Archives for the month of: September, 2014

I’ve heard it said that the closer you get to your blessings/purpose/”destiny”, the more adversity you face. Well, if trials are a measure of blessings, then the floodgates of heaven must be getting ready to burst forth because the devil has been really busy lately.

The Bible says “12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” (Ephesians 6:12). So often, we think our battle is against men and powers of this world, but it is not. It’s against the darkness. The Bible also terms it as spiritual wickedness.

Lately, in my own life, I have faced a great deal of opposition. During these moments, resistance can feel omnipresent. Some days, it feels as if I take one step forward only to spiral backwards down the staircase. My inner cynicism starts to build. I try to console myself by saying that God must have something AMAZING in store for me. Why else would the devil waste his time with me?

The flesh is weak, and we all have a breaking point before we crack. Right now, many of us are walking around with frayed edges. We keep praying to God, but there seems to be no relent. Our trials outnumber our rewards.

Today, an incident occurred that made me angrier than I had been in a long time.   When I stepped outside of my circumstances, I realized that the incident was a recurrent theme and that each time the situation (same script, different cast) occurred it elicited the same reaction in me—anger, worry and more anger. Sometimes, if we do not curb our anger, we can find ourselves even being angry with God.

As I brewed in my anger, I reflected on the story of Job. In the book of Job, the devil asked God for permission to test Job. God agreed. The amazing thing about Job was that no matter what Job went through, he refused to curse God. Could you imagine how the devil must have been waiting expectantly for Job to curse God? But he didn’t. Even through all of his adversity, he did not curse God. He continued to bless Him.

After my reflection, I had an epiphany. The devil wanted me to curse God. Here is the thing about the devil: He is tricky, sticky and tacky. He will stop at nothing to shame God. This includes using people to do his bidding. Unfortunately, many of us leave ourselves open for the devil to freely use. Remember Judas? The bible says that right before Judas betrayed Jesus, Satan entered him, (Luke 22:3). We have to be prudent to the devil’s attacks. If we resist him, he will flee (James 4:7). Know that even in our deepest trials and our darkest road’s God is there. He is a light to our feet (Psalm 119:105). Do no give satan the glory and curse God. As painful as our wounds might be, we must rejoice in our sorrows. “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” (Romans 8:28, NLT). When the devil comes to attack you, call upon the name of the Lord. ”The Lord shall cause thine enemies who rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face; they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways,” (Deuteronomy 28:7, KJV). Instead of cursing the name of God, praise Him! Praise Him! Praise Him!  Fall on your knees and praise Him.

After Job’s trial, God restored him.  He not only restored what he once had.  He gave him twice as much as he had before.  Right now many of you are going through a Job season.  God is allowing you to withstand being tested.  Resist the urge to give up on God.  Do not curse Him. He WILL reward you for you faithfulness.  He is so good that He will be faithful even when you are not.

If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you’ve probably realized that I am a huge music fan. I love everything for classical music to soft rock. There are only a few genres of music to which my palate has not developed. Many of my thought are often accompanied by the soundtrack of songs in my head. Even the title of today’s blog made me think of the 1987 hit, Jealous Fellas, by Dimples Tee.

Earlier this morning, I came across an Instagram post stating that Christian rapper, Lecrae, was recently on Jimmy Fallon and that he was discussing the success of his new album, “Anomaly.” I was excited. Not only do I love Lecrae’s music, I am always proud to see Christians using their talent and their platform to advance the Kingdom of God. I hadn’t yet heard the album, so I decided to listen to the single, “Nuthin,” online. In a nutshell, the song highlighted what Lecrae believes to be a prevalent trend in the hip-hop culture—the inclination to romanticizes and glamorizes materialism and frivolity. I thought it was rather profound. As I was about to scroll to the next song, I caught a glimpse of one of the comments. It accused him of using illuminati and satanic symbols in the video. It’s also accused him of being a false Christians.

STOP IT!

John 8: 7 says, “…let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” I have no idea whether or not such symbols were implemented.  I don’t even know enough about illuminati, or the likes thereof, to render an opinion on the topic.  Moreover, that topic is beyond the scope of this discussion.

For some people, what I am about to say might come as a revelation. Here goes! We are ALL sinners!!!! Yes, every single one of us. It is not up to any of us to judge the depth of another person’s relationship with God. Remember Job. Both his family and his friends thought that his adversity was a result of his sins against God. They could not have been further from the truth. In fact, God favored Job, and after he stood the test of adversity, God rewarded him twofold. Here is my point. None of us knows what conversation(s) other people have with God. Maybe God has instructed someone to do something in a manner that is unconventional. To the naked eye it might seem preposterous. However, it might be their directive from the Lord. And even it if wasn’t, some things are just none of our business. Just as God allowed us to come into relationship with Him on our own terms. Sometimes, we have to allow others to come into relationship with God on their terms.  That is not to say that we cannot gently, and with love, correct our brothers and sisters.  When relating to each other, we have to constantly ensure that the pools of our memory are not shallow. It’s easy to forget where God has delivered us from, but, we have to. That’s what keeps us humble.

I have to say this. When you and I berate other people’s blessing and the use thereof, it comes across as jealousy. All too often, I have observed that the very same people who are critical of others have no problems enjoying the same blessings when it is bestowed upon them. As Christians, we must remember that the rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45), and every good and perfect thing is from God (James 1:17). The same God that blesses you is the same God that blesses the next person (unrighteous or righteous). My pastor once said this: “For most people, excess is usual one score above what they can afford.” If I can afford a Mercedes, then excess is having a Ferrari. That cannot be so. God blesses each of us in accordance to what He knows that we can handle. Unfortunately, not everyone is equipped to handle fame and fortune.  “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities,” (Luke 16:10).

One of the hardest things for us to do is to look in the mirror and “truly” assess the person staring back at us. Yet, in order for us to grow, it is something that we must do daily. If we are constantly finding fault with other people, we must ask ourselves: “What is wrong with me?”

“Most people hate in others what it is that they hate about themselves,” (Unknown). Know that if you are constantly finding fault with others, there is something wrong with your thinking. It is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. In order for you to love others, you have to first love yourself—truly love yourself—in private. You are God’s masterpiece, created anew in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:10). God loves you very much, but He also loves your brothers and sisters as well. Just as you want God to be tender and patient with you. Allow the same extension of grace to your fellow man. If you and I are to advance the Kingdom of God, there cannot be this constant squawking about who has done it right or who has done it best. We are all on a journey. Most of us are trying to do the best we can. All of us, at some point, WILL get it wrong. Give people a chance to err. Also give them a chance to recover. Sometimes, the best thing we can do as Christians is to extend grace.

N.B. I feel compelled to say this. For those people who have allowed the misdoings of Christians to be their excuse for not establishing a relationship with God, I caution you. Christians are imperfect people made alive by the extension of grace. Most Christians follow the Doctrine of Jesus Christ. Many of us attempt to get it right. None of us do. Only one person has every gotten it right all the time, and His name is Jesus. The reason that none of us will ever get it right all the time is because God wanted to make sure that none of us could ever boast that we are perfect. We are all flawed.

Please know that your relationship with Christ cannot hang on the hinges of imperfect people. The cost is too high. I encourage you to learn about God for yourself. If you are going to accept or reject him do so on your own accord, not someone else’s. In the body of Christ, fellowship is important, but it cannot usurp your personal relationship with Christ. Think about your personal relationships. I am sure there is at least one person (e.g. mother, father, sibling, spouse, grandparents, aunt or uncle) in your family that most people just do not get along with. However, you still love them. Why? Their relationship with you is independent of how others feel about them or interact with them. Shouldn’t you afford the same opportunity to God?

One of my favorite books growing up was “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” by Judy Bloom. I love the sentiment of the title. It’s a question that we have all asked God.

Today, we ask: Are you there God? It’s me, (insert your name). In our fallen world it’s easy to question God’s whereabouts. There are so many social and political issues that overwhelm the news. It’s easy to wonder if God cares about His World–If He cares about you. Why is God so seemingly quite?  Are you there God? It’s me! That seems to be the cry of a generation.

One of the Scriptures that God laid on my heart a few days ago was John 29:20. “…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Many of the daily occurrences in our fallen world serve to challenge our belief in God’s existence.  Sometimes, if we look through the lenses of our natural eyes, we might be inclined to question whether or not God cares about His people. We might even ask ourselves, “Why should God care about us? We are just mere men.” Fortunately, the Bible reminds us that God does care about His creation.  Psalms 8:4-6 says:

 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet, (KJV).

God cares so much about the intimate details of our lives that He even knows the number of hairs on our heads.

Our finite knowledge cannot begin to explain the things of God. I don’t know why God sometimes appears silent when we need Him the most. I don’t really know whether He is, silent, that is. Maybe we miss His voice that sometimes comes in a whisper. The nature of these questions are too complex for me. However, I do know this. Gideon asked for a sign of God’s favor, and he got it. David asked for protection, and his enemies fled. The woman with the issue of blood needed health and was healed when she touched the hem of Jesus’ clothing. What do you need? Shout it from the rooftop. Scream His name! Petition His promises! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Are you there? It’s me!

Today’s Prayer: Lord, we come to you with hearts surrendered. Are you there? It’s me. Lord, hear our heart’s cry. Lord, show us your unrelenting love. Give us a sign like you did for Gideon. Today, we ask that you show us a sign of your awe and might. Lord, grant us protection as you did for David. Make our enemies our footstools. Heal our bodies like you did for the woman with the issue of blood. Lord, we thank you, and we bless you. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

I’m about to go in so deep in prayer that will make you stumble.

Fall on your feet and crumble,

This ain’t no fumble.

The image in the mirror you see reflected

Has already been rejected—

Disrespected—

To you, I’m just a man,

But inside of me I AM.

See even the devil knows his place:

Annihilated!

Obliterated!

Erased!

Do you really know who you are?

Yes, a descendant, but of which star?

Who really lives inside you?

Could it be the son of a Jew?

Are you one of the called, or one of the few?

Will He say, “You, I never knew.”

Then what would you do?

Just remember, God’s promises have already been spoken,

None of which can be broken.

Just keep your heart wide open.

The power of God is greater—

Greater than anything that ever was.

He who lives in us is greater than he who lives in the world.

Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, Amen!

I am a part of the hip-hop generation. One of the things I love about the music is that there is always a call (of sorts) to action: “Where my girls at,” “Where my dogs at,” or “Where my people at.” Today my question is: Where my Christians at? Say what? Where my Christians at?

This topic has been brewing inside me for quite some time. So, if you are faint of heart, judgmental or easily offended, I suggest that you stop reading now, because I’m about to go in!

Our world is in turmoil. We are definitely living out prophesy. According to 2 Timothy 3: 1-5:

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

This description written over 2000 years ago is an accurate depiction of the state of affairs of our current world. Today, men ARE lover of themselves. In some circles, “cash rules everything around me” (Wu-Tang Clan reference for all my hip-hop heads). Bottom-lines and bottom-dollars usurp integrity and honesty. The concept of more never seems to be enough. Our insatiable appetites for acquisitions have bred a new form of greed where people are willing to do just about anything to acquire more “stuff.” As I watch the world around me, I feel as if our world is on the cusp of moral bankruptcy. The moral fabric of our culture has waned. Our word is no longer bond. “Yeses” are not “yeses,” and “nos” are not “nos.”   Heaven forbid that we watch the evening news. There are more stories about misgivings and misdoings than there are stories of altruism. Sometimes, when I walk outside the sanctity of my home, I feel as though I am a sole voice in the wilderness, like I am surrounded by a bandit of vultures waiting for me to stumble and fall so that they can ravish my carcass. My heart cries in the face of the world’s travesties. I know that I can’t be the only one whose heart is aching. Where my Christians at?

This is a call to action! Where are the lights and the salts of the Earth? Praying and quivering in the corner is NOT where God meant us to be. There is a place for prayer, but God also urged us to action.

Where my Christians at? God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. In the face of trials and adversity, we should take heart because God has overcome the world. For far too long we have allowed the tail to wag the dog. We are head and not the tail. We are above and not beneath. We are leader and not followers.

Where my Christians at? Many of us are “scrimmaging” for change rather than mining for gold. We are too concerned with rocking the boat than we are walking on water. We have become absolute relativists. “To each his own” has become the mantra of a generation. Newsflash, some things are just WRONG, point blank.

Where my Christians at? We are too busy conforming to the world. We’d rather be tolerated than offended. We’d rather blend in than stand out. Guess what? Jesus stood out. He comforted the afflicted. He confronted injustice. He took a stand for His generation and the generations to come. What are you standing for?

I have no inalienable right to question the things that I do not understand, for even among the best minds, comprehension is finite. Moreover, challenging the universe has led great men to even greater madness. The world around us is terribly complex and complicated. One of the hardest things to comprehend is human wickedness. Evil is ubiquitous. The seed of deception is often veiled by the garb of statues, religion, customs and institutionalized policies. Buried deep within all of us is the ability to delve deep into the clutches of wickedness. The pride inside me wants to say that some of us are closer to darkness’ grasp than others. The truth is, all of us have the potential for grave depravity. We all have catalyst(s) that could potentiate our fury. With that said, I guess it’s good that God offers salvation, even to the worse of us.

The carnal part of my mind (and my heart) doesn’t believe that heaven should be afforded to everyone, especially those who have committed heinous crimes against humans and humanity. My mortal nature would like to see those individuals “pay” and “suffer” for their misdeeds.

A few moments ago, I watched a movie on one of America’s greatest atrocities—slavery. My heart ached at the thought of the tragedies afflicted upon my ancestors. What was even worse was that many of those slave masters/owners were Bible toting proclaimers of the faith. They raped! They stole! They killed the spirits of a generation. Some of them used the name of God to do it. As I continued to watch the movie, a horrifying thought came across my mind. Their evil actions do not necessarily disqualify them from receiving salvation. Wow, there goes that five-letter “G” word again. Grace. In that moment, I realized that grace is bigger than me. It’s bigger than my feeble mind can comprehend. Here is what I learned: I might not know why God does the things that He does. I might not even agree with them. However, one thing I do know is that it would take a lot to disqualify me from the love of God. That’s huge. That’s bigger than everything. Again, the pride inside of me wants to say that I could never be as wicked as some of those other people. I don’t need all that grace. The truth is, grace is the best insurance policy ever created. The aggregate policy limit is greater than any debt we could ever incur.

Sometimes, it is hard to see God beyond the people who profess His name. In a culture where people try to politicize and “demonify” God, it’s hard to extract Him from religion. But when we do, we realize just how merciful God is. He is impartial. If He could forgive the unforgiveable, imagine what He could do for you!

Have you ever felt like Moses– underqualified and unequipped?  I know that there have been times in my life when I have felt like Moses.  Sometimes, I have even flirted with the notion of shrinking back into mediocrity–undetectable and invisible.  However, the problem is that God has called me for greatness. He has also called you for greatness, and the Bible says that to whom much is given, much is expected.

Remember Moses?  Remember how unworthy he felt when God called him to lead the Israelites?  He had just killed a man prior to being chosen to lead God’s people.  He was flawed, broken and undeserving.  Additionally, there were many people who though that he was a poor choice.  Perhaps, it was the fact that he stuttered.  Maybe, his skin was too dark from toiling in the Egyptian sun.  The truth is, none of those factors mattered.  God chose him anyway.  God did not chose him because of himself.  He chose him in spite of himself.

You and I do not have to be the best at our calling.  We just have to be open to accepting the call.  You might be living in a country (state or place) where others have tried to measure your aptitude based on your hue.  Know that God is not limited by man’s boundaries.  He made you on purpose for a purpose.  You were designed for your calling.  Think about this.  If the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not infused into a sun-kissed body, where would America be?  Remember, it is who we are that allows us to shape and impact the world around us.  All too often, we get sucked into other people’s thoughts, opinions, insecurities and prejudices.  We need to focus and keep our eyes on God.  The moment you and I take our eyes off of God is the moment that we falter.  Trust Him, and ask Him to give you the courage to resist the devil (the spirit of fear, depression, unworthiness, etc.). Know that when you resist the devil, he will flee from you.

Father, God, we come against ALL attacks of the devil.  In Jesus’ name, we pray. Lord, we are flawed and we falter, but with you on our side, we can do the impossible.  If our God is for us, who could be against us!