Wednesday, August 26, 2015

ACE #397: Praise From the Heart of a Child

This past Sunday, our church was visiting another church.  We knew many of the people there.  Our daughter is very social, so she usually can choose who she wants to sit with wherever we go to visit.  My husband usually sits in the choir, but now he sits in or near the pulpit.  I usually sit at the piano or on the first row at church because I have to be in close proximity to the instrument throughout the service.  The other choir was ministering through song with that old school Walter Hawkins tune, "When the Battle Is Over."  At our church, my sister leads this song.  At this particular church, the pastor lead the song.  

As the choir was singing the song, the congregation was highly engaged - they were singing, clapping, and stomping their feet.  When I turned around to look at our daughter, I saw something in her that I had never seen before.  She had this wide-eyed look with tears in her eyes.  However, I recognized the look.  I directed her to come and sit with me.  I asked her what was wrong and she started to tear up a little more.  

I said, "You got the Holy Ghost, didn't you?" 

She said, "Yes."

I said, "Well, it's okay.  Don't be ashamed to get up and praise God."

She said, "I am ashamed. People will look at me."

I said, "Well, don't be ashamed.  Don't ever be ashamed to let people see you praise God and to let others know you love God."

She said, "Okay."

How many of us adults miss our opportunity to praise God because we are worried about what others will think of us?  The truth be told, nobody should be looking around trying to figure out what someone else is doing during worship anyway.  But the nosey flesh, just can't help itself sometimes...I guess.

But the song exhorts us to "...shout NOW!"  Don't hold back your praise to make someone else comfortable.  If you know that you know that God is just that good, you will let God know.  

Enter into a place so personal and intimate with God, even in a crowded room, that your gratitude and your praise overflow.  Let the praise from your heart flow out of your mouth.  Whether someone else notices or not...God notices. So, praise the Lord anyhow!

Walter Hawkins, "When The Battle Is Over"

Psalm 150:1-6 

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! ...

John 4:23 

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

Psalm 100:2 

Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

Psalm 150:6 

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!    

Hebrews 13:15 

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

ACE #396: What They Said

The problem with having a good memory rarely forget things.  I have memories as far back to when I was very young, maybe around three - some of them good and some of them bad.  That's why when people say the term, "forgive and forget" it holds very little meaning to me.  Honestly, I struggle with forgiving people because I rarely forget what they did to me or what they said about me.

I remember when I was younger and people would say that I would never amount to anything because I was rebellious and running the streets.  And to be very honest, I wasn't really doing anything any different than most of the teenagers my age.  As a matter of fact, I was actually doing something a little different than most - I was playing piano at my church every Sunday morning.  It didn't matter what time I got in the house, late at night or in the wee hours, I never failed to show up at church every Sunday morning and assume my position on the piano at 11:00 a.m.  I never missed a Sunday. When I would hear about "grown ups" speaking negatively about me, it was hurtful. After all, I was still a child. It hurt when strangers did it.  But it hurt most when family members did it.  But WHAT THEY SAID never impacted my destiny, or what I would eventually know God purposed for my life.  

When I got of age (20-years-old to be exact), I rebuked the people that spoke negativity over my life.  I was respectful about it, but I meant it when I said, "The devil is a lie.  I have graduated with honors and have a full scholarship! Most of all I still honor God every Sunday by using my gifts. God is still working on me. Let Him work on you."  That is one of the reasons I rarely say anything about someone else's child...because I knew what was said about me.  People will usually rise or fall to other people's expectations. Now, I am teaching and preaching the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ and serving as an educator and advocate for students. 

People can say whatever they want about you.  People can even think whatever they want about you.  It doesn't make any of it true. Be determined, with a made up mind, that WHAT THEY SAID does not matter. You can ignore it. Or you can address it. But you have to pray and keep it moving.  God always has the final say concerning His children! (And He will send someone to speak life over you).  God's Word stands...

Nevermind "what they said."

Jeremiah 29:11-14 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Proverbs 16:9 

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Ephesians 2:10 

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Matthew 6:25-34 

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ...

Proverbs 19:21 

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.    

Monday, August 24, 2015

ACE #395: And Then God Reminded Me...

No one really knows how many times I have asked God these questions:  Why did you make me love the field of education?  Why couldn't I have been smarter in the STEM areas and been an engineer or doctor?  Why couldn't I have chosen a career path that makes me money and not miserable and burdened at times? Between me and God, I'm sure one of us has lost count.  You see, I have gained absolutely no monetary or professional advancement in this field...seriously, I haven't.  As a matter of fact, I often think that I am more stuck, or cursed, than blessed in my field.  My sister always told me that someday I would be a "star" in the field of education. I'm still waiting...and not patiently, I might add. Yeah, yeah, I know; I should be grateful for a job, right?  Right...but...can't I want more?

I was riding in my car a few weeks ago listening to Joel Osteen on Pandora and through His message I heard God reminding me of three things:

1.  Just be excellent.
2.  Honor the one who gave you the gift(s).
3.  Be kind.

And then God reminded me, again...that I am uniquely purposed to do what I do - because I could do and be all of those things with my big heart, my bright ideas, and my god-loving, god-fearing soul.  All are required to do what I do. Then I read something that confirmed God's plan for my life:

Kids aren't going to care about Algebra or Shakespeare if they're worried about are they going to eat when they get home, do they know where they are going to sleep tonight, and are parents or guardians going to sell me for sex when I get home" (John Barge, State School Superintendent, Georgia Department of Education).

That statement within itself was both profound and sad.  I had to give myself a pep talk. 

You're called to do this thing! You are designed to help students "reach higher" in spite of their circumstances.  There is more...better...greater in them. You make a difference.  Your work matters.

Everyone doesn't have a sympathetic or empathetic enough heart to sow seeds into others and quite possibly never know if those seeds flourished.  In the last two weeks, many of my former college students have reached out to me to remind me what purpose/role I have played during certain seasons of their lives.  My husband reminded me that my students are my harvest.  The seeds I planted in their lives are evident in their success...and even in their gratitude. 

The field of education is much like ministry - if you get into it for the money, then you have already made a terrible decision.  You have to do it because it is what you are called to do, what you are purposed for, what God has designed for your life...and you have to care enough that you might not ever get noticed, might not ever get paid a lot, or might not even get a "thank you" - and be okay with it...because God is in it.  

 Isaiah 40
 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

ACE #394: Relationship Status: Be Honest and Use Wisdom

This post is really out of the ordinary for me.  For some very odd reason, this situation from my past dropped in my spirit.  Before you ask...I have no clue why.  No prior conversation happened. Nothing triggered it.  Again, it just...dropped in my spirit. I am assuming somebody needs it...

When I was in college, I went out a few times with this guy.  On our first date, he let me know up front that he had a baby on the way with his ex-girlfriend.  They had broken up before she realized that she was pregnant.  I thought, wow, this guy actually told me the truth.  He said that he told me because he did not want someone else to tell me before he had a chance to, but also because I could choose to explore something more with him...or not.  We went out about two more times after that, but after each date I truly had to be honest with myself...and with him. I told him that I did not want to feel like anything concerning me would come between him and doing what was right by his ex-girlfriend and the baby as well as I really did not want to have to share him.  The reality was that I liked attention and I knew I could not compete with a brand new baby.  I was also realistic about the fact that there was unfinished business between him and his ex.  I did not love him, I barely knew if I actually liked him.  To save myself any heartache down the road, I bowed out and kept it moving. My instinct had kicked in and I knew it was for the best. To make a long story short, he is now married to her and they have three children together. No surprise. They are an awesome looking family.

The problem with most of us is that we are not honest in the beginning of our relationships - honest about our expectations, our pasts, our feelings, and our intentions.  To this day, I respect this young man - who I haven't seen in about 20 years - because he let me know that he had every intention of co-parenting this child and that would be his priority.  But I also had to be honest about the fact that I was not going to hang out with him while he was co-parenting.  I also valued myself enough to know that 2nd place was not for me.  After all, I did not have any children and was not willing to take on that role in any form and, frankly, did not want to have to argue with some girl about her child. Everybody involved in the situation was young and bound to make foolish decisions. Looking back, I believe we all made decisions that were best for each of us. (Now, I had another situation where the guy never disclosed that he had a child and I just happened to see a picture of her on his mother's coffee table...I never spoke to him again).

So, today, I want to encourage someone to "be honest with yourself" in your relationships, but also be honest with the person you are dating or in a relationship with right now.  Ask yourself and them the tough questions: What are you willing to do?  What are your expectations?  What are you willing to sacrifice? What won't you settle for?  What are your struggles?  What are your battle scars?  What are your triumphs? Where do you see this going?

My advice:
Trust your own instincts (your gut) and use wisdom to guide you.  More importantly, consult God.  You will save yourself a lot of trouble down the road...

Proverbs 3
My son (daughter), do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
    and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

ACE #393: Just Ask

My daughter and I were riding in the car listening to the radio. In one of the songs, the soloist began speaking in tongues.  My daughter asked, "Mommy, what is that language they are speaking?"  I told her that it was a spiritual language, what people referred to as speaking in tongues, or Glossolalia.  Then she asked if she could learn to speak that language. 

I told her that speaking in tongues was a spiritual gift that should be used to edify the church.  If she desired that gift, it would be between she and God to develop it because only He could give it to her; but she had to ask God for it herself.  I told her that she could ask through prayer.  By the time I had turned around to look her in the face, she was already in prayer. When she opened her eyes, she said she had already had the conversation with God; she would just wait on His answer.

Never miss a teachable moment and never underestimate how much children know and understand about God.  With little children, you have to expect anything. So, be prepared. 

Whatever your prayer is today, believe God for the answer.  He does all things well on our behalf. 

Mark 11:24
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
"Just Ask In My Name"

1 Corinthians 12:8-118 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

ACE #392: Do You Have a 'War Room'?

Have you seen the promos for the upcoming movie, "War Room"?  Something about that preview got on me immediately.  It is about the power of prayer, better yet "a prayer strategy."  I have watched this preview so many times.  The old church mother said, "It is time to take off your gloves and fight."  Then she said that just because we fight, it doesn't mean we fight well.  She said something right there!

Christians, yeah...we fight dirty too!  We hit below the belt because we know it hurts our opponent (usually our loved ones), and because it is often a guaranteed win.  But is the win really worth it when there is a risk to lose a lot? We have to learn that fighting is the spiritual realm is so much greater than fighting in the flesh.  We have to be intentional and purposeful in our prayer journey.  I will admit, prayer is not something I am really intentional about even though I pray often.  Some days, I believe about 50 percent of my day is spent whispering some type of prayer, particularly when I am under spiritual attack.  

Prayer should be time set aside, uninterrupted, with God.  We are to make our requests known to Him - up close and through personal relationship. (As I am typing this, my husband is singing William McDowell's "Show Me Your Face" and it has made me smile. He has his headphones on and has no idea that his William McDowell is warring with my John P. Kee.)

We have a spare bedroom that is really my husband's office with a bed in it.  He is a video editor and often "takes a nap" when his projects are rendering in the wee hours of the morning.  I went into the room one evening and realized that he was in there, but I couldn't see him.  I saw a light on in the closet.  As I opened the door, he was coming out of a prayer.  I looked in there to see that he had created a "war room" or a prayer closet.  Sticky notes were on the wall filled with various prayer requests. Another sticky note had answered prayers listed on it.  But it was the bottom two notes that really spoke to me.  Our six-year-old daughter had posted her prayer requests.  She's a daddy's girl, but I didn't know she was that much of a daddy's girl! We have taught our daughter that she should always speak directly to God so that He is familiar with her voice and she becomes familiar with His.  The fact that our baby girl is warring on behalf of many of our family members warms my heart.

I have yet to see the movie, but I am certain that the Kendrick Brothers have done it again!  One day, I will share the story of how "Facing the Giants" changed my heart.  Until then, put your dukes up...and prepare your war room! It's praying time.

"War Room"

"Show Me Your Face"

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, 
who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.