“A Place Where Wounded Men Can Bleed and Heal”

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Matthew 26:38, “and He said to them, “I am so sad that I feel as if I am dying. Stay here and keep awake with Me.” (CEV)

One thing for sure, I grew up with a very “man’s man” type of father. My dad was a Louisiana born mechanic, and was always covered from head to toe in grease! It drove my mother absolutely insane! In fact, when she would do the laundry, she always made sure dad’s clothes had their very own machines, his stuff didn’t mix with anybody else’s! Dad had grease under his fingernails, on his skin, dripping from his hair, covering his face and drenched in his clothes. You would often find him with a cigarette in his mouth, one hand under the hood of a car while the other hand held an ice cold beer (no matter what the weather was). He loved to hang out with his boys, he loved westerns, boxing, football and baseball. And his absolute first love was fishing! He would have about 2-3 hours sleep (which is where I get my bad habit of not sleeping enough from), and yet he would make a cup of coffee (that was half wild irish rose – don’t ask), he would chop wood for the fireplace, start a fire, walk the dog, and sit on the front stoop, all by 4am, for no other reason than that he was wide awake! Dad had a pretty nice gun collection too, and would shoot at anything that moved in the trees! In other words, dad was indeed the epitome of a “man’s man”.

However, my dad passed away in 2008 at the tender age of 75 years old. I was 36 years old when my dad passed and yet in all those years I spent with him, I only remember seeing my dad cry once. And that was when his father (my granddad) passed away when I was 5. It is the only time I can recall seeing my dad cry. He didn’t even cry on my wedding day as they wheeled him down the aisle (his way of still being able to ‘walk’ me down the aisle.) Nope, instead dad smiled and laughed the entire day! So, even though he was a “man’s man”, looking back now, I wonder did he ever cry more than that one time? I know he battled many health issues, and loss of family, and struggles working 3 jobs to support us all. But still, I can’t seem to recall more tears than that one day. And surely with such a rough life of being born in 1933, in the South as a black man who had to drop out of school before he was 9 to pick cotton, he must have had some hurtful experiences, he must’ve been wounded enough to bleed and cry, but I wonder if he ever did.

Now, my dad isn’t the only man like that. I have a family who is largely military, and largely southern, therefore, all the men are “men’s men”! I don’t recall many of the men in my family as criers, or those who displayed their weaknesses or emotions. And I guess that’s somewhat to be expected when most men are largely reared to be brave, courageous, strong, hunters, go-getters, powerful, invincible! And those are wonderful traits, but when you’ve been counseling as long as I have, you come to find out, some of those ideal traits, are really entrapments for most men. For example, I had one couple that had been trying for 10 years to conceive and then they finally do. We get to the birth date, and mom is crying her eyes out (I’m sure from pain as well as great expectation); however, dad, was a blank face. She was angry that he didn’t gush and cry and get all soppy, and he said “I wasn’t raised that way. In my family, men don’t cry, no matter what.” She said he was like that on their wedding day and other important family events where you would expect someone to get all “blubbery” with joy! But like he said, most men, “aren’t raised that way. Men don’t cry, no matter what.

Which is what I want to address today.

Suicide. It usually stuns those close to it. In fact, Hollywood has seen several spikes in suicides in the past few years. A director that leaped from a bridge. Actors battling drugs and alcohol that had beaten the addiction. And others that were still battling until the addiction won. Families left crushed. Many people left asking that question that often defies an answer, “Why?” Well, truth is, we may never know. As for myself, I attempted suicide on 3 occasions, all between the ages of 15-25. I battled depression severely for many years. However, my parents didn’t know that until my first suicide attempt at age 15. And even to this day, when I do suicide counseling and share my own battle scars from depression and suicide, one of the questions I’m always asked is, “what made you want to end your life? What could’ve possibly been so bad?And again, to this day, I’m uncertain how to really answer that. Because the things that seemed so “tragic” then, looking back now, seem so unimportant. But when you’re in the moment, it’s amazing how big of a mountain a molehill can appear to be.

So, suicide has been running rampant, both in the world and in the church.

And then there was that prominent official in the White House some years ago who committed suicide. A national news magazine turned the spotlight on a disturbing fact about too many men. They are, (And I’ve never forgotten these words) “wounded men with no place to bleed.

I know from years of walking through crisis with many men through counseling, that men often “stuff it” rather than “share it”. They live with the lie that being strong means never showing weakness, never showing a soft or hurting heart, and always being in control.

So they bleed inside where there’s nothing to stop the bleeding or treat the wound. And what’s scary is, much like a person physically bleeding on the outside (where you can see it, and notice it, and bring it to their attention, and get them some help); however when someone is bleeding internally, you don’t see it, you don’t notice it, you can’t bring it to their attention and get them some help, until it starts to reveal itself in some form of sign from the inside…out. And most men spiritually, emotionally, socially, mentally, bleed internally. But that much pressure, continuously pressed down, builds like lava in a volcano. Or like a beach ball pushed farther and farther under the water. The farther down you push it, the higher it ultimately goes when it can’t be held down any longer. Then suddenly, often inexplicably, there’s an explosion of anger or violence or depression, or self-destruction.

BUT the strongest man who ever lived offers men a better way!

The shortest verse in the Bible – only two words, John 11:35, “Jesus wept” at a friend’s grave. The Bible says, when He saw a crowd of hurting people, “He was moved with compassion because they were…like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

I’ve come to find out that Jesus expressed quite a few emotions that men today need to learn to feel free in expressing:

“for days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they ended, HE WAS HUNGRY.” (Luke 4:2 AMP)

“But Jesus was in the stern, ASLEEP [with His head] on the [sailor’s leather] cushion…” (Mark 4:38 AMP)

“Looking at him, Jesus FELT A LOVE (HIGH REGARD, COMPASSION) FOR HIM…” (Mark 10:21 AMP)

“Now Jesus LOVED AND WAS CONCERNED about Martha and her sister and Lazarus [and considered them dear friends]” (John 11:5 AMP)

“In that very hour He was OVERJOYED AND REJOICED GREATLY…” (Luke 10:21 AMP)

“After looking around at them WITH ANGER, GRIEVED…” (Mark 3:5 AMP)

“Now when Jesus heard this, HE WAS AMAZED…” (Luke 7:9 AMP)

“…He began to be DEEPLY DISTRESSED AND TROUBLED [EXTREMELY ANGUISHED at the prospect of what was to come].” (Mark 14:33 AMP)

“As He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and WEPT OVER IT [and the spiritual ignorance of its people]” (Luke 19:41 AMP)

“and looking up to heaven, HE SIGHED DEEPLY…” (Mark 7:34 AMP)

“He GROANED AND SIGHED DEEPLY IN HIS SPIRIT…” (Mark 8:12 AMP)

“But when Jesus saw this, HE WAS INDIGNANT…” (Mark 10:14 AMP)

“Jesus STERNLY WARNED them…” (Mark 3:12 AMP)

“When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who had come with her also sobbing, HE WAS DEEPLY MOVED IN SPIRIT [TO THE POINT OF ANGER at the sorrow caused by death] AND WAS TROUBLED.” (John 11:33 AMP)

“But Jesus would often go to some place where HE COULD BE ALONE and pray.” (Luke 5:16 CEV)

Men of God, did you pay attention to all the varying emotions that Jesus Himself expressed? Not suppressed, not kept hidden, not masked, not covered, not lied about, not pretending, not making excuses for, but one He Unapologetically Expressed. And not in a secluded spot, but He did so in front of others! And if the Son of God can express His emotions, and we are to follow in His footsteps, for He is our example, then why would you deny yourself the relief of release? After all, Jesus Himself was: Hungry, Sleepy, Moved With Compassion, Felt Love, Was Concerned, Was Overjoyed and Rejoiced, Was Angry, Grieved, Amazed, Distressed, Troubled, Groaned and Sighed Deeply, Was Indignant, Gave Stern Warnings, Was Angry and Alone. So, why are YOU internally bleeding due to the lack of expressed emotions?

Jesus wasn’t afraid to let His friends know He was really hurting. Just before what He knew was going to be His awful torture and crucifixion, He asked His main guys to be with Him in the garden. He told them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me” (Matthew 26:38). Though He was God in the flesh – the Ultimate Man – He wasn’t afraid to say He needed people. Yet, you my brothers, are acting so fiercely brave, because you’re afraid someone will see the flaw in your character, that you aren’t always as tough as the role you play. But you need not hide anymore, pretend anymore, camouflage anymore. As Wounded As You Are, You Have a Place to Bleed, Heal, and Recover!

Your Safe Place to Bleed is With the One Who Bled For You!

Hebrews 4:15-16, “Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (MSG)

You got it! Wounded soldier, you have a place to bleed! It’s in the Presence of your Savior. It’s your safe place to unload, to be naked and not ashamed, to reveal, expose, and tell all. You don’t have to hide, cover, mask, pretend, find the right words, go at a particular hour, He’s always waiting, and always available. He wants you to come to Him and find your sheltered place for rest, relief and release. Therefore, obey the Scripture, “…walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”

Matthew 11:28-30, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. KEEP COMPANY WITH ME and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG) Did you catch that? Jesus Himself has extended a private invitation to you, for you to go away “and keep company with Him.” So, what are you waiting for? Are you waiting like the lava in a volcano to finally explode?! Because that’s the worst thing you can do, and here’s why. Have you ever paid attention to when a volcano erupts? The lava is no respect of person! Whoever comes into contact with it, perishes! And if you continue to suppress your emotions, you will erupt and your anger will come in contact with all those attached to you and burn up your friendships, covenants, relationships, family ties, businesses, churches, ministries, neighbors…everyone that comes in contact with you will burn to ashes! But why let that be your outcome, when you have access to a safe place to release?

Men of God, you are not so “manly” that you don’t have moments when you need to cry, to vent, to tell it, to share it, to ask for help, for advice, for direction, for wisdom, and yes even for a shoulder to cry and lean on. Unexpressed emotions are dangerous for you and everyone attached to you! Let today be the day you find relief and release by resting in the safe place of the presence of the Lord. He’s waiting to hear about the marriage that’s on life-support, about the children who have gone astray, about the finances that are drying up, about your private hurts, disappointments, and discouragements. He’s waiting to hear you tell Him what the doctor told you. He wants to hear what the lawyer said. He wants to share in your anguish over the loss of a job. He wants to hear about the dreams that have become nightmares. He wants to hear about your fears, your distrust, your doubts, unbelief and lack of faith. He wants to hear about the bills, the bankruptcy, and the burst plumbing line. He wants to hear what makes you feel insignificant, less than, and not enough. He wants you to hand over to Him your low self-esteem and damaged self-respect. He wants you to share with Him your weaknesses so He can share with you His strengths. Talk to Him, Tell Him, He Wants to Hear Your Voice, Even if it’s Shaky, Trembling and Filled With Fear!

Jeremiah 33:2-3, “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘CALL TO ME AND I WILL ANSWER YOU. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’ (MSG)

Men of God, why are you struggling alone when God Himself wants to keep company with you? He’s asking you to call HIM, not Tony, Eric, Robert, Shawn, Darryl, Kevin….No, this time, Call Jesus! Does that mean you should never reach out to your boys? Absolutely not! Even Jesus reached out to His boys and told them He was sad and in anguish and needed them to stay awake with Him. So, if Jesus reached out to His boys, you are more than encouraged to reach out to yours. However, don’t make the mistake many women make, and that is to reach out to our Sisters BEFORE reaching out to our Savior. God alone, is the place where you are guaranteed to renew and regain strength after releasing to Him your weakness.

Do not suffer in silence and die. You are needed more than you’ll ever know. You’re needed in your family, among your friends and coworkers, you’re needed in the church, in the community and in the Kingdom. We need your gifts, your anointing, your skills, your talent. We need your presence. Which is why we need you to take your broken pieces to Jesus so that you can be made whole, because there is a host of other men, wounded with nowhere to bleed, that are waiting for someone just like you to help them put their fragmented emotions back together again. We need you to overcome, because we need your testimony. You are the product of what God’s power can do when you plug in to His source.

So, no more waiting for everyone to go to sleep so you can slip out unawares to breath and sigh in the car or in the backyard. No more tears trickling down in the shower where no one can hear or see. No more ‘I’m fine; I’m okay; Everything’s good.’ No More Internal Bleeding! God has already showed you in His Word that He’s there to help, but you do know that you also have a huge family of brothers and sisters in Christ that are here for you too? Galatians 6:1-2, “Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” (MSG) We’re here to help too! Whether its sin, hurt, pain, failure, disappointment, frustration, confusion, struggles, we’re here to help! Whether it was your fault or no fault of your own, we’re here to help too! Brothers you are never alone! So stop isolating yourself and reconnect with your family! We may not all be doctors, nurses, surgeons, therapists and the like, but as believers we do specialize in love! And if love is all we have to use as a bandage, you are still on your way to healing!

1 Peter 4:7-11, “Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!” (MSG)

Brothers, You Have a Safe Place to Take Your Wounds to so They Can Bleed, Heal and Recover. His Name is Jesus, and He Has a Secured, Reserved Spot Just For You. Make Today the Day You Hide Under His Wings For Help!

Psalm 91, “You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— UNDER THEM YOU’RE PERFECTLY SAFE; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path. “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!” (MSG)

See, men, you have the love and help of your brothers and sisters, but more importantly you have Jesus, where no matter how badly life has hurt you, He is your safe place, where you are “…PERFECTLY SAFE…”

Brothers, we need you alive and well! So no more silent internal bleeding. No matter what the feelings or emotions, no matter what the situation or circumstance, share it. You can still be a ‘man’s man’ and cry! Let no one else tell you differently. And please remember this, your wife and sisters and daughters are watching how you deal with your emotions. When you bottle them up, you teach them this is the way a man should handle his emotions. Your sons and brothers are watching how you deal with your emotions. When you hide them, cover them, mask them, pretend about them, you are showing them the example you want them to follow in how they deal with their emotions. And if you want everyone to be healthy, YOU first have to show them what healthy emotions look like. Jesus Did, and so can you. You are the head of our families, communities and churches, and the head tells the body how to function. Make sure as the head, you’re getting help, you’re healing, you’re becoming whole, so we can follow your lead and function in the same matter! Lead us well, by leading yourself first to the secret place of the Presence of God where you may be wounded, you may bleed, but you will recover!

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

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“Men Helping Men Through Failure, Encouragement and Restoration”

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Acts 15:36-41, “After a few days of this, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit all our friends in each of the towns where we preached the Word of God. Let’s see how they’re doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. But Paul wouldn’t have him; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia. Tempers flared, and they ended up going their separate ways: Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus; Paul chose Silas and, offered up by their friends to the grace of the Master, went to Syria and Cilicia to build up and sinew in those congregations.” (MSG)

2 Timothy 4:11, “…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very helpful to me for the ministry.” (AMP)

Remember This and Never Forget It: Every Man is Mark, Barnabas and Paul…at Some Point in Life!

One of the things I absolutely love is to watch a baby learn how to walk. It’s the most funniest thing to me ever! In fact, I like to call it the Frankenstein Walk! It’s so clumsy, so mechanical. It’s kind of a “step, boom” method. Someone comes along and says, “I think it’s about time“, then sets them up on their legs – you know, kind of spaghetti legs – and they take one step, then boom! And, of course, they get up again, and the next time it’s step, step, boom! And then step, step, step, boom! You get the idea. But what I love is that even babies don’t call it quits after a fall! As often as they wobble, step, then go boom, either someone helps them back on their feet or they struggle their way back up to give it another shot! Believe it or not, but it’s like that for many believers as well.

I remember when my youngest was learning to walk, she pretty much had the same step, boom, method as all babies have. But when she went down, you could see her grabbing something and battling to get her muscles going all in one direction so she could get up again. But then there were also those times when you saw her big sister reaching over to give her a hand. Actually, that’s what it takes whenever you go step, boom! Sometimes you can pull yourself up, and other times you need someone else to help you back up again! Are we our brother’s/sister’s keeper? Yes We Are!

And so, I think today is a good day to look at a man who stepped out to serve the Lord and went “step, boom!” His name is John Mark. Acts 15 is where we’re hearing about a missionary journey that Barnabas and Paul were launching. “Barnabas,” it says, “wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it was wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus.

Now, in order to get the full story, realize you need to turn to 2 Timothy 4, where at the end of Paul’s life he is now alone in a Roman prison. He will soon be executed for his loyalty to Jesus Christ, and guess who he mentions? Guess who he wants to see? MARK! The same guy who bombed out earlier in his Christian work, and Paul said, “Boy, I don’t think this guy’s going to make it.” But then Paul writes, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful for me in my ministry.” Wow!

Brothers, it is indeed my prayer that today’s devotional will help you look at yourself and your brothers in a new, and even better, light. I want you to look at these three men and see yourself and your brothers, and possibly began responding to each with a clearer perspective.

First, there’s MARK (HE FAILED). And believe it or not, you’ve failed and so have many of the men you know. Does that mean you or they have to live in failure forever? No! Failure never has to be fatal. It doesn’t have to end your marriage, ministry, career or life. Yes, Mark, went the wrong way, he let people and leaders down, but thank God that’s not how his story ended, and neither will it be the closing chapter of your life. In truth, maybe you did fail at the marriage: (you didn’t give it everything you should have, you weren’t as supportive, or kind, or faithful, or loving, or committed, or encouraging as you should have been); maybe you did fail at fatherhood (you weren’t there for the events, activities, talks, and medals); maybe you did fail at the ministry (you didn’t tithe, you didn’t go to prayer, bible study, Sunday school, or afternoon services, you didn’t support the men’s ministry efforts); maybe you did fail at the business/career (you didn’t pay attention to the over-head, you didn’t handle the budget right, you didn’t do better by your staff, you took advantage of your sick and vacation time, you were late to clock in, early to clock out, and went into overtime on lunch). Let’s say the truth of the matter is, this is the truth of the matter! You Failed! But do you have to stay there, absolutely not! Be honest with yourself first (and then others), that you didn’t get it right. Then, if you can pull yourself up, then pull yourself up! But if not, know that you are not the only one, and that there is help available! Which is why you have to be so careful in how you judge your brothers. You don’t know what led them to where they are, just like they don’t know what led you to your failures. So, instead of gossiping or getting and staying stuck, just turn around and start looking for Barnabas!

Second, there’s BARNABAS (HE ENCOURAGED). Mark may have screwed up, but thanks be to God he wasn’t left to his own devices! And neither are you. There will be times that you and your brothers will be Mark (you will have failed at many things, badly). But there will also be times when Barnabas will come to your aid, and then there will also be those times when you’ll need to be the Barnabas that comes to your brother’s aid. You never want to kick someone when they’re already down. And the best way to keep you from doing this is to remember when you were Mark too.  You needed someone to look beyond the worse in you and still see the best. Well, there are men around you who need the same thing.  Not all men will come to church! And those that do, won’t always come speaking in church lingo. Some will come, but not dressed like you, act like you, conduct themselves as you do. Some will come and they will come with more baggage than the baggage claim at an airport. Some will come from gangs, drugs, alcohol, failed marriages, poor fatherhood, estranged relationships with their children and family. Some will come with no job, no place to live, no hope, no faith. Some will come bitter, discouraged, angry even combative. But Barnabas, if you can encourage the Apostles to take a shot and believe in Paul who was the King of the Killers of Christians, most certainly you can work with these brothers also. Some brothers just need to feel like they’re not going to be picked last to be on the team. Like Barnabas, he could’ve said, listen Mark, I’ve worked with Paul a long time, I’ve built a friendship with him, I trust his leadership, I’m loyal to our covenant. I can’t help you, you should’ve done what you were supposed to do from the beginning. But that was not at all Barnabas response, instead, he picked the one person no one wanted on their team, and he says in essence, ‘I’ll take him’! Brothers, there are some men in your church, in your home, in your family, on your job, in your community that simply need to hear,I’ll take him!” Yep, with all his baggage and all his failures, “I’ll still take him!” Men of God, be the man that watches Mark go “step, boom,”, then go over and help him back up! And do it knowing full-well that he may go down again! But after all, when did you get it perfectly right? You still wobble in some areas, and yet you still have God’s grace, mercy, favor and forgiveness. Are you really going to withhold such a wonderful gift like that from your brother, that you open every new day?

Third, there’s Paul (HE RESTORED). Now, Paul had a two-fold responsibility. Because first of all, as a leader, he had to be honest. Mark did fail! And there’s no such thing as an effective leader who doesn’t correct bad behavior. Paul still had more journey’s to go on, more people to reach, more work to do. He couldn’t just take into account Mark, but the danger of Mark relapsing again in failure that would affect others. So he makes a leadership decision not to take him. But what I love is that even though as a leader, he corrected and reproved Mark, that wasn’t the end of their relationship!

You know what the message is? When you’re following Christ, failure is not final! But it takes two kinds of people to recover someone from a fall. It takes Barnabas to encourage the one who has fallen, to get back up, but it also takes Paul the restorer, to say I’ll give him another chance. I still see hope, a future, a change, some more potential, he deserves another chance.

You know, if that baby goes “step, boom” he can’t just say, “Well, I fell down. I guess I’ll never walk. I’m not cut out for this.” He can’t just keep lying there helpless on the floor. No! Because if he does, he’ll still be there when he’s 18; his Mom will be vacuuming around him! LOL! But no, instead, he gets up and he says in his own little brain, “I will try this walking thing again.But sometimes you need help, you need a Barnabas to Lift and a Paul to Re-Launch!

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you’ve been giving up because you failed. But the gospel of Mark’s life is that you can be restored. You can be useful again if you’re willing to battle your way back up, even on wobbly legs. But recovery also requires a brother; one like Barnabas, who will work with you patiently, who will deal with your weaknesses, who will give you an another chance. And it takes a brother like Paul, who though he had his doubts, is willing to accept him once he’s restored, and not to continue to say, “Oh, yeah, he’s the failure.

Now, one of these is you, or it needs to be. Maybe you’re a Mark and you feel that you’ve fallen. But now ask the Lord for the courage and the patience to battle your way back up. Maybe you’re a Barnabas who reaches out to that person that others have given up on, maybe even a member of your own family. Or maybe you’re Paul, who can make or break somebody’s comeback by whether you greet them with open or folded arms.

When one of God’s kids goes “step, boom” there is still hope if there’s a battler determined to walk again and a brother who’s offering a hand of help.

Can we be honest brothers? Life is not easy, and most times it’s horribly unfair. So you never get the opportunity to be Paul all the time. The strong one that restores. But when life happens, you will find yourself being all three of these men, and sometimes you can find yourself being all three, all in the same day. But know this, Mark didn’t die in his failure; Barnabas didn’t overlook him; and Paul didn’t completely give up on him. In fact, the Scripture says, “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11 KJV). Let’s look at Paul’s words in a few translations:

 “…Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is USEFUL TO ME FOR MINISTERING.” (ASV);

“…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is VERY HELPFUL TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY.” (AMP);

“…Get Mark, and bring him with you. He has been A BIG HELP TO ME IN THE MINISTRY.” (CEB);

“…Take Mark, and bring him with you, because he is a VERY USEFUL HELPER IN MY WORK.” (CJB);

“…Get Mark and bring him with you, because he CAN HELP ME IN THE WORK.” (GNT);

“…Bring Mark with you when you come, FOR I NEED HIM.” (TLB);

 “…Bring Mark with you; HE’LL BE MY RIGHT-HAND MAN.” (MSG)

As badly as Mark messed up, Paul says, I need him, he’ll be my right hand man! Can you imagine what those words must be like to hear after you’ve failed so miserably? And more importantly, to hear them from the very person whom you failed! I wonder if the man (who you know) that messed up, but was received like this by the brethren, if he would still be a member of the church today? You know that same ‘Mark’ in your ministry, in your home, on your job, who failed in his leadership; who didn’t complete his assignment; whose wife left him; who’s estranged from his children (by his own fault); whose lost the job. You know, that Mark. What kind of man could he have matured and grown and developed into had he been mentored in his mistakes?

Paul went from, “Acts 15:36-41 saying, “…Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. BUT PAUL WOULDN’T HAVE HIM; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia…” (MSG); to saying in 2 Timothy 4:11, “…Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is USEFUL TO ME FOR SERVICE.” (NASB)

Paul, says, don’t leave him down in his failure, pick him up and bring him to me because even after his failure he is still, “…USEFUL TO ME FOR MINISTERING; … VERY HELPFUL TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY… A BIG HELP TO ME IN THE MINISTRY… VERY USEFUL HELPER IN MY WORK… CAN HELP ME IN THE WORK… FOR I NEED HIM… HE’LL BE MY RIGHT-HAND MAN! Now, that’s what you call Restoration!

Men of God, please know that you as well as your brothers will all experience times of being Mark (who failed), Barnabas (who encouraged) and Paul (who corrected and restored). And whichever stage you find yourself in, know that it’s progressive and repetitive. You don’t stay in either stage permanently. As anointed, gifted, talented, powerful and awesome as you are, you will fail again, you will need to be encouraged as well encourage others again, you will need to give and receive rebuke and restoration again. And all of this is a blessing because Mark teaches us Humility; Barnabas teaches us Hospitality; and Paul teaches us Hope. Give these wonderful gifts to yourself, as well as to your brothers!

Life is not easy, and there is no flawless, perfect male specimen walking around on this planet! All have sinned, all have missed the mark, all have made mistakes, all have messed up, all have gotten it wrong at some point in life. Pointing fingers is not a remedy. Gossip, rumors, slander, and lies, is not a remedy. Favoritism, is not a remedy. Encouragement and Restoration, now that’s a Remedy! That’s a Recipe for Greatness and Recovery!

Today, Remember that every man is Mark, Barnabas and Paul at some point from moment to moment in this life. Be as forgiving, encouraging, supportive and strengthening as you would want someone to be to you. Be the living proof that any man can go from failure, to encouragement, to restoration! And make it your business to personally be a part of his process!

Which means you will not only need to be Barnabas and Paul, but you’ll also need to be Peter: Luke 22:32, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen they brethren.” (KJV) Let’s review this text in a few translations:

“but I have prayed [especially] for you [Peter], that your faith [and confidence in Me] may not fail; and you, once you have turned back again [to Me], strengthen and support your brothers [in the faith]” (AMP)

“But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.” (AMPC)

“But Simon, I have prayed that your faith will be strong. And when you have come back to me, help the others.” (CEV)

“I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.” (ERV)

“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. So when you recover, strengthen the other disciples.” (GWT)

“but I have pleaded in prayer for you that your faith should not completely fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up the faith of your brothers.” (TLB)

“I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.” (NCV)

“But I have prayed for you. I have prayed that your faith will be strong and that you will not give up. When you return, you must help to make your brothers strong.” (NLV)

“Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.” (vss. 31-32 MSG)

Brothers, Today, Determine to be There for Your Brothers!

“Conflict cannot continue without your participation.” (Dr. Wayne Dyer)

“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” (William James)

“Do not kid yourself, a conflict is never about the surface issue. It’s about issues unsaid, untreated, and unhealed.” (Author Unknown)

“The goal of resolving conflict in a relationship is not victory or defeat. It’s reaching understanding and letting go of our need to be right.”

“Explain your anger, don’t express it, and you will immediately open the door to solutions instead of arguments.” (Author Unknown)

“Conflict is Inevitable, but Combat is Optional.” (Max Lucado)

“Bringing a problem to resolution and closure through continued discussion and compromise is an honorable act as it shows respect for the needs of both partners.” (Lynne Namka)

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” (Albert Einstein)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

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“Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Mandate!”

 

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2 Corinthians 4:7, “But this beautiful treasure is contained in us—cracked pots made of earth and clay—so that the transcendent character of this power will be clearly seen as coming from God and not from us.”

Anyone who knows me knows, 2 Corinthians 4:7 is one of my absolute favorite Scriptures in all the Bible! And because of it, the story of “The Cracked Pot” is one of my absolute favorite poems. The Scripture we’ll get to in a moment, but here’s how the poem goes: “A water-bearer in India had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole, which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it. While the other pot was perfect, and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the mistress’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to her master’s house. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water-bearer one day by the stream: “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.” Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your mistress’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said. The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in her compassion she said, “As we return to the mistress’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure. The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? “That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. “For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my mistress’s table. Without you being just the way you are, she would not have this beauty to grace her house.”

I’m always amazed by this story because it is a constant reminder that we all have flaws, and yet, God still uses us to help make things grow, and make things beautiful. If the cracked pot didn’t have its flaw/crack, there would have been no flowers, and nothing for the bearer to take into her mistress’s house. And men, that’s great encouragement to you!

You see, truth is, in most churches, women make up the majority. Oh, you’ll see a few men scattered here and there, but their numbers never supersede that of the women (or even the children for that matter). Now, here is one of the most repeated reasons I’ve heard over the years, from men, on why they do not attend church (not that their unsaved mind you), or why they attend so infrequently: “The only time they look for men in the church is to fix or move something.” And as long as I’ve been in church, I have found that to be quite true. However, I would like to take something negative and make it a positive. Men, as true, to some degree, as that statement is, I want you to view it today from a different perspective. The reason we do Need you in church is to fix and move some things! Men are still head of their households, coverings for the wives, and strength in their communities. And this needs to be evident in our churches! We need men (with flaws, imperfections and cracks) to show the world that you will never be flawless, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be effective. We need men in church to move things (move the distorted view that all men are dogs; all men are dead-beat dads; all men are standing on a street corner with pants sagging and living off their “women”. Yes men, we need you to move some things indeed! We need you to move the faulty idea that men don’t pray, praise and worship, that men don’t cry, sing on the choir, serve and give. We need you to move the lie that men don’t go to church! Yes men, we need you to move some things!)

I reiterate brothers, you are needed in church to move some things!

And, you are needed to fix some things as well! Fix our sons who don’t have positive role models displaying what a real man is and does; fix our daughters so they can see how real men treat women; fix women who believe, because of their own past experiences, that all men cheat; fix the leadership in the church (for as much as women have come a long way in the church, men still need to be repositioned in their rightful places of authority and leadership at the helm of the church. And that’s not my opinion, simply read the structure of how God established the family and church); we need you to fix families so people will stop thinking that all fathers are missing from the household, and that there are men who come home to their own wives, sit at the dinner table with their families, do homework with their children and actually work full-time, legal jobs, and believe it or not, but they also finished more higher education than most assume!

Yep, men, you are needed in our homes, churches, and society at large to fix and move some things! 

That cracked pot poem has always encouraged me that God can work through anybody greatly no matter who they are or where they’ve been or come from. Flaws don’t stop ordinary men, from accomplishing extraordinary mandates! But I think most brothers avoid such opportunities not just because of their flaws, but also, according to the poem, the flaw/imperfection/crack was visible (others would be able to see it)! Which is why a lot of people would rather work in the background and not the forefront, because then you can no longer hide your flaws/imperfections/cracks.

But brothers, today is the day you shift gears and move from the back to the front!

Listen to this: I’ve always been in the front row of almost every group picture I’ve ever been in! Now, please understand, I didn’t put me there! “Let me be on the front row!No, that was never my heart or mouth’s cry! You see, it was always the photographer that always put me there! And I must also unfortunately admit that it’s not because of my drop-dead gorgeous looks that I was always moved by the photographer to the forefront. Nope, that’s not it at all. Truth is, it was because of my inches…or should I say more accurately, my lack of inches! I’m only 5 feet and 2 inches tall, yep, that’s it! (What confuses people is that I am a lover of stilettoes, so I often appear quite tall when I have them on, but oh how far the mighty have fallen when I take them off! LOL!) So, that’s the reason in a nutshell, they always put us short gals in front! If you’re short, you know it to be true. As for the tall ladies, they always put them in the rear of the picture, and that’s for a good reason too, one that just may encourage you. Here’s why, they put the little folks in the front because the big ones block their view!

Which brings us back to 2 Corinthians chapter 4, and I’ll begin reading at verse 7. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.” The treasure he’s talking about is the message of light, salvation and deliverance through Jesus Christ.

So many men I know have a spiritual inferiority complex, and it’s causing them to retreat from really jumping into doing things for God. “I’m not intelligent enough; I’m not as gifted as they are; I don’t have a lot of charisma; I’m not that outgoing; I’m not musically inclined; I’m just not as educated; I don’t have the degrees; I don’t have the ability; my words get tangled up when I stand before people; I’m just your average, common, ordinary Joe.

But, did you know that makes you a primary candidate to be mightily used by God?!

Listen, our Scripture today says God likes to put His treasure in clay vessels, not in beautiful, expensive vases, but ones that will accentuate the treasure not the vessel! Because when you put it in a beautiful vessel, everybody says, “Oh, isn’t that a beautiful vessel.They rarely care what’s even in it, because what’s on the outside, and visible to the eye, is all that mattered in pleasing them. But God wants the treasure to be called attention to, not the vase! Which is why He loves average, common, ordinary men that He can use! Men who simply want to work for God without needing to be seen in the work!

Listen to our text in the Message Bible version, it reads: “If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the UNADORNED CLAY POTS of our ORDINARY lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that WE’RE NOT MUCH TO LOOK AT. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!” (2 Corinthians 4:7-12MSG)

I love it! “…UNADORNED CLAY POTS…” Wouldn’t that be awesome to see in such a generation of the church where everyone is dressed, just to be seen! The pulpit is well “adorned”! Everywhere you look, there’s flowing robes in all styles, colors and lengths; diamond-encrusted crosses; rings the size of the moon, but in all of this, is the Word and Work of the Lord being fulfilled? Brothers, you don’t have to have the perfect black suit, shoes and ties. You don’t have to have a title. You don’t have to be a preacher. You just need to be available to be filled so God can pour you out on a world that is thirsty for the Living Water, and hungry for the Bread of Life!

What I also love about that Scripture is this, “…THAT’S TO PREVENT ANYONE FROM CONFUSING GOD’S INCOMPARABLE POWER WITH US…” Men, when your concern is about God, and not you, you’ve already done something extraordinary, even as ordinary men. Be a man that isn’t so consumed with getting glory for himself, that no one can see the Glory of God on him or in him. And why would God want to use a man like that? Because that’s at least one man He can be sure of won’t be competing with Him for His Glory!

And the writer doesn’t stop there! He goes on to say, “…WE’RE NOT MUCH TO LOOK AT…” Which would not be the testament in most churches today. Because everybody wants to be seen! But brothers, humility will never steer your wrong. If you are to accurately reflect Jesus, know that He was Humble, Meek and Mild. Even as the Son of God, He didn’t come to shine as the star, but He was to shine as a part of the supporting cast. He didn’t come that His name would be brightly twinkling in lights. He came to serve, not to be seen. And when you as men keep that in the forefront of your mind, God will bring you to the forefront, because He knows He’ll be able to trust you with His treasure!

And in the closing of the text it says, “…WHILE WE’RE GOING THROUGH THE WORST, YOU’RE GETTING IN ON THE BEST.” Men, it’s not about showing off or shining through, but it’s about submission and servitude. As the writer shared, when serving God, times will get tough! “…We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us…”  It wasn’t about what they would endure or suffer, they just wanted their ordinary lives to be used by an extraordinary God who granted them an opportunity to fulfill an extraordinary mandate. No matter what they faced for the sake of the Gospel, it was worth it because, “…While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!”

So, brothers, your flaws, imperfections and cracks are useful and so are you! In you, a cracked pot and an unadorned, common, average man, is an extraordinary mandate just waiting for you to show up, be available, humble and ready to receive! And to receive it, just as you are! No form or fashion, just faithful even when flawed. Be willing, for the sake of the Gospel and the sake of the Kingdom, to bring your flaws to the forefront!

In the book of 1 Samuel when Samuel is looking for a king, God sends him out to check out all these brothers, and he says, “Oh, it’s surely going to be one of the older, taller, good looking brothers.” It turns out to be the youngest kid out in a sheep pen – David.

You see, the problem with the superstar people is that they’re so big and tall that they block the view! Like the tall kids in our group photos, God wants to use people who will point others to Him, not to themselves. He’s had enough “tall” people standing in the way with their rings, robes, crosses, chairs, titles, positions, notoriety, fame, name, size, degrees and initials. This is now the time when God is seeking for some “short” men, those who can be trusted to be brought to the forefront, be in the picture, but not block the view of others. He needs men He can trust to proclaim the gospel (even when it’s done standing in the park on a Saturday afternoon); He needs men He can trust to serve in the church (with nobody even knowing their names, or what they’ve done); He needs men He can trust to work in the labor of the Lord without looking for rewards, benefits and packages of promised promotions. He needs men like David, who weren’t even aware that promotion came to the front of the house, because he was already busy working in the back! Today, will you be the “short” man God is looking to use?

Most people would want to be tall and stately. And as wonderful as that is, it’s not all that wonderful when you place them in front to take a picture. When you do, they either block the rest of the people behind them so they don’t even get in the picture; or the tall person in the front has to contort their body to accommodate those around them. So everyone may get in the picture that way, but now the tall person looks deformed, out of place, and awkward. And in the end, messes up the picture for everyone else. After all, who wants a picture sitting on their mantle with some strange bent over, deformed looking individual in the forefront?

I know it sounds comical, but many men are staying away from church because they don’t think they’re good enough to go. Well, if that were the case, the Lord’s house would be an empty shed, because no one would qualify! But brothers, there is need of you with all of your flaws, imperfections and cracks! You are needed to move from the back to the front, to move some things and fix some things! You may think you’re average, common, and ordinary, but you would be amazed by what the Lord can do through you because He can trust you to accomplish the goal, without competing for the glory.

The great ones end up getting the attention rather than the attention going to the Lord. But when the Lord picks up Joe Average and starts doing His work through him, leading, speaking, reaching the lost through someone average like him, people say, It’s got to be God. It can’t be them!And that’s the whole idea! Being men, fulfilling God’s mandate, without concern for man-made glory, honor, or prestige!

The idea is that when God does a work, people are saying, “Isn’t Jesus something?” Instead of, “Oh, what a great leader, what a great singer, what a great speaker is Pastor Shawn, Deacon Derrick, and Minister Keith.

Brothers, you may have been holding back saying, “There’s got to be someone better than I am for God to use.But see, it’s you that God wants to use! It’s your very ‘averageness’, your weakness that makes you a prime candidate for Him to work through in a manner of His strength and His ability to display something extraordinary. He may be pushing you to the front of His picture. And you know why? It’s because you won’t block the view of others; you won’t try to be the big picture yourself. God can trust those who He can use in the back or the front, but who refuse to lose their humility in either position. He can use men who aren’t concerned about their name being called or attached to a title.

He can’t use men who are so busy in self-promotion, that the name of Jesus never comes off his lips.

However, He can use a cracked pot just like you, Mr. Average Joe.

Often the ones the world calls big are on God’s back row, and the ones the world calls small are the ones He wants in front. Don’t be afraid to bring your flaws to the front row, there is need of you in developing the big picture of God!

Acts 4:13, “Now when the men of the Sanhedrin (Jewish High Court) saw the confidence and boldness of Peter and John, and grasped the fact that they were uneducated and untrained [ORDINARY] MEN, they were astounded, and began to recognize that they had been with Jesus.” (AMP)

James 5:17, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [WITH THE SAME PHYSICAL, MENTAL, AND SPIRITUAL LIMITATIONS AND SHORTCOMINGS], and he prayed intensely for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.” (AMP)

“When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.” (Billy Graham)

“Embedded in the larger story of redemption is a principle we must not miss: God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things in the lives of others.” (Paul David Tripp)

“God often uses small matches to light up great torches. No matter how small you feel in this world, he has something big in store for you.” (Pinterest)

“Those that God used in the past were just ordinary people with an extraordinary Master.” (Winkie Pratney)

“God is looking for ordinary people empowered by Him to do extraordinary things!” (Pinterest)

“God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. It doesn’t matter who we are. It matters who He is.” (Christine Caine)

“Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” (John W. Gardner)

“One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.” (Elbert Hubbard)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

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“A Place Where Wounded Men Can Bleed and Heal”

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Matthew 26:38, “and He said to them, “I am so sad that I feel as if I am dying. Stay here and keep awake with Me.” (CEV)

One thing for sure, I grew up with a very “man’s man” type of father. My dad was a Louisiana born mechanic, and was always covered from head to toe in grease! It drove my mother absolutely insane! In fact, when she would do the laundry, she always made sure dad’s clothes had their very own machines, his stuff didn’t mix with anybody else’s! Dad had grease under his fingernails, on his skin, dripping from his hair, covering his face and drenched in his clothes. You would often find him with a cigarette in his mouth, one hand under the hood of a car while the other hand held an ice cold beer (no matter what the weather was). He loved to hang out with his boys, he loved westerns, boxing, football and baseball. And his absolute first love was fishing! He would have about 2-3 hours sleep (which is where I get my bad habit of not sleeping enough from), and yet he would make a cup of coffee (that was half wild irish rose – don’t ask), he would chop wood for the fireplace, start a fire, walk the dog, and sit on the front stoop, all by 4am, for no other reason than that he was wide awake! Dad had a pretty nice gun collection too, and would shoot at anything that moved in the trees! In other words, dad was indeed the epitome of a “man’s man”.

However, my dad passed away in 2008 at the tender age of 75 years old. I was 36 years old when my dad passed and yet in all those years I spent with him, I only remember seeing my dad cry once. And that was when his father (my granddad) passed away when I was 5. It is the only time I can recall seeing my dad cry. He didn’t even cry on my wedding day as they wheeled him down the aisle (his way of still being able to ‘walk’ me down the aisle.) Nope, instead dad smiled and laughed the entire day! So, even though he was a “man’s man”, looking back now, I wonder did he ever cry more than that one time? I know he battled many health issues, and loss of family, and struggles working 3 jobs to support us all. But still, I can’t seem to recall more tears than that one day. And surely with such a rough life of being born in 1933, in the South as a black man who had to drop out of school before he was 9 to pick cotton, he must have had some hurtful experiences, he must’ve been wounded enough to bleed and cry, but I wonder if he ever did.

Now, my dad isn’t the only man like that. I have a family who is largely military, and largely southern, therefore, all the men are “men’s men”! I don’t recall many of the men in my family as criers, or those who displayed their weaknesses or emotions. And I guess that’s somewhat to be expected when most men are largely reared to be brave, courageous, strong, hunters, go-getters, powerful, invincible! And those are wonderful traits, but when you’ve been counseling as long as I have, you come to find out, some of those ideal traits, are really entrapments for most men. For example, I had one couple that had been trying for 10 years to conceive and then they finally do. We get to the birth date, and mom is crying her eyes out (I’m sure from pain as well as great expectation); however, dad, was a blank face. She was angry that he didn’t gush and cry and get all soppy, and he said “I wasn’t raised that way. In my family, men don’t cry, no matter what.” She said he was like that on their wedding day and other important family events where you would expect someone to get all “blubbery” with joy! But like he said, most men, “aren’t raised that way. Men don’t cry, no matter what.

Which is what I want to address today.

Suicide. It usually stuns those close to it. In fact, Hollywood has seen several spikes in suicides in the past few years. A director that leaped from a bridge. Actors battling drugs and alcohol that had beaten the addiction. And others that were still battling until the addiction won. Families left crushed. Many people left asking that question that often defies an answer, “Why?” Well, truth is, we may never know. As for myself, I attempted suicide on 3 occasions, all between the ages of 15-25. I battled depression severely for many years. However, my parents didn’t know that until my first suicide attempt at age 15. And even to this day, when I do suicide counseling and share my own battle scars from depression and suicide, one of the questions I’m always asked is, “what made you want to end your life? What could’ve possibly been so bad?And again, to this day, I’m uncertain how to really answer that. Because the things that seemed so “tragic” then, looking back now, seem so unimportant. But when you’re in the moment, it’s amazing how big of a mountain a molehill can appear to be.

So, suicide has been running rampant, both in the world and in the church.

And then there was that prominent official in the White House some years ago who committed suicide. A national news magazine turned the spotlight on a disturbing fact about too many men. They are, (And I’ve never forgotten these words) “wounded men with no place to bleed.

I know from years of walking through crises with many men through counseling, that men often “stuff it” rather than “share it”. They live with the lie that being strong means never showing weakness, never showing a soft or hurting heart, and always being in control.

So they bleed inside where there’s nothing to stop the bleeding or treat the wound. And what’s scary is, much like a person physically bleeding on the outside (where you can see it, and notice it, and bring it to their attention, and get them some help); however when someone is bleeding internally, you don’t see it, you don’t notice it, you can’t bring it to their attention and get them some help, until it starts to reveal itself in some form of sign from the inside…out. And most men spiritually, emotionally, socially, mentally, bleed internally. But that much pressure, continuously pressed down, builds like lava in a volcano. Or like a beach ball pushed farther and farther under the water. The farther down you push it, the higher it ultimately goes when it can’t be held down any longer. Then suddenly, often inexplicably, there’s an explosion of anger or violence or depression, or self-destruction.

BUT the strongest man who ever lived offers men a better way!

The shortest verse in the Bible – only two words, John 11:35, “Jesus wept” at a friend’s grave. The Bible says, when He saw a crowd of hurting people, “He was moved with compassion because they were…like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

I’ve come to find out that Jesus expressed quite a few emotions that men today need to learn to feel free in expressing:

“for days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they ended, HE WAS HUNGRY.” (Luke 4:2 AMP)

“But Jesus was in the stern, ASLEEP [with His head] on the [sailor’s leather] cushion…” (Mark 4:38 AMP)

“Looking at him, Jesus FELT A LOVE (HIGH REGARD, COMPASSION) FOR HIM…” (Mark 10:21 AMP)

“Now Jesus LOVED AND WAS CONCERNED about Martha and her sister and Lazarus [and considered them dear friends]” (John 11:5 AMP)

“In that very hour He was OVERJOYED AND REJOICED GREATLY…” (Luke 10:21 AMP)

“After looking around at them WITH ANGER, GRIEVED…” (Mark 3:5 AMP)

“Now when Jesus heard this, HE WAS AMAZED…” (Luke 7:9 AMP)

“…He began to be DEEPLY DISTRESSED AND TROUBLED [EXTREMELY ANGUISHED at the prospect of what was to come].” (Mark 14:33 AMP)

“As He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and WEPT OVER IT [and the spiritual ignorance of its people]” (Luke 19:41 AMP)

“and looking up to heaven, HE SIGHED DEEPLY…” (Mark 7:34 AMP)

“He GROANED AND SIGHED DEEPLY IN HIS SPIRIT…” (Mark 8:12 AMP)

“But when Jesus saw this, HE WAS INDIGNANT…” (Mark 10:14 AMP)

“Jesus STERNLY WARNED them…” (Mark 3:12 AMP)

“When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who had come with her also sobbing, HE WAS DEEPLY MOVED IN SPIRIT [TO THE POINT OF ANGER at the sorrow caused by death] AND WAS TROUBLED.” (John 11:33 AMP)

“But Jesus would often go to some place where HE COULD BE ALONE and pray.” (Luke 5:16 CEV)

Men of God, did you pay attention to all the varying emotions that Jesus Himself expressed? Not suppressed, not kept hidden, not masked, not covered, not lied about, not pretending, not making excuses for, but one He Unapologetically Expressed. And not in a secluded spot, but He did so in front of others! And if the Son of God can express His emotions, and we are to follow in His footsteps, for He is our example, then why would you deny yourself the relief of release? After all, Jesus Himself was: Hungry, Sleepy, Moved With Compassion, Felt Love, Was Concerned, Was Overjoyed and Rejoiced, Was Angry, Grieved, Amazed, Distressed, Troubled, Groaned and Sighed Deeply, Was Indignant, Gave Stern Warnings, Was Angry and Alone. So, why are YOU internally bleeding due to the lack of expressed emotions?

Jesus wasn’t afraid to let His friends know He was really hurting. Just before what He knew was going to be His awful torture and crucifixion, He asked His main guys to be with Him in the garden. He told them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me” (Matthew 26:38). Though He was God in the flesh – the Ultimate Man – He wasn’t afraid to say He needed people. Yet, you my brothers, are acting so fiercely brave, because you’re afraid someone will see the flaw in your character, that you aren’t always as tough as the role you play. But you need not hide anymore, pretend anymore, camouflage anymore. As Wounded As You Are, You Have a Place to Bleed, Heal, and Recover!

Your Safe Place to Bleed is With the One Who Bled For You!

Hebrews 4:15-16, “Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (MSG)

You got it! Wounded soldier, you have a place to bleed! It’s in the Presence of your Savior. It’s your safe place to unload, to be naked and not ashamed, to reveal, expose, and tell all. You don’t have to hide, cover, mask, pretend, find the right words, go at a particular hour, He’s always waiting, and always available. He wants you to come to Him and find your sheltered place for rest, relief and release. Therefore, obey the Scripture, “…walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”

Matthew 11:28-30, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. KEEP COMPANY WITH ME and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG) Did you catch that? Jesus Himself has extended a private invitation to you, for you to go away “and keep company with Him.” So, what are you waiting for? Are you waiting like the lava in a volcano to finally explode?! Because that’s the worst thing you can do, and here’s why. Have you ever paid attention to when a volcano erupts? The lava is no respect of person! Whoever comes into contact with it, perishes! And if you continue to suppress your emotions, you will erupt and your anger will come in contact with all those attached to you and burn up your friendships, covenants, relationships, family ties, businesses, churches, ministries, neighbors…everyone that comes in contact with you will burn to ashes! But why let that be your outcome, when you have access to a safe place to release?

Men of God, you are not so “manly” that you don’t have moments when you need to cry, to vent, to tell it, to share it, to ask for help, for advice, for direction, for wisdom, and yes even for a shoulder to cry and lean on. Unexpressed emotions are dangerous for you and everyone attached to you! Let today be the day you find relief and release by resting in the safe place of the presence of the Lord. He’s waiting to hear about the marriage that’s on life-support, about the children who have gone astray, about the finances that are drying up, about your private hurts, disappointments, and discouragements. He’s waiting to hear you tell Him what the doctor told you. He wants to hear what the lawyer said. He wants to share in your anguish over the loss of a job. He wants to hear about the dreams that have become nightmares. He wants to hear about your fears, your distrust, your doubts, unbelief and lack of faith. He wants to hear about the bills, the bankruptcy, and the burst plumbing line. He wants to hear what makes you feel insignificant, less than, and not enough. He wants you to hand over to Him your low self-esteem and damaged self-respect. He wants you share with Him your weaknesses so He can share with you His strengths. Talk to Him, Tell Him, He Wants to Hear Your Voice, Even if it’s Shaky, Trembling and Filled With Fear!

Jeremiah 33:2-3, “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘CALL TO ME AND I WILL ANSWER YOU. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’ (MSG)

Men of God, why are you struggling alone when God Himself wants to keep company with you? He’s asking you to call HIM, not Tony, Eric, Robert, Shawn, Darryl, Kevin….No, this time, Call Jesus! Does that mean you should never reach out to your boys? Absolutely not! Even Jesus reached out to His boys and told them He was sad and in anguish and needed them to stay awake with Him. So, if Jesus reached out to His boys, you are more than encouraged to reach out to yours. However, don’t make the mistake many women make, and that is to reach out to our Sisters BEFORE reaching out to our Savior. God alone, is the place where you are guaranteed to renew and regain strength after releasing to Him your weakness.

Do not suffer in silence and die. You are needed more than you’ll ever know. You’re needed in your family, among your friends and coworkers, you’re needed in the church, in the community and in the Kingdom. We need your gifts, your anointing, your skills, your talent. We need your presence. Which is why we need you to take your broken pieces to Jesus so that you can be made whole, because there is a host of other men, wounded with nowhere to bleed, that are waiting for someone just like you to help them put their fragmented emotions back together again. We need you to overcome, because we need your testimony. You are the product of what God’s power can do when you plug in to His source.

So, no more waiting for everyone to go to sleep so you can slip out unawares to breath and sigh in the car or in the backyard. No more tears trickling down the shower where no one can hear or see. No more ‘I’m fine; I’m okay; Everything’s good.’ No More Internal Bleeding! God has already showed you in His Word that He’s there to help, but you do know that you also have a huge family of brothers and sisters in Christ that are here for you too? Galatians 6:1-2, “Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” (MSG) We’re here to help too! Whether its sin, hurt, pain, failure, disappointment, frustration, confusion, struggles, we’re here to help! Whether it was your fault or no fault of your own, we’re here to help too! Brothers you are never alone! So stop isolating yourself and reconnect with your family! We may not all be doctors, nurses, surgeons and the like, but as believers we do specialize in love! And if love is all we have to use as a bandage, you are still on your way to healing!

1 Peter 4:7-11, “Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!” (MSG)

Brothers, You Have a Safe Place to Take Your Wounds to so They Can Bleed, Heal and Recover. His Name is Jesus, and He Has a Secured, Reserved Spot Just For You. Make Today the Day You Hide Under His Wings For Help!

Psalm 91, “You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— UNDER THEM YOU’RE PERFECTLY SAFE; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path. “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!” (MSG)

See, men, you have the love and help of your brothers and sisters, but more importantly you have Jesus, where no matter how badly life has hurt you, He is your safe place, where you are “…PERFECTLY SAFE…”

Brothers, we need you alive and well! So no more silent internal bleeding. No matter what the feelings or emotions, no matter what the situation or circumstance, share it. You can still be a ‘man’s man’ and cry! Let no one else tell you differently. And please remember this, your wife and sisters and daughters are watching how you deal with your emotions. When you bottle them up, you teach them this is the way a man should handle his emotions. Your sons and brothers are watching how you deal with your emotions. When you hide them, cover them, mask them, pretend about them, you are showing them the example you want them to follow in how they deal with their emotions. And if you want everyone to be healthy, YOU first have to show them what healthy emotions look like. Jesus Did, and so can you. You are the head of our families, communities and churches, and the head tells the body how to function. Make sure as the head, you’re getting help, you’re healing, you’re becoming whole, so we can follow your lead and function in the same matter! Lead us well, by leading yourself first to the secret place of the Presence of God where you may be wounded, you may bleed, but you will recover!

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

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“Men Helping Men Through Failure, Encouragement and Restoration!”

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Acts 15:36-41, “After a few days of this, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit all our friends in each of the towns where we preached the Word of God. Let’s see how they’re doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. But Paul wouldn’t have him; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia. Tempers flared, and they ended up going their separate ways: Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus; Paul chose Silas and, offered up by their friends to the grace of the Master, went to Syria and Cilicia to build up and sinew in those congregations.” (MSG)

2 Timothy 4:11, “…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very helpful to me for the ministry.” (AMP)

Remember This and Never Forget It: Every Man is Mark, Barnabas and Paul…at Some Point in Life!

One of the things I absolutely love is to watch a baby learn how to walk. It’s the most funniest thing to me ever! In fact, I like to call it the Frankenstein Walk! It’s so clumsy, so mechanical. It’s kind of a “step, boom” method. Someone comes along and says, “I think it’s about time“, then sets them up on their legs – you know, kind of spaghetti legs – and they take one step, then boom! And, of course, they get up again, and the next time it’s step, step, boom! And then step, step, step, boom! You get the idea. But what I love is that even babies don’t call it quits after a fall! As often as they wobble, step, then go boom, either someone helps them back on their feet or they struggle their way back up to give it another shot! Believe it or not, but it’s like that for many believers as well.

I remember when my youngest was learning to walk, she pretty much had the same step, boom, method as all babies have. But when she went down, you could see her grabbing something and battling to get her muscles going all in one direction so she could get up again. But then there were also those times when you saw her big sister reaching over to give her a hand. Actually, that’s what it takes whenever you go step, boom! Sometimes you can pull yourself up, and other times you need someone else to help you back up again! Are we our brother’s/sister’s keeper? Yes We Are!

And so, I think today is a good day to look at a man who stepped out to serve the Lord and went “step, boom!” His name is John Mark. Acts 15 is where we’re hearing about a missionary journey that Barnabas and Paul were launching. “Barnabas,” it says, “wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it was wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus.

Now, in order to get the full story, realize you need to turn to 2 Timothy 4, where at the end of Paul’s life he is now alone in a Roman prison. He will soon be executed for his loyalty to Jesus Christ, and guess who he mentions? Guess who he wants to see? MARK! The same guy who bombed out earlier in his Christian work, and Paul said, “Boy, I don’t think this guy’s going to make it.” But then Paul writes, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful for me in my ministry.” Wow!

Brothers, it is indeed my prayer that today’s devotional will help you look at yourself and your brothers in a new, and even better, light. I want you to look at these three men and see yourself and your brothers, and possibly began responding to each with a clearer perspective.

First, there’s MARK (HE FAILED). And believe it or not, you’ve failed and so have many of the men you know. Does that mean you or they have to live in failure forever? No! Failure never has to be fatal. It doesn’t have to end your marriage, ministry, career or life. Yes, Mark, went the wrong way, he let people and leaders down, but thank God that’s not how his story ended, and neither will it be the closing chapter of your life. In truth, maybe you did fail at the marriage: (you didn’t give it everything you should have, you weren’t as supportive, or kind, or loving, or encouraging as you should have been); maybe you did fail at fatherhood (you weren’t there for the events, activities, talks, and medals); maybe you did fail at the ministry (you didn’t tithe, you didn’t go to prayer, bible study, Sunday school, or afternoon services, you didn’t support the men’s ministry efforts); maybe you did fail at the business/career (you didn’t pay attention to the over-head, you didn’t handle the budget right, you didn’t do better by your staff, you took advantage of your sick and vacation time, you were late to clock in, early to clock out, and went into overtime on lunch). Let’s say the truth of the matter is, this is the truth of the matter! You Failed! But do you have to stay there, absolutely not! Be honest with yourself first (and then others), that you didn’t get it right. Then, if you can pull yourself up, then pull yourself up! But if not, know that you are not the only one, and that there is help available! Which is why you have to be so careful in how you judge your brothers. You don’t know what led them to where they are, just like they don’t know what led you to your failures. So, instead of gossiping or getting and staying stuck, just turn around and start looking for Barnabas!

Second, there’s BARNABAS (HE ENCOURAGED). Mark may have screwed up, but thanks be to God he wasn’t left to his own devices! And neither are you. There will be times that you and your brothers will be Mark (you will have failed at many things, badly). But there will also be times when Barnabas will come to your aid, and then there will also be those times when you’ll need to be the Barnabas that comes to your brother’s aid. You never want to kick someone when they’re already down. And the best way to keep you from doing this is to remember when you were Mark too.  You needed someone to look beyond the worse in you and still see the best. Well, there are men around you who need the same thing.  Not all men will come to church! And those that do, won’t always come speaking in church lingo. Some will come, but not dressed like you, act like you, conduct themselves as you do. Some will come and they will come with more baggage than the baggage claim at an airport. Some will come from gangs, drugs, alcohol, failed marriages, poor fatherhood, estranged relationships with their children and family. Some will come with no job, no place to live, no hope, no faith. Some will come bitter, discouraged, angry even combative. But Barnabas, if you can encourage the Apostles to take a shot and believe in Paul who was the King of the Killers of Christians, most certainly you can work with these brothers also. Some brothers just need to feel like they’re not going to be picked last to be on the team. Like Barnabas, he could’ve said, listen Mark, I’ve worked with Paul a long time, I’ve built a friendship with him, I trust his leadership, I’m loyal to our covenant. I can’t help you, you should’ve done what you were supposed to do from the beginning. But that was not at all Barnabas response, instead, he picked the one person no one wanted on their team, and he says in essence, ‘I’ll take him’! Brothers, there are some men in your church, in your home, in your family, on your job, in your community that simply need to hear,I’ll take him!” Yep, with all his baggage and all his failures, “I’ll still take him!” Men of God, be the man that watches Mark go “step, boom,”, then go over and help him back up! And do it knowing full-well that he may go down again! But after all, when did you get it perfectly right? You still wobble in some areas, and yet you still have God’s grace, mercy, favor and forgiveness. Are you really going to withhold such a wonderful gift like that from your brother, that you open every new day?

Third, there’s Paul (HE RESTORED). Now, Paul had a two-fold responsibility. Because first of all, as a leader, he had to be honest. Mark did fail! And there’s no such thing as an effective leader who doesn’t correct bad behavior. Paul still had more journey’s to go on, more people to reach, more work to do. He couldn’t just take into account Mark, but the danger of Mark relapsing again in failure that would affect others. So he makes a leadership decision not to take him. But what I love is that even though as a leader, he corrected and reproved Mark, that wasn’t the end of their relationship!

You know what the message is? When you’re following Christ, failure is not final! But it takes two kinds of people to recover someone from a fall. It takes Barnabas to encourage the one who has fallen, to get back up, but it also takes Paul the restorer, to say I’ll give him another chance. I still see hope, a future, a change, some more potential, he deserves another chance.

You know, if that baby goes “step, boom” he can’t just say, “Well, I fell down. I guess I’ll never walk. I’m not cut out for this.” He can’t just keep lying there helpless on the floor. No! Because if he does, he’ll still be there when he’s 18; his Mom will be vacuuming around him! LOL! But no, instead, he gets up and he says in his own little brain, “I will try this walking thing again.But sometimes you need help, you need a Barnabas to Lift and a Paul to Re-Launch!

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you’ve been giving up because you failed. But the gospel of Mark’s life is that you can be restored. You can be useful again if you’re willing to battle your way back up, even on wobbly legs. But recovery also requires a brother; one like Barnabas, who will work with you patiently, who will deal with your weaknesses, who will give you an another chance. And it takes a brother like Paul, who though he had his doubts, is willing to accept him once he’s restored, and not to continue to say, “Oh, yeah, he’s the failure.

Now, one of these is you, or it needs to be. Maybe you’re a Mark and you feel that you’ve fallen. But now ask the Lord for the courage and the patience to battle your way back up. Maybe you’re a Barnabas who reaches out to that person that others have given up on, maybe even a member of your own family. Or maybe you’re Paul, who can make or break somebody’s comeback by whether you greet them with open or folded arms.

When one of God’s kids goes “step, boom” there is still hope if there’s a battler determined to walk again and a brother who’s offering a hand of help.

Can we honest brothers? Life is not easy, and most times it’s horribly unfair. So you never get the opportunity to be Paul all the time. The strong one that restores. But when life happens, you will find yourself being all three of these men, and sometimes you can find yourself being all three, all in the same day. But know this, Mark didn’t die in his failure; Barnabas didn’t overlook him; and Paul didn’t completely give up on him. In fact, the Scripture says, “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11 KJV). Let’s look at Paul’s words in a few translations:

 “…Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is USEFUL TO ME FOR MINISTERING.” (ASV);

“…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is VERY HELPFUL TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY.” (AMP);

“…Get Mark, and bring him with you. He has been A BIG HELP TO ME IN THE MINISTRY.” (CEB);

“…Take Mark, and bring him with you, because he is a VERY USEFUL HELPER IN MY WORK.” (CJB);

“…Get Mark and bring him with you, because he CAN HELP ME IN THE WORK.” (GNT);

“…Bring Mark with you when you come, FOR I NEED HIM.” (TLB);

 “…Bring Mark with you; HE’LL BE MY RIGHT-HAND MAN.” (MSG)

As badly as Mark messed up, Paul says, I need him, he’ll be my right hand man! Can you imagine what those words must be like to hear after you’ve failed so miserably? And more importantly, to hear them from the very person whom you failed! I wonder if the man (who you know) that messed up, but was received like this by the brethren, if he would still be a member of the church today? You know that same ‘Mark’ in your ministry, in your home, on your job, who failed in his leadership; who didn’t complete his assignment; whose wife left him; who’s estranged from his children (by his own fault); whose lost the job. You know, that Mark. What kind of man could he have matured and grown and developed into had he been mentored in his mistakes?

Paul went from, “Acts 15:36-41 saying, “…Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. BUT PAUL WOULDN’T HAVE HIM; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia…” (MSG); to saying in 2 Timothy 4:11, “…Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is USEFUL TO ME FOR SERVICE.” (NASB)

Paul, says, don’t leave him down in his failure, pick him up and bring him to me because even after his failure he is still, “…USEFUL TO ME FOR MINISTERING; … VERY HELPFUL TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY… A BIG HELP TO ME IN THE MINISTRY… VERY USEFUL HELPER IN MY WORK… CAN HELP ME IN THE WORK… FOR I NEED HIM… HE’LL BE MY RIGHT-HAND MAN! Now, that’s what you call Restoration!

Men of God, please know that you as well as your brothers will all experience times of being Mark (who failed), Barnabas (who encouraged) and Paul (who corrected and restored). And whichever stage you find yourself in, know that it’s progressive and repetitive. You don’t stay in either stage permanently. As anointed, gifted, talented, powerful and awesome as you are, you will fail again, you will need to be encouraged as well encourage others again, you will need to give and receive rebuke and restoration again. And all of this is a blessing because Mark teaches us Humility; Barnabas teaches us Hospitality; and Paul teaches us Hope. Give these wonderful gifts to yourself, as well as to your brothers!

Life is not easy, and there is no flawless, perfect male specimen walking around on this planet! All have sinned, all have missed the mark, all have made mistakes, all have messed up, all have gotten it wrong at some point in life. Pointing fingers is not a remedy. Gossip, rumors, slander, and lies, not a remedy. Favoritism, not a remedy. Encouragement and Restoration, now that’s a Remedy! That’s a Recipe for Greatness and Recovery!

Today, Remember that every man is Mark, Barnabas and Paul at some point from moment to moment in this life. Be as forgiving, encouraging, supportive and strengthening as you would want someone to be to you. Be the living proof that any man can go from failure, to encouragement, to restoration! And make it your business to personally be a part of his process!

Which means you will not only need to be Barnabas and Paul, but you’ll also need to be Peter: Luke 22:32, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen they brethren.” (KJV) Let’s review this text in a few translations:

“but I have prayed [especially] for you [Peter], that your faith [and confidence in Me] may not fail; and you, once you have turned back again [to Me], strengthen and support your brothers [in the faith]” (AMP)

“But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.” (AMPC)

“But Simon, I have prayed that your faith will be strong. And when you have come back to me, help the others.” (CEV)

“I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.” (ERV)

“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. So when you recover, strengthen the other disciples.” (GWT)

“but I have pleaded in prayer for you that your faith should not completely fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up the faith of your brothers.” (TLB)

“I have prayed that you will not lose your faith! Help your brothers be stronger when you come back to me.” (NCV)

“But I have prayed for you. I have prayed that your faith will be strong and that you will not give up. When you return, you must help to make your brothers strong.” (NLV)

“Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.” (vss. 31-32 MSG)

Brothers, Today, Determine to be There for Your Brothers!

“Conflict cannot continue without your participation.” (Dr. Wayne Dyer)

“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” (William James)

“Do not kid yourself, a conflict is never about the surface issue. It’s about ones unsaid, untreated, and unhealed wounds.” (Author Unknown)

“The goal of resolving conflict in a relationship is not victory or defeat. It’s reaching understanding and letting go of our need to be right.”

“Explain your anger, don’t express it, and you will immediately open the door to solutions instead of arguments.” (Author Unknown)

“Conflict is Inevitable, but Combat is Optional.” (Max Lucado)

“Bringing a problem to resolution and closure through continued discussion and compromise is an honorable act as it shows respect for the needs of both partners.” (Lynne Namka)

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” (Albert Einstein)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “What You Should Know About ADHD in Adults?”

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“When God Speaks to Men”

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Professor Sheringham is on the road a lot, so the phone in his hotel room is a very important tool, (especially when he’s in those areas when he doesn’t have a cellphone signal). But years ago, even before cell phones, (if you dare to believe there was such a time), it was even more frustrating for Professor Sheringham. One time in particular he shared with us his students. He was staying in this campus guest room provided by the school where he was lecturing. Now, he appreciated the room; he just didn’t appreciate the phone. The problem? He couldn’t call out, not even collect or with a credit card! You see, the school had programmed the phone so it blocked any outgoing calls, because he guessed they didn’t want to get stuck with long distance bills.

However, for him it was absolutely frustrating! Especially early in the morning or late at night when he wasn’t dressed and couldn’t easily get down to the public phone seven floors down in the “good old days.” Well, one morning they were in the middle of something that required daily communication with his office, and he literally prayed that someone from his team would call and deliver him from this one-way telephone prison. And God answered the prayer – they did call. Then they called the people that he needed to hear from. In essence, he could receive calls; he just couldn’t initiate them. So he was stuck being able to talk only when someone wanted to talk to him! I guess it was too bad if he wanted to talk to them!

From his experience he then taught our class from 1 Samuel 3:8-10. It was a time right at the beginning of Samuel’s life as he is a young man staying with the priest, Eli. And it says this, “God called again, “Samuel!” – the third time! Yet again Samuel got up and went to Eli, “Yes? I heard you call me. Here I am.” That’s when it dawned on Eli that God was calling the boy. So Eli directed Samuel, “Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, God. I’m your servant, READY TO LISTEN.” Samuel returned to his bed. Then God came and stood before him exactly as before, calling out, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak. I’m your servant, READY TO LISTEN.” (MSG)

See, God wanted to talk to Samuel, but He had a little difficulty getting the call through. He had to dial three times after all. Likewise, God has some things He’d like to say to you about your future, your pain, your questions, the decisions you need to make, the struggle you’re going through. But maybe there’s just a one-way phone most of the time. Oh, you’re calling God whenever you feel like it (or feel you need to). You’re talking about whatever is on your mind. But maybe you’re not allowing much opportunity for God to whisper something quietly to your soul.

1 Kings 19:11-14, “Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.” A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire A GENTLE AND QUIET WHISPER. When Elijah HEARD the QUIET VOICE, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A QUIET VOICE asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?” Elijah said it again, “I’ve been working my heart out for God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed your places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.” (MSG)

Elijah only heard the quiet whisper of  a voice because he was listening. Which means there will be times when you have to ignore the distractions of the “hurricane wind…shattered rocks…earthquake…and fire”! Sometimes hearing God means you will have to make the deliberate decision to block anyone, any thing and any place out that would distract you from Hearing Him! The Bible says, “…Elijah Heard the Quiet Voice…” Do you hear it too, or are you too busy being distracted by your own voice or that of others?

Remember: He wants prayer to be a dialogue, not a monologue.

The dangerous problem is that we unfortunately rewrite this verse to say, “Listen Lord. Your servant is speaking.” Oh, and make no mistake about it, He does. He listens. We initiate a call to God, we say what we want to say and hang up. But we miss so much when we don’t allow God to call us with important things that He wants to show us.

Jeremiah 33:2-3, “This is God’s Message…’Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (MSG)

But unfortunate for us, we call God, tell Him what we want to, then hang up!

Imagine if we did this in other areas of our lives: For instance, what would happen if you called the fire department, told them there’s a fire, then hung up? What would happen if you called the police department, told them there’s a robbery, then hung up? How about your child calling you and telling you they’re in danger, then they hang up? None of these scenario’s would end very well. You’re on the phone with people who you’ve got to talk to AND listen to if help is to be reached!

But instead, we call God and say, “Lord, help me meet the mortgage this month; how am I going to pay tuition at these new rates; how am I supposed to put these 3 children through college when they’re stair-steps in age; what am I going to do when this last check runs out? Lord, my marriage is letting go of the last string it had to hold onto, what now? Lord, I went to the doctor for that, and now they say I’ve got this too, what’s going on? God, I give my full tithe, and yet my financial future is looking more and more empty. God, I can’t get this weight off; God I’m tired of being single; God when will we have a baby? God, will I ever get this promotion? God, when can I open the church, start the business, have peace of mind?!”

We talk to God only to tell Him to, “fix it God; heal it God; save it God; deliver it God; promote it God; protect it God; provide for it God; send him/her God; close that door God; open that door God; forgive me God; punish them God…” And our ‘to-do-list’ for God goes on and on and on!

But when do we take the deliberate, undisturbed time to listen to God?

Samuel said, “…Speak. I’m your servant, READY TO LISTEN.” (MSG) Are you just as READY TO LISTEN? The word ‘ready’ is defined as ‘prepared for an activity or situation; made suitable and available for immediate use; easily obtained; within reach; willing to do or having a desire for; quick; prompt; prepared mentally or physically for some experience or action’ So, I ask again, are you READY TO LISTEN? Have you entered into prayer prepared to listen to God? Are you within reach of God’s voice, or is His voice muffled by all the other voices vying for your attention? Do you even have a desire to hear God speak? Are you mentally, physically and spiritually prepared for an experience with God? Are you ready, quick and prompt, or are you hesitating, procrastinating, dragging, slothful, and lazy in your approach to God? Have you made yourself suitable and available for God’s immediate use when He talks to you and tells you what He wants you to do?

Listen to Samuel again: “The Lord then stood beside Samuel and called out as He had done before, “Samuel, Samuel!”  “I’M LISTENING,” Samuel answered. “WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?” (vs.10 CEV) Is that your response to God? Or do you end your prayer with, “God, here’s what I want YOU to do!” There is a difference you know?

Brothers, you give your ear to many people throughout the day: Your spouse; your children; your family; your friends; your coworkers; your bosses; your church family; the news; sports; even the latest gossip (believe it or not, but men gossip too)…but are you giving your ear to God? Does He have your undivided attention? Do you take time to hear His voice? Just imagine the great things God wants to say to you, but you won’t LISTEN. You have a one-way calling system…you talk to God, He listens to you, you hang up!

But what happens when you install a new, two-way calling system? What happens when you have a two-way phone system from earth to heaven and heaven to earth? Well let’s see what verse 11 has to say, God said to him, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears it tingle.” Let’s take a listen to a few translations:

“…Samuel, I am going to do something in Israel that will shock everyone who hears about it!” (CEV);

“…Listen carefully. I’m getting ready to do something in Israel that is going to shake everyone up and get their attention.” (MSG)

God is about to tell Samuel about something BIG He’s getting ready to do in Israel, and when it is heard, it will shock people, shake people and get everyone’s attention! And all Samuel has to do is LISTEN! Samuel is getting insider information because he’s attentive enough to LISTEN…are you? I mean, this is about to be some exciting news! Likewise, God wants to show you some amazing things, but you have to stop talking to hear Him tell you what they are! Samuel let’s God know, “I’m listening, I’m paying attention, speak Lord, talk to me, share with me the great things You’re about to do!” Have you positioned yourself in like manner?

LISTEN: When you pray about something, allow some silent time at the beginning and at the end. Allow a space where God could call you. You won’t always hear an audible voice like Samuel; that’s not needed so much today when God lives inside His children through the Holy Spirit. But He’ll speak to you as you meditate on a verse of Scripture. He’ll light up your situation suddenly with a personal application of those words or maybe as you’re praying. As for me, I tend to trust the ideas or the insights that come into my mind while I’m talking to God about an issue, when I’ve turned off everything else, not looking at my cell phone, not responding to texts, not listening to the radio, not watching TV, nothing else around, and I’m just listening to God solo – to let Him say something to my soul. I can trust pretty much what I hear then, and so can you.

As a man, you need to listen for what God tells you to do concerning your family, health, finances, schooling, church, personal salvation, and deliverance. You need to hear what He has to tell you about raising sons and daughters, about loving your own, one wife. You need to hear what He has to tell you about being effective in your church, your community or even as you rise on the corporate ladder. You need to hear what He has to tell you to tell another brother, as iron still sharpens iron. You have to hear what He has to tell you about leading and following; and spear-heading; working solo and a part of the team. You have to hear what God needs to tell you about your ministry, anointing, and gifts. You have to hear God’s instructions concerning your every assignment, the ones to take and the ones to leave. You have to hear God clearly say, ‘she’s the one!’ You have to hear God say, ‘save this; spend that; invest there.’

You will never be a man with an effective vision who has impaired hearing to God’s voice!

You need to hear God when He tells you, ‘sign that contract; get out of that contract; lay hands on that building; go to that dealership; that’s the school; that’s the job; go to this doctor; see that specialist; start now; stop now; wait now; not now.’

John 10:27, “…My sheep RECOGNIZE my voice. I know them, and they follow Me…” (MSG)

Do you recognize God’s voice? Do you know God’s voice? Do you follow God’s voice? The word ‘recognize’ is defined as, ‘to identify; to acknowledge the validity and legality of to show official appreciation of.” Its Latin Origin ‘recognoscere’, from ‘cognoscere’ literally means ‘to learn.’ You need to learn how to recognize God’s voice, and the best way to do that is to make it a daily habit of listening to it! For example, I’ve been with my husband over 20 years, married 19. That’s a lot of time to spend talking to and listening to this one person’s voice! Now, we both have family members, jobs and church responsibilities in leading people, so we both hear varying voices every day. However, we’ve spent so much time with one another in a personal, intimate, and focused manner, that even in the midst of a crowded, talkative bunch, we can recognize each other’s voices without having to turn around! But that took years, of talking, listening, and arguing to develop! It took time, so much time, that now we can have a full conversation in the middle of folks without saying a single word to each other! You see, when you invest time into the communication of your relationship, and yes, in your relationship with God as well, there’s a depth that grows from such nourishment. It develops level by level. You learn to become more familiar with the person and the voice, even with the things that are being communicated in a non-verbal manner. But you’ve got to invest in the communication if you want to reap the benefits from such an investment!

We spend a lot of time in prayer only to talk to God, but there’s much God wants to say to us as well, if only we’d listen. Jesus said, My sheep Recognize My Voice, they Know My voice, they Follow My voice. If you take the time to recognize, know and follow the voice of God, you’ll stop following your own voice as well as that of others. Truth is, many of us will listen to family and friends before we listen to the Father. This should not be so! Just think, your God, your Father, the one who has created all things, wants to talk to YOU! Now, if President Obama called you up and asked to speak with you, you’d be all ears! But God, who is more important wants to talk to you, and you have to check your schedule to see if you have time (unless of course you’re experiencing trouble)…

Brothers, communication with God has to become as vital to you as breathing. Not just talking to Him, but listening to Him. What does He want you to do? Where does He want you to go? Who does He want you to take? When are you supposed to go? How are you supposed to go? God desires to give you guidance and direction, but you have to listen first! Imagine if you listened to God the way you listen to your GPS when you’re trying to figure out where you’re going or where you are. You pay attention to every detail, you turn down the radio just in case there’s an unforeseen turn up ahead…but when God speaks, we have selective hearing!

Listen: I know the frustration of just receiving information without being able to send any, and so does God. If your heaven-link phone has only been calling out, why not try Samuel’s prayer every new day, “Speak Lord. Your servant is LISTENING.” It’s important that God receives calls from you; however, it’s much more important that you get those calls from God!

Brothers, you can’t pass on God’s Voice through God’s Word to the next generation of boys to men, if you don’t listen and receive it for yourself first. And truth is, there’s some young boys in sports and school, young men in the military, brothers in the neighborhood, at work, in church and even standing on the street corner that need you to hear God so they can hear God when you speak! There are men in the barbershop getting their hair cut right next to you, and he needs a word so bad from God that he doesn’t know what to do. What if you were praying and listening for God before you ever left the house. What if God would’ve revealed to you the word of encouragement that that man needed at just the right time. You could’ve literally been apart of a God team that turned that man’s entire world around for the better! What if you listened to God before you head to the mechanic, who knows what assignment God would issue to you while you’re there. What if you listened for God before going to work, who knows what word of life you could’ve spoken to that colleague that gets on your last nerves!

Men, God loves you and He listens to you. But if you love Him as much as you say you do, you will do likewise, listen! Why? Because listening to God keeps you from marrying the wrong woman; having kids at the wrong time; falling down every time a new temptation comes up; wasting money that you should be investing; attending the wrong school; applying for the wrong job; going to the wrong dealership; making the wrong friends; requesting a loan from the wrong bank; signing papers out of season; turning down the wrong block! Listening for God is your Privilege, your Protection and your Power! Don’t Discard It!

Your vision needs God’s voice; your family needs God’s voice; your ministry and church needs God’s voice; your business needs God’s voice; your children need God’s voice; your marriage needs God’s voice; your health needs God’s voice; your promotion needs God’s voice! Guidance, Direction and Wisdom all come from Listening to God’s voice, so are you listening?!

“Speak Lord. Your servant is LISTENING.”

“Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue; God’s voice is its most essential part. Listening to God’s voice is the secret of the assurance that He will listen to mine.” (Andy Murray)

“Prayer is not the answer. God is the answer. Prayer is the vehicle by which we reach God.” (Greg Laurie)

“When you pray be sure that you listen as well as talk. You have things you want to say to God, but He also has things He wants to say to you.” (Joyce Meyer)

“God want us to talk to Him as to a friend or father…authentically, reverently, personally, earnestly.” (Bill Hybels)

“There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak.” (Simon Sinek)

“God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening, is the beginning of prayer.” (Mother Teresa)

“Not many were hearing from God. Not because God was not speaking. It was because the people were preoccupied with other things. We are very good at talking, but not so good at taking the time to wait on God’s presence and listen.” (Jeff Syverson)

“Prayer is not a ‘spare wheel’ that you pull out when in trouble. But it is a ‘steering wheel’ that directs the right path throughout.” (Daily Inspirational Quotes)

Proverbs 3:5-12, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. LISTEN for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all…” (MSG)

Proverbs 12:15, “A fool thinks he needs no advice, but a wise man LISTENS…” (TLB);

Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice saying, “This is the road! Now follow it.” (CEV);

Proverbs 28:9, “God has no use for the prayers of the people who won’t LISTEN to Him.” (MSG)

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Don’t Make These Morning Health Mistakes”

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“Avoid the Valentine’s Day Crash!”

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2 Samuel 11:2-4, “One night he couldn’t get to sleep and went for a stroll on the roof of the palace. AS HE LOOKED out over the city, HE NOTICED a woman of unusual beauty taking her evening bath.  He sent to find out who she was and was told that she was Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah.  Then David sent for her and when she came he slept with her. (She had just completed the purification rites after menstruation.) Then she returned home.” (TLB)

Talk about a lot of stuff going on in just a few verses! 

Well, before we get to that, listen to this…

I haven’t done a radio broadcast in a long time. However, there’s one broadcast that I will never forget! You see, I was invited to speak on a radio broadcast with a ministry colleague. At the time we were both spear-heading the women’s ministries at our separate churches, and this broadcast was focused on our views and vision for women’s ministry. We were in the studio getting ready to tape a live broadcast. But what made this program so exciting is that we also had a live studio audience filled with a lot of women in ministry. However, this particular session was to include a specific church whose women’s ministry was coming to be a part of the audience. This particular women’s ministry we both knew quite well, since we’ve both fellowshipped numerous times with them.

We were so excited! It was the first radio broadcast for either of us and to have a live audience at the same time was crazy!

We were excited…they were excited…the audience was excited… 

HOWEVER, we waited, and we waited, and they never showed up! 

Consequently we never got to do the program that we planned so diligently for months to do! No one had even called us to inform us of anything! Now, either they were pretty irresponsible, or maybe something major had happened! Then, we found out, that in fact, something major had happened. The man driving them to the studio had looked down for just a brief second and they plowed into the rear of a construction truck!  

Thankfully no one was seriously injured, and they even came back another time to do a program.  

Now, to this day, I’m still grateful that no one was injured, but I could never figure out what was so important that the driver took his eyes off the road, knowing he had a van load of women to get to an event safely?!  

Well, I found that out a little later. Believe it or not, he had just entered into a new relationship, and it was her who had called him. His phone rang, he looked down and her face was on the phone. In his own words, “I got distracted when I saw her…”  

However, that minor distraction caused him major damage!  

Women were not seriously hurt, but they were injured. They were supposed to be somewhere, and due to his distraction, they didn’t make it (which was a domino effect of disappointment for them, for us, for the audience, for the studio and staff etc…) Not to mention he lost his job, destroyed the church van, and the woman whose face was such a beautiful distraction, caused him an ugly break-up in the end!

Who knew just a brief look could distort and destroy vision and destiny?!

If you think about it, it really didn’t take much to cause that crash – actually, it just took one moment to look away! Indeed, that’s been the cause of many accidents, physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Which shifts our focus to 2 Samuel 11:1. I find this one of the saddest chapters in all of the Bible, it reads: “Then it happened in the spring, AT THE TIME WHEN THE KINGS GO OUT TO BATTLE, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all [the fighting men of] Israel, and they destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbath. BUT DAVID REMAINED IN JERUSALEM” (AMP) David’s job was to be out there fighting God’s battles right alongside the other fighting men. But instead he decided he would take a day off in more ways than one.

Not Being On His Assignment, Allowed an Attraction to Distract Him!

Beginning at verse 2 it reads: “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof HE SAW A WOMAN bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘She is Bathsheba, THE WIFE OF URIAH,’who, by the way, was ONE OF HIS TRUSTED MEN. She came to him and he slept with her.” 

The danger? “…HE SAW A WOMAN…”

The Next danger? “…THE WOMAN WAS VERY BEAUTIFUL…”

The Next danger? HE FOUND OUT WHO SHE WAS, KNEW SHE WAS OFF LIMITS, AND YET HE SLEPT WITH HER ANYHOW!

However, the initial danger that started it all was… “…HE SAW A WOMAN…”

Let’s read this again: “One night he couldn’t get to sleep and went for a stroll on the roof of the palace…” Well David, if you were where you were supposed to be in the first place you wouldn’t be in this predicament! The Bible says, “Then it happened in the spring, AT THE TIME WHEN THE KINGS GO OUT TO BATTLE…BUT DAVID REMAINED IN JERUSALEM” David, you couldn’t sleep because you weren’t supposed to be sleeping, you were supposed to be fighting! Temptation always rears its ugly head when you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing; and when you’re not in the place you should be! Don’t Let the Rooftop Ruin You! When you’re supposed to be on the Battleground, be there! Because oftentimes when you go out of position, you go out of line!

So, while David is inactive and out of place, “…HE LOOKED out over the city, HE NOTICED a woman of unusual beauty taking her evening bath…” I reiterate David, if you were on the battlefield, WHERE YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN, you would never have taken notice of the unusual beauty taking a bath! David was supposed to be NOTICING the ENEMY, not the ENTICEMENT to WILLFULLY SIN! Don’t Let Sin Catch You in the City When You Should Be Out in the Field!  

“…He sent to find out who she was and was told that she was Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the WIFE OF URIAH…” The worse part about it all is that DAVID FOUND OUT WHO SHE WAS, AND WHOSE SHE WAS, AND STILL HE HAD TO HAVE HER! Not that it makes it any better if it were a stranger, but David, Uriah was one of your TRUSTED MEN. How do you allow your character to have such a tremendous flaw that the one you trusted, couldn’t trust you?! The one out fighting your battle has no idea that you’re watching his wife bathe! Instead of Doing What KINGS Do, David Was Doing What JOKERS DO! How do you stab in the back the very one who covers you from all sides? David had full control of what and who he saw, and what he deliberately decided to do with it. No excuse, no justification, no reasoning, no ‘oops my bad’ etc…   

“…Then David sent for her and when she came he slept with her. (She had just completed the purification rites after menstruation.) Then she returned home.” (TLB) Yep, there’s a whole lot going on here. She’s coming off her menstrual, she takes a customary purification bath, the king sends for her, she goes, she has sex with him, and she goes back home. Well, ain’t that just an interesting night? Grant it, when the king sent for you, especially as a woman in that time, you went to him no questions, arguments, refusals or negotiations. They didn’t have the protection we have today as women. The saying goes, ‘when a woman says ‘no’, it’s no.’ But unfortunately, that did not apply in Bathsheba’s day. Nor did they have the ability to make a lot of their own decisions. Many of the women then were seen as property and possessions not as a person. And I get all of that. But my focus isn’t on Bathsheba right now anyhow. It’s on David. All of his actions were his own, they were focused, calculated, manipulative, deliberate and entitled.

In a nutshell: There was a moral crash that night that David could never have foreseen and all the damages that would follow simply by not being where he should have been, and doing what he should have been doing. Take that as a warning for yourself too…selah…

Chapter 12, the prophet says to David, “You despised the Word of the Lord.” In other words he got tempted and he stopped caring what God would think. The word “despise” is defined as “to feel contempt or repugnance for.” It’s Latin Origin “despicere” literally means “to look down.” The word ‘repugnance’ is defined as, ‘intense disgust.’ Its Origin means, ‘opposition’ from Latin, ‘repugnare’ meaning ‘to oppose.’ And lastly, the word, ‘opposition’ is defined as, ‘disapprove of, resist, or be hostile to; to compete with or fight; contrasting or conflicting; opposite.’ Its Old French Origin, ‘opposer’, from Latin ‘opponere’ literally means ‘to set one’s heart and mind against.’ When David made his deliberate and willful decision to sin, he did so despising the Word of the Lord. Which means he looked down on God’s Word; he held it in intense disgust; he was in opposition to God’s Word; and he set his heart and mind against God’s Word!  

How is it possible that the man after God’s own heart, took his eyes off Him? Instead of looking up, he began to look down, and as soon as he did, he saw temptation. Have you ever been there? God-focused, and then in one glance, distort His vision for your life? I know I have, repetitively! In the wrong place, with the wrong person, doing the wrong thing, and in my FULL RIGHT MIND! Yep, I said it! And I say it because so many are walking in shoes I’ve already walked in, grown out of and thrown away! And when I share my stumbles, trips and falls in my Christian walk, it helps my brothers and sisters in Christ to walk better. Because I can tell them the roads, back alley’s, cliffs, dead-ends, stops, go’s and yields that I ignored that almost warped my entire walk with God forever! My biggest mistakes (and bad, willful, deliberate choices) came most often when I wasn’t where I should’ve been and neglectful of what I should have been doing! Like David, I was inactive and in danger! 

And the danger of that? Then the prophet says, “The sword will NEVER depart from your house.” “Never” in its simplest definition means “not ever; not at all.Oh, David’s sin is forgiven, but the consequences will haunt him, and all those attached to him, for the rest of his life and legacy! Never under-estimate the lifetime damage one night can bring! Just ask the clinics who are treating varying STD’s; just visit many of the abortion clinics; talk with those trying to figure out what to do with this baby that wasn’t supposed to be conceived. It was just one night? Absolutely! But can you imagine all that can happen, in an instant, in just one night, with just one decision?! 

Eve wasn’t just conceived and carried to full-term for 9 months and then throughout the years grew up into the woman for Adam. Nope, Adam had need of her, and God reached in him and pulled her out full-grown just for him, in an instant! If He can do that, you do know that you can conceive a baby or contract a disease just as quickly! The question to ask is, is it really worth it? Selah…

Then the prophet says, “The Lord has taken away your sin, but by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt“(Ch.12:14). So, not only did David mess up his own life, and all those attached to him, but matters get even worse for him because now God’s reputation has been smeared because of what one of His children did in one night of being inactive, and out of place! How many times have we seen that happen? One brief shift of focus, one night inactive, one night out of place, one look, and you make a damaging, deliberate decision that destroys you and everything and everyone attached! 

Despite what many may think, adultery doesn’t involve the married couple and whomever the outside offender may be. It actually involves all their families, their lives, their health, and even their relationship with God, we’ve just seen that with King David. Relishing in one night of pleasure is never worth the loss of Relationship with your significant other, your families, loved ones, and especially your God.

What caused this very costly moral crash? The same thing that caused the crash of that van in the opening story – ONE LOOK AWAY!  

I believe someone is reading this right now, and God wants to say to you, “You’re about to crash because you’ve looked away.” However, He doesn’t want you to crash! He doesn’t want you to pay for the damages for the rest of your life and legacy. So He’s sending you this loving warning today. Are you listening? Are you taking heed? You’ve looked away from His book. You’ve put your Bible on a shelf and seldom are you showing up for your time with the Lord anymore. You’ve looked away from His calling on your life and you’re on a spiritual vacation. You’ve looked away from Jesus and you’ve let something or someone else take over your heart. You’re headed for a terrible crash!

David took a spiritual day off and he paid for that day with the rest of his life (and dare we say with Uriah and David and Bathsheba’s son’s life as well)! It could be you’ve been taking some spiritual days off and Satan is using your complacency, he’s using your carelessness to make you drift off the road that God once had you on. Listen, it’s time to look up, it’s time to wake up, and it’s time to quit flirting with that temptation. God said flee from it, not flirt with it! It’s time to drop that person or the people who are pulling you away from your Savior. No more compromise, no more drifting, because it will cost you too much! Look up again at Jesus who suffered and died for the very sin you’ve been playing with. Come back to His love. Come back to His Lordship. It’s so much better (and safer) there. 

If you look away much longer the crash is going to be inevitable and it’s going to be costly!

And might I add that since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, you should indeed drive your spirit and your flesh with caution, especially if you’re single! Why? Because, this is one of those times of the year when my calendar for counseling goes through the roof, because of what so many did in one night because they were lonely and needed love or attention (or some distorted temporary version of it). Do not make the mistake of letting your eyes shift to him or her, no matter what they may look like, no matter what they may offer you, no matter what they may say to you. Don’t Crash! 

Buy your own card, buy your own candy, tell yourself I love you, and do not watch Lifetime or Hallmark channels! Do not go reminiscing over the so-called wonderful man or woman they were when yall were together. Because truth is, if it were indeed that great together, why are you apart now?! Don’t get sucked into the Valentine’s Day THEME! Half the people that you envy that are smiling about Valentine’s Day is because of cards, candy, flowers and gifts, they’re excited about because they haven’t received any of that in the last 364 days! Don’t lose your mind and your life over one day or one night! If love is significant and real you received cards, candy, flowers and gifts on last month Tuesday, for no other reason than that it was last month Tuesday! He/She didn’t need to wait for February 14th to tell you, show you and prove to you that they love you!

Don’t let the commercialization of this holiday cause you to crash!

 
If you’re single, stay single! My mother used to say “a real woman knows her value and worth, she never acts like loose change.” Comical to many, but oh so true! 

Instead of being like David inactive, out of place and blinded by distorted vision, be as active as possible wherever God has planted you. Give your all to where you are supposed to be and on what you’re supposed to be doing. And don’t just hang out with “any” single folks, but hang out with those who are focused, not distracted, not lonely, not needy, not desperate, not depressed, not dysfunctional, not settling. Create your inner-circle with those who are determined to wait for God’s absolute best! No compromise, just conviction! 

Ladies, keep your dress down and your standards up! Gentlemen, keep your shirt buttoned and your zipper zipped! Set the bar so high for them to reach that they will need to take up the High Jump in the Olympics just to figure out how to get that high up to reach your level! The best apples are always out of reach at the top of the tree (you have to work long and hard to possess them), but those that are bruised, damaged, used, easy, and cheap lay on the ground, in the dirt, accessible to anyone!

Lastly, remember the opening story. All those women in that van had an agenda, had a goal, had an aim. They knew where they were going and what they were going to do once they got there. They were together and on one accord. The only danger was the person they had in control was easily distracted by what he saw! They could’ve ended up paying the price of his distraction with their very lives. Which means, be careful of who you let lead you! Make sure they see what you see. Make sure you are indeed valuable cargo to them, so they treat you with the protective care you deserve. You never want to be on the road to your assignment and have it aborted simply because one person took one look and loss control of it all! You have too much at stake to risk losing sight…even for just one night!

Enjoy Tomorrow’s Happy Valentine’s Day! Know That I Love You, But God Loves You More, and Loves You Best!

Which is Why You Can’t Afford to Crash Your Character or Calling!

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged
Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “How to Build Better Glutes?”

“Don’t Let Potiphar’s Wife Catch You!”

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Genesis 39:2-10, “As it turned out, God was with Joseph and things went very well with him. He ended up living in the home of his Egyptian master. His master recognized that God was with him, saw that God was working for good in everything he did. He became very fond of Joseph and made him his personal aide. He put him in charge of all his personal affairs, turning everything over to him. From that moment on, God blessed the home of the Egyptian—all because of Joseph. The blessing of God spread over everything he owned, at home and in the fields, and all Potiphar had to concern himself with was eating three meals a day.  Joseph was a strikingly handsome man. As time went on, his master’s wife became infatuated with Joseph and one day said, “Sleep with me.” He wouldn’t do it. He said to his master’s wife, “Look, with me here, my master doesn’t give a second thought to anything that goes on here—he’s put me in charge of everything he owns. He treats me as an equal. The only thing he hasn’t turned over to me is you. You’re his wife, after all! How could I violate his trust and sin against God?”  She pestered him day after day after day, BUT HE STOOD HIS GROUND. HE REFUSED TO GO TO BED WITH HER.” (MSG).

The NIV says verse 10 like this: “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her OR EVEN BE WITH HER.”

When I was a little pre-teen, my bicycle and I spent a lot of time together. You would see this little girl with big pigtails chugging all over Roosevelt; after all, that was my only way to get around back then. However, there was only one thing that compromised my total enjoyment of biking – and that was…THE HUNGRY, MAD DOG ON THE CORNER! You see, our street ended at our house, there was just no other way to approach our house. So, often that little dog would sense me coming; (And I’m a firm believer that he had other canine lookouts posted and reporting my nearness! (Don’t Laugh…I’m very serious…in my Kevin Hart voice…LOL) I’m telling you, he would appear out of nowhere, charge in my direction with teeth bared, and his bark would send chills up my spine! I’m fully persuaded that dog was “Cujo” incarnate! Well, I picked up my speed; and boy, I got real fast! I could feel him nipping at my heels! I didn’t even know I could peddle that fast! I honestly believe I could have qualified for the Olympics! My only prayer was simple: “FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW!

I very quickly learned any evasive action I could think of: getting my speed up before I got there, coming down the other street where he seemed less likely to be, then carry my bike through a neighbors yard. I tried ignoring him, pretending I didn’t see him so I didn’t look scared. Somebody told me that was a good idea, and yes I was dumb enough to listen! Anyhow, I learned rather quickly that a vicious dog is nothing to mess with and should be Avoided at all costs!

This little story from my past reminds me of our text in Genesis 39, beginning at verse 7. You see, Joseph is about to be a Jewish transplant; picked up and sold as a slave into Egypt. He’s working for Potiphar, a military leader. He’s been trusted with total responsibility of the man’s household!

Now, Potiphar’s wife gets an eye on this good looking young man. And if you don’t believe Joseph looked good, check out his Biblical Description found in verse 6:

“…Joseph was an ATTRACTIVE PERSON AND FINE-LOOKING” (AMP);

“…Joseph was WELL-BUILT AND HANDSOME” (CEB);

“…Joseph was of a BEAUTIFUL FORM AND OF A BEAUTIFUL COUNTENANCE.” (DARBY);

“…Joseph was a VERY HANDSOME, GOOD-LOOKING MAN” (ERV);

“…Joseph was a STRIKINGLY HANDSOME MAN” (MSG);

“…Joseph was STRONG AND GOOD-LOOKING” (NLV);

EVEN IN THE ORTHODOX JEWISH BIBLE JOSEPH WAS FINE! “…Yosef was YAFEH TO’AR (WELL BUILT) AND YAFEH MAREH (GOOD LOOKING)” (OJB)

So, now that we’ve established PHYSICALLY why girlfriend lost her NATURAL mind, the Bible goes on to say, “After a while, his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me.’ But he refused.Verse 10 of Genesis 39 says– “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her.” However, if that wasn’t bad enough notice this, the Bible says, “…or even be with her.”  OUCH! Joseph was in no way as crazy as I was with “Cujo”! I would try to figure out ways to still go around “Cujo”…without being bit! DUH! But Joseph??? He didn’t even want to be with her or around her! CAN SOMEBODY SAY “THAT BOY GOT GOOD SENSE?!”

FOR THE DEEP FOLKS THAT WANT TO KNOW “DOES IT REALLY TAKE ALL THAT?” I’m A Witness, YES!!!!!!!!!

Now, this has got to be for Joseph a pretty tempting temptation. Think about it: He’s lonely; he’s away from home. I would guess that a powerful man’s wife is probably pretty attractive, and he is totally trusted in the man’s home with all the man’s stuff! And the truth of the matter is…He may very well get away with this and no one even know that he’s done it!

BUT, he says, “How could I sin against God.Joseph knows…Ultimately if no one else will know…GOD WILL! He knows that he and his conscience will know too! And had he said ‘yes’ to this temptation, it would have been a Spiritually Fatal Mistake – probably Disqualifying him from being God’s hero as we know him today! AND WHAT FOOL WOULD SACRIFICE ALL OF THAT?!

Temptation is always out to bite you, to discredit you, to scar you. But unlike “Cujo” at the corner when I was a kid, TEMPTATION DOESN’T WARN YOU WITH A BARK! Therefore, do you know what your “Potiphar’s Wife” is right now? It could be a sexual opportunity; it could be the apparent advantages of compromising your integrity just a little bit; being a little dishonest; maybe it’s the urge to retaliate or a compromise that seems better than losing this person, or that old habit, or going back to the old friends, places or things. Whatever your “Potiphar’s Wife” is…remember this: THE ADVANTAGES OF SINNING ARE ALWAYS SHORT LIVED, HOWEVER THE PRICE YOU PAY ALWAYS LASTS A LONG TIME!

Notice that Joseph can recognize that ‘vicious dog of temptation’ under all that mascara and perfume! In other words, he’s smart enough to take evasive action to not ride anywhere near “Cujo’s” house! Which for him was twice as hard since he was living in ‘Cujo’s’ house!

That may be why the pull of temptation is so strong on you! You haven’t burned your bridges to it! Oh, you may distance yourself a little bit, but you remain connected. Your “Potiphar’s Wife” can still call you, text you, sext you, email you, compliment you, make advances on you, have access to your personal space, and get close enough to even get your clothes off! Yep, I said it! So, when do you plan to disconnect from your attachment to ‘Potiphar’s Wife’? When are you going to delete the pictures, block the phone number, go ghost on their social media sites? When are you going to stop allowing ‘Potiphar’s Wife’ to remain so close to you that she can reach out and touch you? Why are you still within arms distance of ‘Potiphar’s Wife’? Especially, since she hasn’t been at all shy about her motives or intentions!

Listen, Joseph got away from his temptation, however, not before his temptation was able to take something from him! She didn’t get what she wanted, but she did get something! The Bible Says: “And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me! But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out [of the house]. And when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled away, She called to the men of her household and said to them, Behold, he [your master] has brought in a Hebrew to us to mock and insult us; he came in where I was to lie with me, and I screamed at the top of my voice. And when he heard me screaming and crying, he left his garment with me and fled and got out of the house. And she laid up his garment by her until his master came home.” (Genesis 39:12-16 AMP)  The Message Bible Says It Like This: “On one of these days he came to the house to do his work and none of the household servants happened to be there. SHE GRABBED HIM BY HIS CLOAK…” (MSG)

The danger of even entertaining temptation is that you’re still close enough for it to take something from you! For Joseph, it was his cloak, however for many it grabbed their character, integrity, dignity, testimony, witness and influence. For some, it grabbed their family, their marriage, their ministry and even their mind! Being Too Close Is Still Too Much Of A Compromise! Don’t let your temptation take the very thing that your Father Gave You to Distinguish You in the First Place! Think about it: Isn’t it amazing that Joseph’s brothers were angry and jealous and abused and banished him because of a coat, and yet he was still so close to temptation that another coat was snatched off him?! Joseph was well known for his coat of many colors that was given to him by his father, because of his great love for him. When you get too close to temptation, it will likewise attempt to take from you all that the Father gave you to distinguish you as His Favored Child! 

Joseph had two coats taken from him, his coat of many colors by his brothers who Hated Him; and his Cloak by Potiphar’s wife, a woman who was Hot for Him But Couldn’t Have Him! A Temper Took His First Coat, Temptation Took His Second! And He Never Got Either of Them Back! Temptation Will Take From You and Never Return! In fact the loss of his cloak stayed with Potiphar’s wife and was used against him in a lie and false imprisonment! How do you get in this much trouble, for doing Nothing?!

Make Sure You’re Not Being Too Close For Comfort! Truthfully, the Things and People that Can Grab a Hold of Us, Is Only Because We Keep Ourselves Within Their Reach! Think about it: It’s hard for them to touch you when they can’t text you, call you, write you, or visit you. Not to mention taking the extra measures and precautions to evict them out of your heart and mind (by the way: if you do that, keeping them off, out of and away from your body will be that much easier…just saying)!

So, have you made up your mind yet? Do you want to avoid being bitten? THEN YOU HAVE TO AVOID THE PLACES WHERE IT IS, THE PEOPLE WHO DRAW YOU INTO IT, and THE PROPS THAT GET YOU EXCITED ABOUT IT…Truth Is: YOU CAN’T FLIRT WITH SIN; IT’S A VICIOUS DOG! NO MATTER HOW FINE JOSEPH LOOKS OR HOW AVAILABLE POTIPHAR’S WIFE IS…YOU ARE ABOUT TO GET BITTEN BY “CUJO” IF YOU DON’T GET OFF THAT CORNER OF COMPROMISE! Therefore, TODAY, Determine to PEDDLE FAST AND FIND ANOTHER, SAFER ROUTE! USE YOUR BIBLE AND YOUR WORKING HOLY GHOST LIKE YOU WOULD A MAP APP FOR YOUR PHONE! “FIND ME THE QUICKEST AND SAFEST WAY OUT OF HERE…NOW!” Seriously, think about it, our phone maps not only give us directions, but some of them also let you know in advance that there’s an accident ahead of you on the same road you’re on. And what does it do? It gives you another route to take! Truth is, sometimes that new route is a lot longer and sometimes even unfamiliar. You may not like it, but at least you get to bypass the accident that could delay and detour you from your God-Intended destination! Likewise, you have to strengthen you relationship with the Holy Spirit! He’s not just your comforter but He’s your counselor! He lives on the inside of you! When it comes to communicating with someone in an emergency, how much closer can a person get than to talk to the person living inside them?! The Holy Spirit is there to lead you, guide you, direct and redirect you when necessary! But just like your GPS doesn’t work without being activated, neither does the Holy Spirit! You build a relationship with Him and give Him permission to change your route when you’re heading for danger! And you know what strengthens this relationship? Prayer! And what’s prayer? Communication! Keep it simple or you will complicate something that can help you! Prayer is communication! And the more you do it, the more consistent you are at it, the more you’ll stay out of dangerous places and away from dangerous people!  

Here’s an example. My husband can pretty much tell you where I am and what I’m doing from day to day. And he’s not with me from 7:30am to around 6:30pm daily. So how can he tell you where I am or what I’m doing? Because we stay in communication throughout the day! He knows when I get to work and at what time; he knows what I’ve had for breakfast and lunch and at what time; he knows when I’ve left work; he knows when I’m on the train; he knows when I’m on the bus; he knows when I get home. How? We stay in touch throughout the day! Imagine if you stayed in touch with the Holy Spirit like that throughout the day, how many vicious “Cujo’s” would you be able to be rerouted away from without ever being bitten?! 

People of God, your prayer life and relationship with the Holy Spirit will save you from the attacks of ‘Potiphar’s Wife’! You’ll began discerning what people, places and things you have to avoid for your own mental; emotional; physical; spiritual and even financial well-being! However, this will require you to run from the temptation and retreat in prayer with the Holy Spirit! And how long should you retreat in prayer with the Holy Spirit? The Bible admonishes: “Pray Without Ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Let’s see this verse in a few translations: 

“be unceasing and persistent in prayer.” (AMP);

“Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]” (AMPC);

“Pray continually.” (CEB);

“and never stop praying.” (CEV);

“pray at all times” (GNT);

“Always keep on praying.” (TLB);

“…pray all the time…” (MSG) 

Imagine how protected you would be, especially from the temptation of sin, if you’re in communication with the Holy Spirit: “UNCEASINGLY; PERSISTENTLY; NEVER STOP; and AT ALL TIMES”?! Truth is, temptation will NEVER CEASE, which is why your prayer life can NEVER CEASE! And remember, there is absolutely no temptation powerful enough to FORCE you to surrender! 

1 Corinthians 10:13, “NO TEMPTATION [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His Word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].” (AMP) You will never as a child of God be able to say that a temptation was so strong it overtook you and you had no way out because your Father loves you so much that the Bible says, “…He [has in the PAST and is NOW and] WILL [ALWAYS] provide the way out as well, so that you will be ABLE to ENDURE it [WITHOUT YIELDING, and will OVERCOME TEMPTATION with joy].” Your Father has in the past, is now and will always provide the way out of temptation, YOU just have to add an addendum to your daily prayers that I keep in mine: “Father, help me to mindful that in the midst of every temptation presented to me today, You’ve ALREADY provided me a way of escape. Now, grant me the discernment to see it and the wisdom to take it.” Because let’s be honest, you are NEVER forced to surrender to a temptation! James 1:13-15, “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil COMES FROM US AND ONLY US. WE HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT THE LEERING, SEDUCING FLARE-UP OF OUR OWN LUST. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” (MSG). If You Give In, You Wanted to. If You Give In, You Decided to. If you allow the temptation to sin, to be conceived in your life; and then you nourish it so it grows up to adulthood and becomes a real killer of your marriage; integrity; family; character; calling; anointing; dignity…It Was Your Choice! You Don’t Get to Complain About What You’ve Condoned! Remember, Your Choice…Your Consequence! 

Which is why it’s so important to remember Joseph’s example: “…The only thing he hasn’t turned over to me is you. You’re his wife, after all! How could I violate his trust and sin against God?”  She pestered him day after day after day, BUT HE STOOD HIS GROUND. HE REFUSED TO GO TO BED WITH HER.” (MSG). “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her OR EVEN BE WITH HER.” Listen: Temptation doesn’t knock once then walk away from the door! Potiphar’s Wife “PESTERED HIM DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY! She spoke to Joseph DAY AFTER DAY!” Every day you will be faced with the opportunity to accept temptation, which is why every day you have to remain praying without ceasing so you can receive clear directions on how to get away from Potiphar’s Wife, the ‘Cujo’ On a Mission to Kill Yours!

The Bible says, “FLEE FROM IT” Which is your admonishment to take a route that’s nowhere near the opportunity to sin! 1 Timothy 6:11, “But as for you, O man of God, FLEE FROM THESE THINGS; aim at and pursue righteousness [true goodness, moral conformity to the character of God], godliness [the fear of God], faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness.” (AMP) The Message Bible reads like this: “But you, Timothy, man of God: RUN FOR YOUR LIFE FROM ALL THIS. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.” (MSG)

REMEMBER TIMOTHY AND FLEE, REMEMBER JOSEPH AND RUN! AND DON’T JUST RUN, BUT RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! LIKE JOSEPH, USE COMMON SENSE! NO MATTER HOW CUTE AND FRIENDLY A DOG IS…IF IT HAS TEETH…IT WILL BITE! HOWEVER, IF YOU’RE NOT CLOSE ENOUGH TO PET IT…IT’S NOT CLOSE ENOUGH TO BITE YOU! THEREFORE, AVOID BEING BITTEN BY AVOIDING BEING TOO CLOSE TO CHOMP! DON’T LET POTIPHAR’S WIFE CATCH YOU!

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #DontGetCaught
Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Easy Skincare Tips for Men”

“The Importance of a Father’s Blessing”

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Genesis 28:1-5, “SO ISAAC CALLED IN JACOB AND BLESSED HIM. Then he ordered him, “Don’t take a Caananite wife. Leave at once. Go to Paddan Aram to the family of your mother’s father, Bethuel. Get a wife for yourself from the daughters of your uncle Laban. “And may The Strong God bless you and give you many, many children, a congregation of peoples; and pass on the blessing of Abraham to you and your descendants so that you will get this land which you live, this land God gave Abraham. So Isaac sent Jacob off. He went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.” (MSG)

In Bible times Fathers placed their hands on their children’s heads and spoke certain promises over them, passing on the blessing from generation to generation. It’s why the Bible says, “Isaac called Jacob and blessed him,” and why Jacob even refused to die before blessing his grandchildren: Genesis 48:8-16: “Just then Jacob noticed Joseph’s sons and said, “Who are these?” Joseph told his father, “They are my sons whom God gave to me in this place.” “Bring them to me,” he said, “SO I CAN BLESS THEM.” Israel’s eyesight was poor from old age; he was nearly blind. So Joseph brought them up close. Old Israel kissed and embraced them and then said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has let me see your children as well!” Joseph took them from Israel’s knees and bowed respectfully, his face to the ground. Then Joseph took the two boys, Ephraim with his right hand setting him to Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand setting him to Israel’s right, and stood them before him. But Israel crossed his arms and put his right hand on the head of Ephraim who was the younger and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, the firstborn. THEN HE BLESSED THEM: The God before whom walked my fathers Abraham and Isaac, The God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this very day, The Angel who delivered me from every evil, BLESS THESE BOYS. May my name be echoed in their lives, and the names of Abraham and Isaac, my fathers, And may they grow covering the Earth with their children.” (MSG).

Grandfathers, it is still vital that you not only lay your hands on your sons heads, but on your grandsons as well. Follow Isaac’s example and declare blessings over generations that will follow you. Speak well over them and make sure that they hear you. Declare that they will be obedient and well disciplined boys; that they will excel in academia; that they will be healthy and wealthy; that they will make wise decisions; that they will walk in favor, faith and discernment; that they will not be found in the company of fools; that they will grow into godly men who protect their wives and children; that they are an asset to their communities; that they will leave a legacy of greatness to be carried on; that they will be men of integrity, character, influence, gifting’s, intelligence, and purpose; that they will be the epitome of a child of God in their homes, work, business, community and church. Grandfathers, speak blessings over your grandsons that they may keep the torch of greatness shining brightly for generations who are yet to even be born! Your blessing is a must in the life your grandsons!

Likewise, a Father’s Blessing Is a Must in the Life of His Sons! However, There Are Certain Specifics Isaac Covered In His Blessing of Genesis 28:1-5 MSG that I want men and boys to pay close attention to. Sisters, I’m not leaving you out, I just want to focus today on our male counterparts instead especially since June is Men’s Health Month, and this Sunday is Father’s Day, so don’t take it personal! With that out of the way, Let’s See What the Specifics Are:

1… The Bible says,So Isaac called in Jacob and blessed him…”: First, I need Men to say this and grasp it with both hands: “I’m not going anywhere to do anything unless My Father Calls Me!” Remember: “So Isaac CALLED in Jacob…”. A Father, whether Natural or Spiritual will make sure they Call YouYou Don’t Get To Call Yourself! If Pastors, that were Never Called could get this, we could close down 20 Unfruitful Ministries on One Block Tonight! Men, never move until you’re called! I don’t care what anybody says they see in you; think about you; can hear in your tone of voice; no matter what they say about your gifting’s and anointing, don’t you dare move until your father who covers you, calls you! That’s why we have Deacons now pastoring dying churches because they went before they were called, and some weren’t even called, because they weren’t called! Sometimes you need to embrace that where you are is where you need to stay! Don’t let people persuade you that you must elevate through all of these ministerial levels to reach your purpose in God. All God requires of you is that you do what HE called you to do! And if that’s to usher from age 8 to 80, be the best doorkeeper the church has ever seen! Listen, in that same text also pay close attention to this: “So ISAAC called in JACOB…”. Men, I just need to know one simple thing: “Do You Know Your Name?” The Scripture Is Specific As to WHO Isaac Was Calling! And His Name Was Jacob! If we could learn simply to Answer to the Calling Assigned Specifically to Our Name We Could Finally Get Misplaced People From All Over The Ministry Into Their Rightful Places! Which is hard to do when Jesse is trying to answer Jacob’s call, David is trying to answer Darren’s call, Shawn is trying to answer Scott’s call! Brothers, Know Your Specific Name and Answer Only Your Specific Call! I don’t care if you can do it better, if God didn’t sign your name to that assignment, leave other people’s mail alone! What’s not addressed to you don’t belong to you, and it’s a felony to open other people’s mail! A third thing to notice in this same small piece of Scripture is: “So Isaac called IN Jacob…” later the text will Eventually say “…So Isaac sent Jacob OFF.” Brothers, Jacob Wasn’t Sent OUT Until He Was First Called IN! Therefore, Stop expecting to be sent OFF to Africa on a 6 month assignment, when you haven’t even had enough discipline to bring yourself IN to Sunday School, IN to Prayer, IN to Bible Study, IN to Worship, IN to Rehearsal, IN to Meetings, In on Time…You getting this? Good! You Have To Come IN Before You Can Be Sent OUT! Too many want an outside assignment with an Honorarium to go to Hawaii when we can’t get you inside the House of Worship in Brooklyn to serve a Ham Sandwich to the Homeless! Men, Until You Master Humility You’ll Always Miss Honor! Therefore, Keep In Mind: You Can’t Go OFF Until You First Go IN!

2… Next, the Bible says Isaac: “… ordered him,…” Brothers, You Will Never Be SENT Until You SUBMIT! That’s why we have so many Pastoral Bastards now! No One Has Enough Humility, Patience and Obedience to Allow Someone To Father Them! Because Fathering them means Discipline and Chastisement, and no one wants to receive it, but the Bible says:  “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Hebrews 12:8) The Amplified Bible says it like this: “Now if you are exempt from correction and left without discipline in which all [of God’s children] share, then you are illegitimate offspring and not true sons [at all]”  The word “Illegitimate” means “Not in accordance with the law or accepted standards” In other words, you’re operating under an Illegal Anointing and Calling! And anything “Illegal” is defined as “Contrary to or Forbidden by Law, therefore, deserving of Punishment!” Until you reach a place where you can Sit and Submit under a Father’s teaching and obey it, you will never be Legal! And “Legal” is defined as “To Permit!” If you can’t be fathered you can’t receive a permit, and without a permit you can’t be licensed! And without a license you are Illegal Deserving of Punishment! Sons of God, Submit to the Order of the House! True leaders don’t care about your talent if you’re not submitted enough to tithe and be on time; true leaders don’t care about your anointing if you’re not submitted enough to show up faithfully in service, even if the mic never graces your hand; true leaders don’t care about your skill if you’re not submitted enough to sit in Sunday School; true leaders don’t care about your oil if you’re not submitted enough to obey; true leaders don’t care about your following if you’re not submitted enough to follow your own leader; true leaders don’t care about your fancy footwork during praise breaks, if you’re not submitted enough to walk in character, integrity, excellence and holiness, especially when no one is looking; true leaders don’t care about your resume, if you’re not submitted enough to maintain righteousness. Are you getting this men? Submit, obey, serve, and receive honor. Don’t seek a seat; don’t seek to be seen; seek to be submissive! And for those men that think submission is gender based, and for women only, let me help you. There was no greater Man than Jesus, and even He was a Man of Submission to His Father’s Will!

3… Next Isaac warns his son: “Don’t take a Caananite wife…” Any Father That Wants The Best For His Son Will At Some Point Address The Women In His Life! And the First Thing a Father Will Tell You Is the Type of Woman to AVOID! Brothers, where you go and how far you go in Life and Ministry will be Impacted Greatly By the Woman YOU Choose To Give Your Last Name! In receiving your Name she carries the Dangerous Potential to be Irresponsible With How You, Your Family and Your Family Name Is Reflected In Private and Public! And just like you wouldn’t give just anybody your social security number; your date of birth; your home address; the code to your phone; your credit card; your license; be just as protective over who you give your last name to! Marital Identity Theft is just as real! She may seem like the right one; appear like the right one; sound like the right one; do all the things you thought the right one would do; and she can still be an imposter! Therefore, When Daddy Says Don’t Take a…Wife…LISTEN! Your Father, Whether Natural or Spiritual, Will Do Nothing to Hurt You, Lead You Astray or Hinder Your Life in Any Way! So if they share their concerns it’s in Your Best Interest to Take Heed! Many men Stand Powerful In the Day, but Lay With a Poor Excuse At Night! Don’t Let That Be Your Testimony!

4… Next Isaac Instructs his Son: “Leave at once. Go to Paddan Aram to the family of your mother’s father, Bethuel. Get a wife for yourself from the daughters of your uncle Laban.” A few things need to be pointed out here: A) He told him “…leave at once…” Listen, When your Spiritual Father tells you it’s time to go…GO! Don’t drag your feet, don’t try to take folks with you that were not released to go…Just Go! B) A Father Will Always Give You Specific Instructions and Directions! Think about it, He told Jacob where to go Specifically and Who to seek out Specifically! Can you imagine if Spiritual Leaders gave Specific Instructions/Directions and Names and then you actually Listened and Obeyed…Do You Realize The Greatness In That Blessing alone?! You don’t have to play “eenie meanie miney moe” for a wife or a ministry! You’ll Know Exactly Where To Go and With Whom! Men, Allow Yourself To Be Fathered! You Can’t Get the Father’s Blessing Without It! C) It was Isaac who told Jacob “…Get a wife…” I can hear you saying, “I’m a grown man, nobody has to tell me when to get a wife!” I Reiterate…You Can’t Be Sent Until You Submit! Your Father Will Not Have You Follow Directions That Will Be Fatal to You Fulfilling Your Calling! Therefore, if nothing else, listen and take heed! I promise you, when you get older (Naturally and Spiritually) and look back, 9 times out of 10 you’ll have several regrets about not taking parental heed! D) In addition, he tells Jacob Where To Find His Wife! She’ll Be Amongst Those IN THE FAMILY! And NO I do not suggest incest in anyway, however, I do Highly Suggest You Stay Within the Faith Family when looking for your wife! I don’t care how gifted, anointing and mighty in God you are, you can’t marry an unbeliever and expect her to live right! Heck, the ones who are saved still struggle to live right, what do you think you’ll get from someone who don’t even follow God?! God will not lead you to find a wife among the unsaved. What about Hosea? God had a point to prove to His disobedient people regarding their constant infidelity in their relationship with Him which is the only reason He allowed Hosea to marry Gomer. It was about making a point, not making marrying a prostitute a generational principle! Follow your father’s instructions and do not veer off course no matter what she looks like or what she promises! Proverbs 14:12/16:25, “There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough;look again—it leads straight to hell.” (MSG) And if you marry her, so will you!

5… Next Isaac says, “And may The Strong God bless you…” If it’s one thing every father wants is for God to bless the lives of their children! As a father, it is your Responsibility to declare the Blessings of God over your children, Natural and Spiritual! And as many fathers know, as your children age, both Spiritually and Naturally, they will have some struggling times that will bring them to their knees! As strong as their faith may be, they will have moments when weakness will set in. It’s at those times in which they need to grasp on to the remembrance of your teaching them that their God is STRONG! As you speak the Blessings of God over them remind them that He is their Refuge, Strength, Strongtower, Mighty God, All-Powerful One…There is no greater blessing than speaking of the Lord’s Strength over your children’s lives! Truth is, they will not always receive a clean bill of health from the doctor; their money will not always flow right; their marriage will not always feel like it was made in heaven; their job will not always feel safe and secure as it once did. They will face betrayal, lies, gossip, rumors, hardship, heartache and the like, and you need to teach them young how to grow up with this but not allow it to stunt their spiritual growth! They need to know about God’s strength before their weakness is tempted! And father’s, it’s your responsibility to Teach Them!

6… Next Isaac says to Jacob, “And may The Strong God bless you and give you many, many children, a congregation of peoples;” Isaac blesses Jacob and his children and children’s children! Fathers, Speak blessings over what your children have Now and what they will have Later, whether you are present or not to see it! As their father, speak blessings over their future generations! Speak well of their seeds seed! Speak well over their future and the greatness of it! Isaac prayed for Jacob to have “…a congregation of peoples…” Do you believe that level of abundance is in the future of your child? If not, shame on you! If so, speak even greater! Begin speaking blessings over their children, whether they are here now or not, whether they are spiritual or natural, speak that they will be obedient, that they will follow in the footsteps of Jesus, that they will pray and seek the Lord’s face, that they will be debt free, that they will be faithful in marriage, that they will revive their communities faith etc…Isaac spoke a father’s blessing over his son Jacob’s future! Have you done the same for yours? And some of you will say, yes, I pray that all the time. But this isn’t something Isaac prayed in his prayer closet with no one present to hear but him and God. No, he said this out loud, to his son’s face, in his son’s hearing. Make sure you do the same, remember faith comes by hearing, so what are you saying to your sons to increase their faith about their future?!

7… Then Isaac admonishes Jacob, “and pass on the blessing of Abraham to you and your descendants…” Isaac speaks a blessing over Jacob that his children will be many and great, a congregation of peoples, and then he goes further to speak the Blessing of Abraham over All His Descendants! And what blessing was that? The Bible says, “God told Abram: “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you. I’ll make you a great nation and bless you.  I’ll make you famous; you’ll be a blessing. I’ll bless those who bless you; those who curse you I’ll curse. All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you.” … At that time the Canaanites occupied the land. God appeared to Abram and said, “I WILL GIVE THIS LAND TO YOUR CHILDREN …” (Genesis 12:1-7 MSG) AND THAT’S NOT ALL! The Bible goes on to say,  “…God said to Abram, “Open your eyes, look around. Look north, south, east, and west. Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I WILL GIVE TO YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN FOREVER. I’ll make your DESCENDANTS like dust—counting your DESCENDANTS will be as impossible as counting the dust of the Earth. So—on your feet, get moving! Walk through the country, its length and breadth; I’m giving it all to you.” (Genesis 13: 14-17 MSG). Guess What? We’re His Descendants! The Bible says, “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, SINCE YOU ARE CHRIST’S FAMILY, THEN YOU ARE ABRAHAM’S FAMOUS “DESCENDANTS”, HEIRS ACCORDING TO THE COVENANT PROMISES” (Galatians 3:28-29 MSG). Dad, How Can You NOT Speak This Blessing Over Your Children???!!! In the words of Isaac, “…PASS ON THE BLESSING OF ABRAHAM TO YOU AND YOUR DESCENDANTS…”!

8… Next Isaac says, “so that you will get this land which you live, this land God gave Abraham.” I Love It! Fathers, You Need To Learn How To Speak Entrepreneurial Inheritance Blessings Over Your Seed! Isaac let Jacob Know…the Land Is Yours! Go Get It! It Was a Covenant Promise to Abraham and His Descendants…And You Are Indeed Abraham’s Descendant! So Go Get Your Stuff! Our children should not be standing in begging lines anywhere! They Are the Seed of Abraham and the Heir of His Blessings! When They Are Born Again, They’re Born Into Blessings! They’re Born Into Wealth! They’re Born Into an Entrepreneurial Mindset! They’re Born Into a Great Inheritance! They’re Born Into Greatness and Promise! Therefore, Don’t Allow Them To Live Beneath Their Potential and Privilege! Speak the Blessings of Abraham Over Your Seed! Make sure they know who they are and what they have! Don’t let them walk with pants sagging, heads bowed, shoulders slumped, eyes, heart and spirit downcast! NO! Remind them daily of who they are, Whose they are, and what they’ve been promised and make sure they walk like it every day of their lives! Remind them that they are children of prosperity not poverty, no matter what they see in their bank accounts! Teach them the valuable asset of favor, and inform them that it is their portion! They are heirs of promise, and descendants of an unbreakable covenant! Fathers, don’t pray this over them in your prayer closet, say this repetitively to their face, in their hearing!

9… And what happens after Isaac blessed Jacob? The Bible says, “So Isaac sent Jacob off…” I Reiterate! You Are Not Sent Until You Submit! Don’t Allow Your Children, Natural or Spiritual, to Just Go! Let them know the Basics and the Importance Behind a Father’s Blessing! Let them know all that it entails and its importance over their lives. Isaac made sure that Jacob knew who he was and what he possessed before he sent him off to attain even more! Therefore, Fathers, Don’t send them unsure, or insecure. Make sure you instill in them their Identity in Christ! Give them a firm foundation of faith that the world can’t shake! And dad, don’t be selfish! Sometimes the hard part is not keeping them from going, but the issue is YOU actually having the guts to release them in a timely fashion! When they’ve received all they need to receive from you to step out in faith, hand them a good sturdy pair of shoes, open the door and send them off! Don’t let them sit in the house just because it’s your house and you want the blessings, greatness, anointing and gifting to stay in Your House! You will not be their only teacher in life, so send them off and let them further their education in their walk with God. They Will Be Okay!

10… Lastly, the text reads, “He went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.” Dad, if you do it right, they will do exactly what you said! They will walk out the blessings you spoke over them! But it’s important to let them know YOU have to SEND them OFF! Therefore, teaching them Patience is a Must! They have to Master Endurance and Waiting! Truth is, Many have messed up their family, children, business, marriage, ministry, church, and their very own lives because of Going Prematurely! Which is why James Admonishes: “…SO DON’T TRY TO GET OUT OF ANYTHING PREMATURELY. LET IT DO ITS WORK SO YOU BECOME MATURE AND WELL-DEVELOPED, NOT DEFICIENT IN ANY WAY” (James 1:2-4 MSG). So instill in them the Worth of Waiting and Then the Greatness In Going Forth…When the Time Is Right…Covered By the Important Basics Behind Their Fathers Blessing!

Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #BeBlessed #HappyFathersDay
Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Essential Screening Tests That Every Man Needs!”

“There’s Healing for Wounded Men With Nowhere to Bleed”

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Matthew 26:38, “and He said to them, “I am so sad that I feel as if I am dying. Stay here and keep awake with Me.” (CEV)

One thing’s for sure, I grew up with a very “man’s man” type of father. My dad was a Louisiana born mechanic, and was always covered from head to toe in grease! It drove my mother absolutely insane! In fact, when she would do the laundry, she always made sure dad’s clothes had their very own machines, his stuff didn’t mix with anybody else’s! Dad had grease under his fingernails, on his skin, dripping from his hair, covering his face and drenched in his clothes. You would often find him with a cigarette in his mouth, one hand under the hood of a car while the other hand held an ice cold beer (no matter what the weather was). He loved to hang out with his boys, he loved westerns, boxing, football and baseball. He loved sitting in the backyard with family and friends and of course our favorite German Shepherd “Captain“, barbecuing and blasting music. And his absolute first love was fishing! He would have about 2-3 hours sleep (which is where I get my bad habit of not sleeping enough from), and yet he would make a cup of coffee (that was half wild irish rose – don’t ask), he would chop wood for the fireplace, start a fire, walk the dog, and sit on the front stoop, all by 4am, for no other reason than that he was wide awake! Dad had a pretty nice gun collection too, and would shoot at anything that moved in the trees! In other words, dad was indeed the epitome of a “man’s man”.

However, my dad passed away in 2008 at the tender age of 75 years old. I was 36 years old when my dad passed and yet in all those years I spent with him, I only remember seeing my dad cry once. And that was when his father (my granddad) passed away when I was 5. It is the only time I can recall seeing my dad cry. He didn’t even cry on my wedding day as they wheeled him down the aisle (his way of still being able to ‘walk’ me down the aisle), but still no tears! Nope, instead my dad smiled and laughed the entire day! So, even though he was a “man’s man”, looking back now, I wonder did he ever cry more than that one time? I know he battled many health issues, and loss of family, and struggles working 3 jobs to support us all. But still, I can’t seem to recall more tears than that one day. And surely with such a rough life of being born in 1933, in the South as a black man who had to drop out of school before he was 9 to pick cotton, he must have had some hurtful experiences, he must’ve been wounded enough to bleed and cry, but I wonder if he ever did.

Now, my dad isn’t the only man like that. I have a family who is largely military, and largely southern, therefore, all the men are “men’s men”! I don’t recall many of the men in my family as criers, or those who displayed their weaknesses or emotions. And I guess that’s somewhat to be expected when most men are largely reared to be brave, courageous, strong, hunters, go-getters, powerful, and invincible! And those are wonderful traits, but when you’ve been counseling as long as I have, you come to find out, some of those ideal traits, are really entrapments for most men. For example, I had one couple that had been trying for 10 years to conceive and then they finally do. We get to the birth date, and mom is crying her eyes out (I’m sure from pain as well as great expectation); however, dad, was a blank face. She was angry that he didn’t gush and cry and get all soppy, but he said “I wasn’t raised that way. In my family, men don’t cry, no matter what.” She said he was like that on their wedding day and other important family events where you would expect someone to get all “blubbery” with joy! But like he said, most men, “aren’t raised that way. Men don’t cry, no matter what.

Which is what I want to address today.

Suicide. It usually stuns those close to it. In fact, Hollywood has seen several spikes in suicides in the past few years. A director that leaped from a bridge. Actors battling drugs and alcohol that had beaten the addiction. And others that were still battling until the addiction won. Families left crushed. Many people left asking that question that often defies an answer, “Why?” Well, truth is, we may never know. As for myself, I attempted suicide on 3 occasions, all between the ages of 15-25. I battled depression severely for many years. However, my parents didn’t know that until my first suicide attempt at age 15. And even to this day, when I do suicide counseling and share my own battle scars from depression and suicide, one of the questions I’m always asked is, “what made you want to end your life? What could’ve possibly been so bad?And again, to this day, I’m uncertain how to really answer that. Because the things that seemed so “tragic” then, looking back now, seem so unimportant. But when you’re in the moment, it’s amazing how big of a mountain a molehill can appear to be.

So, suicide has been running rampant, both in the world and in the church.

And then there was that prominent official in the White House some years ago who committed suicide. A national news magazine turned the spotlight on a disturbing fact about far too many men. They are, (And I’ve never forgotten these words) “wounded men with no place to bleed.

I know from years of walking through crises with many men through counseling, that men often “stuff it” rather than “share it”. They live with the lie that being strong means never showing weakness, never showing a soft or hurting heart, and always being in control.

So they bleed inside where there’s nothing to stop the bleeding or treat the wound. And what’s scary is, much like a person physically bleeding on the outside (where you can see it, and notice it, and bring it to their attention, and get them some help); however, when someone is bleeding internally, you don’t see it, you don’t notice it, you can’t bring it to their attention and get them some help, until it starts to reveal itself in some form of sign from the inside…out. And most men spiritually, emotionally, socially, mentally, bleed internally. But that much pressure, continuously pressed down, builds like lava in a volcano. Or like a beach ball pushed farther and farther under the water. The farther down you push it, the higher it ultimately goes when it can’t be held down any longer. Then suddenly, often inexplicably, there’s an explosion of anger or violence or depression, or self-destruction, that very few even saw coming.

BUT the strongest man who ever lived offers men a better way!

The shortest verse in the Bible – only two words, John 11:35, “Jesus wept” at a friend’s grave. The Bible says, when He saw a crowd of hurting people, “He was moved with compassion because they were…like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

I’ve come to find out that Jesus expressed quite a few emotions that men today need to learn to feel free in expressing. For instance:

“for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they ended, HE WAS HUNGRY.” (Luke 4:2 AMP)

“But Jesus was in the stern, ASLEEP [with His head] on the [sailor’s leather] cushion…” (Mark 4:38 AMP)

“Looking at him, Jesus FELT A LOVE (HIGH REGARD, COMPASSION) FOR HIM…” (Mark 10:21 AMP)

“Now Jesus LOVED AND WAS CONCERNED about Martha and her sister and Lazarus [and considered them dear friends]” (John 11:5 AMP)

“In that very hour He was OVERJOYED AND REJOICED GREATLY…” (Luke 10:21 AMP)

“After looking around at them WITH ANGER, GRIEVED…” (Mark 3:5 AMP)

“Now when Jesus heard this, HE WAS AMAZED…” (Luke 7:9 AMP)

“…He began to be DEEPLY DISTRESSED AND TROUBLED [EXTREMELY ANGUISHED at the prospect of what was to come].” (Mark 14:33 AMP)

“As He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and WEPT OVER IT [and the spiritual ignorance of its people]” (Luke 19:41 AMP)

“and looking up to heaven, HE SIGHED DEEPLY…” (Mark 7:34 AMP)

“He GROANED AND SIGHED DEEPLY IN HIS SPIRIT…” (Mark 8:12 AMP)

“But when Jesus saw this, HE WAS INDIGNANT…” (Mark 10:14 AMP)

“Jesus STERNLY WARNED them…” (Mark 3:12 AMP)

“When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who had come with her also sobbing, HE WAS DEEPLY MOVED IN SPIRIT [TO THE POINT OF ANGER at the sorrow caused by death] AND WAS TROUBLED.” (John 11:33 AMP)

“But Jesus would often go to some place where HE COULD BE ALONE and pray.” (Luke 5:16 CEV)

Men of God, did you pay attention to all the varying emotions that Jesus Himself expressed? Not suppressed, not kept hidden, not masked, not covered, not lied about, not pretending, not making excuses for, but one He Unapologetically Expressed. And not in a secluded spot either, but He did so in front of others! And if the Son of God can express His emotions, and we are to follow in His footsteps, for He is our example, then why would you deny yourself the relief of release? After all, Jesus Himself was: Hungry, Sleepy, Moved With Compassion, Felt Love, Was Concerned, Was Overjoyed and Rejoiced, Was Angry, Grieved, Amazed, Distressed, Troubled, Groaned and Sighed Deeply, Was Indignant, Gave Stern Warnings, Was Angry and Alone. So, why are YOU internally bleeding due to the lack of expressed emotions?

Jesus wasn’t afraid to let His friends know He was really hurting. Just before what He knew was going to be His awful torture and crucifixion, He asked His main guys to be with Him in the garden. He told them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me” (Matthew 26:38). Though He was God in the flesh – the Ultimate Man – He wasn’t afraid to say He needed people. Yet, you my brothers, are acting so fiercely brave, because you’re afraid someone will see the flaw in your character, that you aren’t always as tough as the role you play. But you need not hide anymore, pretend anymore, camouflage anymore. As Wounded As You Are, You Have a Place to Bleed, Heal, and Recover!

Your Safe Place to Bleed is With the One Who Bled For You!

Hebrews 4:15-16, “Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (MSG)

You got it! Wounded soldier, you have a place to bleed! It’s in the Presence of your Savior. It’s your safe place to unload, to be naked and not ashamed, to reveal, expose, and tell all. You don’t have to hide, cover, mask, pretend, find the right words, go at a particular hour, He’s always waiting, and always available. He wants you to come to Him and find your sheltered place for rest, relief and release. Therefore, obey the Scripture, “…walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”

Matthew 11:28-30, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. KEEP COMPANY WITH ME and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG) Did you catch that? Jesus Himself has extended a private invitation to you, for you to go away “and keep company with Him.” So, what are you waiting for? Are you waiting like the lava in a volcano to finally explode?! Because that’s the worst thing you can do, and here’s why. Have you ever paid attention to when a volcano erupts? The lava is no respect of person! Whoever comes into contact with it, perishes! And if you continue to suppress your emotions, you will erupt and your anger will come in contact with all those attached to you and burn up your friendships, covenants, relationships, family ties, businesses, churches, ministries, neighbors…everyone that comes in contact with you will burn to ashes! But why let that be your outcome, when you have access to a safe place to release?

Men of God, you are not so “manly” that you don’t have moments when you need to cry, to vent, to tell it, to share it, to ask for help, for advice, for direction, for wisdom, and yes even for a shoulder to cry and lean on. Unexpressed emotions are dangerous for you and everyone attached to you! Let today be the day you find relief and release by resting in the safe place of the presence of the Lord. He’s waiting to hear about the marriage that’s on life-support, about the children who have gone astray, about the finances that are drying up, about your private hurts, disappointments, and discouragements. He’s waiting to hear you tell Him what the doctor told you. He wants to hear what the lawyer said. He wants to share in your anguish over the loss of a job. He wants to hear about the dreams that have become nightmares. He wants to hear about your fears, your distrust, your doubts, unbelief and lack of faith. He wants to hear about your depression, your loneliness, your anxieties, your worries. He wants to hear about the bills, the bankruptcy, and the burst plumbing line. He wants to hear what makes you feel insignificant, less than, and not enough. He wants you to hand over to Him your low self-esteem and damaged self-respect. He wants you share with Him your weaknesses so He can share with you His strengths. Talk to Him, Tell Him, He Wants to Hear Your Voice, Even if it’s Shaky, Trembling and Filled With Fear!

Jeremiah 33:2-3, “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘CALL TO ME AND I WILL ANSWER YOU. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’ (MSG)

Men of God, why are you struggling alone when God Himself wants to keep company with you? He’s asking you to call HIM, not Tony, Eric, Robert, Shawn, Darryl, Kevin….No, this time, Call Jesus! Does that mean you should never reach out to your boys? Absolutely not! Even Jesus reached out to His boys and told them He was sad and in anguish and needed them to stay awake with Him. So, if Jesus reached out to His boys, you are more than encouraged to reach out to yours. However, don’t make the mistake many women make, and that is to reach out to our Sisters BEFORE reaching out to our Savior. God alone, is the place where you are guaranteed to renew and regain strength after releasing to Him your weakness.

Do not suffer in silence and die. You are needed more than you’ll ever know. You’re needed in your family, among your friends and coworkers, you’re needed in the church, in the community and in the Kingdom. We need your gifts, your anointing, your skills, your talent. We need your presence. We need you. Which is why we need you to take your broken pieces to Jesus so that you can be made whole, because there is a host of other men, wounded with nowhere to bleed, that are waiting for someone just like you to help them put their fragmented emotions back together again. We need you to overcome, because we need your testimony. You are the product of what God’s power can do when you plug in to His source.

So, no more waiting for everyone to go to sleep so you can slip out unawares to breath and sigh in the car or in the backyard. No more tears trickling down in the shower where no one can hear or see. No more ‘I’m fine; I’m okay; Everything’s good.’ No More Internal Bleeding! God has already showed you in His Word that He’s there to help, but you do know that you also have a huge family of brothers and sisters in Christ that are here for you too, don’t you? Galatians 6:1-2, “Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” (MSG) Brothers, all of us are here to help too! Whether its sin, hurt, pain, failure, disappointment, frustration, confusion, struggles, we’re here to help! Whether it was your fault or no fault of your own, we’re here to help! You are never alone! Hebrews 13:5, “…for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” (AMP) And just in case that’s not enough encouragement, read on: John 14:26-27, “But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you. Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]” (AMP) Men of God: You Have God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, Your Natural and Spiritual Families All Here to Help You Heal, How Dare You Any Longer Bleed Internally Until You Die!

Therefore, stop isolating yourself and reconnect with your family! We may not all be doctors, nurses, surgeons and the like, but as believers we do specialize in love! And if love is all we have to use as a bandage, you are still on your way to healing!

1 Peter 4:7-11, “Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!” (MSG)

Brothers, You Have a Safe Place to Take Your Wounds to so They Can Bleed, Heal and Recover. His Name is Jesus, and He Has a Secured, Reserved Spot Just For You. Make Today the Day You Hide Under His Wings For Help!

Psalm 91, “You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— UNDER THEM YOU’RE PERFECTLY SAFE; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path. “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!” (MSG)

See, men, you have the love and help of your brothers and sisters, but more importantly you have the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, where no matter how badly life has hurt you, They are your safe place, where you are “…PERFECTLY SAFE…”

Men, we need you alive and well! So no more silent internal bleeding. No matter what the feelings or emotions, no matter what the situation or circumstance, share it. You can still be a ‘man’s man’ and cry! Let no one else tell you differently. And please remember this, your wife and sisters and daughters are watching how you deal with your emotions. When you bottle them up, you teach them this is the way a man should handle his emotions. Your sons and brothers are watching how you deal with your emotions. When you hide them, cover them, mask them, pretend about them, you are showing them the example you want them to follow in how they should in turn deal with their emotions. And if you want everyone connected to you to be healthy, YOU first have to show them what healthy emotions look like. Jesus Did, and so can you. You are the head of our families, communities and churches, and the head tells the body how to function. Make sure as the head, you’re getting help, you’re healing, you’re becoming whole, so we can follow your lead and function in the same healthy manner! Lead us well, by leading yourself first to the secret place of the Presence of God where you may be wounded, you may bleed, but you will heal, you will recover and you will be made whole!

 Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #4MyBrothers
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