Day 18 of 30 Days of Prayer

Dear God, I pray that this faith we have common keeps showing up in the good things that we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it, that Your love makes them feel good, and that faith and hope outweighs unbelief and despair. Lord, I pray all that I do reflects all that you’ve done for me — a living, walking, breathing sinner, who tripped and stumbled but did not give up trusting you. Amen.

(Philemon 1:4-10)

Day 7 of 30 Days of Prayer

Dear God,

On this Christmas Eve, may the joys and mystery of your love abound for all who are anxious, depressed, or ill. Get close to them who find this season a source of pain or grief. Embrace with your tender care all who wander alone or have no place to lay their head, so they may experience the hope of Christ. Strengthen family ties of love and commitment, so they may delight in the joy of the Savior. Open hearts to your presence, that we may be transformed by the new birth. Amen.

The F word

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Last week I discovered I was a feminist, and updated my Facebook status as such. One friend indicated my discovery seemed like a bad thing. However, another comment was “I told you, so” and another “lol to Ms. Hooks.” Why hadn’t I embraced this term before is what puzzles me. 

After careful analysis, and more to come I’m sure, here’s a few reasons why I didn’t think I was a feminist:

  • I resigned from my job to be a stay-at-home mom for 13 years.
  • I believe that men are better cooks.
  • I like men and all their manliness, not in terms of doggish and abusive behavior.
  • I like men to treat me like a lady: open the door, buy flowers, and pay when we go on a date.
  • I don’t want to be labeled or categorized.
  • I don’t believe all women, even married women, are prostitutes.
  • When women are violated, men should be castrated.
  • I ‘m a human being.
  • I’m a follower of Christ.
  • The pronoun for God doesn’t need to be a she; I’m grounded in he.

Here’s how I discovered I am a feminist:

  • While at home, my title was momprenuer.
  • Men are quite irritating and thoughtless.
  • I took my maiden name back after the divorce.
  • My mother is constantly trying to marry me off, as I tell her: I’m good right now.
  • I write about women who are independent, strong go-getters.
  • Women should have complete control over their body.
  • When women are violated, men should be castrated. (This applies before the discovery.)
  • I believe in equality.
  • Women cannot have it all: work and family.
  • God made us in his image. References to the Holy Spirit, wisdom “she.”
  • Biblical women who followed Christ were strong, independent, go-getters.
  • And when I look back to childhood, I recall being the only girl who did not dream of marriage and children, I wanted to break the glass ceiling and travel around the country.

 

Hard Pressed But Never Destroyed

January 4 2013BMy best friend and I not only shop together, call and text but we also pray together and share scriptures when needed.
So, today I’ve been praying for a specific need because that was her morning text. This afternoon she called a bit depressed and perplexed. I did what a friend does: I listened, agreed, offered comfort, listened some more, offered a bit more advise. When our silence grew deafening, the only thing I knew to do was pray over the phone for her in her ear.
She’s a praying woman and I know she will find her answer.
Afterwards, I began trolling through a list of things, although I’m supposed to  finish a chapter of my novel and send out two resumes. I was growing weary at the writing, and daunted by the task of job hunting. In my list of things, I found the following devotion that represented the day, ironically, I’m sure my best friend sent it to me on January 12, 2012.

Hard Pressed, But Not Destroyed

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed, We are preserved not pickled! 2 Corinthians 4: 8 to 9 (NIV).

The Message translation of the Bible says this ”We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us in trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us our lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!”

When the sailors of old faced the worst of the storms, they would call out to encourage one another with this statement of faith, “Hold fast”. When the wave buffeted against them and the winds howled and the storm raged, and it seemed like everything was against them, they would call out, “hold fast”.

Ephesians 6:13 – 14  (NIV)  says, “and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then”.

At times we may feel like we are going through the mill, and we are having a hard time. That is the time you need to hear these words “Hold fast! For the storm will not last forever.”

Notice if you will, that no matter what life throws at you, no matter the circumstance, there is a  “But not” from God, but not crushed, but not in despair, but not forsaken, but not destroyed! -Because God is an awesome God. We are preserved not pickled!

Remember the words of the Apostle Paul from 2 Corinthians 4: 8 -9 (NIV)

“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

No matter what we face, not matter how difficult the storms of life, it will not last forever, we will be preserved not pickled. Because if God be for us who can stand against us? Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.

In A Place of Cheap or Free Grace

ImageMy grace is sufficient for you…” is a powerful verse. Although easily said, it’s tough living the scripture when life doesn’t seem smooth or when our preference is not God’s provision until one truly understands grace. When God blesses us, despite the fact that we do not deserve it; that’s grace.  When good things happen to the unworthy, that’s grace. And it’s free. Free to those who believe in Jesus Christ. Hence God’s daily bread for our life is ample.

Imagine a moment when you were in a place of free grace? Scriptures illustrate these characteristics of those blessed by God’s grace: fruitful and grow, Genesis 1:22, happiness and prosperity, Genesis 22:16-18, build you up and give you an inheritance, Acts 20:32.

However these blessings come only with obedience to God’s commands. Repeatedly from Old Testament to New there are if then clauses: If God’s people obey, change, seek, love…, then He will provide, increase, protect…you get the picture.

So why would one want cheap grace? In Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship, cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance. Baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, the cross, and without Jesus Christ, living and personified.

And living with cheap grace gives us unholy rest.

I don’t know about you, but I want free grace. I don’t want to claim to follow Christ, yet live my life my way: no rules, no discipline, no structure, no Bible, no prayer, no  church, wanton and crazy. I’ve done that, too.

Are you in the place of free or cheap grace?

33 Days of Prayer: Day 2

Lord, How majestic is your creation. Your sun warms the earth, your moon brightens the skies. You send rain  to cleanse and refresh and renew, as well as wind to energize. Thank you for the birds that sing, the butterflies that flutter, the gardens that beautify. Forgive us Lord, for overlooking your creation because our lives are chaotic, we forget to focus on you , we put our trust and hope in the little gods and not You, the Master Creator. Amen