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DAILY READ: Covenant Relationships

But I will establish My covenant with you, and you will enter the ark - you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with y...

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

What Is In a Name?

I probably haven't always hated my name (Diane...pronounced Dee-Anne). As a toddler, I was labeled "DiDi." As I grew older, it metamorphosed into "Dids" or "that darn child!" In fact, if I recall correctly, my name being mispronounced hardly competed with the incessant urge to play or seek happiness, until an older sibling alerted me to the fact, that each and every occurrence was if not a hideous crime, at least a slight of indecent proportions.

What was a ten-year-old to do? Being the youngest of eight, my place in the family hiererchy was set. I should be seen and not heard, when told to jump, the only acceptable response was, "How high?" I had jurisdiction over the backyard chickens, one of the dogs, (can one ever have jurisdiction over a cat?) and my imaginary Indian friends. (Playing Cowboys and Indians was not yet considered politically incorrect)

I felt ill-equipped, rightfully so by the angst of the years that followed, to handle that assertive role. The anticipation of the mispronunciation of my name, became larger than life. In my defense, I do recall timidly correcting an adult or two, but alas my hard fought bravery dissipated, when my brave utterance appeared to fall on deaf ears.

In Junior High School, with the influence of Spanish class, I added an accent so that my name would read as Díane instead of Diane. Little did I realize the difficulties in explaining the job description of an accent during a simple introduction. My next brainstorm occurred in High School. I began writing Deanne on my class papers, until my 11th grade English teacher gently explained the illegality of that to me.

These adventures continued until around age twenty-two. Fresh out of brainstorms and tired of acquiescing outwardly and castigating myself inwardly, I made a decision. I did what any self-respecting, self-confessed coward would do when their back’s against the wall. I resolved to change my name.

Since I felt that a legal name change would be hurtful and maybe even a little disrespectful to my parents, I settled for the derivative, "Dee." That decision coincided with an instance of victimization. As a result, I saw that name change as part of my new "take charge" persona. I took martial arts classes, I pumped iron and I developed a new "attitude." Vic-who-tim? Not I, ever again!

Two years ago, while chatting with a Minister I met online (yes...Minister and online...to be addressed in another post). Things finally came around to the exchange of names and I gave him my legal name, Diane and told him I'd always disliked it and why. He asked me what my name meant and I didn't know. He did a quick search online and within five minutes, I had a new lease on life!

My name meant Divine! Divine! Can you believe it! Suddenly, my whole life began to make sense. Here I'd been repudiating the name that explained me...to me. I'd recently learned in one of my Bible classes that the naming of a child in Biblical times took a bit of thought. Not because of the need for a different sounding name, or a name that would perpetuate the ego of the parent, but a name that would call forth or predict, if you will, the character of the child.

I'd always been a bit out of step, not quite in synch with my peers. I'd always felt I didn't quite fit the mold. Now, I'd come full circle. The same way I'd hated, denigrated, denied and dismissed my name and in essence myself, for my name and myself worth had become synonymous. In the same manner I'd dismissed God's call to service, as imaginary delusions of grandeur.

Why would God want to use me? I was damaged, despoiled goods, wasn't I? In fact my exact words were..."Preach? I sing, that's what I do!" Despite my many attempts to explain to God why He'd really made a mistake this time, upon hearing what my name meant...I figure...God had the last laugh after all.

I was a breech birth baby and apparently a confused one at that. Not only was I facing the wrong direction, I was intent on continuing my journey in the wrong direction, apparently unwilling to experience new birth. Although I'd heard the many recountings of my birth through the power of prayer, firmly set in my pattern of parallelism, the more glimpses of the spiritual realm I perceived, the further I ran.the wonder and awe of the testimony had become buried by the attacks of life. But no matter how far or fast I ran physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually, the fact still remained...I was destined from birth.

At this point, you're probably expecting a triumphant announcement that from that point onward, I've never introduced myself as "Dee" again and proudly embraced my birthname "Diane." Well...this is keeping-it-real-for God blogspot...so I'll just say that while I'm becoming more at ease in my spirit, my calling, and my name...thirty-seven years of self-hatred, is not so easily erased in two years, but it is mitigated by my change in perspective.

That being, that it's not about who man says I am..."Diane"...but about who God says I am..."Divine."


Saturday, May 28, 2005

Double-Check Your Email Addresses!

A Lesson to be Learned from the wrong Email Address!

A couple from Minneapolis decided to go to Florida to thaw out during one particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the very same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an e-mail to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, he sent the e-mail.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband`s funeral. He was a minister of many years who was called home to glory following a sudden heart attack. The widow decided to check her e-mail expecting messages of condolence from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she fainted.

The widow`s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Date: January 16, 2004
Subject: I`ve Arrived

I know you`re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send e-mails to your loved ones. I`ve just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

Your Loving Husband,

P. S. Sure is hot down here!

Friday, May 27, 2005

A God Who Forgives

"Forgiveness – the act of excusing or pardoning others in spite of their slights, shortcomings, and errors. As a theological term, forgiveness refers to God’s pardon of the sins of human beings."

At some point in our lives we’ve all been in the position of wanting forgiveness or being asked for forgiveness. Sometimes we give it, sometimes we withhold it, sometimes we receive it, and sometimes it is withheld from us.

In fact, I’d even be daring enough to say that one or two of you reading this article has had an act perpetrated against you that you find hard to forgive and just about impossible to forget. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that the perpetrator is probably lucky that the old eye-for-an-eye adage is no longer enforced, or they’d be utilizing a seeing-eye-dog, right about now.

But maybe you’ve been one of the lucky ones who made it through childhood without any major league traumatic experiences, but you just love to hold a grudge. If asked why you weren’t speaking to the grudgee, you probably couldn’t even say, because all you recall, is that somewhere, someway, somehow, and/or at some time, they hurt your feelings.

But for those of us who didn’t escape the trauma, how do you forgive the unforgivable? I mean, how do you forgive someone for taking, by force, that which you didn’t offer? How do you forgive the resultant self-hatred? How do you deal with the fact that the one who was supposed to protect you, instead violated you? How do you forgive the loss of hope? Or muffle the incessant refrain of “Why me…Lord?”

How do you forgive the husband or boyfriend who uses you as a punching bag, because he loves you, and you just keep on doing things to make him mad? How do you forgive the parents who abandoned you to the mercies of the state; The resultant bouncing around from foster home to foster home, where more often than not the foster parents cared more about the paycheck they received than your welfare?

How do you forgive the furtive gropings and invasion of your person you endured while being told it’s because I love you, but don’t tell anyone, because it’s too special to share so it’s our little secret? How do you forgive the best friend who should have had your back, but while you were working overtime to pay the bills, she was working overtime on your man?

How do you deal with these injustices?

May I suggest to you that it is possible to forgive what seems unforgivable? Am I denying the fact that you were hurt? No. Am I negating your pain? Never! But what I want to propose to you today, is that weeping may endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning! I know, beautiful prose! But what does it mean, really? I’m so glad you asked.

It means that your pain has a time limit, a season if you will, and a purpose under heaven. I’ll even go so far as to say that the catalyst for the cessation of pain is directly tied up in forgiveness. In order for you to move on to the next step, which is healing, you need to give the gift of forgiveness to the offender and most importantly, to yourself.

In my struggle to work towards forgiveness, I read and re-read Jesus’ last moments on the cross. I imagined there was some pain but I couldn’t quite empathize. The passion of Christ, I was told, which came out last year around Easter, did an excellent job of portraying His agony. I never did get to see it, because I’m a bit squeamish. But I just couldn’t let it go. After some rooting around on the web, I found this article which delineates the medical complaints of Jesus on the cross:

I don’t know about you but when I’m in pain, I’m short tempered (which means I’m less than my usual tactful self, even a little mean spirited, sort of that "misery loves company" mindset). I want to be alone, by myself. No hovering, no fussing, just thinking about no one else but me. Just a little bit short of a pity party.

After reading the true nature of Jesus’ injuries, and the fact that He refused the combination of gall and myrrh, which would have served to dull His pain, I found His fortitude and lack of vindictiveness uncommon. As I re-read the scriptures describing His last moments on the cross, I marveled at how He took time out to say “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

So, again I pose the question. How do you forgive the unforgivable? Or maybe I should ask. Is it really that hard to forgive? Or are you holding onto your hurt, out of habit? Might you just be holding on, because it’s all you’ve known for five, ten, fifteen or maybe even twenty years?

Has it become like a familiar companion? You know exactly what to expect from it. It won’t ever disappoint you; it’s there when you need it. As a reason not to try something new, or when you need a scapegoat for every thing that has ever gone wrong in your life. It’s there beside you as you watch the world go by, saying “if only”, “when I,” or “I could have.” Stunted, unmoving, crippled by your memories.

How do you forgive the unforgivable?

May I suggest that you follow the example of A God who forgives? One who has and will never ask of us, what He hasn't done Himself, for He was fully God, yet fully man. He experienced every bit of agonizing pain the cross-offered, but still, His love for us superseded that of His pain, while He took time out to see to our forgiveness.

During His ministry, the question was asked, how often should I forgive…7 x 7? The answer was 70 x 7. I’m sure right now someone is thinking, but if I keep forgiving, they’ll keep on doing it! Maybe, but our forgiveness is dependent on our forgiving others. Even as we go to pray, if it comes to mind that we haven’t forgiven someone, we are to stop praying and forgive, in order to avoid any hindrance to our communication with God.

Unforgiveness hinders our communication with God? It most surely does. To remain unforgiving, you have to nurse the hurt, recall it quite frequently, harden your heart. In essence you slowly poison yourself with bitterness. The bitterness acts as a wall between God and us.

Why do we need to forgive?

Two reasons:

  1. Matthew 6:14: which states “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you;”
  2. Romans 6:23 states that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Which means that no matter how big or small the disobedience, the punishment is death. Right about here, we get comfortable, because we’re confident in the fact that we love God, haven’t murdered, raped, committed adultery, blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, robbed a bank, embezzled funds or run over anyone with our car. Which is all good, but don’t get too comfortable just yet. If you’ve never told a lie, been envious, run a red light, stolen a quarter from your parents, jaywalked, listened to gossip, failed to return a library book, cheated, or disobeyed God in any way; if you’ve done everything you were ever supposed to do every single time…then you have no need to forgive. But for the rest of us, the following are some practical steps towards the process of forgiveness:
  • Choice -- Decide you are going to forgive
  • Love –Allow love to continue flowing – don’t shut down or close yourself off
  • Faith -- Realize that we forgive by faith, not by feeling: Utilizing faith allows us to act as if a thing is so, in order that it may become so. In other words…you may start out faking it, but your genuine desire to act on your faith will connect you to God’s store of faith for you.
  • Obedience--We must forgive others if we don’t want to disobey God and break our fellowship with Him. As Christ forgave us without being asked we may need to forgive others who have not nor will ever ask our forgiveness. The forgiveness may be undeserved, but the reward of healing and reconciliation makes it worthwhile.
  • Forget --You must be willing to forget past hurts. Forget about it. Stop willfully calling it to mind. Or if it does come to mind consciously replace it with a good memory or find something positive you learned out of the bad memory. You may even want to print out some scriptures dealing with forgiveness like Matt. 6:14, Romans 6:23 on an index card and carry it around with you, to whip out when needed.
  • Prayer – Pray for the offender, a biggie, I know
  • Turnover -- Give the hurt to God. Resolve to let it go.

I think the hardest thing for me to get about forgiveness is that it wasn’t about me, it’s about obedience to God and in my obedience I reap the reward of being released from the yoke of my hurt. I had to realize that accepting grace meant I had to be responsible enough to show grace myself. I had to remind myself of how I felt when I discovered that no matter what I had done previously, God still loves me. Or if you can’t relate, I reminded myself that no matter what a screwup I was or still am at times, my family loves me.

Forgiveness is about passing on that kind of revelation, to others who have no concept of it themselves.

Maybe you’re on the top of someone’s feces list and you feel the weight of their unforgiveness. Or maybe you’re sitting there feeling the weight of the unforgiveness you have towards yourself, because sometimes we can be our own worst enemy.

No worries, the only sin God will not forgive is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which is giving Satan credit for acts of God, accomplished by the Holy Spirit. This sin is unpardonable, not because God cannot or will not forgive such a sin but because such a hard-hearted person has placed Himself beyond the possibility of repentance and faith.

If you’re one who’s never accepted the forgiveness/salvation/justification/love of God. Trapped in the notion that you’re not worthy of forgiveness, because folks have told you repeatedly that you’re nothing, you’ve been nothing and you’ll never amount to anything and somewhere along the line, you started believing them. Or if you have accepted and got a little sidetracked and feel that you’ve tracked too far to return.

I’m here to assure you today that God is A God who forgives!

He is clear when He states that He came not for those who have their acts together but He came for the screwups, like you and I. His forgiveness is available to all who would choose to receive it.

Three steps:

1) Repent

2) believe it

3) receive it!

He meets you at the point of your need. As you step forward, He’s ready and willing to embrace you to His bosom, He’s the shepherd who will leave the whole flock undone, searching out the one mislaid sheep.

Will you come?

Elected by Grace

John 15:1-17

In last week’s topic “Elected by God” we heard that election can be the choice of a specific individual to some office or to perform some special service. We also heard that election is a dual process. God chose humanity to be just like Him; humanity had a choice; Adam’s choice was disobedience. We also heard that God can use anyone:

Like Moses who felt inadequate to speak to Pharaoh because of his stutter, Abram who was childless, yet God promised to build a nation and a people for Himself out of Abram’s descendants, Saul who was zealous but shooting baskets for the wrong team until he had an encounter with God during a game, and last but not least, Rivers in the Desert Community Church, small in number but charged to do large things for God.

We also heard that, as in the case of Abraham, sometimes the election by God calls us to separate ourselves from family members, family ties, emotional baggage or a train of thought inherited from our ancestors, in order to go where God would have us to go and to accomplish that which He would have us accomplish to His honor and glory. Kinda like Rivers in the Desert, we’ve left some stuff behind, and left a couple of places, to end up in the location we are in today, knowing that with God, timing and location are key.

Which brings us to this week’s topic, “Elected by Grace” and what it means to us as Christians.

I must admit…I searched my head for the perfect “hook” in continuing this series that Pastor so eloquently kicked off. That prideful side of me…the side that pushes me to want to measure up, be just as good as…or even come a little close, was working overtime during what has proven to be a stressful week.

Nevertheless…I came up with one…“Chosen: Now What?” Doesn’t that just grab you right off the bat? But somehow, no matter how I worked it, twitched it and tweaked it…it kept me focused exactly where I didn’t want to go. It kept the emphasis on the work of a Christian, when our topic is firmly about the state of Grace. So sadly…I retired the brilliant (in my opinion) hook…and reverted to the assigned title.

“Elected by Grace”—not splashy, but right on target.

Grace:-Favor or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it and in spite of what that person deserves.

The very definition of grace addresses those of us today, who as Christians have gotten into the habit of thinking that our doodoos or gases don’t stink. What do I mean by that? I’m talking about those of us who’ve served a dish or two during fellowship hour, maybe sang a song or two during service, swept a floor ever now and then, typed up a bulletin or two and/or contributed faithfully. Having done one of more of the above, we feel justified enough to look around, decide who’s not working at all, or maybe not working hard enough (in our estimation) and devise tasks in our minds that are perfect for their “gifting.” Some of us may have even been bold enough to address the person(s) directly or broached the topic with the Pastor, as though expecting applause or a medal for our “assistance.”

But this morning, I thank God for Grace. Not only is it humbling, it is also a great equalizer. For it makes us realize that no matter who we are, or what we do, it makes no difference to God, where election is concerned. Grace:-None of us deserve it, yet God chose to extend it…because He loves us.

We in turn, choose God because He calls us. How does He call us? Through the proclamation or preaching of the gospel of Jesus the Christ; through the witnessing of believers to those they interact with on a daily basis, through the scriptures made freely accessible by various organization and believe it or not, through the many hardships and disappointments we experience in our lives. We choose God because He first chose and called us to Himself. In all instances, God is the initiator.

When things are free, there is the tendency to rush to embrace it, then…after a while, it begins to lose value because it cost us nothing. We take it for granted. I want to suggest, or maybe I should say remind us this morning that, that free item, may have cost us nothing, but somewhere, somehow, sometime…someone had to pay a cost to provide us with that free item. In the case of Grace, the someone, was Jesus the Christ and the cost was His life. The book of Isaiah chapter 53 verse 5 tells us that He was wounded for our transgressions (wrongdoings), crushed for our iniquities (sins); upon Him was the punishment that made us whole, and by His bruises we are healed. We, you and I, exist because of His grace; we walk in health because we need not be crippled by emotional, spiritual and/or mental agonies caused by the weight of our sins. Therefore, we dare not be complacent of the gift of Grace that is our very lives.

Jesus never has nor will ever be a complacent God. When He said, “It is finished.” from the cross, had He been complacent, He could have stopped there. After all, as the sacrificial lamb, His blood had already been shed, He’d taken on our sins, suffered the anguish of being separated from His Dad in a way He’d never experienced before. The lines of communication were down and all He had was His faith that His Dad still loved Him, while He was away on assignment.

But no…although “It is finished.” seemed a fitting end; in actuality…it had just begun! “It is finished” was the public demonstration of our very election by God before the foundation of the earth. What was finished? The reign of Satan was finished; what was finished? The restoration of the relationship between God and mankind was finished. Jesus committed, entrusted, returned His Spirit to its source of origin, the Father, for safekeeping and went to the pits of hell. There He suffered untold agonies, but He was still on the job, taking back everything the devil stole from us. Our joy, our hope, our love, our ability to trust, our lost family members and He rose triumphant on the third day in all power and glory.
Having broken the chains of death and restored mankind to right relationship with God, He returned to sit at the right hand of the Father where He’s still on the job, whispering in His daddy’s ear intercessory words for you and I.

Jesus’ resurrection entailed ramifications that Satan doesn’t want you and I to fully realize. That’s why he’s on the job 24/7, trying to ensure that our focus becomes the disappointments we experience during the week, the heartache we suffer at the hands of our loved ones, (for no one can hurt us like the ones we love) the insecurities that beset us when facing the unknown, the loneliness that attacks us in the wee hours of the morn and on and on just to keep our heads spinning, so we won’t have a moment to stop and think.

‘Cause when you stop and think, you might think of Jesus hanging on the cross, just to pay a debt that you couldn’t pay. A sin debt…the wages of which were clearly death. But through His grace, He chose you and He elected me, not through any actions or deeds of our own, but because He loves us so much.

He loved us so much that He left us an inheritance. What did we inherit? Let’s see:

 Salvation – He saved us from our sins
 Redemption – He bought back our sin IOU’s
 Justification – We now appear blameless before God
 Longevity – We can live forever
 Grace – Free unmerited favor
 Power – To cast down strongholds, to resist temptation, to praise, to forgive, to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons...yes…all of that…and more

Aside from the six heavies I just mentioned, we also inherited a friend that put His life on the line for us, one who shares all knowledge with us, and the clincher…the ability to do all things in His strength.

Of course, as with anything freely given, there are stipulations. So attached to that inheritance is the responsibility to produce lasting fruit. Fruit? Did someone say fruit? So there’s food involved? Not quite. Fruit here refers to the people in our immediate circle, like our family, friends, (for the single among us) your significant other, co-workers and that person beside you on the bus or train every morning.

Fruit comes in all shapes and sizes and range in taste from sweet to downright tart! Some have prickly outsides some are smooth. Some have seeds that are edible, some not. Some are juicy some are dry. As many variations as there are to fruit, the same applies to the condition and/or state of mind of your average human being alive today. Both have something in common, without proper handling…they won’t last.

Even though some of us may have a hard time sharing our faith, and yes, some folk, like Pastor Ricketts, are gifted at it, the Bible clearly indicates that evangelism is for everyone, in fact it is considered to be a fruit of the spirit! Yes, that means that Pastor Ricketts, Min. Swangin and I, aren’t the only ones with the responsibility to say, Jesus loves you!
As someone chosen by Grace and set aside to do work for God, you’ve got something inside you that God wants you to share with someone who doesn’t know about or hasn’t experienced Him. What? How grace abounds in your life, how grace saved you, how grace keeps you. Think about it, you awaken every day…grace. You have the ability to walk, talk, think, hear and see…grace, grace, grace, grace and grace. You’ve got family and friends who love and look out for you…grace. You have a place to sleep at night…grace. The many little things you and I take for granted that others can’t do, don’t have or will never have are reason for us to be thankful for grace in our situation and mindful of our complaints and to whom we complain.

It is our responsibility to share the gospel of Jesus the Christ with those we come into contact with daily. A good thing to remember is that our actions and our attitude are as much or even more of a testament to what we say we believe. So we need to be gracious in our everyday dealings with others in the same way that God is gracious to us. Will any of this earn us any more or less grace? No. The fact is that we need only have faith in Jesus Christ to be afforded this Grace. However, since we had to hear…before we believed, our responsibility is to share this news with all who would listen. I know we sometimes have the desire to hug and hoard good things to ourselves, but the good news is: Grace is not like a one day sale at Macy’s where either the merchandise is gonna run out or the day will end…God’s grace is endless!

Someone might be thinking right now…but Sis Dee, that doesn’t seem like much of an inheritance, because I’ve got bills, I can’t seem to pay. To which God says, If you make yourself at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. In other words, your relationship with God and knowledge of His words, directs your prayer success rate. Your relationship with God, defines the “whatever” mentioned here. For example, if you and your earthly parent communicate about everything, you’ll know what they like or dislike as well as their financial circumstances and what they’ll be willing to give you. Same thing with God…closeness with Him (via the Word) enables you to know that praying for the car, the house, the money, doesn’t make sense because they are temporary. Now, if you pray for the help of the Lord, fullness of the Spirit, fullness of joy and/or wisdom and you do so in faith…not only will your prayer success rate improve in leaps and bounds…some of that other stuff will come as well.

But Sis Dee, I’m shy and no one listens to me anyway. To which God says, I did not give you a spirit of cowardice (fear), but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. In other words, don’t underestimate your God given ability to do. When faced with Satan’s projection of your insecurities, be proactive in your thinking. Start out with what you can do…and how many of you know that with God…all things are possible? Amen? Amen.

But Sis. Dee, I don’t know what to say. To which God says, You didn’t choose me, remember I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, He gives you. In other words, the Spirit will help you and three things to remember:

 He lived
 He died
 He rose

Tell them what those three things have meant in your life and how they too can experience it.

The key thing to remember is that God is the initiator in all things, and as the one who gave the assignment; He’ll also give you the words to say. All you have to do is be willing to open your mouth and trust He’ll be with you.

And there’s always someone literal in the crowd, so for you literal folk who are probably thinking about the fact that fruits are so expensive because they spoil so easily. I’m so glad you thought about that, because that gives me the opportunity to define “lasting fruit” and “fruit that spoils.”
Suppose we see the lasting fruit as the people we invite to church, tell about our experience with God who respond to God’s elective call by choosing to be saved as the lasting fruit. Then if we see the fruit that spoils easily as those people we hold on to that add nothing but a funky smell or rancid taste to our lives. Those would be the relationships with folk who’ve never had a positive thing to say to or about us in our entire lives, but still we associate ourselves. In our bid to be loved or maybe to love others as Jesus loved us, we need to be clear that in our loving, we can pray for them, be polite to them, but we need not spend excessive time with them.

Why? Did you ever notice how you can place two fruits beside each other, one healthy, one spoiled. To date, (and feel free to supply pictures and documentation if you’ve heard something to the contrary), in my almost forty years, I’ve never heard of the good apply rectifying, saving and/or restoring the whole bunch. But I sure did hear and sing that song about “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch girl!”

Although I highly doubt anyone is going to be banging my door down with a report of an organically grown apple that managed to rectify, save and restore the whole bushel. But continuing the fruit analogy, I do hold in my hand, proof, that such an apple existed. Some call Him Yeshua, some call Him Savior, and this morning I call Him love.

And this morning He says to us:

I, God, am love. Before you existed, I chose you to be my ambassador…so that I can express my love through you.

Will you respond to His call?

Honk If You Love Jesus!

The wife of a Southern Baptist preacher talks to her Sunday School class about a wonderful religious experience that she had last week.

The other day I went up to the local Christian book store where I saw a `Honk if you love Jesus` bumper sticker.

I was feeling particularly sassy that day because I had just come from a thrilling choir performance at the church. I then bought that bumper sticker and put it on the back bumper of my car. I`m really glad that I did. What followed was a truly uplifting experience.

I was stopped at the light of a busy intersection, just lost in thought about the Lord, and I didnot notice that the light had changed.

It`s a good thing someone else loves Jesus or I may have never noticed that the light had changed. I found that lots of people love Jesus.

Why the guy behind me started to honk like crazy and then he leaned out his window and screamed,

"For the love of GOD, Go!... Go! Jesus Christ! Go!"

Everyone was honking. I leaned out my window and waved and smiled to all those loving people and I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love.

There must have been a man from Florida back there because I could hear him yelling something about a sunny beach. I saw another guy waving a funny way with only his middle finger stuck up in the air.

When I asked my teenage son in the back seat what this meant, he said that it was nothing, probably a Hawaiian good luck sign or something.

Well, I have never met a person from Hawaii, so I leaned out the window and gave him the good luck sign back. My son burst into laughter.

Why even he was enjoying the love of this religious experience!

A couple of the people were so caught up in the joy of the moment that they got out of their car and were walking towards me.

I bet they wanted to pray or ask what church I attended, butthat is when I noticed that the light had changed.Iwaved one more time to my loving brothers and sisters and drove through the intersection.

I was the only car that got across the intersection before the light changed again. I felt kind of bad that I had to leave them and all that love that we had shared.

So, I slowed the car down, leaned out the window and gave them all the Hawaiian good luck sign one more time as I drove away.

"Praise the Lord for such a wonderful experience!"

"Honk if YOU love Jesus!!!"

~~Author Unknown.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Strong Black Woman is Dead! Or Is She?

This was written as my response to the original obituary of the strong black woman. Hope you like it...

The Strong Black Woman is Dead! Or Is She?

No she's not dead
she's just experienced a rebirth.

Through the memories
of her daughters and granddaughters
who have learned
from her triumphs and failures
and realized
that strength is knowing
when to ask for help
when to cry out
when to be silent;

She's realized
that what she's experienced
does not define or confine her
that pride which prohibits healing
is no longer a banner
but a prison;

She's realized
that she is a word spoken from God
and as such
will not
return to Him void.
In essence she's come full circle
in realizing that
servitude was not the problem
just the master she served;

She's realized
that being proactive
is much more effective than being reactive
so she chooses her battles wisely
knowing when to fight
and when to let it go
her choice of weapons being
an education
proper financial planning
and community involvement
to enrich the next generation;

She's realized
that it rains on the just and the unjust
so she's chosen
not to harbor
a sense of injustice;

She's realized
that comparisons are self-defeating
so she's chosen
to celebrate her uniqueness
and strive for her personal best;

She's realized
that loving
not giving up on the black man
is key
so she's chosen
to start with her brothers
uncles, cousins, nephews
sons and grandsons
for she knows
the viral power of love;

She's realized
that submission to her mate
does not equate servitude
so she's chosen
to embrace the peerless system
of checks and balances
as designed by God;

But most of all
she's chosen...to forgive
live in the present
and love...always love.
which takes
uncommon strength.

Copyright © 2005 D.S. White, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Ten Ways You Can Tell That You’re Shouting Too Much In Church

10. When the Spirit hits you, you pass out on the floor and nobody helps you get up.
9. They change the church service times and tell everybody but You.
8. Your Pastor goes around town looking for a new church for you.
7. You shout during the Announcements. (That's me…lol)
6. The ushers warn people who sit next to you.
5. There`s a pool on what color underwear you have on this Sunday.
4. When you come into the church, the ushers issue you protective pads and a helmet so you won`t hurt yourself again this Sunday.
3. You come to church with pom poms.
2. Forgetting where you are, you start shouting at your daughter`s graduation. (That's me…lol)
1. There`s an announcement that states, "If Sister Thornton knocks off Sister Odell`s hat this Sunday, it`s on!!"

Do you see yourself anywhere in the lineup? Now don't leave me out here by myself! And if you've any to add, please feel free to post.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

What Limits You?

What can I say? How many start over at 40? Despite the "it's-all-downhill-from-here" mindset perpetuated by the folks of yesteryear...I'm finding 39 (almost 40) to be a time of new biginnings, realizations of dreams and more.

I'm now dusting off my cobwebs, growing up, joining the adult world and beginning to feel at home in my space.

I recently discovered...(as of last Saturday)...that I can write songs! Lyrics, music and all. Do I play an instrument? No. Can I hear music in my head...surely! I was pushed, pummelled, cajoled, coerced into putting something together for a friend. I started out with..."but I just sing...I don't know how to write songs!" and by the end of the day...I was like..."I can do this!"

All this time...the only one limiting me...was me. In my head, a prerequisite for writing music was the ability to play an instrument...and since I don't...ergo...inability to compose...

Hello...computer software and a creative mind? Well that's my rushed rant...for today.


Monday, May 23, 2005

Terry Burns

Terry Burns has a new Series from Mysterious Ways from River Oak Publishing that will give him 17 books in print. The second book in the series, Brother’s Keeper, will be out in January. Mysterious Ways has been nominated for the American Christian Fiction Writers book of the year and is slated to be nominated for the Christy Award in December. Trails of the Dime Novel is out in trade paperback from Echelon Press and in audio from JBS Publishing. His trade paperback, To Keep a Promise from The Fiction Works, was a finalists for the Eppie award (ebook form), and the paperback was nominated for the Willa Award. A second title, Don't I Know You? is out as a paperback as well. Both titles are scheduled for audiobooks this year. He's published over 200 articles and short stories, is in a short story collection published by the Darkstormy writers, in a collection just out from Coastal Villages Press entitled "Straight from the heart - stories of love and friendship," the second volume entitled "More stories of love and friendship", “Soul Matters” from Thomas Nelson, and one entitled "Living by Faith" from Obidiah Press. Terry has published four nonfiction books, has a small book of cowboy poetry entitled "Cowboys Don't Read Poetry". His available works can be found at www.terryburns.net


  • Jealousy
  • Kenneth Aveirls, Sr

    Ken Aveirls has been pastoring for over 10 years. Currently, he is the Senior Pastor of Mount Zion AME Church in the city of Jackson, Georgia. In addition to the Pastoral Ministry, Rev. Ken is the founder and CEO of two Non-Profit Organizations: The Shermantown Community Development Corporation and the Allen-Bethel Assistance Corporation. Both entities were started to help “at-risk” children, and to promote financial empowerment to the community

    Rev. Ken is also on faculty part-time, at Beulah Heights Bible College – One of America’s fastest growing bible colleges to date.

    He is a single father of three lovely children.


  • Burn Your Ship!
  • It's a Celebration! Enjoy Yourself!

  • Just Jesus!

  • Spiritual Necrophiliacs

  • Stay Salty!

  • Step Aside...Let Faith In!

  • Un-Churched Black Men Introduction, or, Where the Men At in the Churches?

  • Un-Churched Black Men Part II, or, Where the Men At in the Churches? Part II

    • Sunday, May 22, 2005

      William F. Cooper

      William Fredrick Cooper is an ordinary guy thats trying to make a difference in life. Born in Brooklyn and reared on Staten Island, he presently resides in the Bronx, in New York City. A legal assistant at the law firm of Pryor, Cashman, Sherman & Flynn, he is the proud father of a lovely daughter named Maranda.

      Mr. Cooper is a teen mentor with the Brother 2 Brother Mentorship Program in conjunction with Harlem Hospital; an active member of Harlems Abyssinian Baptist church; a co-coordinator of the Well Read Reading group, a Brooklyn based literacy initiative that connects with African American teenagers; and a member of the Board of Directors with Brother 2 Brother Symposium, Inc., a program that encourages men and young adults to read fiction literature.


    • A Luther Vandross Moment
    • Saturday, May 21, 2005

      Christopher Donaldson, Sr.

      Christopher Donaldson, an experienced fund-raiser and nonprofit leader and licensed minister, has been named director of development for ABSW.

      An American Baptist minister, Donaldson has a rich and varied experience in fund raising. He was director of development for ChangeMakers Foundation and Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, both in San Francisco.

      “Chris’ proven track record in fund raising will help us sustain our current support and build relationships with new donors,” says President Keith Russell.

      Most recently Donaldson was director of institutional advancement for Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary), where he led special event planning, direct mail campaigns, and major gift development.

      This past winter Donaldson also began his own development services consulting venture. He holds a master of education degree in nonprofit management from Cambridge College.


    • Death Works In You
    • Divine Appointments

    • Going Against the Flow

    • The Greatest Test

    • Humility In Relationships

    • Our Plans and God's Plans

      • Friday, May 20, 2005

        Roderick Desmond Hutcherson

        Roderick Desmond Hutcherson has been in the music business for more than 15 years. His career started as an artist (Male Soloist) for Black Pearl Records, under the management of Earl “THE PEARL” Monroe. During this time is when he began his interest in the business aspect of music. Under the tutelage of Earl Monroe, Roderick was able to acquire a vast amount of knowledge about networking and contractual negotiations.

        While working with Black Pearl Records. Roderick Hutcherson was also under the mentorship of Herb Middleton. As Herb was growing into the reputable producer we know today, Roderick was learning the production/recording process. He was able to see and be a part of the artist development of all the artist that came under the production of Herb Middleton. With the combination of his studying business management at Queens College and his hands on training in the fields of contract negotiations and networking, as well as developing, managing, and producing artist, Roderick has been able to be a huge part of as well as start several successful business ventures.

        In 1995, Roderick Hutcherson was hired to be the Director of Operations as well as the production coordinator for Y.A.I.D.T.S. (Young Artist with Integrity Destined To Succeed), which is a production/performance company that has been responsible for the development of several artist who have gone on to garner record deals, careers in commercials and TV shows, as well as Broadway plays. Roderick Hutcherson currently sits as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Y.A.I.D.T.S., Inc.

        Roderick Hutcherson is currently the President of Source of Synergy, which is a networking and consulting company in the matters of the entertainment industry. He is also the Vice President for El Lamohn, Inc., which is a clothing line for men, inspired by the artistic designs of a 15 year old prodigy by the name of Lorenzo Nicoleau. Roderick is also the Director of Promotions (East Coast Division) for The Undaground Communications Marketing Group, which is a company that offers top quality marketing and promotions for major clientele such as BET, The Apollo Theater, EMI Gospel, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Columbia Records just to name a few.

        Roderick Hutcherson has been a consultant for Herb Middleton and Big Herb’s Music for approximately 9 years. As a result of a long, successful partnership with Herb Middleton, he is now the Co-President for Nuvybe Records, alongside Janelle Middleton, the President and Founder of Nuvybe Records.

        D.S. White

        An avid reader, D.S. White is the former proprietor of an online African-American bookstore and wholesale distributorship. Unfortunately, she didn't have a back up plan for 9/11/01. Nevertheless, she has made a home for herself working amongst books at a Publishing House in PA.

        She is the divorced mother of a fabulous 19 year old who is has just completed her sophomore year at the University of Pennsylvania.

        D.S. White loves traveling but most of it to date has been done within the pages of a book. While planning that mother/daughter trip in the distant future, she's tried her hand at acting, singing, dancing, modeling, cosmetology and sales. She settled for a long term stint at a title insurance company that lasted 14 years (because she simply felt that eating was mandatory). On the side she began a gourmet carrot cake business and continued to audition for broadway and off-off Broadway shows, but alas either her talent or look was not up to par, or the timing was simply just wrong.

        A budding wordsmith, she has few credits to date which opened her eyes to the need for a place where writers of color could congregate, a Water Cooler, if you will. There writers of all levels of experience can find awards, contests, markets, scholarships and the like specifically geared to writers of color.

        Aware of the need for reading material which accurately reflects the look and mindset of the person of color, she decided to do her part to facilitate the same. Aware that she's droning on and on, she's simply going to end by saying that if you remember nothing else from her bio, remember that she loves God and is always happy to share what He's done in and for her life.

        Fashion Tips: Choosing Pantyhose and Nylons that Flatter Your Body
        Small Business Advice: Finding Startup Financing

        Jehovah Shalom

        Believe in Me

        The Strong Black Woman is Dead! Or is she?

        Thursday, May 19, 2005

        Jason Campbell

        Faga Samdumu


      • Freedom
      • Believe in Me

        I know sometimes it’s hard to love
        I know sometimes it’s hard to give your trust
        But when fear overcomes you
        And you’re tempted to give in
        Just remember that there’s really no fear in love
        My perfect love casts out fear

        Believe in Me
        I’m the One who loves you most
        Believe in Me
        I’m the One who died for you
        Believe in Me
        I’ll meet you halfway if you try…believe
        I’ll meet you halfway if you try…believe

        Things are not always what they seem
        The trials that you bear don’t mean
        That I don’t really love you
        Or that I have for-sa-ken you
        Just remember that I don’t allow
        More than you can bear


        It doesn’t matter what you’ve done
        It doesn’t matter what’s been done to you
        All it takes is the be-lief
        That I died on the cross for you
        Then you’ve no need for guilt, shame or fear
        My child be of good cheer


        Copyright (c) 2005, D.S. White, all rights reserved

        Friday, May 13, 2005

        How We Turn Gray

        One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother had several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast to her brunette hair. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, "Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?"

        Her mother replied, "Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white."

        The little girl thought about this revelation for awhile and then said, "Momma, how come ALL of grandma's hairs are white?"

        Thursday, May 12, 2005

        Thou Shalt Not Kill

        A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her 5 and 6 year-olds. After explaining the commandment "Honor thy Father and thy mother," she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters? Without missing a beat one little boy answered, "Thou shall not kill."

        Wednesday, May 11, 2005

        Out of the Mouth of Babes:

        A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they drew. She would occasionally walk around to see each child's artwork. As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.

        The girl replied, "I'm drawing God."

        The teacher paused and said, "but no one knows what God looks like." Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing the girl replied,

        "They will in a minute."