Saturday, December 28, 2013

"The Problem is Choice"

Genesis 2:16-17
16And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
We know that Adam was the first human son of God however he was not born of woman and the Holy Spirit as Jesus. Jesus was begotten because he was produced as an effect or outgrowth and was fathered by the Holy Spirit.  Adam was created from dust and dirt which is what we shed each day.
Adam was given a directive by God in the Garden of Eden to stay away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But as Neo said to the Source in the film, The Matrix, "The problem is choice."  The problem was choice but so was the solution. The problem here wasn't that the serpent approached Eve as many would like to believe. The problem was choice. How so? God gave specific instructions for Adam and Eve not to touch that particular tree. Yes, the serpent provided conflicting information than what Adam and Eve had received. However, the problem was they allowed doubt to creep in and they chose to ignore the directive given by God though He already presented them with the consequence of making the wrong choice. The serpent, who is the enemy of our souls, doesn't stop there, he makes the obviously wrong choice look appealing. But the fact remains, as the NKJ Study Bible states, "Both the man and woman sinned through listening to another created being rather than to God." What is choice? Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines it as 1)the act of choosing: selection 2) the power or opportunity of choosing: option 3) the best part 4) a person or thing selected 5) a variety offered for selection. We are the only living creatures God gave the ability to think and reason. We are the only ones to whom God gave the power of choice. For every choice there are rewards or consequences. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines rewards as 1)something given in return for good or evil done or received for some service or attainment 2) a stimulus that is administered to an organism after a response and that increases the probability of occurrence of the response. Our society refers to rewards as something good. So a reward for doing something right. But a consequence is often seen as something bad. Consequence as defined by Merriam-Webster's Dictionary is a 1) result 2)importance, effect, outcome or aftermath.
The question for you, "Have you been listening to God or to a created being?" Yes, God can speak through others but God speaks to you directly just as much but do you pay attention? Has God spoken to you directly on what to do or not to do? Did you make a choice to not listen to Him? Did you make a choice regardless of the consequences presented to you? Did you think you would be rewarded positively for your choice? Have you suffered negative consequences from your choices? What have you learned as a result? Or do you still not see the problem? Sometimes options are nothing more than diversions from God's truth? Sometimes the question of "did God really say that," is nothing more than the enemy creating doubt in your mind so you will be conflicted enough that you will cheat yourself out of your rewards and blessings just as Satan did. His main objective is to cheat you out of your inheritance as he lost his. Lucifer was once an angel of the Lord. He was the chief angel. He lost his inheritance to be in the kingdom of God and all God's glorious riches all because he wanted to show he was equal to or better than God. So if Satan can assist in opening the door so you will cheat yourself out of your inheritance the way he lost his, then he will have gained what he desired which is misery loves company or the crab in the barrel mentality. As you end the year, think about the choices you have made. Did  you listen to God or did you make the choice to be influenced by someone else? How's that working for you? Jesus is giving you another opportunity to move in the correct direction if you haven't previously because of His shed blood. Is it time for you to reconsider how you make choices?  The solution is also your choice.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Assisting the Enemy

Proverbs 25:21-22
21If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 22For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you.
What does it mean to give and provide for someone who has not been kind to you or has tried to harm you? It means that you will show God's love even if they refuse to do so. Showing God's love is how the common world will know He exists. We are to be examples of God's love to the world by how we treat one another. But if one doesn't treat the other well, is it all bets off? No. Often God will put those who have harmed you in a position where they will have to ask you for assistance or they may need assistance whether they ask or not. And if GOD says you are to meet that need, you do so with His love in mind. Remember, it is God who will give the directive on what you are to do. Your hurt feelings must be put in the proper context. But what about if they are not so nice to you? Does it mean you won't be angry and hurt? No. It is normal to feel those feelings. You are to acknowledge them but then you are to ask God to remove them from you. Having the anger is not a sin but acting on the anger is. Keeping the anger leads to bitterness and that is why you have to let it go. So before you give or do anything, it still has to be done with the correct intention or motive that lines up with God. Your well treatment of someone who has not been good to you is to show them that God's love in you outweighs the anger and bitterness of their heart. It is supposed to cause them to reflect and to feel a level of guilt for their less than stellar behavior toward you. It is supposed to cause them shame now rather than judgment later as the NKJ Study Bible notes. The shame is to lead them to repent and be remorseful of their behavior then God will forgive them. God gets the glory because His love shown through you is supposed to bring about change in others and bring them closer to Him. Your reward from God will come for your obedience. What if they still do not get it? You cannot control them. All you can do is your part and God will handle the rest whether good or bad. God is the God who sees or Jehovah Roi and He will handle it according to His time.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Whose Wisdom Are You Following?

James 3:15-16
15This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
The scripture brings a whole new meaning to 1Corinthians 14:33 which states, "For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." Many of us have heard the first part of 1Corinithans 14:33 but without giving thought to what it really means. The word has stated there are two types of wisdom, God's wisdom and the world. The wisdom reflected by God is from the Greek word "Sophia" as said in the NKJ Study Bible. The wisdom from the world in simple terms is demonic.  And this is why the spiritual gift of discernment is necessary. God is wisdom but not all wisdom is of God. As a matter of fact, the word says in Proverbs to seek wise council. The apostle Paul speaks of godly council but if you are not surrounded by men and women of God who conduct themselves as such, what wisdom do you think you will receive? The world teaches you to do things for self-seeking reasons while the wisdom of God ALWAYS teaches and communicates the concern and well-being of others as brought up in the Study Bible. How so? The self-seeking wisdom of the world is focused on doing whatever you can the easy way; whatever requires the least amount of sacrifice. But God teaches you, "no pain no gain or "No cross, no crown." The greatest reward will come from the sacrifice you make to do things in accordance to God's plan for your life, His direction, which means no shortcuts. For example, God gave you a means or money to support not only your family but also the kingdom of God from which you have greatly benefited but you would rather use the help or dollars He gave you to play the lottery because the jackpot is big. You were not being a wise steward of the talents/money He gave you. Another example, "God gave you a command to teach His people to prepare them for greater works of service but you listened to "your boy or your girl" who said let's go to the club and get our drink on which you know means you won't get up Sunday morning and be prepared to teach God's people the Word that they may be ready and mature in Christ for His service and not being tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine as said in Ephesians 4. Whose wisdom are you adhering to? The path you take is directly related to the wisdom you receive and the choice you make to act on it. If you are confused about anything, know that God didn't confuse you. God makes Himself very clear and is ALWAYS mindful of your future as said in Jeremiah 29:11 as well as the future of those around you and keeping His reputation in tact. Whose wisdom has dictated your life? Hint, if you have no peace and contentment about anything and have that sick feeling in your stomach that hits every time you think about the choice you made, then chances are you followed the wrong wisdom. Seek God and He will answer as the Word says in Matthew 7. Seek God and His kingdom and those HE shows you to be of His name and not perpetrators attempting to imitate being an angel of light but are really of darkness as is described of Satan.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Doing it For Love

Romans 13:8
8Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The law means the Ten Commandments. The Lord talks continuously in His word about the "motive" or reason for someone saying or doing something is important. It is mentioned in Proverbs repeatedly but also Jesus spoke about what comes out of the mouth is what is in the heart and people claiming to do things in the name of the Lord but being turned away at judgment. And the apostle Paul spoke about love being the greatest no matter what gift you have to give to the world in 1Corinthians 13. Why? Precisely the question. Why? Why are you doing what you are doing? Jesus spoke about the Pharisees loving the place of honor yet they had no regard for the people they were supposed to teach and lead. Do you realize that by Jesus talking about people who gave to the needy and claimed to be prophesying in His name He was saying that doing something just for the sake of doing something or to receive your own recognition is no better than not doing it at all? Why? Because God wants you to be motivated by love. "What's love got to do with it?" EVERYTHING!! The Word says in 1John 4:8-9 that God is love and anyone who does not love does not know God. And His demonstration of love was by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. And Jesus demonstrated His love by sacrificing His blood and life on the cross for you and I. So your motivation is important. If you are not motivated by love first and foremost, then it means nothing. If you are not giving, teaching, leading or doing anything else with love for others as your motivation, then why do it? 
 "Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do but how much love we put in that action" ~ Mother Theresa 
What is your motivation? Are you doing it for the love of God? For the love you have for others? If not, then it's as empty as not doing it all.
P.S. My sincerest condolences to the Mandela family and to all in South Africa in the passing of a great icon. Dr. Nelson Mandela demonstrated his love at the price of giving up 27 years of his life. A clear demonstration of love. He demonstrated like the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and many others, that the suppression of a group of people because of the color of their skin does not have to be tolerated. He also showed the modern world that a Black man could be president of a country and lead it. Thank you God for the 95 years you gave to Dr. Nelson Mandela.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Discernment at Work

Nehemiah 6:12
12Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
God moved on Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and to rebuild the city. While God was moving on the heart of Nehemiah to take the lead in rebuilding the holy city, God was also moving on the heart of King Artaxerxes to financially plant a seed and provide whatever was needed for the rebuilding. Now Nehemiah had been serving King Artaxerxes and was faithful in doing so. Tobiah and Sanballat were upset when they learned that the walls of Jerusalem were being rebuilt. And from that point on, they decided to plot to stop the building. Tobiah and Sanballat came at Nehemiah from every angle they knew how. They had already devised slander in writing. However, when that did not work, Tobiah and Sanballat sent someone from the house of Shemaiah who they paid as a secret informer to "prophecy" or prophe-lie as is often said in the kingdom of God when someone gives a false prophecy and are not sent by God himself. Prophets are to be the mouthpieces of God. They are to speak what God is saying, to give encouragement, God's direction and rebuke when necessary. So if God didn't send them, whose mouthpiece are they? Just something to think about. Now why would someone go to great lengths to do such a thing? These people were actually enemies of the Jews as a whole who had tried many times to destroy the Jews. Rebuilding the wall and the city was representation of the strengthening of the Jews and their reuniting after their captivity which the enemies did not want. Nehemiah did not allow himself to be distracted, paid off or scared into aborting the plans God gave him. The prophe-lie given to Nehemiah was that people were coming to kill him if he didn't stop rebuilding.
So what does this mean to you? Hmmm... Did you know the enemy of your soul uses these same tactics? Did you know there are people that the enemy uses just like Tobiah and Sanballat used someone from the house of Shemaiah to be a secret informer?  Remember the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. So if you are moving in the direction God has for you and the enemy is upset, he will send threats and even scare tactics. He may even send someone to prophe-lie to get you so wound up that you stop moving with God's plans. Like Nehemiah, you have to "perceive" or use the spiritual gift of discernment to understand the spirit of the person and more importantly, the motive behind what is being said to you. For that is what the gift of discernment does, it divides between good and evil. It divides truth from lie and shows the motive behind whatever words are said and what spirit they are said in and the heart of the person saying them. God sometimes allows you to see the plans of the wicked and gives you strategies to combat. 1Corinithians 2:13-16 and 1Corinthians 12 which gives insight to how God uses the spiritual gift of discernment. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines discern as 1) to detect with the eyes: distinguish 2) discriminate 3) to come to know or recognize mentally. So in essence God teaches you to use your spiritual eyes to see what the natural man cannot see. If you need help to see so as not to get tripped up by the enemy, ask God to show you and He will for the sake of His plans.  Sanballat kept inviting Nehemiah to sit down and discuss as a means to get the full plan but also to distract Nehemiah away from the time he was to spend doing what God told him. You cannot entertain everyone when God tells you to do something. You cannot give away the plans God has given you. You cannot give your attention to people who do not mean you well. If God shows you that someone is off and has intention to hinder the plans of God, BELIEVE HIM! God's Word is always true and He is a man that cannot tell a lie in a world where so many do.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Keeping the Peace

Isaiah 48:18
18Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
The prophet Isaiah received a stern word of correction from the Lord for the people of Israel. Israel had become idol worshippers and rebellious but wanted to "give the appearance of being religious" as the NKJ Study Bible notes. But to think that God could not see was very bold and not bright at all. Yet, the Lord deferred His anger as the word says. The people of Israel brought on their own drama and turmoil because of their refusal to obedient. God allowed the lack of peace.
If you ever want less drama and more peace in your heart and life, the best way is to be obedient to God and continue to seek Him and sit before His face. Psalm 119:2 says, "Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart!  Many do not seek God and wonder why there is no peace. What is peace? Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines peace as 1) a state of calm and quiet; esp: public security under law 2) freedom from disturbing thoughts or emotions 3) a state of concord (as between persons or governments); also an agreement to end hostilities.  In other words, if you want to keep things agreeable between you and God and everything in your life, just lovingly follow His direction for your life. When you don't, you upset your own balance of emotions because stubbornness is the doorway for the drama to take over the peace in your life. Yes, God will allow situations to work together for your good as said in Romans 8:28 meaning He will use the drama to teach you. Some drama is not of your doing but is a storm for God to show His glory. The condition is that you have to be willing to learn. Either way, submission to God at some point will bring about greater peace. Taking hold of the peace and keeping it requires seeking God. Whether it's now or later, is up to you.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Desire to Serve

Mark 10:38
38But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"
The brothers James and John asked Jesus if they could sit at His right hand. They admired the power and authority Jesus had as the Son of God. Jesus made a point to share with them that they really didn't know what they were asking for. Jesus' entire 33 years was about service and sacrifice. Jesus traded His riches in Heaven with the Heavenly Father to become the sacrificial lamb for you and I. His entire existence on earth was about serving just as He serves even now by interceding on our behalf each time we sin. His blood is remembered and as long as you and I grab hold of it, our full judgment is spared.
There are so many who say they want to lead or be a leader. Real leadership means serving. Real leadership means putting others before yourself. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines serve as 1)to work as a servant 2)to render obedience and worship God 3)to comply with the commands or demands 4) to work through or perform a term of service (as in the army) 5)Put In (served five years in jail) 6)to be of use: answer 7)Benefit 8)to prove adequate or satisfactory for 9)to make ready and pass out 10)to furnish or supply with something 11)to wait on ~a customer 12)to treat or act toward in a specified way 13) to put the ball in play. Two of the thirteen definitions are about doing or performing something for someone other than yourself. Many want a seat of honor like the disciples James and John. A seat of honor in the eyes of Jesus has nothing to do with your title or ranking but has everything to do with are you willing to serve someone other than yourself? The NKJ Study Bible notes, "He illustrated genuine greatness and spiritual ranking in His own life as He served others rather expecting other to wait upon Him. He covered His glory for a time and assumed the humble role of a lowly servant." It takes humility to serve. Jesus had every right to be served based on who He is alone but His purpose for coming to earth was not about Him being served. His mission was to be a servant so that you and I could have a relationship with God the Father so He could look upon us again. If your mission in life and in Christ is to sit at a seat of honor or to receive special treatment, yet you do not wish to serve, you missed the point and have shown you are not worthy of a title. God does not care about titles if you cannot serve.  Revelation 3:1 says "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, 'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead." The NKJ Study Bible notes, "Its citizens zealously promoted emperor worship and were known for their luxurious, indulgent lifestyles." But it doesn't say they were willing to serve. A title with no desire to serve is the same as having a name that you are alive but you are dead. The Word of God said it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

God Made You

2Chronicles 8:22-23
22So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. 23And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.
King Solomon's kingdom at the time of his reign was from the Euphrates River to the border of Egypt. And for anyone who is not aware, Egypt is in Africa. King Solomon was given the throne by God himself. God told King David who was going to take his place. Before David made the public announcement of what God shared with him, Solomon's older brother, Adonijah, attempted to exalt himself and make himself king. Adonijah even held a banquet to this effect but God did not appoint him.  Jesus said himself that one ought not invite himself to the seat of honor. David recounted God's revelation to him about Solomon in 1Chronicles 22. When God first revealed to David who would succeed him, Solomon had not yet been born. Just as God told Jeremiah in the first chapter, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you," so He knew Solomon. King Solomon did not appoint himself. God exalted him to the place where he sat. God told King David that his son's name would be Solomon, but more importantly would also be His son and that Solomon would call Him Father. Solomon was already predestined to know God. And because He sought God with a willing heart, so God gave him wisdom and exalted him. Solomon did not obtain the wisdom himself, if it were not for God, Solomon would know nothing nor have nothing. Not only did Solomon inherit the wealth of the kingdom God handed over to him through his father David, the wisdom of God was so powerful that he was sought out. And for every visit, the earthly kings shared their wealth. So it was what Solomon obtained from God that led to his increased wealth.
What does this mean to you? 1)God truly does know who you are even if you don't. He's waiting for you to seek Him out so He can show you who you are. He knew you before your parents knew you. 2)God gives the wisdom, knowledge and power to get wealth. The wisdom from God created the greater wealth. So again, apart from God, no one knows anything nor has anything no matter how many degrees are behind your name or what is in the bank account. God made you. 3)God is the one who exalts you at the time He deems. And if you appoint yourself to something He didn't say was yours, God will reveal otherwise at the time He deems which may not be a convenient time for you.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Showing Gratefulness

Good Morning,
Like many who have saw #The Best Man upon its release in 1999, I was excited to see #Best Man Holiday last Friday, November 15th. I planned for the laughter; what I didn't plan for was the tears and the lesson on how a woman's love could inspire a man, her children and all the friends she adored. The central characters were still the same with a few additions that stirred a pot of gossip and jealousy but the love of God prevailed which is what the character, Mia, always displayed. Overall, it was an awesome movie that I highly recommend. There's a reason for this today.
We are officially in the Holiday season and not because the commercial ads are talking about Black Friday. We are in this season because you see the Christmas decorations up and people are preparing their homes for guests. Since the passing of my late Dad, this season was the hardest for me. His birthday is December 14th. When December would hit I would be full of tears, crying everyday because I missed him and it was his favorite time of year, not just because of his birthday either. My late Dad was a loving and giving person. For a few years I stopped decorating my house and even putting up a Christmas tree. After my own near death, which I talk about in my book, Get Your JOY In The Morning!, I had a change of heart. I stopped looking at what I lost as such a bad thing. I remembered the second chance God gave me because He didn't have to give it. The Lord could've taken me in March 2008 like he took my late Dad in March 2005, sudden and during the same period of time. I was reminded and decided it was time to be grateful and give thanks. Like King Hezekiah who pleaded for his life in Isaiah 38, I pleaded in tears for mine and God answered. I realized through God's Word that obedience and thanksgiving is the way to show gratefulness to Him. When you are grateful for what someone has done for you, you show them as much as you can and you respect them, thank them and show them. Showing isn't just in words, showing is action. The apostle Paul said that love is an act. So it brought new meaning to what Jesus said in John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me." Obedience to God ought not to be out of some ritualistic belief. But ought to be out of love. God wants our love because He is love and first loved us as said in 1John 4. I am understanding at a new level that obedience is my reasonable sacrifice for one who has saved my life not just spiritually but physically when He didn't have to. I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Not Ready to Admit

Proverbs 28:13
13He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
The translation of this verse in the NKJ Study Bible uses King David as the example. Did you know King David tried to cover his sin of sleeping with Bathsheba knowing she did not belong to him? When she turned up pregnant he devised a plan to have her husband brought back from the war and sleep with her so it would look like she conceived with him. David thought he could sleep with Bathsheba one time and get away with it but the pregnancy was the result of God bringing forth the truth. When Bathsheba's husband refused to sleep with her because he wanted to continue fighting the war, King David had her husband killed on the battlefield.  David thought he covered his tracks but God saw it and revealed it to the prophet assigned to him. The NKJ Study Bible notes that David's attempt of not admitting his sin "led to negative physical, emotional and spiritual consequences." The sin showed in his physical appearance. It also created havoc with him emotionally. Have you ever seen what happens to a person who attempts to cover a sin? Have you ever watched what happens to them emotionally and physically? Pride keeps many from admitting sin but the apostle Paul says we are to confess our sins to one another. If to no one else, confess it to God. Not admitting guilt does not help a situation because God will expose the error to many if need be to get your attention. Our Bible Study conference call last week talked about humility. Lack of humility is what causes many from admitting a mistake. You cannot pretend or think you can hide something when God knows more than you and He is the God who sees or Jehovah Roi and will know that you blundered. He will humble you however He has to at the time He deems. God may even allow you to prosper for a time but the Word is the Word and He will bring to light what is done in the dark. But confessing your sins to God allows the blood of Jesus Christ to work in your favor and obtain mercy when you do not deserve it and forgiveness is what you receive.
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Monday, November 18, 2013


Psalm 144:1
1Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle-
David wrote this Psalm after the Lord brought him and the people of Israel through another battle with victory. David did not go to war without consulting God. He was well aware that it was God who would determine his victory not the strength and number of people. God is the trainer for any warrior He sends into battle. He gives strategies that the enemy is not aware of. He gives strategies based on His mighty right hand not yours or mine. As David said, He trains your hands.  If you do not consult God before you take up any matter, victory is not guaranteed to be yours. God should be the one who gives you direction as to whether you ought to fight or walk away. If you are following the instructions of God then when your enemies attack you, they are also attacking God. And you know that God will defend His name, His works, His people who He sent in His name. He will allow your enemies to stumble and fall as said in Psalm 27. They will not be able to fight against God and win. They may attempt to plot against you but God will strike them. The battle truly is not yours if you are operating according to God's direction. Let God direct your steps always and you shall be a victorious warrior in His sight.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Team in the Spotlight

Amos 3:2
2Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
The people of Israel were God's special people, set apart from the rest. God made to them promises that He did not make to others. But as the NKJ Study Bible states with covenant promises there are covenant responsibilities. As said in worship service repeatedly, "there are conditions." The people of Israel assumed that because they were God's special people they were excluded from judgment for their misdeeds or didn't have to pay a price. But God said, "I will punish you for all your iniquities." To walk with God is a covenant relationship. But to stay with God you have to uphold your part. God is always in the same place as He was when you left Him. The key is, "you walked away." You cannot walk together if you walk away. And you cannot walk away from God and think you will not incur difficulty when you were the one who initially agreed to be part of His set apart people, His special people. To walk together you have to be in agreement. It's like teamwork. The people of Israel were collectively off because of their choice to disregard the agreement. So they were not in sync and God had to call them out.
When I was in high school we had a performing dance group called Modern Dance Theatre or MDT. It was a six period class followed by two to three hour rehearsals. Performances were done at half time for basketball and football games, the school talent show and we put on our own full length school concert in the spring. We often had six weeks or less to learn a full dance routine for half time shows. But everyone had to learn it which meant you had to know every step, every slight movement of the arm, neck, shoulder, hip, etc. You had to learn how to step together, turn together, stop together. Everything had to be in complete sync. Any deviation by anyone from the routine could easily throw off the dance. We were even in the same costume. We made an agreement even in auditions that you had to work as a team. In other words, it wasn't just about you.  If you did not step right, Mrs. Feinberg had permission to call you out.  I learned not only to see my own strengths and weaknesses in a routine but my teammates could see them as well and vice versa. We had to learn how to show one another the right way so the dance routine would be right in front of hundreds of people. To be in a spotlight and set apart, it had to be right. It is the same when you are one of God's people. You are in the spotlight whether for the right reason or not both individually and collectively.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

By God's Mighty Hand

Psalm 33:16
16No king is saved by the multitude of an army; A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
The psalmist spoke of the Lord's sovereignty or the Lord's absolute authority to make anything happen whether it is winning a war or deliverance from any situation. No man can do what God does. Samson thought his strength was in his hair. Yes, his hair was to be a reflection of the relationship and call with God but ultimately his strength came from the Lord. No enemy can take anything from those who are redeemed by the Lord unless given permission as shown in the book of Job. No one can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps no matter what the world tells them. Any success, any achievement, any blessing, any healing, any deliverance is from the Lord himself. The Lord can use instruments such as His people but it is He who does it. Anyone who says that the Lord had nothing to do with what they have is foolish indeed. The Word of God says in James 1:16-17 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. The apostle James was talking about loving God under trials. We are not to just love God in the good times but to love Him when things are not so good.
Nearly two weeks ago something happened. And every tear I cried, I cried out not because I was upset but because I was thanking God. I was made aware yet again of His saving grace, His mercy and His deliverance from the hand of the enemy. I was made aware once again that it is by His hand that I am here. I am fully reminded that it is because of God that I have anything, even to those who believe it is less than what they have achieved. But as we went over in our Bible study conference call Tuesday night, John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing." So no matter what you have possessed; knowledge, wisdom, skills or physical possessions, what you have achieved,  what journey you are on, what you have been healed, delivered and set free from, know this, that it is only by God's mighty hand that you even stand. So give Him thanks in all things as the Word of God says.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dark but Lovely

Song of Solomon 1:5

5I am dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon.

King Solomon wrote this song very early in his forty year reign as the NKJ Study Bible notes. King Solomon wrote a song of how his early marriage to a Shulamite woman came to be and their love for one another. The Song of Solomon is about romance and love as God has a place for it. In many places in the Bible, including Hosea, God is referenced as a husband uniting with the people of Israel. Israel, the people as a whole are often referenced as a wife or woman. And of course, The first humans mentioned are Adam and Eve as they were husband and wife. God made Eve for Adam. Adam asked God for a mate, and GOD created Eve and presented her to Adam. God and Adam had a friendship and dialogue with one another.  Marriage is also a reflection of the unity between us and God, therefore it must be weighed very carefully as it is supposed to be a ministry not only reflecting the most important relationship on earth from which everything is born but also to reflect the relationship we have God. But that is not the point of this scripture. It is only background information.

"Dark, but lovely," the Shulamite woman says. In the next scripture she says, "do not look upon me, because I am dark." The NKJ Study Bible notes that the Shulamite woman was aware of her beauty. Being dark did not determine her beauty or lack their of. It was simply her complexion from her long hours in the sun and she wanted King Solomon to look past her complexion. The NKJ Study Bible notes that she was not fair like the rest of the women in the court. Now Solomon had his choice of women but he wrote about the love he had with the Shulamite woman, who happened to be dark. Yes, this is going somewhere. Your beauty or your handsomeness should not be based on the color of your skin. However, we know we live in a society that has long lived along the color line. It is not only in America but I have also seen the difference in treatment in other places based on light vs. dark. There is even a product that many African-American women will easily recall when I say, "Dark and Lovely". Is the play on words a coincidence? Not likely. The product was created so African-American women could straighten their hair, to make them look, more lovely." The texture of your hair should not determine your beauty either, but again, society has often dictated what beauty is. God created you in His image therefore, as Psalm 139:14 says, "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well." God's word even addresses an issue of color. Remember who created you, and you will remember your beauty no matter your complexion or the texture of  your hair, for His works are good.

P.S. A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support awareness of how to recognize child abuse and how to stop it!! The store manager said there are no other books like it in the store. She asked that I autograph the remaining copies because she wants them on the shelf as "it is a very nice book." So for those who missed out, you can still get your autographed copy of "Shh Don't Tell" at Barnes & Noble on 8123 Honeygo Blvd in White Marsh while supplies last.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Testimony that Awareness is Creating a Conversation for Our Children

God Blessed my heart yesterday with a testimony! I was on the metro and ran into someone who attended my book signing and panel discussion on child abuse.  The mother has been reading the book. In the process, her teenage daughter remembered the sudden changes that are often present when someone has been abused. Her daughter came to her with the concern of the sudden changes and she prompted her daughter to talk to the young lady. Now I am not proud that there are sudden changes in any child, but it is proof that awareness is starting the conversation. Our panel addressed the older children as well about signs to look for in their friends. Awareness is important because early detection can help a friend or loved one get help before a situation gets worse. The mother expressed to me that she wished I would host the same type of panel discussion in schools with parents and children old enough to comprehend. God is working!

On another related note, yesterday my former high school classmate and Nia-Imani co-founder & sister, Tracee Wilkins of NBC4 News, posted an article yesterday that relates to the subject of guilt I discuss in the book  when children come forward. It was a story about a Prince George's County police officer and his wife who had been sexually abusing a relative since she was 13 years old in 2008 and ended last year. Children are subject to authority figures and when ready to come forward in an effort to stop being violated, they are coerced into keeping silent. Children should not have to suffer in silence because someone is uncomfortable with this subject matter or fears embarrassment. Not only does the child need help, but so do the abusers. Many times the abusers were once the abused. Stop the cycle! Your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, godchild, etc should not have to suffer because you don't want to deal with this subject. Don't make your fear more important than their safety.

P.S. I hope to see you this Sunday, November 10th at Barnes & Noble at the Avenue in White Marsh in Maryland from 4pm-8pm.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

If You Think You Know More

Matthew 7:21

21Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord,  Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My father in heaven.

Jesus did not hesitate nor did He mince words when He made the statement above. It is VERY unfortunate to say, there will be some who are going to bust hell wide open no matter what label they attach to themselves.  Jesus has delayed His second coming in order to give as many as possible the opportunity to get in line with God's will. He gives you a new day and new mercies to do the same. You woke up so you have another opportunity to do God's will.  Jesus goes on in the paragraph about those who will claim to have done so many things in His name but ultimately, will be told, "I never knew you." Who will hear the four words no one wants to hear? Jesus said the one who is unwilling to do the will of God. You can do so many things but what counts is whether you are doing what God has for you to do and what He has guided you to do. That is how Jesus is going to make His determination. Sometimes, God's will is in direct conflict with what you and I want to do. But God said in Isaiah 55 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways". So, there are going to be times that God wants you to do something that you do not particularly want to do. This means either you do it because you know it will please the one you love or you refuse to do it. Jesus actually did not want to go to His death if you recall. He prayed REAL HARD that God would give Him another way out. But what did He say toward the end of His prayer in the Garden just before Judas showed up? "But as you will." How many times have you wanted something so bad you could taste it, but the Holy Spirit says, "leave it alone?"  If you left it alone, then you did God's will. If you did not, you chose your own way. When you choose your own way, you will hit some expected trouble and God will have to get you out, just like He did the people of Israel. If the Holy Spirit says to call someone, will you do it? Or do you have too much pride?  Just in case you don't know, when the Holy Spirit speaks to you, you are hearing the will of God. Remember, Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit to be our counselor. The Holy Spirit searches all things and knows all things. So quite frankly, He knows more than you. But if you think you know more than God, He will leave you to your own choices and will lovingly wait for you to run to Him til Jesus returns or He says your time is up. Once Jesus returns, it's too late to get it right. If you don't wake up tomorrow, it's too late. Better you get in line with God's will for your life now rather than late because you don't know when God will say you have had enough time. Hearing and doing God's will for your life with a heart to satisfy Him is always your best choice.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

You Are Your Brother's Keeper

Proverbs 28:23

23 He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue.

King Solomon used the wisdom God provided to him to guide him in his everyday decision making as a king and how he interacted with others. In society many refer to it as, 'your belief system is your filter.' And yes, our Lord and Savior does want us to use our belief system to be our filter to guide our mind, our hearts and everything we say and do no matter the environment. It is meant to spill over into EVERY area of your life, not just the parts you are willing to let God into while you continue in your old ways in other areas. That would be double-minded as the apostle James wrote. The apostle Paul talks about "being transformed by the renewing of your mind." If your mind is renewed in Christ then what you say and do ought to also be guided by it. Did you know that you are your brother's and sister's keeper?  Jesus said that if there is grievance against your brother that you can't leave it in the open then expect Him to accept your offering. You must go to your brother first and address it. The apostle Paul also talks about not leaving your brother to sin but to pray for him and lovingly admonish him. If he continues then you are to let it go but you are not to turn a blind eye. So the wisdom God gave King Solomon falls along the lines of lovingly admonishing your brother or sister when things are off rather than to continue flattering them with the tongue.  If you know of yes men and women who outwardly agree with everything said, even when it is apparent that it is off, then you know you have come across people who only hope to gain the favor and crumbs of the one who is talking or fears not being liked by a crowd. However, real respect and favor comes to the one who pulls them aside when the Holy Spirit says to do so.  For one, you are being obedient to the Lord in it and second, you are showing enough love and concern for their well-being. If they get upset, then it is only because they are convicted by the Holy Spirit. If they do not receive after it is said, then that is is no longer on you for you have done what the Lord desires and you shall receive your reward which is favor in God's eyes. He will deal with the one who does not accept what He sent His elect (anyone in the body of Christ) to do. The person who does accept the rebuke will understand that it takes courage to address another who is in sin rather than to turn a blind eye. And the person who does accept will indeed know that it is the love of Christ that brought you.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Did You Know?

Good Morning Everyone,

Did you know that  "1 in 10 children will be sexually abused or molested before or upon their 18th birthday?"  And that is only of the reported cases. Many cases of child abuse go unreported. That was a statistic uttered by an expert during a session I attended. As I have mentioned to you previously, I have been talking with a child advocacy group in Washington, DC that works with abused children. Many of you know that I am passionate about this cause because I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. The group I am communicating with is called Safe Shores. It is a one stop shop that works with multiple agencies and attorneys while keeping a child safe. I had the honor of touring their facility less than two weeks ago. I was taken through the facility as a child would be who is in the middle of a crisis. They have a clothes closet with anything a child might need. Often, when a child is abused, especially in an environment where they reside, they are often removed with only the clothes on their back depending on the severity of the situation. Then the child is observed in a room before talking with a counselor who obtains their story. The room has video cameras and audio so their story can be recorded to keep from telling it over and over again. It is immediately recorded and handed over to the attorneys. The child then goes through therapy. Safe Shores attempts to have the child placed with other safe family members if at all possible before using the last resort which is foster care. There is no cost to the parents or caregivers who are bringing the child for treatment. Even after months of treatment, the director of the Ambassador program alerted me to the fact that they have often brought children back in months after their therapy has ended because the children are showing signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which I speak about in my new book. The children are still treated free of charge.  How awesome is that? The facility has treated 450 children this year to date. The director of the Ambassador program also explained of a very common occurrence. Safe Shores offers a two hour workshop to parents and adults about how to recognize the signs abuse. She said that it is far too common that during those sessions, the adults themselves have episodes of memories where they themselves had been abused and also multi-generational abuse, where each generation of a family has abuse the next. Again I talk about all of these types of situations in my new book. I also speak on how to recognize the signs and what NOT to do. And just as the director said, how other signs of trauma show up later. If you have children, grandchildren, work with children, know a survivor of abuse or just want to be informed, I highly encourage to you to come out this coming Sunday, November 10th from 4-8pm to join me at Barnes & Noble at the Avenue at White Marsh. Support a cause to educate others on awareness. Support a cause of one who knows intimately about what abuse can do but also how people can overcome and be a survivor not a victim. I look forward to seeing you!

Baltimore Book Signing Event
 You are invited to attend a Book Signing for author
Joy T.J. Riley:

Inline image 1

Sunday, November 10th at Barnes & Noble (White Marsh)
8123 Honeygo Blvd
Baltimore, MD 21236
4pm-8pm ET
 Join Joy for this special event and invite a friend! 
Looking forward to seeing you there!
Please RSVP by Nov 5th to author, Joy T.J. Riley at
 Can’t make the event? Click to order a copy

Friday, November 1, 2013

Watch Out

Psalm 59:7

7Indeed, they belch with their mouth; Swords are in their lips; For they say, "Who hears?"

Young David had long been anointed as the next king by the Prophet Samuel. Unfortunately, Saul, the current king, was very aware that David would take his place. For some time Saul had made plans to kill David though David served him faithfully. The idea that someone else would take Saul's place didn't sit well with him. And of course not. Who wants to loose their place of authority and position to someone under them? Fits of rage would befall Saul but again, this was as a result of his own misdeeds of disobedience. But as said previously, blaming someone was an easier road to take rather than accept what he failed to do. That is what he did with David. David never harmed him but served him with love. He repaid David's loving service with evil. Just after the title of this Psalm, the NKJ Study Bible gives a background noting that Saul sent men to kill David and they watched the house for an opportunity.

When someone is jealous of the gifts God has placed in you as well as your purpose and your call, like David, you may hear unkind words being said about you, whether publicly done or privately. When someone doesn't understand your purpose and your call you will likely hear the same. These people may even smile in your face while devising plans in their thoughts of how to get back at you though you have done nothing to them. Some of them may have even been people you have helped at one time or another. And like Saul, they are attempting to repay your loving service with evil. There are people who speak ill will about you yet think no one knows but the ones they are speaking to. In their arrogance, they are unaware that God hears and sees all.

I will never forget when I was warned by two prophets and one with the gift of prophecy about three people who were talking about me and wishing ill against me though I helped and only wished to see them succeed. When I was told, I was also told that God had been dealing with each one of them accordingly. I was told to call one of them. And what I found was that she was suddenly ailing. The second had to reach out to me for help for something. Each time she made very off color remarks to me, God set it up that she would have to come back for help. In Proverbs it says that one who slanders is a fool. And God's elect, who is anyone in the body of Christ, is not to be attacked. The attack doesn't have to be a physical one as the one against David. It can be verbal. God hears. And He does deal accordingly. Saul and everyone in his household had an ugly fate. Their fate was sealed and pronounced when Saul searched out a witch to conjure up the soul of the dead prophet Samuel in order to find out his fate before war. Incidentally, this was the same practice the priests of Ireland used to honor the dead souls aka part of the history of Halloween. Priests used their bodies as an entry way for the dead to speak to those who sought to find out their fortunes as we learned in on our Bible Study conference call this week. If you wish to know more, you can respond to me and I will gladly give you the replay number to listen to the recorded Bible Study.

P.S. We are one week out from the Sunday, November 10th event at Barnes & Noble in White Marsh. Please RSVP either through email or on the fan page via Facebook.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Have You Met Jesus?

Mark 1:7-8

7And he preached, saying, "There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. 8I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Have you met Jesus? John the Baptist gave an introduction to many about who Jesus is. But do you know Jesus? When you are introduced to Jesus, you are also introduced to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a person just as Jesus is a person and just as God the Father is a person. In Luke chapter 1 the Word tells of how John met Jesus while they were both in the womb. What did John do when he sensed the presence of Jesus through Mary? He leaped for joy. The presence of Jesus and God the Father is available to you and I through the Holy Spirit. He is the one Jesus promised to leave with His disciples on the day of Pentecost. The presence of Jesus goes beyond that submerging in the pool. It's just the beginning. The presence of Jesus and God the Father are found in the Holy Spirit. When you are carrying the Holy Spirit within you, you are different. The Word says in 1John 4 that God is love. When you come to know Jesus you will understand that He too is love. And the Holy Spirit is your reminder of His love. If Jesus has called you by name, then call the Holy Spirit by His name when He speaks to you. No longer shall you refer to Him as "something told me." He is a someone. The Holy Trinity is three persons not two persons and a thing. If Jesus knows you by name and God knows the very number of hairs on your head as the Word says then give proper acknowledgement and respect out of love because of their love for you. He, the Holy Spirit, has taken the time to speak to you and give you direction on where to go and what to do. But none of this will make sense to you if you don't know Jesus. If you don't know Jesus, do you want to know Him? You can. You can know Him through God's Holy Word and through prayer. If you want to know Jesus repeat after me: "God, I don't know that I have met Jesus but I want to know Him. Introduce me to Him please. Let me see who He is."  When you meet Jesus, you too will say as the soldiers said on Calvary, "surely He is the Son of God." And at that point you will confess with your mouth and believe in your heart.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Leadership Answers to God

1Samuel 15:20

20And Saul said to Samuel, "But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag, king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.

As said in a previous message, the Bible addresses all situations known to man and every human condition. King Saul had only been king of Israel for two years before he encountered, "the big head" syndrome. The situation with the Amalekites was not the first time King Saul had disobeyed a direct command. He did it with the Philistines as well in chapter 14. Saul was chastised by the prophet Samuel then. Samuel was the mouthpiece of God. He was the prophet that GOD appointed to the earthly leader of His people to help give guidance, encouragement and to understand the direction of God. The prophet is also to rebuke and speak God's judgement when necessary.

When Saul spoke to Samuel with the scripture above, he blatantly lied to him. Now Samuel was the one whom God sent to anoint Saul and make him king in the first place and Samuel reminded him of this before he went to war. Samuel gave the words of the Lord to Saul and the specific instructions were "Now go to Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." God gave the reason as well. Amalek ambushed the people of Israel when God commanded Moses to bring them out of Egypt back in Exodus 17. Granted, God allowed the Israelites to defeat them but God wanted to be sure they had no opportunity to ambush His people again. Saul did not listen and he spared their commander in chief, King Agag. It also says that Saul and the people spared the best of the animals. When Samuel called Saul out for his disobedience, guess what he did? He blamed the people saying it was them who spared the animals. Not only was Saul disobedient but he threw his own people under the bus blaming them. Had he followed instructions and did what God said, he would've commanded them to do the same. So Saul's punishment was that he would loose the kingdom. Shortly thereafter, Samuel was sent by God to anoint David as the new king. And God sent an evil spirit on Saul as punishment for his disobedience. This is a clear example that the people will do as the leader does. The command was given to Saul. He didn't carry it out and therefore he nor his people obeyed the voice of the Lord. Subsequently, 500 years later, a descendant of Agag arose to attempt to kill the Jews via an ambush just as God knew so God had to place a Jew in a high place to protect the people.

Leadership has the distinct responsibility to obey the voice of the Lord because it is God who appoints them. They do not appoint themselves. And when the instructions are not followed, everyone suffers and the leadership answers to God good or bad. Leadership can lead the people to victory if obeying the voice of the Lord or slaughter with disobedience that there is suffering. But the worst thing a leader can do is throw those who obeyed them under the bus. God calls followers of Christ to obey leadership. And it is leadership who pays the highest price for leading anyone astray and even failing to take responsibility. So you want to lead. Are you sure?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Do You Know the Truth?

John 8:31-32

31Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Jesus made it clear, if you abide in His word, then you are His disciple. How many actually know His word and live by it? Just saying you believe with no true action and no true evidence of it is no better than those Jesus said cry "Lord, Lord" but He doesn't know them. I pray that is not you. You did not give a deathbed confession therefore, you have received the benefit and blessing of time to make good on the words you uttered, to study and show thyself approved as it is said in 2Timothy 2:15. Do you know the truth?

Last week I saw an episode of a cartoon I don't normally watch and the end of verse 32 was uttered, "And the truth shall set you free" (depends on the Bible version). I have heard this verse many times but wonder do people actually know they are quoting Jesus and do they know truth? Or do they just think it's a "cool" saying. I heard another Bible verse uttered the week before through another show, saying, "Ask and you shall receive."  Many are uttering the very words of Jesus and millions of people are hearing it. But again, do they know the truth? More importantly, do you know the truth? Do you abide in His word?  Do you understand what it means to abide? Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines abide as 1) bear, endure 2)dwell, remain, last, to conform or acquiesce to .  So in other words, it's not just enough to read His Word but you must be conforming to it and dwelling in it. Are you dwelling in the truth? Are you living the truth? In order to do this, you must know the truth. And if you don't know His Word, then you don't know the truth. If you are not living the truth, "then you lie and the truth is not in you" as the Word says. Jesus said himself that He is, "the way, the truth and the life." Again, do you know the truth?

Monday, October 28, 2013

"The Contingency Plan"

James 4:7

7Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

The apostle James wrote of how pride and thinking too highly of oneself is what causes strife. It is pride that gets in the way of seeing the needs of anyone outside of yourself. It is the reason why you can possibly use people at any opportunity.  It is the reason why you seek certain things but God refuses to release them to you because He knows your true motive for asking.  The apostle James gave the command from God which is that everyone must submit to God. This is the solution to removing pride. It is the solution to resisting the devil and how he will flee.

Saturday night I watched the animated film Justice League: Doom which Wikipedia reports is loosely based from the Justice League story "Tower of Babel". If any of you know "Tower of Babel" it is a real Biblical reference and refers to the pride of the people who wished to build the "highest" tower in recognition of themselves and because of their plan, God stepped in and neutralized them all and changed the languages they spoke so they could not understand each other nor build the tower as everyone once spoke the same language.  But back to the film as this is going somewhere and is very relevant to this scripture. Vandal Savage had a plan to wipe out a portion of the earth but what he needed was to get the Justice League out of the way. So how did he do it? He used Batman's plans. Batman was a very calculated person who knew the strengths and weaknesses of each person in the Justice League. And in the event that anyone from the Justice league became overpowered by pride because of the authority and power they had, Batman understood what would weaken them and "neutralize" them. However, Vandal Savage took Batman's information and expounded on it so that neutralizing would turn to killing them. He then used those who had personal vendettas against the Justice League and would carry out his expanded plan. Each one of them thought they killed  the perspective Justice League member.

Now what does this have to do with the scripture? Everything! In the event you begin to think too highly of yourself because of whatever position and/or authority, blessing you have been allowed to receive, God has a way to "neutralize" you. He has a "contingency" plan for you. What you don't often understand is that just as He has a "contingency" plan for you, the devil and enemy of your soul like Vandal Savage, hopes to find out what that plan is and use it to steal, kill and destroy you and everything God has for you. He may even enlist others who have a personal vendetta against you and or want what you have and will do whatever it takes to get their hands on it. So how do you prevent the devil from taking a plan to neutralize to one that  steals from you, kills you and destroys all you have and are? Submit to God!! Submitting to God stops the enemy from getting his foot in the door. Submitting to God means you won't have time to entertain the devil at all! It means that you remember whatever God has given you, actually belongs to God and you must count yourself privileged to have whatever position, whatever authority, whatever blessing, whatever you have and know that it is because of GOD that you have it. When you submit to God you don't even have time to entertain those people who mean you no good and seek to use you.

P.S. Remember to RSVP for my book signing event on Sunday, November 10th at Barnes & Noble  for Shh Don't Tell in Baltimore (The Avenue at White Marsh) from 4pm-8pm. I can't wait to see YOU!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Community Icon Remembered

Good Evening,

Obviously this is not your typically message nor its time frame. But today, many Radio One listeners, radio/media personalities and the black author community of the DC Metro area are mourning the loss of "Ms. DC's Community." I recall my first encounter with Mrs. Sheila Stewart-Russell. I received a text message from my dear friend George Cooper who heard Sheila on the radio as she was looking for Black authors for a community event she and her husband, Pastor Bill Russell were sponsoring. George forwarded me the cell phone number but didn't say who it belonged to. I called and left a message. About an hour later I missed a call. I listened to my voicemail to find that Ms. DC's Community had called me. I called her back and we chatted about her event for summer 2010. She wanted to help other local Black authors because she knew the challenges that came with pursuing this type of dream. She too was an author. My book was still in production with the publisher so I wasn't ready for her event. She still encouraged me to come out and network. In the meantime, I asked her if I could add her to the Get Your JOY In The Morning email devotional list. She gladly accepted. She would encourage me in between her sets in the studio. I met some great people at her event and several are still on this distribution list. One I met, Jackie Shakur-Powell was instrumental in giving me background on how to write a book to convert to other forms of media when I was in the infant stages of my second book. My time on Sheila's website also led me to Hey Papi Christian Promotions and it's founder, Shawn Papi.  I thank God for the time Sheila encouraged me. I thank God for the time I was able to glimpse her beautiful smile and her warm and receiving voice. I thank God for the connections made. I thank God for the many saints of Christ she served in announcing the good news of what was happening in the kingdom of God across the area. My sincere condolences to Pastor Bill Russell as he has lost his wife and first lady of their church and their 3 year old has lost a mommy.

As I was driving home, God kept giving me this beautiful imagery of Sheila taking a tour of Heaven and sitting in the face of Jesus. I can only imagine her being ready to continue in Heaven what she has done here on earth, reporting the good news to the saints of the many choirs singing and worshiping God and all of the wonderful activities going on amongst the other saints who have gone home to glory. Though my heart is sad, it is still joyous to know that even in Heaven, Sheila is still, "Ms. DC's Community."  You will be missed Sheila and thank you! I do not take lightly the opportunity to have been encouraged by one such as you.

As said this morning, Job 1:21 "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

The Lord Gives and Takes

Proverbs 22:2

22The rich and the poor have this in common, The Lord is the maker of them all.

Many of you have heard the saying, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes it away." It's not just a saying. It is what Job said in the first chapter after God allowed Satan to take away his wealth. Satan believed that the only reason Job praised God was because he was extremely wealthy and had many children. God knew Job and knew that no matter what he had or didn't have, Job was going to still praise Him because he loved Him.  Can God say that about you? Can He say that no matter what He gives you or takes from you that you will still praise Him? King Solomon understood this lesson also because the gift he received was a kingdom but for his disobedience, God allowed most of his kingdom to be stripped from him. The Lord is the one who provides the ability to gain wealth. He is also the one who can allow hardship to come. Many talk about the book of Job but do not understand the dual message present. God is the provider or Jehovah Jireh and He is the one who sees or Jehovah Roi. He is the one who knows if you are a good steward. He is the one who knows if you truly love Him in your heart or simply love the gifts He gives as if He is Santa. What God wants to know is will you show how much you really love Him? Satan thought he was going to find charge against Job and that simply he only worshiped God because he had wealth, health, prestige in the land and many children. But God proved that taken all of it away wouldn't change Job's heart. Job did not suffer from the sickness of, "the love of money" as Jesus described in Matthew. Job had the love of the Lord in his heart first.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Vanity is a Downfall

Ecclesiastes 11:10

10Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity.

King Solomon freely gave of the wisdom God gave to him. What he learned from God is that it is better to seek God early in your life. He spoke of being cheerful in the heart which is not limited to age of course.  But he also mentions of walking in the ways of your heart and in the sight of your eyes. Babies are fascinated by new things you place in front of them and even faces of people they have never seen before. But what happens when something new comes along?  They loose attentiveness for what has already been present and find interest in the new thing or person in most cases. As children grow a little older they become fascinated with every new toy they see. However, after Christmas, those toys are often tossed in the closet or under the bed once a new toy has been found. This behavior is normal but in youth it is not limited to toys. King Solomon noted that in youth and childhood there is vanity. A lot of youth have a "I'm not scared because nothing will happen to me" mentality. The mentality is often displayed in their choices. They feel their choices have no consequences. Ah but King Solomon warns just above this verse that "God will bring you into judgement." In other words, your choices have consequences no matter what age you are so choose wisely. At the end of the film, "The Devil's Advocate", Satan, played by Al Pacino, shape shifts back from the deceitful character he plays and says, "Vanity. Definitely my favorite sin." And he begins to laugh. Why is that? For he was vain and that is how he lost his position in Heaven. For he was the chief angel and head of the choir, he was the angel closest to God. His vanity is why he is where he is, under the feet of the people of God. So King Solomon's statement is demonstrated in a film. How can one choose wisely you ask? It's called seek God. If you seek God, He will direct your path as stated in Proverbs. If you seek God and He is first with a humble heart, then vanity does not have to overtake you. One doesn't have to be physically young to be in childhood or youth. For 1Corinthians 13 talks about putting away childish things. Putting away childish things means also putting away irresponsible choices due to vanity. Don't let vanity be your downfall.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Blatant Disobedience

Judges 14:4

4But his father and mother did not know that it was of the Lord-that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines.

Many know the story of Samson and Delilah and how she tricked him. Samson allowed his lust for women to get him into trouble. But Delilah wasn't Samson's first run in with disobedience. Samson had a special call on his life before he even appeared in his mother's womb. The angel of the Lord was very specific in telling Samson's soon to be parents what Samson was to do and not do. His parents were very careful to raise him in that way. But free will is the gift God gives each man and woman that they may suffer or be blessed from their own actions. Before Delilah plotted against him there was the woman of Timnah who also was of Philistine lineage. Samson was a Nazirite to God so he definitely was not to take a pagan wife. Jews were not to take pagan spouses anyway as they were considered to be unclean. Even followers of Christ are not to be unequally yoked in a marriage with an unbeliever or one who chooses not to be Christ like but will. God knew Samson was going to be disobedient and go after a Philistine woman anyway so God planned it that the opportunity would be used for His glory. What made Samson move on the Philistines instead of wanting to continue to unite with them, they used his wife to trick him and then her father gave her to another man while he was away. So God really did work it out for His own good but Samson didn't get the lesson. Therefore his second brush with an unclean woman who also was confronted to trick him cost him his freedom. God's will prevailed even in Samson's blatant disobedience. Samson was called to defeat the Philistines and so it was done even in his death.

God knows when you are blatantly disobedient. He knows your thoughts better than you do. But whatever call He has for you surely He will not revoke and His will shall be done even while you suffer through the consequences of your choices. Those consequences will still be used for God to get the glory. Blatant disobedience in taking of the wrong woman was a lesson Samson decided not to learn the first time around. He in his arrogance did not think a woman could trick him. How many men and women fall prey to this? How many suffer through consequences multiple times like Samson before they are ready to do God's will? How many exhibit blatant disobedience before understanding that what your eyes gazed upon was not what God had for you? I had this lesson and it wasn't pretty. I pray you learn it swiftly.

P.S. Remember to RSVP for the November 10th Book Signing Event at Barnes & Noble in White Marsh (Baltimore, MD)

Friday, October 18, 2013


Romans 8:37

37Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

The apostle Paul addressed the church in Rome about suffering through and overcoming. In Romans 8:28 he wrote of God using every circumstance whether positive or not to better those who love God and are called to Him. What Paul said addresses the fact there are problems we cannot hide from but must hit head on with the shield of faith in order to get through. So how can you conquer if you're not willing to fight? You can't. How can you overcome the pink elephant in the room if you pretend not to see it? You can't. How can you hit the home run if you are not willing to step up to the plate and swing the bat? You can't. The word says that faith without works are dead. So in order to conquer and come through anything, you have to be willing to work through and push through it with action and faith. "It's too hard," some say. Do you think it was easy for Christ to take each lash on that whip with it's extensions to dig into His skin? Do you think it was easy for Jesus to take each nail into His hands and feet, stretched as He was? Since Christ suffered through that kind of pain to get to the Father's glory, what do you think will be required of you and I that are followers of Christ? It means that like the soldiers in the film, 300, you don't back down from the fight. You don't shrink. What does it mean to conquer? Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines conquer as 1)to gain by force of arms: win 2) to get the better of: overcome.  You take up the whole armor of God in Ephesians 6 and you stand your ground and push. So I say to you who are dealing with a problem, STAND AND PUSH THROUGH! So I say to you who had a difficult moment, STAND AND PUSH THROUGH!! So I say to you who has been hurt, STAND AND PUSH THROUGH! God is going to work it out for your good if you PUSH TO BE A CONQUEROR!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

On Your High Hills

Habakkuk 3:19

19The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.

The prophet Habakkuk made the choice to still praise the Lord even in the midst of the famine that he and the people of Israel were suffering as the result of the invasion of the Babylonians. The wrath of God was made evident by Him allowing Israel's enemies to attack. God had warned His people for years that the occurrence was coming due to their disobedience. The disobedience was on the fault of both leadership and the people.  He warned through several prophets for years. And then it came. But for Habakkuk to make the choice to praise the Lord and rely on Him to be his strength no matter what circumstance whether blessed with plenty or not showed his true love for God. He asked that God make his feet like that of a deer. The feet of a deer are strong and can move through rough territory including high terrain. The NKJ Study Bible has a wonderful declaration, "sure-footed because he was sure-faithed." True faith isn't seen in the easiest of circumstances. True faith is put to the test during tough times. Walk on your high hills of faith that the Lord will bring you through.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An Attractive Quality

Proverbs 19:22

22What is desired in a man is kindness, And a poor man is better than a liar.

The wise king Solomon noted a quality that attracts people both platonically and romantically. King Solomon was so sought after that even the Queen of Sheba came to visit him. And after she spent a considerable amount of time speaking with him, she appreciated what he freely gave to her and so repaid him with the wealth of her kingdom.  King Solomon was sought after by many for the gift of wisdom that God bestowed to him. And because he freely gave it, many others like Sheba, gave from the wealth of their kingdoms. He showed kindness and generosity with what he had, and so it was returned with great measure. A man who is kind is surrounded by many people and well loved. What is kind? Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines kind as 1)of a sympathetic, forbearing or pleasant nature 2)arising from sympathy or forbearance. Jesus is kind to us always and has a sympathetic nature. During his earthly ministry he attracted thousands of people with his kindness and willingness to freely give the knowledge of God. He even restored the ear of one of the guards who arrested him in the garden of Gethsemane.

Who would've thought that the wealthiest man in the Old Testament would consider a poor man to be better than a liar. A liar's purpose is to deceive. A poor man just doesn't have. Yet, there is more integrity in him than one who lies.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Be Quiet

Genesis 37:5
5Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers, and they hated him even more.

Joseph was already disliked by his brothers because he was their father's favorite. The word says Joseph was Jacob's favorite because he was born to Jacob in his old age. Joseph was the first born by the woman Jacob truly loved, Rachel. So there was dissension already among them. To make matters worse, Joseph shared the dream God gave to him. He was hated even more. Hate is a strong word. But the hate had to be serious for them to trick Joseph and then sell him off.

Not everyone is happy about what God does in your life. Some of the people who surround you are fine with you as long as you don't advance in life. Some are fine with you as long as you do not move forward with what God has given you. For Joseph, it was his own family. It can be family, friends or associates. It does not matter. God revealed to Joseph his purpose in the form of a dream. The word says that you are not to cast your pearls before swine. Meaning that there are some you cannot tell what God has planned for you. Those that are around you may not truly care for you and the opportunity to do away with you and/or attempts to block what God has for you can be made.  God worked it out for Joseph's good anyway but it would've helped if Joseph had kept his mouth shut. Everyone that smiles in your face and says, "hey friend" is not a friend. Everyone does not wish you well. When the favor of God is on you, like Joseph, you need to understand that you have enemies. You may not even know who they are but they exist. Discernment of when to speak and when to be quiet is necessary.

Monday, October 14, 2013

According to Your Faith

Matthew 9:29-30a

29Then He touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith let it be to you." 30"And their eyes were opened.

Jesus is still in the miracle business! Jesus performs miracles to increase belief in Him and God the Father. When Jesus performs miracles on a person, it is not just for the one receiving it but for those around that they will benefit and increase their belief. During His earthly ministry, Jesus came upon two blind men who wanted to receive their sight.  The ones to whom He performs the miracles already have faith. The blind men had approached Jesus with the faith that He could heal their blindness. Jesus asked if they believed He could heal them. The answer they gave was, "Yes, Lord."   So what is faith? Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. The translation of this verse in the NKJ Study Bible also states the Greek word for faith as pistis and it is defined by two words, substance (Greek word hupostastis for "that which stands under") and evidence, (Greek word elenchos for "proof"). And I love this part, "Faith means trust or confidence in what God has promised."  So how do you know what God has promised if you don't know God? Answer, you don't.

The once blind men had already heard of Jesus, heard about His teaching and about the miracles He performed. So by them hearing and seeing what Jesus did for others increased their belief. The blind men sought Jesus because they had faith. The blind men believed in the promise that by Jesus, they could be healed. And so it was according to their faith.

Seven years ago, "According to your faith" was the word my former pastor and friend gave to me after a Tuesday night Bible study call. God showed him a vision of what He was going to do with me but said, "It will be giving to you according to your faith." Within another month, I received another word from another person saying, "your going to be doing a lot of writing." Many of you know how Get Your JOY In The Morning the devotional came to be and then the book. I had no idea about the near death experience that had to come first that would test my faith and the promise that Jesus could heal me. I had no idea that when I started the book and began to recruit my sister, friend and partner, Raiza, that her belief that God had revealed to me my purpose, would lead to her strengthening her faith and her entire household coming to Christ. Standing in a hotel lobby on Saturday afternoon summer 2010, her words were, "You found your purpose! Do you know how many people search their whole life to find their purpose? Many don't find it but you did!" Seeing others come to Christ gives me so much joy! Because I know that when my earthly life is over, no matter who I miss here, I am assured I will get to smile and hug them in the presence of Jesus and God the Father. The mantra of the company Raiza and I started, Get Your JOY In The Morning! LLC, is that it is through faith that one finds purpose.  It is through faith that one finds healing. It is through faith that one can fulfill their dreams. But faith, is the main ingredient by which it all has to happen. Faith in Jesus and coming to know Him is the only way to expose why you are here, how you can be healed and how you can move forward in anything God placed within you. When my pastor continued to say, "you have a writing ministry," I believed him. When our assistant pastor, prophetess said, "this is only the start of what God has for you to do," I believed it. When I was commissioned as a teacher in 2006 at a church, I believed it. When a man of God at our revival said, "you are a teacher and you are doing what you're supposed to do, I had already believed it. He stated it not just for me, but for those around. But again, without faith, none of this could be. My question to you, what do you think Jesus could do for you, according to your faith?

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Good Steward

Romans 12:6-8

6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy. let us prophecy in proportion to our faith; 7or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8he who exhorts in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

The apostle Paul was addressing the church in Rome about serving God with spiritual gifts. God has placed within each person gifts to be used. Paul spoke of this while talking about the body of Christ and equated the body of Christ to a physical body of a person. Each person has an important role just like each body part you possess. Along with each person having an important role, the gifts God has placed within you have a role as well. Paul specifically talks about serving God with the gifts. Giving back to the one who gave to you shows appreciation. Many equate giving to God with just giving God money. But when God says to serve Him, it goes beyond money. Giving to God means with your time and talent as well. When you love someone, you give. When you appreciate someone you often want to give to them. The parable of the talents which Jesus talked about is often used to display being a good steward of what is given to you. Most only consider the talents as money but if you look deeper and understand that the word talent was used as a lovely play on words demonstrated by Jesus. What is talent? Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines talent as 1)an ancient unit of weight and value 2)the natural endowments of a person 3) a special often creative or artistic aptitude 4)mental power: ability 5) a person of talent. It list synonyms as genius, gift and faculty. Notice most of the definitions do not refer to money. God wants all of you but He wants you with a glad heart. He wants you to enjoy serving Him.

For example, I write, teach, lead, sing, dance, help, exhort( encourage/inspire), etc. I am doing all these things for the Lord either within the walls of the church specifically or doing so to edify the Lord wherever He allows me to go whether it is in your inbox, speaking engagements to encourage others to grow in Him to understand their purpose or on radio, etc, encourage co-workers, people in the elevator, etc . This is not to boast but to show when God blesses you, He wants you to bless Him by sharing with others and making Him the focal point as much as possible. As my pastor says, "It's not about you or me but it's about Him."  Many people say, "you have a lot of gifts." The more God gives you, the more you are expected to give out. And if you understand the parable Jesus gave on the talents in Matthew 25, then you will understand that God gives even more gifts to the one who makes good use of what He has already distributed. Are you a good steward? Are you using your gifts or did you bury them in the ground? Are you serving God with your gifts?

P.S. You should already have your invite for the November 10th book signing event at Barnes & Noble in Baltimore, MD for my newest book, Shh Don't Tell.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Consult the Counselor

Proverbs 12:25

25Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.

The Word of God literally addresses every human and  heart condition that man can experience.  The wise King Solomon was assured by God in Ecclesiastes that "there is nothing new under the sun." Though the Bible is old, God's word still stands and is always timely. Right now many are suffering. God's word says that anxiety causes depression. So for any one facing depression, here is the root. But what is anxiety? Merriam-Webster defines anxiety as 1)painful uneasiness of mind over an anticipated ill 2)abnormal apprehension and fear often accompanied by physiological signs (as sweating and increased pulse), by doubt about the nature and reality of the threat itself and by self-doubt.

There are key words stated in the definition: mind, fear and doubt. So when you have anxiety you are playing over and over in the mind whatever you think can go wrong because of doubt in a situation and in yourself. So your mind refuses to rest because you keep playing in your head what you think can happen,  usually focusing on what can possibly go wrong and therefore you become tense and send your mind into a downward spiral. The uneasiness leads to lack of sleep but after a while the body is forced to sleep as the sadness sets in. The apostle Paul stating what he did in Philippians 4:6-7 makes even more sense. It says "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." So basically, a person with anxiety attempts to control a situation but in reality, because they are not God, they will NEVER have all the answers. So the only way to have any peace of mind and not to fall into a depression is to go to the source, which is God since He is the only one who knows what WILL happen. Going to the source means thanking God in advance believing that He will answer and reinforce with good words.

Yes, anxiety and depression are real conditions and it is not being said that they should not be treated professionally. Just remember, Jesus said in His word that He was leaving to us a wonderful counselor, the Holy Spirit which searches all things and knows all things. Consulting God is a medicine that should not be overlooked.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Victory Song

Matthew 27:46

46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli lama sabachthani?" That is, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

When I first understood these words to be part of the "last seven words" of Jesus on the cross, I thought, "how awful!" Oh But I thank God for His revelatory word!! Before I get into why it doesn't mean what the average person thinks, I have a background of how God gave me the revelation.

Many of you know I lost my late dad a little more than 8yrs ago. We lost him to complications from a hereditary brain aneurysm. The same crippling head trauma would also hit my stepbrother within two years but Praise God he has survived two brain surgeries since! The entire year prior to my late dad's death, he was unknowingly preparing my mom. Within that time he told her his favorite Psalm, which translates to song, and he said he would want it recited at his memorial. His favorite was Psalm 23. Well my favorite is Psalm 27. When you read it, you will understand why. It the Psalm I would want recited at my memorial whenever that day comes whether it be days or decades away. For It is a Psalm of faith.

Remember, Jesus prepared the disciples for His death long before that time arrived. God revealed to me through tears in these wee hours that Jesus recited his victory Psalm, Psalm 22 before His last breath during that excruciating time. Many wonder how could those words be words of victory right? Jesus said himself that He came as the fulfillment of the Law that exists in the Old Testament. So often, Jesus taught and lived the law but He did so with love and taught with love and in a new way from the traditional teachers and those in high ranking, the Pharisees. But if you read Psalm 22, it is a Psalm of suffering praise and victory. The Psalm was written by his earthly lineage, King David. David wrote the Psalm about triumphant faith even in the face of suffering. When many who stood around Jesus on the cross heard Him call "Eli, Eli..., "they assumed He was calling the prophet Elijah but they were not aware of one of the names of God which is Jehovah Eli, which means Lord my God. Jesus was reciting Psalm 22 because His faith made Him triumphant for you and I and over the enemy of our souls. His faith and love for God led Him to suffer with each nail in His hand, feet and the thorns in His head. His faith made Him triumphant so that you and I could have everlasting life and God's promise to King David that his line would sit on the throne forever. So the next time you come across Jesus' last words, do not think or believe He spoke them in pity but understand He spoke victory. He was reciting His victory song.