Monthly Archives: January 2014
Life is busy. We are constantly running and trying keep up with the clock.
At end of the day, we are exhausted. We head to sleep, only to wake up and do it all over again the next day.
When do we stop and spend time with God?
The other day I was speaking to a close friend of mine. I asked her this question, “How do we develop intimacy with God?”
My friend is in full time ministry and has been following the Lord consistently for many years.
She responded, “By spending time with Him. It’s in having a relationship with Him, that intimacy grows.”
It’s the same as any earthly relationship. If we don’t spend time with a friend or spouse, we won’t get to know them.
The same applies to our Heavenly Father. If we don’t stop and spend time with Him, we won’t get to know Him.
There was a time I tried to build my faith by reading books, attending every church service, going to conferences and serving in ministry.
I thought by “doing” all these things, my faith and intimacy would somehow grow.
I was wrong.
It is not by our might or power, it is by His Spirit. It is God who changes us from the inside out by spending time and getting to know Him.
It’s by setting aside time every day to read His Word, pray and wait on Him.
When we develop this discipline, we begin to grow in intimacy with Him.
It isn’t by our doing, works or ministry that changes us or develops our faith. It is God who does the work in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
He doesn’t want us doing anything for Him, He wants us and our time.
He loves to hear our hearts.
Has He been hearing from yours lately?
You’re probably wondering why am I using the word “mad” in connection to “faith”.
The word “mad” is commonly used in New York City. The urban dictionary defines “mad” as “extreme” or “a lot”.
I decided to connect the two; mad faith.
I’ve been thinking madly about faith. What makes one have more faith than another, and that sort of thing.
It’s a mystery.
My desire has been ever increasing for my faith to be authentic.
In Christendom, I see many chasing after signs, wonders, miracles and manifestations, to the point of idolatry.
I’m not judging, but merely making an observation.
Truthfully, I used to be one of those people. I would chase after God here, there and everywhere.
I was seeking some kind of sign or experience and chasing after Him as if He couldn’t be found.
Frankly, I had it all wrong.
It sort of reminds me of Moses, when He went up to the mountain to get the Ten Commandments and left the people behind. In time, they all started making physical idols to worship instead of worshipping the God who miraculously parted the Red Sea and delivered them from the Egyptians.
What is it in us that inclines us to chase after other gods, instead of Him? Why are we restless and unsettled in our faith? Why must we chase after experiences? Why isn’t Jesus enough?
These are the questions which gnaw at me daily. I don’t have the answers. All I know is that I’ve already tried it all. I’ve traveled around the world in search of Him.
I am certain of this, it is not by signs and wonders that our faith increases, not in the least. I tell you this from personal experience. This doesn’t deepen our faith.
One thing that does though, is adversity.
My faith was strengthened, when I shook with fear, felt hopeless, thinking God wasn’t going to deliver me out of something, and He did.
To me, that’s miraculous. Not manifestations of angel feathers, gems or gold dust appearing at some gathering, where the attention turns to man and not God.
This is where the confusion begins. Everyone starts worshiping and idolizing the creation instead of the Creator. The credit for these so-called manifestations becomes attributed to man, instead of God. If something is going to take the focus or pull you away from God, you should run the other direction and don’t look back.
I’m sharing what I’ve gleaned from all of the mistakes I’ve made in my life.
I’m not claiming to be an expert or have it right. I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t have all the answers. All I know is my heart longs for the authentic. For the living God of this universe to be real and present in my life.
I don’t want my desire for signs, wonders, miracles and manifestations to take precedence over Him. He already gave and did it all by dying on the Cross for me, what more do I want?
I want to have mad faith which is undeniable and unshakeable. I want to experience more of His love and presence in my life. Not experiences, sensations, imitations or cheap substitutes. The real deal.
What about you?
After taking a few boxing classes for fun at NYSC from an instructor named Santana. One day I looked him in the eye and said, “I’m going to become a professional boxer now, goodbye.” He stood there dumbfounded.
I remember the day I walked into Gleason’s Boxing gym for the first time. It was in 1998 and at the time, the majority of boxers were male.
They all gawked at me as I strode in wearing my leopard print tights which matched my wild and untamed hair. I was quite a sight.
I walked holding my head high and ready to conquer the boxing world.
Back then Gleason’s was different than it is today. The air was musky and hung with sweat, the windows were foggy, everything seemed old and worn.
It was an environment I was neither familiar with or exposed to in my life.
So there I was, Ms. Middle Class amongst those who were rough and lived in underprivileged neighborhoods.
However, nothing was going to stop me. I was determined to prove myself as a female boxer.
I remember the day my trainer decided to have me spar with some dude. There were no female boxers around.
I got in the ring, started moving around and practicing my jab. My trainer yelling for me to bob and weave. So I started bobbing and weaving. Then I tried doing an uppercut. I loved those upper cuts, but I wasn’t able to get in close enough to do it.
I began feeling winded. Thankfully, the bell rang because I was dying of thirst. I opened my mouth, for my trainer to give me water. He squirts a little water and tells me to spit it out. I looked at him as if he was out of his mind. There was no way I was going to spit it out. I swallowed it.
The bell rang again. I hesitated. I was exhausted and wanted to stop. The next thing I know, I was keeling over.
I didn’t have my guard up and the guy landed a punch to my liver. There are no words to describe the level of pain.
I learned a valuable lesson that day. One I will never forget. Defense is everything. In the ring and in life. When my guard was down, there was an opening for him to hit me.
I was out of breath, thirsty and my movements were sluggish. My opponent took complete advantage of the situation.
While reflecting back on this incident, I realized the enemy of our souls does the same. He waits for an opening to lodge his onslaughts and attacks on us. If we’re are open, tired or unguarded, he will catch us by surprise which will leave us reeling.
In 1 Peter 5:8 it says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,” and Luke 21:34 says, “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.”
We can’t let him catch us off guard. We have to keep our defenses up by reading the Word and praying. We need to practice bobbing and weaving daily.
Thankfully, we have the best trainer, the Holy Spirit and the best corner man, Jesus Christ.
We are guaranteed to win and promised the victory!
Have you been bobbing and weaving lately?
A long time ago, I used to think my actions didn’t effect others. I was single, living in my own world and doing my own thing.
Unfortunately, being single didn’t allow me the ability to see myself clearly. It was when I got married, I was able to see choices, decisions and actions have repercussions and consequences, not only to myself, but to others as well.
This was a huge pill for me to swallow and accept. We go along with our lives when we are alone, thinking we can do whatever we want, say whatever we want and it’s nobody else’s business or concern.
The world is our oyster.
However, this is living in a bubble or fantasy world, which is self-centered and self-absorbed.
The truth is every action has a reaction.
There is no getting around it, whether you are married or single, whether you want to believe it or not, your actions and choices effect everyone around you.
It’s like a pebble hitting the surface of water, you see the ripple effect. The same occurs with us; our choices are like pebbles and our actions cause rippling effects.
This is why we have to be careful to choose wisely because some actions are irreversible. The damaging effects of one wrong choice can destroy more than you bargained for.
For instance, a family member who continually betrays you by speaking negatively about you behind your back with other family members, thinking it will never get back to you.
But it always does, doesn’t it? Some way, somehow, the information finds its way back to the person.
Once this occurs, the damage is done, because you can never look at that family member the same way again. A seed of distrust is planted and with each repetitive instance, the seed of distrust continues to germinate and grow.
Yes, one can forgive and move on, but the trust and respect needed for a good and healthy relationship is broken and lost.
Has this ever been your experience? Can you recall a time when this applied in your life?
Recently, I’ve become bored with blogs. I find myself yawning as I read blog posts by popular bloggers. Yes, even bloggers with huge followings.
I started to think about why I’ve become bored with their writing and blogs.
While reading this morning’s post by Seth Godin (which sparked this post), he mentions, “everyone is making noise and there is generally useless stuff being written.”
What I call “useless stuff” is microwavable or recyclable writing.
There is just so much I can read about “Five ways to do this” and “Seven ways to do that”.
Reading their blogs is like eating stale bread. It is bland, boring and dull.
There is no originality anymore. Forgive me if I sound like a snob, I don’t mean to.
Who knows, perhaps it’s just me… maybe following popular blogs, bloggers or blogging isn’t for me.
I don’t want to read mediocre writing anymore. My time is precious and whatever I ingest, I want it to be substantive. Not some cheap substitute for the real thing.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the art in the 1500, 1600 and 1700’s?
Such as, Mozart, Beethoven and Shakespeare?
Where did the caliber of art go?
There was none of the microwavable art that we see today.
Artists respected art. Now artists prostitute and exploit art for their own gain or recognition.
The artists of the past were givers, not takers.
Today everyone wants in on the game. They want a piece of the pie. It’s all about them.
There is no respect for art anymore. Just a bunch of recyclable trash that does not edify anyone.
Artists need to recognize they have a responsibility to humanity to be good stewards of art and the gifts God blesses them with.
Do you agree or disagree and why?
The New York Times bestselling memoir by Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three, who was falsely convicted of three murders and spent nearly eighteen years on Death Row—Life After Death is destined to be a classic of explosive, riveting prison literature.
I read an interview with John Grisham and the interviewer asked him what he was reading. He responded, a memoir called Life After Death by Damien Echols. He mentioned it was one of the best books he’s read in a long time. So I decided to get it.
When I began reading this book, I was riveted.
Damien Echols is an extraordinary writer. I was blown away by the way he writes. He is a true artist.
However, this book is no walk in the park. Nor is this the type of book I would normally gravitate to. Life is hard enough than to read about injustice to such severity, it made my blood boil.
I honestly do not know how Damien Echols survived it, much less, remained the positive person he is today with all the hell he endured. What resilience.
He was falsely accused and convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. He and two others were accused of murdering three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. They did not do it. Someone else did and they still haven’t found out who.
Imagine being a teenager and spending 18 years on death row for a crime you didn’t commit? Being beaten by guards and surrounded by mentally ill inmates. Prison is full of the mentally ill who are not getting the help they need. They are put in prison to rot, meanwhile they are not well.
His memoir was difficult to read. I found myself disgusted, angry, sad, disillusioned and broken for him and all those who are on death row or in solitary confinement who are innocent.
I can’t find the words to describe how provoking this book is. This book describes the absolute brokenness of our prison system. It also sheds light on the corruption that exists in our court system.
If Damien Echols was standing in front of me today, I would apologize to him on behalf of all the Christians in his life that turned him away from Christ.
He depicts with such accuracy the judgmental and critical nature of Christians. While reading his experiences outside and inside of prison, I was embarrassed and ashamed. Instead of Christians being a light in his life, they were the complete opposite.
There is no other word to describe it other than disgusting.
I would tell Mr. Nichols, those were not followers of Christ. Those were lost, broken people, who were ignorant, confused and didn’t know an ounce about loving others.
As a result of this, he is not a Christian today. He became a buddhist in prison. He was treated better by Buddhists than Christians. After what he went through, I can’t quite blame him.
There was one part where he describes that when there was an execution scheduled, Christians would appear, but not on any other time. It was as if they enjoyed the excitement of someone being executed.
I can’t write it the way he describes it in his book. He is truly brilliant and a gifted writer. His writing is palatable for you see and feel everything.
I am glad he is free now and with his wife Lorri who helped him the most. There were many others, but she was the persistent one, who never gave up.
He also made mention that the prison system is designed for those to be forgotten by society, including family and friends. He said what gave him some hope and kept him going was receiving encouraging letters from strangers.
Overall, I would have to say this was the best book I read in 2013. Yes, it was the hardest to read, but it was most certainly the best. I highly recommend it, but it’s definitely not for the faint at heart.
Damien Echols was born in 1974 and grew up in Mississippi, Tennessee, Maryland, Oregon, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. At age eighteen he was wrongfully convicted of murder, along with Jason Baldwin and Jessie Miskelley, Jr. Echols received a death sentence and spent almost eighteen years on Death Row, until he, Baldwin, and Miss Kelley were released in 2011. The West Memphis Three have been the subject of Paradise Lost, a three-part documentary series produced by HBO, and West of Memphis, a documentary produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. Echols is the author of a self-published memoir, Almost Home. He and his wife, Lorri Davis, live in Massachusetts.