Monday, February 27, 2012

What’s your message? Speak Life

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Proverbs 18:21

I talk to myself—out loud. It’s how I process things. But the truth is we all talk to ourselves every day.

We’re constantly talking to ourselves. We always are giving ourselves messages, interpreting our world and communicating to ourselves about our place in that world.

What messages are you telling yourself and what message are you giving the world about yourself?

Our words are reflections of our thoughts. Thoughts become words and words turn into actions. Words are the catalyst to actions. Words shape our reality. A war of words begins long before an actual strike is made in combat. Men die for ideas and those ideas are encapsulated in words.

Words are alive. Words have power. Words breathe and occupy space. God spoke a word and the world came into existence. When we speak we bring things into existence.

The Bible says that death and life are in our words. That’s power and also a great responsibility. Our words are like nuclear power. They can be used to destroy and maim or they can be used as a force to do good and provide service. The Bible says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Our words can be weapons of mass destruction or instruments of healing to others and ourselves.

Too often we speak death instead of life. We give ourselves negative messages: I’m a failure. I’m ugly. I’m stupid. I’m too fat. I’m too skinny. I can never do anything right. Nobody cares about me. I can’t do it.

What is the tape that keeps playing in your head? The negative messages that we give ourselves tend to seep out and we spread that negative energy to others and affect them. There was a character named Glum in a cartoon I used to watch called “Gulliver’s Travels.” Whenever the group was trying to do something, Glum would say, “We’ll never make it.”

Be still for a moment and listen to your inner thoughts. What is your message? Are you like Glum? Is your mantra, “We’ll never make it.” Change your message and instead of speaking death, speak life. Change your message from, “It will never happen” to “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Change your message of “Nothing good ever happens to me” to “With God, all things are possible.”

As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. And may I add, as he speaketh so it shall be.


Reflection Question:

Are your words agents of healing or weapons of mass destruction?

What is the most frequent message you give yourself?

Meditation Verses:

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

“From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands reward him.” Proverbs 12:14

“Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” Proverbs 4:24

“Pleasant words promote instruction.” Proverbs 16:21

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

Application:

Write positive scriptures on note cards or post them on your wall or mirror. Read them out loud throughout the day or whenever a negative message starts to enter your mind.

Commit to fast a day from complaining and criticizing others and yourself. Commit to praising God, being thankful and complimenting others.

Maya Angelou on the Power of Words

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Father’s Prayers

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

I’ve heard my father say many prayers over the years. As a PK (preacher’s kid), going to church was par for the course and hearing my father pray from the pulpit of the Morning Star Baptist Church was not a rare occurrence. It was a weekly event.

I heard him pray at wedding ceremonies, asking for God’s blessings upon the couple uniting. I heard him pray at baby dedications asking God’s blessings upon a new life. I heard him pray at funerals as he lay to rest parishioners at the end of their earthly lives.


But the two prayers of my father that probably impacted my life the most were never really prayed in church. One of them I heard almost every day. One of them I don’t think I ever heard him say out loud to me, but I know he prayed it. How do I know? He told me so. Because it was the same prayer that his father prayed for him and the prayer that he encourages others to pray for their children.

Before meals as we sat at the kitchen table to eat, my father always said, “The Lord will provide.” I remember some days as he sat at the table he seemed tired. Now that I am older I know where that weariness came from. It was the weariness of carrying the problems of his congregation, the load of praying for others, being an under shepherd to God’s people. It was the weight of carrying people’s concerns about their children, jobs, relationships and problems on his shoulder.

As a pastor, I saw my father sacrifice for others, those who attended our church and those who didn’t. He went to the schools and fought for a quality education for children because he knew that education would open doors of opportunity. He paid people’s bills out of his own pocket, knowing he would never see the money again. He woke up in the middle of the night to see about others and was there to comfort people at the most tragic and trying times of their lives. He prayed for and fought at school board meetings, the city council and corporate board rooms.

But when he retired, after years of standing up for others, nobody stood up for him when he was forced to stop teaching his noonday bible study and moved out of the church office of the church he helped to build and pastored for almost four decades.

“The Lord will provide.”

I couldn’t have understood it then, the pressure to compromise his integrity and sell out the people. The political powers that be that ran our town at the time and even other preachers told my father if you want your kids to go to college, you have to cow tow to the powers that be. But my father trusted in His heavenly Father and said I’d rather my kids be dummies than to lose my integrity.

“The Lord will provide.”

And God did provide for us. I went to college and studied abroad twice and my parents didn’t have to pay a dime for my tuition or board. My brother graduated from college and law school. And my father kept speaking the truth to power, even when some said he should just be quiet.

My father celebrates his 79th birthday today. As I get older I thank God for my father’s prayers.

His other prayer was that God would give me good friends. I see the importance of this prayer as I pray for my own children now. God’s Word says blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly and that evil communication (bad company) corrupts good manners. As I read God’s Word and witness life for myself, I understand who we spend our time with and call friends affects the course of our lives. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20)“. I thank God for blessing me with good friends.

I pray for my children. Before they go to school. In the living room on our knees. In a circle holding hands. In the car on their way to school. When I tuck them in at night. I have them pray--for themselves and others. I smile when my daughter says with excitement and amazement, “God is answering my prayers.” Mine too. One of them being that my children would love God with all their hearts, minds and souls, that they would fulfill God’s purpose for them and that He would provide for them all the days of their lives.

And that God would give them good friends.


What are you praying for your children? Do they know it? Do they see you pray? Even when they don’t see you, do they know that they are an object of your prayers? That you are interceding on their behalf to God?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Top At the Well postings for January 2012

Here are the top three At the Well postings for January 2012.

Baggie Books

"Marching and protesting are all well and good and often needed but what is absolutely necessary is that we take responsibility for our children’s education. " (published June 4, 2009)










Tending Our Gardens: Got Fruit?

"In our lives and in our churches is Jesus finding the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) or the acts of the sinful nature: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy and drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21)?" (published September 23, 2011)











Steps to Success in 2012: See it, Say it, Believe it, Build it

"In 2012, make a decision to step into your destiny every day with determination, redeeming the time." (published January 9, 2012)

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