Daily Devotional, Spiritual Walk

Fuming.

(This is Part 1 of our 3-part devotional series “go sit: the art of being”.)

Good morning, peeps!

I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel You ~ hope to feel something again ~ but You have called me higher ~ You have called me deeper” – from “Called Me Higher” by All Sons And Daughters

I want to clarify something: to be doesn’t mean to stop living. Oh, I know I gave examples during the Press series about God halting my routine, telling me to sit my butt down and stop just doing. I want you to understand that it doesn’t mean I stop living. That I stop ministering. That I stop praying. That I stop singing. That I stop doing. I’m not sitting on my couch with my feet propped up chillaxin’ and acting like I don’t have a call on my life. No ma’am, no sir.

“Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.” – Acts 16:24-26 KJV

You have no choice but to be when you’re locked up in prison, especially if your feet are in stocks. Where you gonna go, friend? No where. You can’t help but to sit down and be. Look at the above passage from Acts 16. Paul and Silas were some active folks. The two of them were going everywhere, preaching, teaching, and casting out spirits. As a matter of fact, if you read the few verses prior to that excerpt you will find that doing that very thing is what got them locked up in the first place. They cast a spirit out of a woman whose possession was making folks money. In the scripture, they were called her “masters”. Funny how people will see something in you and try to control it for their gain…like they own you. That’s a whole ‘nother blog. When Paul and Silas called the spirit out of her and she was released, her masters became enraged and made a false report to the authorities, causing Paul and Silas to be cast into prison. That’s messed up.

So here’s three things that came to me this morning and are the reason we have a new series. I can’t do them all in one day.

  1. One, sometimes God will allow things to happen just to get you to be…just to get you to sit down.
  2. Two, being does not mean not being. Does that make sense? No? Good. That means I get to explain it. Yay!
  3. Three, being actually positions you for what God wants to do.

“Open the eyes of my heart, Lord ~ open the eyes of my heart ~ I want to see You ~ I want to see You” – from Open The Eyes Of My Heart (cover) by Trey McLaughlin

(Author’s note: if you listen to this version of the song and you aren’t rockin’ smooth-like with it, listen to it again.)

Part 1…sometimes God will allow things to happen just to get you to be…just to get you to sit down.

God doesn’t want you operating off of fumes. Remember that I said “Paul and Silas were some active folks…going everywhere, preaching, teaching, and casting out spirits.” I just did a copy/paste on my own words. Yeah-uh! I don’t remember reading about Paul and Silas (known henceforth as P/S) ever taking a break. Do you? If you look through the Gospels, though, you will see several accounts of Jesus going off by himself and sometimes He took the disciples with Him. God appreciates and honors the ministry we do for the Kingdom, but goll-leeeee! Sometimes He wants you to just sit down! You need to just be sometimes so that God can minister to you. And truthfully, that is the only way God can “open the eyes of your heart”. For real. How else are you going to see Him “high and lifted up” if you’re so focused on doing and not being? I used to go and go and people would ask me how I had the energy to do so much and I would reply “I’m just functioning off of fumes.” That is not good.

And that is not God.

God doesn’t want us to serve Him out of exhaustion. I know Scripture says “present your bodies a living sacrifice”, but please take note of the “living” part. Good grief. How alive are you if you’re just functioning off of fumes? What kind of sacrifice are you presenting? Man! Even the dead sacrifices back in the day were about sumthin’! No one brought some old dried up or shriveled side of beef to the altar. Naw, baby. They brought the best and juiciest…as a matter of fact, it was killed right there at the altar. Some of us…never mind. Again, that’s a whole ‘nother blog. Matthew 26:41 is often used as an admission of weariness: “…the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Okay, I get it, but where are my church folks who will admit that sometimes it’s their spirit that is weak and I don’t mean in regards to temptation. You have no umph left. You are dry. Oh! I see some hands! Here’s my message to you: SIT DOWN.

I am smiling right now because I imagine that had not the feet of P/S been locked in stocks, they would’ve been walking around the prison ministering. When God wants you to be still, oh, He makes sure that’s all you can do.

Have good one, 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.

Daily Devotional, Long Read, Spiritual Walk

Becoming.

(This is Part 8 of our devotional series “Press – The Musical”.)

Good morning, peeps!

“Til I become what He wants me to be ~ I press” – from “Press” by Fred Hammond

I think I get on my Father’s nerves.

This is the thought that came to mind yesterday as I responded to a comment on my blog. I think I really do. Not, “I think I get on God’s nerves”, but “I think I get on my Father’s nerves”. I was referring to the parental side of God. I thought about one time when my son was 4 and he asked if he could sit by me on the couch. Now that he’s a teen, I kid him by answering “Naw!”, which he ignores and plops every bit of his 100-something pound body not next to me, but on one of my thighs. Those little bony hips of his hurt! But when he was a little boy, there was no kidding. It actually hurt me that he felt he had to ask. Why would you ask me that? Of course, you can sit by me. I’m your mother.

“In the hands of the Master ~ it seems like you gotta fight and scratch just to remain”

I ended yesterday’s blog with “Good grief. Why can’t I just be?” I almost added “I’ll fast about it”, but I felt God’s eyeballs on the back of my neck so I didn’t. This is why I think I get on my Father’s nerves. He’s telling me to sit – as a matter of fact, He’s got a spot right next to Him that says “RESERVED FOR DEONE” and I still feel like I gotta do something first before I can sit there. God is probably like, “Oh my gosh!! Will you sit down already??!” He wants me to sit next to Him. He’s so tired of me and my Martha spirit of doing and not being that He’s actually making me sit.

I left something out in my story about Christopher. You remember I said that in order to get him to sit in the chair, I had to place my arm at the back of his knees. That didn’t cause his knees to bend – that only gave his legs something to bend on. What I did was pull him close to me. The combo of placing my arm under his knees and pressing him close was what caused his knees to bend. Pressing him close… I know y’all caught that. My peeps are quick!

Through this whole press, God has been trying to get my knees to bend. Knees that are stiff from distrust, doubt, lack of faith usage (this and doubt are two different things), fear, and pollution are hard to bend. They are not only hard to bend, but it hurts to bend them. I know what you’re thinking. “Um, why wouldn’t you want to “walk” without stiffness? Doesn’t make sense to me.” Well, it makes sense to me, but it doesn’t make sense. Freedom looks and sounds great, but it’s scary for someone who’s only known bondage. I know how to navigate bondage. Oh, there’s my favorite pit and my favorite stumbling block. We meet again. That “free to be” stuff? That is scary. You mean I can walk around here just being in God’s presence? What kind of hooky-pooky are you sellin’, sir?? Nah. I’ll just stay in misery because I know that and besides, having a difficult life just seems to be reflective of what Jesus had to go through and aren’t we supposed to be Christ-like? Let me stick with what I know.

God’s not having it.

“Your love never fails ~ You never give up ~ You never run out on me” – from ‘One Thing Remains’ by Jesus Culture

I’ve never felt far away from God. Not one time in my life have I ever felt like He and I weren’t close. I’ve always felt God’s presence. There have been many times that I’ve even sat down next to Him. I have had times when I’ve taken off my apron and sat at His feet. So what’s the deal, D? What’s this been all about? Have you ever felt unwelcome in a place you were welcomed into? I know you invited me, but the vibe I’m getting is that you really don’t want me here. You only invited me because you didn’t want it to look bad if all of our friends were there and I wasn’t. That’s where me and God were. He’s been inviting me to be around Him and I’ve responded, but I’ve always thought He just did it because Scripture says “For God so loved the world”. I’m one of the world people so He had to include me. Ever tried to hug someone who isn’t a hugger? Their body stiffens as you embrace them, doesn’t it? That’s where me and God were. He’d embrace me and I’d stiffen up thinking, “Okay. What is this?”

“Oh how I love this place of worship” – from “Place Of Worship” by William McDowell

I remember one of my friends praying over me this spring, “God, help Deone to be able to receive the love she freely gives to others.” I just thought of that. I am a giver. I am not comfortable with receiving love. It has always come with a string attached. And that string is usually dirty and tied to a cement block. I told you in one of these installments that I had just been set free from some stuff. That was the result of a long conversation I had with God on my way to see my sister two weekends ago. I was thinking about what someone told me was placed on her heart to share with me. She said that even married women need to fall deeply in love with Jesus to be complete. I struggled with this a little bit. I don’t know how much more in love I can get with you, Jesus. As I was driving, I began to pay attention to the songs I had in my “favorites” playlist. Every single song had a recurring message: Jesus loves me. Hmm. Sounds nice. Almost as soon as I realized that, I heard in my spirit, “It’s not a question of you loving Me, Deone. I know you do. Your life shows it. You just don’t believe I love you. That’s why it’s hard for you to just trust Me. That is why it’s hard for you to just be.”

I joined church when I was 4 and have been jacked up ever since.

Before I joined church, Jesus and I had a sweet relationship. He’d never let me down. He always told me I was special and I believed it. There was no doubt, fear or any of that stuff. I knew Jesus loved me and so it was easy to love Him back. But when I joined church… Let me clear something up. This has not been a blog against going to church. You should assemble together. You find strength among your brethren. This has been about how my view of God was changed after I joined. I no longer loved Him freely because of what man did. I no longer trusted Him because of what man did. I have dealt with a man-made health crisis my entire life and God said that enough is enough. This press not been about God pulling me closer to Him. Nope. I’m already there. It’s been all about that arm underneath the back of my knees: the arm of His love. That’s what I’ve been resisting. My knees haven’t trusted the strength of that arm. You mean you want me to be actually “leaning on the everlasting arms”? I thought that was just a nice hymn. You meant that? For reals? Yes. God has been waiting for that little girl to feel free again.

“There’s a voice that cries out in the silence ~ searching for a heart that will love Him ~ longing for a child that will give Him their all ~ give it all ~ He wants it all” – from ‘He Wants It All’ by Forever Jones

This is where I am. This is what this press has been about. About me giving it all to Him. About that little girl finally letting it all go. She’s been trying, but this adult has held onto some stuff because it’s familiar and what I’ve concluded is familiar ain’t always the best. Oh, there’s my favorite pit and my favorite stumbling block. We meet again. I shouldn’t always go with what I know. What I know is not all that great. During this press, I have discovered something else that is, honestly, scary as all get out: I have to relearn who I am. My identity or rather, my self-awareness, was lost when my innocence was taken away from me. Ages 4 and 5 are when this identity develops for a child. I didn’t get a chance to develop nuthin’. I was told who I would be. And God is now saying that this press, this bending, this surrendering, will be the start of discovering who I am.

“Til I become what He wants me to be ~ I press”

It starts with just being. No lie, I am going to have some relapses along the way, but I am determined to walk this thing out. It has to be intentional. I’m talking about breaking free from over 40 years of habitual living. I’m excited and scared. Keep me in your prayers. Love ya.

–d.

Uncategorized

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.