It has been a really long time since I decided to blog. In part it was because I had entirely too much to say or at times not enough. I am experiencing and sorting through a myriad of thoughts and emotions at the moment.
I realize more and more how grateful I am for having a Dad/Father in ministry who challenged me to think for myself while engaging the academic rigors of seminary and finding my way through the beginnings of answering "the call." I love him for that forever. Dr. Kelly Miller Smith, Jr. taught, trained and developed, stretched, applauded, encouraged and tussled with me about all things ministry in efforts to help me to be able to hear, heck to at least engage in conversation and value the perspective of others when I disagree. I have amazing friends and colleagues who help me to do the same. To each of you I am indebted as well. What I learned from my family community was to not be so rigid in my identifying with one opinion, cause or viewpoint that I only identify or work toward that end. For example, I posted a challenge to social media for all community leaders, mentors and advocates in the Christian faith to see the movie Straight Outta Compton. The post indicated the need to attempt to understand cultural and contextual issues of those who are different or respond differently; even if it is negative because of "isms." When one cares enough to seek understanding and meet in the middle for discussion, whether there is agreement or disagreement; respect is earned. Validation results and you have gained an audience and sometimes a friend, or you have helped to lead someone to a transformative encounter/experience that can lead them to a more excellent way. Someone thought it offensive that I would post that due to the misogynistic tone of the movie. We bantered but honestly my purpose in that moment, for that post was to encourage dialog and empathy in a religious context that often joins in ostracizing those outside the proverbial mold. In a nutshell the church has been guilty collectively of ministry to its sacred self alone. Not the model of the radial Christ of whom we are ambassadors.
But I've learned I am not just for one "cause." I must be concerned that all people are treated with dignity and not abused, misused, cast-off or considered less than... Even when it seems justifiable I must resist because hatred costs too much and hinders my sensibilities and capability to love and lead. Because there are conservatives there has to be liberals. The slave trade made abolitionists necessary as much as bigoted clansman and Jim Crow made boycotts, sit-ins, protests and Black Panthers unavoidable and requisite. We are "free" to operate in many ways but intentionally harming and degrading in the names of isms. REALLY!!!??? Is that the advantage we seek from our platforms?
I noted all of that to say that RESPECT IS IMPORTANT. Everybody brings something that is useful to the table. A conservative talk show host tweeted a comment about a Republican female presidential candidate saying she went "full vagina" in the last debate. WHAT?????!!!!!!!!!! Who? What!? How can....? Ahhh! the freedom of speech and liberties afforded us are to be treasured but what of the consequences brought about as well. As a female minister with several years of ministry experience, with about half of them being paid full-time staff, I can speak to both sides of the coin. The opportunity to be able to preach and teach the foundational truths of my faith is a tremendous blessing. True, life-changing ministry is my love. It has birthed and nurtured an unbridled passion and many favorable occurrences, trips, meetings, etc. that I cannot explain nor contain the joy because of. However, almost two decades of often being the only woman at the table or in the room have been challenging to say the least. The grossly inappropriate comments, innuendos,advances, outright dismissive laughter and actions along with non-responsive antics are ever present and my guess is that they will continue in areas where they are allowed; and especially within the church and religious arena for many sisters in ministry; credentialed and qualified or not. After all, not very much challenge there in many a denominational context. But still, that's not all.
What of the derogatory and demeaning perceptions/perspectives and propagandizing of black and brown men AND women AND children or of folk who fail to reach the socioeconomic status. The stuff that has desensitized us to the point that all are not moved by the wailing, gut-wrenching tone of grieving mothers, grandmothers, fathers, grandfathers and countless communities in turmoil. What about the still separate and unequal living conditions, food deserts, lack of proper educational funding, healthcare coverage and the pipeline to prison industrial complex systemic evils? What of a society that expresses more care about the well-being of animals than its sun-kissed citizens? Who has believed the lie that the church should not engage awareness of and call to accountability of the systems and institutions that are oppressive? What about Deborah, Isaiah and Amos and Jeremiah? And what about JESUS whose radical compassion, healing, acceptance and embracing of those considered unworthy or lesser squashed status quo and made folk mad enough to kill Him. Is it our lot to simply talk amongst ourselves or to not even mention it at all whilst we pray? Why does calling folk out and demanding justice have to mean I am playing the victim?
Why is it ok to devalue the contributions of a credentialed woman to her corporate, societal or ecclesiastical context then resort to disdainful name calling or practice? I am not really impressed with any of the presidential candidates but that fires me up! She went "full vagina?" Did he really tweet that?! So does that mean the males are going full penis? Stupid isn't it?
My point is that somebody, anybody, everybody ought to say something, do something about some of the things that are dividedly conquering us. Engaging the isms is not a mere distraction from the spiritual as some believe but we each have responsibility to move toward justice, renewal and equality in our own spheres of influence be it: church, work, political arena, community centers or coffee shops.
I do not have answers to all the ills. They are indeed complex. No quick fixes to any of it but are we bothered enough to change it? Are we bothered at all? "FULL VAGINA?" REALLY!!!!?????
There are some days when words and sayings just scroll around in my thoughts. Today is one of those days. I am spending some time meditating on the things that I have read and heard in the past 10 days and surveying my life and experiences as well.
Ecclesiastes 3, Jeremiah 29:11 ff, Proverbs 3, Psalm 37, Isaiah 40 or 61, 64:4-5, Matthew 1:22-23, Proverbs 24:27, 1 Corinthians 13, Isaiah 43:19; Luke 13:6-9; and some more from various devotionals, conversations, etc. are flooding my thoughts. What I have come to understand is that the season that was is no longer. There has not been a physical change of address or circumstances as of this particular moment but change has come and I love it!
In light of that I wanted to share some thoughts. Here are some of the things I am pondering and have had to say to myself at times:
GOD sees and knows. GOD matters most and the first sentence must always be enough when others can't see, because many times they won't.
Sometimes things won't turn around until you turn away.
"The end always justify the means." IT DOES NOT! or "Stuff just happens", "It's how the game is played." That mindset often allows us to orchestrate, participate in or watch hurtful and harmful scenarios play out. Although not all pain can be avoided, there are ways to get things done, make mid-course corrections without adding insult to injury by having little or no empathy. If casualties are always following your arrival or departure and you just happen to always be near the artillery; IT'S TIME FOR SELF-EVALUATION. If you are always the victim or the casualty; IT'S TIME FOR SELF-EVALUATION.
Every consequence cannot be avoided but GOD can always be praised.
You cannot walk together with someone in two different directions.
Sometimes people talk real good and sometimes that is the scope of it.
The answer you seek is sometimes in the need to ask the question.
Hiding rarely produces anything more than the fruit of self-deception.
Life is a great teacher if you are willing to be a good student.
Maya Angelou was right. So is the Bible. You will know a tree by the fruit it bears.
Even if you don't tell the truth, truth will make a way to tell itself, ie. what is done in the dark will come to the light.
Freedom to feel does not make you a slave to emotions; just like denial doesn't make the emotions disappear.
People who refuse to feel often refuse to empathize. When they will not empathize with others they will not empathize with you.
Love really does cover a multitude of sin and stupidity. THANK YOU LORD FOR LOVING ME!!!
We are resilient, resourceful and determined. If we want to, we will find a way, or we will bombard heaven until GOD makes a way or tells us no or wait. When we don't want to we find excuses (Real reasons reveal themselves and sometimes we just can't; most times we really can we just would rather not).
I am borrowing the emphasis of this expression from Dr. Lance Watson: "Planting apples and expecting oranges is just crazy. You may not reap WHERE you sow but you will reap WHAT you sow."
Sometimes it's better to just be quiet. Words do not always have to be spoken.
What you don't know CAN hurt you; VERY DEEPLY. Often what you do know can help you avoid what you didn't.
SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED. There is no substitute for the hard work that must take place in the process. FREBREEZE won't sanitize a sewer. Romans 12:1-2 life-challenging;life-changing
I WILL ALWAYS FOREVER BE CONTINUOUSLY,SWELLINGLY AND OVERWHELMINGLY CONFIDENT THAT HE WHO HAS BEGUN A GOOD WORK IN YOU (AND ME) WILL COMPLETE IT UNTIL THE DAY OF CHRIST JESUS. PHILIPPIANS 1:6
GOD FINISHES WHAT GOD STARTS.
As I sat in my mother's hospital room encouraging her through this latest ordeal of health problems, I secretly wrestled with my own frustration and confusion. While I did not get all of the answers I sought, the following are the lessons I learned in the midst of those troubling moments in room 903.
LIFE IS ALWAYS TEACHING IF YOU WILL BE A STUDENT
WHAT USED TO BE A SOURCE OF HELP, CAUSE OF COMFORT IN ONE SEASON CAN BECOME A BARRIER TO HEALING IN ANOTHER
TREATING A SYMPTOM IS NOT A CURE
MASKING PAIN BRINGS DEEPER CONSEQUENCES THAN DEALING WITH THE CORE ISSUE OF THE PAIN
MASKING IS A TEMPORARY BANDAID ON A GAPING WOUND, SOONER OR LATER WHAT'S BENEATH THE SURFACE WILL NOT BE CONTAINED
HIDING A PROBLEM IS A PROBLEM
IF YOU FEEL LIKE SOMETHING IS WRONG THEN SOMETHING IS WRONG. PAIN AND DISCOMFORT ARE GREAT INDICATORS THAT SOMETHING IS HAPPENING
PREVENTION IS A GOOD THING
THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR TRUE REST
THERE ARE NO EASY ANSWERS TO COMPLEX PROBLEMS
LOVE MOVES MOUNTAINS
SOMETIMES THE REAL PROBLEM IS NOT REVEALED UNTIL THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES OF GREAT TESTING
WE ARE DESIGNED TO HEAL
LOOK BEYOND THE SYMPTOMS. PEOPLE WANT TO BE HEALED BUT OFTEN DON'T KNOW WHERE OR HOW TO BEGIN. THOSE WHO DON'T DESIRE WHOLENESS (DUE TO MANY COMPLEX ISSUES) ARE STILL HUMAN AND DESERVED TO BE TREATED WITH DIGNITY
THERE ARE TIMES WHEN WHAT USED TO BE ENOUGH MAY NEED TO BE INCREASED. THE GREATER THE DESIRED OUTCOME THE MORE "BALM" NEEDS TO BE APPLIED. (In my Karen Clark-Sheard voice, JESUS IS A BALM IN GILEAD)
WHAT WAS ONCE A PAIN RELIEVER IS NOW TOXIC AND THE SIDE AFFECTS HAVE BECOME DEBILITATING, CRIPPLING YOU AND THREATENING THE FUTURE OF YOUR VERY EXISTENCE AND YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE
YOU CANNOT ACCEPT EVERYTHING PRESCRIBED TO/FOR YOU WITHOUT A THOROUGH INVESTIGATION. CONSULT THE MANUFACTURER
GOD WILL SEND HELP. FAVOR STILL SHOWS UP IN DARK MOMENTS AND DARK PLACES
I pray that they bless you as much as they are blessing me.
We spend so much time encouraging one another in one direction that many times we do not stop to consider what if that is the wrong direction. What if I do not get what I want most. Who discusses this? Now let me put this disclaimer here because I do realize that GOD CAN, GOD WILL, GOD DOES..., GOD'S DELAY IS NOT GOD'S DENIAL, GOD IS FAITHFUL TO FULFILL EVERY PROMISE, GOD'S PROMISES ARE YEA AND AMEN....
What I am pondering is when our desires, goals, wishes, hopes are not evil nor sinful BUT they are simply NOT GOD'S plan nor design for our lives individually. What if God does not co-sign our vision or dream or request?
Examples: David desired with sincere motive to build a house for God to dwell in. It was a good idea; even the prophet thought so, but God said no (See 2 Samuel 7). God's plan for David and his future was actually far greater and more important for all eternity. God made David a house. The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Messiah, the Christ, is the forever dynasty of David's house. David is a house. That is better than building one; no matter how big and beautiful the temple was. NO ONE else has that particular testimony/covenant promise made directly to them by God but many are the beneficiaries.
Acts 16:6-10 finds the Apostle Paul forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia but re-directed by the Spirit to go to Macedonia. Certainly it was a good idea to preach the gospel in Asia, after all Paul was called to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. However, God wanted him elsewhere at that particular time preaching the gospel. The reward of his obedience is ginormous to say the least.
I know we may not want to admit it but just maybe you and I are so uncomfortable because God wants to do something greater through us; to create a greater legacy, have a more powerful and widespread impact than what we imagine possible.
I am writing in the enduring stage of the tension of these things, lest you believe I am talking at you. I am not. I am walking along with you on this path of what "feels" like ambiguity. Notice I placed that word feel in quotes. It is because feelings are very fickle. They are subject to change in a moment. Subject to: meaning under the control of or influence of something else. Feelings are under the control of whatever occurs or influences us at a particular time.
SOOOOOOOOOO.... how about we stop hanging our hopes on and being subject to things that may change at any given moment and decide to stand in the truth of and in the power of our God who is absolutely unchangeable, does not fail, cannot lie, who is and was and is to come and forever, forever will be. God whose love is unconditional, whose gaze is fixed on us and is concerned about every single thing that concerns us. God who speaks and all that was not moves to what is and after all that time still is. Our God whose IS-NESS makes us His business. Our one God whose being in three persons high-jacks our understanding but necessitates and validates our purpose for life on this planet, who lets us participate in something BIGGER than we can phathom. Why not trust THAT God? Who in the person of the Son became sin so that we aren't ruled by, nor condemned by it.
If I believe that God is and does all of the above, can't I believe that what is conceived in God's mind has to be better than what is conceived in mine? Especially, but not limited to the stuff apart from His desires/plan/directives? (We cannot even see what God has given us in its entirety)
So my questions is: What if you don't get what you want, planned, thought? What if it does not work according to your plan or time schedule? Don't just spout the quick christianese but sit a while. In the words of a best-sistah-girlfriend-family-member, "Let it marinate."
That is not something that we can fully answer in one sitting sometimes; especially in the tension of already and not yet. As I've wrestled, repented, surrendered (over and over, I can be a bit stubborn:-) I've come to know that the ambiguity of life reveals my weaknesses but showcases God's strength while revealing God's character and developing mine. My prayer for us, fellow-traveler is that today we will ask God and search God's word for what God wants, plans, calls us to be or do and even where God wants us to go now and next. That we will break from our self-inflicted-addiction to hurry and appearance of productivity and simply sit quietly and allow God to speak to our inner-selves where nobody can live but God.That we sit until God is finished with that portion of our unceasing conversation with the Eternal. Then upon acknowledging that because God's name is God and God's creativity,responsibility, reputation and resources FAR EXCEED ours just by virtue of God being God, we will decide to flow in God's providence and goodness toward the destiny and fruitfulness that is expressed in Ephesians 3:20, you know the exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think kind. GOD'S GOT THIS TOO. IT'S TIME TO GROW UP, BOW DOWN AND LET GOD HAVE IT AND YOU.
I so appreciate a conversation I had the other day with a dear friend of mine. Anyone who knows me intimately knows that I do not profess to have already attained it but I indeed press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling. I want to press until the day of pressing is over but I, like most people I know, would not be the first to stand in line to suffer.
Suffering, hardship, trials and tragedy are not on anyone's favorite thing to do list but the more I experience and the more I learn from the Word of God I see these things are just a part of life. Theoretically, we do not seem to have a problem with this; until the suffering hits our street, family or household. The questions and accusations against the character and nature of the Holy, Sovereign, Creator speak louder than Sunday morning and Wednesday (or whatever day your congregation holds Bible study or mid-week service :-).
This is not a judgment but an observation by a fellow traveler and one who has asked many questions and voiced many complaints to God and some trusted friends. Suffering, trials, etc. whether of our making or just "happenstance" can be traumatizing and debilitating so it is not my intent to make light of them nor to try to explain every uncomfortable plight of the human experience. I cannot and I will not.
I am not God. What I can offer is that for committed followers of Christ there is a goal that hardship seeks to achieve. Look at James chapter one:
James 1:2-8 NKJV
My brethren count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all liberally and without reproach and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
It would seem that the goal of some of the most dreaded and painful things, moments, suffering, lessons, experiences are that we will, simply put, GROW UP. It sounds a little harsh when I say it to myself but I cannot deny its truth. To be perfect and lacking nothing in the text does not suggest perfection. It does not reflect that once this particular instance of suffering is over that God is going to "reward" you with restoration of every single thing you have ever loss, with all riches and financial wealth or that you or no one you know will ever get cancer, encounter sickness or disaster. God does make exceeding great promises in the Word to God's people but God alone decides and disperses different types of "blessings" according to GOD. I am not going to promise you something I know nothing of and cannot give.
What the text does express is that the goal of trials is a Believer who is whole and complete; mature in faith and confident in God's ability and faithfulness. James suggests that enduring hardship and allowing patience to have its work in us will bring eternal reward and make us a kind of first-fruits of God's creatures. SO....what does that mean?
It means persevering through trouble, trials, suffering and hardship with confidence in the character and nature of our great and faithful God; in the authority and work of Christ and the keeping, trans-formative and dynamite power of the Holy Spirit; though we may have questions, not understand/agree or have to cry, we are and will be a picture of the best of all God created. Fully pleasing and consecrated to God by God for God.
The goal is that we grow up, maturing in God whether we receive the tangible or not. We are an offering and an example.
Remember WWJD? It stood for What Would Jesus Do? and served as a reminder to each person who wore the braclet, t-shirt or carried the key chain (or really to all who saw the logo) to stop and consider Christ when making all decisions and doing life daily. I thought in a similar manner when preparing for this blog moment. My question however, is What Does Jesus Do?
and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. HEBREWS 10:21-23
I believe the writter of Hebrews was helping to convey that:
There is the assurance of your confession. Jesus Christ's work is
the very foundation of your faith. Jesus is the High Priest who offered the sacrifice and is the sacrifice himself! Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us that He passed thru the heavens, He appeared in the presence of God on our behalf! He knows our weaknesses and sympathizes with us. We can come boldy to the throne of grace because of what He has done.
What Jesus did and does for all of us is the picture of what love is! That alone is fuel for the fire of your faith!
Hebrews 10:4 informs us that Christ's sacrifice surpasses the blood of bulls and goats. They were sacrificed on behalf of the sins of the people but since people sin perpetually, it could never be enough and there was always a weighty reminder of their sins.
Our joy is that Jesus, as our High Priest who came to offer sacrifice for us, became the sacrifice for us to put sin away once and for all. Destroy it's hold, the weight and power of it. Hebrews 9:26 (Hebrews7:27; 9:12,24-28; 10:1-2, 10, 12, 14; 13:12).
Jesus did that thang and is certainly still doing it. It was appointed for Him to die once but He got up and HE LIVES. The blood STILL WORKS! Brother Andre Crouch said it will never lose it's power.
Jesus Sacrificed His life so that we could live.
He keeps us before the Father in right standing. He keeps us in the beauty of God's presence without fear of wrath or condemnation, guilt or stain. Christ prays and pleads our case. The following texts tell how He intercedes on our behalf: Hebrews 6:19-20; Hebrews10:19-22; Luke 23:45; Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34.
Entygchano is the Greek word used in the verses meaning- to plead, intercede, make an appeal for someone. Jesus Christ did that for us when He died. He is doing it for us right now. That means Jesus does what He did when He died for you and for me! When we were enemies of God, while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8-11).... And He is still stepping in on our behalf nullifying the accusations and plans of the evil one, accuser, satan the father of lies.
This is a reminder to think on what Jesus did and what Jesus does. We were not meant to gain this information and live solitary lives of insignificance awaiting a later date. We are to gather together to encourage and build up one another by our very confession. Tell somebody else about it. They might hear, believe and respond to truth. Run and little further, work a little harder, bless someone else, hold on a lil while longer. IT'S GOOD NEWS!!!
It is a consoling thought that Christ is praying for us, even when we are negligent in our prayer life; that He is presenting to the Father those spiritual needs which were not present to our minds and which we often neglect to include in our prayers; and that He prays for our protection against the dangers of which we are not even conscious, and against the enemies which threaten us, though we do not notice it. He is praying that our faith may not cease, and that we may come out victoriously in the end.
Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology
The New King James Version. 1982 (Heb10:21–25). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
"Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart." Jeremiah 24:7
I am aware that God was speaking to His chosen people concerning judgment for their disobedience but I am stopped in my tracks by the beauty of God's love for His children; even after they've messed up.
The consequences were still evident but the hope of restoration was just as certain.
Many times we are apt to hold God hostage to our expectations and desires and when He does not comply we abandon (even though momentarily) God and or God's cause for what seems more profitable, popular, easier to deal with or manage. It might be for something that yields what we feel to be a faster or more practically valuable return. BIG MISTAKE or more blatantly put SIN. When we are displeased and disgruntled about God not fulfilling our expectations or we wrongfully perceive something else is better, we have a tendency to stray in our hearts. Isn't is wonderful to know that our God who is Strong, Mighty, Awesome in Power and Perfect in All His Ways is always seeking restoration and reconciles His people unto Himself.
Even when you haven't dotted every i or crossed every t, when you've had a temporary lapse of judgment or you have found that your heart has strayed away from the things of God, He is still there waiting with a word of restoration. For the remnant, it was for them to return to Him and the new covenant would be written on their hearts. It was to tell them that He wants them whole-heartedly no matter what. His very best, Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of that prophecy. My my my what a love! God loves with an everlasting love.
It is because of that fulfillment of the promise that you and I have Christ Jesus as Savior and King. Just like them, any issue or failure we have committed, God's love that is greater that. He stands to offer freely to us all the fullness of a healed and restored heart that He will indeed be our God and we will be His people. Again, what a beautiful love this is. With all that I am or am not, all that I've done or have not, Lord I wanna be Yours and I am in awestruck wonder that You are mine.
Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds. Philippians 4:6-7
Sometimes we do not know the power of a thing until we fully experience it. Peace is one of those things. In our society peace when encountering hardship or struggle is often viewed as passivity, laziness or apathy. If we are kingdom citizens who read the word and have been to Bible study more than three times, we should realize that kingdom principles often contradict societal norms. According to Christ we are not to be consumed by worry and preoccupied with trying to control tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34). We have to give up our lives in order to truly live and deny ourselves to follow Him (Luke 9:23-24) and there is no profit in a person gaining the whole world and losing their soul (Luke 9:25). Other hard teachings Jesus taught: love your enemies (Matthew 5:43-48), forgive others over and over; your forgiveness is attached to it (Matthew 18:21-35), do not judge lest you be judged (Matthew 7:1-6). Yes God does not do things the same way we do them in society. THANK YOU GOD!
So it is with peace. In the wake of turmoil, tragedy and trial we just want out! When it comes to sickness, death, financial lack, relationship challenges and overwhelming disappointment we just would RATHER NOT. But the truth is that the Word of God in written form nor the Living Word, our Christ ever tells us nor gives any indication that life will be completely trouble free during this life and dispensation before Christ returns. That is why we are given what we need to endure when we receive Christ as Savior. We have the Holy Spirit living in us and the word of God working for us. As we become intimately familiar with God through prayer, reading and meditating on His word we become more inclined to trust Him and take Him at His word. That is when peace stands guard over our mind.
Peace from the preparation of the gospel along the full armor is not optional, it is a must. Your shield is faith. Truth holds you up and in girding you faithfully. The helmet of salvation covers you and protects. Righteousness is boldly displayed across your chest. The sword of the Spirit is wielded against every thought (or situation) that tries to create a stronghold that exalts itself up against the knowledge of God. Trouble lurking? Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness surfacing and the sword is there slicing and dicing them up until they, once largely looming over the firmament of our thinking and existence, have become so small they are now pebbles under our feet. That comes through prayer and supplication, our making our requests known to God and believing Him to be Mighty Deliverer Faithful and True.
That is why I absolutely love the movie The Book of Eli. Denzel's character was a portrait of peace in the craziest of circumstances. He was not an instigator or provocative but always prepared for whatever came his way. Problems, evil and people would rise up against him. He would not become loud or belligerent but wielded the knife when necessary; disarming, disemboweling and destroying the opposition, making them as fools. You say yes but something bad happened that he could not change and it killed him. But he had an assignment that he knew that he must complete and he did not let go, he did not give up, he refused to die until his work was finished. Though critically wounded and the sacred book stolen the word was so hidden within his heart that he recited it word for word and thought for thought and then he layed down and died. However that was only after having given the next generation traveling companion a glimpse at compelling purpose and teaching her how to fight. And he did it all blind and homeless, because peace was his guard and his purpose and calling were his passion; both day and night.
Let peace keep guard traveler; just stay on the journey. Purpose calleth.
"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah to charge the people to call out to Him because He desires to answer. There is something about the heart of our God that delights Him to respond to the voice of His children. He's the one who actually started this call and response thing ;-)
That is one of the major differences of Christianity when compared to many other religions. Our God is near us and not afar off, aloof, a thought or series of lofty ideas to be obtained. He is very personal and draws near to those who seek Him whose hearts and spirits are broken and contrite. He sees need and steps into that need, that trial, that trouble in that moment with us, even when we caused it ourselves. His requirement of us today is the same. Receive what He is offering and follow His way and not our own.
If you want something different to happen. Call to Him. Forget the distractions, issues, habits, failures and foolishness and call to Him. Cry out with a loud voice or a faintest heart cry; as long as it is genuine God will respond.
He will answer. He has spoken it and therefore obligated Himself to respond to your sincerity.
He says that what He says will be great and mighty things, which translates as things that are inaccessible and unfathomable. When we call out to God He will tell us things we did not know. Secrets, mysteries of His gospel that change us for all eternity. I am calling Him, today and each one that follows. Who knows what problem you may solve or hurt that I may heal, not just for me, but even more for others when I hear the answer He gives. Speak Lord I am listening. Tell me something good.
"Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works but to evil.Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due; taxes to whom taxes are due,customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor." Romans 13:1-7
The climate is different. The political atmosphere is charged and there is a different kind of urgency this election. I am not here to tell you for whom you should vote. You vote your conscience, each of us must. Mine is simply to build a case for why each of us should vote.
I hope that you will keep reading.
Because we live in a democracy, no matter how dysfunctional, the way that we affect change is through the voting process and different expressions of civil disobedience. That's why Fannie Lou Hammer, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisom and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had such a powerful and positive impact, in my humble opinion, in empowering people to exact change. (Yes I know there were and are countless others, many nameless who have and continue to do the same but those are the ones I chose as examples. Feel free to name others :-)
Believers are dual citizens; of this country where we reside temporarily and also kingdom citizens until eternity forever. As citizens of the United States we have a responsibility to participate in the political process. While it is the general practice of some to not participate in the political process because they do not see it as important to God or of God, I believe this scripture is proof to the contrary. It indicates that God is involved in working through governments that have been given charge over the citizens they govern. God informs us through His word that good, bad or indifferent, those who are leading are going to be used for God's purposes in the earth; even it is for God to judge a people to turn them to Him or back to Him.
Christ Jesus "ministry mission statement" as it is called comes from
Isaiah 61:1-2 and Luke 4:18-19 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." As believers Christ mission is ours. We do this spiritually as we make disciples, teaching others about this Christ whom we love and His teachings. We do this as we embody His message and mandate and live what we teach and preach, sharing of our resources: time, talent and treasure. That shows up in practical ways that impact positive change in individuals, families, congregations and communities.
God has always been concerned with justice and the well-being of His people. Micah 6:8 says "He has shown you o man what is good and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?"
God in Isaiah 3:14-15 speaks to the leaders of the people: "The Lord will enter into judgment with the elders of His people and His princes: "For you have eaten up the vineyard; The plunder of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing My people and grinding the faces of the poor?Says the Lord GOD of hosts."
You may be saying at this point what does that have to do with voting or me?
In our country our votes and demonstrations are part of what helps justice run down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream (Amos 5:24, God said it first through the prophetic voice of Amos and later to the leaders of this nation through the prophetic voice of Dr. King). Because we are privy to the rights and privileges that come with living in this country, even the disenfranchised have a responsibility to act to bring about just practices and help ensure the well-being of its citizens. Our vote is our voice and there is a certain strength in our voices. History has shown us that voting and peaceful protest can move mountains when it touches the pocketbook and the power base.
Vote. It makes a difference. God is concerned about everything that concerns us; the spiritual and practical. He uses this process to bring about His purposes. Participate and rock the vote.