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Christian and Socially-Conscious…One Woman's Expression

Archive for the tag “Luke”

Lambs Among Wolves

Cronyism is defined (via wikipedia) as showing “partiality to long-standing friends, especially by appointing them to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications….  Often, the appointer is inadequate to hold his or her own job or position of authority, and for this reason the appointer appoints individuals who will not try to weaken him or her, or express views contrary to those of the appointer.”  Do you see examples of this around you?

“Go!  I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”  —Luke 10:3

Yesterday, I saw a friend I had not seen in a year and a half.  We had an incredibly honest conversation while standing in the middle of a popular store’s Baby Section.  Interestingly, she began to share with me why she is not as involved with, as she terms it, “community obligations” as she once was.  Her experiences have caused her to re-prioritize her energies.

Mentor Needed

As she spoke, I could not help but to be surprised by how much I could relate to what she was saying.  On one hand, I was comforted by the bluntness of our conversation because it is not one I hear often.  On the other hand, I was sadden because, as she said, “People will see that you truly care for people and they will use that against you to stagnant your growth.”  Fortunately, everyone is not like this but there are far too many who–intentionally or otherwise—are.

As she spoke, I remembered how active she was in volunteer activities—rather they stemmed from her church, the result of her profession, or via her social interests.  One day, however, she realized that the people she was being surrounded by were likened to wolves.  They did not really care how she was doing.  They were circling her looking for opportunities to take—-to take her energy, to take her skill sets, to take her talents, to take her breath—but never offering her any real opportunities for advancement or enhancement.  Those favorable circumstances were being distributed amongst friends.  When she understood this, she was insulted.  Upon this realization, many are.

Today, I sit still thinking about that conversation.  In fact, it was the third one of its kind that crossed my path within the last two weeks.  They have led me to wonder the very real and detrimental impact cronyism has on communities across the nation and on the world as a whole.  These are things that are not being talked about….enough.  Young people hear, “We want you to get involved,” but like my friend stated, “Once we do, we are silenced because of cronyism.”  What a powerful observation!  More so, what a loss for the community….many times for the very community we are assigned (at least for a season) to serve!

When many think of Christians, they limit our workplaces to sanctuaries.  This may be true for some, but a much larger number of us are to GO out into the world and work.  Hence, we are lawyers and doctors, teachers and artists, customer service agents and nurses, police officers and janitors, writers and business owners, bus drivers and scientists, bartenders and cashiers, executive directors and staff, in the forefront and behind the scenes….the list goes on and on.  We are young and old, from a variety of cultures speaking a number of languages.  Our personalities are as vast as the audience we are to reach.

Yes, we are uniquely made to GO, however, we must be clear about and committed to our purpose in life and in situations.  Why?  Because we will be met with opposition and without knowing our purpose, we can be easily discouraged, frustrated, and/or led astray.  Spiritual warfare is real.  Don’t let cronyism bench you!

We have people to serve, people to help, lives to touch in positive ways.  We have been commissioned to be on a mission.  We are to accomplish that mission in love.  So, let us agree to remain focused on God.  Let us seek Him for understanding and strength, for clarity and inspiration.  Let us walk His way, according to His will for our lives.  Let us remember that He is sending us out like sheep among wolves.  Be careful!

Field Work

Societal ills are easy to spot, aren’t they?  From problems in education to failures in addressing mental health concerns;  From homelessness to hungriness, unemployment to under-employment—you name the category and within it will reside a laundry list of shortcomings waiting to be addressed.  It can be overwhelming, especially if you sincerely care for the wellbeing of others.

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  —Luke 10:2

There was a time in my life when I had worked myself into utter exhaustion under the guise of community service…or dare I say, Christian service.  I was so tired emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually that I needed to put myself in a timeout.  Yes, I needed to go and sit in a corner, facing a wall and think about what got me here.  I needed to find a place where I was not being distracted by the work that needed to be done because I had just enough confidence to think, “I can do it.”  I needed to settle and center myself so that I could hear God’s voice.

Rest

Yes, within me He has stirred a genuine love for people.  Yes, within me He has placed a sizable amount of assurance.  During this time, however, He was developing within me a deeper understanding of what and with whom I am to work.  I, also, needed to be clear about where within His field He assigned me to work.

Prior to my timeout session, I would do things because I could.  If there was a problem and if I could help, I would.  An interesting thing happened, however, once I became depleted.  I prayed often and unapologetically for strength, clarity, and help.

Admittedly, it felt good being revitalized—so good, in fact, I needed to be reminded to get back in the field.  Just like I had learned to pray for help, others were praying for me to helpHave you ever showed up at a place and knew that somebody prayed for you to be there?  You may not know who prayed (—and they may not know that it was you who they prayed for—), but you knew somebody did.  Such knowledge confirms responsibility.

As a Christian, I understand that there is work to do.  I understand that I am a servant, a worker.  (Faith without works is dead. —Read James)  I understand that the Body needs all of its parts to function most efficiently and effectively.  It is my constant prayer for workers, for help, for Family to join me in God’s harvest field where there is much work to do.  We may not work in the same area, but looking across the valleys and plains, seeing and knowing that you are too working, not only makes things easier for me, but it also encourages my soul.  I can only hope that when you look over at me the feeling is mutual.  Pray.

Big Picture

At times I struggle being a part of “ready-made” groups.  I wonder how many other people wrestle with this, yet remain.  Why do I struggle?  Is it the “rules”?  Could it be the people?  Maybe it is a combination of both…or neither?  Maybe it is it me?

Rest

“Master,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”  —Luke 9:49-50

“Ready-made” groups,  I find, are interesting assemblies.  People join them for different reasons, one of which is that of making a commitment to support its purpose, cause, and/or mission.  Then, oftentimes, the big picture is loss.  Members become territorial about the goal.  Why does this happen?  Why do people become bothered if they see someone outside of the group promoting the cause?  Hence, my struggle.

These days, I regularly remind myself and others, “What is the big picture?”  Being clear about the goal settles me down.  It shows me my allies, as well as, my opposition.  It enables me to appreciate the skillsets, talents, gifts, and creativity of my associates, especially when they differ from mine.  It makes things simple, increasing my awareness about the group’s true members.  Do you know your Family?

Pain So Deep

I have a memory of myself lying in bed.  I was tired, really tired.  The tasks and pressures of the day awaited me, but I did not want to leave the comfort in which I was.  Moving meant being greeted by a disbursement of energy—energy of which I was lacking.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”

But Jesus said, “Someone has touched me; I know that the power has gone out from me.”

Then  the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet.  In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.  Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace.”  (Luke 8:45-48)

I closed my eyes and pleaded to God.

“I want better than this.”

Child Praying

See it.  Claim it.  Proclaim it.

Then, it happened.  I got up.  Not only did I rise physically, but spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.  I was invigorated in every way.  Something within me was triggered.  My perspective instantaneously shifted, with certainty.  It was refreshing.  I was comforted.  Interestingly, people (unknowingly) confirmed this occurrence through their compliments.

That morning, I was deeply pained but God!  I remembered His provision.  By doing so, I was reassured of my blessings present, and those that are orchestrated to come.  My faith healed me.  It continues to allow me to come and go in peace.  Can you relate?

Light Within

Have you ever gone through a really tough time and only a few loved ones plus God knew it?  I am talking about a time that is so tough that you knew that within your own strength you were defeated, but God!  I am talking about a time so tough that your peace confused the enemy!  I am talking about a time so tough that you truly learned to remove your self from the equation and watch God bring resolve!

By being taken aback, you observed how He provided all your needs the day before; You rested assured that your needs were being met in your current state, and via that awareness your were convinced that He had tomorrow covered!

Have you ever been through the kind-of “tough time” that through your tribulations you were still a constant blessing to others, as a result of God’s constant blessings toward you?  Have you been here—in this place where you grew in understanding God’s love—through His grace, His mercy, His kindness, His voice?  During your struggles, you understood that you were not alone; you were not forgotten.  You knew, God was bringing you through.  He had your complete attention.  You began to thank Him for the big and small things.  You found yourself thanking Him for everything!  In hindsight, what did you learn?  This is my reflection.

“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed.  Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. —Luke 8:16

Woman Standing On Rock

A picture comes to mind:  Light in darkness.  Do you possess Light within?  I do.  I know it.  Finally, I know it  (Praise Him!)

Possessing Light is power.  This power has responsibility.  Once I understood this, my perspective enlarged.  Yes, I beamed brighter. …….I beam brighter!

Seek opportunities to shine as God would have you to do.  Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ want to see you radiate His Light, just as you celebrate seeing His Light in them.  We are One.  And note, unbelievers will pay attention to your “rays” too.  Do not be surprised.  Be aligned with God!

When I truly embraced my spiritual gifts and talents, combined with when I surrendered to grow in God’s truth, I understood that I have a duty to shine with purpose.  My light—His Light—helps others.  This Light within is bigger than my body in which it lives.  It is bigger than me.  Can you relate?

Dismiss those thoughts which keep you “small”.  Change your life experience.  You were created to be great!  BE GREAT!  Our God is a BIG GOD who specializes in doing BIG THINGS!  Do not be surprised.  BE EXPECTANT!

If you know that within you lives His Light, then you better let it SHINE BRIGHTLY!  Do not let low self-esteem or peer pressure restrict your radiance.  The Light within you is BIGGER than YOU!  It is within you for a purpose.  LIVE PURPOSEFUL!  His Light will touch lives you will know and may never know.  God knows, however.  He always does.

People See What They Want

Whether we are talking about “race”, gender, politics, or religion — you name the “category” and you can easily find examples of how people will passionately expound what they “see”.  I do it.  You do it.  We all do it, but know this, “Truth cares not about our opinions.”

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”‘  But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”  Luke 7:33-35

A few years ago I campaigned for public office.  Time and time again, I heard challenges to my “qualifications”.  This, I found interesting because I regularly saw other candidates with similar “qualifications” — college-educated, some were attorneys also, community-involved, etc. —, yet these shared “qualifications” somehow were accepted without question.  Was it because those candidates were white and male?  Note, I am/was neither.  Note also, I say, “and male”, because I have often seen white, female candidates’ “qualifications” publically challenged.

Rest

I remember an interview where Oprah was told that she would never make it (because she was deemed “unfit for television”).  Wait, similar sentiments were said about:  Rick Springfield, George Foreman, President Obama, Jack Canfield, Albert Einstein, Selma Hayek, Dr. Seuss, Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, Lucille Ball, Fred Astaire, Sidney Poitier, Steven Spielberg, Kerry Washington, Socrates, Abraham Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe, Vincent van Gogh, Emily Dickinson, Claude Monet, and many, many more.  Unfortunately, similar declarations are also made daily regarding the nation’s poorest children.  With every graduation, with every life lived productively, from this population a stereotype is defied.  They are considered failures because of their circumstance.

Who amongst us has never failed?

Who amongst us has tried and failed because their “qualifications” were not “packaged” in a particular body, or come at a particular time, or in a particular way in which the judges would approve?

John the Baptist came and was rejected.  The Son of Man came and He was rejected.  Some were rejected, to never be heard from again.  Others’ rejection propelled them to a stage of mass audience — an audience awaiting inspiration,  and onto a stage where wisdom abounds.

Do not be discouraged by people’s opinion.  People see what they want.  Truth is Truth.  It produces wisdom.  It assembles Family.

Hello Sunshine!

One day I was greeted with, “Hello Sunshine.”

I was already smiling as this guy approached, but his greeting made me smile wider.  It caught my attention immediately.  What an awesome way to be described!  Sunshine as in light and bright;  Sunshine as in being light in dark places.

Hello Sunshine! 

YOU are not only commissioned, but YOU are expected to SHINE!  They will know YOU by your fruit!

[“]  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.  —Luke 6:45

Prior to that day, I had not thought of myself as being Sunshine.   I thought people described in that way were the type that always had a joke on-hand to share at the drop of a dime.  I thought they were people-pleasers who never shied away from expressing a kind word.  To me, they are always noticeable, always smiling and always looking to make you laugh.  This is not me.

Now, I have a better understanding.  Being Sunshine is simply being light in dark places.  Is that you?  When you speak, what comes out of your mouth?  Are your positive expressions limited to clichés–Christian clichés?  Does your nonverbal language match your lingual declarations?  People are watching, even when you do not think so.  They are listening in more ways than one.  Just as a baby knows its mother’s heartbeat, out of the overflow of your heart you are identified.

Hello Sunshine!

Face

You better SHINE!

Praying…More

Lately, I have been thinking about a reoccurring instruction, “Pray over everything.”  I am not sure when this “direction” first started but at this point it seems to be a stubbornly, pressing message.  Do you pray over everything?

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.  —Luke 5:16

Child Praying

Do I pray over everything?  No.  I am getting better about doing so, but I am not there yet.  As I grow in this area, I am noticing that I am becoming more aware about the thoughts and words that I have and say…and do not say.  This is important because thoughts and words are powerful.

Interestingly, as I become more intentional about deepening my prayer life I have noticed that more and more people are sharing with me that they have been praying for me.  Isn’t that interesting?  Is it coincidental?  Nah.  God knows that I now have a greater understanding of what it means to be prayed for.  That understanding helps me understand why it is important for me to be adamant about praying regularly.

I am here—alive today—because people prayed for me, even when I could not or would not pray for myself…not just one time, but repeatedly.  Not only am I here, but I am present and purposeful because of the power of prayer.   OOOOOOOOOH, you all do not know what the prayers of the righteous have done for me!

In addition to receiving the prayers of others, I have prayed for myself.  I have seen God answer my prayers by making a way for me when I saw no way;  I have rested in His peace when chaos relentlessly whirled around; I have seen Him move what some considered unmovable; I have watched Him bring the right person into my life at the right time to help keep me on the right path.  He has fed me, comforted me, protected me, and blessed me all in the face of my enemies.  Guess what, I continue to pray and He continues to do so.

A few years ago, I heard one of my grandmother’s pray for the first time.  I have only heard her pray a few times, but every time I am amazed.  Her prayers are so powerful that they demand attention;  They are so spiritually strong that tears are often called to roll down my cheeks on the spot.  I can only hope that God hears my prayers and smiles upon them as I do my grandmother’s.  I can only hope that when He hears me, He recognizes me as one of His as my grandmother recognizes me as one of hers.

As I reflect, I know that the days are gone when I would simply repeat the same prayers over and over—you know, the ones we learn as children.  I care too much to robotically recite prayers.  I need to be more like Jesus and often withdraw to quiet spaces and pray.  Spiritual warfare is serious.  The power of prayer—individually and collectively—is more than a neutralizer.  Contrarily to what people think they see, it has the power to manifest VICTORY…..EVERYTIME!

Kingdom Business

Does anyone besides me go through seasons when attending church services on a regular basis seem difficult, to say it nicely?  If you have not guessed, I am constantly surrounded by numerous faith-believing people, mostly Christian but not all.  We have conversations about numerous topics, but I have yet to have a serious discussion about my struggles regarding attending church services on a regular basis.  Let’s face it.  The faith community can, at times, present their views in ways that come across as extremely judgmental.  To someone who studies the Word, these sessions can easily turn into back and forth scripture quoting showdowns.  In doing so, we illustrate that we can recite biblical verses but this does not always leave a person motivated to face and deal with a very real issue.

Maybe you can relate to me?  I love spending time reading, studying, mediating on, talking about, being bathe in God’s Word.  Still, I have learned that I cannot talk about His Word with every faith-based person.  (I may blog more about that at a later time.)  Because I enjoy this and because I understand the importance of developing a personal relationship with God, I can very easily find a solitary place for this purpose.  Because I have a great deal of faith-based friends who are concerned about my spiritual well-being, as I am about theirs, I fellowship regularly (if not daily).  I donate (time, talents, and/or financially) to causes that promote His Kingdom, either directly or indirectly.  I listen to faith-based music and teachings via multiple vehicles.  Still, at this time I find myself believing that God wants me to attend church regularly.

“But why,” I have been asking.

Rest

At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place.  The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.  But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”  And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.  —Luke 4:42-44

Do you know why you were created?  Really, do you know your purpose?  I needed to get unapologetically serious about mine.  Why?  Because people watch.  (They want to hear and see good news.)

Contrary to the multi-billion dollar industry that continues to become richer by instilling fear, people really want Love.  Via Love, there lives Truth.  Via Truth, there lives trust.  People want to trust, but many do not think they can trust so they watch.  They watch for the lie.

Isn’t it interesting how babies—toddlers—trust you until you show them that you lie?  How disturbing to one’s soul that must be?  And THIS is why, during this season, I must push through my struggles and attend church services regularly.

It is now, at this time, that I understand the importance of finding a balance between finding solitude and going out amongst the people, even in faith-based places.  There is work to be done both in and outside of the sanctuary.  May my life preach the good news.   After all, this is Kingdom Business.

Silent Watch, Public Praise

Do you believe in angels?  Seriously, do you believe that they exist TODAY?  I do.

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”  The angel answered, “I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and tell you good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you will not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”  —Luke 1:18-20

The year before I enrolled into law school, I attended a summer law program at the University of Richmond.  While there, I met a woman who identified herself as a Dean at another law school.  She told me that if I delayed attending law school by one year, I would receive a full scholarship.

“Really,” I thought.  How could I be sure that this would really happen?  I did not know this lady and she did not know me (or so I thought).  I had only met her that day.  Needless to say, I delayed my plans to attend law school.  After finishing the law program in Virginia, I returned home and got a job at a non-profit organization.  Only one or two family members knew why I was delaying attending law school.  It was not something I talked about, probably because I was skeptical of this good news.  Have you ever received news that seemed so miraculously good and you did not believe it?  Why would we ever struggle like this?  Should not we live knowing that all things are possible through Christ?  Believing impossibilities should not be our obstacle.  THIS should be our expectation!

Rest 

After returning home, I continued to prepare to go to law school while spending time with family.  Being home ended up being a greater blessing in hindsight because one of my grandfathers died during my first year in law school.  (God knew.)

While I was home, I spoke to the Dean only one time.  Interestingly, I had a certain peace about the situation.  Then, several months later it happened.

Immediately his [Zechariah’s] mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God.  The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things.  —Luke 1:64-65

Via mail, I received notification that I had indeed received a full scholarship, inclusive of a stipend, to attend law school.  What a HUGE blessing!  I still praise God for this manifested promise.

A strange thing happened, however.  When I called the home phone number I had used one time prior to thank the Dean, I was told I had the wrong number.  Likewise, when I called the law school where she said she worked I was told there was not, nor had there ever been, anyone who worked there by her name.  I thank God for sending me an angel who delivered His message.  I thank Him for being patient with me as I silently watched His promise manifest.  I thank Him for allowing me that experience to remember regarding other promises He has made.  I thank God that this experience will encourage and bless someone else.  Yes, I am still singing His praises!  People are still in awe!  After all, if He did it for me, He can do it for you!

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