Thursday, April 28, 2016

ACE #426: The Spiritual Boot Camp Experience

This past weekend, I was honored to plan and experience a Women's Spiritual Boot Camp at my church.

A boot camp is defined in a few ways, but the definition that best fit for our occasion is "a program or situation that helps people become much better at doing something in a short period of time". 

The theme was "Reset, Refocus, Recommit".  The main scripture was Colossians 3:12-17, but it is verse 16 that I emphasized, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish (advise, recommend, exhort, counsel) one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in our hearts.”

There is something about the disciples of Christ coming together to learn from one another and to learn with a Spirit of gratitude in our hearts.  The workshops focused on four key areas: forgiveness, worship, breaking free from strongholds and intercessory prayer. We all desired to become BETTER in all of those things for the glory of God.  We were intentional about preparing for spiritual warfare.

The following are snippets of what the presenters taught:

"Forgiveness and trust aren't the same. You have to earn trust. We can't always earn forgiveness. God gives us common sense. You don...'t have to trust people who keep hurting you, but you do have to forgive them." Exhorter Doris Coffey, St. Paul AME Church, Lexington, Ky.

"Praise is thanking God for what He's done. Worship is thanking Him for who He IS. The Is-ness of God...His sovereignty, His greatness...worship is getting in His presence, even if it means falling flat out on your face!" Rev. Dr. Angela B. Smith-Peeples, Canaan Christian Church, Louisville, Ky.

"Anything you do for longer than six weeks and it is outside of the will of God and keeping you bound is a stronghold. The first step to being free from a stronghold is admitting you have one." Rev. Stephanie M. Raglin, Embry Chapel AME Church, Elizabethtown, Ky.

"Some situations can only change if you pray...pray...and pray some more. But there are some things we can pray for...but it might not be God's will for our lives." Evangelist Gayle Lang, St. Paul AME Church, Versailles, Ky.

After this event, God showed me the importance and necessity of women of God investing in our spiritual education.  We rarely fail to invest in things that enhance our outer appearance, but often fail to invest in our inner appearance, in other words, the conditions of our hearts and our souls.  

I would encourage someone to be intentional about growing who you are in the wisdom of the Word of God so that you can withstand the attacks of the enemy.  All I can say about this past boot camp experience is, "It was good!"

Colossians 3:12-17 (NIV) 

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ACE #425: Just Finish Strong

The other day, my husband and I were watching our daughter practice track.  The kids would run the length of the football field and turn around and come back.  Our daughter would start out with the pack, but would come in last often on the trip back.  We asked her why she kept coming in last.  She responded, "The coach said it wasn't a race.  Besides...I was tired. I was just trying to finish."

So, today, I just wanted to tell someone that life is not a competitive race.  There will certainly be days when you will get tired.  Life will come up against you like a strong wind. Sometimes you will cry when you're running because it hurts. But just keep pushing through to the end.  All you are required to do is to stay in the race...keep running to see what the end will be. Your victory might not look like someone else's but, nevertheless, a victory in Jesus Christ is better than an ordinary win any day.  Finish strong!

Ecclesiastes 9:11 (NIV)
11 I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
    or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
    or wealth to the brilliant
    or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
The Incomparable and Beloved Daryl Coley sings the remake of "For the Good of Them"

For the record, I had to stop writing this blog when I really started to listen to this song and just simply take a moment to give God His praise for today.  Just for being God...just because His word is real and true in my life.  Even if you have to walk alone, God will never leave you or forsake you.  Things always work out for the good of them who love the Lord!  It WILL work out.  Be encouraged.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ACE #424: Provision Does Not Mean Permission

During the Lenten Season, God very specifically told me to stop spending money frivolously...for 40 days.  I was not just taken aback, I was a little annoyed.  Honestly, I knew exactly what He was referring to.  It meant I had to stop eating out for lunch everyday, stop ordering clothing online, and stop buying stuff just because it was on sale.  I pride myself on using coupons, ya know. This entire sacrifice took so much restraint.  I unsubscribed to all of my shopping sites as not to even be tempted a little.  One of those sites in particular resubscribes you within hours after you unsubscribe. For the nerve!  This was a huge undertaking.  I had to ask the Lord why He would require such a thing.  He told me clearly that He was going to teach me how to do more with less, but it required me changing my habits.  He was giving me a tough lesson in stewardship.

The other day, I went into Kohl's to purchase a belt.  I saw some sunglasses nearby.  I went over to try a few pairs on and realized they cost $9.99.  I thought, what the heck it is just $9.99.  When I went to pay for them, they rang up $16.99.  Now, I was not going to pay that much for those sunglasses.  One of the clerks went back to confirm the price.  They were indeed $16.99, but hanging in the wrong spot.  I declined the purchase.  A few days later, I went into New York & Company.  Sunglasses were $5.99.  One lady had about four pairs on the counter ready to purchase all of them.  I saw the pair I wanted, but it was in her stack.  I turned around and saw a table full of glasses.  Nevertheless, none was the pair I wanted.  So, I declined the purchase again.  I told my daughter, "You know what?  I don't need them.  Your daddy bought me a pair last year that I've never even worn."  When I got home, there they were...a brand new pair of sunglasses sitting in the same spot they have been sitting all winter...waiting to be worn.  Then, I felt a bit ashamed, but mindful that I was also trying to set an example to my daughter that just because you go into a store does not mean you always have to buy something.  And just because I had the money to spend, did not mean I should spend it.  I would not completely understand the lesson until I studied the Book of Jonah.

As I studied Jonah, I realized something so slight, yet so powerful.  When Jonah fled to Tarshish, he boarded a ship.  He paid his fare with no problem. He did it legally; he didn't stow away.  He actually had the money.  No doubt, God had provided Jonah the resources to pay the fare very easily.  That's when the Spirit whispered, "Provision does not mean permission."  I realized that just because Jonah had the money to board the ship didn't mean that it was the right thing to do.  Even though he boarded the ship with ease, didn't mean he would sail away with ease.  Jonah was disobedient, and then the storm came.

So, today, I want to tell someone that just because God has given provision doesn't mean that He gives us permission, particularly if we are not being obedient to His will and His way.  Bend your ear to the Spirit to listen for His permission so that you can be a better steward of what God has provided.

Jonah Flees From the Lord

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

ACE #423: That Bike

Last week, we were traveling from a mini vacation. There was some construction on I-75 North that I wanted to avoid on the way back to Kentucky. So, we took the alternate route. It was 20 minutes or so longer, but moving traffic.

Well, while were driving we passed a lot of yard sales and flea markets on the side of the road. It seemed liked we passed one every two or three miles. It was indeed a scenic route. It was stuff everywhere. But, as we passed one spot, there was a little boy and a woman walking back to a car. The little boy and the woman were wheeling a bike. It seemed as if they had just received or purchased it from one of the yard sales. In the midst of all that stuff, it appeared that this boy had found a bike for himself to enjoy. And, as we kept driving passed them, you could see the happiness on his face. His face showed excitement over that bike. 

Should that be us in Jesus? Yes. 

No matter how caught up in ‘stuff’ we are, we should still be able to get excited about Jesus. Just like the bike brought joy to the young boy’s heart, Jesus should bring joy to our hearts as we understand that there is nothing that can separate us from His love. His sacrifice for our sins is enough to help us see through and get us through life’s stuff knowing that the joy of the Lord is our strength.

The truth is, I am not sure if the bike was even for this boy. I don’t know much about the situation at all. But, I do know in that moment, on that walk, he seemed excited about that bike. No, I am not comparing Jesus to a bike from a yard sale, but I am saying that we should be excited about Him and know that He is there for us, even in the midst of all this stuff. Today, it might seem like there is nothing to be excited about. You might be losing hope in the government, friends, and family members, even in yourself. But, know that what Christ has given us through His precious blood is something to get excited about. There is hope in Jesus. He will give you joy and excitement amidst this stuff.

James 1:12 ESV 

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him