Friday, October 29, 2010

Oh, To Be Like Thee

"Oh, to be like thee, Oh, to be like thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as thou art.
Come in thy sweetness, come in thy fullness,
Stamp thine own image, deep on my heart."

"The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit."
                                     Proverbs 18:21

"God saw all that he had made
and it was very good."
                                  Genesis 1:31

God took the time after he had spoken and created the heavens and the earth to make man in his own image and breathe into his nostrils (Genesis 2:7). No other part of his creation did he get as involved as in the creation of man and woman.
He also sent his only begotten Son to die for this man that he created, He loved him so.

My soul cries out the chorus of the old hymn above as I prepare for the debut of my book tonight. Lord, have your way.

I'm excited, but tempered. I'm excited about what God is about to do in the lives of men and women, especially that of African American men and women. There's a movement coming and I'm glad to be a participant with God, a vessel that he can use to help bring it about. I'm humbled and filled with joy that I can be an instrument of good tidings, of good news to a hurting people. "Oh say but I'm glad, I'm glad." (Another old hymn)

There's a lot that I can say on the subject, but I don't know that this is the forum for it right now. I just want to say, please pray for me. We're the family of God, the Body of Christ and there's a large segment of our body and in our country that needs understanding and healing.

Your comments are welcome.

God Bless.

If you're interested, you can tune in live at 8pm (eastern) tonight. New Vision International Ministries is interviewing me about the book and having a men's discussion panel. However, my heart is to see God move among the men and women in attendance- to spark change.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Immerse Yourself

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" 1 Peter 1:13-15

1. "Prepare your minds for action...." How do you prepare your mind for action? I do so through meditation on the word of God and prayer. I would also add that confessing your faults/sins to a strong believer that can hold you accountable and intercede with you is also encouraged in the Word.

2. "Be self-controlled..." How can you be more self-controlled? Meditation on the word of God, self-reflection and prayer. I think it's important to assess your weaknesses and put guards up. If you don't learn from your previous mistakes, you're bound to repeat them.

3. "Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed." How do you do this? The key is to set your hope fully... YOU have to do that. No one else can do that for you. You have to soak yourself in the word and hope that Jesus prepared for us. You have to believe the Word first and believe the promises of the Word. Then fix your eyes on Jesus. Zone in as he did on the hope set before him that allowed him to endure the cross. We have to zone in on the hope set before us and not on our current circumstances, good or bad, it's not to be compared to what God has in store for us.

4. "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance." Think about what things had you bound before Christ, the sins that so easily entangled. Compare yourself to a child (for we really are children), what's your level of obedience? Again, you have to identify those weak areas and strengthen against them. I rehearse in my mind how I want to deal with certain things when they tempt me. I've identified my weak areas (and the devil knows them too) and though I recognize them and know I can be susceptible to them, I work on strengthening those areas and practice offensive and defensive manuevers. Frequently apostle Paul makes reference to the war in members or how the spirit wrestles with the flesh. This is a fight. Make up your mind not to conform or give in. We are a new creation.

5. "Be holy..." We are made holy through the blood of Jesus, however, now the word is telling us to BE holy, ie., to walk in holiness, to walk in obedience, to walk righteously.

Oh Lord,
"Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you."  Thank you for your Comforter. Thank you for your Word. Thank you that we are never alone. Thank you for your guidance. Thank you for your faithfulness, you never slumber and you never sleep. Thank you for your love, your mercy and your grace. Help us this day to walk as you would have us walk. Help us to be prepared in our minds, our spirits and bodies. Help us to walk by faith and not by sight today. Strengthen us so that we do not succumb to temptation, but walk in obedience to your word.

Because your love is better than life, we want our lips and our lives to glorify you.

In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Prayer is a Dialogue

Without realizing it until today, the last year my prayer life has changed. I started out going on "prayer walks" because I found myself falling back to sleep on my knees in the mornings. I'd be so tired from not enough sleep and I really was hungry for more of God. The spirit was willing but the body was so weak. Evening prayers were always much better.

One day my cousin told me she went on prayer walks very early in the morning. I liked that idea and decided to try it. But instead of it being prayer walks for me, per se, they became praise walks. I'd just praise the Lord and then periodically break into speaking in tongues (prayer). Then I'd find a bench in a park and sit and watch the sunrise and bask in the glory of God and meditate on his goodness. Then I'd pray for a bit and read the Word. In the summer time it was great, but it was a little more challenging in the rain and in the winter when it was dark and cold. I still got up between 5:00 and 6:00 am and went out. I enjoyed our times together.

After I relocated I continued my praise walks, but a little later due to the area; the format remained the same. Something was slowly dawning in my spirit though. After my praise time and "prayer" I realized that I spent a lot of time in meditation, just listening to the Holy Spirit. When I caught a bad cold a few weeks ago and the weather here turned cold, I stopped going out on my praise walks. It just wasn't wise. However, I'm a little more conditioned now and I just ask the Lord to wake me up so we can have that time together and he's been gracious enough to do so.

One day last week I was in a rush and didn't take the time for meditation. I remember feeling as though I'd missed a step as when you're walking and you almost fall. Then today as I got up off my knees I realized something. The times of meditation are times when I'm actually listening to God for my instruction for the day. They're the times when He is speaking to me!

It reminded me of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-31. The two disciples were walking and talking with Jesus and Jesus was explaining things to them and they didn't realize that it was Jesus that was actually there walking with them and breaking down the Scriptures to them until he sat down at the table to eat bread with them. Then their eyes were opened...

In Ephesians 6:18, Paul says, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests..." I thought, prayer is listening to God just as much or even more so than speaking to God. The different types of prayers started running through my mind, petition, intercessory, prayer in tongues, but I hear little taught on the dialogue of prayer. Most of the time I hear folk talk about what they say to God, which sounds more like a monologue; whether that's praying God's Word, reminding him of his promises, binding and losing, interceding, but I don't hear to much about listening to God.

As Paul says, there are all kinds of prayers but I think we need to also remember to take the time to listen as fervently as we speak. Prayer is a dialogue. Let's practice listening too.

Help me to hear your heart Oh, God.
To listen to your heart beat.
To see your smile as you speak.
To see your tears as they fall for the lost.
Help me to hear your heart Oh, God,
as it breaks for your people who pass you by.
Help me to listen and help me obey.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kicking Against the Goads?

     This weekend I almost felt like a recalcitrant child, I was so frustrated with things not going the way I wanted them to go. Have you ever picked up a child that's kicking and screaming because they're not getting their way? That's a little like how I felt within. But thankfully, it only lasts for a few minutes or half an hour or so before the voice of the Lord gets through to me and I calm my spirit down and say, "Yes, Lord, have your way." Anybody else ever feel that way?

     The Holy Spirit has been gently saying to me, "It's hard for you to kick against the bricks." (I know the Scripture says Goads and the KJV says, "pricks." I'm just telling you what came to my spirit. The message is the same.) The New Living Translation Bible says it this way, "...It is useless for you to fight against my will." (Acts 26:14)

     Why do we pray if we won't listen or take the time to listen? Thankfully, my little frustrations don't last long because my heart's desire really is to please the Lord and allow him to have his own way in and through my life. Often times, it's just that, like Saul, I sometimes don't recognize that it's Him trying to get my attention and guide me in a different direction.

      Remember the story of Balaam and the donkey in Numbers 22? The donkey stopped in the road three times because he saw what Balaam didn't see, the Angel of the Lord with his sword drawn to kill Balaam for his disobedience. But Balaam kept beating the donkey to move forward. Finally, God allowed the donkey to speak to Balaam to get his attention and then God opened Balaam's eyes so he too could see the Angel of the Lord ahead of him with his sword drawn to kill him. Scripture says Balaam "bowed low and fell on his face." 

     Many times during the course of our day or in seasons of our lives we won't understand why things aren't going the way we think they should; why things don't appear to be happening according to our time-line. It may be that we are even doing the "work of the Lord" but maybe not in the "time of the Lord" or in the "will of the Lord." That's a good time to Stop, Step back and Pray. (My version of the fire drill, Stop, Drop and Roll.) God is protecting us or trying to redirect our steps.

     Over the last several months there have been a number of topsy-turvy or challenging occurrences in my life ranging from seemingly small and irritating to life changing events and decisions. But each time I stopped, stepped back and prayed, God gave me his perspective on the situation and I got peace and strength to see them through and make the right choices. He is an incredible God.

     So if you find yourself today "kicking against the goads," STOP, STEP BACK & PRAY so God can share with you His will or simply give you His peace and grace to ride it through, make the right choice or turn and go in another direction.

     He believes in you and has great things in store for your life. "'I know the plans I have for you,'" declares the Lord, ' plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jer. 29:11)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We Belong To Him: Do Your Happy Dance!

But you are a CHOSEN people,
that you may DECLARE
who called you out of darkness
into his wonderful light.

Once you were NOT a people,
but now you ARE the people of God;
once you had NOT received mercy,
but now you HAVE received mercy.

Dear friends I URGE you,
in this world,
which WAR against your SOUL.

Live such good lives among the pagans
that, though they accuse you of doing wrong,
they may see your good deeds and
GLORIFY GOD on the day he VISITS us.
                     - 1 Peter 2:9-12 (NIV, Capitalization added)

This passage just washes my soul and spirit. Doesn't it feel good to know that we are chosen?
Doesn't it feel good to know that we BELONG to God? We are His. In verse 4 of the same chapter it says, "...chosen by God and precious to him." I don't know about you but it makes me want to shout, Hallelujah and do a happy dance!

It doesn't matter where we've been or what we've done or how many times we've failed,
he's called us OUT of darkness into his wonderful light! Hallelujah!
Why? He's building a HOLY NATION. He's building a ROYAL PRIESTHOOD to represent him.
Why? So that "We can DECLARE HIS PRAISES" before a lost and dying world and continue to expand his kingdom and help others find life more abundantly as well.

We were NOT his people and there are many out there who still are not.
But now we ARE his people and we need to help others find their way.
We did NOT have his mercy and there are many who still do not.
But now we HAVE his mercy and we need to help others obtain it as well.

THEREFORE, therefore, we are urged to live as STRANGERS and ALIENS in this world.
Don't get too comfortable. Don't become ASSIMILATED and forget who you are.
Don't forget who you've become and to whom you belong.

ABSTAIN from SINFUL DESIRES that WAR against your flesh.
Fight them off. Don't allow them to stain your royal, priestly garments.
You are the temple of the holy God.

Live such a good life, a peaceful life, a Spirit-led life, an unselfish life, a servant-like life
among the pagans, the unbelievers, so that even though they may accuse you wrongfully,
even though they may hate you, they can't deny your good works.
Then when God visits, THEY will glorify God, they will recognize God, they will praise God,
they will receive God and become part of the chosen people of God.

Then they too will declare his praises and do a happy dance!