Tribe

“…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” ~ Proverbs 18:24 NKJV

As the holidays approach I think more and more about my fragmented, distant family. Although there are only a handful of us left, we rarely connect with each other outside of tragedies.

I have five siblings that I seldom see. I have not seen my youngest sister in years nor have I met her last three children. The same goes for my youngest brother. My middle brother only contacts me when he is in need. I communicate the most with my middle sister which is still only marginally. My brother who is the second child reaches out more than the others. I suppose because it was only us for the first two years.

I have three aunts and a smattering of cousins. I talk to two aunts on occasion and my cousins when I run into them on a rare outing.

It is hurtful to be estranged from family. I have spent many days pondering our fragile connection. However, lately I have made peace with the way things are and instead try to focus on nurturing the relationships that I do have.

The other day my seven year old asked if we could have a “real” Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family. He referenced an end of summer party that we attended, “like the party at the big, blue house.” It took me a minute to recollect and figure out that he was talking about my friend’s party. We had a great time surrounded by both good food and people. It made me sad that I cannot offer him such a setting. We simply do not have the family for it.

Life is tough. The Bible even warns us that our days will be full of trouble and I can say that this has certainly been true in my life. But I also know that is why the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, gave us families. Our family are supposed to help smooth life’s frayed edges.

I too, know that we can’t force our blood relatives to be kindred. However, we can create our own tribe-another blessing from our Father who connects us all. I’ve done this in a sense. My motley crew of a family does not resemble the traditional model. It is composed of my two boys, a few true friends, coworkers turned comrades, some church saints, girlfriends now sisterfriends, and past and present students.

As a bonus, we get the families of my tribe mates as well. Sometimes I sit back, reflect and wish it could be different with my biological family. These people are blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh after all. This will never change. But too much time has elapsed which has allowed the distance to widen. Things are strained and tense to the point that I do not even wish to attempt to sew the rip that’s torn us a part. Obviously no one else wants to either. Being family should not be a seasonal affair when it is meant for a lifetime. Now they are almost like strangers to me. I only know them by heart.

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Makes Me Wanna Holler

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…” ~2 Timothy 3:2-4

“See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” ~Matthew 24: 4-8

So disturbed I am by the things going on in this world. However, I know God is still good and still God. Jesus warned us these types of things would have to pass and instructed us not to be afraid. Lord, I trust You. 

Walking

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” ~Philipians 2:14

Today I had to take care of some business downtown. Much to my dismay, places to park were pretty much nonexistent. 

I ended up having to park twenty minutes away from my destination. I was appalled to say the least and my attitude was not admirable 

How dare I have to walk so far I fumed as I made my way to the government center. I bemoaned the irony of new places being built on what used to be parking lots. 

Poor me. 

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But on the way back, a few things dawned on me. 

1.) I was thankful to have the ability to walk to where I needed. 

2.) I had a vehicle that made it possible for me to walk a relatively short distance. 

3.) The weather was nice. 

4. I was able to see downtown through the eyes of a pedestrian. 

5.) I was getting exercise for the day. 

Yes, I was hot and sweaty by the time I made it back to my truck. However, once I got my attitude together, I actually enjoyed it. 


I stopped and had breakfast at one of my favorite spots. 

Checked out a new bakery.


Saw the new transit center named after the late Julia Carson. 

Admired the artwork and architecture and met some friendly strangers. 

And before I knew it, I was back to where I started.  

It just goes to show we can be thankful in all things as long as we approach it with the right attitude. 

Going Viral

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” ~Romans 12:2

Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that it allows some to keep in communication with long distance loved ones, network with others, provide much needed encouragement and a forum to learn new things. However, it can also lead to posturing, vanity, idolatry, gluttony, envy, debauchery, gossip, bitterness, pride and hatred.

It is common for users to do things solely for “likes” and attention. Some women post pictures with very little clothing or make provocative “twerking” videos. Others fall in the comedic  group and make it their mission to turn everything into a “meme” just to get a laugh at anyone’s expense as well as to gain a myriad of followers in the process. Many male social media users are overtly looking for lust  and encourage female followers to let it all hang out so to speak and showboat their various material possessions. And in the midst of it all is a group of very impressionable kids and teenagers, wanting to fit in and follow the lead of these irresponsible, self-serving adults.

I actually have one social media outlet and I am always AMAZED and not in a good way at how far people will go. Everyone wants to be cool, chic, smart, beautiful, rich and well…liked whether they admit it or not.


I am very selective about what I post and who I interact with online. I do not accept 99% of the requests I receive. I never want my account to control my life or misrepresent who I am and Who I belong to. I don’t want to be one of the confused, crazed, misguided people who put their godly qualities in the bio section but their accounts are so far removed from the One Most High.  We are cautioned not to set our eyes on anything worthless. Nor do I want to interact with those who may pervert my walk on the narrow path. The Bible clearly says in 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” And since celebrities are not my role models, I follow none of them either.


I’d even argue that social media is a tool of Satan. He knows how weak and vain the human mind is. He is all over Instagram, SnapChat, FaceBook, Kik, Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn (and the other sites I failed to mention) just as he is loose all over the world.

The need to be in the limelight is at an all time high. Everything done is in an attempt to make it “go viral.” It makes me wonder when I hear about a “good” deed via social media  if it was done out of kindness or for the attention such a act will garner once it has been viewed and shared thousands of times. I’ve seen people taking pictures with the homeless they have helped, money they’ve tithed at church, visiting babies at the hospital, even paying for someone else’s drink at Starbucks.

On the flip side of going viral for a good deed is the public shaming that one incurs for a bad act. Many people feel inclined to leave judgemental, abusive, hate-filled comments.  The individuals in the hot seat are harassed  publicly and a bullying frenzy begins. A recent example of this can be found in the case of the mother of the child who made his way into the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati zoo. I’ve even heard of suicide resulting in extreme cases of online attacks.

The Bible says to do all things in moderation and thus I don’t believe that social media is a bad thing per say. However, too much of ANYTHING is a bad thing. It is definitely something that must be used with caution as we are instructed to focus on “… whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” Philippians 4: 8 We cannot afford to allow our minds and hearts to be sullied by the ways of the world.

End of Days

“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”Ecclesiates 1:1

Life has a way of fooling most. We get puffed up with pride and form a false sense of self sufficiency. Oftentimes we believe we are too “evolved,” too smart and foolishly decide we do not need the Lord. 

We are reminded of the fragility of life and how insignificant we truly are in the face of tragedy-particularly death. Death, the great equalizer, has a way of forcing us to come to terms with who we belong to. It isn’t ourselves, our parents, or even our spouses. We belong to the Lord. The Bible records in Romans 14:8, “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” 

At the end of days, the only thing that matters is our service to the Lord. Not titles, degrees, pedigrees, celebrity status, riches, cars, clothes, or any other material aspects of the world we inhibit.

When I was in junior high school, I remember watching Cosmos: A Personal Voyage narrated by Carl Sagan in my Earth Science class. All these years later I can still here him saying “we are star stuff.” The thought of being celestial fascinated me as a youth. But now older and wiser, I have to disagree. We are but mere dust-truly nobodies in terms of the Creator of all things. Remember that “faith without works is dead.”James 2:26 It’s not enough to praise God and profess your love for Him without serving Him through loving and serving His people. 

I was watching the coverage of the death of famed boxer Muhammad Ali and heard the quote below:

“I conquered the world, and it didn’t bring me happiness. The only true satisfaction comes from honouring and worshipping God. Time passes quick; this life is short. I see my daughter Maryum. Yesterday she was a baby. Now she’s grown and ready to get married. My hair is grey…God doesn’t allow you to go back and live your life over again. But the older you get, the wiser you get; and in the time I got left, I’m living right. Every day is a judgement for me. Every night when I go to bed, I ask myself, ‘If God were to judge me just on what I did today, would I go to heaven or hell?’ I can’t save other people’s souls; only God can do that. But I can try to save mine.”

I am thankful that he was eventually able to have such a revelation. Before his end of days he saw past the mere mirage and vanity of stardom. 

Nowadays when I hear of someone dying-whether it be a prince or pauper, my only concern is whether they have made themselves right with God. We are quick to idolize celebrities and place them on a pedestal. But they are no different than us as we were all made from the same body of Adam. They have to answer to the same God as we do. Let us not forget this. 

EVERYTHING else is vanity. 

RIP

“And because of his glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. ” ~2 Peter 1:4

This morning I woke up with my mother on my mind and felt heavy hearted. Coincidently,  Mother’s Day is in four days. 

However, before I could become too consumed with gloom, God put the thought RIP in my mind. 

Most of us are aware that RIP stands for “rest in peace” and is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase Requiescat in pace. 

But today God graciously gave me a new meaning and replaced rest in peace with rest in promise. Thus there is no reason to be sad when I can infinitely hope in the Lord. 

The Bible says that “the dead know nothing” Ecclesiates 9:6  which is true. But our omniscient, unchanging, constant God “cannot lie” and is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” Hebrews 13:8. With this knowledge we can be assured that even in death, His promises remain the same for us. Hallelujah! This revelation brought so much joy to my heart I almost shouted! 

Psalm 37:25 says “…Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken” thus death has “no sting” or victory in the face of God and His word which can never return void. 

May my precious mother continue to RIP until “the Lord Himself comes down from heaven!” ~1 Thessalonians 4:16

Mountains Moved

In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of recalling past victories, no matter how big or small. Our remembrance gives us hope and belief that God will continue to provide and make a way in future battles. What are some of the mountains that God has moved for you? 

Strange Fruit 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” ~Galatians 5:22-23

For a long while now I have been fighting against myself and not dying daily as we are urged to do.  As a result of this, my spiritual fruits have suffered and have no resemblance to Christ. Just as a tree is known by its fruit, so is man. 

I had an epiphany the other day that I can only be who God created me to be. I have to continue being kind, thoughtful, merciful and loving regardless of how others treat me.  I will no longer allow my emotions to be manipulated. The Bible says in Proverbs 16:32 “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” We are expected to exhibit self control. The Lord has fully equipped with the ability to do so. We should reflect the  character of God to all we encounter. 

2 Peter 1:5-9 reads “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” With that being said I realized that I could not effectively witness for the Lord with the stench of my strange spiritual fruit rotting all around me. I was operating by flesh and not spirit and disregarding Galatians 6:7″Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” 

I was only offering love to those who loved me, I was not counting it all joy nor being content in each of my life’s circumstances, my peace was long gone, I had no concept of long suffering and was very petulant at the thought of having to wait for something, my faith tank was on empty, my gentleness depended upon my mood, and my self-control was questionable. It was obvious that I had not matured spiritually. 

I had forgotten all about the fruit of the spirit. Instead, my “works of the flesh” were evident.  But God has clearly warned us “…I tell you beforehand, just as I also tell you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” ~Galatians 5:21

I am glad God gave me this me this revelation. It feels so liberating to know that I have the power and kingdom of God within me because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Romans 8:28 

It Is Written

“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” ~1 Corinthians 11:1

I came across this beautiful comment made by my favorite musician, Prince and thought I’d share: 

God is a generous and loving being. It is written we should act like God. There are enough opportunities. 

I am keeping my eyes open and my ears tuned for such opportunities to glorify God. 

I am thankful that Prince was able to redeem himself and find the narrow road that leads to life before it was too late. 

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!