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).

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