“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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“Has Your Appetite Matured Yet?”

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Hebrews 5:11-14, “I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—BABY’S MILK, when you should have been on SOLID FOOD LONG AGO! MILK IS FOR BEGINNERS, INEXPERIENCED IN GOD’S WAYS; SOLID FOOD IS FOR THE MATURE, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.” (MSG)

Two of the greatest days of my life happened when I gave birth to my daughters. They are now 31 and 28 years old, and have grown into beautiful women. As their mother, I am extremely proud of them. And as much as they’ve accomplished over the last 3 decades, I think the funniest accomplishment of them all was when they were babies learning how to walk. Watching them transition from the stage of crawling to walking was indeed some of the funniest moments of my life.

Now, both of these young women came from the same mother, but they most definitely had two very different levels of motivation.

My oldest daughter Mo’Nae was not at all, whatsoever, fond of this whole walking thing. She didn’t get it and wasn’t trying to. She found no excitement in it at all. She’s a size 2 today, but then she was a chunky, chubby baby who acted as though her weight hindered her from doing much of anything. She wasn’t one of those children who pulled up on the furniture, or crawled out of the crib, or one who would make effort to stand on shaky legs and give this whole walking thing a shot. In fact, I thought I’d help her get motivated. Now, as my disclaimer, for many of you, you are going to consider this some form of child abuse. You see I walked to the store, and on the way back, I decided to sit her down on the ground and start walking away. My stupid assumption was that she would cry a little but then try to get up and come after me. Needless to say, that chubby, stubborn kid sat right there, unfazed in the least. She didn’t move, didn’t even try to, didn’t cry, didn’t reach, made absolutely zero attempts to walk. She just sat there, waiting for me to come back and pick her up and keep on carrying her. And sadly, I most certainly did.

However, my youngest daughter Ashley, was a different story altogether! I thought this kid had super-natural powers! She would pull up on anything, crawl out of anywhere. She wouldn’t sit still! She learned to walk so early, and so fast, it was amazing. I even took her to the doctor to make sure this was normal baby activity. She refused to stay in one spot. If you blinked, she would be attempting to get up the stairs! She was such a handful, because she was always so motivated to try the next thing. And it never mattered whether she fell or not, hurt herself or not, she wouldn’t let anything stop her. She would just keep going to whatever she deemed the next phenomenal life discovery!

And if you think the difference in these two stopped there, you are mistaken. Because the next thing was baby food. My oldest daughter Mo’Nae, could wait, the youngest Ashley, never could! Oh, and neither was she content with baby food for long. No, she kept following our forks as we put real food into our mouths. She was determined to have some of that right there, right now. And she wasn’t the type of kid that you could trick and give a chicken bone to. If you gave that to her, she would throw it on the ground. She was always looking for meat. She refused to settle for an empty, non-filling bone. She would not be fooled.

Now, the oldest could wait for you to sit with her and feed her. But oh boy that youngest one, she wasn’t even content for long with depending on someone else to feed her. Early on, she was reaching out for food and insisting on feeding herself. She would have food on the floor, in her hair, down her clothes, in her shoes. It didn’t matter, as long as some of it landed into her mouth, and she did it on her own, she was alright!

You see, our oldest could wait, she could be patient, she was in no hurry for anything at all. She has always done her own thing, at her own pace, in her own time. And even if it was different from the rest, she didn’t care, she would never alter who she was or what she did for anyone. She could wait out anything, and has not changed in over three decades.

But that youngest one, oh she crawled for a while, waited to be fed for a while, but we could tell she was impatient with crawling being her only means of transportation and waiting for others as her only means to eat. She really wanted to walk and she did. She wanted to eat her food when she wanted to and she did.

And what does all of this have to do with anything? Simple: A healthy child is never content to stay at the same level, and neither should a healthy child of God! Amazing how our babies and children motivate themselves to the next level, but we bible-toting, bible-believing, bible-quoting children of the Father are always stuck at a stagnant, stunted growth stage!

Unfortunately, too many of God’s children have reached a particular level of growing up in Jesus and they have just settled down there. You see, they don’t feed themselves much spiritually. They depend largely on others feeding them. They have no personal devotion time, no time in which they read the Word of God for themselves. No, instead they wait around for the latest fad-preacher to spoon-feed them sugar instead of handing them a knife and fork for some meat! So many children of God don’t even attend Sunday School (which I never understand how you skip foundational teaching); nor do they attend Bible Study (how do you stay healthy if you’re not eating the Word of God, in a consistent, private and public setting?)

Then, you have those children of God who think spiritual crawling is just fine, maybe because most of the Christians they know are stuck in the crawling stage themselves. You know, those who’ve been saved 40 years, in leadership 30 years, yet still going around in the same immature circles for 20?! At what point to realize you’ve been in this same place, with these same people, doing all the same stuff for years, and nothing has made a bit of difference in your life yet?!

Makes me think of my youngest daughter, because as her parent, just like any other parent; I was happy my daughter wasn’t content to stay where she was. She was always restless for more. Once she out-grew something, there had to be something else, and she’s still like that to this very day.

Truth is, I would have every reason to be very concerned if she was content to stay at a level that was below where she was meant to live! Could that be how your Heavenly Father feels about you?

Imagine how ridiculous it would look if at the age of 30, I’m still tying her shoes, spoon-feeding her, picking out her clothes and dressing her, carrying her around, pulling out baby wipes to clean her face, changing her diaper, heating her bottles. Are you seeing how foolish this imagery is? Now, if she suffered from some disorder or disability, we could all understand this type of behavior, dependence, helplessness, and neediness. But since she doesn’t have any, this would be utter insanity on her part and mine! And before you agree, make sure that this imagery isn’t descriptive of you!

Come on now, let’s be real about it: Are people still carrying you, babying you, spoon-feeding you, supporting you, wiping your tears and snot, and trying to protect you from every known danger in all of the world, because clearly you don’t know how to defend yourself? If that is you, this is your personal devotional, STOP CRAWLING, GET UP AND WALK!

The writer of Hebrews challenged believers who he said “ought to be teachers” by this time but instead were still needing someone to “teach you the elementary truths of God’s Word all over again.” He told them to “leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity” (Hebrews 5:12; 6:1). The Message Bible says it like this: “So come on, LET’S LEAVE THE PRESCHOOL FINGER-PAINTING EXERCISES ON CHRIST AND GET ON WITH THE GRAND WORK OF ART. GROW UP IN CHRIST! The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on “salvation by self-help” and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we’ll stay true to all that. BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE. LET’S GET ON WITH IT!” (Hebrews 6:1-3 MSG)

My favorite part? “…BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE. LET’S GET ON WITH IT!” I Agree! Let’s be real, who wants to be in the exact same place August 13, 2020, that they were in on August 13, 2019? Or for many of us, August 13, 1999; 1989; 1979; 1969; 1959; 1949, for that matter?! People of God, There’s So Much More! More to Mature Into! Our prayer lives should be more, our bible study should be more, our faith, hope and trust in God should be more. We should have more stability by now. More strength by now. More courage by now. More forgiveness by now. More bounce back ability by now. More focus by now. In the words of Paul, “…BY NOW YOU SHOULD BE…”

So, maybe the question you need to ask yourself today is, “BY NOW, WHERE SHOULD I BE…THAT I’M NOT?” And your follow-up question? “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT…STARTING TODAY?!”

And how about we take our honesty just a little further? When are you going to stop complaining about your marriage, and do more to fix it? When are you going to stop fussing about your children, and do more to help them get on with life (even if that’s a swift kick in the behind, and right out the nest?!) When are you going to stop talking about your leaders and do more praying for them instead? When are you going to stop gossiping about that auxiliary and do more to make it better? When are you going to stop begging people for money and do more interviewing to simply get a job and save your own money? When are you going to stop nagging about that house, that apartment, that car, that tuition, those bills, and do more to improve them? Complaining, fault-finding, blaming, pointing fingers, whining, nagging, even crying will not help the situation. It’s time to “…GET ON WITH IT!”

Learn to cook, clean, do laundry and pay bills on time. Get out of debt. Finish school. Get a job. Take better care of your own health. Move. Relocate. Change your conduct, speech, and attitude. In other words, stop crawling around crying and get up and walk! Walk to the interview, walk to the bank, walk to the counselor, walk to the gym, walk to the real estate. Get up and actively do something more to make your life better! You’ve been crawling around in this crib of life long enough. Even babies grow out and grow up, what’s your excuse?

You’ve been at this stage long enough. Challenge yourself, stretch yourself, and most of all, be honest with yourself, that you are not doing your very best. Today is a great day to give it everything you’ve got! Get up, get out, get on with it and get more!

In Philippians 3, beginning with verse 12, we hear what a healthy child of God wants. Remember, this was written by the Apostle Paul, maybe the most powerful Christian of all time. But still he says, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.The Message Bible says it like this: I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (MSG)

Maybe you’ve been coasting at the same spiritual speed for a while; you’ve been content with mediocrity – still crawling, still on milk. But now it’s time for you to get restless with remaining the same. Paul said, “I press on to TAKE HOLD…” It’s time for you take hold and get a handle on your life, and start making some gear shifts! It’s time for you to say with Paul “…I’M OFF AND RUNNING, AND I’M NOT TURNING BACK.” No more diapers, milk, pacifiers, bibs, bottles, formula, and crawling. No, it’s time for Maturity not Mediocrity! And by no means wait until January 1, 2021 to determine you’re going to shift gears from crawling to walking, no, adhere to the Bible’s admonishment: Proverbs 27:1, “Never boast about tomorrow. You don’t know what will happen between now and then.” (GNT). The Easy Read Version says it like this: “Never brag about what you will do in the future; you have no idea what tomorrow will bring.” (ERV) And then over in James 4:13-15 we read: “Look here, you people who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to such and such a town, stay there a year, and open up a profitable business.” How do you know what is going to happen tomorrow? For the length of your lives is as uncertain as the morning fog – now you see it; soon it is gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we shall live and do this or that.” (TLB). Therefore, stop making the same empty promises and resolutions to yourself and everybody else about the change you’re going to make at the stroke of midnight on December 31! Instead, start NOW, this moment! You have no idea how much time you have left, but you do know how much time you’ve already wasted that you can’t get back! So no more procrastination; no hesitating; no straddling the fence; no waiting until the New Year. No you’ve been waiting around long enough, get up now and start walking in it for real, right now! This is NOW the Moment for you to finally Walk Into Maturity!

That word “Maturity” is defined as “fully grown or developed”. Its Latin Origin “maturus” literally means “timely, ripe.” And that should describe you, by now, don’t you think?! When something is “ripe” it means it’s “fully matured; having reached a fitting time; advanced; full”. If that doesn’t describe you, edit your life so you can edit your description. You are no longer a babe in Christ, so stop crawling and crying and get up and walk in maturity!

The word “Mediocrity” is defined as “of only average or fairly low quality”. Which reminds me of Colossians 3:22-25, “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. DO YOUR BEST. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does SHODDY WORK will be held responsible. BEING A FOLLOWER OF JESUS DOESN’T COVER UP BAD WORK.” (MSG) As believers, we don’t do shoddy or bad work, everything we do, we do to our Best ability! And that includes the life and lifestyle in which we live. Be it public or private our life and lifestyle should always exemplify excellence! Mediocrity should never even be found in our vocabulary!

When complacency, procrastination, familiarity, laziness, slothfulness, mediocrity and anything stagnant presents itself to you, remember who you are: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9 AMP)

Did you catch that? “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you…”

Nothing About That Sounds Like Mediocrity! You Have a Responsibility to Your Royalty!

Today, this devotional was sent to remind you that you’ve been living far beneath your rights and privileges as a Child of God. And now that you know better, do better! James 4:17, “So any person who KNOWS what is right to DO but does NOT do it, to him it is SIN.” (AMP) So, stop begging, bargaining, pleading, and crawling. Get up and walk! Whatever you don’t have, get up and go get it! No excuses! Today is your day of motivation to make changes in your life for the better. And if that means you have to change some people, places and things, do so. If it or they are not making you better, get rid of them before they make you worse! Keep a circle of people who push you, pull you, charge and challenge you. You need those who refuse to accept that where you are is as far as you can go. You need people who put their foot in your back and propel you out of your comfort zone. You need people who make you pick up tools and start building instead of just looking at the blueprint. You need people who act like a nightmare to wake you from your daydream to get you to live your actual dream! You need those who call you on the carpet no matter what. You need those who will tell you, to your face, enough is enough. Get up, grow up and get on with life! Don’t settle for flattery of speech, don’t settle for those who say they understand your short-comings, struggles, and strongholds. Don’t settle for those who will carry you so long they actually cripple you. Don’t settle for those spoon-feeding you riches, when they should motivate you to feed on repentance. You’ve been at this stage, on this level, for far too long! Enough is indeed enough. Stop leaning, and walk; stop crawling, and walk; stop letting people carry you, and walk; stop being propped up and walk, stop waiting for everybody else to do it for you, and do it yourself. How much more of your time, ability and life are you really willing to waste?

Today is your day to move from Mediocre to More! Remember the Word of God: “So come on, LET’S LEAVE THE PRESCHOOL FINGER-PAINTING EXERCISES ON CHRIST AND GET ON WITH THE GRAND WORK OF ART. GROW UP IN CHRIST. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on “salvation by self-help” and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we’ll stay true to all that. BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE. LET’S GET ON WITH IT!” (Hebrews 6:1-3 MSG)

By the end of this year, don’t let your resolutions be the same unfilled ones you made last year. Don’t get stuck!

HERE May Be Comfortable, But THERE Is Calling You!

If you want to Walk into More, you have to Crawl out of Less!

Today, Get Up, and Get There! STOP CRAWLING, GET UP AND WALK!

Today, Shift Your Appetite From Milk to Meat! It’s Time to Mature to a New Level!

“Spiritual maturity isn’t measured by how high you jump in praise, but how straight you walk in obedience.” (Author Unknown)

“Spiritual maturity is not reached by the passing of the years, but by obedience to the Will of God.” (Oswald Chambers)

“Maturity in the Christian life is measured by only one test: how much closer to His character have we become?” (Elyse Fitzpatrick)

“Every season of your life is valuable because God does not waste anyone’s time. Every season is necessary for our growth, our pruning, our maturity and preparation for our calling.” (Lisa Osteen Comes)

“We shouldn’t focus on the doors that God closes. Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Change means growth.” (Author Unknown)

“When God Wants You to Grow, He Makes You Uncomfortable.” (Author Unknown)

“Growing closer to God is not the result of trying harder, but of surrendering more.” (Author Unknown)

“Change is a part of life. Be open to change, because that’s God opening the door to growth in your life.” (Author Unknown)

“God allows difficulties, inconveniences, trials, and even suffering to come our way for a specific purpose. They help develop the right attitude for the growth of patience.” (Billy Graham)

“Spiritual maturity is a lifelong pursuit. We grow in spiritual maturity moment by moment, day by day, year by year.” (Jim George)

“Spiritual maturity is not a matter of years or time, it’s just a matter of your connection with the Lord and His Word, and your obedience and your humility.” (Author Unknown)

“Maturity is the ability to think, speak and act your feelings within the bounds of dignity. The measure of your maturity is how spiritual you become during the midst of your frustrations.” (Samuel Ullman)

“One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others.” (David A. Bednar)

“God’s Word is the living seed that brings new birth. It is the milk that nurtures the new life of a young Christian and the meat that builds the muscle of a mature believer.” (Colin S. Smith)

“Bible study is the metal that makes a Christian. This is the strong meat on which holy men are nourished. This is that which makes the bone and sinew of men who keep God’s way in defiance of every adversary.” (Charles Spurgeon)

“Our spiritual maturity will never exceed our knowledge of the Bible.” (Albert Mohler)

“Biblical convictions are essential for spiritual growth and maturity. What is ironic today is that people often have strong convictions about weak issues (football, fashion, etc.) while having weak convictions about major issues (what is right and what is wrong)?” (Rick Warren)

“A spiritual mature person prioritizes work before play, love over lust, and character over charm.” (Pastor Paul Sheppard)

“Maturity comes when you stop making excuses and start making changes.” (Author Unknown)

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

Feel free to also join us at: http://www.selfcarewithdrshermaine.blogspot.com Today’s Lesson: “Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home”

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“Don’t Judge My Character When You Don’t Know My Story”

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“…What’s the STORY behind these ruins?” (1 Kings 9:6-9 MSG)

“I’m on the edge of losing it – the pain in my gut keeps burning. I’m ready to tell my STORY of failure…” (Psalm 38:17-20 MSG)

Anybody that knows me, knows how much I love dogs! In fact, if I wasn’t so busy, I’d have a dog right now! You see, I’ve had them ever since I was a baby. Every breed, every size! And those that know me best, know that German Shepherds have always been my favorite dog, since my favorite childhood dog was a German Shepherd named “Captain.” Every time I see a dog, whether walking down the street or if I’m in the car or on the bus, I instantly turn into a 5 year old screaming, “daddy can I have him?” In a nutshell: I Love Dogs!

However, I’ve never met a pup quite like my friends Yorkie “Bella”. You see, Bella wasn’t very easy to get to know. She was such a cutie pie though! So little, so adorable, but not approachable at all! In my experience, most dogs run up to you when you come to the door, even if you’re a stranger, and they’re usually all over you. But Not Bella! She ran the other way and cowered in the corner! No matter how gentle, or how friendly you were to her, it didn’t matter. As soon as she saw someone coming, she ran in the opposite direction! She refused to come out of her corner for anybody! Strange dog,” I thought. However, that was until my girlfriend explained that Bella had been terribly abused by her first owners. So, when she saw people, she saw pain.

You couldn’t understand the way Bella ACTED, until you knew her STORY. Believe it or not, but people are like that, too.

You watch how they act, how they treat people, you see the bad attitude they have, and you say, “I don’t know what her problem is, but I don’t have to deal with her foolishness! I don’t know why he woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but I will not be treated like I was his aggravating alarm clock that disturbed his beauty sleep! Or, you respond with the same garbage they just dished out to you. So often we judge people with little, distorted or no information at all! We see what they do, and assume that’s who they are. But rarely is that ever the case.

I’ve discovered that the “make a difference” people in this world, the healers, are the ones who never forget this critical issue in dealing with people: YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND THE WAY THEY ACT, UNTIL YOU KNOW THEIR STORY! AND EVERYBODY’S GOT A STORY!

I remember discovering how wrong I had been about some of the women in my leadership group, AFTER many of them poured out their hearts at our women’s retreat. Late into the night, people you thought you knew, revealed the pain in their background. Some of the women who were “distant” were physically, mentally, verbally, and sexually abused. Some of the women who had “bad attitudes” actually suffered from varying mental illnesses (such as depression). Some of the women who “dogged men out“, were in relationships that treated them like property instead of like a person. Some of the women who didn’t like to be a “part of our social gatherings“, were actually ex-alcoholics, and although our events had no alcohol at them, for them, just being in a place with a lot of people, laughing, joking, having fun, listening to music, all gave them urges to need a drink (since that was mostly the settings when they did drink). They were simply trying to avoid the triggers that have shot them in the past!

In other words, suddenly the lights went on and I said, “So that’s what I’ve been seeing all these years! It had nothing to do with their personality, just their personal, private, painful past.I felt bad that I had been responding to them based on their deeds, and never considered the needs behind those deeds.

Reminds me of parenting my children as babies. I had my oldest daughter at 17 and my youngest at 19, so I wasn’t exactly the most patient, understanding or experienced parent! I could deal with them crying because they were hungry or wet, but it was those times when they would cry, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what they were crying about, that drove me nuts! There were times I would cry because I couldn’t figure out why they were crying. Panic attacks would set in, depression would be overwhelming…and then my mom would come in the room, pick them up, close my door, and take them to her room. I guess some “motherly sixth-sense” would kick in and she would know when to come to my rescue. I remember feeling so discouraged, inadequate, and like a down-right poor excuse of a mother, because I couldn’t figure out why my children were crying. Me and mom had a little chat not long after those early days, and she said, “every cry has a story behind it, some chapters are quick and you find out right away, but then some you have to wait it out until chapter 40 before you figure it out. Either way, every cry has a story behind it.” I have no idea what made me recall that today, but that’s what brought out this devotional.

And the truth is, there are some people that we come into contact with on a daily basis (in our homes, churches, work, school, supermarket, laundromat, hair and nail salon etc…) that are “crying”. But unfortunately, we get so frustrated because we don’t know why they’re crying that we simply ignore the cry, or wait for someone else to come and pick them up and figure it out. I can’t even imagine the amount of people who have left our churches because they were “crying” and no one took the time and patience to figure out why. We were so busy being frustrated by the “noise” of their behavior, attitude, ways, and words, that we didn’t listen for the story behind the act of ‘crying’.

Problem is, we’re too busy reacting, instead of listening. Which brings to mind Ephesians 4, beginning with verse 29. He says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their NEEDS, that it may benefit those who listen” (NIV).

Let’s, as my custom, view this verse in a few translations, shall we?:

“Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the NEED and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].” (AMP);

“Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is NEEDED for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say.” (CEB);

“When you talk, don’t say anything bad. But say the good things that people NEED—whatever will help them grow stronger. Then what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you.” (ERV);

“Don’t say anything that would hurt another person. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is NEEDED. That way, what you say will help those who hear you.” (GWT);

“Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is NEEDED, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” (GNT);

“Watch your talk! No bad words should be coming from your mouth. Say what is good. Your words should help others grow as Christians.” (NLV)

In other words, don’t say things that will tear a person down, only things that will build that person up! Why? Because you’re focusing on their NEEDS, not their DEEDS! The word “need” is defined as “something required because it is essential or very important; expressing necessity or obligation; circumstances in which a thing or course of action is required.” And despite what their deeds may have been, there were needs that they stemmed from (if only we would take the patience and time to figure them out).  And according to Scripture and the very definition of the word “need”, this is what God is requiring of us, as essential for them.

Listen: Whether that person is your child, your spouse, your parent, your friend, your coworker, or someone at church, they’re response is more about their need than their deed. And no matter what their response, your reaction is to meet their need! You are to love them enough to listen to their story until you can find the chapter their stuck in that needs and requires your help. Are you obligated to do that? Absolutely! “You are your brother/sisters keeper!John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.” (AMP) The Message Bible says it like this, “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (vss. 34-35 MSG). Then 1 John 4:20-21, declares, “If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.” (MSG)

And no matter how badly they’ve Acted, you have to love them enough to hear their Story, and be concerned enough to help them write a new Chapter! You can’t love God and not love people! God Himself calls you a liar!

Listen: If you knew their story, you’d understand that many have been made to feel worthless much of their life. So they make choices based on the fact that they’re viewed as trash by some (especially those closest to them). And that’s one of the hardest battles to be won, is helping a person get past their past, and to forget what they keep recalling. You have to love them Forward! Your love for your brothers/sisters needs to be progressive (which is defined as, ‘proceeding gradually or in stages; engaging in or constituting forward motion’)! They will never get to where they need to be if they remain stuck where they are. And sometimes that means we have to be their “pen” of inspiration. When they feel the horror story is how it ends, we need to step up to the “desk” and say “oh no it’s not! There’s another chapter in you and we’re going to write it out!They need to know that their character doesn’t die here; this is not the final chapter; the story is not over!

No Matter How They ACT, You Are Responsible to Stay In CHARACTER! Never ACT Out of CHARACTER!

Now, if we’re being honest here, we’ve all been in situations where we wanted to (and some of us did), treat other people the same way they treated us! After all, no one smiles at the person they held the door open for, and when they walk through they never parted their lips to say thank you. No one is happy about a person they’ve helped, that treats them harshly in return. But does that give you reason, justification, license or excuse for us to Act out of Character? Absolutely Not! Ephesians 4:26-27, “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” (MSG); Then Matthew 18:21-22 shares, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when someone won’t stop doing wrong to me, how many times must I forgive them? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive them more than seven times. You must CONTINUE to forgive them even if they do wrong to you seventy-seven times.” (ERV); [By the way, that wonderful word “continue” is defined as “to persist in an activity or process; to remain in existence; to carry on with; to carry on traveling in the same direction.” Its Latin Origin “coninuare”, from “continuus” literally means “uninterrupted.” So no matter their response or reaction, you have to CONTINUE to forgive them, with no interruptions!]

1 Peter 3:9, “and never return evil for evil or insult for insult [avoid scolding, berating, and any kind of abuse], but on the contrary, give a blessing [pray for one another’s well-being, contentment, and protection]; for you have been called for this very purpose, that you might inherit a blessing [from God that brings well-being, happiness, and protection].” (AMP);

Romans 12:17-19, “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” (MSG);

And My Personal Favorite: Matthew 5:38-42, “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.” (MSG)

Are You Getting This?! Your Only Reaction to Their Response is Love!

You have to step in their shoes, after all, that’s what Intercessors do. They fill the gap, step in the middle, carry a load that’s killing somebody else! And truth is, maybe their story includes some awful hurt that has turned them hard, just so they won’t get hurt anymore. Maybe there’s some morally dark chapters in their past that can make them critical and legalistic today because they hate what they used to be. They may wound because they’ve been wounded. Remember: “Hurt People, Hurt PeopleSomewhere behind the way they act is a story of a perfectionist parent, trust lost because of abuse, the absence of a father’s love, abandonment, failure, tragedy and the like. So stop judging their story, intercede instead, and simply help them to write a new chapter!

Stop concerning yourself with what they’re drinking; what they’re smoking; how long they’ve been fornicating; how many tattoos and piercings they have; why the marriage ended; why they didn’t finish school; why they left that church; why they dress the way they do; or why do they have 5 kids with 3 baby daddies! Concern yourself more-so with helping them to write their next chapter, instead of being stuck re-reading their last one!

The Bible is clear, “…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31 NIV) Which for many of us, that has been our response to their deeds. But instead, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ in God forgave you.” (vs. 32 NIV) That’s how we’ll respond if we operate, trying to understand there are needs beneath those deeds; there’s a history behind those hang-ups.

One thing I can tell you from a lot of years of learning what’s really inside people – when a person is hardest to love, they need your love the most! And that’s when you ask Jesus to release His love through you because your love just isn’t enough. React to their bad attitude or their bad treatment, and you can be just another person who just wounds an already wounded person more. Respond with the mercy and the grace and the compassion you received from Jesus and you can be part of healing that wounded person. Everybody’s got a story, and you can help write a new chapter.

Remember the opening text: “…What’s the STORY behind these ruins?” (1 Kings 9:6-9 MSG) Everybody has a story behind their ruins! So don’t be so quick to respond and react! James 1:19, “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving];” (AMP) If that be our reaction, maybe, just maybe, their response will be our other opening text: “I’m on the edge of losing it – the pain in my gut keeps burning. I’m ready to tell my STORY of failure…” (Psalm 38:17-20 MSG) No one wants to talk to someone that’s not listening. How about today be the day we stop lashing out at the way they act, and simply listen to their story?

Remember this: “…But that’s not the end of it. There’s MORE to this STORY.” (Daniel 11:27 MSG)

Likewise, there’s more to their story as well, and it will be a beautiful best-seller, if only you’ll listen and not judge their story, then let your response and reaction be, “Let Me Help You Write a New Chapter!”

“Everybody’s got a story to tell. The only problem is finding a person that will listen…and care.” (Author Unknown)

“Every single person on the planet has a story. Don’t judge people before you truly know them. The truth might surprise you.” (Author Unknown)

“Everyone has a story. It might or might not be a love story. It can be a story of dreams, friendship, hope, survival or even death. And every story is worth telling. But more than that, it’s worth living.” (Savi Sharma)

“Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone is a writer, some are written in books and some are confined to hearts.” (Savi Sharma)

“Before you judge my life, my past or my character, walk in my shoes. Walk the path I have traveled, live my sorrows, my doubts, my fears, my pain and my laughter. Remember, everyone has a story. When you’ve lived my life then you can judge me.” (Pinterest)

“Don’t judge people for the choices they make when you don’t know the options they had to choose from.” (Pinterest)

“Do not judge my story by the chapter you walked in on.” (Author Unknown)

People of God: “Don’t Judge Their Character, Before Hearing Their Story!”

Matthew 7:2, “For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.” (AMPC)

Galatians 6:1-5, “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. Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” (MSG)

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

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“I’ve Fallen…BUT I WILL Get Up!”

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Micah 7:8, “My enemies, don’t be glad because of my troubles! I MAY HAVE FALLEN, BUT I WILL GET UP; I may be sitting in the dark, but the Lord is my light.” (CEV)

Truth is, I’m not a big fan of the Olympics, but every now and then I catch them and always manage to learn something from them (either natural or spiritual). And one of my absolute favorite lessons was the final event of the men’s gymnastics competition in the 2004 Athens Olympics. American Paul Hamm’s hopes for the gold medal seemed to come crashing down. He made a lopsided landing and actually toppled into the judges’ tables. That gave him a disappointing 9.137 score that virtually doomed his chances for a first place finish. After some moments of what he described as “depression,” he decided to fight back with what would have to be the best two performances of his life, just to win the bronze!

Paul took a deep breath and he began to move powerfully through the air with a routine that was filled with technical challenges. It was a nearly perfect performance with a solid landing at the end. His score: 9.837. At first, he didn’t know what that meant in terms of a medal. Then he heard his coach screaming, “Olympic champion!The gold medal was his!

Paul Hamm messed up, but he didn’t give up! He fell down, but he didn’t stay down! And Neither Should You!

Maybe that’s a picture of you, or it’s going to be a picture of you because you’ve messed up. You’ve made some mistakes. You’ve experienced making some bad choices and worse decisions. You’ve failed. You’ve fallen. And truth is, that failure could be final, but only if you let it be! In other words, you can get up and make a defiant comeback at any moment in which you CHOOSE to! Which is exactly what the devil is counting on you NOT Doing! He got you down, and he’s hoping you’ll be so discouraged, so defeated, you’ll give up and stay down. But this is your day to say, “Not a chance Satan! In my weakness, and in His strength, I will make a comeback!

And that kind of comeback defiance is powerfully expressed in Micah 7:8: “Do not gloat over me, my enemies! FOR THOUGH I FALL, I WILL RISE AGAIN. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.” (NLT)

Let’s look at this in a few translations:

“Enemy, don’t laugh at me. I HAVE FALLEN, BUT I WILL GET UP AGAIN. I sit in the shadow of trouble now, but the Lord will be a light for me.” (NCV);

“Don’t, enemy, crow over me. I’M DOWN, BUT I’M NOT OUT. I’m sitting in the dark right now, but God is my light.” (MSG);

“Our enemies have no reason to gloat over us. WE HAVE FALLEN, BUT WE WILL RISE AGAIN. We are in darkness now, but the Lord will give us light.” (GNT);

“I have fallen, but enemy, don’t laugh at me! I WILL GET UP AGAIN. I sit in darkness now, but the Lord will be a light for me.” (ERV)

You see, sometimes you have to learn how to speak up for yourself and talk to the devil at the same time! Truth is, I HAVE FALLEN! However, that’s nothing more than a mere fact. And for some of us, if we’re to be completely honest, OUR FALL WAS NOT ACCIDENTAL! Let’s be real, the sin in our lives is not new! We are repeat offenders against God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness! Either we puffed again; drank again; had an affair again; lied again; gossiped again; stole again; cussed again…the bottom line, WE DID IT AGAIN…DELIBERATELY! And when you learn how to acknowledge and admit your Sin for what it really is, you’ll begin traveling down the right road to recovery!

One of the worse things you can do is to ACT LIKE YOU DON’T SIN! None of us is sinless! Not even on our best day, dressed in our best attire, hanging around the best people, on our best behavior… still Sin is ever present in us! So, if you want to do something to help yourself get up, be honest that no one knocked you down in the first place (MANY OF US DELIBERATELY LAID DOWN!) So step one, BE REAL WITH YOU! Step two, BE REAL WITH OTHER’S (after all, we ALL have our OWN sin and some of that sin is the identical twin to yours…in a nutshell, we’re in no position to judge!) Third, BE REAL WITH THE ENEMY! See, you have to remember who Satan is!

Revelation 12:10, “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom (dominion, reign) of our God, and the authority of His Christ have come; for the ACCUSER of our [believing] brothers and sisters has been thrown down [at last], he who ACCUSES them and keeps bringing charges [of sinful behavior] against them before our God day and night.” (AMP)

That’s Satan and his job description all rolled up into one! He is an Accuser who does nothing but Accuse! And the Scripture even goes so far as to say he does this day and night. Isn’t that just like an enemy to bad mouth you day in and day out as though it were a full-time job that they received a paycheck, bonus and increase from?!  

Now, that word “Accuser” is defined as “to blame (someone) for something wrong or illegal; to say that someone is guilty of a fault or crime; to condemn; criticize; damn; denounce; prosecute, implicate; impeach; indict; defame.” It’s Middle English, from Anglo-French “accuser” from Latin “accusare” which means “to call to account”. It’s the combination of “ad” and “causa”, which together mean “lawsuit.” And that’s what the enemy attempts to do to us daily, accuse us of wrong doing day and night. He wants to prosecute us and condemn us and bring us up on lawsuit charges of guilt. But I love the Word of God!

Romans 8:1, “Therefore there is now NO CONDEMNATION [NO GUILTY VERDICT, NO PUNISHMENT] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior].” (AMP)

That’s one of those Scriptures the enemy hopes you will never read, never learn, never memorize, and certainly never apply! Why? Because, when you admit your wrong before God, the enemy can accuse night and day, and still for the believer, THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION! And that word “condemnation” is defined as, “to express complete disapproval of; to sentence to a punishment, especially death; to endure something unpleasant; to officially declare to be unfit for use; to prove the guilt of.” Its Latin Origin ‘condemnare’, from ‘damnare’ literally means ‘to inflict loss.’ The penalty we SHOULD receive, we DON’T! And even though the enemy accuses us before God day and night, and desires that condemnation would ‘sentence us to a punishment especially death’, it’s NOT going to happen! You know why? Because the Bible says, “The thief comes only in order to STEAL AND KILL AND DESTROY. I came that they may HAVE AND ENJOY LIFE, HAVE IT IN ABUNDANCE [TO THE FULL, TILL IT OVERFLOWS]” (John 10:10 AMP) I Reiterate…” THEREFORE THERE IS NOW NO CONDEMNATION [NO GUILTY VERDICT, NO PUNISHMENT] FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS [WHO BELIEVE IN HIM AS PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOR]” Which is why we should never be ashamed to admit our mistakes, bad choices, and even willful sin! Because as Guilty as we are, we still have an ADVOCATE!

1 John 2:1, “My little children (believers, dear ones), I am writing you these things so that you will not sin and violate God’s law. And if anyone sins, we have an ADVOCATE [who will intercede for us] with the Father: Jesus Christ the righteous [the upright, the just One, who conforms to the Father’s will in every way – purpose, thought, and action]” (AMP)

For this very reason, we can always come clean with the mess we’ve made in our fall! So, do not be ashamed to acknowledge, admit, and confess to yourself; to others and even to the enemy, YEP, I have fallen, but I CAN and I WILL get up!

Don’t allow yourself, other’s or even Satan to make you think you have to stay down, because you went down! No, you make a deliberate decision that I will not stay down here! I’ll admit I messed up, and when I do, that will be the strength my legs need to get me back up on my feet!

People of God, never worry about the Accusers when you have an Advocate!

The word “advocate” is defined as, “a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy; a person who pleads a case on someone else’s behalf; to publicly recommend or support.” Its Latin Origin ‘advocare’ literally means ‘to call to one’s aid’. A few synonyms are: ‘apostle; backer; booster; champion; friend; gospeller; herald; high priest; promoter; true believer; white-knight; applauder; cheerleader.’ That’s what our Advocate is for us! He PUBLICLY supports us, pleads for us and comes to our aid! And truth is, there are some people who will ‘say’ they support you…quietly, under their breath; in a corner of a room where no one can see or hear them. But not Jesus! He’s Our Public Advocate! He doesn’t care who sees or hears His support and defense of us, no matter what the charges may be! Now are you understanding why the enemy hates us so much! We’re Guilty; He Accuses Us; Yet Jesus Steps In….”Satan, I Publicly Denounce Their Condemnation!” Which is further reason for you to remind yourself today, “ENEMY, YES, I’VE FALLEN, OH’, BUT I CAN AND I WILL GET BACK UP!”

You see, getting up again, coming back again – that’s a choice, and one you need to make this very day. Serve notice that the devil’s victory is a temporary victory. You’re not staying down! And you know how I know? I’ll tell you!

Micah says in verse 8, “My enemies, don’t be glad because of my troubles! I may have fallen, but I will get up; I may be sitting in the dark, but the Lord is my light.” (CEV) But keep reading, because he doesn’t stop there! He goes on to verse 9: “I have sinned against the Lord. And so I must endure His anger, until He comes to my defense. BUT I KNOW THAT I WILL SEE HIM MAKING THINGS RIGHT FOR ME AND LEADING ME TO THE LIGHT.” (CEV).

In other words, yes I got it wrong, but thank God He can make things right! And yes indeed He will do that even for the likes of someone like me! Listen to the translation:

“I have sinned against the Lord. So I will endure His fury UNTIL HE TAKES UP MY CAUSE AND WINS MY CASE. He will bring me into the light, and I will see His victory.” (GWT);

“We have sinned against the Lord, so now we must endure His anger for a while. BUT IN THE END HE WILL DEFEND US AND RIGHT THE WRONGS that have been done to us. He will bring us out to the light; WE WILL LIVE TO SEE HIM SAVE US.” (GNT);

However, my favorite reads: “Don’t, enemy, crow over me. I’M DOWN, BUT I’M NOT OUT. I’m sitting in the dark right now, but God is my light. I can take God’s punishing rage. I deserve it – I sinned. BUT IT’S NOT FOREVER. HE’S ON MY SIDE AND IS GOING TO GET ME OUT OF THIS. He’ll turn on the lights and show me His ways. I’ll see the whole picture and how right He is. AND MY ENEMY WILL SEE IT, TOO, AND BE DISCREDITED –YES, DISGRACED! THIS ENEMY WHO KEPT TAUNTING, “SO WHERE IS THIS GOD OF YOURS?” I’M GOING TO SEE IT WITH THESE, MY OWN EYES – MY ENEMY DISGRACED, TRASH IN THE GUTTER.” (8-10 MSG)

You see my friends, we’ve all sinned; missed the mark; fallen short of His glory; messed up; fell down, and even laid down! And yet God loves us so, that He will not leave us there! No matter how the enemy accuses and taunts, in the end, our Father will raise His children up again! And worse yet, THE ENEMY WILL HAVE TO WATCH HIM DO IT JUST FOR US! “THEN MY ENEMIES WILL SEE THIS, AND THEY WILL BE COVERED WITH SHAME, BECAUSE THEY ASKED ME, “WHERE IS THE LORD YOUR GOD?” NOW I LOOK AT THEM. THEY ARE TRAMPLED LIKE MUD IN THE STREETS.” (vs. 10 GWT)

How befitting that the enemy that tried to shame you will have to cover his face in shame instead…how befitting that the enemy that tried to get dirt on you will be trampled like mud in the streets instead. The devil’s been trying to use your dirt to bury you in its shame. Well, that’s over and done with as of today! You need to get up; remove whatever junk might bring you down again, and then declare, “Lord, I am going to make the devil sorry he ever messed with me. I’m going to push back the darkness and I’m going to take prisoners away from him! He’s going to be the one who ends up covered with shame!” Can you do it? Sure you can!

You are the walking, talking proof of the grace, the love, and the restoring power of Jesus Christ; who can turn your fall into a mighty testimony for new followers of Christ! That voice that’s telling you, “It’s over. What’s the use? God doesn’t love you after what you’ve done.” That’s the voice of hell, and those are lies! The truth is that according to the Bible, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20). The Amplified Bible says it like this: “But the Law came to increase and expand [the awareness of] the trespass [by defining and unmasking sin]. BUT WHERE SIN INCREASED, [GOD’S REMARKABLE, GRACIOUS GIFT OF] GRACE [HIS UNMERITED FAVOR] HAS SURPASSED IT AND INCREASED ALL THE MORE.” (AMP)

And because of God’s amazing grace, your fall does not have to be final or fatal! You went down, but you’re not staying down! You’re going to come back more of a winner, and more of a warrior than ever before! Just look at Paul Hamm. Can you even imagine how embarrassing it must have been to not only mess up and fall, in the Olympics of all places, but to fall so bad that you fall right into the judges table?! And yet, he went from the Ground to the Gold…AND SO CAN YOU!

Listen, whatever your sin may be, you can recover! Whether it was substance abuse; fornication; adultery; a baby out of wedlock; lying; stealing; cheating; hatred; sowing discord among the brethren, even murder (the Apostle Paul is proof), you can still get back up! Proverbs 24:16, is one of my favorite Scriptures, and here’s why:

“For a just man falleth seven times, AND RISETH UP AGAIN: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” (KJV)

Here’s a few translations:

“For a righteous man falls seven times, AND RISES AGAIN…” (AMP);

“The righteous may fall seven times BUT STILL GET UP…” (CEB);

“Even if good people fall seven times, THEY WILL GET BACK UP…” (CEV);

“Good people might fall again and again, BUT THEY ALWAYS GET UP…” (ERV);

“Don’t interfere with good people’s lives; don’t try to get the best of them. No matter how many times you trip them up, GOD-LOYAL PEOPLE DON’T STAY DOWN LONG; SOON THEY’RE UP ON THEIR FEET, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.” (vss. 15-16 MSG)

You my friend may have fallen, even seven times, and still I reassure you today…YOU’VE FALLEN, BUT YOU CAN AND WILL GET UP…SO GET UP!

“Falling down is an accident; staying down is a choice.” (Pinterest)

“Life has knocked me down a few times. It has shown me things I never wanted to see. I have experienced sadness and failures. But one thing is for sure…I Always Get Up!” (Author Unknown)

“Struggles are required in order to survive in life, because in order to stand up, you gotta know what falling down is like.” (Pinterest)

“I’ve fallen, cried, been angry and afraid. But even when I was hurting, I always found a way to keep going. A strong person never gives up.” (Simple Reminders)

“What defines us is how well we rise after falling.” (Pinterest)

“Falling down is part of life. Getting back up is living.” (Author Unknown)

“Sometimes you fall down, because there is something down there that you are supposed to find.” (Pinterest)

“Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get back up.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

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

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“You Can Stop Hiding Now”

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“…the Lord God called out to the man, asking him, ‘WHERE ARE YOU?” (Genesis 3:9 ISV)

The first recorded question God ever asked was, “[Adam]…WHERE ARE YOU?” And it’s a question you need to stop and ask yourself today: “Where Am I…Honestly?” If you don’t know the answer, or you do, but you don’t like it, then today’s devotional is for you!

When God asked Adam, “Where Are You?” he responded by saying, “I HEARD YOU in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (vs. 10 NIV). The New King James Version says it like this, “…I heard Your Voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I HID MYSELF”  

I find it amazing that USUALLY when we get into trouble, God’s Voice is the Only One We Want To Hear! When we’re sick, in danger, need protection, feel confused, lonely, depressed, discouraged etc…the First Thing We Cry Out Is SPEAK LORD! However, that wasn’t the case with Adam…not when he messed up! And just like Adam, many of us go into HIDING when we mess up! We run away FROM instead of TO the Voice of the Lord! If we could only reach a place of understanding that God is NOT LIKE MAN, we would learn to take our mess to Him instead of trying to hide it from Him (as if that were even possible!)  For even the Psalmist declared:  “Is there ANYPLACE I can go to avoid Your Spirit? To be out of Your sight? If I climb to the sky, You’re there! If I go underground, You’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute – You’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, He even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to You; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to You” (Psalm 139:7-12 MSG)

Sorry Saints, But There Is Absolutely NO Hiding From God! So Give It Up!

He Sees You…All Of You…And Yet, Loves You Still! The Bible says, “Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented Himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. BUT GOD PUT HIS LOVE ON THE LINE FOR US BY OFFERING HIS SON IN SACRIFICIAL DEATH WHILE WE WERE OF NO USE WHATEVER TO HIM.” (Romans 5:6-8 MSG)

He Loved You BEFORE You Did What You Did, BEFORE You Said What You Said, BEFORE You Thought What You Thought! AND HE EVEN LOVED YOU AFTERWARDS! He Simply Loves You…All Of You…Mistakes, Mess and All! So Stop Trying To Hide From Him! Please understand, God is NOT LIKE MAN!

Man will bring it up again; hold it over your head; brow beat you to death with it; belittle you by it…BUT NOT GOD! HE HAS SAID: “If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—HE WON’T LET US DOWN; HE’LL BE TRUE TO HIMSELF. HE’LL FORGIVE OUR SINS AND PURGE US OF ALL WRONGDOING. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of Him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.” (1 John 1:8-10 MSG) Beloved, God Is Ready to Forgive You, Purge You and Clean You of All Wrongdoing! So Why Are You Still Trying To Hide From Him? Isn’t Forgiveness and Cleansing What You Want? Well, You Can’t Get It From Him While Trying to Hide From Him!

Listen To How Much He Loves You: “BUT, I, YES I, AM THE ONE WHO TAKES CARE OF YOUR SINS – THAT’S WHAT I DO. I DON’T KEEP A LIST OF YOUR SINS” (Isaiah 43:25 MSG). Now that’s what you call Simply Amazing! If God, of All People, Doesn’t Keep a List, Why Do You Allow Others, and Yourself, to Keep You Stuck In What You Did, Where You Were, Who You Were With etc…? God Himself Said “…I DON’T KEEP A LIST OF YOUR SINS” So Throw Your List Away, And Throw Away The List Others Keep Trying To Keep On You As Well!

Now, this does Not in any way give you a clean slate just so you can dirty it again, for the Word of God Declares:  “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! NEVER AGAIN LET ANYONE PUT A HARNESS OF SLAVERY ON YOU” (Galatians 5:1 MSG) The Amplified Bible says it like this: “In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off]” (AMP) In other words, He didn’t Redeem You for You to Return to Mess! The Bible says, “As a dog eats its own vomit, so fools recycle silliness” (Proverbs 26:11 MSG) When He Restores You…Don’t Be a Fool and Recycle Your Silly Ways! When He Redeems and Restores You…DON’T RECYCLE YOUR REFUSE! And “Refuse” is defined as “Matter Thrown Away As Worthless” It’s Old French Origin “Refusè” Literally Means “REFUSED”! So Unlike What the Sanitation Department Would Say: I’m Telling You DO NOT RECYCLE! OR BETTER YET, REFUSE THE REFUSE!

I also find it amazing the lengths we will go to in order to “HIDE”! We’ll bury ourselves in work, or get involved in an affair, or build a wall around our hearts, or leave a marriage, leave a job, leave a ministry – anything but face the truth! And that’s not what God wants you to do! After all His Word says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 NLT) So Why “HIDE” From What You Need To Set You FREE?! Truth and Nothing Else will set you free! And whether you are Embraced or Embarrassed by it, as long as you acknowledge it, you will be set free! Some will talk, some will speculate, some will add scenes to your story that were never part of the plot…but THEY are not the focus….You and Your Truth Are! Man Does Not Have a Hell To Put You In Or A Heaven To Keep You Out Of…SO WHY LET THEIR OPINION CARRY SO MUCH WEIGHT?!

REMEMBER, THE BIBLE SAYS: “But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll ALL have to face God, regardless of our conditions. WE will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to US as a result of OUR actions, either good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 MSG) Did You Catch The Bonus In That Scripture?! It says “…WE’LL ALL HAVE TO FACE GOD, REGARDLESS OF OUR CONDITIONS. WE WILL APPEAR BEFORE CHRIST AND TAKE WHAT’S COMING TO US AS A RESULT OF OUR ACTIONS, EITHER GOOD OR BAD” Saints, NO ONE IS EXEMPT FROM ACCOUNTABILITY BEFORE GOD! SO THE NEXT TIME SOMEONE ATTEMPTS TO BRING UP YOUR STUFF…REMIND THEM THAT THEY HAVE A DATE OF ACCOUNTABILITY BEFORE GOD TOO! DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT I DID, WHAT I’M DOING OR WHAT I WILL DO…JUST MIND YOUR OWN STUFF! 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, “Stay calm; MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS; DO YOUR OWN JOB. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts…” (MSG)

IN ADDITION…THE BIBLE SAYS, “So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, WE’RE ALL GOING TO END UP KNEELING SIDE BY SIDE IN THE PLACE OF JUDGMENT, FACING GOD. YOUR CRITICAL AND CONDESCENDING WAYS AREN’T GOING TO IMPROVE YOUR POSITION THERE ONE BIT. Read it for yourself in Scripture: “As I live and breathe,” God says, “every knee will bow before Me; Every tongue will tell the honest truth that I and only I am God.” So tend to your knitting. YOU’VE GOT YOUR HANDS FULL JUST TAKING CARE OF YOUR OWN LIFE BEFORE GOD.” (Romans 14:10-12 MSG)

That’s a Good Spot For a Praise Break! Now, After You Sit Down and Pull Your Neighbor Down, The Lesson Continues:

You see, God wasn’t trying to find Adam; He just wanted Adam to find himself! Yep, that’s it! God Is Simply Trying to Get You To Be Honest About Where You Really Are and What You Really Did! And not so He can hold it over your head, but so you can finally come to full Maturity! After All, Accountability is the Basis of Maturity! You can’t be trusted with More Until You can be trusted to be honest about the Least You Already Messed Up! Yes, You Get a Second Chance…But Do You Realize If You Keep Starting Over…You Never Get Farther Then The Spot You Messed Up In?! Can you imagine your church transitioning every 5 years losing and gaining the same folks like recycling? How is that growth? The same goes for you! You have to Gain Ground Then Establish Your Footing! Psalm 18:33, “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly and tread safely on paths of testing and trouble]; He sets me [securely] upon my high places.” (AMP); Habakkuk 3:19, “The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of challenge and responsibility].” (AMP); 2 Samuel 22:34, “He makes my feet like the doe’s feet [firm and swift]; He sets me [secure and confident] on my high places.” (AMP) God has already done His part in securing our footing on high places, according to the Word of God, so we can confidently walk forward! Therefore, why are we constantly walking backwards or in vicious cycles to nowhere?!

Look at it this way: If you were given a Billion Dollars in your bank account, and had only 5 minutes to get it out and your bank is across the street, but you only run in place…what’s going to happen? The truth is, you were given the blessing, it’s yours, got your name on it, and it’s even in your bank account, and you have the bank card and access code! The only problem? You have to leave where you are and take steps (progress) across the street to attain it! If not, you can’t complain that you never received the blessing…you just didn’t progress in steps to take hold of it! Maturity is the same! You have to gain ground by taking steps towards Accountability for your deeds, words and speech! “Adams”, you have to grow up and not point fingers at Eve! Likewise, let God take care of your haters, gossipers, tale-bearers and the like! You Are Responsible For YOU and Accountable to GOD! That’s What Matters! So Come Out Of Hiding and Be Truthful You! Even If Your “Truthful” Is Painful and Not So Pretty! Until you do that, you’ll remain where you are, running in place and gaining muscle and strength that is applied to absolutely nothing!

Another problem is, when you “HIDE you become a “PHONY”! And the word “Phony” is defined as “To Be a Fraudulent Person”. And “Fraudulent” means “To Be Dishonest”. Going back a bit, remember John 8:32? “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”? People of God, That’s Your Hindrance Right There! Being Phony! Because Being Phony Is Being Fraudulent and Being Fraudulent Is Being Dishonest! And Dishonest Means “Not Honest, Trustworthy, Sincere, or Truthful”! In a Nutshell: Hiding Leads to Phoniness That Causes You To Be Dishonest With Yourself, Others and God! And the Danger of Your Dishonesty Is That It Keeps You From Being Truthful…And Only TRUTH CAN SET YOU FREE! Are You Getting This? UNTIL YOU’RE TRUTHFUL YOU WILL NEVER BE FREE FROM THE TRAPS OF SIN AND DISOBEDIENCE?! And besides that, do you have any idea how much emotional and mental energy it requires of you to keep up a Charade for others? Only two things are worse: being a phony with yourself, and being a phony with God! Furthermore, you’ll find it difficult to be honest with others or look them in the eye. Why? Because you’ll be afraid they might look into your heart and see the real you! Is that where you are today? Afraid to look into your own heart? Or afraid someone else will? 

Well Today, STOP IT! Be Truthful With You, God and Others and then MOVE ON…

Look at it this way: Neither God, Adam, Eve or Even the Serpent Stayed in the Garden After the Fall! There Was Far Too Much of a Story That Had To Continue to Be Lived and Written! Everything Didn’t Stop In the Garden When Adam and Eve Fell, And Your Whole Life Has No Reason To Be Put On Permanent Pause Because of Your Failures or Falls Either! So, Keep Moving! There’s More Story To Tell! The Good News is, Adam was naked but God clothed him; he was guilty but God cleansed him; he was anxious but God comforted him. And if you come to Him today God will cleanse you, clothe you, and comfort you too! He’s just waiting for the opportunity to do it! So when are you going to finally give it to Him?!

Listen: “Hide” means “To Camouflage” and “Camouflage” Old French Origin “Camoufler” means “To Disguise” and “Disguise” means “To Alter In Appearance or Nature So as to Conceal the Identity Of” And that’s what you are doing and allowing others and the enemy to do to you… when you’re in hiding…it Alters and Conceals Your Real Identity In God”. Yes, You Messed Up! Yes, You Got It Wrong! Yes, You Were Disobedient, Sinned and Broke Commandment and Covenant! But Is It Fatal? NO! Your Failure Does Not Make You Illegitimate! You Still Belong to the Body of Christ! You Are Still The Child of the King, Your Father Is Still Enthroned In Heaven, You Are Still An Heir, Joint Heir and Your Inheritance and Your Identity Are Still Your Possessions!

Yes, Adam messed up, but how wonderful to know that he was only the First Adam!

Romans 5:12-21, “You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. BUT ADAM, WHO GOT US INTO THIS, ALSO POINTS AHEAD TO THE ONE WHO WILL GET US OUT OF IT. Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, JUST THINK WHAT GOD’S GIFT POURED THROUGH ONE MAN, JESUS CHRIST, WILL DO! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin AND THIS GENEROUS, LIFE-GIVING GIFT. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; THE VERDICT ON THE MANY SINS THAT FOLLOWED WAS THIS WONDERFUL LIFE SENTENCE. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, CAN YOU IMAGINE THE BREATHTAKING RECOVERY LIFE MAKES, SOVEREIGN LIFE, IN THOSE WHO GRASP WITH BOTH HANDS THIS WILDLY EXTRAVAGANT LIFE-GIFT, THIS GRAND SETTING-EVERYTHING-RIGHT, THAT THE ONE MAN JESUS CHRIST PROVIDES? Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, ANOTHER PERSON DID IT RIGHT AND GOT US OUT OF IT. BUT MORE THAN JUST GETTING US OUT OF TROUBLE, HE GOT US INTO LIFE! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; ONE MAN SAID YES TO GOD AND PUT MANY IN THE RIGHT. All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call GRACE. When it’s sin versus grace, GRACE WINS HANDS DOWN. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. GRACE, BECAUSE GOD IS PUTTING EVERYTHING TOGETHER AGAIN THROUGH THE MESSIAH, INVITES US INTO LIFE—A LIFE THAT GOES ON AND ON AND ON, WORLD WITHOUT END.” (MSG)

In other words ‘Adam’s, the whole world does not cease to exist because you messed up! As long as you have JESUS, there is always recovering grace just waiting to grasp you! No matter how bad or how hard your fall, you don’t have to hide! People of God, You Are the Heritage of the Lord…So Stop Hiding…Come Out And Reclaim Your Proper Place In the Kingdom! Don’t Allow What Happened in YOUR Garden of Eden to Make You Forget What Happened in HIS Garden of Gethsemane! YOU ARE GRACE COVERED…SO DON’T HIDE, BE HONEST, AND BE HEALED!

Jeremiah 23:23-24, “I am everywhere – both near and far, in heaven and on earth. There are no secret places where you can hide from Me.” (CEV)

Job 34:21, “God watches everything we do.” (CEV)

“The person who surrenders absolutely to God, with no reservations, is absolutely safe. From this safe hiding-place he can see the devil, but the devil cannot see him.” (Soren Kierkegaard)

“Ever since the days of Adam, man has been hiding from God and saying, ‘God is hard to find.” (Fulton J. Sheen)

“We cannot hide, deny, or cherish sin and expect the Lord to hear and answer our prayers.” (Dr. Charles Stanley)

“Religion is one of the safest places to hide from God.” (Richard Rohr)

“Our huffing and puffing to impress God, our scrambling for brownie points, our thrashing about trying to fix ourselves while hiding our pettiness and wallowing in guilt are nauseating to God and are a flat denial of the gospel of grace.” (Brennan Manning)

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

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“Unmasking Me”

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Hebrews 4:12-13, “What God has said isn’t only alive and active! It is sharper than any double-edged sword. His Word can cut through our spirits and souls and through our joints and marrow, until it discovers the desires and thoughts of our hearts. NOTHING IS HIDDEN FROM GOD! HE SEES THROUGH EVERYTHING, AND WE WILL HAVE TO TELL HIM THE TRUTH.” (CEV)

I’m not a fan of Halloween, but I learned a lesson from it in a story a friend told. His story goes like this, “I had to stop at a convenience store one Halloween night. I was not “trick or treating” however. I was actually just trying to pay for the gas I put in my car. But that’s when I saw this interesting sign they had posted; it was a sign I had never seen anywhere else before. It simply read, “PLEASE REMOVE YOUR MASK BEFORE YOU ENTER.” However, I wasn’t wearing one. But to be honest, for one brief unhappy moment, I did remember what they used to tell me in school long after Halloween was over, some mean kids would yell, “Hey, Halloween’s over, take off your mask!” I wasn’t wearing one then either (kids can be cruel even when in jest). But the sign in the store was no joke or laughing matter by far. Obviously, they didn’t want someone to try to pull off a Halloween heist, wearing a mask that would conceal their identity from the security cameras. Which is why they were so adamant about no one entering the store that night wearing a mask.”

Well, we both took away the same interesting thought from his experience. We wondered if God feels that very same way about us when we enter prayer. Truth is, I can almost imagine a sign like that one at the store, being displayed at the entrance to the Throne Room of our Almighty God which we enter when we pray: “PLEASE REMOVE YOUR MASK BEFORE YOU ENTER.”

And you know why? Because God is not impressed by our religious words or our religious image. He is not interested in seeing the masks that we sometimes wear around various groups of people. He does not want to hear a recitation of the same tired old prayer script that we often repeat without thinking. He insists that we come as we really are – completely unmasked. You see, YOUR REAL GOD can only help the REAL YOU!

The futility of pretending or masquerading before God is abundantly clear in Hebrews 4, beginning with verse 12. It says: “For the Word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [THE COMPLETENESS OF A PERSON], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, and revealed to the eyes of Him with whom we have to give account.”

In a nutshell, it’s useless to come before God pretending we feel how we’re “supposed” to feel instead of how we really do feel. It’s a waste of time to come with our rationalizations, our excuses and our cover-ups. We are all laid bare before Him! He sees the “COMPLETENESS OF A PERSON”, not a piece, not selected parts, but He sees all of us, our entirety, our complete and whole selves (good, bad, beautiful and ugly), not a piece of us is hidden or concealed from God. Instead we are exposed and revealed to Him! I mean after all, how can you hide any part of yourself from the God who made every part of you?

Psalm 139, “God, investigate my life;
 get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to You; even from a distance, You know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of Your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and You’re there, then up ahead and You’re there, too—Your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in! Is there anyplace I can go to avoid Your Spirit? to be out of Your sight? If I climb to the sky, You’re there! If I go underground, You’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute—You’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, He even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to You; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to You. Oh yes, You shaped me first inside, then out; You formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank You, High God—You’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, You know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, You watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before You, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them! I couldn’t even begin to count them—any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with You! And please, God, do away with wickedness for good! And you murderers—out of here!—all the men and women who belittle You, God, infatuated with cheap god-imitations. See how I hate those who hate You, God, see how I loathe all this godless arrogance; I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred. Your enemies are my enemies! Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for Yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—then guide me on the road to eternal life.” (MSG)

Who, in their right mind, would ever attempt to hide anything from a God who knows them this well? It’s absolutely pointless! And yet, we still come to God in prayer wearing fig leaves! We’re still trying to play cover-up! We’re still trying to hide behind flawed masks.

But, there’s no point in attempting to play dress up when you’re spiritually and emotionally naked before Him anyway! So stop trying! Don’t cover it, dress it, lie about it or attempt to mask it! He knows all, so go ahead and tell it all! Let it go, for good and for real! Be real with Him. He won’t love you any less. I’ve discovered that sometimes we treat God as if He’s like people, and He’s not! He’s not waiting to drop on your head all the sins you’ve ever committed that He’s been holding over your head! He’s not waiting to use the information you share with Him against you. He’s not waiting on stand-by for just the right moment to trip you up. God does not delight in watching His children stumble, fail and fall. He’s waiting with arms open wide for us to run to Daddy and tell Him all about it…so what are you waiting for?

He already knows what’s behind the mask you show everyone else. You can’t and you won’t shock Him, no matter what you have to tell Him. You won’t surprise Him! But you will insult Him by coming to Him as if you’ve got it altogether! Because, if it’s one thing God does not appreciate its Performance! Don’t believe me? Listen to His Word:

Isaiah 1:13-17, “Quit your worship CHARADES. I can’t stand your trivial RELIGIOUS GAMES: Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings – meeting, meetings, meetings – I can’t stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! You’ve worn Me out! I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning. When you put on your next PRAYER-PERFORMANCE, I’ll be looking the other way. No matter how long or loud or often you pray, I’ll not be listening. And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing people to pieces, and your hands are bloody. Go home and wash up. Clean up your ACT. Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings so I don’t have to look at them any longer. Say no to wrong. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.” (MSG)

Now, does anything about that sound like God is interested in attending another Prayer Performance? Absolutely Not! He already knows we’ve got blood on our hands so why do we attempt to come to Him sounding like we’ve been spic-and-span clean all day long? And what’s worse is that He even tells us pray as long and as loud and as often as you like, I Will Not Be Listening! So what’s the point, I ask yet again, aren’t you tired of pretending with God in prayer? Because He’s clearly fed up with our pretense, so much so, that He’s even turned a deaf ear to us! Is that really the relationship you want with Him?

Listen, God desires to talk with us about absolutely anything, however, God operates on an invitation basis. He comes into your life when you open it up to Him. So He’s asking you to check your mask at the door of His Throne Room and come, as the hymn says, “Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me.” That’s the relationship God is looking for. One of sincerity, one that is authentic and real. One without hypocrisy and pretense and performance! And yet, the one He’s getting instead says this in the Bible:

Isaiah 65:1-7, “I’ve made myself available to those who haven’t bothered to ask. I’m here, ready to be found by those who haven’t bothered to look. I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’ to a nation that ignored Me. I reached out day after day to a people who turned their backs on Me, people who make wrong turns, who insist on doing things their own way. They get on My nerves, are rude to My face day after day, make up their own kitchen religion, a potluck religious stew. They spend the night in tombs to get messages from the dead, eat forbidden foods and drink a witch’s brew of potions and charms. They say, ‘keep Your distance. Don’t touch me. I’m holier than thou.’ These people gag Me. I can’t stand their stench. Look at this! Their sins are all written out – I have the list before Me. I’m not putting up with this any longer. I’ll pay them the wages they have coming for their sins. And for the sins of their parents lumped in, a bonus.” God says so. “Because they’ve practiced their blasphemous worship, mocking Me at their hillside shrines, I’ll let loose the consequence and pay them in full for their actions.” (MSG)

You see this is where we find ourselves when God is finally fed up! This is a people that either ignored God, or gave Him a religious performance, or sought after help from everyone and everything else but Him. And as the old saying goes, “even nice people have their limit.” Well, so does God! We love to talk about God’s love, mercy, grace and favor, but you do know He’s also Just? Think about it: If you were in a relationship with someone who never talked to you, shared anything with you and spent no time with you, how much longer would you actually stay in that relationship? How long before you have to say something…do something about it? Well, stop treating God any different. He’s screaming “I’m Right Here”, says the Word of God, and still we either go to the horoscopes, popular preachers, or we go to Him in pretense or we ignore Him altogether. Exactly how much longer do you think God will tolerate this kind of “relationship”, when if this was the treatment you received from a MAN/WOMAN relationship, you wouldn’t dare accept it!

We serve a God who is touchable, available, accessible, so why are we being distant or disguised? He’s waiting in the Throne Room for us to come and visit, what are we waiting for? After all, He only desires that you take off your mask before entering, is that really that hard?

Truth be told, He already knows about the affair, the habit, the addiction, the lie. He knows where you were, who you were with and what you did. So what exactly do you think you can hide from Him? How can you possibly think you can hide what can only be exposed and revealed before Him?

So why not go to Him, honestly, and tell Him that you were jealous, envious, coveting, malicious, angry, bitter, resentful? He knows already, He’s only trying to talk with you to make you better. He understands your failures, your stumbles, even your deliberate sin! And yet with knowing all of that the Scripture goes on to say:

“Inasmuch then as we [believers] have a great High Priest who has [already ascended and] passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith and cling tenaciously to our absolute trust in Him as Savior]. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [KNOWING EXACTLY HOW IT FEELS TO BE HUMAN] IN EVERY RESPECT AS WE ARE, yet without [committing any] sin.  Therefore let us [WITH PRIVILEGE] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and WITHOUT FEAR, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].” (Hebrews 4:14-16 AMP)

He knows exactly how it feels to be human! How can you ask for anymore encouragement than that? He knows, He understands, so you can come to Him Honestly about Anything! You will not catch Him off guard, you will not shock Him, you will not disappoint Him, you will not (and cannot) make Him love you any less, no matter what you tell Him, and that’s Good News! He loves us unconditionally! He doesn’t have hidden agendas and secret motives. He simply loves us His children and wants to Father us. The problem? We won’t let Him!

I’ll tell you this, I entered this New Year a whole lot lighter and only because I got sick and tired of going to God covered up! I was exhausted always trying to find the right words without sharing all of my wrong. I was tip-toeing around the throne room hoping He wouldn’t notice all the detours my feet had made from the path He laid out for my life. I love talking to God, I just didn’t want to take my mask off to do it! I didn’t want Him to see all the mistakes, missteps, mess, and misery! But I determined that going into this New Year my relationship with my Father was going to be better by being real! And I can honestly say I love talking to God now more than I ever have in the past. I mean the real me. All of the real me. The things that scare me, the things that cause me to panic and get nervous and anxious. I tell Him all the things that make me walk in fear. I’ve shared with God all of my insecurities. It honestly amazed me that I was saved for so long, and yet didn’t have a Real relationship with God where I could be naked and not ashamed and tell Him everything! Big things, little things, silly things. It doesn’t matter what it is, the point is I’m His daughter and He’s my Dad and at any given moment He wants to hear from the real me! My prayer life has become more personal, real, and practical. I feel God’s love and see His guidance and hear His compassion. I dropped a lot of weight when I took off my mask before Him! I finally felt safe, protected, and lovingly carried.

Which reminded me of my niece. She got into trouble in school and she had to tell me what happened. I told her, go ahead, tell me (as she stood in front of me). She said, “okay, but can I sit on your lap where it’s safe to talk.” I thought it was funny and adorable. But it also reminds me of how I feel in my prayer life with God now. It’s not standing in the pulpit with the mic and proclaiming an awesome prolific, eloquent, heart-wrenching prayer. Nope, it’s me climbing into my Dad’s lap, where it’s safe to talk, so I can tell Him all that I’ve done wrong so He can help me get it right. If you don’t feel that way when you pray, let this be your admonishment to change that today.

Take your mask off and go to God for real! Pour it all out to Him, He won’t drown in your sorrows and woes I promise you. Nothing you say to Him will take Him under. He can carry it and you. So today, no mask, no cover-up, no disguise, no make-up, no pretense, no performance. Just you, the real you. The at home in pajamas, scarf, no make-up, lounging on the sofa watching television eating ice cream YOU! The one that’s not in hiding, but comfortable in their safe place. God is your safe place. You can take your ugly to Him, and you don’t even have to get pretty to do so! Tell Him the truth about how it and they made you feel; tell Him about the job (or lack thereof); tell Him about the kids, the marriage, the waiting, the loneliness, the money, the depression. Tell Him about the decisions you have to make; tell Him what happened at school, at church, at your friend’s house. Tell Him what happened last night. Tell Him about your hurts, even the ones from decades ago. Tell Him all about your fears and tears. Tell Him about the midnight worries; the overeating; the substance indulgences. Tell Him that you’ve lost your way; that your fire has dimmed to ashes; tell Him about your lukewarm feelings about church; tell Him that you have no idea what your gifts or purpose is.

Sons and Daughters, Your Dad wants you, the real you! So why walk around broken when He’s the mender of all things broken? Give Him your fragments; your pieces; all the chipped parts of your life that look like they’ve been over-due for a make-over long ago! Remove the mask and talk to your Father. No need for an eloquent speech; no need to try to be deep and spooky; no need to speak in ten thousand tongues of fire; no need crawl in fear into the Throne Room; no need to put your ‘church clothes’ on to meet with God; just take YOU, all of YOU, the real YOU to Him! Take Him all of your issues, problems, worries, struggles, complexities. All of it!

Take it to Him, Today, Unmasked, God is Waiting to See and Hear From the Real You!

Luke 12:1-3, “[CAN’T HIDE BEHIND A RELIGIOUS MASK] By this time the crowd, unwieldy and stepping on each other’s toes, numbered into the thousands. But Jesus’ primary concern was his disciples. He said to them, “Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee PHONINESS. YOU CAN’T KEEP YOUR TRUE SELF HIDDEN FOREVER; BEFORE LONG YOU’LL BE EXPOSED. YOU CAN’T HIDE BEHIND A RELIGIOUS MASK FOREVER; SOONER OR LATER THE MASK WILL SLIP AND YOUR TRUE FACE WILL BE KNOWN. YOU CAN’T WHISPER ONE THING IN PRIVATE AND PREACH THE OPPOSITE IN PUBLIC; THE DAY’S COMING WHEN THOSE WHISPERS WILL BE REPEATED ALL OVER TOWN.” (MSG)

Listen: No More Pharisee Phoniness, No More Religious Masks, No More Hidden You! Today is Your Day to be Unmasked and Real! No Act, No Roles, No Lines, No Script, No Performance, No Costumes, Just the Unmasked and Real You!

“Ever since the days of Adam, man has been hiding from God and saying, ‘God is hard to find.’” (Fulton J. Sheen)

“The parts of me I usually like to hide are the very parts where God is working through my life and my story.” (Bonnie Gray)

“Find God – He isn’t hiding from you, you’re hiding from Him.” (Paramahansa Yogananda)

“You can run with a lie but you can’t hide from the truth. It will catch you.” (Author Unknown)

“You can speak with spiritual eloquence, pray in public, and maintain a holy appearance, but it is your behavior that will reveal your true character.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)

“You don’t bring glory or pleasure to God by hiding your abilities or by trying to be someone else. You only bring Him enjoyment by being you.” (Rick Warren)

“Our huffing and puffing to impress God, our scrambling for brownie points, our thrashing about trying to fix ourselves while hiding our pettiness and wallowing in guilt are nauseating to God and are a flat denial of the gospel of grace.” (Brennan Manning)

“In all your course, walk with God and follow Christ as a little, poor, helpless child, taking hold of Christ’s hand, keeping your eye on the mark of the wounds on His hands and side, whence came the blood that cleanses you from sin and hiding your nakedness under the skirt of the white shining robe of His righteousness.” (Jonathan Edwards)

“Christian, that sin which first came between you and God is bad, but that is not the last step in the progress of sin. The most guilty part in this quadruple sin is to hide it, deny it, ignore it, refuse to confess it, refuse to repent of it.” (John R. Rice)

“Don’t hide your scars, wear them as proof that God heals.” (Author Unknown)

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 Your Antidepressants”

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“Let’s Just Kiss and Say Goodbye”

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Ruth 1:14, “Then they wept aloud again; and Orpah KISSED her mother-in-law [GOODBYE]…” (AMP)

One of the great things about being a 70’s baby is great music! My mom and dad were huge on parties and music! One of my dad’s favorite songs (and if he was smart, only I know this and not my mom), was the song, “Kiss and Say Goodbye” by the Manhattans. Here’s the lyrics:

“Kiss And Say Goodbye”: “This has got to be the saddest day of my life. I called you here today for a bit of bad news. I won’t be able to see you anymore. Because of my obligations, and the ties that you have. We’ve been meeting here every day. And since this is our last day together, I wanna hold you just one more time. When you turn and walk away, don’t look back, I wanna remember you just like this. Let’s just kiss and say goodbye. I had to meet you here today. There’s just so many things to say. Please don’t stop me ’till I’m through, this is something I hate to do. We’ve been meeting here so long, I guess what we done, oh was wrong. Please darling, don’t you cry, let’s just kiss and say goodbye. Many months have passed us by (I’m gonna miss you) I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie (I’m gonna miss you) I’ve got ties, and so do you, I just think this is the thing to do. It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie, maybe you’ll meet, you’ll meet another guy. Understand me, won’t you try, try, try, try, try, try, try. Let’s just kiss and say goodbye. (I’m gonna miss you) I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie (I’m gonna miss you) Understand me, won’t you try (I’m gonna miss you) It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie (I’m gonna miss you) Take my handkerchief, wipe your eyes (I’m gonna miss you) Maybe you’ll find, you’ll find another guy (I’m gonna miss you) Let’s kiss and say goodbye, pretty baby (I’m gonna miss you) Please, don’t you cry (I’m gonna miss you) Understand me, won’t you try (I’m gonna miss you) Let’s just kiss and say goodbye.”

Now, the lyrics have nothing to do with Naomi, Ruth and Orpah, but it was indeed a song I heard played so much growing up, that I could swear to someone my parents wrote it! And when I read Orpah during my devotion time, it honestly was the song that popped into my head. I thought, truth is, for some people in our lives, it really is time to simply Kiss and Say Goodbye.

Ruth told Naomi, “where you go I will go.” And to be honest, you can spend your life anywhere with anybody doing anything, then suddenly meet someone and sense that there is a connection between you. It comes so natural that they become a part of your life, attached as permanently as your hand is attached to your arm. It’s what made Elisha quit farming and follow Elijah, an eccentric prophet; it’s why Timothy hung out with Paul, an old man soon to be executed. You know intuitively, “I won’t reach my destiny without you in my life.” Looking back you realize if you hadn’t met that certain person, or taken that phone call, added that Facebook friend, or read that email, you wouldn’t be where you are today. Truth is, so many people in our lives have played such major roles in helping us to become the greater person we’ve become, that it’s hard to even fathom life without them. It’s what kept Ruth attached to Naomi, even at the most miserable of times. Inspite of death, loss, famine, and the struggle to begin again, Ruth stayed. And man did her decision pay off! She meets and marries Boaz, and produces a great seed in Obed. Naomi is provided for and gets a fresh start at life. She can finally leave the “Mara” (bitterness) feelings behind her, a new and great day has indeed come. And all because Ruth remained. And it doesn’t make Ruth good or bad, it’s just that her Character was not finished in the Role it would Play in Naomi’s Story.

On the other hand, “Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye”. Now, Orpah’s leaving didn’t make her a bad person; it just meant her role in the story was over. Likewise, we need to learn how to recognize when somebody’s part in our story is over, otherwise we’ll kill ourselves constantly trying to raise the dead.

David pleaded with God for his newborn baby’s life. 2 Samuel 12:16-17, “David therefore appealed to God for the child [to be healed]; and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.  The elders of his household stood by him [in the night] to lift him up from the ground, but he was unwilling [to get up] and would not eat food with them.” (AMP). But, when the child died, he had to accept that there was nothing more he could do, so he, “…got up from the ground, washed, anointed himself [with olive oil], changed his clothes, and went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he came [back] to his own house, and when he asked, they set food before him and he ate.” (12:20 AMP).

I can tell you from experience, one of the greatest things you can do for your body, soul, spirit, heart, emotions and peace of mind, is to acknowledge when something in your life is over! I learned (and the hard way, might I add), that if God means you to have it, He’ll give it to you.  Psalm 84:11 declares, “For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” (NLT). If you’re supposed to get it, God will give it to you! James 1:17 confirms, “But whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God…” (TLB) The Message Bible says it like this: “So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.” 16-18 MSG). Saints, if it was good for you, perfect for you, desirable for you, or beneficial for you, God would have given it to you! If He hasn’t, trust His decision. He’s a Father who will always do what is in His children’s best interest.

So, if you’ve tried to make it work and it hasn’t, accept His will in the matter. Get up, go to the mall, buy yourself a new outfit, treat yourself out to a good meal; whatever you do, just keep living! Never beg anyone to stay with you against their will, be it a relationship, friendship, or business/ministry partner. Their leaving is no accident; it just means God has something bigger, better and greater in store for you (and possibly them too), so trust Him and move forward!

Sometimes, like it or not, people will leave your life. And there will also be times when you’ll have to make the decision to leave theirs. Listen to this:

Genesis 13:1, “So Abram left Egypt…and Lot was still with him…” (MSG).

Then read Genesis 13:14-17, “After Lot separated from him, 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.” (MSG)

Did you read the good news I read? “AFTER LOT SEPARATED FROM HIM…” then the Bible says, “…GOD SAID TO ABRAM…” After Lot left, God spoke to Abram some of the most awesome promises in Scripture. Literally, nowhere could Abram turn, and not bump into a blessing! North, South, East, and West…Abram Would Be Prosperous! BUT, God only spoke this, AFTER LOT LEFT!

I know it’s hard when the person you love leaves, but sometimes in order for God to give you what He’s had on reserve for you, you have to release them first! Sometimes that will be a family member, a friend, a business associate, a ministry colleague. Sometimes the length of time together will be decades, years, months, weeks, days, or even mere hours, minutes and seconds.  But when God says it’s time to let go, Let Them Go! Will it be easy? Absolutely not! Will it be impossible? Absolutely not! It will hurt, you may cry, you’ll experience regret, but you will continue to live on.

What’s Coming Is Better Than What’s Been. That’s something I need you to hold on to. God’s best for you is not behind you, but before you. However, if you keep holding onto your past, you’ll never be able to grab a hold of the great future God has in store for you.

More people will come, and yes, more people will leave as well. Your life is the ink in God’s pen, He’s the author writing a beautiful story, full of drama, action, suspense, comedy, romance, and the like. But you have to remember that it’s His pen, His story, His characters. You have to learn to be okay with the characters He brings to life, and the ones He allows to die off.

In closing, my favorite time of year is Autumn. I love everything about it! The weather is perfect, the scenery is beautiful, the clothing shifts and has such warm colors, the scents change to more apples, pumpkin, cinnamon, and cocoa. It’s my absolute favorite season! But there’s more to it than that for me. You see, Autumn is also a time when things change, get fickle, and fall off!

Therefore, in your Fall seasons in life, you better prepare yourself to let some shady, fickle folks fall!

And don’t complain when they fall off either! Fall is the season in which things, and people, are supposed to fall off! Can we keep it simple? When leaves fall, we rake ‘em up, put ‘em in a bag, tie it up, and sit it out for the garbage. We do not, however, attempt to pick ‘em up, and put ‘em back on the tree! See, when folks start falling off, you need to rake ‘em, bag ‘em, tie ‘em and put ‘em out for the garbage! Understand that the reason you keep failing your fall exam is because you keep trying to pick ‘em up and put ‘em back!  The key to passing the test is, in the fall, let ‘em fall!

There’s two animals that possess a characteristic I love. And that’s Cats and Dogs. They do something fairly regular, that I’ve learned to do fairly regular myself, they shed. Now, the word “shed” means “to allow to fall off; to discard; to get rid of; to take and cast off”. Its Old English Origin means to, ‘separate or divide’.

See, cats and dogs don’t shed, and attempt to put back on, what fell off! And neither should you! You need to get serious enough about your purpose and accept the fact that anyone that fell down, wasn’t strong enough to hold you up in the first place; anyone that separated, wasn’t faithful enough to remain in covenant; and anyone that divided was subtracted because they couldn’t add or multiply anything worthwhile to your life anyhow! I’m warning you, in the fall, let ‘em fall!

Proverbs 30:25 says: “…they prepare their meat in the summer…” Don’t miss it: They gather in the summer, they drop things that are not a necessity in the fall, so they have what they need, their meat, in the winter! Let me help you, the reason you have nothing in your hands in the winter, is because you gathered everybody in the summer, but you didn’t let none of them non-essential folks go in the fall! And now, in the dead of winter, you have no meat in your hands, cause you still trying to hold up those you should’ve let down! I’m warning you, in the fall, let ‘em fall! 

You’re suffering because you’re trying to carry junk food into a winter season that requires Meat! The Bible says, “…they prepare their MEAT in the summer.” Listen to me real good, your next season Requires MEAT! In the words of the Apostle Paul, “But strong MEAT belongeth to them that are of full age…” (Hebrews 5:14). Your next level is a level of maturity and growth, a level of tenacity and stamina, a level where your childish things have been put away! A level of blessings and promise, a level of break-through’s and victory! But only MEAT is strong enough to sustain you at such a level! Might I give you some valuable advice worthy to be followed? Before your next Promotion get rid of those still wearing Pampers! Before your next Degree get rid of those still Drooling! Before your next Baptism get rid of those still wearing Bibs! Before your next Calling get rid of those still Crying in Cribs! Before your next Revelation get rid of those still shaking Rattles! Before your next Touch get rid of those still Teething, because this next level Requires Those That Can Chew and Digest MEAT! Only MEAT is strong enough to sustain you in the season of winter! Therefore, you’ve got to let some folks go! I’m warning you, in the fall, let ‘em fall! Why? Cause my destiny’s at stake; my calling is on the line; my purpose is trying to press through; my vision is getting clearer and I’m in the 9th month of birthing what’s in my belly! I can’t risk going without in the winter because I didn’t forfeit in the fall! I’m warning you, in the fall, let ‘em fall!

Never allow the Immaturity of your Company to Compromise the Growth of your Calling! 

And be bold enough to tell them the truth! It’s because of where I’m going that I can’t take non-essentials with me. See, when it came time for the sacrifice, it was only between Abraham and Isaac, he told the servants to stay where they were! What’s about to take place don’t involve you! And you need to do the same! Only take those who are essential to the process, provision, promise and promotion of your next season! No non-essentials allowed! 

Well then, just for clarity, who are the non-essentials I can’t take with me? Glad you asked! You can’t take folks still fighting over he said she said nonsense. You can’t take folks still sucking their teeth, rolling their eyes, pointing their fingers and folding their arms! You can’t take folks looking like preaching prostitutes. You can’t take folks who still get provoked into foolishness! You can’t take folks still cussing, crying and complaining! You can’t take folks who fight more than they fast, play more than they pray and worry more than they worship!  

Jealous and envious folks are non-essentials; gossipers and back-biters are non-essentials; lazy sluggards are non-essentials; prayerless, faithless, powerless, wordless folks are non-essentials! Look around today at the company you keep and ask yourself a vital question: Are they non-essentials? Because if they’re non-essentials they can’t go where you’re going! 

Remind yourself: I can only take essential folks because they’re strong enough to handle the winter! They know how to stay on fire when the winds are blowing, the temps are dropping, the rain is freezing and no matter where you go, it’s bitter cold everywhere! You see, winter folks know how to struggle and endure; how to get provision in poverty; how to cry and not quit; how to pause and not give up; how to take a break and not breakdown! Winter folks can handle when it gets dreary, lonely and cold, without becoming desperate, bitter and weak! That’s why they’re essential! You can only take essential folks who understand that your purpose is coming with provision, but it’s coming in the winter! So prepare yourself to let ‘em fall, in the fall!  

Don’t get upset when your Orpah kisses you and says goodbye. It’s her time and season to leave. And you can’t get what’s rightfully yours from God, until she’s left. Make today the day you Kiss and Say Goodbye to your Orpah! The summer will come to a close, then fall will fastly approach and winter will be on its heels! So, begin your spring cleaning TODAY! 

Make sure you make every necessary change in each of the right seasons.

“Some people are going to Leave, but that’s not the End of your Story. That’s the End of their Part in your Story.” (Author Unknown)

“Sometimes you have to accept that people’s part in your story is over.” (Author Unknown)

“The best part about your story is that the next page is blank and you get to write it.” (Chris Butler)

“When people want to go, let them go. Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you, and it doesn’t mean that they are bad people. It just means that their part in your story is over.” (Author Unknown)

“I’m the author of my story and I’m not finished writing yet.” (Author Unknown)

“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.” (Harley Davidson)

“Part of being the heroine in your own life is accepting the bad with the good. Not dodging it or covering it up or glossing over it to make it look prettier. I think it’s a lot braver to talk about your doubts and fears instead of act like everything is perfect. Life without both joy AND sadness is a life without balance.” (Mandy Hale)

“Sometimes the people you wanted as part of your whole story are only meant to be one chapter.” (Author Unknown)

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: “20 Stress Relieving Foods to Try if You’re Feeling Anxious”

Feel free to join us at: http://www.chefshermainesbiblecafe.home.blog Today’s Chef Special Word “JEALOUS”

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“Be YOU, Everyone Else is Taken”

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Psalm 51:16-17, “Going through the motions doesn’t please You, a flawless performance is nothing to You…” (MSG)

Me and my eldest daughter, Mo’Nae, absolutely love one particular movie that we’ve seen a million times. And yet, if it came on again tonight, we would both be crazy glued to the television as if we’ve never seen the movie before; have no idea of the plot and characters; as if we’re clueless as to how the movie ends. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. And what movie might you ask that has caused us such devoted repetition? Well, it’s called, “Catch Me If You Can”! And it’s based on a true story. You see, Frank Abagnale, Jr. lived a wild and crazy life as a doctor, airline pilot, banker, investor, attorney and celebrity. But before you assume that he must have been the most talented and gifted person to ever walk the face of the earth, listen to this: The Irony Is, He Was Never Authentically Any of Those! And even though he deserves an academy award for his portrayal of them, He Was a Fake, a Fraud, and a Pretender.

It all began early in his life when he realized he had the talent to convince people he was “somebody” through his sheer confidence and acting ability. However, he began to make money at his game and soon found himself addicted to role playing. And by the time it was all over, he’d helped perform surgery in an operating room, conned banks out of thousands of dollars, flown an airplane as a pilot, and gone to places most people only dream of going. The problem was – It Was All a Show!

Which reminds me of Psalm 51:16-17, “Going through the motions doesn’t please You, a flawless performance is nothing to You…” (MSG) At the end of the day, no matter how “flawless” you believe your performance was, it was still merely a performance. And no matter how awesome a Broadway show may be, at some point the actors bow, the curtains close, the audience leaves, and you have to lay down your costume-character and be the real you! That’s what happened to Frank.

A few years into it and he wanted out! The glamour was gone. He was desperate to come clean. But he had created such a web of deceit that it wasn’t easy. Which made me think of real actors, who have played a role for so long, people don’t know how to differentiate between the person and the part they play. For instance, I loved “Angie and Jessie” from All My Children. They were my all-time favorite soap opera couple. But I remember when I was younger, someone said to me, “you know you look a lot like Debbi Morgan”. I said, “really? Well who is she?” The person laughed and responded, “you don’t watch All My Children?” I said, “of course I do, that is when we have a day off from school”. She said “then how is it possible you don’t know who Debbi Morgan is?” I said, “I don’t remember a character on the show by that name.” The person laughed again, harder this time and said, “you know Angie, as in Jessie and Angie don’t you?” Well, of course I lost it by then. My response, “duh, who doesn’t know them, they’re my favorite. Angie is so pretty”. I reiterate, the person laughed…again…even harder than the last hard laugh! She said, “girl you do know Debbie is Angie? It’s her real name!” My jaw hit the floor. Truth is, I never thought of them as “characters”, Angie was really Angie! Well, what can I say, I only knew her as her “character”, I never knew the actual or real person behind the part being played.

And honestly, that’s a lot like many of us today, we’ve played our roles for so long, been in character for so long, read from the same script for so long, others (nor ourselves) can find the real us anymore. The danger in this is that we never live real and fulfilling lives. It’s always a show, a line always has to be remembered, we have to recall all the previous scenes and scripts. We pretend so long that we can’t find the real us under the layers of showmanship. That word “showmanship” is defined as “the manager or presenter of a circus or fair; a person skilled at entertaining, theatrical presentation, or performance.” And that’s what happens to us, we manage our lines, present a great show, we’re skilled at entertaining those we want to applaud us, we perform, no different than that of a circus act or fair! Such pretense is no different than imprisonment. And speaking of imprisonment, that’s exactly what happened to Frank. The FBI was onto him, and he ended up spending years in prison. Which makes me wonder, how many years of mental and emotional imprisonment have many of us suffered in because we never discovered the freedom of simply being ourselves. I agree wholeheartedly with Pastor Joel Osteen, “There’s a Freedom When You Can Be at Peace With NOT Being Perfect!” It is better to be Real, Imperfect You, than to be a Perfect Imitation of Someone You’re Not!

Another memory came to mind, and it’s when I was first saved. I wasn’t raised in church, and so all I had as examples were the women who were in my local church. They were older, and a lot more conservative. They wore conservative hairstyles, modest clothing and make-up, little heels but big hats. And little ole me trying to come from the streets to the other-side and “fit in”. And for many years, I was impressed with my own acting ability. I wore the long skirts, the wide-brim hats, the little touch of make-up, and of course I mastered the “church lingo”, knowing what to say, when to say it, how to say it, and who to say it around. And truth be told, those were the most miserable years of my entire life! I never felt like “me.” I was the young woman who loved to wear big hoop earrings, long box-braids, red fingernails, mini-skirts, black eyeliner (that I wore on my lips as well…lol!) Lord, I was a hot mess when I walked into that little church house. But if nothing else, I was authentically me. But then I came around people who were not like me and since I was the only “odd ball”, clearly I was the one who needed to change. I even remember the missionary that told me I had to stop wearing braids or I would never get a decent Christian husband. Don’t laugh, because I believed her! And so I stepped into character, and it took me well over a decade to step off the stage for the last time!

I look at a lot of my pictures from those days and very few have me smiling. I really wasn’t happy. I always felt trapped. I felt like a performing monkey. And no matter how horrible it made me feel, I lived by the motto, “the show must go on!”

Well, Frank had a great talent, but he wasted it pretending to be someone else. And I’m afraid, far too many of God’s children are doing the very same thing. We’re so busy performing for people who are performing themselves, that we never develop real character because we’re always playing one!

But listen to Paul’s words, “…I have finished the work I was to do…” Paul made it clear, my time-card is stamped with the time I actually put in to the work I was assigned to do! Not Timothy, not Barnabas, not John Mark, but I, Paul, have finished the work I was assigned to do! I wonder how many of us can claim that as our true testimony?

Listen, the reality is, you can only be yourself, because everyone else is taken! But the good news is, YOU are enough…as is!

Think about it, Paul wasn’t perfect! Listen to a portion of his life in 2 Corinthians 11:23-29: “I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches…” (MSG)

Paul was authentically himself, even if being authentically himself was painful and unattractive! Paul suffered, but he was himself. Paul worked harder, went to jail, was beaten up, at the door of death, flogged, had rocks thrown at him, he was shipwrecked, had a hard time in travel, struggled with robbers, friends, foes, in the city and the country, baked by the desert sun and about to drown in a sea storm. He was betrayed, endured hard labor, he was lonely, sleepy, hungry, cold and naked, and still none of that tops the fact that he also had to fight with the pressures and anxieties of All the churches! And still Paul says, “…I have finished the work I was assigned to do…”!

Paul didn’t have it easy, but he remained true to himself, to his God, to the people he was responsible to lead and to his faith. And he did it all without pretense! And so can you!

Maybe your life’s journey has been as unappealing as Paul’s. Maybe you’ve had to wait on the unemployment line, wait for food stamps, wait for Medicaid, wait at the homeless shelter for a cot, wait at the soup kitchen for some crackers. However, your story is still beautiful even with some ugly chapters included! Truth is, we all have chapters in our life story that we don’t read aloud, and we certainly don’t share with others. However, God wants to bless YOU, not your character-role! He has blessings for you with your name on it but just as you have to show authentic ID to claim property, you’ll need to show the real you to claim your blessings! Angie can’t claim Debbi’s blessing, even if so many believe she’s one in the same. No, only one is real, authentic and identified! So it is the same with you.

Don’t waste your life away as Frank did.

Can you imagine though, who and what he could have actually become had he simply been himself?! And you are no different. So, don’t throw away who you can become by pretending to be someone else now. Be You! All of you! Imperfect, flawed, cracked, crazy-hair, crooked teeth, acne-faced, stretch-marked, out of shape YOU! No matter your marital status, financial status, leader or laity, no matter your educational background, your ethnicity, how many children you have or don’t have, how many divorces you’ve gotten, none of it matters! What matters most is that your are the Real you and that you finish the work that was given to you to complete!

Sarah couldn’t be Rebekah; Leah couldn’t be Deborah; David couldn’t be Judas; Esther couldn’t be Ruth; Peter couldn’t be John; Abigail couldn’t be Anna; Samson couldn’t be Jacob; Eli couldn’t be Matthew. And yet all of them were significant in Scripture, and none of them had to pretend to be someone else in order to accomplish it.

You are significant to the world, and more importantly to the Kingdom of God just as you are, the real you. Don’t dilute you; don’t masquerade you; don’t alter you; don’t attempt to be anyone else but you!

There’s a work for you to complete and a reward for you to receive, however, your “character” can’t complete your work nor receive your reward, only YOU can. Don’t forfeit your future by being a fraud. Ask the Lord what you are to do, and then do it. Ask the Lord who you are to be, then become it. Without excuse, apology, blame, or reason. You my friend, are enough. Be YOU, after all, there’s no one in all the world that can be YOU, except YOU!

“The day I pulled off the mask of pretense, fake happiness and put it in the trash – was the day when I peeped inside my heart and met my true self.” (Shilpi Sood)

“No one can long hide behind a mask; the pretense soon lapses into the true character.” (Seneca the Younger)

“Do they love you, or the mask you put on everyday?” (Shimika Bowers)

“Behind every mask there is a face, and behind that a story.” (Marty Rubin)

“Sometimes it’s not the people who change, it’s the mask that falls off.” (Author Unknown)

“If you want the great and mighty things God has for you, you must get to the root of anger and deal with it. Get rid of the masks and face the things that happened in your life that made you the way you are today. Admit that you can’t change by yourself. Until the root is removed, it’ll continue to produce one bad fruit after another.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Don’t be trapped behind a mask, acting out a life you don’t really want. Be honest with God and let Him remove your mask and replace it with a new you that doesn’t need to hide from the world.” (Author Unknown)

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” (Andre Gide)

“Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.” (Mother Theresa)

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” (Brene Brown)

“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.” (Jenny Garrett)

“By being yourself you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before.” (Edwin Elliot)

“Less Perfection, More Authenticity.” (Author Unknown)

“Don’t trade in your authenticity for approval.” (Author Unknown)

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” (Judy Garland)

“When you show up authentic, you create the space for others to do the same. Walk in your truth.” (Jenny Garrett)

“Remind yourself that you cannot fail at being yourself.” (Wayne W. Dyer)

“When you shine your own unique light in a way that only YOU can do, then, you are way beyond competition!” (Naralee)

“The real you is more interesting than the fake somebody else.” (Lauryn Hill)

“The most powerful lesson I’ve learned in life is to never act like someone you’re not. Not only will people know that you’re being fake, but you’re also fooling yourself by thinking that the REAL you isn’t good enough.” (Anthony Gucciardi)

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: “How to Get Vitamin D, According to Doctors”

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“Preparing the Next Generation”

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1 Peter 1:18-19, “You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold, but [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.” (AMPC)

Now, I don’t fly much at all, however I must say, if I’m ever on an airplane flight where the flight attendant becomes incapacitated, I still think I might be able to do the safety instructions. I mean, I’ve heard them so many times (not so much as on the actual plane, as to commercials and movies). But I’ve still heard the script often enough that I could repeat it word for word. It’s been a few years since I was last on a plane, and they’ve indeed changed a few things. Actually, many airlines have now video-ized (my word) the presentation. It used to be the attendants who did it, but now in our overwhelmingly quick-paced world of technology, machines have got it covered. Most of you will remember the part where that little yellow oxygen mask would drop down from above your seat in their demonstration. Well, in the videos they have now, everyone is wonderfully calm in this simulated oxygen problem. I’m sure that’s very true-to-life…NOT! Well, on one of the videos I’ve seen, it shows a mother putting the mask on herself, and then on her little girl. The instructions script goes like this: “If the cabin pressure drops, get the oxygen to your face first, and then to your child’s.

Listen: When it’s crunch time on an airplane flight, you have to first get for yourself the oxygen you need as a parent, then you can give your son or daughter what they need. And in these increasingly challenging days for parents and dangerous days for our children, we’ve got to (First) breathe deeply what our children need so we can then pass it on to them.

Over the years of youth and family work that I’ve been involved in, I have often been asked by a parent, “Can you help my son or daughter?” Often, the most helpful answer I would love to share is, “Can we get the oxygen to you First, Before we try to get it to them?

Think about it: How many times has our child’s weakness been a mirror of our own, their failure a mirror of our failure, their baggage, their needs? It’s kind of like my child, my mirror. Which means I have to get me fixed First before I can fix my son or daughter. But how in the world do we change things about ourselves that we haven’t been able to change all these years?

The answer can be found in 1 Peter 1:18-19 it says, “You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from your] forefathers…” (AMPC)

Believe it or not, but we have all gotten some very destructive hand-me-down ways of living from our parents who probably got those same hurting ways from their parents, and so on and so on. And even though we may have been determined not to reproduce some of those traits, (even the ones we’ve hated), truth is, many of us have still ended up duplicating instead of destroying harmful family traditions. There they are popping up in our generation; marking (or better yet scarring) another generation. And unless their hold can be stopped in our generation, we’ll pass on the bruises instead of the blessings to further future generations!

Until we can find the spiritual oxygen needed, we’ll never be able to help breathe new life into the next generation.

Admit it, or deny it, but we’ve all got ways of doing things we have long wanted to change, and for a long time: things like our temper, our negative attitude, our lack of discipline, our critical tongue, this addictive personality, this controlling personality, this lack of affection, this dishonesty. We’ve all inherited some family traditions that need not be passed down any further. Which is why we have to take into account what the Bible instructs us:

“You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from your] forefathers…”

This is the first thing we must be honest about, granddad and grandma didn’t pass the best of traditions to mom and dad, and mom and dad didn’t pass on the best traditions to us. And since we’re being honest, let’s be all the way honest, WE, have not passed down the best traditions to our children. Sure, we’ve passed on photos, family recipes or holiday traditions, but for many of us we’ve also passed on that cussing tongue; that resentment, bitterness, hate, anger, jealousy, competition, comparisons, and unforgiveness. We’ve taught our children (via our own speech and behavior) that it’s ‘okay’, when clearly it is not. They’ve listened to us gossiping about church folks, then going to church to pray, praise and worship! Or we’ll tell them the importance of going to Sunday School; Bible Study; Prayer and Morning Worship (while we’re shopping at Macy’s during Sunday School; at the Movies during Bible Study; watching our favorite Television show during Prayer or at IHop during Morning Worship).

People of God, we have to demonstrate better examples of Christian Conduct before our children if we want them to emulate the Right things about us (because trust me, whether we want them to or not, they will emulate much of what they see us do).

Warning: Our Children Will Embrace and Emulate What We Entertain!

Remember, the Scripture makes it clear, “…from the useless (fruitless) way of living INHERITED BY TRADITION FROM YOUR] FOREFATHERS…” We have taught them far too many lessons on failure; compromise; excuses; blame and the like. We have to reverse this or the next generation will produce more “…useless, fruitless…” ways of living. And after all, who wants that as their family legacy?

Do you honestly want to live in such a way that you pass on to your children (who will pass on to your grandchildren and so on) ways that are displeasing to God? Do you want them to spit out your verbal vomit of disrespect because that’s all you taught them to digest?

Listen, as much as we like to talk negatively about the next generation, let’s be real, some of that stuff they received from us. Many didn’t learn to smoke, drink, cuss, lie and steal from the streets, no, they learned that in the house! Many didn’t learn to be lazy, unaccountable, undependable, from the streets, no, they learned that in the house! Many are in insurmountable debt and owning absolutely nothing of substantial worth, because they learned such behavior in the house! Do you really want our children to live in such a manner that their future is useless and fruitless, and all because they learned such acceptable behavior in the house?!

And this goes far beyond just our personal homes. This addresses the House of God, which addresses us as leaders in God’s house. Are we setting proper examples for the youth in our ministries and churches? Are we correcting them, empowering them, instructing them, and encouraging them? Or do we simply give them a little something to do so they can stay out of our hair?

Are we teaching them to tithe, to give offering, to respect authority, to lead well, to be faithful, dedicated and committed? Are we teaching them how to handle conflict on an auxiliary so they’ll know how to handle conflict on a team? Are we coming to the house of God together, as a family, or are we teaching them that it’s okay if we worship in bits and pieces?

Saints, we have to DO better or they will never BE better! And that’s the goal, to make the next generation better than the previous one. To show growth, maturity, and fruitfulness. But to do so, we’ve got to put the oxygen masks on ourselves first!

Which means, we can’t tell them to pull up their sagging pants when the panty-lines of the preachers are exposed; the cleavage of the worship leaders are hanging out and the youth leaders need someone to wrap a tablecloth around their legs before the whole congregation can see where babies come from! How can we tell them not to lie, cuss, steal and gossip, when we do? How can we tell them to go to church, while we stay home and send them with grandma or auntie? How can we tell them not to drink, smoke, or have sex or babies out of wedlock, when we do? How do we tell them to grow up, but we as leaders can roll our eyes, suck our teeth and walk all the way on the other side of the church just so we don’t have to walk past Brother “I Can’t Stand Him”, or Sister “She Makes Me Sick?” How do we tell them the importance of giving to God, when they see us purchase more at the mall in one day than we’ve put in the offering plate all year long?

In a nutshell, we’ve got to do and be better, so they can as well! 

Let’s change us and we won’t have to worry about changing them (they’ll simply follow the examples we’ve set) and this time, it will be worth the imitation.

Let’s prepare the next generation by making the necessary changes in ourselves, first. Let’s show them the fruit they are to produce: Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit].” (AMP)

This is the fruit we want them to reap and reproduce! And they can, if only we would begin planting the proper seeds.

Our children (both biological, spiritual, and all those we come into influential contact with) need to see in us what they will one day see in themselves. Let’s start reflecting now faith, hope, trust, holiness, kindness, goodness…let’s show them what it means to be the Image and Likeness of God. Let’s expose them to the Christ-Like Character and Conduct that Every Believer Should Possess.

If we love them, let’s help them.

1 Timothy 4:11-14, “Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use.” (MSG)

This is the example we want to set for them. Let’s teach them, by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. And in teaching them in this manner, they will one day emulate us and teach us in the same manner. And we will have started a cycle of blessing instead of a cycle of cursing. Let’s share the reading of the Word with them, give them wise counsel and teach them. And let us also be so active in the gifts God has granted us, that our children will be inspired to do the same. Let’s show them the excitement of ministry, so that we fan their inner flame into a blaze, and they beat us to the house of God!

Our children need to see us reading, studying, applying and living the Bible, so they copy our character as they build their own. They need to see and hear us praying (often), (publicly and privately), so they can emulate. They need to see us visible and active and happy in the house of God, so that they will not view it as a place you have to go, instead of it being the place you want to go to most. Let them see us behave as believers so they’ll know what it looks like, sounds like, and should be like.

Let’s prepare the next generation by getting the baton of blessings (and behavior) ready to pass on to them. Let’s give them what we desire them to give to the generation after them. Let’s help them to do and be better than we ever were, and let’s teach them to do it quickly, young, and authentically. Let’s expose them to the joy of living for God.

We’ve passed on enough poor examples to the next generation, now let’s change us so we can help change them. Let’s get our oxygen masks on, get what we need to get so we’re prepared to give them what they need to receive. Our youth are not a lost cause, we simply need to care enough to reflect to them what they should mirror!

Today, let’s prepare them for bigger, better and greater, and that has nothing to do with money! But let’s prepare them instead to have bigger hearts, better attitudes, and greater integrity.

And if God were ever to ask us what we did to help the next generation, let us be able to rejoice…and not regret!

Psalm 145:4, “Generation after generation stands in awe of Your work; each one tells stories of Your mighty acts.” (MSG)

Matthew 19:13-15, “One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that He would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to Me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, He left.” (MSG)

 “God put us here to prepare this place for the next generation. That’s our job. Raising children and helping the community, that’s preparing for the next generation.” (Dikembe Mutombo)

“The most important business of one generation is the raising of the next generation. Nothing else you do in life will be as deeply satisfying.” (George Will)

“What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.” (John Wesley)

“The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope.” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)

“Both man and woman have their own parts to play in bringing faith to the next generation.” (William Wilberforce)

“Try to do for the next generation of church leaders what the previous generation of church leaders has not done for you.” (Andy Stanley)

“If the church marries herself to the spirit of the times, she will find herself a widow in the next generation.” (Charles Stanley)

“Pass the truth to the next generation. Teach them early what we learned late.” (Emily’s Quotes)

“The more we idealize the past and refuse to acknowledge our childhood sufferings, the more we pass them on unconsciously to the next generation.” (Alice Miller)

“The empty nest comes quickly. Do not squander your most precious privilege of participating in the lives of your children.” (Dr. James Dobson)

“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.” (C. Everett Koop)

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

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