Archives for the month of: August, 2013

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Lately, there have been so many talking donkeys in my life.  It’s been very difficult to resist the urge to beat those asses.

For those of you who don’t know or have never heard the story of Balaam and the Donkey, let me give you a brief synopsis.

Balaam was a prophet in the Old Testament.  King Balak, king of Moab, had sent messengers to request that Balaam curse the Israelites who were living in Moab.  This directive was against God’s orders.  Nonetheless, Balaam saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials.  God was angry with him for disobeying His order, so he sent an angel to oppose him.  When the donkey saw the angel standing in the road, it went off the road and into a field.  Balaam beat the animal and forced it back onto the road.  The angel appeared a second time further along the path.  Again, the donkey saw the angel and hesitated.  Balaam beat the donkey a second time.  The third time the donkey saw the angel, it laid down under Balaam.  This time Balaam beat it with his staff.  God allowed the donkey to speak.  The donkey questioned Balaam about the beating. Balaam threatened to kill the donkey.  The Lord allowed Balaam to see the angel standing in the road with his sword drawn. The angel informed Balaam that had it not been for the donkey’s resistance, he would have kill him (Numbers 22).

Crazy huh?  Maybe not!  How many times during the course of our day do we experience donkeys that try to protect us?  Many of us may likely never experience a literal talking donkey, but we do experience them metaphorically speaking.  Lost keys, delayed traffic, missed flights—these are all talking donkey in our lives.  Instead of trusting our “donkeys,” we resort to beating them.  Some of us get worked up to the point of wanting to annihilate our roadblocks, not realizing that death or disaster is imminent.

One of my prayers is that we learn to recognize our talking donkeys.  To begin, we should question resistance.  Is our resistance a part of the travails of life, or is it indicative of danger?   The truth is, only God can answer that question, but we need to present it to Him so that He could give us revelation.  Some circumstances could be avoidable if we just take heed.  Our prayers, should involve asking God for wisdom, discernment and peace about the situation.  When we do, we allow God to step in and implement His divine will.

Today’s Prayer:

Lord, allow us to embrace our talking donkeys.  Provide us the wisdom, discernment and peace regarding your will.  May your will be done in our lives.  Protect us from all harm.  Let us rest in your peace regarding our life’s decisions.  Bless us in our coming and our goings.  We love you.  We trust you.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

If you could do anything or be anyone, what would you do?  Who would you be?

Do you remember a simpler time when the boundaries of your world were infinite—when the perimeter of your skies were limitless.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go back to those passion-filled days?  But how could you?  You are so far gone.  The monotony of your world has weighted you into mediocrity.  You are beyond broken.  You have begrudgingly approach the evenings of your life with utter disdain.  Why shouldn’t you?  Society tells you that dreams are reserved for the youth and the champions of life.  Face it, you blew it!  Your evenings have become night and your lights have fade.  You have seen your final curtain call.

Or have you?

You see, in life, nothing is static.  Our days and nights are fluid—constantly changing.  Even darkness must submit to this natural order. Though darkness seizes the night it must release its reign in the presence of morning.   This renaissance of dawn gives rise to hope.  In the presence of hope, dreams are restored.  Youth could be recaptured.  Failed plans could be resuscitated.  There is nothing that couldn’t be brought back to life in the presence of light.  Light is so powerful, it could recovered death.

So what would you do–who would you be once you’ve realized that a beating heart is a promise of the dawning of a new day?

“Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall,” (Proverbs 16:18).  Pride’s stealthy ambush often goes undetected prior to plummeting face first to the ground.  Hopefully, it is in those aftermath moments that we learn the greatest lessons.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned about pride was fairly recently.  I have learned that pride is the root of fear.  Fear is one of the biggest impediment to growth, and many of us believe that if we could just conquer fear, we would be well on our way to the promise land.  However, today, I would like to make the argument that fear is the manifestation of pride.  Hear me out.

In order to make my point, I’ll use an example.  Let’s say for the sake of argument, there was an opportunity for us to start a business.  One of the main reasons that we might use for not pursuing that opportunity would be the fear of failure.  Unfortunately, that fear of failure does not exist in a vacuum.  Our fear of failure is deeply interwoven into our desire for approval.  What do I mean by this?  Sometimes, we frown upon the thought of failure because we don’t want others to know that we are weak and flawed.  If we fail, we would have to admit to ourselves and others that we are imperfect.  That, my friend, is pride.  Another reasons why we might avoid the potential of failure is that we are concerned about what others would say about our situation.  Again, if one of our main reasons for not wanting to fail is that we are weighted by the opinions of others, then we are being prideful.  Here’s why.  We have placed our desire to please others above our call to be true to ourselves.  When we are not being true to ourselves, we are being something that we are not.  Adopting a persona for the sake of approval is indeed pride—making ourselves larger than we really are.

Besides our fear of failure, what other reasons do we use to avoid pursuing an opportunity?  We might use the excuse that we are not smart (rich, talented, gifted, pretty, etc.) enough.  Again, pride could be at the root.  For every problem, there is a solution.  Sometimes we allow pride, which may manifest as fear of rejection, to prevent us from asking for help.  So what if the people we ask for help tell us no.  So what if they give us a harsh yes.  If so, we should simply dust our shoulders off and move on.  However, many of us do not want to risk being rejected, so we don’t seek help.  We remain frozen in our mediocrity.  That is pride.   

The truth is, there are so many factor that determine why we act the way we do.  However, today, I wanted us to look deeper at our behavior and not simply take our actions at face value.  Sometimes, there is a deeper reason why we act the way we do.  Sometimes it’s pride.

Mirror

I see you standing over there,

My vision of you so unclear.

I tried to remember your smell,

But it’s been so long it’s hard to tell,

Whether you are the same—

Your reflection distorted through the lens of my blurred pane.

 

I close my eyes and try to remember your smile—

Something I haven’t seen in a while.

Memories of you have been jaded,

And as time goes by they have faded—

Into the distorted reflection of my blurred pane.

 

Promises have clearly been broken,

My dreams were so tied up in you.

And though there were thing that were unspoken,

Now it seem like I don’t know what to do—

When it’s my reflection that’s been distorted through the lens of my blurred pane.

Whether you are in a restaurant, your kitchen or a store, there is one sound that is indistinguishable—the sound of glass crashing onto the floor.  For nearby observers, the falling objects often seem to plummet to the ground in awkward, slow motion.  Surrounding activities often screech to a paralytic halt after the crash.  The most frequently uttered words spoken during the event are a drawn out “Nooooooooooooo” or a choice of varying expletives.  But as dramatic as the precursory events are, it is moments that follow that are most significant—picking up the pieces.

Cleaning up the aftermath of broken glass is the hardest part.  If you are not careful, you could become injured by the fragmented particles.  While the large shards of glass could cause some damage, it’s usually the smaller splinter that remain after the initial sweep that cause the most harm.  Those broken pieces often fall between the crevices of the tile or under furniture and wait for an opportune moment to cause damage.

There is also a sense of guilt and regret that accompanies the cleanup:  “If only I had been more careful.”  Oftentimes, we play through the events in our head and think about how we could have done things differently.  The truth is, life happen.  Accidents happen.  Sometimes we can’t control the glass from slipping through our fingers.  Sometimes relationships slip through our fingers.  Our finances slip through our fingers.  But regardless of how our scenario fragments, we have to learn to pick up the pieces.  If we leave the broken glass on the floor, one sure thing will happen.  We will keep getting cut by the fragments.  In order to clean up, the first thing we have to do is a clean sweep to ensure that there are no broken particles left behind.  Next, we have to buy a new glass.  Sure this will cost us.  Everything in life has a cost.  However, we may find that the new glass may be better than before.  Even if it’s not, we now know the pitfalls that caused the first glass to break, and we will become more careful with the new glass.  We have to move on.  Lamenting over the broken glass won’t cause it to spontaneous regenerate.  It won’t cause it to be whole again.  In order for us to become whole again, we have to pick up the pieces of our shattered glass.

Lord,

Do not forget about me.  Hear me as I call out your name.  My tears outnumber the hairs on my head.  My spirit is broken.  Lord, don’t forget the promises you made to those who love and trust you.  Lord, don’t allow my enemies to laugh at me.  They are waiting for me to fall so that they can say, “I told you so.  I told you there is no God.  Even her (his) own God has forsaken her (him).”  Lord, give me victory.  Lord, answer my cries.  Hear my voice in the wilderness calling out to you.  All that I am and all that I have is in you.  Do not forsake me in my weakness when I need you the most.  Lord, rescue me from the fiery pit.  Save me from the Lion’s den.  I call out to the name of your son, Jesus Christ!  In the same way that Jesus caused the fig tree to immediately wither, I pray that you answer my prayers.  In one second,  you can create life from death.  In one second, you can wither my troubles.  Lord, give me victory in Jesus’ name.  I praise you, for where I am weak, you are strong. I honor you in Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Sometimes silence is the best answer!

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.  By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible,” (Hebrews 11:1-3, NIV).

Most of us have said at some point that we won’t believe it until we see it.  But according to the verse above, even the things we CAN see were birthed from the things we COULD NOT see.  Therefore, our beliefs in the tangible (the things that are seen) is the beginning of faith.  Basically, what God is saying is that nothing is impossible.  He made what is perceived as possible from the impossible.  This gives us the comfort to know that the absence of a promise in our lives does not preclude its manifestation.  We have to trust that God is working out the details.

It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood.  He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before (Hebrews 11:7, NLT).

Not because something has never happened before does not mean that God can’t or won’t allow it to happen in the future.  However, sometimes the promise(s) made to you is not for you, but for your generation.  For example, God gave Martin Luther King Jr. a dream that he did not get to see, but his generation is experiencing the manifestation of his dreams.

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth (Hebrews 11:13, NLT).

On this final day of the 30-day Marriage Challenge, I want to remind you of one final point:  When Jesus died, he said, “It is finished,” (John 19:30).  Please know that the end of Jesus’ life was actually the beginning of ours.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed. (Psalm 139:13-16, NLT).

The above passage in Psalm says that before we were born, God had recorded every day of our lives in His book.  Before we were born, it was finished.  Every promise in our lives was finished before birth.  Every dream was finished.  Every relationship was finished.  Every soul was finished.  When Jesus gave his life, it was finished.  In other words, He finished His life so that we could begin ours.  It is finished!

I hoped you have enjoyed the 30-Day Marriage Challenge series.  This series was never intended to be solely about earthly marriages.  It was about our marriages to God.  You see, before we can commit to anyone, we must first commit to God.  Isaiah 54:5 says, “For your Creator will be your husband; the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth, (NLT).

Our spiritual marriage should supersedes our natural marriage.  God is and should be our husbands before we walk down the aisle.  If our relationships with God is faulty, then our earthly relationships WILL fail.  We will never be the right spouse.  We will never chose the right person.  Our relationships will never reach their potential because Jesus was never the center.  People cannot and should not complete us.  No person can fill the God-shaped void in our lives.  Today, wherever you find yourself, single or otherwise engaged, trust God.  Do not attempt to live a life independent of God.

Dear Father,

Today, I pray that that we will trust you.  Be our husbands, Lord.  Lord of Heaven’s Armies, please be our redeemer.  Give us the strength and the courage to trust you.  Let us place all our desires, dreams, relationships and promises in your hand knowing that, “IT IS FINISHED!”  Let us not settle for earthly counterfeits when we could have true treasures.  Let us not give in to the desires of our flesh out of desperation or out of a spirit of fear.  Let us wait on your word and trust that you will order our steps,  because Jesus has already said that, “IT IS FINISHED!”

Have you ever been in a place in your life and wondered how you got there?  In that lonely place, you feel like you are being (or have been) obedient to God’s directive, yet you just can’t seem to get pass go.  If you are there or have been there, go back to your last prayers.  Your last prayers are where you could find some answers.

The other day, I was thumbing through one of my old journals when I stumble across a prayer request.  It was as if God had purposefully allowed me to land on that particular page.  “Wow,” I thought to myself as I read the words on the page.  “My current experience is a direct answer to that prayer.”  Immediately, I started to wonder.  How many of my previous or current experiences are actually answered prayers?

Sometimes, I think we get used to Hollywood God—the microwave-miracle God—the God who simply grants our wishes.  We forget that God is more concern about carefully developing our character than granting us satisfaction with immediate gratification.  While we might have a unilateral vision of how God should answer our prayers, God has a multifactorial response.  His answers not only solve the immediate problem, it also changes us in the process.

Psalm 56:8

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.