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  • All Falls Down

    We live in some interesting times. I find that I am often blown away by the actions of individuals. As much as we profess to care about others, I find that more people are concerned about how things impact them and how they are made to feel. I think for so long we’ve been conditioned to believe that it’s all about us. I remember as a young woman when there was so much discussion about the self-esteem of young people and the importance of validation. What began as a critical conversation resulted in giving everyone participation points or passing the entire class because we didn’t want to hurt the feelings of others. In a desire to promote healthy self-perception, I think it developed such a focus on self that we failed to find the balance in knowing the interrelated nature of self and community. We failed to make the correlation that our decisions can have either a direct or indirect impact on the lives of others. The Butterfly Effect is a concept used in meteorology, economics and other fields that describe a phenomenon. Mathematician Edward Lorenz noted that if a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world, it can create a tornado somewhere else. A very small, unanticipated change can create a very different outcome. The reality is that small or large occurrences happen and can create circumstances that we are not able to predict. We don’t live in the world in isolation. So many things in our world have become so political that we have failed to pay attention to the impact of our decisions on the lives of those around us. Whether to have the vaccine or not, to believe that global warming is real or not, or other issues that divide us, we have lost the ability to see things from the perspective of others. We have failed to understand caring for our neighbor and the interconnectivity we have with one another. A neighbor isn’t necessarily the person who lives next door to you. The Bible reminds us of the importance of our neighbors, of those who we share space within our communities, in our world and that their well-being is important. “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:24) The Bible commands us to love one another: “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1-2) My mother always would tell me as a child this scripture. What would happen if we thought that everyone we encountered was an angel and God was watching our interaction? I bet it would not only change the way we saw others, but we would be more intentional in the way we interacted. It’s deeper than just loving our neighbor. It really boils down to how we see ourselves. We have a world of people that no matter how many participation points, awards for everyone on the team, and passing grades, whose self-worth is minimal. Their self-worth is found in stuff. In an article by researchers, Zheng and Hawk (2019), “self-esteem is inversely correlated with people’s general materialistic values, purchasing expensive brands, or valuing of material possessions. Those who emphasize low interdependence enhance and maintain self- esteem through personal success, fulfillment of personal desires, and the validation of their abilities and unique inner attributes. In contrast, the bases of self-esteem for highly interdependent individuals are group harmony and associations with others.” In other words, when we don’t find importance in others, we find it in stuff which makes it easy to disregard others and that what we do impacts them. The Bible states, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14) If we don’t love ourselves, it is going to be so hard to love our neighbors.

  • Take It Off, It Doesn’t Fit You

    One of the most difficult things to do is to go shopping with my daughter. I can almost guarantee that anything I pick out for her will more than likely be dismissed. She reminds me that she’s not a little girl anymore and that her style has changed. It’s not that I want her to look like a child but in my mind, I think I know what looks good on her. What I love about my daughter is that she is very clear on what she wants. She’s clear on her abilities and what is important to her. For my child, she cares about what I think but she has realized that her journey is one she must take with God for her life. As parents, we do the best we can while they are young to guide and direct them but when they are adults, they ultimately make decisions that are best for them. Many of us forget this adding our own wishes, dreams and hopes on our children only to create disappointment and friction in the relationship. Many of us are not fulfilled because WE are still carrying the baggage, beliefs, and bondage of our past which keeps us weighted down from really obtaining God’s best for our lives. It’s very easy to allow the thoughts and opinions of others to impact your decision making. It’s important to know yourself and to be clear on what God has given you and told you to do. In 1 Samuel 17, the story of David is one that illustrates the importance of knowing who you are and whose you are. “When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” 29”Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” David could have easily allowed his brother’s perspective to cloud the way he saw himself. Despite the fear of others and his brother’s point of view, David persisted and told Saul he was available to fight Goliath. “33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” Once again, Saul was paying attention to David’s outer appearance discouraging him from moving forward. David could have listened to him as well, but he knew his purpose. In addition to dealing with other’s perception of his ability, David knew that God had prepared him for such a moment. He knew that God did not waste any of his experiences and that they would be used. For many of us, we doubt our abilities and allow others to place on us their limitations and expectations. David shared with Saul his experiences in killing bears and lions which gave him the experience to take down another beast in his path. He stated, “37 The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.” 38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.” We know how the story ends. David kills Goliath using his knowledge and experience, but most importantly, trusting God. David could have easily worn the armor given to him, but he understood that it didn’t fit. It limited his movement, and it was unfamiliar. What are you allowing to be placed on you that doesn’t fit or serve you well? There may be opportunities available for you but because of the perceptions, family history, or your past—you are allowing those variables to weigh you down from walking into your purpose. You are second guessing God and yourself. God has an amazing life for you with many giants that will come your way. Don’t allow the baggage or perceptions of others keep you from moving forward. With God, you can slay many giants trusting God’s plan and purpose for your life and being who God authentically created you to be.

  • Everybody Can’t Speak Into Your Life

    There is also a lesson in being mindful of the words we speak over the lives of others. The Bible reminds us that there is life and death in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Instead of speaking life to Job and his condition, his friends found fault seeking to tie his misery to something he had done. When I was in graduate school, I had a professor who didn’t seem to care for me. I was the only Black person in his class, and I was often ignored or dismissed. He was kind and friendly to other students but when it came to me, he had no patience or tolerance for anything. I remember submitting a paper and when I received the grade, I was baffled. I explained that I had worked so hard on the paper and I wasn’t clear on why my grade was so low. He remarked, “I don’t know how you got into graduate school. You can’t write.” I was floored. I knew I wasn’t a New York Times best selling author at the time but throughout my undergraduate studies, I never had an issue with any of my professors. As a History major and an English minor, I wrote consistently and never had that type of feedback in my life. In retrospect, his comments served as a catalyst. I could have easily given up because of his title, position, and age and allowed his comments to determine my immediate reaction and future possibilities. He didn’t deserve that power over my life. Nearly 30 years later, I’ve authored books, been quoted in major publications, taught at a number of universities and spoken to audiences all over the world. What if I had allowed his perception of me to deter me from achieving my goals? What if I had given up and settled for his statement as fact? Too often, we allow the thoughts and opinions of others to jade us and impact our trajectory. It isn’t that I didn’t work harder because of what he said. I did. I also knew that I couldn’t give up on my future especially when knew that God had something special for my life. You must be careful about who or what you listen to. Although I wasn’t close to this professor and didn’t have much of a relationship with him, many of us are wounded by those who are close to us. Their words can pierce our souls because of the relationship and proximity we have to them. Sometimes their words maybe well- meaning and out of concern. We also know that there are times that those words can be malicious and damaging. Job in the Bible experienced the painful words of loved ones when he suffered tragedy and loss. In Chapter 2, his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, arrived to support him after they heard about the calamity he experienced. In their desire to offer support and console their friend, they began to blame Job for his condition. Their lengthy speeches were filled with concern but laced with condemnation. Job finally remarked: 16: 2 “I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all.” God ultimately condemns them in Chapter 42 for their rhetoric. Yet, think about the amount of time Job heard their words along with his wife who encouraged him to curse God and die? Had he listened to their council, Job would have missed out on seeing the hand of God in his life. He could have given up. There is also a lesson in being mindful of the words we speak over the lives of others. The Bible reminds us that there is life and death in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Instead of speaking life to Job and his condition, his friends found fault seeking to tie his misery to something he had done. Job needed in that moment friends that would be supportive, kind, and probably silent. He was already rehashing what happened and didn’t need their judgement combined with what he was thinking and experiencing. My mother would always say to me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.” I think more of us need to be quiet. Our words are powerful and impact those around us especially our children. What are the words that you are speaking over the lives of your children? About their Father? Don’t allow the pain of your past show up in your words that can cause damage for a lifetime. Be careful of placing your insecurities and frustration in the words that you use. Everybody should not have the power or the place to speak into your situation. Speak life over yourself and your child and if necessary, be silent allowing God to show up in your situation.

  • Don’t Miss Him

    I think we’ve all had our moments with an individual who represented themselves one way only to turn out to be something totally different. Judas was the disciple responsible for keeping the money. Somewhere along the way, his desire to serve became clouded in a willingness to steal. As someone who saw the miracles Jesus performed and his commitment to serving God, he got lost and allowed himself to be used as an agent of evil. For example, the time that he was upset about Mary using perfume on Jesus’ feet was shieled in an attempt to portray his concern for the poor but was rooted in his desire for money. (John 12:1-6) This was a man who saw Lazarus raised from the dead (v. 9) and even with the ability to witness miracles, he still sought short-term gratification instead of seeing salvation right in his presence. How often are we faced with miracles from God only to rationalize it as being something else? As much as we are critical of Judas, it is important that we evaluate that spirit within ourselves. For many, we have witnessed the goodness of God only to question it or the messenger because it did not meet our expectations. As the celebration of Passover occurred, Judas was preparing to turn Jesus over to the Pharisees. He not only ate with Jesus but had his feet washed by our Lord. It's interesting that Jesus knew that Judas would betray him and still allowed him to be a part of the group. There is a lesson for all of us in this. We must know that there will be those who start the journey with us with good intentions that allow themselves to be compromised because their focus is no longer on the Savior but the satisfaction of whatever they seek. The Bible accounts that on several occasions Satan entered Judas. How is it possible that one can be close to Christ and fall for the temptation presented by Satan? Judas had been walking with the Light of the World and yet, when he removed himself from the light, he was in the darkness making deadly decisions. If we are not careful, it is easy to solely see Judas as the betrayer and not a part of God’s ultimate plan for salvation. It’s also easy to miss that we have the impression that we are walking with Christ and yet fail to realize how we allow ourselves to be instruments of the Devil. When we take our eyes off Jesus and focus on material things such as money, we can jeopardize the lives of those around us and impact our destiny. The response of Jesus’ to the upcoming betrayal was not one of condemnation. He could have told Judas off, revealed his plot, or even stopped him. Instead, Jesus prayed for his disciples (including Judas) and followed God to the end. Judas realizes his fault far too late. The people that he sought to impress and the temporary satisfaction of the 30 pieces of silver were not enough. (Matthew 27:3-5) Jesus’ gave his life and Judas lost his. The kiss of betrayal isn’t something that happens immediately. Judas allowed his resentment and greed to go unchecked. Instead of recognizing his need for the Savior who was right there, he was easily sedated by momentary musings of wealth. The real wealth was in his presence, and he missed it. I hope as we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior that we don’t miss Him. What we don’t bring into submission to the Holy Spirit—jealousy, envy, gossip, greed, selfish ambition, etc.---can lead us down a path of destruction…and we miss the true relationship that is available to each of us with Jesus. Excerpt from the article, Don’t Miss Him in the Baptist Standard, March 28, 2022 (https://www.baptiststandard.com/opinion/voices/dont-miss-jesus-like-judas-did/)

  • Empowering Charity: A New Narrative of Philanthropy

    I have been really blessed to work in philanthropy and elated to share my experiences in my new book, Empowering Charity: A New Narrative of Philanthropy. For years, I had been on the other side asking for money for nonprofits. As Vice President of Community Affairs at the State Fair of Texas and serving as co-founder of HERitage Giving Circle, these two experiences have been impactful and changed my perspective. I am proud to say that in the nearly six years I have been at the Fair, my team and I have been deliberate in changing the narrative of philanthropy. More than 70% of the organizations or programs funded have been led by people of color. This is typically not the case in philanthropy. HERitage is one of the first Black women giving circles in the state of Texas. It has been an honor co-laboring with Akilah Wallace, Dr. Halima Francis and the amazing Black women who donate their funds to help organizations led by Black women. .6% of funding in this country is donated to organizations led by Black women. For communities to thrive, it is going to be important that we do not expect the changes we expect to see to rest solely on nonprofits to solve. It is going to require a vastly different way of thinking that involves listening to those most proximate with the lived experience, collaboration, leveraging our gifts and talents, bringing our social networks to the table, and analyzing the way we give. Giving is not about having power or control—it is about the power of partnering. As Christians, giving is not an option. We are required to give. Although our time and talent are so important, our treasure (Matthew 6:19-21) in the right context is also necessary. Many of us make a variety of excuses about why we do not give. We typically find fault or have doubts which allows us to absolve our responsibility by blaming others. It is important to make sure that you are sowing into good ground which requires you to do your due diligence if it is not a place that you have a personal relationship with. It is your job to be a good steward of your gift and that requires research and building relationships. Seek out organizations that are not necessarily on the radar or notable but the ones that really need the support, serving those who are marginalized, vulnerable, and are working in under resourced communities with a team and leadership that reflect those communities. Secondly, it is important to recognize why we give as Believers. If our desire is recognition (Matthew 6:1-4) or a tax write off, we are missing the entire point of why God commands us to give. I think many of us fail to understand the power of giving and what God says about its importance: Giving should not be an obligation. It is what we are to do. God honors you when you honor others in your giving. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8) Your willingness to help others will impact your life. “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25) God gives to us, and everything belongs to God. It is a matter of trusting God’s ability to honor your giving. “Everything in heaven and earth is Yours, O LORD. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. “God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (1 Chronicles 29:12-14) You cannot talk about God’s love and withhold from others when you see their need. “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17) Want more information on how you can be more effective in your congregation and community? I share many strategies, tools and tips in my latest book entitled, Empowering Charity: A New Narrative of Philanthropy published by Baylor University Press. Visit https://baylorpr.es/EmpChar for details.

  • Being Stuck Has Nothing To Do With Luck

    When I look over my life, I not only see what I’ve gone through, but I see God’s hand in all of it. Even in those situations that are not so good, I can see how God worked all things together for my good. Sometimes, while we are in the middle of a situation, the pain can be so overwhelming that we not only forget what we are made of, we forget about God’s ability to carry us through it. If we are not careful, it’s easy to get stuck in the past because of its familiarity. It’s not that the past was necessarily so good for us, but we can convince ourselves that it’s better than going to something new and unknown. When we are blessed with opportunities to move forward, we can become so fixated with what we had that we miss out on the future possibilities of hope and happiness. I’m reminded of Lot’s wife. Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt because she looked back instead of moving forward. They were told by the angels as they were leaving Sodom and Gomorrah, “Flee for your life! Do not look behind you, nor stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills, lest you be swept away.” (Genesis 19:17) Instead of believing God for what was possible, she longed for what she had in the past because it was comfortable. If you are going to get what God has for you, you must be willing to trust God and move forward even when the future is not certain and there are so many unknowns. Her disobedience cost her terribly. Will you miss what God has for you because you do not believe that better is available? Just as she remembered and chose to look back, she became immobilized. Are you stuck in the past, unable to move forward? We get stuck in our stuff. Our lives are more than where we live, what we have, the places we work, our titles and accolades. According to the world’s standards, we may be at the top of our game and yet, we can become stuck, paralyzed from truly living a life of abundance that we’ve been promised. (John 10:10) Jesus reminds his disciples in the New Testament about Lot’s wife. “Remember Lot’s wife!” He said. “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it” (Luke 17:32–33).” In Luke 17, Jesus states “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying, and selling, planting, and building.” They were surviving but not thriving because they had prioritized their basic needs over their spiritual needs. Many of us are torn between what the world says is important and our Faith. When we seek God’s kingdom first, all things will be added (Matthew 6:33). It’s when we haven’t made that decision that we stay in situations that do not serve us well because our priorities are out of order. Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) You must be willing to decide and move forward! So how do you get “unstuck”? Focus on the new thing that God is doing. “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18) Seek God in all you do. “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3) Watch what you focus on. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8) Believe God’s Best for Your Life. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) The Bible says that Lot was dragging his feet and the angels had to grab them by their arms (Genesis 19:16-17). There are times when God will move us when we are slow to do what is necessary for our lives! It has nothing to do with luck but God’s goodness and mercy. I’m grateful for the times I could have been destroyed by my own poor choices and God blessed me! Remember, but keep on moving, friends—don’t get stuck!

  • What’s in Your Harvest?

    As a kid, I remember seeing massive crops as we traveled outside of my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana. I was always baffled of how an empty field would sprout so much vegetation. It didn’t matter what the crop was—I just remember being in awe. It wasn’t until I was older that I began to understand the principle of sowing and reaping. It just doesn’t apply to farming—it’s a life principle. Farmers make decisions about what they plant. Certain environments will not grow various plants. Beans do not grow in cold weather. Collard greens can be planted early spring or early Fall. The temperature can play a significant role in the harvest. Just as farmers must decide about what they want to plant and the environment, they also must consider the soil. The soil must be prepared and maintained for growth. It’s also important that the soil has nutrients so that the plants will grow. Plants need water. Our lives are so similar. If we are not preparing the soil for what we want to plant, our crops might be problematic. Every single day, we are either planting or scattering seeds--the only difference is the intentionality of what we are doing. Scattering seeds shows up when we are not being purposeful with our decisions. Planting requires thinking about what harvest we want. Planting apple seeds will not result in sunflowers. Yet, many of us are surprised when our harvest comes up with something unexpected not recognizing our seeds. Sowing seeds of gossip, envy, jealousy can not reap a harvest of love, joy, and peace. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7) There are consequences for our actions and when we are not deliberate about what we want in our lives, we leave our lives being destroyed by the winds and storms we encounter. What are you planting and is it bringing the harvest that you want? Crops take time to grow, and it doesn’t happen overnight. For many of us, we give up so quickly that we miss out on the harvest of blessings. If wait and continue to water it by our words and actions, we can expect growth. Waiting and having patience is also important as a part of growth. If we allow our anxiety to take over, we can abruptly alter the course of what we wanted. It requires trusting God. “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word, I put my hope.” (Psalm 130:5) Waiting on God yields results. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) The Bible is very clear on these principles in our lives. Knowing our part is critical. So how do we plant a crop that will yield a wonderful harvest? It’s all in the decisions that we make every single day (Read Matthew 13). “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit…. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land.” (Leviticus 26:3-5) Think about this: Is your soil (your mind) being fed nutrients daily? Or are you feasting on the foul and foolishness of the day? Are you planting seeds that will win or wither? Are you dehydrated? Are you missing out being filled in the right way? Or are you using temporary fixes like Crystal Light and other substitutes that only add sugar and calories? "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6). External circumstances can impact your crop. If you are always dealing with toxicity and trauma, your crop might be premature and suffer. The rain, wind, and storms will not go away but you can be protected based on who is watching your crop. Are you in control or is God? Our harvest depends on what we are connected to. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

  • God isn’t surprised…and you shouldn’t be, either

    We live in a world that is fraught with conflict and mean-spiritedness. A friend shared a situation she encountered: A lady she did not know wanted to teach her a lesson about parking badly. Long story short, she yelled out to the lady to give her grace. The lady made up her mind that she had the right to confront her without even taking the time to understand, listen and offer compassion. We are witnessing right before our eyes the bombing of the Ukraine and while trying to escape, African students are being discriminated against by not being permitted to ride trains. While in the bank to retrieve his money, famed producer, Ryan Coogler, was handcuffed due to a lack of due diligence of a teller and her supervisor. It is easy to become disillusioned especially after two years of the uncertainty of COVID. We are tired, worn out and with the onslaught of the shocking news of current events, it is easy to believe that there is no good news. The situations we are facing are not new to God. Instead of seeing this as a time of despair, it is an opportunity to love others well, do good, and choose to live in a way that brings honor to God and builds a legacy. We are reminded in Matthew 24:6-13 by Jesus that these occurrences will happen and increase, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” It can be painful to witness what we are seeing, and we cannot sedate ourselves into choosing to ignore reality or distract ourselves with unhealthy habits and useless activity. We must be aware of these issues and yet, still willing to do work that is impactful and life changing. We are called even amid what we see or hear to work. “So, let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all….” (Galatians 6:9-10 MSG) I am reminded of Joseph in the Bible when he prepared for the famine. He was aware that it was a reality and yet, he did his part in making sure that others did not suffer. (Genesis 41) Joseph knew the famine was going to happen because of his gift of interpreting dreams. He was able to warn the Pharaoh of the upcoming challenge and God used him to ultimately help others including his family. Recognize that what we face are the results of bad decisions of humans. It’s crazy to me how we blame God for what happens when we choose not to invite God in until something bad happens. Have you uninvited God to be in your life until it is convenient? What gifts have you allowed to go dormant that you could be using to bless others and build God’s kingdom? Instead of becoming discouraged or focused on doing things that are short-term with no meaning, what are you doing with your life to make it better for others in spite of the issues now and to come? Your relationship with God is first and foremost. Joseph could not have interpreted the dream if he was not in relationship with God. Seek God for your purpose and the plan for your life. God’s plan always includes blessing others. If your focus is only about promoting and building you, you will continue to find yourself frustrated and flustered because you will only go so far. Allow God to use you to make a difference even as we see the increase of evil, meanness, and heartache. It does not mean that it is time for you to give up or give in. There is work to do. It is time to seek, sow, and serve.

  • What’s your Ziklag?

    We all have dreams and somewhere along the way, we can become disoriented. We do not want to fight anymore because it is exhausting and difficult. Instead of fighting for our dreams, we stop. For many, we are stuck. We have found our Ziklag and if we are not careful, our destinies can be altered because we allow ourselves to become comfortable with just enough instead of realizing there is more in us, more for us to do, more for us to become. David is an example of when fighting can become frustrating. When David fought and killed Goliath, he received so much attention and opportunities. He went from being a shepherd to King Saul’s court. He married the King’s daughter and his life changed. What started off as appreciation for David’s victory turned into an aversion for King Saul. His resentment for David grew resulting in attacks and attempted assassinations. David and his men sought refuge away from the repeated attempts on his life after the prophet Samuel passed away. David went to Philistine territory to get away and met with King Achish of Gath. “‘Then David said to Achish, ‘If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be assigned to me in one of the country towns, that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?’ So, on that day Achish gave him Ziklag….” (1 Samuel 27:5–6) Raiders attacked Ziklag, burned the city, took the women and children. David and his men rescued everyone and all their belongings. David remained in Ziklag until Saul’s death ultimately returning to take over the kingdom God had destined for him years before. There are several lessons we can take away from this story. David mourned Saul’s death (2 Samuel 1). We cannot celebrate the downfall of those who hurt us. Forgiveness is key to our ability to move on. Proverbs 24:17 states, “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice.” The amount of turmoil David endured to obtain the kingdom was tremendous. Despite the obstacles, he was committed to fulfilling his destiny. David was dismissed in his youth by his brothers. When Samuel went to David’s father, Jessie, to identify the next king, his father mentioned all his sons except David. Even Samuel thought that God was going to anoint his brother Eliab. (1 Samuel 16) God did not pick what everyone expected. Just because we may not look the part or others see the power God has placed in us can not be the excuse for settling. Samuel anointed David to be king, but he remained in the fields tending sheep until the opportunity to fight Goliath arrived. Do not despise small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10) God uses all our experiences and nothing is wasted. David’s ability to fight was a direct result of his skills as a shepherd. Ziklag could have easily become a place that David stayed in. He did not have to go back to reclaim the Kingdom of Judah with all its memories of pain and sacrifice. Even with the support of the people and the elders, David could have told them to move on. “All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler…and they anointed David king over Israel.” (2 Samuel 5:1-3) He could have stayed King in the smaller city of Ziklag instead of trusting God for greater. We cannot become comfortable in our Ziklags because they are familiar and spaces to hide. Identify your Ziklag. You cannot stay there because it is easy, comfortable, familiar, and safe. Seek God for your purpose. Find your passion. Do not become discouraged because of all the setbacks because those are the setups for your success. God’s plan does not happen overnight, but it is worth pursuing because God is able “…to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…” (Ephesians 3:20)

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