Do you remember …?

August 2, 2013

Do you remember where you were 5 years ago?

I do.

I went to bed at 1am that morning after spending 16 hours loading every single earthly possession I owned into a sixteen-foot moving truck.  I was awake again at 9am because I had an appointment to make it to that day.  I finished up a few odds and ends and unfortunately ended up about 3 hours behind schedule.  I finally drove my car up onto the tow-trailer connected to the moving truck and then I was ready to hit the open road.  I had my route planned out — down Dessau Rd. to Palmer Ln. which would connect me to US 290 then onto I-610 and finally, once I hit I-10 I knew I was on the last leg of my journey.

While I was on 290, just north of Houston, I was met with an interesting encounter.  I initially attributed the bad driving style of the SUV in the lane next to me to inconsiderate, “road rage”-prone, and possibly drunk college students, so I decided to decrease my speed to let them pass.  The funny thing is when I decreased my speed, they did the same, in fact, the vehicle seemed to be drawn to me like a magnet  for at least a couple of miles.  At this point, I was really getting nervous because I was driving an over-sized vehicle with a trailer attached and limited viewing capacity.  I started a conversation with God petitioning Him for safety.  After a few minutes, the vehicle corrected its erratic driving and seemed to slow in order to allow me to pass.  As I did, I glanced over into the passenger window of the SUV and read a sign that they had just placed in the window, it read, “Good Luck Coach Win!”  My heart sank and leaped  for joy at the same time.  It turns out that riding in that SUV were a couple of kids that I had worked with that summer (and several consecutive summers prior to that one).  They were with their parents heading to the coast for a quick vacation before school started.  The reason for the erratic driving was, evidently, to buy them enough time to find something to write there well wishes on.

But what are the odds that out of the whole state of Texas highway system, on a Saturday afternoon, that family would meet up with me in such a manner.  Up until that encounter, I was frustrated because I was three hours behind my anticipated schedule for the day, but to see how God planned such a delicate opportunity helped reassure me of His call and remind me of His promise to never leave me nor forsake me.  As I continued my trip, I grew more expecting.  I had already made several “spy out the land” jaunts to investigate my destination, but, this particular time, I was taking the big plunge.  As I said before, I knew once I merged onto I-10 I would be on the final leg of my journey … a journey that ended in Central City New Orleans at the intersection of Terpsichore and Freret at 11:30pm.  I had “stepped out of the boat.”  It was here that my appointment was.

5 years ago today, August 2, 2008, I arrived in New Orleans in answer to God’s unction within my spirit.  His mandate to me was, “Affect the city for the Kingdom”.  That’s a weighty task.  These last five years have been unremarkable to say the least.  So much has happened in just a short time, yet I know there is more in store.  I am not that girl who left Texas 5 years ago and I haven’t yet fully stepped into the task He has assigned me to, but, just this morning, I seem to have stepped into an opportunity that most effectively resembles the vision that He has placed within my spirit.  This is the starting point!  I take great pleasure in realizing that I am on the mission field to which He has called me.

Last week, I completed step #1 of the original game plan he presented before me.  I used to think that that step needed to have been completed within the first 2 years of me being in NOLA, but it turns out that when He unveiled that plan to me, there were a few things hidden in the crease of the book that I did not see.  And it is a good thing that I did not see those things before I came upon them, because, otherwise I may have never taken this plunge.  As difficult and heart-wrenching as those things were, it was a much needed time of emotional healing, and I know that they were necessary to get me to the point I am at today in which I am able to embrace each event and opportunity He places before me and have confidence that, “He knows the thoughts and plans He has for me.  Plans to prosper me and not to harm me.  Plans to give me a hope and a future.”

Do you remember where you were 5 years ago or even just 2 years or 10 years ago? … He does, and He has always got a plan drawn up just for you.

Psalm 91:1 (W.O.W. translation)* —

He who makes his home in the secret place of refuge that belongs to the Most High will in reality be securely fixed and stable under the protection of the inseparable companion of The Almighty.

see also:  Psalm 16:9; Psalm 19:21; Isaiah 42:3; Hebrews 13:5

* W.O.W. translation means World Of Wendolynn, It is my personal paraphrase of the scripture.

Connecting the dots

January 2, 2014

Remember your childhood coloring and activity books.  I hadn’t seen nor even thought about those in many years.  As I was travelling to visit family and friends for the Christmas holiday, God gave me a glimpse of those old coloring books that had pages with what seemed to be random dots and numbers next to each dot.  I believe they were called ‘dot-to-dots’.  The objective was to draw a line to each numbered dot in sequential order and by the time all the dots were connected, it would reveal a picture that oftentimes one could never have imagined would have resulted from such a random formation.  God reminded me of this childhood activity and said that He was about to start connecting the dots in my life.

When I look back over my experiences in life, there seem to have been many occasions when I obsessively wondered “why”.  I am sure others can relate as well.  Opportunities, issues, or situations appear to be just random dots in our life and our finite understanding cannot fathom what broad purpose they serve so we tend to settle for the narrowed and self-absorbent view that those challenges were just meant to hurt us, oppress us, and depress us.  We can’t see the big picture from our perspective.  Remember when you were working those activity pages?  If you just focused on one dot you were never able to see the picture.  You had to come to the realization that the numbers were by each dot for a reason and you had to have faith that if you connected each dot the picture would appear.  It was in hopeful expectation that you took your pencil and began drawing lines between each dot.  There were times that you got a bit eager and, after connecting only half of the dots, tried to predict what the picture was but the true picture could only be revealed when you finished the task you started by faith.  From our perspective, the picture is always skewed because we are an imperfect people, but, from God’s perspective, the picture is perfectly in focus.  We have to faithfully hold on to the sovereignty of God   and remember that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

As I reflect over these last few months, I realize that God had already begun to connect some of the dots in my life and during the few days with family and friends He connected a few more.  But I know it doesn’t stop there.  There is a beautiful picture waiting to be revealed that connects all the events of my past, whether good or bad, and I choose to hold tightly to God’s sovereign and unchanging hand as He ushers me into seeing my life from His perspective.  Today we begin a new year and before this year is over I will turn 40 years old.  I am reminded that the Israelites crossed over into the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering the desert and experiencing what seemed to them like a few stray dots.  When they finally learned to see from God’s perspective, they finally stepped into the land of abundance that was promised to them, “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Joshua 5:6).  So I decree, this is my year to cross over.  I am packing up and moving into a land flowing with milk and honey.  I am packing up my past to set it aside, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14), and I wait with “earnest expectation for the manifestation” (Romans 8:19) of that which God has prepared for me.

I am packing up and moving into a land flowing with milk and honey.

And you can too.  Will you join me?  This year can revolutionize [verb – change radically] your life if you let it.  Whatever is in your hands preventing you from raising them in absolute and total surrender to God’s sovereign plan, pack it up and set it aside.  Walk into this New Year without a resolution but with a resolve to be unhindered and excited to see the change that God will bring in 2014.

The way I see it

September 2, 2012

Facebook post for 8/27/2012:

I was walking to school this morning, definitely feeling the wake up breezes of our friend Isaac as he cruises through the Gulf ever-so-briskly on his way to visit us, and I turned on Pandora Radio to hear Jesus Culture singing, “blow mighty breath of God…move in power and grace”.  Coincidental?  I think more like Ordained-ental (Psalm 139:16).  Remember, whatever Isaac brings, God is in control and those that have a covenant with Him can Rest assured.

Blog written 9/2/2012:

WOW!!!!  A lot has happened in a week.  When I look back at the moment I posted the above comment on Facebook, I must admit that I didn’t imagine that the next five days would play out as they did.  First of all, I must preface this by saying, for those of you who don’t know, I am a Texas girl and, even more so, I was born and raised in the suburbs of one of the largest metropolitan cities of that state.  In other words, if my name were Dorothy, I would be telling my cat, “Joy, I don’t think we’re in Texas anymore”. It’s been a little more than 4 years that I have resided in the New Orleans area and, for at least three of those years, I was in culture shock.  That’s not a bad thing, it just, well… you take a single girl in her mid-30s, pluck her up and replant her 524 miles away from her original roots and …. I think farmers and gardeners know what I am talking about.  I came to fulfill the specific mandate that God gave me – “Affect the City for the Kingdom”.  I am still maturing into the vessel that God needs to use in order to fulfill that mission and I am almost constantly reminded that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called (Hebrews 13:20-21).  And sometimes He is ever-so graceful to beat that equipment into me while I am kicking and screaming.  He is such a loving Father.

When we were dismissed from school at noon on Monday, I was excited because it meant extra study time to catch up on reading assignments that I was behind on (I am in school full-time for the first time in 16 years and I have a fully loaded schedule).  Still hampered by my Texas mindset, I was optimistic that this storm would blow over very quickly, despite the forecast predictions, and we would be back to work and school by Wednesday.  I was diligent to immediately attack my studies so as to take advantage of the extended weekend that I was granted.  However, by Tuesday evening when our friend Isaac officially knocked on the door and forced his way into our land this Texan got a weee bit nervous.  I can only recall one major almost natural disaster that I have experienced in my life and that was about six years ago in Waco, Texas.  Whereas the Gulf is “Hurricane Central”, there is a portion of Texas that is known as “Tornado Alley”.  It was a close call, but fortunately the tornado only took out the restaurant that we (the high school track team that I was coaching) ate dinner at 5 hours previously.  The horrific sirens were the scariest thing about that whole ordeal.  Anyway, back to Tuesday night, the gust of wind and rattles at my door started to disturb me as well as the flying roof shingles from my neighbor’s house.  Then, when the power went out I tried to stay strong as I slept through that first night by remembering the 3 weeks I recently spent in Uganda with no electric and no running water.  I thought I was a pro.  Wednesday wasn’t too bad, as I got used to the wind surges and found a bucket to catch dripping water from a leak, but once we neared the 24-hour mark of no electricity and I ran out of books to read and things to clean, I got a little ansy and that’s when I realized that this was only a Category One storm.  WOW!  According to the calendar, it was August 29.  Exactly 7 years after that massive Category Five storm hit this same area.  In fact, the house that I currently live in was under water as a result of that event (then again, because of that, this house had to be completely remodeled in order to be habitable and I am the recipient of this gorgeous living space).  REALITY CHECK!!!!!!

The week before Isaac graced us with his presence, I began to hear the buzz that has become characteristic of this season of the year.  It was an unfortunate incident that has left a huge scare.  Initially, I only received second hand press-released information as I was securely residing in my Texas home.  Little did I know at that moment 7 years ago, I would have the opportunity to meet and work with those who had the first hand experience?  Those of you who know me know that I tend to maintain several part-time jobs because I like the variety and flexibility.  One of those jobs happens to be at the venue that served as refuge from the storm for many during that time.  Periodically, as co-workers and I are tending to our duties, a trigger will spark a memory and cause them to reminisce about how they survived and participated in an incident that no one ever predicted.  Throughout the last 4 years, I have been blessed to have the opportunity to hear many stories of the ‘real deal’.  Then, I reflect on how Ordained-ental it was for God to guide me to attend a church that I soon found out was one of the first food distribution headquarters as the City began to rebuild from such a traumatic experience.

As I sit here writing this, I really can’t pull together all my thoughts concerning this incident and I am sure that it sounds like I am just mindlessly rambling, but believe me when I say that I had a good purpose for writing today, I just can’t figure out exactly what it was.  For the last eight weeks, I have heard God almost constantly whispering, “what’s in your hands”.  In the natural, I look at them and I see that they are empty, but as we are to know all things and people after the spirit and not of the flesh (that includes ourselves), I have to realize that there is plenty in my hands, and it is sufficient enough for the task at hand.  Let’s also look at the storms and times in the same light; we must see it after the spirit and not after the flesh.  Isaac was the son of the promise “and Isaac dug again the wells of water…” (Genesis 26:18).  That water is symbolic of the new life, refreshing river.  That water is a symbol of fresh joy.  There was a catastrophic hurt seven years ago and at that time God gave me a vision of refreshing waves sweeping over NOLA.  A few months after that, He prompted me to make preparations to move to NOLA to be a part of what He is doing.  I believe that seven signifies the number of completion (I am a Bible College student, but not a scholar, please forgive me if I am wrong). Like I said, I am not yet fully mature for what God has called me to here in NOLA, but I do see that it is time to possess the healing for this land and it is time for us to look at “What’s in our hands”

Romans 8:28

July 1, 2012

Disclaimer: I realize that this is rather lengthy, but trust me when I say that you will definitely be blessed if you read it in it’s entirety.

This is a testimony, and there are many lessons that you can pull from this:

Romans 8:28

I realized this week that I have been planning this trip for about nine months.  The last six weeks I have been actively investigating plane tickets, looking for the cheapest fare.  I have been waiting for the money to come in to purchase my ticket (money from my pay checks as well as from others who felt led to sow seed).  Finally, the window of opportunity for this trip was beginning to close I was told that the kids would be getting out of school at the end of July and my schedule would not allow me to take this trip after August.  The plan was to fly in and out of Atlanta because I had to be in Atlanta the last week of July for a conference.  This way, I could lengthen my trip and stay in Uganda a few days longer; returning to Atlanta just in time for my conference.  After months off considerations, I decided that I would drive my car to Atlanta the day before my flight and stay overnight at my brother’s house.  I was preparing to take my car to the mechanic for minor repairs and trip preparation check up.

I was at the mechanic shop early on Monday morning, June 25, to wait for work to be done on my car.  While waiting, I was purchasing my plane ticket to Uganda over the phone (the final amount needed for my plane ticket came in the night before and I purchased the ticket seven days prior to departure).  Before completing the transaction, the ticket agent needed more information from me which required that I return home to print, scan, and email a form.  I jumped in my car (the mechanic had not begun work on it yet) and made the 20 minute trip back home.  I retrieved and sent all information requested and completed the transaction for a flight to depart from Atlanta and eventually end up in Uganda.  I went back to my car to head back to the mechanic so he could do the necessary maintenance, but it wouldn’t start.  The ignition turned over and “coughed” repeatedly, but it wouldn’t start.  How ironic!  Just two hours earlier it was running fine, but now, nothing.  Just two hours earlier I was at the mechanic shop, but now, I was 20 minutes away and not a dime in my pocket because I had just spent everything on the plane ticket.  I called the shop to let them know that I was on my way back, but momentarily detained until I could figure out the problem.  I spoke to the mechanic to see what he could diagnose over the phone and the sum total of our conversation was that the fuel pump was malfunctioning and the solution was for me to get under the car and bang a rock against the fuel tank in an attempt to encourage the fuel pump to kick in.  After a few tries, it worked.  I was now on my way back to the mechanic and the vehicle was running fine.

In just a little while, the original work that I needed done on the vehicle was completed but the diagnosis concerning the fuel pump was kind of up for debate.  You see, the car worked without fail for the mechanic.  We brain stormed for a few minutes, but his conclusion was that I drove it in and it was running fine.  If there is a quirk with the fuel pump, we won’t have a definite diagnosis until it completely gives out.  Investigating my options, I had them give me a rough estimate on the part, and it was definitely more than I could put together on short notice.  Because I was able to tinker with it and get it running proves the possibility that there was still some life left in it.  The mechanic was aware of my impending trip but he could not give me a “yay” or “nay” concerning the cars performance during travel.  His advice was “pray and believe God”.  And that was really all the advice I needed.

Well, as the week progressed, I had no other issues with the car and I ran many errands in stop and go traffic.  Still feeding on the mechanic’s advice, I called a good friend of mine for his input, but I started the conversation by telling him that I still felt comfortable with driving my car to Atlanta.  My friend listened to the scenario and fairly agreed with the mechanic, especially the pray and believe part, but he also suggested a product I could add to my fuel to clean out any trash that may be accumulating and blocking proper flow.

So the week continued and the car was running fine – until Friday morning.  It was my last day to run errands and get ready for my trip.  After my first errand, it wouldn’t start.  I did the bang the fuel tank trick and it worked.  A few blocks later, it stalled.  But then it started fine and throughout the day, 8 hours of errands and traffic, there were no other problems.

That brings us to Saturday, June 30.  All ready to go, my flight leaves from Atlanta on July 2.  All I had left to do was drop my cat at the sitter and then head out.  I dropped my cat at the boarding shelter where the sitter would pick her up from on Monday.  I returned to my car and turned the key, guess what?  There was that “cough” again, but nothing catching.  No problem, I just grabbed to my trusty little rock from the backseat and crawled under and took a few swings at the fuel tank.  I got back into the driver’s seat, turned the key, and  . . . nothing catching.  I tried the sequence again, nothing; and again, nothing; and once more, nothing.  “Okay God, really?”  But I had to stay calm.  I knew it was just a test.  I called my friend back, told him that I followed through with his suggestion and brought him up to speed with what had just happened.  I asked if he had anymore suggestions.  He said “keep banging and try shaking the car, but you really do need to just stand in authority over it and command it in the name of Jesus to operate properly”.  To which I responded “Yeah, okay”.  He immediately called me to the mat concerning my half hearted agreement and reminded me to stand firm in faith.  That conversation ended and I gave myself a little talking to and corrected my disposition.  I immediately called another friend to tell her that I was standing on Romans 8:28 concerning this trip then I filled her in on what was happening.  I told her we were going to agree in faith that all hindrances be removed.  While we prayed, I laid hands on the car.  As we ended our conversation, a lady approached me offering to give my car a jump.  I told her that I didn’t think that the battery was the issue but since she was offering then we might as well try it.  Just as I was about to attempt to connect the cables, a guy came out of nowhere saying, “I’m already dirty, so let me do it.”  So I handed him the cables and stepped aside.  Once connected, I turned the key and still nothing catching.  So I proceeded to explain to the gentleman what was happening.  He told me to hang on while he ran across the street to get some tools then he would be able to help figure out the problem.  He worked across the street at a little used car lot where they fixed up auction cars to make ready for sale.  He returned quickly with a co-worker and the two of them walked around the car mumbling mechanic talk and every now and then would tell me to try to start it as they assessed various things.  They found nothing.  The co-worker walked away telling the first guy to “get the computer and see what it says”.  The guy ran back to the shop then returned with a handheld device that he connected under the stirring wheel.  The computer was supposed to communicate with the vehicle and display a message about what the potential problem was.  He ran the check twice and both times he got nothing.  The computer was saying that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle…but the car still wouldn’t start.  I thanked him for his effort and he returned back to his work.

Once again, frustration tried to creep in, but I regained my composure.  I retreated from the heat and unbearable humidity by standing inside the entry way of the animal hospital where I could look at my car and ponder what was wrong.  I began praying for God to reveal the answer to me.  Then I realized that I could see the gentleman that had helped me across the street working on the vehicles at his shop.  I decided to start praying for him.  My eyes wandered back and forth between his shop and my car.  Then I heard “Whatever your hands find to do”.  I asked God, what did my hands find to do?  Then I heard “assignment”, and I realized that I obviously couldn’t go anywhere at the moment so maybe there was a reason why I had to stay there.  While thinking this, my eyes once again wandered over to the gentleman who had helped me and I heard, “open your mouth and I will fill it”.  Then I knew my assignment.  I wandered if the guy knew Jesus Christ.  At that moment, it was my assignment to find out.  The conversation I had with God in my head was the same as usual, it went something like “I don’t know what to say, I’ll just stutter and sound like an idiot; at least tell me what my starting line is”.  And again I heard, “open your mouth and I will fill it”.  I hesitated a few more moments then I walked across the street and began the interaction.  It was nothing remarkable, just an act of obedience.  In our brief conversation, I learned that he was aware of Jesus Christ, he owned a bible, and even credited God will holding his family together, but there was something vacant about his response.   He told me that his wife worked at the boarding shelter where I had just taken my cat.  He let me pray for him and his family.  As I walked away from him, I became curious as to who his wife was.  I went back into the boarding shelter and asked one of the other Techs to locate her (I knew her name and a brief description).  When she came through the door, I laughed because she was the one who helped me when I brought my cat in.  I just quickly told her that I was very grateful to her husband for offering his help and I had prayed for their family and reminded her that Jesus Christ could help them with whatever they needed.  I didn’t know any specifics concerning their situation, but I could tell from looking at her face that she was deeply touched.  I thanked her again and left.  I returned to my car and now I could feel the anointing build.  I began to pray fervently that my car would run properly and be sufficient on the journey.  After I prayed, I lingered, and then I decided that it was time to try it again.  I turned the key, and guess what happened. . .

I drove back home to finish loading my car and lock up my house.  I was on the road only 30 minutes later than I had originally intended.  I made it to Atlanta without incident and I got ridiculously awesome gas mileage from my 1998 Chrysler Concorde that usually eats gas just by standing still.

This was just the first day of my trip.  Can’t wait to see what happens next.

Strength from within

July 31, 2011

Not many people understand the intricate details of the operation of the CORE musculature of their bodies. To a majority of the population, it is an unknown fact that the stability of the Spine and Pelvic Girdle in the Human Body is dependent on the strength of two internal muscle units working together to produce a complex system of actions. In other words, what seems a simple action such as standing up straight is an effort that can only be achieved by the cooperation of muscles no one has ever seen and when you alter this posture such as twisting at the waist, the unseen muscles operate as a symphony to produce a harmonic rythme which to the naked eye is a simple turn at the waist. Unfortuneately, it is because of the lack of knowledge the general population has concerning these muscles that is the root of almost all injuries. Failure to realize that one’s strength comes from within is what allows us to strain and sprain joints at unforseeen times.

“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)

The prophet Hosea heard the the voice of the Lord clearly to say that the people have rejected the opportunity to gain strength within their land, in the hearts of each individual, and therefore they brought about their own demise. The knowledge they rejected would have given them the strength of knowing the fullness of God’s will, plan, and purpose for the earth and their role in seeing that purpose fulfilled.

The story of Rahab (Joshua chapters 2 & 6) is an excellent example of what can happen when a person heeds the voice of the Lord and those who have come to prepare the way. Rahab and her household were spared horrific destruction because Rahab welcomed the spies inside her walls and she drew her strength from their promise of rescue.

Rahab had spies, but we have the eternal, internal voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to our soul.   This is where our strength comes from.  The extent to which we allow our volitions (free will) to be affected by God’s Spirit is the measure by which we gain spiritual fitness and strengthen our inner man.

” I pray  that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Our strength within is so much more than we can imagine. Don’t reject the knowledge that is available to strengthen you.  Rahab didn’t, and she, a former prostitute, became a woman whose womb eventually made place for the Christ child to come into the earth.

Everybody Scream!!!

April 7, 2011

Okay, so I was remembering an old VBS (Vacation Bible School) song the other day.  

Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho; Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, and the walls came a tumblin’ down.

So,  realizing that this flashback was obviously God trying to show me something, I went to Joshua chapter 6 where  Joshua is in the process of leading the Israelites to the Promiseland (the place of ultimate and eternal fitness in every area) and they run into this town called Jericho that is surrounded by huge high walls.  This wasn’t a surprise to them, they knew the city existed, in fact, they had sent spies ahead of them to get a sneak preview of what they would come up against.  They had travelled for several days, or weeks, or maybe even months toward this city knowing that it was impeding their path to The Promiseland.  Yet they continued, under the leadership of Joshua who was being led by God along the path that would achieve freedom for Israel.

Have you ever attempted to accomplish a goal only to have a huge, seemingly insurrmountable obstacle stand before you, but yet you continue toward the goal because, in your gut, you know that it is what you have to do?  What a difficult and daunting task it is to stand in times of trouble.  Oftentimes, I become frustrated and depressed and deep in my gut I feel the urge to scream.

My encouragement with this article is to let you know that screaming is not necessarily a bad thing.

When Joshua and the Israelites came up to the tightly walled city of Jericho, Joshua heard God tell him that they would conquer the city and God also gave him the exact plan of attack.  It was definitely an unusual plan, but Joshua followed.  The plan of attack was to play loud praise music and dance and walk around the city and then, after the specified number of times that they walked around the city, they could let out a huge shout and watch as the walls of the city crumbled before them.

In other words, while facing an insurrmountable obstacle, the Israelites were told to dance around, walk, and run.  They were to be diligent in this spiritual exercise routine and then, at the end of the conditioning period, they were to max out their physical exertion efforts by dancing, walking, and running seven times more than they had on the previous days and when it was all over, they should scream to announce their victory to the world and at that exact moment, when it was time (“due season”, Galatians 6:9), they would receive their reward.

The Israelites screamed and conquered Jericho.  But the scream wasn’t the key, it was just the visible sign that signified their victory.  The dancing, walking, and running was the key to this victory.  The conditioning routine was the praise and worship that the Israelites participated in for several days prior to seeing their victory.  If they had not conditioned themselves little by little on the preceeding days, they would never have had the endurance (faith) to make several trips around the city on the final day and shout for their victory.

For those of you who are like me, please let me exhort you to not give in when you start to get frustrated and depressed.  Reaffirm you conviction to achieve your victory by adjusting your focus and condition yourself with praise and worship.  We must realize that the urge in our gut to scream is coming from the same place as our affections (value, desire) to pursue our goal (“make me to know wisdom in my inmost heart”, Psalm 51:6) – this is the part of the soul that is captivated by the Spirit of God.  By using a little bit of praise and worship each day, we can build ourselves up for that glorious day that we shout and see our victory.

The moral of the story:  Don’t be afraid to scream, it just might be God’s due season for breakthough . . . let it out and receive your reward.

Other relevant scriptures:  1 Timothy 4:7-8; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Jude 20; Hebrews 11:1, 6; Hebrews 12:1-2

The Deconditioned Body

March 31, 2011

I am currently living in the most horrifically painful state I have ever been in, and it is a condition I promised myself (20 years ago) that I would never get to.
As a child, I was moderately obese up until my high school years when I joined athletics and began a regime of conditioning my body. For 18 years I used dedicated time management skills, followed a disciplined workout schedule, and nourished my body with foods that it could use as fuel for performance.
Recently, life changed. And I am now a “De-conditioned athlete”.
I don’t know what hurts more, the first step I take upon waking each morning, or the taunting memories of the strenuous workouts and exercise routines that I once adored. I guess it is a little bit of both with the final daunting conclusion that I will never again see the days of my youth. Every time I have to ice or wrap a joint just to make it through my day-to-day routine I am terribly reminded that my physical demise is on the rise.
But my hope for the future is based on the fact that I am a tripartite being which means there are three parts to me – spirit, soul, and body. In other words, I am a spirit, I have a soul, and I live in a body. It may be that my physical body, and it’s functionality, is declining daily, but the other two parts that make up my being are guaranteed with an eternal hope because I have received the promise salvation offered to me in Romans 10:8-11. I can confidently say that, “though my outer man (body) is decaying, yet my inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
My spirit man cannot waste away because it is the spirit of God. God breathed His spirit into me and, at the very moment my body was filled with His breath, my soul was formed. My spirit is eternal, but there are two different eternities available to it. It is the choice of my soul to determine which eternity my Spirit will choose – either Heaven or Hell (Joshua 24:15). My soul is the central operating system of my being, in outward reflection, it is my personality. The parts of my personality or self-expression include my intellect, desires, willpower, emotions, and affections. My soul is the seat of my values and understanding. As central operating system, it is the joining wire of my spirit and body. The condition of my soul and it’s choice of the eternity I seek is what allows my body to act out the hope of my spirit.
In all my athletic pursuits, much preparation and discipline were necessary. And so it is with Godliness, but even more so. 

“For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come.”  1 Timothy 4:8 AMP

 I must use dedicated time management skills, follow a disciplined Word-workout schedule, and nourish my body with spiritual foods that will fuel my performance as carrier of this eternal torch of eternity.
Now that I am beyond my peak physical performance years, all that remains are the memories (good or bad; painful or comforting). But eternity is still a long way off and I have yet to reach the extent of peak performance for my soul, but, just as Paul, I remain in a constant training cycle in preparation for that event (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
What about you?  R U Fit-4-Eternity?

other relevant scriptures:  1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 15:42-58; Colossians 1:27

Goin’ Through

March 16, 2011

I was driving down St. Charles Ave., admiring the beautiful day God had created. The weather was perfect – the temperature was in the mid-70’s with a slight breeze and the sky was crystal blue with no clouds. My soul was at peace. I was enjoying the view of the street cars passing by afternoon joggers and getting a feel for the real essence of New Orleans – A city built for people to enjoy.

Just as I crossed under I-10 and entered Lee Circle, in that very small split second, my mind wandered from thoughts of contentment and fell onto thoughts of my current state of financial discontent. In an instant, almost the entirety of my 36 and a half years flashed into my memory. I recollected countless days of working 12 to 18 hours and anywhere from 1 to 3 jobs per day. In the next split of that same second, I let out a despairing plea asking God, “why has my life been so hard, will it ever get easier?”

Then it hit me, the realization of Genesis 3:17-19. Because Adam disobeyed God, mankind today is still reaping what he sowed. “Cursed is the ground … in pain you shall eat … thorns and thistles [the ground] shall bring … you shall eat the plants of the field … by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground.” Adam made a choice that will affect the rest of eternity.

But God made a choice as well and it is His choice that created eternity – eternity for our soul. Long before Adam fell and even before the first star shined, God chose to orchestrate a path of redemption for those of us who concede the error of Adam’s ways and strive toward the better Way.

In this plan of redemption, God has given us a living hope.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-4

In other words, as long as we live through Jesus Christ, we can take possession of this gift. This gift is peace – spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially. But, as Jesus said in John 14:27, this peace does not come in the same manner as worldly peace. In fact, in John 16:33, right after he tells us that we should have peace, he says that in the world we will have trials. This is a very hard pill to swallow, but if we are to fully receive the gift God has prepared for us, we must learn to see our lives through the eyes of Jesus. The trials we encounter in this world are a direct result of Adam’s punishment for his disobedience, but, because of God’s redemptive plan, it is through those same trials that we learn obedience. As we pursue our redeemer through these stepping stones of obedience, our final outcome is worth far more than materialistic value. What we will have gained on the journey is Truth no one can take from us.

So, the answer to my questions . . . it has to be hard so I will value the gift and yes, it will get easier. In fact, it already has. If I remember the hope I have within then I can realize that it is not my efforts that push me through life, but my resting in Him that thrusts me to victory.

It is Christ in me, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). What about you?

As I rounded Lee Circle and came out the other side, I took a sigh of relief because I was just “goin’ through . . . ”

Other Scriptures: Romans 10:9-10; 2 Corinthians 4:7-10; Hebrews 11:1; Hebrews 12:1-2

“Objects in mirror are closer than they apppear”

March 3, 2011

Have you ever heard this comment? . . . or maybe you read it somewhere? Next time you get in your car, check the passenger sideview mirror.
Being a thinker, I have had plenty of opportunity to ponder this statement as it relates to safely operating a vehicle. It is a simple warning to be aware of the proximity of surrounding objects as they can either help or hinder your journey. So it is with God too — a simple safety warning related to operating in this life safely (or should I say securely under God’s protection).
It is all too often that we lose sight of our purpose and haphazardously begin to operate without the proper guidance and preparation, leading us down a path that is slightly off the one highlighted on the GPS. First we make one wrong turn and that doesn’t seem so bad, but if we keep going in that direction then the numerous wrong turns will lead us farther away than we ever expected. A minister friend of mine uses the term “one degree of separation”. That’s all it takes. Just like flying a plane or navigating a boat. If you don’t stay on course and corrrect that “one degree of separation”, you will soon find yourself miles off course. It may take a few minutes, a few hours, or a few years, but it will most definitely happen. “It a slow fade”.
So what good is the safety warning here? Realize that the help you need is closer than your natural mind can perceive. The heavier our burdens, the further away our perception presents the solution. But, if we have received Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, then we have a cure for false perception.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” — Matthew 11:28-30

Let’s play Hide-N-Seek

February 24, 2011

Do you remember playing that when you were younger, or, if you are a parent, you probably still play that with your little ones. Well, God has entered into a friendly game of ‘Hide-n-Seek’ with us. It is all a part of our purpose – He is challenging us to open our eyes to what we can find if we really press in. In Jeremiah 29:11-14, God says that He is the only one who knows the exact plans and purposes He has for our life but the key to us understanding those plans and purposes is for us to abandon all other things in order to know Him and Him alone. God’s promise is to give us prosperity in all areas (mental, spiritual, financial, emotional, and physical) when we desire Him and seek Him more than anything else. Our purpose for being created is to fellowship with God and bring others along, not just for the ride, but for the eternity. We must guard our hearts and be very particular about what things we will allow to influence us. As we search every nook and crannie of our lives and the world around us looking for reasons to praise God, God is glorified. “He inhabits the praises of His people”. And when it seems that everything in life is pressing against us but we continue to press into Him, we turn the corner and find Him right there – “Arms wide opened, heart exposed” (Misty Edwards).