Love

Food for the Single Soul

While you are single, not in a relationship, not dating seriously, not married, you may be regarded as lonely and missing something, even the best out of life. However, despite your empty datebook, single relationship status, and subtle disdain by a society that views singleness as the plague, you are whole and not awaiting your better half, you are the better whole to your one day husband if God wills you to marry. Do not let society, age, or any other pressure rush you into marriage by encouraging you to write your own love story because that is an opportunity for the enemy to send you one of his children which would not be God’s best for you. During this upcoming holiday season, family, friends, people with good intentions, and others without good intentions will ask, “So, when are you getting married?”, and wait patiently for your hesitant answer. One of many appropriate and gracious ways to answer is by saying something to the tune of, “God has not sent my husband, but I trust God’s timing.” Understand that God will not withhold any good thing from you. He is a good God who knows how to give good gifts to His children, better than any earthly father ever could, that’s for sure. While He will not withhold any good thing from you, including the good thing that is a husband, that does not mean that He will not allow that thing you desire to be delayed, to await perhaps his or your necessary preparedness and the perfect timing for the presentation of your perfect for you gift, into your life. Though your meeting with your one day husband tarries, wait for him, because God will make your wait worth your while if you trust Him with all matters especially matters of your heart.  While desiring the temporary pleasure of life that a husband and family brings, desire more fully, and crave more earnestly what is eternal, the love relationship between you, your Maker and your Savior that will last forever. Today, I encourage you to spend your single days, your free, undivided time being devoted to God. What can you do for Jesus that would not be as feasible if your status were different?

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The Power to Forgive

ForgiveThis article was written just over a year ago, soon after nine parishioners at Emmanuel Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, lost their lives at the hands of a racially motivated gunman who has since admitted to and been found guilty of the murders. The racially motivated events we have seen this year were (at times) bitter cases of déjà vu, and make the topic of forgiveness an even harder solution to present, but a necessary beginning for everyone affected by tragic losses and other transgressions. In light of these and other events, I believe there is an urgent need and opportunity for the church to unite to show the country and the world the only realistic solution to enduring problems.


On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof went out at night to betray 9 parishioners in Charleston, South Carolina after having fellowshipped with them for an hour at their weekly bible study held at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Likewise, Judas went out at night (when most sins occur) to betray Jesus after he had broken bread with him (John 13:26). There’s no doubt in my mind that, Roof felt the love that was being shown to him by the Charleston Nine because he was a visitor and it is the norm to embrace visitors who join any church service. However, because Satan had already entered him and convinced him of his assignment to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10a), he rejected love and instead followed through with his diabolical plan. Judas too had an assignment that he carried out as it was prophesied, to betray Jesus; Satan entered him as well (John 13:27) and he followed through with his plan to turn Jesus over for 30 pieces of silver (Matt 26:15). Roof set out to end his story by committing suicide; Judas actually did commit suicide just after showing remorse for what he had done (Matt 27:3). Judas was remorseful and repentant to man, but he failed to be repentant to the one who had the power to save him. Instead, Judas as he was birthed to be, remained condemned. His story ended.

Some expect an apology or remorse from Dylann Roof. Without a doubt, apologies to man are gracious and human, but they are futile for a soul destined for hell. Man has no eternal rest to give, only God possesses that. In order to live in peace and to truly rest in peace, we have to be repentant to God. Unlike Judas, Roof is not the son of perdition, doomed for death that is, he did not take his life, his story has not ended, therefore, if Roof confesses his sin to God, He is faithful and just to forgive him and to cleanse him through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, just as he forgave and cleansed every other follower of His. He too will become Roof’s Lord; that’s the scandal of forgiveness. Our sin at our worst may not be the heinous murder of nine people, but we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  As Christians, Jesus is our example, the image of perfection that we will never attain. Yet, I witnessed Jesus’ example in the sister of one of the shooting victims when (it was reported that) she quickly, without reservation, said that she forgives Roof and prays for his soul. So what about us, who may not have directly lost a loved one as a result of the Charleston tragedy, similar tragedies, or other offenses great or small? This close relative, despite her grief, tapped into a power far greater than hate, the power to forgive. Power is not relinquished when we forgive, it is retained and a part of you perfected. When you forgive, a wise woman once said, “you are not letting [the perpetrator] off the hook, because they will still have to answer to God.” You are, however, making your heart lighter through the letting go of offenses. You are giving grace to others that you yourself would like to receive when you fall short, and that you expect from God (Ephesians 4:32).

We are commanded to be lights in a dark world. Tragic events like these just prove the need for Christ and make His work on the cross more valuable; there is such a desperate need for Him. Many Christians of all shades wonder what their place is in the heat of tragedies such as these and it is clear: be light, be salt, refuse to conform, and foremost of all—pray without ceasing. Furthermore, our perspective should differ from the world’s. It should be at odds with the world because we are supposed to be like Jesus. We should be Jesus to the world, be love to the world in order to win some of them over for Christ. How are you illuminating, seasoning, and being a misfit in a world of conformity?

 

Dedicated to the Charleston 9

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The Empty Seat at the Table

pexels-photo-196648“‘Tis the season to be jolly,” and all the rest. You are making and checking your gift-giving list. You are trying to make as many things merry and bright as you possibly can, but you cannot shake the feeling that this is not just another holiday season. The holidays are just not as cheerful as they would be if the empty seats at the table were filled with the presence of your lost loved ones. Whether it is one or more loved ones lost, the weight of their absence is often more heavily felt during the most wonderful time of the year. Their missing kisses, hugs, warmth, smile, and good-humor is magnified this time of year. Yet, no matter how much loved ones are missed, it is important to realize just how much of a vapor life is. So while you still have breath in your body, it is important that you live and find the joy that remains here: the smile of a child, the dawn of each new day, children at play, the spirit of giving, the birth of a baby, wedding bells, the encouraging words of those that give comfort, or more importantly, the peace that surpasses all understanding. While it is okay to move forward, to live, to enjoy your life without your dear loved one by your side and to find happiness in new joys and experiences, it is also okay to grieve as long as you need to. You may never get over the loss of a loved one (and you never have to), but you can get through it and go on with your life. Mourning is a temporary event that becomes a little less familiar with each passing day, or month, or year. As mourning reaches its end, the fondness of memories can be reminisced with a smile instead of a tear, with honor instead of pain, and with gratefulness to God for the gift that was the presence and connection you were favored to have had with your loved one. So while the empty seat at the table may reflect a deep hole in your heart, it can also or will hopefully begin to reflect your heart’s abundance of precious memories of happier times when laughter came easier and smiles were brighter.

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Divine Intervention

black-and-white-person-woman-girlHearts are breaking more often these days as news of trouble surfaces locally, nationally, and globally. I know God’s heart breaks over the wickedness of His creation. God neither slumbers nor sleeps so I know He is fully awake when injustices and senseless acts of violence occur of any kind. No matter how much He’s excluded from the solution, God remains the remedy to all of the evil in this world and His principles if adhered to would make a world of difference in our society. One thing is certain, God is not going to intervene in any situation in which He is not welcome. That is why the whole world benefits when God’s people pray and seek His face regularly and earnestly for His divine intervention. Above that, what if we did what is required which is to do right, to love kindness and mercy and to understand that it is not about us to the end that we walk in humility before God (Micah 6:8)? Imagine the difference that would be made if people actually loved their neighbor, actually cared about their welfare, actually treated all men as being created (as they were) equal. There would be no war, hate, bigotry, and all other evils in the way of a harmonious existence would be eradicated. Yet and still, we know in this world Jesus warned us to expect trouble (John 16:33); and we also know that the events of this age are leading up to His much anticipated return. So, as we live, be light, love, pray, and act with wisdom, in our hearts we always return longingly to utter, “Come Lord Jesus,” but with this world as urgently in need of a Savior, I can understand the reason for His delay (2 Peter 3:9).

 

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