THE MOUNTAINS AND THE SEA

image_577325847583628In life when faced with seemingly impossible and overwhelming circumstances, God has given us certain principles that will carry us through , coupled with a strong faith in Him and his promises.

The one thing that is certain about the Christian walk is the constant trials that we face. As a newborn believer, I  felt that I could relax and wait for Jesus’s return and in the meantime just coast into heaven for the next sixty or seventy years. I soon realized that this belief is a fallacy: the adversary convinces many Christians that to follow Jesus means to live a life free of suffering or difficulty. Also in our Christian walk we are faced many times with complicated decisions; and sometimes it seems we have no choice.

What we need to realize is that in times of severe distress and sometimes painful moral crisis, God has given us a blueprint of what to do and what not to do.  When I am faced with dilemmas in my Christian walk, I often read the book of Exodus (14:13,14) which is the story of  the Hebrews  leaving Egypt and their pursuit by Pharoah’s armies. The former Hebrew slaves found themselves in what seemed to be a hopeless situation: Pharoah’s army was behind them, the mountains were on either side and the Red Sea stretched in front of them. Sometimes the greater the seemingly hopelessness, the greater the deliverance at hand. Moses, the Hebrews leader who was chosen by God to lead them out of bondage had four main things that he told the people when they were at the edge of the Red Sea that fateful day.

The first thing he told them was to “be not afraid.” There are many things we can do when we are afraid; such as worry, panic, blame others: but the one thing we cannot do when we fear is trust God. Fear and faith can never exist at the same time. Fear cancels out faith and vice versa. So if you are in a seemingly hopeless situation, as tempting as it is to be afraid, don’t give in to it. If you ask God to comfort you, he will. Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” The one thing a child fears the most is being left alone, and this is because they can’t make it on their own. A good parent is never at risk of leaving their child intentionally; so it is with God, he will never leave us or abandon us emotionally because his love for us can never permit him to do so. When we worry in painful and stressful circumstances, it is like saying to God, “I don’t trust you to take care of me, or I don’t believe you can.” One thing to remember about the plight of the  Hebrews is that their hopeless situation brought them to their promised land. The path to our destinies is often paved with pain, fear, discouragement, and obstacles. The greater the obstacle, the greater the deliverance and miracle.

The next thing God told Moses to tell the people was to be still. Being physically still in times of crisis is so important. Often we think we are accomplishing something if we are moving; many times all movement achieves is to serve as a distraction. Physical stillness also can give us time to regroup and to think before acting. If every time we encounter stress we immediately act, we run the risk of acting in haste. And as my grandmother used to say, “Haste makes waste.” Stillness also gives our emotions time to “catch up” before we make a physical move. How many times have you known someone to act rashly only to later realize they’d made a mistake. When I’m faced with multiple decisions in my Christian walk, I find I’m not going to make a mistake if I take the time to seek God about what to do, and wait to hear what he says to do. It’s hard to hear the voice of God while in constant movement; especially when that movement has little or nothing to do with his direction for our lives. So when listening for direction from God, it is imperative that we find a place to  be still or not move until we know that it is God saying to move.

The next thing God said to do which goes together with stillness is to watch. We see sometimes only what God allows us to see, and this is hard to accept when we feel we are educated, intelligent, and well-informed. Unfortunately, no matter how intelligent we are our smarts are no match for God. There is physical seeing and there is seeing with understanding. The seeing with understanding is the level of seeing that God is trying to get us to. For we can have physical sight and be spiritually blind. When I pray, I ask God to allow me to see situations the way he sees them, which in turn will increase wisdom. We can never know all that God knows, but we can be in relationship with him closely, so as to act in ways that please him and glorify his will in the earth. Sometimes we can not see,(understand) God’s will until we just observe what he is doing, and we can’t do that unless we ask. Watching involves prayer, but it also involves waiting.

The last thing Moses instructed the people to do was to be quiet. This is hard for most people to do because it involves controlling a small member of our bodies, and that is the tongue. The book of James says, “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things..”(James 3:5) Our speech is the one thing that can build up or tear down. In regards to faith, it is important to always remember that our words have extreme power. That is why we should never confess negativity over our selves by speaking. We should never speak negative things over others unless it is to rebuke, correct, and instruct. The power of our speech is another sermon altogether; however when we are faced with extreme distress, we must keep quiet especially in regards to speaking negatively.  Also when in times of  extreme trials or pain, you can not tell everyone what you are going through; simply because they can not always understand. When facing extreme trials, the primary person you should talk to is God and leave it with God. When we speak without thinking we can never take back what has been said. Hence, it’s important to keep quiet and seek wisdom of what to say or if to speak at all. And always remember if we can control what we say, we can control other aspects of our lives. If in times of crisis you don’t know whether to speak or not, always ask God whether to speak or not; he will let you know. Finally, I can’t stress enough the importance of being quiet when facing life’s trials: because your words have power, they can inflict pain or heal, your words reveal how much control you have over your own spirit and you can literally speak your destiny into existence by saying the right thing or the wrong thing.

Heavenly Father I pray right now for those who are facing difficulties of the kind that only you can deliver them from, I pray for their confidence to be in you, and that they know that you will help them as they put their trust in you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

 

 

 

The Meaning of Motherhood

If someone asked me what my greatest achievement in life has been, I would have to say it is being a mother. The highest calling in life is to have the privilege of giving someone life and having the opportunity to nurture that life into adulthood. A mother is a child’s first contact with the world, and if that contact is warm, trusting, and nurturing it can make the difference in whether the child reaches their full potential emotionally as well as physically.

I remember when I first realized that raising my children was a calling, and that I would need the grace of God to do it right. I was in church, and the pastor’s wife relayed to me how God had given her wisdom in how to train her children up in the Lord. I went home and looked up every scripture I could find on child training. I then began reading the scriptures to my oldest child at the time. I wanted the children to know that what I was doing had a Biblical base; that I wasn’t just making things up out of my head. The first scripture I recall teaching the children was from the book of Ephesians, “Children obey your parents in the Lord…” I would make a pointed effort to pray where the children could hear me, in addition to praying with them and teaching them to pray on their own.

Motherhood to me meant a responsibility  to help my children reach their God-given potential as well as instilling in them an understanding of who God is. No parent no matter how much they teach and train a child can give them faith; only Jesus Christ can do that. There were many nights I spent singing, reading, and brushing hair before bedtime. There were planet and star stickers that I pasted to the ceiling, and the children and I spent many nights staring at the ceiling trying to count the stars.

There were also the days and nights spent calming a frightened child, breast feeding a newborn, and soothing chicken pox with calamine lotion. The time that Jaynae developed chicken pox I slept with her on the couch in the living room for two weeks. In between all the sickness there were the prayers taped to the bedroom walls to help Ima remember to pray for healing each time she was sick, and help Uyime recite scriptures when she had headaches also. The years of getting physicals for school stand out in my mind, as well as the years of disputing with school officials of my right to refuse vaccinations for my children.

When you give birth to your child, you risk your life, after the child is born your heart is at risk forever. As a mother I was there for each tear they shed in my presence and some of them they shed without my presence. When their hearts broke, my did too, when they were overjoyed, I became ecstatic also. My mind reflects on every dance practice, each dance recital, all the music concerts,(as well as the music practice), and all the violin strings which broke. Oh yes I remember every violin I had to purchase also. By the time the years of teaching them to drive and going to buy prom dresses arrived, I felt that I’d already lived three lifetimes.

I questioned why I was still here after the death of Jaynae, I didn’t want to comprehend my living and her lying in a grave. I was grateful that she’d had a wonderful life. Yet I had difficulty finding the meaning of mundane things in life after her passing. She had taught me so much; even though I was the parent. Even now, when I look at her life, she is still teaching me; she is saying, “Mom keep singing, keep living, keep hoping, I may no longer be with you, but you still have mountains to conquer.”

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The Meaning of Courage

The main characteristic of a leader is courage. Yet, courage isn’t the absence of fear. In the Bible, all the heroes of the faith were confronted with  dilemmas and they didn’t know how they’d be solved. However, they faced conflicts with courage, and let God be their guide, even when they didn’t know the outcome.

The greatest obstacle to being courageous is facing the unknown.Hebrews 13:6 says, “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.What can man do to me?” Even when we don’t know what people will do, we can be assured in what Jesus will do. Our faith in Christ stands on his word to us; and if our confidence is in God, we don’t have to fear anything that human flesh can release upon us. In other words,” God has our backs.”

The one thing that the heroes of the Bible had in common when it came to exercising courage, was that they faced situations and they didn’t know the outcome. When God told Abraham to leave his relatives and his country, he didn’t even know where he was going; yet he trusted God who assured him that he would lead him to a better country to dwell in. After David was anointed king, he had to wait decades before he could take the throne to rule Israel. While he was waiting his life was threatened many times because King Saul was determined to destroy him before he could become king. When Queen Esther went before King Ahasureus she didn’t know if he would receive her or kill her; yet she was willing to die to obey God and save her people from certain death. And then Mary, the mother of our Lord, was just a teenager and engaged to be married when God’s angel told her that she was going to have a baby, not an ordinary baby, but a baby whose father would be the Holy Spirit. Imagine the courage of that young girl, and the trust that she had in her God that he would take care of her and provide everything that she needed to bring her child safely into the world.

Courage cannot exist without fear; for in order to exercise courage, there has to be something we need extraordinary ability to face. Having courage means thinking outside of the box, and sometimes going against what popular opinions say. Think of all the people who changed things in the world; Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Ghandi, Thomas Edison, The Wright brothers, and the list is endless: none of those people would have changed the world had they been more concerned about staying in their place, and not causing a disturbance. No change has ever taken place without disruption or conflict. The most courageous man who ever lived was Jesus Christ. He came on the world stage and by living out who he was,1379787402609 he split history in half. Here are some characteristics of the courageous:

  1. Courageous people are not conformers.
  2. Courageous people are willing to take chances, even when the odds are against them.
  3. Courageous people speak their opinions when others keep silent.
  4. Courageous people are willing to defend the downtrodden and the helpless.
  5. Courageous people are selfless and greatly sacrifice for others.
  6.  Courageous people are confident of their identity and are not threatened when others challenge them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus The Light Of The World

wpid-IMG_20130105_121317.jpgWhen I was a child growing up in Mississippi, my mother and I would often walk home from my grandmother’s on a dirt path that ran between the two houses.  Many times we walked home at night and there were no street lights to illuminate the path. Occasionally  my grandmother had a flashlight to use, but on those times when she had no flashlight we were at the mercy of nature; hoping there would be a bright moon. When  the moon wasn’t shining or it became hidden by night-time clouds, we were walking in the darkness. What I remember most about walking in the dark was the fear  I felt at not knowing where I was going, or what I would walk into,

Before I knew Jesus Christ I walked through life stumbling; not really knowing where I was going. I recall the terror of that darkness, and the longer I went in life without Jesus, the darker my life became. There were times I felt as though I were literally groping at the end of a rope, trying to hold on to what, I did not know.

Ephesians 5:8 says, “For at one time you were in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, Walk as children of light.” If mankind could have found their  way out of darkness, there would have been no need for Jesus to come. St. John 1: 4,5 says  ” In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”  The first chapter of John goes on to say that Jesus came unto his own, but that his own did not receive him, but  as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

As Christians we are on a journey; and as with any journey you need a road map or guide to arrive at your destination. The guide for the Christian is Jesus, this is why he is called the light. Light guides one through the darkness. Non-believers and skeptics may criticize and say, “what makes Jesus the only one qualified to be the guide through life, why not just listen to your conscience?” The problem with this is that mankind’s conscience is flawed, and has been since he rebelled against God in the beginning. If you don’t believe man’s conscience is flawed, turn on the evening news and listen to it for a few minutes.

St. John 8:12 states, Again Jesus spoke to them saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” It is important for everyone to have direction in their life, but especially for the believer in Jesus Christ. One reason it is so important for a Christian to live by God’s word is because it gives us direction. Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.God’s word was written as a guide direct us on how to live in this life, and to prepare us for eternity in heaven.

Salvation is not only a gift from God; it is a miracle. Because the world lies in darkness, no one can come to Jesus Christ on their own. If being saved  from our sins could have been accomplished on our own, Jesus Christ would not have had to die. 2 Corinthians 4:6 lets us know this, “For God commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Since we can not come to Christ on our own, we certainly can’t remain with him on our own.

The best way we can stay on the path God has chosen for us is to study and meditate on his word. God’s word illuminates things for us that we don’t understand, and allows us to be a guide to those around us. “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4:18)

Because we are Jesus’s disciples, and he is the light, we have that same light in us. You can not say that you know him,(Jesus Christ), and not attain his characteristics. Matthew 5:14-16 says,”You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill can not be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”