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What Shall We Say To These Things?

The world is in chaos. The world is in turmoil. The world is full of Chicken Littles who run here, there and everywhere, crying out to all, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” Conked on the head by an acorn of truth, that moment has been turned into a mountain of distress and each believes it is now their obligation to warn everyone of the coming apocalypse.

So many Chicken Littles today, each with a personal perspective that has morphed into a worldview panic. Unfortunately, even those who proclaim to be followers of Christ now scurry around to praise those that receive their message of woe and to condemn those who refuse to buy in to their rhetoric.

“The sky is falling; the sky is falling!” The truth of a pandemic has become fodder for conspiracy theories and doom day revelations. In light of all that is being said and done, conservative versus liberal, right wing versus left wing, red versus blue, how does one find the energy to sift through all the minutia to discover the acorn of truth that is buried under red herrings by straw men?

Fear can stalk each of us but those of us who are believers can find comfort in the promises of Jesus found in Matthew 11:28-30. When our souls are burdened with the cares of the world, we can find solace in Him.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face, and the things of this world will grow strangely

dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Matthew 11

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

I closed my prayer with the silent request, “Speak to me, Father.”

As I waited in stillness, as my selected music video from my favorite YouTube pianist played, I was distracted by an intermittent chirp. I listened closely; was it the smoke detector calling my attention to a dying battery? The chirp was not that distinct so, no, not the smoke detector.

The chirp continued and I could not ignore it. I got up from my chair and followed its call. I walked over to the front window to stand and listen.

“Chirp, chirp, chirp.” Is it a cricket in the house and if so, how did it get in? I’m in California where crickets in this neck of the woods are rare. I shuddered at the thought of having to chase down a cricket.

I pulled back the curtains to look out the window and there it was, a small bird on the walkway that leads to the front steps of the house. It pecked away at kernels of something and in between pecks it chirped. I stood there, watched it and mused that a bird which could fly chose to walk on the ground to forage for food.

My bird thoughts were interrupted by part of a scripture I had not thought of in years, “…if I take care of a two cent bird…” I could not remember all of the scripture but in that moment God reminded me of His care for me. He used a small bird that has no means other than to trust that when it looks for food, food will be found, even if it means taking a walk on concrete rather than soaring in the air.

The bird eventually walked away from the front of the house to cross the street. As I watched it, I realized that once I walked to the window to discover God’s feathered messenger, the chirps stopped though the bird remained in place for a few minutes. God got me to where He wanted me to be, to “hear” his message in the form of that tiny bird.

I returned back to my chair. As I sat, I glanced at the computer and the bible text from Mark 11:24 was on the screen. I had paid no attention to the screen during my prayer time so I was not expecting a scripture. I laughed as I read the text and thanked God for the period on His word to me through a little bird.

Mark 11:24 — “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Luke 12:6, 7 — “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.

Alpha and Omega

Some years ago, I was listening to Israel Houghton’s song, “Alpha and Omega.” I have loved the song since I woke up late one night to the video of the song playing on the television. The song took me in then; it still ushers me into the presence of the Most High God. In my research, I learned that alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. But, as I listened to the song back then, I asked this question, “Please, Jesus, tell me what it means that you are Alpha and Omega.”

This is He ‘said” to me:

I Am the beginning and the end.

I Am the first and the last.

I Am the author and the finisher of your faith.

I am your definition.

I am your defining moment.

I am the definitive in your life.

I am the song in your heart, the smile on your face, the joy in your soul.

I Am the lifter of your head.

I Am the path beneath your feet.

I was with you in the beginning of your life; I will be with you at the end of your life.

I Am with you in everything in between.

I Am the beginning of your journey.

I Am your companion on your journey.

I Am the detour on your journey.

I Am your journey.

I know what has happened in your life; I know what is happening in your life; I know what will happen in your life.

I Am present always.

I Am the beginning of the matter.

I Am the conclusion of the matter.

I Am Alpha and Omega.

Just give my due in that you do!

What else do you need to know?

Well, when you ask Jesus a question, I guess He will give you the complete answer you need … from A to Z.

Choices, Decisions, and Faith, Oh My! The Journey Begins…

It had been a tough week. Emotionally drained, I dragged myself through each day! I felt disconnected, standing on the outside of myself going through the motions. It was a struggle to maintain any kind of momentum! I was caught up in the doldrums and I had no energy to stir anything up! Each morning I crawled out of bed in weary anticipation of the same kind of day.

But Sunday, Oh Sunday invited me into the new week with a full blown praise party in my car on my way to church. It was triggered by one nonsensical word spoken by a pastor in a service that was live streamed. That one word, “whoop,” sent me into a paroxysm of praise! I needed that moment. It was my moment of recovery but I still was not where I needed to be spiritually.

I had allowed my emotions to trump my faith. I was in fact dragging my faith behind me as I allowed my emotions to take the lead which led to the inevitable result, malaise and doldrums. I looked forward to nothing. I was excited about nothing. I wanted nothing. I embraced nothing. I expected nothing.

Then I picked up a flash drive onto which I had loaded some writings years ago. I inserted the drive into my computer, clicked and opened it. I immediately went to the folder labeled, “Gern,” my code word for Journal in case someone got into my computer and happened to come across it (as if their curiosity wouldn’t be piqued by this weird word). “I thought I knew what the journal contained and to some extent I did but I was not prepared for the rawness of the text, the pain and passion between each line. As I read those thirteen year old words, I had to ask myself, “Have you ever felt this way about the Lord?”

It was a revelation that my heart best so strongly for a person while those same kind of heartbeats for God were often moment based and momentary rather than lifestyle laced.

From time to time, when I am in my car, I listen to a Christian radio station that plays hymns in different slots of time. In the week following my week of the doldrums, I was driving and I tuned in to that station. A hymn played that I had not heard in years,‘I’d rather have Jesus.” At first I was locked in to the beauty of the arrangement and the singers. Then the question came to me, when was the last time I put Jesus first in everything rather than giving Him first place in a few things? How often have I intentionally surrendered the reins of my life to Him in all things?

I read the book, “in His Steps,” some years ago. I like the premise of what would Jesus do and tried to emulate the concept but as with all trends, that soon passed as a habit. The hymn challenged me to institute a “I’d rather have Jesus” mindset in all things, as best I could in this fragile frame of dust.

My journey begins now. When I reach out to try and hold on to people and stuff; when I try to control circumstances, when I put It or Them before Him, I will give it my all to remember, “I’d rather have Jesus.”

63 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

“I’d Rather Have Jesus”
Rhea Muller
George Beverly Shea

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or land
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sins dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today

I’d rather have Jesus than vain applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
I’d rather be true to His holy name

Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sins dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords

GREASY LEGS, THONGY STRINGY SHOES, NO DRAWS (aka DRAWERS) AND WORSHIP!

I saw the thread on Facebook before I watched the “Kev on Stage” video. Apparently Dr. Juanita Bynum has taken umbrage, and passionately so, to some current dress trends of church women, especially those who stand in front of the church to lead the congregation in worship.

As a worship leader, I guess I am in her line of fire  I quit stockings long ago. They were expensive and were only good for one wear before a run would inch its way up from a toe or wind its way down from the crotch (should I say crotch in this post?).

I will admit it gave me some pause when I first went stockingless;  what would people say? What would they think? What would bare legs say about me as a woman? Would it be safe for me to walk down the street bare-legged, less known, into the sanctuary? Would I be accosted by hungry deacons on the prowl who might mistake my bare legs for solicitation? Would my bare and greasy legs blind the people to the presence of God? Would God dwell in a temple supported by bare and greasy legs? I don’t do stringy shoes or go draw-less so would my bare and greasy legs be more than enough to mark me with the scarlet “T” for THOT? Also, I don’t do greasy legs well. My dry skin absorbs lotion and coconut oil like they’re addicted to the stuff, so is bare-legged and ashy a minor fault? Is it okay for me to stay on the worship team bare-legged and ashy?

Okay, so the above is a bit of facetious hyperbole, but the thread and the video resulted in this blog.

I can see both sides of the argument about modesty and the believing woman. I get the concerns on both sides  But, listen Linda, listen (you too Joe), the external is no true indication of what’s happening in a person’s heart (but you already knew that, right?). This legalism of judging people by their appearance has got to go. How many times have we missed the opportunity to truly minister to someone just because they didn’t look right, didn’t sound right, didn’t dress right? How many broken people have left the church still broken because they weren’t like us and thus unacceptable for us to reach out to them? How many former members are now bitter church expatriates because of the banging of loud and hateful gavels by self-appointed church judges?

And listen, “Cash me outside” with Dr. Bynum’s colorful expressions in her rant  “How ’bout dah?”  Was there no better way for her to express her despair over these  greasy bare-legged stringy shoe wearing draw-less worship leaders  who are, apparently between services, doing the deacons over in the corner?

Donna, you’re judging, now.

Yes, my point exactly.

You see, I am more concerned about the worship leader  who stands in front of the congregation every Sunday to lead worship but has yet to truly understand the heart of worship. I am concerned about the worship leader who stands in front of the congregation every Sunday but has not yet been convicted by grace. I am concerned about the worship leader who stands in the front of the congregation every Sunday and relies more on a beautiful voice, the always on-key riffs, than the Holy Spirit. I am more concerned about that worship leader who knows all the songs but is barely acquainted with the Master.

To worship God is to value Him highly  When we begin to declare that one’s worship is not for real because their appearance is not up to our self-constructed standard, then our value of worship is sorely misplaced.

Maybe it’s time we all got back to the heat of worship as delineated in John 4.

“They that worship Him must worship Him in stockings, closed toed shoes and draws (aka drawers).”

Oh, that’s not what it says?

“How bout dah?”

FAITH ON LOCK DOWN

I am a woman of faith

I believe in God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit

No apology here

If you have a dissenting view

No worries

We can talk, share our “Whys”

But I will not debate

About what I believe

Sunday

The preacher said

Expectations are the foundation for miracles

I sat there

And wondered

About my miracle request

My prayers for healing

Cartilage restored

Degeneration removed

In the moment

Asked God

To unlock the locks on my faith

Locks I may know nothing of

Apparently have no key

Faith waiting to be released

Open the locks, Lord, open the locks

I wonder

Are there strongholds in my faith

Strongholds orchestrated by others

Who sincerely believed

And so I believed

Until the locks forcefully clicked into place

And I now plead

Lord, if there are locks, please unlock the locks

And destroy any strongholds

So that my expectations become your miracles

My new prayer for healingimgres

 

 

 

WAITING FOR JOY

Weeping my endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.”

Sometimes the wait for anticipated joy seems interminable.

One night stretches into another night and that night merges into more darkness.

Most people just want to be happy.

Happiness depends on happenings.

Negative happenings, no happiness.

Happiness is too subjective, too dependent on the whims of the day.

Joy, on the other hand, is an inside job.

It is a decision, a choice

Difficult in difficult times?

Yes!

A determined decision!

Yes!

Choose to see the golden butterfly that flutters above the garbage can rather than the garbage that spills into the street.

image

 

 

GRACE GRATITUDE

Grace: Unmerited favor

I am grateful for a grace that forgoes punishment in spite of my flawed humanity and inherent propensity for making risky decisions.

I am grateful for a grace that deems me acceptable, even when I find the unacceptable more delectable.

I am grateful for a grace that looks beyond the imperfect me.

Grace that is greater. . .

Grateful for grace.

MONDAY MUSINGS: Afterwords

She walked into the church on Easter Sunday morning dressed in a light blue “church” suit and a silver ornate hat on her head. I watched her from across the room and as she walked to her seat, I noted how she stood out against a backdrop of Sunday casual.

I grew up in the era when clothes had a category. There were work clothes, school clothes, play clothes, church clothes. On special occasions there were party clothes, Easter clothes, Christmas clothes.

Church clothes were aka Sunday Best and everyone, kids to adults, wore their Sunday Best every Sunday. Often, Sunday Best was the same outfit every Sunday, but it was always pristine, freshly cleaned and ironed.

I think about those days in light of the casual ambience of today. “Come as you are,” almost looks like “ready-roll.” For those of you not familiar with this term, it means an individual rolls out of bed and rolls out into the world just as they are, “ready-roll.”

Church wear is pretty much casual wear these days and I get it. Following Christ has nothing to do with the clothes one wears into the sanctuary. Fellowship with the saints is more about the blood of Christ than the red sole of a shoe.

But, my Sunday observation got me to thinking. Here are my thoughts, my “Afterwords:”

Back in those days when there were church clothes and work clothes, my grandparents and parents needed that distinction. The work week for them was tedious and back bending. More often than not, they had no authority, no power. They were subject to the whims of the system that defined how they could be, where they could be and who they should be. Those work clothes reminded them of just how powerless they were in a world that demanded so much of them as it did its best to drain them of value and self respect.

But, Oh, those church clothes! Those church clothes, that Sunday Best ensemble, welcomed them with open arms. Those clothes reminded them of sanctuary, that place where they could celebrate one another and rejoice in the presence of a God who loved them beyond their reality. Those church clothes strode proudly into a place that was 100% their own.

Those church clothes, plain and simple, were worn with a regal posture as the saints greeted one another before walking into a house whose doors were always open to them. Hats were crowns worn on heads held high in the presence of the King of Kings.

I never saw my grandfather in anything other than a blue suit jacket, a khaki shirt and khaki pants on Sundays. But, dressed in his Sunday best, he was the superintendent of the church, and in that place he was that intelligent, self-taught, learned man he always was.

His work clothes were farm laborer clothes, but his Sunday clothes spoke to who he really was from the inside out. His Sunday clothes kept him sane and insulated from the wretched demands of those work clothes. His Sunday Best was his best and in them he was always at his best!

No, clothes don’t seem to have categories anymore. But, for some of us, those yesterday clothes categories remind us of just how far we have come by faith!

I must remember this the next time I see someone dressed in their Sunday Best!

 

image.jpg

Photograph from the book CROWNS.

TUESDAY THOUGHTS: In The Midst Of It All

I was raised in the Baptist Church in the South and gospel music was, and still is, very much a part of who I am.

I had a dream last night. There were no images, just a song and this thought:

God’s On Your Side!

I don’t know if anyone needs to hear this or even if anyone cares to hear this.

I may not even be in your wheelhouse!

Kanye-Shrug-822-1

Kanye Shrug!

I am just the messenger.

God’s On Your Side!!!!