Detours of Faith

I usually start my day around 6:45 a.m. to get my 8 year old son ready for school. I drop him off around 7:20 in the morning. I return home, get dressed, and go to work at 8:30 a.m. Today, my terrific Thursday decided to take a detour from the norm. I couldn’t start my car! My son and I went back into the house. He usually eats breakfast at school. Since I would have to walk him there, he wouldn’t have enough time to go the cafeteria. I prepared some oatmeal and turkey sausage for him instead.fall

There’s a paved walking path in front of our apartment complex which passes by my son’s school. The start of the trail is in the opposite direction of the road we drive on to get to his school. As we began walking, my son asked, “Where are we going? I thought we were going to school?” I assured him that was exactly where we were headed. A few minutes later surrounded by trees, grass, and leaves he asked again if I was sure how to get there. I repeated, “We are going to your school.” In the warmer months, I run on this trail. I knew where it would lead us because I had been in a place where my son had not yet travailed. What’s funnier is the second time my son (about 1 foot shorter than me) doubted my sense of direction, I could already see the building close ahead of us.

In those moments of our walk, God reminded me of His character. He knows my ending before I begin (Isaiah 46:10). He is a guide lighting my path (Psalms 119:105). Regardless of how confused or lost I may feel, my steps are ordered when I focus on Him (Psalms 37:23). He is all knowing; even before I can fix myself to pray (Psalms 139:4). Nothing is beyond His comprehension (Psalms 147:5).

I’m the type of person who likes to make plans and know what’s going to happen before it happens. It’s hard to let others take control, but God can be trusted as a navigator. He already knows the who, what, when, where, why and how of every matter I encounter.control

My day started off rocky, but I was taken care of in the Master’s hands. On my walk back home, I called my auto insurance company for roadside assistance. Within 5 minutes of returning home someone had arrived to give me a jump. I drove to the same auto parts store where I purchased my last battery 2 years ago. The warranty for a free replacement expired after 36 months. Somehow, someway, when I offered the store associate my receipt from the previous purchase, he said he didn’t need it. (I assumed my info was in their computer system.) Even still, I should have gotten an $82 credit towards the purchase of a new battery. Instead, I wasn’t charged anything. He replaced my battery and sent me on my merry way.

God will prepare you for what’s ahead. Let Him take the lead. Don’t be discouraged by your surroundings and the scenery. He knows the right way and the right time.

Each One Teach One: My First Family Bible Study

mom and son artMy 8-year-old son’s father committed suicide in 2012. It’s hard to explain to a child why he isn’t going to see his daddy anymore. It’s even more challenging to talk about what happens after a person dies considering I’m a Christian and his father (and his family) is Jehovah’s Witness. Though his questions may be difficult to answer, I can’t allow him to be misguided.

He’s on punishment this week for previous misconduct. Usually I’d give him busy work and reading assignments since he can’t enjoy playing his Nintendo DS or watching television. Instead, I printed a Bible-in-a-year reading plan that he and I are going to begin. I’ve read the Bible before but not with complete understanding. The first time around, finishing was more of a concern than applying God’s word. This time I aim not only to gain understanding but to help build my son’s faith as we seek the answers to so many of his burning questions.

600-00934291I have a paperback New King James Version as well has a hardback New Living Translation Bible. Since we would be reading together, I opted to bring the English Standard Version of the Bible up on my computer so that we could view a larger print/font. I also opened an additional webpage for the dictionary to clarify words he didn’t yet know the meaning of.

At the start of our session I explained to him why we were going to read together. Whether its biology, geometry, or U.S. history; many of the things he will be taught in school will be instructed through the use of a text-book. An acronym I learned as a child growing up in church stated B.I.B.L.E. stand for basic instructions before leaving earth. This is the most important book he will ever read. Also, in the same manner you may discover something new after watching a movie you’ve already seen; you can never stop learning from the gems of the Bible. Lastly, it’s important to not only know the answer but to know why you know the answer. I want his faith in God to be biblically based, not just a form of tradition or blind faith-based on what Momma said.

On the first night we covered Genesis 1-3. When he began reading, I could tell he was excited. He read as if he were proclaiming the good news in front of a congregation. There was so much cheer and pride in his voice. We stopped in between the verses as they described the days of creation to review. After finishing chapter 1, I gave him a worksheet where he could match each day to what God did on that day. He worked through it the same way he has a tendency to rush through his homework for the sake of finishing and moving on to “play time”. I asked, “Why are you rushing? What do you plan on doing after this? You’re not going to watch television or play any of your games, so you might as well take your time and do this right.” He started to cry. I was angry but didn’t want to chastise him in a way that would cause him to relate Bible study to a chore or a punishment. It was neither. It was a privilege and likened to a treasure hunt.

After summarizing the gift and importance of reading the Bible with intention, things went smoothly. Chapter 2 describes the creation of man and chapter 3 narrates the fall of man. He has heard the story before from children’s church but not with the depth in which we read I presume. What did God tell Adam? What did Eve tell the serpent? How were they different? How did the serpent tempt Eve? Why didn’t Adam say anything to stop her? What was the first thing Adam and Eve did after they sinned? He offered his own opinions to my probing questions.adam & eve

We were having fun until it was time for him to complete the rest of his worksheets. There was a word search, a crossword puzzle, a maze, and key words to unscramble. It was after his bedtime of 9 o’clock when he groaned he couldn’t find everything on the word search. He had found them all except 2. I glanced at the sheet to make sure they were there and told him to keep trying. I walked away but heard him start to cry…again. The Bible lesson turned into a life lesson. There’s a saying that you don’t cry over spilled milk, or in other words, things that don’t matter. As upsetting as his response to the worksheet was, it reminded me that people (adults included) have a similar reaction to challenges. We give up too easily. We aren’t willing to work on something that takes more time than expected. We want answers (and much more) handed to us. Matthew 7:7 says to seek in order to find. Not cry and find. Not complain and find. Not procrastinate and find. Seek! He eventually found the last 2 words but not until I confirmed that they were there. I ignited his hope. If he truly believed the words weren’t there he would have given up; maybe even pretended as if he had found them just so he could finish.

I truly enjoyed our time together with God through His word. My foundation of faith began as a child and now my son’s will too.

The Value Equation

xboxI am a single mother of an 8 year old boy. Not too long ago he told me he wanted an Xbox for Christmas. I know a lot of kids his age, including some of his friends and cousins, have gaming consoles. I’m still not prepared to spend what I feel is a considerable amount of money on a child’s gift. My son has many positive attributes. He’s well mannered, funny, inquisitive, optimistic, and full of energy. Despite his many strengths, he’s also irresponsible. I have to remind him to wash his face, use lotion, clean his room, bring his jacket home from school, stop rushing through homework, clean the table after he’s eaten, etc. I suppose these are things all children have to be reminded of and shouldn’t be used to say he is undeserving of an Xbox. I’m just not sure. I guess my fear is that since he doesn’t take care of the little things, he won’t take care of something on a larger scale either. I’ve already heard a friend complain her son has lost some of his games. Thus far my answer isn’t necessarily no, just not right now.

tabletI don’t subscribe to Netflix nor do I watch DVDs for this purchase to benefit me. Another friend with children my son’s age offered an alternative which I may pursue. A tablet can be loaded with more educational games than what we’d likely purchase for an Xbox. It’s also less expensive and something I may be able to employ during the times he is on punishment from its use.

He already has a Nintendo DS. He loves that thing more so than any of his other toys. Children and adults share something in common. We treasure what’s important to us. It is that which we we are willing to invest in. My son may forget to bring his jacket home from school, but he wouldn’t dare leave his Nintendo DS behind. It holds more value to him.

anointJohn 12 records the story of Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointing Jesus’ feet with a pound of expensive, fragrant oil. Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 disciples, complained that the oil could have been sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor instead. A denarius was the equivalent of a working man’s daily wage, therefore, 300 denarii would represent about one year’s salary. Interestingly, once Judas found an opportune time to betray Jesus, he did so for 30 pieces of silver (representing the price of a slave according to Exodus 21:32). John MacArthur writes in his book Twelve Ordinary Men, “The contrast is staggering: Our Lord is anointed with overwhelming love by Mary and betrayed with overwhelming hate by Judas at the same time.”

A comparison between the actions of Mary and Judas cause me to question, what is it worth? My son wants an Xbox, so maybe I’ll ask him what he’s willing to do to work for it. Likewise, when I find myself unhappy in a situation, I need to ask myself what I’m willing to do to change things. Mary and Judas knew the truth about who Jesus was yet they had very different responses. This also reminds me to not be disappointed with how others treat me. People are capable of anything. The same mouth that blesses the Lord also curses people who were made in His image (James 3:9). It would be wise for me to take heed to the way I’m treated because it likely reflects how much that individual values me.count

Ramblings After Church

My eight year old son is a know-it-all (like his mother). He likes to be right and will confidently state his case despite his error(s). One day in the car he quizzed himself. He said things like, “I know what 100 + 100 is. I know how to spell Mississippi.” Somewhere in the sequence of proclaiming his brilliance, he told me he knew how to spell apple. He began, “A-P-P.” Giggles. He started again, “A-P-P.” More giggles. Pee-pee may sound funny to an eight year old but not so much to a more mature person.

frustrated As children often can, I find myself easily frustrated. It’s a challenge I have to work on since it is foolish to quickly be provoked to anger (Ecclesiastes 7:9). People like me can become frustrated when things don’t happen as expected. There is a difference between time and seasons. Time is continual but seasons are cyclical. We can’t maximize our time if we haven’t learned from seasons past. We serve a God who does not operate in time but in eternity. Our finite minds can’t always comprehend why God hasn’t done it yet. Maybe it is a job, a spouse, or peace of mind. Whatever it is, we shouldn’t resent the process.

I may be simplifying things too much, but I’ve always felt that if I want something Irejection don’t yet have there are likely two reasons. Either it’s not ready for me, or I’m not ready for it. I recently heard a sermon that encouraged me greatly as I am in a season of waiting. Pastor Marcus Johnson of Hungry Church said, “If the place you’re headed exceeds your maturity level God will delay you to prepare you.” This can be illustrated in the book of Exodus. Twelve spies were chosen to scout the land the Israelites were soon to inherit. Ten spoke in fear while two, Joshua and Caleb, brought back a favorable report. Recall that the Israelites wondered in the wilderness for 40 years as opposed to taking a shorter route. Do you ever feel like it’s taking an exponentially longer amount of time than expected to accomplish some things? Sometimes there must be a season of separation. God had to allow an entire generation of doubting, whining, ungrateful, and forgetful people to die off before those with faith could reach the promised land. If you think your crew, posse, family, friends or whoever you’re connected to aren’t an issue then maybe there’s something within you that God has to cut off. God doesn’t want anyone to go into a promised land with an Egyptian mindset.

sacrifice Another issue Pastor Johnson reminded me of is at what expense we pursue certain things. We shouldn’t pray beyond our level of sacrifice. Let’s say you’re shopping for a pair of pants and you only have $60 to spend. You pick a pair you like and it costs $50. You would likely buy the pants because you can afford to. However, you could also decide not to buy the pants if you feel it isn’t worth your $50. Your choice confirms how much you want those pants and what you’re willing to do to get them.  That was a fairly simple example but things get complicated when you add faith to the mix. Can you let go of what you can see in hopes of getting that which you cannot see?

 

Children Know Everything Said No Parent Ever

My son attends the summer camp offered by our city’s Recreation Department. Although he has fun there, he isn’t being nurtured academically. I purchased a workbook titled Summer Fit Second to Third Grade: Math, Reading, Writing, Language Arts + Fitness, Nutrition and Values. He has the knowledge to complete the tasks therein but often needs coaching. By the time we finish the book, my hope is that we’ve built on what he’s already learned and acquire some new information to keep him ahead of the game once school starts. He should also become more independent in completing his work. My intention was to pair this workbook with addition and subtraction flashcards. The first time we went through the addition problems, he whizzed right through them. The subtraction problems, however, had longer pauses and times where he still counted on his fingers. His response made it clear what we needed to concentrate on.

Tonight we began a new page in the workbook. Once we finished, I pulled out the subtraction flashcards. He got an attitude, rolled his eyes, and said, “But we’ve already done those.”

katt williamsWait…hold up. What? Come again? Chile please. Boy bye. Lord, give me strength.
After a deep breath, I explained that he must practice. Through repetition he would know the subtraction problems just as well (and quickly) as the addition problems. In furthering my point of his error, the conversation went something like this:
Me: What have you been doing the last couple of hours?
Him: Watching TV.
Me: And what have you learned from watching TV?
Him: Nothing.
Me: Exactly! So don’t you dare get an attitude with me for trying to help you learn something. You will not rush through this as if you have something better to do.

After he picked his face up off of the floor, we resumed our session and he went to bed. Being a parent often causes me to reflect on how my Heavenly Father must feel about me. How many times have I been frustrated when there was no response? Yet, I am later reminded that the teacher doesn’t talk during the test. How many times have I been frustrated to feel as though I’m going through the same mess? Yet, I am later reminded that practice makes progress, and you cannot be an expert with which you are not familiar. How many times have I felt deserving of a break from hardship, trials, opposition, and unrest? Yet, I am later reminded that I only inflated the issue making something out of nothing. How many times have I resented God when He was only trying to make me better? Yet, I am later reminded that this is what I asked for; to be better. I love these scriptures below. They definitely help me to keep myself in check.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

I have to remember that my God knows all, sees all, and hears all. I can’t question his methods if I trust His omniscience. Salvation via Romans 10:9 isn’t a once and done thing. It is the start of our walk with Christ. In the beginning, we need lots of coaching and hand holding. As we mature, the training wheels come off. We may wobble a bit and even fall, but after much practice we’re riding with a spirit of exploration and mobility. In the end when it’s all said and done, we want to hear, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.” Hang in there and trust the process.

Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.
Just trust Me

More Than Enough

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

shout girlDuring my senior year of college I worked 2 part-time jobs. I also took out student loans deviously misnamed a refund to support myself which I would later learn in life was poorly misused. (It’s how I purchased my first motorcycle, but that’s for another post.) I didn’t enjoy living from paycheck to paycheck, but I had the great hope that many young people possess. I thought that after obtaining my degree, I’d get a “real” job that compensated me well enough to pay my obligations, save on the side, and still have money to blow for life’s luxuries. It didn’t quite turn out that way, and if you see Sallie Mae, tell that homewreckin heifa I bet not see her in the street. ‘Gon make me lose my religion.

Despite the less than hoped for ending, God has truly blessed me. God is many things to many people, but I feel compelled to share a snippet of how He has been my Provider.

I have a 2009 Mazda 6 which I adore in comparison to the ’98 Saturn SL I drove before her. On December 12, 2012, I woke up and prepared for another workday. I had applied for a condo and needed to stop by the leasing office before going into work. Strangely I was able to drive to the leasing office with no problem, but the car wouldn’t start once I was ready to head to work. Fortunately, my place of employment was less than 5 miles away. I called my manager who came to my aid and gave me a jump. He was understanding of my situation and relieved me so that I could go to an auto parts store to get things squared away. I went to an Auto Zone where I was able to buy a new battery. It cost $121.83. You might be wondering why I remember the amount down to the penny of an item I purchased more than a year ago. It’s proof of my testimony (and also has the warranty information on it). The thing is no matter how much I may have felt inconvenienced at the time; I was being blessed in the midst of this mechanical failure. First off, things could have been much worse. What if I had gotten stranded far away from work and home? Who would I have called? Secondly, had this same situation happened even so much as a year earlier I wouldn’t have had the extra cash on hand to take care of the incident.

I’m reminded again of how well off I was in 2013. My birthday is in June. Usually if someone asks me what I want for my birthday I can think of something I had wanted in order to give them an idea of what to get. Maybe an Mp3 player or a pedometer or MONEY. Not this time. If you would have asked me this time, you would be met with silence. I didn’t need anything. The same scenario happened during Christmas of 2013. I had no wish list because I lacked no good thing.

snow in the southI’m sorry to make this post so long, but I have to share the most recent instance of my Jehovah Jireh doing what He does best. I live in North Carolina. It snowed here a week ago. My son was out of school, but I still went to work before the snow had started.  Once I left my job a good 2-3 inches had fallen. There’s more than one way to get to my babysitter’s house. I wanted to take the quickest route, but there was a traffic jam than prompted a detour. I would end up passing my own house to get to my babysitter’s. I was less than a mile away from my home when my car got stuck in the snow. A man in a truck saw my distress and stopped to help. He had a cable and was able to pull my car into a parking lot. He even offered me a ride, but I declined. I was within walking distance of my house. Thankfully, my babysitter’s husband also had a truck and dropped my son off at my house once I got home. What’s crazy is I didn’t even ask for help yet it was provided. Matthew 6:8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

It’s not over. If “the third time’s the charm” then the fourth must be a pot of gold.shout

After I got off from work this past Monday I walked out to my car and discovered I had a flat tire. It had just enough air that it was drivable. I planned to put some air into it to hold me over til the next morning. My plans were dashed when I realized I had left my purse at the office. I don’t have male friends. Male associates, yes. Male friends, no. I called my ex-boyfriend to see if he could change my tire. He obliged and even offered to take my car to get fixed while I was at work. (I don’t get off until 6 pm.) Ladies, don’t burn too many bridges. You never know when you’ll need a hook-up. Unfortunately, all of my tires needed to be replaced badly. There was no tread left. Fortunately, I had the money on hand to take care of everything.

I’m full of gratitude because I’ve been provided with everything I need to handle anything that comes my way. I’m also thankful for the people that have been placed in my life that are willing to lend a helping hand; even the strangers. One could expect family and friends to help out, but a stranger? You can’t tell me God isn’t good.

A Leap of Faith in Employment

I was an Investment Consultant (registered rep) for a stock brokerage firm. I did more customer service than anything else. Recently, the firm figured our existing clients only held 8% of their assets with us. This information provoked new changes to proactively gather assets from our existing customers and convince them to consolidate their outside accounts with us. This was good for the company but not so much for me because this change would now require me to cold call. I am not a saleswoman. I knew for over a year that Ia leap of faith in employment wanted to make a career change prior to my new duties. I was bored and oftentimes frustrated. I fasted and prayed for God to reveal to me which direction to go in. I knew everything that I didn’t want to do but couldn’t figure out what I did want to do. I stayed in my position collecting paycheck after paycheck until the level of frustration, headaches, and anxiety with my job increased to the point where I felt I had to resign for my own peace of mind.

 

I knew it wasn’t wise to leave without having another job lined up. Despite the penalties I would incur, I hoped that the $6,000 (< 3 months of bills) I had saved through a retirement plan would last long enough for me to find a new job. I gave my employer a 5 week notice of my resignation, and my last day of employment was on August 2, 2013. I searched for jobs online through sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and News Record (local newspaper). After two months I had only had two telephone assessments and two in-person interviews. I remembered, “If you want to get something you’ve never gotten, you have to do something you’ve never done”. With a fixed amount of funds I sought the help of a free service via the Goodwill Industries Career Center. There I was able to find more job leads and get help with improving my resume.

 

I continued to tithe as best as I could and prayed believing that the God who had never failed me before would still be with me in this situation too. I knew that I wasn’t immune to unemployment or poverty, but my faith was BIG from the word of God I read and heard. I was aware of the worst case scenario but I envisioned, even fantasized, about God making a way for me. I would day dream about how I would act when I got the call for a job offer. I couldn’t wait to tell people what God had done for me again. I reminded myself of all the times he had blessed me in the past: He spared my life in a motorcycle accident, He spared my son who was born 11 weeks premature weighing 2 lbs 15 oz, He got me through school to obtain my Bachelors degree, He provided so that bills were paid even though I had a mediocre income. I know what He can do because I know what He did. I never lost faith despite my dwindling bank account.

 

On Monday, September 30th I was given a job offer by Lincoln Financial. In all honesty, it wasn’t the job I wanted out of all of the jobs I a leap of faith in employment1applied for, but it was a job. As I write this post, I have completed 2.5 weeks of training and am delighted to be with this company. I love the people, the atmosphere, and the many opportunities for career advancement. I feel I can happily work there for many years to come. To top things off, my net income is higher now that it was at my previous job. God is GREAT!

 

Here are a few scriptures that encouraged me in my time of waiting:

·        Matthew 20:16So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.

·        Galatians 6:9And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

·        Matthew 6:25-27Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

·        Philippians 4:19And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

·        Matthew 21:22And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.

·        Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

You Want Me to Do What, Lord?

faithAn effective leader should possess at least 3 qualities: knows what to do, knows how to do it, and has the ability to influence others. What happens when you’re called for a task and can’t credit your résuméwith any of these items?

 

2 Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

 

When Moses was called to trade his crown in for a staff he protested 5 times:

1.      Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:11)

2.     If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,” they will ask me, “What is his name?” Then what should I tell them? (Exodus 3:13)

3.     What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, “The Lord never appeared to you.”? (Exodus 4:1)

4.     O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled. (Exodus 4:10)

5.     Lord, please! Send anyone else. (Exodus 4:13)

 

This gives us insight on how to not doubt ourselves or God’s decision to call on us. My favorite response to all of his excuses was when God asked this rhetorical question in Exodus 4:11, “Who makes a person’s mouth?” Surely your creator knows what you are capable of. It is only your job to be willing.

 

burning bushDon’t beat around the bush or in Moses’ case the burning bush. Realize that the work you must do is so much more important than any insecurity you may have about yourself. Have you had any “but God” moments? Instead of saying, “but God, I can’t,” start saying, “but God, you can.” Maybe your grades weren’t so good in high school, yet you were accepted into college. But God! Maybe you’re struggling from paycheck to paycheck, yet all of your bills are paid. But God! Maybe you were supposed to die in that car accident, yet you’re still here alive and well to tell the story. But God!

 

Moses was a stuttering, hot-tempered, murderer. Moses couldn’t, but God could. God used him for greatness. His faith and obedience affected an entire nation of people. He also authored the first five books of the Bible. Who needs a résumé when you’ve got a cover letter like that?

Faith in Action

churchMy pastor preached an on time word today. The context of his message was from Matthew 25:14-18 which discusses the parable of three servants. Their master gave each of them talents (silver) in proportion to their abilities. They were not given instructions on what to do with it. The first two servants doubled what they were given even though each man did it in a different way while the last servant hid what he was given in fear of losing it altogether. I’m really not here to do a character study or to break down the Scripture but rather to share how today’s church service blessed a friend of mine.

 

We have a ton of college students attending our church so it is fairly common for Pastor Williams to speak empowering messages towards them, but today was different. He made a lot of references to the unemployed. Part of his message spoke about having confidence in one’s self. He likened a jobless person to persuading a business that he or she would be the best employee they had ever had causing it to earn more money. I think it was this part that lit a fire in my friend. He texted me later that same day to say, “I have a job.” I asked him about the details and he explained that shortly after service he had called the owner of one of the businesses he’d had an interview with. He told him with confidence that he would be there ready to work first thing Monday morning. The man had not finished conducting interviews for the position but liked my friend’s approach and hired him on the spot!

 

I say all of that to say this: you can’t do this thing we call life on your own. I know a lot of people, even Christians, who don’t go to church for whatever reason. The truth of the matter is you need someone or something to provoke you to greatness. You can read the Bible and pray for understanding, yes, but you should also surround yourself with people who either have what you’re trying to achieve or can show you how to get it. If you’re in debt, would you take the advice of a broke person?

 

Proverbs 15:22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established. (KJV)

 

My pastor isn’t just a preacher, but he’s a mentor. He breaks down the word in ways that are easy to understand so that it can be applied for right living. Let’s be honest. The Bible is a very large book. If you’re not familiar with it, how do you know what page to turn to in the middle of a storm? That’s where someone like a pastor or minister can help; not only by pointing you in the right direction but also by decoding the Scripture. I know I’m not the only one who gets confused by the “thees” and “thous”.

99 problems

Maybe you’ve had some bad experiences at churches in the past. Don’t let that deter you. There are about 320,000 churches in the United States. If one person breaks your heart, do you say I’m never going to love again? Of course not, so why do people do the same thing with church? If one didn’t sit well with your spirit, find another one. When I moved from my hometown, I visited at least six places of worship before I found my church home. The church not only delivers the Good News but is a place for believers to uplift one another. The word of God is an incorruptible seed (1 Peter 1:23). When a seed is planted in fertile ground, it will produce. I’m not the same person I was 5 years ago or even one year ago. His word is maturing me to a life that hungers and thirsts for righteousness.

 

Hebrews 10:25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (NLT)

Bloom Where You Are Planted

I’m a bit of a reality show junkie. Most reality TV shows are a lot like junk food. They taste good but are undoubtedly bad for you when consumed repeatedly. The ladies of Mob Wives, Bad Girls Club, Real Housewives, Love and Hip Hop, and a host of other reality stars are far from tasteful and uplifting. There are, however, some positive images of women behaving uprightly. Shows like Tia and Tamera and Mary Mary have done well, so I was pleased to see the premiere of The Sheards which documents the life of gospel powerhouse Karen Clark Sheard and her family.

 the sheards

On a recent episode, songstress Kierra “Kiki” Sheard was invited to sing at an open mic night. There were two other performers that came before her. One of the spoken word artist’s rhymes included profanity. Another man humored the audience by poking fun at religion and church folk. Then it was Kierra’s turn. She sang a medley of gospel songs, and while I thought she sang well, she later sobbed in the bathroom disappointed in her performance. Before taking the stage she feared how her message would be received. Her insecurity stemmed from a desire to please everyone around her. She didn’t want to offend anyone whose beliefs may not have been the same as her own.

 

Matthew 5:14-16 You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (NLT)

 

I’m a fan on Kierra so my opinion is biased, but I like the show and appreciate her transparency. As great of a singer as Kierra is, even she has insecurities about performing in front of people. Beyond being a minister of music, she’s still a person. Kierra even discusses her battle against the bulge and wanting to live a healthier lifestyle whilst being a lover of foods that aren’t particularly contributing to that goal.

 

If I could give her a word of encouragement, I would remind her of the scripture above. God has given her a gift and has called her to use it for the building of His kingdom. Her voice and the Good News it proclaims has the power to win souls for Christ. Whether she be in a coffee shop, church, or concert she shouldn’t be afraid to please God for the sake of pleasing mere people.

 

God can change an atmosphere with His profound word and His presence. Since we are made in His image (Gen 1:27) and are heirs to His throne (Rom 8:17), we have inherited this same authority. Have you ever had someone say something like, “I don’t know what it is about you… I just can’t put my finger on it.” Why can’t they figure you out? What is it that you have that is so radiant? Jesus proclaims He is the light of the world in John 8:12. Since we, believers, have been given the gift of salvation, we too have a light, Jesus, within us. Don’t let anyone or anything snuff it out.