Unstable Alliances

“41 The feet and toes you saw were a combination of iron and baked clay, showing that this kingdom will be divided. Like iron mixed with clay, it will have some of the strength of iron. 42 But while some parts of it will be as strong as iron, other parts will be as weak as clay. 43 This mixture of iron and clay also shows that these kingdoms will try to strengthen themselves by forming alliances with each other through intermarriage. But they will not hold together, just as iron and clay do not mix.” Daniel 2:41-43″

Partnerships and alliances are important in life, in business, in friendship, in communities, in projects, in games – you name it! It’s very hard to have sustained success without them, and we are not meant to operate alone or in a vacuum. But we should examine them from time to time,because they just may not be working for you.

Think! Have some of your alliances that you thought were strengthening you actually weakened you? This scripture passage in Daniel is eye opening. The feet and toes mentioned are important because they provide the foundation/stability for standing, for mobility, for withstanding a physical challenge also. If there is weakness in the foundation, the entire project, building, enterprise, government or kingdom is unstable.

Check your foundation! Ask yourself, “Is there anything in my foundation that is actually weakening me?” Also, what you may think is mixing well is actually co-mingling, not really joining together or adhering to each other. While there is an appearance of strength, the lack of true cohesion provides a very weak foundation.

Look at your relationships, hobbies, habits, beliefs and you may find that some are weakening and destabilizing your future. Ask God to reveal them to you. Psalms 19:12 says “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.”

Like the end of this passage in Daniel 2:44 only the kingdom of God will stand forever. His strength covers our weaknesses. His grace is sufficient and His love never fails. You just can’t go wrong with Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone.

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God’s Thoughts & Plans: Hope & Destiny

I first discovered this scripture Jeremiah 29:11 at an all night prayer meeting of my former church when the church was just getting started a few months after I graduated from college. I remember with great clarity when the Lord revealed this great promise to me personally, but it was a word for this new ministry barely a year old. We were mostly in our 20s, in college or just out of it and starting our careers. Our prayer ministry was about 20-25 strong on a Friday night, committed to seek Jesus and strengthen our Christian faith and fellowship.

The Pastor had asked me earlier that day to prepare my heart to speak prophetically that night, and that he would let me know when to share. Well, I prayed and prayed all that day, and nothing came to me before prayer started later that night. I had to completely trust God for what He wanted to say to us.

As with most gatherings, the night of prayer started off with praise and worship. Out of that worship, the prayer points and following exhortations began. In one of the quiet times of prayer I literally heard or had a strong impression to read Jeremiah 29:10-15

The words leapt off the page, and I knew that this was the word of the Lord for the church! As I prayed this scripture and meditated on it, the Pastor called me up about 15 min later to share what God had placed in my heart to share to our church members. It was such a great word with following instructions in the next verses.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.”
Jeremiah 29:11-14 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/jer.29.11-14.nkjv

It was so powerful because we were all ready calling upon Him in prayer and this scripture let us know that He was listening! But God goes further- we seek and find Him when we search for Him with our whole heart! God wants our undivided attention.

Ps 86:11 says “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.
http://bible.com/114/psa.86.11.nkjv

God has to “unite our hearts” so that we can worship and seek Him wholly – with our entire beings. We need His help to us stay focused, to reign in our thoughts, needs, desires and “cast down” those things that seek to exalt themselves over His word and plan for our lives.

Every time I read Jeremiah 29:11 now, even 30 years later, I am reminded of my first time seeing it- how comforting and exhilarating it was to know that we are in God’s thoughts and He has specific plans for a hopeful destiny! Even though we might get confused or unfocused, God is not confused.  HE KNOWS what the plan of action is. Wow! What a word for a young Christian in a young ministry. What a word for me today!

As we grow older, we think we may know the plan or we may confuse our plan with God’s plan, and He has to give us course correction. We have demands of careers, family, community and life events that may pull our attention. He unites our heart and refocuses our attention back to Him.

When we seek him with our whole hearts, we find Him and He unfolds His plans for our lives. He gives instructions on next steps. He gives a word of grace to bring healing and hope so that we can walk in truth and in the destiny we are called to fulfill with great excitement and joy.

Things That Matter: People Matter

ppl-matter

People matter.   I was talking with my sister recently about an important issue, and I said to her glibly, “I guess I should be talking to the folks that matter.”  Upon its utterance, I immediately corrected myself saying, “Well, everybody matters! To me, anyway.”  And just then, like Morgan Freeman’s character in “Bruce Almighty”, a man walked by and said with a beautiful big smile, “That’s right! Everybody matters!” He didn’t slow down, but pointed and kept smiling at me in approval.  People matter.

People matter.  Today, we find ourselves categorizing, stratifying, slicing and dicing folks into statistics and numbers, by ability, aptitude,  or mere words:  the 1%, the 99%, the talented 10th, low-mod-mid-high income, race, ethnicity, disabled, urban, suburban, at risk, wealthy, blue-blood, blue collar, white collar, illegals, conservative, liberal, C-Suite, earners, takers and on and on and on. Many corporations/governments/communities  take it a step further and make decisions on allowable percentage of “casualties.”  This language deliberately erases the faces of REAL MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN,  so that they are dehumanized and marginalized – therefore worthy of less treatment, less resources, less of everything;  even life itself.  Consider that the terms abortion and capital punishment sanitize the killing of human beings.   People matter.

People matter.  We matter because we are divinely created by the hand of God.  Psalms 139 tells us how intimately acquainted God is with everything about us, but in verse 14 it says:   “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well”.   God’s invitation of relationship is extended to ALL of us – not just some.  He gives to EACH of us freely, as we are willing to receive.  We see His great love for us, when He gave everything He had through His son Jesus, so that we have restored and completely reconciled relationship with Him. People matter to God.  People matter.

People matter to me also because I saw that people mattered to my parents.  They extended themselves inconveniently many times to take care of a need, be a listening ear, a hand to hold, give counsel when needed.  People matter.

People matter. Resist the temptation to refer to PEOPLE as a number, statistic, a category, a group, an issue, a label, and instead,  put a fearfully and wonderfully made face on it and remember that EVERYBODY MATTERS.

Things That Matter

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This new blog series was birthed about a year ago when I was driving home and I found myself, once again, with my thoughts swirling about personal issues, political drama, the recent national tragedy, a good book or article etc.  And through the jumble of tumbling ideas, events, appointments, etc, I heard somewhere in my heart, what are the things that matter.  I mean, in the scheme of things, what really matters?   Over the next few months, when confronted with a headline, a tragedy, an occurrence at work/home/church/event, the thought kept reccurring.  I would say, almost out loud – people matter, character matters, integrity matters, relationship with God matters, justice matters, shelter matters, education matters,and the ability to work matters, and so on.  Today, with so many ideas and messages presenting themselves as an urgent priority to command our attention, play on our fears, it helps to cut through the noise by focusing on the THINGS THAT MATTER.   

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Present your gifts with joy!

Last night, I was mesmerized by the voice of Leontyne Price- Feb. 10th was her 87th birthday.  I listened for hours, first to videos of her performances and then her interviews. I realized then that she is the epitome of the verse Proverbs 16:18 that says A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men. The clear perfection of her voice, performances, stage presence clearly demonstrate her steadfast belief that her voice was a gift from God and therefore she cherished it, nurtured/honed it, honored it and then presented it with great joy to the world. She did not just sing, she presented with great joy “thrilling” as she put it, her God given talent. God has given us GREAT gifts and talents that we must WHOLLY embrace and align ourselves accordingly to present with great joy and enthusiasm. Our gifts are really God’s gifts to the world, to make it a better place, to bring joy, healing, solutions, grace to others. Stop hiding your gift – the world needs it.

Leontyne Price NEA interview:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn8mEWvuvMg

Leontyne Price’s last performance at the Met.  the last 3 minutes is the emotional standing ovation she received which lasted for 20 minutes.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGfP38nd-U0