Challenge 78: Have Mercy on the Helpless

Plaster peeling in hotel bathroom
We pulled up and I knew this was a bad deal. Windows to the hotel faced a gas station; weeds darted the grass; and nothing but the sign, Econolodge, let you know where you were. The place looked like low-income housing whose residents didn’t appreciate the little they had.

Inside the lobby I immediately saw evidence of the renovations the hotel advertisements boasted about: two new brown leather chairs and a table in the reception area, but the seating was the only thing recognizably new and inviting about the place. One front desk worker had on a t-shirt that advertised a city and her colleague wore two fitted thin-strapped tank tops with her bra straps exposed. When the tank top woman walked from behind the counter she didn’t have on shoes but instead pink footies. After signing my $100 plus receipt, we headed to the room on carpet with squishy uneven padding.

As we entered the room, I first saw through our open-dressed window; our view was the gas station, but the view outside was better than the view inside: brown-stained pea green carpet, plaster-peeling walls, cob-webbed lamps, a grimy tub and a mold-spotted sheet. The bulky TV, coffee maker and lamp all sat on a plywood dresser that bowed from the weight; the nightstand wasn’t big enough for you to reach as you lay in the bed; and the “closet” was a rack with hangers and an ironing board and iron mounted on the wall. I was appalled, desperately wanting to escape this nightmare before me.
Hotel room carpet stains
“Flynn, I’m calling the other hotel to see if they have a room and I’m getting my money back from this place no matter what they say.”

“Do what you have to do, baby,” my husband said, always remaining cool yet encouraging me in my angst.
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“Hi, I was wondering if you have any rooms. We stayed there last night but the only room you had for tonight when we booked was a suite that was beyond our budget, but I’m at the Econolodge and it’s horrible.”

“I’m so sorry. We are all booked. And when we put a call out for others, there was not a place available in a 50 mile radius. Do you have to be in the area?”

“Yes, we are picking up our son from Blue Lake.”

“Yes, you do have to be in the area. I am so sorry. What I can do is let you come to swim in the pool that way you can be here until you have to go to sleep.”

“Thank you so much for that. I appreciate that.”

“I should be here, but tell them you talked to Emma and she said you could come swim in the pool.”

I hung up the phone, dejected, frustrated, angry and helpless. I was in squalor conditions and even when I tried to get out of them, I couldn’t. Everything was blocked for me. I had nowhere to go. Even the slight pool reprieve didn’t change that I had to lay my head in a room unfit for anyone, especially those paying for it.

Flynn told me to remember that Jesus was born in a manger. “But he didn’t have to pay for it,” I shouted.

“If they were going to pay for the inn and there was no room there, they had to pay for the manger.”

“He didn’t pay for it. They just let them stay there. They didn’t pay for it!”

Though I argued and believe I am right, though the Bible doesn’t tell us about paying to stay in the manger, God wouldn’t let me stop thinking about how Jesus condescended and decided to live in such squalor conditions for me, that at least I had a non-leaky roof, a bed (with a changed sheet), and clean running water, the basics. I was stressed even though the room didn’t have bugs or exposure to the elements like the drain pipe where a girl and her mother live in Asia, or the homes among trash heaps in places like Mexico or the home of the multi-generational family living near me. Sometimes folks want to do better, but no matter how hard they try the way is blocked for them. The stress I felt for a few hours is the stress many of them feel daily and constantly. They do what they can, but sometimes they need help beyond temporary relief; they need help in drastically changing their lifestyle.

Woman & daughter in pipe

“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” is what God told the Israelites in Leviticus 19:34 (ESV) and He commands us the same when he says “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). We have an obligation—whether it’s someone in a foreign land, illegal underage immigrants to our country or a family in our neighborhood—to have mercy. “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7—ESV). Their story could very well be our story. And if we follow God, mercy awaits us, too.

Take a Risk Challenge: “Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart” (Zechariah 7:9-10—ESV). Our mandate is clear. Let us go and show mercy this week.

Challenge 77: Exhibit Grace

BLOG SILENCE
I used to be a fanatic about getting my blog posted once a week and would agonize when I struggled with what to say. I switched my paradigm, knowing this is a platform that God has given me and I can only say what He would have me to say. Those days when nothing comes to me to say I now take as God has nothing for me to say so I write nothing. This is why you have not received a post from me in a month, but I have something for you today. Let me know what you think.
soul food dinner

She took her job seriously. The plump church mother, aproned and dabbing sweat beads with a folded white hanky from her shiny black skin interrupted my seating arrangements. “No, this table is for the pastors,” she shouted as I had claimed my seat and directed my children to ones right next to me for the anniversary dinner where my pastor-husband was the guest speaker. Her force struck me silent as I processed her dismissive words. “The children can sit right there.” She pointed to a table next to the pastor’s table. Still pondering where I might sit, being neither a pastor nor a child, the mother said, “You can sit with them somewhere else if this is too far for you to keep an eye on them, but this is the pastor’s table.”

“No, I was just wondering where I might sit. This is the pastor’s table. I can’t sit with my husband?”

I had to breathe deeply, collect my ill words and scatter them to my oblivion to compose my anxious ways. She saw my face switch from confusion to offense and then to compassion, as she began to mutter what she was just trying to do to accommodate all the members and guests. “You can sit there” she said, flinging her hand and turning half away from me in dejected resignation. I gritted my teeth, managed to turn up my lips to plaster a smile and then said, “I just want to make sure I’m complying with how you have arranged things. I just needed to understand the plan so I could follow it.” With that I took my sit next to my husband; she turned around and smiled a bit and we ate in peace, with just a few interruptions from the church mother’s husband telling me how working at the church and giving special attention to her assignments brings her much joy.

As you can probably tell, I had to work internally hard to diffuse my anger. My husband knew this, telling me to calm down, to smile, reminding me that I was crossing to my past side, the one that struck first and stitched wounds later. I knew I couldn’t go there. As a new creature in Christ, my past had passed and I was new (2 Corinthians 5:17). I didn’t want to be a prime candidate for a pastor’s wives show so I knew I had to show grace. I thought how people may not have considered how to accommodate me the way I have considered accommodating me—in my case that the visiting minister and his family may want to sit together—so they don’t need me to dismiss them. What I should have done was simply ask clarifying questions without a twisted up face, and just defer if the order didn’t kill me or have me commit some unrighteous act. These are points for us all to consider as we seek to exhibit grace in those hard places, with those hard people.

Take a Risk Challenge: On the heels of Memorial Day when we honor our fallen soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom, I want you this week to see how you might give up your life of comfort, convenience and normality to exhibit grace to someone else who may have another plan they want you to follow. If their plan won’t kill you or cause you to commit some unrighteous act, then show grace. This is truly a radical act of love.

Challenge 75: Cut the Haste

I like to get things done.
Historically, I haven’t liked to wait. I want the task complete. I want you to move swiftly, talk fast, act with urgency, and if you don’t, I would like you to move out of the way so I can do and say what needs to be done and said. Of course, I have had to refine my methods over the years, recognizing my behavior was not always gracious or pleasant and was sometimes downright rude. With children, I’ve had much practice in slowing down and getting things done eventually. I have had to teach how to zip coats, button shirts, tie shoes, eat neatly, walk with care, speak kindly, use manners and a whole host of things kids just don’t know. Primarily being a homemaker and home educator for the past eight years I have had intense home training in being “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19). Parents, you know how we have to settle arguments, assess feelings, count to 10, and allow for mistakes so lessons can be learned. This full-time training has been extremely challenging for me, like boot camp, but now I am fit to love others outside my home more graciously, patiently and watch the Lord work instead of my haste.

I saw this in action Sunday when a potential member of a committee I was recently elected to chair finally confirmed that she would not join the committee as we had agreed. After following up with her a few days ago after our initial talk weeks ago, she stated she was going to continue to work where she was. Had I pressured her to make a move weeks ago, she may have simply gone with how she felt then and not given deeper, consideration to her decision. Likewise with a present committee member who told me she didn’t think it would be good for her to remain on the committee after expressing weeks ago her willingness to remain. My initial reaction was that her continued service would not be good for the transitioning administration and I didn’t see how she couldn’t see that, so the Lord shut my mouth. I didn’t have grace-filled words or a disposition to speak and knew I had to be “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” After praying I now knew how to season my words with salt, but before I could share, she told me that she believed her remaining on the committee would hinder the transition in administration. Had I spoken in haste, we may not have had this moment of seamless consensus. I’m not saying that not speaking in haste will always yield such great outcomes, but without a doubt you’ll avert some conflicts.

As seasons have shifted in my life, the change has not always been easy and I’m sure the same can be said for you. We may be in seasons we’d rather not be in but we must remember that all things work together for our good if we love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). So being a stay-at-home mom, working that low-paying job, working that demanding job or working on that committee may just be what you need for your good, to help you love others as they need. Think about this: Love is learning what you can in every situation so you can use whatever you can in any situation, doing all to the glory of God. Don’t despise where you are. It may just be the place you need to be to help you and others get to where they need to go.

Take a Risk Challenge: Be conscious of being quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. Doing so truly is a radical act of love.

For all you in the Detroit Metropolitan Detroit area, don’t forget the Soul Delights’ Natural Health Tour to Urban Farms is coming up soon. Registration deadline is April 23. Secure your seat now.

NHT Flyer_Final_3-1
The next scheduled Your Fast for Life™ session for everyone, including groups of 10 or more who receive a discount up to 30%, begins Monday, May 5, 2014, but you don’t have to wait until then. Sign up today with our new Your Fast for Life™ Flex Program, which allows individuals and groups to begin the program when you choose. Individuals receive a 35% discount now until Wednesday, April 23, 2014. You can also join Your Fast for Life™ for the regular $100 price and attend Soul Delights’ Natural Health Tour for free (a $35 savings).


Individual Discount
Choose a food plan





Natural Health Tour
Choose a food plan




Challenge 74: Obey the Unexpected

A few months ago I was asked to be one of the teachers for a Bible study series at my church. The subject was obeying God and I was excited about the prospect of teaching something that I have purposed to do over the years with the result of great spiritual growth. My sister in the Lord who was in charge of coordinating and teaching lessons in the series said she asked me because she had witnessed my obedience to the Lord and the fruit thereof. Though she and I both thought that this ministry opportunity was a natural for me, I hesitated, telling her I wanted to pray to make sure this was where God would have me. Let me tell you: It just seemed a perfect fit to be able to teach what I preach and strive to live, but when she asked me I literally felt a block in my spirit. It was as if a hand raised to halt the flow of my inner desires. My mind was saying, “Of course you’ll do this,” but my spirit was clearly saying, “Hold up. Wait a minute.” I knew before I prayed that even though this assignment looked like it was for me it probably wasn’t for me. When I prayed I got the same halt in my spirit and I sensed the Lord saying, “I have something else for you to do.”

I declined what seemed natural for me to the great disappointment of my friend. A few weeks later, after having a death in her family and feeling the pressure of having to coordinate and teach the lessons, she asked me to teach one lesson. I told her that I probably could do it, but let me check. I checked with my husband, who thought it would be okay. “It’s just one lesson,” he said. “Yes, that’s what I thought, too.” But knowing that I was teaching a lesson on obedience I wanted to be sure that I was being obedient so I sought the Lord again. I could barely get out my request when I sensed him saying, “I already told you you couldn’t teach.” And with that, I had to tell my sister, again, that I couldn’t teach.

Maybe you think I should not have even sought The Lord the second time, already knowing what The Lord had said. But then there are those who would have done what I did and yet others who would have listened to their heart instead of The Lord and taught the class. Whatever one of these inclinations, we all have to beware that we often display our love for others when we show our love for God by obeying The Lord.

When I obeyed The Lord my friend got an example to use in her lesson on obedience and God’s grace to be able to study for, develop and teach lessons, and identify others to do so. Sometimes our love for God calls us to do the unexpected or even not do the expected. This is a way of unconditional love: doing what is needed despite the circumstances. And that should be dictated by God. My friend’s circumstances suggested she needed my help and I wanted to help her out of her circumstances, but God decided otherwise. God’s decisions may be hard for us to follow, but to obey Him means to love Him and many times, by extension, means to love others (John 14:15).

We should know that 1) just because we helped someone in the past doesn’t mean we will help them in the future; just because we helped someone before doesn’t mean we were supposed to help them then; and 3) just because we love and respect someone and understand their challenges doesn’t mean we will do what they want us to do. Knowing these three will help us follow The Lord when we hear The Lord’s voice and hesitate to obey because of our history or allegiance to someone. We have to obey God in all things, even the unexpected, and we are likely to get unexpected but necessary results.

Take a Risk Challenge: Seek The Lord to see what unexpected action He might have you do or expected action He might not have you do. Obeying beyond human wisdom truly is a radical act of love.

There’s still time for you to join Soul Delights’ Natural Health Tour to urban farms Saturday, April 26, 2014, from 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Currently, I have a discount for Your Fast for Life™ only and free admittance on the tour with a regularly-priced Your Fast for Life™ membership. Get more details on the website or simply sign up below.
NHT Flyer_Final_3-1

The next scheduled Your Fast for Life™ session for everyone, including groups of 10 or more who receive a discount up to 30%, begins Monday, May 5, 2014, but you don’t have to wait until then. Sign up today with our new Your Fast for Life™ Flex Program, which allows individuals and groups to begin the program when you choose. Individuals receive a 35% discount now until Wednesday, April 23, 2014. You can also join Your Fast for Life™ for the regular $100 price and attend Soul Delights’ Natural Health Tour for free (a $35 savings).


Individual Discount
Choose a food plan





Natural Health Tour
Choose a food plan




Challenge 73: Share for Health’s Sake & Natural Health Tour

Over the weekend several people approached me about their various health issues: respiratory, immune, cellular and reproductive. As a natural health care promoter and educator, my mind immediately went to what might be missing in their diets that may be contributing to their health issues. Even with challenges to four different body systems, what was consistent with most of those people was a diet of high starchy foods with few non-starchy vegetables, including the essential leafy greens, which are chock-full of healing nutrients. Simply eating more greens, particularly raw, like in salads, juices and smoothies, would make a major positive difference for each of them.

Many of these people know they need to do better. Some have said so and have not made the steps, beyond prayer, to do better. They know God is able to help them but they seem to want Him to heal them without any human intervention. We know God could do that but He also wants us to be good stewards over our bodies. We have a responsibility to cherish, not trash, our temples of the Holy Spirit. When we trash them, God guarantees divine intervention, unfortunately to our detriment (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). But we have the power to reverse our natural consequences from poor health by changing and helping others change.

One person, who finally decided to take charge of her health by joining my Your Fast for Life™ food and lifestyle program, said, “I’m so ready to start the meal plan part. . .tired of this sickness.” And you know? That’s what it takes. We have to get so tired of being young but feeling old, looking fit but being tired or looking and feeling unhealthy. We have to make a move to help ourselves and to help someone else. If my client hadn’t been receiving constant information about my program, testimonials from those on the program and witnessing the benefits in my own life, she would not have made the most crucial step in trying to do something different to get a different result. It took this particular client more than a year to join Your Fast for Life™, but she would not have done so if others didn’t show her love by sharing healthy options with her. What you know and what others that you’re familiar with know may just be the key that your family member, co-worker, classmate, neighbor or friend needs. Offer that key and help somebody help themselves.

Take a Risk Challenge: This week share what you know or what others know to help someone get on the path of health and healing. I would love for you to share about Your Fast for Life™ and, for those in the Metropolitan Detroit area, Soul Delights’ Natural Health Tour to urban farms. Currently, I have a discount for Your Fast for Life™ only and free admittance on the tour with a regularly-priced Your Fast for Life™ membership. Get more details on the website or simply sign up below.
Fast for Life™ for the regular $100 price and attend Soul Delights’ Natural Health Tour for free (a $35 savings).

NHT Flyer_Final_3-1

The next scheduled Your Fast for Life™ session for everyone, including groups of 10 or more who receive a discount up to 30%, begins Monday, May 5, 2014, but you don’t have to wait until then. Sign up today with our new Your Fast for Life™ Flex Program, which allows individuals and groups to begin the program when you choose. Individuals receive a 35% discount now until Wednesday, April 23, 2014. You can also join Your

Individual Discount
Choose a food plan





Natural Health Tour
Choose a food plan




Challenge 72: Don’t Judge


Every week for about a year I have shaken my internal head at the ensembles that this young woman in her early 20s wears. Literally, she looks like she gets out of bed and grabs whatever her hands first touch, whether in her closet, drawers, chair or on the floor. It is not unusual for her to have on a pair of black ankle boots, white tights, brown skirt, beige shirt and yellow cardigan two sizes too big and all clothes not ironed. I have contemplated talking to her, asking her if I could give her some tips, show her how to groom and style her hair, assess her wardrobe and take her shopping to give her whole style a makeover. But I love her and her parents and don’t want to risk offending them. Still, I believe I need to say something. I see a beauty with so much more potential that doesn’t seem like she’s giving God her best in her appearance: she loves the Lord deeply, evangelizes children, has a pleasant face, bright smile and has a gorgeous body. I really want her to do better so I continue to wonder “What’s wrong with her? Doesn’t she see herself before she leaves the house? Why does her mother let her leave the house looking like that?” Then last week when shaking my internal head I heard in my spirit “What if she has mental problems and that’s why she dresses that way?” I stood convicted. I made the judgment that she shouldn’t dress like that because she has to know better and there is no good reason she should dress like that. God quickly helped me see that there could be a good reason that she dresses like that and I must not judge because I don’t know.

I thought I had gone beyond judging people, which was something of a family trait. My family, strong in discernment, would know something about someone but take that further and write their life story. This is a classic dialogue between my sister and me:
“She needs so much attention,” my sister might say.
“Her parents probably didn’t give her much affection when she was younger.”
“She better deal with that because a husband ain’t gonna want to deal with that all the time.” Here, my sister and I not only acknowledged her issue but also determined why she likely had the issue and what the fate of her issue would be. I had learned to reconcile “judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1) and “judge not according to the appearance but judge righteous judgment” or “…judge a right judgment” (John 7:24), the first verse telling us not to “unfairly find fault in others and pronouncing an opinion concerning right and wrong” while the second is telling us “to pass judgment on the words and deeds of others,” not making judgment about the person (Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon on Blue Letter Bible). In order to judge a right judgment we must 1) discard our opinion; 2) not determine a fate for the person that God hasn’t determined; and 3) not determine the worth of a person that God has not determined.

I, however, crossed the line with the young lady by determining that she should know how to dress. I can’t have that opinion. In addition, my opinion unfairly finds fault in her. Perhaps her mother or some other older woman never took the time to tell her about the importance of neat appearance and certain styles and colors complimenting each other. I don’t know what’s going on in her head, heart or home concerning her dress. I can only see what she looks like, not the reason she looks like that. When I determine the reason without her, someone close to her or God revealing the reason to me, then I am judging. And when we judge, we cannot show love.

So this week’s challenge for us is what God through the Apostle Peter tells husbands how to love their wives: “according to knowledge” (1 Peter 3:7). If we operate toward others based on what we know for sure, in this instance, “to judge a righteous judgment” then we steer clear of speculation, finalization and a know-it-all attitude. We may know that something is wrong but we may not know the why and sure fate that will result from the wrong. We often just see what people are experiencing not why they are experiencing what they are experiencing or who they are. Only the all-knowing, all-seeing God knows not just what they are experiencing and why they are experiencing it but who they really are. We only see what is on the outside. And the outside is not sufficient for us to make a judgment. God is the only one who can judge and gives us that power in limited situations. Judgment is final. It’s something inescapable if it is the consequence that God has ordained. We can only speculate if we are observing someone’s life. We must be careful to use terms like seem and looks like and we should even reserve those terms for our thoughts unless God leads us to speak to the person. If we go to the person we must know that God wants us to love them; there is no room, and we have no right, to condemn.

Take a Risk Challenge: Judge someone righteously, remembering that means judging the words and deeds not based on your opinion and without your condemnation. God will no doubt lead you to pray on that person’s behalf and perhaps speak the truth in love for their edification. Judging righteously is truly a radical act of love.

Join Soul Delights for its Natural Health Tour to Urban Farms Saturday, April 26, 2014
NHT Flyer_Final_3-1

Challenge 70: Choose God’s Way to Love Them

They knew they were right where God wanted them to be—in relationship with each other, but they were ready to bail. They didn’t tell each other this but they told me individually just days apart that the relationship was too hard. They didn’t want to deal with confrontations, taming the flesh, hurt emotions and facing the truth. They didn’t want to “be stretched,” though they each knew this was God’s way of molding them and helping them reach new heights in love, maturity, and faith in Him. They didn’t want to risk the comfort of their lives, the predictability of their space. They just wanted to remain safe. Continue reading

Challenge 69: Stop Abortions

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman


I wanted to make this blog post solely about Harriet Tubman, the black “Moses,” the one who risked her life and freedom for the freedom of enslaved blacks. She led them through the Underground Railroad, a path of freedom with safe houses from the south to the north in the United States of America and Canada. Some folks on the Railroad were too afraid to be free, got tired of running and thought about going back to their slave masters, risking the freedom of others. When this happened, Tubman, who carried a gun, threatened to kill them. She was willing to get rid of that person who endangered all the lives around him. But the more I thought about what God was impressing on my heart to share today, I know that this is about Tubman, her willingness to kill whoever got in the way of others’ physical freedom.

Today I challenge believers in Jesus Christ to kill what is getting in their way of spiritual freedom, that thing that has caused you to abort people and relationships that God intends for you to have so that others might be free. Even if you think you are spiritually free and love everybody, I want you to read this. You may find areas where you need to grow and may find something to help you guide others along the way.

The rise in bed was like that of a Jack ‘n’ the Box, sudden and surprising. This happens to me frequently when God has something urgent He has to tell me. But this was a Sunday and I’ve found that, for whatever reason, I don’t usually get the Jack ‘n’ the Box arousals on Sunday. I popped up yesterday, a little discombobulated, eyes searching for something, some reason why I was up at 4:30 a.m. and hearing in my head “Spontaneous abortions are not the way to go.” Somehow I knew this phrase went beyond taking life in the womb so I kept listening: “We live in a world that advocates abortion, the dismissal of life on demand. We not only do that with babies in the womb but also with people. We throw away people in marriages, friendships, workplaces, churches, volunteer organizations and everyday conversation. We are not a people called to abort but to give birth, to give life to those we encounter. We have to work on being counter cultural in this area. We have to stop having intercourse with the illegal forces of darkness that require that we abort. We kill everything that we encounter because that soul tie with darkness ties us to dark ways. Like the Christian who fornicates with a prostitute, we become one with darkness. When we become one, we follow after darkness, pursue it with great passion, and beg for more interaction, more intimate interaction, and the cycle of human intercourse with supernatural spirits begins. We can break this cycle if we denounce our allegiance and announce our desire to walk in the light.

And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?’” (2 Corinthians 6:15).

Belial is a name of Satan and it means wicked, worthless. Infidel means unbelieving, and particularly refers to those who refuse to believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Belial is in this earth “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” but Jesus came that we might have “life…and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Belial opposes what Christ has done, seeks to do the opposite of what Christ has done and seeks to get us to do the same, to be like an infidel. This is why the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians asks the rhetorical questions “…what concord (agreement; harmony) hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” He is saying that there is no harmony between Christ and Belial and a believer has nothing in common in matters of faith with an unbeliever. When we become intimately involved with Belial—who is the prince of the power of the air and the god of this world, we produce his seeds: “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” including destroying people and aborting relationships (Ephesians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4 and Galatians 5:19-21). Our intimacy and eventually our production of unrighteousness happen when we continually immerse ourselves in the ways of the world, particularly by going to worldly places and listening to and watching worldly music, TV shows, movies and concerts. Like children we can’t believe have gotten so big, who look so mature, even though we know we have fed them and taken the time to nurture them in other ways, we grow up in the ways of Belial before we know it. We begin to reason and otherwise act like characters on our favorite shows and begin to accept the worldly reasoning and behavior of others. We find it easy to perform the acts of the flesh listed above, even if only in our minds.

But God came so we would have life and not just life but abundant life. One way to live an abundant life is by shining forth God’s righteousness and having enough to give to others. But when we have intercourse with the world, we instead find it easy to stop interacting with people because they offend us. We resort to the ways of the world with our easy dismissals. They stabbed us in the back or maybe spoke badly about us on more than one occasion and we don’t want them around. I am not saying make yourself the object of someone’s sick hatred, but we must remember God’s command to forgive others 70 times seven and our jobs of being light (Matthew 18:22). And there is no reason to be light if there is no darkness around us. And we cannot be the light we were made to be if we are filling ourselves with darkness (Luke 11:34).

I have a friend who used to write people’s names and numbers in her phone book so when they offended her, she would simply erase their contact information. Her process of erasing people from her life, aborting them, is now easier with us having cell phones. With just a click of a button or two, we can delete people from our phones, symbolizing to us that we have aborted them from our lives. Consistently aborting people and relationships is not the way of Jesus. He constantly interacted with unbelievers and believers who forgot the power they had as believers so they acted like unbelievers (Think of Jesus’ 12 disciples). We, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can stop abortions. The spirit of abortion may be prevalent in our world, but “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Let’s stop being intimate with Belial and producing seeds of unrighteousness. We are children of the light and must walk in it.

Take a Risk Challenge: 1) Think about the places you go, your trusted counselors and the media you ingest (books, TV shows, music, movies, the Internet and reading materials) and determine if you are getting more from these than the people and things of God. 2) Examine how you have aborted people and relationships and earnestly seek the Lord to see if your actions were His will. 3) Feed your spirit so you won’t follow your flesh and abort those you normally would. These are radical acts of love.

Challenge 68: Walk in Your Strength

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

For the last few months, about four to be more exact, I have watched out my kitchen window this black plastic bag blow in the wind as it hangs from a bare tree branch high in the sky. This bag, the thin, flimsy one you get from the beauty supply store, has weathered wind, rain and snow storms and is still hanging high, is still on display for all to see. It has not been ripped from the bare branch, hanging on to seemingly nothing but withstanding nonetheless. I think this bag is there for me. As I wash dishes, fruits or vegetables, get a glass of water, prepare meals or some other necessary but mundane task, I have to look out the window to see my wonder. I wonder how it flew so high, how it got stuck and how it hasn’t yet been ripped away. My wonder is strong and resilient, no match for a storm, and hangs and blows to remind me I can go on.

I, made in the image of Christ and strengthened and directed by His Spirit, have everything I need to push past the mundanity, to stand square against adversity, pray through calamity, speak out against perversity, claim my sanity and know it is well in my soul. God, I believe, gave me this bag as a reminder of who I am and throughout the years has given me and all of us souls to remind us of who we are and what we can do. As we celebrate Black History Month, I reflect on the black souls who have fortified me when I think about their life contributions. One of my favorites is anti-lynching crusader, journalist, and suffragist Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931):

One had better die fighting against injustice than to die like a dog or a rat in a trap.” – Ida B. Wells

This quote glibly expressed Wells’ drive to fight for what was right in spite of the odds against her. Watch the video here and be inspired to (continue to) make it your business to fight injustice wherever you believe God is calling you.

Take a Risk Challenge: This week, in addition to fighting injustice on your battlefield, remind someone of who they are and encourage them to use their strength to fight injustice. Walking in strength and fighting injustice truly are radical forms of love.

Challenge 67: Take Time to Teach Black History

fire-hose-in-birmingham
Early in elementary school I didn’t like seeing newsreels of black folks, my folks, being hosed with water and hit with fists and hateful words. This time made me sad and mad that white folks could hate black folks because they weren’t white, that laws supported and encouraged more hate and my people had to fight for basic God-given rights that humans had the nerve to try to alter. I can now put my feelings into words, but when I was a child, I just knew how I felt. Though my well-meaning teachers, who taught us black history beyond Black History Month, would often seek to end the late 20th century Civil Rights Movement segment on a high note by having us sing “We Shall Overcome,” my angst would remain. I could not see any overcoming, only hating and fighting, and I was not moved. The only reason I didn’t harbor my angst because I lived in a home and attended schools that celebrated black history. As a result, I never questioned if black was beautiful. I simply knew that it was because my daddy said so.
daddy
My caramel-colored daddy with the eternal afro was a history professor and made sure my siblings and I knew the history he taught his students. And he applauded Mrs. Tinsley, my 4th grade teacher, who made sure we knew about African kings and queens and other great figures that supplemented his teachings on people like Renaissance man Paul Robeson, blues singer Bessie Smith, singer and actress Ethel Waters and surgeon Daniel Hale Williams. Learning about these black contributions to the world had me reading on my own to find out more. Though my mom would often say, “People are people are people,” her way of expressing that skin color shouldn’t color our love or create hate toward a certain group of people, my daddy held firm to his hatred for systemic racism, which he often targeted toward white people. I know my mom’s ability to see people and not just race helped to curb my black militant leaning, but I have never shirked my vocal or physical expression of being black and proud.

I have taken for granted my long-time knowledge and feelings and naturally have shared with my sons, but last week, when reading a news article my 11-year-old said he didn’t know who the Tuskegee Airmen were, I felt I had failed in my teaching. I know that at 11 my oldest son may not know everything that I know about black history, but I have to be more intentional about imparting this knowledge to him. I have tried to walk the fine line of truth with hate and pride on either side. I have wanted him and his brothers to know the history, its glory and goriness, without causing them to fall into deep pride or hate. Not always knowing how to do that has caused me to not teach as aggressively as I believe I should. I have not tapped into the greatest power in the universe—God in me—for direction on this. After seeing I needed help, I have asked the Holy Spirit to help me teach my sons what they need to learn, how they need to learn it and when they need to learn it. I will use to anchor my black history lessons my perpetual teaching that from the blood of one man came all nations of men so they know greatness resides in us all and, because of the fall of man, sin resides in us all (Acts 17:24-26; Genesis 3). I know to love them is to teach them and that includes black history, not just in February, Black History Month in the United States, but always.

As my daddy would say to his all white classes where students would lament about having to learn about blacks and Native Americans, “When are we going to get to American history?”: “Black history is American history” and we know that it is also world history. History is the stories of all peoples. Therefore, we all need to know black history for our better individual and collective selves. There is no truth and love in erasure for comfort’s sake, only deception, oppression and delusion. No one can fully live without trying to fully love, and teaching—then living—the truth helps us to do that.

Take a Risk Challenge: Go beyond your comfort zone and teach black history to someone else. If you need to begin with you, teach yourself so you can teach another. Teaching history of a consistently marginalized people is a radical act of love.