Blog, Daily Devotional, Long Read, Spiritual Walk

What’s Your 20?

Good morning, peeps!

By the way, “what’s your 20?” is radio-speak for “what’s your location?”.

Let me give you the backstory on Peter: I have none.  I know, as bible scholars, we like to delve into people’s past to figure out who they are and what makes them tick.  I’m not going to do this with Peter.  I’m not going to start off with some cleverly-worded intro into this man’s life.  Y’all know I could, but I’m not.  Nope.  I am going directly to the Word and starting right where Jesus meets Peter.  Jesus didn’t do a background check on Peter – He met Peter right where he was. He meets you right where you are: your “20”.  What was Peter’s “20”?  Have a looksee.  All of these passages are KJV.  We’ll begin with this and I’ll see you next week.

Matthew 4

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

Mark 1

14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. 16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

Luke 5

And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.

Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.  And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:

10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

This is where we are today.  Doin’ some reading.

 

 

Blog, Daily Devotional, Long Read, Spiritual Walk

Perfection Averted. You’re Welcome.

Good morning, peeps!

This is really a weird way to kick off our “Masterpiece” study series, but I’m sure you’ve come to expect that from me because I’m weird.  I know this.  I fully embrace my weirdness.   I want you to see this PrintScreen I did a few moments ago:

masterpiece1

Note the time on that.  That is 4:31 A-TO-THE-M.  4:31 ante meridiem, which means “a time before anyone with good sense would get up”.  Don’t quote me on that.

When I logged-on my computer, that scene absolutely blew me away…that is, after I looked at the time which is in a larger font than everything else.  If you stare at the 4:31 long enough, it will start to pulsate.  Look at the scene, though.  Isn’t it beautiful?  I thought, “God, what an awesome way to start off my morning!  Look at all that You created!  So perfect!  A masterpiece!  Ha!  And here I am about to talk about masterpieces!  Thanks for the sign!!”  Can you really blame me for my excitement?  Look at the beautiful colors of the sky and how everything seems to just flow together – perfection.  After I looked at that for a minute, I started typing away – good stuff – and I cannot wait for you to read all that I typed… tomorrow.

Tomorrow.

Halfway through what was supposed to be the first installment in this series, God said, “Look at the picture BEFORE you cropped it and tell Me what you see.”  Okaaaay…

masterpiece2

In the background, you will see a portion of my home screen which is a picture of my favorite t-shirts.  I used this image for a blog titled “The Perfection Among Us”.

Ha, ha, ha, God.  You ain’t funny. 

This will be the intro into this series.  It’s a continuation of that blog, but we will only focus on Peter this time because he is the inspiration of “Masterpiece”.  I’ve copied the blog entry below.  Happy reading!

*******

The Perfection Among Us

Look not on his countenance…for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7 KJV

Jamie looketh on my outward appearance that night and saw a real-life, in-living-color saint.  Bless her heart.

During the summer months, a few churches in my town take breaks from some of their weekday activities so that families have more flexibility with their schedules.  This may include mid-week bible study.  That was certainly the reason why I had a few new faces in class the night I gave my intro to “Faith & Messy Humans”.  I was like, “Who are these people??”

By the way, this is the intro to our series.  My bad.

Among the new faces was a pretty and bubbly woman named Jamie.  She sat in the second row and she gave me her undivided attention.  As I went through examples of how you can’t always run with your first impression, I noticed her eyes land on my shirt occasionally and I knew that the impression I was trying to give that night worked.  Got ‘em!

Note the pink shirt.  That’s what I had on.  (We’ll talk about the “pure” shirt in the next class.  It. Is. Hilarious.)

20170620_060043

At the end of my intro, I stressed the importance of not judging your walk by what you see others doing.  You don’t know their life.  I told them to check out my shirt, like they hadn’t been staring at it for the last 45 minutes.  What impression does it give?  It makes me seem all socially-conscious, charitable and such, doesn’t it?   I am, but the shirt really is doing the most.  Plus, it’s bright pink.  “My shirt is fighting world poverty.  What’s your shirt doing?”  Yeah!  In yo face!  What yo raggedy shirt doin’, son??  Jamie thought she was being taught by someone super special. No wonder God was using ME to teach bible study: I was wonderfully amazing!  I am not just fighting poverty, but I’m doin’ it worldwide, baby!!   And she sat there judging herself because she wore a Cubs shirt that night.  Seemed a little half-steppin’ next to mine.

Girl, bye.  I bought that shirt during the 67-cent sale at the Salvation Army.  The cost of my shirt barely covered tax for a 4-piece chicken nugget meal.   It would’ve gotten its butt beat down in a fight against world poverty.  Please.

Whatever my shirt originally contributed to the fight is long gone, sis.

One of the things we humans tend to forget is that we are walking among other humans.  And dogs.  Yes, we are.  Humans who are just as jacked up as us.  And I mean “jacked up” in the nicest way possible.  Flawed folks.  Issue-laden people just trying not to drown in their own messiness.  And I’m not talking about the unchurched right now.  I’m talking about followers of Christ – us.  Believers.  Those who are at the church house every Sunday and Wednesday.  Those who wake up at the crack of dawn (and tell you that they do) to spend “precious moments with Jesus”.  The ones whose well-worn bibles have pages that are tattered from years of fervent study.  And speaking of fervent…man!  Their prayer game is on point!  Those who have every “I’m a Christian” t-shirt ever screenprinted.

Those people…them right there?  They are flawed.  Mess-eee.  Oh, for the day when perfection kicks in!  (I just said that like it’s puberty or something. Ha!)

I’ve got some news for ya:  the men and women of Hebrews 11 were flawed, too.  And we’ll find out more about that as we dig into their lives a bit over these next few weeks.  Check it: Abraham, known as the “Father of Faith”, was a liar.  David, best known for killing Goliath (and his fineness), was also an adulterer and accessory to murder.  Peter…hmmm.  Peter, Peter, Peter.   Peter was one of Jesus’ boys.  He walked with Him daily and took part in many of the miracles that Jesus did.  I’m pretty sure he wasn’t trying to set Jesus up for another miracle when he cut dude’s ear off.  Oh yeah: there’s that denial thing too.  Also, he quite the temper. Ear? Slice and dice?  Did you see that?  And you thought Jesus kept Peter close because he was so holy and spiritual.  My guess is that He had to keep Peter with Him at all times because He knew how much trouble he could get into if He didn’t.  MESSY!!

Let me say this before we start: this is not a bash-fest.  My goal is not to dig up dirt just to say, “See.  I told you they weren’t about nuthin’.”  (double negs…gotta love ’em)  I want you to get that God does great things through not-so-great people.   Really, that’s all He has to work with!  I mean, He did say He’d use a rock if He had to, but I know none of us want that.

God does miraculous things through messy people.  Like, you and me.   The purpose of this study is to encourage you and to let you know that who you are and what you’ve done doesn’t take a lick of power away from Him.  Your mess doesn’t render Him ineffective.  He doesn’t look at you and say, “Great.  This is what I have to work with?  Ugh.”  Nope.  Your mess is what makes the miracle a miracle.

Y’all ready?  Let’s dig in.

 

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, Long Read, Spiritual Walk

Can You Repeat That?

Good morning, peeps!

“Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you.” – Psalm 51:16 MSG

Every weekday morning, I meet God in prayer.  Monday through Friday.  At 3:30 a.m.

I have two alarms set on my phone.  Yes, I use my phone as my alarm clock even though I have a digital one on my nightstand.  Like I said, I have two alarms on it: one for 3:30 a.m. and one for 4:00 a.m.  Every weekday morning, I get up at 3:30 to meet with God in prayer.  I pray over my family, friends, and this blog.  After that, I get all the way up and start typing this blog.  The 4:00 a.m. alarm is set just in case something goes awry first thing in the morning.

I have been known to fall asleep during prayer.

The first church I belonged to was held in a little building that used to be a small neighborhood store.  If you are wondering, this is where the term “storefront church” came from.  Most new pastors could not afford to rent large buildings so sometimes church services were held in old stores or even in the living room of their homes.  Actually, that was how my church membership began.  I just thought of that.  We went to someone’s house. Oh my goodness.  I remember folding chairs being lined up in the living room and having to babysit the pastor’s kids while service was going on.  I was just a kid myself!  Ha!  I don’t know why they even bothered to put chairs out because people were eventually going to knock them over when they “caught the Holy Ghost”.  Those services lasted for HOURS.  It was also there that I got burned on my leg and still have the scar to this day.  Aaaaand, that has nothing to do with…never mind.  Back to the storefront and me falling asleep during prayer.

(I was 6, so cut me some slack.)

At the beginning of the service, there was prayer time.  This was when we knelt at the altar and cried out to God, asking for forgiveness and for His way to be had in the service.  This was really for the adults – most of the kids knelt at their seat, if at all.   Not us.  Noooo.  My dad made it known that his chil’ren were going to be the examples for all.  Take note: Bro. James’ kids are serious about obeying God.  Well, one night, I got a little too serious.  Everything started out great as I went into my routine prayer: first, say the Lord’s Prayer; second, confess whatever sinful thing my six-year-old self had done that day; third, thank God for not putting an axe to the roots of my fruitless 6-year-old tree and fourth, ask God to have His way in the service.  I prayed the same thing every time I went to church, which was seven days a week – twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday. That’s how it started, but that’s not how it ended.  One minute I’m hearing the entire church praying and the next thing I knew, I was hearing the preacher reading Scripture.

I had fallen asleep.  At the altar.

Do you know how embarrassing that was?!  The first thing I did was feel down the front of my skirt to make sure I hadn’t pee’d on myself in my sleep.  This was big issue at the time.  I hadn’t.  God is good!  The next thing I did was peek underneath my arm at the congregation.  Yep, they were all seated and looking at me right then because I was fidgeting.   So I had to make a choice: stay at the altar the entire service and pretend I’m still in prayer or get up and walk to my seat.  I decided on the latter because my legs were getting numb.  I get it.  It’s funny.  You can laugh.  I’m sure I looked a bit disheveled because when I go to sleep, I sleep.  I had slobber on my cheek and my face had the imprint of my sleeve on it.  So that was funny.  I expected a few chuckles.  What I didn’t expect was to be shamed for it.  “Well, I guess Deone was really praying hard!”  That’s what the preacher said and the entire congregation laughed.  Loudly.  Well, everyone except my dad.  He was ticked off.

It’s funny the kind of stuff that sticks with you.

God brought this to my mind this morning as I struggled to get past that 3:30 alarm.  Oh, we met.  And that’s all we did.  We met.  I looked at Him and He looked at me and we both were like, “Wassup?”  My spirit mumbled “Idunno” and I started into my routine prayer.  The next thing I know, I’m hearing the 4 o’clock alarm go off.  What?? I fell asleep??  You’ve got to be kidding me!  So Imma start over, God, because I really need to invite Holy Spirit in so I can write this blog!  Okay.  So Lord, I thank You for this… And then I stopped.  I didn’t stop on my own though.  I was stopped.  By one word: routine.

I’ve been going through the motions.

God brought the above scripture to me as I began apologizing to Him for falling asleep during prayer.  He didn’t care about that.  He knew I was tired.  He’s actually been getting on me about being overextended.  Sleep.  Get some rest.  What He doesn’t want is for me to be going through the motions when I talk to Him.  He wants a real conversation.  Real dialog and not some canned prayer.  What I have been doing is doing me more harm than good.  I’m just going through the motions.  Did you know that because brushing teeth is taught to us as children and repeated so often, day in and day out for years and years, the habit becomes so ingrained that we very rarely ever think about the process until a problem arises?  We just do it. Most times, wrong.

This is a relationship.  Who wants someone who’s just going through the motions?

I have a friend and each morning we send a “good morning” text: they do one day and I do the next.  I don’t know how it is on their end, but on my mine…man.  Those two words may as well be two pieces of old bathroom sponge: they are dry and worn out.  But I do it because I don’t want them to think I’m being funky.   Look, I don’t always feel good-morningly and sometimes (pray for me) I don’t actually care if they are having a good one.  I just do it.  It’s become a routine.  I’m just going through the motions.  So last night, I was like “this is some garbage” and told them not to feel obligated to send that text.  Do it if you want to, but what I really want is genuine interaction.  And it’s okay if you don’t feel like interacting with me every day.  We’re still good.  The look of relief that was on their face!  It was like I had given them the green light to just be in this relationship.

Just be.  Isn’t that what “Press” was all about?

I know the Press series was all about my life, but I hope that you were able to glean some things from it for yours.  Maybe it spurred an examination of what’s been going on with you and how seemingly little things in your past have had a huge impact on your now.  Let it end with your “now” and not carry on into your future.  I want to live free.  I want you to live free.  I want you to live, period, and not just go through the motions.  I hope you think about that this weekend.  Shake up your routine.  God will understand.  Have a great weekend, peeps.

–d.

Daily Devotional, Long Read, Spiritual Walk

Pressing On.

Good morning, peeps!


Only God can bring honey out of a carcass. – from “Sweetness” by IJAC


I thought this thing was over.  It ain’t.  I just realized that as God brought back to me the closing line from the “Sweetness” blog.  God said y’all need to hear about that carcass.  This already sounds extra grimy, doesn’t it?  We love to share the sunny parts of our testimony, but y’all need to know the grimy stuff, too.  It kills me when people say “I don’t look like what I’ve been through” and then walk away, leaving you standing there like, “Wait!  What have you been through??”  I’ll tell ya.  Hey, it don’t bother me none.  My grammar is really horrible today.  If it will help somebody…who am I kidding?  I ain’t really thinking about y’all.  I’m trying to stay free.  I need to do this for me.  And if that sounds selfish, well…I don’t know what to tell you at 4:31 in the morning.  You might not want me to “tell you” anything: this breath is on fifty.  By the way, I AM thinking about y’all.  

I brought up of a few things in this series that I didn’t really elaborate on and God is saying that I can’t leave y’all hanging.

There’s this from “Uprooted”:

In order for this pressing to be effective, God had to first get to the root of my sitch, which happens to be my core – what I have wrapped the roots of my life around.  That’s what is slowing killing me.  I was like, “Hold up.  When I started going to church, I was deeply and madly in love with You.  I completely trusted You.  The rock I wrapped my roots around was You.”

“At first.  Something else has taken My place.”

This, from “Polluted Water”:

“And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.” – Isaiah 34:9-11 KJV

I joined church when I was four and have been jacked up ever since: my water got polluted.

This, from “Sweetness”:

When Samson ran up on the lion’s carcass, he met his past head-on.  I’m sure there was an alternate route he could’ve taken, but there he was.  Can you imagine what went through Samson’s mind as he approached it?  I’m sure being a guy he was probably filled with some macho pride, but have you ever thought of the possibility that seeing the carcass also brought back memories of how horrific it was to be attacked?  That he relived what had happened to him?  Who wants to tell someone that?

“…and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion.”

There’s a song that says “You don’t know my story, so you don’t understand my praise”. 

This, from “Bitter”:

And I still preached.  With a bitter taste in my mouth.

Let me clarify something before I get a ton of messages: I believed what I was preaching because it was scripture.  What can I do with that?  Nothing.  It’s God’s Word.  What I didn’t believe was that God meant it for me.  I had no reason to.  I didn’t trust Him.  That didn’t matter, though.  His Word is still true.  (Add Romans 3:1-4 MSG)

And, this from “Crushing It”:

Yes, it would be great if God could just give us the honey and the sweetness without the pain and death, but that’s not how this works. Romans 8:28 says, “ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD.” Apple juice sure is good and if it takes the crushing of skin, flesh and core to make the good stuff, then gettuh crushin’.

I really hate that I just said that. Man. Why did I just say that??

Life it can leave ~ you so bitter, bitter, bitter, bitter ~ but you must believe ~ that it gets better, better, better, better

Wouldn’t it be super funners if we could just get to the good stuff like this:red-apple-straw-19526777

This is not over.  I won’t call it “Press – The Musical”, but I will call it…I don’t know.  It’s 4-something in the morning.   Have a great day.

–d.