Thursday, December 31, 2015

ACE #414: How Will You Look Back on 2015?

Genesis narrative from Wikipedia:
The narrative of Lot's wife begins in Genesis 19, after two angels arrived in Sodom, at eventide, and were invited to spend the night at Lot's home. As dawn was breaking, Lot's visiting angels urged him to get his family and flee, so as to avoid being caught in the impending disaster for the iniquity of the city. Lot delayed, so the angels took hold of his hand, his wife's hand and his daughters and brought them out of the city. The command was given, "Flee for your life! Do not look behind you, nor stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills, lest you be swept away."[1] Lot objected to the idea of fleeing to the hills and requested safe haven at a little town nearby. The request was granted and the town became known as Zoar. Traveling behind her husband, Lot's wife looked back, and became a pillar of salt.

As I have been reflecting on 2015, I realized that it has been a difficult year in many ways.  Yes, great things have happened, but I have been stretched, uncomfortably I might add, and challenged in my personal life, my profession and my ministry.  And ironically enough, I have been required to do a lot of self-reflecting, but a whole lot more of that forgiving thing.  Both areas are quite difficult for me to master even though I have had enough practice. 

But if I am honest, I believe I have been more obedient to God's calling on my life this year than any other year.  And you know what?  There have been more hellish moments than enough.  It let's me know that the enemy sees a glimpse of what God has planned for my life.   That glimpse has the enemy working overtime!  But when the time comes to truly reap the harvest, in the words of my grandfather, "Whatchu say!"

It is my prayer that whatever difficult situations you have encountered in this past year, that you have learned the lesson(s) and moved on.  You can't change a thing! Besides, God knows the past, present and future concerning each of us. We just have to remain in Him and trust His plan - no matter what it looks like ahead.

How will you look back on 2015?  It is my prayer that you won't turn into a pillar of salt...looking back on some things God wants you to leave behind.  Enter into 2016 with a plan, a divine purpose, and prayer.

Happy New Year!

Be blessed,


Monday, December 21, 2015

ACE #413: Expectancy

This week I was driving and I believe the Lord dropped in my spirit the witness of expectancy. Recently, my wife and I have been is a season of holding. Things do not appear to be moving the way we would hope, so we have been a little discouraged. But, during this drive, I heard the word "expectancy". 

You see, when the three Hebrew boys refused to worship the statue constructed by King Nebuchadnezzar, there was an expectation that the God of Israel would be all they needed. It didn't matter that the government demanded they act like everyone else. It didn't matter that there were severe repercussions for not following the decree. What mattered more than anything was that the government and everyone else knew that they served and worshiped the true and living God. In fact, when the king demanded that they worship like everyone else, they replied - and I paraphrase - do what you must, but God is able to save us, either way. 

When I hear this, I can't help but believe that these believers, through their faith, were expecting the Great I Am to show up and show out. In other words, there was an expectation that God would provide, whether in the furnace or out of the furnace. It made no difference. They were expecting to worship their God no matter what happened. 

In today's hell, someone else may be discouraged and just ready for God to move. Well, I hope we can learn a lesson from the these three believers about waiting with expectancy. You see, when we declare that there is none like Him in all the earth, we are expecting Him. When we declare, greater hath no love than this, than a man who would lay down His life for His friends, we are expecting Him. When we declare that now faith is the substance of things hope for the evidence of things not seen, we are expecting Him. We are waiting with expectancy, knowing that He will do just what He said, even if it is walking through the fire with us. When we wait on the Lord with expectancy, something happens that can't be explained. What are you expecting? 

Will you wait with expectancy? 

Friday, December 4, 2015

ACE #412: It Could Have Been Me...

Yesterday, I was sitting in my car at a traffic light.  There was a woman standing by the entrance of the shopping center with a sign.  I wasn't close enough to read her sign, but I was certain it said something like, "Need money for food."  After all, this is a daily occurrence in most communities, right?  Normally, someone will stick their hand out of the window and hand over a few dollars.  My husband does this all the time.  I am much more cautious, especially when our daughter is in the car with me.  I feel kind of guilty sometimes when I don't stop because, after all, it could have been me out there in the cold or on the streets.  I was broker than a joke in graduate school.  Still...somehow, God showed me provision through other people and often through a sheer miracle. (Truth be told...most of us are one paycheck away from being...well, without).

As the traffic light turned, I saw something that I had never seen before. Instead of reaching out and giving the woman with the sign some money, the driver handed over a pair of gloves.  The woman with the sign immediately sat down and put the gloves on her hands with great relief.  Some might ask, why didn't the driver just give the woman money?  Well, as I see it, the driver gave what s/he had and was responding to a need.  There was a widow in the Bible that did the same.

It is my prayer, that during this holiday season that people will see the needs of others and endeavor to give what they have.  I am always mindful, it could have been me...

Mark 12:41-44

The Widow’s Offering

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

ACE #411: Have You Ever Been Overlooked?

1 Samuel 16:1-13 (NIV)

Samuel Anoints David

16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”
The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?
Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

Last week, I told my husband that the Lord was leading me to study about when Samuel anointed David.  As we began to study, a few things occurred to me.  David was never man's choice, but he was always God's choice.

God confronted Samuel and basically told him to get himself together because he had work to do.  But Samuel was so consumed by his broken relationship with Saul that he had forgotten that he was always on a mission from God.  After all, he was specifically consecrated at birth for this.  God told Samuel that he would show him what to do and who to anoint.

When Samuel follows God's instructions and travels to Bethlehem, he is looking for the one God has chosen to be the king.  He arrives at Jesse's house.  Each of Jesse's sons came before Samuel and the response was the same, "The Lord has not chosen this one either."  Seven came before Samuel, but then there was another - the youngest one who was tending the sheep.  While everyone else was standing around only wishing to be "the one", the real "one" was laboring.  There is something to be said about continuing to labor in the field while others are just standing around.

Even Jesse, David's father, did not think that David was worthy enough to be presented. He didn't even have the baby boy in sight.  That is beyond being overlooked.  But Samuel declared that he was not moving from that place until David was presented.  David was described as "ruddy" in the King James Version.  In the Message translation Jesse called him a "runt".  But it was clear that David was healthy and handsome...even though he was dirty and hot from tending sheep.  Imagine that...your value shining through your filth. And then God said, "This is the one."  When Samuel anointed David with the oil, the Word says that the Spirit of the Lord entered David like a rushing wind with God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life.

Don't worry, Beloved.  God is preparing to anoint you in the presence of everyone in view - the doubters, the haters, and the blockers - even in the face of rejection.  He's preparing you for the rest of your life.  Like David, just keep working.  If a shepherd can become a king, then what can you become?

Monday, November 30, 2015

ACE #410: If 'The Soul Train Awards' Gave You Life...

...then you were in good company.  I have boycotted most "awards shows" years ago.  I have found them to be over-sexualized, demonic and just plain distasteful.  But last night...was an awesome reminder of what good music is all about.  It felt wonderful to hear songs that reminded me of my youth, but also to hear real love songs.

Erykah Badu was a true delight as the host, doubling as a spinning deejay for the Soul Cypher.  Chrisette Michele, Jill Scott, Jazmine Sullivan and Lalah Hathaway are all divas in their own way.  It was good to see Eddie Levert with the young folk.  I must admit, I was glad to hear K-Ci do a familiar tune, but I still got a little tickled at him.  Between him and Tevin Campbell, just like most of us, the aging is obvious...well, not as obvious for some of us.

I felt extremely nostalgic during the Kenny 'Babyface' Edmond's tribute.  Babyface's brother, Kevon Edmonds, is still working that high tenor. True enough, Bobby Brown was a little round and out of breath, but only Bobby Brown can sing a classic like "Tenderoni".  Fantasia gave new breath to "Shoop", but I have to admit, it is hard to listen to anyone sing a Whitney Houston classic; Tasia did it justice though.  I miss Whitney! #RIPNippy

I would have preferred if Karyn White had sung her own chart-topping single, "Superwoman".  But she took to the internet to explain why she didn't sing her own song during the tribute, "I don't know. No one contacted me." But she did say she thought that Fantasia did an excellent job saying, "She's a bad girl." She let the whole world know that she is just glad to be here at 50-years-old and she is still performing.

As usual, Boyz II Men was as polished, classy, and harmonious as ever with "I'll Make Love to You" and "End of the Road."  Honestly, I probably own all of their albums even if no one else has bought them over the years.

I missed Cameo's performance, but I don't think I missed I hear.  Now, I am not an R. Kelly supporter.  But in true R. Kelly fashion, he gave the fans a show with his "Backyard Party" hit with a snippet of each classic tune in true Kells fashion.  His vocals were dead on.  He didn't lose not one single drop of skill in that area.  However, at almost 50, he is still sticking to what works...I guess. 

But trust me when I tell you that the absolute best performance of the night was a combo of soul-stirring gospel divas.  When Erica Campbell extended the invitation for folks to admit to themselves, "I Need a Little More Jesus" and Tasha Cobbs exhorted the audience to "Put a Praise On It" - I saw and even felt the shift.  

There's a miracle in this room with my name on it.  There's a healing in this room and it's here for me.  There's a breakthrough in this room and it's got my name on it. So I'm gonna put a praise on it! the performance...that had me...on my feet.  I love some Jesus and I receive the breakthrough!  

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
Psalm 150:6

Monday, November 23, 2015

ACE #409: Restoration Is On the Way

2 Kings 8

The Shunammite’s Land Restored

Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the Lord has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.” The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years.
At the end of the seven years she came back from the land of the Philistines and went to appeal to the king for her house and land. The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, “Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done.” Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to appeal to the king for her house and land.
Gehazi said, “This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” The king asked the woman about it, and she told him.
Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, “Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.”
I didn't even mean to read these verses...really I didn't.  But I'm glad I did!  An appeal, in this case, is defined as  "to apply to a higher court for a reversal of the decision of a lower court."
This is confirmation that restoration is on the way for somebody.  The son's life had been restored as the foretelling of the woman's land and income being restored years later.  The woman had to be obedient first and then make an appeal.  Are you glad about who really rules the highest court?
Restoration is on the way.  Are you willing to be obedient and to make your appeal to the Father?

Get restored!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

ACE #408: Are You Sorry?

God has a way of making your enemies or someone who has wronged you do right by you...eventually. But sometimes they will fight it...
They might mask it by trying to be or do something overly nice. More often than not, they just could have apologized a long time ago and made it easier...on themselves. Sadly, most people will let their pride and stubbornness overshadow the freedom that comes with simply asking for... forgiveness. Saul tormented himself in his situation with David. And David could have killed him even.  But one of the best examples of this was between two brothers, Jacob and Esau.

As the story is told, Jacob tricked Esau into forfeiting his birthright and blessing. Basically, Jacob took something that he had no right to in the first place. (That darned bowl of soup). Now, we can argue that Esau was willing to give up something so precious for a temporary fix of his hunger.  But let's be real - did he really think his own brother was going to do that to him?  Esau was so angry that he threatened to kill Jacob. Revenge was certainly on his mind.  It tormented Jacob.  In other words, he slept with one eye open. As a result, Jacob, at the request of his mother, fled his homeland and ended up in the company of his uncle, Laban. Years pass and Laban has tricked Jacob over and over again - in an even more calculating manner than Jacob had done Esau.  

Around 20 years have passed, the Lord tells Jacob to return to his homeland.  But wait...he has to pass through Edom, his brother Esau's territory.  In preparation, Jacob lined up his family very specifically for the journey as he was literally preparing for war.  He even had people go before them to check out the territory and to speak to Esau on his behalf.  He sends gifts on top of gifts with them.  It is obvious that Jacob is scared to death and stressed out.  And he should have been.  He knew that what he had done to his brother 20 years ago was just wrong.  But this is what happened in Genesis 33:

33 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.
But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked.
Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.”
Then the female servants and their children approached and bowed down.Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too bowed down.
Esau asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?”
“To find favor in your eyes, my lord,” he said.
But Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.”
10 “No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably. 11 Please accept the present that was brought to you, for God has been gracious to me and I have all I need.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau accepted it.
Keep in mind, Esau embraced Jacob and kissed him first.  He wasn't even the one who had done the wrong!

Two of the hardest things to say are, "I'm sorry" or "I was wrong". (You can't make someone say or admit either).  

But sometimes, we need to say both to make it right with someone...and even with God!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

ACE #407: A Turn of Events

The Philistines were always prepared for battle and usually they won.  They had a champion named Goliath on their side who stood over nine feet tall.  Everything that he wore, his armor, was made of bronze.  Goliath challenged Saul and all the Israelites.  The Word says they were dismayed and terrified. This taunting went on for 40 days - every morning and every evening.  Every time the Israelites saw him, they would take off running in fear. But one day, David heard Goliath.  It was David's oldest brother who burned with anger, but it was David who accepted the challenge.  When Goliath laid eyes on David, he got mad because David was healthy and handsome.  But this is what happened:

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword (1 Samuel 17).

It was the Philistines who then turned and ran off! What a true turn of events.

Some people always desire to be "giants among men". They want to be adored, revered, worshiped, praised and even feared. Sometimes it is in the workplace, in organizational structures, and even in the church.

Goliath was a giant, BUT a small, dirty, stinky little shepherd boy named David beat the brakes off of him and cut his head off. Then David had the nerve to become king.

Be mindful to watch who you look down on...especially when you seem to be in a place of advantage. You never know when there will be a turn of events.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

ACE #406: Everybody Can't Go!

I have learned the hard way over the years that just because you are loyal to people, doesn't mean they will be loyal to you. Just because you get someone's back doesn't mean they'll do the same. Just because you've offered immeasurable support doesn't mean they will too. But here's the thing...most folk don't think they're required to...and they're not...even if you've been friends for years.
But YOU have to make up your mind either to overlook fair weather friends (not hold them accountable) or...get new friends who share the same values about friendship. It will save you a lot of trouble, but it also shows you who has the green light to go into your next season with you (good, bad or ugly). Everybody can't go...

I wrote this a few weeks ago on my Facebook wall.  I believed it then, but I believe it more today.  When I think about the dynamics of some friendships and relationships, I am reminded of the story of Ruth.  

When Naomi loses both of her sons to war, she is left with two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth.  Naomi had already lost her husband. When it was time for the two young ladies to return to their homeland, their mothers' houses, only one chose to go and the other chose to stay.  The passage specifically says that Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.  Ruth was determined to go with Naomi, but Orpah was not.  People have commented that Orpah was selfish and disloyal.  But in reality, she wasn't required, or bound, to Naomi in any way after her own husband had died.

If you read the story, you will recognize that Orpah was NEVER meant to go with Ruth and Naomi in the first place.  You see, after Ruth and Boaz got married, they had a son named Obed.  Obed was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David, who became a great king.  It is through this lineage that the Christ-child was born:

Matthew 1
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

The reality is that some people are not meant to go the distance in your journey.  Had Orpah not separated herself from Naomi and Ruth, she just would have gotten in the way. Some say perhaps Obed would not have been born.  But we know the birth of the Christ-child was predestined. The story had to happen that way.  So, sometimes just be grateful that fair weather friends fall off. Let it be okay that they can't go into the next season with you.  Besides, you didn't need them getting in the way of Jesus anyway.  

The Genealogy of David
18 Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron, 19 Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, 20 Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, 21 Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, 22 Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

ACE #405: Embrace Your Placement

I have often told my former students that every battle is not theirs to fight.  However, there will be times when it is clear that this particular battle has your name all over it.

When thinking about the story of Esther, I found it interesting how quickly Esther replaced Vashti.  It was very clear that Vashti was beautiful, perhaps the most beautiful of all of the women during this time.  But then came Esther:

17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.

Later, when the edict was issued to kill and annihilate the Jews, Mordecai was bewildered.  (Keep in mind, Esther was Mordecai's cousin, who he adopted as an orphaned child). He went to Esther to get her to talk to King Xerxes.  Let's be clear, she did not really want to do it.  But don't miss that Esther fasted, in the same way as Mordecai and his people, before she agreed to go to the king.  As the story goes, Haman set up a pole to have Mordecai impaled.  However, Haman died on the pole himself.  It reminds me of the old saying, "If you dig one grave, then you better dig two!"

The reason why some of us are placed in certain positions during certain seasons is because we are the only ones who will call out the crooked places and the crooked people...
We cause chaos and confusion to bend to decency and order...because God says so.
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)

Trust that you are right where you are supposed to be for such a time as this. Your favor has placed you in a position to bring some things into divine order, you just have to make sure you are prepared properly through prayer, fasting and the study of God's word.  

Embrace your placement!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

ACE #404: What Are Your Hands Assigned to Do?

This is an excerpt from the Foreword of Alexandria's Light Women's Devotional Workbook: An Unexpected Journey of Self-Discovery, written by yours truly.

Last year, Nicole Stromberg shared with me that she was writing a devotional book.  I asked her, “What is this book going to be about?”  She began to share her thoughts about the vision that God had given her to help women of God.  I have known Nicole our entire lives and I never knew her to be a writer.  I remember watching her struggle in school with the learning disability, Dyslexia.  Back then, there were so many misconceptions about it. Having this reading disorder did not mean she was not smart; it just meant that she processed things differently than others.  I would later understand that what many considered a disability would ultimately be God manifesting a spiritual gift in her that would be probably less understood than the disability itself.

As she began to talk about this book from day to day, I let her know that if she was really serious, I would come on board as her editor because I truly believed in her vision for this project, but I certainly saw God working in her more and more in our conversations.  I told her that it would be a grueling process, often frustrating, and certainly time consuming.  Honestly, I had no idea what I had signed up for either. But I knew that God had put us on a path to “write the vision and make it plain” for women who were just like us.

On January 1, 2015, Robert and I promised God that whatever ministry assignments and requests came our way, our answers would be "Yes" and "Amen".  Here's the thing, when you promise God something, you better mean it.  We have had the busiest year...ever! God has stretched us in ways that have been grueling, uncomfortable and exhausting.  But here is the thing - we have no right to renege on our promises to God when He has never done that to us.

When God has assigned your hands to do something, be obedient!  The greatest work you will ever accomplish will be what you do for Him... 

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”
(Matthew 5:14-16, NIV).

Click here to order online:

Monday, October 12, 2015

ACE #403: The Battle Scars

I went to the Homecoming Celebration at my alma mater this past weekend.  I saw many people that I hadn't seen in years.  But I realized that I didn't really leave with new friends from my college experience.  More than anything, I left there with battle scars.

While my undergraduate college experience was fun and there are certainly days that I long for during this time, if I am totally honest, the friends I knew before college are still my friends now.  I think I made more enemies than I did friends...and not on purpose.

It makes me think about Joseph and how he was sold into slavery (twice), falsely accused, and imprisoned.  He was in a foreign land with no friends in sight. He certainly had his fair share of battle scars.  What I loved about Joseph is that he still remained faithful to people who did not deserve his faithfulness.  He remained kind to people who did not deserve his kindness.  He fed people that he could have let starve.  And he forgave people who probably didn't deserve his forgiveness.  

Then I remind myself that the holes in Jesus' hands are the reminders, His spiritual battle scars, that made the difference for all that receive and believe in His name.  

So, today, if you have battle scars from your past, remember to use them to make you better not bitter. Scars might be ugly reminders of something unpleasant, something painful, but nevertheless they have to heal. Remain faithful. Remain kind. Remain forgiving.  Well, because God has always remained faithful, more than kind and forgiving to us...and He sacrificed His only Son as the proof.

John 20:27
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

Friday, September 25, 2015

ACE #402: Scandal Time - Two Popes in One Day

Yesterday, the world was mesmerized and captivated by two Popes.  Pope Francis, current Pope and spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, is visiting the United States of America this week.  He has basically shut down a large part of Washington, D.C.  People have crowded the streets to get a view of him.  He is known for his compassion and kindness toward the poor, the sick and immigrants.  While speaking to a joint meeting of the United States Congress, he stated:

Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

He brought many in the audience to their feet and to tears as he concluded his speech with "God bless America."

But it was the other Pope that flooded social media in the latter hours in the episode, "Everything's Moving Too Fast".  Olivia Pope, that is.  As we open with the story, it pretty much picks up where last season left off...Olivia and Fitz in the "reunited and it feels so good" stage.  Mellie is nowhere in sight.  It took me a while to realize where this storyline was going, but I still wasn't ready.

This episode took me back to a sad moment in time that was reminiscent of the death of Princess Diana of Wales.  It appeared like a mirror image...almost. Princess Emily was also killed in a horrific car wreck.  The difference?  One was a paparazzi incident gone horribly wrong, while the other was a murderous cover up.  One was make believe, while the other was very real. (And Liv wasted a perfectly stunning coat on the girl's lifeless body. But Liv's dress was killer). Shonda Rhimes gets really close...a little too close for comfort sometimes like with the play on the Ferguson, Mo. tragedy.  Or have we forgotten about Michael Brown?  Okay, moving on.  But when the Evil Queen said that the only job for the Princess to do was to give them "an heir and a spare" I could have hollered.  That was just funny. But she told Olivia, "Now, you may go."  That was the way to dismiss somebody from your presence and think nothing of him/her.  But the Evil Queen always goes down, honey.

The dialogue in this episode was classic banter as usual.  Sally Langston was brilliant, but I bet folk wish they would have never helped her cover up her husband's death.  She is still as self-righteous as ever.  And Elizabeth read Mellie straight up one side and down the other...even though Mellie had the "flu".  Mellie got served twice in this episode (a tongue lashing and divorce papers), so much so that she broke out in the "ugly cry".  She said to Cyrus, "Fitz hates both of us."  Yep, he does.

Huck - still crazy.  Cyrus - still pitiful.  Quinn - still angry.  Jake - still looking good. Yep, I am still #TeamJake! But I am not sure how Jake can help Huck...too different kinds of crazy. #AssassinNation

Then Liv and Fitz had a little lover's quarrel.  We are used to that.  Now, somebody (or Liz or Abby) has exposed here we go again.  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  Either way, it's will be undermined.

1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

ACE #401: Know Your Weaknesses

Our daughter has taken a fancy to the character "Popeye".  As I was watching the movie with her this morning, it reminded me of the story of Samson.

Samson was born a Nazarite, which meant “one who has a vow”. Nazarites were Israelites who were consecrated, or separated/set apart, to the service of God (Numbers 6). Samson, specifically, was a child of the promise as an angel had visited his mother prior to his birth.  He was never to drink wine, his hair was to never be cut, and he was not to come in contact with corpses.  He grew up to be the strongest man - a perfect warrior against the Philistines.  As long as he kept the vows, unbroken, he would always be victorious over his enemies and his supernatural strength would remain intact.  But everything changed for him when he met Delilah.  Her deceit and trickery exposed Samson’s weaknesses.

The reason Delilah was able to get Samson to reveal his innermost secrets was because his weakness was…wait for it…women.  If you read the story from beginning to end, then you will recognize that Samson slept with many women, even prostitutes. His father even enabled his behavior.  He also had a wife that was untrustworthy, yet he still loved her.

Judges 16
Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels[a] of silver.”
So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.”
Samson answered her, “If anyone ties me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”

There’s something to be said about revealing your innermost secrets to just anyone, particularly if it makes you vulnerable and causes you to break your commitment to God. Samson was delivered into the hands of the Philistines, who also blinded him.  He was as weak as any other man and could not even defend himself.  As time passed, in order for Samson to be as strong as he was before, his hair had to grow back.  But more importantly, he had to renew his covenant, his vow, with God.

28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
31 Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led[d] Israel twenty years.

If you have weaknesses that cause you to turn from God and to break your commitment to Him, ask God today to help you overcome your weaknesses and temptations so that you can become stronger in Him and more effective for the Kingdom.