Daily Devotional, Long Read, Spiritual Walk

Peace In.

Good morning, peeps!

Oh, I’ve missed you! Would you like to hear what I’ve been doing during my hiatus…or would you rather see the results of it? Most mamas answer their own questions and I am no different: you’d rather just see the results. I heard Dr. Tony Evans say something a long time ago and it has stuck with me ever since:

“No one goes to a football game to watch the team huddle for 3 hours. You go to see what the huddle produces.”

Ev’ry day I’m huddlin’, huddlin’. Ev’ry day I’m huddlin’, hud—….no? Okay.

Yesterday started off rather rough for me. You know, it was one of those days when you say, “Okay, Imma go back to bed and start this again.” Anxiety, dread, and all kinds of crazy stuff hit me upside the head before I even stood up. So, I came for it. You want some, fool? Okay. I began to say who God is: Father, Alpha and Omega, Almighty, I AM… I went in, y’all. And then I pulled out the heavy artillery: I started reciting the fruits of the Spirit. Not in a quiet way, either. I declared them because I knew the only way to combat what was obviously not of God was to hit ’em with the things that ARE God. You do know that fruit is indicative of the tree, right? So God IS peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.

Whatchu got to say now??

This morning is a brand-new day, peeps. I woke up with the idea that I would wear my freedom t-shirt to work. Y’all know I love printed tees and I just got the okay from my boss to rock them at work. YESSS!  I love this shirt. It says “freedom”. And it’s soft. And it’s grey. And I’m wearing it with dark jeans with my pale yellow cropped blazer. I’m about to be too cute!! Free AND cute! As I was ironing the shirt and looking at the word on it, God reminded me of what comes with freedom. There’s power – duh – but something else: PEACE. Say what?? So, I sat down with my bible and looked in the concordance for a scripture that had the word “peace” in it. Sure, I can recite plenty of ‘em but I wanted a scripture that I didn’t know off-hand.

What happened next blew my mind.

You all know how concordances are set up, right? The word you want – PEACE – will be atop a column and below it will be a list of the occurrences. Well, most of them. It’s usually just a snippet for the sake of context, with a “p” in bold. “P” for the word “peace”. As I scanned down the list, I heard in my spirit, “Read it out loud and say the word “peace”.” So I did.

Y’all…I felt something shift in the atmosphere. On everything.

I want you to do that right now. I am going to fake a concordance – I don’t have time to type the book and verse – and I want you to say each of these out loud with authority and BELIEVE EVERY SINGLE THING YOU SAY. Here goes:

And give you p

My covenant of p

Proclaim p unto it

Lay me down in p

End of that man is p

And a time of p

P been as a river

The way of p

Saying P, p

Shalt die in p

They shall seek p

To send p

P with one another

The way of p

On earth p

P be to this house

P I leave with you

Ye might have p

P from God

The way of p

We have p with God

The gospel of p

Live in p

For he is our p

Preached p to you

The p of God

The p of God rule

P among yourselves

The Lord of p

King of p

Follow p with all men

Depart in p

Let him seek p

P be multiplied

Question: have you ever noticed that the gesture we make for peace with our fingers is the same gesture people make for victory?

It’s good to be back. Have a great day, peeps.

–d

Daily Devotional, Spiritual Walk

Just Wretched.

(This is the final installment of our “Fighting Dirty” devotional series.)

Good morning, peeps!

“I’m saved, but my face isn’t.”

When people say, “Well!  Why don’t you tell me how you really feel??”, my face has already said it.  *sigh*  I don’t have to say a word.  Nope.  It’s already been said.  Every time I see t-shirts with the phrase “I’m saved, but my face isn’t”, I think about filing a lawsuit because that saying has obviously been inspired by someone’s encounter with me and I want my money.  Surely that’s an infringement of some kind.  This face…lawd.  She needs her own “come to Jesus” moment.  Just backslidden.

I think she’d be okay if she didn’t hang around my right eyebrow all of the time.

Sometimes I can rein her in, but then there are times I just give up and put her in timeout: I’ll have a blank expression on my face. This is not a good look and I’m not very good at it either.  I can pull it off sometimes, though.  Let’s take yesterday, for example.  I was in a meeting with my boss and and someone went completely off-subject.  As we were walking out, my boss said, “Deone, I wish you had a ticker on your forehead so I could know what you were thinking because your posture did not match the blank look on your face.”  I said, “Well, in that case, you already know”, but my thought was, “Man!  Now, my body ain’t saved either!”

“I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” – Romans 7:21-24

I am a wretched (wo)man.  I love the Lord, but I am wret-ched.  And I am so wore out from fighting my wretchedness that I don’t have the energy to fight anyone else.  This war with me, myself, and I has been going on for years and these sistas are not backing down.  We go toe-to-toe every day!  Every day it’s a fight to see who will be in control.  And you want me to fight a whole ‘nother enemy, God?  I can’t even win against myself!  I thought about this a few minutes ago, and what came to me was “verse 25”.  Romans 7:25 reads, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Y’all, I’ve been doing the copy/paste thing on Romans 7:21-24 for this entire series and I never thought to read the last verse.  My bad.  The mind.  Hmm.

In a war, a country is only as strong as its infrastructure.  Our mind is our infrastructure.  If it’s not strong, there’s no way we are going to win this war between our flesh and spirit – a war that will continue on until the day we die.  It’s not going anywhere.  Another law will always be at work in our members.  We just have to be stronger than it.  That’s where the mind comes in: we’ve got to build it up.  This devotional series is really not over.  Part 8 is the segue into a new series that will jump off on Monday called “What Doesn’t Kill You”, using James 1:12 for reference.  This verse is about temptation, but we’ll focus on where that starts: in the mind.  We’ll tackle the who, what, where, when, and how of temptation and learn how we can come out victorious.   We’ve got a war on our hands, peeps, and I look forward to fighting it with you.  Have a great day.

–d.

Blog, Daily Devotional

Let Me Tell Ya Somethin’!

Good morning, peeps!

I know you all are probably thinking that I’ve just abandoned you, but I haven’t.  I’m still doing my crazy work hours and I’m actually typing this with one foot out the door.  This means that I will be driving slightly over the speed limit to get to work, but I just had to tell you all something.

Saturday, I watched A Wrinkle In Time.  I don’t know why.  I’ve never had an interest in the book and the movie trailers looked weird, but I was the only person in my house at the time and I thought that a movie would go well with the two pieces of cake I shouldn’t have been eating.  I was not even feeling the movie until I heard this one line.  I guess I should tell you what led up to that line, huh?  So the little girl told Oprah Winfrey that she and the other women were beautiful.  Oprah said, “Thank you.  And so are you.”  The little girl shook her head and Oprah asked, “Do you realize the events and choices that had to occur since the birth of the universe to create you…just as you are?”

I almost dropped my pieces of cake.  Almost.

I thought about that line all day long.  Later, as I was preparing for leading worship on Sunday, God spoke something deep into my spirit and that thing has rocked me.  It’s almost like this and the Oprah-line were His “one-two punch”.

“There are three parties involved in this thing called life: the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), the enemy of your soul, and you.  Only one of those continually questions who they are and who I am.”

You.  Me.  Ussses.

I grew up “telling the devil” who I was.  If you lived within 5 feet of a Baptist church, you had to hear at least one time in your childhood, “Now tell the devil, ‘I am a child of God!'”  Or, “Let the devil know how great our God is!”  And we’d yell it.  Guess what?   He already knows.  As a matter of fact, he’s known that for a very long time and he hasn’t doubted it from the first time it rang in his ears, which was a long time ago.  Way before you or I were born.  Those truths were declared all the way back in the day – no, before there was ‘day’ – and it wasn’t by us.

Before the time began, before crust covered the earth, before God spoke “let there be”, He declared, “This is how it is.”

Neither God nor the enemy ever question who God is.  Neither God or the enemy ever question who you are.  We do.  And that is why we have the gift of the scriptures.  The scriptures are full of times when the people of God forgot who He was and forgot who they were.  Tons of times.  I sat there as God spoke into my spirit and I thought about how earlier that day, I’d felt lonely.  I wasn’t alone.  Shoot, I’m never alone.  I couldn’t be alone if I wanted to.  God is always there.  I thought about the times that I’ve lived with a distorted view of myself, all because I questioned the value of the creation and the genius of the Creator.

But let me tell ya me somethin’.

–d.

Uncategorized

Come Again.

Good morning, peeps!

‘Sorry for yesterday…and today…and every day until October 22nd!  I know!  I hate to do this to ya, but I am on the craziest of work schedules for these two weeks so I won’t be able to post new stuff.  This one right here is on a timer.  I feel like I’m cheating.  I’m actually getting up to pray at 2:30a.m.  Y’all.  That’s a whole ‘nother fight-this-flesh monster.  It goes beyond that – more like, take-a-sledge-hammer-and-knock-this-flesh-out kinda monster.

So here’s what we’re going to do. I actually didn’t know until just now.  Let’s revisit the “Breathe In – Breathe Out” series.  I need to see that again myself.  Talk with y’all later.


breath

Eww! Is That Your Breath??

“This is Part 1 of a devotional series titled “Breathe In – Breathe Out”.)

Good morning, peeps!

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest…” – Acts 9:1 KJV

“It’s Your breath ~ in our lungs ~ so we pour out our praise ~ we pour out our praise to You only”- from “Great Are You Lord” by All Sons & Daughters

The above scripture refers to Saul before he had his infamous encounter on Damascus Road.  Before God changed his life and name (to Paul), Saul was a persecutor of God’s disciples.  He didn’t like ’em.  Okay, now that right there is a HUGE understatement.  He hated them.  He ordered many to be tortured and killed, all because of what they believed and Who they believed in.  [Fun fact for ya: when Saul was younger, he was taught by some of the greatest biblical scholars of that time.  Like, he went to church and/or seminary.  Hmm.  We’ll revisit that later.]  Look at the part where it says he was “breathing out threatenings and slaughter”.  Do something else for me (I’m bossy this morning, aren’t I?): inhale deeply and then exhale (breathe out).  How vicious are you if with your every breath – inhale and exhale again – you were spewing out evil?  I know you mad, Saul, but EVERY breath?  Really, dude??  That’s just straight funky.

Now, before you go find a time machine – SHOTGUN! – to go back and unleash a can of “whoopeth thou taileth” on Saul, you might want to do a quick breath check of your own.  Yeah.  Whatcha workin’ with, peeps?  Genesis 2:7 reads, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Before the Fall of Man, our breath was minty fresh.  It came straight from God and all Man did was use it for HIS Glory.  And then we fell and ever since then we have used this breath for things that are so far from its original intent.  It ain’t sweet anymore and it sure isn’t used only for praise.  My question for you today is “what are you using the breath in your lungs for?”.  Now, inhale and exhale.  Have a great day.

–d.

Bible Study, Blog, Daily Devotional

An Acquired Taste – Pt. 6

This is Part 6 of our study/devotional series on the book of Daniel, “An Awkward Stance.”

Good morning, peeps!

I will try to pick this back up where I left off.  Let’s see how well I do.  The last thing I was talking about was the importance of knowing who you are.  This principle stems from what I said several blogs ago about Daniel’s choice to refuse – excuse me, “piously refuse” – to eat the king’s meat.  People have said that what Daniel did was take a stand.  I’ve said that, too.  As a matter of fact, that is the whole reason I titled this series “An Awkward Stance“.  Then God was like, “Uhn uh”.  I wish He would’ve said something before I made that jpeg.  Talk about awkward.   It was a choice: the stand happened long before that.  Long before.  Note how old Daniel was at the time.  Bibilical scholars have put him at age 16 when this happened.  So, if the stand happened long before this sitch, when was the stand made?  When he was two…or did someone before him make the stand?

Someone else did.

My mommy is the most beautiful woman I have ever known. You may “beg to differ”, but I truly do not care one bit.  And I’m not talking about her outward appearance, even though the woman is BAD, with a capital B-A-D.  Her skin is flawless and without someone telling you, you can’t tell that she will be 70 at the end of this month.  Like I said, the sista is BAD.  So, yes, her outsides are beautiful, but I’m talking about her innards.  Not her intestines and gall bladder, but her heart.  And not her physical h–…do I really have to explain this??

Y’all know what I’m talking about.

Back to her turning 70… We’re the type of family that does fun and crazy stuff to celebrate the milestones of our lives, and this will be no different.  We’re having a small dinner with just her lineage and I thought it would be cool to present her with fun gifts that represent each decade of her life.  For the first decade, she’s getting a mudpie-making kit because that is something she loved to do as a kid.  Why she ate them, I have no idea.  For the second decade, I thought of baby shoes because that’s when she birthed my bigheaded brother.  I didn’t remember that she also had my sister and myself, too.  Duh.  Other than getting married to my dad, I couldn’t think of anything else that she did that was significant during her twenties…until my sister said it.  “Remember, she got saved.”

Ahhh.   Now there’s the stand.

—d.

Blog, Daily Devotional

Welcome.

Good morning, peeps!

Lesson #2 From The Joint: You Are Where You Need To Be

 

On the morning of our first full day in prison, one of the inmates walked past the back…

Before I go any further, let me explain some things.  I am a part of the Great Banquet community and one of the things we do is host Great Banquet “weekends”.  We do this for correctional centers, as well as for y’all free folks.  I am not doing a great job of explaining this so if you want more information, you can click this link and find out more: https://www.lampstand.net/great-banquet/.  Here is how the gym is set up in the prison:  there are nine long tables for the guests and team members and then a long table in the back for the directors, assistants, spiritual directors, and me.  We call ourselves “The Back Table”, or “The Table of Contents”.  Got it?  Okay, let me continue.

On the morning of our first full day in prison, one of the inmates walked past the back table and said, “Thank you, ladies, for being here!  We really appreciate it.  We are so happy that you’re here.”  One of the team members replied, “We are happy to be here!  And we’re happy that you’re here!  I mean, we’re not happy that you’re here, but we’re glad that…”  The woman, shaking her head, stopped the team member in mid-sentence and said, “I’m glad that I’m here.  This is where I need to be.”

Dag.

“God is a comedian.  Don’t let anyone fool you.  God’s got jokes.” – Galen

God has a sense of humor.  You can see it through the interesting ways He gets us to line up with His plan for us.  Some of those ways are fun, while some are very un-funny.  There are a lot of people in the prison system who, had they not been locked up, would be dead.  Life or death – those were the options.  We don’t look at prison and think “Ooooo! Life!”, but I promise you this: a judge’s gavel has been some folks’ saving grace.  Not everyone who is incarcerated views their present location/situation as bad.  Some of them see it as a blessing, sent from God.

I have a wonderful person in my life who, after hearing me talk about a current situation I’m in, encouraged me to look at it a different way: “Girl.  I hear you and I understand – been there, done that – but this is the way I would look at it if I were you: if God’s got you going through a bunch of pain and hell as He is working this stuff out of you, then KNOW that you will be better for it.  I know it hurts and you’d rather be ‘anywhere but here’, but you are exactly where you need to be.  Stop trying to run from it and sit in it.  Say “Okay, God, this is where You have me”, and let it do what it is supposed to do so you can move on to the next step.  I really need you to grasp this.  Know that whatevuh – hmm – whatevuh God has for you on the other side of this HAS to be greater than what you had or what you are going through.  It’s gotta be.  ‘Cause that’s just who He is.”

It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re facing the opposite way.   I know, I know: I’m deep.

Have a great weekend, peeps.

–d.

Blog, Daily Devotional

The Nothings.

Good morning, peeps!

Let me quit playing and tell you about what has stuck with me from my weekend in prison.  I went to bed last night fully intending to do Part 2 of “Thursday-ish”.  I can’t.  This morning, my weekend was playing on the big screen.  I told you that being in the joint will change you.  It will.  So here we go.

Lesson #1:  Place More Value On The Nothings

I have a greater appreciation for the small stuff.  And when I say “small”, I don’t mean insignificant.  No.  I’m talking about the bits and pieces we don’t give value to because we have bigger fish to fry.  Guess what?  The little wiggly worm that was used to snag that fish matters too.  There was a woman in last weekend’s group who was developmentally-challenged.  I didn’t know who she was on the first day – which upset her, by the way – but I remembered by Day 2.   I’ll call her “Ms. C”.  I grew up with her and once I realized that, I became very sad.  Her family treated her like dog poo, and not the freshly-deposited-in-my-front-yard-and-I-don’t-even-have-a-dog kind.  My neighbor and I need to have a convo.  I just snuck in a vent.  I’m talking about dried-out dog poo.  Any abuse you can imagine was done to her.  The whole weekend, she kept looking back at me and I’d smile.  All she wanted was a smile.  I didn’t have to do too much – just smile.

If I didn’t tell you, I was the worship leader for the weekend.  I can’t remember if I already typed that.   I personally played – I had a keyboard – a lot of worship music, but I had some fun stuff on a CD.   I tried my best to play a lot of upbeat music that we could dance to because they do not get to do that in prison.  Did you hear me?  They don’t get to dance in prison.  Chile, bye.  I dance while cleaning, while making my bed, while folding the laundry, while dancing – I dance.  Never thought about how I would function if that was taken away from me.

I’m about ready to cry thinking about this.  Ms. C wanted to sing a song and asked if I would play the keyboard as she sang.  Sure, I can do that.  She didn’t even ask if I knew the song – I think she just assumed that I did.  It really wasn’t too much of a stretch to assume that I knew it because it’s the black church theme song.  Jesus On The Main Line.  When she approached the mic, the thought came to me: play it as if you were the one singing it.  So I went in.  She didn’t sing it the way I knew it was supposed to go because she added additional lyrics that had me going “What??”, but you got the point: Jesus is on the main line and you ought to tell Him what you want.  She went on and on and on and on.  I didn’t mind because I probably would’ve done it, too.  She started crying when she was done and said, “You don’t know how much that meant to me!  Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, Jesus!”  Aww man!  I’m about to start crying again.  She was so grateful to given a chance to sing, that people were clapping as she sang, and that I played for her.

You’re praising God for that?  That was nothing.

On Friday night, I played “Unfinished” by Mandisa and “We Are Family” by someone.  It is 3 in the morning, folks.  I can’t recall everything.  We were having so much fun when someone said, “Let’s do a train!”  So we did.   I led everyone around the room, as we danced, laughed, and tried to sing.  It was so much fun.  On Saturday, I played another fun song while we were waiting to go to lunch.  It was “Happy” by Pharrell.  Now, I was not really feeling the whole “let’s do a train” thing because I was tired.  No, ma’am.  I was just going to do my little “I’m dancing in this one spot” pump-my-fist thing.  Ms. C had other ideas.  She looks at me and yells, “Everyone follow me!”  So you know what we did?  We followed her.  We danced around that room, following someone who was obviously way more excited about the whole deal than all of us combined.  Like, for real.  She squealed and clapped her hands, as she kept looking back to see if we were still following her.  At one point she said, “Y’all following me!!  Y’all following me!!  I’m going to cry!”  And she did.  She started crying, thanking Jesus that people were following her.

You’re praising God for that?  That was nothing.

God-sent gifts come in assorted sizes.  And shapes.  There is value in the tiniest of them.  In fact, they have just the same value as the biggest gift He can give.  Sometimes, even more.  It’s all about how you look at ’em.  Pay close attention to your world today.  Make note of the small things – the nothings.

–d.