You Are Royal….

 

royaltyIf you know me at all, you already know that I am a Born-again follower of Jesus.  I love how that sounds. It sounds passionate about being a Believer!

Unless you have been under a rock or you just have absolutely no interest in the Royals, you know that there was a recent wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  I don’t know about you, but I love the Royals. I have followed them with curiosity and admiration for years.  I loved Princess Diana, I remember when the little princes were born and watched as they grew into wonderful men. I remember when Prince Andrew got married to Lady Sarah Ferguson and when they had their daughters too.  I watched each wedding with awe and joy and loved every single moment of it.

I don’t know why, but when I was reflecting on the recent wedding, I found myself thinking about life for the new married couple and I kept reliving the pageantry of the event. How beautiful Meghan looked and how happy they both seemed.  Yet, I can’t help it, but I turn many things into a God moment. The scripture found in 1 Peter 2:9 came to mind, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.“

The beauty of being Born-again for me personally is that at times a particular scripture will just jump up and grab me. I may not have read it in a while, but the Holy Spirit will bring the scripture back to me to speak directly to me for that particular moment. As I thought about that scripture, I could not help but think about the power of my faith.  That faith encourages me to be all that I can be.  I think about the possibilities for my life and I recall all that I have overcome in my life to get where I am now.

1Peter 2-9I am of the royal priesthood and so are you! If you can see yourself as royalty, I know you will approach your goals very differently. On the same note, if you see yourself as mediocre, that’s how you will approach life. When I use the word, mediocre, it is hard to hear because none of us would ever come out and say that we are mediocre; yet we act like that’s what we think of ourselves.  Mediocre means of only moderate quality; not very good.  Whereas Royalmeans fine, excellent, magnificent, stately, appropriate or befitting of sovereignty.  Maybe those words scare you, because they may seem to imply that you think you are better than others, or maybe they make you feel like you are being arrogant or prideful. I get it, but don’t let the word, royal,scare you.

God formed you for Himself and He knows all about you. Pride is a no-no for a Believer, but being proud of whom God made is not sinful.  Know who you are in Christ Jesus, then your entire world will change because your attitude will change for the better.

You still have no interest in Royalty? Are you sure?

 

 

 

Do You Remember?

memorylaneEach morning I rise around 4 am, actually it’s more like 340, to go to my quiet corner of the house to read my Bible, to pray and journal.  Some mornings I feel half asleep and half awake, I pray “Lord, give me the strength” and I crawl out of bed and head to that place, turn on the table lamp and begin my daily ritual. I know, the word ritual, just doesn’t seem right when I write it either. That’s what some would say I do, a ritual. However, I’d like to call it a part of my daily discipline. I want the time I spend with God each day to be a natural part of what I do; you know? Like some just get out of bed and head straight to the coffee pot, I want to head straight to meet Jesus.

I’d like to call it a part of my daily discipline. I want the time I spend with God each day to be a natural part of what I do; you know? Like some just get out of bed and head straight to the coffee pot, I want to head straight to meet Jesus. I won’t lie, some days I read the scriptures and tell God, “I got absolutely nothing out of that” and on other days, like this one, I can’t seem to put my Bible down.

This morning I was continuing my read of Isaiah when I came across a scripture that hit me like a ton of bricks.  It hit me because it was a scripture I had memorized at a young age. The minute I began reading Isaiah 54:6, “We are, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us to our own way, and the Lord has laid upon Him the sins of us all.”  I immediately remembered the scripture and stopped to think about it. Instead of dissecting it, I found myself going back looking for scriptures I learned years ago and seemingly never used them anymore. I went searching and writing them down as I found them. By the time I had finished with this little exercise, I had written down eight scriptures. I found myself mulling over each scripture and saying them to myself, affirming each scripture as I spoke them.

You may say, “so what?” I know, right? I have no idea why I became obsessed with doing that this morning. As I sat to write this blog, I did hear myself say, “do you remember?” Do I remember what? Is the question really, do I remember where God has brought me from? Yes! Do you?  Do you ever sit back and think about where you are right now and where you were five years ago, ten years ago, 20 years ago or even longer than that? I sure do.  I think about how blessed I am today.  When I look back five years, I was recovering from an illness that made life look bleak. When I remember ten years ago, I had just evolved from a work situation that had me questioning my competence and my potential. When I recall 20 years ago, I had gone back to school to complete an MBA.

Do you ever sit back and think about where you are right now and where you were 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago or even longer than that? I sure do.  I think about how blessed I am today.  When I look back 5 years, I was recovering from an illness that made life look bleak. When I remember 10 years ago, I had just evolved from a work situation that had me questioning my competence and my potential. When I recall 20 years ago, I had gone back to school to complete an MBA. Yes, I was shocked to realize that one too!

There is one thing that remained constant over the years, my faith. Through the ups and downs; through the joys and pain; and through the accomplishments and disappointments, the discipline of reading my Bible, remembering scripture, and drawing on it in times of happiness and in times of sadness, has sustained me. The joy of the Lord has truly been my strength.

Today, I have a wonderful life. In fact, when I think of my life in general, I have had a wonderfully blessed and abundant life.  God has been good. I would have never imagined some of the things I have accomplished and lived. Not for a girl like me; that little girl from New York, whose mom died so young.  The girl who was raised by Pentecostal grandparents in Georgia. Or the one who was not at all popular back in the day.  The one who was not counted out, just never considered by anyone other than the people in the little church in Georgia.  Her? Who would have thought this would be my life?

Anyway, don’t let anyone talk you out of living your dreams or doing what God has placed inside of you. That includes you not talking yourself out of it either. Also, you should think about starting the discipline of Bible reading and prayer each day too. I bet you will one day look back, remember, and be glad you did.

I will close with Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing, as it springs up, can you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

Do You Have Heart Issues Like Me?

heartsDo you ever deal with “heart” issues?

I have been dealing with heart issues lately. My heart and my head are working overtime trying to figure out myself and my motives while trying not to worry about the motives of others.

I observe people. I am a people-watcher. More than anything, I listen to people, even when they don’t think I am. I watch for signs of superiority and insincerity. These traits will show up in various ways.  All you need to do is wait.

Anyway, I don’t like the way I have been feeling lately. Like you, I have seen the best of folks and the worst. I told myself that it’s time to stop and reevaluate my surroundings; not my inner circle, they are cool, but some of my associations and occasional acquaintances. If I, or you, are not careful, these associations can become more frequent and more influential in our thought patterns. You see, we sometimes hear from these acquaintances more than from our inner circle and before we know it, their voices are in our heads and spills over into our hearts. This is the time to find our inner circle!

My inner circle is people who are more than just trustworthy; they are authentic!  They are positive, going somewhere people who energize me.  We don’t always agree, but we respect each other.

friendship-starts-in-loving-heartWe value the opinions of each other, and we trust that each one of us is intelligent and bright enough to have an opinion worth hearing. I love my inner circle because we believe in treating others well whether others are like us or not. We don’t insult others or treat people in a nasty way. We are proud and open-minded and we recognize that we don’t have all the answers, nor do we know the mind of God, but we trust God with the answer.

I am reminding myself lately to be careful to check my heart. I don’t want it to become dark and distrusting of others. I ask you to do the same.  With all that is going on in the world, we have to guard our hearts and our attitudes. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into negativity and pessimism. It’s too easy to do.  One way to ensure that does not happen is to step away from social media (which isn’t so social anymore) and read your Bible.  Stop listening to the crowd for a while, rather, sit, reflect and wait to hear from God.

The Word of God says in Lamentations 3:22-23 that “The steadfast love of the Lord never ends. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning.; great is your faithfulness.”

I know that God loves me. He loves you too, but He also loves the world. The world doesn’t look the same to everyone; I get that. However, the world and all that is in it belongs to God (Psalms 24:1).

I have told myself that instead of being frustrated with what I have seen lately, I will trust God. He has always taken care of me and I trust He will continue to do so. He mends the brokenhearted and He cares about the things that bother us.  I  believe that the God I love is probably a whole lot more tolerant and accepting of those that are not like me. I don’t know, but I do believe that one day I will.

Love Should Build Bridges…

Is it julove builds bridgesst me or do you have trouble comprehending the anger seen in society today?

Most times I can’t comprehend the anger and hate that some people carry around in their hearts. I often wonder what makes them so bitter. so hateful. At times, the hate extends into pure evil.

Like some of you, I too read posts on social media. Some are filled with such divisiveness and hatred. There is no one group that has the corner on the ugliness either. I see people who  range from everyday folks to those who have huge followings writing things against people we should be praying for. Yet, we wonder why we see people acting out so terribly. They are following their leaders!

Do we ever think that we have a responsibility to speak love and acceptance rather than always focusing on what is so different about each of us? If we sat alone and asked the God that we say we follow if what we do day in and day out really represents Him, do you know what He would say to you?

I have a theory; I can have my own theory.  I am not saying that it is right, but for me, I think it is. My theory is that God is displeased with many of our actions when what we do brings about divisiveness and hate. I just don’t see God sitting back saying “you call them out of their names; that’s good.” Nor do I see Him saying “Kudos to you. Just run that idiot over with your car.” or for goodness sake, I sure don’t see Him saying “just kill them!”

When I wrote that last one, I felt right away that someone would say, “He did tell them to kill in the Old Testament.” I refuse to believe that He is happy with hate-filled actions.  You don’t have to agree.

loveoneanotherI sit here and stare around my office and look at the framed art on the walls. Many relate to Love. If you recall, my last book was titled, You Call That Love?  I think about this topic a lot.  One piece of art says ” LOVE builds bridges where there are none.”  I sat watching this and thinking about what was being said.  I agree love does build bridges. For one thing, when we want to dismiss the opinions of others, love will cause us to stop and rethink their point of view. We are challenged to listen. We don’t have to agree, but we listen out of respect for the other person’s opinion. Love causes us to stop and think about whether what we do or say hurts another person.  Now, I know many don’t give a crap about hurting another person’s feelings; they say, they need their feelings hurt.  I say, that may be true, but I sure would like another person to give me the benefit of the doubt when I may not be at my best. Wouldn’t you?

Whether we disagree politically, religiously,  or socially, we should be able to do so without being outright nasty to each other.  If you don’t like how I grade your paper, that’s okay, I still respect you and ask the same. If I don’t care for how you raise your kids, that’s okay, they are not mine, they are yours and I should respect that you are doing your best. Just as I would want you to think that I am doing my best also. If we don’t agree politically, I won’t trash talk your position and I don’t want you to trash talk me. When we hold different religious views, I promise to respect how you feel and I pray you will respect how I feel.  In the end, when we disagree, let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt. For us that are Believers, remember what the Word of God says…

“…Knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him”

1 Corinthians 8:1

I know that I am not always right in every single thing I think or do. However, neither are you. Let’s value each other’s differences and seek to see what makes us more alike than different. I think if we do that, we will show LOVE. I believe that’s when the Father of Heaven will be pleased with us.

In Due Time, It Will Be Revealed…

God has a planEvery year in May, my husband and I put aside the chaos of life and spend one full week together doing nothing but hanging out. We always go to New York City and spend time walking the streets, eating from the street vendors, going to different kinds of restaurants, going to see a play or two and if family is close enough and have time, we see them. However, the trip is for the two of us to enjoy one another and to decompress.

Recently we attended the play, The Book of Mormon, on Broadway. I generally read reviews before I purchase tickets, but I only heard that it was a good play, so I didn’t read the reviews until a week before leaving for the trip and I had already purchased the tickets.  I have to admit, I enjoyed the play. Of course there were scenes that I felt were obscene and I would not have preferred to see them, but overall I liked the play.

As we were walking back to our hotel, my husband asked me if I was okay with the play and I asked right back, “were you?” He loved it. I asked him how would he have felt had the play turned from a particular group, the Mormons, to the Assemblies of God denomination (our denomination) or any other Christian denomination. He said, “well, I probably would not have liked it so much.” I said to him, “me either.”

I really didn’t give the play another thought after that until I sat down and began to write my weekly blog. The play was comical at best, but I thought about my stereotypes of different groups and I began to ponder the stereotypes that others have of Christians.  Why are we so weird to some? I have heard the comments “who would believe Jesus is God?” “the stories in the Bible are not believable, they are made up by men” “if there was a God, why would he be racist, sexist or favor one group of people over another?” ‘how can you believe in something that is not logical at all?” and the questions and comments go on and on.

lord teach meFirst off, I don’t claim to know nor understand the mind of God. So, I am not one of those Christians who believes that they have it all figured out. I just don’t. I know some will say, “see, you don’t know, yet you believe. You have simply been brain-washed your entire life.” I didn’t say I was stupid. I only said that I don’t have to understand everything. I believe that in due time, everything will be revealed.

I am not an ignorant person. In fact, I am highly educated. I have an undergraduate degree, two graduate degrees and one post-graduate degree. Oh and no, I have not only experienced life in America; nor been confined to only one area of the country, and I have hung out with people who are not like me. On the contrary, I have lived in two countries and I have traveled to Cuba, India, Sri Lanka, France, Italy, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, Guam, the Bahamas, Greece, Turkey, England, Kuwait, Iraq and a host of others. I have been to just about every state in the United States too. I have eaten with my hands, with chopsticks and with utensils. Yes, I am well-traveled, yet I still choose to believe in Jesus.

I have friends from other countries that I can call on by name. They communicate with me and I communicate with them frequently. So I am not a closed-off person. In fact, I like to think of myself as a woman of the world. I don’t force what I believe down anyone’s throats, but I also do not stifle what I believe.

The point is this, if someone wants to make fun of Christians, I say let them.  We won’t make fun of you. I hope that we do not get angry at comedies or parodies of who we are and instead love more and trust God. I pray that in due time, not only will our trust in Him show the world why we trusted Him so much, but that our love will show the world why He is worth trusting.

Listen and trust me. Everything is by design and it will all be revealed in due time.