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Monthly Archives: June 2014

DAY 16 SOUL FAST – BELIEVING

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Each time that I’ve evolved to a new level of accomplishment, being, change – I decided to with resolve. It was necessary. I was determined to and so it was. Was the catalyst for the change that happened in my life God or me? In some instances, I’m not sure. Especially, since I find myself struggling to break the plane of mediocrity into the dynamic, divine realm of Spiritual empowerment. Sometimes, I feel as if my car has slipped down unto an incline on soft soil. No matter how hard I hit the accelerator, I’m slinging dirt from up under my wheels. My car isn’t going more than a few inches before it slides back to exactly the same spot. I’m not sliding down hill, but yet I’m not moving forward either. At least not in the way I want or need to.

So the question before me is why have I only been able to accomplish some of what God has tasked me with? Why haven’t I made leaps and bounds in the kingdom? Why am I not yet a living legend but rather still a legend in the making? Perhaps because greatness can only be achieved by engaging in faith that is activated by a real belief in God. That’s what the great ones possessed. Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David all had this in common. I cannot be convinced, that I don’t believe in God! That’s the fundamental element of who I am. With My basic belief being established, perhaps my real issue is selective believing. Believing in a God that’s comfortable to me. However, can I believe Him all the time for things that are outside of my ability to see with my natural eyes? Can I believe Him to accomplish things that I can only be done with His undergirding and empowerment? Things that He has to bankroll in the spirit. I’m not talking about the presumptuous faith, given in many examples that compares it with a chair. I sit in any chair, without checking its structure, because I’m sure that it’ll hold my weight. I do this, because I know, that based on my experience that I can assume that any chair will hold me.

I hate listening to this example every time I hear it. It’s not a good example. It over simplifies my relationship with God. God cannot take me past where I believe I can go. He may plan to, but if I cannot envision myself there – it won’t happen. My active belief is required. It cannot be static. What it boils down to is, do I in fact believe the God that I profess to believe? The truth. If I believed that God is who He says He is; and that He can do what He says He can do. Then I in turn would believe, unequivocally that I am who God says I am. I can do what God says I can do. I would not be drowning in the lake of mediocrity right about now! Real belief in God happens through deep, meaningful relationship with Him. How else can I really get know Him? In this relationship with Him there are boundaries. If I continue to behave independently of Him our relationship doesn’t fare well. My relationship with Him has been only limited by me. It would be a cop out to say that it didn’t work because of Him; then blame Him for my shortcomings and failures. In actuality it’s been my lack of commitment to the relationship that has stifled me. Sometimes, my spirit hasn’t even been willing coupled with my flesh being weak. If I can just tell the truth, there were many things that I enjoyed doing in the world. It’s been hard to give some stuff up, pick up my cross and follow Him. So my challenge is to BELIEVE the God, I profess to believe! Not when it feels good or is convenient. I have to believe He is who He is and means what He says when it means reordering my life and submitting myself wholly to Him. Believe Him enough to trust that the things that He’s asking me to give up aren’t conducive to the healthy, productive lifestyle that I want my children to model. There’s no comparison even where I am now, not having attained God’s optimal life for myself to my best day living in the world. I believe that the only way to live a life of true authenticity is through Christ.

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DAY 15 SOUL FAST – SENSES

 

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Peace is to JOY as drama is to unrest. Chaos is to confusion as love is to happiness. I’ve lived on each end of the emotional spectrum. Some places in between as well. They’ve been tough to manage at times. Appropriate, misplaced as well. Whether right or wrong, I’ve always been able to justify them in my mind, as long as I was getting what I thought I couldn’t do without. Searching for love and happiness has driven me to make many wrong choices. My desire for peace and joy has as well. In each instance, I could justify and defend what I did. Even when the outcome hurt someone else. That’s happened quite a bit too. Being ruled by emotions has always eventually led to personal disaster. It left no room for me to exercise my good sense or reason. God gave me the ability to SENSE – to feel, so that I could enjoy life. When I’ve failed to exercise self-control, they’ve served as a means of oppression; robbing me of the joy they were designed to give me. Anytime that I’m operating from a place other than my spiritual center, I’m off balance. Realigning myself is not as easy as it seems. Reeling in feelings that have been out there is difficult – especially when they are wrong.

This Jesus journey can be rough. It’s not always easy to ascribe to integrity and righteousness. Heaven help me, there are some people that I just don’t like. During this past year when I was taking night classes, I left my son in the care of one of my church sisters that I thought I could trust. Her boyfriend felt like he needed to discipline my eight year old son and choked him. The police told me from the beginning that it was one of those cases that they’d probably not be able to bring to trial. They were right. I went through the roof!  My understanding was zero. My first thoughts were not vengeance is mine saith the Lord. Nor were my feelings those of forgiveness. Talk about a test – that was it! God had to really work with me on that one. He still is. No matter where I go to get groceries, I see them and they always smile and say “hello.” Part of exercising self- control in this instance is cutting my shopping short and leaving the store.

I have to tune in carefully to my emotions. They will deceive me if I let them. I had a colleague that I got along with fabulously well. We worked great together and became friends. We could laugh and talk for hours if time permitted. There was never a lull in the conversation. He was interesting, fun to be around, and wasn’t bad on the eyes either. As time passed, I realized that we were spending a lot of time together. Perhaps too much. Everything was above board. However, I’m single – he’s married. So I thought it best if I put some distance between us for posterity’s sake. I didn’t want or need the slightest inkling of any indiscretion. Even though his wife knew me and said she had no issues with our friendship. In this instance, wisdom prevailed. I can’t always say it has. I know me and also human nature. Given the right set of circumstances anyone can be vulnerable. In this season of my life my mantra is to do no harm. I seek redemption, not from sin. I know that I’m saved. I know that God has forgiven me for the intentional/unintentional harm that I’ve caused people. I find healing in repairing the breaches; in restoring whatever relationships that I can. I’ve left some too deeply wounded to even want to see or speak to me. My due diligence in those circumstances is to quietly close the door behind me. To leave them alone and look for opportunities in my day to day where I can make it up. It’s not required; however, it brings me much joy.

 

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DAY 14 SOUL FAST – IMAGING

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When I was younger, travelling in a southern state visiting with my mother’s kin folk, somewhere in the conversation I’d hear, ”you look just like your momma, girl!” At times in my life, when I wasn’t acting the way my mother thought I should, she’d say, “you’re just like your daddy!” You reckon?! Undoubtedly, all such declarations were true. When I was conceived, through DNA replication my parent’s cells were duplicated and disbursed to me. I didn’t have the least bit of control, over what physical or character traits I received from either of them. I’m sure if I did, I would have chosen different ones from each. I used to resent those remarks, as my children do now. So I make it a point never to make comparisons to my children of their father or me. At least, I try not to. However, at this point in my life, I’m not mad about it. I am okay with who I am.  The interesting thing is that I haven’t heard my mother make those remarks for many a moon. I’m her daughter now!

Through my conversion experience, I was born again. In other words, I was given an influx of new DNA by God via the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In theory, I took off the old Melba and was made brand new. In actuality, during the transference process; I was not made fully aware of exactly what I was given. I didn’t know who the new me was supposed to be. Nor did I know, what I had. This new DNA contained God’s essence. Everything that He is. His IMAGE. The problem was that my behavior didn’t change at least right away. In some respects it got worst, just as someone who has received a kidney transplant. As the kidney is acclimating itself to the body, often times the body rejects it. The body recognizes it as a kidney, but not the same malfunctioning kidney that it’s accustomed to. The new, functioning kidney is foreign. My biggest barrier to change has always been the unfamiliarity of it. It just makes me feel funny. Change has been good in my life, nevertheless uncomfortable. At times it’s been so uncomfortable that it was easier going backwards than forward.

What I love about Christianity is that it’s all inclusive. God extends the invitation of sonship, figuratively speaking, to anyone who wants it. I don’t have to be an Ivy League graduate, nor do I have to provide a bank statement. All I need do, is come from wherever I am, just as I am. God will receive me with open arms. However, His expectation is that I not remain the same. It would be a tragic end, after all that I’ve been through in the world, to end the journey in the same condition that I started it. To not grow. With all of God’s vast, unlimited resources available to me, to not tap into them. The question is, how do I do that? This is a question that I’ve personally pondered for some time. As a matter a fact that’s why I’m on this 40 Day Soul Fast, because I haven’t quite got there.

When I had gotten down the road a ways on this journey, I realized that something very important was missing. Something was wrong. Although I attended church regularly, my life was still not working. Part of the reason was my process in studying the Bible. I read it not to extract its truth, but looking for loopholes that would allow me to keep doing what I wanted to do. I wanted to redress my old lifestyle. Just pretty it up a little bit. I skipped over the parts that I didn’t like. The parts that highlighted the stuff that I was doing, that I knew was wrong. I began asking a simple question of every person, I thought I should know. The people that seemed thoroughly enmeshed in church. I asked ministers, deacons, and old people. I got a different answer from each. None of the answers I received, answered my question. I had no choice, but to do the research myself. One day I went to a half price book store, near a college campus and found just what I needed. It was a Thompson Chain-Reference Bible. Once I started studying it, I’ve never had to ask anyone that question again. I started studying to fix myself. Whatever, I was going thru, I sought and found the answer there. My process of healing had begun. It brought me thru deliverance, healing for my body and allowed me to restore my sanity.

On Day 14 of this Soul Fast, it’s the tool that I delve into at the beginning and end of each day. Gleaning from it the trues of who I really am in Christ. What it means to carry the DNA of the King of Kings. What it means to be an heir to this kingdom – this Royal Priesthood. Discovering what it means to be made in the image of God. What that actually looks like by His standards? What characteristics should I be exuding on a consistent basis? What is my greater responsibility in this world as child of God? After all, it’s not about me. God has called me for a great and noble purpose. One that I intend to fulfill.

 

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DAY 13 SOUL FAST – RESTING

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One of my earliest memories from childhood seared into my mind is the picture of me standing on our front porch. I was looking into the distance, through the open stucco keyhole window, incessantly biting my fingernails. I still remember the overwhelming feeling of heaviness. It was as if I had the whole world on my shoulders. A burden too heavy for a four year old little girl to carry. I have carried mine along with the burdens of others all thru life. Unloading few, adding more. Burdens that spoke to my worth and value as a human being. Pushing and pulling them along.  I’ve always attracted people with horrific childhood tragedies and dysfunctional lives. People that I never shrank from, because I understood what it’s like to be rejected and feel unloved. I had compassion, feeling compelled to help in any way I could. There were others that I wished, I had the good sense to have run from. My heart was in the right place. My intentions good; but perhaps my underlying motive was not quite right. Focusing on someone else relieved me of the responsibility to do the work on myself that was needed.

Inside of the well maintained yards and well-kept homes that I knew growing up, there was some sort of trouble. It may not always be obvious or of the same sort, but all families have issues. Children intuitively know when something is not quite right on the home front. It manifests itself in many different forms that sometimes even resembles normalcy. I was an over achiever. At the root of that was the need for acceptance, belonging and love. As I grew into womanhood my mouth may have said, “I can do all things thru Christ that strengthens me” but in actuality I was self-directed, fueled and motivated. I didn’t know what depending on someone especially a God I couldn’t see was supposed to look like. I felt it would make me weak. That I needed to pull my own weight. Once I felt like I understood what God’s vision was, I put Him in the back seat while I drove. I’d let Him know when I needed Him. After all, He had a lot more important things on His mind ruling the Universe. I wasn’t going to bother Him with trivial stuff that I can handle. I got this! I never realized that my life and what I was going through was not a little thing to God. I drove hard and fast thru life for thousands of miles and many a year without a meaningful check-in with God. Occasionally, I’d check the rear view mirror to make sure He was alright. He was still there, a little quiet though. I thought everything was all good.

I’ve always been hard headed. Sometimes I haven’t seen what was right in front of me. I may have heard Him trying to say something, but didn’t realize that He was talking to me. So God has used extremes to get my attention, sit me down – to remind me that I am not in control. Regardless of how self-sufficient I thought I was. The only time that I would REST in the Lord was when He made me. Proving to me that He’s more powerful than I am, and can body slam me to the ground whenever He wants to. During the last major retooling session; God leveled me out in two weeks. My position was eliminated without notice. I lost all my money in investments. The love of my life left me.  My car got hit. My children wouldn’t talk to me. Two of my teeth fell out so I couldn’t even pretend that everything was okay. He took away my smile. I had no choice but to bring my burdens to Him because I had lost the wherewithal to deal with anything on my own. When I came to the end of myself, it was finally okay to cry. It was such a relief to just let go and throw myself into the Father’s arms. It’s been during these times; when I’ve been at my weakest points in life, that God has proved Himself strong in my behalf. As things are coming up, I don’t try and manage them myself. Even the littlest things I put under His care. Sometimes, I don’t do it right away. When I start to feel any unrest or uncomfortableness in my spirit, I know that I’m carrying something that not mine it’s His.  Today, Lord, I can comfortably rest in you knowing for sure that You got me!

 

 

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DAY 12 SOUL FAST – RESTORING

 

restoration

My brother Fred, can build anything! It’s a gift. He intuitively knows how to do it. I remember when he purchased his first home and invited our family to come to see it. As we drove up the winding hills following his directions, our anticipation grew. We turned onto a little two lane road, our hearts swelling with pride that our brother could afford a home in the hills. The hills that we had looked up upon all our lives from the neighborhood we had been raised in down below. My mother was so proud. He had made it! We turned left onto his street, slowing the car down, eagerly looking for his address. To our surprise and our mother’s dismay we came to an abrupt stop. We all sat there in silence, then looked at one another. This can’t be it. Fred must have given us the wrong address. Then we looked at the house waiting for Jed, Granny, Elli Mae and Jethro to come out to greet us. It looked like the back woods shack that the Beverly Hillbillies had lived in before striking oil. Just then my brother burst out of the house with a huge grin on his face, looked at the expressions on our faces and laughed. None of us were smiling as we got out the car. We didn’t see nothing funny. As he invited us in for the tour, he knew that he had us all firmly on the hook. My mother was speechless.

The grand tour took all of a minute. When it ended, my mother asked Fred, in all her Southerness “What’s wrong with you, boy? What possessed you to buy this house? The place you got is better than this!” Fred smiled broadly at my mother, put his arm around her and said, “Momma this place has potential.” He pulled out a blueprint, rolled it out on the counter, and shared with us his vison for his dream house. The house that he intended to build. Shortly thereafter, he got busy tearing down every bit of that shack save the front with its foundation. A cement mason poured a new foundation. A plumber assembled all the water pipes. Every weekend for the next five years, Fred, along with two of my other brothers diligently hammered and nailed until the outside was finally complete. Fred then turned his attention to the inside. An electrician wired the house. However, Fred did the finishing work himself. He put in the sheetrock, laid the oak floors, installed the marble countertops, and beautiful brass fixtures throughout. He RESTORED that raggedy house beyond any grandeur it could have ever possessed, even when it was brand new.

I like that house, am in a state of disrepair. God is the Amazing Architect of my soul. His blueprint for my life is beyond what I can see or ever imagine. When He looks at me, He does so through the eyes of a Master Builder not as the foreman of a demolition crew. While some things, He was able to repair immediately. Most of the major reconstruction of my soul is being completed over a span of time with some areas being suitable for finishing work. Other areas, require removal of unnecessary fixtures. He is stripping down the frills of my life to what’s SIMPLE and functional. I have found that sometimes less is best. More has caused unnecessary clutter, destracted me from what’s really important and has taken too much to maintain. I’m under construction. With each day of this process, I remember to be kind to and patient with myself. I do so by blowing myself this K.I.S.S, KEEP IT SIMPLE SAINT!

 

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DAY 11 SOUL FAST – BECOMING

 

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I’m reminded of the day that I sat with my family surrounding me at the San Francisco Airport as we waited for my boarding call.  The night before, I had spent a sleepless night. My subconscious mind undoubtedly trying to manage my feelings of anxiety wondering if I had made the right decision to join the Army. As we sat there in silence, I looked into the worrisome face of my mother; masking the face of my own fear of the unknown.  New Jersey seemed like a world away.  I didn’t know at the time that my being shipped there was by the military’s strategic design. It was only by being sequestered from all that was familiar – comfortable, could I focus solely on mastering the skills needed to be an effective soldier. BECOMING a good soldier requires DISCIPLINE as does this process that I’m on to evolve and become the woman that God destined me to be.

 

I went thru Basic Training with a Platoon of two hundred women who were from all over the United States. We were all very different only sharing this one commonality. Some were there to get away from home. Some to stay out of trouble. Some to see the world outside of their tiny town with limited opportunity. Some for education they couldn’t afford to pay for. Some of us were actually there because we wanted to be soldiers. With the intentional decision to join the Army also came intentional levels of commitment to the process, which became obvious as we moved through our training. Our days were long and hard as our Drill Sergeants pushed us through each phase of training and mercilessly drove us to new levels of physical endurance. There were many days that I wanted to cry, quit and go home to the comfort of the life that I had left behind. Only those of us who were able to develop a soldier’s mentality survived the rigors of Basic Training. There were many for whatever the reason couldn’t take it.  Rather than a speedy discharge, they were reassigned indefinitely to the Training Discharge Program. Once you sign on with the Military you are the disposable property of the U.S. Government. They spent their days digging trenches that seemed unnecessary and cleaning out our Porta potty’s all over the Base. On the day that our Platoon marched to our Graduation we passed their work details still on the side of the road digging ditches. I cannot imagine how heart wrenching that was for them covered with dirt and stench, to see us in our dress uniforms, heads held high – victorious. If they had just stuck it out.

 

Now all these many years later, I find myself in Boot Camp again. Spiritual Boot Camp! The process and the commitment to it is essentially the same. The attainment of spiritual empowerment to do the will of God only comes through personal consecration. Setting the world aside to pursue the life that God has called me to. A choice that I now make. That choice reflects a necessary change in personal priorities. The mediocrity that I carried into the Soul Fast along with the lack of life fulfilment or attainment of spiritual purpose was directly related to my enmeshment in the world. Being conflicted, inconsistent and confused on some matters because my focus has not been just on God, I’ve been trying to hold on to some of the world too. It is impossible for the light of God to fully shine in my life straddling the fence. Having one foot in the Kingdom and one in the world, just doesn’t work. Consecration puts my soul under the management of my spirit that is governed by God. It makes provision for God’s will in my life to be executed from a spiritual perspective as I am led, guided and directed by Him. Not by my interpretation of it. This life is not frivolous one nor was my redemption cheap – it was bought with a price. The greatest honor in this world or the next is to have served. However, I must serve well!

 
 

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DAY 10 SOUL FAST – GOODNESS

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As week two comes to an end, I feel as if God has set a machete on the table before me as He looks at my hand. I knew going into the Soul Fast there would have to be some amputations. I was fortunate in that a couple of the things that I knew needed to be cut away actually fell away on their own. It was a bit uncomfortable but not too because I really wasn’t emotionally attached to them. Now on day ten, I’m confronted with the fact that I have to amputate a limb. It’s something that God won’t do for me, I have to do it myself. Something that has been a part of me for four decades that I can’t carry any further. It has been something that has comforted me, been with me through difficulties but nevertheless is a bad habit. An impediment to my relationship with God. When I was in the world, I was thoroughly immersed in it. I can honestly say that I have completed my repertoire of sin. I did everything that I thought I wanted to do. I have seen mankind at his worst, which includes me and the life I once lived. When I take that into account it has established a protocol by which I’ve given myself permission to hold on to this one thing that I consider small in the scheme of things. However, the Book says that it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine. For I know that little sin can be a bridge back to a dark place within myself that I don’t want to go. God in his infinite GOODNESS has never extracted from me what my sin deserved.

The foundational element in this Soul Fast is detoxifying my soul. Cleansing my thoughts and purging my life of any habits or behaviors that prevent the light of God from shining in me. How can I radiate God’s light and goodness to the world if I’m living in darkness? I live in a world that says that I can live any way that I choose to and still serve God. How can that be so when the world’s systems and values are a direct contradiction of what God is about and stands for?  My mother used to say that what I do in the dark will eventually come to the light. God will eventually expose sin. For me it has always come at the most inopportune time, usually when I’ve gotten comfortable with it enough to think that I wouldn’t be found out. I’ve watched it on a grand scale in ministry with Jim and Tammy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and the late Zachary Timms. Sometimes sin can literally be the death of us. When they were exposed, the impact of if reached far beyond themselves. Families were shattered, congregations were devastated, faith in God was destroyed and all the good works their ministries did were brought into question.

In a nutshell, repentance is turning away from what’s not working and embracing what is. For me God’s goodness is the catalyst to my repentance. I don’t want to do anything or live in a way that would hurt Him or destroy my witness of everything He is and has been to me. I want to share that goodness with every person that I meet who is open to receiving it.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2014 in 40 DAY SOUL FAST

 

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