I am joyous in the Lord...and...these last three weeks have tested me on that--I tell you. St. Paul, says, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4-8 KJV). I seek to maintain a spirit of joy, even when I am less faithful in keeping a spirit of joy while accomplishing the ever-increasing laundry list of things to do, events to plan and lessons to create.
Yesterday, I was on the Dr. Zina Pierre prayer line with my mom. It's kind of our thing. She’ll call me an hour before to ask if I’m going to get on it. I ask her to call me 5 minutes before, so I don’t forget. When tested, it is so good to have someone checking in on you. It lets me know while on campus after scudding from class, attempting to grade papers or running off to a study meeting, that God is the great refresher.
Take Him wherever you go!
So...I dance a lot. When I was going on medical leave from KU last year, after battling royally with arthritis and the immense pressures of graduate school, dancing was the only thing I could say—if that makes sense. Sometimes the enormity of the small traumas can add up until we’ve had all we can take. It was time for me to say no more and call on the only help I knew, Jesus.
You know what His prescription was? To sit my worrying-about-tomorrow self down and to use the words I have. For me, that was salsa; that was reggae; that was Stravinsky; that was good ol’ Frankie, Muddy Waters, African dance—and, believe it or not, Christian rap and rock. Seeing that God could take “the world’s” music and turn it around to give Him the glory and the honor and the praise was comforting for me. That God could take the mess I made of my life and turn it into a song that I could later dance...and laugh...to was reassuring for me.
“Through all the chaos, He was writing a symphony” (a song by Switch).
I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but Justin Bieber is making more sense than I’ve heard in a long time. In a recent church service on August 30th, Bieber, on Instagram, wrote, “Sang at church last night. God is pulling me through a hard season. Having trust in Jesus at your worst times is the absolute hardest.
But he is faithful to complete what he started.”
On the other hand, you have artists like Marty Sampson from Hill Song, with such a major Christian platform, sharing on social media that “he is ‘genuinely losing’ his faith;” and according to ChristianPost.com, “clarified that while he hasn’t ‘renounced’ his Christianity, it’s nevertheless on ‘incredibly shaky ground.’”
Walking with Christ is hard everyday; yet, we see here with Hill Song, with all the fame and success in the Christian music world, it is truly Ecclesiastes over, again. Vanities, vanities, vanities. When going through the struggles in our Christian walk, we have to ask for daily renewal.
Jesus is our daily portion to get through the dead zones of our faith.
Renew me, Abba, that I might walk faithful in You in this deaden season.
In my last post, I spoke about considering my ministry for teaching and studying a dream that Jesus gave me to hold for such a time as this. So many Millennial and Generation Z students need a comforting instructor.
It is my labor of love to listen for their brilliance to emerge. I have struggled with what it means to be a Christian on campus. “How can I use my talents as a teacher to bring a little more Heaven, here, to Earth,” I often think.
When we have a dream or talent, that is a piece of Heaven’s treasure that the Holy Spirit gives us to carry through our toiling in this world. How silly of me to once think I couldn’t bring Heaven’s dream to school with me.
This week was my first week back to campus. I teach English 101 at KU in addition to attending classes there. Walking around campus, as far as the eye could see down Jayhawk Boulevard, there are droves of students. Some are meandering to class. Some are chasing buses. Some are even walking around with boxes of books on their heads. (Okay, that was me coming from Wescoe Hall with a box of good reads that I got from my professor’s office!).
I used to think that I couldn’t bring God with me onto campus. I’m not ashamed of the Gospel. So, I carried in my purse a small New Testament Bible, anyway, that I got from Pastor Nancy’s giveaways. It made me feel that I at least made room for God in my scholastic pursuits. Then, bam! When I was walking to Bailey Hall, I happened to look down and saw this: Sidewalk chalk announcing a Thursday night worship service at Danforth Chapel on campus. I thought, “Wow, here I am making assumptions that campus communities are averse to the spreading of the Good News; and, look at this; folks are worshiping anyhow.”
Here’s just a little on Danforth:
“Danforth Chapel was dedicated in 1946. It was named after William Danforth whose grant from the Danforth Foundation provided the impetus for beginning construction. Students and faculty [at KU] also contributed money and labor to see their site for meditation become a reality” (Source: http://silc.ku.edu/danforth-chapel).
I consider my ministry for teaching and studying a dream that Jesus gave me to hold for such a time as this--when so many Millennial and Generation Z students need a comforting instructor. It is my labor of love. When we have a dream, that is a piece of Heaven’s treasure that the Holy Spirit gives us to carry through our toiling in this world. How silly of me to think I couldn’t bring Heaven’s dream to school with me.
As a kid, I always accepted but never quite understood the phrase, “To be absent in body is to be present with the Lord.” It was often shared during funerals growing up in Brooklyn. It was a way to celebrate someone’s homegoing. It was a Jubilee to leave the chains of this Earth and go on to the new Earth to come.
The common phrase actually comes from St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:8: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (KJV).
On Monday, there was a young woman sleeping by the wheelchair ramp of the church...and doing so very peacefully. I thought to myself as the new college semester starts and students are moving in and out, “What am I complaining about in having to move into a new apartment in a few weeks? I’ve been well sheltered for 3 months and just got approved to move into a new apartment. God is good anyhow.”
Us believers get entitled sometimes. The world is upside down, and we bask in the glory of God and his provisions daily. I am reminded to not forget where the Lord has brought me from...and to keep close Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (KJV).
That earlier 2 Corinthian's passage starts at Chapter 5 with, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (KJV).
Even though I am about to move, again, after 3 months here in KCK, I am reminded--it is the Lord that goeth out ahead of me!
So, Aldi’s is about to open soon, very soon! They closed to rebuild and are reopening with a brand new glass, modern look.Their prices are the most affordable around. As a grad student, two years ago in KCK, I spent my standard 25 bucks a week there and ate like royalty. I’ve since, in the interim, been cobbling a grocery store pattern between Walmart, Price Chopper and QTrip runs--as well as a local food pantry in Shawnee.
Shawnee Community Services has been in operation for over 35 years.
During lunch, at Shawnee, there is a huge rush of all types of people: Latino, black, white, young, old, low income and working poor. People are grabbing their one dessert, two veggies and all you can carry breads. It was a sustained act of kindness that kept that food pantry going over three decades.
Hardship seems to be the great equalizer. Tough times are no respecter of persons. Yet, hardship is also a vehicle for the expression of mass actions of kindness. Titus 3:4-5 says, “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…” (KJV).
Kindness and mercy are the social glue of any society. Like the hospitality of Abraham when the messenger of the Lord met him and told Abraham that he’d be the father of many nations, our kindness to strangers and one another is a measure of our faith. God’s mercy is the starting place of grace, the foundation of His Kingdom on earth.
Check out 40 Best Bible Verses about Kindness. You’ll be sure to have an added pep in your step!
This past weekend, 29 people died and dozens more were injured in two mass shootings that occurred in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio (MSN.com). In El Paso, authorities are investigating it as a potential hate crime. In Dayton, the sister of the shooter was among the nine people killed in its entertainment district, late night. In the same weekend, during First Fridays at the Crossroads, the daughter of a pastor at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection lost her life.
My heart is broken. The hearts of the parents, friends, Walmart workers, officers and medical staff are also broken.
The Lord says in Psalms 147:3 that “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds” (KJV). In these last days of the last days, amongst all the tragedies and the rumors of wars, it sometimes is hard to hold securely onto the faith. I am reassured that we do not have to always maintain a warm smile or pleasant attitude or upbeat spirit. On the other hand, it is a blessing to smile anyway, to praise him through the circumstance. Our equipping comes from the Lord (Hebrews 13:21). He will equip us through every tragedy. Be patient in affliction, we are asked to do (Romans 12:12).
“He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:35).
Going to Walmart is kind of like going to church for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I in no way equate the edict of “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25 NKLV) with making sure to catch discounted prices on cat food. What I mean to say is that God’s presence and blessings are everywhere.
I find that Walmart shoppers get the “come as you are message” loud and clear. I love it! Thus, I feel less of the glare of judgement and more of the “nudge-ment” energies that warm each other into a recognition that we are all in the same lot. That friendliness, acceptance and encouragement is part of fellowship.
Sometimes people come into Walmart on their last dollar. Sometimes folks sit on the curbs of the medians, just staring out in their work uniforms or mechanic outfits. Sometimes families come in droves, cheerful and laughing and releasing a little bit of the terror they left behind. I’m not a big fan of commercialism or efforts by ad companies to make us feel less-than in order to sell us their often empty wares. I am a big fan, however, of bringing God wherever I go—even to the furniture aisle.
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