Blog, Daily Devotional

Hi, Atus.

Good morning, peeps!

One of the annoying things about being someone who teaches is that sometimes you are required to follow your own instructions.

Of all the blogs I’ve written, the “go sit: the art of being” devotional series has really been one that has gotten to me.  I believe God is talking to me more than you all.  I am fond of saying that when I minister, the Word is hitting me first before it comes out of my mouth.  And that hasn’t changed.  God is calling me to sit down and be.  Actually, He’s been yelling it.  I do not know how to do this, as I have said over and over.  Just be??  Let me take that back.  I do know how, but it usually comes with a side of guilt.  Any time I want to step away, I feel bad because I know some of you look forward to reading this blog each weekday.  I look forward to writing them.  I don’t want to let y’all down, but to continue to do this without taking the time to just be is me letting myself down.  It is time to go sit, like I told you Jesus often did.  So I am, and I don’t feel a bit guilty.

Starting today, IJAC is on hiatus and during this time, I hope you read through the other installments of this blog or maybe even go sit yourself.  Until we meet again, refreshed and ready…

–d.

Blog, Daily Devotional, Spiritual Walk

Voted “Most Unlikely To Succeed”

Good morning, peeps!

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” – John 12:32 KJV

(Spoiler alert: this is not a feel-good devo this morning)

As a child – okay, adult too – I used to wonder why more people didn’t go to church, why they wanted nothing to do with Jesus. Like, “what’s wrong with y’all??”…that would be my question. I have friends who’ve said to me, “I support you, D, and I love what you’re doing in ministry, but naaahhh. I’m good on the church tip.” I was given the answer to my “why” question early on as I was taught that it was because they just didn’t want to do right: they were selfish and sinful and didn’t want to give up “the world”. Well…that never sat well with me and I always challenged that blanket statement because surely that wasn’t everybody’s reason. This came back to mind this weekend when I revisited Jesus’ encounter with Zaccheus in Luke 19.

If you read it, you’ll see that Zach (yeah, I just did that) chose material wealth over spiritual wealth. I totally get why he would. I do. See, back in the day, rabbis taught that tax collectors had zero hope of entering heaven. So, (putting myself in Zach’s shoes) if you told me that I had no hope of entering heaven, then why in the world would I pursue it? Why would I seek a relationship with a God who you say doesn’t want anything to do with me? Are you kidding me? You got me twisted, son! Imma go for what I know!

I get it, Z. I get it. Been there.

Here’s the 2nd part of the account that grabbed me: Zach was curious about Jesus. Oh yeaahhh. Even though he’d already been given a “death sentence” by the religious leaders (I hope you peeped who’s doing all of the talking), Zach was still curious about Life. And this curiosity led him to do something out of the ordinary to see Jesus: he climbed a tree. And then Jesus, seeing this, invited HIMSELF over to Zach’s house. Hold up! Are you screaming right now?? I’m playing the role of Zach: “You mean to tell me that Jesus who, according to YOU, shouldn’t/wouldn’t have anything to do with a sinner like me, is coming to MY house?? I mean, He just invited Himself over! Did y’all see that??! And not only that, did you hear Him say that I, crooked-as-the-day-is-long Zach – I admit it – am a son of Abraham?”

*sigh*

There are so many people who have just gone for what they know rather than seek a relationship with Jesus because of us – the body of Christ. We’ve beat them down from behind the pulpit and the lectern, beckoning them to come near while shoving them away at the same time. Oh, we may not come right out and say that they have no hope of entering heaven, but the messages we preach, the conversations we have, and the way we look down our noses conveys that. So why would they pursue it?  Would you?

The winds are shifting… You wanna see a move of God? It’s going to be through the most unlikely people. You need to get hip to this: there is something inside of them – call it “curiosity” if you want – that’s rising up and they don’t care what the church says anymore. They want to find out for themselves. These same folks are going to be the ones who are willing to do the crazy, like climb a tree, to get a glimpse of Jesus. This just hit me: perhaps climbing the tree was not only Zach’s way of getting above the crowd so that he could see Jesus, but it was also his way of getting AWAY from the crowd – their judgment and their words – so that he could see Jesus. Folks are about to come to Christ in some of the most unusual ways and He’s going to honor their efforts.

And the church can keep snatching back the welcome mat if we want to. It won’t matter. Jesus will just invite Himself over to their house because He sees them for who they are. Not damaged goods. Not hopeless cases: as sons and daughters of Abraham. Have a great day.

Blog, Daily Devotional, Spiritual Walk

Grace? Whatever.

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.” –  Luke 22: 31-34 (KJV)

I have a problem child who seems to be placed in my life by God. Or the enemy. On certain days, I’m not sure which of them is responsible. You think Paul had a thorn?  Hmph. That was nothing. This person is an entire rose garden, minus the actual flower! It seems like no matter how nice and loving I am… Look, if I wanted to indulge my pettiness, I could actually have a calendar made that had the end of each quarter highlighted because that’s around the time they will act a fool. All of the sudden, I am the “meanest person in the world” in their eyes, having done not a deggnummit thing, and they’ll act like they don’t know me and won’t speak to me for weeks. I know what you’re thinking: kick them to the C.U.R.B.! As much as I hate drama, you think I haven’t tried??  Lord knows I have, and I literally mean that.  HE KNOWS.  I have been all up in His face regarding this. I have prayed about them so many times. More like “for” them…to go away. I hadn’t heard from them in months until recently.  I rolled my eyes and said “Oh lawd, not this again”.  I was immediately convicted in my spirit.

Lies. I wasn’t, but I should have been.

This morning, God reminded me about the power and privilege of extending grace. He showed me through scripture how Jesus prayed for and kept Peter near, knowing full well that Peter was going to betray Him. Not by the end of the quarter, but in just a few short hours.  He knew He had to keep Peter close regardless. Peter needed Him. Oh lawd.

I know we are not supposed to be ignorant: there are people who cause us harm that we should remove from our lives, but what about the ones who are more of an annoyance than a threat? Who have you been trying to shake like a bad habit?  Pray to God about ways you can extend grace. Maybe you’re the person they need to be around. Who knows? Maybe when they get their life right (converted), they’ll be a strength to those around them…even to you. Have a great day!

–d.

Blog, Daily Devotional

Habit Breaking

Good morning, peeps!

One fun aspect of my job role is teaching new hires how to assemble. Along with skills, I teach safe work habits. Being on top of your skill game is nice, but never put yourself in harm’s way. Of all the injuries that occur, it’s the hands that get tore up the most. I tell the trainees to pay attention and always be aware of their environment: LOF = Line of Fire. Even the most experienced assembler can forget this. They get so used to a routine that they will stiiiiiiick to it even if it puts them in harm’s way.  I’ve been cussed out a few times and even told to go somewhere that was not near heaven (that’s exactly how they said it) when I’ve tried to warn people that they were putting themselves in danger.  Old habits die hard.

“What’s a little bitty bruise or smashed knuckles? I’ll be aiight – it’ll heal.” Yeah, you can still use your hand, but consider how the quality of your life is affected now: your hand hurts every time you stretch your fingers, you can’t make a fist without feeling pain…your grip ain’t the same.

Let me tell you something: God is breaking habits and routines. As I was scrolling through my FB newsfeed like I do every morning – this was after I’d just been in prayer thanking God for my fam, friends, a mind to pray, etc – I found myself thinking “Wow. Their life is nice.” Sigh. My spirit was deflated that quick. [This is not bait: I don’t want any “Girl! What?? Youz the bomb!” messages. I’m good.] When I logged off, this is what was impressed upon my heart: do you want their life or the life I made for you? Gut AND throat checked. What in da world…? See how easy it was for me to get off course? And I can tell you how it happened, too: my experienced, been-runnin-for-Jesus-a-long-time, “I got up, read and prayed so I’m straight” self didn’t pay attention to my environment (FB) and busted my knuckles right up against a steel block of comparison. My “grip” is suspect right now.

You have a real enemy. He’s watched you for years. He knows what will knock the wind out your joy-sail. He’s got your habits and your routines clocked to the nanosecond and he’ll be hanging out there, waiting for you to show up. You need to stay alert.  Switch it up on him. Have a great day!

 

–d.

Blog, Long Read, Spiritual Walk

The Road To Trust Pt.1

(Note: I wrote this last month.  I am sharing the growth process with you.)

I don’t know if I like New Breed’s “Expectation (Miracles, Signs, & Wonders)” song anymore.  When I first discovered this song, it was on repeat.  This song is everything!  It had me at ‘hello’.  Like, I’m not kidding.  Here’s the first line:

We expect You.

Wha…???  Yeah.  These are probably my new favorite “three little words”.  That is a truly powerful statement.  We expect You.  Man.  That made me do a happy dance!  So one morning, I was singing those words…wait.  Hold up.  Have you ever felt like God set you up for a lesson?  You’ll just be moseying along and then God goes “Bam!  Bet you didn’t know there was a message in all of this!  Ha ha!  Gotcha!”  So on that morning, I was singing those words when this gut punch came out of nowhere:

“Are you really expecting Me, Deone?”

Really?  That was low, God.  You just gonna bust up my morning worship like that??  Fo’ yo’ info…

I didn’t have a leg to stand on.  He knows me so well.  I mean, I do expect Him for others with all of the miracles, signs, and wonders-stuff.   He’s God.  Duh.  Oh, but not for me though.  Now, don’t get me wrong: it’s not that I don’t believe He can.  No.  I just don’t believe He wants to.  For me.

I was led to Matthew 7 where Jesus is speaking, beginning with verse 7: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

I’m the girl who will call her secret crush to ask him to the dance, but hang up as soon as he answers because I don’t want to risk rejection.  That’s me when it comes to God.  Ask??  For what?  So He can say “Girl, boo.  I know you didn’t just fix your mouth to…go on somewhere with that.  You must’ve forgotten what happened on September 23, 1993.  Guess what?  I haven’t.”? Seeking and knocking?  Maannn.  If I can’t even bring myself to ask, I shol ain’t looking for anything or bruising my knuckles.  C’mon now!

This has been the journey of a lifetime, and not the “let’s hit all of the fun tourist spots and take cute pictures for Instagram” kind, either.  This has been a painful, off-road, bugs-in-my-teeth type of journey.  Just me and Him.  And He is bypassing all of the rest stops.  God has a way of making you face your issues.  There comes a time when you realize that the brick wall in your life is not going anywhere unless you KNOCK IT DOWN.  And on that day, God was like “enough is enough” and I was forced to ask myself the hard questions.  First on this list: why didn’t I expect Him?   It was an easy answer…one that hurt me to admit as a minister.

I didn’t trust Him.

To be continued…