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Recently we went out to Carey’s Camp to here a Southern Gospel Quartet sing.  As I sat there listening memories of my roots flooded in my thoughts.  My roots of how I learned about Christ and His love, and my roots of how I came to have a personal relationship with a loving gracious God.  Growing up I always knew about God and his love and we did occasionally for a period of time go to church as a family.  You see my mom grew  up a preachers kid so she knew and had a personal relationship with Jesus.  So growing up she told me stories of her father preaching the gospel and her family living in the church.  But you see my parents didn’t always live a church life and therefore sometimes growing up our lives like many families were slightly  dysfunctional and not always peaceful but I knew in my heart there must be something that could bring peace to my life.  I just wasn’t sure how to achieve it.  At the age of 14 I started dating a Wesleyan ministers son and he always talked about love, peace and joy and so one night I asked him hey how do you get all this peace, joy and love even in the middle of bad things happening?  He that night over the phone began to tell me how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that night I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.

I say all this to give background of where my roots came from because as I sat there that night remembering my roots I started to get hope again.   Hope that even though life seems dark and at times the storms that come up in my life drain the hope from me, I remember that God is with me and will see me through it.  I know for me I had the roots to ground me and help me grow but if you didn’t grow up with good roots it’s not to late there is hope to get good roots.  You see my mom taught me that if you had a potted plant that was dying in it’s pot you could take it out of the old pot and take off the diseased roots and re-pot the plant with new food and soil in a new pot and it would grow.  It’s not to late to be re-potted in soil with good roots.

I once had a counselor tell me feelings are just feelings they change like a shifting tides and that  is so true if we look to what our feelings say we will loose hope but if we look to what our roots say and what God says we can regain our vision, a vision of hope.

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Many people who have read my blogs know much about my background.  For many years I have struggled with bi-polar I  disorder and the many facets that come along with this horrible disease.  One of those facets is the looming feeling of death.  Even as a Christian at times I have lost hope and yes tried to end my life on 3 different occasions.  Different things or events in life will trigger these thoughts and feelings.  The past 5 years have been especially difficult due to the loss of my mother, father, brother,  nephew, and several aunts and uncles.  For someone  who struggles with mental illness the loss of a loved one can trigger episodes of hopelessness and uncertainty of life even when that person has so much to look forward to.  I don’t say all this to ask for pity or attention but to shine hope on what can be  dark, dark road.  I have been very fortunate to have a great,  no a superb support system .  My husband Elbert Collins Jr. has been by my side even when I didn’t want him there.  My family has been always there for me and so has every church family that we have belonged to.  Without the support of the church I don’t know that I would have made it this far.   This being said what I write following will let you know how I have mad it this far.

The past several months have been very dark for me.  Even though I have had some great things happen in my life I couldn’t get out of the darkness and I felt the grave calling my name, taking all hope from me.  I went to church this past Sunday hoping for God to say something that would let me know there was light at the end of the tunnel.  It started off with one of our worship leaders Mike Brown giving the scripture in I Corinthians 15:55 “O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?” I knew immediately the God has something to say to me this day.  He then went on to lead a song by Iron Bell Music called I Belong to You.  In this song  the lyrics talk about belonging to God and knowing who you are in Christ.

You called me out of darkness
You silence every lie
And no other voice will define me
I belong to You, I belong to You
[Chorus]
You know the enemy can’t
Take what I have
Change who I am
I belong to You
You know the enemy can’t
Take what I have
Change who I am
I belong to You!
[Verse 2]
By Your blood I’ve been adopted
I’ve taken on Your name
And I need to be reminded
That I belong to you, I belong to You!
[Chorus]
You know the enemy can’t
Take what I have
Change who I am
I belong to You
You know the enemy can’t
Take what I have
Change who I am
I belong to You
[Bridge]
Greater are You who’s in me
Than he who’s in the world
The words You have spoken
Are stronger than the curse
[Chorus]
You know the enemy can’t
Take what I have
Change who I am
I belong to You
You know the enemy can’t
Take what I have
Change who I am
I belong to You
[Outro]
I belong to You
I belong to You
No one can take from me, my destiny
I belong to You!
The part of this song that speaks to me the most is “the enemy can’t take what I have or change who I am I belong to you”  I believe that so many times when the grave starts calling my name the enemy uses that to say you don’t belong I’m gonna take everything from you, you have nothing to offer.  I clearly heard this morning I BELONG.
The other thing that ministered to me this morning was our Pastor Tim Dukes spoke about not taking short cuts in life.  He talked about how King David could have taken short cuts to become king but he didn’t he waited for God’s timing to appoint him king.   Sometimes we walk through things that seem dark and there are short cuts before us but if we take those short cuts  we may not be walking in God’s timing.  “God wants us to skip the short cuts that keep us from living the way He wants us to. Concoquring the day means more than just winning it’s about making the right choices every day.” (Tim Dukes) Sometimes for me life is a choice, choosing to walk through the darkness instead of giving into the grave that is calling my name.  I can honestly say the grave has no victory over me today.  I emplore you that if you are walking in darkness seek out help, seek out life don’t let the grave have vicotory.

Psalm 100 reads ” Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness, come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us and we are his we are his people the sheep of his pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;  give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

I love this passage of scripture because it gives a guideline for worshiping the Lord.  Yes I’m gonna get on my soap box about worship for a few minutes. The thing I see is that the writer says worship the Lord with gladness come before him with joyful songs.  So many times we come before God with somber hearts to worship Him.  we drag ourselves into church bearing all the baggage of the week of the morning even. We then offer him what we feel is worship.  We give this ho hum attitude that says ok God here is some of me.

My husband and I have had the privileged of worshiping with many different people in many different church’s and I think one of my pet peeves (not necessarily my husbands) the worship team and leaders getting up on stage and being so distracted by how it sounds and the presentation of the stage that they forget what they are there for.  They may have the intention of leading the congregation to the throne of grace but instead it tends to look more like a performance.  Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to have a great sounding worship service but if we get up there and all we do is have a great sounding worship service with people who are not passionately worshiping at the feet of Jesus we might have well went to a concert to be entertained.  I recently visited a church where the singers were so passionately worshiping that you couldn’t tell that one of them was very sick and the other had the flu and was running a high fever.  Their passion for their love of Jesus took them past what they felt and what it may have sounded like and led the congregation straight into the arms of Jesus and thus opened the doors for the people to hear what God had to say through the preaching of the word. Now they did do sound check and made sure everyone was in the right key but they didn’t give a performance and were just there to worship the King of Kings.

I think a lot of times musicians and singers get so caught up in playing and singing that they forget the main purpose of worship leaders/singers/musicians is not to perform but to bring people to the thrown of grace where they can fall into the arms of Jesus and find redemption for the baggage that came in with.  Because isn’t that the goal of those of us who are called to ministry, to help those that are hurting find the saving grace that Jesus offers every time we enter His presence.  I love it when a worship musician or singer gets so consumed by worshiping that they back away from their instrument or mic and just worship at the feet of Jesus.  I am by no means a musician or singer but I do love to worship at the feet of Jesus.  There is nothing more that will open up my heart to hear what God has to say to me than a great worship service.  I challenge everyone, get lost in worship, bring that joyful noise to the alter, bring Him your Thanksgiving, your gladness and praise don’t get caught up in performance cause I think in reality that’s not what God is longing for at least from what this passage states to me.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

In the past several years my hubby and I have gone through some really tough things. It was easy for me to point out all the ways he had not met my needs, whether it be physical, financial, emotional, or spiritual but pride kept me from looking at the things that I was doing that helped create the my portion of the problems.  You see every marriage is two sided we all help create the problems, we all help break down and open the door for the enemy to tear down the foundation of what we are as families.  We take that “ME” attitude that my needs, what I want, how I am being treated and instead we should be looking at how have I been meeting their needs what is it that I haven’t done to make my marriage better.  I think that sometimes pride keeps us from looking inward to what we haven’t done and puts blinders on where we need to change.

I believe with all my heart that marriage is a “WE” relationship and if part of that we relationship is tearing down the other growth cannot happen. I love social media, however when we use social media to tear down our partner in life or even just in social conversation it opens the door for the enemy to reek havoc on our families.  Women what is it teaching our young daughters on social media if they are constantly seeing posts of you saying negative things about their father. It is a blueprint for how they will teach their future spouses.  And, men what does it teach our young sons if we are putting down their mothers on social media or in social circles. What we say and our actions are like a text book to our children those born to us and those that look up to us on how to treat our spouses.

Today, I was reminded by God that I look so much on how my hubby doesn’t meet my needs and not on the things that he does that are great every day. I was reminded today of the 80/20 rule that says we look past the 80 percent of the greatness to the 20 percent of what we are not getting.   My attitude today became “oh great he said this and I told him that him saying that makes me feel unloved” and I distinctively heard God say “you may want to be glad you have someone that cares about you in that way and still looks at you in a way that is loving”  oh does that sting hearing God say that to me.  When we first got married  every time I would mad with my hubby about a fight or disagreement we would have would take his side and I would get so upset cause she’s my mom and she’s supposed to stand up for me, well when we got married she took him as her son and she really didn’t take sides she just told the truth.  We are the same way with God we want him to take our side and kinda smite the other person for our hurts.  Then I was reminded of the scripture Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at he speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”  Isn’t that what we are doing when we disrespect our spouse’s by not saying uplifting and encouraging things about our spouses to other people and on social media where everyone can see it.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t talk to your spouse about what is hurting you in your relationship but keep it out of public view, keep it away from satan’s eyes so  the door won’t be opened to our family foundation being torn apart.

 

Today in my daily devotions I was reading about love and being part of a community.  I was thinking wow this is so simplistic, I wanted a deeper study today, something I could grasp that would make me feel slightly intelligent when it comes to the word of God.  Where did God lead me; to love. I titled this love must be, because I see several things from scripture that love must be.

First, in Romans 12:9a  the writer says love must me sincere.  Many times as Christians we say oh yes I love everyone.  But do we really?  Do we sincerely love everyone? Do we love that person who cut us off for the parking spot we had been patiently waiting for just to have them swoop in and park their car there? Do we really love that small child who just hit our little one on the playground because they wanted the same swing as our child?  I think a lot of times we give the lip service of love  but how much do we sincerely and deeply love everyone.

Second,  love must be kind. 1 Corinthians 13 commands us that our love must be kind.  How many times as Christians do we say unkind things about not only each other but about those who don’t know this man named Jesus that we call our King and Savior.  How many times do we bless those with words of affirmation after they have cut us off for that parking lot space or who have hit our child.  Or do we speak words of dare I say hate, because if they are not words of affirmation and love then I can honestly say they are breading hate.  I have a friend who posted on Facebook this week that she had a little prayer “to let her words always be used to build up and bring healing”.  Hey folks this is love speaking right there.  Many times we don’t realize the things that come out of our mouths can speak death as well as life to people even if they don’t hear them.  My mom used to say to me if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all.  Because our words have power over people even if they don’t hear us say it.  It’s like releasing life and death over people with how kind of words we use. I told a lady this week that words can’t be gotten back once they are released from our mouth.  And in reality we never know who may be listening to what we are saying, so we must be careful about what we say and even think because God ultimately sees and hears everything we do and I wouldn’t want to hurt Him  by the things I say and think about others around me.

Third, love must be patient. Oh wow there’s that word we never want to ask God for, patience.  But, this is another 1 Corinthians 13 command. How many times do we become impatient with those around us because they don’t live up to or meet the expectations of what we ask of them or don’t do something  in the timely manner when we want things done.  I know that my impatience with people often leads to my mood becoming irritable with those people and most of the time everyone else who may enter my path.

Fourth, love doesn’t boast and is not proud.  I think that a lot of times we forget to teach our children and even remember ourselves that being humble is a wonderful trait.  When we are boastful towards those we “love”  we can at times make them feel less of a person.  Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take pride in things or life but we shouldn’t flaunt our pride to those whom we come in contact with.  Boasting to people can make us look and seem unloving, uncaring and unkind.

The last thing that I learned while doing my devotions about love today was that in 1 Peter 4:8 the writer says that we should love deeply because love covers a multitude of sin.  So many times we say well I can’t be around that person because they hurt me so bad, but if we truly love someone deeply that love would cover every sin that person committed towards us.  Think about it what if Jesus said hey I can’t be around these people any more look what they have done to me. No, He didn’t think that at all, Jesus loved us so much and so deeply that He gave up His own life in heaven to become man and then die for us so that we could have eternal life in Heaven. My friends love does cover a  multitude of sins a man called Jesus taught us this the day He died on the cross for us and then rose from the dead.

 

 

Click the link below to read the article I wrote on a messy marriage.

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For a while I wasn’t sure what all the hype was about zombies.  I just didn’t get all this over infatuation with zombies was all about.  I mean what is so great about watching them on t.v. and killing them on video games. That is until my boys started getting me to watch The Walking Dead.  They have sucked me into the idea that a zombie apocalypse could really happen.  I still don’t think that in reality an apocalypse of walking dead people could really happen but shoot it makes for really good t.v. I mean the idea that walking dead people could take over the world is kinda really out there.  I do think however that an apocalypse of some kind could happen.  Then I began to think about this apocalyptic event, if it really could happen, and if this type of event has ever been thought about before.

My hubby had to preach one Sunday and he used Jeremiah 29 for his text of his message. In this passage the Bible talks about the Israelites being exiled.  To them this must have been what an apocalypse must have felt like. I mean being put in a place that is not home to you where there is oppression upon the people.  It may not be like running for your life from a zombie but just trying to survive in a land that you are exiled to and  being oppressed by the people of this land must have felt very hopeless to the Israelites. Since I have been watching the Walking Dead with my boys, yes it is something we do as a family may not be the best thing to watch but you do learn some things about life in the show, I have watched the people on this show grow from life seeming very hopeless to resourceful people who have found hope in their lives in where they are at.

The Israelite people had to prepare for the time when they were going to be exiled just like the people of this time being being prepared for an apocalypse. I was watching a show about being prepared for some type of apocalypse and they were going over all the things that you should have to be prepared for any type of apocalypse and some of the things they were talking about not only were relevant for a zombie situation but some things that everyone should have in case a natural disaster happens. I thought about this and I told my son, I don’t even know how to read a compass.  So then I went on a whole different type of thinking how do we prepare our hearts for any type of event that might take us to trust the Lord in every instance that may happen.  I mean if a zombie situation did occur think about how much we would have to rely on God to get us through life in general. Only His guidance will bring us to a point of survival.  Just like the Israelites depended on God during their exile, we have to take the time to rely on God even in the daily times not just in a disaster event.

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