Month: February 2014

Vashti

Empowerment comes with the idea of being confident in who you are no matter how much a person or a circumstance could persuade you to compromise you dignity, respect, or worth. The story of Esther in the Bible is all about women empowerment and rising above to change a generation, but for the sake of this article, there is one character I want to draw attention to: Vashti.
If you are at all familiar with the Biblical story of Esther, Vashti is the queen in the beginning of the story that lost her crown, because she refused to come down to the king’s banquet. Now it is unclear exactly her reasoning for defying the king’s command, but many believe she didn’t want to be paraded around in front of a whole room full of drunk men. There are so many things that can be called into questioning as far as how it all happened, but still considering, I would have to say that Vashti was a women of confidence, self-respect, and dignity. Even with the pressure of disobeying the king and fear of losing her crown, her position as queen, she was not going to sell out.

Just thinking about that aspect of the story, more of us women need to be like that. Too often we sell out and devalue ourselves for money, possessions, attention, love, sex, work, or a variety of other things. I just want to encourage you to stand your ground, your worth is so much more than superficial or counterfeit love, so much more than new shoes or you bills paid, so much more than a job in this not so good economy. God has created you to be treasured and treated like a queen, not misused, taken advantage of, or abused; so any person that treats you or makes you feel otherwise, no matter who they are to you, it’s time to get out of that situation.

Like Vashti, yeah, standing up for what you will and will not accept, for your worth, or your respect, it may cost you a job, a boyfriend, a relationship, or even money, but God will never leave you hanging and will set you up in His time and in His way, if you let Him, to be the greatest you that you can be, surrounded by people that value and appreciate you.

In the same breath, when you see all these reality television shows (i.e. Bad Girls Club, Real Housewives of…, Love & Hip Hop, Basketball Wives, etc), TV dramas (I Am Mary Jane; Scandal), and a lot of these videos spiraling across the web (i.e. Sharkesha, World Star Hip Hop), an empowered woman is so far from what they promote. Furthermore, these videos constantly show women fighting and battling one another and just being obscene and anything but lady like. We have dishonored our name and womanhood by this disunity that has corrupted our culture. It’s time to break away and break free from that curse of bad chick, loud, rude, fake everything, angry, needy, side chic stigma that we are up against and is shown so often. We have to show that we are better than that. We can work together; we are intelligent; we are strong; we are forgivers; we can let it go; we can smile; we can pray; we can make a difference; we do have something to offer this world; we are gifted and unique; we are confident in who we are even without the make-up, weaves, nails, heels, and hand bags; we truly live as if we fear the God we say we believe in; we know how to hold our tongue; we can be leaders; we can have a solid family; we are not afraid to go against the mold; we are awkward at times; we are individuals; you can show us off to your mother; we have morals and standards; we can be submissive; we are self-controlled; we can keep our legs closed; we can keep our hands to ourselves; we can work together; we can be positive; we can be happy and celebrate one another; we are world changers; we are powerful; we are resilient; we have dreams, visions, and ideas; we are fearless; we are teachable; we can make sound and wise decisions; we can be an example; we can be empowered women. We can. We are.

Time & Trouble

time

To write on the Book of Psalms, there isn’t enough years in a lifetime or enough pages to be printed to adequately express the intent of every author and the meaning and significance of each verse written in this beautiful piece of literature. Nevertheless, for the sake of this post, I want to focus on one chapter, 90. As it happens with many passages, I have read it several times before, but it wasn’t until this last time it clicked, and two verses specifically stood out.

It is in verse four that we gain some insight to God’s time table; a thousand years to us, is one day to Him. Hold up. That has to be one of the least rationale or explainable verses in the Bible. I mean seriously. one millennia versus one day? When I read that it reminds me of what the prophet Isaiah told the people, His ways are not our ways. You know what that means? His time is not our time, not even close. There are many Scriptures in the OT and NT that talk about the right time (Ecclesiastes 3:1; Habakkuk 2:3; Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:6).

Living a life of purpose, we have to understand God’s time means that what we want to happen in one year may no manifest itself until five years later. Does that mean you did something wrong? No. God’s timing is just different and it’s not until those five years or some more time after that you begin to really understand why God took that much time; maybe you weren’t ready or as ready as you thought you were and or needed to be, or the situation just wasn’t right, or God was working something else out entirely. I say all that to say something I have said before, waiting is not for the weak; patience is not easy. Nevertheless, the more we grow in Christ, the more we understand that we don’t understand and that He is sovereign and knows best. The quicker we learn that, the less worried, anxious, and frustrated we become. Now does that mean God likes to drag and string us along? Absolutely not. God is not about that life. He has a purpose in His perfect timing and the more intimate we are with Him, the more He begins to reveal those certain mysteries with us. In the same breath, if you are waiting for God, don’t ever rush Him. I did and well, I got myself in a situation I shouldn’t have been in. He can see the future, we can’t. On the flip side, don’t slow God down, which means if you are waiting on God and have been for some time now, make sure it’s not Him that’s waiting on you. I learned that too, not good. Bottom line, don’t get pushy and aggressive and don’t get passive and lazy with God’s timing. Just do what you know He want you to do when He wants you to do it and in due time…

Unfortunately, there is also verse 10 in this chapter. This verse talk more about time, but specifically our time. The average time we have on earth, give or take, is 70-80 years. The sad part, as it goes on further to say, is that life though short, is but trouble and sorrow. Job and Matthew said the same thing (Job 14:1; Matthew 6:34). You know what that says to me, after we have clarity that God is infinite and time is in His hands and understand that we are finite and time slips through our fingers, that gives the push to live a life of purpose even more. Why? Our days though short, we are promised to have trouble and sorrow and pain and disappointment, but we shouldn’t live a sheltered life that seeks to block out all the trouble. It’s impossible. We have no control. Likewise, we shouldn’t get so bent out of shape when troubles come, because we should expect them, or otherwise, ever get to the point we feel invincible as if nothing can touch us, giving the enemy a rather large foot hole, and often times God will have to humble us.

A life of purpose is living as a solution to the problems we face everyday. We can’t run from the trouble, no matter how bad it is, whether its our fault or not. Consequently, purpose-filled living means attempting to not create our own problems as much as we are able, because that only means we are adding more trouble to what was promised to us. That’s why it is imperative to be mindful of what you say, what you do, and what you think. Life is short and there is sorrow and trouble on every side, so don’t waste your time holding grudges, being angry and bitter, and not forgiving. Not only are you adding on to your trouble, wasting more time, but you are also causing trouble for other people as well, wasting their time.

Being you for a purpose, you understand that time is short and you were created to help fix the trouble we were promised. So in whatever ways God has chosen you to be a solution, don’t waste time, because after a short time, we will fly away. So I ask, what solutions have you come up with?? Have you added to the trouble or have you reduced it?? Your time will quickly pass, but there is so much you can do, after all Jesus changed the world forever in a matter of 12 hours. Even if all you have is one day left, your solution to one person’s problem, big or small can change the world forever, whether you write it, speak it, or do it.

Man of Steel, (Wo)Man of Spirit

I am not a big Superman lover, other than Dean Cain, but I did in fact see “Man of Steel” not too long ago, and I did fairly enjoy Henry Cavill. However, it wasn’t until this last time I watched it that God encouraged my heart, and thus this post.

In the beginning, Clark parents decide to put the Codex, the power of a race, in him to man of steelpreserve their people, and had to send him to Earth, knowing he would stick out, but possibly help it. When I was thinking about that, it reminded me of God and how he put his Spirit, all of Heaven’s power, in us as believers, and we are called to stick out, but it’s that power we have that can change and impact the world.

As Clark grows up, he becomes overwhelmed by his gifts and often times is frustrated and afraid. His journey is all about learning to control his powers, rather than his gifts control him. In the same way, our life of purpose provides us gifts that if not used properly, can prove to be too much, thus God has to prune and purge us, so that we can properly develop and strengthen our gifts. Truth be told, sometimes our gifts scare us and we are afraid of what God is ultimately calling us to do, and it never helps when there are the naysayers and those that always have something to say and will criticize you at every chance they get. But remember, as a child of God with purpose, people are supposed to talk about you; they talked about Jesus, It may make you cry and may make you want to give up, but there is greater yet to come if you hang on.

The most profound line, in my opinion, is found in the first 25 minutes of the movie. When Clark is in the classroom, his powers start to kick in overdrive and he runs out the classroom and hides. Let me stop here and say, don’t hide from your gift and or your purpose. God gave it to you, He chose you for a reason. It was then that his teacher called his mother who came to console him and made this statement, “focus on my voice.” I was floored. There are so many voice that we are out there some that sound reasonable, but are still just plain wrong. When you live a life of your God-given purpose, you will have to block out all the other voices you hear in books, on social media, in music, on television, in politics, from family and friends, etc. Nevertheless, God is saying the same things Clark’s mother said to him, “focus on My voice.”

God’s voice is the only one that matters. He is the only one who understands what is inside of you and wants to be your support, refuge, and strength. His voice knows your destination and your future. It’s only His ‘yes’ that matters, even when everyone else says ‘no.’ So, to whoever is reading this, focus only on His voice, which means getting into His word, calling out to him, believing he will answer and show up every time, as Cal did with his Kryptonian father, and surrounding yourself with like-minded and like-spirited people. Still, the story isn’t over.

As Clark grows up and begins to accept his gift, there are many times he wants to use it, but his father won’t let him, because he doesn’t think the world is ready for what he has to offer. In the same way, you may feel like you are ready and that this is your season to break free and make your mark on the world. I encourage you to have discernment, many times we think we are ready, but God is saying “not yet My child,” because we may have some maturing to do. Other times, as for Clark, the world just isn’t ready for your full glory to show, and at times you may show glimpses of it, enough for people to notice the greatness locked inside of you, but don’t get prideful. God, your Heavenly Father, is Sovereign and knows best so just wait on Him, and sooner than later, you will hear him say, “this is your time. You are ready. The world is ready.”

It is then that Superman was born, but it happened at a time of fear and struggle, and as it often times happens here, God usually calls us off guard or when we least expect it, and like Superman you are thrust into your calling, which is why the Scriptures say “be ye also ready, in season and out of season.” More importantly, don’t doubt God. Of course, Satan, like general Zod, will try to misuse and destroy you and or your gift, or make you doubt or question it or belittle what’s inside of you. but you are an overcomer, so keep fighting and  “keep testing your limits,” don’t doubt yourself or your gifts.

I am so sure of Jesus and who he is for the simple fact that even when people attempt to discredit or devalue or cover him up, he still leaves footprints if you watch for them, and this movie is no different. You are a super man or a super woman, and you are called to be different and for people to talk about you, but you are destined for greatness and are the hope, like the ‘S’ symbol on Superman’s chest, that the world has yet to see and so desperately needs. Don’t be afraid, don’t run, don’t hide, but rather embrace and learned the gifts and the power that is inside of you. And when that moment comes, you. will. fly. And the world will never be the same.

To Be a Woman

Being a woman, there is nothing like it. For so many reasons I can say that I am so happy that God created and chose that I be a female, although I can’t lie, because there are times I wonder what my life would be like if I was a man. Nonetheless, as a woman, we have so much at our feet. Just on a superficial level, I am proud to be a woman because of all the option in make-up, hair, accessories, clothes, shoes; men don’t have those option to choose flats or heels, short or long dress, studs or chandelier earrings, or a bronzy or colorful eyeshadow look.

As a woman, we are what the man is not, soft, delicate, feminine, tolerant, the voice of reason, nurturing. We were made differently, we think differently, we give and receive love differently, we feel differently, and we operate just in a whole other dimension than men. Now is that to say that sometimes things don’t overlap, of course not, because we are each unique, various personalities, cultures, education levels, desires, interests, strengths, weaknesses, gifts, and talents.

In today’s society, women are often times scene as sexual beings with little intelligence or intellect, but I beg to differ. Yes, we are sexual creatures, and done in God’s design, we are to use our sexuality to bring pleasure to our husbands. However, God gave us a mind, reason and emotion to make up for what a man can’t produce. In ministry alone, it is said that a 75% of ministries that fail, fail because a man didn’t listen or take the advice of his lady. James Brown wrote the lyrics “it’s a man’s world, but it would be nothing without a woman or a girl,” and I’m sure you heard the statement, “behind every good man is a great woman.” You see, we are women, we hold so much power that many of us fail to realize. The insight we have to offer, the wisdom, the finesse, the awe factor, the extra something, the “it” factor, that’s who we are. God created us to keep this world going. What we are given we turn it into something great, whether taking a sperm and making a baby, a house and turning it into a home, or a smile and create a love that won’t falter.

In the same breath, we are the backbone. We are the neck, which means we have the ability to turn the head any way we want, with discretion of course. I just love being a woman. God has a special place in His heart for women, just look through the Song of Solomon. God has a special purpose for his princesses, his daughters and he wants them to stand up and rise up for what He wants to accomplish that requires a woman’s touch. Have you noticed that even in prayer, yes it’s great to heat men pray, but it’s like the heavens open when women cry out to God in only the way only they can.

As a woman, there are perks that I love, like having doors opened, having meals paid for, being pampered because that is a lady. If nothing else, if God allows, we have the opportunity to give birth, that in and of itself is a miracle.

I just want to encourage women to be proud and confident in your womanhood. There is enough bad press going around, it is time for women to be bold and release the power locked inside and break free from the chains and bondage so many of us are trapped in, which was not God’s intention. God created you for such a time as this, recognize your place and acknowledge your womanly role and function at home, in work, in ministry. It’s all worth it. You are worth it. You are the gem of man, and to let any man or any other person or thought to creep and tell you otherwise is destroying what God purposed and undermining what He feels for you and what he has called you to be.

Irreplaceable or Not So Much?

One thing is that is popular in Christian culture is the belief that God is so loving, He is a friend, a big-brother, sometimes almost like a fuzzy teddy-bear you can talk to about anything and hug tight, and the belief that He has amazing plans for our lives. Now don’t get me wrong these things, minus the fuzzy teddy-bear, to are true and there are Biblical verses to back each of these up. However, in the midst of all the fuzziness, I think that we lose sight of what God is, a holy, righteous, all-powerful Being, whose every word that goes forth does not return void.

I think the problem that we have is that we think we are doing God a favor when we decide to follow Him, when in reality it is the complete opposite; it is an undeniable honor and privilege to be chosen by a God whose train of His robe filled His temple and has unimaginable creatures that call Him holy non-stop. Far too many of us take for granted God’s love for us and play with God like a tease, as if He needs us to accomplish His purpose. In my humble opinion, that is furthest from the truth. The moment we think God can’t operate without us, the moment we defeat ourselves.

Instead, I would say He doesn’t need us, He just desperately wants us. To me, that’s even more awesome, to know that the God who SPOKE the earth, the heavens, and the universes into existence and can very easily do what He wants when He wants how He wants, desires to use me as a vessel. That is incredible and just blows my mind. The Lord by no means had any reason to call any of us, but He did. We are sinful, wretched, messed up, and selfish people apart from the blood, but God still wanted us to be His. This should make us even more excited to go after and fulfill the purpose He has destined each of us individually, because He saw something in us that many times we never see for ourselves. He wants to take the scars, the brokenness, the failures, and somehow fit it into His master plan.

These thoughts come from several different places, somethings I heard years prior and some fairly recent, but it was Esther 4:13-14 that brought it home for me. In this part of the story Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, was trying to get her to help save the Israelites, and after she gives her reasons for apprehension, he pretty much tells her that she is not blessed for no reason and that God can still do what He needs to through someone else if she didn’t step up. First off, the same things apply in that we are blessed to be a blessing, no matter how little we think we have. We are not to be selfish people that only look out for “mine.” Our position, gifts, talents, skills, are not to be hoarded or disregarded, for God is very strategic in how He places people, but it’s the following verse that explains what I have been saying. He tells her that she very much can bring deliverance for the Jews, but if she decides to just chill out, God will use someone else, and she herself will not be saved.

The Lord’s patience is amazingly perfect, because it’s not unusual that God has to ask us over and over to do things. Like Esther, someone’s life hangs in the balance of our obedience whether we realize it or not. Furthermore, when we don’t pursue to discover and fulfill our purpose, we find ourselves dead, maybe not physically, but often times mentally and spiritually, and dissatisfied in life. (Another verse of reference here is Matthew 16:25.) On the other hand, people have shared that because of their disobedience, a person they were supposed to minister to in one way or another, died or suffered.

Nevertheless, praise God for the Esthers, those that may have needed some persuasion, but heard the call and were not afraid to put it all on the line (Esther 4:16), but believing their purpose was bigger than their own life.

Irreplaceable, in the sense that there is no other you past, present, or future, absolutely, but in the sense that we determine God’s will from being done or not, maybe not. He will get His work done with or with out you or me, so I don’t know about you, but I am willing to be drafted and willing to fight if I know I’m going to win, even if the battle looks otherwise. The Lord is gracious and created us for His glory and sent His Son to restore us back to Him so that He can use us to impact the world with His love, despite how backwards, slow moving, impatient, stubborn, lazy, irrational, needy, clueless and selfish we are. He wants you. He chose you. So go and act like it on purpose, for His purpose.