Category Archives: Call Encounter Notes

Weathering the WEATHER

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It seems that everybody’s talking about our inclement weather. Lately and more vociferously than usual, folks are saying the weather is bad, severe, extreme, foul, harsh, stormy, rainy, windy, squally—any or all of the above adjectives apply, depending upon the location.   How’s the weather there where you are? Is it trending similarly – – -not calm/not typical/ not peaceful?

Front-page newspaper articles headline, picture and feature devastating weather events: multiple tornados in the same area, destructive twisters, incapacitating flash floods, extensive storm damage, and state emergency death tolls. This catastrophic devastation caused the destruction and loss of human lives and limbs and the obliteration of landscape and property.

However, the unpredictability of the weather is predictable. Scripture tells us that there will be earthquakes in various places. It refers to fire and hail, snow and clouds and stormy winds. Yet our present unease stems from the disturbing fact that previously predictable weather occurrences now occur unpredictably.

Consider Psalm 29:3-9

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters:

the God of glory thundereth:

the Lord is upon many waters.

The voice of the Lord is powerful;

the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars;

Yea, the voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

He maketh them also to skip like a calf;

Lebanon and Sirion like a wild ox.

The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire.

The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness;

the voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.

the voice of the Lord maketh the hinds/deer to calve,

and discovereth the forests:

and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.

As we meditate on this passage, we understand that God controls the vagaries/quirks of the weather. We acknowledge what seems capricious and beyond our understanding is actually the structured iteration of Almighty God’s volition and power.   His ways are past our finding out. What we can know from this passage is that God is in control of the weather. He speaks from a place of authority, above the waters. Using only the powerful thunder of his majestic voice, God breaks huge trees into pieces and makes them skip like calves; he makes the deer give premature birth; he shakes the wilderness, making it tremble, and strips bare the forests; he strikes with flames of fire/streaks of lightning. In essence, the voice of the Lord exercises God’s dominion over the same nature that he spoke into existence when he created the world. No wonder this psalm has been called, “The Song of the Thunderstorm!”

Thus lessoned, what is to be the believer’s response to earth-shaking weather?   Should it be terror and impassioned supplication for personal safety? Should it be frantic panic? Should it be stoic resignation to disaster? No. No. No. The last line of this passage instructs us. As God speaks in power through the weather, we must speak also; however, we must speak of his glory. In a word, we must worship our God.

The second verse of this psalm instructs us:

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name

worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

Worship God for his sufficiency in himself: the eleven verses of this short psalm mention his name – – only – – eighteen times.

Worship God for his dominion over nature.

Worship God for his everlasting position as supreme governor of the world. He sat as King of the flood/deluge, and he sits enthroned as king forever.

Worship God for his grace: the psalm ends with a promise, assuring his believers that God will give them strength and bless them with peace!

Standing on this promise as the storms rage, we can say with hymn writer Charles A. Tindley:

 When the storms of life are raging

Stand by me. [repeat]

When the world is tossing me

Like a ship upon the sea

Thou who ruleth wind and water

Stand by me.

We can sing with Fanny Crosby that we are “safe in the arms of Jesus.”

We can shout with Lucy Campbell that there’s:

Something within me that holdeth the reins

Something within me that banishes pain

Something within me I cannot explain

All that I know – –

There is something within.

Finally, believers can ride through stormy weather on the strength of the promise of God, himself:

You are mine.
when you pass through the waters, i will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
nor shall the flame scorch you. for I am the lord your God

Praise the Lord! No matter what the weather is, was or is predicted to be – -May you journey in good weather!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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?

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

What/who is set to debar your getting there?

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

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

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

What/ Who is your ultimate and sovereign ally?

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

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

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

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

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

What animates your mind?

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

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

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

What makes you unique?  Celebrate it!

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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 !

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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!

 

 

 

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

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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

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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 !

 

 

 

On RECOGNIZING L O V E

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To begin with,  Webster’s Dictionary  tells us that love is “a deep, tender feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person,”  that it is  “a feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair.”

The modern perspective of love conjures up ,  first of all,  romantic love:  that emotional involvement  of thoughts and feelings between two individuals. In any discussion of this topic,   we must first establish  that love  involves a  a two-way relationship between two people:  a  lov—er – –  that one who chooses of her own volition to offer,  to give this powerful emotion – – and a lov – -ee  – –  the  object of that love,   that one who chooses [or not ]  to accept/to receive  same emotion.   To initiate this action, the  lover chances vulnerability.   She “puts herself out there.”

To offer the love or not, this is the risk the lov–er takes.  To receive the offering of love, or not,  this is the risk the lov–ee takes.  Such risky business is not for the faint of heart!  Still,  February is a time when  one’s “fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love” as Tennyson tells us in “Locksley Hall.”

We must recognize two perspectives on this kind of risky relationship,  one is romantic, the other spiritual.   The spiritual  perspective shall be first.   Expounding on God as the perfect Lov – -er  is where we must begin, for he initiated the  personally designed love relationship that each of us as believers  experiences with him.   Now we have this love union because we chose to receive and return God’s love.  We can know that our declaring we love God makes happy both the lov — er and  the lov – -ee.

A good place to examine such a kind of spiritual relationship  is Psalm 63,  where David expresses his desire and acceptance of, confidence in and gratitude for God’s presence, his provision and his protection.  Here is a man truly in a love relationship  with God.  David not only receives God’s love, but he revels confidently in it.  He makes his boast in it;  he experiences and expects  it continually.  Even though David is presently in a  geographically hard place,   the Wilderness of Judah,  he reminds himself of the faithfulness of his Lover to attend to his well-being. Consider the tone of this passage:

O God, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is.

So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.

So will I bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.

My whole being shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips

When I remember You upon my bed and meditate on You in the night watches.

For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice.

My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me.

We can also find information in the Bible to help us recognize romantic love as well.

Think of   the “Love Chapter,”   1 Corinthians 13,  where we find a descriptive definition of love.  Consider this translation from the Amplified Bible:

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way,  for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]

Also consider a  succinct description of  the  same passage and attribute from MESSAGE Bible:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

8-Love never dies.

FRIEND,  WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are  you offering/giving these attributes, so far as you are able?

Is the person choosing to receive[or not receive] so far as that person is able?

Is someone offering them to you, as far as s/he is able?

Are you choosing to receive [or not receive]  as far as you are able?

Do you know what you’re looking at?

Both  spiritually and romantically?

Do you  recognize who loves you?

Both  spiritually and romantically?

Whose love are you receiving?

Are you recognizing love in your own life?

Both  spiritually and romantically?

May   L –O-V-E   be more obvious this week on your journey!

On Keeping . . . S I L E N C E . . .

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BLACK HISTORY MONTH is still eminently relevant to the collective psyche of the citizens of this country, the United States of America.  During this season of remembrance, we acknowledge the excruciation of  the  struggles  and imbibe the elixir of the successes of our African American ancestors.   One salient and continual purpose of Black History month is to teach/ remind ourselves of the “coping strength” of our elders:  How they “got over”  their physical and mental impediments  – – slavery, discrimination, hardships, beatings, and other well-documented atrocities.  I submit that prayer was their first line of defense – – the through line to victory from the dark,  brutal  days of Sojourner Truth to the hard-won enlightenment of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We can benefit greatly from focusing on pray-ING, the “coping strength”  that our elders relied upon to sustain them in their noble efforts.  I submit, further, that often  SILENCE is our best usher into prayer.  Maintaining silence in the face of adversity can be  the ultimate demonstration/ utilization of meekness  – – strength under pressure.  In fact, earnest prayer often comes from  pressure, patience and perseverance.  Force yourself to keep silence despite a rash desire to rant; instead let patience have her perfect work in you,  for patience is the very  foundation for your cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit.  This is faith under pressure.  Keep silence until you hear the instructions of the Lord.  The psalmist speaks about this:

I said to myself, I’m going to quit complaining! I’ll keep quiet, especially when the ungodly are around me.   But as I stood there silently the turmoil within me grew to the bursting point. The more I mused, the hotter the fires inside.  Then at last I spoke with God.   Psalm 39:1-3 

Follow the example of the psalmist and other scriptural recommendations:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven

. . . A time to keep silence,  and  a time to speak           Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b  

But the Lord is in His holy temple:

Let all the earth keep silence before him.    Habakkuk 2:20

Out of fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks — Luke 6:45

At this point, the psalmist speaks from the deeply private issue of his heart : his journey through this world  –  his time of existence on earth – –

 Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more.  My life is no longer than my hand! My whole lifetime is but a moment to you. Proud man!  Frail as breath!  A shadow!  And all his busy rushing ends in nothing. He heaps up riches for someone else to spend.   And so, Lord, my only hope is in you.   Save me from being overpowered by my sins, for even fools will mock me then.   Lord, I am speechless before you.  I will not open my mouth to speak one word of complaint, for my punishment is from you.  Psalm 39 vv. 4-13 , NLT

The psalmist ends his prayer feeling comfortably confident that his only hope is in God whose control he can securely trust.

Follow, again, the psalmist’s example:   Feel the prompting that will come  from restraining your  impulsivity while allowing the Holy Spirit to “word your mouth.” Acts 2:4 tells us that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, then He will give us utterance.  In other words, your perseverance in silence will lead you to pray insightfully   to our Heavenly Father  about whatever matter is tugging at your heart.  I urge you to follow the spirit of your encounter with God and pray aloud.

This sincere meditation and prayer came forth out of the fullness of the psalmist’s heart.   What  will  come  from  yours ?

MAY YOU GO FORTH ON YOUR JOURNEY TODAY

IN THE C O P I N G    S T R E N G T H 

OF THIS ENCOUNTER !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A TIME FOR L O V E

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Valentine’s Day! Yes, love is in the air, on the web, definitely in the stores. At this time our cultural awareness impels most of us – – believers and non-believers alike– to embrace the same affinity – -LOVE. By consensus, no one expresses the expansiveness of one person’s love for another human being better than Mrs. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Here her rhetorical question and answer:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Anyone who is the object of such well-spoken affection –whoever he/she may be—must be over-flabbergasted to receive it. Wouldn’t you be? And what about the author? From what well of expressive largess does such deep emotion spring? Phenomenal!

Lest we get too absorbed in Elizabeth Browning’s titillating expression of her love for her beloved husband, Robert Browning – –
and
Lest we overspend our time , examining our own personal coterie of special friends searching for THE one person upon whom we will dotingly lavish such exalted expression – –

Before we become so engrossed – -this seems to me to be a good time to recall the admonition of Apostle Paul: Don’t be conformed to the world. He reminds us that believers are to think differently. [Romans 12:1-2] Therefore, let us renew our minds about the topic of love. Ever wonder how many times the word LOVE appears in the Bible? Or what Jesus had to say about love? To begin with, notice that he explains how God, himself, set the example for demonstrating love, for Jesus asserts in John 3:16 that God “S O” loved the world that he gave. Here, love motivates God, the lover of mankind, to give his best gift to the loved ones. This
“S O” kind of love: That is deeply profound, too much love for most of us. And it is indiscriminate! Don’t we find it acceptably easier to love some persons more than others? What about those we “feed with a long-handled spoon” because hey have hurt us? And how about those whom we just lump together as “people”? Is he saying – – same degree of love motivation for all persons? What about the “less fortunate”? Isn’t targeted financial beneficence enough for “these people”? Won’t giving of our finances – -especially if we add portions of our time and talents – -to charitable organizations satisfy the world’s standards? Maybe.

According to James, however, believers must fulfill the requirements of the “royal law.” He insists:

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. [James 2: 8-9]

Believers must satisfy this royal law by loving SO much in the spirit of the love demonstrated by God as referred to above. We must exhibit the “S O ” kind of love to our neighbor. WHO, THEN, IS OUR NEIGHBOR? A neighbor is anyone we discover or who comes into our path and who can benefit from our personal attention and/or largess.

Yes, love is a basic Christian tenet. Jesus even summarizes the entire Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17] as LOVE: love God and love your neighbor. [Matthew 22:36-38] A neighbor is anyone we can love by giving, by sharing.

Jesus teaches this essence in his parable of the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:25-27], where a traveler interrupts his journey to attend to the needs of a severely beaten person whom he encounters. He gives compassion, time, resources and finance to someone in need whom he does not know. In a few words, he loves. Isn’t Jesus teaching here again, that believers must extend/give their love indiscriminately to our neighbors? And that we must love each neighbor with the same kind of love we have for ourselves?

Further, Jesus teaches us about this kind of neighborly sharing in his parable about a feast in which the host sends messengers out into the “neighborhood” to convince unlikely attendees to come enjoy his hospitality. The host prepares to share with others by: sending out save the date notices, making preparations, then when all things were ready, issuing the formal invitation. Consider this host’s determination to share as recorded in Luke 14:22-24:

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

But even more instructive for me concerning sharing is Jesus’ parable about the Rich man and the beggar, Lazarus.

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot , nor can anyone cross over from to us. 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Lazarus was in the rich man’s neighborhood. But the rich man ignored Lazarus. Forget about his inviting Lazarus to dine sufficiently with him , this rich man didn’t even offer Lazarus the CRUMBS from his sumptuous table. Certainly the rich man had enough and to spare. He seems more bloated with insensitivity than with food.

What about us ? Are we equally as insensitive of those in our neighborhood who would be satisfied with the crumbs from OUR tables? I will admit that giving the “S O” kind of love requires the spiritual fortitude to which some of us believers still aspire. However, we can make the intermediate step that will lead us toward that hallowed state. For now, let’s just focus on the table in the parable: the overflow of crumbs. What about the table God has set before each of us? Are there crumbs that a neighbor would gratefully receive? Do we have enough to share? If we have anything at all – –money, time, talent, influence, whatever- – then we have enough to share! We do!

Now the question is for me and for you: What are you doing with YOUR crumbs?

Finally, let’s pray now that the Holy Spirit will guide us to those in our neighborhood to whom we can demonstrate our love by sharing.

My friend, on your journey this week, may you dare to love your neighbor by sharing , even if only the crumbs!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

MANIFESTO ON AGING

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AGING IS PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE – See 2 Corinthians 4:16, 18

. . . though my outward wo/man perishes, YET
my inward wo/man is renewed day by day . .

. . . I look not at things which are seen [evidences of aging]
but at things which are not seen [evidences of spiritual maturity]
for the things which are seen are temporal
but the things which are not seen [love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control]                                  these are eternal.

REDUX: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
REMIX: he has made every thing beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11

I’m struttin’ into seventy-five! June can’t come soon enough for me. I am fearfully and wonderFULLy made. [Psalm 139:14] Therefore, I am ready, willing, and anxious in this season of my life. This is my beautiful time to plant, heal, build up, laugh, dance, embrace, speak, and love. I speed toward a place whose horizon grows brighter as I move. Yes, this is the day/season/age the Lord has made for me, and I will be glad in it! [Psalm 118:24] I anticipate Joie de vivre in spades as the Holy Spirit moves me!

I find a kindred spirit with Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses: “All experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades for ever and ever as I move.” And with Caleb, who at eighty years old told Joshua, “Give me this mountain!” as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. [Joshua 14:12] I understand the pulsation of Ulysses’ “heroic heart” when he asserts that he has been “made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

You see, I have received from my God new and improved replacement parts. Just as he promises in Isaiah 61:3, he has given me “beauty for ashes.” Here’s the Trade Inventory:

TRADE-IN                                                                   REPLACEMENT
A – aging                                                                    A – Annual birthday renewals

S – senior sainthood                                               S – sassy elegance

H – halting steps                                                     H – H E A L T H

E – eyesight problems                                            E – excellent insight

S – senility                                                                S – Sabbath Rest – – Daily!

Yes, my friend, my faith has found a RESTing place – and I am Receiving Eternal Sanctification Today—Resting in Him! I sincerely trust God’s promise in Isaiah 46:3-4 for my twilight years.

Hearken to me O Daughter,

Who is bourne by me from the belly
Who is carried by me from your mother’s womb;

. . . and even to your old age I am He.
And even to white hairs will I carry you;

I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry and will deliver you.

So you see, my friend, I’m struttin’ toward seventy-five. Thank you, Lord! Hallelujah!

God rest you on your journey!