Of Serpents and Doves…

T’is the season for those that, some would consider, “condemnation” Christians, to come out of the woodwork. You know…the ones that put the ‘E’ in C(Christmas) M(Mother’s Day) E(Easter) Christians.

No judgment.  Honestly. I totally get it.  You want to make Momma and Grandma happy, and they will take your attendance to a church service, however they can get it. As a mom, I completely appreciate the desire to see your children attend church in the hopes of receiving more conviction than condemnation.  

Please understand…this is actually dedicated to the ones that make others feel like hot garbage, if they don’t, AT LEAST, go to church on certain holidays.  There is NOTHING saying if you don’t attend a church service regularly, that you will die and go to a burning Hell. The trouble is, the average Joe, that knows anything about the bible knows that…which is why the guilt trip rarely works.

Again, no judgment. Honestly.

So many people avoid church because they don’t want to be ‘preached’ to.  I know that you want to be a witness and share the love of God. And, I KNOW you don’t feel called to a ‘door knocking’ ministry. There has to be a way to share the Gospel with those around you, without beating them over the head with the bible.  Think about the people where you work, or the other parents in the PTA, or the neighbors on your block that you see when you are taking out the trash. Your heart is to give them the good news in a way that actually makes it seem like good news!

The struggle is not that people don’t necessarily know that they need God or a relationship with Him.  It’s more a point that they see Christians that seem unapproachable and their lifestyle unattainable. It’s like someone telling you what you already know: you’re pretty much screwed up and there’s not much you can do about it. It’s depressing knowing that there are people who  aren’t quite as screwed up as you. It’s even MORE depressing when it seems like they are holding their near perfection over YOUR head.  Nobody wants that. And, even when that’s not how we mean for it to look, that’s how it ends up appearing. Our reputations have preceded us.

It is into this kind of scenario that Jesus sent His disciples for, shall we say, “missionary” training. He sent them in as “sheep” to a den of wolves, instructing them to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. It was like giving them a ‘bad news, worse news,’ scenario.  You’re gonna look like sheep – lost, confused, air-headed, even flighty, but you have to be clever, crafty and even attractive, while maintaining an innocent, childlike trust in God and His plan for you…in the face of wolves.

Are you getting it, yet?

It’s as simple as it is complicated. We are not to lord our salvation over people. We are not to glorify our lifestyle by condemning that of another’s.  We have to be an honest representation of Salt and Light and Love.

Salt is tricky business.  In proper measure, it enhances the flavor and preserves what’s good in a thing. Too much can burn, like acid. Too little is perfectly useless.

Light, illumination, creates the same complication.  Too much, too fast can be painful and blinding. But, if presented like the dawn, it’s a gentle joyous revelation of what’s really around you, so that you may govern yourself accordingly, thus garnering an appropriate response.

Love SEEMS to be the easiest…on paper.  It’s in the practical demonstration of it, that people tend to get hurt the most. Part of the problem is that everyone has their own definition of love, based on their life experiences, that doesn’t always look like the biblical definition of it. Love, when properly displayed, can look mean, sometimes hateful. Sometimes, love makes you look stupid or naive.  Like serpents and doves.

It is in combining the forces of salt and light and love, that people become thirsty for what Christ has provided; aware of what the cost is of a life without Him as well of the benefits of a life with Him; and they become open to what true love will do in the life of an ordinary, human existence.

Then, and only then, will we see CME Christians become anchored members of the Family of God, devoted to a part of the Body of Christ and DISCIPLES. I mean, that was the original assignment, right?

Jesus did not say that hanging out with a bunch of people, just for the sake of pleasing our parents, would get us into heaven.  And, that is all a good guilt trip gets us. Reluctant attendees to a Sunrise Service and the subsequent brunch. We were never called to make congregants. We are called to make disciples…people who have active relationships with God, through Jesus Christ, that are supported by other branches who are also connected to the Vine.

So, at the close of this Good Friday, as we focus on the sacrifice of Jesus that made a way for us to be adopted into the Family of God, let us not get so wrapped up in who makes it to church this weekend.  Let’s start building relationships with the people in our communities that make them thirsty for a relationship with God, enlightened to the benefits of that relationship and fills them with the Love we’ve been given, so that they can freely ‘pay it forward.’

That’s what this weekend is all about, anyway.


Did Someone Say, “Cake?”

I’ve got Heaven on my mind, today. That’s not entirely uncommon, though.  Quite often (truth be told), I’m thinking of how I can’t wait to get off this rock, because of how much being here sucks. And sometimes, it’s because I’ve just experienced something beautiful, and I’ve said to myself, “It just can’t get any better than this.” That immediately triggers the response, “Yes…yes, it CAN get better than this.”

I’ve got heaven on my mind.

But, I gotta get there, first.

Part of getting to Heaven is being able to live it out, here on this sucky rock. Jesus said so, when He taught us to pray…”Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.” He would not have instructed us to ask for it, if it were not something we should expect to have accomplished. But, like anything good on this earth, if you really want it, you’re gonna have to fight for it.

This is no fight that anyone with carnal knowledge is used to.  Anyone born into this world is aware that life is a fight. Some call it survival of the fittest.  You could call it the fight of the fast and the furious, or a fight of the sly, the slick, and the wicked.  It could be called the fight where he who hesitates is lost.

God calls it a fight to the death…of YOU

Being born into a sin nature, creates a piece of us that naturally distracts from our goal of Heaven. There’s a glitch in the matrix: part of us that is determined to MAKE a life for ourselves here on earth, as if THIS is all there is.  Having to live here, if we’re not careful, we can actually come to believe that this IS as good as it gets. That kind of thinking will damage our eternal perspective, and THAT is where the fight begins. This fight going on in us, here on earth, is meant to be the fight of our lives…to the death.

It is from the elements of death that the substance of victory is created.

Kinda like in baking a cake.

I love baking. It’s different from cooking meals.  There are very deliberate measurements that are required, if you’re going to bake a cake. I mean, people who are familiar with the recipes can take more liberties with them: you can go a little more or less on many things, but, deviate too much from the recipe and you will have some inedible mess on your hands!

Have you ever tried to eat the ingredients of a cake, by themselves?  Let me assure you, it’s DISGUSTING. Eating any one ingredient, in excess, can make you VERY sick. But, in their proper measure, in the appropriate combination, they are all integral to making a delicious treat.

Death of that carnal nature is of primary importance. It is akin to baking powder. The bitter work of dying to our selfish and fleshly nature is how the Spirit of God rises in us. You can’t make a victory cake without death being in the mix. Mixing is a painful, violent process…there is a reason that the phrase, “mixing it up,” is used for a fight AND making a cake; and “batter” is what’s left to be poured into the pan!! The ingredients are forced to accommodate one another, in order to produce an end product that is greater than the individual ingredients. Only after your flesh has had all the fight beaten out of it, can you blend successfully.

Finding a purpose for the pain of real life is the breakthrough. The point of life and living is in the BECOMING…becoming what God created us to be; becoming available for God to use, in helping others ‘become.’ It’s not enough for us to be Heaven-bound. We need to bring Heaven down, so we can make it into Heaven, TOGETHER. There are things about becoming that we have to maintain while, others need to be let go of.  We start out innocent and naive. While we’re maturing, it is necessary to shed the naivete. Circumstances of life will strip us of our innocence too, if we’re not careful. That innocence is the thing that keeps us light and hopeful and heaven minded. It’s the thing that Jesus was referring to when He said we must come to Him as little children – fully convinced that the Father loves us and will keep His promises to us. We lose that, and just like a cake that is over beaten, we become tough and tasteless. We can’t trust God, because PEOPLE have disappointed us…and that’s just SILLY.  People fail (we all do it, all the time), but God (who NEVER fails), is familiar with the recipe. He knows how to make provision for that, and STILL make Heaven on earth for us…if we trust Him.

It’s a daily death walk, to be sure. But, that’s why God provides new mercy for each of us, every day.  Every moment of every day presents the opportunity to be Heaven on earth, or Hell on wheels.

Oh, it’s a fight alright.

If you do it right, it could be a piece of cake.


Fool Proof Failure

Life is a ledger.  It’s a careful accounting of wins and losses…of failures and successes.  To some, that may seem pretty black and white. But, in the grand scheme of things, so many things, that we would considers successes in the here and now, are the exact opposite from a Kingdom Perspective.  Considering how we cannot see the big picture, most of how we see things will change in the rearview mirror.

I am not surprised by my failures. Sometimes, I do get frustrated, though.  It’s hard to know what the word of God says about me and what God has called me to, when I see where I am in my life and how long it has taken me to get to the bottom, coming from so far below. I wish I had gone farther, sooner.  

That’s the thing about failure.  The inevitability of it. When you are striving to do and be more, it’s vexing.  That whole thing about being made of dust and vapor gets lost in the quest for perfection. Apostle Paul put it in the best nutshell, talking about wanting to do the right thing, knowing what the right thing to do is…and still mucking it all up.  

Dust and vapor. Vapor and dust.  

Something else about failure: If you’re open and willing and LISTENING, your failures can teach you things that your successes cannot. You learn the importance of not letting your failures define you.  You learn your weakness, and how to strengthen them.  You learn your strengths, and how to capitalize on them. Mistakes are the most excellent teachers of what NOT to do (and, as I’ve said before that is equally important in effectively learning what TO do).  

God is as fully prepared for your failures as He is for your successes. He has calculated them into the plan He has for you and will use even the failures to bring you to your expected end.

Failures humble you, because you learn that God is bigger than they are, and He’s on YOUR side.

I am not surprised by my success (I bet that surprises you). That’s really easy to say, because I know I have virtually nothing to do with them. The whole thing about being vapor and dust is that you realize how much nothing you really are.  Dust can be swept away. Vapor gets lost in a breath of air.  That kind of insignificance makes you painfully aware of what you are NOT capable of, except in the hands of the All Knowing Creator.

Coming from where I’ve been, I have every right to be relegated to a statistic.  And, as it turns out, that makes me the perfect candidate for God to make a masterpiece out of me.  I could easily say, in causing me to be successful, He has truly taken the foolish things of this world to profound the wise.

Vapor and dust. Dust and vapor.

The only thing I have to my credit is my desperation for God.  I know that, in my pursuit of God, like a good lover, I did my best to learn to love what He loves and hate what He hates. I know that He only wants me to be ME.  And, if that’s good enough for Him, it’s perfect for me, because that’s about the only thing I am good at (most of the time)!

I was horrible in a classroom setting.  I was sickly and sleepy all the time…but, I tested well. In writing this, I recognize the natural/spiritual parallel of me. That doesn’t mean I don’t have an education.  Just not one that would qualify me for someone else’s career. I am a student of life, though. I am an avid ‘people watcher’.  And, in watching is where I learned it is equally important to know what NOT to do as what to do.  

And, even in watching, I have learned it’s okay to celebrate my own mistakes as well as my successes. If one never learns to celebrate them both, either can easily destroy in their turn.  


It is in the prayers of others that support and protection can be found.  In the prayers of family or friends, even in the prayers of those who have gone before, that faith in, and identity of one’s self can be restored.  I love the fact that Jesus prayed for me, as did many others in the Bible.  I thank God that I can recall my mother’s prayers and the prayers of my grandmothers.  And, I can hear the sound my own prayers in my head, as well.  

With all of that, only a fool can lose in this life.  And, even in losing, we of the Kingdom will STILL win.   


Don’t Let The Bedbugs Bite…

Life has never been short on adventure for me.  Much of it has not been pretty, but God has blessed me to find the lesson in almost everything.

This past summer, I had another one of those fascinating encounters.  Desperate to find a new apartment, I combed the websites for something immediate. I felt so fortunate to find the owner of a two-flat that was still excited to rent to me, even after I explained that I was giving 30 day’s notice to my former job. That should have been a warning

As it turned out, not only was the apartment desperately in need of repairs, so was the landlord.  He mentioned to someone, in what I can only assume he thought was out of my earshot, that he had lost HIS job because he popped positive on a drug test. My neighbor across the hall explained to me (after he would not respond to my complaints about the water being off) that she had to help him pay the water bill, because he had only just gotten out of jail from some trumped up charges brought up by his girlfriend. At this point, I’m unemployed and don’t qualify for unemployment, so I’m believing God for every penny. The entire situation had deteriorated to ridiculous extremes, the details of which I will not bore (or disgust) you with.

But the kicker didn’t get to me until, after months of searching, I found a job through a temp agency.  I was still going through the training and security clearances, when it was announced that the landlord had lost his personal home and had moved into the basement of the two-flat. You would have thought THAT would be rock bottom. But, no.

Rock bottom came when, after about three weeks of him living in the basement and a week of random bug bites from what I thought was a mosquito infestation, the landlord informs us all that the exterminator will be in to spray for bed bugs.  Let the freak-out begin!

I’ve dealt with a whole lot of strangeness in my life, but this was brand new.  And, like every other obstacle in my life, when I don’t understand what is going on, I go headlong into prayer and research.

So…this is what I learned this summer about bed bugs:

*They are attracted to the bed, particularly because there is plenty of padding, loosely layered fabric covered in flesh particles there.

*They come out quickly in darkness

*They also like the bed for the warmth and moisture…with a particular attraction to breath and exposed skin (which is why I had bites on my arms and hands, because I sleep with my hands close to my face)

*They are able to replicate without mating

*They can survive for up to six months after drawing blood once

*Dry heat and sodium products will kill them more effectively than almost any toxic extermination products and will keep their eggs from producing as well.

That was cold comfort, since I still had to find a way to get out of that situation.  BUT GOD.  

As it turns out, not only did I have the mildest infestation of all the apartments in the building (because my apartment was the highest and farthest from the basement), I also had been given some good information on someplace else to live, God gave me resources to get me out of that mess QUICKLY.  I was able to treat most of my clothes and escape with my bed (treated and sealed) along with most of my kitchen appliances and office supplies.  Everything else was easily left behind.  Once you’ve lost everything a few times, you don’t take any of that stuff seriously, anyway.


So, I’m leaving for work and the strangest thing crossed my mind.  I heard the phrase, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

“Well, that’s not funny anymore,” I thought to myself.

Then, it occurred to me to ponder…what, exactly, did I learn from my bedbug experience? And how does that translate to the rest of my life?

Bedbugs began to look like the ‘drama junkies’ of my life.

*They are attracted to the places of rest (like churches and people who are peaceful, peace loving, and servant-hearted), particularly because there is plenty of ‘extra people’ (who want those peaceful people to take care of the things they don’t want to do), where the loosely layered, lightly attached people, functioning in their flesh, tend to hang out.

*They come out quickly in darkness when the challenges of life are overtaking you.

*They also like the bed for the warmth (love) and moisture (the anointing and the Holy Spirit)…with a particular attraction to breath (inspiration) and exposed skin (the transparency and vulnerability that comes from being in a place of rest and vision).

*They are able to replicate without mating (they make a mess and stir up messy people without any real help).

*They can survive for up to six months after drawing blood once (THAT is self explanatory). 

*Dry heat (light) and sodium (salt) products will kill them more effectively than almost any toxic (fighting, calling them out, drawing unnecessary attention to them) extermination products and will keep their eggs (replicating in the congregation) from producing as well.

Your best defense from the drama junkies in life, with ‘bedbugs’, is to identify them right away and remove anything that came in contact with them.  Take whatever it is, shake it out thoroughly, expose it to extreme amounts of light and heat while treating it with salt-based products. To me, that translates to staying in the presence of God, being diligent to encourage without enabling, and cultivating the fire of the Holy Ghost in your life and the lives of those around you. Be more interested in the things of God that the loose fitting, easily entrapping things of this world.  

So, while you’re resting in the Lord, all warm and safe and full of God-given vision and purpose, the best advice I have ever heard for anyone dealing with a ‘bedbug’ situation came to me from a Dos Equis commercial.  Stay thirsty, my friends.


A Doorkeeper’s Lament

Most days, there is no place that I’d rather be than in the House of God, in the fellowship of the sons and daughters of the King!  There is no greater joy than to get to church and be surrounded with the love and support of men and women that want no more than to show the world God’s love in their service to the community, in a variety of ways.

Many people look at church with disdain.  Some people groan and grimace at the thought that they ‘have’ to go to church. I’m excited that I ‘get’ to go to church.  I look forward to it! I love the work that I do for the Kingdom of God in His house.  It equips me and prepares me to be God’s hands, feet and voice in the other incarnations of my life.

Let’s talk about the work that gets done in the house of God.  There are many avenues of service in any church, that are necessary for the Pastor to be effective in administering the Word of God to the congregation.  From the people who direct you in the parking lot, to the ones who direct you to your seat, to the people who prepare the bulletins, and prepare and sing the music, the people who keep the church clean and the ones who teach the children so that the adults can give the word of God their undivided attention.  It is a village at work, to make sure that the community receives what God has prepared for them through the Pastor.

When it’s done right…in unity of purpose, with a clearly communicated vision and clearly defined roles filled by joyful and willing participants…the presence of God is made welcomed and He visits in ways that defy imagination, with gifts worth more than human riches could recompense!  Prayers get answered. Bodies, hearts, minds and spirits get mended! Peace is dispersed like a mist from Heaven. Joy unspeakable flows. Forgiveness is given and received.  The Grace of God is evident. All because we come together, work together and make room for God, in His house.

Make no mistake: that kind of work is truly a sacrifice. There is time, effort, study and preparation that must take place, in order for things to flow that seamlessly. People give of their time, and talents.  Others step out of their comfort zones to be obedient to do whatever it is they know they’ve been called to do. Practice, drills, thought and coordination are required.  And, sometimes, it means letting go of our desire to do things our way and in our timing.

Recently, there were some people that were heavy on my heart. People I haven’t seen in a very long time. some I wanted to hug, some I had been praying for and just wanted to look into their eyes and make sure that all was well.  

This weekend, as we were in service at church, God was doing an extraordinary work.  The flow of all in service, from the ushers and greeters, to the choir and dancers, was IDEAL.  God’s presence was so rich and thick, it was very difficult to keep our human forms from buckling under the weight of His anointing in the air. It was, in a word, DELICIOUS!

We who were in position, got to see a move of God, unparalleled.  And, I…I got to see some personal presents.  These people that had been heavy on my heart were actually PRESENT.  But, I was in service to the presence of God. While, for a moment or two, here and there, I struggled with the urge to leap from my position of service to satisfy my desire to see these people, I did not want to break the flow of the service. Nor did I wish to quash what God was doing, by the Holy Ghost.  He was making His presence felt and many, many people were not only demonstrating their great hunger for God, they were having that hunger satisfied.  God’s presence became more important that having my desires met.  The fact that I actually got to see these people present, would have to be enough.  

Having resigned myself to surrender my present from God for His presence, I threw myself into the service that I was performing for my God and my King.  In that moment, I was given the gift of a vision that I will be sharing with my Pastor as soon as I finish talking to YOU. I was also privileged to entertain God’s presence in a way that was so profound, those of us who were in attendance, were genuinely LOATHED to walk away. We literally sat in silence, with children, spouses, responsibilities all waiting, because God’s presence, in that moment, was so beautiful, NONE OF US really wanted to leave! From where I stood, I saw ushers, security people and prayer ministers stepping out to check on things and coming back into the sanctuary to continue to serve and be witness to what was happening. Even as I am writing this, I am overwhelmed by how precious that moment was, and so grateful to have been a part of it.

So, yeah…

There are a lot of times, people have to wait on us because of the services we provide in our congregations.  We show up late for ‘important’ events (if at all), and people get offended.  Sometimes, people’s feelings get hurt, because they think our priorities are out of order.  And sometimes, even in having our own prayers answered, we only get to celebrate on our way to doing more service.  But in all those things, I would still rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.  To get a front row seat to the miracles, signs and wonders of eternity being dispersed; to feel the presence of the all powerful, ‘unseen’ Creator of the Universe and to know, for certain, that He enjoyed Himself in hanging out with ME?

Please…I’ll take His presence over His presents any day. If you’re looking for me, you know where to find me…In service to His presence.

Please…I’ll take His presence over His presents any day

Box of Rocks

It’s hard to write when you’re in the middle of a fight. But, I suppose, it’s usually in the middle of your greatest fights that you discover, like I do often, that’s when you have something worthwhile to say.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

That sounds like pretty good advice, doesn’t it? Right up until you realize that the day you’re facing appears to suck pretty bad.  

You know the kind of day I’m talking about.  That day that starts with a 4 year old projectile vomiting all over your last clean suit, when you’re already running late for work and all out of sick days.  Or the day your landlord serves you with eviction papers only moments after you got another email saying you’re overqualified for the position you applied for (and you KNEW you were overqualified…you just need a chance to WORK), so they will not be considering your application. Or, the day when your spouse is packing up their belongings on a quest to, “find themselves,” and you are left to try to explain it to the pairs of young, frightened eyes, looking at YOU for an answer.

You would think that is the day that disqualifies that enthusiastic declaration. Nope.

This is THAT day.  That day was meant for YOU.

And, if you already knew that…this message is meant for YOU.

When I sat down to write this, that scripture jumped out at me.  I didn’t realize when it did, that it was at the tail end of a song that King David wrote, when he was in the middle of one of THOSE days.  In the 118th Psalm, David talked about his enemies surrounding him like a swarm of bees, pushing him violently to make him fall.  How, in the throes of this mess, he had determined to rely on the Lord. Because he knew, if he could stand NOW, in the midst of THAT day, and take it as a chastening, as a teachable moment, he would ALWAYS be in a place to say, “This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes,” wherever he found himself.

Standing strong, like a stone, in the face of a tumultuous storm. This is what the Lord desires…REQUIRES of His beloved children. That we stand like stone in the face of days that seem insurmountable.  When it looks like there is no imaginable way that you will make it past this day to see another one.

Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone, asking us to be, “steadfast, unmovable,” and always about our Father’s business.  This means that we are, like Jesus, going to run the risk of being rejected and kicked against.  We are meant to be a monument, a testimony of God’s faithfulness. And the only way that works is if we STAY PUT.  Being consistent in our walk with God is the primary mark of one of God’s ‘standing stones.’

It’s not an easy thing to do.  If it were, everybody would do it.  And, there are a lot of people that use that as an excuse for not being that strong, that sturdy, that steadfast.  It requires that we see things, not as they are, but as we expect them to be, once God has gotten us through the process. It requires that we declare the end from the beginning, much like our Father does throughout the Bible.

And there’s that…the Bible.  We gotta read it like it’s the TRUTH.  If we can’t see it like God says it, we have no Rock to stand on. In it, we have very clear instructions on how this goes. It’s that truth that will make us strong enough to stand on those days, to call them marvelous,  and keep us from faltering and washing away on the days that really are marvelous.

It is then, that we can come together and, as in 1 Peter 2:5 says, be those, “lively stones,” that God needs to build His kingdom on the earth.  And, like Peter himself, be a part of that box of rocks from which God has built His church.


Praying for Crop Failure

The Bible often refers to a person’s name and reputation. How the honor, or lack thereof, of the deeds you’ve done can follow you and your namesakes for generations.

Some days I wonder about the three Hebrew boys, the same way I sometimes wonder about Paul the apostle. Pretty much like I wonder about the prodigal son and his older brother. A lot of what happened to them was a direct result of choices they made, prior to our introductions to their stories. The terms by which their names were defined, their basic claims to fame, came from the decisions they made.

Then there’s Jabez.

Jabez’s prayer was to not live up to his name.  He obviously left an impression on God, for his story to be the non-parenthetical pause in the annals of the tribe of Judah. More than honoring Jabez, it was God honoring a scriptural truth that is a strong, fine thread in the tapestry of faith: you reap what you sow.

“While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”

And, the nutshell on that is: ignorance is no excuse. Doesn’t matter if you like it or agree with it.  Doesn’t matter if you believe it to be true. Whatever you do comes back to you…in spades. Every deed is a seed.

Just like any seed, what you get in return is exponentially MORE than what you give. You plant an apple seed, you don’t just get another apple seed; you don’t just get another apple.  You get a whole tree FULL of apples, FULL of seeds.

As much as I would love to console you about this, it’s a law, like gravity, that governs the earth. But, that does not mean there is no way to circumvent this law…sort of.

Any farmer worth his salt understands the value of deliberately sowing seeds. He pays close attention to the times and the seasons. He purchases equipment to prepare the land. He buys the best seeds and he hires enough of a crew to successfully put the seeds in the well cultivated ground, weed, nurture and regularly attend to the growing plants, and gather up the impending harvest.

This logic only works with an intentional farmer.  What happens when the seeds are deeds? Odds are, intentionality goes right out the window.  Most people don’t THINK before they do a lot of things. Most folk are reactionary.

According to Goodtherapy.org, the prefrontal cortex helps the brain determine, “Coordinating and adjusting complex behavior,” as well as, “impulse control and control and organization of emotional reactions,” among many other factors. It has also been discovered that part of the brain doesn’t develop fully until a person is somewhere around 25 years old, and THAT is based on proper stimulation for development.

How many people miss out on the opportunities to learn consequences for actions? You may want to check out, The Problem with Modern Parenting.  This is not an uncommon phenomena.

There are a whole heap of unintentional farmers, completely unprepared for their random harvest.

I have seen, first hand, what the reaping looks like when you arbitrarily do things without regard to the impact your deeds will have on the people around you, or your ability to make an impact in the future. Perhaps, you have, too…

That thought alone ought to fill you with a considerable amount of dread. I know what it does to me.  It makes me want to reexamine EVERYTHING I have ever done or said to see what pains I have encountered would be considered, ‘self inflicted wounds.’

That being said, what can we do to…undo all the negative we’ve done?  What can we do to change the future harvests so that there will be more deliberate, positive things manifesting in our lives?

If you don’t like your harvest thus far, CHANGE YOUR SEEDS and sow them ON PURPOSE.

In the Harvard Business Review, they talked about how the highest performances from project teams came from those who received six positive words for every negative one. That is just from WORDS of encouragement.  How much more of an impact would a positive DEED make on people around you?

To the intentional farmer, that is equal to pulling up the bad seed before it takes root and sowing over the negative rooted plants to choke them out, producing a much smaller negative harvest than one would normally expect.  REPENTANCE is a DEED creating a CHANGE IN DIRECTION that also employs WORDS in communication with God and His people that helps to uproot the negative seeds and make room for you to sow better seed into the tilled and cultivated soil.

Now, you have to remember, none of this can happen in your life until you become INTENTIONAL about the seeds you sow – the deeds you do, the words you say and the thoughts you think. You have to PAY ATTENTION to what seeds you sow as well as what seeds have been sown into you.

Throughout your life, there have been people who have sown into your life, in word and deed, producing patterns that you have replicated instinctively…consciously and unconsciously. Life handed you a bag of seeds.  You sowed what you were given, and probably took no thought of how or what it would impact your future.  So, if your life was good, you were lucky. If your life sucked it was bad luck. Random harvest.

But, now YOU MUST CHOOSE.  Just like the Hebrew boys. Just like the Apostle Paul. Just like the household of the prodigal son. Just like Jabez.

BE DELIBERATE in the moves you make, the words you speak, the deeds you do.  Repent when you need to and be thankful and open to the people who do right by you. Don’t just sit around, praying for crop failure.  Make plans for an intentional harvest.

Death Warmed Over

In my heart, there are so many things I want to talk about. There is so much going on with the world at large, as well as in my little corner of it. Things that seem frightening. Things that appear to be unfair and unjust.  Things that seem hopeless.  

So much of what is going on around us these days, is causing many to want to give up and throw in the towel.  It seems that disaster, destruction and death are all around us.

But, all I can think about are the plants that were in my office.

Here’s a little story about the Tell-Tale Plant.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl that many called, Suzie Sunshine. Suzie was fearless in her relationship with God. As a consequence, she was fearless in her approach to life, work, marriage and any other relationship.  She never knew a stranger…only friends to whom she had not yet been formally introduced. She didn’t believe in “personal space.” Everything about Suzie Sunshine was, “in your face,” right on front street. You never had to guess where she stood…ever. Her life, in this fearless state, seemed to be sublimely surreal to the casual observer.  When, in fact, Suzie Sunshine has the 6 generations of consistent faith in God that had been lived out in her viewing and hearing to credit. That foundation made each journey through hell look like a walk through a field of daisies.

In one of her excursions through hell, doctors discovered that Suzie had breast cancer. Stage 4.  It appeared that she was doomed.  Their biggest mistake was to tell that to Suzie Sunshine.  She wasn’t having it. And the people who surrounded Suzie, weren’t having it either (otherwise, she would not have had them around her).  

One of those supporters gave Suzie a potted plant, as a means of encouraging her. This plant seemed to have some kind of mystical connection to her. When she was doing well, it flourished. When she was afraid or distraught or despondent, the leaves would begin to turn brown.  But, it never died.

Neither did Suzie.

Several tours through hell later, Suzie found herself in an office she didn’t really want, holding a position she didn’t ask for, standing her ground for people who went through things she’d never personally gone through.  And that plant?  The tell-tale plant had grown like ivy, covering that office in lush, vibrant, glorious victory.  Suzie was able to step down from that position and hand the reigns over to someone she knew God had placed in the position, to go back to an office and position more suited to her personality. But the plant had grown too large for that office, so…it had to be cut down.

Suzie took the cuttings and began to grow them in other pots, to scatter around the building of her office space. She even gave pieces away.  But, there were three little remnants that refused to grow. So, she threw them away.

This is where I come into the picture.

The day that she threw those remnants away, I came into the office kitchen space and saw them peeking out of the garbage bag.  Knowing the history of this plant, I was stunned to see pieces of it in the trash.  I thought to myself, “THIS should not be!  Surely there is some life left in these remnants. Lemme see what I can do.”

I used a glass candy bowl, covered in daisies. I clipped the bottoms of the remnants and put them in water in the bowl.  I also added some plant food sticks and a half a cup of coffee (in my world, coffee IS food). The plant food clouded the water and made it difficult to see inside the glass bowl…I guess you could say it kept the mystery of the development away from the untrained eye. But, from time to time, I peeked in anyway.

Some days later, I decided I wanted to see what was going on.  They were in water, but the levels were low enough for me to actually see the bases of the remnants.  They looked like they were dying!!! The ends were brown and limp as I pulled them out of the water. I freaked out for a minute, then I heard, “Just add more water.”

So, I added water and went back to work. I kept doing this (and, every now and then…more coffee). It made the water look DISGUSTING, but I would not give up…I just waited.

It took a few more weeks before I dared to check again.  When I did, I discovered STRONG roots had sprouted. It was safe to plant them all in pots of dirt.

Today, those remnants are thick stemmed, rich green BEAUTIFUL plants, growing in their own pots: two in my kitchen and one in my living room.  Not a brown leaf in the bunch. And, believe me when I tell you, in the last month that we’ve been in my home together, I have checked on them regularly, because the rest of my life did NOT look as lush as those leaves would imply.

It’s still the tell-tale plant.  My life may look like death, warmed over, but I’m fine…the attacks of the enemy have been interesting lately, and at times, exhausting. I feel strong and full of hope even when I look wilted, frail and limp at the edges. And, to many, my environment looks DISGUSTING. It may not appear inviting – not in the best neighborhood, with the best ride and the best trappings, but it’s got everything I need to be what I am becoming. I just keep adding more water (the word of God), plant food (prayer) and COFFEE (songs of praise and worship and prayer in tongues).  

It won’t be long, now.  I am about to show you how strong my roots are becoming.

Stay tuned, KP family…

The Wonder Years

I have been off the grid this year. It wasn’t intentional. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t MY plan at all! But, that’s how God does things when He’s making something BIG out of your life. I was learning some very big lessons about myself, by spending an awful lot of time in front of a full-sized mirror…the eyes of another person. I have figuratively stood before that mirror like Adam and Eve stood before God after their first act of disobedience…naked, and  thoroughly ashamed.

I met my match.  I met myself. This is someone who had the appearance of everything I have ever been and gone through, standing before me like an unfinished thought. Someone with all the disadvantages of mis-information, as emotionally, socially and spiritually stunted as I was when I first met God. Someone who never had anyone actually believe in them, but feeling like, “I KNOW there is more to me than this!”

Me – knowing all that God has taught me and all that He’s brought me through – meeting the me who, at that time, had no hope, WISHING someone would throw me a lifeline.

I don’t know if you can imagine coming face to face with your own raw potential and having God pose a question to you: How would you treat YOU?,

“What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me?”

I was given the opportunity to confront every negative thing that I have ever been, seen, felt, thought and done. I have seen myself in ways that I would never imagined or even wished I could.  It has resulted in a deep appreciation for the work God has been doing in me all these 48 years. All the patience I required. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought to myself, “It would be so much easier to just…walk away.”

At that point, I would simply cry. And thank God for never giving up on me. Then, I would reach out, again, to my new friend/the old me, and encourage him a little bit further.

But, you can’t really TALK about this kind of thing to anyone while you’re in this kind of process.  People normally cannot handle this sort of pressure on a relationship. It really does require a season of incubation.. Not entirely like the time I spent in my own ‘cocoon’ a while back…it has been more like being pregnant with a fully grown human being. NOBODY knows what THAT is like!

And, then I remembered…God knows…

“For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning”

God had to deal with Jesus pretty much the same way. When Jesus turned twelve, God imposed “radio silence.” And from His big trip to the temple, until His coming into ministry, at age 30, the Bible says not a mumbling word about His comings or goings.

Jesus, being fully God and fully man, had to be a real handful! Honing that power and personality had to be more than a notion.  I imagine that anyone in on that process had to go through some changes!. In a day and age as we live in now, there would have to have been a legal dream team drafting those “Non-disclosure Agreements’ to keep a lid on all the goings on! But, everyone in on such an intimate process would be integral in the development of all the attributes that the Christ required for his 3 year mega ministry. Everyone else was pretty much out of the loop.  

The problem with a major transformations is they usually fall under the category of, “a progressive miracle.” You don’t know it’s really a miracle until you get completely on the other side of it. And so, to protect the imperfections of the perfecting process, God takes all of the attention off of you, while He’s still working on you.

I believe there are times when we feel our lives take on an aura of unimportance.  We can go from day to day, thinking that none of this matters in the least. But, consistencies are developed in these ‘wonder years’ that may lead up to one moment that could change the existence of everyone around us for a lifetime.

I am watching this happen right now.

This process has been, as I mentioned before, more than a notion. It was one thing to be in on my own, personal process. But, to be processed for the sake of another’s process?  It has taken me farther in my faith, than I thought I’d go.  It has cost me more than I thought I’d pay and has kept me longer than I thought I’d stay.  And the silence?  The excruciating silence of this wonder year has very nearly, literally, killed me.But, there is something to be said about dying to live again.

The fact that I have penned this little ditty on Independence Day, has not been lost on me.  I’m certain that means something. I’ll get back to you on that.

As much as I missed talking to you, my Kaleidoscope Family, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Beef With The Body Count

I have tried to write this collective of thoughts from my broken heart, several times this year. Every time I start, I am met with a new set of circumstances to confirm my thoughts and break my heart again.  

I will not recount the excessively abundant supply of violent acts that have taken lives, so unnecessarily, this year, this decade, even in this last centennial. But, I will address the particular scenarios that have played out, ad nauseum, in our most recently history:

*Gang violence and murder against people in the individual community (black on black, white on white, etc.,  crime)

*Acts of violence and murder against people of other communities (the perpetuation of racial/cultural wars)

*Law enforcement officers’ violence and murder against black civilians, whether innocent or guilty

*Civilian violence and murder against law enforcement officers

*Local and foreign terrorist acts of violence and murder against Civilian citizens and law enforcement officers

*Acts of violence and murder against the unborn and aged, borne of convenience and, “compassion.”

*Acts of anger, aggression, hatred and protest for ALL the acts of violence, murder, terrorism, as well as for the enthusiasm and disinterest of the aforementioned acts.


The rise in the occurrence of events such as these seems to have us all in shock, dismay and in a desperate need of someone to blame.  

I had a very dear friend in such a state of disheartened despair, that he questioned the purpose of his existence in such a horrid day and age. As he queried to the world at large, about what the solution could be, he found much support for his saddened disposition on social media.  

Desperate to instill a sense of hope into the climate, I responded to his post: LOOK UP AND REJOICE!

I continued, “God was very clear in His word that ‘perilous times would come,’ and that we should look up and LIVE, not only as this climate is an indication that our redemption is close, but also because, as God’s children, not only are we equipped to extend that hope to others, we have an assurance that, living or dead, WE WIN!!”

I got no response. I guess I wasn’t political enough.

I am concerned for Christians in this climate of worry, fear, heightened emotions and mass hysteria. Many get so caught up in the emotion of it, that they miss what God is really doing.  This is a slippery slope of flesh.  It’s important to mourn with those who mourn.  We are not made of wood.  The pain that is in this world right now is REAL! There are times when I don’t want to turn on a television, social media or even pick up my phone. This is all just TOO MUCH.  And, we must be careful with our hearts…they can become numb.

The only way to guard our hearts is to FOCUS ON THE HOPE WE HAVE.  

MAKE NO MISTAKE…this is a very emotionally charged season we’re in.  The reality is, EVERYTHING IS GOING ACCORDING TO THE PROGRAM.  Nobody wants to look in the Book and see that GOD IS ON SCHEDULE…HIS SCHEDULE.

This is actually a good thing.

We forget…the world is full of darkness. And that is as it should be…much more so, as we are nearer to His returning. How else will the light be so bright that people are actually drawn to it. But WE are responsible to lift up the LIGHT!!  The only way to do that is to REFLECT the Light within us!  We cannot do that if we fall into the mire of political postures and angry, vindictive rhetoric. Even in the days of Israel being slaves to Egypt. When darkness fell, and the people were all paralyzed with fear because, “they saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: BUT ALL THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL HAD LIGHT IN THEIR DWELLINGS.” (Exodus 10:23)

We cannot give in to the darkness if we intend to help lead the way to the light.

I have friends and family of color whose children are afraid anytime the police are called.  Not that they’ve done anything wrong.  They may even need to call for their own sake.  But they will not, for fear of being mistakenly killed in the melee.  I have friends and family of color in law enforcement.  Good cops and good military personnel who fear responding to the call to duty.

I have friends and family of EVERY color who are either too afraid to speak their disgust or despair for fear of recrimination from their peers and counterparts,  or too angry and frustrated NOT to speak out for fear that the next time they speak will be at the funeral of another victim of circumstance.

In times as desperate as these appear to be, people with hurting hearts will try anything to make their point. I understand that. I do not seek to recriminate. I have compassion on anyone attempting to bring attention to the problem. I think it is more important to identify the problem and distinguish it from the SYMPTOMS of the problem. What everyone is taking a stance on are the SYMPTOMS, while the problem remains unidentified and untreated. THE PROBLEM IS SIN. What we are all up in arms about are the symptoms of SIN SICKNESS. The solution has been the same, since the beginning. For the collective of humanity, it just feels like too much sacrifice and work for everyone to agree that the treatment must be the real answer and would really affect the change we all desire to see.

But, THE CHURCH should know better…

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14

The world at large is covered in the darkness of sin.  They cannot even SEE one another, much less themselves.  It is THE CHURCH’S RESPONSIBILITY to REFLECT LIGHT in this dark age!! The promise of hope lives within us! We must not fall prey to the effects of the rampant darkness! How, then, can we produce light? WE, the CHURCH, must REPENT and TURN from OUR WICKEDNESS…our apathy, our disinterest, our lazy warfare and greasy grace!!

Judgement and remedy both begin in the house of God. We must stop politicizing the symptoms and get to the heart of the Gospel, if we are to affect change. But, responding like ‘everybody else’ is not the way to do it.  

So, yeah…I got beef with the body count. My beef is that MY HANDS are covered in BLOOD, when I neglect to communicate the HOPE within ME.  

But, guess what?  So are yours, Kaleidoscope Family.  We either rise, or we fall…we are all bound or delivered TOGETHER.

HOW SHALL WE ESCAPE, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? (Hebrews 2:3-4)

So…what are YOU gonna do about it? Shall we continue to commiserate? Or shall we call on the name of the Lord and expect to see the miracles, signs and wonders that God promised?

It’s your choice…

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