Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Keeping It Real...Relationships

Real relationships are built on love and truth! When I think of relationships, the image of a house comes to mind. Love is the foundation. Truth are the walls that defend against the enemies that would destroy the home and the precious things that are inside. Hope is the roof that provides protection when the storms of life come. Fidelity and trust are the glue and cement that keep it all together.

In life, we are each building and strengthening our homes every day. As the saying goes,
Home is where the heart is. Your true home is with the person(s) or in the place that you love most.*
So, we have to be mindful to do things that will protect and keep our important relationships strong.

Keeping important relationships strong is hard work. But we can look to the examples of God the father, Christ Jesus and words of wisdom from the Bible for a couple of lessons:

1) Give sacrificially--John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (New King James Version)

2) Don't lie or be deceitful; speak the truth in love--Proverbs 27:17 You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another. (The Message Bible)

3) Spend quality time with those who are important to you--St. John 13:1 & 4, It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (The Message Bible)

Jesus washing his disciples' feet symbolizes Him meeting a need. When you spend quality time with special people, you begin to become familiar with their strengths, weaknesses, and needs. Pray about how God can use you to meet a need.

4) Love unconditionally--John 15:12, This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Proverbs 17:17, Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble. (The Message Bible)

5) Don't be too proud to say, "I am sorry"--Genesis 33, Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming ... As [Jacob] approached his brother, [he] bowed seven times, honoring his brother. But Esau ran up and embraced him, held him tight and kissed him. And they both wept. (The Message Bible)

By deceiving his Father, Jacob stole the blessing that was traditionally reserved for the oldest child. Although Esau was Jacob's twin brother, he was the oldest and the one who should have received the blessing. Jacob took advantage of his brother at one of Esau's weakest moments. Additionally, Jacob deceived his Father in order to obtain the blessing. However, when the time came for reconciliation, Jacob was not too proud to humble himself and ask for his brother's forgiveness.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Thinking about it...

In reflecting on the gang violence against the Chicago honor student, I saw people standing around while the victim was being assaulted. What's makes people just watch as violence and injustice takes place? What makes people act?

Friday, October 2, 2009

God is 4 U

The title of this blog is actually the title of a song I wrote in the summer of 1986. I wrote the song at a very critical point in my young adult life. At least I thought it was critical. In the Fall of that year I would enter my fifth and final year of college and I had to make a very important decision. It so happens that I was attending a Women's Retreat somewhere outside of the Washington metropolitan area and during the free time I went outside to sit in the hot summer sun with my Bible to pray. I had been invited there to play the piano for the retreat by the mother of one of my college musician friends. This opportunity to get away was just what I needed. I needed direction from God. You see, I had to make a decision whether to apply for membership in one of my college's sororities.

Right there some of you may say, “Is that all?” Most people would have thought that the decision was about a career, job, or calling. You say, "A decision about a sorority is not a major decision". But let me set the stage for why this was such an important event. I was attending Howard University, the home of the founding chapters for three of the four major black sororities. Pledging at Howard was a big deal and the competition was stiff. Typically, the most popular sororities could have between 400-600 girls applying for membership and typically less than 10% of the applicants made "line", the pledge line that is. Applying for membership or "going out" as we called it, meant getting to know the current sorority members and attending all of their social and community service projects. So, going out meant I had to attend a lot of events and get to know the chapter 100-150 members. Besides that you had to make a good impression. Really, you had to make a great impression.

Here is why this was such as challenge. I am somewhat of a shy and reserve person. Even though I was the director of one of the campus choirs, officer in a student organization and knew a lot of people, the thought of having to meet all of the sorority members and attend all of the social events was pretty daunting. Further, the campus Christian ministry that I was a member of was not really supportive of pledging. Most of my close friends were apart of this group. Now compound this with the fact that none of my immediate family members were apart of a Greek letter organization and the church organization that I belonged to official policy advised against joining sororities, fraternities, and the masons. My desire was met with a host of dissenting voices.

The problem was I really wanted to pledge. I had been enamored with the sorority I was interested in since I first learned about the Greek letter organizations during my freshman year of college. That was my first introduction to this type of organization. Besides, the sorority stood for tenets that really resonated with me.

That brings me to the crux of my dilemma. I wanted to pledge and doing so meant that I could be ostracized by most of my community. I even felt that my salvation may be in jeopardy if I pledged. As I sat outdoors in the hot sun worrying about my decision, I began reading Psalm 56. A key verse for me was,

Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me. Psalm 56:9 (New International Version)

The whole Psalm is pretty powerful, but the title of my song comes from verse 9B: "...This I know that God is for me." Sitting there that day contemplating what I should do, I was able to settle it in my mind that whatever I did I would not lose my salvation. It wasn't a life or death decision. Life would go on and I would go on. My friends may desert me, but I would go on. The words of the verses settled my Spirit and gave me perspective. From that perspective I penned this song,

No matter what you are going through
Or how you feel on the inside
Or how you feel that you have disappointed God

God is For You, God Is For You, Yes the Lord is For You.

He doesn't care what you have done
Or what great sin you think you have committed
His promises to us are as sure as the day they were submitted

God is For You, God Is For You, Yes the Lord is For You

If God be for us, who can be against us.

I did pledge the Spring of 1987. It was tough, the process I mean. It was both mentally and physically grueling. I almost flunked a one credit class that would have kept me from graduating. I was so tired and mentally exhausted from the pledge process that I had given up on class. A Big Sister, a girl from Philadelphia, helped me complete an assignment that made it possible for me to pass the class and graduate. I will never forget her kindness.

Now, it has been more than twenty years since my initiation and I have a different perspective on pledging and my membership in the sorority. But the one lesson that I did learn was that God would love me no matter what decision I made. And God loves me still.

I hope that this message also speaks to others who may be at critical points in their life and wondering what to do next. God will not desert you because you make the wrong decision. Trust in God. Pray and ask Him for direction. Look to His Word and the Holy Spirit to direct your life. For, God loves you. God cares about you. And God is for you.