Archives for category: Strength

Empty Well

It is so important for us to read the bible in context.  So often, we memorize key verses and phrases, and neglect to see the bigger picture.  This morning, as I thought about this blog on empty wells, Galatians 6:2 came to mind: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” (NIV).  But as I meditated on the verse, I realized that it was the second verse of the chapter.  What did the previous verse say?  In fact, the previous verse served as a cautionary statement.  It said: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted,” (NIV).  The New Life Version reads, “You who are stronger Christians should lead that one back into the right way. Do not be proud as you do it. Watch yourself, because you may be tempted also.”  Firstly, the verse calls for the “stronger Christians” to lead his brother/sister back into the right way.  Secondly, it cautions the “leading” individuals to refrain from becoming proud and to be careful of falling into the same trap.  The truth is, we all have areas where we are strong and areas where we falter.  Moreover, these areas may vary by season and/or circumstances.  It is important for us to understand that while God has called us to bear one another’s burdens, there is only one Savior.  We were not designed to save everyone.  In fact, if we do not continue to replenish our wells, then we run the risk of running emotionally and spiritually dry.

If you are consistently playing the role of the go-to person in your relationships, there will come a point where your well will run dry.  If you incessantly pour out and do not replenish your reserve, you will bottom out.  This could have multiple physical, mental and spiritual ramifications.  Below are a few things that I have found helpful during some of my darkest moments.

  1. Be kind to yourself
    1. Know that some days you will fly, and some days you will fall. Some people will think you are the greatest, and some will think that you are the worse.  However, neither one of these things define who you are.  Only God defines you.  He made you, and He knows who He has called you to be.  No one else has that authority, including you!
  1. Keep inventory of your “well” reserve
    1. Most credit counselors advise against credit card use. Why?  With credit card usage, there is a tendency to spend more than we have.  Debit card are just as bad.  I would venture to say that most people are not balancing their account ledger after each swipe of their card.  It’s no wonder the banking industry makes so much money on overdraft fees.  The same is true of our emotional bank account.  If we are not keeping an accurate account of our balance, there will be a tendency to over extend and/or over commit.  If we don’t keep accurate accounting, we will spend more than we have to give.  This brings me to Item #3.
  1. Learn to say “No!”
    1. Saying “no” is way more than simply refusing a request. Sometimes saying “no” could mean declining to answer an email, a text or a missed called.  For some, this is the biggest step towards establishing healthy boundaries in relationships.
  1. Keep inventory of those who are making deposits and withdrawal into and away from your wells
    1. Relationships are seldom equal. However, our relationships must be mutually beneficial.  In other words, we will have relationships where one person brings more to the table than the other.  The important thing for us to remember is that we should maintain a healthy balance of the different types of relationships in our lives.  Again, if we are always giving more than we are receiving, then our relationships are out of sync, which will eventually lead to a dry well.
  1. Take note during your hour of darkness.
    1. Who are the ones calling solely to check on you—not to gossip, not to vent, but simply to check on your well being?  Oftentimes, when you tend to be the strong one in your relationships, people erroneously think that you don’t have problems or that your problems are secondary to theirs.  Please understand that is an unfair and unrealistic expectation.  The people in your life must be able to acknowledge that you too are human, and as such, you too have your cross to bear.
  1. Know that you cannot be everything to anyone person.
    1. I recently had a conversation with a friend who said to me that in relationships, we meet our needs by drawing from the many wells in our lives. Whenever, we start to draw predominantly from one well, we put that other person in an unfair position, which is too much pressure to place on any one person.

Now, after having said all that, I will say this:  When we are weak, God will make us strong.  There are times when God will push us beyond what we thought we could do or where we thought we could go.  However, the problem in many of our lives is that we fail to ask Him for His counsel, and we busy ourselves with things, people and tasks that He never commissioned us to take on.  Sometimes, God is doing a work in our lives and He is doing work in others’ lives as well.  My final parting note is that we should seek God in all that we do, and He will give us the guidance that we so desire.

The Bible says that many are called, but only few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). Imagine getting to the end of our lives and realizing that we missed out on being chosen because we refused to answer God’s call.

This afternoon, as I was doing my devotional, I decided to meditate on Mark 9:28-29, “28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29And he said unto them, ‘This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting,’” (KJV). Here is a little background on that verse. Jesus had just returned from his transfiguration experience with Peter, James and John to find the remaining disciples quarrelling with some of the teachers of religious law (Mark 9:14). At the epicenter of the debate was a demon-possessed boy. According to the boy’s father, the child had been plagued by the demon since he was a little boy. Long story short, Jesus freed the little boy of the demon. So, let’s take a look again at verses 28 and 29, “28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29And he said unto them, ‘This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting,’” (KJV).

After I read this passage, I knew that there was something deeper that God wanted me to receive in my spirit. I prayed for His revelation, and He gave it to me. I will share with you what He revealed to me.

Whenever we read a passage in Scripture, we should always try to read it in context. Look at what came before and what comes after. Prior to meeting up with the other disciples, Jesus has just experienced one of the most amazing experiences of His Earthly life—Transfiguration. Without minimizing this miraculous event or getting into too much detail, the Transfiguration was essentially God smiling down from heaven and giving Jesus His spiritual seal of approval–a spiritual thumbs up (Mark 9:1-13). Now, this is the part of the story where my wheels started to turn. Jesus had 12 disciples, yet He only brought three with Him to share the experience. Where were the other nine? They were away from Jesus arguing about religious laws. Here is my first revelation. Friend, whenever you and I are more focused on religion than we are Jesus, we set ourselves up for being outside of Jesus’ company. Here is the second revelation. We can become so distracted by religion that we are unable to complete our assignments. We have to realize that our religion is not enough to yield the miracles we desire. In the passage, it wasn’t until Jesus stepped into the picture that the demon was cast out. I believe  that God wanted to illustrate that being religious is not equivalent to being Godly.

When the disciples asked God why they could not cast out the demon, He stated that the type of miracle that they were looking for could be revealed by only two things: prayer and fasting. This brings me to my last two points.

The fourth point is this: God is not moved by our pomp and circumstances. He is moved by our faith which is manifested in our prayer. Notice in Mark 9:19, Jesus said, “‘You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me,’” (NIV). Catch what Jesus is saying. Faith is trusting God even when we cannot see Him with our natural eyes. Even though Jesus was not physically with the other disciples while He was on the mountain, He was with them in spirit. However, it was impossible for them to sense His presence because they were burdened by religion. Friend, Jesus is not in our ceremonies, our ideologies, our oils, our rituals, our holy water or our idols. He is in our prayers.

Here is the final point that Jesus made in Mark 9:29. “‘This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting,’” (KJV). There are some “demons” in our lives that we can cast out only with praying and fasting. Why fasting? Fasting is simply preparing the atmosphere for prayer. Fasting allows us to silence our environment so that we can focus on our prayer. There are some things in our lives that will not be answered in just one prayer. We have to get up daily and knock on God’s door like the story of the woman and the judge (Luke 18:1-8). If we are not spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically prepared, we will fail before the manifestation of the prayer. Fasting prepares us for this. Therefore, today I ask you, “What are you believing God for? What thing(s) in your life can only be changed by submitting it to fasting and prayer?” Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” (NIV). However, when we do, we have to believe that our prayers are enough. God is enough. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:19, ESV).

“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences,” (Proverbs 18:21, NLT).

Oftentimes, we forget just how much power our spoken declarations have over our lives. Recently, I read a story about an athlete who, as a child, told his mother, who had been affected by breast cancer at the time, that he would purchase a pink Cadillac with pink rims for her when he “grew up.” Years later, he was able to fulfill that promise. A few years prior to that story, I heard about a famous actress who, as a child, had promised to buy her mom a diamond ring when she became rich and famous. She too was able to fulfill her childhood promise to her mother. I doubt that as children either of those two individuals knew that they were “prophesying” over their lives. Impregnated in that young girl’s promise to her mother was the declaration that she was going to become a famous actress. The reflection of those two stories made me think of my own life. There have been times where I too have spoken in “jest,” and my “declarations” have come to fruition.

Today, I want to challenge all of us to prophesy over our lives. We need to go back to the days of our childlike faith—a time where we thought any and everything was possible. We need to speak over our lives and declare and proclaim our futures.  We need to live in bold faith like Abraham did.

16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. 17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.”This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” 19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb.

20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God, (Roman 4:16-20, NLT).

In the book of 2 Timothy, Paul describes the last days as a time when,

…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. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.”
Paul further encourages us to, “Stay away from people like that!

I know that every generation before has thought that they were living in the final days. The truth is, no one knows when the final days will be. The Bible says that when Jesus comes, He will come like a thief in the night, (2 Peter 3:10). However, it seems to me that we are closer to the above prophesy than ever before. More and more, you find people who are selfish, proud, arrogant, unforgiving, unyielding and outright cruel. It makes you wonder about the state of the heart of man. In such a time as this, it’s so easy to throw our hands in the air and give up on valor and virtue. But I caution us not to do so. Now is the time to let our light shine. The insatiable hunger of darkness is only quelled by light. Those of us with the gift of the light inside of us have to continue to burn bright. The Bible says that we are the light of the world and a city built on a hill cannot be hidden, (Matthew 5:14). We have to continue to intercede in prayer on behalf of the nations. We have to continue to pray for those who are afflicted by infirmity, poverty, cruelty and inhumanity. I still believe that God hears the cries of His people. I still believe that God answers the plea of the broken and the fallen, which, my friend, is all of us. If He didn’t then, the Bible would be a lie. But the Bible says that “God is not a man, so He does not lie,” (Numbers 23:19).

 

Some of you who are reading this might be wondering, “How can I use the subject of my argument to prove its validity.” The answer to those people is this: “We do it all the time, and we have accepted the results as truth.” Science is defined by science. Logic is defined by logic. Mathematics is defined by mathematics. Whenever we have a theory in the sciences, the arts or in mathematics. Those theories or principles are usually confirmed or denied by using theories/hypotheses in the same discipline. If such is the case, then why is it so difficult to believe that the Bible could be proven using the Bible? Is it because our senses cannot “perceive” Biblical principles? If that’s the case, then that argument nullifies every scientific theory. When was the last time you experienced/”saw” the Pythagorean Theorem?
Here is one final point: Other than Biblical principles, no other theory of existence asserts a power higher than itself to confirm its existence. For example, when existence is sought to be confirmed by science, the asserting scientific principle is no greater than the principle in question. When Biblical principles are asserted, it assert that there is a higher power at work. Additionally, in science the known ALWAYS justifies the known and is justified by the known. Even if a variable was titled as “unknown” prior to discovery, once it’s discovered, it becomes known. In Biblical principles, the “known” AND the “unknown” is justified by the unknown. The unknown can NEVER be justify the known because it is just that—unknown. Therefore, scientific reasoning has a limit.

Whew! That was a long tangent. I said all of that to say that God is true to His Word because He said He is, and it is that simple. So with that being said, I ask that we join together and pray for those Nigerian girls who were captured by rebels. I pray for their safe release and that they continue to trust in the name of Jesus—the name that saves.

God, I pray that the 200 plus girls were kidnapped be returned safely to their families. In Isaiah 43:13, God said, “From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.” Lord, your word also says in John 10:27-30, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”  Jesus, we thank you that no one or nothing can claim for themselves what you have already claimed as your own. We pray your favor over those girls. When Jesus died on the cross, he said, “It is finished!”  Lord we pray that “it is finished.”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

One of my all-time favorite quotes is, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”  Variations of this quote have been attributed to Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Alexander Hamilton.  However, regardless of to whom the quote is attributed, the point is this: There comes a time when we have to decide what virtues we are going to stand for and what principles we are going to stand on.

This past weekend, God gave me the opportunity to author and produce What is Your Status: An HIV Awareness Story, which included live acting, choreographed dance routines, and a fashion show.  The production was presented by approximately 100 teens ages 13-18, who through this production was able to learn about HIV/AIDS and impart that knowledge to their communities.

When I titled this production, I was very intentional.  I wanted to create a title that would beg the question, “What is Your Status?”  The question, “What is Your Status” was not merely meant to motivate people to learn their HIV status.  It was also meant to challenge and stimulate thought.  It was meant to ignite passion.  ‘What is Your Status” begged the questions: Where do you stand?  What is your position?  What will it take to motivate you to action?  You see, many people talk about problems.  Some people even talk to problems.  But very few people are willing to step outside their comfort zone to find solutions.  Finding solutions require sacrifice.  It commands commitment.  It necessitates more than some people are willing to give. It takes more than simply identifying a need.  It means meeting a need.  It means taking action.

The Bible says faith without works is dead (James 2:17).  Many of us are waiting on God to perform miracles.  Meanwhile, God is waiting on us to lend ourselves to be used by Him.  If we truly believe that we are the light of the world, then we have to position ourselves to bring the world out of the darkness and into the light.  What better way to do that than by meeting the needs of others.

This evening, I was touched by a Reuters’ news article that reported an increase in the prevalence of HIV in South Africa.  My reaction was two-fold. I was proud that I, and a group of dedicated world changers, were able to impact a community, a subset of a generation, and to teach them about HIV awareness.  However, I was saddened to read that despite the global efforts of many, the rates of HIV in South Africa has continued to rise.  According to the article, increased rates of HIV were attributed to an increased numbers of sexual partners, an increase in risky sexual behaviors, and a decrease in the availability of life saving HIV/AIDS drugs.  The alarming statistics made me yearn to do more.  It made me wonder what more I could do.  Then, suddenly, the answer dawned on me.  Faith without works is dead.

Our faith requires work, but our work MUST always be precipitated by our faith.  What I mean by that is this.  While the obvious solution to the HIV/AIDS pandemic is education prevention and medication.  However the solution does not just end there.  In the face of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, we have an opportunity to ask God to intervene.  Before I go any further, I feel I need to address those who might be inclined to take my previous statement out of context.  Let me be clear.  In no way am I asserting that HIV/AIDS is a punishment from God.  However, what I am asserting is that whenever we are faced with a problem (i.e. the HIV/AIDS pandemic or any other Earthly problem) we should invite God into the solution.  In the case of our South African brothers and sisters impacted by this disease, we should pray that in addition to an increase in HIV/AIDS education and medications, we should also pray that there will also be an increase in God’s favor on that entire country.  We should pray for a movement of God.  So with that said, I will end today’s post with a prayer.

Dear Father, I pray for every single person impacted by this disease.  Lord, I pray that you will restore them and their families.  I pray over ALL nations impacted by this disease.  I pray over every single person, particularly those in Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana and South Africa.  I pray that there will be an increase in education and resources to those nations impacted by this epidemic.  I pray that those who receive the education will take heed and protect themselves and their families.  Lord, I pray that you touch the hearts of doctors, educators and philanthropists across the world and that they will be motivated to take part in this global initiative.  I pray that they will be moved to action.  I pray that God’s Spirit will be ushered into every village, every township and every city.  I also pray protection over those praying this prayer.  I pray that God’s peace and protection will prevail in their lives.  I pray that no weapon formed will prosper.  In Jesus’ name I pray.

#Whatisyourstatus

Integrity—It’s who you are when no one is watching.  In today’s world, it can often appear as if honor is a forgotten virtue.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, “ Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people,” (The Message).

Wow! Those words are prophetic.  We ARE living in days where people are indeed lovers of themselves.  Many people are “self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God.”  I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more people allergic to God than to penicillin.  In fact, just the mention of God on the airways seem to send some people into anaphylactic shock.  Some of you reading this blog might even be turned off merely because the content is about God.  We are living in a culture where many have built up a disdain for God and the things of God.  Even many “believers” has succumbed to the customs of the world.  Many of us are self-absorbed, money-hungry and cynical.  When confronted with the state of affairs of the world, there are Christians who respond with “it is what it is,” “people are who they are,” and “what can we do to change it?”  We have become cynical about whether God’s good can triumph over bad.  Many of us have embraced injustice as the new normal.  I am here to tell you that such thinking is contrary to the word of God.  2 Timothy 3:14-17 says,

14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work, (NLT).

Yes, in order to receive victory against all forms of evil in today’s world, we must remain faithful.  We must trust that the Holy Spirit will give us the wisdom, courage and strength we need.  We should not accept or succumb to the practices of the world.  One person CAN make a difference.  If we would realize and understand that while we might not be able to directly change the people around us, we can change ourselves.  When we begin with a change in ourselves, that very change can and will inspire others to take a stand, which could cause us to see a marked difference in the world around us.  We don’t have to just accept things the way they are.  We can make a difference!  Sometimes, we have to simply decide who we will be.  #Integrity!

One of the signs that we are getting older is that we are no longer as cool as we think we are.  Nothing reminds us of that more that working with teenagers.

During the past few months, I have been volunteering with a group of youngster who remind me that my limited arsenal of “slang” words might no longer be cool.  With that said, I am going to resuscitate my 1990’s colloquial vernacular.  The title of today’s blog is, “I Am No Spiritual Punk.”  In the 90s, a punk was someone who would be considered a softie.  It was someone who shied away from conflict because of fear.  A punk could also be defined as a coward—someone who would be determined to be weaker  (spiritually, physically and/or mentally) than the average person.   Once someone was labeled a punk, they would most likely be subjected to conflict and possibly bullying.  Why do I say all of this?  As Christians, if we are not careful, the world could view us as “spiritual punks,” therefore, subjecting us to bullying and unnecessary conflict.

Let’s go off on a tangent.  Isn’t it easy to look out into the world and marvel at all the wonderful things that are happening to everyone else?  It is so easy to challenge God and ask, “Why not me?”  At first glance, the Christian life could be seen as a life riddled with failure and hardship.  Even many Christians have perpetuated the negative image of Christian life by inappropriate referencing Scriptures such as, “take up your cross daily, and follow me,” (Luke 9:23) along with many other Scriptures that when cited incorrectly and exclusively paint a hopeless Christian existence.  While Jesus did make it clear that the Christian life would be no bed of roses, the Bible also does depict a clear picture of hope, joy and prosperity.  Unfortunately, pastors who preach messages of hope such as the promise found in Proverbs 10:22 (The blessings of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it, NIV) are often stereotyped as prosperity pastors, and their messages are frequently erroneous titled as motivational speaking.

Where am I going with all of this?  My point is, the world, including some Christians, is waiting to see whether God is going to show up as the Bible promises He would and like many of us Christians are believing that He would.  Many are waiting to see whether Christians are going to “punk” out before the watching world in the face of disappointment.  In response to that, my question is this: Are we as Christians going to put up our “spiritual dukes” and show the world that despite our perceived setbacks and/or shortcomings, our God is greater?  Are we going to live a life that exemplifies that greater is He who is in us than he that is in the world?  The truth is, it is NOT our reputation that is on the line.  It’s God’s.  If everything that we do is supposed to give glory and honor to God, then when we cry out to Him in faithful obedience, He MUST show up.  A non-responsive God depicts a powerless, unfaithful, dishonoring, uncaring and dishonest God. However, as Christians, we have to believe that is not the case. We have to know that if God is not a man that He should not lie (Numbers 23:19), then we must also know that His very nature dictates that He MUST fulfill His promises.  Psalms 31:19 says, “Your goodness is so great! You have stored up great blessings for those who honor you. You have done so much for those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world,” (NLT).  As Christians, we have to stop behaving as though our blessings are from man, because, they are not.  Oftentimes, we fear man more than we fear our Creator.  We, as Christians, have to get into a place in our Spirit where we know that our blessings and promotions come from God ALONE.  Man does not have the ability to fire us, hire us, promote us, increase us, or define us.  We have to get out of that “Spiritual Punk” mentality and embrace the fact that we are heirs of the throne of God.  As heirs, we are entitled to our Father’s blessing and we should know that what God has blessed, no man can curse!

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is a poem/song by Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011), in which the title phrase has been cemented into modern-day vernacular.  Scott-Heron’s influence has transcended cultural, economic and regional borders.  In The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Scott-Heron challenges our apathetic despondence, which fuels our inclination towards complacent mediocrity.  He calls us to take action in a world of unpredictability.  The Revolution Will Not Be Televised asserted that our inaction is an action of dire consequences.  The poem also suggests that our call to action should not be precipitated by the possibility of fame or pursuit of grandeur.  It further states that the greatest revolutionaries are the ones who go unsung and unrecognized.  They are the ones who are willing to go into the battlefield with no guarantees of victory.  They are the ones who are willing to take a chance—to lay it all on the line.  They are usually the ones who truly make a difference.  They are the Esthers, the Daniels, the Davids, the Josephs and the Abrahams.

We are living in revolutionary times.  More specifically, we are in the middle of a revolution, and it’s time that God’s people spring into action—get off of the sidelines and jump onto the battlefield.  We can’t afford not to.  Many Christians are governed more by fear, doubt and insecurities more than we are the Holy Spirit.  Oftentimes, we sit idly by as the World advances its agenda, because we are afraid to speak out, offend or interject.  We rather murmur than make a difference.  We use phrase like, “Who am I to say/judge?” and “To each his own” as spiritual clutches.  Let me be very clear, as Christians, we have every right to say.  We were called to say.  When Jesus issued the decree not to judge others, He did not mean that we should stand in passive agreement of sin, He meant that we should not condemn others because of it.  A society with no governing laws/standards is governed by anarchy, complete disorder, which by definition is contradictory to the nature of God, which is order.  We are called to make a difference.

Over the past few months, I have read various devotionals and books where the authors have suggested that we are in the final days; and we should pursue life passionately.  The truth is, no one but God knows when the final days are.  However, the fact that we do not know when the final days are should ignite a fire in our souls.  Imagine that tomorrow was indeed the last day.  Wouldn’t you want to make today count?  Wouldn’t you want to know that your life counted and that you gave it all you got?  If you answered yes, then you need to start living like you are dying!

The truth remains that despite whether or not tomorrow is indeed our last day, we are indeed dying.  We approach closer to death with every breath of life we take.  The more we live, the more imminent death becomes.  For many people, this topic of conversation is rather macabre.  Those individuals would rather talk about sunshine and rainbows.  However, the harsh reality is that during the time it took you to read this post, time has been withdrawn from your flesh and the withdrawal in non-refundable.    We know that time waits on no man, and that it does not stand still.  The fact that we only have one life to live means that we only have one lifetime to make a Kingdom difference.  So, why not give it all that we have?  Why not go for broke?  Why are we not pursuing our God-sized dreams?  Going for that business? That career goal?  That missionary work? That dream that only you and God know about?  Moving forward, let’s take back what the enemy has stolen and place it back into the hands of those who can properly steward it for God.  There is a revolution, and it has already started.  Where will you stand?

“Talitha koum!”
“Talitha koum!”
“Talitha koum!”
A few days ago, I read a story on the news about a little girl in California who underwent a routine tonsillectomy surgery in a California hospital and is now on life support after profusely hemorrhaging post operatively. The little girl’s name is Jahi. On Friday, December 20,2013, Jahi’s family filed a restraining order against the hospital that would disallow doctors to discontinue Jahi’s life support despite being pronounced brain-dead.
The first time I read the story Jahi, my heart went out to this little girl I did not know. My prayer was that God would bring her back to life. If there were ever a perfect time for a miracle, this would be it. Christmas is always a time of hope and new beginning. That was my original prayer. However, today when I read the updated story, I zoned in on the little girl’s name. Immediately, my thought went to the story in the Bible of Jairus. It was not lost on me that there was a similarity in both the names and the circumstances.
In Mark 5:21-41 (and Luke 8:40-56), the story is told of a man named Jairus who pleaded with Jesus to save his dying 12-year old daughter. However, before Jesus could get to Jarius’ house, a messenger had sent word that Jarius’ daughter had died (Luke 8:49). Jesus instructed Jarius not to fear and told him that his belief would make his daughter well (Luke 8:50).

When Jesus arrived at Jarius’ house, everyone was mourning the loss of the child. Jesus instructed them:

 “Don’t cry; the child is not dead—she is only sleeping,” (Luke 8:52, NLT)!

When Jesus told them that the child was not dead, they laughed at him (Mark 5:40). Despite this, Jesus, his disciples and the girl’s parents went to the room where she laid. Jesus took her hand and he said:

“Talitha koum,” Mark 5:41, NLT)!

Little girl I say to you get up,” (Mark 5:41, NLT).

The truth is, no one knows God’s will. His ways and His thoughts are higher than ours. However, if it is in His will, today, my prayer for 13-year old Jahi is “Talitha koum!” Little girl, get up. I pray that those who are “laughing” (e.g. the doctors, the hospital staff and the naysayers) would be put to shame in the same manner as those who were laughing in the house of Jarius. In Jesus’ name, I stand on the promise of the Word of God.

“Talitha koum!”

I’m usually not the best at reciting jokes, but this one I had to share.  A man went to God and said, “God, your power is so infinite and your resources are so limitless.  For you, a million years is like one second and a million dollars is like one penny.  Surely, you would have no problems giving me a million dollars.”  God looked at the man and said, “I sure don’t.  Just give me one second.”

The truth is God’s timing is not the same as ours.  When everything ceases to exist, He will still remain standing.  God has seen empires rise and fall.  He has seen generations created and destroyed.  He is the beginning and the end of time.  So, sometimes it does beg the question:  Could God truly sympathize with the fact that we are but a mist in the spectrum of time?  Even though He created us, does He really understand that our Earthly bones decay daily?  Does He truly understand that for us a million years is not the same as one second?  As I explored the answer, perhaps answers, to this question, I came across an interesting passage in Scripture.  It’s a little long, but just bear with me:

A Valley of Dry Bones

The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”

10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.

11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken,’” (Ezekiel 33:1-14, NLT)!

This story should give each and every one of us great comfort.  You see, when the bones first came together, they had no life.  They were just going through the motions.  It wasn’t until God breathed His Spirit into them that they came alive.  This passage illustrates three really important principles.  First, it is quite possible that you and I can make plans absent of God.  Our plans might even create the illusion of success.  I am sure that had there been distant onlookers, the regenerating bone might have given the appearance of life.  But just like the bones, our plans do not experience true life until God breaths His Spirit onto them.  The second point is, regardless of how dead something is, God can bring it back to life.  The fact that those bones were dry throughout suggests that they had been there for some time.  The bones probably surpassed any memories of the individuals’ existence, but God was still able to bring them back to life.  To us, our dreams might appear dead and forgotten, but God can bring them back to life by breathing His spirit into it.  The truth is, our very existence is proof of that.  We were dead before we were born, and God breathe life into us and caused us to exist.  The third point is easily overlooked.  God could have resurrected the bones on His own, but he used Ezekiel to perform the works.   God commanded him to speak to the bones and the wind.  What is He commanding us to speak to in our lives?

I love the way this passage end.  Even though God had given this illustration as promise to the nation of Israel, we should know that our God is not a partial God, and that the promises He makes to one is applicable to all.  With that said, God promised the Israelites that He would open their graves of exile and cause them to rise again.  Wow!  How many of us are living, but we still have one (or both) foot (feet) in the grave?  The truth is, it does matter.  God has promised us that He can rescue us from the tomb and bring us back to life.

Today, we should be encouraged that regardless of where we find ourselves, we should know that God has the ability to rescue us.  He sees us.  There is nothing that can separate us from His love.  He has not forgotten about us or given up on us.  Many may say that it is too late.  The doctor might have predicted when someone will draw his final breath, but only God breathes life.  Critics might say that our dreams have an expiration date and that we are too old to achieve God’s plan, but God gets the final word!  In fact, He has also shared that final word with us.  We need to speak life into our situation today!

Repeat after Ezekiel (via God):

“‘Dry bones [FILL IN THE BLANK WITH YOUR OWN CIRCUMSTANCES], listen to the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord….Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again….‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken, (NLT).’”