Monthly Archives: March 2014

quiz-good-well

QUICKIE QUIZ: POP-CHECK ON YOUR LIFE

 

Use this simple sentence to evaluate your progress—or lack of it—at this point in your journey:   There but for the grace of God go I.

You will get a different perspective when you focus on each word.

Let me explain further.  This an easy way to assess both your progress in and your attitudes about your movement on this inescapable continuum from birth to death.  Yes, we euphemistically call this process “traveling through life.”

Emphasize one word at a time and see where each emphasis leads you.  Here we go!

THERE  but for the grace of God go I.  [DESTINATION]

Where will you be when this life is ended?

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

There  BUT for the grace of God go I.  [OPPOSITION]

What/who is set to debar your getting there?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

There but FOR  the grace of God go I.  [POSITIVITY]

How will practicing faith, obedience and resilience enhance your travel?

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

There but for THE grace of God go I.  [SUPREMACY]

What/ Who is your ultimate and sovereign ally?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

There but for the GRACE of God go I.  [UNMERITED FAVOR]

Why do good results happen for you that you have not earned?

___________________________________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________________________________

There but for the grace OF  God go I.  [SOURCE]

What do you know about what/who is helping you?

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

There but for the grace of  GOD  go  I.  [ SPIRITUALITY]

What animates your mind?

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

There but for the grace of God  GO  I.  [MOVEMENT]

How are you moving?  forward?  back?   side /side?

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

There but for the grace of God go  I.  [INDIVIDUALITY]

What makes you unique?  Celebrate it!

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My prayer in the spirit of 3 John 2 is that this pop-check invigorates your encounter and journey with Jesus!

 

 

 

Marching through M A R C H !

women-of-courage1-320x360

How’s your movement from birth to death on this continuum that we  call Life?   Randomly floating on the reins of my mind are lines 64-5 from William Wordsworth’s ODE:  Intimations of Immortality – –  “trailing clouds of glory do we come from God who is our home.”  Actually,  we are moving from life to life – -that is , from fully natural living back to fully eternal living.

So, how are you marching  through  MARCH?  Are you  haltingly  stepping backward?  Are you frustratedly  marking time? Are you stoically standing in place?  Are you  going forward in baby steps?  in strides?   in leaps and bounds?

How are you matriculating through this Woman’s History Month?  How are YOU marching through March?

Annually, we in the United States designate March  as a time for a month-long focus on the stellar achievements of women.  The national theme for Women’s History Month 2014  is

“Celebrating Women of Courage, Character and Commitment.”  This is how Haley Cutler encourages us to think about the  theme:

YOU KNOW A WOMAN OF COMMITMENT.   She is a single mother who vows to give her children the best opportunities by working more than full time, showing up for school events and still working toward advancing her education.

YOU KNOW A WOMAN OF CHARACTER.  She is the mentor who listens to, coaches and opens doors for other women.  She models ethics and empowerment and elevates the voices of our next generation of leaders.

YOU KNOW A WOMAN OF COURAGE.  She is the woman who dares to stand up for what is right, to be an ally to others and to advocate for positive change in her workplace, her church, her school, her neighborhood, her club.  Women of courage, character and commitment have changed the course of history and they continue to shape our future.”

I call your attention,  here,  to such an exemplary woman  – – Mother Deborah, a  trailblazer in history.  Deborah is an outstanding  prophetess in the Bible whose activity pleased God.  She passed his intense scrutiny and was an honored model of virtue for her countrymen.  Chapter four of Judges tells us that she was a wife, mother and judge.  Reigning as the fourth judge of Israel,  she held court in Canaan under Deborah’s Palm where the people of Israel sought her wisdom in matters of justice.

One celebrated occurrence / demonstration of her courage, character and commitment involves the defeat of Jabin, king of Canaan, who had oppressed the people of Israel for twenty years.   Here is what happened.  Under the power of  her prophetic function, Deborah summoned Barak and repeated to him God’s detailed instructions:  In essence, take the field against Jabin’s army – -commanded by Sisera, the agent of the  king’s dreaded oppression – –  and God will give you the victory,  the king’s  nine hundred chariots of iron notwithstanding.

When Barak refused to go into battle unless Deborah went with  him, she agreed readily but speaking prophetically again, she told him that the Lord would use a woman’s hand [Jael’s] to take out Sisera.  Unfortunately, there would be no glory in this victory for Barak because of his reluctance to trust in God’s assurance that he would give him the battle.  In chapter five, Deborah composes one of the first songs in Hebrew literature as she and Barak celebrate their escapade that ushered in forty years of quiet existence for the land.

This episode clearly reveals the courage, character and commitment of Deborah.  She had the courage to stand for what was right- –  God’s word,  to be a confidence-builder, co-strategist  and  ally to Barak,  and to advocate/fight for positive political  change for her tyrannized countrymen.  It shows her character in that she unselfishly empowered Barak to get the job done for the good of the people.  It shows her commitment, for not only did Deborah get ready and go into battle right alongside the ten companies of tribal men, she also told Barak exactly when to charge.  In her astute assessment of the battle she urged Barak, “This very day God has given you victory over Sisera.  Isn’t God marching before you?”    [4:14]  Uniquely and saliently, this story  shows the God-given insight and confidence  that Deborah derived from her profoundly admirable relationship with God.

BIBLICAL TRAILBLAZER   – MOTHER DEBORAH 

NOW WHAT ABOUT YOU?  Can you reflect on women in your life who have demonstrated these same qualities?  How will you honor them?  As you ruminate, remember that imitation is a high form of commendation.  “Go, thou, and do likewise!”

Change the world through your courage, character and commitment.

In the spirit of Acts 28:27 and of 3 John 2, I pray that you will end your march through this month with an empowering encounter with Jesus, in whom we live and move and have our being.   Amen

MAINTAIN YOUR POWER- MARCHING CADENCE THROUGH MARCH, MY FRIEND!

 

 

 

An Adaption OF Psalm Ninety-One For a Friend Who Beat Cancer

rio-pink-cancer_2019562i

An Adaption of Psalm 91

FOR  A DEAR FRIEND

WHO THRIVED AFTER CANCER

As cancer attacked our friend, she  was already  Safely  Abiding in the Presence of God

She  is a Christian woman who dwells in the secret place of the Most High  and has the assurance that no matter what troubles beset her,  she
Shall abide , therefore, under the shadow of the Almighty.

SO WHEN CANCER STRUCK, HER BODY.
She SAID  of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
He is  My God, in Him I will trust.”

SHE TOLD HERSELF AND ANYONE ELSE WHO WOULD LISTEN:

Surely He shall deliver ME from the snare of this DREADED DISEASE,
from the snare of this perilous breast cancer

YES, HER CONFIDENCE WAS TESTED BUT SHE STAYED STRONG.

SHE TOLD HERSELF

He shall cover me with His feathers,
And under His wings I shall take refuge;
His truth shall be my shield and buckler.
  I  shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

7   Yes!  A thousand may fall at  my side,
Yes,  And ten thousand at MY right hand;
But this evil  shall not come near me.
Only with  MY eyes shall I look,
And see the reward / devastation  of this  wicked disease.

SHE PROCLAIMED HER FAITH IN GOD BY EXPLAINING THAT:

Because I have made the Lord my refuge,
Even the Most High, BECAUSE HE IS MY dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall ME,
Nor shall any plague come near MY dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over ME,
To keep ME in all MY ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear ME up,
Lest I dash MY foot against a stone.

SHE FELT THE POWER OF THESE WORDS OF PROMISE,

AND SHE GAINED STRENGTH FROM THEM FOR THE LONG MONTHS OF TREATMENT SESSIONS,  EVEN WHILE SHE WENT ALONE BEFORE HEADING TO WORK.  THIS WAS HER ATTITUDE, HER FEELING OF BEING UNCONQUERED BY THIS DISEASE
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because SHE has set HER love upon Me, therefore I will deliver HER;
I will set HER on high, because She has known My name.
15 S   She shall call upon Me, and I will answer HER;
I will be with HER IN THIS SICKNESS;
I will deliver HER and honor HER.
16 With long life I will satisfy HER,
And show HER My HEALING  salvation.”

SHE IS INDEED A SURVIVOR! ENJOY YOUR CELEBRATION!

ON . . . INTERCESSORY . . . P R A Y – – I N G

group_phot

GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS.

All believers have the same assurance from God  as does Jeremiah:  Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.  [Jeremiah 33:3]

Our Father always gives us more than we ask [Ephesians 3:20], so when we appropriate this scripture from the book of Jeremiah, we learn that not only will God answer us, but he will show us great and mighty things,  “fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand)”  Amplified  in other words,  “I’ll tell you marvelous and wonderful things that you could never figure out on your own.”  Message  To use the vernacular,  He will blow  our minds!

Therefore, we must get ready to receive.

PRAY BEFORE YOU PRAY.

Get yourself in an attitude to receive answers and insight.  This means ridding your mind of preconceived answers and being open to God’s response – – whatever it is and however he communicates it.  Psalm 19:14 is a good prayer to pray be fore you pray:  Let the words  of  my mouth and the meditation of my heart  be acceptable in thy sight.  O Lord,   my  strength and my redeemer.  You want to pray the scripture, that is,    you  fashion your prayers so that you pray God’s Word back to him .  For he promises that  HIS  Word – – not  yours – – will accomplish what he sends it to do and not return to him void.  [Isaiah 55:11]

INTERCEDE FOR YOUR SELF,  F I R S T !

Search me O God,  and know my heart;

Try me, and know my thoughts;

And see if there be any wicked way in me,

And lead me in the way everlasting.  [Psalms 139:23-24]

NOW,  INTERCEDE FOR THE NEEDS OF OTHERS – – FAMILY MEMBERS, FRIENDS, ENEMIES – – AS THE HOLY SPIRIT PROMPTS YOU.

May the following list of needs and appropriate scriptural suggestions be useful to your intercession as you incorporate the scripture as a part of your prayer.  Also, insert, appropriately, the name of the person(s) for whom you are praying.

Here you go for starters!

SALVATION  – JOHN 3:16

For God so loved [ insert the person’s name:  your s or someone else’s ]  that he gave his only begotten son that  [not whosoever will, but the person’s name] may have everlasting life.

MERCY    –     PSALMS 119:38

Lord, I entreat your favor with my whole heart, be merciful to [name] according to your word.

FAITH     –     1 JOHN 5:14

And this is the confidence that  [name has] in Him, that, if [name] asks any thing according to His will, he hears.

SICKNESS     –     MATTHEW  8:17

He himself took [name] infirmities and bore [name] sickness.

LONELINESS     –     HEBREWS 13:5

I will never leave [name] nor forsake you.

AFRAID     –     PSALMS 56:3

When [name is] afraid, [name] will trust in Thee.

HUMILITY     –     MICAH 6:8

And what does the Lord require of  [name], but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with  [your] God?

LOVE     –     JOHN 15:9

(Jesus) As the Father loved me, I also have loved [name ]; abide in my love.

PRAISE     –    PSALMS 34:1

[NAME ] will bless the Lord at all times.  His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

END YOUR  SEASON OF INTERCESSORY PRAYER WITH THANKSGIVING!

PHILIPPIANS 4:6

With thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God.

PRAY YOUR WAY THROUGH THE DAY!

WATCH FOR THE GREAT AND WONDERFUL THINGS

OUR FATHER WILL SHOW YOU!

 

THE AUDACIOUS WOMAN

Woman-RoaringDo you know who Helen Reddy is?  She and Ray Burton composed the song that became the anthem of  the  Women’s Liberation Movement [Women’s Lib] in the 1970s.  The song expresses the collective feelings and attitudes of women who were experiencing an emergence of female empowerment.  It was a time of social consciousness about important “women’s issues, ” such as whether to continue to be a traditional “stay-at-home mom” or work outside the home, to be satisfied with the usual nurturing occupations that  women were expected to practice  or to  enter male- dominated professions that would cause them to challenge and seek to pierce the invisible but real “glass ceiling.” Women burned bras in public gatherings as a symbol of  female liberation from the restrictions of their contemporary society, often singing  Helen Reddy’s  song.  Here are the lyrics:

I am woman, hear me roar

In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can face anything
I am strong
(Strong)
I am invincible
(Invincible)
I am woman

As you embrace this audacious spirit, consider this acronym:

{W }    –     WONDER-FULL

Are you full of wonders,  doing things that  amaze others and yourself

{ O   }  –      ONE-of-a- kind,  OUTSTANDING

By the way,  what do you know about yourself?

What distinguishes you from every other woman on this planet?  Is there anybody

else  exactly like you?  Shouldn’t be! Not  even your biological child or identical twin!

{  M }     –    MAJESTIC

Do you walk in a regality that calms troubled waters. Are problems more

manageable just because you are in charge?

{   A  }   –     ANGELIIC

Do you  have a close and  direct connection to God so that you operate in either the

heavenly/spiritual or the nether /earthly world as He directs

{ N  }   –     NATURAL, NATURE MADE

Do you treat yourself as a  a divine creation , as made by divine hands with natural /

earthly materials.

Reminds  you of Women’s History Month, you say?  Good deduction.  How apropos!

Let’s go all the way back to the beginning of history.

Let’s go all the way back to the “Let there be’s” in the first chapter of Genesis where we learn that God created light and sky and water and sea and moon and stars and day and  night and  fish and birds and animals.

God spoke many things into existence in the verses of Genesis 1:

2 – LET THERE BE LIGHT

6   – let there be a firmament/sky

9   –  Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together in one place  [SEAS]  and let dry

land appear

14  –  Let there be lights in the firmament  [sun and moon]

20  –  Let waters bring forth every abundantly moving creatures  [fish, birds ]

24  –  Let earth bring forth every living creature after his kind  [animals]

26   –  Let us make man after our image

29  –  God even talks/speaks to the man after  he has made him,  giving him dominion over his entire creation

Yes!  God begins and ends his creative activity  in chapter 1 by speaking and then he rests.

BUT  notice  in in chapter 2,  God  creates by doing .  First we learn in verse 8 that he plants a garden  eastward in Eden, rather than speaking   it into existence.   When he sees man’s  solitary condition ,  he observes in verse 18 that it is NOT good – – everything else has been “good”  and “very good” – –  that  man should be alone, he acts.  In verses 21-22,   God performs the  first recorded surgery in the history of the world by making a woman from Adam’s rib.  Note that God takes special care in making this woman whom Adam will name Eve.  She is indeed fearfully and wonderfully made [Psalms 139:14]  Here is a striking comparison:   At the beginning of history, God FORMED  Eve and she became the most notably renowned woman in the Old Testament, the mother of natural mankind.   Eons later, the angel announced that God CHOSE Mary and she became the most notably renowned woman in the New Testament,  the true mother of spiritual mankind.

I am proud to be in the lineage of these two women.

Therefore, I make this declaration audaciously and in the spirited fervor of Helen Reddy’s sentiments:

HEAR KLARA SHANNON HADLEY ROAR!

Increasingly, I watch and celebrate as more of my beloved friends and “chosen” family members march triumphantly into eternal happiness.

 And increasingly, I commiserate with a few loved ones who limp – – either in torturously agonizing pain or in medically induced insensateness- – – across the final goal line.

How ever way my own last footfall will be, I say, Even so, come Lord Jesus. [Revelation 22:20]

THEREFORE, BE IT WIDELY KNOWN by all in this universe who are under the sound and influence of my voice:

My hope is firmly and unalterably founded, grounded, established, constructed and built in/on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

Apostle Paul’s confident assertion is mine also: For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.

[Philippians 1:21]

I will never die while Jesus lives

N O W

What about you?  What is your declaration about your uniqueness?

Are you a WOMAN  –  wonder-full, outstanding, majestic, angelic, natural?   Are you audacious?  Let the world hear your ROAR!

GO forth now, WOMAN!

ROAR THROUGH YOUR JOURNEY THIS WEEK!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLENDED FOCI for F E B R U A R Y

naamloos2k

Blending the focus of the Month of Love with the focus of the Month  of  Black History, what do you get?  You get another question: What is there about your  deep ancestry , your present circumstances,  your future expectations that you love? For all of us who are believers,  love is the key to our time and experience – – past,  present and future.  God’s love for us is the key  – – for his giving his only son as ransom for us; for his only Son,  Jesus,  enduring crucifixion for us;  for the Holy Spirit abiding with us, reminding us, showing us how to appropriate the unconditional love  of our Heavenly Father.  We, believers, can say in the words of the familiar hymn:

Love lifted me!  love lifted me!

When nothing else could help,

LOVE LIFTED ME!

Sharpening  this blended focus, we can think of our collective ancestry past – – the fortitude of the elders during the searing tumult they dealt with as they experienced the  middle passage, slavery, Jim Crow , the civil rights era, desegregation.  In deference,  we must pause to offer a PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING  for what God brought us through as the Black Race.  Let us pause now for a sanctified moment and offer a prayer for covering for you as you navigate these treacherous waters that we call life interactions:

As you  traverse the worlds within your sphere of existence:

At home , in personal relationships with family and friends

At your place of worship, your sacred space

At your place of employment, however you find yourself in the professional arena whatever/whoever occupies that space in your life right now

Go in the spirit of  Job 23:10  – When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

And of Romans 8:28  –  All things work together for  good to them that love God,

to them who are the called according to his purpose.  This is our prayer.

Looking again, what can we see through this blended focus about our present, collective status as “African Americans”?  We see a race problem.  We see insightfully that our present existence in this country is an  amalgamation,  a “mixed bag.”  That is,  we , self-identified black folks who now call ourselves  African Americans,  are in the process of combining with other “Place-name  Americans”   into a unified or INTEGRATED whole.   The coalescing has begun with such other  groupings as Native American,  Hispanic and European.  Let the process accelerate  until  every citizen of this country takes pride in the same place of origin, this sacred soil of these united states.  ONE nation,  indivisible,  under GOD!  The challenge for us in our time is to enhance this more comprehensive  vision of brotherhood.  In other words,  all the peoples who live in this “land of the free” must  come together, cohering,  as “United States-ans.”   After all, we are the country of UNITED STATES on the continent of North America.   In fact ,  there exists a geographical Central America and a geographical South America.  There are even other sections of North America.  [e.g., Canada]  We, who reside in the United States, are not the only Americans.  We are the United States OF  [the continent of ]   America. Our challenge in this present era is to assert this corrective fact.   It is our herculean task to change the descriptive self-identification of citizens of this country to the true description  of  its legal residents:  United Statesans .  To be sure, we must pray for divine guidance and assistance  in order for this generation to achieve such a “sea-change” of our national self –identity,  yet with God all things are possible.  [Mark 10:27]

Yes, currently,  we do have a “race problem.”  It will be fully dissolved in the future when we achieve the seamlessness of  complete  integration.  It will be a  time that  Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr.  longed to see  when individuals  will be judged “by  the content of their character.”  It will be a time when persons will not be judged by their geographical origin but by all  the  intrinsic value that each person has  because we all exist on the this planet.  What’s love got to do with this kind of existence?  Our past?  Our present?  Our future?  The answer:  much, indeed!

LOVE WILL GIVE US STRENGTH FROM THE PAST.

LOVE WILL SUSTAIN US IN THE PRESENT.

LOVE WILL BE US HOPE FOR THE FUTURE,  FOR OUR TOMORROW.

God has put hope in each of us and has given us  the Word that supports our hope:  Listen:

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out  in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.   Romans 5:5

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart all ye that hope in the Lord.  Psalms  31:24

Hope thou in God.   Psalm 42:5, 11

Pray God’s  words back to him.   He loves that.  He says, in Isaiah 43:26,  put me in remembrance .  Do it right now.

Say to him – – You are my hope, O Lord God. Psalm 71:5

Say – –   I will hope continually and will praise you more and more.  Psalm 71:14

Say – –  You are my hiding place and my shield; but I hope in your word.  Psalm 119:114

This emphasis on hope brings us back to the last verse of the “Love Chapter”

[1 Corinthians13:13]  where hope is listed as one of the three abiding entities, faith and love are the other two.

Yes,  MY FRIEND,   my prayer for you today  is that you will rest in your hope.

I also  pray in the words of 1 Peter 3:15 that you will sanctify the Lord in your heart and be ready to give a defence/an explanation to everyone/anyone who asks you  a reason for the hope that is in you .   Answer  them in the lyrics of  James Rowe:

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,

Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise  no more.

But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,

From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves.

He will lift you by his love out of the angry waves.

He’s the Master of the sea;  billows His will obey.

He your Savior wants to be – – b e saved today.

Love lifted me!

Love lifted me!

When nothing else could help,

LOVE LIFTED ME!

A benediction from Romans 15:13 for your journey,

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing

that  you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit !