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Learned Student, Honest.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What do you mean blessed?

When “good things” happen: the world attributes them to luck, hard work, self-effort, and/or good vibes, while some Christians will call it favor or being blessed by God.

I took luck out of my vocabulary a long time ago and replaced it with "God’s blessings" or "all the best." I’m finding it harder to voice certain usages of the word blessed, without analysis, because of the meaning we’ve attached to it. I feel like it may be used improperly; either too liberally or not enough.

Think about when you've heard or seen the following phrases and how they were used:

  • Be blessed
  • Bless you.
  • God bless you
  • God bless Country
  • Blessings.
  • I’m Blessed!
  • You’re Blessed!
  • Favor!

Notwithstanding that I am not the Judge, I get a check in my spirit when I hear people say
I got a new car – I’m blessed!
Favor ain’t fair!
I love my life, I’m blessed.
I internally question the usage.

So, if you:
a) Didn’t get a new car
b) Felt you should have been chosen and therefore were disfavored, or
c) didn’t love your life on a certain day or after a particular instance
Would you still feel that you were blessed?

According to Zondervan, being blessed is the ultimate well-being and distinctive spiritual joy of those who share in the salvation of the Kingdom of God.

Paul illustrates it best in Philippians 4.“I can abase, I can abound, but I do all things through Christ.

If I’m blessed I’m always blessed; I do all things through Christ.

It Could Be Me

I’m racing home during my break to get something. On the way there, I'm thinking of how grateful I am to have a car, so that I can just up and go somewhere. I arrive home, get in, get out and a few minutes later I turn around to head back to IHOP, the same way I came. I couldn’t help but notice this huge accident that was at the intersection that I was just at! Fire trucks, airbags, cars off to the ditch, the whole nine.

The first song that comes to mind: “It Could’ve Been Me
“It could’ve been me, with no clothes, no shoes and no food to eat.”

In the same vein, I think “but it’s her;” it’s that elderly woman, and this middle-aged woman, and that guy, and their cars. None of them planned this, they are children of God. They may be saved too. I’d like to think the middle-aged woman was praying, post-accident, otherwise she was actively engaging with an invisible person, hand motions pointing and all.

Are they more deserving of this accident than I am? Are other cities and nations more deserving of judgment than me in my comfortable square footage in the city I call home?

Not at all.

I feel this way with several of the intercession topics.

Sometimes we pray for the persecuted church in China or the end to sex trafficking and child exploitation.

Then I just remember how that could be me, a 25-year-old woman that cannot practice religion without physical persecution; persecution that many of us in the West have barely even smelled. I could be a 25-year-old woman and all I’ve ever known in life is oppression and sexual exploitation. At any given time, a man can and will enter my cage and rape me!

But, it’s not me, for God’s reason, but through the enemy, yet under God’s sovereignty, it is someone else. So we pray, we intercede for these children and women, halfway across the globe and in this very city, Atlanta, as the nation’s sex trafficking capital. We intercede for these people who will likely never know we are praying for them. That’s okay, no one needs to know.

That’s praying what’s on the Father’s heart. Feeling what He feels towards these injustices. Hating what He hates, and loving what He loves. Praying for what He would have us pray about, not just about what we want and what will satisfy our present desires.

It could've been me, yet it is someone else, so we pray. That’s intercession. You feel bad – for the injustices, You feel good – as in feeling His presence. You feel God.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Temporary Abode

I’ve witnessed some "interesting" things in my current setting. Some have the potential to be offensive and some actually are offensive. But the way I deal with it is by telling myself:
"This is only a temporary abode. I’m only here for a few more weeks. I won’t let something so insignificant in the grand scheme of things affect me. I’m a sojourner, 'a pilgrim just passing through.'"

Role Play Ideally
A Child of God/bride of Christ with different strokes: Offensive statement or action. 
Same Child of God/bride of Christ: Silence or Apology 
Me: Silence or correction.
Me: Forgiven.

It’s just that simple.

I’m trying to transfer the temporary abode mentality I've adopted here, to the way I approach every day, since this earth is our temporary abode. Any offense I experience from anyone is truly insignificant in the grand scheme of things; the ages to come.

You’ve probably seen that high school senior/college freshman facebook philosophy: "Forgive but never forget," usually after they’ve been hurt, oftentimes by a repeat offender. If you’re like me you remember almost (~99.9%) everything. It comes in handy in an organizational setting, but when trying to be Christ-like mmm not so much – I’m working on it ;-)

Still, for the most part, the most part being my entire existence, anything that anyone has accused me of or offended me with cannot be as offensive or more offensive than what I could be guilty of at the judgment seat; including my thoughts, for as a man thinketh in his heart so is he.

But God’s mercies, makes it so simple.

At any time, I can come boldly before the Throne of Grace and ask for His mercy and, I’m forgiven. It’s just that simple.

  • "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
  • "Forgive us our trespasses while or to the same extent, we forgive those who trespass against us." (yikes!)

That simple sentence is embedded in the prayer teaching us how to pray. It is a prayer some of us have prayed before we could read. This very sentence, in this very prayer, needs to become my reality, all the time. And I will admit, it's not my reality, all the time. With the temporary abode mentality it ought to be just that simple. These offenses will not matter in eternity, but the way I respond to it now will matter.
"This is only a temporary abode. I’m only here for X years. I won’t let something so insignificant in the grand scheme of things affect me. I’m a sojourner, 'a pilgrim just passing through.'" Olorun s'anu mi (and help me).
 "We now confess, that we are just pilgrims,
just passing through, seeking a homeland, 
come from above, a heavenly country, 
Not made with hands, whose builder is the LORD." - Tolu Akande

What does it mean to be successful?

In this day and age, our Western society has painted the picture that you’re not successful until . . .

Until you finish school.

It doesn’t stop there; you must go past undergraduate; go to graduate school, get your doctorate too; the more letters, the better.

Then, once you graduate, you must pass your board exams . . .

And then, you must get a really good job with a six figure salary, (But if you’re making six figures, you may be too busy to enjoy it, that’s okay, just make the money anyway)

Then are you successful yet? Not yet.

You must also get married, right away, (because you can just go to the market and pick out a good one, like strawberries - yum). Apparently, the quality of the marriage is not given as much value.

Then you must have kids, many kids, like 9 months after the wedding day, both genders too.
Then, are you successful?

Not yet, you must climb up the socio-economic ladder.

In order to fulfill that, all you have to do is own your own house, one to four cars, and live at or above your means; because even if you aren’t “successful” you will look “successful.”

Then, your kids must be healthy and well mannered, accomplishing several achievements and accolades.
And then will you be successful?

Almost, you’re children must go to school, get married, and so on and so on; keep pressing repeat.

Hmmm, so, sounds like you’re successful once your last grandchild graduates, gets married and if the LORD gives you more years, your grandchildren have children too = People over 75 are successful.

This might sound a little cynical or a tad bit facetious, and thankfully does not represent my family's views or pressures. But it's unfortunately the reality and therefore aspiration for several people that view the world through this lens and the get rich or die trying mentality.

How about this:

I am a lover of the Lord, I am loved by the Lord, and therefore, I am successful.

In other words, I love the Lord, He loves me; I’m successful. #TRUTH

Friday, June 10, 2011

Youthful loyalty: ride or die love.

Sunday morning, three couples were called up to the pulpit for an announcement. I asked my cousin which couple she thought was the most recently wedded of the three. She selected the young couple on the right. Jokingly, I indicated it was actually the elder couple, standing in the middle. I actually lacked knowledge of the accuracy of this information. Based on our brief visual observation, we settled on the same couple.

Of the three couples, the couple we selected was joined at the hip. They held hands throughout the announcement and their hands were interlocked. Also, the wife had a huge smile on her face and the husband looked happy as well.

Another couple was seated near us and my cousin said: “they’re newlyweds” and I immediately agreed.

One thing I usually pray for newlyweds is that their love for each other would continue to grow stronger than the day before. I don’t believe the honeymoon phase should apply to Christ-centered marriages.

The honeymoon phase is part of a Psychology theory identifying different stages of love. The honeymoon phase lasts for X amount of time and once the honeymoon phase wears off, your love begins to fade, beginning a cycle of weaker stages and some sprouts of rekindled love.

I admire families where the spouses have been married for years and their love is so strong that it also transfers to their children. For example, there is a particular family I have in mind, if you just watch for a few seconds you will see what cannot really be expressed in words; from the infant daughter to the eldest son. After listening to the father speak a couple times, I understood how they make it work.
When you’re really in love no one has to tell you how to act; it just comes naturally.” ¬-JBP
Take these two popular love song statements: “Don’t you remember you told me you loved me, baby?” and “I will always love you.” Try to imagine your spouse saying that to you after years of marriage. Try to imagine the LORD saying that to you.

During the 4pm intercession, Wednesday, the director ministered from Jeremiah 2:2-3 for communion.
“I remember your youthful loyalty, our love as newlyweds. You stayed with me through the wilderness years, stuck with me through all the hard places. Israel was God's holy choice, the pick of the crop. Anyone who laid a hand on her would soon wish he hadn't!'" God's Decree. (The Message)
Everyone has an individual Book of Remembrance that is currently being transcribed as we live out our lives with our free will and voluntary obedience. There are days that the LORD is going to mark, remembering our loyal devotion to Him. The days where we loved him loyally in our wilderness, like the love newlyweds have for each other. The days where we were “ride or die” with Him.

Ride or die is urban vernacular referring to a lover, usually of your youth, who was with you through it all, before you attained any level of success. Likewise, if you lost everything they would still be with you, faithfully.

There are some people who may be going through a wilderness season, but as long as they are faithful in their love, loyalty and devotion, the Lord sees it all. It is during some of your seasons in the wilderness where the LORD remembers the way you loved Him just as He marked the way the Israelites loved Him in the wilderness.

I don’t want to be a compromise Christian, when it comes to the perceived seasons of wilderness or uncertainty. I don’t want my love to be dull or my loyalty to fade. I don’t want to be a borderline Christian, a borderline lover of Christ. The border is too close to unbelief, doubt and wickedness. The borderline is lukewarm.

I want my love to be stronger than the day before. I want my loyalty to be God-fearing like that of Job, knowing that I am not my own, and without Him I can do nothing. I want my devotion to be steadfast like David constantly searching after my Father’s heart. I want my Father to remember my love for Him, similar to the way the Israelites loved Him in the wilderness. I want to possess a youthful loyalty worthy of being marked in my Book of Remembrance.
“I want to love You well, in this betrothal, until we meet again, may I spend my time wisely.” – Caleb Andrews

It’s not just about Proverbs 31:

Stop the press! (or just add this addendum)

About two months ago, I surveyed some of my Christian young adult friends about what they desired in a spouse; what they valued in a future life partner. (See Value System: a woman's perspective and  Value System: a man's perspective).

In general conversation, men will usually say they value the characteristics of a Proverbs 31 woman. Likewise, women will say "I want to embody Proverbs 31" (or if they are bold enough they will even say "I am a Proverbs 31 woman.") The children and husband of a Proverbs 31 woman arise and call her blessed. (Proverbs 31:28)


Blessed: the ultimate well-being and distinctive spiritual joy of those who share in the salvation of the kingdom of God. (Zondervan Study Bible)

Our Foundations class today was an Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount; Matthew 5 and 6. (All my Foundations classes have been excellent! I wish I could bring everyone to class with me. I wouldn’t just say that about any class.)

The Sermon on the Mount is "Jesus’ first public proclamation of the value system of His Kingdom." Matthew 5 contains the 8 core values, (5:3-10). Here, "Jesus is expressing His heart and revealing what is important to Him."

The values are followed by 6 vices that would prevent one from inheriting the Kingdom (5:21-47). Then, Matthew 6 has 7 virtues that release God’s grace upon us as we live out the core values. (6:1-34)

The eight core values are the Beatitudes:
  1. Poor in Spirit – realizing that we can do nothing without Him
  2. Mourning
  3. Meekness – thinking of others before thinking of yourself
  4. Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness -
  5. Showing Mercy
  6. Purity in Heart – not just sexual impurity but thoughts and actions
  7. Making Peace – a peacemaker not merely a peacekeeper i.e passive aggressive – non-confrontational.
  8. Persecution
Oftentimes, we recite the beatitudes, without much insight, as they sound great – who wouldn’t want to be blessed and inherit the Kingdom? However, these qualities are not inherent characteristics that we are born with, or personality traits that can developed by our own strength, in the flesh. We need to ask our live-in teacher, the Holy Spirit, dwelling within us, to give us more insight into their worth and teach us how to embody these values.

Proverbs 31 is good and dandy (and heavily referenced). It provides a good illustration of the “perfect virtuous woman,” which assumingly many women strive to become. However, I would like to place more emphasis on Matthew 5 and 6 as the continuous goal. These are the values Jesus will be looking for in each of us, men and women, and how we ought to live our lives daily.
“These values are to define us as we walk the narrow path in this life. . . Our hearts are liberated and our souls fulfilled when we give ourselves to 100% obedience to the value system of the Kingdom of God.” –Jamie Burns Pridgen

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Response: a call to prayer for a nation in crisis.

This is amazing. This is necessary.

Texas Governor, Rick Perry, has called a Joel 2, Solemn Assembly, on Saturday, August 6th, for America, called The Response: a call to prayer for a nation in crisis.

Joel 2:15:
Blow the trumpet in [America], sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: King James Version
Blow the trumpet in [America]; set apart a fast [a day of restraint and humility]; call a solemn assembly. Amplified
Blow the ram's horn trumpet in [America]! Declare a day of repentance, a holy fast day. Call a public meeting. Get everyone there. Consecrate the congregation. Make sure the elders come, but bring in the children, too, even the nursing babies, Even men and women on their honeymoon— interrupt them and get them there. Between Sanctuary entrance and altar,let the priests, God's servants, weep tears of repentance. Let them intercede: "Have mercy, God, on your people! Don't abandon your heritage to contempt. Don't let the pagans take over and rule them and sneer, 'And so where is this God of theirs?'" Message (15-17)

This Solemn Assembly is being called for the purposes of praying for “a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose.” He asks the entire country to call upon the name of Jesus, not the political, commonly accepted, ultra ambiguous “god.” There will be no mistake about who we are praying to, the only uncreated God, the only One who can save us.

Perry also invited the other 49 governors to join him. So far one governor, Nathan Deal, the governor of Georgia! accepted his invitation. Pray for Illinois! Pray for all the other 48 governors.

I would like to see every church, in every city, across America, take part in the Solemn Assembly in some form, be it prayer meeting or house fellowship.

He says, if my people who are called by name would humble themselves and cry out to me, then I will heal their land. Logically, the inverse of this conditional statement will also hold true: if we do not humble ourselves and cry out to Him, then He will not heal our land, which He has the power to do.

Let us humble ourselves and cry out to Him. Pray for August 6th, this solemn assembly, the days leading up to it and the preparations for it. Pray for our leaders and our nation. Pray for unity in the church. Pray for the pastors of every church, of every denomination, to join together and bring their congregations on that day. "Then all of [us] can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:6.
I've posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem. Day and night [we] keep at it, praying, calling out, reminding God to remember. [We] are to give him no peace until he does what he said, until he makes Jerusalem famous as the City of Praise. Isaiah 62:6-7 The Message

Rick Perry's letter to America via The Response.

Fellow Americans,

Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.

Some problems are beyond our power to solve, and according to the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, this historic hour demands a historic response. Therefore, on August 6, thousands will gather to pray for a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose.

I sincerely hope you’ll join me in Houston on August 6th and take your place in Reliant Stadium with praying people asking God’s forgiveness, wisdom and provision for our state and nation. There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.

Rick Perry

The Response Promo from The Response USA on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June is...

June is the president-instituted (Clinton and Obama) designated month for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride and celebration.

The Friday before I hit the road to drive down here, May 13th, a few friends and I were having a discussion. One friend brought to our attention that, the once thought of as conservative sect of Christianity: Presbyterian Church United States of America (PCUSA) is now the fourth Protestant denomination to allow the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy as of May 10th.

I am guilty of this: tip toeing around the subject. I worked with and went to school with people who are very open about this and therefore struggling with this bondage.Whenever I learn that someone is committing themselves to that lifestyle, I accept them but I do not question them about it. Moreover, I don’t necessarily commit them to prayer for the Lord to take them out of it. I pretty much tip toe around that and the elephant in the room eventually becomes a painting on the wall.

Organizations would promote Days of Silence and pass out rainbow ribbons. Of course, I don't support hate crimes but my stance was not taking the rainbow ribbon or in anyway promoting the rainbow symbol. The symbol intended for Noah, I was now refusing to wear.

Some Christians condemn this specific sin with a self-righteous or judgmental spirit. It is as if one sin is greater than another, as if a person identifying themselves by that orientation is living in greater sin than the next person.

During the intercession sets on Tuesday, we prayed for the LGBT community.

In the morning, we prayed that they would be released from their captivity and experience the freedom that the LORD brings.

During the All-Staff intercession the prayer leader called a Rapid Fire on this point of intercession. Rapid Fire is when the prayer leader calls asks for people to come up to say a prayer, at the altar, on the microphone for about 10 to 30 seconds. The prayer is related to the topic of intercession.

Then the worship leader of the all-staff intercession set asked us all to break off into small groups to lift this in prayer.

We prayed all across the board on this issue. We prayed for people who believe they are born that way and therefore must engage in this practice. There are people in lifestyle only because of hurt and pain from past relationships from parental figures or former significant others. There is homosexuality in the church and it’s being covered up. There are people who are dealing with this issue silently as well with few or no one to turn to. We must cry out to our Judge for this must end.

The room became really hot really soon.

We need to continue praying for them or start if we have not. Pray that they would know the Father’s love, and that in Him they would find their true identity. Pray that they would be directed to loving Christians holding steadfast to the second commandment; to love one another as the Lord loves us.
Pray that they would come into the Lords house with open arms. Pray that they would have joy in his House.

We take back the rainbow as the reminder of the Noahic covenant:
 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come. I have set MY RAINBOW in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth. So God said to Noah, “THIS is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.” Genesis 9:8-17

What a powerful intercession! Keep praying. Testimonies have come, testimonies are coming, I know of another one already!

"How’s The Pursuit?"

"How’s the internship?" "How’s the Pursuit?" "How's it going?"

We’ve received some form of the above mentioned questions from almost everyone – that’s a good thing to know people genuinely care. And we’ll usually get some people to receive our responses by imparting their wisdom from their experience.

Well: It is good! A week ago, I would’ve answered “mostly good” but now my answer is unequivocal.

One thing to note, although I am learning a lot daily, this Pursuit is not an academic pursuit. It is a spiritual pursuit to pursue the unsearchable God and have Him reveal Himself. It is the beginning of an ongoing process; it is not an attainment or destination.

We added two new courses; one called Fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit and one called Thirst.

The LORD has already told me some things in the prayer room and I look forward to more edification from Him, as I continue to pursue the knowledge of Him. During the first couple weeks, people kept saying "the Lord will tell you some things" " or the Lord will show you some things" so I just internally nod thinking, okay, I wonder how and what He’ll tell and show me.

On Friday nights, we have our end times teaching. This past Friday, the pastor began teaching on the Book of Revelation; a much needed teaching for me. There are a lot of details that I previously glossed over. Now, things are starting to make more sense and come to life.

I also started my helps (department) this past week. I will be working in the marketing department. We are developing with the intentions to execute innovative ways to market the internships.

"It is a short season, so make the most of it" - Pursuit Director so, I will!

Thanks for reading. Send me your prayer requests and subsequent testimonies!
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