EMOTIONS

Temporary or Permanent?

Valentine’s day is almost two weeks in the past.  It was a quiet one for me maybe because I’ve come to realise that the expression of love should be an every-day occurrence.  I’m not knocking those of you who have celebrated in big or small ways.  It’s your prerogative to do so, and I hope you celebrated in a wholesome and memorable way.

Here is my concern from what I have observed.  Many persons allow the emotions of the day to drive the decisions that they make.  They go out and spend money that they don’t have, to impress their significant other and others.  Buying gifts for persons who are not mutually invested – just for the day.  Other persons make life-changing decisions on that day as they get caught up in their feelings.  My question is, what happens when the feelings pass?

And herein lies the crux of the matter.  At best, emotions are temporary.  They pass.  They change.  Nevertheless, they were given to us as part of our souls’ makeup, so that we can experience life here on earth.  God in his wisdom breathe His life into us and we became living souls so that we can think, will and emote.  It would have been impossible for him to develop a relationship with a robot because robots cannot feel.  Therefore, feelings are good, but they must be managed.

Events and the emotions that they create have made photography a billion dollar business. Why? Because emotions are fleeting and we need something tangible that at a moment’s notice, would conjure up a memory and the associated feelings. We take snapshots of especially happy moments so that we will never forget. But what about the not-so-great moments and the corresponding emotions?

Man was created tripartite meaning we are spirit, soul and body. As spirit beings, we are charged with the responsibility to govern our emotions.  Spirit is higher than emotions.  Emotions are generated from the soul. Spirit is eternal.  Emotions are temporary.  The soulish part of man must come into subjection to the spirit for man to truly experience a victorious life.

For example, continuing in the vein of the Valentine’s Day experience:

  • Emotions will say, being with this person makes me feel good.  I will let them know how much I love them by ‘going all the way with them’ (becoming physically intimate).  They will love me back.  They will be faithful to me.  They will marry me.
  • Spirit says, be careful. This person hasn’t made a commitment to you. This individual is another person’s husband or wife, or in the case of a married person with a single paramour, that is not the person you covenanted with at the alter. Being with them is wrong on all counts. If they loved you, they wouldn’t ask or expect you to do something that will sear your soul. If you loved them you wouldn’t ask them to devalue or defile their temple just to satisfy your lustful desires.

Many persons are experiencing painful disappointments today because they made decisions that produced permanent consequences based on a passing emotion. I predict that there will be many babies born in November to persons who are not ready for parenthood, because they got caught up in the euphoria of a moment.

Governing the emotions is not easy because most people live out of their souls. They are driven by their intellect, their will, and their emotions. Never mind there is another voice that they hear, quietly saying, stop, slow down, rethink that decision. Because the Spirit of God does not shout, a person who is not intentionally sensitive to Him will not realise when He is speaking to them. He is always speaking, but because of our ignorance or arrogance, and the feeling that we don’t need His help to do life, we don’t hear Him.

We only hear Him and seek for Him when we’ve come to the end of ourselves. When we run aground on the rocks of life. When we tap out on our human wisdom. It is only then that we seek Him out. Thank God that He is merciful, loving and patient as written in Jeremiah 29:13, And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

God is waiting for you to realise that you cannot successfully do life without Him. Navigating life and making the right decisions will require you to build your spirit man. This in turn will call for you to develop a relationship with the One who knows you better than you know yourself, and who knows your end from your beginning.

For many years I allowed my emotions to run my life.  Whatever I felt I acted upon until I was functioning in a space devoid of joy and fulfillment.  As a matter of fact, I thought that my happiness could be derived from my relationship with others.  Therefore, when things went wrong in those relationships, producing emotions that were as unstable as a deck of cards, I would crash and have tremendous difficulty getting back on an even keel.  This almost destroyed me until one day when I came to the end of myself and cried out to God for help.

My encounter with God came about because when I became engulfed by pain and disappointment, I decided to leave my comfort zone and strike out on my own. It was in that place of unfamiliarity and aloneness that God began restructuring my intellect, my will and especially my emotions. It only happened because I wanted to experience change. I wanted to have His joy in my life that would drive my purpose and my relationship with others. For one year God worked on me, with me. And this is what that looked like.

  1. Deep introspection – why am I the way that I am? Why am I on this hamster wheel of hurt and disappointment, with no obvious end in sight? How can I get from where I am to where I need to be?
  2. Personal prayer/corporate prayer – There is nothing like spending time with God where He can show you where you are going wrong and what you need to do to make things right. You may not be open to all He will say, but it would be in your best interest to at least listen and try to execute His instructions. Additionally, nothing is more comforting and motivating than when others agree to join with you to petition God on your behalf. There is nothing more powerful and effective than that, much like on the day of Pentecost, when the disciples came together in one place with one mind, God the Holy Spirit showed up and changed their lives forever. I am a witness that unity in prayer works. (Matthew 18:20; Acts 2)
  3. Fasting – In order to subdue your soul-ish man in a way that brings it into alignment with the spirit, you must stop feeding it – physically and spiritually, which will of course also affect your body. That is what fasting does. It’s a retreat from and purging of the things that separates you from God, and a filling up on the spiritual things that will bring light and life into your life.
  4. Fellowship with persons of like mind who wants to see you grow and develop into the best version of yourself. This is very important. Every rehabilitation model that I have looked at practices this. My mom had a couple of sayings – you are known by the company you keep; birds of a feather flock together; familiarity breeds contempt. They are all saying the same thing. If you want to know who a person is, look at their company. This applies to your getting better as well. You must fellowship with those persons who have your best interest at heart. Persons who have gone through similar experiences and who are standing victoriously on the other side, actively trying to stay there. Those are the persons that you want to hang with.

Today, I continue to work on becoming the best version of myself, and I am in a good place.  I don’t allow my husband to get me off my crease of peace, and he, being even more protective of his peace, will not allow me to get him off his crease.  I am even more adamant that not another human will get me off my crease of peace either. 

The Bible said in Romans 12:18 (ASV), If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. It is possible once the Spirit of God is in control of your life. As I said before, any human that causes me to want to emote in the wrong way, I will remove myself as much as possible from their sphere of influence and keep it moving. My peace is that important to me.

As you get older, maintaining your peace is paramount and to do that you must be in control of your emotions.  Don’t tell me that this person made you do this or that.  You are not a robot. Control yourself.  He who causes you to emote in a self-destructive way, controls you.  

There are certain emotions that we default to when we feel threatened, afraid or when good things happen to us. How have they affected your life and relationships so far? Is there anything that you would like to change about how you react to the stimuli in your life? These are questions that are worth thinking about as you daily strive to become a better version of yourself. Emotions are temporary at best. Manage them so that you make the best possible decisions going forward. Shalom!

GREAT EXPECTATIONS VS REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS

It’s a couple days away from Valentine’s Day and I had the occasion to speak with one of my sister-friends who has Great Expectations for the day.  She is a hopeless romantic and therefore would like for her husband to pull out all the stops plus the ‘red carpet’, in celebrating her and the day.  She has one problem though.  They are mismatched in the romanticism department.   

In essence, this is what she told me.  “He is such a wonderful guy, and he is easy to please, but he does not have a romantic bone in his body.”  One of my responses to her was that you might have married someone who is not only romantic to you, but to every other woman he meets, so be grateful.  That aside, I think she is hoping he would surprise her by doing some of the things that she would like, but I could already hear in her voice that she was lowering her expectations. 

I listened to her and being that I’ve been married for almost three decades, I had a bit of advice to give and it went something like this.    I’m not sure who penned this quote, but it has been a guiding light for me in navigating my significant relationships.  It says, “Expectation is the mother of disappointment.”  In other words, if you don’t expect anything, you cannot be disappointed.  And I’m only referring to earthly relationships here.

Although, I agree with the quote, I believe that there are expectations that are reasonable to have.  For example, I expect my son to love me because I have been an exceptional mother to him.  He hasn’t disappointed me yet.  I expect that there will be mutual respect between my friends and I.  Up to this point, my tight circle has never disappointed me. I expect that my husband will take care of our family as he has been doing for the last three decades.  After all these years, he hasn’t disappointed me in that aspect of our lives either.  Reasonable expectations.

Make no mistake, even reasonable expectations can produce disappointment, but at least there is the experiential to support them.   And that is the difference between Great Expectations and Reasonable Expectations.    Sometimes we are expecting in a vacuum with neither experience nor assurances that the expectation will be met. And that’s when we get hurt. 

The Word of God is filled with references which assures us that our expectations of God will never end in disappointment. Even if we don’t have personal proof as yet that He never fails, all we have to do is research His word for historical proof of what we can expect from Him. Even those of us in New Testament times have experienced how God has kept His word through every changing season in our lives. This is the only person that we can have Great Expectations of because He will never fail to deliver on His promises.

Sometimes we look at a person’s age, education, religious persusaion or social orientation and we expect certain attitudes and behaviours from them, but I’ve learned that a person cannot give you what they do not have.   And the only way to determine what they have is to experience them over time.   You may get hurt but I’ve never known anything to grow without some discomfort and pain.  

This brings me to what I’ve learned especially within the bonds of marriage.  We have expectations of others based on our frame of reference.  And this frame of reference can be based on family of origin relationships or other relationships in general.  In our present relationships we come to expect certain things based on what we’ve experienced in the past in similar relationships. 

For example, when I got married, I expected my husband to play a more active role in domestic activities.  He, on the other hand, expected me to be satisfied just being at home.  Why?  Because that is what we both experienced in our family of origin.  These are the kinds of things that cause frustration in marital relationships because many times we don’t take the time to discuss our expectations of each other before we say ‘I Do’.

This happens a lot among those of us who are believers who feel that once someone is a Christian, and we ‘love’ one another, we’ll be able to work through our issues on the back end. Many of us have found that this is not true.  Many relationships are on the rocks or are barely hanging on by a thread because of this misconception.

Communication is one of the fundamentals that need to be established and maintained throughout the life of any relationship.  Honest and open communication is necessary so that each person knows where they stand especially before marriage, to determine whether they can deal with certain nuances, habits, mindsets for the long haul.

Our expectations of others should be moderate and reasonable. Communication tempered with understanding is the tool that will help us to formulate those moderate and reasonable expectations.    Instead of constantly being frustrated with each other, we will educate ourselves about our partners by 

  • Engaging in ongoing research – you don’t stop learning about your partner or their history after you get married.  Issues in the relationship will cause you to want to find out “where did this or that come from”.  Pay keen attention; look, listen, and learn.  Education is ongoing.
  • Talking about the hard-to-discuss issues.  My father-in-law used to say, lay everything out on the table. Even if the discussion becomes heated, at least you’ll know where you stand and what you are dealing with.  He was right.  Not talking about the pink elephant in the room does not mean that it does not exist.
  • Saying what we want, what we need, what we expect.  As much as we like to say we know someone, we don’t know what’s in their minds.  This kind of knowledge comes with years of growing together and even then…
  • Applying grace as you would want them to be gracious to you.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • Being patient.  Growth takes time.  Becoming one takes time.  Understanding each other takes time.  

Many times, we look at couples who have been married for many years and we admire how comfortable they seem with each other.  Newsflash!  Over time they engaged in everything that I outlined above and more to get to the place of peace that you are now witnessing.

I will close with another quote that, not even if I tried, could I have expressed it any better than Mr Rasheed Ogunlaru.

“Expectation has brought me disappointment.  Disappointment has brought me wisdom.  Acceptance, gratitude and appreciation have brought me joy and fulfillment.”

Again, it is okay to have reasonable expectations and even then you will experience disappointments, but what that quote expresses is where I’ve grown to and I am so grateful for the lessons learnt.  I pray that as you have read this, you will make that shift in your mindset that would eventually bring you to that place of joy and fulfilment in your relationship as far as expectations are concerned.

As far as your Valentine’s Day celebration goes, make the peace, joy, and love of your union your focus.   Make your partner your focus and not the things that he or she should do for you.  Why not decide among yourselves what you will do for each other on that day?  Never mind that it will not be a surprise.  Surprises are over-rated.  Your biggest concern should be that both of you feel special on that day.  That you create a memory that both of you can recount with warm feelings when you are old and grey. Who knows?  You may be surprised how that little conversation will spark something more than you expected. 

Save yourself and your relationship by keeping your expectations moderate and reasonable. Don’t let your Great Expectations overshadow the memories that you can create by having Reasonable Expectations for the day or for life. Enjoy the moment! Create memories for a lifetime.

My soul, wait thou only upon God; For my expectation is from Him. Psalm 62:5

BE STILL!

A command and not an option, if you want to successfully navigate your life.

Recently something happened to me that disrupted my life in a way that made me angry.  I had plans, exciting plans and they had to come to a screeching halt because there was no way around the disruptor.  I was very unhappy, and angry with God as well, because He had allowed this to happen to me.  Afterall, I was on a mission for Him, and He should have circumvented this unwanted intrusion. “Hands over eyes emoji”.

As I reflect now, I am reminded that shortly before this STOP sign, there were other signs along the way.  It was the same signal, but it manifested in different ways.  The signal read, ‘Be Still’. It started when a brother of mines, Edward Amponsah, miles away, released a song entitled, ‘Be Still’.  Then I was watching the home-going celebration of a past student of mines, and one of the readings was taken from Psalm 46.  That’s when I began to suspect that something was going on that I needed to pay attention to.  But I still didn’t put much weight on the message

Later, I picked up my phone and realized that I had gotten a notification of a Live YouTube broadcast by Russell Walden, a man of God whose ministry I respect.  I decided to listen – (you can begin listening from 4:19 mins if you wish). His main scripture was taken from Psalm 119:114 “Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word”.  As he shared his thoughts, he began to say that sometimes God is trying to hide us for a season, but we are sending up flares to let everyone know where we are.  That it’s okay to not always be in the limelight.  That’s all I needed to hear to convince me that God was talking to me.  I didn’t like it, but I couldn’t ignore it any longer.

 All of this was happening within the space of a couple of days.  Well to add icing to the cake, with a cake-topper marked ‘Be Still’, God made sure that I didn’t go to the church that Sunday Morning.  I stayed home and tuned in to my Boston church family’s Facebook page (Shekinah Glory International Ministries – from 19:00 mins).  Prophetess Hannah began singing… that’s right, ‘Be Still’ which segued into ‘Oceans’, two songs which I recorded, and you can listen to by clicking the links.   At that point I began to sing with the team and the rest is history.  Suffice it to say, I proceeded to hide, rest and Be Still. 

Be Still.  I believe that translates to mean different things for different people.  The variables attached to this command would be times and seasons.  According to where you are and what you are doing, you will know what you need to do to Be Still.   

For me it meant to unplug from social media and be quiet; minimize the amount of time I spent communicating with others on WhatsApp; and not letting anything from the outside penetrate my soul.  I needed to rest.  I needed to cease from striving for myself and others.  It meant that I wouldn’t be able to immediately share my thoughts and feelings with family and friends.  But that was okay.  I understood the assignment.

Sometimes we feel that if we stop the whole world will collapse around us.  But soon enough we find out that what we have to offer is only important when it’s released in the season that God has ordained for us to share it in.  Otherwise, we need to be quiet.

So, what does ‘Be Still’ look like for you?

  • Maybe you need to hold your speech for a while
  • Maybe you need to withdraw your company – cut back on your social interactions
  • Maybe you need to deactivate your social media pages for a while
  • Maybe you need to take a vacation away from the familiar and/or soul-searing situations
  • Maybe it’s time to listen to the angry timber in your voice that makes your family and friends scurry for cover
  • Maybe it’s time to pay attention to the nagging tension in your neck, the frequent occurrences of throbbing headaches, and the incessant screaming of the pain in your lower back
  • Maybe it’s time to listen to the still, small voice of the One who loves you beyond words and wants the best for you.

Finish this sentence.  ‘Be Still’ for me means that I…

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Enjoying a moment of rest
Meads Bay, Anguilla

As I pen my thoughts, I am in the season of ‘Be Still’ but it does not mean that I stop thinking or writing.  It means that I quiet my mind (soul) and all the external noises, so that I am better able to hear what my Father wants to say to me in this season; so that I can be more efficient and effective in the next.

It means that I will realize new growth and fresh perspective to fully embrace the new season when it comes.  It means that in being still I will focus on getting to know the one that has called, chosen, and commissioned me for such a time as this.

Consequently, to keep this in context, I’ll like to quote the entire clause. It says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). So, in my case, I’m not just being still for being still sake. In my Being Still, my time will be spent in communion with my El Shaddai, developing my relationship with Him as we become one, sitting at His feet, meditating on His every Word, and receiving instructions for the way forward.

As I read the verse again, I realize that it is a command.  Since God is the one who gave it, there is obviously nothing wrong with Being Still, but there is everything wrong with not knowing when it’s time to Be Still.  Six of one, half a dozen of the other.  You have a choice to make.  Be Still or you will be made to Be Still.  I chose the former.  Which will you choose?

Sunset at Meads Bay, Anguilla

FERTILISER

Growth not Waste

Organic fertiliser (the one that we collect from the animals in the field) does not smell good, but it’s just what a plant needs to grow.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

Sometimes when we are bombarded with negative words or vibes, we need to, instead of responding in kind, express gratitude to the person responsible for shovelling the fertiliser. I know. I know. Easier said than done, right?

In the moment it may not sound good or feel good, but if we understand what is actually happening, we would turn our corresponding emotions inside-out in anticipation of the glory that shall be revealed in the future.  Sometimes the words are hard to hear, especially if they come from loved ones or persons from whom you expect to get compliments.  The trick is to see if there is any merit to what they might have said, extract the parts that point to areas that you need to improve, and keep it moving towards development and growth.

This kind of response takes time and a retraining of the mindset.  Usually when someone, especially a loved one, spew negativity at you, your self-esteem takes a blow. But as I always say, it may be difficult but not impossible to adapt a new and more heart-friendly way of thinking.  Yes, negative words take a toll on your heart if you allow them to.

So, here’s what you can do

I’m loving this girl
  • Develop a love relationship with yourself 
  • Be honest with yourself
  • Accept who you are (strengths and weaknesses)
  • Perpetually examine yourself to see where you need to make changes, and make them
  • Be confident in who you are 
  • Grow a hard shell or impervious feathers
  • Do not take everything as a personal afront to who you are
  • Deflect and reject anything that does not represent how you think or feel about yourself
  • Receive constructive criticism with grace
  • Apply grace to those who need it and recognize ignorance
  • Make this your mantra and stay in character when someone comes at you or for you without a cause – “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”.

I am not asking you to do something that I’m not actively practicing.  Recently I was told that I needed to stick to singing and I was offended because it came from someone that I thought would appreciate my other works.  Well I pondered over it for a while and then I decided that maybe they had a point.   It drove me to examine my priorities based on my history in the music business, my abilities, gifts and talents.  I am now spending time birthing some material that God gave me a while back, and I am enjoying the feeling of accomplishment.  Thank you, person that will remain unnamed, for the fertilizer. 

Friends, as I said, this may be a difficult pill to swallow because of how we’ve been trained, but it is not impossible to make the adjustments that will create a more stress-free existence in this stressful world.  And do you know what?  In the end, the shift that you will make will be worth it because of the harvest you will reap.  Fertiliser means growth, not waste.

I would like to know of your progress when you make the shift.  DM me or drop a comment here.  Please like and share this post.

SHED

How to get/keep your spirit right

Just like God (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), man is a triune being.  He was made after the image and likeness of God therefore he is spirit, soul and body.  They are not independent of each other.   If you feed the spirit by spending time in the Word of God and prayer, it becomes strong and that strength affects the other parts of you.  The same is true for the soul and body.  So, since we are talking about shedding, maybe we should start with our spirit man.

Man is a spirit, that has a soul that lives in a body.  Quite simply put, our spirit is that part of us that connects with God through regeneration.  And you would think that if it is connected to God that nothing can go wrong with it, right?  If that was true David would not have penned this prayer in Psalm 51:10 after he had gotten himself embroiled in adultery, deceit and murder. 

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

He had compromised the purity of his spirit because he gave way to his base nature.  This caused a disconnection between him and God.  Remember he was a man after God’s own heart so any disconnection from God would have hurt him badly.  The difference between David and a lot of us is that he was quick to say he was sorry and repent.  He wanted God to renew a ‘right’ spirit within him because he was conscious that he had cultivated a wrong spirit.  

We as well can cultivate a wrong spirit when we allow ourselves to be drawn away by our own lusts and enticed (James 1:14).  Many people feel that they can keep doing wrong and God will keep forgiving them.  But there comes a point when the heart stops feeling convicted and the conscience becomes seared/dead.  That my friend is a dangerous place to be.  It means that you have crossed over into reprobation (Romans 1:28). Click here for more on reprobation.

Without going in too deep in this short post, let me make a distinction.  We can either live in a way that makes deposits into our spirit man or we can pander to the flesh (base nature).  They are polar opposites and one leads to life and the other leads to death (Romans 8:1-14).   In Galatians 5, Paul points out the differences between the works of the flesh and the outworking of the Fruit of the Spirit.  Here they are:

WORKS OF THE FLESH
Galatians 5:19-21 (NLT)
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! 
Flesh/Spirit Comparison

How do you measure up against these lists?  

Personally, as much and as often as possible I check my daily actions, motives, words against those two lists to make sure that I am not falling short.  Don’t get me wrong, we all make mistakes and we all sin and come short of the glory of God, but we don’t have to stay there because God has made provision for us.  What a wonderful father we have.  He said that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  In other words, as we yield to God, He is able to help us shed all the works of the flesh and cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit.  Here is how you can accomplish a spirit that is free of sin, a spirit that is right with God and a spirit that is alive.

  1. Acknowledge that you are a sinner or that you have sinned
  2. Repent of your sin(s) 
  3. Renounce the works of the flesh
  4. Accept the free gift of salvation/accept God’s forgiveness 
  5. Walk in the Spirit (eat of the Fruit of the Spirit everyday)
  6. Maintain your walk by daily communication with God (praying/talking to Him and reading His Word)
  7. Detox as needed.  Stay away from that which will contaminate your spirit (1 Corinthians 15:33); fast and pray.

The Bible also said in 2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

See. He can make you new.  He can help you to 

Shed the old; embrace the new

Shed the bad; embrace the good

Shed sin; embrace righteousness

Shed the flesh: embrace the Spirit of God

Brothers, sisters, friends and family.  The choice is yours.

FOCUS

So, I have this new project that I’m working on, and delivery is in a couple of weeks.  Everything is coming together nicely.  I’m pumped and most of all I’m focused.  This project takes advantage of my natural talent and creativity.  It’s been taking up my head space and physical energy as well.  

Then bam!  Out of nowhere I was made aware of something that was happening ‘behind my back’ for a while.  Again, I am a babe caught in the woods.  Basically, my modus operandi has always been to mind my life and although sometimes I am sensitive to contrary vibes around me, I really don’t pay them any mind.  My focus has always been on God, my family, my purpose and how I can help make the world and someone else’s existence a little better.  For me there is no time or energy left to sweat the small stuff.

Suffice it to say, I was caught off guard but surprisingly I wasn’t as affected as I would have been maybe two years ago.  I have grown in every possible way and for that I am grateful.  

I slept soundly that night and when I awoke for devotions in the morning, I realized that I was still thinking about what transpired the night before.  And just as suddenly as I realized where my thoughts were taking me, I began rebuking the enemy of distractions.  I discerned very quickly what he was trying to do, and I immediately took authority over the spirit of distraction and brought my straying thoughts to a screeching halt.  

I knew that my focus was under attack.  Whenever what you purpose to do threatens the enemy’s kingdom, he will send the spirit of distraction after you.  He did that to David and Samson, and as long as life lasts, we will be confronted with this demon as well.  But here are a few points to bear in mind whenever you feel your focus slipping.

FAITH – have faith in your God, yourself, your purpose and the process.  You were created with purpose in mind and God is able to finish what He has begun in your life.  Stay connected to Him. He is your enabler.

Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

ORGANIZE – write down your thoughts, your visions, your goals.  Create plans that will help you to chart your progress in fulfilling your goals.  Refer to them often to keep yourself on track.

CONCENTRATE – tackle each task one at a time so as not to become overwhelmed.  Keep your goals in sight and don’t let anything or anyone take you off your grind.

UNDERSTAND – having a good grasp/working knowledge of who you are, your purpose (why you were placed on the planet) and your destiny goes a long way to helping you to remain focused. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get widsom: and with all they getting get understanding (Proverbs 4:7). Sound advice I would say.

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SPEAK – affirm yourself with positive words.  Emotions have their place but pandering to the ones that are negative hinders progress.  Tell yourself often “I can do this” and go out and do whatever it is you have been putting off, for other lesser important things.  

Here’s an analogical question for you.  What if when you lay your head down on your pillow, in the quiet of the night you hear a singing.  The singing gets closer and closer and then you realize it’s a mosquito that is aiming for your ear.  What will you do?  Would you sit up in bed and gripe about the mosquito and how it’s preventing you from falling asleep? Or will you take action so that you can get back to dreamland?

It’s the same way, when you are on purpose, you should not let anything deter you.  Don’t take time to reason with the spirit of distraction.  Recognize it for what it is.  Deal with it and get right back to doing what needs to be done to get that much closer to your destiny.  Focus!

PROVERBS

I’ve been reading the Book of Proverbs as part of my reading-through-the-Bible-in-a-year challenge, and I’ve marveled at the truth of the phrase, “reading is fundamental”. Outside of direct personal revelation from God, wisdom was handed to us in the pages of the Book of Proverbs.  In order to receive it, one would have to dedicate himself/herself to reading the book and making its instructions a part of their daily lives.  And it’s all practical instructions.

Here is the introduction to the Book of Proverbs from my Bible, The KJV Prophecy Study Bible:

“As the preface to the book states, Proverbs is about wisdom.  On one level, wisdom is a skill of living, a practical knowledge.  Wise people know how to say the right thing at the right time and to do the right thing at the right time.  They live in a way that maximizes blessing for themselves and others in the world that God created.  But at a deeper level, wisdom is more profound than an ability to navigate life well.  Indeed, it begins with a proper attitude toward God characterized by “fear”.  This is not the type of fear that makes someone run away, but it is more than respect.  It is the awe that a person should feel when in the presence of the sovereign Creator of the universe, Proverbs is a book about wisdom, and it intends to make its reader wise.”

FYI:  The Book of Proverbs is associated with Solomon, Israel’s wisest king.  Indeed, most of the proverbs were written by him, but there were other contributors as well such as anonymous writers of (Chaps 22:17-24:22), Agur (Chap 30) and Lemuel (Chap 31).

Solomon addressed his writings to his young son(s) but we know that they apply to all of us.  Chapters 1 – 3 gives a general overview of why the attainment of wisdom is so important and, these two verses have stayed with me from my childhood memorizations.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge:  but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov 1:7)

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom:  and with all they getting get understanding.” (Prov 4:7)

As many times as I have read the book, I find myself constantly stopping in the middle of reading, flabbergasted because I realize that Proverbs addresses the exercising of wisdom in any and every area of our lives. Finances, relationships, communication.  You name it, wisdom is there for the reading, understanding and execution.

As I continue to read the book, I concur with Hosea when he said in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”  And it is true.  I have witnessed persons whom I consider having above average IQs, do and say the most foolish things and I shake my head and wonder.  But I’ve learned that intelligence does not equate to wisdom.  As the writing above said, wisdom has to be practiced.  Most of all, one has to be connected to the God of all wisdom, and be willing to hear what He has to say, to become wise.

Proverbs 2:6-8 (NLT)

For the Lord grants wisdom!
    From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.
    He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
He guards the paths of the just
    and protects those who are faithful to him.

The Passion Translation

Wisdom is a gift from a generous God,
and every word he speaks is full of revelation
and becomes a fountain of understanding within you. 
For the Lord has a hidden storehouse of wisdom
made accessible to his godly lovers. 
He becomes your personal bodyguard as you follow his ways,
protecting and guarding you as you choose what is right.

So, here is my advice.  There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs.  Why not challenge yourself to read one a day?  Today is the 12th September so you would read Chapter 12 today, 13 the next day and so on.  I would like to hear what effect the exercise would have had on your daily life, if any.  Please DM me.  I’m anxiously awaiting your report. 

WHO ARE YOU CALLING ‘HOAR’ HEAD?

Grey is the new black

I walked out of the sanctuary, and just as I anticipated someone asked me, “So what’s going on with your head/hair?”  “What are you doing?”  I turned right around to an attractively attired sister in the Lord that I regard as my friend and said, “I’m letting my hair grow exactly as you see it”.  And in my mind, I said, there’s nothing wrong with that.  She kind of chuckled and said, “I can’t.  Just the other day my daughter told me that I needed to stop dying my hair and I told her I can’t.  I’m not ready to show my grey hairs just yet.”

Her answer is typical of many women her age today, and I’m fine with that. To each his/her own. I ain’t mad at her because I must admit that not too long ago I was thinking and saying the same thing.  I’ve been told that I look younger than my age and I wanted my hair to reflect that.  I still do but it has become increasingly challenging to keep my grey hairs in check.  I would henna them and in less than two weeks they would begin sneakily peeking out again. 

To make it worst, almost a year ago I decided to return to my natural roots, which requires a lot more care than when my hair was relaxed.  Therefore, a typical wash day, when I have to also color my roots become a mammoth task that results in my many times putting off the whole production until I can gather the gumption to spend a whole day with my hair.

The reason I anticipated someone making a comment about my hair, especially after church, is because

I’ve earned my greys
  1. It’s the one place where you will get noticed because you have to sit still for so long with the possibility of being featured in a video frame being very high
  2. I had gotten a friend to cornrow my hair the day before, therefore the different hues of my hair were very visible
  3. There is at least one person in that congregation that would feel comfortable enough with me to point out the obvious 

I am a realist and I am practical to a t.  Although the gravitational pull towards what I know to be the sensible thing to do may take a while to manifest, eventually it does manifest.  I love to look good and as pulled together as the next person, but I am also a low-maintenance kind of gal.   For me being fashionable and trendy cannot trump sensible and comfortable.  So, it may be the fashionable thing to dye your hair because you appear to look better with black hair, but what about the cost in time and money to do that every two weeks?

In my case, ‘I’ve given up the ghost’ at this time in my life because I know I’ll be fighting a losing battle if I continue.  I began going grey in my 30’s and it was not a slow progression like it is for some people.  Also, I started to grey at the front of my head while some people either go ‘salt and pepper’ (which is beautiful to me) or they have a patch.  I would have loved a patch because its funky looking.

Some persons have said that you go grey because you’ve had stress in your life.  Others say that it has to do with your nutrition and even proport that it can be reversed by changing the diet.  For me, I’ve gone grey because its hereditary.  I saw my paternal grandmother when she was in her 50s and her thick, long plaits were a beautiful shade of salt and pepper.  I also saw my dad, whom I resemble very much, began to go grey around the same age. Over the years I witnessed his beard eventually growing all white like that of Santa Clause and it too was, at the time, beautiful.

I believe as we get to a certain stage in life, that we need to make peace with the things that we cannot change.  That is what I’ve done.  I have been doing some growing for the past couple of years and greying hair has been one of the latest ‘happenings’ that I have decided to embrace.  A lot of times we do things because of what we think others will feel, think or even say.  For me, the time for that frame of mind has expired.  I will do what is right and pleasing to me.  If God is happy with me, then I am happy with me.

In our culture, most women I know, even well into their 60s and 70s, and at a time when it should be an honour to flaunt their grey hairs, still color their roots.  Many like me feel that grey hair ‘pulls their face down”.  Others, like me again, look younger than their age and they prefer to keep everyone guessing.  Even among ourselves as women we make comments that would seem to discourage the appearance of growing older because to us it is unattractive.

On the other hand, men are called distinguished when they begin to grey.  They are regarded as silver foxes and younger women are drawn to them especially if they are also taking care of themselves.  But why the disparity in the way that the sexes are perceived as it pertains to greying hair?  Is it all in our heads?  Why aren’t we embracing what is naturally happening as part of our journey?  And let’s not even talk about who is benefiting from our need to appear younger than we are.

As always, let us go to the one place that has an answer for any and every question we may have.  In Psalm 139:14 where David spoke about God knowing us before we were born, here is what he also said, 

“…for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”  I receive that.

And the kicker is found in Proverbs 20:29, 

“The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the grey head” and Proverbs 16:31, “The hoary (grey or white with or as if with age) head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.” Amen to that.

Isn’t that something?  I rest my case.

So, I will speak to us ladies because we seem to be the ones who struggle most with growing grey.  If the Creator of the Universe and the One who also created us values our grey/hoary hair/head, why are we allowing ourselves to be pressured by society, friends and loved ones to despise it?  Why are we succumbing to a culture that drives us to dishonour what He obviously honours?

Listen to what He is saying to us.

Vroom Vroom. Ready or not, here I come

And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” (Isaiah 46:4).  Whoah!! I’ll take that any day.

Well my sister friend, if you haven’t gotten to the point where you can accept the inevitable, I do have some very good henna that I’m willing to part with.  Drop me a line and they are yours.  As for me, this is what I have to say. 

 “World, here I come with my hoary, crowning glory.”  

RELATIONSHIP WITH BENEFITS

Man of God (MOG), God is watching you and you are found wanting.  Why do you think he created you?  Why do you think he created you first and then formed woman out of you?  Think about that for a minute.  (And for the women or others who would like to come for me because of your beliefs that may be contrary to mines, please postpone your trip.)  My allegiance is to God and what He says that is what I will live by. That is what I will preach.

So, this message is for the men.  Do you know why we are living in all this mess that we call “life”.  Because you dropped the ball.  You were given instructions by God in the Garden of Eden and you took them for granted.  You also took your wife for granted and left her uncovered and vulnerable to the wiles of the enemy.  Thank God for the women who have repented on behalf of Eve and are today covering and interceding for their families.

This is not for every man because some men are doing their jobs as prophets, priests and kings in their families.  I am not talking to you.  I’m talking to those who live like the devil seven days a week and then go to church on Sunday morning in all piety.  Why?  Maybe trying to make an impression on those present that they are serving God and to preserve their status as a ‘family man’?

Yes, I’m talking to those of you who only appreciate the fact that your wife is a praying woman so that you can load her up with your requests when you need something from God.  The same God that you disregard and disrespect every day of the week.  You are one of those who only care to BENEFIT FROM THE RELATIONSHIP that your wife has with God. 

You need to stop, take stock, humble yourself, and find God for yourself.  As my father used to say, “every tub has to sit on its own bottom”.  There’s only so much your wife can do on your behalf. Why not be the one to say, “Honey we have this issue. Would you join with me as we take it before God?” The Bible said in Matthew 18:19, Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. Look at you. You got a built-in partner when you decided to marry your wife, and that is what our Omniscient God intended. What a God!!!

For those of you who are out there fooling around with other lives and leaving your family uncovered…again, who do you think you are playing with?  Everything is open and naked to the One that you have to give account to.  And so that you know, what I or anybody else thinks does not matter even though we/I see your fruit rottening.  Only what God thinks matters. 

MOG, God is calling you to COUNTER. He wants you to stop shirking your responsibility of husband and father, leader in your family and nurturer of the next generation,   If you don’t take account now and get your act together, the next generation will suffer.

Your rottening fruit is reaching to high heaven and God has had enough of your riotous and double-standed living.  Man-up and become the prophet, priest and king that is needed to set your home, nation and world right side up.  This is on you.

Women, like Hannah you keep on praying.  Keep on interceding.  God honors that which He instituted and how can two walk together except they be agreed.  Never mind that your man isn’t who he should be right now.  If he isn’t a Christian continue to stand in the gap for him.  If he is a Christian but is in a backslidden state or is straddling the fence, keep praying for him. Prayer changes things. 

Desperate Woman of God (WOG), Samuel needs to be conceived, incubated and birthed so you cannot abort him by neglecting to do what you have been commissioned to.  Your Maker is your husband.  Look to Him for grace and strength, instruction, understanding and wisdom as you continue to PRAY UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENS (PUSH). 

NP.  Women in this text is inclusive of wife and mother, even though my focus is on the husband and wife relationship. Nevertheless, many men depend on their mothers and wives to pray for them while they continue to live like Peter Pan. And although, through the ages we’ve seen how effective a mother’s prayer can be, God expects men (fathers and husbands) to pray as well. If Jesus did it, so can the men.

ROOTED

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

(2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

This grape tree has weathered several hurricanes, Hurricane Irma of 2017 being the last.  We thought she was a goner but we decided not to discard her.  She still had roots imbedded in the soil.  There was a chance that she could bounce back from the ravages of the storms. And we were right.  As evidenced by her fruit, which are sweet by the way, she still has much to give.   

Lessons

Two personal truths that I hold dear.

  1. It does not matter how broken something or someone is, if you can still find value in the pieces, maybe it’s worth it to rework or repurpose those pieces into something that can be appreciated or used. Not because something is broken, means that it should be automatically thrown away.
  2. No matter what comes your way to buffet, destabilise or uproot you, make sure that your roots are anchored deep in the Rock, Christ Jesus.  All you need is a little nurturing (time in the Word, regular communication with God, encouragement of and fellowship with good friends) and you will more than survive.  You will thrive.

As you thrive here are a few things that you can do.

  • Acknowledge and accept who you are daily as life changes you as you age
  • Engage in self-care
  • Do your personal work on a daily basis. No one else can do that for you 
  • Disengage yourself from things and people that are destructive
  • Align yourself with those that support your dreams, your purpose and your destiny
  • Use life-lessons as stepping stones to where you are going. No experience is wasted
  • Focus on and never lose sight of your goals
  • Keep crawling/walking/running towards the prize

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. So I admonish you as Jesus did his disciples in Matthew 24:13

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.