Tuesday, December 31, 2013

ACE #96: God's Reset Button

As we close out 2013 (the old) and enter into 2014 (the new), I am reminded that God gives us brand new mercies daily.  He allows us to fall short and He makes up for our shortcomings through His grace and mercy.  At other times, we fall down...hard! And He whispers for us "to get back up" and even reaches out to help us back into an upright position. 

This year, be determined to let go of some things, maybe some relationships, perhaps some grudges, or maybe some habits that hinder your spiritual or personal growth.  Recommit to serving God in spirit and in truth.  Don't set New Year's resolutions, but endeavor to set Kingdom Goals - goals that have the love of Christ in the forefront, goals that say, in faith, that "I will seek the kingdom of God first and everything else will be added" even when it doesn't look good or seems challenging.

I have extended this challenge to myself, "Don't just do something new, be something new!"  I am grateful that God hits the reset button.  I thank Him for forgiving me, when I couldn't forgive myself.  Say good bye to the old...God already has!  Press forward!  Happy New Year.

Philippians 3:13

 
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead...

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!
 
 
 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

ACE #95: The Reason We Celebrate Christmas...Really

In this season of busyness, we will always remain mindful for the reason we celebrate Christmas.  See, without the Christ-child, there really is no CHRISTmas. And, oh, it's a wonderful story!  And by the way, he really is the original gift.  Doesn't the Word of God say he was "wrapped"?
 

Matthew 1:18-24

Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[a]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[b] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[c] because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[d] (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
 

Luke 2:1-21

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
 

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 
 
 
Merry Christmas from The 'After Church' Experience, #TeamLewis for #TeamJesus
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, December 23, 2013

ACE #94: Nothing Really Beyond That...

Yesterday in church, our pastor's wife stood and thanked the church members for their generosity and support over the years.  It's what she does every year - so we were expecting it.  Then she shared a testimony...not about herself, but about a conversation she had with a four-year-old little girl. It went something like this:

Her: What would you like for Christmas?
Girl: I would really like for everyone just to have a very, Merry Christmas.
Her:  Well, what else would you like?
Girl:  Nothing, really, beyond that...

This is the first year that our daughter really understands the meaning of Christmas and everything that goes into it.  She is so excited that her excitement has become infectious!  She never ceases to amaze us. Every time we pass the Salvation Army bucket, we have to make sure that we have some money with us because she wants to give every time.  Also, she is very determined that Jesus should have a birthday cake or "something like that" so we can celebrate properly on Christmas Day.  She has told us many times that she really prays for homeless people during this season because she doesn't want anyone to be cold or hungry.  She also said that since Santa Claus is so generous to everybody else, she wants to make sure that we give him a gift too.  I guess Santa will get some cookies, a little milk...and a pair of socks this year.  Oh, and we will definitely be baking a birthday cake or "something like that"...

Hebrews 13:16
16 But don’t forget to be doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
 
 
Smiling up at her daddy!
 
(Photo credit: Vernon Bentley for Bentley Productions)
 
 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

ACE #93: Hello Fear

Hello Fear,

I thought I would greet you this morning, in the name of Jesus. I thought I would catch you before you get started messing with my life today and from now on. You see, for too long, you've gotten in my way and caused me to miss so many blessings from my Lord. You've caused me to miss the abundant life Jesus promised. But I declare, right  now, in the name of Jesus, that it is over. No weapon formed against me shall prosper. No longer will you affect my worship. No longer will you silence me when the word of The Lord needs to be declared. No longer will you push me into a corner when I know God is trying to move on behalf of His people. So you can show up...

On the job...
In the doctor's office...
When it is time to pay bills...
Wherever you decide to show up in my life...

But you will not keep me from trusting God and giving Him the glory. Try, if you will. It won't work. 

In Jesus, I am more than a conquerer. You have held me back for years, but no more. God is my refuge. The great "I Am" has sent me today to tell you that "I Am that I Am."

You are nothing but fear (False Evidence Appearing Real.) I guess it is time I start acting like it. By the way, my prayer is that you leave my family, friends and even enemies alone as well. So, good luck finding someone to fool today. 

In Christ, 

Robert

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+1%3A7&version=ESV

                                       

                                                             http://lifesroadsigns.com/no-fear/

Friday, December 20, 2013

ACE #92: A Good Kid

Last night, we ate at Cracker Barrel.  Our daughter said that she really loves going there because "they have the neatest stuff" in that place.  As we were leaving, several elderly people were coming in the door.  She leaned her little body against the door with all of her might and held it open for them.  Several of them thanked her, but one gentlemen said, "You're doing a good job raising her.  You're raising a good kid."

Although it was such a small gesture on her behalf, it showed that she has been listening to us when we've told her to respect her elders, when we've explained to her the value of patience, when we've always told her to be polite and to use her manners, and when we've encouraged her to be helpful to others.  I think we're doing a pretty good job...with God's help. 

We are realizing day by day, she's not a baby anymore...she's growing up. That's our girl!

Proverbs 22:6
6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

 
Our Angel Face
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

ACE #91: Jesus is Clutch

Clutch:

- to perform under pressure
- the crucial moment that comes between winning and losing
- exactly what you need, exactly when you need it
- coming through when you are needed most in high pressure situations
 
If you watched the Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers basketball game last night, then you had to be on the edge of your seat! Even Lebron James lost his cool with his own teammate, Mario Chalmers. Yeah, he apologized to "Rio" and they're cool now, but that "heated" scene was a show stopper...until Ray Allen stole the show! Ray Allen, aka "Jesus Shuttlesworth", showed the world, once again, why He Still Got Game. This is the guy any coach can go to on the basketball court in a clutch situation, even at 38 years of age, because Ray Allen is patient until he gets the right shot!  Who can forget Game 6 of the Heat vs. the Spurs with the Spurs in the lead by five points and only 28.2 seconds left?  Ray nailed that three-pointer with such precision that I almost fainted from jumping and screaming so loudly.

It reminded me how Jesus, the real one, has always been the one I can call on in any situation and His presence has always showed up and showed out.  My prayers have always been answered!  He's that same guy that was nailed to the cross all those years ago, so why am I surprised at His level of commitment and precision?  The old folks sing "He's an On Time God" where He may not come when you want Him, but He's always right on time - we just have to wait and be patient.  He's always given me exactly what I need, exactly when I needed it. Yep, that's clutch! Keep in mind, the right opportunity always comes at the appointed time.

Ecclesiastes 8:6                    
For there is a time and a way for everything, although man's trouble lies heavy on him.


 
Photo credit: dimemag.com


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ACE #90: When Relationships Turn Sour

At various points in our lives, we will be at a crossroads with certain people.  It might be because of a disagreement, perhaps a betrayal, miscommunication, or maybe no reason at all.  But how do we handle when relationships turn sour?

Saul and David were great friends.  It was a close friendship that resembled more of a father-son relationship. Saul had even given David his daughter’s hand in marriage.  Then something happened.  Saul turned against David out of jealousy. Even Saul’s children, Jonathan and Michal, found something profoundly wrong with this turn. Jonathan even warned David that Saul was trying to kill him.  David had done nothing to Saul, but loved and honored him from the very beginning.  The Word states, “Jonathan spoke good of David to Saul his father, and said to him, “Don’t let the king sin against his servant, against David; because he has not sinned against you, and because his works have been very good toward you;” (verse 4).  Saul and his men chased David across the desert for years.  When David and his men caught Saul slipping, David had the opportunity to kill Saul and end the chase…but he didn’t.  He spared Saul’s life.  Even after Saul’s death, David honored Saul through song.

There will be times when relationships turn sour - maybe gradually or maybe suddenly.  As Christians, we are instructed to take the “high road” just like David did in this situation.  David wasn’t perfect, by no means, but he was kind, gracious and forgiving even when his enemy had fallen.  Yes, it’s challenging, but it’s also what we are called to do out of obedience to God – even when relationships have turned sour.

Colossians 3:13
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV)

Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+19


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ACE #89: Easily Repaired at Minimal Cost

When our truck broke down, my prayer was that it could be "easily repaired at minimal cost".  Christmastime was fast approaching and we'd just returned from vacation. (See here: http://theafterchurchexperience.blogspot.com/2013/10/ace-27-seeing-god-on-side-of-road.html).  We were also paying for my tuition for graduate school.  Even in all of this, we were trusting God that this cost would not put our finances in a bind. We had to determine if fixing the truck was better or just purchasing a new vehicle would be the way to go.  We have always been conscious of accumulating additional debt and being good stewards of our finances.  So we prayed about the decision.

Thankfully, God provided us a network of resourceful people who knew people who knew people so that we could get our car repaired reasonably. There's something about making our requests known to God. Sometimes for things in our lives to be "easily repaired at minimal cost" it's about our level of faith and our ability to trust God to be the Jehovah Jireh (provider) of the things concerning us.

If your need is financial, emotional, mental, physical, spiritual or beyond anything already named - make your request known to God FIRST! Then trust His guidance and His provision to meet the need.

Study Link:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+22



Monday, December 16, 2013

ACE #88: Reflections on Jessica Reedy...God Sure Has Brought You a Long Way

We had the opportunity to attend a concert this past weekend in Lexington, Ky. featuring Ms. Jessica Reedy.  I remember her journey on "Sunday Best" where she was this shy girl with a mesmerizing vocal range.  She could go amazingly low with her notes and surprisingly high with her falsetto.  But there was something in that low range, or that valley range, that made listeners know she knew God for herself.
 
When she first got on stage she said that her grandmother told her she talked too much when she was performing.  So Ms. Reedy relayed to the crowd, "I'm really conscious of how much I talk.  I don't talk much anymore, y'all.  I'm sorry...but I love Jesus.  And you will know it".   
 
While she was backstage she said that a lady said to her, "Girl, God sure has brought you a long way!"  She told the audience, "I didn't even really know how to take that; I didn't know what to say".  But isn't it funny how people will remind us of where we USED to be?  Or, maybe, where they thought we were. 
 
She started to sing one of her signature tunes, "Put It On the Altar".  Then there was this moment when it turned into a worship experience with a melodious praise - gentle, subtle, soft...a personal moment.  She sang, "Jesus...changes things! Only Jesus...".  The questions of the night through song were, "What is it? Who is it? What is keeping you from God?"  What a magnificent, complex set of questions.  "Is it her? Is it him? What is it? Who is it?"  Then Ms. Reedy issued an open and welcoming invitation for the Holy Spirit to flow...and to move - "in my home, in my job, in my relationships, in my family...".  She took her time with it, too.  She let everyone know, "I'm not in a rush.  Are you?"  She made us aware that when we ask for God to show up, we should mean it...and want more of Him.
 
She invited us into her personal worship experience. It was like watching the inside of someone else's prayer closet. And she did it all with a smile on her face - a genuine, sweet spirit that reminds believers that when God has done a work in us and for us - there's nothing but JOY!
 
She didn't sing her other signature song that talks about how God made something out of nothing, but she Tweeted the next morning, "Who would have thought he would use someone who doubted his very existence...". Right there, that "hmmmm" sound with a "well" on the end.
 
Oh, dearest Ms. Reedy, God's love radiates from you.  The lesson learned is that God doesn't remind us where we've been, He reminds us where we are and shows us where we're going in Him. You reminded me, personally, when I know for myself that God has brought me a long way, whatever road I've traveled, His way is the only way, the best way...the blessed way!  Thank you for the worship experience!

Take a listen to this woman of God:
 
Study Scripture:
Psalm 103:12
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
 
 
Photo credit: www.gospelnewsroom.com
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

ACE #87: The Key


Today, I was worried because I knew I had lost a key. It was the strangest thing because I just knew I had put the key in this one particular place. Well, after I stressfully search for the key, I declared the key missing. I was crushed because I lost the key. I was so sure that the key was long gone. Why? Because I had wrapped it up and tossed it with some trash I threw away earlier. I beat myself up on the inside. Oh the drama we would have to go through to get another church key. I was indeed frustrated with myself for not being more responsible with this key. I searched thoroughly in all the places it could have been, I thought.  So, I went back to one of the places and there was the key. I said “thank You Lord.”
Tonight, I am reflecting on this because this is what many of us are facing today, in Christ. We feel like we have lost the key (Christ.) Things may not be going well for us. We have gotten irresponsible in our worship. We have lost our zeal. We are certain of our positions and it can’t get any better. So, we accept defeat and declare the relationship lost. Furthermore, we declare ourselves useless.

But Church, sometimes we have to go back to those places where the key was being used. However, this time when we seek Him, we have to seek Him more diligently. We have to move some things out of the way to get a clearer picture. We have to spend some valuable time looking for the key. He said He would be with us even until the end.

The key was not missing. I just didn’t believe it was there, until I diligently looked for it. Thank You Lord. RJL

Friday, December 13, 2013

ACE #86: Frozen


A couple of weekends ago, my wife and I took our daughter to see the Disney movie ‘Frozen.’ The movie was good, according to the Lewis household. I enjoyed the little snowman. I thought he was very humorous. I love humor. Without giving the movie away, I would like to share something that stuck with me from viewing this film.

As Christians, sometimes we can be so cold. Eventually, that coldness becomes a character that identifies us to others and we can’t understand why people choose not to deal with us or desire to be bothered with us because of our ways. We say things like, “that's just the way it is” or “I can’t help it.”  All the while, we are missing the point of the message for us. We often times believe the word is for the other sinner(s.) So, we eliminate ourselves from the equation not knowing that the Lord is trying to work through that which He has given us. You see brothers and sisters, the message of Jesus is about love. Loving thy neighbor as thyself. The word said Jesus is love. We love because He first loved us. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13.

Our cold heart has the potential to destroy communities and even tear a family apart. It has the potential to destroy the idea that love exists. It has the power to freeze someone’s world because you are the only representation of Christ. But when we act in love, we represent the Risen Christ. When we act in love, we represent hope for those who may be struggling with sin, no matter the sin. We represent a Christ that gave Himself for everyone who believes in Him to live and live life to the fullest. So, Christ’s love is not cold. In fact, everything we do in Christ should be in love. Love covers a multitude of sin. We just have to be willing to love and act on it. I did not say accept that which is contrary to the word of God. I said love with the power of Jesus in us. It can change situations. RJL

 

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Peter+4%3A8&version=ESV


ACE #85: Scandal Time (Special Edition) - Between Beyonce, Olivia Pope & Friday the 13th

OMW (Oh, my word)!  In the last 24 hours, social media has been ablaze, especially in Kentucky!  Between Beyoncé, Olivia Pope and Friday the 13th, way too much is going on today.

Beyoncé gave the people a show last night in Louisville.  Shonda Rhimes gave the rest of us a heart attack on screen from the start.  Hats off to her.  She delivers every week!

As for Beyoncé - I guess that's how to announce a new CD is dropping at midnight...without even advertising for real.

As for Sally Langston - that opening scene was an award worthy, stellar performance...well, her entire delivery was on point last night. Kate Burton did that thing.  I felt a little like that infamous "Jerry Maguire" scene, "You had me at hello!" And no, chile, the devil did not make her do that...she wanted to kill her husband. That was some Cain and Abel kind of anger, but she has been hanging out in the garden with a serpent a lot lately.

As for Cyrus - when folk make a deal with him, they really are making a deal with the devil.  Mellie really is no match for Cyrus' level of evil.

As for Olivia - she is all messed up in the head.  She doesn't know who to trust or, at this point, who to love.

As for Huck - he utterly despises Quinn.  Quinn cannot win...for nothing!  She brought it on herself though.  She pushed Huck to a place where he can't come back from...or forgive.

As for Rowan Pope - he walked Fitz down in that monologue...in handcuffs too. Just when you thought Burton was walking away with a nomination, Joe Morton/"Eli" steals the show and shuts it down. "You're a boy!" It took me time to recover from that...among other things.

As for Jake Ballard - he has come up as the new "Command."  Classic line, "Never underestimate the president!" What a way to rise from the ashes.  Fitz and Jake really are the definition of "frenemies"!

As for Mama Pope - she worked that coat! I guess that is how you step out "sharp to death" after 22 years of being in lock up.

And as for Friday the 13th, honey, I don't believe in superstition, I believe in Jesus.  No Jason Voorhees for me! 

I am so glad that Scandal is going on a winter hiatus.  It has worn me out all season.

In all of this, I am always mindful and often bring myself back to this - these folks, both real and fictional, are my entertainment not my idols. And, they have brought the entertainment...

Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+20%3A4-6&version=KJV


 
Photo credit: factmag.com


Little Known Fact: Just in case you didn't know, in my past life as an OSU Buckeye, I was an Arts & Entertainment reporter.






Thursday, December 12, 2013

ACE #84: Scandal Time - The Law of the Land

Scandal seems to have a cliffhanger at the end of every episode, but NOBODY - I mean NOBODY - was prepared for the final scene of last week's episode where Self-Righteous Sally called Cyrus to tell him she had committed a "grave sin..." uh, and...a crime!

It's interesting to me because in Scandal somehow I don't think the "higher ups" in law and government think they have to obey the laws of the land too.  Oh, this is so entertaining, but their level of personal accountability is always way off.

As Christians, we are not to seek out vengeance. If we do, it is the responsibility of the government to punish accordingly by law as indicated by Romans 13. The governing authority, during this time, was considered to be appointed by God.  The Bible speaks of obeying the "law of the land" unless it conflicts with God's law.  Didn't Jesus get crucified under Pontius Pilate for doing absolutely nothing wrong?  The government/law was wrong! There will be times when your moral center and your ethical obligation will collide.  Either way, go with God.


Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%2013:1-7&version=NIV

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

ACE #83: Karaoke for Jesus

It's about that time folks.  Oh, yeah! We are all gearing up for the office Christmas party or, more politically correct, the Holiday Gathering.
 
Anyone who hangs out with Team Lewis will tell you, we sing in our house - off-key, on-key, no-key singing. Once or twice a year we have gatherings where karaoke is a standard and required agenda item. Some people even bring their own special CDs to place in the rotation.
 
Other times, our friend and her cousin come over during the holiday and we do a medley of gospel songs and nobody makes it through "the concert" without getting a "church shout" on right in our living room! Bring out the tissues for the "living room" praise session. It's not "Sunday Best", it's "Holiday Living Room Best" - seriously!
 
Which brings me to this realization...I would love to take a gospel karaoke CD to the office Christmas party so I can karaoke for Jesus! Wouldn't that just be a blast? But here's the problem - unless someone has a church fan (with MLK Jr. on it, no doubt), an "old school mother's sheet", my asthma gun, and a bottled water close by...it's probably not a good idea because I will "go in" and will take a few people "in" with me, honey! Folk would have that scene going viral all over social media like Antoine Dodson and Sweet Brown.
 
That would definitely be an office Christmas party to remember because, certainly, no one would ever let me forget it.  In the words of my granddaddy, "Whatchu say?!"

Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+98&version=NIV

 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

ACE #82: Confessions from a Non-Theologian

theo·lo·gian

noun \ˌthē-ə-ˈlō-jən\
: a person who is an expert on theology

the·ol·o·gy

noun \thē-ˈä-lə-jē\
: the study of religious faith, practice, and experience : the study of God and God's relation to the world
: a system of religious beliefs or ideas
 
(Thanks http://www.merriam-webster.com/ for the definitions).
 
Can anyone guess how many times I've been approached about going to seminary, also known as a theological college or divinity school? Okay, me either at this point.  As each day passes and my ministry grows both with and individually distinctive from my husband's, I get asked the question a lot, "When are you enrolling in seminary?"  I rarely even answer.  Of course, some folk still don't even recognize "women in the ministry" so they won't dare ask at all.  (Did I just LOL? Okay, just a little). 
 
I realize as each day passes, I don't really want to "study" about my religious faith as much as I want to live out and teach others through my experiences and the Word of God.  The more I study God's Word, the more I grow and the more I learn.  Right there.  Somebody just got offended and thought I was talking about them, when I'm still talking about myself.  I've listened to pastors preach with elevated vocabulary that comes straight out of a graduate-level seminary textbook.  It reminds me of my own limitations - everyone is not a King James Version person, some folk are New International Version kind of people because they can really "get it" that way.  
 
Let's be clear, I'm not against theology degrees. I'm not.  In some instances, it is necessary to hold certain positions and offices.  I've come across many who absolutely love theology and will discuss it for hours at a time.  Hats off to all of the theologians of the world.  I'm just not one of them.  Over the years, I've learned that I'm really not all that deep, not an expert on anything, or even brilliant in most things...and I'm okay with that. 

Now, it's time for the BIG confession - I just want to be inspired by God and to do His work.  Maybe one day I will become a great theologian; however, in the words of my dear great-aunt Leola, "...but not today though".
 
Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Timothy%203:10-17&version=NIV
 
 
 
"God doesn’t call the equipped…He equips the called!"
 
Photo credit: marshill.org
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, December 9, 2013

ACE #81: Beware of False Teachers and Wolves

2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Don't believe everything that you hear or what other people tell you. As Christians, we must diligently seek to study the Word of God, to know the truth about the Word, and to speak the truth about the Word. Don't make the excuse that you don't have the time. Make the time! Don't just go on what you've been taught or what so and so said. It's about personal responsibility and accountability. That way you won't get caught off guard or receive the wrong information from false teachers because you know the Word for yourself!

I wrote this note on May 24, 2011.  And, oh, how the landscape of ministry, especially televangelism, has shifted since then.  We've heard the phrase, "a wolf in sheep's clothing" referring to the person who pretends to be something they are not.  Matthew 7:15 says, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves".  Here's the problem - people can only pretend to be what they are permitted to be by way of support.  Here's the solution - study the word of God for yourself so that you can know better when you are told something that is just a straight up lie.  Just because people are mega-church pastors does not mean that everything that comes out of their mouths is the truth or even Bible-based.  Just because we were raised in certain churches and have known certain pastors our entire lives does not mean that what they are saying or doing is the right thing.

Harold Camping predicted the end of the world would come on May 21, 2011.  People were mesmerized and watched closely - even when it didn't happen.  Some had the nerve to be shocked.  The problem from the very beginning was something so simple, a Word that was so available and accessible, a Scripture that had been preached in countless numbers of sermons all over the world:

"But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Matthew 24:36).

Yet, thousands of people believed Mr. Camping...and gave him their money.  He's not the only one though, there are many others who profess to know the key to the kingdom that doesn't actually line up with the Word of God.  Well...that "magical" and mysterious key to the kingdom is in Bible...it's right there.  You just have to study the Bible and then believe it.

Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+14

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+4&version=PHILLIPS

 
 
 
Photo credit: bocsupportnetwork.com








Sunday, December 8, 2013

ACE #80: Bloom Where You Are Planted

Over the years, every time I've gotten frustrated on the job, I've always reminded myself, no matter what the situation, to always do my "best work" because when God gets ready to open a door, I need to be prepared for the new journey. 

One of the most pivotal scenes in the movie, "Facing the Giants," is when Mr. Bridges feels led by the Lord to tell Coach Grant Taylor that God wants him to hold his position, right where he is, in faith and to prepare his field for the rain that is to come.  Grant specifically says he's been praying, but he doesn't see God at work. Mr. Bridges responds, "God will send the rain when HE is ready.  You need to prepare your field to receive it." 

That is a word of encouragement for some people today who are frustrated with their job situations, with their finances, with their health, with their households, with their relationship status, and other situations that might be in a frustrating or "dry" place.

Continue to pray, to trust God, to keep His word, and to prepare your field for the blessings that are to come.  In the meantime, bloom where you are planted.

Revelation 3:7-8 reads:
...These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Watch this clip:

http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/facing-the-giants/prepare-your-fields

 
 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

ACE #79: I Will Because It Is His Will

"Daddy, are you going to go to heaven when I get older?"

I was silent. Why? Because I was trying to decide if I should skate around the answer. 

"Daddy, I said are you going to go to heaven when I get older?"

After consulting with the spirit, I answered. 

"Yes, if it is The Lord's will for daddy." 

"But daddy, I don't want you to go to heaven. I don't want to be without you. I want you to be here with me," she said as she cried. 

As I laid there on the bed with her, crying myself, I proceeded to let her know that all of us have an appointed time to die. I don't plan to die soon, but if He sees fit to bring me home, there is nothing I can do. What I also told her was that she could very well go before me. 

I thought about this because recently I watched the movie "Courageous" again. Each time I watch the movie, I am inspired to audit myself. I need to see where I am in my charge from God to lead my family as the head of the household. It is in moments like these that all of us must take the time and make sure we are teaching our children, godchildren, nieces, nephews, church youth, protégés and whoever else we see in need of the truth. As parents, parental figures (godparents, etc.), family members, friends, mentors or leaders including pastors, other church members, teachers, or community leaders - we must invest in our children's spiritual and personal growth. The scripture says train the child up. If I would not have been honest with her, I could have left the door open for the enemy to plant seeds of immortality and invincibility. 

Men, as head of the household, we must lead with a godly influence. As parents, together, we need to take responsibility for our children's actions through proactive conversation and setting an example of godly living. His will for us is to train up the children. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and I will lead in that.

I will. I will. I will. Because it's His will. 

RJL


Friday, December 6, 2013

ACE #78: Remembering the Iconic Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was the consummate advocate for peace, change, and equality.  When he refused to bow down to the South African government in their upholding of apartheid, he became a household name, but also a prisoner. Yet he stood as a symbol of the "moral center" of South Africa.  People have said that he is the last "great, pure leader".  What an honor to be called such, what a legacy, but perhaps there were days when maybe it was a burden that weighed heavily on his heart, especially when tragedy struck his family and he could do nothing about it.  He spent 27 years behind prison bars for just "standing" on his principles.  How many of us today, at this moment, have the courage to just "stand" for any cause?

Mr. Mandela practiced "Radical Forgiveness".  His heart, soul, and mind could not be contained - even behind prison bars.  On February 11, 1990 he was set free.  My cousin and one of my friends went to downtown Lexington in Triangle Park where they were holding a rally.  There were signs, candles, chants, and speeches.  I didn't understand the magnitude of such an event at the time.  After all, we weren't taught the significance of the cause in the public school system.  In the words of Maya Angelou, "I know why the caged bird sings..." - now. He didn't just "make" history, he changed history as South Africa's first black president and an instrument of peace against racial oppression.

President Barack Obama said that Mandela is "with the angels"; I contend that he's one of the angels now, but certainly with God.  The world mourns the loss of "Madiba".

Matthew 25:23, "'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"


 
 Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
July 18, 1918 – December 5, 2013 
 
Photo credit: biography.com




Thursday, December 5, 2013

ACE #77: Scandal Time - A Think Tank of Lies

And here we are folks…at the winter finale of Scandal.  We were left with our mouths hanging wide open…yet again.  Cyrus got a little more than he had bargained for by the end of the episode, but so did Olivia.  And then we all gasped when Fitz said, “I built this house for you.”  And Liv melted – again!  All of the digging Olivia had done to find out what happened to her mother all those years ago and there Mama Pope was standing on the side walk. 

As I think about the characters in Scandal, I am reminded of the verse, “For they are conniving and violent, and all they talk about is causing trouble” (Proverbs 24:2).  Everyone has an agenda.  Someone is always scheming and stirring up trouble, especially Mellie Grant and Cyrus Beene.  They live for it!

In Nahum 1:9-15 (The Message) in reference to Ninevah, this type of troublemaking behavior is considered to be “A Think Tank of Lies that seduces and betrays!”  And it works for the Scandal storyline, but surely not in real life.  In real life, we have to be accountable to ourselves, others, and certainly to God. 

If you ever encounter people like that...RUN! It usually ends badly and brings more trouble than it is worth.  What trouble will Mellie and Cyrus stir up next?
 
Study Link:
 
 
 


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

ACE #76: The Way You Show Jesus

My co-worker sent a song to me a couple of months ago called, "Show Jesus".  She said it reminded her of me.  She said that I am always smiling and singing, but I am very thoughtful without giving much thought to it.  That was an awesome compliment to me.

As I reflect back over my professional career, I never really tell people that I am a Christian when I start any job...I never have.  This song struck a chord with me; it intrigued me enough to learn about its origins or, at least, about the songstress behind the song. (I love Wikipedia, by the way.)
 
A young girl was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at the age of 11. Imagine the stigma, stereotypes, and labels attached to such a diagnosis.  Because of her faith and her parents' faith, no doubt, she has gone on to win the 2012 Dove Award for New Artist of the Year.  Jamie Grace Harper is a perfect example of the way you show Jesus undeniably in a world that doesn't always embrace Him and His splendor.  When I think of her story, all I can say is "Look at God!" There's simple ways to show Jesus.
 
John 13:35
35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

"Show Jesus"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0pqw6qMI_c

Your smile's always shining out
And they know what it's all about
It's not hard for them to figure out
The way you show Jesus
You know love is what they heard
And you didn't even say a word
Ain't it funny that's the way it works
When you know Jesus
Oh it's like flipping on a light switch when you're walking into this room
It's so undeniable...




 Just Show Jesus

 
redbubble.com
 

 

Jamie Grace

 
 
Photo credit lastfm.com


 
 








Tuesday, December 3, 2013

ACE #75: Be the Santa You Want to See

Last week at work, we had a pretty extensive discussion about whether our children believed in Santa Claus.  Were we perpetuating the myth? Were we going to tell the truth? How would we make mythology meet religion?

One lady said that her children do believe in Santa Claus, but she was still a little uncomfortable with it because she didn't want them to question whether Jesus was real too.  I must admit - she had a great point.

As children, we are taught that Santa Claus is a jolly, white man in a red and white suit that delivers toys to children based upon whether the children have been "naughty" or "nice".  It seems pretty straightforward, but also a little mean.  When examining the history of Santa Claus, also known as St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, and Kris Kringle, people will find that the Legend of Santa Claus is connected to religion and to goodwill.  In two separate accounts, he was even a bishop and a monk. (Seriously, look it up). In other stories, he is heavily connected to serving the poor, sick, and needy - especially people who lived in poverty.  He has also been associated widely with the missions of the Salvation Army and Coca-Cola.

But why do people get so bent out of shape about Santa?  I've heard people say, "Santa doesn't give my kids anything.  We spend our hard earned money on this stuff."  Okay...but then I have to examine people's motives for always having to let others know how much money they spend on Christmas and those who constantly remind their children about it too.  More often than not it doesn't make children more appreciative to know how much money parents spend - it often makes them feel entitled or maybe ashamed.  That speaks to our tendencies to overindulge during the season - not Santa Claus. (Thinking back, when I realized Santa wasn't real, I wasn't mad or sad - I just asked for more stuff. Smh!) Some religions even refuse to celebrate Christmas at all because it has become too commercialized or "pagan" in form.

Folks, Santa wasn't or isn't evil.  He's just a cultural myth.  In our house, we embrace Santa...for now.  Why? He's fun and he's generous. We even leave him cookies and milk. Gasp! (Yeah, my husband has to eat them, but he's not complaining.)

I have a different spin than most on this Santa thing.  Maybe instead of wondering about if Santa really exists - you can actually make him exist by "being the Santa you want to see!"  If you want Santa to help poor people, then YOU help poor people.  If you want Santa to give toys to needy children, then YOU give toys to somebody's children. If you want Santa to feed the hungry, then YOU show goodwill and feed the hungry.  And guess what?  You don't have to wear a red or white suit to do it.  As a matter of fact, you don't even have to wait until Christmastime to do it.  People are in need all year long.  Don't get so caught up in making your list and checking it twice, that you don't fulfill someone else's needs in the process. But by all means, if you're going to reject Santa Claus based on theology and religious fervor, then don't be a hypocrite - throw the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and all things Halloween under the bus too...then back up.

Our child can embrace Santa for as long as she wants to because, well...she's a kid.  Santa may not be real, but poverty, crime, and war - those things are real and will be a part of her adult world, unfortunately, sooner rather than later.  I have no doubt in our child's mind that Santa Claus looks like a mixture between her two grandfathers because Santa is a figment of her imagination with a dash of realness added.  I also have no doubt that our daughter is very clear about the true meaning of Christmas - it's to celebrate the birth of JESUS CHRIST.  In the midst of all of this, we often forget that He is the REAL reason for the celebration of the holiday, both historically and spiritually, for Christians and dare I say it - non-Christians too.  We should focus on teaching our children to have servant attitudes toward those who are less fortunate.  That's what the ministry of Jesus Christ stood for and still represents.  It's time to refocus Christmas. 

In the midst of preparing for Santa's arrival (or maybe becoming Santa), don't miss the arrival (birth) of the Christ child, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord!"

Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+2&version=NIV









Monday, December 2, 2013

ACE #74: When Your Cup Looks Almost Empty

One of my former students reminded me of God's faithfulness even in the smallest things.  He told a story about how he and his wife wanted to travel home for the Thanksgiving holiday, but they did not think they could afford the gasoline for the travel because the bills were due.  He told his wife that he thought they could still go to visit her mother, but he needed to pray first and ask God for direction.  He said that God told him to go anyway and He would sustain them.  One of the students at the college was traveling in the same direction and needed a ride home.  My former student and his wife offered to take him with no expectation of money.  The student gave them $25 for gas anyway and they thanked him.  When they arrived at the destination to drop the student off, the grandmother said the Lord told her to give them $100 and to sow a seed into their marriage.

Throughout my entire life, I have had moments when my "cup" looks almost empty and out of nowhere comes overflow.  I remember being in graduate school and I was always just a few dollars away from being completely broke, but I would go to the mailbox and there would be a check there waiting for me from a church member, a family member, or my parents.  I never had to state my needs to anyone but God. 

That's one of the main reasons I really love the Lord.  He moves in the hearts of His people to show love and generosity to others.  His timing is perfect. His grace is sufficient. My cup overflows.

Study Link:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+23&version=KJV


 
When your cup runs over...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

ACE #73: Like Mike or Jesus like?


Coming up in the 80’s & 90’s there was a Gatorade commercial that had everyone believing that if they would drink some Gatorade, no matter the flavor, they would be like Mike, Michael Jordan. You know the tune...

“Sometimes I dream, that He is me, you’ve got to see that is how I dream to be…Like Mike. If I could be like Mike”

Now I guess the idea of the commercial was to get people to drink Gatorade. But in drinking the Gatorade, you would end up with the athleticism or the ability of Michael Jordan. How many of us tried it. Did it change you? Could you fly? Did it give you the results you were looking for?  I can only speak for myself. NO! So I probably spent a bunch of resources investing in something that had no effect on my ability.

Then I was introduced to a man named Jesus. All I have to do is believe that what He did on the earth, what He did with the Cross, what He did out of the grave and what He is doing in the sky for me. In that, I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. I don’t have to dream that He is me because I am Him. I was created in His image. I want to be Jesus like.

RJL
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+4%3A13&version=NKJV