Friday, May 30, 2014

ACE #221: The Smallest of Gifts

One of the habits I am trying to reign in is my shopping habit.  I love to shop.  I do have a general rule, though.  If it's not on sale, then it's not for me. 

Every year, I go shopping the entire week after Christmas.  The day after. Then the next day.  Then the day after the next day.  I will pick up some of the best stuff for half price.  I have a process - a plan of action - that includes shopping in advance for the next Christmas.  I have, what my friend calls, "closet reserve" - all occasion gifts in my closet. But I rarely give gifts that I wouldn't like for myself.  They are not expensive gifts - really they're usually the smallest of gifts.  If anybody knows me, then they know that my greatest joy on Christmas Day, next to celebrating Jesus, is pulling various types of socks out of my stocking - dress socks, fuzzy slipper socks, and plain ole white sports socks.  A person can not possibly have too many socks. My husband never forgets to add this to my list.  They are not expensive, but they are thoughtful.  He has me in mind when he buys them.

This past year, I gave my boss a pair of cream and tan gloves.  While I didn't think it was necessarily the most expensive gift, I thought the gift would match her personality and her taste.  Besides, I would have kept them for myself, but I would have just been acting greedy. 

Christmas was five months ago, and she has brought up those gloves to me at least once a month since then.  She told me, and others, that she has the most difficult time finding gloves that fit because she has such long fingers and they matched a lot of her coats. 

Folks, don't get so caught up in how much a gift costs.  The smallest of gifts can have a huge impact if given from the heart and with thoughtfulness in mind.


2 Corinthians 9:7
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

ACE #220: Reflections on the Phenomenal Life of Maya Angelou

Yesterday was a devastating and sobering blow to the nation and to the world.  For those of us who loved Dr. Maya Angelou, we are weeping on the inside and the outside.  If people have ever read any of her poems, her books, or any of her seven autobiographies, then like me, many certainly felt like they lost a part of their family.

In her lifetime, she was known as a civil rights activist, an author, a journalist, a poet, an actress, and a teacher. She was also known as Marguerite Ann Johnson, a fry cook, a prostitute, a nightclub dancer, and a performer.  But it was the honesty of her "backstory" and her will to succeed that stands out.  She was greatness in the flesh.  Like Rahab that saved the "Joshuas" of the world and the Mary Magdalene that followed Jesus, Maya Angelou will forever go down in the history as a prolific "game changer" for the masses.  She survived racism, molestation, rape, and poverty.  Our excuses, reasons, situations, and circumstances have just been dismissed by the example of her life.

Like many, I loved me some Dr. Maya Angelou.  While it is difficult, I do accept and celebrate that the "caged bird" has flown to God's celestial shore. And her final Tweet was perfect:


What a wonderful example of beating the odds and doing it gracefully!












Proverbs 31
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Rest in paradise, Dr. Maya ANGELou








Wednesday, May 28, 2014

ACE #219: Are You Afraid to Get Into a Tussle?

In the last week, social media has been on fire about T.I. and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. getting into fisticuffs.  But what was the prize?  Yeah…nothing.

As I thought about the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel all night long it made me wonder how defeated Christians walk around.  We just give up at the smallest sign of trouble - when something or someone threatens to overtake us.  We refuse to get through the struggle.

It is interesting that right before Jacob tussled with this angel, he was full of fear.  He assumed his brother, Esau, was going to repay him for his trickery all of those years ago.  He even sent numerous gifts ahead of him to pacify Esau.  While he spent the night in the camp alone, a man wrestled with Jacob until daybreak.  I find it quite interesting that Jacob would be scared of his brother, who he knew from birth, but not be scared of this “man” who was a complete stranger.

When the man requested that Jacob, whose name means "supplanter", let him go, Jacob refused and said he would not let him go until he blessed him. 

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

Struggling with our faith and with other humans is biblical.  Jacob is renamed Israel, which means "wrestles with God." But like Jacob, we might have to wrestle a little...in the wee hours until daybreak. Just hold on tightly, plant your feet...your blessing is at the end of that tussle! Even if a few things get knocked out of place a little in the process...the blessings of God will still manifest and the sun will rise. #daybreak

Genesis 32:22-31
Jacob Wrestles With God
22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[b] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,[c] and he was limping because of his hip.



Photo from House of God blog

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

ACE #218: Check Your Ego at the Front and Back Doors

Samuel, a great prophet of Yahweh, was known as one of the last judges of Israel.  He was considered honorable with a good reputation in the land. He had the opportunity to pass down a few good things to Saul, his mentee.  Samuel was also referred to as a “seer”. He could “see” supernaturally the contents of Saul’s heart.  He could see Saul’s destiny. 

Saul was to become Israel’s first king.  I've read commentaries that said that Saul was a handsome guy who had a certain level of charisma and charm.  The word on the streets was that the ladies wanted to holler at Saul.  After all, his family was also prominent; yet Saul appeared to be modest about his background. 

Saul looked up to Samuel as his spiritual mentor, as Samuel was considered to be anointed from birth.  Similarly to Jesus and his disciples, Saul was devoted to Samuel and served in a significant role.  After all, in 1 Samuel 9, God specifically leads Saul to Samuel. (There was a donkey or three involved). They were destined to cross paths and to walk together with Yahweh and the people of Israel.  Saul’s name even meant, “asked of God”.

As time went on, Saul’s other characteristics began to show.  He was impatient, short-tempered, jealous, and disobedient.  He couldn't take criticism.  Saul’s behavior hurt Samuel so much that the word says that Samuel mourned Saul…even though Saul was yet alive.  Saul had great promise, but his ego was out of order.  Saul’s ego later shows itself in his behavior toward his own mentee, David.  These two relationships have shown the classic battle between the older order and the new order, the tradition and the contemporary movement.  I read somewhere that Saul was referred to as “a Moses who went wrong”. 

Coming under and remaining under authority is a difficult task.  It is one that I have struggled with often because of my innate leadership ability and strong personality.  The reality is that being in authority is not an easy task either.  There is a certain level of responsibility for the people under the authority and a whole different level of accountability to God.

Don’t let your ego take you out of the protection of and favor with God because you refuse to submit to authority.  The word of God says:

Romans 13:1-3
13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.

If you find yourself at odds with the authority figures in your life, intercede on their behalf and pray for them; then pray for yourself.  You are responsible for setting a godly example for how you respond to such matters because others are watching.  God will handle them if they are out of order.  But if you plant those types of good seeds, rather than seeds of discord and strife, then you will know how to respond when YOU become the authority – just as Samuel was over Saul.  Your time is coming!

The Lord Rejects Saul as King

35 Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.











Monday, May 26, 2014

ACE #217: Memorial Day: The Tradition Lives On

Today, we celebrate Memorial Day!

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the country's armed forces. The holiday, which is celebrated every year on the last Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.  Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries. (Thank you, Wikipedia.com)

As I drove around my parents' neighborhood, their street was lined with tiny American flags along the sidewalk.  It reminded me of how often we, as U.S. citizens, can come together in times of celebration and times of tragedy.  The ultimate dream would be that we just...come together...on one accord...in respect, honor and love.

My hometown had its 1st Annual Memorial Day Celebration this morning at Steele Cemetery in Versailles, Ky.  Many of my family members are buried there.  As I scrolled through the pictures of the event, I couldn't help but to feel sad because of all the family members that have died, especially in the last three years.  Then I was reminded that because of their faith, I believe they are resting peacefully with the Lord.  That's something to celebrate.

So as we pay homage to our fallen soldiers and our loved ones who have transitioned, let us be mindful of the legacies and traditions that they have left behind for each of us to continue on and to pass down to our own children.

Joshua 4:1-9                    
When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests' feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel...



 
Thank you, Veterans, for your service!


Saturday, May 24, 2014

ACE #216: Prayers

Father in the Name of Jesus, we come as The 'After Church Experience' just to say thank You. Lord, we thank You for being an awesome God. We thank you for the vision. Father, we confess our imperfections and repent of our sins in thought, word and deed. Lord, we come with a heart of expectancy and a spirit of worship this day. We pray for those who follow this ministry. We pray that You will guide them in every walk of their lives, Lord. Move in their circumstances and leave no doubt of your providence and sovereignty. Lord, we offer a prayer for our nation and its leaders that we might come to recognize You in the decision being made. Lord, we pray for the homeless, the sick and afflicted, the imprisoned, those in nursing homes and assisted living. Lord, we especially want to pray for those who do not know You in their sin. Jesus is the only way to You and we pray for the courage and wisdom to teach and live the gospel. We pray this prayer in the name of Jesus. HE DIED SO WE COULD LIVE WITH HIM. AMEN!


 
 
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)







Friday, May 23, 2014

ACE #215: When the Storm Breaks

The other day I had a horrible headache.  I took a combination of over-the-counter pain relievers and none seemed to work.  I tried Excedrin Migraine first thing in the morning.  Several hours later, I tried Advil.  Then a few more hours passed and I tried Aleve.  It was one of those heavy, dull, all over the head and face kind of headaches.  Even my ears were slightly clogged.  I rarely get headaches where nothing seems to relieve them, but this was excruciating pain. I just needed something, anything to get the headache to break.  But in my mind, I knew what it was...it was the storm that was brewing.  The barometric pressure was so heavy or strong or whatever that it caused my sinuses and allergies to go into overdrive.  The weather had triggered a combination of a migraine, sinus, and tension headache. 
 
All while managing this headache, I had to go to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  During this trip, the clouds and the sky started to get darker.  I did my best to beat the storm.  I moved so quickly that I forgot something and had to go back to the store.  Just as soon as I got in the car, the rain started coming down.  The lightning started flashing.  The thunder started rolling.  I couldn't wait to get home.  I was so preoccupied with my safety that I didn't even realize that after the storm had broken, so did my headache.
 
This particular situation reminds me of the great storms in the Bible, particularly in the stories of Jonah and the 12 Disciples.  In both cases, order and calm were restored when the storms subsided.  But don't miss this - God was always in control of the storms from the beginning to the end. 
 
If you're going through a storm of any kind in your life, remember who is in control. The storm has to break...it can't last forever. Relief has to come.
 
 
 
 
Image from devianart.com
 
 
People say that the calm always comes right BEFORE the storm. Well, I'm here to tell somebody that I serve a God who can bring a "great calm" DURING and AFTER the storm. Know the power of the God you serve! 

 Mark 4:39
39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

ACE #214: Just When You Think Nobody Is Paying Attention

Yesterday, I received a message in my Facebook inbox from one of my mentees.  Here is part of the message:

I was looking for a way to post this on your page, but an inbox will certainly do. I just want to thank you for being there for and believing in me when I needed it most. For you to not even know me, you saw something in me and was always an encouragement. What touches me most right now is to think about the lunch conversation we had. I only had $4 in my pocket and was trying to calculate what I could to be okay. My heart was heavy, and I didn't know what to do. That day, you not only covered my lunch but you also fed me spiritually. It was the "umph" I needed to keep me moving forward with my career and educational goals. After almost two years, I am finally making gains in my life and finding balance - socially, economically, and spiritually. THANK YOU, Charliese. Without people like you praying and pushing me, I may have given up. Just think...we met (seemingly) by chance...from there, I have been inspired by you and am GRATEFUL to say I know you. Keep doing what you're doing because it's changing lives - even when you may not realize it.
This message didn't just make me smile, it also made me cry. I'm not sharing this story to "toot my own horn".  I'm sharing it because this situation made me know that I was doing something right, but that she was paying attention to the seeds I'd sown in her life.  That seed will allow her to sow right back into somebody else's life. What an awesome harvest!  
So just when you think that nobody is paying attention...God will show you otherwise.
 
Hebrews 13:16
 
16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

ACE #213: Are You Happy?

Just about everyone is still singing Pharrell Williams's song, “Happy”.  People have even made their own videos to the song.  But it makes me wonder, “Are these people really all that happy?” 

Just because we sing about it or say it, do we really reflect happiness in our daily lives?  One of the most puzzling and troubling things I see daily is how people post about how good God is, then complain or curse people out in the next status update. 

Let me offer this, happiness is temporary...and conditional.  Happiness is affected by people, situations, money, jobs, relationships, friendships, mood swings and a whole lot of other stuff.

But joy…
But Joy…
But JOY…that way deep down joy is something different.

The old folks used to sing, “This joy that I have…the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away!”  That is a shout right there!  

I have walked into my job or even into church some days as happy as I wanted to be and somebody would do something or say something that completely set the tone for my day.  It would zap my happiness.  When I changed my reaction to such things and decided that I wouldn't let someone else steal my joy...oh, boy!


The joy in knowing Jesus can make all of the difference in your day, in your life, and in the world. Joy will get you through, over, under and around some things.  It's okay to be "happy", but I invite you to have JOY.  After all, it is one of the fruits of the Spirit.  Choose joy!

Ecclesiastes 3:12 

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live...

Isaiah 12:3 

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.  


Get you some joy...







  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

ACE #212: But I Have a Good Heart

One of the most unattractive qualities I have ever encountered with some individuals are those who are mean-spirited and just plain ole nasty.  When I see people like that coming my way, I often exit a room or even pretend to be busy.  Even more often, people will try to explain the "mean" away with, "...but she has a good heart!" 

What difference does a good heart make, if nobody can see it, hear it, or feel it?  The Word of God says, in part, that what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart and defiles a person.  That doesn't just mean that we just defile ourselves, but we also defiles others through mean words and evil actions.  We don't get to explain our hatefulness away, just because we do nice things for others or give people expensive or thoughtful gifts. 

At the end of the day, I don't want gifts from a mean person - I want respect, hospitality, and loving kindness.  And please don't give me a gift, if what you actually owe me is an apology.

Believe it or not...our hearts are visible.  Your heart shows through your actions and your words.  Endeavor to be kind.
               

Hebrews 4:12                    

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.


 

Monday, May 19, 2014

ACE #211: Storage Full

One of the most frustrating things happened to me this weekend.  My mobile phone maxed out on memory.  It caused me all kinds of problems! I couldn't access my call logs.  There was no memory for voice mails.  My texts were filled to capacity.  And my email wouldn't even allow me access with the message repeating over and over again "storage full". 

This meant I had to take action fast, quick and in a hurry.  When I tried to delete some things, it would not even allow that.  So I got rid of a few old pictures that I didn't think I would miss.  I deleted some apps that I know I didn't use.  Still, the message read, "storage full".  There was one last thing I didn't try - to power down and to restart my phone.  After I did that, I had some free space.

This scenario reminded me of how full to capacity our lives get that we don't have enough space for God.  We put him on the back burner, save Him for later, or archive Him. 

One of my favorite songs, "I'm Available to You," reminds me to make myself available to God for His use regardless of my schedule, the time constraints, and the busyness of my life.  The lyrics read:

Lord I'm available to You.  My will I give to You.
I'll do what You say do.  Use me Lord
to show someone the way, and enable me to say
My storage is empty, and I am available to You.

When will you find the time to make yourself completely available to God?  Do it before you have to...


Isaiah 6:8
Isaiah's Commission from the Lord
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
 
 
I'm Available to You:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJznj1a8I1w


 
Try to power down and restart!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

ACE #210: What Happened?

I like Facebook. I like Twitter. I like LinkedIn. I like Pinterest. I like Instagram. I like what all of these social networking avenues provide for people who desire to share and connect with people across the globe. It can be fun and a great resource for us to experience one another without the hassle of travel. It has been a great way for family, friends and other loved ones to journey through life together. 

However, recently, I have come to notice how social media has become a platform to get a point across in a disagreement. It has become a way to cowardly address/resolve situations and conflict between individuals and groups. Families, friends, colleagues, marriages, churches and of course enemies, have all decided to take to social media to make sure arguments are heard. We have become dependent upon using social media to address disagreements with our fellow man.

What happened? 

When I look at the Scripture, I see Jesus wants us to take the issue to our offender/offended.  He didn't say share it with the world. He didn't say put your business in streets. He didn't say hash tag or pound "anything." He said take it to the one who you have the problem with or the one who has the problem with you. If that doesn't work, use a few witnesses. If that doesn't work take it to the church. 

Social media is not a person and it is not the church. 






Saturday, May 17, 2014

ACE #209: "I Care for that Man"

A couple of days ago, my family and I were picking up some pizza. As we were waiting for it, a stranger approached the car. He asked if he could "borrow" some change. (That is another story, for another day). Anyway, he said he was thirsty. Then he said he just wanted to get something from the Taco Stand. So, we ended meeting him at the Taco Stand. 

After we purchased him his meal, I got back in the car and pulled off. Our daughter said, "Daddy, did you get him something to eat?"

To which I replied, "Yes."

Then she said, "Why couldn't he get his own?" I told her that some people might have it harder than others.  We thought the conversation was over...

After a few seconds of quiet she said, "I care for that man." 

My wife and I were proud, yet shocked. We had a similar look of surprise on our faces. But, we should not have. No, not because we are such great parents.  But because Jesus answered those, who were surprised, in Matthew chapter 21 when He said, "Yes... have you never read, 'From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise?'"

Our daughter was praising God. How, you ask? Because she knew that God cares for those without. Otherwise, He would not have sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for  all of us; who will accept His sacrifice to have full life?

Her acceptance of God's gift to us made it so understanding for her to care for this man and his situation. After all, God cared that much for us. 

 

Friday, May 16, 2014

ACE #208: Character Reference

Are you a troublemaker?
Are you difficult?
Are you a complainer?
Are you generous?
Are you full of joy?
Are you reliable?
Are you trustworthy?
Are you fake?

I receive requests all of the time for character references.  Before I write one, I usually ask the person, "What would you say about yourself?"  Many people have stumbled when trying to answer this question.  Then I pose another question, "What would your friends say about you?"

Some time ago, while in conversation with one of my friends, she had mentioned that someone who didn't know me was trying to relay a story about me - basically what someone else had told her about me because of a past disagreement.  The story didn't paint me in a favorable manner.  It could have actually been damaging to my reputation.  She said she let the person talk, then when the opportunity came she spoke up.  She explained to the person that she had known me all of our lives, literally since birth.  She said that in all of those years she had never known me to be a liar...that perhaps there were times when I was a little too truthful.  Some people can handle it, while others can't.  She reminded this person that there were always two sides to every story and because she knew my character, and not necessarily because we were friends, she was more inclined to believe my rendition of that same story.

I didn't bring this situation up for anyone to think I am a saint, because I certainly am not. I did, however, want to demonstrate that even when you are not in a room - your character, your reputation, and your past actions will speak for you.  But when they don't, someone will speak up on your behalf based upon what they know about your character.

Always remember, the only things that will outlast us beyond the grave are our relationship with God and our reputations.

Ecclesiastes 7:1 

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.    



Image by proprof.com

Thursday, May 15, 2014

ACE #207: A Sore Loser

A few years back, I was definitely a Boston Celtics fan.  After all, former UK Wildcat Rajon Rondo was on the team as well as Ray Allen.  My husband and I watched a game with our nephew once and he said, “I like Kevin Garnett.”  So I unconsciously, I suppose, started actually paying attention to KG and tried to figure out why our nephew liked him so much.  He was a good player...I guess.  However, I wasn't really fascinated with him.  Yet it was something about Ray Allen that stood out to me. I couldn't put my finger on it for a long time.

As time passed, Ray Allen was traded to the Miami Heat. I began to notice his precision, his consistency, and his calmness. When he faced his old team, the Boston Celtics, for the first match up between the teams after his trade, he went over to the Celtics’ bench and shook his old coach’s hand and a few of the players' hands as well.  When he tried to show the same consideration to KG, he was not met with graciousness.  The teammates had now become “enemies”.  The difference is, Ray Allen did what God has instructed us to do, which is to bless our “enemies”.  He extended himself, didn't get a good response, shook it off, and kept it moving. 

Last night, Ray Allen showed that he was a clutch player once again.  I finally realized what it was about him that set him apart...he always remained humble after a victory...or a defeat.  Also, last night, those same old feelings I had about Kevin Garnett resurfaced.  When his team was beat out by the Heat, he went to the locker room without shaking hands with the opposing team once again.  He was a “sore loser”. 

The message today is three-fold.  First of all, as parents, we need to stop looking for people outside of our homes to be the role models for our children.  I would never want my kid to follow the example I saw from Kevin Garnett.  As a child, I was taught that after a game you shake the hands or extend a high five and “good game” to the opposing team members.  It’s called “good sportsmanship.”  We have to be willing to call our kids out when they exhibit ungodly behavior.  The next thing, we have to be careful to guard our reputations by the behaviors we reveal in a public forum.  Somebody is always watching us and ready to turn our testimonies into lies.  Cooler heads actually do prevail.  Finally, when we show humility, God sees fit to show us favor…even in clutch moments.

Philippians 2:3-4
New International Version (NIV)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.


Photo by elmwood-church.org


Ray Allen:  http://theafterchurchexperience.blogspot.com/2013/12/ace-91-jesus-is-clutch.html




ACE #206: A Cup of Joy

This morning, my husband sent me a picture.  I knew exactly what he meant when he sent it.  A good cup of coffee to start his day is all he needs to make himself happy.  It brings him delight!

So today, all I can say is do something simple and small that makes YOU happy...even if you are in a dreary season.  

To him, he will be drinking a good cup of “joy in the morning”.  Have a blessed day!

Psalm 30:5

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (NIV)

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (KJV)



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

ACE #205: The Floundering Squirrel

The other day I was driving down the street, but was in quite a rush.  Cars were moving swiftly during the morning rush hour just like I was.  But in my rush, I saw a squirrel right in the middle of the street, lying on its back trying to get up.  I’m not sure if he had been clipped by a car or not.  What I did know was that I was going to do everything I could to swerve and miss that squirrel.  I did not want to be the one to send him to an early acorn grave.  While I don’t know the outcome for the little creature, it made me realize something about the nature of people.

How often do we kick people when they are down?  How often do we see people floundering and watch them struggle, and do nothing to help them to get back into an upright position?

As Christians, it is our responsibility to help someone who is downtrodden or just simply down and out.  Even if we have nothing monetary to give we still have words of encouragement and kindness, which are free.  We give glory and honor to God when we help others who are in need.

1 John 3:17
17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?








Monday, May 12, 2014

ACE #204: A Mother's Day Reflection

As I reflect on Mother’s Day, I am reminded of God’s grace and His favor.  At five years old, our daughter already knows what it is like to be thoughtful, generous, and loving.  She and her dad went shopping Friday night for my Mother’s Day gift.  I was in the mall with them, but was told to go around the corner.  I left the store and just strolled through the mall.  When my husband called me, he told me to meet them in Brookstone.  When I got there, they were both sitting in massage chairs…so I sat in one too.  I asked my daughter if she and her dad picked out something good for me.  She ran off and came back with a box. 

I said, “I don’t want to see my gift right now.  I can wait.”

She said, “But Mommy, I KNOW you’ll like it.  Besides, Daddy said it was okay to show you.”


I opened the box and this was inside:



She said, “Mommy, I know you love elephants, so I wanted to give you something that would make you happy.  Happy Mother’s Day.”

That's my girl!

From Proverbs 31
Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character ] A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her


Sunday, May 11, 2014

ACE #203: That's My Mama

That's my mama. When you here this, you probably think of the mid 70's TV series that ran for 1 year. It was a good show, but it didn't last long because it was never really received by people other than the black community. But "that's my mama" is a strong statement. It is an expression that let's folks know that this is my mama, for better or for worse. 

I first want to give a shout out to my mama and all the mothers throughout world. Happy Mother's Day! Mama, I know we don't always agree on things and things are not perfect, but I still would like to show my love and appreciation for my mama today. You raised me to be a man and I am thankful for it. Thank you. 

But when I hear "that's my mama," I can't help but think of the scripture when Jesus was approached by the man who wanted to let Him know His brother and mother were outside to see Him. Jesus responded with something like "who is my mother and who is my brothers?" Then he stretched out His hand toward His disciples and replied, "here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is His brother, sister and mother."

Doing the will of God is what will draw us closer to Christ. He's not concerned with earthly relationships as much as He is with a spiritual relationship with God. This does not discredit the earthly mothers God uses to be fruitful. It means that when we become more interested in kingdom work and making disciples of men, Jesus is more likely to declare "that's my mama." 

http://mobile.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+12:46-50

Saturday, May 10, 2014

ACE #202: Follow the Instructions

Yesterday, I put together a new bike for our daughter. To start, I opened the box and removed all the parts, including the instructions. I glanced over the manual to see if there was something I did not know. Afterwards, I proceeded to assemble the bike by looking more at the box.

While in my construction experience, I frequently noticed that things did not look right. I wanted to get this right so our daughter can be safe in her biking experience. So, I would often refer to the provided assembling manual to get me back on track. A thirty minute or less job quickly turned into an hour and a half. Why? Because I did not follow the assembly instructions provided.

Church, this is us today as Christians. Who we are and what we will become is in our manual, God's Holy Word. It clearly shows us how to assemble ourselves to be exactly what He desires us to be. We start out in broken pieces, ready to be assembled in Christ Jesus. However, along the way, we deviate from the instructions (the Bible) and the assembled is not what it should be. It leaves us confused and wondering why things are not working like they should. 

Well, obviously we have gotten away from the Word and we have tried to assemble ourselves like the picture on the box, in other words the person next to us. We want our assembly (faith, belief, praise & worship) to look like the brother or sister next to us. Watch out! Just remember, when the assembled ends up that way, it is not the same person operating it. That person knows how to work what's on the box. We don't. 

Look at the instructions God has for you. The Bible is the assembly instructions for what God desires each of us to be individually and collectively. It may not always look like the box. But, if we follow the instructions for assembly, the end result will serve it's purpose. Amen! 

http://mobile.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+32%3A8&version=ESV









Friday, May 9, 2014

ACE #201: Honoring Our Earthly Mothers

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:25-27).

In this particular passage, we see that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is witnessing the crucifixion of her son.  But it is Jesus who does something so profound out of love for His mother.  He ensures her provision by uniting Mary with John, the disciple he loved so much, and then John with Mary.  Even as He was dying, Jesus honored his mother by making sure that she was taken care of until her own death.  What an awesome representation of the bond and love shared between a mother and child.

Take the time to honor the "mothers" in your life...in whatever shape or form they represent.





Thursday, May 8, 2014

ACE #200: When It's All Joy

When I was younger, our church choir used to sing this song, "Count It All Joy" written by Dr. Margaret Pleasant Douroux.  As a child, I didn't understand why this song had so much meaning to so many people...until I went through some things.  The lyrics say:

I count everything as joy in Christ Jesus.
I count everything as joy in the Lord.
All the victories I share...
All the burdens I bear...
Everything, everything, everything in Christ is joy!
If you're sick...he's a doctor - that's joy.
If in trouble...he's a lawyer - that's joy.
Whatever the problem...He can solve it.
Everything, everything, everything in Christ is joy!

I never could really figure out why anyone would want to count, or consider, joy in a difficult time. And then I thought about the people who never have any joy - in good or in bad circumstances.  To me, it seems like such a miserable existence.  I used to try to avoid people like that; then God told me that it was part of my responsibility to show them what joy looks like!  Even on days that seem bad to me, I am careful to exude joy because the Word of God says that the joy of the Lord is our strength. When we have no joy, we have no strength. And when we are in a weak state, the enemy severely attacks our faith!

I encourage those of you who are struggling through a difficult season to hold on to your joy because it is just a testing of your faith and there is a promise at the end of the struggle that says, 
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1

New International Version (NIV)
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
Greetings.

Trials and Temptations

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.


Photo by society6.com