I have to come clean. I have an alter ego. Her name is Rhondeeka. She likes to drives fast and listen to loud rock music. She stands in lines at stores, gets irritable and gives people the “look” when she has to wait too long for anything. She gets smart mouthed with people on the low-low, reads trashy novels and watches ratchet TV. Sometimes.
However, Rhonda is who I am 95% of the time … she’s the one who knows the value of walking in the footsteps of Jesus. She’s the one that knows that although those things don’t have the capacity to steal her salvation, none of those things glorify God, help her spiritual walk (in fact they might hurt it) or help identify her as someone who loves and follows God.
Still in all my shortcomings God says:
“I will sow her for Myself in the land.
I will also have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy;
And I will say to those who were not My people,
‘You are My people,’
And they will say, ‘You are my God!’”Hosea 2:23.
The book of Hosea is all about the sinfulness of a people and God’s character … how even when we don’t act like God’s people, He still extends mercy and calls us His people. What a love, right? What a God! Let God’s great love and mercy towards us motivate us to be less of our alter ego and more like what He calls us!
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised) Hebrews 10:23
Anyone that knows me knows that I love a good bargain. You want to see me smile from ear to ear? Let me find a good deal! And I don’t mind sharing but I know that to some people (snobs) that it’s trife to talk thrift store prices so I try to restrain myself … but gosh darn it! It’s hard not to shout out the dirt cheap price I found on something at the local thrift store! There have been many times in my life though when there were no new or used clothes on the horizon. Budgets got tight, bills were piling up, and I just wasn’t worried about looking cute … i was worried about surviving … worried if I had enough to make it to the end of the month.
Worries can crowd out your joy. Reason #2,789 Why I love Jesus … He understands our concerns for clothes, food, and shelter. He is interested in our souls, but He is also interested in meeting our physical needs too. He wants us to be calm in the fact that when we are following Him, He is concerned for us, we matter to Him and He will take care of us. If we trust Him, even when it comes to the basics, we will never be disappointed. Through worries, we may grow in faith, overcome doubts and questions. Let adversity be an opportunity to deepen our relationship with God and feel some of that abundant joy that is plentiful through the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.
…contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality. Romans 12:13 AMP
“What have we become?” That’s a line and popular song title from DC Talk, a Christian pop group. It sings of human stories that mirror the selfishness of present day society, a society wherein you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that isn’t primarily looking out for number one. It goes on to challenge Christians to be what we are called to be…to be that ONE that is righteous, to be that ONE that is holy and to be that ONE going about doing the will of our Father in heaven. In other words—not being selfish but being kind.
The other day, I was really touched reading about a woman who went above and beyond to be kind (2Kings 4). See, back in the day, prophets used to walk from town to town sharing the word of God and often were housed by families in those towns. One day, there was a woman that saw Elisha, a prophet of God, and LOOKED FOR an opportunity to do good for him! So she spoke it over with her husband and they ended up extending a room and food to him. Wow! I mean come on let’s be real … many of us might be kind for someone right in front of us and someone we know … but to LOOK to do good for someone? And for someone we’re not familiar with? That’s a stretch! But this woman sensed a need and went above and beyond to meet it.
Now, this isn’t to make anyone to feel bad…just something to think about to challenge your faith and take it to another level…but how many of us go the extra mile and LOOK for ways to serve and help? I know we have to be cautious and all that jazz in today’s society, but let’s not let that be an excuse to not help anyone! Right?! So, let me tell you the rest of the story…BECAUSE she went above and beyond, through Elisha, God rewarded this woman above and beyond—blessing her with the son she so desperately wanted and hadn’t been unable to have AND later when the son suddenly died, assuaged her grief by raising him from the dead to live again. What an awesome blessing, right? But what a great thing she did! We can be like her and not that we are working to be kind to just get the rewards but God WILL meet the needs and desires of your heart when YOU unselfishly meet the needs and desires of others. #BeKind
Psalm 27:8 New Living Translation (NLT) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
I recently saw an old “dear” friend that I hadn’t seen in seven years. I was just meeting him, right? No big deal. We were just two grown adults. A little time had passed…we were the same—but not…you know? The way life changes you because it happens and your experiences grow you…if you learn from them. I wasn’t the same woman that once mooned over him, professed my love for him and heart beat fast at the prospect of seeing him. He wasn’t the same man that once professed his love to me and that I was the first thing he thought of when he woke up. So, I’m cool, right?! Copasetic. Chill. No worries. Zero issue. And because I said all that you know it was nothing like that!
I, so wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming rush of feelings that came
over me…feelings that warmed my heart and made my heart sing like no man has ever done—but him. I hated the way I betrayed myself…silly me…hopeless me. Now two weeks later he’s still on my mind and I’m on
this crazy rollercoaster of emotions again—which is why I jumped off in the first place. I want to be with him…but he’s never in any particular hurry. I don’t want to seem desperate…but the truth is more like I am desperate to listen to him….talk to him…to hold him. I can’t wait till he calls me and says that he wants to talk to me—cause as much as I don’t want to be so there at his bidding…the truth is more like, I’ll be right there.
The feelings that I have for my friend are very intimate but I realize that I want the relationship I have with God to be even more so. God knows me even deeper and even more completely than any human will ever know me. And He knows the secret things that I will never tell anyone (probably even things so dark that I have suppressed them) and He loves me anyway. He won’t take my feelings on a crazy rollercoaster and He looks forward to times we talk just as much as I do…or at least as much as I should. Cause see a lot of times I’m a slacker. But I so want my heart to respond “Lord, I am coming” when I feel Him calling me. I so much more want to feel for God what I feel for that man…desperate to listen to him…desperate to talk to him….desperate to hold His word close to my heart. I want to be right there when the Master calls me…at His bidding.
*Sighs*…I’m a work in progress…human…fallible…subject to flesh but willing, oh so willing, to be shaped for the Master’s use. I don’t know what’s going to happen between me and my old friend but I do know that I am going to use this situation to fine tune my relationship with my Father.
…God is light, and in him is no darkness at all John 1:5
Have you ever been in a dark room? You think you remember where the light is or maybe you’re just feeling for it….you stumble, you bump into things and maybe you even fall. Hopefully you find the light or maybe someone will turn it on for you and then everything becomes clear! You move the things that you stumbled, bumped and fell over so you’ll never do that again and others won’t either.
I know what it’s like to be in a dark room…like, I had a lot of rules growing up….how to eat proper, act right, dress appropriately and talk correctly—don’t do this, but DO do that. I was under constant scrutiny and criticism most of the time. Talk about pressure and stress. I do understand that there’s definitely a time and place for all that ((places I don’t really want to be and I rebel against being every chance I get)) but back then it just made me a really uptight adult who didn’t know how to walk free of all those social restraints and just be me. There’s something freeing about just being yourself and free, you know? When I did finally come out from all the bondage of those social restraints, it was like I was stepping out of the darkness into the light. At that moment, I understood why the criminal feels so good, even in light of the repercussions, when they admit their crime. It’s such a heavy burden to carry the weight of being something that you’re not and it’s such a *insert heavenly ahh’s here* moment to just show and be the real you.
Now I am certainly no finished product–not even close. But I do have an acute awareness of my human frailty and fallen state and I have a willingness to be worked on. And thankfully that is all God requires to start going to work and break those chains one by one on me. Furthermore, I find that the more I walk in His Light…reading His Word, praying, and most importantly DOING His Word…the more of the darkness, that life sometimes projects and leaves us in, is illuminated and starts falling away. Are you feeling burdened down by something that is not you? Secrets? Sins? The weight of burdens that others have put on you in your life? Don’t stay in the darkness where inevitable injury will prevail. Step out of the darkness and into the light where God’s love is and there is much help available. Love you with the love of the Lord!
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:5-6
This is my story, this is my song…praising my Saviour all the day long.
I don’t remember the exact moment in my childhood when my self-esteem became irreparably broken. Maybe it was when I was curled up on my bed with bloodied whelps for interrupting my Mother’s routine….maybe it was when my uncle looked at me with lust in his eyes but yet I was the one chastised by the elder women as if I had invited it…. maybe it was that moment in 6th grade when a fellow classmate called me a half white n***a (I wasn’t even aware that I was different) and then suddenly neither my white friends nor my black friends wanted to include me on any of their childhood games and I became an outcast. Or perhaps it was just when I was changing in the girl’s locker room for phys ed and some girl made a less than kind remark about something on me that they perceived as an imperfection. It could have been any of those incidents or an even darker moment that I have suppressed, but nonetheless, I began to struggle. I watched myself, as if from outside, wondering how I looked to other people….anticipating disapproval and indifference….changing my behavior to accommodate IT. And when the behavior change wasn’t enough I used substances to mask feelings of brokenness. With that I left the naturalness of childhood behind and I sold my pity for a dime.
…this is my story….
It wasn’t till many years later that the simple words of a children’s song shifted my focus from myself. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so”. With those simple words I began to believe with my whole heart.
…this is my song…
I didn’t need to be afraid Jesus would reject me. Jesus already loved me and nothing I did would make Him love me more…or less. See, it didn’t matter that what happened to me was fair or unfair…I couldn’t change one minute, one second of the past but I could change me! When I minded the flesh that meant that I kept focusing on the negativity in my life. What happened to me…poor me, pour me another drink, right? But focusing on that got me nowhere or as the scriptures say “death”…because truly I was dying, emotionally and spiritually and I wasted so many precious years there in the prison of my own mind. But when I shifted my focus to God and spiritual things my life filled with life and peace.
…praising my Saviour all the day long…
Yes those things happened to me and they didn’t magically disappear with my faith but no longer did they work away to my detriment. They instead became what made me who I am today but instead of being ruled by them I became fueled by them and I grew FROM them…so that today I stand before you as someone that someone else can lean on…..my children….their children…. another Sister or Brother. That’s what we should do with our hurts and pains….focus less on them and more on God so that He can give us beauty for the ashes of our life. And His love is something I wouldn’t sell for all the money in the world.
As the new year approaches, I look back on a year of joy and happiness. Yes it had it’s challenges but much more it had it’s triumphs. And once again God faithfully orchestrated the triumphs to overshadow the challenges. And we lived…and we loved…and we grew.
My lovely & ever compassionate youngest daughter continued to excel in her studies (so smart that one). And even though she’s still a teen (in all their annoying drama) I see a balanced young woman of God emerging. And then there’s my beautiful & fiercely loyal oldest daughter who married a wonderful man, who displays such strength of character. I saw him on his knees praying one morning and at that moment I saw a prayer answered, my children were marrying people whose builder and keeper was God. And then there’s me stepping out into new territory to write, trying different artistic disciplines, and basically cultivating the talents God has given me. And so we lived…and so we loved…and so we grew.
My New Year’s resolution may sound cliche but it’s to be more of that person that God wants me to be. To pray more, to walk like Jesus more, to love Him more…it’s a never-ending, always repeating goal until we see Him. And if we, as Sisters and Brothers in Christ, share this goal then I know along the way we will live (really live), we will love (really love), and we will grow to such unimaginable heights in Christ Jesus.
I pray each and every one of you receive over and abundant anything you can ever ask or think according to the power of God that works within you! Happy New Year, Family!
Give thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ Ephesians 5:20
I’ve been feeling a little down lately cause I don’t have the PERFECT life. From my weight, my job, my family, my finances to unfulfilled desires, regret and, yes, even loneliness—I seem to have developed a growing laundry list of imperfections to whine about. Now I would chew off my big toe before I admit this ((drops voice & whispers)) but my oldest daughter said something to me the other day that rang so true…I’ve been looking at the glass half empty instead of half full. In my words, I’ve been magnifying my disappointments and not seeing the blessing in them.
So like, fast forward to today—-sad but SO true, there’s nothing like a brush with death to make you appreciate what is really important in life. Now, anyone that has ever rode shotgun with me knows that I am not for the weak at heart—not reckless just aggressive (and it doesn’t help that I used to race bikes back in the day so there’s a little speed built into my soul). So here I was sitting at the light with my foot on the pedal ready to go when the light turned green. Still though, even after the light turns green, I look both ways cautious for drivers that think red means 5 more cars can go thru…no one was around so I prepared to descend my foot on the gas when a car came out of nowhere—barreling thru and LITERALLY coming millimeters from crashing into me. Talk about a CLOSE call! As I drove to my destination, all I could do was cry happy tears and thank God for what I DO have, ask Him to forgive me for not appreciating the blessings and MOSTLY for not appreciating the opportunities to grow through the difficulties of life.
When you feel down, you may find it difficult to give thanks. Like me you might fall into a “poor me” conversation with yourself and others. But take heart—in all things God works for our good if we love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Thank God, not just for your problems but for the strength he is building in you through the difficult experiences of your life. You can be sure that God’s perfect love will see you through life’s imperfections.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9
Years ago I had a roommate that always went out of her way to find out what was going on. Like, whenever there was a noise, a commotion, or a cop car on the block, etc. etc. I used to think….Nosey much? Paranoid much? But then one day I asked her about that (like Cain, probably with a little snarkiness to my words) and I found out that she was not intentionally being nosey or paranoid. She told me that she just never wanted to become desensitized to the world around her to the point where she didn’t care about what was going on. I felt really bad then cause in the light of her compassion, my darkness was exposed and the truth, I discovered, was that I WAS desensitized. In my mind, whatever was happening just wasn’t my business and getting involved was a fleeting (if not nonexistent) thought.
I’ve come a long way since those days. When I became a Christian, I learned the fullness of Jesus’ love for me and I learned how to show love, real love, to people. Sadly though there are still times when I want to “turn it off” and mind my own business—there’s so much poverty, violence and immorality…so many dying financially, physically, mentally, and spiritually. It can get a little overwhelming as a whole but the spirit inside me grounds me and tells me if I can purpose to give ONE person a word of encouragement—give ONE person a materialistic item—give ONE person some hope—or if I can’t reach out to them at all just pray for ONE person, then I will be doing my reasonable service as God’s child. However, turning a blind eye is not an option anymore. Am I my Brother’s (Sister’s) Keeper? Yes I am. I think we all have a responsibility to play a part, no matter how seemingly insignificant, in our brother/sister’s welfare.