Saturday, June 28, 2014

"Rainbow Inside My Heart"

Genesis 1:26
26Then God said, "Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
When you or I get cut, we both bleed. So what does that mean? It means that the hue of your skin or mine doesn't change that we both bleed. We are both human and made in God's image. I must admit that while I do not follow the comings and goings of rap artist Kanye West nor his wife, Kim Kardashian, the one thing that made me take notice was the recent black face appearance someone made in Vienna at her event as a joke and the racial slur uttered against their baby girl named North on a plane in the First Class cabin. Ok, some of you may not agree with interracial marriage, but it's a fact of life, get over it, so what! For everyone who claims to be "the pure thing," you may come to find out one day that a relative of yours is or was of a different hue than you.
One of my favorite songs when I was just six years old was Angela Bofill's, "Rainbow Inside My Heart." Why? I have said before that I learned at a very early age about the color line and I didn't like what I saw.  I have had relatives removed from their jobs of service for being in love with someone of a different hue. About ten years ago during a family gathering and amazement over finding a family Bible, I learned that less than only four generations prior, another relative's house was burned down because they too loved someone of another color. Love has no color. With the most recent events,  I found myself remembering what it was like at eight years old being called the "N" word by little girls of another color who cornered me in a bathroom where they planned to hurt me. I got in trouble for defending myself. I learned the racial slurs were out of envy because my body shape didn't look like theirs. I know what it feels like to be followed around a store because someone assumes the color of your skin means that your going to commit a crime. I remember my mom ingraining in me that I had to be twice as good and work twice as hard because the color of my skin would count against me. I didn't give it as much thought until I had an incident in high school where a teacher removed just about all the African-American students from her class whom she assumed would fail and she retaliated against me when I wouldn't budge with the support of my mom.  It cost me an induction into the National Honor Society junior year though I met all the requirements and then some. Senior year, my reason for not budging was vindicated by God. And the teacher admitted to my mom what she did when I was nominated again. When asked to speak in front of five hundred juniors on "Today's Struggle is Tomorrow's Success, I used the experience I had as a junior. Not for the sake of getting back at that teacher which she thought, but for the purpose of demonstrating that overcoming adversity is possible.
About three years ago I walked into a store shopping for a dress for a friend's wedding. A woman of the same hue as me assumed I couldn't afford anything in that store and made a comment. While my first response was one of, "I am leaving," I decided to demonstrate more class than the woman who was supposed to serve me. It just pains me that for as far as this nation and many others have come, racism is still alive, sometimes even within my own race. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance hurts and does damage that people can't always see.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Not a Castaway

Isaiah 41:13
13For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, 'Fear not, I will help you.'
Just as you were a child getting in the kiddie pool for the first time holding your parent's hand, so God is holding your hand now. Fear not is said  twice in this psalm. God repeatedly reassured Israel that He was with them and to 'be of good courage'. In verse 9 He says, "I have chosen you and have not cast you away." When you are in a new place crossing dangerous waters, it is easy to feel that you have been cast away. But God! God is present and still holding your hand. The NKJ Study Bible gives the translation as "Israel is identified as the Lord's servant." It goes on to say, "To be God's servant means to belong to the Lord and to give allegiance only to Him. The Lord's servant has no reason to fear, for the Lord provides security and protection." But what does it mean to give allegiance to only Him? Jesus said in Matthew 6 that you cannot serve two masters. So who do you serve? When you are small you look to your parents to provide you with security and protection. The Lord is saying that He is your security and He is your protector, El Shaddai and He is Jehovah Roi, the God who sees. He sees the wave in the waters that you cannot see. So He is able and will maneuver you through the waves while still holding your hand. You are not a castaway. You belong to Him.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

God Delivers

Proverbs 20:22
22Do not say, "I will recompense evil'; wait for the Lord, and He will save you.
One who is vengeful deliberately plots against another. But how much better is the one who plots evil than the one who wronged them? Once you carry out a vengeful payment, you are no better than the one who wronged you. If you are in a situation where their wrong doing has caused something to happen to you, God will bring you out. Remember the Word says, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers them out of all." So no matter who wronged you, God is your deliverer. Your vengeance against someone who wronged you will not deliver you. God says in His Word in Deuteronomy 32:35 Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them. The translation of Proverbs 20:22 in the NKJ Study Bible says that Only God is able to deliver just vengeance. So you need not worry about who wronged you. Unless they repent with a contrite heart, God will deal with them according to His timetable. Letting Go allows you to focus on moving forward and remembering who holds you in the palm of His hand.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Too Busy for Jesus?

Luke 10:40
40But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."
The gift of serving and the subset of hospitality are very necessary gifts in the body of Christ. However, Martha's request is a typical request from one who does so much serving that they nearly burn out. The statistic in nearly any branch of Zion is 20% of the people do 80% of the work. It is a sad statistic to admit but true. It happens very often because people are more inclined to serve themselves rather than serving others. Martha's gift from God is that in serving, specifically in the area of hospitality. An explanation on the gift of hospitality is  provided by headed by Christ followers, Ken and Dawn Ellis:
Hospitality (Serving Gift) - The special ability God gives to some to provide
an open home and warm welcome to those in need of food, lodging, and
fellowship. It involves a readiness to invite strangers to your home (or
church) for the sake of the Gospel.
The divine enablement to care for people by providing fellowship, food,
and shelter.
People with this gift:
- provide an environment where people feel valued and cared for
- meet new people and help them to feel welcomed
- create a safe and comfortable setting where relationships can develop
- seek ways to connect people together into meaningful relationships
- set people at ease in unfamiliar surroundings.
Martha, though she was doing a great and necessary deed, forgot that Jesus himself was the gift and needed to spend time with Him. Being too busy leaves one little time to spend with Jesus. Remember, our God is a jealous God. What He wants most is us. The close relationship or intimacy is what our Lord desires.  How can you have a close relationship if you don't spend time with Him? It's the same as with a human relationship, you can't. Having a close relationship with Jesus requires prayer, quiet time to listen and time in the Word of God. Spending more time with Jesus helps you to use your gifts appropriately and keeps things in perspective so He gets the glory. Spending time with Jesus helps take the focus off of you and puts it back where it belongs. Learning at the feet of Jesus is a precious gift. What would you do if He wasn't there through the Holy Spirit to guide you?  The ability to serve others is part of the essence of who Jesus is. But how can you know who He is and carry this important aspect of Him if you refuse the gift of being in His presence?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What's In Your Heart?

Proverbs 4:23
23Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.
Capital One Bank has the saying, "What's in your wallet?" But the question is, what's in your heart? Remember Jesus said himself in Matthew 15 that what comes out of a man's mouth is in heart and that is what defiles him. Your heart is where everything starts. The NKJ Study Bible defines the heart in its translation as, "including the mind, emotions and will." It goes on later to say, "keeping the heart involves what is said, what is seen and what is done." 
A film that helps demonstrate this point is The Devil's Advocate with Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves and Charliz Theron.  Al Pacino plays the devil in sheep's clothing. Keanu and Charliz are Kevin and Marianne Lomax. Kevin is a defense attorney.  He took on a client and when he discovered he was guilty, he continued to represent him because the money was good. Further into the film, the more evil a person was, the more you could see the demonic side of them and that's what Marianne began to see. Toward the end of the film she told Kevin, "We knew it was wrong taking that money, knowing those people were guilty. We kept taking it. It's blood money.  I can't look at myself anymore."  What they did continued to chip away at their hearts.
Just as lovely as a face can be on the outside, the heart is what makes a face more beautiful from within. Marianne Lomax began to see what was in people's hearts by what started showing on their face. She began to discern the spirits of the people around her. Who you are is more than just your outer looks. What's in your heart will change the way you look and sound. Protect your heart by seeking God always.