4

God, If You’re Real

God, if you’re real
Then where are you
When right now
Somewhere in this world
There’s a child
Hopeless and alone
Feeling a heap of shame
That they inherited
Passed down
To them
Because parents do
What their parents did
Replaying
Distorted images
Struggling humans
Just fighting for the breath
To stay alive 9 to 5
No time to process the hint of pain
That chips away at our soul little by little
To pass it down old and stale.
And when the heart is beating
Faster than I can comprehend
I ask myself again
Where were you when
We started feeling like
This might be the end
And gradually began
To numb our pain with substance
More real than your presence today.
Where are you when my friend
She who works hard
At being loved
Can’t sleep at night
Because the dark hovers
Just a little too loudly
Over her bed
The bed she did not make
For herself.
But that someone violently made for her.
Forging memories never meant to be made.
It’s hard to be a testament
Of your elusive love
When I feel so far beyond
Your reach
The reach of something grand.
We sing, take comfort in
Recitations of peace
That keep evading those of us
Who can’t see the good
In secret places
Of our buried past
That you’re supposed to resurrect
Memories of salvation
Redemption that makes it all white as snow
And not just bloody races against time
Moments of silence
Where our thoughts refuse to stop telling us
Who we really are.  And why they did what they did.
God, most certain you’re real.
Because we keep killing ourselves
Trying to find you
Reconcile our struggles
With the outcome
And what we’re living for
Is resolve
Healing that I don’t see
In the lives of those who say they’ve been saved.
Where are you if you’re real
I think I feel you at the shrillest point
Of awareness
That our hearts and minds
Are just as fragile as the body
With which we struggle to co-exist.
Your love, the idea that you exist-a fair judge who would never prey
On vulnerabilities of children who just hope to believe
That this time there really is no condition, on being accepted
Moments that I cry out to feel you near
In the moment of thick loneliness
Where we all keep it inside
Because we’re afraid of being known.
Something much smaller
Miniscule hope that pales in comparison
To the looming darkness of my fear
That grips each moment of interaction with others
It doesn’t rescue me all at once
It longs for a complete salvation
The one in finality where you don’t just stop my tears
for a moment so that I don’t pull the trigger
On a better future now.
But where all the sins of even those who’ve sinned against me
And the tears they cried over their own darkness
Will forever be wiped away.

Advertisements
3

Prayer

Jesus in Pray

Jesus in Pray (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems for me, impossible to stop praying the same prayers over and over again like a broken record.

When before I’ve always felt my prayers to be authentic conversation with God (God, my life is quite miserable today. Please do something about it.), after which I felt better once I uttered the familiar pleas almost trance like–now I feel quite silly when I start to pray.

I’m not sure whether this is because I’m “growing in faith” or “diminishing in faith.”

But I’m beginning to notice embarrassing patterns in my prayer life that should my prayers be thrown up on a screen for everyone to see, I might emphatically claim they’re not mine at all.

You see, I pray for things to be a certain way but only if it’s God’s will of course, and then when nothing turns out at all as I’d hoped, I thank God for knowing what is best for me, and then I try to re-examine my desires so that they might finally align with what would please God more, of course.

But it’s all turning out to seem like a little mind game I’m playing with myself to be able to sustain hope in the face of disappointment. “Oh God, please help this to work, if it’s your will.” “Oh God, it didn’t work, so please help me to not get stuck in this moment of disillusionment, not my will but yours, Lord.” “But God, really, what is wrong with me? Why are my plans not your plans and why do my plans fail and how do I really know how to plan according to your will, and how can I possibly pray in accordance with your will, for who can know your thoughts when your thoughts are so much higher than mine.”

So after all these years of praying, I really don’t know how to pray. It doesn’t seem right to pray for this or to pray for that, especially when there are so many people who don’t have half of what I have.  I should be praying that those who have less than me will finally have more.   But how can I give more when it seems I’ve given all I can want to give and that giving may not make any difference in the lives of others, especially if it makes me worse around them than I was on the inside now seeping out? I want more, but it doesn’t ever seem right to try to get what I want or to pray that God will show me how to get it, because why do I want it? What will I do with it? God knows I already turn my eye blind to helping those who look like on the outside they should be able to help themselves, I walk right past, because if I’m miserable, so should they be too.

The only thing I’ve ever earnestly prayed through is for the protection of my family and for the successful adoption of my husband’s siblings. I really believed that helping orphans was in accordance with God’s will. Is that why He answered my prayers? But from the point of a successful adoption on, nothing I pray really seems like it merits a direct answer. Nothing related to personal gain ever feels right to pray. Why? Are there certain prayers that are just wasted breath? For those who have children who constantly plead for the same things over and over again, until you are annoyed witless, I’m sure you’ve wondered if that’s how you sound to God. Since He’s all powerful, can he just turn off his ears to the noisy pleas of his children for bigger homes, better jobs, nicer cars, more prestige and worldwide recognition?  I mean are we SERIOUSLY asking God for more than what He’s already given and what we fool ourselves into believing we’ve gotten for ourselves?

At times before, because I was certain I could not trust my own motives, I would pray for God to purify my motives.  But not now.  I’m afraid of that prayer.  I accidentally prayed it last night.  “God, please change my heart’s desires to align with yours.”  What?!?  So if I changed my mind today about the whole wanting to live like Christ thing, will He answer my prayer of yesterday, against my ever-changing will?

What if I pray for sanity but God knows that a good dose of insanity will then help me to reach out to those who I would have otherwise written off as “not having it all together.”

“Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”  Isaiah 66:2

Is God still there looking on some of us with favor?  Do our prayers emerge from a place of humility and contrition?  Do we tremble at the thoughts of praying for things that may not be in accordance with God’s will?

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”  But I do NOT yet truly fear and much less tremble.

My daughter keeps asking me for a cat over and over and over again.  For her to have a cat would be against my will.  But she has also started praying to God for a cat.  Should I give  her a cat and pray that God will change my heart about having one?  Or should I keep ignoring her pleas and start praying that God will change the desires of her heart so that she will no longer carry the disappointment of not having one?

Your cat may be someone else’s burden.  And our prayers might be against God’s will.  Even so, come quickly, LORD JESUS!

 

2

Too much Sacrifice and too little Mercy

Good Shepherd

Good Shepherd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are a lot of us who’ve grown up in the church.  But there’s little difference between us and the world.  Just like them we’re quickly aging and either frantically searching or habitually exhausted by never finding the right answers.  Our goal is to save enough for retirement and the paradox of that day when we will finally have enough money to spend our days without having to go to work is that we will also be too old to enjoy it.  We take pride in our career milestones and the nicer our homes the better we feel about ourselves.  We give sparingly in proportion to what we’ve been given but our conscience is soothed by the fact that we’ve at least done something to help those less fortunate.  Our knowledge of God is a one dimensional story teller version and the reality of faith is only felt when we’re in crisis mode.  God’s presence starts to feel real right around the time we lose someone we love or when we’ve just experienced a financial crisis. Continue reading

3

Experiential Freedom

Salvation Unplugged – But now I see through the glass clearly, until I take my eyes off of Jesus again.

In my quest to re-read Christianity God gave me a gift, not in exchange for something I’d done or as retribution for the misery to which I’d subjected myself all in the name of taking up my cross to follow Him, but he gave me a gift because I asked.  I asked God for the gift of understanding, I asked that the scales be removed from my eyes.  I asked to understand his love, mercy and grace through new eyes, eyes filled with light, not with darkness.  And in an instant, God flooded my soul with a momentary experiential understanding of what “freedom” in Christ actually means.

I felt so free, and I WAS so free that others saw it in me for a few days.  Remember when Moses came down from the mountain and he had to cover his face so that the people would not be blinded because his countenance was so bright?  In a sense this is what had happened to me.  I came down from the mountain and friends and family listened to what I had to say (power).  They were pleasantly surprised by my radiance and the newfound hope physically present all over my face.  I felt love for them and I felt loved by them (love) and my mind was clearer and lighter (sound mind) than it had been in years.  I was a modern day female version of Peter walking on water and it felt really cool that God and I had finally “jived” beyond the contrived Christianity for which I’d been bleeding sweat and tears all those years. Continue reading

6

Saying “I Do” to Jesus | My 7 year wedding anniversary

Today is my 7 year wedding anniversary.  I’m very thankful for marriage, the gift that God has given us to experience companionship and intimacy.  I strongly believe that anything God labels as “good,” higher principalities and powers of evil are seeking to destroy! Our hearts and minds are all twisted with the wrong ideas about marriage, intimacy and true love.  The first relationship was between God and man, but it was the first time that God declared something not good. “IT IS NOT GOOD for man to be alone.”  Flesh on Flesh Relationship was a solution to earthly loneliness.  But the physical relationship between man and woman was never meant to exist without a spiritual relationship with God.  We will always long for that “third dimension” to our lives.  God himself, reveals the whole of who he is as the TRIUNE God, the three-in-one.  Without God, you will always find yourself looking to fill that empty void with something or someone else. Your spouse, alone, will NEVER be able to fulfill the third dimension of ANY earthly experience.  Around three years ago, God brought me to the scripture about how Jesus loves us first, before we ever choose to love Him.  Often times, we do anything and everything within our earthly power to manipulate someone into loving us.  With Jesus, He loves us FIRST! Don’t expect perfection from your partner alone. It is through Christ’s love, that our love for each other is perfected!

This praise & worship song, “Jesus, I Do” speaks of the concept that Jesus is pursuing us, even if we’re not pursuing Him. His divine plan for our life is for us to accept Him as the ultimate sacrifice. We get to trade in all of our superficial relationships in this world, for an everlasting relationship with someone who knows EXACTLY what it means to LOVE us, unconditionally.

No one. Not your mother, not your father, not your husband, not your wife, not your children, not your boyfriend or girlfriend in passing……..can give the kind of love that casts out FEAR.

Have you ever felt afraid that your significant other would cheat on you or betray you? Have you dealt with insecurities that are rooted in a childhood of “feeling unloved?”

In I John 4:18, God tells us that there REALLY IS a perfect LOVE that CASTS out ALL of that FEAR, ANXIETY, WORRY, DRAMA, JEALOUSY and everything in-between. But most of the time we misinterpret and try to look for that perfect love in a human being. Or else we try to love someone else PERFECTLY and get disappointed really quickly, because they don’t give us the same in return. JESUS is the only one who can offer you LOVE with no strings attached, casting out all fear, so that you don’t have to wring your hands wondering if HE is going to “come home at night.” Because Jesus said, in Matthew 28:20, “I am always with you, to the end of the ages.”

Say “I do” to Jesus, and He will never divorce you. He won’t force you to say “Jesus is the way.” But He is waiting for you to accept His love.

11

Proud of what LOOKS like a Failure

Has YOUR failure ever turned into someone else’s success?

Have you ever tried to run a marathon and failed to finish, but the very fact that you tried, inspired others to start getting physically active?

Have you ever pushed to get a promotion, only to have someone come in along side you and say, “If YOU can make that much money, I can too.”  You actually don’t get that promotion, but the other person does?  Somehow what turned out to be your failure, turned into their success.

Ever since, we adopted, I’ve seen this effect in play SO many times.  We have 7 children in all now.  When one of them makes a good decision, it clearly has a ripple effect on the other six.  When one of them makes a bad decision, the others relax because they feel as if the bar has been lowered.

My children, can even affect my husband and me.  Their positive actions challenge us to do better, to strive harder, to make sure we’re taking the lead as positive role models in our children’s lives.

A small example of this, was when our 21 year old came in from a run last night.  She doesn’t run on a regular basis, so we definitely took notice when she came in all sweaty with her gym clothes on.  My husband sat there for a few minutes, and said, “Ndolo, if you can do it, I can do it.”  So he asked if I wanted to go out and run.  I opted to stay comfortably on the couch.  But then, my husband came inside all sweaty too.  There was a certain bounce in his step that said, “I just did something good for myself.”  Five minutes later, I got up, put my exercise clothes on, laced up my tennis shoes, emerged from the bedroom and said, “If you did it, I can certainly do it too!”

All of this, based on ONE person’s SINGLE decision to go out and run.

Another larger example of this is when I recently applied for a fairly good paying job that was significantly out of my comfort zone.  When I got to the third and final interview, my husband publicly announced that if I make THAT much, he should be making more.  So he applied for a few jobs.  Oddly enough, he ended up getting a phone interview at the SAME place where I applied.  They didn’t even call him in for an in-person interview and yesterday was his FIRST day, making a 50% increase in salary. (O.k. maybe we’re just a competitive family?)

Long story short, I did not get the job.
But my efforts, inspired my husband’s actions.
What turned out to be my failure, inspired my husband to success.

(On a side note, I was disappointed that I did not get the job, but I’m thankful for the insight into the power of our actions, EVEN when they don’t turn out to benefit US directly.)

What about you?  Maybe you try to be a better Christian.  Maybe you work really hard to be an example of Christ.  Perhaps everyday you try to help someone who is down and out.  Maybe you try really hard to keep your life pure and free of temptation.  Maybe you’ve fallen.  It could be that you consider yourself to be a miserable failure spiritually.

Sometimes, I worry about what “unbelievers” think of me and I feel like a fraud, because I keep failing.  My life is not a victory.  They see me fall.  They see me get angry with my children and nurture roots of bitterness.  They hear me talk about God’s love, but sometimes they see me mistreating my neighbor.  And I think about giving up.  “I’m failing at this thing.”  “Why am I even trying?”  “Is this path that I’m on, really even a path to ANYWHERE?”  “I’m knocking, but someone keeps slamming the door shut in my face.”

I wonder if perhaps I’m doing more harm than good, when I share my faith with my children, yet turn around and undo all my words with my actions.

But, just maybe, my spiritual failures are inspiring someone else to spiritual “success.”  Maybe the fact that they see me “trying” to do right, will actually inspire them to try too.  And maybe they will make it to the finish line!

0

Moving outside the Inner Circle of Praise & Worship

First, let me say that this is not a #HipHop or #MusicReview website.  Just want to spread the good news and I’ve come across some very talented artists who are using their talents for GodOverMoney (godovermoney.com) .  I know a lot of people will be cynical about whether it’s REALLY all about “God Over Money” but you HAVE to start somewhere.  You have to take that first step to walk on water.  If we get excited about God doing miracles in our career and start sinking…..instead of judging us, just help us get back in the boat so we can continue to minister to a world hungry for something that fills.  ~praiseandworshipsongs.net

Anna Esther ‏@gOOgleOrGod 19h
#praiseandworshipmusic is for those already in the “inner circle.”
What about those on the outside?
So, truly–what about those on the outside?
Those who don’t know what it means to worship Christ.
Those who only know how to worship money, sex and fame.
Those of us who are lukewarm, with one foot in Christianity and one foot out.
Let’s remember to be music missionaries, not just music ministers!

“Go into all the world, proclaim the gospel to everyone.”

This album (The Good Fight by Bizzle) preaches! Praise God from whom ALL BLESSINGS flow.

Purchase tracks and spread the good news!
Buy on ITunes
Buy on Amazon

“This site has no affiliation with Bizzle.” Just want to help “multiply the loaves & fishes” as heard in sermon by @BrynWaddell