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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

It all adds up



I should have figured something was up. On my way to church, a TD Jakes message played on the radio. He was talking about the storms of life and how the storms ceased once Jesus got in the boat. He said how the storm ceasing could be interpreted to mean that the storm was never really a storm in the first place, but an orchestrated event designed to get the disciples (you and I) to invite Jesus take control of their boat. I’d thought about this all the way through to church. At service the visiting pastor began to speak about the sudden storms of life. Then he talked about Peter’s water-walking experience. His message was strong and clear…a call never to look down at the waters but to keep your eyes set on Jesus. I should have seen it, but it was such a beautiful morning, Sunday was. How could I have foreseen? But that’s how life plays it isn’t it?

So I came out of church and as I waited in the car for other members of the family to join me, the preacher I was listening to on a CD also began to speak about the storms of life. And his reference point was? You guessed right – the disciples in the storm! By now I was beginning to pay a bit of attention; not a whole lot though I confess, but enough so as to realize the Lord was saying something. I picked my phone to call my husband who earlier on was on a flight back home. I was still smiling from my conversation with him when I noticed the flashing red message notifications on my phone. I wasn’t smiling a couple of minutes later though!

Yep! Just moments later, I could barely breathe from the intensity of emotions that assailed me from the messages that had come in. Hot tears began to roll down my cheeks. Tell me sis, what do you do when life throws you a sucker-punch? Ever been there? What do you do when in a flash your heart breaks into a million pieces, whereas just moments before you were on a spiritual and emotional high? What do you do when life hits you such that you just don’t know what to do? What do you do when you realize that all you would ever have thought to know to do can’t change a situation?

I struggled through my tears to read two messages in particular from two very dear women in my life. As I read through, I was scared for them and with them; I was disappointed for them and with them; I was as sad as could be for them and with them; I felt an initial sense of hopelessness for and with them; and yes, I was admittedly angry at life for them and with them. The pain I felt was as real and sharp as could be. It took me all of ten minutes to compose myself enough to begin the drive home, and it took every ounce of self-control I had to make that drive. It surely did! It helped that I had my children in the car. I had to get them home safe, regardless.

I have been quiet over the past couple of days since. It would seem that those nearest and dearest to me are grappling with new challenges all of a sudden – challenges with their health, their homes, their children, their businesses. All in the space of a few days, the storms all rolled in together.  But here’s the standard irony of life: the earth didn’t move! As low as I have been in spirit, I have still had to deal with the realities of life. My children have still had to go to school and on time; my meetings have still had to hold at the office; I have still had to deal with paperwork and other office responsibilities; deal with business calls, etc. I have still needed to maintain a professional mien before my staff and colleagues. In this space, my heart stayed heavy. I’m so sure you can relate with this.

But God! Yes sis….But God! I love the fact that when we get to this place, there is always a ‘But God!’ testimony. God always has His way of bringing us back front and center doesn’t He? He sent me an angel today. My sistas had been calling and texting to check up on me all day (love you ladies) but I couldn’t take their calls. I wasn’t about to mess up my mascara at the office (so thankful I can make light of this now) and I knew for certain I would be in tears again if I as much as heard their voices. So I held out for as long as I could. Eventually though, I answered the first of the calls I had a leading to, and God spoke.

It was a simple statement. She called to say I should hang in there; that she loved me and was there for me. And then she said ‘You know that in the middle of all this He is still God right? All this is not a surprise to Him’. And then it hit me! A truth I have always known and which I preach, but which in the storm I was in, the enemy had tried to becloud from me. God is still God! All power belongs to Him! He is in total control! He works to do His will and His good pleasure! His sole objective is to love us, see us through the trials of this earth, and bring us into His love in eternity!

Those simple words reminded me that God is in my boat! He is in the boat with these dear women in my life who are being assailed right now. He is your boat, sis! He was with each of us ever before we knew what was coming, and He will be with us till the very end! I remembered His Word that His strength is made perfect in our weakness and it ministered to me that each of us was in the perfect place for His glory to shine through. I took strength in this truth once again. I don’t need to be strong sis; neither do my sistas; and neither do you. All we need to do is to look unto Jesus! He is our strength! He is our source! It is in Him that we move and live and have our being! Halleluyah!

It all added up, sis. It always all adds up! God is God! We need to walk in this assurance. He never promised us easy! He promised us ‘I will be with you through the storms, through the floods, through the fires’. A clear burden lifted from my heart as the Holy Spirit brought me back to this place of remembrance. This is my sure word to you today sis. Like me, when the storms of life come to buffet you or those so dear to you that you feel their pain as deeply; look up sis! Look up! There is One Who says He is working ALL things out for your good and mine. All He asks is that we trust HIM, storms and all…. It will all add up in the end…. for your good, and for mine.

Be blessed sis….. for you surely are.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mirror Mirror


Romans 12 verses 9 - 21 present for every Christian a very interesting read. I toyed with reproducing the entire Scripture as contained in these verses, but I will rather include them in the ‘Word for the Week’ section of this blog, and also encourage you to read the verses up for yourself (preferably in the Amplified Bible). These verses held my attention very strongly this morning as I continued in my study of the book of Romans. As I meditated on them, I recalled a discussion I had just yesterday with a sista of mine who is to my mind, one of the best consultants that I know in her field. Incredibly intelligent and highly personable she is. I love her to bits and that’s for sure. 

She was describing for me a leadership training session she had with a group of people. Portraits of various personalities were put on the screen and the participants were then asked to state whether each person was a leader. For each decision regarding each personality, the group had to give reasons why and the criteria by which they adjudged that each person was a leader or not. At the end of the exercise, there was a long list generated from the participants themselves about what they perceived a leader was or was not. She then asked that they each imagine that their own portraits were displayed on the screen. What did they expect the response to the question of whether they were leaders or not would be, based on the criteria they had themselves spelt out? The response? Dead silence!

As she spoke, I could very readily visualize this exercise playing out, and I will admit that my own reaction was also an initial silence. Silence because I recognized that among the best of us, we each usually have an over-inflated sense of self – for good or for bad, and there is usually a difference between how we believe ourselves to be, and how we are perceived by those around us. I recognized that while I like to think of myself as a pretty good leader, there are many areas for improvement and there is nothing like taking a good hard and honest look in the mirror of someone else’s eye to show you your shortcomings. Many years ago, I had the errr…’priviledge’ to be involved in a Johari Window exercise. OUCH!!! It was a big eye opener for me; a major lesson in perception. I heard myself described in ways I would never have ascribed to myself as a person. I thank God for grace and an open mind to take the lessons from there and move forward.

As I read the Scriptures in Romans 12 this morning, I found myself thinking ‘Mirror Mirror’. Ordinarily this would have made me laugh out loud, but there was assuredly nothing funny about it as the Holy Spirit began to take me deeper in the understanding of the call we have to be like Christ. We are to have the same mind which is in Christ. We are to live as He lived; to walk as He walked; to talk as He talked; and to love as He loved. The word of God tells us that we are the workmanship of God, created in His image and in His likeness. We are the sons of God, called to show forth His glory on earth; to spread His gospel and win souls to Him. We are to be an example unto others. People are to look at us and see God. People are to relate with us and feel the love of Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. People are to listen to us and grow in wisdom and knowledge as we submit even our tongues to the Holy Spirit as instruments of His counsel. As I read these Scriptures, the Lord asked me to put myself into the Scriptures and assess the image looking back at me. I was to ask of myself ‘How much do I look like Christ?

This is the question from God for you and I today sis. How conformed are we to His image and likeness? A few of the questions that popped out from the word in Romans were:
  • Is my love sincere? Are my acts of love altruistic or otherwise? What are the motives and intents of my heart?
  •  Am I showing honor to others in my relationships with them? (Honor is such a big thing for me sis. It’s amazing how we dishonor people around us, even in the smallest of ways; but that is the subject of another blog.)
  • Am I truly aglow with the Spirit? Can people readily see the zeal of the Lord upon me? Am I serving God as earnestly as I should?
  • Am I as steadfast in prayer as I should be? As I once use to be?
  • Am I truly practicing hospitality? Do I go seeking avenues to be hospitable, or am I limiting my loving of others to those who don’t need me to move out of my comfort zone? How am I contributing to the needs of God’s people? What are my motives for the contributions that I do make?
  • Am I blessing those who persecute or are cruel in their attitudes to me? Or really, am I cruel in my attitudes towards anyone or groups of people?
  • Do I truly rejoice with those who have cause to rejoice? Or do I begrudge them any part of their testimony in my heart? Do the smile on my face and the words on my lips reflect the true state of my heart? Is my rejoicing also in my heart?
  • Do I make myself available to share in the pains of others? Am I a source of comfort to those who are in pain?
  • Do I live in harmony with everyone around me, in my family, at work, etc?
  • Am I haughty? Am I high-minded, snobbish, and exclusive? Do I think more highly of myself than I ought? Is there pride operating in my life?
  • Am I adaptable; ready and willing to adjust? Do I readily give myself to humble tasks, or do I hold myself above certain activities?
  • Am I wise in my own eyes; over-estimating my own wisdom?
  • Do I focus on being above reproach at all times in the eyes of the Lord, or do I plan evil in repayment for evil done to me?
  • Do I live at peace with everyone? I mean really…..everyone???
  • Do I try to avenge myself when I feel slighted/cheated/insulted, etc? Or really and truly have I learnt to let go and let God avenge me?
  • Do I go out of my way to be good to my enemies and to those who hurt or persecute me?
As the Lord poured question after question into my heart, I thought about what the answers to these questions would be if Jesus portrait was flashed on the screen. And then I thought about what the responses would be if my portrait was on the screen and these questions were asked concerning me. Try as I might, I found it difficult to be definite in my responses sis. Many of my responses were ‘Yes, but…’ or ‘No, but….’ And perhaps there was one too many ‘Sometimes’ responses. The truth is that being blatantly honest with myself hurt. I mean, how can I claim to look like Jesus if my portrait and His do not elicit mirror-image responses? Sigh!

And what about you sis? You knew that question was coming right? This blog is a platform for both you and I to grow. So as the Lord asks me to beam His searchlight on any areas of my life, I will ask in love that you do too. What are your responses to these questions sis? When you look through the lenses of these Scriptures are you a mirror-image of Jesus?

I leave you with the encouragement that the Lord left me with, sis. He asked me not to be discouraged for His word is that day by day we are being transformed, and the objective of this transformation is that in the end we will indeed conform to the image of Christ. He reminded me that where I am today is a far cry from where I was when He called me to Him. He reminded me that if He loved me enough not to leave me in my sin and in my many messes, then He certainly loves me enough now to walk me step by step into his everlasting arms. All He asks you and I sis, is the same thing He has been asking us for a while: that we listen out for His counsel; that we be obedient and walk in His ways; that we trust in His direction. As we do so, He will do the molding, smoothing out every rough edge. He is the potter remember?  

I’m confident above all else that when He is done with you and I sis, we will be mirror-images of Christ. Believe this with all of your heart, sis! Don’t give up on yourself regardless of what your answers were. God is not through with us yet. How absolutely exciting is that?


Be blessed sis…. For you surely are!




Monday, February 4, 2013

Realignment


God is speaking! He always is. The greatest challenges remain our ability to hear Him; clarity about what He speaks; and our willingness to be obedient and carry through with His mandate. Right now, I am stuck in the clarity zone, trying hard to figure why it is that God has spoken certain words to me at this time. But, let me start at the beginning...

I had just come out of my morning quiet time and was deciding in my mind how best to share with a friend something the Lord has spoken to me and which was a message for both of us in the face of a current situation we had been dealing with. I continued to ponder this as I set out to do my morning exercises. I’d elected to ride my stationary bike, something I otherwise find pretty boring unless I am either watching television or listening to something interesting. I decided on the latter and set out to find a pack of CD’s I had bought recently but hadn’t had time to listen to. The pack was nowhere to be found though (later remembered I left it in my car) but no way was I going to last on that bike without some other attraction (or distraction depending on how you look at it, lol). Anyhow, another pack of CD’s caught my attention. They were from Kingdom Church, New Jersey where my sister worships. I had come back with them as far back as October 2011 when I went for her wedding. One CD in particular caught my attention. It was titled ‘It’s not over yet!’. I figured I’d listened to this message before since it was out of its sleeve, and made to pick another CD in the pack. I had a strong check in my spirit however and quickly realized this was the message the Lord would have me listen to at this time. In the continued struggle to live the Zero life, I chose to be obedient and I’m so glad I did. 

It was a powerful message! Pastor Dharius Daniels spoke about how people tend to approach every New Year by seeking God’s mandate or assignment for the year ahead. He said something to the effect that sometimes God has no new assignment for you; rather He wants you to go back and finish the assignment He gave you last time. I remember thinking how this resonated with my New Year blog ‘Continue in Him’. I had said in that blog that God is not limited to our nice 12-month calendar cycles but works in His own timings and seasons, and that He will bring things to completion based on His own calendar, if we would only learn to keep on keeping on. Pastor Daniels then said something else which struck me very deeply. He said ‘You see, the problem is that too often, we put a period where God puts a comma and we don’t realize that He is not done yet. Or, we put a comma where God has put a period and we keep trying to figure why nothing is changing’. This statement really ministered to me and I kept thinking about it as I got ready and left for work.

I had been reading the book ‘The Circle Maker’ (by Mark Batterson) off and on for a couple of months. It was a gift from a dear friend on my trip to Canada last November. It had sat in my car awhile along with three other books I was reading at the same time. I honestly hadn’t paid it much mind in the past two weeks. As I rode to work that morning however, I felt a strong pull towards it and picked off from where I’d stopped reading. As that chapter ended and I turned the page, there was section titled God’s grammar. In this, the  author started by saying how even though he was a preacher himself, he had forgotten just about every sermon he had ever heard, save for one which was titled ‘God’s grammar’. He said there was one statement in the sermon which to him was simply unforgettable. And that statement was……  wait for it…..   ‘Never put a comma where God has put a period, and never put a period where God has put a comma’. Wow! I literally stopped breathing, sis. Do you have a sense of how blown away I was? In that instance I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was speaking. If I had wondered before, He took the time to confirm it, even as the Bible promises us that He does. How amazing is that?

Only God, can orchestrate it such that a message I have had for over a year and a book I got a few months ago, should both say exactly the same thing to me in the space of an hour. Two seemingly disjointed sources of His Word, yet they ministered the same thing exactly! No doubt He needed me to hear… to hear very clearly and without ambiguity, what He was speaking. The challenge though is that I really and honestly am still not able to figure out what it is that He is directing my attention to. For the past couple of days therefore, my constant refrain has been ‘Show me Lord. Please show me!’. I have been trying to figure where I might have mixed up my comma’s and period’s so that I might backtrack and get back into God’s assignment for me in that area. Even from a worldly perspective, you and I can appreciate just how different the context of anything written or spoken can become simply by using a comma or a period in the wrong place. Viewed from a Kingdom perspective then, you can appreciate the struggle I have had. In this place of struggle however, it ministered to me that I will not figure it out if I keep looking with my physical eyes, or keep trying to figure it out with my natural senses. So, in quiet submission I have chosen to remain at peace and in the place of seeking His face, trusting that He will show me what I need to see, and redirect my steps accordingly in His own time.

Much as I am at peace now about this, I felt strongly enough that I should share this with you sis. This is because somewhere in my spirit, I also wondered if perhaps this wasn’t so much a word for me as it might be a word I am to speak to someone else. Maybe this word is for you sis; maybe it’s for you and I. Today I want to encourage you to pray along with me that the Lord will give you clear distinctions between the periods and the commas He has spoken or is speaking in your life. Ask Him, as I am doing also, to show you where you have made decisions in error because you thought certain situations had come to an end, whereas His assignment, His purpose for you in that regard is far from over. Ask Him to show you where you need to put a lid on a situation, a relationship, a business venture, etc. whose season is over by His intent, but to which you are still holding on. Ask the Lord to bring realignment of your thoughts and actions back to the place of His design, sis.

This is not a year to be outside of God’s purpose. As we come before the mercy seat and ask Him for clarity, for re-adjustment and re-alignment, I am trusting God with you….. as much for my sake as for yours sis, that as always He will grant us revelation and fill us with the power we need to retrace our steps right back to Him. The Lord will help you sis! He will help me!

Be blessed…. For you surely are!




About Me

Entrepreneur, Mentor, Wife, Mother, Sister, Friend. A firm believer in God. Walking in faith everyday that by His grace, I will achieve harmony in all areas of my life, and make measurable impact in the lives of other women of the world

WORD FOR THE WEEK

LUKE 1:

34“-How can this be, Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God

JEREMIAH 2:

5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am only a youth. 7 But the Lord said to me, Say not, I am only a youth; for you shall go to all to whom I shall send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.

8 Be not afraid of them [their faces], for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord. 9 Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. 10 See, I have this day appointed you to the oversight of the nations and of the kingdoms to root out and pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.

1st CORINTHIANS 1:

25 [This is] because the foolish thing [that has its source in] God is wiser than men, and the weak thing [that springs] from God is stronger than men. 26 For [simply] consider your own call, brethren; not many [of you were considered to be] wise according to human estimates and standards, not many influential and powerful, not many of high and noble birth. 27 [No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame. 28 And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are,

Colossians 1:

28 Him we preach and proclaim, warning and admonishing everyone and instructing everyone in all wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God), that we may present every person mature (full-grown, fully initiated, complete, and perfect) in Christ (the Anointed One).

29 For this I labor [[z]unto weariness], striving with all the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me.