Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Love Me Beyond The Season

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas! Tis the season to be jolly. Sadly, an estimated 50% of relationships break up in the two weeks leading up to the most joyous time of year. Why is that?

Is it the stress of trying to find that perfect gift? Is it the demand put on the man to give a bigger, and better gift than he did when he first met you? Is he/she just too frugal to want to spend the money? Or do you always find yourself in a seasonal relationship? Let me define that for you:

A seasonal relationship is we are in a committed relationship except for any holiday season, like Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day...you know, when you have to "demonstrate" love with a gift.

I say to you ladies and gentlemen, that you deserve better. Don't let anyone play you like a broken instrument. You should expect your relationship to last through all seasons. The most important thing is not the gift that comes wrapped, but the gift of a committed heart, to you, to the future you will share together.

Make the decision  that you will not allow anyone to treat you like a part-time love. You are worthy of love for all seasons!

Blessings and Church Love!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Relationship Killers

As I was in my quiet time today, I began to thank God for the many things he has given me, and the many people he has allowed me to come into contact with that have been a positive influence in my life. Reflecting on that, caused me to think of my family members as well. Friends as many say, are the family you choose. God decides the family we should be born into. He decides if you will be the youngest, the middle child, the knee baby, the oldest, or like me, the youngest on one hand, the oldest on the other because your parents never married. I used to joke with my Father (now deceased) and tell him, I was the best thing that ever happened between them.

Relationships with our family members can be sticky, tricky, and icky. On the other hand, they can be heartwarming and full of memories you want to cherish forever. Such is the institution called family. As I thought on this, I wondered, what could really kill a relationship? Whether that be a family, friendship, or romantic relationship, what could really put an end to it? Well, I had to look no further than the Word of God for an answer.

Genesis 4 has all the makings of a TV movie: Two brothers who struggle for approval. Those brothers? Cain and Abel, the bad boy and the good guy. They could have been partners in the family business, but it all went south. I want to point out a few things (in no particular order) that killed their relationship.

1. Not valuing your own purpose- Cain clearly had identity issues which led to feeling rejected. He could have brought the offering God required. Instead he allowed hatred to grip his heart.

2. Anger- The Word of God says that anger rests in the bosom of fools. Cain was angry with God and in turn he took out his anger on the one God was pleased with. The result was disastrous.

3. Unwillingness to change- Cain adamantly refused God's advice. He wanted his sacrifice to be accepted the first time regardless if it met God's standards or not.

4. Refusing to acknowledge our own part in conflict-Cain never admitted his wrong doing. Even after committing murder, self-preservation was his only concern.

5. Treacherous Words-Cain had words with Abel, and though we don't know what was said, murder was the result. His thoughts, became words, and his words produced the action of murdering his brother.

What can we learn from Cain?

If we are to have healthy relationships, it must begin with a healthy relationship with God and a good relationship with our own selves. Cain easily disregarded God's warning, therefore it was not hard to destroy what God had created. His own self image was distorted, his image of God was distorted, for he wanted God to please Him rather than the other way around. It was no wonder he saw his brother as competition.

If we are not careful, we will find ourselves destroying the very relationships that are meant to be a blessing to us. Rather than enjoying the harvest with his brother, Cain set out to murder him. If I may venture off for a moment to relationships within the Body of Christ, too often this is the case. Whether it be a Pastor bad-mouthing another Pastor, or Churches, or Denominations, the bottom line is you are murdering your brother when you should be thanking God for more hands to bring in the harvest of souls. Relationships should serve a greater purpose than personal gratification.

After Abel's death, Adam and Eve conceived and brought forth Seth, the replacement son. After this, people began worshipping and praising in the name of God. What replacements has God had to send into your life to compensate for what you killed off? How many relationships have you killed in the name of "pleasing God", "moving forward", or "going higher in the Lord"? Jesus is all about life, restoration, and salvation. Let's evaluate our behavior and make sure we are not operating in the spirit of Cain, killing off and cutting off what God never intended.

I am reminded of Jesus' tumultuous and hard to understand relationship with Judas. Knowing what we know now, any relationship counselor would have told Jesus he was in an unhealthy relationship with Judas, but Jesus continued to call him friend right up until he was carted off as a result of betrayal. What a love, what a friend, what a relationship! Jesus did not cut Judas off though he deserved it. This is the picture of grace in relationship. We all recieve a grace we don't deserve when we accept Jesus as our Lord, Savior, and Friend.

So, I encourage you, before you cut the cord, make every effort to live in peace, walk in love, and forgive. It just might be what changes that family member or restores that friendship.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Close the Door on Open Marriage

Much conversation has been bandied about on the subject of marriage in the media. Many "experts" have given their opinion on the subject, particularly on the "openess" of the marital union.

Here's what the Bible says regarding the marital union.

Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled, but whoremongerers and adulterers God will judge. If you understand those terms, you can't possibly OK an open marriage. Just because society deems something as appropriate or politically correct doesn't mean it's okay in the eyes of God.

When you involve a third party in what should be a sacred covenant between two people, you are violating the original purpose and intent of the union and there are bound to be severe consequences.

Beyond the potential for divorce, STD's, HIV, crimes of passion, and mental health issues, there is something more eternal at stake: your soul. The Bible says that sexual sin is the only sin you commit against your own soul. You wear away at the fabric of who you are when you commit sexual sin.

This practice of open marriage is not new, simply coined under a different name, but the results are the same: spiritual death. I urge you to study the marriage covenant if you desire to be married and strengthen your marriage covenant if you are married by renewing your commitment to "forsake all others."

Marriage is the mystery of Christ and the Church unraveled to a dying world. As believers, we cannot operate in the ways of the world. As God told Cain, "sin is crouching at the door." This doctrine of devils being aired, and promoted heavily in the African-American community as "the new divorce", must be exposed and dealt with.

Marriage defined God's way produces life and peace. Marriage defiled by the world's standards produces death, despair, destruction, and disillusionment. Close the door on the open marriage doctrine by taking a stand to keep your covenant between you, your spouse, and the God who designed it.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Recognizing Decoy Friendships

I was green as the old folks would say.  At 19, I had a very idealistic outlook on life and about people in general. I still maintain that sense of optimism today, but I have the discernment of the Holy Spirit that helps me to make better choices. It was no wonder that I decided to take on two grown women who were in need of a place to stay. They seemed very spiritual, always reading their Word, always praying in unknown tongues, and always praying for hours on end. I was thirsty for that kind of interaction with God. I wanted to do whatever I could to help them. They appeared down on their luck and were in need of a place to lay their heads for a few weeks while they were in the process of job hunting. I honestly believed them. They were always talking about marriage and being engaged and I knew at some point I wanted to be married so, I listened intently. I had other women mentors in my life who prayed for me. Everything seemed to be going fine, except, I noticed they stopped looking for a job. As a college student, I wasn't working and depended on my grant monies to pay my living expenses. I enquired about their job search, but all I got was prayer language. Then, the bills began arriving, bills that had increased, while my funds had not. Not only had my bills increased, but they had taken over my personal living space. They stopped job seeking and huddled in my room to pray for hours on end. I realized that my kindness had been mistaken for weakness. I began to seek counsel about the situation. Finally, I was told by one woman that she was on the brink of getting a job. Both women claimed to be engaged, yet no fiance ever appeared in the picture. I wondered why they did not reach out to their significant others. Then, I got engaged. And that's when things hit the fan.

The two women who had been ignoring me all of a sudden had tons of advice:
"You don't need to talk to him."
"You need to spend a year apart just praying for him."
I thought to myself, We just got engaged. That's no way to build a relationship.
I declined their advice and shared with my then fiance (now my husband) what I was told.
His advice: You need to ask them to leave as soon as possible.
So, I did. But they refused to leave. Yes, you heard right. They refused to leave.
So, I had to call the police and have them forcibly removed from the premises.
Their response? Retaliation.

They went to my local church body at the time and accused my fiance and I of sexual immorality.
The gossip spread like wildfire.
My fiance and I were both in the process of preparing for introduction into ministry.
This announcement came right before our initial sermons.

We were both called in a spoken to separately, he by the Bishop of the Church, and Myself by the Board of Missionaries. He was affirmed and told, "The Truth would stand." I was told, "The last woman who denied this was in deed pregnant. You will have to sit down for nine months." Now, call it what you want, but the standards for Women in Ministry will always be lopsided. So, my fiance went on to give His initial sermon, while I was black-balled and silenced for nine months on accusation alone.

Shortly thereafter these events, the ladies were proven to be busybodies, had no church home, were moving from church to church, and living off of members. Our Bishop put out an official notice for members not to recieve them into their homes, and then notified other local churches. It turned out these women had designs on some gentlemen who had no idea they were claiming them as thier fiancees.

I endured the nine months, and delivered my initial sermon the following year at 19. The Truth did stand. I have been serving in Ministry ever since, I am happily married, and I am fulfilling the call of God on my life. So, what can you learn from my youthful and unintended folly?

  • Always get counsel before you take someone into your home. I am still a very compassionate person by nature, but now I seek the Lord and spiritual counsel. In the multitude of counselors there is safety
  • Know why people are in your life. My ministry call was postponed nine months due to slander, gossip, and retaliation. Jesus didn't dismiss Judas from his life. He knew why he was there.
  • Not every "girlfriend" is really YOURfriend. Misery loves company, and sometimes people only love you when you share the same status. When your status changes and it looks like God is upgrading your life, you might find yourself the object of hate, gossip, and slander
  • Ask God to help you discern between Praying Women and Preying Women. Some women stand in the gap and thank God I have friends who do that. Some women stand in the way, blocking what should be yours, backbiting, gossipping, and generally stirring up unnecessary drama
  • When you feel like a situation has gotten out of hand, never be afraid to get help and if necessary, involve law enforcement.
  • Even when it appears everything is against you, God can work all things for your good.
  • Even in a bad situation, you can make a good impression for God. Many people were watching the entire process, watching my courtship, and are watching my marriage. I've had more than one person tell me they couldn't believe how well we handled the defaming of our name and character. It was only God.
  • Know that if God has joined you together, He can keep you together. I thank God for a Man of God who defended my honor and stood by me. He could have said, "This isn't worth all the flack, and broken off the engagement." But He didn't let the devil win. It's one of the reasons I love Him soooo much :)
  • The enemy is after marriage covenants that God ordains and he will use ANYBODY to cancel out the Kingdom Dominion that comes as you walk in unity with your Spouse. After all, you are the picture the world will look at to get an idea of what Christ and the Church are to look like
How can you recognize a decoy friendship?
        1. Is it mutually beneficial?
        2. Am I able to express myself freely?
        3. Are my actions or opinions valued?
        4. Is there a balance in decision making?
        5. Am I guilted into doing anything?

If you answered all these questions with a NO, you are NOT in a friendship, you are in a dictatorship!
I encourage you, Woman of God, to seek the face of God, pray for your future spouse, pray for the process of becoming one. You may face some very real obstacles, but the joy of becoming one with the person God intends for you will be worth it!

Blesssings and Church <3!

**Please note that I have long made peace with all parties involved. This is my side of the story, and is in no way intended to defame anyone, only to impart some life lessons, so I will not be naming any names.

Gents & Ladies

Gentleman Thug. Lady Thug. These are some of the erroneous terms floating around in modern day culture. Are these oxymorons? Let's take a look:

The term gentleman describes a well-educated man of good family and distinction. It signifies a man with an income derived from property, a legacy or some other source, thus independently wealthy and did not need to work. The modern day term includes any man of good, or courteous conduct.

The term lady or gentlewoman denotes gentle birth or high social position, with good manners and high standards of behaviour.

So, why are we tagging words that obviously have a positive connotation with thug, "B", etc? The question has been asked, "Is chivalry dead? Are the standards too high? Are we expecting too much from men and women these days?"  I would say, absolutely not.

What are the benefits of being a Lady or a Gent? Here are a few:

1. Your contributions to society will be respected not ridiculed. Many times great contributions can be downplayed by a flagrant, irreverent lifestyle. Endeavor to live a life that encourages others to hear what you have to say.

2. You will spend less time defending your reputation. I won't enumerate the number of celebrities that have to constantly put out fires, stop the sale of sex tapes, pay off the nanny, etc. due to past behaviors. Yes, God's grace and mercy is available to us in every situation, but the consequences of our actions are not always negated.

3. You will be valued beyond your body parts. Our image-obsessed culture have so many indoctrinated with the belief that if you don't have the latest, if you're not thin enough, fit enough...the list goes on, then you can't get noticed. We know that is not the truth, but it is the prevailing world
perception. Ladies and Gents know that truth, integrity, compassion, and virtue are some of the best garments in the world to be outfitted with.

I encourage you, don't let the world define the type of Lady or Gent you are going to be. The Word of God is the greatest mirror. Hold yourself to that standard and you won't go wrong <3

Blessings & Church Love!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You ARE Worth It

To My Young Sisters:

YOU are worth it.
          You ARE worth it.

                    You are WORTH it.

                            You are worth IT!

You are worth the time it takes to know who you are inside.

You are worth the time it takes to really court you.

You are worth the time it takes to know your likes and dislikes.

You are worth the time it takes to know how to make your heart skip a beat.

You are worth the flowers, candy, serenades, poems, and permission required by  authority in your life.

You are worth the background search, the health screening, the credit check.

You are worth to have and to hold, forsaking all others, from this day forward, till death do us part.

You are worth with this ring I thee WED not BED or MOVE IN WITH.

You are worth the faithfulness, the care, the concern, the cherishing, the steadfast love.

Don't settle for anything below what God has promised.

Don't devalue who you are to pay the price of being a couple.

God has not called you to be a multiple choice but the only answer for one man.

If you say nothing else to that suave, debonair guy with lots of swag and no code of honor, let him

know...not this time. YOU ARE WORTH IT!

Blessings and Church <3

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An Unexpected Relationship Coach

"When life happens to you, the worst thing you can do is stop holding onto God."
Holy Ghost Quote

Yet, that is exactly the approach Naomi takes in the book of Ruth. Widowed, childless in old age, embattled and bitter, she begins the trek back to Bethlehem from Moab, the place where she had been stationed for at least a decade due to her family leaving Bethlehem during famine and her husband choosing to marry "heathen women" and set up house after their father's death. Naomi changed her name to Mara, which meant bitter, feeling as though God had dealt her a bad hand in life.

You may be feeling the same way, as if the wind has been knocked out of you, and just when you manage to steady yourself, you find another set of circumstances pressing in on you: bills, loans, foreclosure, children who no longer seek your advice but continually look to you as their bailout plan. You may even be like Naomi, in the middle of a forced or difficult transition.

They say misery loves company but clearly that was not the case for Naomi, who urged both of her newly widowed daughters-in-law to return to their own families. When Naomi returned to her hometown, she wasn't the same. I would venture to say that the real Naomi was buried underneath some anger, frustration, hopelessness, and grief. Meeting someone in the middle of relocating their household doesn't give you a good picture of who they really are. Yet, in all this Naomi became a most unlikely relationship coach. 

Ruth, the Moabitess had returned with Naomi, taking the God of the Jews as her very own. I must ask this question: can people see enough God in you even when your feelings are all over the place to follow the God you serve? Most young women I know would have taken one look at Naomi and headed in the opposite direction. I have come to realize that sometimes God positions us to make the bitter better. Left to her own devices, who knows what may have come of Naomi?

Even in Naomi's grief, she sought joy, wellness, health, and comfort for Ruth (read Ruth 3). What a mentor! Ruth wasn't the "younger woman" in the way of Naomi's Cougar escapades--no, Naomi saw Ruth as a way to extend the family line and preserve the family for future generations. She didn't see Ruth as a rival but as a reservoir of support and care to her. Naomi was still of marriageable age, but that was not her aim in life. Instead, she patiently coached Ruth into a blessed life, so blessed, that she became apart of the lineage of Christ. 

Naomi taught Ruth some lessons that I will admit I took hold of myself as a single woman: 

1. Prepare to be found
2. Pursue the directions God gives
3. Perceive the right timing
4. Position Yourself
5. Wait until he acknowledges you

There is nothing like finding the right person and you are not ready. It's like finding the perfect prom dress the night after the prom. The timing is all off. The same thing can happen in relationships. You may not be ready to handle to responsibility or the attitude of selflessness that is required in a  serious relationship or in a marriage. 

Ruth didn't let the generational gap between her and Naomi be a barrier but a bridge. She listened to the advice given her. The method was not traditional due to the fact there was no male to stand in to negotiate for Ruth, but even in that God maintained and protected her reputation. Like Naomi, God can use your harsh reality in His hands and your life experiences as wisdom to guide a younger generation. Don't shut down the wisdom you could pour into the younger generation because of a wounded past. Let God heal you so you can help others by your testimony. Once Naomi realized that Boaz could redeem her family's name, she chose to be faithful to the purpose of uniting Boaz and Ruth, rather than drown in her grief. 

As a result of her coaching, Naomi (who I believe represented the Holy Spirit) was able to guide Ruth (the Bride) to Boaz (representative of Christ, our Kinsman redeemer) and God blessed the union. I thank God for every relationship coach that entered my life, that showed what to do and what not to do. I am a better wife because of it!

Monday, July 18, 2011

High Maintenance or High Expectations?

Before I begin, I'd like to dedicate this post to the lovely ladies I used to teach. This is a subject that is very dear to their heart and continues to be an issue in our society at large.

"She wanted me to buy her dinner."
"She wanted me to open the door for her. It's 2011, not 1911."
"I don't want anything to do with her. She's too high maintenance."

Is it just me, or is our current society sinking into the vortex of every man for him or herself? As I read various magazines to stay "in the know" and be aware of what is current events, whether that be sports, politics, world news, or entertainment, I find myself innundated with articles on what's wrong with women, how we can better please our man, how we can find a man, how we can keep a man, how we can make the relationship more entertaining, how we can be more appealing...are you getting the point?

Our society has relegated all the fault, problems, and responsibility for a relationship to the female gender. It takes two to make a relationship work; to be exact, it takes three: God really should be guiding the relationship you are engaged in. If we take our cue from the media as women, we will find ourselves labled as high-maintenance if you expect what should be common courtesy in a relationship. As an African-American woman, I find us misrepresented as vixens, hypersexual, with our only intent to be pampered for an intimate rendezvous in return. I am disturbed that this image is being perpetuated through magazines that are supposed to represent me as an African- American woman.

I encourage every woman to know her worth in God, not just what she feels about herself (because that can be an incomplete view) but what God says about you. I believe many times women are labeled high maintenance when in actuality, they hold a standard or a high expectation. I am not speaking of the Woman who has an impossible list to fill that has more to do with satisfying her personal ambitions. I am speaking of expectations that align with the Word of God. If you are the righteousness of God, why settle for someone who expects you to go against God's standards? Why settle for someone who degrades you or who treats you as if you are undeserving of their time or affection? It's time to take a good look at the relationship you are in.

Ask yourself:
Do I draw strength from this relationship?
Are they encouraging me to become who God wants me to be?
Do I feel isolated from my peers, friends, family?
Am I encouraged to only participate in, pursue, or attatch myself to the things that make them happy?
Am I encouraged in public, admired in public, but ignored, berated or shunned in private?

These are signs of an unhealthy relationship. I encourage you to seek Godly professional counsel, especially if you are engaged or married. My prayer is that you would not just be in relationship because its convenient, or because you don't want to be alone, or because this is your very first relationship and you don't think anyone else will desire you. I want your relationship to be mutually beneficial, healthy, and God-honoring. There's nothing wrong with having expectations if they align with God's Word.

Unfortunately, there aren't alot of articles on this topic, but together, we can change that! Share this article with a friend that may be struggling with feelings of self-worth. Keep encouraging the women in your life to love God, love the beauty that God chose to reflect of Himself when He created them, and watch what God does in the process!

Blessings and Church <3

Monday, July 11, 2011

Top Ten Reasons To Read Church Love

I love a challenge! I was asked the other day to give some reasons why my book series stands out among the MANY summer reads available. In talk-show fashion here are what I believe are the top ten reasons you should get off your couch, get to a bookstore, computer, or phone and purchase, order, or download my novels and get to reading!

                          TOP 10 Reasons To Read Church Love Novels

              10. You have absolutely ZERO understanding of the opposite sex.
                    (think CLUELESS)
                9. You have no understanding of dating and courtship.
                8. You want to laugh out loud repeatedly. Over and Over again.
                7. You want a good, clean, read.
                6. You like to support ($$$) writers you know.
                5. You want to put a Christian on the. Bestsellers lists.
                4. You want to experience the presence of God through fiction. 
                3. You want to read a novel that makes you put away Zane,Harris,Tyree
                2. You HATE reading and want to accept a challenge that Church Love
                     can change that.
                1. You want to say you discovered a great writer BEFORE
                   she became outrageously famous! (hindsight is 20/20, LOL!)

If you have READ Church Love Novels, I'd love to hear from you! Share your comments below! Check out my sidebar for my Hot List Reads. I'm honored that you'd list us among your Summer reads!

           Blessings and Church <3

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Moving On To Maturity

It's a beautiful Thursday morning, and as I contemplated what I would write today, this thought came to mind: If there were anything that could make a Pastor's heart glad, what would it be? I believe one key thing is to see the congregation they serve come to a place of maturity in the things of God. I see the following as "things your Pastor would love to take off the list of sermons, to never have to remind you to do". There may be many, but from my perspective here are the top 25:
1. Pray
2. Fast
3. Evangelize
4. Read Your  Bible
5. Study Your Word
6. Worship God
7. Seek God first
8. Give
9. Love One Another
10. Obey God
11. Repent Daily
12. Forgive One Another
13. Come to Services
14. Be On Time For God
15. Serve Wholeheartedly
16. Have Faith In God
17. Trust God To Keep His Word
18. Thank God In Advance
19. Declare the Word in your life
20. Keep your Word
21. Remember God in everything
22. Get Involved in the Local Church
23. Come to the Altar
24. Treat everyone with Compassion
25. Follow Leadership
If we are to move on to maturity as believers, these principles should become ingrained in our nature. As God shared with me once, "Pastoring may be a thankless job on earth, but a thunderous applause is awaiting in heaven." Let's applaud those that lead us by living a life indicative of the Word that is faithfully ministered week after week for the perfecting of the saints and the edifying of the Body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-16, Romans 13, Hebrews 6)

Blessings and Church <3!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Untouchables of the American Church

          As I begin this blog, I want to make it clear: the Pastoral calling, and indeed the calling to 5-fold ministry (Eph 4:11-14) is one of the most daunting and rewarding calls one can recieve from God. As a minister who is called to 5-fold ministry, I count it an honor that God counted me worthy putting me into ministry. I am also blessed to have been discipled and trained under pastoral leadership both past and present that has been full of integrity and full of the Holy Spirit's empowerment. I know that many people complain about their church or Pastors, but this is NOT a complaint. I hope to encourage the 5-fold ministry while at the same time provoke my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to good works and greater relationship with Jesus Christ.

         Jesus said that those who are not saved, are already condemned. He came to provide good news, news of salvation and deliverance, news of healing and forgiveness. Once we have recieved that message, and been grafted in to the Body of Christ, the fold of God, through justification, we emark on a lifelong journey with God in fellowship, in discipleship, in community with other believers, and along the way, we mess up. We screw up royally. We confess, we repent, we ask for God's forgiveness, and faithfully God provides it (I John 1:9).

But, what happens to us when we no longer want to hear the message of the cross? When our walk becomes comfortable and we take a laissez-faire, "let it be" approach to sin? What happens when church becomes just another thing "to do" instead of another opportunity "to change", to be renewed in the spirit of our mind, to understand what it means to put on Christ and not fulfill the desires of the flesh/carnal man?

Well, we come upon what I call The Untouchables: things that many pastors are inceasingly having a hard time addressing over the pulpit or have stopped addressing altogether for fear of losing membership, social or political reprisals (losing a pastorate), economic reprisals (decrease in tithe and offering to support church ministry), and as our laws becoming increasingly "anti-Christian", time in jail. Though there are many more, here are 8 of what I call The Untouchables of the American Church and the attitudes that go along with them.

1. "Don't preach to me about music."
"Yes, I will sell my soul for a Jay-Z, Beyonce, etc. concert ticket, and don't expect me to show up for service if the concert is on the same night as Bible Study...So what if their lyrics mock/deny Christ, and make fun of all that is good, glorifies sex outside of marriage, hustling, drugs, gang violence...the beat is thumping, you can't deny that.

2. "Don't interfere with my love/Sex life."
"So what if I want to be with more than one partner? That wait until marriage idea is archaic. Besides we both agreed to this open marriage...its what's in right now. You've got to try the relationship out first before you settle down with one person, right?"

3. "Don't preach to me about "rights to life."
"Its my body and I can do what I want with it...despite the fact that most abortions are not occuring because the mother's life is in danger, or because of incest or sexual abuse...so what? If I want to use abortion like its birth control, who are you to tell me what to do?"

4. "Don't tell me homosexuality is a sin."
"Look, you just need to get over this, okay? People have been doing this for centuries and its not going to stop. Besides, my Mom, BFF, Uncle, Grandpa, and favorite singers are gay and they're nice to me, so, what's the big deal? You should be able to be with who you want to, right?"

5. "Don't tell me my political views are wrong."
"My president is black, and that's all that matters to me, and if you say another word, I'll shut your mouth for you...besides, faith shouldn't play a role in how you vote and what bills you support, right?"

6. "Don't tell me my appetite is out of control."
"Look, you're not Richard Simmons, so don't even try to tell me what to eat...so what my blood pressure is a little high, and I'm ignoring all the medical advice I have recieved from medical professionals...I'm going to eat, drink, and be merry. End of discussion."

7. "Don't preach to me about my social life."
"You're on thin ice,now. I've sacrificed to join this organization, I've given my time, money, blood, sweat, and tears, I've got too much invested and I'm not giving it up...besides, if you just give me some time, I know I can win them over."

8. "Don't preach about my vices.(Drinking, Obscene Language, Gambling, Smoking)"
"I know, I know, they're bad for me, but everything in moderation, right? My habits aren't really hurting anybody, as long as I only socially drink, and I don't smoke around my kids...so what if I fly off the handle? Everybody gets angry and has an off day, right? Oh, and if I hit the jackpot, I fully intend to donate to the church, okay? Just, leave me alone! I'm only human."

The above attitudes may surprise you, but what surprises me the most is that these attitudes are reflected by Believers in conversation and demonstration. When you have attitudes like this, it is no wonder 1,500 Pastors daily on estimate leave the ministry. If Pastors can't address the things in our lives that fuel carnality and unrighteousness, then where does that leave the church? We have to be a body of believers willing to hear the truth regardless of whether it is socially or politically correct. Our main concern should be whether it is Biblically correct. Is this for my spiritual good? Is my lifestyle leading me to eternal life or eternal death? Pastors have a serious charge to provide us with truth, to mature us in righteousness, and to give account for our soul, if we have been placed in their flock.

The Apostle Paul and other apostles throughout the letters to the church (not unbelievers) addressed some of these very same issues: sexual immorality, reveling, unnatural affection, sobriety of the saints, filthy language & communication, and so forth. Yet, at a very critical time in world history, and indeed church history, it appears the church is still needing milk. We must go on to maturity, but we must be a church committed to holiness, righteousness,truth and purity, which by the way are required of all church regardless of denomination or non-denomination. God is coming back for the  Church, His Bride without spot and wrinkle, not a church that excuses or makes excuses for a stained garment.

I encourage you, as I was challenged by the Lord, to examine yourself and see if you are in the faith. I encourage Pastors to not back down from the hard issues, the "untouchables" and preach the unadulterated Word of God. We're counting on you!

Blessings, Peace, and Church Love

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Hidden Curriculum of Church

The term "hidden curriculum" has been used by educational professionals to describe the sub-culture or unwritten code or rules that develop unchecked over time in a school setting, some to the detriment of that educational system. Here, I will briefly examine some that develop over time in church culture. These attitudes blend into our worship and mode of operation and seep into our protocols. If left unchecked, these attitudes can become poisonous to the unity that should exist amongst the body of believers. Though, presented in a comical way, I hope you will be challenged in your thinking and encouraged in your examination of your faith. Here's some hidden curriculum thinking:

1. "Nobody is greater than Sis. Applesauce"- yes, Sister Applesauce is good at what she does, she runs a tight ship, and has 5,000 responsibilities. The problem is that you will never know what anyone else is capable of doing because Sis. Applesauce insists on handling it all...and when Sis. Applesauce can't run the show, then the show is canceled.

2. "Only Bro.Shipshape can do that. End of discussion."- This type of attitude leads new members to believe that they may not have a place in service, that there is no compromise, and no teamwork needed.

3. "Feel free to visit, but only certain people who meet Bro.Society's qualifications can join our church." This smacks of elitism which should not be apart of the body of Christ. Salvation is a free gift. Membership in the body of Christ has bought with a price beyond the world's measure.

4. "Elder Moneybags can do what he wants, treat others how he wants, because of how much he gives." Giving is an important part of ministry, but it isn't the only part of ministry. When we focus excessively upon this it gives the impression that the church and its standards can be bought.

5. "Addressing Bro.Do-Nothing will only get you rebuked as he is well liked and entertaining." When we exalt personality above character we become nothing more than a place of entertainment rather than a place of discipleship and change.

6."Sis. Vacationer can serve when she wants even though she's never prepared and always late." This attitude sends the message that God, service, and worship are not important. If we only serve God when it's our turn or when it's convenient for us, what does that say about the quality of our devotion to Him?

7. "Don't even breathe too deeply around Mo. Fussbudget or disagree: she will slander you, and you'll never be viewed the same because of her influence in the church." Influence can be a good thing or bad thing depending on who's wielding it.

Many times we see these attitudes, and we ignore them, trying to go on in service our trying to press in to worship God. I'll admit, I've been guilty of that. Sometimes it is just easier to ignore it than to address the issues head on. However, if left unchecked, this Hidden Curriculum Church can kill, steal, and destroy the very fabric of unity. Hidden Curriculum leaves room and opens the door for:

                                        Controlling Spirits
                                        False Teachers

Exposing this Hidden Curriculum deactivates the enemy's plan to rule over the church and removes Satan's seat. The grace and salvation of God has been dispensed freely, but paid for with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Let's do away with Hidden Curriculum Church. After all, everything is made bare before the eyes of God, and nothing is hidden from His sight. If we are to live in unity, our past identity, and only that should be hidden in Christ.

                                           Peace and Church Love

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Women With A Plan

As I was traveling this past weekend, I had the opportunity to delve into the rich treasures of the word of God. Having just completed a study from Hebrews-Revelation, I decided that I would simply take a trip back to the Old Testament to learn from some of my fellow sisters in the faith. I didn't land on any one particular verse, but found myself pondering what these sisters had in common. The common thread that I could see was that they had a plan. Who are these sisters? Jael (Judges 4:17-24), and a Young girl (2 Kings 5:1-16). In both cases, these young ladies had a plan. Jael, a plan for warfare, the young servant girl, a plan for healing.

As women, we can sometimes feel as though we play an insignificant part in the scheme of things. You may be wondering right now, what is my role? Jael, as a wife, could have sat idly by while the war went on, but instead, when presented with the opportunity, she used wisdom and cunning and became a part of the annals of history by wiping out Sisera, enemy to the Jews. She was even included in a song of triumph after the victory!

The young servant girl could have kept her mouth closed. After all, why should she have cared that her "boss" was in need of healing? Yet, she gave information regarding a prophet in the land that she had faith enough to believe in who could heal her master.

There is nothing impossible for a woman with a plan whose faith is in God to execute that plan! I know God has laid some plans on the heart of women across this nation. You may have direct access (as Esther did) to get your plan heard or carried out. Perhaps, you have to rely on an intermediary to be heard (as in the case of the young servant) or maybe, the time is at hand, and you have to go it alone (as Jael did) trusting that you are doing the will of God, who has already spoken that he is raising up a woman to get this victory (Judges 4:9). Is that you?

Are you the woman that God is raising up to get the victory for your home? for your workplace? for the citizens in your state? for your country? Are you in a place mentally, emotionally, spiritually, where you can act on God's directions and not your emotions? I encourage you, don't be left out of God's plans. Utilize everything that God has placed in you to carry out His plans in the earth. No plan is too small, no hand is too small, no enemy is too big, no situation is too daunting if God has given you a plan. Ladies, work your plan!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Live To Tell Your Story

This post is very personal to my heart because I believe that it may 1) save someone's life and 2) free someone to not be silent.  If you know someone who has experienced date rape, and may be struggling with the aftermath of sexual abuse, I encourage you to share this with them.

If you don't speak what I tell you to speak, you won't live to tell it.

I had heard people talk about the "voice" of God, but this was my first encounter with God in the most unlikely of places: I had just come to after having been drugged and been date raped and my attacker was trying to convince me to stay overnight and he would take me home in the morning. 

Once again, I heard the instruction. Just tell him, "You're not mad, you just want to be taken home." 

Through a thirty minute ordeal, it was the only sentence I could repeat over and over again. I'm glad that I did. 
There wasn't enough evidence to convict him (the laws concerning sexual intercourse with someone under the influence did not come into play until Nov 1996 and the incident occurred Jan 1996), but throughout the trial, I learned this campus predator indeed had lied about his age, his background, his criminal record. He had charges that would indicate he was very capable of making sure no one ever found out what happened. He was expelled from FSU for lying about his criminal record, but sadly, the Florida courts found him not guilty.I left him with this statement: "If you do not repent for what you did, you will have to answer to God for what you did."

Months after this encounter that I began to seek God for myself. I rededicated my life to God, and began searching the scriptures. I had a Damascus road experience on a Saturday morning, and ran to church. No one had to direct me to go. My heart burned with the freedom I found in God and wanted to share with others. I began a very unorthodox path into evangelizing. I began to tell my testimony of how God saved me. I will never forget the first day I stepped onto the FSU green and began to speak. A fellow student stopped me mid-sentence, her angry words still reverberate through my mind: I was date raped last night! Where was God then?" She shouted.

It was a pivotal moment for me. I opened up and let her know that I too had been date raped only months before, but God had been right there with me, giving me peace and instructions on how to get out of a situation that yes, I had some responsibility for getting into. She was able to immediately relate, she calmed down, and began to hear the Word of God. Many at the time thought I was just being radical, unnecessary, and weird--but I was just happy to be saved, to be free, and I wanted others to know that no matter how bad the situation is, God will be right there in the midst of it. I have no doubt that had I stayed, he would have killed me, and they would still be looking for my body--BUT THANKS BE TO GOD, I LIVED TO TELL IT!

This is one of the reasons that I give God praise for life, and try to take every opportunity I can to share with young women. I didn't have that discernment then. I was 18, a freshman, green to campus life and campus predators, those "lifelong" students that prey on "fresh meat". If I can make a difference by sharing my story, I will continue to.

It would be years later, that God would walk me through that night and reveal to me all the ways He tried to prevent me from suffering that tragedy (circumstances and people). I wasn't in a place to read the signs. Now that I have the Spirit of God dwelling in me, it is so much easier to hear and obey Him.

God doesn't want to see us hurting or abused, but He is not going to violate our choice to hear him, our free will to choose a path of life or a path that leads to death. If you have been date raped and you have been dealing with the aftermath, I encourage you to hold on to God. He's not going to point fingers at you, but lovingly wrap you in His arms and care. One of the most hurtful things that can be said to you is "it's your fault," or "you deserved it." NO ONE deserves to be violated. I speak life to you now: 

YOU belong to God, and whoever violated the sanctity of the life HE created will have to deal with HIM.

Our justice system is far from perfect, but we serve a perfect God who owns the corner on vengeance. I encourage you to seek help from The Counselor, and The Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. He will restore your soul in a way that nothing on this earth can. Don't let the perpetrator rob you of your joy, healthy relationships, or peace of mind. I am a living witness that God can and will restore you and give you peace that surpasses understanding. Trust God, and Live To Tell YOUR story, so another life can be changed!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Church Love Affair

Lord, whoever he is, I do not want to meet him.

Those were my thoughts the first time I clapped eyes on 6'5" brother who looked to be a mature Steve Urkel.  He was clapping his hands and excitedly jumping up and down, scaling pews. I wish I was making this up, but as we know, facts can be stranger than fiction. 

As  a believer returning to the fold, after four years of losing my mind,  I was struck at first by Mr. Urkel's joy for all things God. Beyond that, I was not interested. I had not been filled with God's spirit and stood transfixed in service that day wondering,  what's the big deal? I thought I knew God, but "those people" clearly knew something I did not. Some church-goers were on the floor, some were jumping, some were crying, some were running around the sanctuary. I thought does it really take all that to express yourself to God? Looking back, I get a good laugh at myself because I understand that those expressions really are just an inkling of how much I love God. 

Well, shortly after uttering my tidy little prayer about Mr. Urkel, a mutual friend thought it would be a good idea to introduce us. By this time, I am annoyed with my friend and God. God, I thought we agreed that I didn't want to meet this guy. Apparently not.

As time progressed (roughly a year and a half),I began to get to know Mr. Urkel through mutual friends. I found him to be thoughtful, caring, intelligent, and giving. We would have potlucks with mutual friends, prayers, endless debates on Sunday sermons and what the preacher meant. We would work together in evangelism and juvenile detention center ministry. He would assist my friends and I with transportation. we would work his nerve by never being on time (its a college thing), we would minister to our peers on the college campus and he would come out and support us. This was great, I thought. This was what the brotherhood of believers was all about. Breaking bread, sharing the Gospel, being kind to one another. Mr. Urkel became a big brother to me (I had 4 brothers, 1 sister, and a tribe of uncles and aunts and was a tomboy in my early years). He was brother away from home. Things were going great. 

Then... my friends began to make suggestions to me about Mr. Urkel. Of course I rebuked them and attributed their comments to the devil and wishful thinking respectively? Me and Mr. Urkel? You're out of your mind, off your rocker, and whatever else I could think of...bless your little insane heart. Well, after trying to speak through my friends, mentors, and even my family members (my grandmother, the late Leary Mae Davis, christened him her grandson-in-law when she first laid eyes on him) I was in a very exciting discussion about how I had spent my summer when God spoke to me and told me Mr. Urkel was my husband. I stopped talking mid-sentence because I just could not believe that God would say that to me!
Afterward I laughed until 3am thinking God was playing some kind of joke on me! And I made my friend stay up with me all night because it was her fault (go figure)! For two weeks I fasted and prayed, thinking God would change his mind, but it became clearer that he was the one. I was pretty upset about it. It turned out, that he had been dealing with the same thing so we both agreed to not communicate with each other. 

I was actually upset at God. I had been growing in my relationship with God and me and my room mate at time had a prayer closet we shared. We would actually see each other on campus and race back to our apartment to see who could get first dibs on the prayer closet. This time, I got there first, and I had a bone to pick with God. The conversation went like this: God, you made me fall in love with you. I don't want or need a man. I'm not ready for it, and I don't feel like it. No one can love me like you can.

To the which God pointed out that he wouldn't give me what I was not ready for. It's because you love me first that I can trust you with another man's heart. I won't say that my anxiety went away in that instant because they didn't. I had to shift my thinking. Mr. Urkel, the guy I didn't want to know anything about, was to be my husband!??? Sure, I had spent time getting to know him spiritually, but naturally? No. I wasn't interested in what he liked or what his favorite color was. Are you kidding me? This was a purely platonic relationship.

Well, turns out we had more in common than I would have thought, both spiritually and naturally. We both realized that God had put us together spiritually and it was up to us to walk out this heaven match on earth. We got engaged. Yes, we went from friendship to courtship. Two years and ten months of Relationship Boot camp later, we married. I don't regret a minute. I say this because God gave me what my Spirit needed, not just  what my flesh wanted (I had 3 proposals the summer before). 

My friends realized just how much of a sense of humor God had when he put me and my husband together. Yes, we had a lot of apologizing to do and we still get a good laugh over our slapstick comedy courtship. The verse that changed our life was Heb 6;10. We had heard a sermon preached concerning this scripture the night God told us we were meant for each other. Every year, near our anniversary or on it, someone preaches that scripture. We turn to each other and smile, knowing that it is God's reminder of what we are to be in the earth. A reflection of his love. We pray that we mirror how Christ loves the church and how she loves him right back.

During our courtship, we had times of doubt but God kept confirming his covenant with us. We had times of trial and scandal, but God's truth stood, We had times of adversity, even after we married, but God continues to prove himself faithful on all fronts. We learned that marriage is spiritual first. It is a mystery intended to reveal God: 

     God is Faithful. God keeps covenant. God is the Husband of one Wife. God loves us Forever.

I encourage you as you are searching (Gentlemen) or waiting (Ladies) for God's best, to prepare to be the very best you can for God and the one He has intended for you. You will be entrusted with showing another soul how much God loves them exclusively. The very person may be closer than you think. Blessings!

Update: Here is Robert's point of view:

Loving another soul is and having that soul love you back is probably the greatest miracle of Humanity! I never fit in with women, was always ridiculed, abused, and was severely broken heated with rejection of marriage proposals. I just wanted to share the deep love I had in my heart, look at stars, talk, listen to music, pray together, show my art work to them, feel their emotional warmth....I THOUGHT I WOULD NEVER FIND TRUE LOVE!! (Almost crying now...) When I gave up on love and finding a lover of my soul...God dropped a UFO (an Unbelievable, Friendly, and Outstanding) young lady that I tried to refuse from getting close to me. Then God cracked open my shell of loneliness, sorrow, mistrust, painful baggage and SHE LOVED ME BACK AND SAID YES!!! I love how God just breaks a man down and pieced him back together with an eternal lover!!! Shantae Charles I love you and love every day of you these past 18 years ! 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dreamers, Haters, and Favor: God’s Main Ingredients

Gen 37:1-8

37 And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.

2 These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.

4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.

6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:

7 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.

8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

Gen 37:4-11
4 When his brothers realized that their father loved him more than them, they grew to hate him — they wouldn't even speak to him.

5 Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6 He said, "Listen to this dream I had. 7 We were all out in the field gathering bundles of wheat. All of a sudden my bundle stood straight up and your bundles circled around it and bowed down to mine."

8 His brothers said, "So! You're going to rule us? You're going to boss us around?" And they hated him more than ever because of his dreams and the way he talked.

9 He had another dream and told this one also to his brothers: "I dreamed another dream — the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed down to me!"

10 When he told it to his father and brothers, his father reprimanded him: "What's with all this dreaming? Am I and your mother and your brothers all supposed to bow down to you?" 11 Now his brothers were really jealous; but his father brooded over the whole business. MSG

Most of us know the story of Joseph, of how he was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery by his brothers, and found himself in prison falsely accused and finally raised up to become a national leader in Egypt during a time of economic recession first in Egypt and then the world over. Many people speak of the blessings of Joseph, of coming through the struggle and making it out on the other side.  I want to share with you some principles from the life of Joseph. One thing you need to understand is that as you walk in favor, there are some things that come with the territory: one of those things is haters; If you are going to move forward in God, you must process the hate as part and parcel of God’s plan.

Read Genesis 37 1-8, MSG 4-11

The Father’s love, the Father’s favor can spur a brother’s hate
This love is the Hebrew word aw’hab meaning friend or beloved
The Hebrew word for hate miseo here means to hate personally; a foe or enemy, odious, utterly full of hate; to detest; persecute; love less
To be hateful is to be love-empty.
Joseph was not simply hated for what he did; he was hated for who he was.
As the favored of God, you experience hate beyond what you do; when a person operates in the spirit of hate, regardless of what you do, they will not accept you.

When Joseph’s brothers saw (perceived, discerned) the Father’s love, they could not speak peaceably. It wasn’t in them because they were full of hate.

The text starts out giving you a bit of history about Joseph. Joseph had been working the fields and placed alongside his half-brothers, placed with the lowest ranked sons in the family. Whether you know it or not, some people think they know your place, want to put you in your place, or have a place to put you.  You need to know that just a few chapters back in Gen 34:25-29, Levi and Simeon got the family kicked out of Canaan due to retaliation against the Shechemites for raping their sister. This early exodus subsequently led to the birth of Joseph on the way, and Rachel’s death. Not exactly a good way to put themselves in the Father’s favor. In Gen 35:21-22, you will see that Reuben the firstborn of Leah, disgraced his father by sleeping with his father’s concubine, his brother’s mother. Is there any wonder why Joseph was favored?
According to Deuteronomy 21:15-21, Jacob was within every right to give the mantle of leadership to his next firstborn of Rachael, Joseph.

Deut. 21:15-20

15 When a man has two wives, one loved and the other hated, and they both give him sons, but the firstborn is from the hated wife, 16 at the time he divides the inheritance with his sons he must not treat the son of the loved wife as the firstborn, cutting out the son of the hated wife, who is the actual firstborn. 17 No, he must acknowledge the inheritance rights of the real firstborn, the son of the hated wife, by giving him a double share of the inheritance: that son is the first proof of his virility; the rights of the firstborn belong to him.

18 When a man has a stubborn son, a real rebel who won't do a thing his mother and father tell him, and even though they discipline him he still won't obey, 19 his father and mother shall forcibly bring him before the leaders at the city gate 20 and say to the city fathers, "This son of ours is a stubborn rebel; he won't listen to a thing we say. He's a glutton and a drunk." MSG

So, here you have some brothers who have squandered their opportunity to lead, to be examples who are now acting out, possibly because they are in bad standing with the Father. Firstborn doesn’t always equate to first blessed.

Let’s look back at the Dreamer who walks in Favor:

37:5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.

When you are favored, hatred becomes fuel for your Dream life! Remember Joseph’s brother wouldn’t speak peaceably to him. So, God spoke to him in a dream about his future. You dream because God loves you enough to speak to you. When others try to suppress your purpose, you can be sure God is ready and waiting to speak a word to you.

Joseph didn’t respond to his haters with hate; he declared his dreams instead. You don’t have to be afraid to declare your dreams. Will you declare your dreams in the midst of your haters?

37 8 His brothers said, "So! You're going to rule us? You're going to boss us around?" And they hated him more than ever because of his dreams and the way he talked.

9 He had another dream and told this one also to his brothers: "I dreamed another dream — the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed down to me!"

What happened after his encounter with his haters? He had another dream! They hated he was loved by the father, they hated the way he talked, they hated the way he dreamed. They hated the essence of who he was.

The Hebrew word for dream means to be in good liking; to recover
When people hate, what they don’t realize is they are stirring up the dreamer in you, they cause you to recover those things God put in your spirit man; you find yourself writing, dancing, starting a business, the dreams in you begin to wake up! The gifts in Joseph didn’t decrease because he was hated.

God gave Joseph dreams so that he would know his place in the world- God the Faithful Father will speak to you concerning your purpose in the world- he doesn’t want to leave you in the dark! His plan is to prosper you and not harm you, to give you an expected end.

Joseph, when he received these dreams was a young man; he lacked physical maturity and insight in the beginning, but he had the heart of his father.
Dreams restrain people from doing evil, reveal God’s will, encourage you, reveal the future, and provide instruction.
Dreams reveal is what you have a right to; it is up to you to seek God for understanding.

Read on:
Gen 37:18-24

18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.

19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.

20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

21 And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.

22 And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.

23 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colors that was on him;

24 And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. KJV

When you are Favored, when you are a Dreamer, people will stage a death or fake you fall to try to thwart your destiny. Who are they? They are those who operate in the spirit of hate.

They can’t take your life, so they attempt to stage your fall
  •  Bad press
  •  Rumor mills
  •  Character assassination    
  • These are the tools of haters, but NO WEAPON formed against the Favored shall prosper!
Like Joseph’s brothers, they are hoping the Father will forget you! Just as Joseph’s father mourned him the rest of his life, until he was reunited with his Son. No matter how much time passes, the Father doesn’t forget you.

This Hater mentality came simply because of the Dream.

How many know, when you sow hate, you reap a harvest of famine.

  •  Sowing discord
  •  Arrogance
  •  Lying tongues
  •  Shedding innocent blood
  •  Plotting schemes
  •  Swift to commit evil
  •  Giving false testimony
  •  The brothers were guilty of the abominations laid out in Prov.6

Joseph’s dream revealed a time of future blessing for not only his family but for the world:

6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:

7 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.

The spirit of hate had totally eclipsed the brothers’ ability to receive, discern, and understand God’s plan for them to prosper and their role in it. In studying this passage, note:

  •  Everything was there at the time of harvest
  •  Their harvest was not less, it was just in a different position: Joseph’s harvest had the position of authority
  • Hate for Joseph caused them to miss the point of the dream altogether
  •  They were so focused on the position of their harvest that they missed the fact that they had a harvest at all
  •  This dream spoke of the time in Joseph’s life where there would be lack in the land, he would be in control of the harvest, and ultimately his brothers would come to him for assistance and be blessed because they were connected to Joseph
  •  Joseph saw their harvest, his brothers saw their position- where is your focus? The wrong focus threw off their favor

Instead of them asking what the dream meant, they began to go on the attack in v.8. Instead of seeing Joseph as a key to unlock favor and blessing in their life, hatred caused them to take their favor, mistreat and abuse it, and sell it down the river!

Amos 3:17- when you don’t believe God's  prophets, you close the door on your own prosperity!

Haters despise those who have a dream life. Joseph was open to God because he was closed to the spirit of hate. The brothers were open to the spirit of hate which darkened their minds to the will of God. Hate made them spend more time plotting Joseph’s demise rather than caring for father’s sheep.

Cain had the same issue with Abel. God told him, sin is lying crouched at the door, waiting for you. You opened the door because you hate your brother. Because he didn’t remove it from his mind, the hate moved to his heart and then his hands.
Some think it is the enemy blocking your ability to dream to open doors of favor but God says hate is there, bitterness is there, not understanding the love of the father for some is there.

If you hate, your dream can’t get in you and you can’t get into your dream.
Hatred builds a fortress against Love’s invasion but it cannot stand.

Those that are favored must understand haters are out to steal your attention, kill your dream, and destroy your life! This spirit comes from the devil! He is the enemy of the Harvest, Empowerment, Love, and Life of God. This is the Hell that satan is afraid of! It torments him when you walk in victory, authority, dominion, power, and cast him out of your life and home!

Joseph had Weapons of Massive Direction on his side!
We can deduce by the text that Joseph maintained relationship with God
He deepened his roots in God; Joseph did very little talking but God was noted to be with him.
God was with him in every step down and every promotion up
He had a prayer and communication life with God
As citizens of the Kingdom, we can not pray like we are visiting the kingdom!

Joseph abided in the Love of the father even as we must, even without that visible evidence. When you’re not “feeling” the love, feeling the covering, will you still abide? Will you still know God loves you? Will you still realize God has not forgotten you?

I believe that Joseph’s father did not rebuke him, for his sake, but for his brothers’; remember Jacob himself was a dreamer. But here’s the issue: sometimes we seek out the wrong people, in the wrong timing, in the wrong order about our Dreams. His Father rebuked him, but he revealed the meaning of the dreams to Joseph. The dreams pointed Joseph out as the rightful heir. He was doing what his father did.

Do we take what God has spoken to us back to the maker? Joseph should have sought his Father first (Mt.6:33) do we ask the Father, “what does this mean?”

Sometimes when you are favored, you may want to be the follower but favor’s purpose is to send you ahead to prepare a way, to preserve posterity. It is comfortable to ride it out, but God has entrusted you with favor to send you ahead.

Favor places you in direct line of target but it also makes the impossible possible, the insurmountable conquerable, protects, defends, and hedges you in! Your dreams are your treasure that God has placed in you: they can’t be destroyed by people, elements, or pestilence, but they can be corrupted through sin. Only when you walk in love can you be trusted with true riches and Favor.

Joseph understood his dreams and purpose for favor in the end. When you have Favor, your job is to bring the kingdom of God to the earth, not assimilate into earthly kingdoms and serve false gods. He was a servant to God and a ruler in the earth. Can God trust you not to overthrow His government once He grants you favor? Favor was not given for him to horde it but cultivate and share it with the world. When you serve God’s purposes He can trust you with souls and provision: your national plan could save the world. When the world’s storehouses close, if you follow God, His storehouse will be open to you.

God can create a need in the world and give the plan to you just to bring those  who hated you to the floor. Think about this? Are you the cause of the famine or are you the answer to it? Your favor should end the famine in the lives of those you are connected with.

Joseph was a Hater Breaker
  •  He didn’t retaliate
  •  He showed mercy instead of justice
  •  He tested the sincerity of those around him
  •  He kept his dream life and his walk with God cultivated so that bitterness and resentment would not replace his DREAMS

He attended the University of Hard Knocks:
Earned his BS (Believed in Salvation plan for his generations)
MS (mastered his Soul, Spirit and Will)
PHD (put his dreams in Gods hands)
Favor may be given but Faith will be tried and pressed upon!
Joseph knew his purpose: It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened through his night, his darkest times. In your darkest time, God is just closing the curtains so He can work unseen behind the scenes!

Joseph's Purpose

Favored to
1)    sent ahead to preserve life -prophetic
2)    establish a remnant in the land/oversee nations-apostolic
3)    show forth a great deliverance by a God Idea-miraculous

Look at these similarities of Joseph and Jesus

  •  objects of their father’s love (gen 37:3, John 5:20, Mt. 3:17)
  •  their bretheren hated them (gen 37:4, John 15:25)
  •  their brothers rejected their superior claims (Gen 37:8, mt. 21:37)
  •  their brothers conspired to kill them (v.18)
  •  became blessing to Gentiles
  •  reconciled with their brothers and exalted them
  •  coat dipped in blood, dispute over the death and body of both

If you are a Dreamer, Favored, and Hated, you are in Good Company and in God company! Keep the faith!