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Rev. Dr. Delesslyn A. Kennebrew, J.D., M.Div.

Visionary Strategist Faithful Innovator Inspirational Essayist

Salvation and Stilettos Blog

Blog

#theSHIFT: DELIBERATION

Posted on April 19, 2016 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (2)
Greetings!

BlogFam, 
One of the questions I ask myself as I deliberate my current situation and attempt to anticipate the consequences of decisions I make in the present moment is this: LORD, WHAT IS MY NEXT RIGHT STEP?  Now, if you have been reading this blog for a while or have participated in the annual My Vision Fast [www.MyVisionFast.com], then you are familiar with my raising this question with myself and with you.  I know that there are all kinds of decision-making strategies available to us, but this one question seems to capture what I need to know at the time while alleviating some of the anxiety of not knowing every little detail ten steps down the road.

LORD, WHAT IS MY NEXT RIGHT STEP?

In our last blog, we talked about the DESIRE to shift and now I want us to acknowledge the wrestling that comes once the DESIRE to shift has been discovered within ourselves.  I am aware that it is a common pattern for me as well as many of my family and friends to then DELIBERATE after DESIRE.  By this, I mean, once the DESIRE is discovered, then all kinds of things pop off in our minds and spirit that call for a time of deliberation.  During this time of deliberation we consider pros and cons.  We think about timelines.  We think about partnerships.  We think about money.  We think about how this desire will now impact and influence our spouses, our families, our business partners, our friends, and other relationships.  We wonder about how we will look in the eyes of others.  We hope that we are not being crazy or that our idea is not too far-fetched.  We might even reconsider whether or not the desire we have is for now or for later or if we should pursue it at all.  DELIBERATION.

Friends, I have certainly been there and continue to deliberate in my own life.  DELIBERATION was part of my journey as I considered my academic pursuits, my dating life, the purchasing of my home, the accepting of my call to ministry, and so many other things.  And when the Spirit led me to ask that particular question in the midst of my deliberation several years ago, it opened my eyes, gave me comfort, released my anxiety, soothed my doubts and calmed my fears. [I borrowed the last two from an old Gospel song LOL]  Anyway, let me explain how this one question never gets old AND how it is now the FIRST question I ask in pretty much every moment of DELIBERATION.

LORD, WHAT IS MY NEXT RIGHT STEP?
FIRST - This question is grounded in Matthew 6:33, one of my favorite verses of all the Bible when it comes to decision making.  " But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." [Matthew 6:33]  In other words, the very first person I know that I must acknowledge is the Lord in every area of my life.  Yes, I do draw wisdom from the counsel of many as advised in the book of Proverbs; but ultimately, I seek the peace of God and that can only come if I acknowledge the Lord in my deliberations.  I must seek... WE must seek the Lord FIRST, acknowledge His authority in our lives and His righteous way of being in the world as we are the hands and feet of Jesus.  I know that I can never err if I keep this in mind. 

SECONDLY - This question is very personal.  While I know that the consequences of my choices might impact others, when I ask this question, I am ultimately asking for my own sense of clarity and direction during my deliberation.  I know that it is important to LOVE MYSELF so that I can love my neighbor as myself and when I am clear about God's purpose and vision for my own life, I can be a better neighbor.  And as a good and loving neighbor, I do not have to be jealous or take over assignments that are not mine or tear others down to build myself up or anything else in that vein that is manipulative or conniving.  All of that is a waste of time and energy because I have already been given the direction for my own life and have no time to waste in derailing the destiny of others.  Actually, when I am clear, I can help you because by helping you I am loving you and competition is not a factor because my soul, my spirit is at peace with God.

THIRDLY - The question is directly concerned with the next step one.  I know that last sentence sounds strange but it is true.  I have discovered that when I try to figure out every little detail about my destiny and how the Lord will bring all of my gifts and graces to light in God's overall and seemingly overwhelming plan for my life, I can get a little frazzled and nervous and sometimes I have even wanted to just step back from it all just so I can collect my thoughts.  BUT as I deliberate, if I think about the big picture, at least as much has been revealed to me, and then I ask myself, what is step one in getting there, I feel much better.  Sometimes, I can only handle step one.  Step one might be to pray.  Step one might be to make a phone call or just be quiet.  Step one might be to have another conversation.  Step one might be to download the application.  Step one might be to forgive or read the next chapter or visit a friend.  I have found that I can always handle step one. And as I am obedient to THAT next right step, then the Lord has a way of making everything else clearer... a way of adding all things unto me.

Friends, ask the Lord this question as you begin your deliberation.
LORD, WHAT IS MY NEXT RIGHT STEP?
Write down your answer and OBEY TODAY.

GOD LOVES YOU AND I DO TOO!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
Delesslyn

#BestPractices: YOU are the Answer!

Posted on November 16, 2015 at 2:32 PM Comments comments (0)
Greetings!

BlogFam - 

I thought I would finish this series today but I may have to do one more post for the very last verse but let's see what happens here...

Friends, for the last 7 weeks or so, the church I serve in Atlanta, GA has been going through a Season of Simplicity.  The theme has been to " SIMPLIFY your life so that you can AMPLIFY your living!"  We have used this time to recommit ourselves to spending more time with God, minimizing social media and other digital distractions, streamlining our wardrobe options, and utilizing our finances to only cover life’s most basic necessities. It has been an intentionally quiet time in my life, necessary for staying in tune and in the center of God's will for my life in this season.  I have done my best to follow as much of the plan as I could, especially those parts that I felt were most impactful to my own personal journey with God.  I have also experienced the amazing grace of God as God has revealed and concealed and confirmed and restored.  I can honestly say that I am in a different place, a better place, and I agree with the words of our Lord in Matthew 6 as a "norm" that I embrace because of the ways I have been challenged to keep things simple. 


31 So [I] do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and ALL these things will be given to you as well. [Matthew 6:31-33]

Friends, I have been quick to speak the words of verse 33 on many occasions but when I look in the mirror today, I realize that the Kingdom of God is all encompassing and the righteousness of God is thoroughly pervasive and the provision of God is altogether sufficient and more than enough at the same time.  I am reminded that God's Kingdom is the place where our very human and our deeply spiritual needs are met.  God knows our every need and is well able to feed, refresh, clothe us in every way.  We do not have to run after these things because the knowledge our heavenly Father has of our need is at the same time a clue that provision has already been made.  This is such GREAT news!  And even when it appears that our life's most basic needs are being neglected, I truly believe that God is speaking through one of His vessels in the earth to share so that we all have what we need.  

In fact, perhaps that is the revelation that we must truly get.  I mean, how often do you consider yourself a conduit for providing the needs of others on behalf of the Almighty who has provided an overflow for you?  How often do you think of yourself as the one through whom the blessings of the kingdom must flow so that prayers of those in need can be answered because of your patience, your generosity, your compassion?  Isn't this what it really means to be righteous?  Isn't this the kind of addition we really need to experience in our homes and schools and communities and churches?  The kind of addition that realizes that we increase our own lives and build the kingdom by sharing what already belongs to God.

I am in awe of how God will use these vessels of clay to bring hope and model righteous ways of doing and being in the world.  And in light of all of the recent events of mass murder and ongoing poverty, hunger, domestic violence, cancer, HIV/AIDS, orphans, widows, and every other social ill or injustice, why wouldn't we want to be the kind of people who embody the answers to the questions in the passage?  Friends, we are to offer bread and drink and clothes, hope, help, and healing by being kingdom minded and letting our light shine, and doing what is right and just at all times.  For when we keep this kind of mindset and allow this kind of heart shift, we can all declare in full confidence...

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:34]  AND as the children of the Most High, we will receive and we will share so that no one has to worry, because we will meet each other's needs as God gives us opportunity in this world.  For truly, THIS is God's Best Practice... TGBTG!!!


GOD LOVES YOU and I DO TOO!
Blessings! Glory! Sunshine!
Delesslyn

PS - I guess we finished Matthew 6 after all LOL!  LOVE YOU!

#BestPractices: Yes. Yes. Yes. And No.

Posted on October 29, 2015 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (1)
Greetings!

BlogFam, 

Here are the verses for today...
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? [Matthew 6:24-27]

Selah.

The Lord has a way of clearly reminding us of how frail, fickle, finite, dependent, desperate, and needy we really are while at the same time offering all that He has to us so that we are assured that He loves us.  He cares about all that concerns us. He is able to meet every need we could possibly have.  This is what I think about as I read the verses for our reflection today.  

Lord, YES, life is more than food.  YES, the body is more than clothes.  YES, we are valuable.  NO, we cannot add a single hour to our lives by worrying.  I just answered the rhetorical questions Jesus asks in Matthew 6.  I really do love when Jesus asks questions.  I have said that before.  And I still do.  I like when Jesus asks questions because He already knows the answers but it is a way that I believe He invites us to fellowship with Him.  He invites us to wrestle with our own thoughts and assumptions and belief systems  in a way that guides us to truth and conviction, repentance and joy.  Jesus does all of that with His questions and I am so grateful that He does.

I have a lot of favorite passages of scripture and Matthew 6 is definitely on the list.  It is on the list for the verses we read today and for those we will explore in future blog post(s).  The reason being that these verses remind me that I need Jesus every day and in every way.  At this point on my journey, there is not one moment in my life that I can justify ignoring the presence and activity of God in my life.  And the Lord's questions inform, remind, correct, and comfort me at the same time.  Ultimately, none of this is in my control.  I make choices about all of these things and by faith, I believe that Jesus is guiding those choices because the truth is: I am human and I am frail, fickle, finite. dependent, desperate, and needy.  I must have the Lord in my life to live, to move, to breathe, and to have my being.  There are times when I do wonder, maybe even worry about food, and clothes, and my own value, and my life - who I am and where I am going and what I am becoming and how all of it will work together for my good.  But then I think about Matthew 6 and it soothes my soul.  It gives me peace.  And I am reminded that His strength is made perfect in all of my weaknesses...  and I am grateful.

So, my friends, I remind you today... DO NOT WORRY ABOUT YOUR LIFE!!!  The Lord already knows He has a lot to deal with concerning me and you and He can handle it ALL!  TGBTG!  

P.S. - There will be even more assurance in the next post... lol

GOD LOVES YOU and I DO TOO!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
Delesslyn


#BestPractices: Get Off the Fence!

Posted on October 19, 2015 at 12:33 PM Comments comments (0)
Greetings!

BlogFam,

As strict and out of touch and old fashioned as I thought my parents were when I was a teenager growing up in their home, I have grown up to appreciate the high standards that they set for myself and my siblings. Put God First and Pray About Everything were two life critical lessons I learned in their home.  Those two lessons were an expression of their united conviction to BE YE HOLY, AS I AM [IS] HOLY.  My parents never allowed themselves or their children to compromise or negotiate this standard.  I will be the first to admit that none of us is perfect, but we were very clear that our lack of perfection did not excuse or give allowance for the standard to be lowered.  I have no hesitance in sharing that my parents were clear as Joshua was in Joshua 24...

14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” [Joshua 24:14-15]

Friends, whether you believe or have faith or trust in the God of the Bible as I have and as I am growing to understand, I hope that you will respect my personal conviction as I respect yours.  I hope that you have conviction about matters of your soul that run deeper than the hot topics in the news or the trending topics on twitter or Facebook.  I hope that you are the kind of person whose life choices are guided by something more than popular culture and political correctness.  I hope that you have set standards that seem unattainable but that you are striving to attain with the help of a power beyond yourself.  

I know that it is so much easier to just go with the flow of your life as it comes and trust your gut or the universe or your daily horoscope and the alignment of the stars for direction or guidance along the journey, but I PROMISE YOU that one day... " if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then [you will have to] choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve..."

You WILL have to make a choice.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." [Matthew 6:24]

I like how The Message Bible states this verse...
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money, possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord].

BlogFam, GET OFF THE FENCE!  You have to... You need to make a choice.  That is NOT what many Christians want to hear.  There are a lot of us who do not want to take a stand or get off the fence because of fear or cowardice or immaturity.  It is just easier to NOT have a personal conviction for holiness or take a public stand to serve the Lord.  We want people to like us.  We want people to promote us.  We want people to keep us around.  We want  people to not feel "threatened" by our faith and so we shy away from conversations, prayers, Facebook posts, certain bible verses in order to stay on the fence and be OK with not coming down on one side or the other.  That is fantasy.  And one day, you WILL have to make a choice...

So, my friends, today, I ask you to prayerfully consider the areas in your life where you are on the fence and I will do the same.  I know that there are a few issues that I would rather not take a stand for or against and just let them be.  Besides, "for now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."  [1 Corinthians 13:12]  And I do not offer that as another excuse for avoidance, but as a truth with which we all must wrestle.  Yet, until that great day and with all that is within me, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

GET OFF THE FENCE!

GOD LOVES YOU AND I DO TOO!!!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
Delesslyn

#BestPractices: A Light Perspective

Posted on September 30, 2015 at 8:36 AM Comments comments (1)
Greetings!

BlogFam - 

Today, I just have a few questions/thoughts for your consideration...

Do you have a light perspective?
I am not simply referring to whether or not you know if the lights are on in a room.  I am specifically referring to the light of Christ.  This light is different, direct, intrusive, intentional, bright, and bold.  

Do you have a light perspective?  
Are your eyes fixed on the light so much so that you consider every decision, dream, relationship,  reward, trial, or setback through the light of Christ?

Friends, perspective can be everything when you are trying to discern what is next, how to move, where to go, what to say.  And if you do not have a light perspective, how do you most accurately determine if you are in the center of God's will for your life?  How in the world are you able to "see" what is around you, coming after you, and what is taking place within you if the light is dim or completely dismissed in your life?

Do you have a light perspective?

Have you checked your eyes lately?
22 The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! [Matthew 6:22-23]

So, I ask you again... Do you have a light perspective?
And have you checked your eyes lately?

In today's world, it seems to be most challenging to be a person of religious conviction regardless on what side you may fall.  There are very loud and dominating voices that critique and bully you into erring on the side of the majority, which at any moment can be labeled as conservative or liberal.  These labels as expressed politically, economically, socially, and are both increasingly prone to disregard a light perspective.  Friends, I am not perfect but I must admit that I often question the spiritual healthiness of the eyesight of those who seem to have the loudest voices when it comes to propagating a version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that makes it OK to ignore the very things that the Lord Jesus said he came to do... 

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” [Luke 4:18-19]

Now, this is a light perspective.  And if you are blind to the ways that you can fulfill this aspect of God's call on your life as one who claims Jesus as their Savior, then it is time for an eye exam.  It is time for God's light to help us to see and to shine through.

We all need a light perspective.  We need the Lord to see into us and we need to see how the Lord would have us to let His light shine through us in every situation of our lives.  We need the Lord to help us to see around and above the labels of liberal and conservative long enough to know that if we are not fulfilling that prophetic version of the Gospel as mentioned above, then our eyesight is off.  We need the Lord to give us a light perspective that empowers us to see through the darkness and press on in ways that draws others to this light and not just to us.  We need the Lord to check our eyes so that we will not  be tricked into thinking that what is darkness is light and what is light is darkness.  Our eyes can play tricks on us and our eyesight will betray us if we do not keep a light perspective.

BlogFam, do you have a light perspective?
Have you had your eyes checked lately?

This is my prayer for us today...  Lord, give us an eye exam.  Help us to see YOU, others,  and ourselves.  Give us your light perspective.  Help us to see.  Help us to shine.  Help us to serve.  May we carry this light that is different, direct, intrusive, intentional, bright, and bold.  And may we never confuse darkness for light.  IN JESUS NAME...

God LOVES You and I DO Too!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
Delesslyn


#BestPractices: Eternal Investments

Posted on September 21, 2015 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)
Greetings!

BlogFam - 

I will be the first to admit that I barely know anything at all about money markets, stock markets, portfolios, dividends, split ends, IRAs, Life Insurance, Estate Planning, or the role of a Financial Broker.  I know enough to know that all of these things have something to do with how people use their money to prepare for their future or the future of their family but I do not know enough to advise you on any of it....except the split ends reference because that is all about hair and I thought it would be funny to just drop it in because it just fit in the rhythm of what I was saying  but absolutely has nothing to do with finances. LOL!  Anyway, I know that my randomness can be amusing at times... :-)  Moving on...

OK.  So, NO, I am not a financial expert in any of the above things I mentioned related to finance and yet, I do know that all of these things have an impact on the overall economy of this country in one way or another and vice versa.  I know that people have lost their jobs or picked up odd jobs when something in their finances is insufficient or inadequate, or unstable.  I know enough to know that the energy many place in securing these monetary investments can very easily supersede the energy given to the eternal investments of the heart and spirit.  Too often, we take for granted those intangible and often invisible matters of the heart and spirit that are the eternal investments that will not pass away.  Everything I do not understand about money really does not matter if my soul is lost. I wonder if those of you who are so invested in the things of this world, fortune and/or fame, have calculated the true cost of not storing for yourselves treasures in heaven.

Friends, I know that people do not like to talk about money for many reasons, not the least of which is talking about how it has been lost or how more can be made.  I know that many of you think that money talk is a private conversation that happens on a need to know basis and it is inappropriate to discuss it otherwise.  I get it.  I will not argue about it.  However, I will push you to consider or reconsider the talk about the value of the eternal investments that you have or have not made.  For the word of the Lord is true...


19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. [Matthew 6:19-21]

A few months ago, my vehicle was broken into.  Whomever the thief was, he or she busted the passenger side window over the back seat and stole my red work bag which contained lots of new information from my new job as well as my personal calendar and tablet.  I was upset and I felt so violated and the irony is that I was parked on a church parking lot.  While I do remember how I felt and what they took, I have since replaced everything or re-purposed things I already owned and I did get my window fixed.  But I am clear that all of my material possessions that were either broken or stolen, fail in comparison to the treasures of love and forgiveness, prayers for mercy and protection that filled my heart for me and the thieves.  I was able to use my financial resources to do what I needed to do to move forward; but, more importantly,  I was able to also draw upon the eternal investments I had already stored up so that I did not get bitter or draw unnecessary conclusions, or what some might call reasonable given the circumstances, which might have kept me away from church or away from prayer, or away from people who supported me through this ordeal.  

BlogFam, it is OK to be financially astute and secure, but it is more important to be eternally invested in the treasures of heaven.  I pray that this week you would consider or reconsider your investments of the heart and spirit.  I pray that your money matters are not more important than your spiritual ones.  AND I pray that you would be rich in Spirit and wise with your money and that you would trust GOD with it all!

Bod LOVES You and I DO Too!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
Delesslyn 


#BestPractices: Wash Your Face!

Posted on September 9, 2015 at 7:28 AM Comments comments (0)
Greetings!

BlogFam, 
There is NOTHING holy about crusty eyes and bad breath!
Yes!  I said it!  And I think it bears repeating...

There is NOTHING holy about crusty eyes and bad breath!
As children, one of the first things we are taught to take care of as it relates to our personal hygiene is to wash your face and brush your teeth.  Your face and your breath can leave positive and negative impressions on people.  So, while you may not be able to alter the characteristics of your face or teeth - though there are corrective and cosmetic surgeries that can do so - the least ALL of us can do is make sure our face is clean and our breath is fresh.  For I can promise you that there is no one on this earth who will think that you are closer to God because your face is dirty and your breath stinks.  I can almost guarantee you that if you do happen to think that you can ignore these two aspects of personal hygiene, there are at least TEN people who know you and are plotting to tell you how you need to get yourself together!  So, let me help you out... There is NOTHING holy about crusty eyes and bad breath!

Friends, while my opening comments may have caused you to snicker just a tad, I want you top know that there really is truth in my statements.  JESUS agrees with me... or maybe I should say, I agree with JESUS! LOL!

Check out these verses...

16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and WASH YOUR FACE, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. [Matthew 6:16-18]

See!  I told you!  Even the Lord wants you to wash your face and brush your teeth... and I obviously added the brush your teeth part considering we do live in the 21st century and a tooth brush and toothpaste is available at your local convenience store...  But the point is this: There is NOTHING holy about crusty eyes and bad breath!  

Friends, I do believe it is important for us to participate in the spiritual practice of fasting.  However, I do not have to know about every time you push your plate back or get off social media or deny yourself any other thing that you feel you need to announce because you want us to know you so holy.  Get over yourself and focus on JESUS!  You are not fasting for me to give you a pat on the back.  You are fasting in private so that when your heavenly Father sees you in secret, it is GOD who will reward you in God's own way.  But when you fast, I am so glad that Jesus said this... Put oil on your head and WASH YOUR FACE!  Do not neglect your personal grooming in order to prove that you are getting closer to God.  We are NOT impressed and most of all, God is not pleased if your declarations of fasting are for others to know that you are.  You have your reward.

So, BlogFam, let's take care of ourselves.  Put an effort in your personal hygiene.  Fast.  Pray.  Wash your face.  Brush your teeth. Add moisturizer and keep breath mints... AND do EVERYTHING else necessary for others to be inclined to pay attention to your witness.  I promise you... There is NOTHING holy about crusty eyes and bad breath!


GOD LOVES YOU and I DO TOO!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
Delesslyn


It's PRAYER Time, NOT SHOW Time!

Posted on August 24, 2015 at 9:36 AM Comments comments (2)
Greetings!

BlogFam, 
We are continuing our BEST PRACTICES Series, so let's just jump right into our scripture for today...

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. [Matthew 6:5-8]

Friends, it's PRAYER time and not SHOW time!  That is the word of the Lord for all of us today.  It is time to run away from any temptation to perform any kind of spiritual practice under the disguise of being a blessing or with the audacity to selfishly display your gifts for the acknowledgement of others.  Have you ever sat through a time of prayer or "praise" for that matter, and for some reason the moment felt so empty or dry or even distancing?  Well, you probably were not the only one feeling some kind of way in that particular moment.  I have certainly experienced this and what I have learned is that the leader of the prayer or praise is actually spiritually empty, dry, or distant themselves.  AND while there are moments where the Holy Spirit will not allow the people to suffer due to the neglect of the leader to nurture their own spiritual walk, there are also moments when the congregation feels the effects of that leader's immaturity, laziness, or neutrality in their relationship with God.  The overcompensation for one's lack of personal devotion is simply a ridiculous effort to publicly camouflage one's own hypocrisy.  

Friends, I know this might sound harsh but re-read the verses above.  God is so much more concerned with how you live your life in private because what you do in private and what you do not do in private will influence how you minister in public.  It is PRAYER time, not SHOW time!  It is time for all of us to take our prayer lives to another level AT HOME and not wait for the platform, stage, microphone, or an audience to put our faith on display.  There has to be such a major let down after one has showed out in public knowing that the Lord was far from them.  I know that there have been times when I have had to shift or shut up because I knew in my spirit that the grace extended to me for the moment had reached a stopping point.  I do my best to be so sensitive to the movement of the Holy Spirit and I have missed the mark but I am striving everyday to be on target.  I cannot imagine living totally dependent on my gifts or on the accolades of people who say they appreciate my gifts but will stab me in the back as soon as I sit down.  

BlogFam, it is PRAYER time and not SHOW time!  We do not need you to entertain us with your prayer or your praise any more.  Get a real prayer life!  And stop faking your faith in public!  We are over it!  Let the glory of the LORD rise among us...

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. [Matthew 6:5-8]

My sisters and brothers, It is PRAYER time and not SHOW time!

God LOVES You and I DO Too!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
Delesslyn

P.S. - Check out www.BibleStudyStarters.com for all of your personal and small group Bible Study needs.




Keep Your Hands to Yourself... Reinterpreted

Posted on August 17, 2015 at 9:43 AM Comments comments (1)
Greetings!

BlogFam, 
As we continue our #BestPractices Series, our verses for today remind me of an instruction that I am sure that all of us heard as children...  KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF!  This phrase was used most often was a word of caution to not hit, punch, or poke other children or people.  It was an early lesson on setting boundaries and respecting personal space.  I can appreciate the intentions behind these words and have followed and shared the same instruction with others.

But given our text for this morning, I cannot help but to reconsider this phrase... KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF!  As I understand Jesus' instruction in Matthew 6:2-4, I know he is not referring to the kind of physical contact as I have already discussed; however, for some reason, I think these words ring true as a summary for what Jesus is saying in these verses...

2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF!

Friends, Jesus is basically saying that when you do good, just do good and do not announce, brag, or boast about your doing good for the recognition of other people.  He does not say that others might not acknowledge the good that you have done, but he is saying that we should not do good to ensure that they will.  So, KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF!

And I will admit this can be hard.  We can get very excited about being used by God to spread love and mercy among our family, friends, and even strangers.  We can be joyful and jubilant about the opportunities we have to be the hands and feet of Christ in our local community.  We can even want to invite others to join us in our efforts to make this world a better place by letting our light so shine.  Our intentions to announce, brag, or boast might seem to come from a good place.  But this passage forces us to wrestle with our ego and immediate rewards versus God truly getting all the glory and delayed rewards. 

How do we ensure that our God gets all the glory in our secret and public acts of kindness, charity, or sacrifice in this world?  We must KEEP OUR HANDS TO OURSELVES!!!  We must practice doing good without announcing it.  We must do our God-led actions without needing an audience to celebrate that we followed God's will.  We must preach, serve, sing, pray, and love without a desire for a pat on the back or a standing ovation.  We must do the right thing and look to God for the reward God chooses to give.

BlogFam, KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF!  There is no need for you to sound your own trumpet, toot your own horn, blow your own whistle in order to draw attention to yourself for the good you have done!  Just do good and keep doing good and do not pause for your own praise!

GOD LOVES YOU and I DO TOO!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
Delesslyn

P.S. - Please check out www.BIbleStudyStarters.com for your individual and small group Bible Study needs.





#BestPractices: Introduction to Matthew 6

Posted on August 12, 2015 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)
Greetings!

BlogFam - 
One of my favorite verses in the bible to remind myself of my life's priorities is Matthew 6:33.  "But  seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  In countless decisions and words of advice to others, this verse has been a timely and appropriate mantra.  So, this morning, I was very excited when the focal verse of my morning devotional was from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6, and I just read the entire chapter for my own edification.  I was blessed and impressed to walk through this chapter in a new blog series entitled #BestPractices.

In every industry, there are BEST PRACTICES that have been studied, researched, tried, and trusted as standards for safety and success.  Best Practices is defined in one online business dictionary in this way: A method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark.  So, as I read through Matthew 6, I was inclined to think that if believers in the Lord Jesus Christ would do their best to practice the instructions of Christ in that chapter, our spiritual safety and success would be ensured, and we would come to admit that our results, our fruit, our reward for compliance with these words would be "superior to those achieved with other means."

Friends, I am so very excited about this new journey through Matthew 6!  I hope that you will walk with me over the next few weeks.  I want to acknowledge that Matthew 6 is in the middle of Jesus' infamous Sermon on the Mount.  This sermon is included in Matthew Chapters 5 - 7.  But for now, I am only focusing on Matthew 6.  I have written a series on The Beattitudes of Matthew 5 entitled, Wholesome Habits of Healthy Disciples.  Check it out!

Best Practices begins now...

Matthew 6:1
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  

Honestly, I wish every believer would memorize this verse and commit to reciting it every time there is an opportunity for them to serve, lead, or share.  I promise you I think that believers prefer the applause, compliments, and accolades of other people over the reward promised to them by God.  I say this because if you do not clap or give a shout out, or hand a certificate, plaque, or trophy to certain saints, they will have something to say about it and their friends will too.  It amazes me how much we want others to see us as opposed to be satisfied  with knowing that God knows our hearts and will reward us in God's own way and time.  

No, we should not only serve, lead, or share our witness for the heavenly reward.  We should do so as a response to our LOVE and GRATITUDE toward the one who gives us life and breath and has redeemed our souls.  But sense Jesus knows that we can get our priorities twisted because we can more readily see or hear the appreciation of others for our acts of righteousness, Jesus has to address it.

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  

Now, friends, I admit, that it does feel good for others to acknowledge the good we have done in the world, in our church, on the job, in the community.  It is a boost to our self-esteem when people pat us on the back or take us out to dinner to celebrate our accomplishments that have been a blessing to them or their family or their ministry or their neighborhood.  I will not dismiss that we all like the spotlight to shine on us publicly and privately every now and then when we need a little encouragement to keep on keeping on.  But Jesus has to address this selfish need for our acts of righteousness to seek the rewards of men and women over, above and maybe even against the reward of our heavenly parent.

It is so easy to get caught up in being seen and heard due to your good work in the world but GOD KNOWS YOUR HEART.  God knows exactly why you did what you did and you cannot fool God.  You might fool us into thinking that your actions come from a pure and holy place but you can never fool God.  You do not have the intellect, the connections, or the clout to run a game on heaven.  People on this earth might be impressed by you but our God is probably distressed that your heart is consumed with pleasing people over, above, and against God.  The rewards of our God last longer than the sound of applause, endures beyond the life of that dusty trophy, and cannot be shredded like that flimsy certificate.

BlogFam, let's get it together!  Our best practice for today is this:
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  

GOD LOVES YOU and I DO TOO!!!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
Delesslyn