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Monday, June 27, 2016

Through The Wilderness

Morguefile





This past weekend, my daughter invited me to accompany her on a trip to a friend's baby shower. Her friend lived in another city several miles away, and since Karon had not seen her in a few years, she was excited about the trip.  I was too because I'd never been to that part of Florida before and, according to Karon, I spent too much time at home. So, armed with her GPS, and my two grand children in the back seat, we set off on a journey that her friend said would take two and a half hours. In reality, it lasted two hours longer because of intermittent heavy rain and road construction.

The latter portion of the journey caused us more anxiety as we drove through the wilderness, over bumpy roads, with miles of forest on either side, and just a few houses here and there. Were we on the right road? Did we have the correct address? Should we turn around? But since the GPS was silent, we figured we had to be going the right way, and so we continued. After a few missed turns, a brand new community with beautifully-designed houses and immaculate landscaping came into view. Karon and I looked at each other and exhaled in relief.

The Christian journey can take us through the wilderness at times. If we are seeking a relationship with Jesus Christ, we may find the pathway to Christianity is long, bumpy and oftentimes lonely. We may wonder if this is what the Christian life should be like.

If we already have a relationship with Him, we may sometimes feel like we have lost our way. Or maybe God has deserted us. God may be silent. Doubts and fears buffet our minds and we may feel like turning around.  But if we know we are following Jesus Christ, then we keep going. No matter how rough the road, we cannot afford to turn back, because if we do, we would miss the beauty and splendor that lie ahead.

Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9: 62).

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Prayer For Fathers

Happy Father's Day to all you strong, wonderful fathers out there. Today is your day, and I pray that you enjoy it to the fullest. I salute the young fathers especially who bring their families to church and take care of them during the service. I watch as they go off to the changing room, diaper bag in one hand and baby over their shoulder. That's an example of true fatherhood.

I also want to give a shout out to the fathers in my life - my oldest son Kevin, raising three children on his own since his wife's death. My son-in-law Mike, a strong, devoted father who always makes time to spend with his children and care for their needs. Last, but not least, my husband, TJ. What can I say about him? Even now that his children are grown, he remains a rock of support, wisdom, and strength to them.

It takes God's strength to be a true father and so my prayer for all fathers today is this:

Heavenly Father, when you made man, you brought the woman to him and you said, "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth" (Genesis 1: 28). You also provided the means for fathers to take care of their families, and I pray, Lord, that You will continue to equip these men and give them opportunities so they can provide well for their families.

Give them wisdom and direction "to train up their children in the way they should go so that when they are old, they will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22: 6). In their zeal to discipline their children, help fathers to "provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6: 4). 

May they always lead by example so their children can model their lives after a man who is loving but firm, patient but persevering, and who "will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord" (18: 19).

Father God, when tough times come, as they will, help our fathers to draw their strength from You, "to acknowledge you in all their ways, and You shall direct their paths" (Proverbs 3:6). Help them not to be discouraged but to recognize that they "can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4: 13).

Help fathers to model true love and devotion to their wives, may they love them as Christ loves the church, (Ephesians 5 : 25), may they "dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel" (1 Peter 3: 7), so their sons will follow their example when they have wives, and their daughters will know what qualities to look for in the men they will marry.

And I pray, Lord, that You will bless these men and reward their work richly so that when the time comes they will hear the words, "well done thou good and faithful servant"(Matthew 25: 21).

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Orlando Massacre

In the wake of this latest national tragedy, I just want to add my thoughts and prayers for the families of the victims in last week's shooting. I also want to say how proud I am to be a Christian. Many times when things like this occur, Christians seem to be MIA or seem to not care. This time, however, I hear expressions of sorrow and horror coming from the Christian community and exhortations to pray for and reach out to the loved ones of those who were murdered. I think we have borne out the true meaning of Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ:
 
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? ( Matthew 5: 46 - 47)

We are all saddened by the fact that 49 innocent people lost their lives in this senseless act of hate, and I think I speak for every right- thinking person when I say that we will not like to see another repeat of this tragedy. We have had far too many already. And this is why I believe we should have proper gun control. No private citizen should be allowed to purchase assault weapons. I know there are many who, while saying they are sorry about what happened in Orlando, will totally disagree with me. Their reasoning is that criminals will always be able to get their hands on these weapons. True. So let me ask you: do you leave your homes and your cars unlocked and your valuables unprotected because the criminals will always be able to get their hands on them? No. You buy dead bolts, alarms and security systems in order to protect yourselves. We must do the same to protect innocent lives.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Pointing The Finger

Every now and again I get a chance to watch one of the television court programs, and I am always amazed at the number of cases that are brought by family members against each other. Recently I saw one where the judge made the plaintiff and defendant - relatives - hug each other and make up right there in front of the television camera. It was a very moving scene.

The angry plaintiff accused the defendant of stealing her identity to pay her gas bill. In tears, the defendant explained that her financial situation was what caused her to do what she did in order to heat her apartment, but her relative kept on accusing her in a harsh manner. This prompted the judge to point out that the woman admitted she made a mistake and that none of us knows what we would do when we are in dire straits, as this woman was. Without condoning what the defendant did, the judge appealed to the plaintiff to be understanding. Of course, the defendant was still ordered to pay the damages.

Before we point the finger at others, we should first ask ourselves, what would I have done in that situation. Jesus taught many parables to illustrate this. On one occasion, He said, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. "
Someone said, when you point your finger at someone, there are three more pointing back at you. Remember that.  

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Life Interrupted

This week I saw an old movie titled Girl Interrupted, starring Angelina Jolie and Whoopi Goldberg. As
the name implies, the movie deals with the life of a young woman mis-diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder, and as a result, the course of her life was interrupted for a whole year.

In the movie, Susanna was coerced by a doctor and her her parents into allowing herself to be admitted to a mental institution. At first she balked at the idea and was scared of the loonies she was forced to share her life with. But gradually, they became her friends, and when an opportunity came for her to leave the institution, she refused. Later, she ran away, but returned.

This is what is so sad about a life being interrupted. We gradually adjust to our situation, become so comfortable with it that we no longer wish to escape. In my book Coming Out Of Egypt, the main characters, Marva and June, had their lives interrupted by their father's abuse. Marva, the older sister, became resigned to her situation until something happened to jolt her out of it, as it did with Susanna in the movie.

As I reflected on the movie, I wondered how many young people have had their lives interrupted as a result of circumstances beyond their control. If you are in a situation where your life, your dreams, your goals have been interrupted, I encourage you, do not lose heart. The keyword is "interrupted," not "ended." You are still alive, and so is God. He is a God of restoration, and He wants to restore you, if you would let Him.

Jeremiah 15: 19 says,  Therefore this is what the LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me ..." 

In Joel 2: 25 He promises, "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. "

Don't give up. Cry out to the Lord today, and He will answer you.

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Encourage Your Children

Courtesy morguefile
 The second to last Sunday of every month is set aside as Youth Sunday in my church, Sierra Norwood Calvary Baptist Church in Miami. This is the day when the young people conduct the service. They do everything except preach the sermon. As I watched them perform this morning, I thought Jesus must be looking on and smiling. I smiled too as I recalled His words, "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19: 14)

What a wonderful privilege we have to nurture and prepare the next generation to become the leaders of tomorrow. It is one we should not take lightly. Unfortunately, not all children receive this type of preparation. Many of them are left to fend for themselves - which is a form of abuse - and are forced into adulthood while they are still children. Many of them never hear the name of Jesus spoken in the home, never have the Bible read to them, never attend church or Sunday School.

Children need to be encouraged to achieve their God-given potential. Some children are so discouraged by the treatment they receive at home they develop low self-esteem. The Bible says, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6: 4). doesn't give us a lot about Jesus's teenage years. We don't know if He kept Mary and Joseph up late at nights wondering where He was or who He was hanging out with. We do know that when He was twelve, He did cause them some worry when they went to Jerusalem and Jesus disappeared for three whole days! That would make any mom frantic.  (Read Luke 2: 42 - 50)


Some years later, we see Mary being the one to launch Jesus's ministry at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. (Read John 2: 1 - 11) I believe Mary must have been given divine wisdom from God to do what she did, because prior to this, she didn't seem to understand the full implications of who Jesus really was. Parents, if you want to know how to encourage your children, how to bring out the best in them, ask God for wisdom and guidance. He will tell you what, when and how to do what needs to be done for them. And He never makes a mistake. God bless.

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Save The Children

It seems like more and more lately I'm getting these messages on my phone about an amber alert in my
area. In case you don't know what that is, it's an alert that warns of a child abduction. Usually, the child's name and description are given, along with a description of the vehicle in which the child has been abducted. Whenever I see that, I immediately begin to pray for the child to be found and returned safely to his/her parents. I want to encourage you to do the same if you ever receive such an alert.

I am thankful that we live in an age of technology where very little goes unnoticed, but unfortunately, if something is taking place within a person's home, it is hidden from the eyes of the public. I don't have to fill you in on a bunch of statistics to show you what you already know. Child abuse is a serious matter. Every day children are abused in their homes by a parent or some other relative, at school by teachers or other students, and in the community by strangers.

In most cases, child abuse survivors carry the scars with them for life. They may have difficulty   concentrating in school, may exhibit antisocial behavior and may even suffer from depression and other mental disorders.

Child abuse is not something we talk about in church. We tend to sweep it under the rug, hoping no one will discover it. But even Jesus spoke out about child abuse. He said, " But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea" Matthew 18: 6.

In other words, Jesus was saying He would not look the other way when offenses are committed against children. And neither should we. As Christians we can and should

  •  pray that God will raise up men and women who will advocate for the safety of these innocent children.
  • volunteer in treatment centers and shelters for battered women and children.
  • support organizations that work with these children by donating money and/or other resources.
  • become advocates ourselves. Advocates For Victims of Assault is an organization that runs self-paced courses that will help prepare you to minister to victims in your church or community.

Let's be vigilant where our children are concerned. They are the most at- risk group in our society today, but they are also our future. Let's save our children!


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