Stay Fly Girls!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Treasure Trove

“And so, since God in His mercy has given us this wonderful ministry, we never give up.

We reject all shameful and underhanded methods.

We do not try to trick anyone and we do not distort the word of God.

We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know that.

If the Good News we preach is veiled from anyone, it is a sign that they are perishing. Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, so that they are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News that is shining upon them. They don’t understand the message we preach about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. We don’t go around preaching about ourselves; we preach Christ Jesus, the Lord. All we say about ourselves is that we are your servants because of what Jesus has done for us.

For God who said “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made us understand that this light is the brightness of the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. But this precious treasure – this light and power that now shines within us – is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So that everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own.

We are pressured on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken.

We are perplexed but we do not give up and quit.

We are hunted down, but God never abandons us.

We get knocked down but we get up again and keep going.

Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”

2 Corinthians 4:1-10

Our gracious Father has buried in each of us a treasure trove of resources to be used to glorify His kingdom. We are the light! We have His power harnessed within us! God knew when He planned your salvation that the power He was giving you would be held in a weak and perishable body, but oh how His goodness can prove to be a match for your sinful nature. When you demonstrate the power and strength that God has placed in you, and deny your fleshly desires and nature, you show others how God works. Both believers and non-believers will see that God is working in you.

You cannot do it on your own.

How many of us have failed miserably trying to show God just how good and worthy we could be? I can admit that my failures never seemed to end, but everything changed when I put my trust in Christ Jesus. God never abandons us. He is there to motivate when we feel down, reassure when we start to falter, guide when we need direction.

You have been given a wonderful ministry and you have been bought into the kingdom of God with a high price. You must never give up in your pursuit of the kingdom and in doing God’s work to claim our fellow man.

Now hop to it girls! Go get in the game.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Pick of The Litter - Part II

“The Lord Almighty says…”A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master, but where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have despised my name. But you ask, ‘How have we despised your name?’ You have despised my name by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices?’ You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect.” Malachi 1: 6-7

For those of you who have been eagerly awaiting this post, in-boxing me, stalking me, stopping me on the street, begging for Part II, here you are. For those of you who missed Part I, take a look then read on :-)…

So after reading our first message some of you may be thinking, “Well what does God want me to do?  Cancel my membership with the Gamma Phi Beta group?  Drop out of the classes I just signed up for?  Not socialize with anyone, just read my bible and pray all day?”  Noooo… But He does expect you to prioritize your life and activities so that He is your first thought, not an afterthought.

Your thoughts dictate your actions, we all know that.  Give your Creator the blessing of your FIRST thoughts, your BEST time, your MOST EFFECTIVE efforts.  When you serve and volunteer at your church or local charity do it with a smile and a joyful heart.  No one wants to hear about how tired you are from work or how much your feet hurt from walking though the mall.  God doesn’t want to hear it either! (ok, let me qualify that...He wants you to pray about it, asking for His assistance in getting through the situation, but no blatant complaining.)  “You say ‘It’s too hard to serve the Lord’ and you turn up your noses at His commands,” says the Lord Almighty” Malachi 1:13a.  God has already seen the actions of people with this mindset and He has left us plenty of examples in the bible for review.  The bible spells it out for you, but only the Holy Spirit can convict you to do better.  God knows your heart. You do too.  If you know you are cheating God by committing to all other activities/ events/ goals besides His ultimate goal of glory and service for His kingdom, then it is time to readjust.

It may seem hard, or darn near impossible, but test God on this.  He will multiply your time and you will be amazed at the benefit! Give God the beginning of your day in prayer and meditation. Devote your best hours of each day and every week to joyful service for His kingdom.  Honor God’s name by giving Him the pick of the litter. Get the best strawberry, wash it off and slice it up, then give it to God!  Imagine, planting the seeds from your best fruit will reap the most beautiful harvest you have ever seen.

“Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold onto what is good.”
1 Thessalonians 5: 19-21

Stay fly girls!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Yeah, Yeah, I know, "The devil is a liar"...

"Be alert and sober of mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

So it is no revelation that just as there is the existence of God and His angels, there is the existence of satan and his demons. Hopefully, we believers can all agree on that. Right? Well...because I can sense a slight bit of resistance from some of you (I see you back there! Yeah, you.) let's discuss today the penchant for some Christians to ignore the devil and his efforts to wreck havoc on the world.

During a conversation with a friend and classmate a while ago, the topic arose of satan's continued efforts to manipulate the minds and actions of people everywhere. My comment that we believers are not excluded, and are even targeted, was met with her response: "There you go with that devil stuff...". What? I went on to expound on my point and remind her that the devil is not only real, but that he is "prowling around like a roaring lion looking some victim to devour." Needless to say she was not impressed.

Of course, many well-meaning Christians believe that "the devil is a liar" and all that, but what else do they believe? It seems like far fewer believers in Christ are willing to confidently proclaim their understanding of satan's sole mission: "to steal, to kill, and to destroy." (John 10:10). But to steal, kill, and destroy what, you ask? Steal your dreams. Kill your hopes. Destroy your progress towards the mission God has set before you.

Job 1:7 reminds us that satan is busy "roaming about on the earth and walking around on it"...And don't think that he won't worm his way into your happy little Jesus party.

"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and satan also came among them." Job 1:6

So there! Look over your shoulder, the folks in your circle may not all be saints. I'm just saying...

God has ultimate power over all things, yes. But recognize that satan was cast down to earth after being booted out of heaven and that dude is bitter. If he thought leading a revolt against God was going to work you know he is not going to play fair with you. We as believers have to recognize that satan will wiggle his tricky behind into anything he can get his hands (or hooves) on. Stop thinking that you can go about your merry way and he's going to be sitting on a park bench whistling for you to come over! He's much more subtle than that. Satan will:
- Cause your friends to not call you on your birthday so that you will want to curse them out.
- Proceed to get your dog to pee on your rug, just for you to step in it with bare feet, and cause you to miss bible study because you're cleaning up the mess. (okay, so maybe that only happens to me...)
- Try to allow bitterness and resentment toward your family to keep you from sharing the gospel with them.
- Have you thinking that the only way to get the attention of a fine young man is to flaunt your God given physical assets and give him access to them before marriage.
Recognize his craftiness ladies.

The next time the devil comes around trying to mess with you just put him on notice, "Get behind me satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests but man's." Matthew 16:23. Understand his mission, don't succumb to his foolery, and keep a level head. The devil IS a liar, but he's a hater too; don't drink the hater-ade.

Stay Fly Girls!

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Pick of the Litter – Part 1

“The Lord Almighty says to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. I am your father and master, but where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have despised my name! But you ask ‘How have we ever despised your name?’ v.7 You have despised my name by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices?’ You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect."  Malachi 1: 6-7

If given the choice on any given day we would choose to pick the best options that are available. The best apple in the barrel. The best strawberry in the basket. The best outfit in the closet. Right? We are far less likely to reach to the back of the closet for the tired, run over shoes from a few years ago to wear to a party. We are going to immediately reach for the cute, fresh ones we bought a few weeks ago! Of course. We want the pick of the litter for ourselves. Likewise we should give the pick of the litter to God.

Malachi 1:7 begins our discussion on how we should consider what we give to God:

V.7 “You have despised my name by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar.”

During this time sacrifices of animals were the custom and requirement for atonement. The giver, a believer in God, would give a living sacrifice to God as an offering on His alter. Things started going wrong when someone came up with the idea of sparing the best and instead offering the leftovers. Let’s be honest, if we were in the days of biblical times many of us would think “Why hand over my prettiest, fluffiest, fattest sheep/ goat/ ox as an offering? I could use that skin for a nice handbag, the fur to make a lovely sweater, and uh-huh, wouldn’t that make a month’s worth of delicious dinner for the family…I think I’ll offer the sickly little animal over there in the corner. Yeah, him. I can’t do much with that one, so I can just bring that as an offering and call it a day.” Now, may the Lord richly bless you if you think this is an appalling mindset; and may He also richly bless those of us who can be honest with ourselves and admit that we would have more than likely taken the above approach.

V. 8 “When you give blind animals as sacrifices isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord Almighty.”

So let’s put all of this in perspective for us modern women – you know, without the sheep and goats and oxen. Let’s look at our time and energy as our offering to God. God has blessed us with abundant life and resources to enjoy this life HE has given. When we hop out of bed, prepare for our workday or big event, push ourselves like mad women all day, then come home and fall into bed with barely enough energy to say our prayers, we are cheating Him. If I’m on the computer all day, uploading pictures of my great weekend outing or corresponding with friends, but don’t take the time to read and meditate on God’s word, I am cheating Him. I am giving God second best when I run all over town, to this event and that meeting, having brunch with the girls, setting up my plans for the rest of the weekend, but then don’t have time to attend church because ‘Sunday is the only day I get to sleep in and recover from my busy week’. Our Lord has made it amazingly clear in Malachi 1:12 “But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it is alright to defile the Lord’s table.”

Let’s put a bookmark in that until next week ladies… (a little cliffhanger for those who like adventure!)

By God’s grace you will take the opportunity to worship this Sunday at your local church. It’s Resurrection Sunday y’all, this is what it’s all about for us Christians! Put on something jazzy and praise the Lord for sending His Son as a sacrifice for our sins.

Stay fly girls ;-)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The speck and The board (subtitle: Deal with your baggage girl!)

"And why worry about a speck in your friends eye, when you have a board in your own?"  Matthew 7:3

In the grand (and even not so grand) scheme of things, all of us have an Achilles heel.  That thing, or things, that can make us not only fall off of the wagon but jump off of it and then try to walk instead of just hopping back on...Some of you know what I'm saying!  One woman might not be able to control herself if a gallon of ice cream is in the vicinity - she will kick off her shoes, curl up on the sofa with a spoon and a dishtowel (to wrap around the carton so her hands won't get cold), then zone out into her own little world.  Another woman will melt into a puddle of sugar, spice, and all things nice when a handsome man walks into the room - with a flip of her hair and the bat of an eyelash she won't focus on anything but getting him to focus on her; a slow sache across the room to catch his eye, a brush against his shoulder, an extra chuckle or notable comment, a sly cross of the legs, anything to get his attention.  Neither of these women sound like you, huh?  Seems a little pathetic to you?  Maybe you can't imagine a woman would stoop to that level, but what may be incomprehensible in your view may be a way of life for someone else.  Criticism is a hill of rough terrain - the longer you travel on its path the bumpier the ride gets. 

"Judge not, that you not be judged."  Matthew 7:1.  This passage of scripture is so basic that it is confusing to some.  Let's look at the concept of the speck and the board and really break this thing down...

Matthew 7:3 "And why worry about the speck in your friend's eye when you have a board in your own?"  Duly noted.  But what if your friend calls attention to her "speck" and asks for advice/ feedback/ help with her speck?  Well, I'm glad you have asked such a poinient question missy!
Matthew 7:4  "How can you think of saying, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye' when you can't see past the board in your own eye?"  So before we go running around, looking down at the woman that has lost one too many battles with Breyer's, we must analyze ourselves for the boards in our own eyes.

In verse 5 of the same passage Jesus calls this person a hypocrite. An He's serious about it!  A hypocrite is defined as 1. a person who pretends to have virtues, morals, or religious beliefs, principles, etc, that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs  2. a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.

In review, it is hypocritical to bad mouth/ criticize/ look down on: a) an overweight person if you are an indulger in something that may not show on your physical exterior. b) a single woman with several children if you have had abortions, close calls, or multiple sex partners. c) a woman wearing a skirt that is too short/ top that is too low/ pants that are too tight if you seek attention in other ways like demeaning others to boost yourself up.  Get the picture?

Matthew 7:5 "First get rid of the board from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friends eye."  I see this last verse as a message of assistance rather than one of admonition.  I used to think the message was "Stop worrying about fixing everyone else until you fix yourself!"  But now I see it from a whole new perspective.  Think of an airplane oxygen mask.  When you take a plane, the instruction for dealing with a loss in cabin pressure is to place your mask on first before making an attempt to help others with their masks.  This is not because it is 'every man for himself', it's because I can be of no use to others if I am going down while trying to help them out.  Likewise, if I have recognized my board - overeating/ overspending/ lusting of the eyes and flesh - and am working to remove it, I will have more compassion for what the person with the speck is going through and be able to share with them the power that God gives to overcome the specks and boards in the eyes of life.

As followers of Christ we are tasked to help strengthen and build His kingdom.  Blind builders with specks and boards in their eyes are pretty ineffective... As we are working get our eyes board free we are to also be compassionate towards others around us who are working to do the same.  I'm praying for you ladies!  With God all things are possible.

Stay fly girls!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Co-Minglers

Judges 2:2  " You were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead you were to destroy their alters.  Why have you disobeyed my command?"

Not too many years ago there was a message that was prevalent in American culture: "Separate, but equal."  This message, and subsequent judicial ruling used to justify or explain segregation, held sometimes opposing connotations by the two races it effected.  For black and white America it allowed the two races to function in separate worlds with their own economies and cultural norms.  Well... we know how all that turned out.  But let us rewind a few more years, how about a few more centuries, and look back at the Israelites and the mandate God gave them to live apart from pagan society.

Judges 2:1-3  " The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim with a message for the Israelites.  He told them "I brought you out of Egypt into this land I swore to give your ancestors, and I said I would never break my covenant with you.  For your part, you were not to make any covenants with people living in this land; instead you were to destroy their altars.  Why then have you disobeyed my command?  Since you have done this, I will no longer drive out the people living in your land.  They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you."

Oh, how we see that God means business when He gives us guidelines to follow.  Verse 1 outlines God's promise - He will never break His covenant with us, verse 2 tells us His parameters - don't make covenants with these people, and verse 3 lays down the penalty for not following His guidance - the people who have invaded will be constant thorns in our sides.  God instructed His holy people to go and take over the territory He had given them.  For one reason or another, fear/ laziness/ disobedience, they did not do exactly what God told them to do, so what happened... Read Judges 1: 19-36 and take a look at how the Israelites compromised in their task.  Not only did they disobey God by not destroying the alters of the pagan gods in the land, but they began to worship these gods (Judges 2:12-13, 19) and even commingle with he people of the lands they were occupying (Judges 3:5).  Now, now, don't be so judgemental!  Take that look of shock and dismay off your face.  What? You can't believe that God's chosen people would so flagrantly disobey His rules, huh?  Just think, after all of the blessings and favor God has showered upon them, they make it a point to go an live any kind of way.  Hmph!  Some nerve, right?

Well let's take a look at our present day culture.  As Christians, we are to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-14).  "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16.  Yet how many of us allow ourselves to commingle so seamlessly into the culture that we are no more recognizable than a needle in a haystack.  We can become so entrenched in the worldview and culture around us that we compromise our own sense of religion and Christ's influence on our lives.  God has called us to set ourselves apart from the world at large - figuratively.  Although the though of moving to a state, country, or continent of only disciples of Christ sounds appealing (I think...), that's just not something that is going to happen.  So in the meantime, we must work against the system that can so easily ensnare us. 

This is our test. 

Can we seek God in the times when a little compromise could lead to a large setback?  " The Lord left certain nations in the land to test those Israelites who had not participated in the wars of Canaan... These people were left to test the Israelites - to see whether they would obey the commands the Lord had given to their ancestors through Moses." Judges 3:1 & 4.  How are you doing on your test?  We have been called to set ourselves apart - apart from the worldly, the un-Godly, the hedonistic.  It's not easy honey (trust me, I know firsthand), but as we focus on God and not the lusts of our eyes and flesh, we gain the strength we need to move forward.  So enough with all this commingling!  Separate yourself from that which hinders your progress toward he high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Start shutting those pagan idols down!  You know, in a Godly type of way...with finesse ;-) 

Stay fly girls!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The New Normal

2 Timothy 4:3-4
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."

It's interesting to me when the Bible starts pointing fingers.  Not necessarily at us, but at "them".  "They", them, *their*, not you, me, or I, of course.  It's like putting us on notice in a 'round about, passive aggressive type of way... I like to think of it as conviction.

Today's passage, my lovelies, is an ominous revelation into what has become our present society.  Our dear Paul is mentoring Timothy in the ways of the Lord and on how to lead his people. Paul is commanding and encouraging Timothy to preach the word - to "convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching" 2 Timothy 4:2b - and not to dilute it or stray from it.  Should be simple: unroll the scrolls or pull down the tablets from the bookshelf and tell the congregation what they say. Easy peasy, right?!

Well in a perfect, sinless, heavenly world it might be that easy (key word: might).  But you and I both know that A&E (Adam & Eve) changed the game and put an end to sinless perfection.  So here is Timothy in a town with a church that needs some guidance.  And there is Paul, in jail for preaching the gospel of Christ and sticking to his convictions.  If that were you and there was some dude or lady in prison calling you (collect more than likely...), telling you how to be a leader, how would you feel about it?  Maybe a little sceptical about what they were saying?  Maybe just a little.

The challenge that we face as believers, spiritual mentors, and individuals in today's society is that it becomes easy to boost up the people and ideas that conform to our way of life and way of thinking.  If I am an over eater and indulge my cravings for food with reckless abandon, I am inclined to ascribe to a doctrine that allows for my indulgences.  Likewise, if I am tired of my husband and am ready to peace-out, I am inclined to ascribe to a doctrine that allows for me to leave my spouse.  We are prone to link ourselves to the ideologies that are in accordance with the way we want to live.  We would rather support a lie that allows for us to live in comfort than adhere to God's rules that bring us closer to perfection.  This is what Paul was getting at when he sent this message to Timothy.

"According to their own desires...they will turn their ears away from the truth..."

And just to be clear, Paul's "they" and "their" is talking about us, that's you and me. FYI.

As believers we have to be mindful to adhere to the gospel. Even if what we read in the Bible or hear in a biblical message convicts us about an area that needs improvement we must comply.  Don't be "turned aside by fables" which is bible talk for "don't believe the hype" or "don't fall for the lie".  The devil is crafty and he will plant seeds of disobedience and rebellion in your heart that will cause your mind to regard sin as acceptable.  Sin is unavoidable - but it is also not to be touted as an acceptable way of life.  The bar has been set so low for levels of acceptable behavior, attire, and speech that it is hard to follow Godly guidance instead of the ungodly.  Spiritually discern and analyze with scripture any leader, mentor, or general guidance you receive.  God has given us a measuring stick - The Bible!  Use it as your baseline and you will gain God's perspective and not the world's.

2 Timothy 3:16-17  "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." NKJV

Stay Fly Girls! And Happy New Year ;-)