ME?

I haven’t written thoughts in a long while. My job description has changed from “mama” to “mommyger!” Our daughter, Karla Felecia Scaife is on her way to vocalist par excellence! Whatever that means, it will be accomplished by God’s grace.

The path to stardom has obstacles. A hinderance is “me!” There are those who do not reach out because it is not in their self-interest. Karla has been taught by her father and I to elevate others. By elevating others, we provide leverage for those who walk along with us while on this journey called life.

John 17:21 – Jesus says to His Father, that they may be one as you and are one (paraphrased). In spite of the road to the cross for our sin, he was thinking about us. Everything that he did was for us. The theme of “One” has really changed my perspective.

We have become so self-absorbed that we would walk by the man in the ditch because it’s not on the agenda. We would walk on the other side of the street so that we would not have to speak to the Samaritan. Everything about human nature is opposite of the love nature of God, through Jesus, the Christ. We only have access to God through Jesus and not through our might.

A song came out a few years ago, “What God has for me it is for me.” Yes, it has a pretty melody, but is it based upon – “that they may be one.” When God gives us grace, it is for the greater good of all, for his glory.

I included a link to “Five Bible Verses You Need to Stop Misusing.” Jeremiah 29:11 “for I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you.'” jeremiah

Jeremiah was not talking about “me!” Your comments, pro or con are welcome.

Five Bible Verses You Need to Stop Misusing

 

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Concept or Spiritual Transformation?

Concept ... Concept …

I became the Communications’ Media ministry leader of my local church in 2013. There was an obvious need for better communication inside as well as outside. I researched the concepts of a relevant Communications ministry. Keep in mind the use of the noun, “concept.”  Research guided me to the annual “Back to Church” emphasis. Inviting the un-churched was the center of the marketing strategy.  However, the most profound offering was the video, “The Gospel.” The use of sound effects, words floating in and out, the dread-locked speaker using inflections that corresponded with the power of this message was a great “concept.” I knew what the gospel meant, but we must graduate from the milk of the “concept” to the meat of “spiritual transformation.”

In saying that, listening to the explanation of why God sent his Son to redeem us was more personal to me in 2015 than in 2013. I listened with more informed ears. I viewed the video through the lens of grace. The Gospel message became more than a marketing strategy, but a message of transformation. I was in awe knowing that God would go to the length that he did to provide a way for us to escape eternal damnation.

   Transformation    Transformation

The difference in my present faith walk is the result of a more consistent study of God’s Word. When I did not spend time reading God’s instructions for living, my perspective of God’s grace was clouded. I see more clearly now. I don’t want to go back to viewing the “The Gospel” video, as a concept. Spiritual transformation through the Word of God communicates that salvation is provided not because of our goodness, but because of his grace. The Gospel of God is his provision for the payment of our debt through his only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ.

In conclusion, it is necessary from time to time to examine our past thoughts, and the difference in our thinking now. Our journey on this side of eternity should be a growing process. If we have the same thoughts in 2015 that we had in 2013, that is an indication that we are still holding on to the beginning stages of the concept and not moving toward spiritual transformation.

 

The Faith Perspective

The “Faith Perspective” was written in memory of my daddy, Rev. E. N. Bates, September 23, 1929 – December 29, 1988.

Since coming home from work today, I have been researching how to become a successful freelance blogger. The blogging seed is continuing to grow.

I began this self-reflection journey, a year and some months ago. The perspective of life as it relates to others has changed dramatically. The decision to study God’s Word in an academic setting was tantamount to using a higher wattage for better visibility. What did I want to see?

The Faith Perspective The Faith Perspective

During my life, I have seen the “faith perspective.” My father believed that my home church would grow from a few followers in 1965 to a congregation named the Greater Second Baptist Church. He had the “faith perspective!”

God is showing me that through faith, I can inspire, I can reach unbelievers while strengthening my faith. We try to track how many are touched by “likes,” or “followers.” However, the “faith perspective” is dependent upon God’s grace.

I remember traveling in the motorcade from the Dodds Avenue building to the present physical location of the Greater Second Baptist Church. How did God pull that off? We don’t have the required resources. We don’t have a large membership! The key is “we” don’t have, but God has!

In our personal lives, God has!

I have seen God move in situations that seemed impossible. An example of seeing God move is that I am writing this testimony to God’s grace. There are other situations that I can pen in these thoughts. I believe that through faith, my father prayed that I would understand the “faith perspective.” He may not have realized the impact on me of his faith in God’s ability.

During the past year and some months, the “faith perspective” in my life has been strengthened. Along with the study of God’s Word and reflecting upon situations that validate the “faith perspective,” there are opportunities to reach those who need my testimony.

In saying that, those who are members of the “household of faith” also have the responsibility to share the “faith perspective!” We owe it to God to share his grace to us!

 

Could we up the dosage? I still have feelings

 

Alex Gregory created the 2007 characterization of medical humor in cartoon form for the New Yorker. Since then, the indirect wit of no emotion has been included in studies of mental disorders to appearing on coffee mugs as a conversational piece. Chapter Two of I’m Working On It in Therapy: How to Get the Most Out of Psychotherapy by Garry Trosclair showcases the psychotherapist and the patient – “Channel the flow of emotions: Having feelings without your feelings having you.”

A 2009 blog about Zen and Emotions says that “When we practice Zen, life comes into balance, and we can bring compassion and wisdom to all aspects of life.” The sketched form of the patient and the psychotherapist symbolizes the need for a controlled human emotional experience.

The theme of managing emotions is the mindset of the “world.” The “world” in this instance represents those who do not believe in the saving power of Jesus, the Christ. The consensus of the “world” is self-interest.

When I saw Gregory’s cartoon, the representation of emotional frailty struck me as a spiritual condition. The reference to “I still have feelings” was equivalent to the Christian, who disregards Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples.” Emotion should be part of the formula for desiring salvation for the lost. The true Christian is conscious of the costly price paid on Calvary for bridging the gap between mankind and God. The seriousness of eternal separation from God should invigorate the emotional “thankfulness” for God’s grace by communication of salvation.

What is discipleship? by Greg Laurie notes that a true disciple has a sense of purpose and direction. The true disciple, who is a learner of God’s Word has an unwavering devotion to making disciples who are also learners.

Why keep the good news captive? Is the responsibility given in Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19 not the child of God’s responsibility? Thom S. Rainer provides Fifteen Reasons our Churches are Less Evangelistic Today. One of those reasons is a fear of spreading the gospel for risk of offending someone. Today’s climate of political correctness instead of Christian courage has undermined the importance of discipleship.

The Church has become sedated; therefore, does not take the gospel ministry seriously. There is the pretense that those that need physical and spiritual help are someone else’s problem. We are closed off in the walls of our church buildings. But Jesus commands that his disciples go and make disciples in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the outermost parts of the world (Acts 1:8). The article, Your Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria suggests that Jesus was talking about “spheres of application.” “Spheres of Application” in this context moves toward relevance in today’s world. “You will be my witnesses, in your Jerusalem (your family or city,) your Judea and Samaria (your state and country,) and the ends of the earth (outside of the country).”

There are different perspectives of what Jesus meant; however, making disciples is clear. Increasing the dosage of disregard for the safety of our neighbor is in conflict with Acts 1:8. We cannot make disciples when we don’t acknowledge that the lost exist!

 

Let’s talk – Are you listening?

 

A suggestion from veteran writers is to produce conversational content. I thought about the definition of conversation. My view of an invitation to talk would include sitting in a comfortable chair or on the sofa with a cup of coffee. A conversation on the phone might be in a quiet place while sitting down intently listening. However, in today’s fast-paced environment, it is sometimes hard to pay attention.

Yesterday was one of those days that I needed quiet self-reflection. There are situations when there is a heightened awareness that life is but a fleeting moment. (Js. 4:14) One of my high school classmates passed away. I had not seen her in years, but read daily statuses on Facebook about her life and family. Reading the numerous references to her passing caught me off guard.

The same day, one of my local church family members also transitioned to the other side. He was a gifted educator of the arts. I enjoyed talking to him because he had a sweet manner with a spice of wit.

Earlier this week, a 5-year old little boy called 911 to report that his parents had been shot.

When I was a young girl, I thought that those who passed away were always older folks. The examples that I gave earlier represented three different generations. Paul says in Rom. 5:12 that death is a requirement for all because of the sin that entered through the first man (Adam). Our daily lives are filled with so many distractions that we quickly forget the importance of preparing for death, which has no respecter of persons.

These thoughts are not a scare tactic! In spite of our experiences with the absence of loved ones, there is denial in the form of procrastination – doing “first things first.” You are not ready to freely live when the weight of where you will spend eternity ends with a question mark.

Charles Spurgeon delivered a sermon entitled, “Paul, the Ready” in 1890. Yes, the truth was relevant then, the truth is relevant now, and the truth will be relevant tomorrow!

Being ready prevents surprise. There is a calmness when we deliberately prepare for the inevitable. “He who lives unto the Lord shall not fear evil tidings, for his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.” (Ps 127:7) He notes that we “get tripped up when we don’t know where we are or where we stand.”

Being ready prevents loss of time and opportunity. “I should have …” You fill in the blanks.

Being ready takes advantage of every occasion. He who is obedient to God in doing what he has called us learns how to do it well. However, the lack of preparation results in a half done job.

Being ready cultivates obedience. Spurgeon gives the example of a children’s Sunday School class. They were asked, “what was the meaning of doing the will of God on earth as it is done in Heaven?” One of the children responded, “they do God’s will at once.” “What a Word,” as we sometimes respond. In Heaven, things are done at once!

Being ready multiplies our obedience. “…  the man who is ready to do the right thing has already done it in the sight of God.”

Being ready to die removes all fear. There is no longer the weight of the question mark regarding eternity.

The study of God’s Word gets us ready.

Read Charles Spurgeon’s, Paul, the Ready.

Please feel free to post your thoughts. Thank you!

 

Who is whispering in your ear?

Who is whispering in your ear?

A journey of introspection or self-analysis sometimes requires writing thoughts on paper. Some have daily journals. However, I felt the need to share my self-analysis out loud. I wanted to empty myself while letting others know that we are on this journey together. However, the first step is to become transparent with God. Only then can we look in the mirror and see our true selves.

Why in the past did I want to share my journey? During that point in time, I wanted to get some things “off of my chest!” Looking back, the renewing of the mind was tantamount to shaving off scar tissue that had formed over the years. The light of God’s Word had the sharp edge required for spiritual surgery. Because of the theme of transparency in my writings, readers began to frequent my Facebook page. I noticed also after looking back that my frustration levels were lowered because of the decrease in mental weight.

After awhile, the outside interference of wanting to take those written thoughts to another level resulted in taking away from the original intent of the content. In other words, instead of the initial focus of cleansing and sharing with others, it became a frustrating juggle of words and the rules that govern them. I hope that makes sense. I wanted to extend my reach to others by adding other venues. However, the testimony of thoughts became difficult because of going beyond or out of the lane of purpose. I was frustrated and overwhelmed because I was trying to add my finite insight to God’s infinite insight.

Why, presently do I want to share my journey? Writing my thoughts has been therapeutic. I am looking more in the mirror and seeing the real “me.” I no longer want to get things off of my chest in the form of writing. Some of the scar tissue that I referenced earlier has been shaved off. God has blessed me to better understand His will in the context of living in the light. God has brought me a long way in my thinking and how it relates to the big picture. The big picture increases the understanding of Scripture, and also increases our faith in the God who inspired it.

I thought about Paul and his Damascus Road experience. In that context, before this experience, Paul was not a believer in Jesus, the Christ. Jesus asked Paul why was he persecuting Him. If you think about it, those who are believers persecute Him by allowing someone else to whisper in their ears. The only way to become sensitive to God’s voice is to study His Word. There are no alternative options to walking in the light. The more we understand God’s instructions for living, the more we become aware of the difference in the voices. Who is whispering in your ear?

We must lose the apostrophe

What is the definition of relevance in the believer’s life? The first thing is to replace the possessive tense by deleting the apostrophe in believer’s. Believer’s without the apostrophe is Believers which becomes plural and inclusive.

Unless we consider our brothers and sisters as ourselves, we lose the relevance of our individual walks. Relevance is something that is useful or practical.

Apostrophes are used to signify possession – me, my, and mine.

What is the point? Believers (plural) include all who have accepted Jesus to be their Savior. Jesus prayed to His Father, who is also our Father that we, not me, be one as he and the Father are one.

We need to lose the apostrophe if we are to be relevant in our relationships with each other.

Who has your best interest at heart?

Trying to make it in this life is difficult. We assume that everyone thinks like we do. We assume that everyone agrees that we are great. We assume that everyone loves us. We assume …!

The believer in Jesus, the Christ must be able to discern those “stray” voices. Therefore, renewing of the mind is as necessary as eating food is to the body. That alien existence, called Satan will move right in and appear to have your best interest at heart.

We ask, why would someone want to take advantage of my immaturity or my lack of experience in this dark world? Do we even admit our immaturity?

The answers to those questions are in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve asked those same questions. Why would the serpent deceive us by offering a state of existence that God instructed us not to touch? God gives us everything that we need, but we want to seek acceptance from those who do not have our best interest at heart.

Do we really understand that God provided an “out” through His Son, Jesus, the Christ? There are those who will sing your praises because they see something in you that will be beneficial for them. How do we avoid the deception? Do we continue in our immaturity or do we seek God’s face?

Only God, has our best interest at heart!

What does it mean to repent?

Have you noticed that when you see the word, “REPENT” or you hear someone say it, there is the connotation of screaming or a visual of beating someone over the head?

Last Sunday, we listened to a sermon (a synonym for sermon is “lesson”) about the Prodigal Son. The preacher did not elaborate on the prodigal son’s activities, but he used the allegory of “Ground Zero,” a place of focus, a place where something happens, a place where we make a deliberate decision.

“Ground Zero” is a place where there is repentance. We make an intentional, calculated decision to align our lives with God. The verb, “repent” is not a bad word. It is an action that requires that we turn from anything that is opposite to God’s Will for us. God’s instructions for us communicates that the wages of sin is death. Why waste time killing ourselves, when the right direction is to accept Jesus, the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life?

Sometimes when I think about the irresponsible things that I have done in my life – what if I had listened to God’s Word or even read it. I would have avoided some things that I will always regret. We think that we have to get right (using our distorted definitions of “getting right”). The only way to “get it right” is to make the decision to accept that Jesus, is the only way to God, our Father!

I pray that someone is convicted by the Holy Spirit to go to “Ground Zero.” “Ground Zero” is where we choose to see the light. Don’t wait to “get right” using a clouded mentality. The only way to “get right” is to accept the one who is “right,” Jesus, the Christ!

Sometimes it’s good to perform a growth audit

What is a growth audit? When we become saved from eternal separation from God, we are ransomed, rescued and redeemed. We are justified, which means that we are made righteous (or in right-standing) with God. God gives us this grace through Jesus. The Bible says that noone has access to the Father but through Jesus. That’s why Jesus is emphasized. There is no other way.

When we decide to give ourselves to God through Jesus, the next step is to study God’s Word (God’s instructions for living). When the Holy Spirit manifests himself in our hearts, the process of sanctification begins. What is sanctification? Sanctification is an on-going process where we are being saved until Jesus comes back to get the church (those who have gone before us) and those of us who are still alive .

It’s so important to correctly interpret what God’s Word says. The Bible speaks for itself without our presuppositions. The Holy Spirit helps us to understand what God is saying to us. God has spoken in His Word; therefore, our opinions are not needed. We read, we digest, we apply what He’s saying to us. Reading without application is a waste of time. Study with the help of the Holy Spirit brings about growth. Growth only occurs when we practically apply what is said.

Is there a difference in our mindset compared to a few years ago? Do we have hunger for wanting to be obedient to His instructions for us? Are we convicted when we gossip – when we are judgmental – when we think that we are correct in our wrongness?

James Hall has a song that says, “I want to live so that God can use me, anytime, anywhere…” How can God use us when we don’t practically apply His instructions. His instructions don’t include our self-righteous opinions about everybody else. Who do we think we are? God is sovereign – He created us!

Growth is the result of studying God’s Word. Growth equals humility. Growth equals the use of much prayer. Growth equals loving our brothers as we love ourselves. Growth equals obedience to God. Some of us are still babes in the Christian faith. When are we going to grow up?