Sunday Sermon

“For I know the plans that I have for you..to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

I believe in the power of taking notes, generally and spiritually speaking. Writing helps me focus on the speaker and prevents my wandering mind from drifting. Perhaps it is the English teacher in me. My head is always filled with a 1,001 thoughts.

Today, while taking notes on the sermon entitled “He Still Has A Plan For Me” based upon Mark 11:1-10, I felt so heavyhearted and out of sorts that I wasn’t in the mood for music, message, or fellowship. But out of habit, I attended church and attempted to listen to the sermon, pen in hand.


I halfheartedly wrote:

  • Look for peace
  • Love is a four letter word (my own thoughts, lol)
  • Everybody has highs and lows, Nobody stays on the mountaintop
  • He knows exactly where I am, the people who have betrayed me, He knows I’m tied up in my emotions-He has a plan to get me loosed

While sitting there I started thinking that I needed to do more with my notes. On occasion I read through them all, but that’s it. I never really think about them afterwards. The notebook stays closed and only gets opened on Sundays. But what good are notes if I don’t connect them to my life? They simply become a rote exercise to pass the time. Hence the idea for Sunday posts was birthed from this thought.

Analysis:

Sometimes God will isolate you in order to bring you to Him. No one else will be able to sate you. You will feel so lonely that you have no choice but to seek Him. He will dry up any resources that You place above Him. Once you seek Him, the valley won’t feel so lonely.

Reflection:

This has proven to be quite true in my life. Many of the things I had years ago I no longer have. I almost live like a hermit and as a result, my people resources are barren. But He’s made it this way I believe. He had to do something drastic to get my attention. Me, who all these years thought I was a self-sustaining island nation.

I am in the process of seeking, knocking, thirsting, healing, and hoping that it’s not too late for the plan(s) He has for me.

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In Touch 

I get so happy when I see the latest edition of In Touch magazine! The articles are encouraging and help remind me to stay the course regardless of what’s going on around me. 

  

Each edition contains articles, poetry,  photography, and a month worth of devotionals. Sometimes there are testimonies, too. Now these really do my heart good. 

Best of all, the magazine is free. 

Praise Music Monday

“Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” ~Psalm 100:2

I love Take Me to The King by Tamela Mann. I can so relate to the lyrics which can be found below the video.  

Take Me To The King
I don’t have much to bring
My heart is torn in pieces
It’s my offering
Take Me To The King
Truth is I’m tired
Options are few
I’m trying to pray
But where are you?
I’m all churched out
Hurt and abused
I can’t fake
What’s left to do
?

Truth is I’m weak
No strength to fight
No tears to cry
Even if I tried
But still my soul
Refuses to die
One touch-will change-my life
Take Me To The King
I don’t have much to bring
My heart’s torn into pieces
It’s my offering

Lay me at the throne
Leave me there alone
To gaze upon Your glory
And sing to You this song
Please Take Me To The King
Truth is it’s time
To stop playing these games
We need a word
For the people’s pain

So Lord speak right now
Let it fall like rain
We’re desperate
We’re chasing after you
No rules, no religion
I’ve made my decision
To run to You
The healer that I need
Take Me To The King
I don’t have much to bring
My heart’s torn to pieces
It’s my offering

Lay me at the throne
Leave me there alone
To gaze upon Your glory
And to sing to You this song

Take Me To The

Lord we’re in the way
We keep making mistakes
Glory is not for us
It’s all for You
Take Me To The King
I don’t have much to bring
My heart’s torn to pieces
It’s my offering

Lay me at the throne
Leave me there alone
To gaze upon Your glory
And sing to You this song

Take Me To The King 3x

Thank Him Thursday

“And a little child shall lead them.” ~Isaiah 11:6

Yesterday I was riding on a bent rim and a tire that wouldn’t hold air and I didn’t even know it! On the way to work earlier that day, I had the misfortune of hitting a deep pothole. I pulled over and checked the tires but they appeared to be fine. 

After picking up my youngest son from school, I had stopped at the gas station when a man approached my car and told me. I thought the car was riding funny and I had even checked all four tires twice and nothing seemed amiss.

This kind stranger also put air in the tire so we could make it home.

The style of my tires are “rubber band” which means they are very thin to showcase the rim. It would have been a terrible thing had it completely went flat while driving 60+ mph on the highway.

But God kept me from harm.

The gas station was less than three minutes from home but I prayed all the way. A little voice chimed in and said his own beautiful, wee orisons. I was touched and thankful that he understands when we experience any form of trouble-big or small, we are to take it to the Lord.

Thank you Lord and amen!



Abba

“I will be a father to the fatherless.”  Psalm 68:5

I am a fatherless child, a truth painful to admit. I don’t know much about him at all. I have a name, but I can’t be sure that he is my biological father. It was a topic that my mother staunchly elected not to discuss. This issue has been a constant source of heartache, hurt, insecurity, and embarrassment for me. I was all too conscious of the fact that I did not even bear his last name.

I spent years fantasizing about this father of mine. I knew I had one for the sole reason of biologics and reproduction. I wasn’t some bizarre creation birthed without the assistance of a male counterpart. So I reasoned that I had to have one out there somewhere on the face of the earth. I wondered incessantly about him. Did I look like him? Did I have any of his mannerisms? Was there a reason that he did not want to be involved in my life? Was he ashamed of me? Did he have other kids that he favored more?

When I got older, I wanted to know him for a more practical purpose such as being privy to my full medical history. I also wanted my kids to have a grandfather. And plainly put, I wanted a father of my own. I wanted to say “Daddy” and have someone answer. I wanted someone to run to when life got tough. I wanted to see him, touch him, know him.

Sometimes I was able to find comfort knowing that God knew exactly who he was and where he was. But then I’d start wondering why God didn’t reveal him to me? Why didn’t He arrange for us to meet and have a happy ending?

I still struggle my fatherless state to this very day, although I’ve learned to accept the fact that I may never know him in this lifetime. In the meanwhile I look to Jehovah to be the father that I’ve never had. His Word promises just that. It requires much faith as He is not physically present, which is hard for me being that I am logical and practical. I want to see to believe. If I can’t see it, why it mustn’t exist. I just have to exercise my faith that He will be my strength and my provision.

He knew ahead of time that I would be fatherless, and because of that, has held a special place in His heart for me. “Though my father…forsake me, the Lord will receive me” Psalm 27:10. I believe I have the best paradigm of a father. He cares for me unconditionally. He chastises me out of love and provides for me with honor. He beckons me to lay my burdens on Him. I am his beloved daughter and sent His Son to shine brightly on me. I bask in His radiant, life-giving light.

The Bible urges us to call out to Him “Abba! Father! ” because we are his children through the adoption spoke of throughout scripture. However, unlike my earthly father (whomever he may be) my Heavenly Father will never leave nor forsake me.

After Winter

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3: 1

After winter, must come spring. Change comes eventually” ~Lauryn Hill.

For the last 12 years or so I have been in a winter season. Despite being born during a major blizzard, I do not readily embrace it.

Even though I know that winter is a time for hibernating, renewing, strengthening, and preparing, it can be difficult to see better days ahead. Although David was anointed king at the tender age of 16, he spent the 14 years following his anointing running from Saul. It was during this time that the Psalms were birthed. Reading David’s laments, we know how unbearable winter seasons can be.  “Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice,” he says in Psalm 55:17. But we also know that trouble doesn’t last.”He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (Psalm 40:2).


Take heart. The hoary head of snow soon melts. The grass morphs from brown to green. The birds return from the south. The sun smiles again. We have visible signs of hope that a change is on the horizon.

But how do we endure in the meanwhile when the air is still polar, the nights long, and the landscape of our lives are seemingly barren? I think the answer that has evaded me my entire life is a simple one. We are to HOPE. This revelation has only come to me in the past year. Prior to this, I spent the time waiting being afraid, disillusioned, angry, and bitter. I didn’t have enough faith to BELIEVE God would get me through. I was fearful that He wouldn’t do for me what He has done for countless others. I concentrated more on the problem instead of focusing on He who is greater than any problem known to man. He’s seen it all. Nothing that we go through is a surprise to Him. He only wants to see how we handle that challenges that bombard our lives. Will we ask for His new morning mercies daily? Will we lean not to our own understanding? Will we be still? Will we wait on Him? Or will we succumb to the desire to do it our way? Will we resist the thorn that adorns the beautiful rose? Will we decline the growth that is sure to come if we just hold on?

I now know that this winter is not in vein. He is not punishing or refusing to help me. He is growing me for something greater later. God is using it to build my character. When He is ready, deliverance will come.

Patience is not my best quality and I  constantly wonder when my relief come. Some days I feel like the speaker in the Kanye West song Stronger “I need you to hurry up now/Cause I can’t wait much longer/I know I got to be right now/Cause I can’t get much wronger./” I want to plead my case for deliverance to the Highest Judge in life’s earthly court.  I need Him to know that I am not righteous like Job, steadfast as David, dedicated like Ruth, or obedient like Noah. Some days I beg or bargain for relief. I am not as strong as You think, I want to scream.

So what’s a girl to do? Here are a few things that keep me going:

1. Seeking God: I do this by reading the Bible, listening to sermons while I am doing chores, attending church, reading Christian books and devotionals, and listening to praise music.

2. Connecting With Positive People: I have cut out many negative people out of my life. I interact with those who will not judge and will keep me uplifted. Though they may admonish me, I know it  out of agape love.

3. Focusing On The Good: The Bible says “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

4. Encouraging Others: I truly love encouraging others. It makes me realize that I am not the only one with problems. And it makes me feel good to be good to others as God has called us to do.

5. Recalling Past Victories: I’ve survived many things and I can only attribute it to the grace of God. It certainly wasn’t by my hand or strength. If He’s done it once, He’ll do it again as long as I continue to fight and faint not.

I would love to hear how you wait in the comment section below.

Noga

“You shall have no other gods before me.” ~Exodus 20:3

When I was in 7th grade I wrote in my diary that I wanted to try yoga. It looked peaceful and the poses were beautiful. As a ballerina it also appealed to me because it could increase my flexibility.  As an adult, it became the exercise to do. Yoga pants were all the rage and worn freely by those who didn’t even practice the art form. Studios popped up everywhere. Celebrities stood on their flimsy platforms and promoted its validity which increased it’s “hip” factor a thousand times over.

When Nike came out with the Studio Wrap Pack, it was a wrap (as we used to say back in the day) and I was sold for a cheap price, LOL.

I knew Yoga and I were meant to be when I found a Groupon for ten classes for a mere $20. And the best part was that the studio was less than five minutes from my house.

I purchased a pass and proceeded to take lessons. I liked it! The instructor praised my form and poses. I immediately bought a mat and clothes.

But after the first class I had an uneasy feeling. The fact that yoga was affiliated with Hinduism surfaced in my mind.  However, I brushed it off feeling that I was being too dramatic and paranoid.

During this time, a pregnant friend of mine was also taking prenatal yoga which she enjoyed. As my sister in faith, I shared my concerns about us engaging in yoga. She thought it was okay as we were only participating for health purposes-not spiritual. This made me feel a bit better but my spirit still felt vexed and decided I would finish the pass and then quit since I didn’t want to waste money.

I researched a bit and concluded that practicing yoga was a form of idolatry. I learned that the poses pay homage to Hindu gods. Even the way classes end with the word “Namaste,” I bow to the god within you, is a clear red flag that it is not in alignment with Christian beliefs. According to Laurette Willis, the founder of PraiseMoves, the process of enlightenment is to become one with  Brahman, Hinduism’s highest god. 

I now believe that the uneasiness I initially felt but couldn’t quite finger, was the Holy Spirit’s way of letting me know that yoga was not for me.  I had only completed 7 out of the 10 classes, but at this point I was more concerned about pleasing God than I was about squandering money. I did not want to be one of those people who went against God. It reminded of the Israelites in the Old Testament who chose Baal over Jehovah. It was a sobering thought and a group that I did not want to be a member of.

I talked to my friend once again and convinced her to discontinue classes. I pointed out that we could do Zumba or Pilates  and achieve the same effect. Thankfully she agreed.

Many Christians have started participating in “holy” yoga but I won’t be doing that either. There is nothing holy about it and the whole concept is an oxymoron. Yoga is rooted in Hinduism and therefore can’t be separated from it. That’s like having game night with a Christian Ouija board. Creepy.

Some people reading this might think I’m going too far. It’s just exercise so they think. Make no mistake people. The devil is here to kill and destroy. And he’s going to use anything he can to achieve his desired outcome. I think “innocence” is one of the wiliest tricks that Satan employs. See how easy it was for him to get Eve to bite, literally and figuratively speaking? He skillfully convinces us that whatever sin we are engaging in is harmless. The practice of yoga is nothing more than a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. Remember, he will use ANYTHING to separate us from God. His desire is to sift us like wheat. Practicing “minor” sins only opens us up to commit major sins later.

A few months after I quit, my pastor spoke about this very thing and warned us if we were taking lessons to stop. I took this as confirmation that I was correct about my feeling. And even IF I turn out to be wrong, I haven’t lost anything, but have gained everything. Thus I will continue exercise my right to say no to yoga.

I Say a Little Prayer

“Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55: 6

When I am feeling emotionally overwhelmed by a troubling situation I am going through, I say this “pocket” prayer multiple times throughout the day:

Lord,

Heal my hurt. Lord, heal my heart.

Amen

It’s simple but it works. The Lord hears this prayer the same as He hears all others. The length doesn’t matter; He only cares that our heart is seeking Him.

Be Still

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

This year instead of creating a list of New Year’s resolutions, I chose a single phrase to center the upcoming 365 days around. The dictionary defines still as “not moving or making a sound”  “deep silence and calm.” It sounds easy enough, yet being “still” has been a real challenge for me. Especially considering that I have yet to totally surrender to the will of the Lord.

Being still is a scary concept for a person like me. Being still means being lazy and incompetent. It means that you are dependent on others to do things for you. This thought goes against my very nature. I’m impatient which doesn’t lend well to stillness. I’m also stubborn and determined to finish anything I start. I simply can’t trust anyone to do it for me.

I spent time really pondering Proverbs 46:10 and what it means. Allowing myself to be still glorifies God and his omnipotence. I CAN be still because I know that God is more than capable of handling anything that may come my way. He doesn’t need my assistance. I don’t have to play Robin to His Batman. My faux superpowers pales in comparison to His. He already knows beforehand the trials I will encounter; so who else is better equipped to lead the way in battle? To paraphrase Exodus 14:14, the Lord will fight for me and I only need to be still. It shows others how we are strengthened by Him in our obvious weakness without doing anything other than being still. It gives way to blessings that testify God’s goodness and His desire to see us happy. But remember, he will never force stillness upon us-we have to choose to accept the invitation.

Basking in this still place I know that can depend on Him to fulfill my needs. It relieves my anxiety knowing that I don’t have to do it all. Admittedly I can’t do a single thing without His unmerited grace. And here I thought I was running off of my own might and fortitude when I was being fueled with God power this whole time.