Monthly Archives: August 2014

Staying Relevant

With age come gray hair, wrinkles, achy bones and stiff muscles but hopefully some wisdom too.

I was watching the MTV VMAs last Sunday with my son. And I thought to myself, ‘Nearly everyone who performed is young enough to be my child and I would be very upset to see my child on stage gyrating, bumping and grinding.’

music-notes

I started to post on Facebook that I clearly have aged out of the MTV’s target demographic and was having a hard time enjoying the awards show and put my status as ‘feeling old.’ But my son urged me not to.

I have been struggling these days with the thought of staying relevant. I struggle with the idea that I need to show ”them” that I am not of a generation that can’t contribute and that I can still bring knowledge to the table. Is it a real problem? I haven’t been told so but my perception feels real.

But a friend’s Facebook post the very next morning spoke to me. In her post she simply quoted scripture from Romans 12:2

Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God’s will is and whatever God finds good, pleasing and complete.

So the wiser part of me has decided that I won’t watch the MTV awards anymore. I’ll take my gray hair, achy bones and stiff muscles and wrinkles and spread a little wisdom. The Bible is still relevant.

 

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I Live In Fear

I live in fear.

I live in fear everyday.

I have lived in fear everyday since November 22, 1997.

That was the day my son was born. No joke.

I have lived in fear everyday since November 22, 1997 because my son was born – a black male child born to a single woman.

That made him a statistic. He was more likely to die in infancy. He was more likely to join a gang. He was more likely to be at the bottom of his school class or be a high school drop out.

I have managed my fears by providing good health care so that he didn’t die in infancy.

I have managed my fears by moving to the suburbs so that he could attend good schools in good neighborhoods and not be drawn to gangs and not become a high school drop out or even a low achiever in school.

I have managed my fears by getting him involved in extra curricular activities – piano, theatre, and a cappella choir.

But I still live in fear everyday. I still live in fear everyday because now the threat is beyond my control.

He is more likely to be a casualty of his skin color.

My fear boiled over earlier this week. He had to work late the other night and my car wasn’t running and I was unable to pick him up. My immediate thought was to have him take the bus home. But I live in fear of him walking home from the bus stop after dark – a black male walking in a predominately white neighborhood.

I managed by fear because I called my friend Deborah and asked her to pick him up after work and bring him home.

When he got home we had our third talk in a year. It was our third talk about what to do if the police stops you. Do exactly what you’re told, no back talking, and no quick movement – do not resist.

I live in fear every day because it won’t matter that he is an A/B student, or that he has been a member of student government, or that he has been a featured dancer in the spring musical or that he is a member of his school’s a cappella choir.

I still live in fear everyday. I still live in fear everyday because he is a black male in America.

hands-up-dont-shoot-ferguson-justice-for-mike-brown-politica-police-brutality-tshirt_0

How I Became a Small Group Leader

My church is holding a Community Group Fair this weekend. They will introduce a several new small groups for the fall with the hope that people will join a group and participate in ministry.

The odd twist of this story is that I am leading a small group. I have to tell you I am about as shy as they come. I tend to prefer to be a background player – a supporting cast member – so to speak.

But when my pastor sent an email last year to several of us at church inviting us to attend an introductory meeting for small group leadership training, I said OK. I wasn’t really certain he meant me for me to attend but I went anyway.

I remember sitting in the chapel that December evening and light bulbs were going off like crazy in my head. As I listened to the pastor who would be leading the training, I could see an application for a particular small group I had in mind. I could see the application for several small groups. But I knew I needed to start one at a time. It felt like a divine appointment. I am praying that God continues to have His hand in this.

The small group I’ll lead is how to get connected in the church. As I’ve told you before I’ve joined a few churches in my lifetime. I would go through the New Members Class. And after about a year or so I would look around to see who is still attending the church. To my surprise very few people who attended new members group were still attending the church. I wondered why they weren’t there anymore. Did they get discouraged, did they not find what they were looking for or was it just hard to break in and make connections.

We know the Bible speaks to the assembly of believers to encourage one another.

Hebrews 10:25 

I will be using two of Thom Rainer’s books I Am A Church Member and Connected My Life In the Church as our guides for study. Mr. Rainer made it plain for me about my responsibility as a Christian and a member of a church. The books are a must read I think for any church member.

I am a church member

I’m not clear on my Bible history but perhaps the concept of small group meetings began with the first century Christians. People generally gathered among family members into small groups to study the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Jump ahead a few thousand years and we are still meeting in small groups to study. The old saying of everything old is new again can certainly be true in this case.

I am looking forward to seeing the fruit of God’s work in these groups. I am expecting to be blessed from the group.

 

Are We A Forgetful People?

I just love how the Lord can be gentle but firm in his instruction to His children. Recently He brought back to my attention that we must continue in the faith – at all times. He provided once before and He can do it again.

I am in the midst of another car malfunction. I recently paid nearly $600 in June for repairs. And it looks like this new one might be as expensive. I think it’s time for a new car. I realize my current car is 13 years old and that nothing lasts forever. But part of me thinks if it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Psalm 78 reminds us of how the children of Israel often forgot where their blessings come from.

“How often they rebelled against him in the desert and grieved him in the wasteland! Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember his power – the day he redeemed them from the oppressor, the day he displayed his miraculous sign in Egypt, his wonders in the region of Zoan.” Psalm 78:40-43

But earlier in the chapter we read, “Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat. He let loose the east wind from the heavens and led forth the south wind by his power. . . They ate till they had more than enough, for he had given them what they craved.” Verses 23-26, 29

What a forgetful people. Do you know anyone like that? Do you know someone who has been blessed by God but rebels against him and forgets His blessings?

I pray I am not so forgetful that I am rebellious. But I do tend to get caught up in my day to day life and start to stress out a bit when something bad happens.

But this time I trust God and praise Him even in the midst of this latest trial. He provided once before and He can do it again.

Ways to Develop a Closer Relationship with God

field-of-red-flowers

Since returning from a weekend Christian retreat I have been encouraging my son to develop his own prayer and devotional time. I realize as his mother I cannot do it for him. I can invite him to join my time but it would be most effective and have long lasting and more meaning results if he created the time himself. But let’s face it, we are time crunched. We are pressed to fit everything into our busy lives – work, kids, the kid’s activities, taking care of the house, meals and friends. There is very little time left in a day. People are even scheduling time for exercise or scheduling date night with the spouse.

So how do you develop a closer relationship with God? I have some tips. These are not the only way to do it, but for me this has worked. I am still developing and growing. I invite you to share you tips too.

Pick A Time

First you have to be dedicated to schedule regular time. I have to tell you, it took me probably a good year to get into a rhythm for my prayer and devotional time. I discovered that I am not a night owl. I can barely keep my eye open past 10 pm. My midday was just too rushed. Since I’m still among the work stiffs, I am never guaranteed a lunch and finding a quiet place in a busy office building is a challenge.

So I selected early morning. I’m talking EARLY morning. I am usually awake and reading my Bible by 4:30 or 5 a.m. (Which is probably another reason why I’m ready for bed by 10.)

I feel most refreshed at that time of day. The house is still quiet and dark, which for me feel more intimate.

Find Your Spot

You want to find a place that is free of distraction. I personally don’t have a lot of extra room in my house, so I have selected the living room. But I have disciplined myself not to turn on the TV or go to the kitchen. Once I turn the TV on or head to the kitchen to start breakfast or washing dishes from the night before, I become easily distracted.

Decide What to Read

I enjoy reading devotionals. I select just a couple but there are a host of daily devotionals that you can get online. They range from those delivered to your inbox to various apps. For me it’s important to have scripture along with the devotion. It gives a Biblical foundation – backed up by scripture is very important. My daily devotional is followed by my daily Bible reading. A companion to the Bible reading is a Bible commentary. It helps decipher what the Bible is saying. Oftentimes a commentary is written by Bible scholars – people who have had years of study in the original languages the Bible is written.

Time for Mediation and Silence

When I wrap up my devotion and study time, I always devote time to meditation. Meditation is a misunderstood period in the life of a Christian. Because many different religions use meditation, it hasn’t been associated with Christianity as much as it has been with eastern religions. But to meditate means to engage in thought or contemplation or reflection. Think about the scripture you just read – how can the scripture be applied to your life or what can be observed in scripture as a lesson for you.

Finish With Prayer

I always finish with prayer – thanking the Lord for His word, asking Him to help me apply it and of course my prayer requests for family and friends.

If you open your mind and heart to listening and receiving, your relationship with the Lord will develop.

Again, I invite you to share your tips with me.