Blog, Daily Devotional, Spiritual Walk

Taster’s Choice.

Good morning, peeps!

This will be a 2-part final installment in our “An Awkward Stance” series on Daniel.  This is not what I planned to write about this morning, but you all should know by now that God likes to rearrange my plans all of the time. 

In the last intallment, I said that the next thing we’d talk about would NOT be the fiery furnace.  That is what I said.  Guess what was put on my heart to talk about as soon as I typed “Good morning, peeps!”?  The fiery furnace.

“Here’s the deal about ‘iron sharpens iron’: you don’t get to pick the iron.” – me

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I sure could’ve used this on November 1st.

I muttered those words a few weeks ago before the start of a meeting I had with a leader – I’ll call him ‘Bob’ – who was being very unpleasant right from the jump.  I thought, “Naw, bruh.  It’s too early in the morning for this mess”.  So I stepped out into the hallway to whisper a prayer, hoping that God would help this man out real quick-like and give him a miraculous attitude adjustment.  He didn’t, but I went on with the meeting as if Bob was the most pleasant person I’d ever met.  When the meeting was over, you KNOW I had a conversation with my Father.

“Um…what was up with that?  Didn’t You hear me when I prayed ‘Come, Holy Spirit’?  I said it twice!”

“Yep.  And I did come…to help you.”

God is hilarious.

Yesterday, I thought about my encounter with Bob and started laughing.  God really is funny.  Two things came to me:

  1. the thing about ‘iron sharpens iron’ is that you do not get to pick the iron, and
  2. it’s hard to be the change you want to see if you don’t change.

More often than not, the situations/encounters we are presented with are there to change us first.  I know we are supposed to be the “light of the world”, but if we don’t approach that “world” with the right heart, someone’s getting burned to a crisp.  Bob, are you reading this?? 

(Note: before I hit ‘publish’, I looked at “approach that world” and realized that some of us are cool on the approach-the-world tip, but don’t handle the interaction well.  Think of it like this: road rage doesn’t happen in driveways. We have to do better.  It’s not enough to have good intentions when you start out – you need to be able to carry it through.)

So let me be perfectly honest. When I prayed “Come, Holy Spirit”, I knew that my attitude was getting a little funky.  Okay, it downright stank…on a Pepe’ Le Pew tip.  I physcially felt the shift in me.  Not wanting to be funkdafied was the sole reason I decided to excuse myself from the conference room, but somewhere between the utterance of the “t” in “Spirit” and my entrance back into the conference room, I decided that it was Bob who needed to change – not me.  Hmph!  Does he not know who I am??

Burn, baby, burn.

One of the cool things about God is that He knows better than we do what is needed every single second of the day and that morning at approximately 6:49, I needed a little sharpening.  He used Bob.  Sure, I would’ve liked it to have come another way, but God didn’t really ask me.  I mean, it’s not like I had a list of preferred sharpening tools at the ready, but I could’ve thought of something.  Just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  I’m sure a fiery furnace was not on their list.  Can’t we just have another meal to turn away?  I’m sure the untimely death of children, siblings, parents and friends is not on your list.  Or illness and financial ruin.  I’m sure a lot of us would prefer not to go through pain and heartache or even little annoyances to be sharpened.  There has got to be a YouTube tutorial we can watch instead.

We may not get to pick the iron, but we do get to choose who’s holding it.*

–d.

*At the beginning of this series, I said that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego made a choice.  There it is.  

Bible Study, Blog, Daily Devotional, Uncategorized

What I Have Is Enough.

Good morning, peeps!

This is whatever part of our study/devotional series “An Awkward Stance – a study of the book of Daniel”. It’s 3:30 in the morning…cut me some slack.

Have you ever looked at the bible people and wished that you had the faith they did? We’ve been talking about Daniel and his buddies for two months now and y’all can’t tell me you haven’t experienced some situations during that time that didn’t have you thinking, “Man! I wish Deone would come on with the come-on and tell me how to get that plate-passin’, lion-snubbin’, in-the-furnace-chillin’ kind of faith!! I need to get pass/over/through this thing I’m dealing with right here!” Well, TODAY’S THE DAY! Woo-hoo! I am finally going to tell you how to get the faith they had! Are you ready??

You already have it.

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. – Romans 12:3 KJV

Like I said – ahem! – you already have it. The measure of faith – let’s call it “amount” ’cause some of y’all need to hear about quantities (which is so not what “measure” means in this instance) – that it takes to move mountains, is the same measure of faith it takes for me to bend my outta shape self down, untie my shoe, and remove the pebble that has somehow gotten into it and is making it hard for me to walk.

It’s that faith.

I highlighted the word “the” in the passage I copy/paste this morning for a reason. The. We’ve all been dealt the measure of faith: not “a” or “some kinda” – the. Like, it’s the only measure. Imagine a measuring cup set. There is only one 1-cup measuring cup in the set, right? You don’t get two. Just one. Do you get what I’m saying? The measure? That’s all God gave each of us. That’s it. God didn’t run out of faith and give you “almost a” measure. God didn’t skimp when it came to you. Allow me to blow your mind this morning: God didn’t give Elijah more faith than you. It’s not like God was making faith cupcakes and put more faith sprinkles on Elijah’s cupcake than the one He gave to you. Um, no.

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(That jar almost looks like it says “Faith”, doesn’t it?)

Or maybe you’re thinking that you must’ve flinched when He was giving the measure to you and some fell off and got onto someone else. Um, no. “Well, I’m not doing Elijah-type stuff so I don’t care what you say, Deone. I’m missing some. I need more.” Nope. You’re not missing any faith and you don’t need more of it.

What you need more of is courage. What you need more of is trust in God. That’s what you need.

Daniel’nem? That’s what they had – a whole lotta courage and trust. You can have it, too. Here’s the deal: we have easier access to God than they did! Human-folks had to intercede for them. Not us! They had to kill cows and spend months looking for something that wasn’t limping or didn’t have a bad case of animal acne just so they could kill it and offer it to God. Not us! Uhn-uh. We get to go straight to the throne. The sacrifice has already been made. No, not what theirs was – the only spotless One. For us. So that we can have more courage. So that we can trust God more.

‘Cause today, removing this pebble is more pressing than moving that mountain.

-d.

Uncategorized

I asked. I got it.

Good morning, peeps!

As we continue to look at the book of Daniel, this chick right here is going to do things a little differently. First, let me just tell you that our next stop is not the fiery furnace. Nope. Just wanted to make sure we were clear on that. Differently… I asked God for wisdom regarding this blog. I don’t like how I haven’t blogged every day like I used to and some of you are used to, but I haven’t had the time. I still get up at 3:30 a.m. to pray, but lately I’ve had to rush off to work right after that. (Projects for days, y’all – I’m using all 10 talents God has given me!) This means, duh, that there are days when you don’t hear from me. And that bothers me.

So I asked for wisdom and true to Scripture, I got it.

My blogs will now hit your screen a minimum of two times a week. I hope you know how much it pains me to type that. Two times. If there is…nevermind. I was about to add something that God hadn’t told me simply because I feel like I’m letting you down.

I’ll stop, God.

So, from now on, IJAC will slow its roll. I’ll continue to get up at 3:30 each morning to pray for you and for a word from the Lord. That’ll never stop. Love you all and God bless.

-d.

Uncategorized

How I Met Your Mother.

This is Part I-Still-Don’t-Know of our devotional/study series “An Awkward Stance – A Study of Daniel”. I’ll figure it out one day.

Good morning, peeps!

7 And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. 9 And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. – Exodus 33:7,9 KJV

You can always tell which parent has invested the most energy into a relationship with their children. Just watch the interaction. That parent for me is my mama. I love that woman dearly. There is absolutely nothing I wouldn’t do for her. If she ever needs a kidney, I won’t hesitate to give her my brother’s. It’ll be a sacrifice, but that’s how much I love her. And she loves me more: she wouldn’t hesitate to give me both of my brother’s kidneys. Now, that’s love right there. I don’t want you to think that our relationship has been perfect. Good grief. Um, no. We’ve had to work at this thing. I’ve had to put in time just like she has. And this is something she has done for her relationships with my sister and my unsuspecting organ donor brother. Even with all of that, you can still tell a difference in her relationship with each of us.

It’s the level of intimacy.

Of us kiddos, I am the one who’s spent the most time around our mother. For 12 of my adult years, she and I lived together. You learn a lot about a person when you get to experience them every single day…for twelve years. I’m not saying my relationship with her is better than the ones she has with my siblings (lies…I am), but I do think that she and I are extremely close. This is not just because we were in the same house for years. You can be around the same person for longer than that and still not be close. Any couples in the house?? We actually spent a lot of time in each other’s faces, having conversations about everything. Eh-ver-ree-thing. There have been some true TMI moments. I now know more than I wish to know about her and I’m sure she feels the same, but it was through those conversations and time spent in faces that look almost identical that we met each other. The evidence of our intimacy can be seen in the things we do.

Remember yesterday when I brought up how Mo went into the tabernacle to meet with God? Guess what? He wasn’t the only one. I really want you to get this, okay? Let’s talk about the tabernacle. The tabernacle was a tent – a revered and sacred place – where everyone who wanted to commune with God went to pray. Read that sentence again. Y’all thought it was just Mo? Nope. Re-read the passage I did the excellent copy/paste of above. It says “every one”. Anyone who wanted to meet with God could go into the tabernacle. But peep this, my peeps: no one else but Mo had a cloud working security after they went into the tent.

I’m not going to assume that everyone reading this blog is a bible scholar so let me make something very clear: the cloud was not working security. I can be pretty hilarious at 3 in the morning, and I cracked up at that. The pillar of cloud was there as a witness of God’s presence, evidence of the intimate relationship between God and Mo. No one else had that. What does this have to do with our study on the book of Daniel? Plenty.

I want you to know how DHMA could do what they did.

Read this passage from Daniel 1: 6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel,Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

“Among those who were chosen…”

With all of the fuss that we make over those four teenagers, did it ever cross your mind to wonder about the others? There were other boys. What made DHMA stand out? What was the difference there? Their level of intimacy with God. They were able to do great things for God because of their intimacy with God. That’s why they could say, “Yeah, that piece of steak looks mighty good and I’m hungry as a mugg, but naw. Give me that carrot ’cause I’m not defying God.” That is why they could say, “We trust God to deliver us out of the fiery furnace, but if He doesn’t, we’re still good. We’re not bowing.” That level of intimacy is why Daniel could stand with his back to the lions – bruh didn’t even acknowledge their presence – without wavering.

Intimacy. This is how you meet your Father.

–d.

Bible Study, Blog, Daily Devotional

Doin’ This For Me.

This is Part I-Don’t-Know in our devotional/study series “An Awkward Stance – A Study of Daniel.”

Good morning, peeps!

If I remember correctly, we left off talking about Daniel and his homies having complete knowledge of who they were.  They knew they were royalty.  And not just any kind of royalty: covenant royalty.  The sacredness of that had been communicated to every generation from the moment the covenant was made: from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to Chico (??), it had been passed down.  They had the words of their forefathers.

There comes a time when what Grandpa’nem have told you ain’t enough.  You gotta know it for yourself.

Growing up, I always heard “You can’t live off Mama’s prayers.  You need to talk to God for yourself.”  When I first heard that, I probably thought, “Well, that kinda sucks.  Have you heard my mama pray??”  Oh my goodness.  My mama prayed – no: wailed.  The kind of wailing that would embarrass me.  Okay, don’t start taking off your belts to whup me – that’s just how I felt as a child.  Prayer time would be over and my mama would still be at the altar crying out to God like she wasn’t aware that we had a whole 3 hours of church service left.  And she prayed ugly, with snot hanging down from her nose.  When she’d finally get up, she would bring that snotty towel back to her seat and place it on the pew.  Eww.  I was completely disgusted.  As turned off as I was, there was still a sense of peace…the peace that comes from knowing that MY mama prayed.  I was covered! Mama had me.  Thanks, Ma!

There comes a time when what Mama prayed ain’t enough.  You gotta talk to God your own self.

I know you’re wondering what in the world this has to do with Daniel’nem.  Everything.  Let me run back to Moses to make my point.  Let’s say that the exodus from Egypt and his ability to lead millions of people out of slavery was funded by the prayers of his mama. Let’s just give her credit for a moment.  Cool.  Thanks, Ma!  And let’s just say that God’s grace and the mercy He showed by not wiping out everyone when they made the golden calf was all because of the prayers Moses’ mama had prayed.  Cool.  Thanks, Ma!  

But there came a time when what Mo’s mama prayed wasn’t enough.  He had to talk to God himself.

Think back to Exodus 33 when Moses and God had a face-to-face convo.  It was in the tabernacle – which was a tent, not a building – and when Mo went in, a pillar of cloud “stood” at the doorway.  Here’s what has been breathing down the back of my neck for the last couple of days: Mo’s ability to do all of the stuff he’s famous for was funded by the time he spent with God.  The tent had been there – Mo had to make the choice to go in…for himself.  The confidence he needed to do the things God was calling him to do required him to “have a little talk with Jesus”…himself (or hisself).  Mama couldn’t do it for him.  The same thing holds true for Daniel.  Just saying, “I’m Abraham’s graaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaandson”, wasn’t going to cut it.  Daniel could not refuse the king’s portion or stand with his back to the lions in confidence if he had not spent time in God’s face.

Just saying you’re a child of God ain’t enough.  You need to talk with your Father.

There are things God is calling you to do.  You already know what they are.  God is calling you to make choices that you are not overly excited to make.  Yay.  The only way you are going to be able to make them and move in confidence is through your time with God.  Let me tell ya, I feel like I can go out and conquer the world after listening to my kiddos tell me how awesome I am as a mom.  Are you kidding me??  Bring on world hunger – I’ll make batches of Hamburger Helper and wipe it out TODAY!  You have friends who make you feel invincible, don’t you?  Just imagine how you will feel after talking with God.

Daniel was able to make his choice because of the time he’d spent in God’s face.

Daniel was not immortal – he was human.  He was not a cherub that sang “hallelujah” all day long while flying (I don’t know if they fly) around God’s throne all day – he was human.  Not only was he human: he was a teenager.  A teenager.  Who has a teenager?  Oooh.  Some of them have the drive of a dead gnat…that’s in a balled-up piece of tissue…laying at the bottom of the bathroom garbage can.  Too descriptive?  Most will take the easy way out of any situation if they can get away with it.  So what was it about Daniel? What gave him the confidence to defy the king?  You do know that his refusal of the king’s portion was straight-up defiance, right?  Let me sit on that for a second.  If you were looking at this like Daniel kindly pushed his plate away and said, “I’m not hungry”, noooo.  Do not downplay this thing.  This was an order by the king and Daniel said “I ain’t doin’ it.”  Remember that the eunich in charge of Daniel told him that he feared for his life.   When you go against a king’s order, death is next.  “But, I’m Abraham’s graaaaa–… ”

Only time spent in God’s face…

–d.