The Day I Became A Widow

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Eight years ago today I became a single mother. My best friend, husband and the father of my children passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack at the age of 48. My children were two and five. The amount of questions overwhelmed me. How were we going to survive? What do I do with the house? How do I tell my children? How will this impact the children? Are we going to have to move? Should I move away? Where would I go? Who is going to teach my boys how to ride a bike?

The uncertainty of my future caused me to go into a state of mental shock. I began to gasp for air just to speak. For an entire week, I stuttered and wheezed when I talked, which is a form of post-traumatic stress syndrome. I was worried about the church and non-profit that we started. Who is going to pastor the church?

When I look back to the day that my husband passed, I am reminded not just of the grief and sadness of loosing him, but the insurmountable questions that loomed in my brain. Yet, at each turn, I kept hearing a still small voice telling me that everything was going to be okay. I felt like God granted me peace in the midst of the storm by just saying it is okay.

Often when a woman is pregnant, the mother and father work tirelessly to prepare for the baby. They work to prepare the room, the crib, the car seat and the clothes. They make sure that they have diapers, wipes and bottles. All of this work is done ahead of time so that when the baby comes the baby will not be in need in any way.   Can you imagine a new born baby in the arms of their father saying, “Dad, I don’t have any clothes? What am I going to do?” or “Dad, where am I going to sleep? What am I going to eat?” That child has no idea that everything was done for them before they even entered the world.

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Hebrews 4:3 says, “For we who have believed do enter that rest…although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” We can rest because Father God has prepared everything for us from before the foundation of the world. He has already taken care of all of our needs, problems and challenges. Therefore, we should enter into a rest knowing that it’s already taken care of and everything will be okay.

So, now I look back eight years later and every one of these questions God answered. He called me to become the pastor of the church that my husband started.  Today, that church is still thriving and growing. My children are both amazing young men who are brilliant and well-adjusted, despite spending the last eight years of their life without their father. God even dealt with who was going to teach the boys to ride a bike.  One day my oldest child was around 7 and he took the training wheels off and taught himself how to ride a bike.  By the grace of God, he also taught his younger brother to ride a bike.

Every question, every worry, every concern, God took care of before the foundation of the world. I didn’t know it in the middle of the storm.  I couldn’t see it when grief and stress were overwhelming me.  But God took care of every issue and detail.

Each year, I get a little sad that my husband is no longer with us because we miss him. But, I am more overjoyed and thankful that Father God has blessed us to make it through another year. I enter into a time of great praise for the goodness of God that I have seen in my life. I release a shout of praise that we are alive and healthy. I give God glory for our church that is continuing to touch people with the gospel of Jesus in spite of the loss of our founder.

No matter how difficult the storm you may face today, or how overwhelming the questions may seem, know that God has already taken care of the solution before the foundation of the world. Relax, take a deep breath and begin to praise God that everything is going to be okay.

This anniversary of my husband’s death, I will do what I’ve been doing for eight years now. I will praise the Lord. I will bless the Lord. I will worship the Lord. I will declare the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Why? Because, even before I became a widow, but especially since the day I became a widow, God has been faithful to me.

A Pastor’s Response to Recent Police Shootings

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Why is the African-American male so feared? Why is he so feared that on many occasions when encountered by a white police officer with a badge and a gun, some officers are so threatened that they shoot and kill without probable cause? I am so tired of seeing black men murdered by white police officers without any repercussions to the police officers. I think there are many African-Americans, Caucasian, Hispanics and Asians who are sick and tired of it as well.

It’s not just the shootings in the past three to four years but the shooting, lynching, beating, and murder of African-American people for the past 300 to 400 years. Nothing has really changed. Except now we have video cameras to document and show the world what has been going on in black culture in America for hundreds of years.

Why has this persisted and what can we do about it? I believe the Bible may be able to shed some light on this situation. Exodus 1 tells the story of the Egyptians who were in power but they saw a smaller group becoming powerful in number and in favor with God. Exodus 1:7 says, “But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty and the land was filled with them.”

After 400 + years of oppression, the African-American population has not grown weaker but stronger. In fact, we can see this by looking at the oval office with President Obama. However, many Americans are starting to be afraid and “want to make America great again.” Despite the many attempts during these past years in every sector of society the African-American people are still growing mighty and advancing in every area of society.

This fear that existed with the Egyptian king exists in many Americans today.   The new Egyptian king said to his people, “Look the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply and it happen in the event of war that they also join our enemies and fight against us.” (Exodus 1:10) The response to this fear was interesting and very much like what we are seeing in America today. Their response was to “set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens.” (Exodus 1:11)

African-Americans have taskmasters that are afflicting them with a greater burden. The people in the blue uniforms that are supposed to be their protectors are instead their murderers. Once again, I must say this does not mean that all police officers are murders. (Check out Nakia Jones, African-American female police officers response.)  But so far in 2016, 123 African-Americans have been shot by police based on The Washington Post.  The lastest among those being shot and killed were Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana.

So what should we do? What can we do? I often get frustrated because I don’t know the answer to that question. I do know that I get tired of seeing protests and no change in racists police behavior. I get tired of seeing people argue over whether it’s #BlackLivesMatter or #AllLivesMatter. I get tired of having to reiterate to my two sons what to do if they are stopped by police officers. I am tired of watching video after video of African-Americans murdered by police officers and walking away with no consequences to their actions. I am tired of seeing people like Dylann Roof  shoot and kill 9 black people in church  get treated with more respect than a 12-year-old African-American boy (Tamir Rice) playing in a park.

So I prayed and I asked the Lord what could I do? I think the answer may be found in Exodus 2:23-24. “Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning and God remembered His covenant.” I cried out to the Lord just like the children of Israel and here is what I believe may be His response.

In Exodus 3:7, the Lord responds by saying, “I have surely seen the oppression of My people…and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.” I believe that God hears the cry of those who are upset over these police shootings. Second Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” God continues in this passage to say, “My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer made in this place.”

What do we do? We pray. I know that’s cliché but it’s what we are to pray that is so important. We need to repent on behalf of America and those who have brutally murdered so many African-Americans and others unjustly. This land has been full of injustice not only to African-Americans but also to the Native Americans, Mexicans, and Vietnamese just to name a few. But we must repent on behalf of these racists in our history. I know you may be saying, I did nothing wrong. God is looking for intercessors who will stand in the gap and repent on behalf of this nation and cry out to him for help.

Ezekiel 22:30 – 21 says, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.”

Next, we need to do the unthinkable! We need to Adopt-A-Cop and pray for them. (Click here at Adopt-A-Cop and go online to get the name of a cop in your area and sign up to pray for them.) I know that seems absolutely ridiculous but please keep reading. The worse thing we can do is be mad, outraged, make a few comments on social media and then in a few days walk away like nothing happened.

We should pray that our cops have hearts that chase after God and that they use wisdom in their jobs each day in dealing with people. We need to pray for their protection and safety because as I said earlier not all police officers are racist murders. We need to pray that other cops will stand up in their departments to fight the racial disparities and injustices as the cops in St. Louis are trying to do. We need to cry out to God for justice on behalf of all of the lives that have been claimed unfairly.

Also, we need to pray for God to give us wisdom to know how to respond in our world and in our communities. God may be calling us to take a stand or do something extraordinary that can help reduce or eliminate these types of murder. He is creative and has these types of solutions when we don’t. Let’s seek God for answers as to how to respond.

I know that praying for a police officer seems radically opposed to our initial reactions of being angry at the police but this is exactly the way followers of Christ are supposed to respond. Matthew 5:44 says, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute you.” After all, Jesus was brutally murdered for a crime he didn’t commit either. I think He knows a little about this subject.

 

 

If I Win The Lottery…

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What would you do if you win the $1.5 billion Powerball? Would you buy a new house, car(s), pay off debt, invest, start a business, or become philanthropic? Maybe you would do all of the above. Would you quit your job or still work? Would you take an extended vacation? It’s so much fun to dream and imagine what it would be like to have such vast wealth and resources available to us. In fact, we may even go so far as to search for our house online or pick out the car we want to buy.

Now that the lottery has reached such a tremendous amount of money, I think many people are dreaming what would they do if they were to win. The lines at convenience stores and gas stations are exceptionally long because of people purchasing tickets. The hope of winning the lottery has swept our nation with phenomenal hope. We hope that we can invest $2 or more and get an instant return of $1.5 billion

I began to think about what I would do if I won this money. I told God you can trust me, I will definitely tithe. I would buy a home, maybe a new car or two and pay off some bills but after that I was pretty much stumped. I figured I would continue to work because I love being a pastor and I enjoy helping people. I thought now I can really serve because I would have money for youth programs, sports program, a building to serve people, a homeless shelter, single moms program, etc.

I went to bed dreaming about the joy I would have by being able to bless so many for the kingdom of God. Then in the middle of the night, I sensed a thought that may have come from the Lord. Why am I not doing all of these things now? I thought well I don’t have the money. I was reminded that a lack of money or resources is not the real reason that I’m not doing these things now. The real problem is that I don’t believe that I have access to unlimited resources right now without winning the lottery.

God is our father and he owns the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:10) In fact, Isaiah 45:3 says that God will “give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name am the God of Israel.” That scripture doesn’t say that I need to purchase a lottery ticket to get that.

It’s so important that we don’t dream or seek to do kingdom ministry and service based upon our own access to resources. We must dream and think as if we have unlimited resources available to us because in Christ Jesus we have access to everything we need.

Now, ask yourself this question, what would I do for God if money were not an issue? Then begin to live that out because with God there is no lack in the kingdom. (Psalm 34:10) As believers, we don’t have to win the lottery, to begin to live out our dreams of homeownership, philanthropy or working based on our passion instead of a paycheck. Begin to ask the Lord today, to help you to dream without regard to resources or money. Then begin to walk out this new lifestyle where you are no longer bound by lack but instead are fueled by the resources of our amazing God!

Finally, as we look at the lottery, I do hope that someone who has a kingdom mindset would win that lottery (hopefully me) so that the wealth could be used to advance God’s kingdom on earth. Proverbs 13:22 says, “the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.” Jesus also says in Luke 12:32, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

My prayer today is that the Lord will release the wealth of the sinner to the righteous here on the earth today so that the righteous can begin to advance God’s kingdom. Whether it is through the lottery or some other means, may God release the wealth of the sinner to you today. May you begin to dream and live your life from a place of unlimited resources from your heavenly father who takes pleasure in giving you the kingdom.

 

 

Talking To Our Kids After A Mass Shooting

On October 1, 2015 at Umpqua Community College in the town of Roseburg, Oregon, a student shot and killed 9 other students before being gunned down by the police himself. The Washington Post states that during President Obama’s second term, there has not been a seven-day (Sunday-to-Saturday) calendar week that a mass shooting incident has not occurred.  A mass shooting is defined as an incident in which four or more people are shot.

Once again, I had to sit my 9 and 12 year-old sons down to discuss what to do when you are faced with a gunman on your school campus. In this incident in Oregon, it has been reported that the gunman asked students about their religion. Those who said they were Christians were shot and killed.

I told my boys to lock and block the doors, hide under a desk, don’t try to be a hero. Yes, I know that as a pastor that may be a bad statement but I am also a mother who wants to see her children come home alive. As I shared with the boys the dos and don’ts, my oldest son asked a profound question. “Mommy, I don’t have a problem telling someone I believe in Jesus if they ask me in everyday conversation. But would it be wrong for me to say no, I don’t believe in Jesus if he has a gun pointing at my face?”

I was utterly conflicted with this question. I am a strong believing Christian and a pastor so my first thought of course was a scripture. In Mark 8:38 Jesus says, “38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Well, that makes absolute sense to stand up for Jesus and declare that you are a Christian because you don’t want Jesus to be ashamed of you. I do realize that Christians are persecuted all over the world for their faith. If it weren’t for the blood of martyrs the cause of Christ would not have been advanced all over the world. Jesus has forgiven us of our sins and loved us so much how could we repay him by denying him.

BUT, I am also a mother so I struggled to just tell my son to say yes and get shot. While, God sacrificed his son, Jesus for me, I must be honest I’m not sure if I am will to sacrifice my son for the cause of Christ. (I just may loose my good Pastor status for that statement.) I want my sons to come home alive. I realize that Satan only comes to kill, steal and destroy but I want my child to experience the abundant life that Jesus has promised him. (John 10:10)

So I prayed silently in my head that the Lord would give me an answer to help my boys know what to do in these situations. After all, I would be so very proud if my son stood up for Jesus but I would be equally proud of him for coming home alive.

So here is what I said to him. “Son, the church of Jesus was also founded on a man who denied Jesus three times. God forgave him and then he used him radically to change the world. His name was Peter.” Peter even denied Jesus more than one time! Yet, after Jesus rose from the dead he went to restore Peter and to forgive him. Peter gave the first sermon as a witness to the resurrection of Jesus after Jesus ascended to heaven. (Acts 2) Later Peter was killed for his faith but this story tells me that God will forgive us if we deny him during times of fear. He will also strengthen us to stand firm in our faith as well.

Of course, I struggle with this and wonder if I am being a watered down Christian who wouldn’t stand up for Jesus if persecution came. I say we should deny ourselves and follow Jesus all the time. But I am also a very concerned mother. I don’t know how to reconcile my fear with my faith on this issue. All I know is that I want my sons to come home alive so that they can live to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ even more. So what should we advise our children to do in these situations? Profess Christ and die or Deny him and come home alive?

 

Obedience Is Not Just For Kids

 “Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” 

Jeremiah 42:6 (NKJV)

 

I came across this verse as I was doing some studies about obedience. My desire was to locate scriptures about this topic so that I could apply them to my prayers for my children. As I read through this passage in Jeremiah, I got excited because I knew that this would be a great one to add to my prayer arsenal.   But as I began to read it and pray, the words began to resonate within me. These words were not just for children to obey their parents. These words were also for the parent.

I thought about all of the times I sensed God telling me to do something and I did not like what he was asking me to do. Or I did not “feel” like doing what God asked me to do. There were so many times that I felt like God’s word was inconvenient. I rehearsed just a few of those times when I sensed the Holy Spirit telling me to tell someone about Jesus or invited them to church or just pray with them and I said no.

I think about the story of the woman with the spirit of infirmity who had been bent over and could not get up for eighteen years. (Luke 13:10-17) The religious leaders saw her and got indignant when Jesus healed her on the Sabbath. Healing was inconvenient and inappropriate for that Sabbath in their eyes. How many times has prayer for someone else been inconvenient and inappropriate in my eyes? Maybe I was wiped out from all of the “ministry” or at least appearances of ministry for that day. Either way I often find myself in the same seat as the religious leaders in Jesus’ day.

Jesus told the ruler of the synagogue, “Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound-think of it-for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath.” (Luke 13:16, NKJV) In essence, Jesus was saying that she should not spend another day bound by this disease because it’s inconvenient for us. It scares me to think about how many people are still bound because I didn’t obey the voice of God because it was inconvenient for me.

“Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the Lord.”

Sadly, my children are not the only ones who struggle with obedience. Apparently, I’m struggling with obedience as well. Maybe the reason my children find it difficult at times to obey their mother is because they are seeing their mother disobey God.

 

Prayer:

Lord, forgive me for disobeying you. Father I want to immediately obey you when I hear your voice. I declare that it does not matter if what you are asking me to do is pleasing or displeasing for me. I will obey. Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, I will obey your voice because you are the Lord my God so that it may be well with me. In Jesus name, Amen!

Little By Little Blessings

“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32 (NKJV)

God wants to give us good things. It truly amazes me to think that we can give God pleasure by receiving his promises for our lives.  God desires to bless us.  In fact, he takes pleasure when we receive the blessings of God on our lives.  If that’s true,  then  why does it feel like God is withholding blessings and good things from us?  Why does it seem like he doesn’t want us to have certain things.  I think the answer can be found in Deuteronomy 7:22. Continue reading

Saved And STILL Single

Pensive womanWhat’s wrong with me?  That’s often a question that single Christian women ask when it comes to dating or finding a mate.  After being a single widow for over five years, I started to ask myself the same question.  Friends say you are so pretty and smart.  Don’t worry God will send someone at just the right time.  Somehow those words just don’t seem to be so comforting when you are feeling lonely.

I’ve heard other women say, “There are just no good men out there.”  I beg to differ.  I’ve met a lot of extraordinary Christian men who would make someone a wonderful husband and be amazing fathers. They fit many checklists for several women handsome, educated, career focused and loving.  So, what is the problem?  Either they weren’t interested in me or I wasn’t interested in them.

To make matters worse, I began to see other single Christian women who were in relationships.  They were not necessarily the best choices.  However, the women were very content with having a man by their side.  They were either dating married men, unsaved men, or men without jobs. How could I knock that?  They seemed happy for the moment at least.

I began to pray one day. “Lord, what is going on?  I serve you faithfully.  I seek your word.  To the best of my abilities, I am trying to obey everything you tell me to do.  Why is it that I meet nice men but nothing happens. What’s the problem?”

I began to think to say to myself, “Maybe I should just settle and take any man. Maybe he doesn’t have to be ‘so spiritual.’ Maybe I need to lower my standards.”  I began to think about compromising the standards I have for a mate. Continue reading

Mary or Martha New Year

Are you starting your New Year’s off like Mary or like Martha?  Mary and Martha were two sisters who welcomed Jesus into their homes. (Luke 10:38-42)  Martha was busy making preparations for Jesus.  Mary was busy spending time with Jesus.

Have you ever spent so much time getting ready to do something that you never actually do it?  Every time I get ready to loose weight, I research the best gym. I look at new diet plans, buy new workout clothes and write a schedule to start on Monday.  Yet, when I actually get ready to do those things I seem to fall short.  I look at those people who just do it and I am in awe! Continue reading

Why Am I Creating A Blog?

  14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not    believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of    peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

Romans 10:14–15 (NKJV)

My heart’s desire is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  Not radical, overly religious, snooty people who are so heavenly bound that they are no earthly good but real, everyday people who love Jesus and want to see his promises come to pass in their lives.  It is my call and passion to see people’s lives radically changed because of the gospel of Jesus.

This blog is really designed for real people who want to see a real change in their life.  It’s my thoughts, devotions, sermons, quotes, or scriptures that impact my life on a daily basis.  I pray that it will impact others as well.

Jesus said we should “Go into all the world and make disciples.”  Matthew 28:19. Social media, blogging and cyberspace is one way in which God has called me to GO into all the world.