Archives for posts with tag: darkness

Most recently, I have been lamenting over the significance of the human existence—both the brevity of life and the stench of death.  As Christians, we are taught that death is to be celebrated.  However, many of our celebratory instincts often wane when death is untimely and protracted.  In the era of digital news, it seems as though death is ubiquitous.  It could just be that even (or especially) in the digital era, the old journalism mantra of “If it bleeds it leads,’ still rules.   As such, the news cycles are often inundated with stories of tragedies, many of which we, as a society, have become immune.  The headlines are riddled with stories of murders, suicides, overdoses, illnesses and police brutality, just to name a few.  Although the loss of all human life is significant, none is more impactful to me that the loss of young life—the loss of someone who had yet to reach his or her prime—had yet to experience his or her “better days.”

 

The thought of untimely death has made me question and challenge God’s sovereignty and humanity.  Though I must confess, typing the word “humanity” made me chuckle.  I realized that in my quandary, I had somehow brought God down to my level.  I wanted His ways and His thoughts to be akin to mine.  I knew it was unreasonable and irrational, but I still felt that He owed me an explanation.  Like Job, I felt as though the Creator of the Universe owed me an explanation.   While my meditation did not yield quite the answer that I was looking for, it did provide a story of hope, which I will share with you below:

 

The Time is Closer Than You Think!

 

For eons, many have prophesied about the Last Days.  Each generation has cited turbulent times as evidence of impending doom.  Most recently, I have wondered what those day would look like.  For a glimpse into the future, I turned to Revelation, one of the most allegorical books in the Bible. Revelation 19:19 says, “Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army.”  The verse talked about Jesus returning with his army to wage battle.  Many Biblical scholars are divided between whether that army would consist of solely angels or a combination of angels and those that have gone before.   The thought made me wonder in merriment.

 

Today, there are approximately seven billion people walking the planet.  According to the Population Reference Bureau it is estimated that approximation 107 billion people ever lived.  I image that if a war was declared between the Heavens and Earth, Heaven’s armies would necessitate at least that many “soldiers.”  That’s a lot of angels!  The debate about the composition of Jesus’s army is a complex theological debate that is beyond the scope of this post.  However, I will explore that notion of what it would look like if Jesus’s army consisted of both saints and angels.

 

Disclaimer: The opinions presented below are simply conjecture provided to stimulate thought—a mental exercise.

 

Now that that is out of the way, here are my thoughts:  What if the end was closer that we thought?  What if the increase prevalence of youth mortality was actually a battle call?  What if those who died young were being called home early for a greater purpose—preparation for battle?  Maybe your 23-year-old son that lost his battle with cancer is now a general in the battle of Armageddon.  Maybe that 16-year-old that die in the car accident is now a comrade in Heaven’s army.  I would imagine that if Jesus’s army does consist of saints and angels, some “training” would be necessary.  Imagine if during the final battle, you saw your loved one dress in white linen at the battlefront.  Imagine how good you would feel to know that God has given you beauty for ashes.  While no one know the precision of God’s plan, we do know this:  God’s ways are not our ways and His thought are not our thoughts.  God’s plans might seem inexplicable and painful at times, but we have to trust that HE IS GOD and that He still sits on the throne.  Isaiah 61 (NIV) says:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations.

 

Regardless of what the world has managed to throw our way, God will continue to give us beauty for ashes!

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Yesterday, I watched an episode of House Hunters International where a young, American woman from Maryland made preparations to move to Paris to pursue a career as a nutritionist. As she searched for an apartment in and around the big city, her realtor constantly told her that in order to achieve her dream of living in a Parisian-style apartment that fit into her budget, she would have to make some compromises. Ultimately, she reminded her that, “You can’t have it all.”

The realtor’s words got my wheels turning. How many of these catchphrases have we embraced and taken as truth? Who says we can’t have it all. I believe that this saying and many other catchphrases of its kind are lies the devil told to keep us confined by the walls of mediocrity. If God said it, we can do it, and we can have it. This made me think. What other lies have the devil told and disguised them as aphorisms?

1. You can’t have it all.
2. No good deeds go unpunished.
3. All good things must come to an end.
4. Nice/Good guys/gals finish last.
5. It ain’t over until the fat lady sings. No, it’s not over until God says it’s over.
6. The devil’s in the details.

The Bible says that the power of life and death lies in the tongue. We have to be cognizant of the things we say because they sow the seeds for what we will eventually believe and become.

Today’s Prayer:
Lord, we stand on the Word of God. We declare what it says. We speak life into our dreams. We thank you, and we praise your name. In Jesus’ name we pray. 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

God definitely has a way of speaking to us.  This morning, I open my prayer journal and the scripture at the bottom of the page was Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and courageous.  The Lord your God be with you wherever you go.”  I then opened my bible and it opened to Joshua 10.  The highlighted verse on the page was Joshua 10:25: “Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged,” (NLT).

I guess I could safely say that the message of the morning is to be strong and courageous.  Life has a tendency to throw many projectiles in our way.  If we don’t stand on the word of God, we could feel as if we were constantly running for cover.  However, in these verses God is commanding us to not be afraid and to not become discouraged.  In fact, God is telling us that He will be with us in the midst of trial. 

How wonderful is it that no matter where we are, the creator of the universe is right there with us?  We are mere mortals, yet God considers and cares for us and places everything in the Earth under our authority (Psalm 8:-6).  God cares so much for his people that he even gave a man by the name of Joshua the power to command the sun to stand still (Joshua 10:12-13).

“Joshua prayed to the Lord in front of all the people of Israel.  He said,

                                    ‘Let the sun stand still over Gibeon,

                                    And the moon over the valley of Aijalon.’

So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies.”

If God allowed the sun to stand still for one man, He will allow the sun to stand still for ALL men.  What battles do you have in your life?  What battles are you facing in your relationships?  Know that darkness cannot reign in the presence of light, so ask God to allow the sun to stand still so that He can shed light on EVERY situation in your life.  God will allow the sun to stand still until you have defeated your enemies.  He will allow the sun to stand still until you have conquered all your vices.  He will allow the sun to stand still until your relationships have been mended.  He will allow the sun to stand still until all your needs are met. 

Before I close, I have to mention that there is a final piece to this puzzle. In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  In John 8:12 he also said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  Here is the final point.  If Jesus is the light, and there is no other way to the father except through Jesus, then every day that we invite Jesus into our lives and into our situations, God has allowed the sun to stand still.  Jesus is the answer to our sun stand still prayers!!

Lord, I pray that whatever darkness we face in our lives and in our relationships, I pray that you allow the sun to stand still.  I pray that Jesus will shine into every dark crevice and reign over our darkness to give us victory.  In Jesus’ name I pray amen!