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Paint & Praise: Your Blessings Require Work

I’ve been in several transitions this year. All big deals. One transition is moving from New York City to Tucson, AZ. I began the process nearly two years ago and I’m now approaching the final curtain call on my time in NYC. This week I’ve been painting and prepping my Harlem apartment for viewing and sale.

I’ve been so busy this year that I have not focused on sitting at Jesus’s feet and soaking in the Word. I’ve been busy running here and there, doing this and that, thinking through scenarios, trying new things, letting go of everything that doesn’t work, quitting my job in NYC, moving across the country, looking for work in Tucson, returning to NYC to manage issues, taking a summer temp job in NYC, starting a national call for submissions for a new book project, launching a pro photographer career, etc. Just stuff. But this week, enclosed within the four walls of my East Harlem apartment in Manhattan, painting and prepping it for sale, the transition became a concrete change. This process is near completion. There’s very little else to do on my end. The to-do lists have stopped clamoring in my head. It was just me and the walls. And gospel music.

And God. He just came on in.

I’ve been assuring people there is nothing I will miss about NYC once I’m gone. I didn’t want to return. In fact I was quite despondent for a few weeks when I got back to the City. The peace of the desert was simply glorious. So no, I won’t be missing NYC. I don’t plan on looking back after I’m gone for good. Neither has leaving my apartment been necessarily sentimental because I didn’t think I had made any special memories here.

Over the last few days, God has reminded me why my time in NYC has been sacred. I’ve long considered my time in NYC to be on-the-job-training for whatever God has in store for me. This is the place He chose to bring me to an understanding of Who HE IS and Who I AM in HIM. He’s been romancing me this week. Gently walking me down memory lane.

Sometimes all we remember are the hardships or the sour taste difficulties leave in our mouth. I know I’m blessed, but I rarely think on the many ways God has blessed my life. He’s given me many hardships. I remember those. He’s brought me through them all. I praise Him for all that. But the intricacies and intimacies are forgotten. He reminded me that He doesn’t only perform His Word when I call on Him. His Word is performing in my life every moment of every day. He is present always. He wanted this time with me. He wanted to end this season the way we began – with me looking to Him, focusing on Him and His Word. Seeking His guidance and instruction every morning through each evening.

The last few days have been sprinkled with spontaneous worship and deeply moving intercessory prayer. I didn’t see any of it coming. But I know it has all been by His design.

The below video is one of the spontaneous praise moments. I knew it was time to share a portion of this process with the all-consuming goodness of God. Be blessed.

Your blessings require work. Please excuse the loud off-key contributions to the song playing in the background. 🙂 The message is worth the wait. Snippet of Trust in You by Anthony Brown & Group Therapy

 

Trust in You by Anthony Brown & Group Therapy

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Song & Verse: Morning Medley (God Provides, Made a Way & Worship Medley)

A good day to you all!

God Provides by Tamela Mann

God provides, so why do I worry about my life
When you come to my rescue a thousand times
Every other voice it is a lie
God provides

God provides
In ways I can’t explain and can’t deny
The little that I have he multiplies
Just when I feel He won’t show up on time
God provides

He’ll come through
When the clouds of doubt rain down on you
And test everything you thought you knew
Now you finally see what God can do, for you

So tonight,
Close your eyes
There’s no more need to fight
Watch God provide

God provides
It’s hard to say when there’s no food to eat
Or what you see feels all that life will be
And will this be another year of misery, for me
But my faith, can’t survive on just things I see
And my feelings can’t control my destiny
See God I only want what you believe, for me

So tonight,
Close your eyes
There’s no more need to fight
Watch God provide

God provides (yeah, he will provide)
God provides (before your eyes)
God provides (oh, He will, He will)…provides

So tonight,
Close your eyes
There’s no more need to fight
Watch God provide

God provides (He will provide)
God provides (before your eyes, He will)
God provides (whatever your need, I know that He will provide)

God provides (yes, He’ll step right in, in the nick of time, yes He will)
God provides (He’ll open the windows of heaven)
God provides (and pour you out a blessing, you won’t have room to receive, yeah)

So tonight,
Close your eyes
There’s no more need to fight
Watch God provide

Made a Way by Travis Green

Made a way
Don’t know how but you did it
Made a way

Standing here not knowing how we’ll get through this test
But holding onto faith you know best
Nothing can catch you by surprise
You’ve got this figured out and you’re watching us now

But when it looks as if we can’t win
You wrap us in your arm and step in
And everything we need you supply
You got this in control
And now we know that

You made a way
When our backs were against the wall
And it looked as if it was over
You made a way
And we’re standing here
Only because you made a way
You made a way

Now we’re here
Looking back on where we come from
Because of you and nothing we’ve done
To deserve the love and mercy you’ve shown
But your grace was strong enough to pick us up

And you made a way
When our backs were against the wall
And it looked as if it was over
You made a way
And we’re standing here
Only because you made a way

You made a way
When our backs were against the wall
And it looked as if it was over
You made a way
And we’re standing here
Only because you made a way

You move mountains
You cause walls to fall
With your power
Perform miracles
There is nothing that’s impossible
And we’re standing here
Only because you made a way

You move mountains
You cause walls to fall
With your power
Perform miracles
There is nothing that’s impossible
And we’re standing here
Only because you made a way

You move mountains
You cause walls to fall
With your power
Perform miracles
There is nothing that’s impossible
And we’re standing here
Only because you made a way

And we’re standing here
Only because you made a way

And we’re standing here
Only because you made a way

You made a way (x4)

Don’t know how but you did it
Made a way
Don’t know how but you did it
Made a way

Don’t know how but you did it (x4)

Don’t know why but I’m grateful (x6)

And we’re standing here
Only because you made
And we’re standing here
Only because you made a way
And we’re standing here
Only because you made

You move mountain (x4)

You cause walls to fall (x4)

You cause chains to break (x4)

Giants fall (x4)

‘Cause you move mountain
You move mountain
And everything is easy for you
‘Cause you move mountain
Yes you move mountain

Mountains are moving (x4)

Strongholds are breaking (x4)

‘Cause you move mountain
You cause walls to fall

With your power (x4)

You perform miracles (x4)

My son is breathing
My son is living
My son is breathing
My son is living

When the doctor said no, you said yes (x2)

When they pronounced me dead, you said not yet, ah aha
When they called me dead, you said not yet

You perform miracles (x2)

The Worship Medley by Tye Tribbett

I Love you forever. I love you forever. I love forever. Lord. (Repeat)
Will worship forever. Will worship forever. Lord. (Repeat)
**Alternate between the two verses**
Glory To God Forever:
And we give…Glory to God. Glory to God. Glory to God Forever
Glory to God. Glory to God. Glory to God Forever (Repeat)
I Love you forever. I love you forever. I love forever. Lord.
I Love you forever. I love you forever. I love forever. Lord.
I Love you forever. I love you forever. I love forever. Lord.
I Love you forever. I love you forever. I love forever. Lord.
Will worship forever. Will worship forever. Lord
Will worship forever. Will worship forever. Lord
Songwriters: Jonas Myrin / Marty Sampson
The Worship Medley (There Is Nothing Like/Glory To God Forever) lyrics © EMI Music Publishing
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Film: A Dream for Christmas (1973)

On Christmas day I watched a lovely movie about new opportunities, hope and perseverance. A Dream for Christmas was made in 1973 but is set in 1950. It should be on a classic Christmas movie rotation every year, but it’s not. I had never seen it nor heard of it before and I think that’s a shame since it’s a really good story about a family working together through change and challenges. It’s a slice of life and a looking glass into an every day poor African-American experience pre-Civil Rights Movement. Very intriguing. Very warm. Very well done.

a-dream-for-christmas-black-holiday-moviesA Dream for Christmas is a story about Reverend Will Douglas and his family moving from rural Arkansas in 1950 to Los Angeles to pastor a church. Unbeknownst to the Reverend Douglas, his new church is scheduled to be demolished with the rest of the block by a developer intent on building a shopping mall. Familiar story, isn’t it? Yes, this is also a very modern story of overcoming money and opposition with hope and faith while working towards a goal.

Treat yourself, your family and your friends – watch and share.

A Dream for Christmas
(1973, starring Hari Rhodes, Beah Richards, Lynn Hamilton)

The picture on this link is clearer: https://youtu.be/0wLZ1ZPlOrY

New York Times Review: http://www.nytimes.com/movies/movie/14754/A-Dream-for-Christmas/overview

 

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ACAD – Nations: Genesis 18

The Three Visitors

Later, the Lord again appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre. Abraham was sitting at the entrance of his tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When Abraham saw them, he ran from his tent to meet them. He bowed facedown on the ground before them and said, “Sir, if you think well of me, please stay awhile with me, your servant.  I will bring some water so all of you can wash your feet. You may rest under the tree, and I will get some bread for you so you can regain your strength. Then you may continue your journey.”

The three men said, “That is fine. Do as you said.”

Abraham hurried to the tent where Sarah was and said to her, “Hurry, prepare twenty quarts of fine flour, and make it into loaves of bread.” Then Abraham ran to his herd and took one of his best calves. He gave it to a servant, who hurried to kill it and to prepare it for food. Abraham gave the three men the calf that had been cooked and milk curds and milk. While they ate, he stood under the tree near them.

The men asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?”

“There, in the tent,” said Abraham.

Then the Lord said, “I will certainly return to you about this time a year from now. At that time your wife Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were very old. Since Sarah was past the age when women normally have children, she laughed to herself, “My husband and I are too old to have a baby.”

Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘I am too old to have a baby’? Is anything too hard for the Lord? No! I will return to you at the right time a year from now, and Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I didn’t laugh.”

But the Lord said, “No. You did laugh.”

Then the men got up to leave and started out toward Sodom. Abraham walked along with them a short time to send them on their way.

Abraham’s Bargain with God

The Lord said, “Should I tell Abraham what I am going to do now? Abraham’s children will certainly become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.  I have chosen him so he would command his children and his descendants to live the way the Lord wants them to, to live right and be fair. Then I, the Lord, will give Abraham what I promised him.”

Then the Lord said, “I have heard many complaints against the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. They are very evil.  I will go down and see if they are as bad as I have heard. If not, I will know.”

So the men turned and went toward Sodom, but Abraham stood there before the Lord. Then Abraham approached him and asked, “Do you plan to destroy the good people along with the evil ones? What if there are fifty good people in that city? Will you still destroy it? Surely you will save the city for the fifty good people living there. Surely you will not destroy the good people along with the evil ones; then they would be treated the same. You are the judge of all the earth. Won’t you do what is right?”

The Lord said, “If I find fifty good people in the city of Sodom, I will save the whole city because of them.”

Then Abraham said, “Though I am only dust and ashes, I have been brave to speak to the Lord. What if there are only forty-five good people in the city? Will you destroy the whole city for the lack of five good people?”

The Lord said, “If I find forty-five there, I will not destroy the city.”

Again Abraham said to him, “If you find only forty good people there, will you destroy the city?”

The Lord said, “If I find forty, I will not destroy it.”

Then Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me, but let me ask you this. If you find only thirty good people in the city, will you destroy it?”

He said, “If I find thirty good people there, I will not destroy the city.”

Then Abraham said, “I have been brave to speak to the Lord. But what if there are twenty good people in the city?”

He answered, “If I find twenty there, I will not destroy the city.”

Then Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me, but let me bother you this one last time. What if you find ten there?”

He said, “If I find ten there, I will not destroy it.”

When the Lord finished speaking to Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

New Century Version (NCV)

The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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ACAD – Nations: Genesis 17

Proof of the Agreement

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty. Obey me and do what is right. I will make an agreement between us, and I will make you the ancestor of many people.”

Then Abram bowed facedown on the ground. God said to him, “I am making my agreement with you: I will make you the father of many nations. I am changing your name from Abram[a] to Abraham[b] because I am making you a father of many nations. I will give you many descendants. New nations will be born from you, and kings will come from you. And I will make an agreement between me and you and all your descendants from now on: I will be your God and the God of all your descendants. You live in the land of Canaan now as a stranger, but I will give you and your descendants all this land forever. And I will be the God of your descendants.”

Then God said to Abraham, “You and your descendants must keep this agreement from now on. This is my agreement with you and all your descendants, which you must obey: Every male among you must be circumcised. Cut away your foreskin to show that you are prepared to follow the agreement between me and you. From now on when a baby boy is eight days old, you will circumcise him. This includes any boy born among your people or any who is your slave, who is not one of your descendants. Circumcise every baby boy whether he is born in your family or bought as a slave. Your bodies will be marked to show that you are part of my agreement that lasts forever. Any male who is not circumcised will be cut off from his people, because he has broken my agreement.”

Isaac—the Promised Son

God said to Abraham, “I will change the name of Sarai,[c] your wife, to Sarah.[d] I will bless her and give her a son, and you will be the father. She will be the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will come from her.”

Abraham bowed facedown on the ground and laughed. He said to himself, “Can a man have a child when he is a hundred years old? Can Sarah give birth to a child when she is ninety?” Then Abraham said to God, “Please let Ishmael be the son you promised.”

God said, “No, Sarah your wife will have a son, and you will name him Isaac.[e] I will make my agreement with him to be an agreement that continues forever with all his descendants.

“As for Ishmael, I have heard you. I will bless him and give him many descendants. And I will cause their numbers to grow greatly. He will be the father of twelve great leaders, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will make my agreement with Isaac, the son whom Sarah will have at this same time next year.” After God finished talking with Abraham, God rose and left him.

Then Abraham gathered Ishmael, all the males born in his camp, and the slaves he had bought. So that day Abraham circumcised every man and boy in his camp as God had told him to do. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised.  And Ishmael, his son, was thirteen years old when he was circumcised. Abraham and his son were circumcised on the same day. Also on that day all the men in Abraham’s camp were circumcised, including all those born in his camp and all the slaves he had bought from other nations.


Footnotes:

  1. 17:5 Abram This name means “honored father.”
  2. 17:5 Abraham The end of the Hebrew word for “Abraham” sounds like the beginning of the Hebrew word for “many.”
  3. 17:15 Sarai An Aramaic name meaning “princess.”
  4. 17:15 Sarah A Hebrew name meaning “princess.”
  5. 17:19 Isaac The Hebrew words for “he laughed” (v. 17) and “Isaac” sound the same.

New Century Version (NCV)

The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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ACAD – Giving Thanks: Isaiah 51

A Call to Trust the Lord

“Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance—
all who seek the Lord!
Consider the rock from which you were cut,
the quarry from which you were mined.
Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor,
and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation.
Abraham was only one man when I called him.
But when I blessed him, he became a great nation.”

The Lord will comfort Israel[a] again
and have pity on her ruins.
Her desert will blossom like Eden,
her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found there.
Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air.

“Listen to me, my people.
Hear me, Israel,
for my law will be proclaimed,
and my justice will become a light to the nations.
My mercy and justice are coming soon.
My salvation is on the way.
My strong arm will bring justice to the nations.
All distant lands will look to me
and wait in hope for my powerful arm.
Look up to the skies above,
and gaze down on the earth below.
For the skies will disappear like smoke,
and the earth will wear out like a piece of clothing.
The people of the earth will die like flies,
but my salvation lasts forever.
My righteous rule will never end!

“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong,
you who cherish my law in your hearts.
Do not be afraid of people’s scorn,
nor fear their insults.
For the moth will devour them as it devours clothing.
The worm will eat at them as it eats wool.
But my righteousness will last forever.
My salvation will continue from generation to generation.”

Wake up, wake up, O Lord! Clothe yourself with strength!
Flex your mighty right arm!
Rouse yourself as in the days of old
when you slew Egypt, the dragon of the Nile.[b]
Are you not the same today,
the one who dried up the sea,
making a path of escape through the depths
so that your people could cross over?
Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
They will enter Jerusalem[c] singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

“I, yes I, am the one who comforts you.
So why are you afraid of mere humans,
who wither like the grass and disappear?
Yet you have forgotten the Lord, your Creator,
the one who stretched out the sky like a canopy
and laid the foundations of the earth.
Will you remain in constant dread of human oppressors?
Will you continue to fear the anger of your enemies?
Where is their fury and anger now?
It is gone!
Soon all you captives will be released!
Imprisonment, starvation, and death will not be your fate!
For I am the Lord your God,
who stirs up the sea, causing its waves to roar.
My name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
And I have put my words in your mouth
and hidden you safely in my hand.
I stretched out[d] the sky like a canopy
and laid the foundations of the earth.
I am the one who says to Israel,
‘You are my people!’”

Wake up, wake up, O Jerusalem!
You have drunk the cup of the Lord’s fury.
You have drunk the cup of terror,
tipping out its last drops.
Not one of your children is left alive
to take your hand and guide you.
These two calamities have fallen on you:
desolation and destruction, famine and war.
And who is left to sympathize with you?
Who is left to comfort you?[e]
For your children have fainted and lie in the streets,
helpless as antelopes caught in a net.
The Lord has poured out his fury;
God has rebuked them.

But now listen to this, you afflicted ones
who sit in a drunken stupor,
though not from drinking wine.
This is what the Sovereign Lord,
your God and Defender, says:
“See, I have taken the terrible cup from your hands.
You will drink no more of my fury.
Instead, I will hand that cup to your tormentors,
those who said, ‘We will trample you into the dust
and walk on your backs.’”

Footnotes:

  1. 51:3 Hebrew Zion; also in 51:16.
  2. 51:9 Hebrew You slew Rahab; you pierced the dragon. Rahab is the name of a mythical sea monster that represents chaos in ancient literature. The name is used here as a poetic name for Egypt.
  3. 51:11 Hebrew Zion.
  4. 51:16 As in Syriac version (see also 51:13); Hebrew reads planted.
  5. 51:19 As in Dead Sea Scrolls and Greek, Latin, and Syriac versions; Masoretic Text reads How can I comfort you?
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ACAD – Helper: Psalm 121

Photo: LaShawnda Jones for Spirit-Harvest.com
Photo: LaShawnda Jones for Spirit-Harvest.com

My Help Comes from the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.


English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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Good Cop. Bad Cop. Life is not so simple.

There’s a lot a rhetoric, talking and writing about how the majority of cops are “good”. I cringe when I hear that. Not just because I don’t believe it, but because it doesn’t mean what people would like it to mean. According to the current use of the word, “good” cops don’t kill unarmed men who don’t do what they were told to do.

Does not killing another human being really make someone good? Is our bar really so low for those responsible for our physical security within our communities? You are a good person as long as you don’t kill anyone? Not really. In reality, a combination of many small daily actions impart one’s goodness (intent, nature, personality, etc) to others.

I would rather hear about the police officers who act with integrity, treat the people they encounter (even known criminals) with respect, and make wise decisions with the full knowledge that every decision they make has an impact on someone’s life – most especially their own.

In my mind the translation of “good cops don’t kill unarmed people”, is that “bad” cops are “good” up to the point they kill someone the public deems should be allowed to live. That’s not the measurement of judgement we are provided in the Word.

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. ~Luke 6:31

My mood has been worsening – darkening, actually – over the last few weeks. Actually, it’s been longer, much longer, but the darkness has found a cause to focus on recently. My frustration has found an outlet – speaking out against injustice in America. What I’ve found to be true with the recent protests sweeping this country, is that the more I focus on the anger and outrage, the more angry and exhausted I become. The more helpless I feel. It’s overwhelming, really, the amount of injustice in this country…in this world. Thinking about the many ways humans find to justify hating and killing each other is a demoralizing and debilitating exercise. Quite honestly, I can only do what I can do. And doing all I can do does not solve the worlds’ problems. I know that. But it’s in the doing that we get caught up in what’s been done.

I don’t want to be caught up and focused on the wrong actions that have been done. I have to continually remember that the people who are okay with injustice, state-supported murder and torture, the rape of women, the abuse of children, the subordination of any human being are still people who Jesus died for. He did not only die for me. He did not only die for believers. He surrendered His life so that people the world over may have access to true life – eternal life. So that every human being would have the choice to live. This is the action I choose to remember each time the happenings in the world try to make me forget.

I will not be governed by fear. Nor will I bow to those who lead with fear. Fear is not of God. So in fear, there is no good thing.

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”   ~ Mark 10:42-45

Police officers are human, they are created of the same substance the rest of humanity is created of. They are not inherently good. They do not supply safety or generate trust simply because they wear a uniform and a badge. Neither do you. People who encounter you – the people you serve in your own life – know you mean no harm when you do no harm. They feel safe because you do not threaten them or hurt them or others they know of. They trust you because of continual trustworthy behavior on your part. This is not a perfect equation, but it’s generally applicable to most people’s lives.

Throughout December 2014, I had conversations online and in-person, and read comments that caused me to reevaluate the character of people I thought I knew something about. I have also had to continually reevaluate myself.

Hatred is an awesomely powerful emotion. It negatively impacts even those who are only observing hateful acts, reading hateful words and listening to hateful speech.

Hatred and fear are interconnected and reflective of each other. They both spread like an infection. Anyone who knowingly operates in fear or hate is not trustworthy nor can they provide safety. Yet, nearly every officer who made headlines in 2014 and 2015 for killing unarmed individuals, claimed that they feared for their lives and, almost universally, their fear has been upheld as a valid reason to kill the unarmed people they killed. Even more disturbing: their fear received an outpouring of public compassion and support while their victims were dehumanized and vilified.

Once upon a time, bravery and courage were honored characteristics of public servants, especially for police officers, but the rhetoric in recent years across America has allowed for the claim of fear to be sufficient justification for committing murder – however, only for police officers, of course. Women, for example, are not able to kill men they simply fear, even in violent situations. Fear is not justification for taking a life.

Bravery and courage are the result of overcoming fear; cowardice is the result of giving in to fear. Police officers who are too afraid to perform their job with integrity, respect and honor should have, at the minimum, enough self-awareness to step aside and leave the job even if only for public safety reasons. In the absence of such a minimum of self-awareness, fellow officers and supervisors should step in and weed out the officers who allow fear to rule their judgement.

Several times over the last few years, I had to step away from my Facebook feed because it stirred up and kept up a great deal of anger and frustration. Since I’ve been paying attention to all the trending senseless killings by police officers (since Trayvon Martin’s killer walked free), I’ve become more and more outraged by not only the failure of police chiefs, mayors, district attorneys and grand juries to see and prosecute murder for what it is. On top of that, I’ve become even more outraged by the willingness of members of the public – fellow citizens and residents of this country – to justify murder as a necessary action for sleeping on a park bench, walking in the street, playing on a playground, walking up a dark staircase, bringing dinner home to the family, standing outside a convenience store or shopping in the toy aisle. It’s incomprehensible to think that anyone can break these actions down to their simplest form and still conclude that these human beings deserved to be shot and killed in the midst of their respective actions because of another person’s fear or hate. Wrong is wrong – no matter the uniform or badge worn by the perpetrator. Murder is murder.

What comes after outrage? Who can sustain anger and frustration for the continued state-supported murder and the hate-filled violence that it gives freedom of expression to? I can’t.

I cannot sustain such an extreme level of anger and outrage indefinitely. Non one can. Fortunately, as a fellow outraged  citizen pointed out, organization, on the other hand, can be sustained.

After another failure in late December 2015 to indict a murderous cop in Milwaukee, WI, I essentially threw my hands up and rolled over in prayer. What is the purpose of all this, Father? How will you be glorified through all this violence and hatred? What do you want me to do? I awoke the next morning with a will to write.

I am an instrument secure in the hand of my Creator. God is my safety and in Him is all my trust. He is just and He will not be mocked. His ways are above our ways. Those who think they are free to live without consequences for taking human life without cause will learn in time that God’s vengeance will be much more than they can bear. With this knowledge, I urge all police officers who have killed, to repent. Turn yourselves in, ask for prosecution and make reparations to the families you have shattered and to the communities you have betrayed.

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. ~ Luke 6:27-36

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ACAD – Giving Thanks: Psalm 92

How Great Are Your Works

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
    to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
    and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
    to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
    at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

How great are your works, O Lord!
    Your thoughts are very deep!
The stupid man cannot know;
    the fool cannot understand this:
that though the wicked sprout like grass
    and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
   but you, O Lord, are on high forever.
For behold, your enemies, O Lord,
    for behold, your enemies shall perish;
    all evildoers shall be scattered.

But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
    you have poured over me[a] fresh oil.
My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
    my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

The righteous flourish like the palm tree
    and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord;
    they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age;
    they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the Lord is upright;
    he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 92:10 Compare Syriac; the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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ACAD – Giving Thanks: Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus Christ

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem,because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[c]

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Jesus Presented at the Temple

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

“Lord, now you are letting your servant[d] depart in peace,
    according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
    that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Return to Nazareth

And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

The Boy Jesus in the Temple

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.  And when his parents[f] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold,your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.”  And he said to them,“Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[g] And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature[h] and in favor with God and man.

Footnotes:

  1. Luke 2:2 Or This was the registration before
  2. Luke 2:5 That is, one legally pledged to be married
  3. Luke 2:14 Some manuscripts peace, good will among men
  4. Luke 2:29 Greek bondservant
  5. Luke 2:37 Or as a widow for eighty-four years
  6. Luke 2:48 Greek they
  7. Luke 2:49 Or about my Father’s business
  8. Luke 2:52 Or years

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.