I may encounter, but he already does. Yet many times I fail to ask him what to eat, instead I just give thanks and ask him to bless it. But isn't asking him for direction there important too? Or is thanking him and asking for his blessing acknowledgement enough? Am I being too technical, straining at every jot and tittle? Somehow, I think he'd rather have a little more of that desire to have him direct us even in the little things, than just when we're perplexed or find ourselves having to make difficult decisions.

I met two people in the last two years who've impressed me more than any tele-evangelist, professor, prophet or highly accomplished Christian. They were very simple Christians who had some incredible testimonies and ministries and whose names may never become renown. One was a Muslim, born and raised, but she was curious about the God of the Christians back home in her country. She didn't get saved in a church or because someone had been witnessing to her. She told me God spoke to her one day in her kitchen here in the US and told her who he was. She obeyed the voice and gave God her life. She said for the next 7 years, every day that she woke up she simply asked God what He wanted her to do. She said she never knew what she was going to be doing that day or where she would be going. She had a husband and 3 children and a demanding profession. She told me how frustrating at times it was not knowing what was coming next. But she never lacked. God did some incredible things in her life and birthed a church in the basement of their home.

Next was a man I met in Walmart just 2 months ago. He was another one that just kind of follows God where ever God tells him to go. I remember meeting him not just because it was the most recent experience but because it was very impactful in my life. He ministered more to me than any "prophet" I've ever met in a church. God had recently directed me to make a major move in my life that meant the upheaval of everything comfortable and familiar! I stepped out there by faith and got very little support except from those to whom God was sending me. I met with my pastor this particular evening to speak with him about my relocation, but I wasn't received, was even told in so many words that God wasn't the one directing me to relocate.

When I left there late that evening I had a massive headache. My head was pounding as though there was a gigantic pliers squeezing my temples. I could hardly think. It was about 10:30pm. I needed to stop by Walmart to get some tape and boxes to pack, but I couldn't think and everyone I thought of calling was asleep. So I said to the Lord, "Lord send me someone who knows you and knows me to speak to me." (Sometimes people know the Lord, but they don't know the particular work God is doing in you. Sometimes they know you, but don't know the Lord at work in you. At that time, I needed one who knew both the Lord and me.) So God sent a stranger at 11pm in Walmart to speak through, to comfort, encourage and prophesy to me of what He was doing and about to do. It was fantastic! God is so awesome! Within 5 minutes of listening to this person, the headache disappeared. (No Tylenol was needed. :-) I marveled at how God in his loving care, in effect said, "I had to come myself, because no one does know you like I do." I was dumbstruck at the whole experience. From 11pm to 1am, this man spoke over my life like no one ever has. He spoke things that only God knew. The man of God shared with me during this time that God had just led him to Walmart that night and that he never knew where God would lead him from one day to the next. People like this kind of remind me of modern day John the Baptists.

In ALL our ways acknowledge him and God will direct our paths. My prayer is that we would learn to have such child-like faith, no matter how old we get in Christ, that we would acknowledge or depend on God, as a child with their parent. Father, direct our paths.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Blah, Blah, Blah

"If anyone considers himself religious
and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue,
he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows in their distress
and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
- James 1:26-27

Sometimes we just talk too much. We shout from the roof tops or rather, from our soap boxes, when sometimes, it's time to just shut up and DO or BE. People read our lives much more than our lips.

Solomon said, There's a time for everything, including, "A time to be silent and a time to speak..." Ecc. 3:7. Wisdom is knowing when to do both. Proverbs 10:19 says, "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."

In all our communication, including the chat rooms, Face Book and all the other mediums through which we can now share our inner most thoughts to the world, Believers, take heed. Jesus said that we will have to "give an account on the day of judgement for every careless word (we) have spoken." (Matt. 12:36) I don't know about you, but I get tired of disappointing the Lord.

I recently had such a powerful experience of the deadly power of the tongue and got down right angry at both Satan and the Christian through whom Satan used to discourage my new sister in the Lord. THE TONGUE CAN BE A ROD OF EVIL OR A LADLE OF PEACE. Proverbs 18:21 says it best, however, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."

I have a friend that's a new Believer in Christ that the Lord has paired up with me as my younger sister. Like a newborn baby that you watch with delight as they show so much excitement over the little things, romp, play and gurgle, I delight to see her discover new things in the Lord and share her wonder at it all. However, her biological sister, who's been a Believer for over 30 years and knows her sister's life before Christ, has done more to discourage this baby in the Lord by constantly reminding her of her past, picking at her and complaining about her own situations and illnesses to her, than any non-believer could have done through mockery. It just made me angry. But the Lord quickly reminded me, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood..." I have to be careful and prayerful in how I speak to her sister. I have to recognize the ploy of the enemy to destroy them both and pray and speak appropriately.

"The a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." (James 3:6) Pretty powerful, huh?

I just want to encourage us to be careful so that we're not used in the ploys of the enemy to discourage, turn off or destroy others unecessarily because of careless, thoughtless use of our tongues.

You're awesome and carry a powerful weapon within. Through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, use it for good today.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Aundre Niles, "Our Loving Giant"

My nephew, Aundre (spelled with an accent over the "e"), just died two weeks ago. He survived Iraq only to come home to the US and be brutally killed in the inner city. He was just 22 years old but he touched so many lives. He always had a smile and a big hug for family and friends. Dre, as we called him, was also deep. He had deep waters running beneath the surface of his smile. It's interesting the different facets of one's life isn't it? Everyone sees a different facet. His mom saw different facets than his dad. His sister saw different facets than his best friend. Each aunt, each uncle, each cousin, each friend, his ex-wife, his infant son, his military commander, his neighbor, his co-workers, his classmates and yes, even his enemies, each saw different parts of what made Aundre - Aundre.

It's the first time I've lost someone so close to me. It's hard to believe he's gone. That I'll never get to have him engulf me in one of his bear hugs or bend his
6ft 2inch frame and put his head in my lap like a little kid or just listen to him call me "Auntie Bev." At least not in this life. However, I'm happy for Aundre because he's gone on to be with the Lord. In the final moments of his life, based on a series of events that occurred just prior and the amazing prayer we found tattooed on his back just 2 months ago, I believe, he found eternal peace and joy.

Aundre's estimated time of death was 3am on Sunday, July 25th, 2010. On Friday, July 23rd, his "grammy" Joan, while praying early that morning was encouraged by the Lord to pray for Aundre and she did so. On Saturday, July 24th I was awakened an hour earlier than normal to pray. When I asked the Lord who to pray for, he said Aundre and CJ, my other nephew. So I prayed for them. On Sunday morning between 3-4am, Aundre's mother was awakened to pray for Aundre. Though his death was violent, it wasn't instant. He had time to pray as well. His mom made a copy of the prayer that he had tattooed on his back and which I believe, revealed his heart:

Aundre's Prayer
"Please hear me. I need guidance to live life.
Sometimes the pressure is too hard to bear.
I often wonder if you care.
Please keep me as I face a new day,
knowing I must love my life.
This is crazy.

Forgive all my sins. Give me the strength to resist.
Help me escape temptations and the fire.
Please help my family whose eyes silently plead
for me not to do wrong and who pray for me.
Bless my mother.

Please answer my prayers
and let me know you're listening.
When will it all end? What is it all for?
I wonder how I will die,
by a bullet or by knife in my side?

Father, please hear me tonight.
Give my heart peace. Thank you for your forgiveness.
Most of all, thank You for hearing me."
- Aundre

God heard his heart and answered his prayer.
You know something, death can bring forth life. My prayer is that Aundre's death brings life to many.

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world (you), that he sent his only begotten son (Jesus), that whosoever believes in him would not perish (die) but have everlasting life." Jesus died, so that you can live.