Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lessons learned on suffering by Uncle James, our hero! Father's Day in January.

I enjoyed time with our uncle recently. Every time I see him, chat with him or exchange texts with him, I am deeply inspired
He is a dedicated husband, father, church member, family man and man of faith. He is also a brave cancer patient who is fighting with faith and courage. 

Here are things that uncle James' life continue to teach us with his example: 

Who are the people in your life that inspire you?
What lessons have they taught you? 

My view of Christian manhood has been shaped by men of the Bible and men in our own family.
Allow me to highlight a few good men:

Abraham. A man of spiritual fortitude. Despite his humanness, God used him as the father of our faith. Affectionately known as the father of many nations.

Paul. An ordinary man with a turbulent past that God used in extraordinary ways to share of his transformation by the power of Christ as he expanded the gospel in profound ways.
Considered to be "the apostle of grace." 

David. A man of extravagant worship and praise. Despite his proclivities, God considered him to be a man after his own heart.

Job. A man who suffered well.
An example of faith under fire.

James Martin. E. K. Bailey. Raymond Bailey.
3 brothers. 3 strong men. 3 family men. 3 men who taught and continue to teach in their example that we should not scare easily when life and health change and that our faith must exceed our strength.

I've learned so much in their achievements, but even more in their suffering. 

My grandfathers, father, father in law, father figures, pastors, brothers, cousins, many friends and my supportive husband also reflect character that shape my view of manhood today.

They are real men who are gifted, godly, kind, loving, faithful and imperfect. They have never claimed to have it all together, but their lives have been grounded by the One who holds our lives together.

Some are with us in this life and some have gone on to reside in glory, but continue to impact us with their impacting memories.

Father's day is listed on each annual calendar in the month of June, but why not tell someone how much you love them today?
Call them. Pray for them. Text them. Write them. Visit them. Encourage them. Cherish them. Honor them.

No day is promised and life is a vapor.
Make today Father's Day for the men in your life that may need a reminder that their life matters, that they have made a difference in your life and that God cares for them.

That is my intent by penning today's post.
I'm grateful for the Christian men in life who have and continue to be strong pillars, but I am especially grateful today to tell Uncle James (Mr. James Martin), that his impact has eternal dividends and our family is richer because he was born and lives with joy.

People may know your family for ministry work, serving, teaching, preaching, founding Concord Church or conferences, but what they don't know is that as grateful as you are for God's grace in ministry, you are ever grateful for family heroes who are committed to God even when life hurts.
Those are the best sermons. The silent ones we live daily in faith and hope. Those are the moments that bring us to our knees and grant us living power.

Cancer has seeped into our family tree and many loved ones have fought unique battles with dignity.

It's difficult to see people that you love suffer.
Suffering is a tough pill for each of us to swallow, but to be human and alive is a call to suffer. It can not be escaped, rushed or omitted from our experience.

The good news is this, "...our momentary troubles are achieving in us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."
2 Corinthians 4:17.
We can also take heart because,"after suffering comes strengthening," according to I Peter 5:7.
Therefore, we submit to suffering because it is temporary, God honoring, and purposeful.

We are a family who trusts God, who encourages one another and whose theology does not change even when diagnosis and health reports change.
Suffering hurts but even in suffering there is still hope.

What can people see about Jesus in your suffering?
My uncle demonstrates patience, long suffering and hope. Therefore, I am thankful to see Christ.
It's not always easy, but it's possible to press in your pain.

I saw this in Dad's life, in both of my in laws, in aunts and uncles, now in the life of James Martin.

Our family has been called to serve. We have also been called to suffer.
Stand! Fall or stumble but get up again.
Dr. M. L. King said, "If you can't fly, run. If you can't run, walk. If you can't walk, crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving."

I'm thankful for a family who stands, runs, walks and crawls. We are an imperfect family who understands that strength is in weakness and power comes from above.
It's one of our family values. Trust God and stand because when Christ stands, He stands in all power and with Him, we stand in that power in His name. It's our Christian responsibility. It's a grace gift from God. Stand! In Christ alone.
Keep it moving!

It's easy to trust God when you have good health, name recognition, success and comfort, but how we live when God calls you and me and our families to suffer reveals who we really are.
May we live lives that count and live lives that stand up to our own belief system.

How we suffer is a living legacy.

That is our prayer for you today if you are suffering. Leave a legacy of trusting God at all costs.

Has your family been called to suffering?

God is still able to heal and although health changes, He remains the same.
Don't allow your condition to cause you to limit God.
Because of what Christ did upon the Tree called Calvary, we can face what ever comes to confront us on our family tree.
We are victorious and so are you!

God bless you and God bless our uncle and all enduring in this race as each of us strives to live the best sermon.
We all have our turn at suffering.
Suffering is a hallmark of Christians.

May we suffer well.
Suffering doesn't feel well, but we can suffer with our eyes fixed on God's compassion and the truth that we are not defined by our sickness and suffering is only temporary.

If you are sick right now, be encouraged. Your life is a classroom and others are learning from the lesson of your life. Thank you for your witness!

I've been blessed watching our uncle suffer well. His body is tired and his days are unpredictable, but his faith looks up. He knows who holds His future. We are thankful for his hope in things eternal.
Grateful for examples of people who wake up with one goal and that is to simply live.

L- laugh and love
I- ignite a flame that will never die
V- view victory over vices
E- encourage others

Thank you for celebrating a man of victory with me. He is alive and I'm simply thankful for his commitment to each day. He is more than a conqueror.
A family guy.
Prayer Warrior.
Hard worker.
Enchilada maker.
Man of faith and fashion.
Our hero, affectionately known as Uncle Peanut.

Learning by watching him love on his wife, complimenting the hospital staff, planning for the future and honoring God in faith.

Uncle James,
Thank you for the gift of you. Thanks for your fight. Thanks for a faith that is active.
You have risen above life's obstacles and emerged with a tremendous testimony.
Continue to fight the good fight of faith.
We love you and your beautiful wife, Marcia. Thank you both for inspiring!
Looking up to you...continue to embrace the will of God and to live with joy.
Thanks for keeping it moving.

Dear Father, thank you that you hear and answer prayer according to your will. We pray for divine healing for our loved one and trust him in your capable care.
Heal him if it be your will and remember all that are suffering today and remind each of us of your power over disease. Protect and provide in Jesus name and help us to submit to your sovereign will. We trust you and give you praise for life and new life.
Thank you for what you teach us through suffering. Get the glory. In your name Amen.
Scriptures to encourage the hurting because God cares:
Psalm 27:13,14
Isaiah 41:10
John 16:33
Romans 8:37,39

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 unedited. A year with no filter.

Happy new year!
It's a great day to be alive. Count your blessings! If you can inhale and exhale you are doing well because life is a gift.

Wishing you and your families a year of productivity, purpose and peace.

Dear 2015, I have some honest expressions for you.
You rocked!
You showed out.
You helped.
You celebrated.
You lifted.
You surpised.
You challenged.
You saddened.
You stressed.
You delighted.
You grew me.
You wore me out.
You made me so happy.

You represented the reality of awesome agony. A year of living in the tension of incredible and insane.

You afforded tremendous opportunities, the settling into a new city, church and community that we lovvvvvve and you have expanded our hearts, goals, service to others and ministries. You have expanded relationships and reconnected relationships and made dreams come true.
You kept us learning and reaching, mentoring others and being mentored by others. You enlarged our territory.
We remain grateful and humbled.

You also allowed very frustrating moments, loss of loved ones, heart ache, uncertainty, spiritual warfare and moments of stress that urged prayer, waiting, tears, anger and pushed purpose. You turned shallow faith into big faith. You opened eyes.
You reminded us that faith and hope have to be more than a feeling and that joy can be stable without predicating it on things or happenings.

You reminded us that the enemy will come after you when you launch out to obey the Lord, but you also reminded us that God protects His children from the wicked one and from enemies.

Life has a way of breaking you to bless you and of cutting you to catapult you.  It has a way of exposing things as they really are and exposing what is not real. It also has a way of revealing what is an illusion or a lie manufactured by the enemy.
This past year majored in producing authenticity around us and in us and the shedding of what is unnecessary or unhealthy.

Like the mother eagle must destroy her nest to get her babies to fly, God has a way of doing the same to us. We are thankful for growth and flight.

We are also thankful that meaningful relationships can transcend time and space and just because you move on in new seasons doesn't mean that you cannot be loved or show love to people that have a special place in your heart.

2015 was the best of times and the worst of times and we pause for a moment to reflect.
Last year had awesome and awful, awe inspiring and awkward moments.

2015 was awesome!

Misty Copeland became the first African American principal dancer for the American Ballet Company.
Serena Williams continued breaking records and reaching milestones that have given her an irrevocable place in history as one of the greatest athletes of all times.
Derrick Henry became the 2015 Heisman award recipient.
Julianne Moore, Common, John Legend, Patricia Arquette and other favorites won well deserved Oscars.

Tasha Cobbs, Donnie McClurkin, Tina Campbell, Soul Fruit, Erica Campbell, Anthony Evans, Kirisma Evans, Charles Jenkins, Isreal and New Breed, Anthony Brown, Rance Allen, Hezekiah Walker, V. Michael McKay, Isadore Jackson, Demetrius McClendon, Grecian Holley,
Beola Baker, Maurice Dixon, Dwight Ausbrooks, Gaye Arbuckle, Eldrick Brown, Stephen Ivey, Dr. Michael Ford, Monya Davis Logan, The Clark Sisters, Kirk Franklin and many others continued to make giant footprints in the gospel industry as they lift up Christ and inspire generations with hope and excellence in music and leadership.
As you can tell, I'm a big fan of gospel music and its messengers.

Fetty Wap, Jidenna, Nicki Minaj, Ed Sheeran, Silento, Wiz Khalifa, Taylor Swift, James Bay, Flo Rida, Meghan Trainor, Daniel Wilson, Mode 9, Proverb, Adele and countless others continue to top the world charts in music, music sales and popularity.

Viola Davis took home the first Emmy award received by an African American woman as Best Actress and many women of color continued to change the landscape of television and media images of women of color.

I love dancing so I can't resist sharing that last year bought these unforgettable dances given to us in 2015:
The dap.
Nae nae.
and Whip.
It was a good year to remember.

We must be honest, however, it also brought on terrible moments.

2015 was awful 
Terrible attacks on Paris. 130 people killed.
Continued unrest in Ferguson.
The killings of the pastor and members of Mother Emmanuel Baptist Church lost 9 lives in Charleston, South Carolina.
Sandra Bland's mysterious death was considered a suicide after being harassed by the police.
The 21 Christian Egyptians where beheaded and remembered as martyrs.
Many Black and non-Black brothers and sisters were wrongfully placed in prison and continue to be incarcerated at unprecedented numbers.
Freddie Gray and Laquan McDonald lost their lives and became the faces that represent many Blacks that have been mistreated and abused by the ones that are placed in a position to protect others.
14 people died and 21 were injured in the unthinkable San Bernardino shootings.
Bill Cosby's contradictory image of being a global ambassador, a trailblazer in entertainment and outstanding father figure in television and being spotlighted for allegations of abusing women for generations in unthinkable ways.
This was a year that had despicable moments.

We can't recall the entire year, however, without acknowledging that 2015 was also awe inspiring.
Major political decisions were made to improve the lives, health, employment and education of all Americans.

The MIZZOU football team stood up to institutional racism.

Madeleine Stuart worked the runway in a New York fashion show reflecting that down syndrome cannot keep you from living out your dreams.

"Patti pies" came on the scene and took the world by storm in a social media and Walmart frenzy, making Ms. Patti who is known as a world-renowned entertainer, author and homecook, also a favorite entrepreneur and female business woman.

We celebrated the lives of many memorable human beings who passed on:
BB King
Moses Malone
Ben Powers
Robert Loggia
Scott Weiland
Julian Bond
Stuart Scott
Andrae Croach
David Canary

2015 was awkward.
Rachel Dolezai identified as black.
Bruce Jenner became the face of men now identifying as women as was named 'Woman of the Year.'
Donald Trump became a potential presidential nominee and we continue to stand astonished and speechless at his paradoxical and piercing personality, performance, presence and politics.
Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner at the Miss USA pageant and made a great rebound with his public and sincere apology.
Our illustrious President made great decisions, ground breaking decisions and he made horrible decisions.

If we took a minute to keep it real, our lives would reflect each of those categories as well. It cannot be escaped.  It must be endured.

There are just some seasons when heaven and hell are experienced at the same time.

2015 was awesome and awkward. It was awe inspiring and awful but it was as God designed or allowed. 

Doors opened. Doors jammed. Relationships grew. Relationships were lost. Health improved. Health was challenged. Spiritual life was nurtured. Spiritual life was strained. Days of Joy. Days of sadness. Days of fun. Days of fury. Days of faith. Days of faith under fire. Day of vision. Days of staleness. Days of provision. Days of ambition. Days of relaxation. Days of acceptance. Days of shade. Days of peace. Days of perplexities. Days of comfort and discomfort.

No one's life, year or days are filled with perfection. Thank God that He uses each of these experiences to make us more like Him.

Despite the ever changing climate of society, opinions, perspectives, opportunities and trends, one thing that has been steady has been God's faithfulness. When times are unstable, we can rejoice because God is our stable Rock. "The Lord is my rock and my fortress..." Psalm 18:2.

If you believe the Word of God, you can not believe only when life feels good. You must know that Psalm 46:1 is true always, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
People are fickle.
Life is fickle.
We can be fickle but God is faithful.

As we look toward the unknown in this year we can be sure of this:
God is true to His word.
God is obligated to Himself.
God keeps His promises.
God changes not.

Welcome 2016, we have been eagerly waiting to welcome you. We are sure that we can face uncertain days because God lives.

"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Psalm 90:12
God provides the script of His word to encourage our unscripted lives.


Dear Lord, thank you for the grace of the new day of the new year. Make us grateful each day and accountable to you for our time, talents, work, thought life, relationships, gifts and opportunities. We give you praise for your presence and activity in our lives and bow to your sovereign wisdom in this new year. Mature us. Help us not strive to be perfect or to exalt people or things above you.  Make us people who love and forgive. Challenge us not to rush your decisions and timing. Help us not to own what does not belong to us, but belongs you. Keep us from taking your glory. Remind us of your presence. Urge us to not hoard people or things and help us to live in constant surrender, faith and obedience to you, rejecting worry and fear and living in faith, contentment and reliance on you. We trust you and love you.
Thank you for being life's filter... in Jesus name, Amen!