Challenge 81: Look Up

Henri Meilhac

Our second car has been in the shop for a week getting some engine work done so I’ve been taking my husband to work so I can have the car during the day. We were delayed because he couldn’t find his pouch (AKA man bag, or, as I call it, man purse). We checked his normal spot, and we checked unusual spots all to no avail. We concluded that he left it in the unlocked car overnight and someone must have stolen it. I thought about the credit and debit cards we’d have to cancel and get reissued; I thought about his having to get another license; and I thought about all of what might be in the pouch that we couldn’t even remember. Then I heard, “Look up.” I did, and there it was on top of the refrigerator. Our son must have placed it there when he cleaned the kitchen. We don’t know why he placed it there because that is not a usual space. We are just glad that we listened and looked up.

And this is what we must do: Look up. When we find ourselves lost, look up. When we don’t know where to go, look up. When things are misplaced in our lives, look up. When we find ourselves delayed, on someone else’s time schedule and all together thrown off, look up. Look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. If He is the object of our faith, He is the One who will get us through so that we live out the faith we have proclaimed. We don’t need to fret. We just need to turn to the One who knows all and sees all and will show us where we need to look and be. God is faithful. Allow Him to show you his faithfulness today by looking up!

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).

Challenge 80: Water Your Garden

Flowers make me happy. Seeing them, smelling them and touching them excite my insides and make me smile. This has been the case since I was a little girl. Most neighbors on my block didn’t have flowers in garden beds or pots, but more than a few had lilac bushes, and we had one in our own backyard. I would pick and sniff the bouquets throughout the day between bouts of picking the petals in the little girl quiz of “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” to determine if my crush indeed loved me too.

The lilac bush was the ONLY pretty thing in nature around our house because it was there when my parents bought the house. My mother was not domestic at all: Cleaning; cooking; nor crafting was her thing, and there was no reason for her to test external home skills by trying to plant some flowers. Though I cook and can clean well based on what she taught me, my interest in cultivating plants didn’t come from her. I learned from my grandmothers. My mom and dad’s mom both planted petunias and watered them daily, and the flowers grew large and pungent scents. After my husband, Flynn, and I bought our house, I wanted the beauty of flowers and feeling they bring, so Granny, Flynn’s grandmother, created flower beds complete with pavers, bought and planted flowers, and demonstrated and explained to me everything she did. I remember what she taught me, including the need to water plants daily in 80 plus degree weather. Though I learned well, I have not applied well these lessons this year.

This year I have two flower pots with mismatched flowers (I got one set from my neighbor) when I usually have five well-crafted flower pots and beds. And the flowers are only surviving from the rains we have every few days. The plants are yet holding on, but they could be thriving if I took a few minutes to water and fertilize them. A few minutes a day to water and another few minutes every few weeks to fertilize them would sustain their lives where their beauty and scents would always be prevalent. To get them to where they need to be doesn’t take much. But the question is, “Do I really like the look and smell of flowers as much as I say I do?” If I like the look and smell, why won’t I do what’s necessary to cultivate the look and smell for my benefit and the benefit of my neighbors?” Of course we can ask ourselves the same thing when we aren’t doing something to nourish what we claim to love.

Why won’t we make that green smoothie to develop the body we love? Why won’t we make that call to show that friend we care? Why won’t we study the Bible to grow in our knowledge of God? Why won’t we pray to grow in our intimacy with God? You know I could go on with all the questions to inquire about why we haven’t watered our various gardens, but I need you to ask yourself your own questions. You need to know what is keeping you from the few minutes daily and more intense times periodically to water your gardens. It is disingenuous to say we love something but don’t show that we love something. We know love when we see love, and we know that love is happening because some action is happening. We know when someone has taken the time to nurture something. Let’s strive to be that person who, when people see us, they know we have well-watered gardens. They know we have taken time to care for our bodies; they know we have taken time to invest in relationships; they know we have taken time to strengthen our spirits; they know that we often encounter God.

“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God” (Ephesians 5:2 NLT).

Just as Jesus died because He loved us and His bodily sacrifice was “a pleasing aroma to God,” let us love ourselves and others so radically that we, like my well-cultivated flowers are to me, are a wonderful smell for God and the watching world.

Challenge 79: Free to Choose Freedom

“O LORD, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains”–Psalm 116:6

Broken chains

Freedom is beautiful. I was happy to be able to wake up today and decide what I wanted to do. I woke up about two hours after I normally do; rode my bike longer than I normally do; and came home when I decided I wanted to. Waking up and doing what we want doesn’t happen often for many of us. We have to go to work and report to a supervisor. We have to take children to school and various other appointments. We have meetings, weddings, reunions, and a host of other obligations where we simply aren’t free to do what we want. But today is your day of freedom. Maybe you are off work because of the 4th of July holiday, and the children are home from school, and they have no extracurricular activities that you have to drive them to. You may even be invited to a cookout so you don’t have to cook. Today is your day of freedom. Even if you have to work today, today is your day of freedom. You may not have had the choice to not work today, but you are free to choose so many other things. You are free to choose your attitude. You are free to choose your friends. You are free to choose to grow. You are free to choose freedom.

I want to focus on that last line: You are free to choose freedom. We need to know that. Too many of us have been comfortable with our bondages that they feel normal to us. They are a part of our life and we don’t know what we would do without them. We are used to being angry. We are used to unfaithful friends. We are used to bad lovers. We are used to the yelling, the screaming, the hitting, the threatening, the rage. We are used to abuse. Any time you are bound to something that is oppressing your body, soul or spirit, you are enslaved. You are enslaved when these forces are causing you to sin or when sin is perpetually acted upon you and you allow it. This is the yoke of slavery. Today, you are free to choose freedom. You do not have to remain in unloved and unwanted situations that bring harm to your body, soul and spirit. You do not have to remain connected to attitudes based on old memories and people who mean you no good. Today is your day of freedom.

For the believer in Jesus Christ, freedom is our new birth right. Jesus said of Himself, “The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. . .” (Luke 4:18). Jesus came to die to take away our sins. He came so the poor wouldn’t be disconnected from the gospel; to heal the brokenhearted; to share deliverance to the captives; so the blind would see, and so those broken by calamity would be set free. He came so that all who believe in Him would be free and would remain free. “Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1 HCSB). We have this power by His Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39; Philippians 2:13).

Therefore, choose your freedom. Connect with those who will help you out of your bondages. Talk to a real friend. Make an appointment with a counselor. Move. Choose joy! Just do it one act at a time. It’s likely you have been in the land of bondage for quite some time so it’s likely that it will take some time to be set free. The first step is for you to decide that you want to be free, to choose the freedom that Jesus Christ died for you to have. This is your choice. You may not celebrate the 4th of July as it was intended to be celebrated: to acknowledge those early British settlers who fought to be free of British rule on American soil. But let their fight spark a fight in you to be free. Today is your day of freedom. You are free to choose freedom. Make that choice today.


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.
“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

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 76: Fight Wickedness

Human Trafficking

Sin can be overwhelming, mine and the whole reckless world that only cares about self-satisfaction, fleshy needs that make the body feel good and line personal pockets at the expense of anyone, everyone, who can fulfill their desires. Some days the weight of this ugliness, this wretchedness falls heavy on me and I find myself wanting to lie down, pull up the covers and hide. But there’s no hiding from self and the world that grows more wicked by the minute and counts on people who care about folks being oppressed for their benefit simply rolling over and letting them flow in their wickedness.

But God commands His people to “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17) and we know that Jesus, whose hands and feet we are, came “to preach the gospel to the poor. . . .to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised…”

So I challenge you, like I have challenged myself today, to get actively involved (if you haven’t already) in actions that end wicked practices, like the global problems of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. One my friends, upon reading about the still missing 234 school girls in Nigeria who were kidnapped two weeks ago, said on Facebook, “Can someone recommend what else can be done outside of raising awareness about this travesty? These young ladies are no doubt being trafficked and abused. Feeling helpless.” So I suggest the following:

Read the blog series “Refuse to Do Nothing,” by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, based on the book by the same name with the subtitle ‘Finding the Power to End Modern-Day Slavery,’ by Shayne Moore and Kimberly McOwen Yim.
Contact Minetta Hare or Sabrina Black to join forces with their work against human trafficking
Pray Psalms 10 and 82
Believe the Lord to move on our behalf (Psalm 73, 145:20)

We can never roll over and disconnect from what’s happening around us. We have the greatest power in the universe living on the inside of us. Let’s fight this battle in the spirit and see God’s power manifest through us. Fighting wickedness is undoubtedly 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
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