Tuesday, June 30, 2015

ACE #387: It's OK to Start Again

Last Sunday, my husband stood beside the piano to sing a solo.  It was a song we had practiced many times before.  When he got to the microphone, he began singing.  Then as I was playing, I noticed that he had started the song in the wrong place.  In order for him to get it right, to calm his nerves, to help him feel confident - we needed to start again.  I simply said, "No, start over."

When we began the song again, in the right place, he was able to minister effectively through the music.  The congregation did not even care that he had to start the song again.  

That is exactly how God shows us His mercy and His grace.  He allows us to start over again when we come up short, when we stumble, when we fall down, and even when we fail.  It is because of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed by anything of this world.

So, if you feel like you are in a tough place that you cannot find your way out of - it is okay to start again.  God's compassions are new every day because He is faithful to us...even when we are not faithful to him. Start again.

Lamentations 3:22-23
22 It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Monday, June 29, 2015

ACE #386: The Unashamed Witness

Yesterday, the Mr. in #TeamLewis4Christ preached his Initial Sermon.  No doubt, he has been preparing for years in his heart and his mind.  Although he has been preaching for about two years or so, he still had to go through the traditional ritual of his public presentation.  People can argue back and forth whether this is a necessary step in the process of becoming a preacher, or an ordained one.  At the end of the day, it is the tradition of our church.  But that is not where we should get caught up.  We should be caught up with the fact that another person will be declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ who is unashamed, undeniable, unafraid and uncompromising in his stance. 

This world is terribly divided on many issues.  Most people cannot decide which stance they will take on which issue on whatever day of the week it is.  In the last few weeks, I have witnessed the ugliness of people toward one another - some are Christians, some are not.  Either way, it is not pleasing to God's ears, His eyes, or His heart to see the hatefulness and wickedness that have been displayed.

Christians are called to be the salt and the light of the earth, to make disciples, and to show the love of Jesus Christ.  So, today's challenge, is to be an unashamed witness for the cause of Christ and to invite someone to salvation...but to do so in love.   

The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.

 Matthew 5:13-16

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Romans 1:16
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Romans 5:8 
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

ACE #385: Lollipops and Popsicles

As we are preparing for our Annual Children's Day Celebration at church, I cannot help but be flooded with many childhood memories.  But there's one, in particular, that stands out.

Every year after choir rehearsal, my Aunt Shirley would always make us dismiss with prayer.  After our "Amen", we would all stand in a single file line awaiting our reward for being good during the rehearsal.  She would pull out a bag of Tootsie Roll Pops.  We could not wait to eat those lollipops and Tootsie Rolls.  (My favorite was orange). Even the kids who could not really sing all that well or had no interest in even singing, would join the choir just because they knew what awaited them at the end of rehearsal.

Now, my Aunt Shirley is with the Lord and my sister and I are the chairpersons of Children's Day. While most of the children did not know the era of the lollipops, they now know the era of the Popsicle.  The first thing my daughter asked when she knew it was time for Children's Day choir rehearsal was, "Mom, are you going to get those Popsicles this year like you did last year?"

I realized that in that moment, my child knew how to be grateful for a small reward.  She knew that there was also a type of behavior that was associated with the reward. 

As Christians, we are often looking for the big reward that drops down out of nowhere. When it doesn't happen that way, we either get disappointed or we don't notice at all. The reality is that, sometimes, we just have to learn to be grateful for the small rewards God gives us each day like sunshine, someone buying us lunch for no reason, receiving a compliment, or getting a refund or a discount.  It's the small things that will remind us that God has not forgotten about us...even if it as simple as a lollipop or a Popsicle. 

So keep the faith and keep seeking God - your reward is coming!


Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

ACE #384: Walk

This morning, I witnessed something so inspiring.  As I anticipated the superintendent of the school system to call my niece's name to receive her high school diploma, there was a loud clap and cheer.  Not knowing what it was about, I desperately looked around to see what was happening.  To my surprise, there was a young lady who decided to walk across the stage.  Nothing to it, right? However, this was without her wheelchair.  She wanted to walk, regardless of her circumstances or her disability.  This is courage. This is belief. This is hope. This is the power of God.  

When it doesn't seem possible, through the trust, belief and hope in our risen Savior, Jesus, in God all things are possible. We just have to be willing to walk in Him. Even though the obstacles are ahead of us, even though the walk seems long, even though we might fall, we have to be willing. 

The young lady got the diploma. It was a long walk, but she got it. There was help along the way, but in the end, nothing stopped her from it. 

Is that not supposed to be us, who are called according to His purpose? It might be tough, but...


2 Corinthians 5:7
 For we walk by faith, not by sight

Thursday, June 4, 2015

ACE #383: Sometimes You Have to Tell the Enemy 'Thank You'!

One of the things I have learned over the years is that people will work really hard to try to do things to limit you, discredit you, or block you very strategically and certainly intentionally.  

A few years ago, I worked in a position where my salary was much lower than everyone else with my title, at my pay grade, and with my level of education.  When I had it reviewed, guess what happened?  Nothing really to my advantage. Instead of people doing what was fair and equitable, they did just the opposite.  I was livid, particularly because I knew I should have received a $7,000 increase.  Even when I tried to go through a grievance process, it did no good.  As a matter of fact, the Holy Spirit kept instructing me to check my mailbox.  I kept going to my mailbox at the office.  There was nothing in it.  I did this about four or five times - still nothing.  When I got home, I went straight in the house and did my household duties in the usual order.  I went to work the next day, still there was nothing in my mailbox.  It was the last day before the holiday break.  I got home, very grateful to be off from work for two weeks, and I checked my mailbox.  There it was...a letter from my place of employment.  The letter stated that my current job was no longer available.  I could accept the new job title with a lower pay grade, which meant I was capped out in my salary range, apply for another job within the organization, or find employment somewhere else.  Imagine that!  Those people deliberately calculated my demise.  I had spent a few weeks already being mad, so by the time the letter came, I just laughed.  It was all I could do. The enemy didn't just try to take my joy, the enemy tried to diminish my self-worth and destroy my professional value.  And it hurt.  I seethed with anger, resentment, and vengeance. Oh, but it pushed me!

I began to tighten up my resume, sharpen my skill set, and look for new employment.  And God turned that thing around for me in seven days!  As a matter of fact, I got offered two new jobs - one full-time and one part-time.  What I realized is that the enemy thought he had me, but God had a plan.  It was all part of His plan to prosper me and to get me out of my comfortable position.  I went on the new job and got every dime that was due me.  It would take me two years but, nevertheless, I was repaid for it.

So, today, I say to someone sometimes you just have to tell the enemy "thank you" - thank you for allowing me to experience the true sovereignty of our God, thank you for helping me trust God's plan for my life, thank you for helping me pray harder and study the Word of God more faithfully, and thank you for pushing me out of the nest into my destiny.  What was meant for bad turned around for my good.  

God can do the same for you.  Will you trust Him?  Will you believe He is always working on your behalf regardless of what it feels and looks like? Will you tell the enemy "thank you" when it is all said and done? More importantly, will you tell God "thank you" when He turns things around for your good to accomplish the things that need to be done for His glory?

Galatians 50:20
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

"It Pushed Me"

"He Meant It For My Good"

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

ACE #382: When a Prayer Breaks Through

Yesterday, I met with my chair for my doctoral committee.  As I was sitting in the seat, she began to ask me very difficult questions.  She was trying to get me to narrow down my focus for my dissertation topic.  During the conversation, I realized the way I wanted to go with my research was not the way she envisioned it.  That's the first problem.  The way I defined specific terms was not the way she defined them.  That's the second problem.  The method I wanted to use was not to her liking.  That was the third problem.  I felt like I had literally struck out. 

When I got in the car, I just started praying so loudly and definitively that I knew God had no other choice but to hear me.  I told him that I needed him to give me clarity and to do this "thing" - all of it - on my behalf because I couldn't see my way.  I was tired and worn out with the process because of all the hoops I have had to jump through.  I was tired of feeling small and unintelligent in this situation.  That was 11:30 a.m.

At 4:30 a.m. my eyes sprung wide open.  I had figured out what I was going to do and exactly how I was going to do it.  I made my request known to God specifically what I needed.  And He answered clearly and concisely.  It was evidence that God had heard my prayer and provided the vision I needed to move forward in my journey.

So, today, trust God in your journey because when the prayer breaks through you're on your way to a breakthrough!

Psalm 66
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;
    let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
    his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
    and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
    who has not rejected my prayer
    or withheld his love from me!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

ACE #381: Play Your Position

Lately, I have been studying the dynamics of organizational administration, while being realistic about my own career trajectory.  I have come to the conclusion that there are three positions that exist in any organization:

1.  The Inner Circle - The person in this position has access to the workings of the organization and often has some level of decision-making power or influence within the organization that likely affects others.
2.  The Outsider Within - Derived from feminist thought, the person in this position is not a member of the inner circle, rather he/she is what I would say is "inner circle adjacent"; there is access to the inside information because this individual has a relationship with someone in the inner circle.
3.  The Outsider - The person in this position is completely "out of the loop" in every area of the organization.

Furthermore, there is always an "A-Team" and a "B-Team" in most workplaces.  The "A-Team" gets to influence the decisions, while the "B-Team" has to live with the decisions that the "A-Team" makes.

Here's a word for you, beloved, whatever team you are on, just always follow #TeamJesus. It is about how Jesus views your performance.  Refuse to mistreat people, function in a spirit of integrity, treat others well, and be a good steward over whatever God has given you.  

When Joseph was imprisoned, the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph initially, but only after two years had passed.  The two-year delay was  not a denial for Joseph.  He received his reward by being appointed by the Pharaoh as the second in command in all of Egypt.  The delay wasn't just for Joseph - it was also for the survival of a multitude of people to live through the severe seven-year famine that would occur unbeknownst to them.  It was Joseph's spiritual gifts and skills that preserved all of them.

You might not see the rewards now, the promotion might not be around the corner and the raise might not even be in view, but God is always mindful of your service, your labor, your faith, and your seeds!  People might forget you, but God will always remember you. So in the meantime - play your position...whatever it is.

Joseph in Charge of Egypt
41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command,[b] and people shouted before him, “Make way[c]!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.
44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On,[d] to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.
46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.
50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh[e] and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim[f] and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”
56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.