Friday, August 17, 2012

The Sinner With Religious Ways

Too many people are mistaken with what faith is as opposed to being religious. When someone emphasizes that he/she has emphatically attended a specific thing religiously, it is supposed to mean  that the person watched over it more than just daily. It is a term used casually, yet we all know what is meant by it. Unfortunately, no matter how often a person attends church services, 365 days of the year and twice on Sunday, it does not mean he/she is a person of faith or has pleased God under any stretch of the imagination.

Often people have been convinced because someone has been raised in church from the time of being a newborn into adult hood, has learned the bible belt lingo, along with how to do the "Holy Spirit" dance, and has his/her own way of "hooping" when speaking of the goodness of God - its still is not the tell all sign of a person being a true Christian (Matthew 7:15-20 AMP).

I know of a person who delighted in the Jehovah's Witness members coming to his home so he could debate their philosophies and doctrine with what he knew of the Word of God. I don't know if he thought he was changing lives or just deliberately trying to irritate these people. His personal pleasure was to cause these people too be dumb-founded in answering his questions. Once they decided to leave, he knew it was only a matter of days before someone who had more experience and knowledge about the topic would return to try to convince this person to be a Jehovah's Witness as well. He found the whole "dance" challenging. Did any of those people convert? If so, it wasn't in front of him, which caused me to wonder. He was a nice looking man. Clear skin and large white teeth. He dressed nicely most of the time. He had a full head of hair and drove his own car. To most women, he would be considered as a catch; nevertheless, I watched how this young man conducted his own life. He was always between jobs at one point or another. He was argumentative (2 Timothy 22-25 AMP). He annoyed his family as amusement, yet he attended church services - religiously.

I thought about this topic when I was interviewed for ministerial school. One of the questions the interviewer had asked around to find if anyone already employed in the ministry had ever seen me before (my photograph was attached to the application for admission). He said I was recognized but he would have felt better if the ministerial staff were more aware of my presence. That's my fault? So I volunteered and made sure the staff saw me while I was doing the work. It actually defeated the purpose of volunteering in the ministry; yet, I did it so I could get into the school (Matthew 6:5 AMP). Consequently, it didn't work out on so many levels, but I did learn this invaluable lesson: Religion is book knowledge and practiced in order to please man. Faith is a lifestyle that few incorporate to live as practical application day by day to be pleasing to God.

Scripture tells us that in the last days there will be many false prophets (Matthew 24:11 AMP). I did a selah on that verse. Where would those people come from and who ordained them to be prophets?

I recall as a young woman in church services, it was the regular practice at altar call for all of the congregation needing prayer to come to the altar and have the ministers anoint our heads with oil before holding hands with each other in unity. We were all to bow our heads and close our eyes. This was for the purpose of not being distracted by anything or anyone. Our focus was to listen to what was being spoken and have our minds on God in answering that prayer for ourselves, our brothers, and sisters in Christ. How distracting was it for me to feel the inside of my palm being caressed by the middle finger of the married man's hand I was holding. His wife was on his other side. This married man had been in this particular ministry for years. He married a woman that he grew up with in the ministry as well. It wasn't that I didn't know what he was trying to convey to me, it was that in all places one would think here in church, at the altar, one could be safe from predators and wolves. I tried to jerk my hand away from him but he held fast to me and released my hand slowly so not to bring attention to himself while the prayer continued. Years later, this same man divorced his wife, remarried and gained a prominent position in the same ministry.

One of the assistant pastors made an altar call for the unity prayer some months later. I watched while the other ministers anointed each person's head with the olive oil. As they were doing so, the assistant pastor would normally be enveloped in the Spirit of God at the ready to hear His voice as to what he should be praying for specifically. That sort of thing is mimicked for the congregation to also do and make it a habit while at home with their own families. As we were all supposed to be praying in the Spirit, I looked up at the assistant pastor...the married assistant pastor. He winked at the young single woman standing next to me. I turned to look at her. She blushed. Seriously?!! I thought, and now he was supposed to pray for the rest of us? For what? To be tempted, deceived, or enticed as he has obviously been (Matthew 24:8-14 AMP)?

I write this entry because I used to believe that wolves (false prophets and those with ill intent) would be easy to detect. I have walked away from many church services crying at what I witnessed before and after the message or sermon. I was in disbelief that such things would go on in God's house. It is a flagrant disregard of who God is and what He will do. If there is no faith in who He is, then this person is a sinner. How did he/she get into ministry? Why would a pastor or bishop ordain such a person to practice in the church? What happened in them hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd?

Jesus hears God. He said that which He does is because of what His Father told Him to do (John 5:30 AMP). Jesus hand picked His disciples. Judas was among them and served a purpose.

Noel Jones is a well known pastor and traveling evangelist. He's dynamic in relaying the Word of God as practical application in many facets of life that one doesn't think about. The anointing on his life is riveting and draws the viewer in to hear more. He has a large following. According to Noel Jones, he was raised in ministry. He has a large family and his parents were ministers. His sister, raised right along with him is Grace Jones. The same household came, at least, two different personalities. If this happens with the same two parents in one house - why wouldn't it happen anywhere else? Do we assume too much without seeing proof of the words spoken?

What I tell my children when they were about to ready themselves to date for the purposes of marriage: make sure your own life is together in Christ, otherwise you cannot be surprised or question what you get once you have it. Your harvest is the things you continually think about and the words you have spoken. Was it always good? God is good. Was your heart and mind stayed on Him (Isaiah 26:3 AMP)? For it is written, "let the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14 AMP)." God spoke the world into existence and was pleased when He finished it. What have you spoken and how pleased are you with the finished product? The Word tells us that the things we speak are spoken because it is who we are. When the product of those words are what we find ourselves surrounded in, we cannot look to anyone else for blame (Proverbs 18:20-21 AMP).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Messy Life, A Messy Wife

Well, what did you expect was going to happen? Do you really think when you get married that she is going to clean up all of your crap for you? Did you really think that's what God meant when He created a help for you? Really? Who taught you that foolishness? Before you even try to form the word, God, think about what you are about to say. The all knowing, all powerful God, loved you so much that He created a woman to be your own personal slave? So He loved you more then He loves her? What sort of god do you serve?

Seriously, where do you think women's lib came from? Idiotic thinking from the man. He didn't value his wife, thought he could do whatever he wished whenever he wished, and didn't care for the good thing he had at home. Where was she going to go? She didn't have an education (Hosea 4:6 KJV). She was working menial jobs for her husband to go through school. When he was finished, he didn't think it necessary for her to go to school and have a career. He said he would be taking care of her and she believed him. Only now with an education, and having a better income, he doesn't see the sacrifice she made for him (2 Timothy 3 KJV). He sees a new circle of people he never knew existed. His education and skills placed him a new environment. There are people that understand him and his vision because theirs is the same (Proverbs 18:16 KJV). They can relate to him. There are women there too. Its fascinating, enticing, and tempting to be drawn to those women. What about the wife at home? Now this same woman he spoke his undying love to while dating doesn't understand him anymore in his new world, but he has some sort of obligation because of all she did for him to get him where he is...oh, and she is caring for his children that he couldn't afford if it wasn't for her. Eventually, she senses him being distant. Though she's scared to ask, she has to. In so doing, she finds that she has no place in his heart. He moves on without having to pay any alimony or child support. The courts didn't have laws in place like that as they do now (1 Timothy 5:8 KJV). Women's Liberation began its roots from such the scenario.

Inconsiderate and thoughtless men, even claiming to be Christian has made this world what it is today. There is no one else to blame. What's worse is not taking the time to tell the next generation to keep it in his pants until certain matters are in place so not to destroy his life and the daughter of someone who had the best intentions for your son.

When I was dating, way back when, I saw how I pleased most of the parents who I was introduced to. The guys couldn't wait for me to meet Mom and Dad. I sat with them, held my own in conversation, know what utensils to eat with, and when it was time for me to leave, I could see the reaction of the parents with their sons. The parents didn't see their reflection in the mirror or a curio cabinet as I turned towards the door and saw them praising their son. Its funny, that the parents never divulged with me the behavior of their sons before meeting me. They never told me that their son had a wild life way back when and is now finally ready to settle down. They never gave me the heads up about his drug or alcohol use, how many times he had been in trouble with the police, or if he ever had a habit of going to strip clubs. No, it was more important if I ever did such things. Questions came flying at me during dinner. Why? Wasn't it as important for the man to be clean, faithful, without any signs of temptation in going back out in the street? How is a clean, upright, faithful woman supposed to take on the challenge of changing a man that the parents didn't control or raise properly? When she has children, is she supposed to raise her child and her husband too? Why wouldn't parents be empathetic at such the plight - no matter if its their son or someone else's daughter? Why be so uncaring and thoughtless not to wish the best for someone else's child as well?

My co-worker asked me an interesting question and is fitting for this entry. He actually said, with all sincerity having heard the implication before but without a satisfactory answer. He asked, "why is it always the man's fault?" Interesting as it was for me to use all of the Word I had to blast him, I had to recall the 3rd chapter of Genesis when God was looking for Adam and asked, "where are you?" Adam had changed from what God created him to be. When Adam answered God with what he had done, his reply was to blame the woman that was given to him. Adam wasn't just blaming his help but God for giving her to him. If Adam took the responsibility of not tending to the garden as God told him to do originally, I believe the fall of man would not have happened as it is written now. My co-worker in asking such the question, had an answer at the ready. I could see it in his eyes that he has asked and answered this question. He claimed to believe that there is a God but to what extent is his faith. I treaded lightly having my scriptural arsenal at the ready.

I told my co-worker that the blame belongs to man because he was created first. He is the head of his house and dictates what is supposed to be done in it. If he has allowed for his wife to manage his house then he is the one that makes sure it is all that he expects for it to be. It is the reason that he proposes to her and not the other way around. He was made first!

When God came to see what was done with what He gave to Adam, God did not ask the woman about her house. He asked Adam. Notice that when Adam was presented  his wife, he didn't name her as he had with everything else. Naming things brought to Adam is what Adam was called to do. This is a lesson to all men. If you cannot diligently perform the job that has been given you, you cannot expect to be given the best of the best (Hebrews 11:6 KJV). You are not at your best!

The woman was formed from Adam's rib. All the DNA that was in and on that rib became a part of that woman. Would that also mean spiritually? If Adam didn't pay attention to continue to do what God told him to do, is it a surprise that the woman didn't take heed not to eat of the tree? How is it that she could hear the voice of the serpent and not the voice of the man she was created to help? Adam was standing right there! Why didn't he speak? Why didn't he rebuke or remove the serpent from the garden? Adam was given dominion over all that creep and crawls the earth (Genesis 1:26 KJV). How could there be an identity crisis without oppositional influence?

Originally, I was going to write a list for men to get their act together before embarking on the assignment of going to find a wife. But it would have all been just that - an act. You, as a man have to go before God and make for certain that you are doing all that He has called you to do. He is a good God and loves His daughters just as much as He loves you (Matthew 5:45 KJV). He will give you the sum total equivalence of who you are. If you ever think it is her fault for anything that has happened - in the past, present, and future...seriously, look in the mirror.

Friends With Benefits

When looking for a specific job, many hope to find one with benefits. Not all jobs have that. There is a reason for this. Those that only look for employment with benefits have been out in the work force, have an education, or something has happened to them in life giving them the realization that medical bills are expensive. Those without that realization are just young or frankly, immature.

The employer is no dummie as well. He/she already knows in order to get the position filled it must be attractive enough to draw the qualified personnel toward it. When interviewing, the seasoned employer makes sure that certain criterion are met before issuing out those benefits. He/she knows that everyone comes dressed to impress but given time to allow for the perspective employee to show a desirable pattern of professionalism so that it doesn't cost the employer time or money that is allotted with the benefits. Any detouring from the agreed expectations, the employer can terminate employment - which was also agreed upon. The waiting period before receiving all of these benefits is usually 90 days.

Employers wait 3 months before shelling out more money to pay for health insurance, dental, medical, optical, and sometimes more. But know, when it is more, the employee has the education and experience that would be to the employer's benefit. That employer doesn't mind spending that kind of money for someone who is an asset (Ephesians 6:5-10 AMP).

Assessing the assets in a Christian dating relationship should be held in a higher standard then what was just described with an employer and a perspective employee. The world has come to a point where relationships don't really mean anything. Sex has been minimized to it only being a recreational activity or a means of just socializing. The term, its just sex, has been used to excuse extra-marital affairs, a feeble attempt to mend broken hearts, a way to entice for open marriages, and to tempt others who have promised to abstain. "What are you saving it for?" It is another question that comes to mind to do the same thing as aforementioned.

That sense of being so casual with something that is supposed to be exclusive and intimate is reminiscent of the behavior in Sodom and Gomorrah before it burned to ashes. Casually naming sex, just benefits like a job, has nothing to do with righteousness in Christ, holiness in God, or the lifestyle of Christianity. The practice of having sex without the security of marriage and still calling yourself a Christian is hypocrisy.

As a true believing Christian, having a friend with benefits also has a place but with a completely different meaning. First, in order for your friend to be a friend there had to also be agreement with the Kingdom Lifestyle, otherwise there would be turmoil later. In that turmoil, either the friend has the greater influence or you will to get the friend to change to see the light. Eventually, other ideals about matters not practiced will be the deterrent in the relationship. Nevertheless, friends that can stay the course individually can only build a strong bond together. Second, storms that come in one's life is a simple rain shower because the friendship causes one to pray for the other. Tests that God give men are all open book because friends understand the relationship with God first. Lastly, these friendships also have others just like them. Meet ups are enjoyable and rewarding. These people are ideally well-equipped to date and are secured in Christ. Wonderful marriages sprout from that. Do you see this sort of benefit and how it is well pleasing to God?

The Love Addict

To be an addict is someone that has allowed for their body chemistry to change by the substance. This substance then dictates the course of the day by regulating the desires of the flesh. The addict no longer has any control of plans that could lead in a direction of decency, order, or success. The plans are always positioned around the substance and how much more of the substance the addict can get.

You would think Christians are supposed to be addicted to love? Isn't there a song about having that sort of addiction? I know, I sung it back in the day. It was a catchy tune too. And yet the lyrics have nothing to do with Christianity. So how does this work in the arena of Christian dating?

When I was finally in a ministry (church) where I was receiving teaching based on the Word and that it is applicable for everyday living, I was ecstatic. I finally could understand why it was important to be a Christian and the changes I needed to make to sustain the abundant life that was promised to me (Romans 8:10 KJV). I was hooked! There was nothing no one could do or say that was going to keep me from church services. I cleaned my car every Saturday readying for Sunday. I planned my wardrobe on Saturday for Sunday. My regular salon appointment for my nails was on Saturday to be prepared for Sunday. My offering envelope was filled out prior to service. I had planned when to leave and what parking space I was going to be in all before getting to the building on Sunday. I prayed for the pastor, the speaker, and the choir to be anointed. It was an event 52 days out of the year...every year...for 18 years! I had to get my fix! I needed that message to be chocked full of goodness to last me all week! Yeah, I went to bible class in mid-week service, but it wasn't like Sunday service. I had to be there, I had to... had to... had to!

In between those 18 years, the pastor's wife taught a lesson that hit hard. That lesson smack lasted for a few years and every once in awhile I had to check myself to see if I was still on point or did I become ....the word she used. Its hard to say. She started off pleasant as usual, but then she began to grimace and started saying things like, "There you are week after week just sitting there and getting fat off the Word. When are you going to get up and do something? When are you going to allow for someone else to have your seat? You have all of this Word in you, what are you doing with it?" The sanctuary was silent. We weren't use to her speaking like this. She normally gives us little taps that we have to watch out for and we walk away grateful for the lesson. This time, we sat there all quiet - I mean collectively. No one moved - no one dared to. There had to be about 5,000 of us there that morning. There were no wells and not one amen was said. She then said, you eat every week and not doing anything with what you consumed is evil. That's right, she said we were evil to be coming to church services for the Word and leaving just to get through to the next week. Evil? Really?

As much as I would have fussed after service sitting alone in my car in the parking lot, I couldn't (Proverbs 1:7 KJV). I didn't wonder about anyone else who drove with their families and what they were saying or not saying. I didn't wonder about those that disregarded that message entirely. I thought about how God uses ministers to give a Word at the time when we need it (2 Timothy 3:16 AMP). I was much younger in the Lord then and I had to reflect to see if what she was saying applied at all to me. Am I taking what is freely given and keeping it for myself? If I am, I see the evil the pastor's wife was speaking about. Selfishness is evil.

How can we consume as much as God gives and not do the same as He has been with us. We are the light of the world and if we are truly to be more like Him then the Love that He has given must also be freely given. If we decided, and I have heard this before, I got mine - you have to do the best you can to get yours, well, I would think the love of God is not in you. A person that gets all he can and expects the other to fend for himself is one that will give a stone when his brother asks for a crust of bread (Matthew 7:9 KJV).

If we are what we eat, then let it be so. If going to church services readies us for the coming of Christ epitomizing what love is, then He should be able to recognize us. We are His mirror image. We have changed. We have been born again. Created a new. The old has passed away along with the old habits that did not exemplify Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV). The new habits progress us forward to abundant life. We assist others for them to learn and do better as well. We do these things because we were once where they were and would also like for them to be in a better place. This is God's love magnified.

It is good to draw near to God for Him to also draw near to us (James 4:8 KJV). It is the relationship that keeps us in righteousness. It is hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd that has us at the ready at all times, watching at all times, listening at all times. An addict waits for the feeling to arise and then acts. Without the feeling he/she searches for it rather then the One who exemplifies what the feeling means. Babies in Christ can be nourished with the feeling only for so long and then it is time to grow up and use what has been given to you. You cannot stay in the nest and expect to get to the heights that He has shown you in vision and what you have written in your plans. Devising ways to get others to take you where you refuse to do for yourself is evil and lazy. Parents who enable this behavior won't see the blessing that God says children are unless the parent changes (Psalm 127:3 AMP). Sometimes an empty nest is the best thing for an addict. The former addict (by faith) will have to assess what talents God has given to him/her. Those talents must be honed, practiced (use of prayer and an education) and used for the process to actually begin (Proverbs 18:16 AMP).

A woman was married and had a son. The marriage fizzled but the woman had to remain strong for her son. She nurtured him and cared for him deeply. Some would believe a little too deeply. She didn't allow him room to grow with friends or relationships that did not include her. Because of her consumption with raising her son, she never had time to see anyone else. Therefore, she never remarried. Oddly, her son never married at all. Never experienced the joy of having children or a career. His mother sought for all of his needs. Now the woman is in her 80's. Her son is in his 60's. They live together in a one bedroom apartment in a senior building. When does a mother's love turn into desperation. When did the son's cling to the apron strings become excessive? Who was supposed to let go first?

God is love. God is good. He is a good Father. He nurtures His children and then sends them to do the work He has trained them to do. The pastor might not be ready for you to leave but it isn't up to the pastor. The pastor might have issues himself, with his staff, with the dwindling attendance, with not listening to the One that gave him the ministry in the first place. His short comings doesn't become your assignment. You have a vision - tend to it.

That single woman with her son - she looks so tired. Her son has some good days but many of them are angry ones. Love doesn't turn to evil. So where did it come from? Could it be she was afraid of being alone? Could she have taught him some things that caused him to be afraid of venturing forth to find a life of his own?  In looking at the mother and son duo, one would think that the two of them have a close relationship. If one looks too close and asks certain questions, what seems loving turns strange. Who is the care giver of whom? God's love doesn't change. He is the same today, yesterday, and forever (Hebrews 13:8 AMP).

If we, as Christians, were truly addicted to God's love then we would be more like Him. We would be holy. We would endure all things. We would not seek for self and would give all we could to help others. If we were truly changed by the substance as an addict would be, the church is ready for the return of our Lord and Savior.