Pause For Reflection~
Poised For Glory
Remembering the victims and the heroes of 9/11. We will never forget.
When it is time for young eagles to learn how to fly, the mother eagle begins to engage in a phenomenon known as “stirring the nest.” This process causes the nest, which was once the eaglet’s primary source of comfort and protection; to become a bed of thorns. Consequently, the eaglet has nowhere else to go but out of the plush confines of the nest, into the frontier of the firmament, via flight. At first glance, it seems cruel that the mother eagle would push her young out of the place that she toiled so selflessly to prepare and protect, but for the eaglet “stirring the nest” necessary. Everything about the eagle screams…FLIGHT! It was never meant to be confined to the nest. With an average wing span of 6-8 feet, light-weight bones, and the ability to fly to an altitude of 10,000 feet, the adult eagle was born to soar (see works cited below). I wish I could say that the journey to perfect flight is a pretty one, but it’s not. At first, there are many failed attempts at flight, but eventually, the eaglet leaves the nest behind, never to return.
As it is with the eagle, so goes the saga of the child of God. Many times, development is halted due to comfort. Our lifestyle of ease sometimes whispers a sweet lullaby in our ears, causing our passion for God to drift into a deep, cold sleep. If necessity is the mother of all invention, according to Plato, then I believe that complacency is its demise. Our greatest victories are born out of our greatest anguish. We must never lose sight of the purpose of pain. Yes…pain is unavoidable and sometimes can be borderline unbearable. Even though this is true, pain is not a death sentence. In most cases, it is God’s way of pointing us to a new place of provision and power. Don’t let the pain paralyze you…
In 1 Kings 17, Elijah the Tishbite prophesied famine and drought in the land of Israel. Ironically, he was an inhabitant of Israel at that time as well. However, because he was a true prophet, God compelled him to go to the Brook Cherith, which was a tributary of the Jordan River. There, God commanded the ravens to feed Elijah bread and meat twice a day (how about that for delivery). Although, it wasn’t the best of conditions, compared to the rest of Israel during that time, Elijah had access to a smorgasbord of sorts. As time passed, however, the inevitable happened. The nice, fresh brook, that flowed at Elijah’s feet began to dry up because of the drought.
What do you do when the brook dries up?
What do you do when the ravens disappear?
What do you do when what used to be a blessing, now seems more like a curse?
You stand still and know that God is God.
As in Elijah’s case, God redirects us based on provision. If you are experiencing a drought in any area of your life now, I speak to you, right where you are, and admonish you to never give up. Every dry place in your life is God’s compass pointing you in the direction of new provision. Acknowledge Him and He will direct your path (Proverbs 3:6).
In the midst of the drought and famine, God directed Elijah to an obscure, little town on the outskirts of Israel called Zarephath. There, he found a widow gathering sticks for a fire, so that she could bake what would have been the last meal for her and her son. Does this seem strange to you? It sure seems strange to me. If I were God, I would have sent Elijah to one of the richest people in the land. Surely they would have had enough to spare to feed Elijah until the famine was over. I definitely wouldn’t have chosen a struggling widow. That’s why I love God. This particular widow had lost hope and was planning to starve to death after eating this one last meal. Little did she know that God had other plans. At the request of the prophet, this woman raised great faith and baked a cake for Elijah first (symbolic of first fruits), then one for her and her son. According to the word of God that came from Elijah, the widow’s last serving of meal and oil turned into an unending supply that lasted through the end of the famine. Because of her obedience, she thrived while others died in the same conditions.
When the brook dries up, and the meals become irregular, don’t forget who your source is. You may be looking death in the face, because you’ve used your very last and now you’re out of options; don’t forget who your source is. God is never limited or intimidated by your necessity. It may surprise you to know that He is the one who designed it. Why? It all boils down to one thing…GLORY. In spite of the drought, God’s plans for you have not changed. According to Jeremiah 29:11, He already has a plan to prosper you and give you hope. He’s proving you now so that He can put you on display for His glory.
Remember…you were made to SOAR!!!
Now mount up.
Keep Learning ♦ Keep Loving ♦ Keep Living
Works cited: www.baldeagleinfo.com
Special thanks to my friend, Joe Torres, for furnishing the photograph used for this post.
Editor: Jaime Evans
This week’s topic is in the form of a question. Answer carefully.
What/Who would you die for if no one could ever know that you died for it/them?
In the wake of the shooting of Missouri teen, Mike Brown, let’s talk about authority and the varieties thereof. Before you make assumptions about how this post will play out, you should know that I’m not into police bashing. I think it’s insensitive and totally unnecessary to cast judgment before all the facts have been uncovered. The institution of law enforcement has its place and purpose, and is even biblically sound (see–Romans 13:1-4).
That being said, there is another side to this coin. Because of our fallen nature, sin has infected each of us, and the primary symptom of this infection is fear. Consequently, fear causes irrational responses within us. This creates a problem when people in authority–namely police officers–are placed in life-threatening situations. These volitile situations create a heightened awareness and sensitivity that make Skittles bags appear to be guns. Death of the unarmed occurs at the confluence of power and fear; whether that power is clothed in a uniform with a badge or a flawed legislation (i.e. Stand Your Ground). This is fastly becoming an epidemic in our society based on most recent events.
There is a proven disparity between the races when it comes to these tragic events of late. The landscape of the African-American community is frought with families that have been affected by the loss of loved-ones due to irrational and unjustified deadly force. The relationship between law enforcement and the community seems the be the most strained where African-Americans are predominant. Of course, this is nothing new to the citizens of these communities, but that doesn’t seem to spark much change in this paradigm. In fact, many of the laws that are in effect today were designed to target people of certain racial descent.
According to a book I recently read, Between Barak and a Hard Place, by Tim wise, the current “war on drugs” instituted in the late 1990’s, was loosely intended to shift the focus of law enforcement to rest heavily upon people of color. This resulted in a disproportionate ratio of arrests, persecutions, and random consent searches between whites and people of color. Here are some interesting stats sited by Tim Wise in his book:
These statistics are so because of one key point:
- According to another study conducted in Oakland, CA in 2013:African-Americans stopped by police were searched 42 percent of the time, compared to 27 percent for Latinos and 17 percent for whites and Asians. Yet, those searches resulted in the recovery of contraband 27 percent of the time for African-Americans and Latinos, 28 percent of the time for whites and 25 percent of the time for Asians.
Naturally, there are things that African-American youth-especially men-need to understand when dealing with the police. Certain things make you an easier target and a bigger threat capable of escalating a bad situation into an even worse one extremely quickly. In no way am I saying that the culprits are always blameless when confronted by the police, but it should never warrant deadly force without proper judgment. With authority comes the resposibility of proper judgment. There is a cycle of hostility that exists between African-Americans and law enforcement that never favors the side of the perpetrator. Any signs of resistance or sudden, unexpected moves tend to exacerbate the situation and creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts: that African-Americans are hostile, resistant, and deserve unreasonable and sometimes deadly force.
One could argue that because of these types of confirmations, people of color should fear law enforcement. The hostility that so animates the demeanor of African-Americans when confronted by law enforcement could be result of the constant menacing scrutiny of the police. This, in turn, leads to hostility in law enforcement when confronting African-Americans, which in the cases of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and many others…ultimately leads to death of the unarmed.
Let’s talk: Some pressing questions need to be asked:
What do you think? All comments welcomed.
Keep Learning ♦ Keep Loving ♦ Keep Living
Chemotherapy chairs, councellors, and clean heads were the predominant sights during my tour as a computer software trainer in an oncology center recently. During that time, I was experiencing my own personal turmoil, due to a series of unexpected storms that rocked the otherwise tranquil seas of my life.
I’m sure you can relate…
While in the chemo infusion area of this oncology center, I had the priviledge of observing many patient types as they checked-out of the clinic after their treatments. I saw the patient who could barely stand, and was visibly weakened immediately after treatment. I also saw the patient who had been understandably trounced by the trauma of this terrible disease. For these patients, rendering a smile was a feat of epic proportions. Then, there were the patients that wore their treatment very well. To look at them, one would never perceive that they had cancer. They were happy and upbeat in the face of pain and nausea.
Perhaps, the most remarkable patient type was embodied in a young lady who came to assist her mom on her treatment days. She was a vibrant, blond-haired woman with rosy cheeks and a contagious smile. She possessed a type of piquancy in her personality indicative of burgeoning youthfulness. She began to express how important it was to her to be there for her mother on treatment days. Her passion seemed to convey something more than just a loving concern for her mother.
As we continued to listen to her, she inquired about a particular physician by name. At that moment, the check-out receptionist informed her that the physician was no longer practicing. She then revealed that he was her attending physician who treated her when she had cancer. Turns out, she was a cancer survivor of 12 years.
As my jaw dropped to the floor, I was in awe. She couldn’t have been more than 30 years old.
Here was this young woman standing before us glowing with health and a full head of hair. She told us about her bone marrow transplant, and of course her hair loss (but…it grew back). She wanted to give up because of the pain and the harsh side-effects of her treatment (but…she didn’t). Now she is strong enough to care for her mother who is going through the same thing she walked through. As I spent more time in this clinic and met more people, I learned that many of the workers that I saw were volunteers who were cancer survivors.
You may have recently experienced loss on some level. It may not be health or hair, but what about hope. I’m writing this to you. Please don’t give up. Keep living. What you are going through now is just a rung on the ladder of your elevation. When this is over, you will be strong enough to help someone else who is struggling to live through what you have already overcome. Someone needs to hear the story of how you survived. Yes, you lost a lot (but…it grew back).
Sometimes what we perceive as loss really isn’t loss at all. In most cases, God is pruning our lives of unnecessary, unproductive limbs so that we will be prepared to be more fruitful than ever in our season. John 15:1-2, elucidates this truth beautifully. When a tree is pruned of unproductive limbs, it appears to be dead. All of the signs of visible life are gone. Loss of limbs, loss of leaves, and loss of fruit all signify the end. Others who pass by the tree may assume it is dead, then cast judgment and walk away. The same thing may happen to us during our pruning seasons. You may appear to be dead right now, but don’t lose hope. As long as your roots wrap around Christ, you will produce again.
How do you negotiate the uncertain seas of loss? What is your valuation of the people and things that are leaving your life? Are they really beneficial to you? Are they a gain or are they a drain?
Loss is only one part of the whole when it comes to God’s holy laboratory. God is a master chemist. He knows how to combine all of the elements in your life to produce a result that will both glorify Him and edify you. The process may be volatile, the reaction may be violent, but the product is always beautiful.
As a part of my undergraduate studies, I enrolled in several labs associated with my major course of study. One of which was Organic Chemistry, which is the study of how carbon behaves in various organic compounds. Lab was pretty fun because it involved mixing chemicals together, observing their reactions, and then documenting the details of the products. Some of these reactions were spontaneous and explosive, in some instances. Fortunately, our labs were fitted with huge fume hoods that were designed to extract toxic fumes from the air that were emitted after certain reactions. God’s grace is much like the fume hoods in a lab. It covers us during our times of painful pruning, when our reactions to the pain cause us to melt down and explode. Sometimes, we may even release toxic words and attitudes into the air. God’s grace sufficiently covers us, because His grace is sufficient for us.
In this life, you may have lost some things that were dear to you. The pruning may have caused loss of leaves, limbs, friends, hair, or even hope; but our Father is the Great Husbandman that ensures our prosperity and productivity. The pruning is preparation for productivity.
In God’s laboratory, all things work together for our good.
Remember: IT WILL GROW BACK!!!
Editor: Jaime Evans
Keep Learning ♦ Keep Loving ♦ Keep Living
…And the list goes on and on.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are just five of the 613 laws that were jettisoned through the blood of Jesus and His perfect sacrifice on the cross. Most of us are familiar with the Pharisees and their collective plight to rid the religious world of Jesus. In essence, they were the religious/political sect that were the self-proclaimed overseers of the Mosaic Law. As a result of this proclamation, they managed to compile a huge list of rules and traditions that were added to the basic Law of Moses, while simultaneously enforcing those traditions by becoming judges, jurors, and executioners.
These traditions were noble gestures, however, the enforcement of these traditions were borderline terrorism. Because no one could ever really fulfill all the requirements of the traditions of men set forth by the Pharisees, they used them to flex their pious muscles, while being sheltered from the consequences themselves. This is the very reason why the crucifixion of Jesus was successful. Jesus was legally sentenced to a wrongful death because of the force of the Pharisaic Traditions.
You would think with the entrance of the New Covenant, that the Pharisee would be a thing of the past…
Well, think again.
The Church is still the breeding ground for the Pharisaic mentality. The tools of the trade have changed indeed. I’m sure you’ve encountered a Pharisee or two. They’re the ones that police everyone on Sundays to make sure their dress is long enough, or their hair color is “appropriate.” Nevermind the pain that a person may be going through, or the person contemplating suicide, or the person that came to church one last time before making a decsion to become an atheist because they have lost hope.
It’s infuriating and unacceptable. So what do you think?
Do modern-day Pharisees exist?
What are the “new” traditions that are enforced in church today?
How does proper teaching come into play when dealing with this mentality?
Let’s talk…feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you.
Recently, while watching television, I saw a commercial that made me chuckle. It was an Edward Jones Financial Services commercial featuring a father and son duo who were visiting with a financial advisor. As the son observed the interaction between the advisor and his dad, he seemed a bit perplexed.
Upon exiting the advisor’s office, the son began to ask the father a series of questions about the visit. When the father would answer each question, the son would immediately follow up with the infamous one-word question…Why? The father kept trying to answer all of the son’s why’s, until eventually he reached a dead end. The commercial ended with the father environed in a state of confusion having never pondered the questions that came so easily through his son.
As Christians, what do you say when you’re confronted with the question-Why?
Do you believe in God? Why?
Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Why?
1 Peter 3:15, admonishes us to always be ready to answer those who question the hope that is in us; the very hope that defines and frames our faith. This scripture brings to life one simple truth…People are watching you. They watch how you live, interact with others, and manage life in general. Sadly, the vast majority of church laity, and leadership for that matter, cannot fluently explain why they believe what they do.
If we are people of faith, why is it acceptable to be so lackadaisical in our pursuit of the deep, inner-workings of faith? The question begs to be asked, what happens when we are required to defend our faith? Furthermore, some may ask, should faith be defended at all. According to 1 Peter 3:15, it should; and the onus falls on us. So where does that leave the Body of Christ?
Traditionally, Christians have been deemed brute in intellect, and lack the ability to handle heavy truths. The predilection for emotional exhuberance has often trumped the desire to sit down and learn. As you are reading this post, there is a paradigm shift taking place in the atheist community. According to a recent lecture given by Alain de Botton on the new atheism (Atheism 2.0), there is an intense need for connection and ritualism that is now being sparsely acknowledged on the part of atheists. I feel like this opens evangelistic opportunities if only we are wise in our conceits. Even though modern atheism is still steeped in an existential intellectualism void of a belief in God, I believe the stage is being set for major inroads into the atheist community if we tread wisely. But we must arm ourselves with the proper knowledge and skills necessary to win souls.
It’s time for a paradigm shift of our own in the Body of Christ. We must equip ourselves with the necessary tools necessary for defending our faith. Wisdom is paramount. We must invest in our spiritual intellect. God takes knowledge very seriously. Hosea 4:6, tells us that the lack of knowledge preceeds destruction.
What would happen if we studied the Bible with the same vigor that we study sports statistics? What if we minimized watching reality TV, and made communion with God our reality? What if our curiosity about the Father drove us to dig in the scriptures, and tap into the refreshing springs of the Spirit, thereby releasing living water from our lives to a thirsty nation?
“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water,” (John 7:38 KJV).
Are you a Christian? Why?
When you read the Bible, do you believe what you read? Why?
I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to join the conversation in the “Reply” section below.
Editor: Jaime Evans
According to a recent article I read online, a newborn may lose up to 10 percent of its body weight in the first days of life during the transition from placenta to independent digestion. From conception to birth, the fetus is environed by the life-sustaining components of his mother’s womb. Everything from sensory perceptions to nourishment passes directly from mother to child.
Once the baby is born, drastic changes begin to take place in the infant. There is no more womb, no more placenta, and no more umbilical cord. All nourishment must pass through the baby’s own digestive system in order to be assimilated and supply life to the body.
During this time, the baby’s metabolism undergoes significant changes. These changes are not immediately visible, but in time, they become more pronounced. Weight gain, increased stomach capacity, and the appearance of teeth all indicate one thing…the weaning phase.
Before these subtle changes take place, the infant is usually satisfied with nourishment from nursing or milk from a bottle. However, as the baby matures, these forms of feeding are no longer sufficient. Because of the growth that is taking place, the baby’s metabolic rate not only requires more, but demands more.
In much the same manner, newly born-again Christians should prefer the sincere milk of the Word (1Peter 2:2) The foundational principles and doctrines that define our faith as believers should be the focus for babes in Christ, because that is what stimulates growth; things such as grace, salvation, baptism, etc. These things nourish us while our spiritual senses develop. When we are born again, our capacity for the knowledge of God is limited. Our understanding and our perception is limited. We must now learn to process everything through the lenses of God’s word.
As we grow, this creates a greater demand for a deeper understanding of God’s word. What used to satisfy us, no longer does. The change happens gradually and is barely noticeable at first. The sermons that used to excite us no longer satisfy the demand. The people that used to pique our interest; no longer does it for us. This could only mean one thing…
It’s time to forsake nursing or the bottle!
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to descern both good and evil,” (Hebrews 5:14 KJV).
Solid food is for the spiritually mature. The entire purpose of digestion is the assimilation of food. We eat to live. Metabolism is the chemical processes by which a plant or an animal uses food, water, etc., to grow and heal and to make energy. I’m sure you’ve heard of the adage: you are what you eat. This rings true of both physical food and spiritual food. When it comes to scripture, it’s not about how much you know, but how much you apply to your life. The world is filled with people who know the scripture, but do not have the desire to yield their lives and hearts to God, to experience true change. The Bible states in James 1:22, that we should be “doers” of the Word and not just “hearers.”
Wisdom is paramount, but it must be coupled with understanding, according to Proverbs 4:7. The one distinguishing factor between carnal Christians and spiritual Christians is the amount of scripture that has been assimilated into daily life. The carnal or immature Christian knows that God loves him, and that’s where it ends. Immaturity limits the full expression of knowledge due to the lack of wisdom. The mature Christian not only knows that God loves him…but from a thankful heart; seeks to demonstrate that same love in their daily lives. The difference is in the application, and you can’t apply what you don’t understand.
Hebrews 5 verses 12 through 14 delineate the two degrees of spiritual knowledge; milk and strong meat. Many Christians never move beyond the milky, simplistic understanding of salvation through Christ. They never fully experience the exhilarting victory of the new life by placing a demand on God–El Shaddai (The Many-Breasted One)–to supply them with more. At some point, we should desire more than just a sermon that tickles our ears, but does nothing for our hearts. At some point, it should pain us, when we hurt others without a cause. At some point, the scriptures must leave the pages of our Bibles and pierce our hearts; breaking up the stony places therein.
At some point, milk must become meat.
Editor: Jaime Evans
“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26, KJV).
It would seem that this passage allows for the expression of anger, but is this really the case? Does this scripture imply that it is permisible to express your anger at any time?
In a recent article about relationships and anger, some very interesting statistics are elucidated:
(Resource: What’s Good About Anger? by Lynette Hoy and Ted Griffin)
Recently, I was in a very popular department store in the check out line, and behind me was a parent screaming at her daughter angrily. As I left the check out line, one of the employees walked by me and attempted to open one of the doors. When she discovered that it was locked, she proceeded to bawl out explitives right there. As I continued to walk to my car, I thought about the 70’s song, “Love is in the Air,” but instead of love there was anger in the air. From road rage to Elliot Rodger (Santa Barbara shooter-2014) people seem to be incessantly on the verge of boiling over.
So why are people so angry?
In his book, Emotional Resilience, David Viscott explicates the different manifestations of pain. Past pain is called hurt. Present pain is called anger. Pain caused by fear of the future is called anxiety. When pain isn’t managed properly, the end result is what is called emotional debt. When we factor in daily stressors, past regrets, deadlines, and unresolved losses, people are living in a perpetual state of pain.
Since anger and pain seem to be the milieu in which we live, chances are you have or will come into contact with hostile others. So let’s talk…
How do you respond to people with bad attitudes or angry dispositions?
If pain causes anger, how does this change your perspective?
How do you manage your own negative emotions including anger?
Feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you.
It was dusk on a Thursday, and as I was preparing to settle down for the night, I decided to enjoy some quiet time alone. One of my favorite rooms in our house is a sun room with plenty of windows. A picturesque pink and blue sunset greeted me and provided a welcomed backdrop for meditation. As I sat down and began to talk to the Father, just then I noticed a spider outside of my window skillfully weaving a web. I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a huge fan of spiders (unless we’re talking about Spiderman). However, I believe the Father led me to that place and moment just to speak wisdom to me concerning how to trust Him in my daily living. Please allow me to share with you wisdom from the web.
I stood in awe as my spider friend swung from each silky thread like a trapeze artist attaching each thread to the other. What initially appeared to be random movements turned into an artful display of organized motion. The longer I watched the spider spin, the more I noticed the pattern of the web emerge. That’s when God began to speak to my heart.
In order to understand the efficacy of the spiderweb a few things must be considered. Let’s begin with the design. Scientifically speaking, the spiderweb is primarily designed for two things: capture and rest. We’re all familiar with how the spiderweb becomes the interface between predator and prey. When the spider spins a web, at some point an unsuspecting insect becomes dinner for the night. The sheer design of the spiderweb suits the purpose of gathering food perfectly. Sticky, net-like, and virtually invisible, it serves as the perfect aerial trap. You were designed by God to produce the very thing that will provide nourishment and bring success into your life. You have gifts and talents that give rise to powerful results in your life and the lives of others.
Birds build nests for their young. Bees build hives. Beavers build dams. Spiders build webs. All of these creatures instinctly build according to their unique purposes. Even though our actions may look like randomness to other people, we must never get entangled with trying to please everyone. Just keep constructing your web, and in time it will all make sense. When Noah was building the ark in Genesis chapter 6, no doubt people were laughing at him and trying to figure out what the heck he was building and why. Well, needless to say when the rain started, those same people weren’t laughing anymore. You were designed to reign, but you can’t reign effectively if you are trying to build nests when you were created to weave webs.
It would be pointless for a spider to build its web inside a car or any other enclosed space in hopes to capture insects. Where the spider builds could mean the difference between feast or famine. I don’t know how long our spider friend waited for food to enter its trap, but I can attest to the fact that the location was prime. Many times God positions us strategically to bless us. It’s not just coincidence that you live where you do. It’s not coincidence that you’re employed where you are. When you’re in the right place at the right time, God will bring provision and supply directly to you. Seek Him and His kingdom and everything you need will be added to you Matt. 6:33.
I continued to watch as the spider put the finishing touches on its silky tapestry. When it completed the web, the spider nestled into its aerial home and did something really strange. When there was nothing else left to do, the spider stood completely still in the web and waited. If only we applied this strategy to our daily lives, I believe we would experience the peace of God as He intended us to. Psalms 46:10 reminds us to be still and know that God is God. Sometimes after we have done all that we can do, there is really nothing else left to do but hide in God. Stillness is the best camouflage. Many times we draw attention and warfare to ourselves by excessive motion. You can’t talk to just anyone about what’s going on in your life. Some things must be hidden until God brings change. I believe many of the attacks that we experience are intensified because we won’t stand still and let God be God Colossians 3:3. Trust Him. He’s sovereign and He wants to show Himself strong in our situations and on our behalf so that He will receive all glory. Many times we choose to engage in battles that we don’t even need to fight in. When the enemy surrounds us and the demonic host seems ominous, remember what God said to King Jehoshaphat in II Chronicles 20:17
“Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you” (KJV).
Your relationship with the Father enhances your uniqueness and intensifies the favor of God and man upon your life. When you tap into your God-given design, you become unstoppable. What is God telling you to build?
Go forth and weave your web.
Editor: Jaime Evans
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