God’s Compassion—the Love of Jesus Christ

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. ~ Psalm 86:15

During trying times, the topic of God’s wrath or anger often comes up in conversations. Sadly, some folks will attribute the pain and suffering of others to God’s anger towards them. God’s compassion towards humanity has been the source of countless contentious debates among theologians, religious leaders, scholars, and ordinary men and women for centuries. Nonetheless, Matthew 5:45 avows that …He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

God gets angry at sin (2 Kings 17:18; Romans 1:18). His anger is always under control, righteous, and just (Psalm 7:11; 2 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 5:6). But, the Bible is clear—in Jesus Christ—God’s anger is not directed at an individual (Isaiah 30:27-28; 1 John 1:9; Colossians 2:14). For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Hence, we must not equate God’s anger to our interpretation or understanding through human emotions and actions. For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Scripture affirm that God’s wrath is satisfied in the love of Jesus Christ. This is the ultimate good news—Jesus Christ came into the world to save the sinner (1 Timothy 1:15) and thus, because of Christ, God rightly call sinners justified (Romans 3:26). Therefore, we must be careful not to confuse natural phenomena with God’s anger. In Romans 2, Paul reminds us that there will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil. Who among us is without sin? Apostle Paul inquired in his letter to the Romans that if we should continue in sin; we may receive God’s grace over and over (Romans 6:1-2). Yet, Paul exclaims, that by no means, should we continue in sin!

As Christians—in times of plenty and in times of scarce—we must share the ultimate good news—Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and because of Christ, God rightly call sinners justified (Romans 3:26). So, as we endure this trying season on earth… know that whatever we need—God’s got it! Let us lift up those among us who struggle and send up intercessory prayer for those in need. For Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written…(Romans 8:35-39).

On this Palm Sunday, remember… But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God (Romans 5:8-9).

God bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Clarity of Mind and Refreshing of Spirit

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. ~ Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)

Today is Day 11 of our “40 Days of Prayer and Fasting” at my church. Today, I am moving in a place of clarity of mind and refreshing of spirit. It is a phenomenal experience. With humility and grace, I am participating in a partial fast. Since, fasting usually involves making adjustments to one’s diet and nutritional intake. . . it is wise to respect one’s health conditions and medical needs—it is possible to fast in other areas beside giving up food.

Our senior pastor, said that, “As we draw closer to God, His presence and power should be clear”. God’s mercy seems a little clearer today. I took comfort in knowing that my joy is not based on my circumstances, but on my relationship with Jesus Christ. Our senior pastor also reminded us that, “The Apostle Paul affirmed that the authenticity of his ministry was based, not on his powerful speaking ability, but on God confirming his ministry by signs and wonders” (1 Corinthians 2:4). Can you imagine having a ministry that is confirmed by signs and wonders? WHAT AN AMAZING THOUGHT! There is power in fasting and praying!

Fasting is basically giving up food or something else for a period of time to focus your thoughts on God. When fasting, it is a good idea to read your Bible, pray, and worship. Scripture tells us about the regular fast (Matthew 4:2–3Luke 4:2), partial fast (Daniel 10:3), absolute fast (Ezra 10:6Esther 4:16Acts 9:9), and the supernatural fast (Deuteronomy 9:9). For fasting is almost always coupled with prayer to help us. . . hear from God, reveal our hidden sin, strengthen intimacy with God, teach us to pray with right motives, and build our faith.

So, during Lent, the observance lasting 40 days starting on Ash Wednesday and ending just before Easter Sunday… let us remember that the purpose of Lent is to focus on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and the miracle of His Resurrection. When I think about Jesus’ love for me—for my family and friends—for the whole world. . . my minuscule act of fasting seems so small. . . Yet, it is so significant to me in my spiritual journey to grow in grace, favor, and fellowship with the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Giving up a few tasty meals, thus far, have allowed sweet-sweet spiritual nourishment to manifest more of a presence in my life today—for that I am grateful—thank you Jesus.

God bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Being Mindful of My Spiritual Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. ~ Galatians 5:22-23

“Fruit of the Holy Spirit” is a biblical phrase that refers to several attributes—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It does not appear that Apostle Paul’s intent is to teach how many fruits of the Holy Spirit there are; but, rather to alert to the right kind of fruits that ought to be produced in our lives. Both an individual and a community can generate spiritual fruit when acting in agreement with the Holy Spirit.

Review the “Fruit of the Spirit” below and consider the question, “Have I produced spiritual fruits today?

Fruit of the Spirit
Love 
Genuine, biblical love is a choice, not a feeling—and always seeks the wellbeing of others.
Joy
Joy of the Lord is founded in our spiritual, eternal circumstances… and not in our earthly situations.
Peace
Peace comes from knowing the One who is peace—Jesus Christ—in order to reject the chaos of this world and embrace God’s peace.
Patience
Patience is an ability to endure the circumstances of others and their problems even when you’re exhausted—without becoming resentful or irritable.
Kindness
Kindness demonstrates moral goodness, integrity, and generously toward others.
Goodness
Goodness expresses kindness, uprightness, and charitably toward others.
Faithfulness
Faithfulness refers to the trustworthiness explicitly for Jesus with sustained and consistent submission and obedience… and reliability that benefits others. 
Gentleness
Gentleness—similar to humility—is grace of the soul… and is not weakness, but strength under control.
Self-Control
Self-control involves the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which provides the strength to control our sinful cravings and exercise enough power to embrace the Spirit and promote a bountiful harvest of acceptable spiritual fruit!

By answering the question above, we will become more aware of the spiritual fruits that we produced today. Which might impact the spiritual fruits that we produce tomorrow… and all the days to come! Our spiritual fruits are the product of the Holy Spirit, who dwells inside every believer of Jesus Christ. These fruits are manifested through our willing hearts and minds as fruit of the Spirit. Finally, it is the Holy Spirit that gives us the power we need to reject the acts of the flesh—and produce delicious, magnificent, incredible, abundant fruit of the Spirit!

Keep Going!

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. ~ Philippians 3:12

Sometimes, you can feel discouraged, defeated, and emotionally drained from day-to-day. Unrequited goals that steal your joy and stifle motivation. You find yourself in a state of mental blah-blah—uninspired… with low-level anxiety—hovering in a place of nagging unrest—among broken promises, deferred hope, and unrealized dreams. However, you must not allow such circumstances to fester in your heart, infiltrate your spirit, and cause you to stand still.

But it’s okay to stop and rest if you must—but don’t tarry—keep going! Struggle past the place where your gifts are not utilized. Don’t linger where you’re marginalized, trivialized, and flat-out ignored. Refuse to abide where your visions and dreams are lost from view. Get up! Just one more time… after you’ve fallen—and still expect to hear… a “Yes” after umpteen “No’s”!

You’ve heard the phrase, “one day at a time”. I’ve been so heartbroken—that a day seemed like a long time to keep going. So, I prayed, “Jesus, please help me to make it through one second at a time.” After I made it through a second. I prayed to make it through a minute… then an hour… I knew that there were—60 seconds in a minute—3,600 seconds in an hour—86,400 seconds in a day! For many-many-many days, I felt as if I was moving at a snail’s pace. I now know that I was moving at the speed of grace… embraced in the love of Jesus Christ. So…

If it’s raining, thundering, and lightning… keep going.

If it’s dark as night and you’re scared… keep going.

If you’re struggling with financial woes… keep going.

If you’re burden down with anger, grief, guilt, or low self-esteem… keep going.

If you’ve experienced a traumatic event or family drama… keep going.

When you keep going—even the worst storm blows itself out.

When you keep going—night turns into day.

When you keep going—there’s a blessing with your name on it.

When you keep going—you learn to cast your cares on Jesus because He cares for you.

When you keep going—you recognize that God’s got it all in control.

Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV) states, I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Therefore, no matter what discouraging situation you currently find yourself in—remember—it’s temporary… take courage and keep going by the grace of God!

God bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Letting Go and Holding On

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. ~ 2 Chronicles 15:7

Tommy and I visited our daughter Emily a few weekends ago. A highlight of our trip was the laughs we got from watching her dog Benji (2½-yrs old) and our dog Kobie (10-yrs old) interact. Kobie behaved in a way that we had never seen before.

Benji was a tiny puppy when Kobie met him over two years ago. We taught Kobie to be careful when playing with Benji. But, somehow Kobie became overly obliging to Benji. He always let Benji take his treats. He quickly gives Benji the toy that he is playing with—even when it is his toy. And, he constantly allows Benji to nudge him out of his spot on the couch.

However, on this particular day—Kobie wasn’t having it! Emily and I witnessed the whole thing. Kobie had Benji’s toy. Benji wanted it back. So, began the drama… We laughed and giggled. . . then laughed some more! Emily snatched up her phone and started videoing.

The video is worth a thousand words…

After Tommy and I returned home, Emily texted me the video. I watched it… laughing each time! Over and over, again! I must have watched it at least five times!

Then… I realized that there was a message here. Watching Benji and Kobie wrestled over the toy… reminded me that we too wrestle over situations and circumstances. Trying to decide what to do. What is wrong! What is right! Should I say “yes” or “no”?  Should I let go or hold on? Just what is the best course of action at this place and time in my life?

Sometimes, in the same situation… letting go is the right thing to do… And holding on is the right thing to do. It is God’s grace and wisdom that lets us know—which is which—and when to do each!

The God-Assigned Duty of Hospitality

Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined .~ Titus 1:8

Our senior pastor shared that as far back as we can look into the history of God’s people, one of our God given duties is hospitality. The deliberate act of simply welcoming people into our personal space through our deeds, resources, and words. This is affirmed in Leviticus 19:33–34. Romans 12:13 tells us to pursue hospitality not just during holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. And not only with those we know… In Hebrews 13:1–2, we are encouraged to show hospitality to strangers… for in doing so we might entertain angels unaware. Therefore, as Christians, it is our duty to develop the perpetual attitude and habit of hospitality.  

The motivation to practice hospitality comes from knowing that the ultimate act of hospitality was when Jesus Christ died for us. When we engage in hospitality, we share God’s refreshing joy and amazing grace. We pour into others… shimmering rays of hope and love that comes from Jesus Christ. We thereby, become lovers of what is good, upright, holy, and disciplined as we embrace the spiritual gift of hospitality.

But, how do we activate the spiritual gift of hospitality?

.Glad that you asked.

Without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9), we can practice hospitality by lifting our hands to help, opening our hearts to care, and sharing our homes to feed or shelter someone. There are perhaps as many ways to show hospitality as there are people in need of our generosity. Here are a few biblical examples:

Luke 5:1-11, Ezekiel 18:7, Isaiah 58:10, & Matthew 10:42… feed the hungry

James 2:15-17, Luke 3:11, Matthew 5:42, & Proverbs 19:17… share with those in need

Exodus 17:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Isaiah 35:3, & Hebrews 12:12… lift up the weak

Matthew 25:35-40, Philippians 2:4, Galatians 6:2… help lighten someone’s burden

Therefore, one day we too may avow hospitality… as stated in Psalm 37:25-26… I once was young and now I am old, but I have never seen the righteous abandoned or their descendants begging for bread. For, every day I am generous, giving freely, and my descendants are blessed.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

You’re Valuable to God

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.~ Luke 12:6-7

birds-3414240_640

One morning, I saw a bird. The regal fowl leisurely strolled along as it pecked in dew covered green grass along the side of the road. Warm golden sunshine shimmered on the horizon. The cars in front of me and behind me seemed less distracting. The tranquil scene embraced me. Serenity and admiration of God’s wondrous handiwork soothed me as I sat stuck in a minor traffic jam. Rushing to work, suddenly appeared less urgent. I became filled with a sense of God’s mindfulness towards His creation.

The next morning, while driving on that same stretch of road… there were over a dozen birds… all engaged in a carefree stroll as they feasted… Oblivious to my gazing eyes.

“Did the first bird tell the rest of the birds where food could be found?”

“Did the other birds see the first bird enjoying breakfast as they flew overhead?”

“Which bird, among them, is the one that was here yesterday?”

So many questions raced through my mind as I stared out of my car window. Then… I thought, “Take out your cellphone and snap a photo”—to late—traffic began to move again and my attention returned the rules of the road.

There is something to be learned here… I am sure. Not one bird was acting aggressive or demanding that the other birds leave because he saw it first. Not one bird seemed interested in where the other birds were pecking. The each peacefully laid claim to their spot in the grass without interference from the other. Did each bird feel worthy to enjoy the fruit of the land?

Luke 12:24 encourages us to… Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

Wow! How much more valuable are we than birds?

It is of utmost importance that you see your value…your worth—not in a prideful or self-achieving—nor superior grandiose kind of way, but as a needful child of God… who is not dependent on what she is or can do… but on who God is and what He can do for her and through her.

Watching the birds reminded me that God is a provider. His provisions are sufficient… if you humble yourself in God’s love then you will begin to see your true worth. You are so valuable to God… that Jesus came down from heaven to save you.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Feel the Love of God

love-699480_1280-e1568668843773.jpgGalatians 6:9 tells us to not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. On your journey to do great things, there will be challenges, stresses, pressures and set-backs along the way. But you must not embrace negative feelings—let them come—and let them go. Don’t let worry, disappointment, or anything take your eyes off the task that God has set before you. Romans 8:39 affirms that nothing can separate you from the love of God. Little distractions… nor big disruptions can stop you from doing God’s will or feeling His love. And what does it mean to feel the love of God?

It means that you have a comforter, a way-maker, and a deliverer. You have someone who cares for you, watches over you, and provides for you. You have someone who understands what you are going through, sees you for who you are, and knows what you shall become. You have someone who hears your prayers and can answer before you call. You have someone who takes His love and washes away all your shame, pain, and fears.

So, when the cares of life start to chip away at your well-being, your peace of mind, or your finances… tell God about it. When you feel like giving up… tell God about it. When your heart’s heavy laden with things you can’t change…tell God about. When you feel defeated and rejected… tell God about. You don’t have to struggle along; Jesus is just a prayer call away. And when you call, He will answer. He can replenish you with whatever you need. He can rain down on you with an abundance of joy, love, peace, wealth, and health… He can grant you favor, grace, and mercy—and give you access to places you never thought you’d go.

You name it… you claim it… God’s got it!

Therefore, continue to do good. Do what is right and pleasing in the eyes of the Lord of lords. You’re not forgotten… Keep watching…keep praying… stir-up your faith. You’ll see miracles. Blessings are already here—and more are on the way… feel the love of God!

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Only Words…

Words fascinate me. They are immortal—unforgettable. Scripture speaks of the power of words—Proverbs 18:21, John 1:1, Matthew 12:36—to name a few. And while a picture is worth a thousand words… it’s words that we use to describe a Picasso… Renoir masterpiece… or a magnificent sunrise. Even our universal language—music—has an alphabet!

Words can be weaponized to destroy or they can be mobilized to safeguard and call into existence good things that are not as though they were. There is inherent power in words; whether written or spoken. Words have the capacity to help, heal, hinder, and hurt—what they do—depends on how we use them.

Words can carry our thoughts across space and time… to those we’ll never meet and places we’ll never go. It’s with our words that we shape reality, form opinions, and express ideas. When we use our words in prayer… they can travel into the future, go behind locked doors into secret rooms and leap over mountains to reach their intended destination and divine purpose.

For it is words that can change hearts and minds. Then, shall we speak kind words? Shall we speak life, love, health, an abundance of well-being and prosperity upon ourselves and others? For words are like mirrors that reflect the images from where they came. Words are like seeds that produce the fruit of its own kind.

“Be careful of the words you say, Keep them short and sweet. You never know, from day to day, Which ones you’ll have to eat.”—Anonymous

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”— Nelson Mandela

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter!

Facing Giants in God’s Strength

Sooner or later, we all face giants. By giants, I’m referring to an overwhelming problem or issue that physically drains us and leaves us mentally exhausted. A giant could be fear, sickness, pride, guilt, shame, debt, envy, lust, or gluttony. It could be a feeling of unworthiness, insecurity, doubtfulness, or helplessness. Giants… block our prosperity.

Metaphorically speaking, often these giants drag us into battle kicking and screaming or speechless from sheer terror. But that’s not how the word of God tells us to face our giants (Isaiah 41:10).

So how should we face giants?

Don’t avoid the battle (Deuteronomy 20:4)

In Jesus name, call on God and pray for His power. Then attack the giant. Don’t justify it. Don’t excuse it. Say what it is and realize that you can’t defeat it in your own strength, but you can—in God’s strength.

Show up prepared for the battle (1 Samuel 17:47)

The battle belongs to God. David told Goliath that it’s not by sword or spear that God saves. You must realize who’s in charge of the battle.

Be not afraid (Romans 8:31; Zephaniah 3:15)

Look at your giant in the light of God. Know that if God be for you, He’s more than the whole word against you.

Be wise when considering others opinions (1 Samuel 17:28-30)

When all is said and done—no one else can fight your battles—you alone are accountable to God for the choices you make.

Know your weaknesses and your weapons (1 Samuel 17:38-40)

When you realize who’s fighting against you—and the weapons available to you—then you can actively defeat your giant and receive the prosperity God has for you.

Understand the rewards of winning (Deuteronomy 8:18; Psalm 35:27)

The reward is God manifesting what He intended for you to have… before the giant stood before you.

Give thanks and own your victory (2 Timothy 1:14; Deuteronomy 20:4)

Acknowledge with praise the God-given ability you received as a gift from the Holy Spirit who lives within you.

Though it’s true… we all face giants. It’s also true that in God’s strength… every giant can be defeated.

Daunting Options that Led to Courage

Growing up in Greene County, Alabama, I learned early on that the concept of pro-black didn’t mean anti-white or anti any race or culture. It meant having a mind to promote a people who struggled to overcome—a people—who still struggles to overcome injustices. Oftentimes, the idea is misrepresented because of a lack in understanding the historical context. It is essential to remember that many valuable figures throughout history were white men and women who stood with blacks—then and now—in the struggle.

emma_rev_gimore3In recognition of Black History Month, I would be remiss not to recognize an individual whom I considered a friend and mentor, the late Rev. Dr. Thomas E. Gilmore. Rev. Gilmore was the second black sheriff in the state of Alabama and the first black sheriff elected in Greene County. The movie, This Man Stands Alone [a.k.a. Lawman Without A Gun] (1978), portrays Rev. Gilmore’s road to becoming a sheriff in the deep south. Today, the court house square in Eutaw, Alabama is named in his honor.

During my tenure in divinity school, Rev. Gilmore and I discussed much theological dogma, which often led to conversations about Black History. I enjoyed listening to Rev. Gilmore, lift up brave men and women that he knew from the struggle. One such individual was Rev. Frederick Lee “Fred” Shuttlesworth .

Rev. Shuttlesworth led the fight against segregation and other forms of racism as a Baptist minister in Birmingham, Alabama. He was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). This summer I visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute while back home in Alabama. It was humbling to stand beneath the statue of a man who was such a giant among men.

No one need ever have to apologize for the greatness of who they are. To be uniquely oneself is powerful. Genesis 1:27 affirm that we are created “in God’s image”. As God’s image. . . we should be an official, visible, and comprehensible representation of who God is and what He is really like. Therefore, we should treat others as we wish to be treated (Luke 6:31).

For there are many men and women of great character who have dreamed and practiced what is good. Yet the dream that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned and the dream that we envision for ourselves—our world—has yet to be fully realized.  Harriet Tubman said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Living in Alabama, there were things you knew… about the dream… by the time you got to third grade. Even if you weren’t sure whether you learned it at school, church, home or from Uncle Bob. Things like (Oh and yes you knew the dates too):

      • the first slaves were brought to the New World in 1619
      • people of color fueled the cotton industry of 1793
      • abolitionism and the underground Railroad started around 1831
      • civil war and emancipation 1861
      • post–slavery south began in 1865
      • separate but equal 1896
      • NAACP founded in 1909
      • Harlem Renaissance started in 1920
      • Brown v. Board Of Education May 17, 1954
      • Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, December 1955,
      • Freedom Rides of 1961
      • Birmingham church bombed, 1963
      • “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
      • Coretta Scott King is from Heiberger, Alabama
      • Civil Rights Act of 1964
      • Selma to Montgomery March in March 1965
      • Voting Rights Act of 1965
      • rise of Black Power Movement late 1960’s & and early 70’s
      • Shirley Chisholm runs for president, 1972
      • Jesse Jackson runs for president, 1984

I’ll stop here… but there’s much more that could be said about Black History through the eyes of a black person who grew up in the 70’s & 80’s in the South. Today… we might have trouble remembering our children’s birthdates—but I bet—we know the assassination dates of John F. Kennedy (Nov. 22, 1963), Malcolm X (Feb. 21, 1965), and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4, 1968).

As an African-American, I love Black History! It’s a legacy. It’s the love of a people who faced daunting options so that others may have choices. It’s the hope of the past, present and future generations. It’s the gift of brave men, women, and children who remind me of the words of Dr. Maya Angelou. . . “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

God Bless. . . I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Forgotten Wisdom: Aesop’s Fables

As I embrace Black History Month—my ancestors—people of color. . . I’m honored by their creativity, ingenuity and sheer perseverance. And while I orientated myself in place and time, Aesop’s Fables came to mind.

My brothers and I were often enchanted by stories that our mom told involving some ants and a grasshopper, a fox and some grapes. Coded meanings spoken by magical creatures that brought moral messages to those who would hear. Lions and wolves struck fear and courage in my heart long before I went to kindergarten.

But, imagine my delight, when I learned that a Black man had spoken those words centuries ago. How amazing it is that his words and identity survived to teach me. . .  to inspire me. . . to show me wisdom through moral and spiritual lessons.

For it’s generally accepted that Aesop, a slave and storyteller, lived in ancient Greece during the 6th century. He is believed to have been an African, possibly from Ethiopia. A Black man in ancient times, telling universal truths with words that even a child can understand reveals an image of a wise person. Take the story, The Lion & the Mouse, where the moral is that A kindness is never wasted, which was true in Aesop’s time, is true now, and will be true in the future.

I’ve always enjoyed reading Aesop’s Fables. Maybe it’s because my mom created an awareness for the nuances of learning through parables. Or maybe it’s the unique ability that the stories have to show a person’s beliefs, character and actions. . . and then masterfully show them consequences of such.

I picked up my cell phone. . .  called my daughter and shared my passion for the fables with her.  Then I asked if she’d read Aesop’s Fables in school. She told me that she didn’t think so. Guilt washed over me. I don’t remember sharing Aesop’s Fables with her when she was a child. Not in a real intentional way. . . like my mom did. . . Have we forgotten the wisdom found in Aesop’s Fables?

With a little persuasion from me, we read a few together and discussed the moral of each fable. It was an enjoyable experience. Which goes to show that the young and not so young can see the wisdom in Aesop’s Fables.

It’s my goal to re-read all the fables during the month of February and consider their relevance for living today. I invite you to join me in this quest.

God Bless. . . I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Who Are The Peacemakers?

Who are the peacemakers? Without conflict… there’d be no need for peacemakers. But, we’re unlikely to always avoid strife…  so there must be peacemakers. Ignoring problems or pretending everything is okay when in fact it’s not—doesn’t make one a peacemaker. Who does Jesus call the peacemakers?

Let’s look at the word peacemaker. It’s a compound word composed of two very common words… “peace” and “maker.” Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace. Often used as a greeting, such as “hello” or in departure much like “goodbye”. It’s a term associated with health, harmony, prosperity, and completeness. Shalom denotes perfect welfare, tranquility, fulfillment, free of trouble, and liberation from all that blocks contentment.

The term “make” comes from the Greek verb poieó—meaning— “to do” or “to make”. It’s a word of action, energy and initiative. It denotes that peace must be made. And that peace rarely happens by chance or accident after a conflict. It’s worth recalling that peace in the Bible is always based on justice and righteousness. For where justice prevails and righteousness rules…there also is peace.

Taken together, “peace” and “makers,” describe people who actively pursue peace. This includes a pursuit of more than the avoidance of strife… or merely seeking to appease those in disagreement. A peacemaker doesn’t try to accommodate wrong. But rather enforces the blessedness of God by producing a right solution in each situation.

According to Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6 KJV), peacemakers are those people who actively work to reconcile people to God and to one another. For peacemakers:

  • have integrity,
  • listen without taking sides,
  • love based on Jesus’ model of forgiveness,
  • pray for wisdom, guidance, understanding, and courage,
  • recognize deceit and honesty,
  • allow ethical principles to inform their decision-making, and are
  • fruitful by glorifying God with just and right results.

Matthew 5:9 (KJV) tells us that Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. May we be the peacemakers—this Holiday season—as we seek peace on earth and goodwill towards all.

 God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

A Thankful Heart

I once went to church with a lady, who during service would stand up and give thanks to God for allowing her to see another day. In my immature state of mind, I would think, “…that’s the same thing you said last week”. Now let me put this in context, other members were testifying about a prayer that was answered or a blessing that was received—something that was new news. But over 90% of the time—this member stood up—and told us to “taste and see that the Lord is sweet… and He’s allowed her to still be here”.

Years later, I now believe that church member had a thankful heart. She knew God for more than a gift giver of things. She knew Him as the keeper of her mind, body and soul. Psalm 9:1, tells us to give thanks and tell of the Lord’s wonderful deeds. And the most wondrous deed of all is that we’re still here. Because from here… we can move forward.  We can grow in the grace and favor of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Wrapped up in the cares of life, it’s not always easy to nature a thankful heart. Yet, this is the very thing we’re required to do in order to see God’s will accomplished in our lives. So, let us:

  • Counts our blessings (Psalm 103: 2-5) 
  • Celebrate the mighty deeds of God (Psalm 9:1; Psalm 107:8; 1 Samuel 2:1-2)
  • Appreciate our uniqueness… not comparing ourselves to others (I Samuel 18:8;Galatians 6:4)
  • Constantly avoid complaining(Philippians 2:14-15;Exodus 16:8)
  • Cultivate a heart of contentment (Psalm 50:23)
  • Demonstrate a generous heart towards others (2 Corinthians 9:11-12)
  • Value our resources  (Mark 8:1-10; Luke 22:17-19)
  • Give praise for the good times, happy times, and sad times—we can learn from them all (Hebrews 13:15; Psalms 100:4; Psalm 138:4-5; Psalm 138:6-7)
  • Praise God for His love (Psalm 138:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  • Know that being thankful can change circumstances (Acts 16:25;Psalm 138:3)

Having a thankful heart fills us with an attitude of gratitude. We no longer, think that we deserve to have everything. Or that all things should go the way we want them to go. We lose that feeling of entitlement and gain the wisdom of thankfulness. With a thankful heart, we see the good and positiveness in life and focus on that. We quickly turn away negative thoughts that come into our mind… because we now see who keeps our mind, body and spirit.

We celebrate God, life and others. As the lady who stood up in church—we too—recognize the power of a thankful heart. It leads to overflowing joy because we delight in the Lord of lords!

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

 

In His Presence

There are days, when regardless of the circumstances of life, you feel God’s loving embrace. You snuggle up in fellowship with reverence, thankful for forgiveness and hopefulness—praising Him for what isn’t as though it was. In Acts 13:22, we’re told that David was a man after God’s own heart. You wonder, “Is this how David felt?”  You consider… “What is this that the sovereign God should be mindful of little O’ me?”

Then you remember… Matthew 10:29-31 tells us that we’re in our Father’s care. He is so mindful of us that He knows the very number of hairs on our heads. And we need not be afraid because we’re precious to Him. We’re God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2: 10).

So, you revel in God’s grace and mercy. Gazing up at a beautiful blue sky…  you desire to be like David… Knowing that David was:

  • Kind—2 Samuel 9:3
  • Humble—Psalm 62:9
  • Reverent—Psalm 18:3
  • Respectful—Psalm 31:9
  • Trusting—Psalm 27:1
  • Loving—Psalm 18:1
  • Devoted—Psalm 4:7
  • Grateful—Psalm 9:1
  • Faithful—Psalm 23:6
  • Obedient—Psalm 119:34
  • Repentant—Psalm 25:11
  • Promise Keeper—1 Samuel 18:7
  • Gracious—2 Samuel 9:7

As God swath’s you in His presence… you realize that you don’t have to feel God to know He’s there. You’re aware that you must live by faith (Romans 1:17), because it is impossible to please God without it (Hebrews 11:6). However, you leap for joy within your spirit because you feel the presence of God.

You take a deep breath, and be still (Psalms 46:10). Then you call His name… Jesus… Bless this day for the calmness of my soul (Acts 4:12).

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

The Echoes of Our Actions

We’ve often been told—think before you speak—and it’s not always a good idea to speak all that you think. We’re complex individuals… grappling with complicated situations that can distort our view of right and wrong. When that happens, we need to know where our help comes from (Psalm 121:2) and be willing to call upon Jesus(Acts 2:21). For our thoughts can travel to God and return with a reply faster than a flash of lightning can dance across the sky. So, whether we need to act quickly or have time to wait… there is enough time to consult with God.

Therefore, we should check our attitudes, consider our motives, and guard our actions to avoid undesirable results. We don’t have to believe that God wants us to choose the lesser of two wrongs. It’s not taught in Scripture that we face situations of impossible ethical conflict—where every choice—we can make is the wrong choice! Not readily knowing the right choice doesn’t makes it okay to pick one that we know is wrong. Just because our minds can’t conceive the right thing to do in the moment—doesn’t mean that a right answer don’t exist.

It is not wise of us to run ahead of God and try to exert our will above His will. Nowhere in Scripture are we told to do wrong—in order to achieve right. Nowhere in Scripture do we find men and women of faith compromising their integrity in an attempt to get their blessings from an ungodly source.

This way of thinking… this way of speaking… and this way of acting… contradicts the message of Jesus Christ, according to Hebrew 4:15. And goes against the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which tells us that God will always provide a way of escape. We must be careful with our thoughts and intentions… as they will become actions that echo louder than who we say we are.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Embracing Uncertainty

“When we embrace uncertainty, it can be very liberating. If you can accept the uncertainty, it allows you to live life every day.” –Victor Gospodinoff

My mom passed away last year—not from breast cancer though—she was a breast cancer survivor for over 15 years. I so miss her. Today, I remembered her funny little characters that she often drew when I was a child.

Stick figures… my brothers and I called them! Sketches of people, young and old… who always… And I do mean always! Had their hands and feet curled up. Smiling faces from the pages with no lips and triangles for a body. Those amazingly simple drawings that I cherish. 

Not as Good as Mom’s Stick Figures Were… But Such Fond Memories Still!

Adoringly, I drew a stick figure—a modest likeness to my mom’s—I’ll admit. But close enough! Through a kaleidoscope of memories, I took off the breast cancer pen that I was wearing and placed it next to the stick figure on the sheet of paper. For a few long solitary seconds, my mom’s love embraced me in warm nostalgias. I heard her inspiring voice, talking as we often did. We were deep in conversation on our way home from one of her radiation treatments.

We were talking about what a blessing the young man was that gave her the treatments. Since, mom didn’t drive, I had to take her to each appointment. This was a task that I eagerly accepted. But my mom was concerned, because I worked out of town. And would have to use a half day of sick leave, each time… 5 days a week… during the 7- or 8-weeks  that she needed to do to complete her treatment.

The young man overheard my mom talking about hoping that I would have enough sick time to finish her treatment….  He then told me to bring my mom for her treatments at 6:15 in the morning, if that would help. He was willing to come to work and hour early… That way my mom could get her treatment. And I could get to work on time without having to take any sick leave.

“God will always put people in your path to help you,” I can hear my mom saying. I can still see the expression of joy and relief on her face in my mind’s eye, because of the young man’s act of kindness. Each day, she got up early and bravely faced uncertainty with determination. Until she was told by the doctors that she was cancer free—I love you mom… now and forever.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month—a time to focus on spreading the word about steps women can take to detect breast cancer early. Along with opportunities to support breast cancer research…

Whether it’s illness, concerns over your children, financial woes, challenges on the job, love or a lack thereof… be encouraged in your time of uncertainty. You’re not alone according to Isiah 30:21.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.~ 3 John 1:2

The Struggle is Real—But So is God’s Grace

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

There are days when you walk out into the bright sunshine… embraced by a cool breeze.  And as you look around, you realize the struggle is real. Then you smile. Because so is God’s grace—that unmerited favor that you don’t deserve—but received just the same. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

So you shake of the cares of life—counting your blessings. Thanking God for deliverance from enemies, afflictions, and adversities—dangers seen and unseen. Knowing that you’re blessed—able to do all things through Jesus Christ. You have God’s daily guidance, forgiveness, and preservation. You’re a joint heir with the Son of God (Romans 8:17).

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Walking through Failure to Success

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. ~ Philippians 4:13

There’re many causes of failure. Sometimes failure results from something you did or didn’t do. There’re different kinds of failure. Failure can be serious and painful—other times stupid and embarrassing. Failure can be fleeting or have lifelong consequences. But rest assured, failure will happen at one time or another—if you try to do anything. Frederick Douglass said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Continue reading “Walking through Failure to Success”

Don’t Worry—God’s Got This

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. ~ Matthew 6:24

I’d been trying to grasp the unsettling idea for months. A faint, vague notion floating in and out of my mind. It felt like trying to separate oil droplets from water with a toothpick. Or struggling to recall a dream that I no longer remembered. But today, the idea came into sharp focus. And it caused me to search the Scriptures. Grappling with the question, Why do Christians seem to seek the devil for their blessings?

Continue reading “Don’t Worry—God’s Got This”

Living Water Refreshes the Soul

For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. ~ Jeremiah 31:25

When weather conditions are just right. Each blade of grass sparkles with tiny droplets of water that seems to come from out of nowhere. Seeing dew in the early morning sunshine, reminds me of the refreshing power of God. That unmerited favor—from living water—that can refresh our exhausted souls.

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An Awesome Exchange: Beauty for Ashes

Sometimes we feel wounded, discouraged and defeated. Things happen that cause us to tremble within the deepest parts of our souls… where only God can see and give comfort. In times like those—we learn—from Isaiah 61:3 that God gives beauty for ashes.

In biblical times, it was customary for people to sit in ashes. Or cover themselves with ashes to express their grief over a tragedy (2 Sam 13:19), sorrow over a public disaster (Esther 4:1), or heartache connected to their own repentance of sin (Jonah 3:5-7). Ashes were linked to pain, loss and suffering—linked to the struggles of the flesh.

Continue reading “An Awesome Exchange: Beauty for Ashes”

Embraced in God’s Love

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.~2 Peter 3:18

God reveals himself in ways that defy set patterns, customs or denominational boundaries. He shows up and shows out at His will. There are days when His presence overflows in our lives. It’s as though our spirit leaps for joy inside our physical body. And we feel invincible—connected to the true vine (John 15:1). That’s when we know… that it’s God and He’s making His presence known. This can be expressed through a supernatural event, a quiet personal experience, or a confirmation from others. It’s that place in time… where we flow in harmony with the cosmos and everything seems to work for our good.

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Struggling with Temptation

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.~James 1:3

Temptation is an attraction for… or a desire to do something—especially something wrong or unwise. No one can say… they have never been tempted. Biblically speaking, 1 John 1:8-9 tells us that when we say… we have no iniquity—we deceive ourselves. Yet, when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our faults and to purify us from our unrighteousness.

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You Know My Name

And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. ~ Exodus 33:17 

The other day, I was doing research for an educational brief that I’m writing. I came across many good resources and practices. However, one practice stood out. It spoke to the inclusive power of greeting students by their names. Research affirmed the benefits of asking students for the correct pronunciation of their names—if needed—then correctly saying it when talking to them.

Continue reading “You Know My Name”