Monday, April 30, 2018

Soul check: Thought discipline

Soul check: Before you discipline your children, or discipline your body, you need to discipline your thoughts.

Out of your mouth flows the issues found in your heart. So many of those issues can be minimized or stopped before they begin, by controlling the thoughts surrounding them. Because the Word teaches that "as he thinks in his heart, so is he," we then know that those thoughts can manifest into the physical realm simply by dwelling on them. Our very rehearsal of thoughts, good or evil, are the fertilizer those thoughts need to germinate, and ultimately come to fruition, that is, bear fruit.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 says: We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient.

Today's societal thinking veers towards the fulfillment and buoying of "me," everything is about "me" and what "I" can do to become a better "me" by doing things to bolster more of "me." Self-help, self-realization, self-actualization, and on and on. Yoga, meditation, chanting, all of those self-absorbing practices can be dangerous to the soul seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. They can be soothing and healing, but can also become a subtle distraction from focusing on God to focusing on self. Those are the thoughts that need to be captured and disciplined toward the living for God. There is nothing wrong with seeking betterment of oneself, as long as it doesn't dethrone God. God wants us to prosper as our souls prosper, so He wants us to be better, but not at the expense of our souls (from where our thoughts originate).

Capturing our thoughts and keeping them captive to the obedience of Christ is the way to discipline our thoughts. Whenever an errant thought crosses our mind, immediately redirect it onto the straight and narrow, or else it will take a detour from the planned route. Ever wonder "how did I get here?" Often it's because of unplanned and uncontrolled detours. Some detours are unplanned, but they do not have to be uncontrolled. Keep the goal in mind and get back to the planned route and "train of thought" as soon as possible, or you could end up so very far away from the goal. Being disciplined takes practice, it is not an overnight successful accomplishment, and it is ongoing, not a one-time deed.

Different distractions and modes of thought will constantly bombard us, and it's up to us to recognize them for what they are the moment they enter our sphere. Some thoughts are meant to open a closed mind, which is good, but if taken too far, open it to...what? Some forms of meditation are for soothing frayed nerves and smoothing jagged edges, which is wonderful, but if not researched in origin and mode, you meditate on...what?

Again, before we seek to discipline anyone or anything other than ourselves, we need to discipline our own thoughts.

Friday, January 12, 2018


(originally penned 1/12/16)

I love trees! Their stature, their strength, their variety, their resilience, but most of all, their beauty. And I love the way that nature teaches me lessons a...bout life, over and over again...

Because I don't have an office with a view yet, I have resorted to natural landscape screensavers to remind me that there's a big, green world outside, just waiting for me to enjoy. Anyway, recently, a picture flashed across the screen, and my initial reaction was less than favorable. It was a close up picture of tree bark. I frowned as I thought, "How did that get in there?" But since I had no control over the images in that particular screensaver package, I had to let it slide. A few minutes later, the same tree flashed across the screen, but this time it was a more comprehensive picture of the entire tree. My reaction was exactly the opposite this time. I thought, "What an absolutely gorgeous tree!" It wasn't until after the thought was completed that I recognized it as the same tree.

How often in life do we do the same thing? I mean, not just make a hasty judgment, but not take unto account the big picture? How often have marriages ended because all he/she can see now is the ugliness of the past few fights, but don't look at the entire victory picture of the past decades of winning the war side by side? How many friendships have died because of one slip of the tongue that caused the heart to forget the many obstacles overcome together? How many missed opportunities because the individual wasn't dressed "right" for our taste? So often we fail to see the forest for the trees (pun fully intentional).

Just like with my change of perspective with the tree, sometimes we need to step back and assess the big picture, instead of picking on the immediate details. Sometimes the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. Sometimes stepping back, or away, can grant a never before experienced perspective that can change an entire outlook...

But what do I know?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Less Filling...

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you.  For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” - Hebrews 12:5-6 NLT
Remember that commercial from back in the day whose tagline was "Less filling, tastes great?"  Sadly, there are a few modern day houses of worship who have lost their original purpose and have diluted the Word down to suit their own needs to where it's "Less filling, tastes great!"  Jesus didn't say that the Word was always going to feel good, in fact it is likened to double-edged sword, which I know doesn't feel good when it's doing its work!  The Word is often like a medicine, and medicines don't often taste good.  As long as it does the work it was sent to do, I don't think we should be as concerned about the initial unpleasant taste; the healing will last much longer than the unpleasant taste.  
Being disciplined by God's Word doesn't feel good, especially if it comes at a time we feel is inconvenient; that will often leave a bad taste in our mouths.  But, if we receive the correction in the love it was wrapped in, it will be health to our flesh and strength to our bones.  We will be filled with His love, His grace, His guidance, His wisdom, His Holy Spirit.  But if we dilute the Word, and tailor it to match our moods, or edit it to garner larger congregations or donations, then we not only do God a great disservice, but we endanger the very lives of the people to whom we are to be ministering.
Everyone needs the entire Word preached to them, not just what suits their mood at the time.  Just because it may initially make us cry doesn't mean it's not good for us.  Think of it like a baby getting a vaccination.  Any parent knows the agony they and the infant go through when the child gets its first vaccination.  Oh, the pain and screaming, and that's not just from the infant!  But the pain is temporary, the fever and the tears are temporary, but the protection that it offers to the health of that child against some of the most miserable or crippling of childhood diseases are worth the initial day or two of misery.  I know that there are some controversies now about some vaccinations, but for the most part, they are prophylactics against some devastating childhood diseases.  Such is the Word of God.  If we take it as medicine, and fill up on it, then we are protected against so many of the enemy's attacks of which we are never aware.  Sure, sometimes God will show us from what He protected us, but I think that most of the time, we go through life blissfully unaware of some of the things from which God protected us.
Now, I know that I'm not the only one who can also testify to the pain and regret of "catering" the Word to a particular need, and being gravely disappointed when God didn't come through the way we had thought He would.  If we had read or heard the entire Word meant to address the situation, there would have been no disappointment because we would have been led down the correct path of expectation from God.  So vital is the need for the entire, unadulterated Word of God, because there are so many of us walking around embittered because of disappointment in a God we never took the time to really understand.  If we really admitted to it, there are some areas in our lives where there are unanswered questions simply because we didn't take the time to sit with God to get the complete plan.  He was willing to give it to us if only we had been willing to sit and listen. Taking medicine isn't always an instantaneous "spoonful," sometimes it requires a period of "intravenous feeding."  I'm not saying that everything has an immediate or ready explanation, but taking the medicine will prepare us for those as well, knowing that sometimes healing takes time; that not everything happens instantly.
Let us focus on imparting the entire Word to make it "filling," not worrying about whether or not it tastes great.  Let's leave the commercials to the world's minds.  We are instructed to set our minds on things above; in doing so we will be filled

Friday, January 5, 2018

My take on the mixing of races

So, I know I'm probably setting myself up for a lot of flak, but this thing has been sitting in my heart since I overheard a conversation, and I need to get it out.

The conversation was about mixed children and how that was the way the world was leaning, and that the two participants in the conversation were very happy about it.

Okay, granted that I wasn't too keen on the "trend" toward mixed children when it seemed to gain steam, and became the "in thing" for people to do, I have now mellowed and grown more accepting as more and more of people close to me have entered and remained happy in these unions.  I am not one for trends, so that's why I initially objected.  I have seen too many people jump on bandwagons for different interests and causes and started some really good movements, but then grew tired and left the "offspring" out in the cold to fend for themselves.  Also granted, that race mixing has been around since the beginning of time, and it's not a new thing, but when I see a seeming surge in something that touches on the "trendy" I immediately get defensive because I so often see the sad outcomes of no follow through after the initial excitement.

I know that I have already offended many simply by my loose and possibly unfeeling use of the terminology, but please hear me out.  I do not voice this concern to stir any pots, or to start a discussion, or to raise any sort of awareness, not this time, I am simply voicing my viewpoint on a topic I found a little troubling in the way it was presented.

First let me state why I was initially disturbed by the way the conversation was turning.  I am a very proud dark-skinned black woman who went through a period of grave disappointment in black men who seemed to blatantly denigrate our race, and crossed over to date and wed primarily white women.  I was further egged on in my disgust when I saw that the black man was surrounded by eligible, intelligent, gorgeous black women, but bypassed those options and chose a less attractive, less intelligent white woman.  I was only slightly appeased if the white woman was gorgeous and intelligent.  What used to get my blood boiling was the negativity exhibited by the black man towards the black women he "rejected."

Denigrating your own race because you chose someone from another will never look right in my book, no matter what you try to say to me, so don't even bother trying to defend that argument, and I'll tell you why.  If you are a black man, that means you came from a black woman, who came from a black woman, all the way back.  You possibly had black sisters, aunts, cousins, etc.  How can you say that you don't want a black woman without disrespecting and hurting those who raised you?  I understand that not all families have a wonderful example to which to look, but those are more the exception than the rule, so again, your excuse will never sway me.  Now if you have tried to date black women and have suffered repeatedly and a white woman rescued and treasured your heart, then I am all for it, but please, and I do mean that, please do not group all black women into that awful category I know to which some do belong.  So my problem is with the denigration of black women by black men.

I was not so much disturbed when I saw black men with women from other races besides white.  It still caused a level of discord within me, but not as harshly.  I am still of a generation who, though we came up just after Jim Crow, still suffered so many blatant racist acts at the hands of whites that the "prized white women" mentality still rises to the top of my consciousness when I see a mixed couple.  I do not do it on purpose because it is such a part of my conditioning because of the injustices I have experienced and seen; it is almost Pavlovian.  Therefore, my objection level to a mixed couple where the woman is of another "minority" is diminished because, and I think my rationale is, if I follow my own train of thought, they have also suffered at the hands of whites, so they "get it."

I also do not get as upset if the woman is black and the man is of another race.  Being a black woman, I have been subjected to all the media hype about the ratios of black men to black women, and the picture is never a pretty one.  So I do not object as strongly to my sisters finding love and happiness with a man of another race.

As I previously stated, I went through a period of grave disappointment, key word "went," past tense.  I no longer give that arena anywhere near as much of my time or energy as I once did, and because of that waning of interest and angst, I have found myself more open when I see mixed couples, especially genuinely happy mixed couples.

However, and this brings me back to my original point, the eventual loss of the individual races is something I don't see happening.  Whether it will be because of more open-minded people like myself, or from the closed-minded prejudiced elements within each race, it's going to be a battle, and one where that blending across the board will lose.  There is still too much to be learned from each individual race, and if we blend everything into one big mélange, those beautiful individualities will be lost!

Something I really enjoy doing is people watching, and part of the enjoyment is watching how the differences interact.  And I'm not even going to touch on the subsets of cultures within each individual race!  Just watching an older white woman smile back at a Hispanic baby, or a young Asian boy dance with a group of similar aged black boys, or a little white girl join in a game of tag with a group of children, all from distinct races, brings hours of smiles to my face.  This is not something that we can afford to lose.  Of course there will always be difficulties along the way, we experience them everyday.  But if we resort to trying to "erase" those differences by blending everything together, that'll just raise a different set of issues.

The first mention of "differences" is in the Bible with Noah's sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, and has been a cultural argument down through the ages.  The actual assignment of "races" though, came much later, somewhere around the 19th century, when scientists started to try to categorize humanity based on certain physical racial characteristics.  This led to theories and assumptions and unfounded conclusions which led to the rise of racism.  If the scientists had been in a different time period or around a different group of people, who knows how that argument might have turned out.  As it is, here we are today, living with the results of institutionalized racism, and it causes people to again jump to irrational, unprovable conclusions.  I may have even jumped to some myself in researching for this post.

I still want to learn about the different races though, and I don't want to be forced to do it because of "blending" of the races.  I want enough of the original races to remain distinct, with all the distinctive characteristics evident.  I no longer have a rabid response to the mixing of the races, as long as it isn't a forced "remedy" from a pacifist's answer to relieve racism.  There will always be differences, there will always be prejudices, there will always be misunderstandings, as long as there are humans, there will always be human responses, good or bad.  But just because there is a long-standing problem does not mean that there isn't a solution.  But blending isn't it.

America used to be called "the Giant Melting Pot."  That is probably why the idea of blending is such an appealing one to some groups.  I rather like the new approach where we're now more of a "Giant Salad," all in the same bowl, but retaining our individual flavors, enhancing the flavors of the others with whom we're interacting.

I like me, with all my flaws and foibles, strengths and wisdom, beauty and scars.  So many have benefited from me being myself, myself included, that I would never go back to the people pleasing, go-along-to-get-along wall flower I once was.  Being ourselves is the best gift to the world that we can offer; why would we want to give that up to become a carbon copy of someone else?  That would ruin the whole idea of individuality!

I'm against losing our uniqueness, but I am interested in how you feel about it.  Let me know in the comments below.

Humbly submitted,

The Psalmist

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Dreaming again

So I had a dream last night.

I haven't had dreams I remember for years, so last night was very significant. I started dreaming again in December while hospitalized, and that's when I recognized that God was still with me (I was so far down that I'd given up). I didn't think He had abandoned me (I still held on to His promise that He'd never leave or forsake me), but I did think that He was just standing by, like everyone else, just watching me drown and not thinking me worth the effort to even try to help me.

Anyway, to the dream...I was leaving someplace at night, and these three women were following me, I didn't immediately recognize that they were following me until we were in an area with fewer people. As I tried to rush to my car, they started to rush me. The fear I felt awakened me.

When my heart calmed down enough from that fright, I began to understand it's significance. I was bombarded last year with trial after test after trial after test, most of them not having the "courtesy" to wait until the last test or trial was over, but kept mounting at sometimes multiple tests at the same time of varying intensities. I let a few people (I thought were friends) know what was going on and tried to keep it moving.  Most of the time though, I was drowning.  I kept saying I was tired, or overwhelmed, and I would get tepid responses, if I got responses at all.

But I'm descending again, so moving on...

The three women represented depression, bitterness, and hopelessness. They had been dogging my heels all this time, but I didn't recognize it until I saw how my circle kept dwindling. The more I cried out, the smaller my circle got. Some people asked me where my faith was, and how was my prayer life. I was so deep in despair, and I was so overwhelmed, they were almost non-existent. I didn't even believe that God heard me anymore, because I couldn't believe that He could not only allow all this stuff to happen at the same time, but that i would be abandoned by the very people I thought He had sent to help me get through this excruciatingly gruesome time in my life. I found out, the painful way, that they were not (my heart is still in recovery over that one).

As I said, my circle got smaller, but it didn't totally disintegrate, and there were a few who hung in there with me, who recognized that my need for contact was vital to my sanity and healing. They prayed with and for me, offered help, called me while I was in the hospital, offered to come take care of me while I recuperated, and have kept checking on me even to this day.

I'm still battling bitterness but less and less because I had to just let go of the selfish ones. Because of how I am, I dismiss selfishness often at the expense of my own emotional health. Well, that's another lesson learned, no more. If you were one of those to whom I offered an ear, a shoulder, advice, etc. while I was going through my own hell, yet you never even inquired about my well-being, you may have noticed a fierce cooling off...well, that's because of you...bye!

I now have recovered enough strength and faith to get back on the prayer wagon, and my desire to reestablish my relationship with God has been greatly rekindled.  I have gained some more wisdom and insight into humanity that will probably remind me to keep my circle extremely small. I have to really trust God to send whom He chooses for my circle, and not despair so much when the Judases appear because they too, unfortunately, are vital to my story.

This wasn't one of these happy stories, but it is to serve as medicine. Sometimes life serves us bitter pills that destroy some parts of us, but if those parts aren't destroyed, 1. they will hinder us from moving forward, and 2. their destruction now allows room for more of the beneficial things to be planted and flourish and expand.

From the broken, but healing, heart of

The Psalmist

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Intimidation and Fear: Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones?

Intimidation and fear can be the tools that hold you back or spur you on!

When I first heard the expression “Getting Her” from a friend on Facebook, I had a few questions, but instead of asking, I just decided to watch for posts tagged with that label to get an idea of what that all meant.  That method proved very educational.  I don’t know if that was the original intent of the founder, but I am so glad she stepped out on faith with her vision to empower women who were intimidated and afraid of some aspect of their lives, but stepped out anyway.  Brava!

I was eventually invited to join the group after an epiphany of my own.  I had reached an all-time high in my weight, and then a few weeks later, a tornado of health challenges that threatened to break my will to live.  With prayer and a new-found burst of determination, I decided that no matter what, no matter how long it took, I was going to lose the weight and realize some back-burnered dreams that had been tabled for far too long.

The weight loss has slowly begun to materialize and with it, a rosier outlook.  My health, however had taken on even more challenges.  That still has not dimmed the determination.  I may not be able to exercise as vigorously as when I started out, and until they figure out what is causing this new health challenge, my eating habits have had to adapt to seemingly endless changes, yet I still persevere.

Because of these new challenges, I was momentarily stalled in my quest to allow my dreams to re-emerge from the shadows.  Not until the writing of this post did I recognize the reason for the challenges: to stall me in my quest to polish up those very dreams that cause the enemy to drop what he’s doing and swing his attention my way.

God is allowing these challenges, I guess, to help me to see that I am, and have been, so much stronger than I had originally thought.  Things that used to make me collapse in a puddle of tears, now spur me to ask “What am I to learn from this?” People that used to make me run in the opposite direction, now cause me to ascend into heartfelt prayers for their well-being.  That song, “I’m Stronger” keeps playing over and over in my head when I feel the threat of returning to my old practice of "retreat and hide."

Someone (very wise) recently said to me, “You didn’t think you were that important, did you?” This was in answer to a moment of weakness when I wailed, “Why is the enemy fighting me so much? Why is all this happening to me all at once?”  No, I didn’t think I was that important, I didn't think my actions (or inaction) mattered that much in the grand scheme of things, I thought there were far more educated, more experienced, more qualified people to do what I thought I was being asked to do.  What I have (finally) begun to recognize though, is that there is no one more qualified than me to do what God has ordained for me to do, in the way that He has ordained for me to do it, when He has ordained for me to do it!  So as far as God is concerned, I am important!  How about that?!?!

Sure, I still feel the slings and arrows (and boulders and mosquito bites, and bombs and backhands) of intimidation and fear, but I have gained a new perspective on how to look at them, and in doing so, how to face them and learn from them, and now, how to use them to make my own journey more fruitful.  I may stumble, but I have learned how to get back up, dust myself off, straighten my crown, and continue to stride purposefully into my destiny.  I have learned how to put intimidation and fear into their respective places and use them as the stepping stones to my victory, instead of the stumbling blocks and obstacles they once were.  Because I was so often the victim of intimidation and fear, I strive to be ever mindful of my own words and actions, so that I do not make victims of the very ones to whom I am sent to minister.  I may not always succeed, but with God doing the driving, I’ll know how to make amends.

I guess I'm finally getting her!

Friday, February 10, 2017

My time...but for what?

There’s a Right Time for Everything

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.
-- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (MSG)

I'm going to bare some nasty inner truth, but take the entire ride with me, don't just get off when it gets too rough.

Sometimes I absolutely hate going to church!  There I said it, it's out, now I can breathe...

Now I feel the need to explain...

I was brought up Episcopalian--Catholic-lite, if you will--and thought I was doomed to the watered down, constantly repetitive, hypocritical, snooty version of Jesus I was being taught.  I knew there was more to it however, than what I was being forced to endure, because every year, a "holiness" church would pitch a tent in a vacant lot not far from my childhood home. They would show another side, a more expressive, spontaneous, vulnerable side to Christianity than to what I had become accustomed.  I liked that, but because it went against my upbringing, I had to sneak out of the house to attend those.  It was worth it though, because my heart was opened to what being a Christian was more about, and it was there where I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Fast forward 20 years, and I had finally wrenched myself away from the doldrums of rote worship and found a place that was more like those tent meetings from my youth.  Initially, I was happy--freedom to express my innermost feelings, approachable Bible teachers I could ask questions of, ability to use some more of my gifts, etc.

Then...I found out that these people were just like the other people, just as hypocritical, ready to criticize, not as willing to help, etc.  What I didn't know, and I have finally come to learn, was that all people have these faults, no matter where I go; the difference is how many churches are brave enough to admit to having these vulnerabilities on their roster?  It took me many years, and many tears, before I was able to separate the people's actions from Who God Is.

I experienced the highs and the lows, I experienced the love and the hate, I experienced the victories and the defeats, I experienced the abundance and the lack.  I went through so much, but I learned from each experience.  I was able to learn to discern between who was really being sent by God, and who was acting out of their fleshly desires.  I learned that not everybody set in the pulpit by the pastor was meant to be there (yes, pastors are fallible too!).  I learned that I can sometimes learn more from the humble mother next to me in the pew, than the most exalted officer of the church staff, if I paid attention to the real lesson God was trying to teach me.  I learned that just because you're loud doesn't mean you're right, or even know what you're talking about (that one applies in life as well, not just in church!).  I learned that just because the sanctuary is quiet, doesn't necessarily mean that it's a welcoming environment to the Holy Spirit. So many lessons learned through the years, and so many still to be learned, and some to be re-learned, but my dread of church has definitely lessened.  Here's why:

As children, we're taught to not question authority, to respect our elders, to submit to those placed over us.  I took that to heart and it carried well into my adult years.  I endured abusive leaders, unsympathetic elders, false prophets, etc. because I thought that's what I was "supposed" to do, in my obedience to their positions.  Then I witnessed something one night that shocked me so much, it changed my entire outlook on how leadership should be.

At a service one night, under the ministry of a "prophet."  They were ministering to a line of people in front of them, and finally came to a person I greatly respected.  When the "prophet" began to speak, I heard the person, stop them almost immediately and said, "No, that's not me."  First of all, I didn't even know that anyone was allowed to do that!  I was so shocked!  Then the "prophet" went on to divulge some other items, when the person stopped them again, and said, "No, that's definitely not me, and I don't receive any of it."  They then turned and walked back to their seat.  They weren't loud or obnoxious, in fact they were very calm and respectful, but they were very firm and clear that what was being said to and about them was incorrect.

The reaction of the "prophet" was less than complimentary.  It was obvious that they were not used to being questioned, much less rebuffed, because their arrogance immediately came to the fore, and they began berating the individual pointedly.  I understood that their feelings were hurt and their ego took a major bruising, but if you're truly a prophet sent by God, then my understanding of your response should have been one of two things: either clarify the "misinformation," or  apologize to the individual for speaking out of turn, and to immediately go into prayer for clarification, stopping any further erroneous activity.  This is just my interpretation of things, so I acknowledge that there still is so much to learn, but I believe in at least those two steps.

Before this incident, I hated going to church during those seasons of false prophecy because I endured so much more "junk" being heaped on me than what I was already enduring.  I became depressed because of the lies and false accusations that were being hurled at me, often in front of entire congregations.  I also endured false predictions of things to come that never materialized, dimming my fervor for service.  But after that night...I learned to say no!  I often didn't even have to say anything, my demeanor spoke volumes, and only the truly confident or real prophets dared approach me or call me out.  I've still maintained my respect for the office and the calling, but unlike my previous sheep-like behavior, I no longer accept everything that comes out of their mouths without examination.

One other experience also helped turn my heart back to God and the church.  This was after my above experience.  Our church has just come out of a season of revival, complete with several guest preachers.  One of the guests went so far "off the reservation" that I really expected people to start walking out.  When they didn't, I chalked it up to shock and the resulting paralysis. At the conclusion of the revival, our pastor got up to speak, and apologized to us all for the offense and hurt we had endured at the hand of the guest preacher.  That was also something I had never experienced before, a pastor apologizing.  And I came to understand that because the people had the pastor's heart they didn't walk out, but waited to see how the pastor would address it, and their love and devotion paid off.  He apologized to the seasoned members, but especially to the newly converted, explaining the errors and why they were so dangerous.  I learned to love and honor my pastor, and in addition to already respecting the office, I learned to respect the person holding the office.

There have been so many experiences through the following years, from all parts of the spectrum, but I've learned to examine them through the keen lens of the Word of God.  And when I wasn't able to immediately find a corresponding passage of Holy Scripture against which to examine the question, I would simply ask the Holy Spirit to help me understand what was in front of me, whether person, place or thing.

Which (finally) brings me to my topic, "My time...but for what?"  Because I really do like going to prophetic conferences and sitting under prophets, I've come across a lot of things in my life.  One common thread I've found though, is the expression, "It's your time."  This expression is almost universally used as a method of encouragement, sometimes with follow-up and explanation, and sometimes as a standalone.   It's the standalones that still give me pause.  It's my time...but for what?

My experience with prophecy is this: if God gave you a message for me, then He is going to tailor it to me.  It is not going to be like anyone else's message, because I am not like anyone else.  God knows I have an analytical mind (He made me that way, after all), and if I get a vague or incomplete message, I'm going to gnaw on it and question it until I get some answers, either from the person delivering the message, or from God Himself.  So that is often my measuring stick for a true vs. a false prophet.  If you can't give me guidance on what you just said, then I am going to reject everything you said because either, 1. You didn't get that from God, or 2. You didn't sit with Him long enough to get the complete message, thus making me question anything else you may have said.  So if you come to me with a simple, "It's your time," be prepared to be grilled!

I don't mean to sound disrespectful or presumptuous or even obnoxious, I just know that if God sends a message to anyone, He wants them to be obedient to it.  Now, how can one be obedient if one doesn't understand the message?  Whether it's a message of caution, repentance, deliverance, healing, cause for celebration, or whatever, the recipient shouldn't go away questioning the message. 

I put prophets on notice because I hold them to a very high standard, they are, after all, the mouthpieces of God here on Earth.  That is not an office to be taken lightly, by the prophet, the people surrounding the prophet, or the people receiving the message from the prophet.  I know there are some whose demeanors are off-putting, but again, if they are really sent by God, with a message from God, God will prepare the recipient to receive the message, regardless of the vessel delivering it.

I have sat in the presence of some very anointed people who, I believe, were operating under the anointing of prophecy, and so I have learned a few things along the way.  One, prayer is key.  There is no way the person can operate under such a deep and heavy anointing without having an extremely rich and active prayer life.  Two, humility is essential.  The prophet, although anointed of God, is still human, and must acknowledge their own faults and shortcomings as such.  If they know that they are not operating in the prophetic anointing or that there is something going on in their lives that may be "blocking" the anointing, don't try to "work something up," be humble enough to say that the anointing has lifted and that going forward would be in opposition to the move of God.  Also, because of that humility, recognize that the message may not always be received immediately or readily; be humble enough not to get offended or offer any more or less than what was instructed by God.  And three, be prepared for the unexpected.  I believe that though the prophet may have really sat with God and was sufficiently prepared, if God decides to "surprise" the prophet, then it is for their own edification, and they should be open to receive the lesson for them, because there is, after all, a time for everything, a time to plant and a time to reap.

There was my time to shut up, but now is my time to speak up.  I have had too many lessons deposited into my life, and now it is time for me to share them.  It is my time...but for what?  To be a conduit of God's wonders and lessons for life in whatever form He chooses.  As of now, I only write when I'm moved to, but the time will come when this will be shared to the very ones to whom He wants them directed.  Until then, my time is to sow...until it's time to reap.