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Where's my focus?

Posted by sistahtasha on June 10, 2009 at 10:26 AM Comments comments (1)

This morning I woke up feeling really convicted. What was I planning on doing today? Does any of it include teaching my children anything? Will I teach them anything about God? Will I reach out to anyone today? As a matter of a fact, when was the last time I reached out to anyone? When was the last time I walked up to a stranger and told them about this glorious gospel that keeps me sane every day?


 

I had to think real hard for answers to these questions and now I'm really convicted.

 

I told my children to turn off the tv and I turned on my iPod instead. I decided to start the morning with family praise and worship. I cried like and worshiped like I hadn't in a long time. I feel so cleansed, but I am thinking about how could I have let it be so long before I am really focused on God? I mean, I talk to God everyday. I keep myself "holy" everyday. I even read my Bible, and talk about God, but all these things are habitual. I've been Apostolic for a long time. These things are no substitute for nurturing a focused relationship with the lover of my soul. It is just like marriage. I don't cheat on my husband. I feed him everyday. I do all the wifely things. I even let him download about his day at work (and really pay attention). But these things don't make for a close marital relationship. They are good for getting along and avoiding fights. In order for us to grow as a couple, we must work at our friendship. I must be conscious everyday of how I can please him. And him me. It's the same thing with God.


 

So, I've decided to sit down and review my schedule of Things to Do and purposely focus on the things I say matter most. I guess I'm writing this blog to encourage you to do the same. Remember (as I am reminding myself), it is all about RELATIONSHIP.


How to Forgive - The Short Lesson

Posted by sistahtasha on February 18, 2009 at 11:18 PM Comments comments (0)

How to Forgive

I talked last time about how people are always amazed at my ability to forgive. I’m usually like, “Don’t be amazed. I’m no different than you are. You can learn to forgive, too.” It really is easy for me, and oftentimes I am amazed at how long others can hold grudges. I am just as amazed with them as they are with me.

 

But then I started thinking, “Why are people amazed at this ability?” Honestly, I didn’t think it was that hard. I’m not saying that I’m soooo spiritually grown-up or anything. I don’t think that this makes me better than the next person. I’m just saying.

 

Well, I started thinking about it seriously after a conversation with one of my friends who is going through a divorce.  She kept asking, “How? How do I forgive when the hurt just keeps on coming?” I thought that was a legitimate question, one that required more than the common “Jesus said forgive seventy times seven” answer. She is my friend and she is hurting and she needed a concrete answer to this question that she can implement today.

 

Here is the short answer I’ve come up with:

 

The source of unforgiveness is pride.

 

(Let me let that one sink in for a while…)

 

 

 

 

 

The source of unforgiveness is pride. I say this because in order to forgive, one must understand some very basic things. First, what happens when we forgive: When we forgive someone, we are actually saying to that person, “I am releasing you from the punishment you deserve for wronging me.” I believe this is true whether you physically talk to that person or not. This even applies to dead people.

 

Think about it, when you are angry with someone because they wronged you, you feel like that person should be punished. Our justice system is built on that belief. If, however, the person is not adequately punished according to your standards, you then feel the need to punish them yourself. So you put them inside your specially made Punishment Box called a grudge. There, you can proceed to punish them anytime you get ready by beating them with your Angry Stick. This can include bad mouthing them, not speaking to them, physically hurting them, or just hurling bad thoughts at them whenever the urge hits you.

 

Most times, it’s not enough to see them pacing and tortured in your Punishment Box. You need to see others who look like them or remind you of them in there too. That’s the thing about unforgiveness: it  is seldom satisfied with just one victim. Your Angry Stick is just too big and strong to be wasted on just one sorry soul. There’s enough room in your Punishment Box for plenty more to take your punishment with your big strong Angry Stick.

But herein lies the problem: People don’t like pacing in other people’s Punishment Box. They generally say, “I’m sorry” (or they may not) and then they politely excuse themselves from your torture chamber and move on. They may even do penance or make up for what they did, but if you want to hold a grudge, you use your mental surveillance camera to snap a foggy picture of them in the act of wrongdoing and use that photo to create a life-like ghost that you put in your torture chamber instead.

 

So now you are walking around torturing ghosts.

 

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

 

Oh, but how insane we are! Think of all the people you know who are consumed with these ghosts. They talk about them like they are standing right in front of them. You would think that whatever happened, happened yesterday. They are consumed with vengeance, or are at the altar every service begging for God to take the ghosts away. Imagine that! For some people, their ghosts actually turn on them!

 

But getting back to my point about how pride is the source of forgiveness…

 

Back my example up all the way to the part about when you are wronged, you feel like the assailant should be punished. Stop right there. This is where most people go wrong when it comes to forgiveness. When we are governed by the idea that we must bring justice to a situation by meting out punishment to evildoers, we are violating a basic law of God: I know this sounds crazy because God is justice, isn’t He? I mean, justice is the American way, isn’t it?

 

Well yeah, God is about justice, but He specifically tells us  that vengeance is His. He also reminds us that we all have sinned and come short of His glory. What does this mean? It means that in order to forgive, we must understand two things:

 

First, we must understand and acknowledge that our way of thinking is not getting us anywhere except to a self-made prison full of ghosts. Instead, we must trust that God’s way of handling things is higher than ours and better than ours. Therefore, His justice is much more just than ours. This frees us from the job of “handling it”. This means that it is not our responsibility to mete out punishment to evildoers. Scripture tells us, “Be not deceived. God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

 

Secondly, we must understand that if were not for the mercies of God, we would be no better than the person who has wronged us. It is our responsibility then, to share the rich mercies that God has given us with others.

 

Do you get it?

 

In order to have the audacity to hold a grudge, put people in our Punishment Box, and beat them with our Angry Stick, we must think that somehow, we are better than they are. That somehow, they deserve to be punished and we deserve an equal place with God as the punisher. Nah, if that’s not pride, then I don’t know what is.

 

 

So, if you are struggling with unforgiveness, don’t add yourself to your Punishment Box. Instead, repent and ask God to forgive you for thinking you have such a lofty position as to be His punisher. Next, take some time to read His Word and see just how base and sorry you would be if it weren’t for the grace and mercies of God. Then, release your ghosts. You will find that in doing so, you will be released to devote that energy to loving God , and growing in His riches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Forgiveness

Posted by sistahtasha on February 17, 2009 at 11:17 PM Comments comments (0)

Forgiveness

My friends are always asking me why I find it so easy to forgive. For a long time that was a good question because I didn’t quite know the answer myself. After all, I’ve had a pretty dramatic, but normal life: You know the usual molestations, divorced parents, stepfamily, joint custody, rape, marital problems, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary, but obviously all things that require a great deal of forgiveness.

I actually find it funny that more people don’t forgive more than they do. I mean, I couldn’t imagine how I would function walking around mad at a 16-year-old molester from 25 years ago. Or holding a grudge against my mom because she left us in order to escape an abusive relationship. Or even for what my husband did last week.  Being mad just takes too much energy. And I need all my energy just to wake up, take a bath and wash last night’s dishes. I’d be crazy trying to call myself being mad at something from last week.

I understand that sometimes you just wanna be mad. I don’t know why. I guess it’s just one more of those things that our flesh desires like that extra helping of banana pudding or lusting after our neighbor’s brand new Avalon. But even with that, I figure, just give it time – If I really want to be angry today, I’m more than sure my husband or one of my children will give me ample reason to. I don’t have to pull out something from my Angry Box. If I just give it one more minute, my two year old will say, “Mommy, I poo poo…nasty…” after he’s pooped in his Thomas the Train the drawls (did I say that? I meant underwear) and attempted to pull them off by himself. So if I just wanna be angry today, I can be angry at that.

But that’s dumb. Isn’t it?

I promise you. It sounds just as dumb when you are complaining and seething about something someone did you 10 years ago.

O.K. So your issues are a little more serious than poop on your freshly cleaned floors. It doesn’t matter. Anger always requires more energy than you are willing to spend, and I promise you that you can find better ways to spend it. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s O.K. for whoever did you wrong to wrong you. It doesn’t mean you are any less of a man or a woman. Forgiveness frees your energy to do something better with it – like doing the will of God or working on your own personal transformation.

Besides, we sound really stupid coming to God asking Him to save us, comfort us, transform us, renew us when we are still holding people hostage for some wrong in our own hearts. God is no respecter of persons. That means He ain’t tryin to forgive you, save you, help you while you spend your energy angry at someone else. You won’t be helped. You won’t be transformed. You won’t be saved because you have already committed that energy to another cause and God is not going to waste energy on you.

Jesus told us that He won’t pour new wine into old skins. We are also instructed not to cast our pearls among swines. We are also told not to grieve the Holy Spirit. This means that in spite of the lie that the devil tells us that God is so loving that He wouldn’t condemn anyone and everyone is going to be alright, there are clearly some situations where God simply will not move. There are times when God simply will not hear you, answer you, or save you. And forgiveness is one of those areas. You must get this right. If you do not choose to forgive, God simply will not forgive you.

 

Doing the Will of God

Posted by sistahtasha on February 15, 2009 at 11:16 PM Comments comments (0)

How do you know that you are really doing the will of God right now? When was the last time you were doing something and the whole time you were thinking, “Oh, this is so what I should be doing right now!” Were you teaching your son to tie his shoes; ministering to a friend; witnessing to the stranger on the bus next to you?

 

Our pastor taught about the woman at the well on Sunday morning. He said that there were three very important things that happened that day: 

  1. The woman recognized she was in the presence of God.
  2. She stopped doing what she was doing.
  3. She  immediately changed what she was doing and started doing what God required of her to do.

 

That, to me, so sounded like the process of salvation. Before Acts 2:38, there was Acts 2:37. The Bible says that the people were pricked in their hearts. This means that they were convicted. They recognized that they needed something that they did not have at the time. And like the woman at the well who asked Jesus to “give her this water so that she would not have to come to this well in the heat of the day (when good upstanding women could come in the cool of the morning) to get water”, the people on the day of Pentecost asked, “Men and bretheren, what shall we do?” 

 

The answer that followed was a simple one. It didn’t require therapy or a round table discussion with Jesus so that everyone could express their feelings as to why they crucified him. It didn’t require years of healing from wounds of their childhoods. Neither did Jesus come back from the clouds so that they he could plead them as to why he was God in the flesh. The answer was simply to repent, meaning to change your minds (about how they felt about Jesus) and do (be baptized in Jesus name). They were then assured that Jesus could take it over from there (they will be filled with the HolyGhost).

 

This is always the process of transformation. But for some reason, after we’ve been in the church for a while, the process seems to get more complicated. We have added therapy, counseling, psychiatrics, medications, anger management, and the 12-step process to God’s simple plan of salvation and transformation. Nah, please do not get me wrong. I am NOT against any of these things. But at the end of the day, when we have talked to the counselor, aired all our complaints before one another, completed the 12 step program for whatever it is  we still want to hold on to, real transformation always boils down to this.

  1. We recognize that without God we can do nothing.
  2. We repent by changing our minds and saying, “God without you I simply cannot be anything but a base creature, always captured by my own desires. So I need you to do all of the thinking for me.”
  3. We immediately start doing what we know God has been asking us to do, but we just didn’t feel like it before.

So that brings me back to the question I started with: How do you know if you are doing what God is asking you to do in the first place?

 

Is your spirit at peace? Or are you constantly restless even when you are busy doing God’s work? If you are still restless in spite of your constant business, you  are probably out of line with what you really should be doing. No amount of talent, accolades, or pats on the back from man will satisfy you if you are not doing what God says do.

 

Is your life bearing the fruit of the Spirit? If you find it increasingly difficult to have joy and those Zantacs are starting to look like candy, you may need to check to make sure you are on track according to God’s plan for your life.

 

Is your current ministry, job, etc. a substitute for what you know God spoke to you, but seems to impossible to get? Sometimes we just do not have the faith or the patience to receive what God really has for us. So instead, we just pick something that we know we don’t really need God to excel at anyway.

 

To get back to the will of  God for your life, it is a simple process of transformation. I stress simple because that doesn’t mean it won’t be hard. But it’s hard because we hate fighting our flesh and making ourselves uncomfortable; and we don’t have enough faith to believe that God really can prosper us in His will, in His time, and in His way. That is what makes it hard.

 

But just like we prod sinners at the altar trying to receive salvation for the first time, if you find yourself outside of the will of God for your life, we need to surrender ourselves to the Spirit that is calling us to salvation.

  1. Repent (Lord, not my will, but YOUR will be done.)
  2. Be baptized (bury our fleshly desires, attitudes, aspirations…)
  3. Be filled with the HolyGhost (His will for our lives )

 

God will take it over from there.

Knowing the Will of God For Your Life

Posted by sistahtasha on February 9, 2009 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (1)

How do you know what the will of God is for your life? I thought I’d add my two cents for anyone wanting to know how I know.

 

I know there are whole books on this topic, and maybe one day I’ll add one to the stack. But for me, the answer is simple. Simply do what you know to do and let God do the rest. For instance, there are some concrete things that you know to do: Pray everyday. Fast regularly. Witness to someone on the bus or on your job. Then there are things that you are aware of  to do like walk in holiness;  and forgive your brother or sister. And then there are a couple of things that challenge you and require your constant growth like trusting God to supply all your needs and having faith that believes that God will actually do what is best for you.

 

The last part is actually the hard part and the part that makes the will of God so fuzzy for most people. Because actually, because most people struggle with faith and trust, they have their own plans and wills for their lives. They do not feel they really need or even want God’s will for their lives, especially if God’s will conflicts with their plans.

 

OUCH!!

 

Why do I have to be so forward?

 

I feel I can be so forward because I have fallen prey to this trap myself at times in my life. We say we want the will of God for our lives because we are good Christians and that’s what good Christians do. And who among us wants to be labeled a hypocrite, or admit we don’t trust God with EVERY area? Any bad Christians out there?

 

But like the old folks used to say, “The proof is in the pudding.” And just like most of our faith, if you are walking around fuzzy about the will of God for your life, your pudding is probably watery.

Understand this: God will not write you a letter entitled His Will For Your Life. If he did, it is lost in the Post Office system in some smelly, dusty room with other letters like “How to Get Your Two Year Old to Stop Clowning at Walmart”, and “How to Completely Potty Train in One Day Without Wasting Money on Pullups” and “How to End World Hunger”. It’s not that these things are impossible, but that they all require a process and commitment. You cannot skip the process or the commitment.

 

So what is the process of discovering God’s will for your life? Again, do what you know to do first. Then look at His Word. The Bible tells us that God has given every one of us a different talent. He made us special and unique for a reason. What is special and unique about you? He made you that way so that you can bring glory and honor to Him. If you are seeking the will of God for your life, start with answering this question: What special talents and gifts did God give to you? Are you using them for his glory? If not, why not? Are you listening to naysayers who say that you cannot support yourself on that particular gift?

 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that if you think you can sing, you should quit your job and start singing for the Lord (I mean, who told you you can sing? Did the HolyGhost confirm this?). But you should at the very least include singing in your ministry. But back to my point.

 

Finally, make sure that you have repented and gave to God your own plans and will for your life in exchange for His. I’ve learned the hard way to stop pushing and pulling on doors of opportunity. Sometimes I get so caught up in my own talent that I forget that it is God who is controlling things and not me. When I just do what I’m supposed to do (and this includes the specific direction I know He has given me), God opens doors I couldn’t have even know were there. It is so easy that way. The hard part is waiting on Him to open something, and questioning how we are gonna live until then. But we must remember, it’s not our own works, but the grace of God that works for us.


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