All King David wanted to do was bring The Ark of The Covent, the symbol of God’s presence and the manifestation of the historical promises between God and his forefathers back among his people from Judah. But his exuberance over God’s rescues and handing enemies over to him supplanted his humility. I submit to you that David read God’s reliability as familiarity. This, as we learn in 1 Chronicles 13, led to disastrous results. The hurried, emotional transport cost the life of one of the king’s men (Uzzah). No one consulted God on who and how to safely and with order, handle the container of His Presence. So there was no “buffer” between our pure, Holy God and the Israelite people. From the Book of Exodus, to Isaiah, to Ezekiel through Revelation, the contrast between the nature of God’s Holiness before fallen, corrupt mankind is revealed in the Bible.
We simply cannot stand before Him and survive without a God-sent transformation. And that is why a simple touch from Uzzah on God’s Holy Ark killed him. (For more on God’s Holiness, follow this link: https://youtu.be/l9vn5UvsHvM).
David, after some time spent angry, confused and frightened of God after this traumatic event, recovered and re-established his communion with God, accepting the lessons learned. He learned and taught to his people the safe, proper, orderly way to handle The Ark of The Covenant, starting with approaching the chosen servants, the Levites (see Exodus 12). Chapters 15 and 16 of 1 Chronicles document the steps taken and the peoples’ reactions. David’s appreciation for God’s Grace (He could have wiped out all of Israel!) and His continuing counsel renewed David’s desire to worship God with his all—even if it embarrassed his self-absorbed first wife, Michal (1 Chron. 15:29).
Chapter 16 documents who was responsible for every aspect of worship in the arts at this homecoming celebration, based on the skills and talents of the Levites. Offerings were made to God, followed by the distribution of food gifts to the congregation from King David. A hymn of praise is included that also serves as a history of all God has done for them. The passage ends with each returning to his own home. David was able to bless his household with not only the spiritual overflow of this worship experience, but with an invaluable lesson: obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22).
So what’s all this to do with the here and now? Short testimony: I have found in my life that the fervent pursuit of relationship with God through the cleansing salvation of Jesus Christ heals, restores and brings me peace. To know Him is to hear His Voice, learn His nature and live a life of obedience to Him. It is only within the cocoon of obedience I am able to worship Him freely and unfettered. Thanks be to God.
There *came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus *said to her, “Give Me a drink.” John 4:7 NASBRead more
“Never let them see you sweat”. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. “Keep calm and adjust your crown”. These are sayings we wear emblazoned on t-shirts like armor and carry laser-etched on purses like shields against everything hurtful, inside and out. On good or better days we actually believe them. On not so good days they present the front we need to get through so we can check that day off, lay down and get up in the morning to do it all over again.
Do it all over again. The “Do” is the systematic routine that says we belong. The “It” is the mundane rat-race that is supposed to propel us. The “all over again” is the totality of our supposed wins. And winning is everything — even at the expense of the very selves we front to protect.
Let me be very clear: I am not bashing a life of success. Quite the opposite is my aim here. As a proponent of each person’s existence having a God-given purpose, I believe maximizing your talents in concert with what drives you is critical. And should there be any roadblocks on your journey they should be identified and managed, if not eliminated. This will be a treatise on just one critical way to support achieving a life of luxurious satisfaction. And money has very little to do with it.
According to an article in thegoodbody.com:
- 35% of Americans don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep each night.
- Americans currently get on average 6.8 hours of sleep each night.
- In 1910 the average person slept 9 hours a night.
- Roughly 20% of Americans have a sleep disorder.
- Since 1985 the percentage of adults getting less than six hours sleep each night has increased by 31%.
- 97% of teenagers get less than the recommended amount of sleep.
- 7 out of 10 college students don’t get adequate sleep.
- Sleep deprivation costs the US $411 billion annually.
These are sobering statistics. And sadly, these stats are the foundation of a picture painted in the shades of depression, chronic diseases, drug and alcohol addiction and accidents that can result from something as basic as a lack of sleep.
So what can we do? Start with a proper diet, to include plenty of water and regular exercise. If you smoke, or abuse drugs or alcohol get help to stop, even if you’ve tried before and couldn’t. As long as you’re alive it is never too late to improve your health. Be intentional about establishing a regular sleep schedule and practicing good sleep hygiene. You’ve heard it before:
- Don’t eat too late
- Use a blue light filter at sundown and power down electronics an hour before bed time
- Wind down with a good book, gentle stretches, journaling or meditation
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark
- Rise each morning at the same time
What would our get-it-done-yesterday society look like if we were all well-rested, facing each day rejuvenated? Sounds too much like right, no? Well, a girl can dream.
And speaking of dreaming, keep an eye out for a collection of meditations plus a journal I am compiling to help us get the rest we crave. God bless you. Now get some REST!
“There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:42 NLT
We Christians are talented artists, professionals, business-persons, dutiful sons, daughters, spouses, parents and friends. We work hard for the money and dispatch our ministry duties with all the diligence our little bodies can muster. We are Marthas (and Martins), trying to always do the right thing. But could it be that the very “right things” we focus so hard on are distracting us from assuming the posture God longs for us to take?Read more
“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” – Mark 1:35 NASB
Three o’clock in the morning. That’s when my “Holy Spirit Wake-Up Calls” come. Most of the time it’s just a soft nudge. Sometimes it’s an urgent jolt. Every time, though, I marvel that He cares enough to wake me for our communion. Me. With my history of self-centered rebellion, yet He still chooses to work with me. Amazing. So my response is to immediately steal away and begin our discourse. Sometimes I move to another room in the house but most of the time He has me stay put in my bedroom. I praise, I ask for forgiveness of my sins, I worship. I petition on behalf of my family, my friends, my enemies. I consecrate myself and my day to Him for His use. I ask that He show me who needs to hear of Him from me and that He strengthen and embolden me. Then the Holy Spirit has His say. He never lays out His plans from start to finish. Sometimes I get to see first steps and sometimes only the final picture. I hear a lot of “I got that” to the things I voice anxiety over.
God wants to hear from us so badly that not only did He ensure that the examples of Jesus pursuing His solitude in prayer made it into the Holy Bible, but He lovingly taps us “awake” to speak to us. For some of us it’s the morning wakefulness, for others it’s God’s Voice we “hear” in some of our circumstances. Either way, again, it is amazing that an all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present God loves us that much.
Finding Jesus missing from the house He was sleeping in, the ever dutiful Simon Peter went searching for Him and when he found the Master, told Him everyone was looking for Him (Mark 1:36, NASB). Simon hadn’t realized Jesus was receiving confirmation from God. I wonder if Jesus was feeling “antsy” after performing so many miracles in Galilee and ready to move on to bigger things–the re-education of His people about The Kingdom of God. I wonder if He shared His feelings with His Father, Who lovingly agreed that yes, it’s time to be about His purpose.
What if Jesus only checked in with God once a week (like on the Sabbath)? What if He only called on His Father when times got hard? How would the passages on Jesus’ prayer life change? Time and time again, He is reported as rising and getting alone, or praying right there on the spot. In other words, He and God had a regular channel of communication. And as His Believers, so should we.
I wonder if Jesus responded to Peter with a smile on His Face when He said, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” (vs. 38) As wonderful the good times of life can be, nothing compares to the joy inside when you find yourself ON MISSION!
Praise be to God.
“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. ” John 20:24
“Lorna, you just need to get out of your head!” That’s what my dance teacher told me after I voiced frustration over being so slow to catch-on to new choreography. I asked, “Why do I keep hearing that? I’ve even been told that at dance conferences from facilitators who don’t even know me!” She smiled knowingly and gave me homework, which ultimately became HEART-work. “You don’t have the faith that you can dance the way we can see you dance.” Laying her hand gently on the center of my chest, she continued, “You have it in you-the ability to learn and move how God wants you to move, but sometimes you doubt and get frustrated when you make mistakes. But we ALL make mistakes as we learn these dances, that’s how we learn! You must be ok with seeing yourself make mistakes. I want you to study the encounter between Thomas and Jesus in the 20th chapter of John. Let’s see if that helps you.” I eagerly dug into this familiar passage that very night and over the course of a week, I not only found myself relating to Thomas on a new level, but God showed me how I should be responding to His instruction in the process and I learned just how critical this exchange between Jesus and Thomas was to the whole world.
I mentioned in a previous posting that our dance academy is a mix of experienced and inexperienced dancers. (Shout out to Missy and Seeds Of Praise Dance Academy, Charlotte, NC!) Some know the “language” better than we less experienced students and can move quickly from learning choreography to MINISTERING in movement. Traditionally, Thomas has been looked down on as a “doubter”. But verse 24 offers at least some reasoning for his point of view: He was not there when Jesus first appeared to the other disciples. Would they all have instantly believed by word of mouth alone that Jesus had risen from the dead? We may never know, but what we do know is that Jesus had mercy on him and did indulge his questioning, actually telling Thomas to touch the injuries to His crucified body (verse 27) as proof it was his Teacher. Some see the comments from Jesus as Thomas received the confirmation he needed as an admonishment. I see it simply as God saying to us that a “seeing is believing” mindset is a humanistic way of functioning (which is “ok” for some). But taking Him at His Word enough to believe without tangible proof is the purest definition of FAITH (which is the Believer’s very foundation)! That kind of faith is what God expects from us in order to tap in to His best for us. Jesus simply “breathed” on the group who saw Him first, and they received the Holy Spirit with power to accomplish His works (verses 22-23).
In dance ministry, my “seeing” is being a witness to the process of the Holy Spirit working first in ME before I can then become His ambassador within this art form. It is not pretty, watching the body come under submission of God’s shaping, but then it cannot be. If He is the Potter and we are the clay, we are shapeless forms with a purpose yet to be revealed after much molding, shaping and even (gulp) FIRING into the vessels God can use in this world. And it is so worth it.
The Holy Spirit was also with the Apostle Thomas, who went from frowned-upon doubter to the one who traveled the farthest East with the Great Commission. He carried the Gospel of Jesus Christ to India, saving hundreds before being assassinated for it. Descendants of that nation’s first Christians are still there, serving God to this day.
Homework assignment completed. Thank you, Missy!
And to God be the glory!
It is a pleasure to share thoughts from a good friend of mine, Rev. Vickie Hughes on the blessings of God’s detours…
Are YOU that “Woman at the Well?”
In this Biblical narrative… Jesus was teaching, imparting His wisdom on a woman who wasn’t as accepted as others, because of her ethnicity. Now, this woman had two choices at that time, similar to the choices that Mary and Martha (two other Biblical women) had to make back then. Any of these women could have learned from Jesus; two of the three women actually took the time to listen intently to Jesus. Martha, on the other hand, chose to continue to engage in her own busyness, because that was all she knew. She was in her own world, focused on making herself look good to please Jesus. That wasn’t what Jesus required of her, so she missed it; “it” was the wisdom that she could have gained from Jesus.
How many of us travel through life with our own agendas, planning out our lives without God’s guidance and approval? Then we wonder why our plans don’t work out. What we want matters NOT. God already has each of our lives mapped out leading us through our destinies. We are the ones who seem to ENJOY taking detours. That is not God’s will for our lives. We delay our own blessings and destinies!
Trust me when I tell you that I’m writing from experience. I spent my entire adult life chasing my own career aspirations and dreams, until I started Seminary studies at age 51. I’d been called into Ministry late in life and even did THAT “my” way (at least for awhile, until God stopped me dead in my tracks and had a heart-to-heart talk with me)! Before truly heeding to God’s call, I never really thought about asking God for guidance or listening to His voice, before I pursued something else, moved to another place, or got involved with another romantic love interest. I’ve lived in 8 States since graduating from high school, have 3 POSTgraduate Degrees, have worked in different industries, and have some superficial involvements with friends/acquaintances all over this Country… Need I say anything more? You get it! Wholesome living? Hmmm…
So much heartache, frustration, and pain could have been avoided, if only I’d allowed Jesus to detain me at that well and teach me YEARS before I actually “got” it. That Biblical woman at the well, the Samaritan woman, may have felt unworthy to be in Jesus’s presence initially, but she quickly discerned that she was supposed to be at that spot at that very moment. She chose to not miss her blessing!
I encourage you to slow down and listen for/to God’s voice. If you stay silent and quiet enough for LONG enough, you WILL hear God’s voice. And I’m a living witness that God won’t steer you wrong, if you actually listen to Him. He will give You the same “living water” that He offered the woman at the well millenniums ago. Thirst for it! It assures you God’s protection here on earth and an eternal place in heaven.
Living water GIVES US life.
Rev. Vickie L. Hughes
(An Ordained Deacon, AME Zion, who is currently serving as a Chaplain Resident at UT Medical Center in Knoxville, TN.)
“A Father of the fatherless and Protector of widows is God in His holy habitation.” ~ Psalm 68:5
As a daughter of a share-cropping preacher who moved his family to the city when boll weevils consumed the cotton fields he and our mother worked, I was exposed to experiences my daddy never got the opportunity to touch. Rev. L. B. Brown taught himself to swim and to drive a car. He was a laborer, was well-read and pastored churches for three decades despite only having an elementary school education. So on paper, it didn’t look like he had much to offer me as a father, but he did. What he had to offer was the dusty, gritty, unassuming walking path of regular commitment to worship and devotion to God and study of God’s word. He taught me it doesn’t matter how book-smart, popular or tech-savvy I became, I’d have no peace apart from a genuine, transparent relationship with the heavenly Father, through Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit.
Most biblical scholars are of the opinion that Psalm 68 is a celebratory song written for or by King David commemorating the connection between the Exodus from Egypt and the return of The Ark of The Covenant to Jerusalem from exile after being recovered from the hands of the enemies of Israel. The psalm praises God as the One Who goes before Israel, vanquishing her enemies in advance of the battles before her. David reclaimed The Ark, was taught and re-taught his hardened people the life-saving Covenant with God, then restored The Ark’s rightful place in Jerusalem among God’s chosen ones (read 2 Samuel 6). And God made all this possible in response to the hearts of the people turning back to Him, away from idolatry (albeit temporarily, due to our sin nature).
Growing up in a small town in Alabama, we lived in a large house with a wraparound porch, aptly shaded by two large ancient magnolia trees. I witnessed my dad routinely rise at five in the morning and retreat to the front porch with a cup of coffee, a fly swatter, his bible, a bible commentator and sermon notebook. There he would pray, read, study and write for hours with JOY! Despite his devotion (or maybe because of it–another story) my parents’ marriage was tumultuous. Yet my mother’s nagging always stopped just inside the screen door because the atmosphere of worship was set on that front porch. No one disturbed our dad there. Not because he warned against it. He didn’t need to. The Spirit of God was there. It pulled me. It beckoned me to join my daddy there. So I quietly followed him. Most of the time I sketched or read a novel of my own choosing as an adolescent and teenager, but sometimes my daddy shared the joy with which God blessed his heart with me. Like God for the embattled Israelites, my earthly father was clearing a path of devotion and worship before me. He knew I’d have battles to fight within and with the world and he ensured I was taught HOW to fight. He didn’t just preach it, he demonstrated it, through family conflicts, health issues, church drama and racism. I didn’t know it then, but he was fathering me the way Christ fathers us. My dad was helping me to forge weapons and mount a defense against spiritual enemies in advance.
My dad has been gone from this world for nearly twenty years now. It’s taken me nearly this long to realize just how great a general he was in this struggle of spiritual warfare. Armed with the knowledge of the battle plan of worship, devotion and obedience to God, we Believers are victors in advance.
Thank you, Daddy.
“So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim Your might to another generation, Your power to all those to come.”
~Psalm 71:18 (ESV)
I’m sure you are seeing what I’m seeing. Little old ladies are becoming little old ladies much later in life these days. Gents are not acting like they’re “over the hill” in their forties anymore. Active seniors living communities are commonplace now when they were few and far between and only for the very wealthy when I was a kid growing up in the 1970s. A Center for Disease Control (CDC) report from 2011 revealed that nearly 76% of people in the southern US aged 50-54 years self-reported having “good/excellent” health. This statistic grew to nearly 78% for the same demographic in 2016 (https://nccd.cdc.gov/aging_data/). I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many retirees in their 50s or 60s sitting at home “chilling” anymore. The so-called “aged” is not only generally healthier, but they are also more attractive, sharper and more “antsy” than in just one generation ago. Cool. But WHY??
I believe this is the will of God. We live in a society that while its advances have created a populace that is generally smarter and healthier, the same advances have created a population of self-made, successful loners. We are more spread out, away from family. And though the last recession did result in many multi-generational homes (in many cases, for the sake of survival), our current culture still champions the idea of each person “finding their own way”. But that is not what God intends for us. He intends for each of us to learn how to weather the issues of each stage of life in community. And He intends for these vibrant elders to address this imbalance.
There are many instances in the Holy Bible that reference the generational roles of Believers. Deuteronomy, Psalms, Proverbs, Titus, to name a few chronicles how our elders are to pass down the mighty works of God and model lives of holiness before the generation coming after them. Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation shall commend Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts” (ESV). Who better to accomplish this than us? If you are over the age of 40, (or over 50, like me) dear reader, and you have a seemingly unnatural level of good health, strength, and vibrancy that is no accident, my friend. It is for a purpose. You can be a life-changing catalyst and we are charged with bringing all our talents, our strengths, our “been-there-done-that” wisdom before the Holy Spirit and after giving THANKS, ask HIM what He would have us to do.
So how might we serve the Kingdom of God to win over straying youth and draw them to GOD? Beyond lecturing we model. Beyond dictating we exemplify. Beyond scolding we allow them to hear us call on the power of God to move, the blood of Jesus to save and the Holy Spirit to guide. We accomplish this by getting involved, weathering the attitudes and being present to answer the call as opportunities come. Then we wait and watch the Lord move within their lives. Our progeny is hungry and thirsty, not to declare “my truth” but to learn THE truth and how to live that truth out. I cannot rest. WE cannot rest. Let’s go get them.
If you are ready to accept and acknowledge Jesus Christ as your Savior, simply say so. Bring your sin before Him in prayer, asking for forgiveness and set your mind on repentance (never to commit those sins again) with His help. Now you need to connect with a community of Believers (a Holy Bible-teaching church) to support and edify your walk with Christ. Until then, for more support, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless you.