|Posted by email@example.com on August 31, 2019 at 6:45 PM||comments (0)|
Summers are made for Memories, Change and Growth
As a follow up to last month’s blog, this month, I wanted to continue my discussion about summer memories, growth, and change. Since writing the last blog, I have spent time in two countries and three states. Life has been busy! So, what have you been up to since we last talked? Have you had the opportunity to encountered old friends, meet new ones, visit new places, and most importantly, have you tried anything new? Have these experiences changed you in some way and helped you to grow in a certain area? If yes, I would love to hear more about your experiences.
On this end, I traveled once again to Jamaica to attend a wedding. Oh what fun! As I watched my nephew’s eyes light up as his bride entered the church (hours late), I was so happy for him and his son. He had waited patiently on God and had “found a wife, a good thing, and God’s favor”, as the bible had promised. Lucky boy! He had grown tremendously in his waiting and was better positioned to be a more godly spouse than ever before. As the wedding reception ended with the infamous “shoe game”, it occurred to me that the moral of the game was to assess how much the couple knew each other, but in essence, as each question was revealed along with their responses, both the bride and groom were also learning something new about each other. But, people and things change and so in a few months not only will these answers change, but the couple will have changed themselves. But, no need to worry, change we will all agree is constant! In fact, one can wisely say that where there is no change, there is no growth.
So, how have you grown this year or this summer: Have you learned to set boundaries in your relationships? Found a better way to manage your budget? Finally, getting to work on time? Managing your anger in a more mature way? Learning to be more patient with your children and spouse? If you can relate to any of these or other outcomes, you are changing and most importantly growing as a person.
In my family, one big area of growth is in my relationship with my children. Now that they are all grown and out of the house, it has been hard as a mom not to know where they are, what they are doing, how they are doing, and how if any I can help. Truthfully, it has been a painful process to let go and move into the position of a “coach or mentor”, not the mommy who did everything for them. This has led to many restless nights, worrisome days, and anxious moments; yet, I am constantly reminded that I provided them with the best foundation to be upstanding, law-abiding citizens and I can rest in that. Spiritually, I have taught them to pray, watched each of them dedicate their lives to Christ, and lived a Christ-honoring life in front of them. So, I feel that I can now rest in the confidence that I have done my best since I have also thought them to ask God for wisdom in all of their dealings.
But back to my change! For me, the big change was that it was no longer mommy’s job to fix their mishaps; they had to learn to turn to God to meet their needs. As a good parent, I will always continue to pray for and support my children, but my biggest change this summer and year was realizing that it was now up to them and God to decide what they do, how they do, and when. Now, my role has being to cheer them along from the sidelines! That was a big pill for this mom to swallow, but I am learning to let things go, so that each child can find his or her wings. This change has been painful, gradual, but finally so freeing.
So, I would love to hear your change-story. What changed for you this summer or year? What new memories did you make? How does this make you feel? I am listening, so please feel free to share your change story.
Here’s to change and new things for the rest of 2019!
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on July 20, 2019 at 9:50 PM||comments (1)|
Summers are made for Memories: What do you Remember Fondly about the summers of your life?
In a recent staff meeting, I was asked to participate in an ice-breaker by sharing a favorite summer memory. At that time, I shared excitedly about summers growing up in Jamaica when the days seemed long and endless, and we would play until the “peeny wallies” (fireflies) came out. In other words, until it was pitch dark! Then, no parent or guardian worried about their children’s safety as the eyes of the entire community monitored and disciplined every child. I also shared how contrary to the culture in the U.S, we would have hot red bean or other soup, and corn, rice, or banana porridge for lunch. Sharing about these memories not only had me salivating, but brought up other fond summer memories.
For instance, one that is still quite vivid was being too excited to sleep when we heard that there might be a hurricane on the horizon, or running out to pick up mangoes, guavas, oranges, or June plums from the ground after a windstorm. We all prayed for hurricanes because at that time, most of us had never experienced one. Little did we know what we were wishing for! It was a crazy wish. A big realization, as I smiled at this memory, was that even during the hurricanes, I was never scared, worried, or apprehensive about whether we would survive. I just knew we would! After all, even the Bible, in Isaiah 49 mentions the people of the islands. So, I believed then and believe now that people will always be on these islands. Fast forward to 40 years later, and my mind takes me back to the many nights of worry and fear about approaching hurricanes as I lived in the Cayman Islands. As I realized the contrast in my emotions as a child vs an adult, I wondered what caused the change in my emotions. Was I an even more fearless teenager than I first imagined? Or was I too young and naïve to understand the gravity of the situation that a hurricane could cause? I am not sure, but one word kept bubbling up, the word trust.
Trust you might say, why? I am glad you asked. I trusted the adults in my life, I trusted God, and I even trusted in myself that I had the survival skills to weather any storm. Ladies and gentlemen, my trust barometer was lower in adulthood than it was as a teen looking out at even more dangerous storms. Then we would pray, batten down the house, and trust God to deliver us. In adulthood, I had let the weather reports, the pictures on the TV, and my belief in my self-sufficiency, erode my trust in God to deliver me in any hurricane or other situation. I was so convicted that I stopped immediately to pray and to repent for doubting God’s power to deliver and to protect. He had done it before, He can and will do it again.
Summers are made for memories and up to last night I made a new one by sleeping in the Miami airport, where I met many friends who, like me, got stranded there after our flight from Atlanta was delayed for three hours because of bad weather. Despite this bit of inconvenience, my skills to survive and to keep safe made this a “new adventure” and something never to be feared again. In fact, it was instead a time of laughter and friendship as one of my new found friends jokingly asked the American Airlines representative for “a blow- up bed, pajamas, and socks” since her feet were getting cold. He laughed back and said “you are at the wrong airport”, while he gave us newly packaged pillows and blankets. In the end, it was a fun filled night!
So, I am working to trust God more as I believe that nothing just happens to Christ followers since He is behind the scenes orchestrating all the events of our lives. Yes, I trust Him that if He takes me to it, He can take me through it, just like He did in Miami last night.
So, what are your fondest summer memories, and what do they reveal about how your life has changed in the years between? Please feel free to share that with me.
I look forward to hearing your stories.
Keep cool and enjoy your summer!
|Posted by email@example.com on June 13, 2019 at 4:35 PM||comments (2)|
A Reunion with the Past: Reflections, Revelations, and Results
In May 2019, I had the privilege of participating in my 40th high-school reunion. The reunion theme “Reunited and It Feels So Good” was spot on and fitting for the event. Like all other graduates participating in this event, I flew to Jamaica for this three day jam-packed reunion. The trip started with the usual jitters about the event - excitement about seeing old friends, some apprehension about reconnecting with former bullies, and other “not so nice” classmates. At the beginning of the planning for the reunion, a high school friend and her husband who live in Grand Cayman proposed that we coordinate our trip, and room together. Unfortunately, halfway through the planning, my friend and her husband canceled their plans to participate in the reunion because she had an international exam, and I was left to attend on my own. My jitters returned in full force.
A few weeks before the event, someone in our reunion group suggested that we share current pictures, and the men in the group started sending copies of their then-and-now photos. My panic grew, and after much deliberation I decided against sending my picture. “Let them see me just as I am,” I thought! Finally, the day came for the reunion, and I headed to my high school with more than a few butterflies in my tummy. My nephew drove me to the event, and while I got there a little later than I wanted to, I arrived in time to listen to introductory remarks from the current Principal. Next came the hugs from those who immediately recognized me, and the guesses from those who had no idea who I was and vice versa. The first day of the reunion was Labor Day in Jamaica and so, true to form, we picked up paint brushes and painted our school. As I painted and moved from one area to the next, I stopped to pray over the students that would sit at the tables. My mind took me back to over 40 years ago and my life on these very grounds. God had outdone Himself and exceeded even my expectations! Here I was, almost 41 years to the day I left this school, still in my right mind, an upstanding citizen, and contributing to the social capital of my society. What happened? Were the words “you will never become anybody” or other negative things said about me not true? It felt true then and it did now. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more the memory of the hurt of those words echoed across my mind. God is a redeemer. He was, and still is faithful, and despite what man’s verdict was, He had a bigger plan for me. The next two days of the reunion slipped by too quickly, and I watched as old patterns emerged, and the “halo effect” of some continued as it did during our time in high school. As we talked as a group, walked the grounds of our high school, and even sat in our former classroom, memories good and bad kept bellowing up. Finally, as we stood to honor those from our class that have died, it finally dawned on me, I was a survivor!
Did the abuse at home, school, and in life happen to make me who I had become. Did the mistreatment I faced in my life help to build empathy, compassion, and other character traits that were necessary for my current work in Christian ministry? I am not certain about anything, except that God had used what was meant for my harm for good. He had shocked even me with what he did for me over the past 40 years. The devil and the bullies had not won! As I reflected on this journey, I wanted to share some reflections, revelation, and results that came to mind as I debrief internally from my reunion.
My reflections are as follows:
• Words hurt, and although the nursery rhyme may say something else, one must be careful what we say about others. Even more urgent, one must be careful about what we write about others.
• No man has the last word! Whether you are principal, my mother, aunt, head girl, monitor, teacher or janitor, your words or treatment of a student does not define who they are or what they will become. I am living proof of the contrary.
• Parental abandonment, family abuse, or other adverse childhood experiences have a profound impact on a child and can handicap one’s future. I was crippled for more than 30 years.
• Forgiving the bully, the abusers, and anyone that hurt you in your life journey, is the linchpin for allowing God’ grace to flow in your life. The bible is true and we must pray for those who hurt and despitefully use us. Only then can we see the fruit in our lives.
• Treat each child with respect; be fair, give them all you have, since one never knows who they will become. Who knows you might be looking at a future President.
None of this was easy, and it takes a personal relationship with Christ who is bigger than all of our problems, to give us the victory.
In addition to these reflections, I had a critical revelation and could see the results or outcomes that God had achieved in my life. A key revelation is as follows: God continues to be in control. We don’t get to write the script. Of course, if it were up to man, my life would not be what it is today. But for God and His grace, I would be dead. All honor and praise belong to Him!
But HE would not be God without fruit. His work is always evident and so there were several results of His involvement in our lives. Results, what results you ask? I am glad you asked. I saw and continue to notice the results of His work in my life. For example, despite the teasing, abuse, lack of self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness, God had shaped me into a wonderful human being whom He loves. Even when I did not love myself, God loved me and had great plans for me. I had no idea as I stumbled through life where He was taking me. I just knew for sure that apart from HIM, I did not have many people on my side. Of course, I have had the privilege of having children and grandchildren and can now pass on the legacy of forgiveness, compassion, prayerfulness, tenacity, and perseverance to them.
So, as I pulled back the curtains to peep into the past 40 years, I felt like someone who had died and had the chance to return, to walk back through one’s past. Of course, I was overwhelmed with gratitude; I was also hopeful and expectant. In fact, I was buzzing with excitement and anticipation to see what God would do over the next several decades. Only time will tell, and only HE knows. I am thankful that He has the final say. Aren’t you? I am a Survivor!
Have you had a reunion or similar experience? Any reflections or comments to share based on my experiences? If yes, I would love to hear from you.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on May 16, 2019 at 5:35 PM||comments (0)|
Please refer to Part 1 of Pastor Emanuel Williams' Blog on The Power of Forgiveness and be blesssed by Part 2 as Jesus teaches about forgiveness.
The Power of Forgiveness
Pastor Emanuel Williams
2. The Practice of Forgiveness Taught by Jesus
A. Jesus Demonstrated His Divinity by Forgiving Sin.
(1) The teachers of the law brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus and said, “The Law of Moses commanded us to stone such a woman.
Now what do you say?” Jesus stooped down and started to write on the ground. When they kept questioning Him, he said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” When all the accusers had left, Jesus asked the woman, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared, “go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8: 3-11
• Jesus demonstrated that He had authority to forgive sin,
• Jesus, the incarnate Son of God put flesh on the concept of forgiveness and reinforced the belief that God will forgive those who repent and seek His forgiveness.
B. Jesus’ Instruction on Forgiveness.
“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…………….
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly
Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive men their sins,
your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15)
(1) The petition to forgive us our debts is not a prayer for justification, since believers are declared justified from the moment of initial saving faith. (Romans 3:24 and 5:1)
(2) The reason for seeking divine forgiveness is to restore and keep open the lines of personal fellowship with God when fellowship has been hindered by sin. (1 John 1:8) Chuck Swindoll says that God promises to keep us from stumbling, but when we stumble, he promises to forgive us. (1 John 1:9) When God forgives, He also forgets.
(3) Just as it is important for Christians to receive divine forgiveness, Christians must also forgive the sins of those who offend us. Jesus gives further explanation to this teaching in V.14-15:
• If we pray for forgiveness and do not forgive others God will not hear our prayer. Human forgiveness and divine forgiveness are interconnected, and the tongue is an instrument of forgiveness.
• The Law said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy,” but Jesus said, “Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.”
(4) Jesus’ Example of Forgiving Others During His Crucifixion
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”
• Jesus demonstrates that God desires His people forgive others even when they do not seek forgiveness.
• Jesus’s forgiveness of those who crucified Him is an example of unconditional love that gives love even though it receives nothing in return.
(5) Jesus introduced a new concept of forgiveness that calls for his followers to seek forgiveness for their sins and to pray for those who “sin” against them
3. The Application of Forgiveness Principles
(1) Forgiveness is to be without limits (Luke17:3-4)
(2) Being forgiven is dependent forgiving others. (Matthew 6:14-15)
B. Christians should continually seek forgiveness for their sins to maintain and/or restore fellowship with God.
(1) There is forgiveness, cleansing, and fellowship with God through faith. (Psalm 51:1-17)
(2) When we confess our sins, God answers and forgives. (1 John 1:9)
C. Christians should offer prayers for forgiveness on behalf of others: Unsaved family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and members of the churches they attend.
If we are to practice Christian forgiveness, three things are necessary:
• We need to understand
• We must learn to forget
• We must learn to love
|Posted by email@example.com on March 10, 2019 at 7:50 PM||comments (0)|
The Power of Forgiveness
Pastor Emanuel Williams
Forgiveness is an act of favor, compassion or love that can free a person from guilt and its consequences with the aim of restoring a broken personal relationship between two opposing parties.
Bible Verse: Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:12, 14-15
Forgiveness is the key to reconciliation between God and His creation and between members of God’s family. If you want to experience reconciliation with someone who has wronged you, you must be willing to pray and forgive. In this Blog, we will discuss the following:
The need for divine forgiveness of sin, the practice of forgiveness by God’s people, and the application of forgiveness principles.
The Need for Divine Forgiveness of Sin –
A. The Disobedience of the man and woman that God created, Adam and Eve, introduced Sin into the world that God had created. The Apostle Paul tells us that sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin (Romans 5:12. The consequence of that sin was that it broke the spiritual relationship between God and His creation, and that includes you and me.
B. Beginning at Mt Sinai, God ‘s remedy for sin was the institution of the covenant of Law. Sin was forgiven by the offering of animal sacrifices and the shedding of blood which prefigured the atoning death of Jesus Christ.
C. The first recorded example there is in in Scripture of God’s forgiveness, takes place at Mt Sinai when Israel worshipped the “golden Calf”. Following that incident, the Scripture reveals that,
“And the Lord passed in front of Moses proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” (Exodus 34:6-7) From this event it is evident that
(1) God’s nature is to forgive because of His mercy and compassion.
(2) Forgiveness is necessary to maintain a relationship with God
(3) God’s forgiveness continued throughout the history of Israel
D. Another example of God’s forgiveness is seen in his relationship with David.
(1) Following his sin with Bathsheba, David prayed for forgiveness,
“Have mercy on me O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:1
(2) Because God is gracious and compassionate, He forgives David.
“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not His all His benefits----who forgives all your sins---the Lord is compassionate and gracious---as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:2, 12)
E. In the New testament God establishes a New Covenant through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
(1) By virtue of Jesus’ sacrifice, there is now access to God and the forgiveness of sin.
“In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8
(2) When men and women confess faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, He forgives them of their sins and declares they are righteous (justified).
(1) Our understanding of the power of forgiveness has its beginning with the nature of God.
(2) Because of His love and compassion, God is willing to forgive sin.
(3) Because God forgives, He wants His people to show love and compassion and forgive. God is our example of forgiveness.
(4) How do you show your appreciation for God’s forgiveness of your sins?
After reading this blog, please let us know how you show your appreciation for God’s forgiveness of your sins.
Also, please remember to come back next month to read Part 2 of this Blog.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on February 15, 2019 at 2:40 PM||comments (0)|
Black History and Heart Health Month Blog
Black History Month: Love, Heart Health, and Black Migration
February is traditionally observed as the “Month of Love” and the time in which we celebrate Valentine’s Day. February, however, has also been designated as Black History Month and Heart health month. As I considered this month’s blog, it occurred to me that all these observances have a few things in common, love and the heart. Love and the heart you ask, Dr. Meg what do you mean? I am glad you asked.
First, let’s start with the “Month of Love” aka Valentine Day. It is safe to say that no one can experience love unless their heart is involved. Would you agree? The word of God reminds us that the heart is desperately wicked, and as Christ-followers, we can affirm that until God changes our hearts, we cannot truly love anyone, but ourselves. In fact, I will be willing to bet that a genuine Christ-follower is often the most amazed at the changes that God has brought about in his or her heart, because honestly no one knows you as well as you know yourself. So, as you celebrate Valentine’s day whether you are single, married, divorced, or just a child, open your heart to feel the love of others, and most importantly, the love of your heavenly Father, who loves you more than anyone on earth. Close your eyes and feel that love and remember to celebrate by giving HIM praise.
Next, let’s take a look at Black History Month! The theme for 2019 is "Black Migrations." The theme brings a focus on "the movement of African Americans to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities." So, I can hear your question, what has love or the heart got to do with black migration? In other words, what does the movement to a new destination or to a new social reality have to do with love and or the heart? Allow me to elaborate! While Black migrations did not originally start in love, it is clear to me that the movement of Blacks across the US and the world is in pursuit of love, better heart health, peace, and making a better life for future generations than we had ourselves. Take my life for an example, over two and a half decades ago, I took a step of faith and with the help of God and family, I uprooted my family to travel to America in search of better educational opportunities and a better future for my children. While love might not have been articulated in those dinner table conversations and prayer meetings, it was the driving force behind everything. For instance, my constant prayer to God was to help me not to be a generational thief with love as its linchpin, since I fully believe that a good man/woman leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.
But, you might say what does love have to do with black migration in the U.S.A. Again, a good example of this love is the sharecroppers who left the south and headed north to escape overt racism and discrimination, and to build a better future for their families. Every move was oiled in love and as they left their original destinations, their hearts were hopeful that somehow their dreams for their sons and daughters to be treated fairly, given an equal chance, and treated with respect would come to fruition. Whether these dreams have been fulfilled is debatable, and I would love to hear your thoughts about this. But, I believe that the heart and the need for love and acceptance were, and still is, the impetus for black migration.
As we move forward this month, let us continue to ask for God’s wisdom to guide all we do and say. Additionally, we must keep loving one another like it’s your last chance, keep a watch over your hearts and pray for African Americans as they work to find their rightful place in the U.S. and the world. Finally, please feel free to share your love, migration, and or heart health story with us during this month of love. Also, check back with us next month when we will examine heart health and forgiveness.
|Posted by email@example.com on January 22, 2019 at 5:05 PM||comments (0)|
Purging, Purifying and Refining Us in 2019
Happy New Year to all of our readers, I hope that you are enjoying the year so far. Tell me if it is only me, but does it seems that 2019 is running on skates, and we are all working overtime to keep up? Yes, indeed, 2019 is moving at breakneck speed and I can’t believe that we are already celebrating MLK Junior Day. As usual, I wanted to take some time at the beginning of the year to do some reflection and to challenge each of us to stretch and grow this year. As I reflected on what to share, someone in one of our meetings shared this thought “this is the year where God will purge us, purify the remnants, and refine us” since its time to uproot all the mess in our lives. Wow, this was deep, but somehow the statement rang in my ear. It was almost like it was echoing from heaven! “Lord what does this mean?” I asked.
As I waited, anxiously to hear more, I went into a season of consecration. As I fasted, journaled, and prayed, a few things started to become clear. 2019, it seems, will be a different year! From the weather, to the government shutdown, to other events of the year; thus far, I believe that nothing in our past has prepared us for what this year will bring. However, God in his wisdom is already preparing us for what’s to come, by starting a spiritual purge. Of course, no one comes willingly to a purge, since purges are often unexpected and unpleasant. But, when God orchestrates them, then I know that purges can be helpful.
As I think about a purge, I have come to realize that I started the year moving, cleaning, clearing clutter, and as you might guess, purging my house of things we no longer needed. I also started a 21 day time of consecration, fasting from certain foods, and toxic relationships. This has meant spending more time in the word of God, more time praying, journaling, and worshipping. As I remain open to God’s purge, I am trying to be sensitive to the things HE is trying to purge, prune, or pluck out of my life.
Once the purge ends, then I believe that God will move into a period of purification and refining. Purification means to remove contaminants. If God is purging us, it stands to reason that a season of purification of the remnants will follow. Therefore, we should expect to undergo a season of testing as God works to renew a right spirit within us, and to make us more like Him. Being more like God is almost impossible with hate, unforgiveness, bitterness, pride, injustice, anger, etc. in our lives. So, that is the intent of the purge, or so it seems. In other words, just as my guest stated at our meeting, “it is God’s time to uproot our mess”. The uproot has started, and so I am learning to not hold too tightly onto anything, but to keep a surrendered heart, and to be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Praying Psalm 51, or other ways of asking God to purge me, has often been followed by God revealing things in my life, which I was not even aware of. Once these things are brought into the light I, first, have to face and acknowledge these issues, and next, I have to figure out what I will do about them. This purge calls us into accountability as well as into a united work with God, to figure out what goes or what stays. None of this is pleasant or welcomed, but I believe this to be a very good and necessary action as we step into 2019.
Refining is the last stage of this process, and while I am not sure when this will start, it is clear that business as usual will not work in 2019. Toxic living, unrighteousness, unforgiveness and hate seem to be all around us, but God is calling us as Christ-followers to live at a higher level. He has high standards and while we are unable to attain them on our own, God is our strength and HE will give us the power to achieve the impossible, if we surrender to his plan and purpose and allow him to purge, purify, and refine us in 2019. After all, moving into a new year or a new relationship with mess, weighs us down. So, why would we want to continue doing the same thing and expecting different results in a new year? I bet that you will agree that it is time for drastic changes which begins with a purge, takes us through a period of purification of the remnants, and then refines us into a new life. This will position us well for everything 2019 will throw at us. Let the purge begin! Are you ready and how do you sense God might be purging you as you start this New Year? Please share your GOD story with us.
Happy New Year!
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on December 31, 2018 at 9:25 PM||comments (0)|
Reflecting on 2018: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
As I sit listening to the firecrackers, it seems unreal that we are getting ready to celebrate the New Year. After all, I still can’t believe that we are at the end of 2018. How quickly the year has slipped by, and what a rollercoaster year it has been. Given all of what has happened this year, I face the next few hours with mixed emotions. First, I am eternally grateful to God for his provision, direction, protection, grace, and mercy in 2018. But, sad for some of the losses that have occurred this year. However, as I always do, I come to the end of the year in a very reflective mode. Here are a few thoughts that are brimming in my mind.
• 2018 was my 25th year in this county. In 1993, following God’s prompting, I gave up my home and career to move to the USA to go back to college and to work towards my doctoral degree.
This goal took me longer than I anticipated, but with Gods’ help this goal was finalized in 2013.
• 2018 was my 14th year in my current home. God has kept us there, by continuing to provide all the resources we needed.
• In 2018, my family reunited after 40 years apart.
• 2018 was the start of my 11th year in my current job, and the beginning of my countdown to retirement.
• 2018 was the 40th anniversary of my high school graduation.
• 2018 was the 40th year of work and the beginning of my career in public health.
• 2018 was my son’s 37th birthday and my youngest daughter’s 19th birthday.
• 2018 was the year my first granddaughter was born.
• In 2018, my eldest daughter married her high-school sweetheart and moved to Texas.
• In 2018, I was involved in a serious hit and run motor vehicle accident that had me incapacitate for almost six months.
• In 2018, my 30-year-old niece died in her sleep leaving two very young children.
2018 was indeed very stressful year, but one of many successes. As the New Year approaches, I am hopeful that 2019 will be an even better year. Most importantly, I am learning to turn over control of my life to God, and allow HIM to have his will and way in my life.
Please share with me what you are grateful for in 2018.
Here's to the best New Year ever!
|Posted by email@example.com on November 28, 2018 at 9:45 PM||comments (0)|
November a Time of Change and Transition: Refocusing to Find Order and Peace in Our Lives
November has been an interesting month! For starters, in November, we as a nation held the midterm elections, made changes in Congress, witnessed the fires in California, stood in awe at the continued unrest at the US/Mexico border, and heard reports of several other shootings in the streets of our cities. America it seems was not slowly moving towards the end of the year, but there instead seems to be a continued spirit of unrest in our country. In my opinion, order and peace seem to evade us and instead there seems to be a constant stream of negative news at the local, state, national, and international levels.
For many, as we ran to and fro for the recent Thanksgiving holiday, buying what we really did not need or could ill-afford, overeating, overspending, and for some overdrinking. It seems apparent to me that we all might need to collectively stop to unwind, figure out what is in our control, and take steps to ascertain how to best address the needs of our families, friends, and our immediate community. Not that the world is not our stage, but life is chaotic enough within our homes and communities, that if we were honest, we would say, we all have our hands full.
To add to this spirit of unrest, on my side of the world, I lost a 30-year-old niece in November. What a blow! Death is never a welcomed visitor and we know that the grave is never satisfied (Proverbs 30: 16-19), but losing a loved one is never easy. It is worse when they are young and vibrant with young children. As humans, we have many questions, we blame ourselves, we think, and think again about what we could have done differently while going through the stages of grief. These stages are many and might not even be cyclical, but include denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. So, I have moved through the phases and after much prayer and tears have found some semblance of peace, but know that our lives are never the same.
So, how does one find peace and order in one’s life, whether their dis-peace is related to issues affecting the nation or death in one’s family? I believe that this happens in a few ways and I will share these here, but would love to hear from you about approaches that work for you as well. First, I think that it is important to realize what we can or cannot control. Whether wildfires, the election and its outcomes, or death in our families, these are all outside of our control. Next, we must continue to pray for our families, friends, leaders, nation and world, so that we can have a godly and peaceful life. Then, we must acknowledge the sovereignty of God over all things of creation. Often we can’t understand why we would lose a vibrant 30-year-old niece, but I have realized that there are some things that I will never understand this side of eternity. So, I have learned to trust God’s heart when I can’t see or understand his plans. Finally, I have learned to accept the blame if I am at fault, but work hard to quickly forgive myself and others, since life is short and living in unforgiveness about any issue or offense someone might have caused, is not an option.
What are your thoughts about these ideas?
Would love to hear from you.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on October 27, 2018 at 9:00 PM||comments (1)|
Following God’s Will as He Guides Us into A New Way
Tony Hall, Guest Blogger, Clarkston, GA
There invariably will come a time in our spiritual journey when the Lord will solicit our cooperation in permitting Him to guide us in a new way. His preference is that we would sense His leading, fully cooperate and move in the new direction. However, as is all too often the case, He must intervene in the affairs of our lives due to the fact that we are comfortable and entrenched in our present course of action.
To secure our attention and place us on the pathway God desires, there are strategies that He employs that are very effective. We must be knowledgeable of the ways of the Lord (Ps. 25:4). Knowing God's ways will result in us experiencing His mighty acts (Ps. 103:7).
Here are three ways God works to move us in a new direction:
Disruption of Our Plan
Dissipation of Resources
Dissolution of Relationships
Disruption of our Plans
The Apostle Paul had received an apostolic commission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. In keeping with his mandate, he targeted key cities in the Roman Empire to visit. Yet, the New Testament narrative informs us that on at least one occasion he was not able to fulfill his objective because God saw fit to stop him. "They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia and were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they came near Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not allow them" (Acts 16:6-7).
Like Paul the apostle, while attempting to do the will of the Lord, perhaps you were heading down a certain roadway and you ended up "hitting a wall" and were stopped in your tracks. From that point on, no matter how hard you worked, you were incapable of making significant progress. Initiatives and projects that were originally inspired by a lofty vision and deep passion ended up languishing, some of them even terminating.
When stuck at an impasse, it is a natural tendency to return to familiar surroundings. We see this in the lives of the disciples after Jesus' death. They went back to fishing even though they had clearly been mandated to forsake their vocation and follow Christ (See Luke 5:10-11; John 21:3). Because they were commercial fishermen, there may even have been economic motives behind their actions. Nevertheless, we see clearly that there was no lasting provision and no permanent peace in returning to past environments.
When God leads us out of a place of familiarity and the way forward is blocked, what is the solution?
There are some breakthroughs reserved for us that can only be accessed through prayer. We must seek God until we receive a clear answer from heaven. Whether it was Paul's night vision of the man in Macedonia summoning him, or the voice of Jesus speaking to the disciples on the seashore in Galilee, the New Testament Christians received clear direction from the Spirit and were able to regain momentum and experience breakthrough.
The Dissipation of Resources
God wants us to move in a new direction, He may also permit us to experience the dissipation of resources. Elijah had been powerfully used by the Lord to declare prophetically the purpose of God in dealing with Israel. "And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word" (1 Kin. 17:1) And just as the prophet had foretold, the word of the Lord came to pass. "And there was a severe famine in Samaria ... "(1 Kin. 18:2).
During the famine, God looked after Elijah. He gave him specific instruction relative to how he would be sustained. "Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'Get away from here and turn eastward and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.' So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook" (1 Kings 17:2-6).
Cherith which means "place of covenant," was where the Lord demonstrated His faithfulness in taking care of Elijah. However, the day would come when the brook would run dry and the birds would no longer fly (see 1 Kin. 17:7). Although Elijah had come to depend on such provision, God seemed to have no compunction at all cutting off these resources.
Has Your Brook Dried Up?
Have you experienced something similar? Your streams of resource have dried up. You struggle to make ends meet and you do not know how you are going to keep going. During such a time, trust that the Lord will soon speak to you as He did to Elijah. "Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you'" (1 Kin. 17:8-9).
More than a cute cliche, you will see that the place where He leads you will be the place where He feeds you. Where the Lord guides, He provides!
Please feel free to share any experience you might have had with God’s redirecting your life.
To be continued!