Today is the first day of spring! I love spring and all the visual proof that we have that things can change. That they will change. That out of what was frozen and dead new life, new colors, new beginnings will emerge. If you live in the south or a warmer climate like I do the daffodils are already blooming and the smell of spring has already hit the air. It is absolutely motivating. I’m even going to start ANOTHER workout regimen (soon, come on now baby steps) hopefully I stick to it this time.
This time of year is my favorite, even before summer. Metaphorically speaking I love that there is a season of tenderness before the sun gets so hot that the flowers yearn and thirst for water before they are scorched by the beautiful hot radiant sun . A season where they are allowed to simply grow in ideal conditions. I believe that if God grants the outdoors a tender season then there is one for us as believers of Christ as well. Where its neither too hot or too cold.
Do you need that season as much as I do? I feel that my summer and winter skipped fall and went straight into a brutally cold period. Where things have withered and on the surface appear dead. HOWEVER I know that the roots are still alive. That the right conditions, aligning with God’s will, shall bring forth the flowers of His love for me. That I will reach out from the dirt to show life and colors of His love. I know the same is true for you as well. Be ready for your Spring! Bring on the allergies, the bees, the rain all of it. Let it begin a rebirth of our commitment to our Father. As the song says, Let the SON shine in! (That was a pretty clever play on words :))
Listen to the still small voice when it tells you its time. Time to wake up and show your colors. Time to “begin a new thing.” Time to move on what the Still Small Voice (1 Kings 19:12 NIV) is telling you to begin. Time to find your purpose despite what the brutal cold has said or done. Time to repent of your past mistakes and wrong doings and let them go. Feel the warmth on the horizon wake up its the first day of Spring, come back to life. Do the things that whisper to you when all is noisy. Get baptized, write a book, help someone you know needs it. Begin anew.
Thoughts, anyone? It’s not time for crickets yet so don’t let there be any in here either. Talk to me!
I hope you receive this letter in the Spirit that it was sent. While I am aware that you might or might not be aware of this situation I was brought up that the Pastor of the church is the under-shepherd and the needs and doing of his flock are at the end of the day his responsibility. In having that understanding I feel it imperative to address you in this letter. In addition I have been trying to be more open in my own life. I feel that pride will sometimes keep you quiet and that often times we are quiet through the test when we should be talking either to uplift another or just to let them know they are not alone. Perhaps even to avail ourselves to the Lord’s blessings.
On Friday you posted the following on your Facebook page “DEEP FRIDAY: God will always send somebody in your life to challenge your contentment. Somebody that will look you in your eye and tell you…”you can do better than you doing”. So stay humble my friend so when it comes it won’t hurt so bad.” I pray this helps and doesn’t hurt.
I am a single mother of four. One in college (Out of state), one in elementary school and two in head start. I am the co-creator of Online Fellowship a non-profit website that spreads the word of the Lord free of charge. From preachers, to poetry, bible studies and even my own writings its on there, including Royal (because we support and spread the word of those we believe are focused on God’s commandments). I grew up in Detroit in a family full of Pastors including my grandfather. I am a member of Royal as of January 2014 but attended since I have been in this area roughly 4 years. I believe in living in a kind manner. I love people and typically believe in the good of all people. This often times leads me to being disappointed and sometimes hurt but rarely discouraged or disheartened. However never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would be so disheartened by Royal.
I believed when I joined Royal that I was casting my lot with a Church that believed in the same principles that I value in the Bible for example: Proverbs 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”– when you already have it with you.
What is she talking about?
When I joined Royal I never thought that I would have to ask for anything. I am accustomed to being able to provide for myself and my family. There was even a time when I worked three jobs while in college to make ends meet. I have worked since I was 15 years old and I am much older than that now. I joined because I believe in the fellowship of one or more being gathered in His name. I believe in connecting with others that have the same belief in helping, in serving, in sacrificing.
I thought I joined a church that was growing in an area of North Charleston where there is so much help needed that they would never close their doors because there had to be much work to be done. That’s where I needed to be. See I was working in that area helping the children of Charleston County who had suspected developmental delays and I was a Parent Educator both helping parents become their child’s first teacher and advocates in determining if there was a delay that needed to be addressed. I reached out to you then and stated that I would be willing to come to the church and screen the children free of charge so that they could get referrals if needed and never heard anything back. That was my work and this was my church so I wanted to get in there and be of service. However all of that changed in May when I unexpectedly lost my job. See this has been a really tough year for me. I unexpectedly lost my father in February and at the same time I lost about half of my pay for a month. Then just as I was bouncing back from travel expenses etc. I lost my job. Because of the way our payroll was processed that Friday was my last pay. I am not receiving unemployment and all I needed was a little financial assistance.
Being a private person I asked all of the other resources I could think of before trying Royal. I have never been great at begging and thought well at least try with the folks you won’t have to look in the face every Sunday first. Not like anyone there knows who I am, right? At any rate all other options fail. I call the church and as I speak with the church secretary I am first told that you do not do rental assistance. Wait, you sit in one of the poorest areas of North Charleston and are building a million dollar facility? How can you not do rental assistance? But ok. Ma’am not even for the members? Oh you are a member in that case you need to speak to your deacon and he will tell you the process. My deacon? Who might that be? (For privacy sake lets just say Deacon umm BLUE). Ok might I have his number?
I call Deacon “BLUE” who asks me a few questions, do you attend the church, what happened, etc etc. I explain yes I am a member. I lost my job and haven’t found anything else yet. That I am from the North so I do not have family here to assist and that I am just in financial peril and looking for August rent. That my daughter needed extra money because she transferred to an out of state college for her major and that she did not get on-campus housing so what I had I needed to use for her to get a home at school. Was I supposed to leave her homeless? He inquired well what will you do next month? Next month? At this rate I pray not packing. I do not know? I am looking for work, maybe my unemployment will be approved anything. I don’t owe next month yet but I am behind this month. OK he says I will get back to you after I meet with “THE COMMITTEE”
Three more conversations and a Sunday later I am called back. I’m sorry he says, but the committee met and reviewed your case and they are not willing to help you. They said that they looked at your financial record and it looks like you only gave 1.00 since you joined and you are not on any committees or anything so they decided not to help you. Excuse me Deacon can you repeat that last part again? This time slower he repeats, you are not on any committee and you are not contributing to the finances of the church so there is no help for you. (Camille, Deep breath please don’t start the sentence off with that word.) I needed it to be repeated as a pinch to wake me out of my disbelief not because I couldn’t comprehend. I sat stupefied for a moment in utter shock and heartbreak as to what I just heard. He then went on to say that they have a employment thing on Saturdays to come there. Ok that sounds good but the emergent need is now. What about that, I have a bunch of suggestions and until one of them pans out. My main focus is keeping a roof its hard to focus on much else. I am looking Daily!
My response to him was as follows and I need to share this with you all. I am disheartened by your decision. I have given to the church on many occasions (sometimes scrapping the bottom of my purse for the last bit of money I had) but I never put it in an envelope because I was giving it to God not to man so I didn’t care about a tax receipt. I thought I was joining with a part of the body of Christ not a credit union where I needed to give in order to receive. I am so disappointed, as a matter of fact Pastor to use your own words “you can be doing better than you are doing”.
I am hoping that you can help me understand because if you read my writings on here you will learn that I don’t believe in the business of the church not being dynamic. I tell people when they say church is a social club that it is not. That it is where you go when you are trying to be be better and that part of being better is sacrificial service to others. But what are you doing when you can tell a mother with small children who is trying no because she didn’t give? Do you have any idea what it took for me to pay for daycare alone when I was working? No you don’t because that wasn’t part of my interview for credit approval. But I gave what I could. Do you have any idea how much stress and pressure I have been under? No it wasn’t part of the credit approval process. But I gave what I could. The deacon didn’t even ask to pray with me. I guess a dollar doesn’t buy you prayer. I have heard you ask the congregation for money for this new building so many times. Do you realize how much money the church would have on any given Sunday if you asked the church to give 50 cents for a special offering for those in need? .50 cents not even a dollar?
See I come from a family of preachers and I watched my grandmother cook almost everyday and serve plates out the back door to people in the neighborhood and we would sometimes eat green beans with tomatoes on top because she had given them all the chicken. I watched my grandfather give the church 10.00 when all he had was five. I watched the deacons go into their pockets and give people who wondered in on off the streets money for food and a ride to the store. I also saw them rarely go without for long. So I believe in giving my food away when I see a homeless person or giving them my last bit of money because it is who God calls us to be. I believe in servicing those who are ignored or treated poorly. I believe in caring for the least of these. So understand I am having a hard time understanding why I should stay associated with a church that says no because I didn’t give money. Now if it was because I wasn’t on the choir or usher board etc. I was still working for the church through my work with Online Fellowship. Humbly and quietly. Also while I love to sing and sing loud in the congregation I do not have child care because I have no family here. I also used to leave my house at 6:20 am dropping children off at school and not return until 7:00 pm and still need to cook dinner and check homework. I wish I could have been on the choir but I didn’t know that it was a requirement to be considered worthy of assistance in time of need.
A few months ago I received an email from another member. She was reaching out to our site to say that she was leaving Royal because of the way she was treated by the deacons when she needed help (Let me know if you want to see the email, I will forward it to you only). She stated she reached out for help and in turn the deacons threatened to call agencies against her. Because I was a member and because I know that one bad run in with a church can unfortunately turn people away from Christ. I reached out to her. At the time my job gave me access to a lot of local charities and support agencies. I offered her clothing for her and her daughter, food and help with transportation and utilities. I explained to her that I was not trying to influence her decision to stay at Royal but I wanted her to know that GOD is love and ever helping, He doesn’t abandon us based on what we can give Him and that there are children of His who believe in that. I told her I wanted her to know that as my sister in Christ that I loved her even though I had no idea who she was but I was there to help. I told her I hoped there had been some misunderstanding between her and Royal and to never give up on Christ. However I sadly now know the reality of the committee.
I know many members will give and never have to come to you for help. I know that you are building that big fancy new building and that you have big plans for it. I also know that none of that will impress God. That the same standards that we judge by are the standards by which we will be judged. Imagine that getting to heaven and asking to come in and God saying, “No, the committee said you didn’t give enough”.
I’m writing through my emotions and trying to speak from a place of love and reproach. I hope I wrote this well and wasn’t too long winded. I hope you understand that I am hurt but do not wish to hurt or embarrass you or the church. I hope to challenge your contentment with the way the least of these are handled. As well as to display my own weakness and need for Gods hand in my life. God bless you all and keep you.
The Sheep and the Goats
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I would add my member id but like i said I don’t know where those envelopes are.
For the last two or three years I have tried my hand at gardening. While I admittedly am not very good at it. I like the idea of planting a seedling into the ground with the children and watching it change over time. Now another point of truth, I get far more excited about this than my children. Maybe if I were more successful they would be more enthusiastic. However here is the Golden Nugget that you each need to take away about life. WHAT YOU WATER WILL GROW SO BE ABLE TO IDENTIFY WHAT IS GROWING IN YOUR GARDEN.
I have a few planters in my yard from years of attempts at gardening. This year my succulents are doing pretty good. However in the white planter where I try to plant some kind of vegetable there seems to be something that wants to sprout life. Now this planter has been dead since oh around the third week after Good Friday, yeah i killed them early this year. So a good amount of time has passed and I’m pretty sure that even the squirrels have stopped digging for whatever roots might have still been in the ground. This is a planter of barren land if you get my drift. Ok so as I stated my succulents are growing beautifully. There is a purple and green vine plant that i have pinched and made others. There is a plant that was dead in walmart that is now growing beautifully and she was free. There is a little basket of carnations that was on clearance at walmart. Finally there is one peace lily from my Grandmothers funeral that has had some rough times but insists on hanging in there with me and I am so thankful.
However now all of a sudden there is life in the white planter. I see this life peeking barley over the lid of the the planter and on hot days it screams water me. Now the sad thing is I’m sometimes tempted to do just that, Just because it is struggling for life it wants to grow and is putting forth its best effort to do so. But what if i did, what if i went out there all enthusiastic watered this unknown plant and neglected the plants I know. What if I watered and tended to and cared for that plant even though I understand it is a weed. You follow me?
Many times in life will tend to and water the weeds in our life and let the succulents die. Not meaning to let them die, we figure they can thrive and survive if we give the weed just a little bit of attention. We just talk bad bout our spouse to our closest friends and family. the marriage will survive. We just distance ourselves from our family, the kids won’t notice or suffer. We just feed into this addiction just a little every now and then it won’t hurt anyone no one will know. I will go to bed angry tonight but I’ll be better in the morning. Oh no? Not this morning? Or the next as a matter of fact the more i do it the harder it becomes to get over just being angry not even remembering what ticked me off in the first place but somehow i will get back to forgiving ol me. right?
Watering the weed just once can give it all the strength it needs to destroy the garden. My current trials and errors have taught me to better understand the nature of the weed. The weed was not creating to get a little light and die, or get a little water and die , the weed unlike my vegetables was made to endure and outlive and choke out any competition that is in the garden. As a matter of fact it can be so intrusive that the Bible tells them to leave it bc if you pluck out the weed you will kill the wheat. Meaning its best not to ever have weeds in your garden, to prevent them from taking root because once they do letting them live or die can destroy your harvest.
Its hard to remember that when you think a negative thought about someone you are watering a weed. Its hard to think that when you don’t pray for someone you are watering a weed. So many of us wonder why our relationships don’t work, why we can’t stop looking thinking the worst in others it’s because the weeds are being allowed to grow. However in our lives prayer and thinking on the good are the best weed repellents that we can have. I’m starting to really like the vine plants. It’s something about their beauty and they way the grow and spread that I find encouraging. Especially these last few months because I have been going through so much and trying to hold onto what I know is good and right even though some days I feel like I am losing the battle. The weeds of bitterness and resentment and anger are going to take over and who I have been for so long is going to lose. But I watch my plants growing and I see them stretching and reaching and holding on to every inch of space that is around them. My Grandmothers plant was looking dead and all of a sudden it rained and it was like it had new life spring from it. I speaks to me and tells me that even though I am in a desert a dry and painful place that the living water of Christ is all I need to refresh me and revive me. I just have to remember not to water the weeds and be happy they are in separate containers.
So many times many of us have suffered in silent. Praying and waiting faithfully and sometimes in anguish and pain yet we are silent.
We adopt the slogan “God turned my test into a testimony” (slogan because it is not in the Bible) yet we carry on the lesson of No talking During the Test while we are going through it. How Biblical in principle is this. The Bible instructs us to be a comfort, counsel and help to one another. Yet how can I do this if you sit next to me consistently in silence? You are doing a disservice not only to yourself by shutting out a potential blessing, but you may infact be doing unjust harm to me in my charge to serve you.
Not to mention we all praise once we have come out of the other side however sometimes the hardship is the story I can relate to, the pain I might understand. Frustration, struggle all of it might be where I am and what I need might be the answers that you are putting on your test. As Christians sometimes I think what we need to have is an open book open forum type test more so that the silent.
So as to save myself from being a hypocrite, over the next few days I am going to try and be as transparent (this is gonna be tough, let me change that REAL TOOUGH) as I can. Starting with admitting this will be a challenge for me. I like to help others I am passionate about it, it makes me happy and gives me a feeling of worth. However I am awful at telling you what is going in my life. When I need help, when I’m frustrated and more importantly if it doesn’t involve crimes against women or children when I am angry.
However right now I am going through some things that I am sure some of you will be on the other side of, some of you will be going through and some of you might be at the beginning of. I ask as you read that you pray for me and share your thoughts.
What condition would we be in if God had the attitude toward us that we have toward people? Watch your mouth! Words are containers of Power.
29 Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear.
30 And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you.
I received this in my email today and thought that it lended a certain amount of clarity on “The Importance of Being Judgmental” — Daily Heartlight for 01/10/2014
Written by Rubel Shelly
I know. I know. Nobody is supposed to be “judgmental.” It is the cardinal sin of Christians. And it is the response we get from non-Christians about every nod we make in the direction of hinting that some things are right — and others wrong. Especially with reference to the latter, we are reminded that judging is wrong.
Other than the obvious contradiction in saying “Judging is wrong” — which is, of course, a judgment itself — it simply makes no sense to make an unqualified statement of that sort. We make judgments every day about drinking water, over rat poison, stopping at school crossings rather than running through lines of children, or telling the truth over lying. We even make judgments of others by deciding to work for a department store over a street gang or hanging around with law-abiding folks who like movies over drug dealers who kill people. “But didn’t Jesus tell us ‘Judge not that you be not judged’?” somebody asks. Of course, he did. But it was hardly an unqualified statement. He certainly made judgments about behaviors and people. He called some people “snakes” and others “children of the devil.” Sounds pretty judgmental to me.
Jesus’ statement “Judge not that you be not judged” is from the gospel of Matthew in what we call “The Sermon on The Mount” (Matthew 7:1). It opens a paragraph about hypocrisy and forbids condemning in others what you may be doing too. It prohibits poking holes in the reputation of your neighbor when your own character needs work first.
A fuller statement from Jesus on the matter of judging is this one: “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly” (John 7:24 NLT). Or, in the traditional versions: “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” This comes from John’s gospel (John 7:24) and it does not contradict the one quoted above. It says the same thing in different words: You must make judgments, so make good ones.
At the start of a new year, it might help many of us to get clear on this judging business. It is simply a matter of distinguishing good from bad, right from wrong, commanded from forbidden. In order to stay on one side of the line that divides the two, you have to make some judgments.
And why is this so important? “Judge not…” may have become the most abused and misused text of our time. It is thrown in the faces of people who often care enough about someone to hold him accountable for lying or drinking too much. It is the defense against being held accountable for doing wrong.
Yes, some people are harsh and judgmental — in a bad way. They look for fault. They are quick to criticize. They seem to delight in another’s failure. On the other hand, I need people in my life who are accountability partners. They help me stay true to the things I say I believe. They keep me from getting too far off track. It’s a bit like having a sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous — or a friend who cares about you.
An ancient proverb puts it this way:
An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy (Proverbs 27:5-6 NLT).
I get daily emails from various writers from Joseph Prince to Phil Ware and when there is something that I read that tugs at the good ole heart strings, I like to share it with you. Hope you all enjoy.
“The person that serves you like a servant is the greatest person among you. Every person that makes himself better than other people will be made humble. Every person that makes himself humble will be made great.” — Matthew 23:11-12 (ERV)
Humility is a greatly under-emphasized quality among humans. We don’t know what it means. We don’t know how to appreciate it. We don’t know how to do it. And we’re not all that sure we want to have it.
Culturally we’re much more drawn to the energetic, dynamic, charismatic, crowd-drawing leader. That’s who gets the headlines and the attention. But if we listen closely and watch carefully, we can see in Jesus someone who is humble, but strong; humble, but charismatic; humble, but crowd drawing; humble, but dynamic.
You see, the same Lord who stilled the storm and spoke to the crowds is the Lord who washed feet and died on a cross and held babies in his arms when it wasn’t politically correct.
So maybe we need to rethink humility and live it like Jesus did. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what we need to do; no maybe about it! Let’s be like Jesus and the humility comes along with the character!
O gracious Father, how and why you chose to become one of us in Jesus is too overwhelming to even fully contemplate. Yet your humility in redeeming us, Jesus’ humility in saving us, cuts such a deep impression on my heart that I want to be more like him. And on those days, dear Father, when I am too big for my own britches, humble me gently by reminding me of Jesus’ willing service to redeem me and bring me into your family. In the name of Christ the Lord I pray. Amen.
The Thoughts and Prayers for What Jesus Did! are written by Phil Ware.
Thank you for this wonderful word.
“Listen to this story: There was a man that owned a vineyard. He put a wall around the field and dug a hole for a wine press. Then the man built a tower. He leased the land to some farmers. Then he left for a trip. Later, it was time for the grapes to be picked. So the man sent his servants to the farmers to get his share of the grapes. “But the farmers grabbed the servants and beat one. They killed another one and then killed a third servant with rocks. So the man sent some other servants to the farmers. The man sent more servants than he sent the first time. But the farmers did the same thing to the servants that they did the first time.” — Matthew 21:33-36 (ERV)
One of the primary designations of God’s prophets in the Old Testament was the phrase “my servants the prophets.” For the most part, God’s prophets were feared, mistreated, cast out, and even murdered. Respect and honor were not usually reserved for them or given to them. But God loved them. God has a special place for them. Like we learned from John the Baptist, integrity and faithfulness do not insure that our discipleship will be easy. They do insure that God will reward us, but there is no guarantee that we will experience this reward in this life. If Jesus, the Son, was murdered by a hateful mob, can his servants expect anything else? The goal is faithfulness. We’ll leave it to God to take care of everything and everyone else!
Holy and righteous God, I entrust my life and my future to you. I confess to you that I struggle with my own weaknesses. Please strengthen me so I may serve you as a faithful servant no matter how others may treat me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
The Thoughts and Prayers for What Jesus Did! are written by Phil Ware.