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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.

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Rein In.

Good morning, peeps!

So you knew I was going to talk to you about my stint in the joint, right?  We’ll jump back into the Daniel series tomorrow.

Prison will change you.  Whether you live there, work there, or visit – it will change you.  For some, the experience will bring about a greater appreciation of the freedoms they have “on the outside”.  Who wants to – now, really – be told when they can eat?  No one, not even those who say “Just tell me when it’s time to eat.”  That would drive me nuts.  Plus, I like to snack.  There are no snacks in prison.  You get three meals, and those in charge tell you when you can eat them.  They also dictate what you eat.  We really need to pray that God grants them a spirit of grace.  I’m not sure if grace actually counts as a Fruit of the Spirit, but I’m pretty sure it has to be one of them.  You know, there are some lost scrolls…maybe the piece on the grace-fruit is in those.  Let me get off my food rant.

One of the things I’ve noticed about my interactions with the inmates is that they always talk about their release date.  Very seldom do they talk about why they are there in the first place, but that release date – yeah, buddy.  It’s almost like their “verse of the day” – it motivates them.  They not only talk about their release date, but all of the things they are going to do once they are released.   And it’s not grand stuff, either.   No one’s talking about ending world hunger, but spending time with their children and going to church are on the top of their to-do list.   There is so much they want to do when they are released.

I always go into any type of ministry with the hopes that God will not only minister to those in my presence, but that He ministers to me as well.  I never know what to expect, although there are times that I try to dictate what that will be.  I’ve told you before that I can conjure up all kinds of scenarios where I think God is saying a certain thing to me – which will be totally different than what He’s saying to everyone else.   This time, He talked with me about all of the things He wants to do when He is released.

Say what??

The picture that was given to me was one of a horse.  I have never ridden a horse and I don’t have any desire to ride a horse.  Large beasts scare me.  When I was a little girl, I was made to ride an elephant at either a circus or state fair.  I was terrified.  Things happen when I am scared.  If that booger smelled bad before I got on it, it definitely reeked once I was back on the ground.  Horses terrify me.  I’ve seen too many westerns when someone was thrown from one and got stomped in the chest.  No thank you.  Anyway, the picture was that of a horse. I had put a bridle on it and was trying to pull it one way and then the next.  No matter how hard I pulled, the horse would not budge.  God spoke into my heart, “Release Me.”

I’ve been holding the reins.

My “need” for control stems from things that have happened to me in my past.  “But I thought you trusted God, Minister Deone?”  I do – to a certain extent.  When it comes to ministry, my hands do not touch the reins.  I.  LET.  GO.  Now.  I didn’t before.  I had to first see how God moved when I gave the reins a little slack before I would let go completely.  Now, God can tell me when and what, just as those guards do with the prisoners.  My mindset is that of Apostle Paul when he said in Ephesians 3:1, “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you…”.  All day, every day – that’s me.  But when it comes to life, especially matters of the heart, not so much.  I like to control that.  But then I also ask God to do stuff in that area.  And He can…as long as I get to tell Him what and when.

Release Me.

The first thing I had to address was the “why”: why do I not want to let go of the reins and let God just do His thing in my life?  So I asked Him.  Because then you won’t be the one in control and that frightens you.  Plus, you don’t know what that looks like.  True, true.  I don’t know what that looks like and Holy Spirit is kinda radical – He likes to stir up stuff.  I don’t mind when He does it in ministry, but it…I don’t know.  That kinda unnerves me when it comes to my personal life.  And yet, I still pray for God to move…as long as He moves my way.

Release Me.

If this is speaking to anyone, receive it.  Do not pray for God to move in your life and then try to tell Him how to move.  We can’t dictate it.  I say that, but let me clarify something: God is not going to go against your will.  “Thy Will be done…”  Jesus told his disciples to pray that for a reason.  It’s not a permission statement: it’s an admission statement.  We are admitting that we need His Will to be done in our lives and we are surrendering ours.  As long as you have a pit bull grip on the reins, God can’t do what He wants to do in your life.  And oh, does He want to.  We have to let Him.

Release Me.

So, I asked God what fully releasing the reins would look like.  He knows his girl has this “I need to know ahead of time” issue.  So He showed me.

horsey

Oh lawd.

–d.

 

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It’s Thursday-ish – Pt. 1

This is the 2nd study in our series “An Awkward Stance, a study/devotional series on the book of Daniel.

Good morning, peeps!

I apologize for the lateness of this blog.  I had a early day of meetings and travelling so I wasn’t able to send this out sooner.  I’m glad that I couldn’t because some stuff needed to marinate for a little bit.  Let’s dig in.

On the last blog, I left you guys pondering your identity.  I hope everyone did what I asked and focused on what this was saying:

Screenshot_2018-09-10-21-33-49-1

When people talk about Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, they talk about what those boys did: Daniel refused to eat the king’s food and the other three refused to bow down and worship a pagan god. Nothing wrong with that…talk about it.  What has been crammed into my brain is they would not have been able to do those things had they not known who they were and how to walk in that knowledge.

Who You Are

I have three kiddos.  They look like me.  The youngest daughter looks exactly like me, but they all look like me.   You can tell they’re mine.   They are.  I know this.  Not just because they look like me, but because I looked at them as they exited the building, if you know what I mean.  No one on this Earth or even in Heaven can convince me that they are not mine.  Those three are Deone’s kiddos.  Out of the three, my son looks like me the least.  He actually looks like my brother’s children.  He could slide right into a family portrait session and no one would think twice. Put a pin in that – we’ll revisit.

Look at Numbers and Leviticus.  The writers made sure you knew who begat whom.  Do you know why?  It wasn’t just so you wouldn’t confuse Ephraim’s Jehud with Benjamin’s. (I promise I’m just making up names.)  Family legacy, inheritance and identity meant something back in those days.  You knew who you were.  Your mama and daddy made sure of that.  Oh, you were reminded on a daily basis that your great-great-great-great grandaddy was Abraham and the covenant God made with him.  You not only knew who you were, but you knew what that meant.  You were taught how to carry yourself as a descendant of Abraham.  You were taught how to be that.  Everyone knew who Abe’s people were.  You could spot one of Benjamin’s kids a mile away.  Now that doesn’t mean that everyone did what they were taught, but all knew the consequences of acting out of character.  You know that saying mamas have when their kids are acting up, “You know good and well I didn’t raise you that way.”  Man.  Acting outside of character would get you into a lot of trouble.  We really don’t know what being “estranged” means, not when compared to how they lived back in the day.  Not only would you get told off, but they’d kick you out of the tribe and leave you up to the mercy of God.  You weren’t about to mess things up for everybody.

The fear of God’s wrath has a tendency to thin out blood rather quickly.

While on my business trip, I’d pray the same prayer every morning: “God, let them see You in me.  Let my very presence change the atmosphere.  Let Your Spirit be felt when I walk into the room.”  This was my prayer every single morning.  From my vantage point, it didn’t seem like that was happening, though.  Papers didn’t fly off of the tables nor did screens flicker when I walked in.  I really wasn’t expecting that and to be honest, if that had happened, I probably would’ve held up my church finger and excused myself.  What I did do was carry myself like a woman who knew who she was: a woman of God.  I just walked in it.  I didn’t need to slam a bible down onto the table, hum a couple of hymns during the conference calls or say “God bless you” whenever I greeted anyone.  Nope.  I just was.  I was being.  I didn’t isolate myself and I still hee-hawed with everyone else.  If you ask me, I wasn’t giving off any odd vibes.  I found out on the last day that I stood out like a sore thumb.  One person asked me if I was in ministry and I replied ‘yes’.  Then he said, “I could tell.  It’s all over you.”

There is a point to this and it’s going to take me a minute to get to it.  I will pause right here and return on Monday.  I have to get ready to go to prison right now.  You all have a great weekend.

–d.

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An Acquired Taste – Pt. 5

This is Part 5 in our study/devotional series “An Awkward Stance” – a study on the book of Daniel.

Good morning, peeps!

I want you to be aware of the struggle I am having this morning.  When my alarm sounded at 3-stankin’-30, I just laid there and asked myself why I didn’t tell you that I was on a business trip this week with the hope that y’all would give me a pass on these devotionals.  I did.  I sure did.  Not all of my 3:30 a.m. thoughts are spiritual.  Shoot.  Judge me if ya wanna.  I’ve lost count of the number of meetings I’ve been in, names of VPs that I’ve already forgotten and the long after-dinner conversations everyone wants to have like they don’t have a 3:30 a.m. wake-up call.  Oh, wait.  They don’t.  I’m trying really hard to be present and take it all in because this is an amazing opportunity career-wise, but I keep looking at my watch and also thinking about how I’ll be in prison this weekend. Nevertheless (that’s my big Bible word for the day), here I am typing.  And struggling.  Y’all don’t understand.  The struggle this morning is real and it’s not because I don’t want to write a blog.  Uhn-uh.  That’s not it.

I really, REALLY want to do the study portion today.  It’s not Thursday, though.

I woke up with the last line from yesterday’s blog on my heart: he didn’t have a taste for it.  As I laid in bed, ya know – pondering the meaning of life, that sentence dug itself further into my heart.  He didn’t have a taste for it.  Man.  Y’all… I’m trying to wait until Thursday, but… I don’t know if I’m gonna make it!  Trying to hold this in is making me squirm!

I don’t read bible commentaries.  I skim them.  I look for something to catch my eye first and then I hone in.  This morning, I pulled up Matthew Henry’s commentary on Daniel 1 just to verify something.  Good grief.  I was just trying to see if the backstory I remembered of Daniel was on point.  Dude went in.  Does anyone else do this: open an article and quickly look to see how long it is before you start reading it?  THAT’S WHAT I DID!!  Ha!  If I have to hit the PG DN button more than twice, I’m done.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.  Well, the length of this article is well past two clicks of the PG DN button.  Admittedly, I don’t know how long it really is because I stopped after two clicks and scrolled back up to the top.  And I was just about to exit the screen when I saw the word “pious”.  Hmm.  Let me look at that sentence.  Aww man!  I was already struggling to keep this entry as a short devotional and this only made it worse. Check it:

“Their pious refusal to eat the portion of the king’s meat…”

The first thing that popped into my head was the image I have as the wallpaper on my phone’s home screen.

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DO YOU NOW SEE WHY I AM STRUGGLING NOT TO WRITE THE STUDY TODAY??

Do this for me. Download or take a screenshot of that image and look at it throughout the day.  Why?  Because I want to prepare you for tomorrow’s study.  Because you need that thought seared into your brain.  Because I am about to lose my mind over here.   Oh, yeah – let me tell you this, too: Daniel and his friends were of royal lineage.  Israeli royalty.  Covenant royalty.

And they knew it.

Lord God, Jesus AND Holy Spirit, please help your daughter be present in these meetings today.  It’s only Wednesday.  Thank you.  Amen.

–d.

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An Acquired Taste – Pt. 4

This is Part 4 in our study/devotional series “An Awkward Stance”.

Good morning, peeps!


Before I get started, know that I am a little concerned that we will be talking about food this entire series.  I don’t know if God is trying to minister to my love of food or what.  Oh well.  This is just where He has us at the moment.  And it really isn’t about food anyway.


 

I love babies.  OH MY GOODNESS.  I love babies.  BRING THEM TO ME.

I am that annoying person who walks up to the newly-married couple standing in their receiving line and asks, “So, when y’all gonna have a baby?”, as I rub my hands together anxiously.   I am that person.  I can be rather obnoxious with it.  Somebody needs to have a baby!!  I recently got the look of death from one of my friends who’d just had her fourth kiddo when I said, “So.  You’ve rested for about four hours.  That’s long enough.  Time to have another one for Auntie Deone!”  I just love babies!  Especially the chunky ones.  Oooh!  Now, let’s get something straight.  I may have the stork circling over people’s heads, but know that I am just here for the snuggles.  I will not help with the raising, feeding or cleaning.  You need someone to hug and kiss ’em?  I’m your girl.

There’s this fun couple whom I’ve pestered for years about having a baby – John and Katie.  It was constant. Every time I saw them, I was like, “So, when are you going to have a baby?  I need someone to spoil.”  Well, a few hours ago, they had their own hunk of burnin’ love.  And he is beautiful.  And chunky.  As I looked at the pictures of my new nephew, I thought about the last line from yesterday’s blog: the stand happened long before that.  It would probably help if I gave that sentence some context, so here’s the end of the blog:

There are two things I really want you to grab ahold of in the beginning of this series: ‘choice’ and ‘stand’.  Tomorrow, we’ll start digging into Daniel’s choice when it came to eating the king’s food.  Notice I said ‘choice’.  Daniel made a choice.

The stand happened long before that.

Scientists say that babies start developing their tastes for certain foods long before they ever see a bottle or a breast – some as early as the 20th week of gestation.  I’m over here cracking up as I think about how my middle child frowned the first few times I nursed her.  Like, I am not kidding.  She would make the most awful “what the heck is this mess??” face and I am sure that if she could talk then, her next taste would’ve been that of soap.  She would get a straight-up attitude with me, as if I was serving up swill.  Or Balboa Mist.  Now I know why: nine months of oatmeal creme pies, Doritos, and Filet O’Fish sandwiches would have anyone spoiled.  That’s good eatin’!  I was lightweight afraid of my daughter, if I’m honest.  I’m serious as all get out: imagine nursing your baby and when you look down at your precious cherub who is latched onto you like a piranha, she’s looking up at you like (this picture is so handy)…

Annoyed_look

She never stopped nursing, though.  Despite her original tastes, she eventually acquired a taste for swill (Balboa Mist).

She had no other choice.

As we start reading about Daniel in the first chapter, we see that he was presented with an opportunity to make a choice of his own regarding food.  He wasn’t feelin’ what he was being served.  He said, “Naw, bruh.  I’m not eating that.”  For the moment, let’s look past the whole “presented to idols first” deal.  I know this will be hard for the bible scholars, but just go with me for about two four sentences.  This is the king’s food.  The best food in all of the land.  Choicest meats, breads, veggies, and desserts.  Nothing but the best the kingdom has to offer.  Now, you can go back to the idol deal.  See?  That wasn’t too bad.  Guess what?  Even though the food was presented to idols, it was still the choicest meats, breads, veggies, and desserts the land had to offer.  That didn’t change what it was.  So, what’s the deal, Daniel?  Why won’t you eat it?

He didn’t have a taste for it.

–d.

(By the way, I think this is technically a devotional.)