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)