Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An Open Door



I Corinthians 16:9

For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

During this recession people are looking for opportunities for employment. They are looking for an open door where they can go in and acquire employment, make a sale, or secure provision for their families. God is able to open a door that no man can open and shut...doors that no man can shut. Even in a recession God has open doors. Adversity is the mother of innovation and with so many needs with the economy and the need for more efficient energy alternatives, there are many doors that are about to open. But with the opening of the doors there will also be many adversaries.
Everybody is not going to want you to advance, you have to figure out a way to get through the door even when others are standing in the way. The Apostle Paul said he would winter in Ephesus, but his desire was to go to Macedonia. We all have a Macedonia that we want to go to but we have to “winter” in Ephesus. Paul didn’t get down because he had to “winter” in Ephesus, but he said there is “a great and effective door that has opened.” While Paul was in Ephesus he was in jail and wrote one of his most powerful letters to the church in Ephesus. This was Paul’s Open Door! Often when it looks like you are trapped it’s an open door. Clifford Harris aka T.I. must spend 366 days in Jail for gun charges, but it can be an open door for his Road to Redemption if he takes advantage of his “Winter” time. How do you take advantage of your open door when there are many adversaries or much adversity?

1. Focus on the opportunity, not the crisis. We already know it's winter. It’s obvious, but what opportunities do you have where you are in this season? They may seem small, but focus on what you can accomplish during this time.

2. Do what you do to the best of your ability. Like Ray Charles said, “We gonna make it do what it do.” Can’t nobody do it like you do it. When you get through the door you just make sure you give them the best that you got!

3. Go around your adversaries. When you know that you are suppose to be in there, don’t let anybody stop you. Don’t take no for an answer especially from people you know that are just trying to block you.

4. When you can no longer tell who your friends are from your enemies, it’s time to leave. Stay close to your friends and keep your adversaries in your periphery. This is a time to be very discerning and re-evaluate your relationships.

5. Be prepared for the door to open so you can be successful when you get in. Have your resume ready. Work on your degree while the door is still shut. Keep your suit clean. Write your book, script, demo right now and have a copy when the door is open. Give them a sample when the door opens ups.

6. Get to the door first. If you got to spend the night by the door be there first.

7. Walk ...don’t run to the nearest exit. When God provides an open door make sure you don’t hurt yourself trying to get in or get out. Be deliberate about open doors. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Dear God, thank you for the open doors you’ve given me in my life. There are more with me than there are against me. Give me the strength to get past my adversaries and the gifts to be productive once I get in. Thank you that my gifts will make room for me and bring me in the presence of great men. I’m in!

In Jesus Name.

Amen.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Watch The Company You Keep

I Corinthians 15:33

Do not be deceived; “Evil Company corrupts good habits

One of the worst important decisions you will make is who your friends will be. Your friends directly and indirectly affect who you will become depending on the level of influence and the development of your identity your habits could be compromised by the people you associate with.

Time and time again we have seen so many stars lose their fortune; derail their careers fooling around with the wrong people. Shall I call the roll, Tupac in the hotel with friend, Snoop in an alleged drive by, Michael Vick with his dawgs, OJ with is buddies in Vegas….what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. Bad company corrupts good morals. True enough we can get into trouble on our own but whom you associate with can either make you better or worse.

1. Do not be deceived. Deception is when folks come under the guise of friendship and slowly take you away from who you really are. You must always realize that if you have more at stake then they do, then you should be the key influencer not the other way around.

2. Bad company. What kind of character do the people have that you spend the most time with? Maybe it’s the character of your friends that unnerves your parents or your spouse. Sometimes we are guilty by association.

3. Bad Company corrupts good habits. Your discipline is eroded by the acidity of people who don’t mean you any good. The longer you are around them the less effective you are. You lose your shine hanging with people who have no light.
The opposite is also true when you hang with people who are going somewhere. It makes you stronger. Proverbs says, “As Iron sharpens Iron so one man ought to sharpen another.” How sharp are the people you are hanging with?

Dear God, surround me with people of integrity. Keep me alert to deception and to people who don’t mean me any good. Send people in my life who make me better not worse. Thank you for the few friends I have who speak truth and bring integrity into my life.

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

Friday, March 27, 2009

What Does A Christian Look Like?



I Corinthians 12:9-21

Christianity over the years has been watered down to a slogan WWJD. We try to remember what Jesus did when we are in a moral dilemma. The slogan lost steam because the people wearing the bracelets didn’t consistently exhibit the answer. There are behavioral traits that we should exhibit once we know the answers. In the movie Slum Dog Millionaire, the poor teen-ager from the slums wins the contest but is cross examined by the police officers because he is accused of cheating. The young man tells the police officer, “I just knew the answers. I’m not a genius, I didn’t cheat, I just knew the answers.” We win at life when we know the answers. The answers to the question what does a Christian look like are found in I Corinthians 12:9-21.

1. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. As a Christian, we need to avoid situations that we know God is not pleased with and stay close to the things that edify our lives. We are products of our environments.

2. Be kindly affectionate to one another in brotherly love. We should be nice to people.

3. Fervent in Sprit, serving the Lord. It should excite us to be able to serve the Lord by ministering to others.

4. Rejoicing in Hope and Patient in Tribulation. NO matter what we are going through we have an anticipation that things are going to get better because God knows our end from our beginning. That gives us the capacity to bear up under difficult times.

5. Steadfast in Prayer. We are constantly in a mindset of praying, asking God for what we need in faith.

6. Distributing needs through hospitality. We need to help people when it is in our power to do so.

7. Bless and do not curse those who persecute you. This can only be done when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Pray for people who do you wrong.

8. Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Be emotionally sensitive to what other people are going through. It’s not always how you feel that matters.

9. Don’t be stuck up. Associate with the humble. No matter how important you think you are there should never be anybody lower than you that you can’t speak to.

10. Don’t be wise in your own opinion. It is more important to listen than to be heard. Seek first to understand before you are understood.

11. Repay no one for evil. If you did you would be broke. We spend too much time trying to get back at evil people. It costs too much.

12. Live peaceably with all men as much as it depends on you. Be the bigger person. Do your part even when they are not doing theirs.

13. Do not avenge yourself, leave room for God. You hurt your enemies more when you are nice to them. It’s like heaping hot coals on them when you are nice after being offended. God sees what they did and he will deal with them.

14. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. When we allow the evilness of others to overcome us we become toxic and we no longer exhibit the answers.

Dear God, give me a heart to know these answers and to live them out so that when people want to know what you would do, they will see the answer in me. So it is written so let it be done.

In Jesus Name.

Amen.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What About Your House?



Joshua 24:15
And if it seems evil to you to serve the lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

The Nielson Company has monitored the homes of Americans for years to see what the average American is watching at any given time. It is amazing that with the great diversity of America, there are certain shows we all love to watch like American Idol and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Then there are times where we split off to get news from our own political perspectives from CNN or Fox news. There are moments where even families split off generationally with the kids watching Cartoon Network and the parents watch HGTV. Then we split off by gender with the men watching ESPN and women watching Lifetime.

But when the TV’s are turned off who is it that Americans are tuned into? What do we have in common once the TV is turned off? Are we all on the same channel or are we split up?

Joshua warns the children of Israel to remember their presets or should I say precepts when God brought them out of bondage into the Promised Land. He told them not to bow down to the gods of the people whose land they were to inhabit. Just as there are numerous channels to choose from on the cable box, there are also many gods to choose form in our post-modern society. But there is only one True and Living God. The Israelites knew who their God was by the signs and wonders he used to get them out of slavery. I know in whom I have believed. It was God who brought my ancestors out of slavery in America. It was the God of Moses, Martin, and Medgar. He is the God of the oppressed manifest in his son Jesus who came to the sick, the poor, and the disinherited. He’s the only God I know through experience. These other gods people worship through yoga didn’t get me through slavery. These gods in the stars that give daily horoscopes didn’t get us through the streets packed with dogs and rifles. I can’t forget the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

My story as an African in America resonates with their story. NO matter how popular it is or what major TV star introduces a new god, I have decided to follow Jesus, though none go with me still I will follow. Jesus reminded us in the New Testament, “I am the way the truth and the life, no man can come to God accept through me.”

What about your house? How do you make sure that your family is tuned into the right channel or the right God?

1. God is revealed through his word. Get a bible for every person in your house and have a time of reading with the whole family.

2. Pray together as a family. God will reveal himself in prayer.

3. Worship together as a family. If you are the head of your house your family should follow your lead. We need to stop giving our children the choice as to whether or not they “feel” like going to church. They felt like eating your food, they felt like sleeping under your roof, they ought to feel like going to church.
In the movie Raisin in the Sun, the young daughter who goes off to College becomes enlightened that God is some idea made up by man. Read the dialogue between her and her mother:

Mama you just don’t understand. It’s all a matter of ideas. God is just one idea that I don’t accept. There is simply no God…only man that makes miracles!(The mother slaps her daughter)

Now you say after me, in my mother’s house there is still God (pause) In my mother's house there is still God.

Her daughter says, “In my mother’s house there is still God.”

What about your house?

Dear God, don’t ever let us forget how we got over. In my house there will be God. I choose you because you first loved me. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

In Jesus Name.

Amen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Way of Escape



I Corinthians 10:13

No Temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

There really isn’t anything new under the sun. The struggle of humanity has been the same since Adam and Eve. The enemy has always tried to tempt us away from our position with God. His three favorite modes of temptation is PMS: Power, Money, and Sex. In our society, these three seem impossible to avoid the lure of their appeal. Everybody in America wants to be powerful, have money and get sex. It’s not that God doesn’t want you to have all three. It’s just that he doesn’t want you to get trapped in acquiring them the wrong way or overindulge to the point that they become idols in and of themselves.

Each of us have varying degrees of temptations with each one. One may struggle with the deficiency of self-esteem and lean to heavy on Power hunger. The other may have grown up poor and the desire for money becomes false security to the point money become your god. The other may have a pre-occupation with sex that stems from some perversion that started way before we understood that sex was a gift God sanctioned for a man and a woman in Holy Matrimony. Regardless of what your temptation is God’s promise is that:

1. He will always provide a way of escape. It's not that God doesn’t provide a way out, it’s that often times we don’t want to take it. We are like that man who sang that old song, “If loving you is wrong then I don’t want to be right!” The only real way out of temptation is that you Love God more than what you are tempted by. If you lose fellowship with God, you lose the ability to escape. When God got ready to deliver Lot and his family out of Sodom and Gomorrah, he told his sons-in-laws to escape with him but they laughed at him. They had a way of escape, but they loved Sodom more than they did their father and they died in the destruction.

2. God gives us the ability to bear the temptation. When Joseph was tempted to have sex with his boss’ wife, he literally ran out of the house. Bearing the temptation doesn’t mean sticking around to see how strong you are. If you hear, “We not going to do nothing, we just going to get Naked and hold each other.” Run!

When God gives you a way of escape, a broken date, early warning from a friend, car won’t start, they didn’t call you; take the way of Escape and save your life.

Dear God, thank you for giving me a way out of my mess. I’m glad I’m not the first or the last person to deal with these temptations, but you will always provide a way of escape. If loving you is right, I don’t want to be wrong. I see my exit and I’m taking it.

In Jesus Name.

Amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Run To Win



I Corinthians 9:24

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

I don’t know how to just do something just to be doing it. I have a competitive edge that won’t rest. It can be a good thing like when you are trying to be successful in business/ministry, or it can be bad like when my six year old wants to play me in Tic TAC Toe and it’s hard for me to let him win. That’s bad.

There are some people who go through life not caring whether they win or lose. Like the proverbial girl on your Jr. High kick ball team whose laughing while the other team is winning, there are people in life who sit back and laugh at what other people take seriously. How can you stand there laughing when we are losing? Losing our economic footing, losing the war on crime, losing our children to a corrupt world, losing our spiritual foundation, there is so much to be fighting for but many of us are not running to win. There are important things in life that we should be trying to win like:

1. Raising our children. Train up a child in the way they should go when they get older they will not depart from it.

2. Having a good marriage. For this reason a man should leave his mother and father and the two shall become one flesh.

3. Leaving a Legacy. A righteous man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.

4. Helping other people. When you do unto the least of these you also do unto me. (Jesus)

5. Spreading the gospel. Go therefore into the entire world teaching them everything that I have taught you. (Jesus)

6. Living Holy. I am Holy therefore you ought to be Holy (God.)

7. Making it to heaven. Well done my good and faithful servant, you’ve been faithful over a few things now come on up and I‘ll make you ruler over many. (God hopefully one day).

Paul says we should run in such a way as to win. How you run all depends on what event you are running. When I ran long distance in high school, I took off too fast and got winded before I finished. In life you should know that the race is not given to the swift nor the strong, but to those who endure to the end.

When I ran the 440 intermediate hurdles, I did good jumping, but I didn’t breathe right while running and my legs gave out. The bible says, let everything that have breath praise the Lord. We got to make sure we breathe right. His praise shall continuously be on my lips.

I remember watching the Olympics last year in BEIJING, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The United States dropped the baton in the men's 4x100m relay on Thursday evening at the Beijing Olympic Games and was disqualified for the finals.

Trinidad & Tobago won the first round of the relay competition in 38.26 seconds, followed by Japan and the Netherlands. Four of the eight teams in the heat lost their batons on the wet track that was bathing in drizzle.

Tyson Gay, the best sprinter of the United States, became the biggest loser after the team failure. He was earlier disqualified for the men's 100m sprint finals and lost his chance to line up with world record holder Usain Bolt to compete for the fastest man title in the Olympics.

Gay said, "I dropped it. I tried to reach for it, but it wasn't there. I should have made sure; I guess it was my fault."

He blamed himself, "I'm a veteran. I've never dropped a stick in my life. I felt it right near the thumb area. When I went to grab, nothing. Sometimes it takes an extra second."

Tyson is human just like us; we’ve all dropped the baton when it really mattered. It hurts to drop the baton especially after you’ve done all that training, have all those gifts, get that far and drop the baton. Yet we all do it.

Paul said, I discipline myself so that after preaching to others I will not be disqualified myself. What does it profit us to be successful in business but drop the baton with our children? What does it profit us to impress thousands with our gifts, but drop the baton with our spouse and get a divorce? What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and mess around and lose….his soul?

Lord, I’m running trying to make 100 and 99 and a half won’t do….Dear God, help me to remain focused on what is important and to finish the race strong. I want to be able to make it home and hear you say, well done.

In Jesus Name.
Amen.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cut Through It



Joshua 17:18

The Mountain country shall be yours. Although it is wooded, you shall cut it down and its farthest extent shall be yours; for you shall drive out the Canaanites though they have iron chariots.

It’s been said that sometimes you can’t see the forest for trees but I say to you sometimes you can’t see the land because of the Forrest. There is something that God has given to us that we can’t see because of all the obstacles that stand in the way. We are in danger of walking away from our blessing because the Promised Land has too many trees.

When the tribes of Israel were given their allotment of land, the two tribes of Joseph expected more. They told Joshua, we are a “great people.” After all, their father was the one responsible for saving Israel and his brothers when there was a famine in Bethel and moved them to Egypt. Joseph told his brothers after they sold him into slavery 13 years prior, “what you meant for my evil God has worked out for my good. It was not you who sent me here, but God for the saving of many lives.” Joseph moved his family to Egypt during the famine and they became a great people and a threat to Egypt so that after 400 years of slavery God brought them out to their promised land.

Joshua told Ephraim and Manasseh, “You are a great people and the mountains shall be yours." I like this because at first glance it seems that they got the short end of the stick, but in actuality, they got the best part they just had to work it. They inherited the mountains, but they had trees and they had enemies with iron chariots. God would not have given it to them if he didn’t think they could handle it.

When God gives you mountains with trees and enemies with chariots here’s what you have to do:

1. Claim it. If he already told you it was yours stop complaining and claim it. Ephraim and Manasseh were complaining because they were great and wanted more. Joshua said, "You are great, now take it!” Did you ever stop to think that the reason God gave it to you is because he knew that if anybody could take this land it was you? Like Muhammad Ali every morning, you got to wake up and tell yourself I am the greatest! Whatever it is that God has given me to claim, I am the greatest.

2. Climb it! Mountains are secure places once you get to the top, but you can’t get to the top just looking at it, you've got to climb it. What is it that God has given you that you are going to have to use some effort to get to the top of it? The way you climb a mountain is one step at a time.

3. Cut it down. You got more land than you think you do you just can’t see it because of the trees. Joshua told them that the farthest extent shall be theirs. Some of us have not claimed all our land because you got too many trees still standing. Bills still standing, debt still standing, addictions still standing, bad relationships still standing, once you knock these things down you will see you got more space to work with. Chop them down one at a time and use what you knock down to build what you need.

4. Conquer it. Once you get to the top, there will be some adversaries trying to stop you. They have the latest technology and appear that they have more resources than you. There is a powerful difference. You have God on your side. No weapon formed against you is going to prosper, no not one. Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.

Dear God, I thank you for my mountains and my inheritance. Give me the strength to claim my inheritance to cut down every tree so I can see just how expansive my property is. I’m excited about what’s ahead and ain’t no mountain high enough to keep me from you. Give me my mountain!

In Jesus Name!

Amen

Friday, March 20, 2009

Is Your Life Lumpy?



I Corinthians 5:6

Do you not know that a little leaven, leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.

There is a story of the Princess and the Pea. Someone puts a pea under her mattress and she can’t sleep. She doesn’t know what it is, but something is different in her life. So they keep adding mattresses, but she still can’t sleep because of a pea. It’s not until they remove this small pea that she is able to rest. Now this is an exaggerated homily on life, but the moral to the story is powerful. It’s the little things that we allow people to sneak into our lives that disturb our rest.

In 1 Corinthians chapter five, a follower of Christ in the Corinthian church was having sex with his daddy’s wife. What made it so bad was that they were coming to church like it wasn’t anything wrong. It had caused the church get a cancerous lump which caused the church leader/founder to lose his rest. The Apostle Paul told them a little leaven (yeast) messes up the whole lump. One unchecked/unaccountable person in your church, on your team, in your staff, or in your family, can mess it up for everybody!

In Joshua chapter Six, the Israelites had just defeated Jericho and were up against a 14th seed in the tournament bracket and Israel was a number one seed. The town was so small it had two letters in its name “AI.” Israel didn’t even have all their soldiers to suit up for this battle. When the 30K soldiers went out against this little town they were routed by AI and ran back home. Joshua was devastated. He told God if I knew we were going to be embarrassed like this we would have stayed and settled on the other side of the Jordan. God told him to Get up! He told him that if one of his members, staff, and teammates named Achan hadn’t hidden that “pea under his mattress” they wouldn’t have been routed. The “Pea under his mattress” was the devoted things that God told them not to take from Jericho. Achan snuck it in his house and hid it under his mattress. He put the whole nation in danger for what he hid under his mattress.

We can put our organizations, families, churches, teams in jeopardy in two ways:

1. Who we put on our mattress. As believers we have a different standard than unbelievers. We believe that Sexual immorality is when you have sex with anybody that is not your spouse. When we continue to do otherwise and walk around bragging about it, it jeopardizes the rest of the team. What is just as deadly is when you know you have mattress issues, but walk around like nothing is wrong.

2. What we put under our mattress. There are some things that God has revealed to you through his word that are unclean for you, but you are still holding on to them. What is it in your house that you know God is not pleased with that could be destroying your peace and threatening your chances for victory?

Solution: Be careful of lumpy people who sneak stuff into the camp that you know is forbidden. This doesn’t mean the people on the outside of your circle who do not hold to your values that you don’t associate with them. No, this is just for those who are already members of your team, but they are living contrary to your beliefs and are putting you in jeopardy and are causing you to lose. Put them out in hopes that they get it together or you will continue to lose rest.

Dear God, give me discernment so I can find all of my “peas.” The ones I put under my mattress and the ones other people snuck in while I was sleeping. Help me to make adjustments before I lose my bracket positioning and be defeated by a low seeded team. Please God remove all my leaven.

In Jesus Name.

Amen.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Manna Ceased



Joshua 5:12
Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.

Isn’t it amazing how God is sustaining us during these hard times? This recession has created a whole new class of people, the working homeless and the affluent poor. People are displaced and depressed, but in the middle of it all God is keeping us alive. So many people are trying to label President Obama a Socialist for trying to re-distribute wealth to the poor and for the government giving too much money to stimulate a “jacked up economy” that we inherited from the Bush Administration. If that’s what a Socialist is, then I guess God was a Socialist as well, because he got involved in a big way with his people until they got through the recession.

The Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. We’ve been in this recession a little over a year and can’t believe how hard it has been. Try 40 years of Recession. God kept them 40 years by feeding them bread from heaven called Manna and Quail that he drove in with an East Wind.

When they crossed over God caused a recession. The water in the Jordan River was at flood stage and when the priests with the Ark of the Covenant stepped in the water, it receded and the people crossed over on dry ground. If we are going to make it through this recession, the men and women of God need to stand in the gap for our Joshua, president Obama, so that the people can get over. Too many conservative Christians are Criticizing instead of standing in the gap for our Joshua. One wise man told me the problem with conservative Christians is that they Love Jesus but they hate the world. My bible says that God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten son…what a stimulus package that was. We need to put our ideological differences aside and stand in the gap for our leadership.

When everybody got over, the priests stepped on dry ground with the ark and the water flowed again.

When they got over and ate the produce of the land the manna ceased. The water started flowing again and the manna stopped. The economy started flowing again and the handouts stopped. The economy started flowing again and there was no more need for “big government.” The welfare of heaven stopped when the people ate from the produce of the Land. God wants us to eat from the produce of our own land and after that happens that’s when he shuts off the manna.

How does that apply to us in this recession? When we get through this recession and people get gainful employment that’s when:

1. We eat our own produce. We need to export more than we import. We need more home grown products.

2. We ought not to expect anymore big bail outs from the government.

3. Welfare should cease once the people fare well.

4. Also AIG … you are not supposed to take anything for yourself when God gives you Jericho.

Dear God, help us to cross over into a land where we all can be productive again. We appreciate the heavenly assistance. Once we get over help us to remember how we got over. Thank you for the manna in the meantime.

In Jesus Name.
Amen.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

That's Not Your Business!




Joshua 2:14
So the men answered her, “Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the lord has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.

The ability to be able to hold confidential information is vitally important especially in the business world. We live in a very competitive business world where someone is always listening trying to see what the next big thing the next company is doing. Windows is listening to Mac. Russia is listening to America. The Patriots are filming Chicago. Everybody is trying to get in everybody’s business.

The New 3g Blackberry looks suspiciously like the I-Phone doesn’t it? Somebody at Verizon made it their business to know how the I-Phone worked. I was watching CNN the other night and one of the business panelist said that the trend is to look at what other successful businesses are doing and try to copy what they are doing, but in order to stand out, you need to radically differentiate your business by being innovative. But even with innovation you better make sure nobody tells your business.

The Israelites sent over some spies to spy out Jericho before they took possession of the land God had promised them. They hid in a prostitute’s house named Rahab because the watchmen caught a glimpse of them and they had already heard about how successful they had been in taking out enemy nations. When you are on a mission from God, God will use the most unlikely people to help you on your way. That’s why you can’t look down on anybody in your quest for success because they may be the person that saves your life while you walk into your destiny.

After they were clear Rahab told the spies she had heard how successful they Children of Israel had been and the fear of them had fallen over the Land. She wanted to know if she could get in on the merger before the take over. They told her if she could do a couple of things she would be a part of what God was getting ready to do:

1. Don’t tell our business. You remember when we were little and somebody was asking you to reveal something, and your response was “that’s none of your business.” That doesn’t involve you, you have no stock in this…We mess up future business opportunities by running our mouths too much and too early.

a. If you have business plans, don’t share them with anybody you can’t trust
b. Copyright, patent, incorporate, protect your plan
c. Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing

2. Your investment of Loyalty will come back to you. There is something bigger than you that God has allowed you to come across, don’t leak out information that could hurt that movement.

3. Get everybody in your household in on the plan, but tell them to keep their mouth shut. The Spies told Rahab if she got her whole family in her house and tied a Red Ribbon on her window then when they took over the city, everybody in her house would be saved on the condition that they didn’t tell their business. Everybody in your house has to be financially, spiritually, and relationally accountable and confidential. Loose lips sink ships. Hold what you got and get everybody in the house saved!

Dear God, thank you for the inside information that my latter shall be greater. Thank you that every place I set my foot you will give it to me. You are about to expand my territory and I’m going to be a part of the takeover. Show me who I can trust with my business plans. Give me discernment as to who I can trust and who to avoid. I’m ready to be about my father’s business. May your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

In Jesus Name.

Amen.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

He's Stirring It Up



Deuteronomy 32:11

As an Eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, so the Lord Led him

When it’s time for baby Eagles to learn how to fly, the mother Eagle takes away the padding in the nest to expose the thorns and allows the baby eagle to rub up against this irritant in the nest of the young Eagles to make them uncomfortable so they will be motivated to fly. Without the discomfort, they would probably stay there forever waiting on their mother to feed them and never learning the majestic power of flying. They would never build the strength in their own talons to secure food on their own. The Eagle must stir up her nest.

So it is with us as children of God. There is a danger of becoming too comfortable, stagnant, and never fully realizing our potential because our nest is too comfortable. There are seasons in our lives when we cannot find rest in what used to make us comfortable. It’s amazing how we can become comfortable in situations that are not even comfortable simply because we don’t think there is anything better. That’s where God comes in; he has to stir up our nest.

The Children of Israel had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. Then God began to stir up their nest with a Pharaoh who was an unusually cruel leader and God began to stir up the nest and one of the baby Eagles was thrown out of his nest named Moses. His name meant drawn out of the water. Moses was drawn out of straw basket and brought into Pharaoh’s palace to be nurtured into a great deliverer at the enemy’s expense.

Maybe all the adversity you are going through is God trying to get you out of your nest of comfort that was really a holding pen of bondage and propel you into your destiny which is freedom. It’s scary because the nest was comfortable and where you are now is uncomfortable, but God is stirring up your nest so you can be your best. Here’s the promise when God stirs up your nest.

1. God will hover over you. While you are learning how to make it outside your comfort zone, God is not going to leave you. He is always close by while you are vulnerable so that you can have confidence to fly. In this phase the Mother Eagle stops bringing food to the nest so the baby will get hungry enough to fly on its own.

2. He will spread his wings over you to provide an updraft. Once you get the courage to take off, God will provide the uplift to get you going. It’s amazing how God will come in and provide you inspiration to get you going, but you must use your wings to keep going.

3. When you get tired he will carry you. The mother Eagle's wings are so strong and expansive that they can carry the young if they have to. Every now and then in life when you get tired and it seems like you are not getting anywhere, God will come in and carry you until you get your strength back. The bible says that when we wait upon the Lord, we will renew our strength, we will mount up with wings like Eagles, We will run and not get weary, and we will walk and not faint.

Dear God, I thank you for stirring up my nest and getting me out of there. I would not have left on my own had it not been painful enough to leave. I’m glad I’m out! Now God give me uplift so I can fly higher. It’s good to know that if I get tired you will catch me. Thank you for stirring up my nest.

In Jesus Name,
Amen

Monday, March 16, 2009

Choose Life



Deuteronomy 30:19
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life, that both you and your descendents may live.

We have a lot of choices in life toady. Multiple choices when it comes to consumer options and lifestyle preferences. Take cell phones for instance, ATT, Verizon, T-mobile, Cricket, Cellular South. I can remember when the only choice for a phone was Bell South. Even then, you had to share a party line because your options were limited.

There are many choices set before us today, over 100 channels on Sirius Radio, 200 plus channels on Cable TV, millions of websites to surf, but there is a choice that God has narrowed down that helps to make your selection easier with all of Life’s options.

Each one of the choices we make are part of God’s options whether we acknowledge it or not. When the Children of Israel changed leadership and were on their way into the Promised Land, God reminded them through Moses that the fate of what happens to them is their choice.

God says, “I set before you today:

1. Life or death. What we decide to do with what God has revealed to us in his word, will either lead to Life or Death. Either we are busy living or busy dying. Have you ever heard somebody who says of a person recklessly living their lives, “He/ She has a death wish?” What we do in life either contributes to living longer or speeds up our dying. How are you living your life? Are you subconsciously choosing death because of the bad choices you are making as you hunger for life? The problem with many young people today is not that they are afraid to die, they are afraid to live.

2. Blessing and Cursing. God has laid out principles for us to live by that have blessings attached and curses as a consequence of our disobedience. The first commandment with a blessing attached to it was, “Honor your mother and father that your days upon the earth may be long.” When you are obedient to God it’s not so much the length of days, but the fullness of days that come as a result of yielding to God as your choice. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and life more abundantly.” Don’t you think it’s time to choose life?

How do we choose life?

1. Participate in things that honor God. Only what you do for Christ will last.

2. Use your life to make the world better. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that when he died if somebody said that Dr. King died helping other people then his living would not be in vain.

3. Help somebody that can’t help themselves. Jesus said when you do to the least of these, poor, homeless, those in prison, you in essence, do the same thing for him.

4. Don’t participate in any unwholesome talk. Don’t waste your words being negative, use your words to build.

5. Participate in Peace, not war. War always ends in death. WE ought to be peacemakers.

6. Give Life, don’t take it away. Murderers live under a curse. We should be about the business of giving life and not taking it away.

7. Build something for the next generation. A righteous man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.

8. Go Green. God put Adam in charge of the garden to take care of it, not deplete it. Plant a tree this year and help conserve on energy.

9. Eat to live. Add some multi-grains and vegetables to your diet. You are what you eat. Quit eating dead stuff.

10. Ask God to fill you with life-giving Water. Jesus told the woman at the well, if you knew who it was speaking to you, you would have asked him for life-giving water that springs up inside of you eternally. The woman said, “give me this water.”

Dear God, there are so many choices in life until it can make your head spin. But my choice is Jesus; He is the way, the truth, and the life. My abundance comes through my relationship with Jesus, not with the accumulation of more stuff. Thank you for simplifying my life. Less is more, and I get more when I choose Jesus. I choose Life.

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Why Do They Want Me Now?



Galatians 4:17
They zealously court you, but for no good, yes they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them.

Isn’t it amazing how you can be alone for years wanting somebody to notice you, but instead you spend years under the radar unnoticed? It is during those hidden years that God is developing you and hiding you for your own good. We all want to be selected or chosen. But after God has established you, we need to be very discerning who we allow to court us.

The word court is another word we used back in the day for dating. Someone who was attracted to you would come to your house to court you. The man had to come to the house and sit with your parents to court you. There was no blowing the horn or you calling him, he had to meet your Father. Maybe that’s the problem with our courting. We never introduce them to our Father.

Someone who is attracted to you zealously pursues you. It’s alright for people to want to date you when you are single and still in discovery mode, but it’s a little suspicious that you come around after I find somebody who genuinely loves me. It is one thing to pursue me with zeal when I’m not settled, but now that I know who I am, “Why you want me now?”

When people are pursuing you, you’ve got to look at the timing and the motive. Don’t give into flattery without considering, “Why you want me now?”

Paul was trying to help the Christians in Galatia to stay on track. There were some religious Judiazers who wanted these new Christians to be circumcised before they were accepted. They wanted to make a covenant or an agreement with them. Paul warned them that this relationship could lead them back to bondage after God had already given them freedom. Be careful that when you finally know who you are and whose you are, that somebody doesn’t come trying to court you for their cause.

Paul cautions us when we need to be suspicious of people courting us:

1. They zealously court you. Paul says it’s good to be zealous for a good cause, but when people are overly anxious to get to you, you have to wonder, “Why now?” It could be good, but make sure you discern.

2. Paul says they pursue you, but upon further inspection it’s for no good. Oh, that’s what you wanted me for. You wanted me so that you can get some “cut up.” They wanted these Christians who were free in the spirit to cut their flesh to justify their religious insecurities. It might look like it's good, but upon further examination, they get more out of it than you do, and they want you to cut something off of you to fit in with them.

3. They want to exclude you. They want to take you out of a living community to be with them because they are miserable.

4. They want you to be zealous for them. They want your juice to further their agenda.

Dear God, thank you for not allowing me to be desperate and be courted by anybody to the point that I lose myself. I know who I am now, and I will not cut off me to fit in with them. Thank you for making me free and sending me in a New Direction.

In Jesus Name.
Amen

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Don't Leave Me Hanging

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (New International Version)

Various Laws
22 If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, 23 you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

Galatians 3:13 (New International Version)
13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." Billie Holiday sang a song about, “Strange Fruit” in tribute to all of the black men and women who were lynched in the South. Between 1880 and 1951 the Tuskegee Institute recorded 3,437 lynchings of African Americans, as well as 1,293 whites.[1]

Many of them were hanged for minor infractions like looking at a white woman or not getting off the sidewalk when a white man came by. They were dragged out of jails by lynch mobs to be hung while jeering crowds celebrated through the night. It is an ugly part of our history that we do not like to remember, but it happened.

You cannot help but think that there are some cursed grounds because of these hangings. The innocent blood of hundreds that have soaked the grounds of the United States.

Moses told the Israelites if a guilty man was hanged he served to be buried before the next day or his death would defile the land. Not only were these men and women that were lynched in America left hanging, most of them were innocent.

We still suffer from the defilement of this Promised Land because of innocent bloodshed. In Post modern times, we have the noose in Jena but not the literal lynching, just minorities left hanging with no justice. Our banks have left families hanging with foreclosures and no where to go. Poor people have been left hanging with no universal health care. America has been “Niggerized”, as Dr. Cornell West defines it, as a sense of powerlessness and vulnerability to terrorist attack.

The only hope for America’s redemption is by one who has been hung before. He was wounded for our transgression, bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him... He hung, bled and died that we might be free.

Jesus was found guilty of Blasphemy but he had no sin. The lynch mob took him from the jail and beat him all night long. They had a hung Jury that influenced the judicial system and they lynched him. He was hung up for our hang ups, but God didn’t leave him hanging. They buried him in a borrowed tomb because he wouldn’t need it long. Three days later he got up with all power in his hands.

God is not going to leave us hanging during this recession, the blood of the martyrs cries out from the ground demanding redemption. God expects us to take advantage of the forgiveness and atonement through Jesus blood by:

1. Standing up for Justice whether it’s through closing down Guantanamo or stopping innocent men from filling up prisons.

2. Helping those in need in feeding lines to unemployment lines.

3. Stop Racism from New York Post to field posts.

4. Heal from the Past by talking about it and not acting like it didn’t happen.

Dear God, heal our land from the blood of the Martyrs. Help us to turn back to you. Forgive us our sins, all of us.

In Jesus Name,
Amen

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Old Me Is Dead And Gone



Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.

Oooo,hey I've been travelin' on this road too long
Just trying to find my way back home
The old me is dead and gone… dead and gone…
Ooooooo I've been travelin' on this road too long
Just trying to find my way back home
The old me is dead and gone… dead and gone… eeyy


T.I. and Justin Timberlake have a great song where T.I. talks about how his old behavior got him into trouble, lost a good friend, and how he is focused toward living the rest of his life the right way. The chorus is powerful, “The old me is dead and gone.” At some point in life, we all want what T.I. wants. We desire life Change. WE want to put our mistakes behind us and to live a life that reflects God’s grace, to stay away from drama, and just live our lives. We want to say to all of our naysayers, “that’s not me anymore, the old me is dead and gone.”

The Apostle Paul was able to say it. Interestingly, he said it in reference to being religious and not rowdy. He had been sent to preach to those who were not religious, the gentiles or the uncircumcised. He put Peter on blast for acting like he was too good to hang out with uncircumcised people when his Jewish friends came in town. Peter was hanging out with uncircumcised people when there were no religious people around.

When you become a Christian, it doesn’t mean that you have to stop associating with people who are not in church. Because of your past mistakes it gives you better leverage to talk to people who don’t know him. One of the things that T.I. is doing now is hosting a show called Road to Redemption where he goes into neighborhoods to talk to young people caught up in the streets to show them a better way. He uses his own life and the mistakes he made to try to reach them. He basically says, ‘the old me is dead and gone and you can do better too so you want make the mistakes I made.” We don’t do anybody any good acting like we ain’t never did anything wrong. But we can help them more when we can show them that the old me is dead and gone .

Paul blasted Peter to his face and asked him how was he going to go back to old ways when Jesus had delivered them from the law. Peter was trying to make his uncircumcised friends live by the old tradition God delivered him from. Paul was like man why you acting brand new when the old you is dead and gone?

In order for me to reach people who don’t know God and are heading for a dead end, the old me has to get out of the way. Paul said:

1. I have been crucified with Christ. There are some traits that I don’t like about myself that keep me separated from God. When Jesus was crucified he nailed all those things to the cross. When I accept Jesus as my Lord and savior those habits, hang ups get nailed to the cross.

2. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. The way I’m able to live and love like God wants me to is because the Holy Spirit now lives in me. I have the mind of Christ that causes me to think different and love people the way Jesus would.

3. The life I live in the flesh, I live by faith in Jesus who loves me and gave himself for me. My lifestyle now reflects who I am in Jesus even when I’m around people that don’t know him. My life in the flesh used to be all about me. Now it’s all about how God can get glory out of my life.

Dear God, thank you for helping me to reach the unreached. I used to be religious but didn’t have authentic relationship with you or with people. Once I got out of the way, you were able to reach more people. I thank you for delivering me from religious people and their opinions. It’s about saving people who don’t know your love and not getting caught up trying to fit in with church people. Thank you for saving me and sending me in a New Direction.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Open Your Hand



Deuteronomy 15:7

If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother.

My heart goes out to the many poor that have been produced by this recession. Our greed as a Nation has produced this climate. From the deception of Madoff to the conspicuous consumption of the narcissistic elites, we have created a new class of the affluent poor. I was watching CNN with a feature story entitled “from middle class to tent dwellers.” It was a story about middle class families in California losing their homes to foreclosure and living in tents. Their personal belongings stuffed in garbage bags. It was surreal. They looked like the nomadic poor during Old Testament times.

Jesus spoke about these conditions as he quoted Deuteronomy 15, “the poor you will have with you always.” Meaning there will always be somebody in need. At any given time, we could be in that new class of poor or maybe we already have graduated from the old class of poverty only to be in a position to help those who now struggle with it. God told his people to forgive debts in the seventh year, to tithe off of their increase from what they bring in, and to give freely to the poor people around them. If they did this they would never have to borrow from other nations, but they would lend to many.

In the United States of America, the opposite has happened. We have not been giving to God, we’ve been borrowing from foreign countries, and we have neglected the poor. This condition we are in today happened long before Barack Obama took office 51 days ago. If the economy is going to be recovered, we have to follow God’s economic plan.

1. Tithe your increase. When God blesses you, the first person, place you ought to give your increase is back to God. Find a ministry who is helping the poor so your money can continue to go back to the people who need it the most. Deuteronomy 14:22

2. Release people form their debts every seven years. This was called the year of Jubilee. In a practical sense, you should never loan money to anybody that you need back. Chances are they are not going to pay you back and you lose relationships over bitterness of unpaid debts. During this economic crisis, you cannot get blood out of a turnip so there are some debts you need to just write off and move on.

3. Give to the poor as much as you can. Deut 15:7. I remember growing up poor but I was never hungry or naked. The people in our little rural area took care of one another. We raised our own food, hunted, and fished. We shared resources with one another. Nobody was rich but we all took care of one another. We are in a time that each of us must open our hands and share what we have or else we will perish together.

Dear God, thank you for providing for me when I was poor. It is you who gives us the power to get wealth, but you bless us to be a blessing and not keep it to our selves. Give us a greater empathy for the poor and to realize that no matter how much we are struggling there is always somebody worse off than us. Thank you for what I have.

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

Monday, March 9, 2009

What's wrong with your eyes?



Deuteronomy 12:8

You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes—9 For as yet, you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the lord your God is giving you.

Recently I had to get some reading glasses. I turned 40 and I was having problems reading small print. I never needed glasses before, but I had to admit I wasn’t seeing like I used to. It’s quite natural that the older you get, the more help you need with your eyes.

A lot of us have trouble seeing. We just don’t want to admit it. We don’t want to get help with our vision because our ego says, “I see it just fine.” Truth be told when you don’t see it at all, it can get you into a lot of trouble. How much are you missing in life because you can’t see everything clear?

Moses was instructing the children of Israel to go into the Promised Land and reminding them that where they were presently had to be different than where they were going. They needed a prescription for their eyes. He told them you can’t continue to do whatever you think is right in your own eyes. This is exactly where our current society is today. Every man and woman is making up their own rules for life. Whatever is right in their opinion, whatever feels right to them, whatever seems morally right or politically correct they do it, but the problem is that we have no guidelines to make sure we are seeing things right.

When I went to the optometrist, he made me look at a chart. He was able to correct my vision based upon how I read the chart. He’s seen over a thousand different people who were given different prescriptions, but they all read the same chart.

There is a universal timeless chart that God uses to make sure every man and woman has 20/20 spiritual vision, it’s called the bible. If we want to align our vision to God’s will for our lives, we need to read the same chart that has saved many people from seeing it wrong.

Why does it matter that I see it correctly and not do whatever I think is right? Because how you see it determines whether or not you get your inheritance. Jesus would often tell people, how to inherit the Kingdom of God and his teaching would offend them to the point they wanted to kill him. On one occasion, the disciples told Jesus that his teaching offended the religious leaders of his day. Jesus replied in Matthew 15:13 13He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14Leave them; they are blind guides.[a] If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

If we want to avoid pitfalls by following other blind folks into cultural pits, I think we all need to:

1. Check your vision. Find you a pastor who teaches the bible and let them help you get your vision in alignment with God’s will. On one occasion, Jesus touched a blind man’s eyes and asked him what he saw. He said he saw men walking around like trees. Jesus touched him a second time and he saw clearly. Sometimes it takes a second touch. Your vision has changed from when you were a child. That first baptism opened your eyes, but have you received a second touch by getting back into a church so you can check your vision. What have you been seeing lately?

2. Get you a chart. Purchase a bible and start reading it every day. Read a chapter from the Old Testament and the New Testament every day and then write in a journal the things that God is showing you.

3. Get you some glasses if you need them. Don’t be ashamed to make adjustments when life gets out of focus. You might have to get some counseling, (glasses). You might have to stop dating certain people (glasses). You might have to change professions, (glasses). What adjustments are needed so you can see clearly?

In the movie the Matrix, Neo is unplugged from the system and brought aboard the ship called Zion. The matrix made Neo think that he was happy as long as the system fed him images of shallow happiness, a job, pretty women, and sensual pleasures. When Morpheus unplugged him and brought him to the examination room, Neo complained that his eyes were hurting. He asked Morpheus why his eyes were hurting. Morpheus answered, “Because you haven't used them in a long time.” Are your eyes hurting?

Dear God help me to see it like you see it. I want to see again. Open the eyes of my heart Lord so I can see your will for my life. Free me from the matrix and the blinding gaze of my own ego. Help me to make the necessary adjustments to see what you want me to see.

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

When loving you is killing me

Leaving an abusive relationship

Judges 19

Because abuse can be subtle and can be denied, many people do not recognize it at first. They may only know that they do not feel good about the way their partner treats them. Aggression, anger, domination, intimidation, manipulation, punishment, and control are the main patterns of abusive behavior. Victims of continued abuse often fear their abusers. They often are-or think they are—dependent on their abusers. They may be afraid of the harm that will come to them if they leave or attempt to leave their abusers. If you are a victim of abuse and have feelings of fear and dependency, you should know that your abuser counts on these fears and dependencies to continue the abuse.

All abuse ultimately reinforces one underlying theme: that one person retains control over the other.

If you are involved with an abuser, mistreatment can break down your sense of self-worth and steal your personal power. It can enforce “learned helplessness,” an acquired feeling that you cannot do things right, survive on your own, or escape your abuse.

There are four different stages in the abusive relationship.

1. The violence-buildup Stage
2. The Violent incident
3. The Honeymoon Stage…the Levite in this story probably came during this time to her father’s house. Notice the father was glad to see him which means she probably hid the abuse.
4. The back to Normal stage

There are different types of abuse

Emotional abuse is the use of mental tactics such as aggression, anger, humiliation, sabotage, manipulation, corruption, intimidation, fear; dominance, power, and control to inflict emotional damage on another person.

Physical abuse is the use of bodily actions and weapons to threaten, punish, dominate, restrain, control, or injure another person.

Sexual abuse is the use of forced or unwanted sexual activities to dominate, manipulate, threaten, injure, corrupt, or control another person

Social abuse incorporates other forms of abuse to dominate, manipulate, threaten, control or damage another person’s social relationships.

Financial abuse is the use of money and money related matters to dominate, sabotage, manipulate, threaten, control, inflict damage on, or take advantage of another person.

Religious and Spiritual abuse is the controlling, damaging, or constraining of another person’s religious interests, practices, or icons. It is purposely misstating religious purposes to abuse another person.

Some religions have perpetuated the idea of female submission to males, and many abusers misuse religious doctrine that discusses submission to further abuse their partners. They may use this in sexual and other types of interaction.
Because of their interpretation of religious doctrine, religious leaders of many faiths have encouraged women to stay in abusive relationships. This causes great conflict between their loyalty to their religious and to their religious leaders, and the violence, pain, and humiliation in their abusive marriage or relationship.

Colossians 3:18-20 (New International Version)

Rules for Christian Households
18Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Characteristics and attitudes of abusers:

Confusing and Unpredictable Behaviors James 1: 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
Controlling Behaviors
Critical Attitude
Excessive Charm and Attention…the abuser’s kindness often diminishes or disappears though, as they pursue control in their relationships
History of violent behaviors…Proverbs 3:31
Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways
Inability to be intimate
Inability to express emotions
Isolating activities…abusers may want to spend excessive time with you without involving others.

Jealousy: Many abusers confuse jealousy with love. They interpret “relationship” to mean “ownership” and view jealousy as a measure of love, a theory that has often been reinforced by laws, movies, TV, and books.

Lack of Self-esteem…they may expect you to build them up to substitute for their own lack of confidence.

Low Tolerance levels: Abusers may be quick to anger or may blow up over trivial matters.

Manipulative behavior:
Narcissism…with time, it can be seen that abusers have little genuine interest in the welfare of others.

Negative attitudes:
Perfectionism: Abusers often expect perfection of others; some have such expectation of themselves also.

Quick Sexual intimacy and involvement: Abusers may pressure partners into quick relationship commitment, exclusive involvement, and sexual activity.

Refusal to Accept Responsibility
Rigidity
Substance abuse: People who abuse others may use their alcohol or chemical use and dependency as an excuse for violence and abuse

Threatening Behaviors
Unrealistic expectations: They may demand perfection of others and expect partners to fulfill their emotional needs.

Myths about Victims of Abuse
Myth: Victims of abuse are only from lower-income families with little education

Fact: Victims of domestic and partner abuse come from all walks of life. They may be from any age, race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, or geographical group. Victims of domestic violence may be educated or uneducated, professionals or nonprofessionals. They may wait on you in the store, live in the apartment or house next door, and be your children’s teacher,

Myth: Domestic violence and abuse are uncommon in the United States

Fact: In this country, a man beats up a woman every twelve seconds. That’s 7,200 outbursts of violence every day, 50,400 every week, 2,620,800 every year.

Myth: Victims stay in abusive relationships because they like abuse.

Fact: Victims of abuse stay in their relationships for many complex reasons including their safety. They are more at risk when they attempt to leave relationships. “When battered women are killed they are more likely to be killed after having left the relationship.

Myth: Violence in this country happens mostly between strangers.

Fact: A woman’s greatest risk of assault is from an intimate partner. Statistics from the department of Justice cite that women are attacked seven times more often by offenders with whom they had an intimate relationship than are male victims of violence.

Myth: Abusers will not harm their own children.

Fact: Studies indicate that “50% to 70% of men who abuse their spouses or partners also abuse their children.

Myth: Victims provoke their abusers to become abusive.

Fact: Victims are beaten for not having dinner ready on time, for not emptying the ashtrays, for not answering telephone calls from their spouse by the third ring.

What to do in an emergency
Call 911 and leave if possible
Take your children with you if possible
Seek assistance from law enforcement before or after exiting a violent incident.
Go to a shelter or another safe location.
Seek professional advice regarding a civil restraining order or protective order.

Important items to have ready for a crisis
• Emergency cash (for cab fare, motel, food, and the like)
• Credit cards and checkbooks
• Driver’s license, registration, automobile title
• Prescription medications, eyeglasses, contacts
• Extra clothing
• Passports and birth certificates for you and your children
• Photograph or photo id of your abuser

If you have been terrorized, you will need time to calm your fears and to take precautions for your safety in order to assess your relationship. Depending on the extent of the abuse you have experienced or are likely to face in our relationship, you may need to build a long-term plan for leaving and healing.

Examination Do’s and Don’ts

DO…
• What you need to provide as much safety as possible
• Take time alone to think and to heal.
• Look at yourself; your needs, desires, and goals; and your personal limits and boundaries.
• Imagine what your life could be like without abuse.
• Find and spend time with friends who are not abusive
• Get support or counseling from people familiar with domestic violence
• See what effects the abuse is having on your children
• Make a list of your strengths

Do Not…
Endanger yourself with an abuser. If your situation is dangerous, leave.
Endanger your children by staying with an abuser. Many victims leave only when their abuse spills over onto their children

Try to figure out why your abuser is abusive.

Attempt to stay to help the abuser and put yourself at risk.

Let the abuser manipulate your time.

Deny, minimize, or hide the reality of your situation.

Blame yourself for your abuse.

Spend time with others who abuse you. Allowing friends, family, or others to abuse you can weaken you while you examine and assess your needs.

Healing Strategies

Make Major Decisions with care

Gather information

Build a support network

Make new friends…however it is advisable to be cautious with new romantic relationships during this time, because you may be fragile, vulnerable and a target for other abusive people.

Practice Healthful behaviors: eating healthfully, sleeping regularly, and building a sound mind and body are stepping stones along your healing journey.

Allow yourself to make mistakes: Victims of abuse often see mistakes as having disastrous consequences and blow them out of proportion.

Change your psychological environment: To help yourself let go of the former relationship, put away such sentimental items as momentos, photographs, and memorabilia that are painful; do not listen to music you both loved if it upsets you.

Set attainable goals

Pursue enjoyable activities

Evaluate yourself as a person in relationships: Make a list of positive and negative qualities in past relationships and compare it to a list of desired and undesired qualities of a future relationship.

Recognize and respond to your Children’s Needs

Get a healthy understanding of your faith. Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

You Are Not Far From The Kingdom



Mark 12:34

Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

Prince had a song called the Ladder back in the late 80’s that said,
Everybody
Everybody's looking 4 that ladder
(Everybody's looking 4 the ladder)
Everybody wants salvation of the soul
(Everybody wants salvation of the soul)
(salvation)
The steps U take are no easy road
(the steps you take are no easy road)
(that's for sure)
But the reward is great (the reward is great)
4 those who want 2 go, (4 those who want 2 go)
those who want 2 go

This ladder that Prince talked about leads to a place of peace, wholeness, to me it was an allegory to the Kingdom of God. We are all in search of that place of euphoria that can only be found in God. The problem with many of us is that by the time we climb up the top of our respective ladders, we discover it’s propped up against the wrong building. Everybody is looking for the Kingdom of God, but have been looking in the wrong place or propped up ladders against the wrong building but you are closer than you think.

The Religious leaders of Jesus’ day had been trying to find the Kingdom, but had propped their ladders up against the building of Vain-Glory and Self Serving agendas. They asked Jesus what the greatest commandment in the Torah or the Law was, and Jesus quoted them two commandments in Mark 12:29-31

Mark 12:29-31 (New International Version)
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'[b] 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c]There is no commandment greater than these."

Then one of the scribes was impressed with the conciseness of Jesus’ ability to summarize all of the Law into these two commandments and he began to break it down even more. When he finished Jesus said, “You have answered wisely, you are not far from the kingdom.

What did he say that can get us closer to the Kingdom and climb up the right ladder?

1. There is one God and none other but he. We are a very spiritual generationm, but we fail to realize who God really is. We know who God is best by looking at his son Jesus. Jesus said, if you have seen me you have seen my Father. You see Jesus by reading the gospels and seeing what he did.

2. Love him with all of your heart. Have you ever heard someone say, “They have my heart?” Who has your heart? God should be top on your list.

3. Love him with all your understanding. Have you dedicated yourself through study to Love God? Do you read your bible? Are you in Bible study so you can love God better?

4. Love him with all your soul. Our soul is our innermost being, a composite of our personality, emotions, and psyche. Oftentimes, we are not able to love God with our souls because of soul ties. We are tied up with the wrong people and the wrong things. We are addicted to substances that rob our allegiance with God. We are in unholy alliances with people who we are not married to. When we are married that person is called our soul mate. When we are in a sexual relationship with someone, not our spouse, they are Cell Mates who keep our soul in bondage from giving God the love he’s due.

5. Love him with all your strength. We are to love God with our Physicality. Are you giving God a healthy body to love him with? What are you putting in his temple that says to him, “God I love you so much that this is what I’m doing with the body you gave me.”

6. Love your Neighbor as you love yourself. You are close to the Kingdom when you learn how to treat people like you want to be treated. Treat strangers like you would treat yourself.

7. When we love like this it means more than any money we could ever give God. It doesn’t mean you don’t give money, it just means that when you get Love right, it’s priceless because you’re climbing the right ladder.

Dear God teach me how to love you and others so I can climb the right ladder and one day be welcomed into your Kingdom. I’m too close to turn around, give me the strength to keep on climbing till I get to the gates of heaven and hear you say, Well done my good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things, now come on up and I’ll make you ruler over many things.

In Jesus Name,
Amen.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Loose It and Bring It!



Mark 11:3
And if anyone says to you, “why are you doing this? Say, “The Lord has need of it. And immediately he will send it here.

Have you ever needed someone to come and help you only to have them respond, “I’m tied up right now?” We all have found ourselves tied up and unavailable to help when it’s time to help. Somebody is in need of your gifts, your abilities but you can’t be accessed because you are tied up.

I remember 20 years ago sitting in church as a college student struggling with a call to ministry. I was tied up in being popular, president of my fraternity, going to parties, chasing women, but there was more God wanted form me. I would even re-dedicate my life to God almost every other Sunday but it would not satisfy the emptiness I felt on the inside. On Jan 2, 1989, I was sitting in the front pew of Cedar Grove Baptist Church when Rev. Quinton Yates preached “Untie yourself so the Lord can use you.” My face flushed red hot, I felt like Malcolm X in Spike Lee’s movie when he was “floating” down the side walk before he was assassinated. I didn’t want to do this, but something was pulling me and I stood up that day to announce to the congregation that I had been called to the ministry. I loosed it and brought it.

Jesus needed a colt that had never been ridden or broken to ride. He told his disciples where to find it. There were two problems: 1) it had never been ridden or broken and 2) it was tied up. What do you do when you haven’t been broken and you are tied up, but the Lord has need of you?

1. Loose it. It’s interesting that Jesus sent his disciples to get a wild colt. One that had never been ridden. Many times God sends people into your lives with the ability to loose us. They have the anointing to say something to us even though others have already tried, but when these disciples say it you don’t even fight back. You loose it when you let go of whatever has had you bound all these years so that you can leave where you have been tied up. Many of us are like that Elephant that had been tied up since he was a baby. As a baby, the circus trainer ties a rope on the baby elephant’s leg to a stake in the ground. Because the baby elephant is small, he’s not strong enough to break free. When he becomes an adult he has become accustomed to the rope in his mind. In his mind he’s not strong enough to break free, but in reality, he can snap the rope at any time. The rope is not holding his foot, it’s holding his mind. Loose yourself.

2. If anyone asks you what you are doing, tell them Jesus has need of you. When you are not in your spot anymore, people will start calling you, especially the people that were stuck with you and the people who had a say so or were profiting from you being tied up. Some people are holding you down but the problem is that you are not even using your gifts; they just have you tied up. You are tied up in a bad relationship, you are tied up in a bad contract, you are tied up in litigation but when God get’s ready to loose you, you just need to tell them I got to go; the Lord has need of me. Jesus will get you out!

3. Bring it. You must bring yourself to Jesus. You must leave the spot where you were and come to where Jesus is. Henry Blackaby, in his book, Experiencing God, says that you must find where God is moving and join him. Where is God moving around you? Where is there a move of God where God needs your hands and your heart? Find that place and bring yourself to it.

4. Jesus is the only one who can break you. No one had ever ridden this colt before. Jesus was the only one who was able to tame a wild creature. When he sat upon the colt it didn’t buck him off. There is something about the love and grace of our Lord and Savior that can tame the wild beast inside each of us. When you surrender to Christ, he will give you a peace which surpasses human understanding.

Dear God, help me to loose it and bring it. Whatever has me tied up and unmovable I surrender right now. Forgive me and free me to serve you. Lord I’m available to you, whatever you want me to do, I’ll do, wherever you want me to go, I’ll go, I untie myself this morning and I ask you to use me as you see fit.

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Don't Just Sit There!



Numbers 32:6-7
Shall your brothers go to war while you sit there? Now why will you discourage the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord has given them?

My mother taught me at a very early age that you don’t just sit around while other people are working. Whether it was helping bring in the groceries, or cleaning up the house, you couldn’t just sit there while everybody else worked.

Our Nation is in the worst shape that it has been in 35 years. Even Warren Buffett who is normally upbeat about the economy’s turnaround said the other day that he thinks we are headed toward a mild depression. President Obama faces wars and an economic crisis like none seen in our lifetime. The President is counting on a “United” States of America to go with him but there are some people just sitting there on Capitol Hill hoping he fails.

Out of all the years, minorities worked for a country that didn’t work for them, we never just sit there. African-Americans have the moral leverage to ask other Americans to get up and help the President fight for the survival of our country because for decades we have fought for our country when our country didn’t fight for us. My father went to Vietnam to fight and then come back home with post-traumatic stress disorder, Agent Orange side effects, nightmares, and a fractured family only to return to a country that treated him like a second class citizen. We never sit down; even when we had “sit ins” it was to help this country better itself by facing its unjust treatment of the poor and minority.

On a spiritual level, we cannot just sit there while everyone else helps to fight to save our country from economic peril just because we don’t like the President’s plan or his color. The tribes of Gad and Reuben wanted to stay on the other side of the Promised Land without going over to fight to possess the Promised Land. The problem was that they inherited some of the fear of their forefathers who got a glimpse of the giants and spread fear through the masses causing them to wander in the wilderness till they all died. It was the younger generation, the Joshua generation, who was supposed to do what their parents were scared to do. It was the younger generation in America, black, white, Latino, Asian, pacific islanders who went to the polls to bring about change in America. We can’t sit back and allow the fear of racism, the fear of socialism to cause us to sit when we should be fighting.

Moses compromised with them. He said get up and come fight with your brothers than come back and settle down on this side, but if you pretend you are going and just sit here, your sins will find you out.
Instead of sitting you should…

1. Serve. Jesus told his disciples the greatest amongst you shall be your servant. There is something each of us can do to help others through this crisis.

2. Find something to do to help. Find something for your hands to do. Even if you can’t find a job there is something you can do to volunteer to help. Your gifts make room for you. What you do today to help may get you a job tomorrow.

3. Put your differences aside and help us get there. Whether you are a republican or democrat, conservative or liberal it doesn’t matter right now. We are in danger of Global economic collapse, global war, global warming, and we want to sit here and argue over ideology?!

4. Do something for the greater good. There are governors who refuse to take the stimulus plan because it looks like a “spending plan.” There are people in those states who don’t have jobs, don’t have shelter, and don’t have food. Let’s do something for the greater good even if we don’t agree on all the details.

5. Don’t sit there and beg, get up and follow Jesus. The gospel of Mark records a story of Blind Bartemeus who was sitting by the roadside begging until he heard that Jesus was passing by. He started shouting, Jesus Son of David have mercy on me! They told him to shut up but he shouted all the louder. Jesus told him to get up. He stood up threw his garment to the side, and Jesus healed him. He then started following Jesus. How long before we stop sitting here, and throw our differences aside and be healed so we can follow Jesus?

Dear God we can’t sit here while our brothers/sisters, Our President, fight for the very existence of our country. Give us the unity to go out and defeat our enemies, get provision for our families, help our communities, and follow you by faith. WE can take this land; just help us to get up.

In Jesus Name,
Amen.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Have You Lost Your Flavor?



Mark 9:50
Salt is good, but if the salt loses its’ flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.

“I’m kicking the brand new flava in your ears, Mack’s got the new flava of the year…”That song by Craig Mack back in the early 90’s was the bomb! Then they came out with the remix, L.L. Cool J, Black Rob, Biggie, and Busta Rhymes, whew!! The thing about hip Hop then was you were always looking for who could come up with some new flavor, to say it like nobody else has said it, to be an originator not a duplicator. Flavor was a distinct style, it made you stand out. Hip Hop started getting boring when everybody started going commercial and everybody sounded alike, for a minute it lost its flavor. Even Flavor Flav lost his Savor in all those episodes of Flavor of Lust, I mean Love…LOL.

More than Hip Hop Christians are in danger of losing our flavor. You could tell who Christians were in the first Century because they took care of one another, they sold property to give money to the poor, they stayed behind during the great plague in Rome to take care of the sick. Getting sick and dying themselves, they testified and stood up for what was right. That was before being a Christian went commercial. Now, we have Hollywood Christianity that has been reduced to spiritual sound bytes “WWJD…translated by Madea as, what would Jermaine Dupree do?” Our Pop culture Christianity has been reduced to Goosebumps on Sunday, but no transformation on Sunday. Christians are beginning to sound like everybody else. Preaching has been exchanged for motivational preaching. Gospel music has traded substance for style. What happened to our flavor?

Salt ought to transform whatever it is applied to. It ought to season whatever it is put on, but what good is Salt when it’s lost its flavor?

Tell me what’s your flavor neighbor?

1. It’s your distinct Christian Character. People ought to be able to tell by what comes out of your mouth and how you treat people whether or not you belong to Jesus.

2. It’s the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives you a distinct glow and flow. People know you are a Christian when the Holy Spirit begins to transform your old character into a new creation.

3. It’s the gospel of Jesus. Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power unto salvation.” Every opportunity you get you ought to be ready to give an account for what you believe.

4. It’s the ability to love. They will know we are Christians by our ability to love other people. I’m talking about that Agape love. agape (ah-gah╩╣pay), the principal Greek word used for ‘love’ in the NT. Of the three words for love in the Hellenistic world, it was the least common. The other two words were eros, which meant sexual love, and philos, which meant friendship, although their meanings could vary according to the context in which they appeared. Agape, because it was used so seldom and was so unspecific in meaning, could be used in the NT to designate the unmerited love God shows to humankind in sending his son as suffering redeemer. When used of human love, it means selfless and self-giving love.

5. It’s the way you communicate through your personality. Nobody can beat you being you. Stop trying to be everybody else and be comfortable being you and letting God speak through your unique personality.

If you are salty, you ought to make other people thirsty for God after having been around you. If people are comfortable being in sin with you in their lives you might have lost your flavor. If you are comfortable getting in where you fit in you might have lost your flavor. After you lose your flavor you are in danger of losing your favor.

The other day I tried to use the salt shaker at home. My son had gotten water in the salt shaker doing an experiment in his room. The crystals had solidified and wouldn’t allow the salt to come out. What is blocking you from being a salty Christian? What experiment or experience has hardened you to the point you can’t get out to witness and make a difference in the lives of the people around you? Don’t lose your flavor.

Dear God restore my flavor. Guard me against spiritual commercialism. Keep my faith real. Keep me Hungry for Righteousness. Help me to be in the world, but not of the world. Use me as an agent of change, so I can kick some “new flavor” in their ear.

In Jesus Name.

Amen.

Why Did You Hit Your Donkey?



Numbers 22:33
The donkey saw me (God) and turned aside from me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.

There are times in our lives when things don’t go our way. We are constantly trying to move things back into alignment with our sense of direction not knowing that sometimes we are fighting against God.

We must be careful not to curse what God is blessing, or to reach out in anger when we are inconvenienced because it could be God trying to save you.

Balaam was a diviner who was hired to curse Israel on their way to the Promised Land because Balak was intimidated by their success. He was afraid they would, “lick up all the land.” Balaam told the King no matter how much money you give me I can’t say anymore or any less than what God tells me.”

Nevertheless Balaam went with them. On the way there, the money must have started to look good to him, and God saw something in Balaam he doesn’t like. He was going to stop him one way or the other from cursing Israel.

Balaam was riding a donkey and an angel of the lord with a drawn sword was standing in the Road and the donkey left the road to avoid the Angel. Balaam struck the donkey and made him get back on the road. Then the angel stood in a narrow path between two walls, the donkey tried to avoid the angel and crushed Balaam’s foot into the wall, so Balaam struck the donkey again. The third time the Angel of the lord stood in a narrow place and there was no room for the donkey to go to the left or to the right so the donkey just lay down underneath Balaam and he struck the donkey over the head.

God gave the donkey the ability to talk and the donkey said, “Why you hit me? Have I ever acted like this before?” Then God spoke. God asked, “Why did you hit your donkey three times? I had an angel with a sword, if your donkey had not moved you out of the way I would have killed you but let the donkey live.”

There are times in our lives where what looks like a detour or an inconvenience is really God trying to save our lives.

1. The first time he went a direction he didn’t want to go, but it was the donkey trying to save his master’s life because the Angel wanted to kill him. The angel of God was determined to stop Balaam from going to put a curse on Israel because God already told him that Israel was a blessed nation. You can’t curse a blessed people no matter how much you don’t like them.

2. The second time he got hurt, the donkey was on a narrow path and tried to avoid the Angel with the sword and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall but his life was spared. There are times in life where you are on a narrow path and get hurt, instead of striking your donkey, maybe you should stop and ask God, “What are you showing me in this?”

3. The third time, he ran out of room to run and everything stopped, but had the donkey kept going he would have died. What is it in your life that has shut down, but it really could be for your good? There’s a reason your car stopped and you didn’t get there on time, there was an angel with a sword trying to stop you from going against God’s will.

Be still and know that he is God. Don’t be in a hurry and strike what is really saving your life.
Dear God give me the wisdom to know when you are trying to get my attention. Help me to go only when you want me to go and say only what you want me to say.

In Jesus Name,
Amen.