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He always helps me pray

He gives me beautiful language and scripture when I pray publicly and gives me encouragement and guidance when I pray privately. He gives me specific words that touch the hearts of specific hearers when I pray publicly and words of love and humor when I pray privately. He gives me spirit pictures when I pray publicly and spirit visions when I pray privately.
He urges me to pray at certain times because prayer is needed at those times. He shows me faces of people to pray for or to call because they need to have their names called or to hear my voice at those moments.
He always helps me pray

He gives me places to go, in that moment, and I run into the right people when I’m obedient.
He gives me words to write, in that moment, and I get past writing blocks when I’m obedient.
He give me subjects to preach and teach at the very moment someone asks me to come.
He always helps me pray.
And he helps you too.

{Excerpted from Have you heard of the Holy Ghost?, available for purchase on walkingworthynow.com.}

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He made me to want it all

God put a strand in me, when he was weaving my fabric, that always wanted it all. I never wanted to feel I was giving less than my all or receiving less than all of God that he has for me. And as I’ve gotten older, the yearning has only gotten deeper. At this age I’m determined that I leave nothing behind when I return to him – that I’ve used every gift and grace and blessed every person I’ve been sent to bless.
So I believe it was at 27 that I began to just cry out for more in my life. Every Sunday, from the moment I got inside the church and long after the service was over. I could not understand the reason. I just know it persisted for weeks. People thought I was crazy. So did I. I’d go to prayer meeting and spend much of the time crying for the Lord to use my life to his glory. I had no idea what I meant. I just know it wouldn’t stop. Until it did. And the desire just continued to grow. I read everything I could get my hands on that encouraged and nurtured my spiritual growth. I listened to every televangelist on the air in those days. And there weren’t that many. I attended every local workshop I could find that promised to answer the questions I hadn’t yet asked; that threatened to satisfy the increasing hunger I was experiencing.
{Excerpted from Have you heard of the Holy Ghost?}

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Jesus loves you. Yaaasssss!

One thing I’ve struggled with all my life is that Christian people I knew didn’t have a sense of being loved by the Lord. We’ve sung Yes Jesus Loves Me as long as I can remember. But I saw people who went to church every Sunday and yet there was that sense of rejection or being unworthy even as the pastor preached about the grace of God.
I had an uncle who always refused communion. That didn’t make any sense to me. The whole point of communion is to remember how the grace of God was poured out with the blood of Jesus Christ on our behalf for the redemption of our sin. It was the very first and the only eternal buy-back and we’re the beneficiaries.
My uncle had accepted the call to preach, but never did. He always quoted, “He who puts his hand to the plow and turns back is not fit for the kingdom.” And even as a little kid, it made me cry to see him shake his head every time the communion plates were passed. And he never took communion for the rest of his life.
He wasn’t the only one who had no clue how much the were loved by the Lord. I preached one Sunday on the love of God and a young lady I’d known her entire life, who’d been in church her entire life, cried big old alligator tears out of her beautiful big eyes. It was as if she were hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ for the very first time.
And she confessed after church that she never really heard that Jesus loved her. She thought he loved the people in the Bible and the more perfect people in our church. But not her. These are the earth shattering moments that should shake our churches every Sunday. Realizing God’s love for us is the only thing that begins transformation in our lives for real. We can work on and display different behavior. But the ache inside us is what fuels the hatred and frustration we exhibit within and outside of the church. That same empty ache is the reason a church can dedicate itself to displays of hatred at any funeral they can in any way connect with homosexuality.
That same empty ache is why Christian politicians can spew hate mongering language in the name of the Lord and believe they’re right.
It is also the reason people in the workplace question our Christianity because of the way we interact with them and the public.
If grace isn’t real then we are the more to be pitied. It is the reason we are who we say we are. And if God’s love isn’t authentic then what are we doing?
It has been my reason for being in ministry – to convince people that God loves each and every one of us individually – that we’re not included in God’s family by association. That’s why the right hand of fellowship is extended to each individual when they make the decision to become a member of the family of God through the church.
Because. Yes. Jesus loves you.

{Excerpted from Mustard Seed Mondayz: weekly faithbytes for a year}

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A reluctant writer

I used to work with two then-budding writers who have since blossomed with their craft. What I remember most about them is that they couldn’t wait to get home so they could spend the evening writing. And they did. And they talked about it. And they each made their books happen. In fact I did some editing for them.

I don’t have that. Any of that. I don’t have that zeal to write every day. I don’t even think about writing every day. Today I’m forcing myself to write something by writing about how much I don’t necessarily like to write. Writing is a chore that I have to remind myself to do. The problem is…I love writing. I love to write.

I really love to write. I love it when the words seem to flow freely out of my fingers right onto the tablet screen. Words that my mind hasn’t consciously processed. Words that come together with a kind of majestic majesty or maybe majestic mystery and sometimes majestic magic. They come together in ways that assure me I often have little to do with their choice, their pedigree and their formation.

I really love to write when it seems I’m more the instrument, like the tablet, than the creator of the combinations that even excite me some days. I’m more the conduit that surrenders to a process over which I have no control. I’m the human instrument that plays on the digital instrument, in the same manner on which I’m being strummed like a well tuned banjo. I’m the woman who sits in the chair and looks at the words that appear on the screen and I compliment the source of them all.

Wow! I sometimes say, “that was good.”

I am utterly in awe of the Creator who put within me every thing I would ever need to be and do everything I would ever be and do for every scintilla of a second of my life on earth.

I stand in amazement of the moment by moment transformation that happens even in my attitude when I choose to surrender my butt to the chair, my fingers to the keyboard, my will to God’s Holy Ghost.

In a split second of time the stubborn resistance to writing melts into a hub of words that order themselves into phrases and sentences and paragraphs that explain, that touch, that tickle, that excite…that “story” themselves into the hearts of the reader. Including my reluctant self.

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Miss Aretha

She sang the songs and the seasons of my life as we grew up together. We danced to “Aretha” at our wedding reception, always pausing to recite the letters, as if dancing would make us misspell RESPECT. This anthem of hers, along with making us “feel like a natural woman,” reminded us we were always due respect and to settle for nothing less.

We lost weight together. Nothing new about vinegar and honey. We gained weight together. I guess we forget to check on each other. She was a little older, but that gave her the extra wisdom she needed to sing us along our way. I cried when she lost love, making me hold mine a little tighter. 

Of course we had that tight bond of being PKs, a bitter sweet that flowed through every song she sang, in spite of its theme. And she was no joke on the keyboard as you still managed to feel the Holy Spirit in her fingers that pounded out the story of another love gone away.

Always loved Aretha. Someone just asked the question on FB, “What gift did the Lord withhold from you to keep you humble?” My answer has always been, to that question and any like it, to sing like Aretha Franklin. If I had such a voice I would have never shut up. But the world only needed one Aretha Franklin. She has been more than enough. She has filled that role so completely. So uniquely. Even unwittingly. She has blessed so many people with her voice. With her smile. Her voice has sparked a child, themed a movement, saved a soul and provided pure joy throughout her decades.

Sing some more Aretha! I know you’re singing and dancing in glory!

And we’re shedding a tear for our loss.

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It’s already in your hands

You ask God for help with something and he comes back with, “It’s already in your hands.”
Seriously?
I compare it to Elisha’s response to the widow in II Kings 4, who told him she had nothing and needed help. He asked her what she had in the house. She’d just told him she had nothing.
Her husband had left her in debt and she was afraid the creditors would take her two sons in payment. But he persisted so she showed him the tiny bit of oil she had.
This is actually one of my favorite stories in the bible. Acting as the voice of God, God’s prophet Elisha told her to send her sons to borrow vessels from their neighbors. A lot of vessels. She obeyed although she had to be feeling kind of crazy. Vessels for what? She must have wondered. But she was obedient. And that was the key. Obedience. I don’t know about you but a huge percentage of stuff the Lord has told me to do has been quite ludicrous by human standards. I try to be obedient because I want the kind of outcome this widow had.
For those unfamiliar with the story, the sons brought back many vessels, which was something of a miracle in itself. Vessels were part of the family’s worth and the only way to gather water for all the family’s daily needs. I’m sure there was some reluctance to let them go. But they did.
And again, she was obedient when the prophet told her to close the door and fill the vessels with the oil that she already had in her hands. In that almost empty vessel she already had. Fill all the borrowed vessels with the tiny bit of oil in her almost empty vessel. I know I said it already, but I want to be sure you have an accurate picture of this impending miracle. She had to have called herself crazy after calling the prophet crazy. Her sons were probably calling their mother and the prophet crazy. Anyway
She summoned the courage – yes it takes courage to do something that could potentially make us look like idiots – and she poured. From her almost empty vessel into the many borrowed vessels.
AND as long as she poured…was obedient to the leading of the Lord…as long as she poured…I can’t tell this story without dancing…as long as she poured…there was oil.
And as long as there was oil, there were vessels.
These two went together. As long as she was obedient, there was oil.
And as long as there were vessels, she poured.
Had they not been obedient and gotten many vessels they wouldn’t have seen as great a miracle.
Obedience for them produced much oil. Enough for them to pay the debt that had threatened to cast the sons into slavery, and enough for them to live on for the rest of their lives.
I call that a miracle.
And it came from what she already had in her hands, in her house and her willingness to obey the voice of the Lord.
What an answer to prayer!

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Speak love to the “uncomely” parts

Paul’s discussion on the body of Christ mentions “uncomely” parts, those that need extra attention and care. I think we should speak love to those parts, making sure they don’t feel alienated from the rest of the body. Those organs. Those extremities. Those feelings. That just won’t do right. That don’t look right. That won’t operate right.

Speak love. To whatever doesn’t quite fit into your righteous agenda for your life. Speak love to the appetite that craves those things you don’t want to eat. Well, you want to eat them but you know they’re not good for you in large proportions. Speak love to that attitude that continues to raise its ugly head in spite of your constant resolve to respond more kindly. Speak love to the thirst that demands the drink you’ve chosen to eliminate from your diet. Speak love. Rub and caress the joint that continues to collect fluid,  hindering that perfect gait. Speak love and rub the spots that suffer from the inflammation that clusters and fosters pain.

Speak love. Offer affection to the parts that seem to betray your desired quality of life. Offer kindness and gentleness to the rage that threatens to become bitterness and facilitate your undoing. Offer love to every part of your being in every aspect of your world so love embraces you and everyone you meet. So love surrounds and envelopes you. So love is the prevailing “feel” of most of the moments of your days.

Speak love!

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