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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.)

 

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An Acquired Taste – Pt. 3

This is Part 3 of our new devotional series “An Awkward Stance”.

Good morning, peeps!

I have decided that I will be going on a 3-day fast at the end of this week.  I feel led to.  I really do.  I woke up with this in my spurrit.  I feel like this fast is something I need – halleluyer – to keep/bring everything in alignment with God.  I mean, the spiritual and the physical benefits are endless.  Y’all.  They are endless.  No, it’s not the Daniel Fast.  It’s the “I Don’t Want To Eat THAT” fast.

I’ll be in prison this weekend.

I feel like Chaka Khan right now: I can read your mind.  Some of you are thinking, “Whose blog am I reading??”  It’s all good, folks.  I am part of a ministry team that goes into the correctional system and ministers to inmates.  It’s actually pretty cool and this weekend, I’ll be leading worship for about seventy-five women at the nearby correctional facility.  I did it last Fall and I cannot even describe how amazing it is.  Let me put it this way: prison ministry has just about ruined me for any other type of ministry.   For real, for real.  Y’all can minister to the free folks – let me go into the prisons.  To see those women worship like they have lost their minds, knowing full well that in a few hours they’ll be headed back to their cells…man.

I really have no excuse not to live full-on for Jesus.  None.

There were a few times during worship that I had to keep my eyes focused on my sheet music because I knew that if I looked up at the women, I would burst into tears.  Or fall off my stool.  There is a song titled “Undignified Praise”.  I now know what that looks like.  I honestly don’t know how they did it.  They were so free while…not.  I mean, I was sitting there leading worship while being bound up with my own stuff.  I was more imprisoned than they were.  As my pastor likes to say, “Not all prisons have bars.”  This is true.  I had a great time.  Everything about that weekend was wonderful.  I lie.  Not everything was wonderful.  And that bit of un-wonderfulness is the reason for the fast I feel led to go on.

And I’m doin’ the leading.

We arrive at the prison by 7 a.m. each morning and leave around 8 p.m.  Team members are encouraged to eat a filling breakfast before we arrive.  Notice the time period we will be there.  What two meals are in that?  Lunch and dinner.  We do not get to leave the grounds to grab a bite, so what do you think we eat?  Yep.  There are no Christianly words to describe the look and taste of prison food.   There just aren’t any.  Like, only severely-offensive words come to mind when I think of it.  It’s…well, I don’t know.  Wait, I got it: it’s Balboa Mist.  That’s a paint color by Benjamin Moore.  Google it and imagine what that color would taste like.  Not the paint, but the actual color.  That’s it.  It’s Balboa Mist.  To me.  It is that to me.  There are some, though, who find it rather delicious.  You wanna know who those ‘some’ are?  Prisoners.  Those who have had to eat it to survive.

Lies.

Annoyed_look

Y’all, I was tempted to use just the initials of “Balboa Mist” until I realized what that would look like. Well…ijs.

Now, I’m about 99.999% positive that none of them were eating Balboa Mist before they were incarcerated.  They ate meals that were colorful and flavorful – pleasing to the palate.  Food that tasted like food.  Food that looked like food.  Balboa Mist is not that.  No.  And somehow they eat it.  They’ve had to.

They’ve acquired a taste for it.

ac·quire
/əˈkwī(ə)r/
learn or develop (a skill, habit, or quality)

There’s a new show on TV that follows newly-released inmates as they adjust to being back on “the outside”.  I can’t think of the name of it, but I know it starts with a “r”.  Guess what the first “I’m home” scene is?  A family dinner.  Released.  That’s the name of the show.  You will see the person sitting down in front of a heaping plate of their mama’s best “I put my foot in that right there” dishes and they are going to town.  And someone always says, “I couldn’t wait to get real food.  Prison food was awful.”  Hold up: it couldn’t have been that bad – you ate it.

I got used to it.  I had no other choice.

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.

–d.

 

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Just Be.

(This is the next-to-the-last part of our devotional series “Press – The Musical”.)

Good morning, peeps!

“Just you and me…here in this place” – Place Of Worship by William McDowell

I have a 5 year-old nephew named Christopher.  He is truly one of my great loves.  He is so loving and smart and stubborn.  Just like his auntie.  I am referring to the stubborn part when I say that.  I was babysitting him one time and I don’t know if his mama had given him candy, but he would not be still.   I told him to sit down and when I left the room, I could hear him running around.  So I walked up to him, grabbed him by his shoulders and tried to seat him in the chair.  Do you know that little boy stiff-legged me?? Oooh!  He held his legs straight out and refused to sit down.  Even told me “no”.  So I helped him out: I put my arm behind his knees causing them to bend and made him sit down.  He crossed his arms and pouted, letting me know I was not his best friend anymore.

God is making me sit down.  I’m pouting.

That episode with Christopher came to mind as I listened to this song this morning.  Listen to it.  They sing it so pretty like, “la la la la la, I’m skipping through the lilies”.  All carefree.  Got on my nerves.  I don’t think I’ve ever lived an inch of this life carefree and la-la-la.  Not even in a place of worship.  I sincerely doubt there’s been one second.  I am positive that I squirm in my sleep trying to make sure I stay in right standing with God as I slobber on my pillow.  I’m the Martha of Christianhood: I am so occupied with the way things are instead of just sitting at the feet of Jesus.  I don’t just be.  God is forcing me to do that during this press.  And I’m resisting.

Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. – Psalm 37:4 KJV

So, this morning, I decided to start a fast.  I kinda feel like I’m cheating the system because I do this every day: I eat a light breakfast at 5 a.m. and then my next meal is dinner.  This is not intentional – trust me.  I like food and it likes me.  #BFFoLyfe.  The reason I don’t eat during the day is that I simply do not have the time.  As I sought God for His guidance during this fast, I heard in my heart “What are you fasting for?  Why can’t you just be?”  Don’t get me wrong, there is not a thang wrong with fasting: if God places a time of self-denial on your heart, do it.  This morning’s fast declaration was all me.  God hadn’t told me to do a thing.  I always feel like there’s something I gotta do, especially if I’m not seeing what I want to see happen.  I know.  I need to quit.  I am still working myself out of the…dang.  I just did it again, didn’t I?

Just so you know, this fast was about my desire for yet another confirmation.  Remember blogs ago when I told you that I am the “confirmation queen”?  Honey.  I don’t think I can do that obsession justice with mere words.  It’s a serious problem.  Like, I need a confirmation for the confirmation of a confirmation that someone confirmed while I was seeking a confirmation for something they didn’t know they were confirming.  That’s how bad I am.  I remember two weeks ago I was driving home and I saw an “open house” sign.  It was stuck on a corner with an arrow pointing thataway and the grass around it was dead.  So three blocks later, I’m in my car trying to figure out the spiritual meaning of what I saw.   It was a cardboard sign, y’all.  Are you getting what I’m saying?   Hmm.  That open house sign was stuck in some dead grass…maybe God is saying… Good grief!  I am positive God was rolling His eyes like, “You’ve gotta be kidding me, child!” because I heard in my heart, “Everything ain’t a sign, Deone.  It was just an open house sign and the grass was dead.  Why can’t you just let it be a sign and grass?”

Did you know that being has to be intentional?  I don’t know how to do that.  I told God that this morning and Psalm 37:4 came to me.  To be honest, I only knew the words – the location was a mystery for me.  And guess what?  I fussed at myself about that.  Goodness, Minister!  You should’ve known the exact book, chapter, verse and page number for that scripture!  Ugh!!!

Good grief.  Why can’t I just be?

–d.