Thursday, March 27, 2008

Going Home For A Few Days

I will be driving back to New Orleans on tomorrow morning and probably will not return until Monday afternoon. I ask you to keep me in prayer as I make the trip. Pray for my safety in travel.

My former boss there called to ask me to help them with a couple of big projects. I am familiar with the work because that was my job before Hurricane Katrina. Although our organization took a huge hit from Katrina as well as I did personally (our building was totally destroyed and had to be demolished), with a skeleton staff, they were able to reopen in a new building.

(This is my office after Katrina. The building has been demolished)


My boss is THE boss of the organization (the director). And we've remained in contact all of this time. She still has not hired anyone to replace me. In fact, several months ago, she had found someone whom she offered the position to and she called me and asked if I would come and train the lady. Well, at the last minute, after seeing all of the work that goes with the position, the lady chose not to start (although she'd accepted the position).

We'll be working through the weekend and probably some of Monday morning. I pray for the success of the project. It's important for the organization. Though I am no longer there, I do still care about my boss and the mission of the organization. I am happy to help. I worked there for 18 years before Katrina, so we'd grown together like a family.

I plan to attend services on Sunday at my old church. It too was totally destroyed by Katrina. We were happy to return home in October to attend the re-opening and re-dedication. I was so happy that they were able to rebuild. It's the only "live" building in the block. All of the homes surrounding the church are either washed away or demolished, or still waiting to be knocked down. The church looks like a beacon life in a desolate land.

I pray that my spirits remain high. Each time I have gone back home to New Orleans, I've left feeling depressed and the heaviness remains with me for a few days or so!
(This is a makeshift memorial that was put up not long after the hurricane in recognition of a family of people and neighbors who died during Katrina. The memorial was set up on St. Claude Avenue, in the 9th ward - my neighborhood)


There is some rebuilding, but the city still has not fully come back. So many people are still struggling - whether in New Orleans, or in the cities that they have relocated to. Some want to return, and cannot for a number of reasons.

Hopefully I'll just be too busy to think about it....

Carla

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

THE MULTITUDE

“And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away.” (Mark 8:8-9 ESV)

As always, I have a lot on my mind. I am forever busy having my hands into many things. I’m a little exhausted, however, tonight and will be heading to bed in just a little bit. Actually, that will be early for me because I rarely go to bed before midnight. My right arm and shoulder hurts and I know it’s because of the busy-ness.

Yesterday was Resurrection Sunday and it was truly a beautiful and exciting day. We went to sunrise service, then had breakfast at church, and then went into Sunday School and our normal 11:15 worship service. Included in that service was the Youth program that our Pastor appointed me to coordinate. I really don’t know why he thinks that I can do these things. We are still fairly new members of this church, being as we’ve only been here since Katrina. I’m still learning about their ways, the members, and everything about them. I am sure that they are still “learning” us as well. We are quite active in the different ministries, but it’s still sort of new to me. In addition to being appointed as the Marriage Ministry Director, as part of my working with the Youth, I deal with the creative arts, thus putting together the different programs I’ve been put over so far.

The kids did a wonderful job. They are quite smart and although a huge bundle of energy, a joy to work with. I ended up including two musical selections, which meant that I taught the songs and directed them singing. I also enjoy that, although I am not a choir director. I have, however, done that in the past for a period of time back in New Orleans. I much prefer to be directed than to direct, but I must admit that I love teaching, coaching, inspiring, empowering. I absolutely love bringing the best out of people, especially in a creative way.

Anaiah didn’t have school today, so I was able to SLEEP late this morning! I appreciated not having to get up at 5:15 am. I believe that I slept until about 8:00……and it felt so good! I took my time getting up and just sort of lounged around for awhile. But, I knew that I had a busy day ahead of me still because I had school tonight myself, and I still had not completed my homework for one of the classes. So, that meant more studying for me, and then I had to write a short paper. I love my seminary classes and although they are challenging and somewhat difficult at times, I can say that I am learning so much. The classes are helping me as a person and in my walk and relationship with the Lord. My degree will be in Counseling, but I know that if my study and these classes didn’t help me personally, then I would never be of help to anyone else. Right now, we’re in core courses, and again, they are so beneficial.

Part of my study for tonight’s class was something that spoke directly to me and I related and saw myself there. This is the summary statement of my “observations” of a small passage we were to use:

“Mark 8:1-10 is a beautiful expression of the love of Jesus and His ability and willingness to provide. It also proves as a reminder for us that when we face seemingly impossible situations, we can know that He has performed miracles and mighty works in the past for us, and that there is nothing that we will face that is too difficult for Him to work out. If He did it once, He can do it again and again, because He is God.”

You know, many people know of and often refer to Jesus feeding the multitude of 5000 with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. It was truly a miracle. Yet, we also forget (or are not aware) that Jesus once again fed a multitude (Mark 8:1-10), this time of 4000. The disciples were with him on both occasions. They saw what He did the first time with the 5000. How soon we forget? When they were faced with another multitude, the disciples questioned how they were going to feed them. They were in a desolate area, food wasn’t readily available. How soon we forget? Jesus asked them what did they have. They said 3 fish and 7 loaves of bread, but wondered how it would be possible for them to feed the people. How soon we forget?

In the passage I wrote at the beginning of this blog entry (Mark 8:8-9), it states that they ate, they were satisfied, and that there was more food leftover (7 baskets full). Jesus did it again!

My classmates were very hard on the disciples exclaiming their surprise as to how they (disciples) even questioned how they would feed these people. After all, hadn’t Jesus done it previously? Not only that, right after the first feeding of the 5000, they saw Jesus walking on water, and they couldn’t believe it! They couldn’t believe it because they couldn’t grasp yet exactly who Jesus was. They’d “forgotten” that they’d just seen Him perform such a miracle with the 5000. They’d seen Him performing many miracles, yet they still did not believe.

I had to speak up in the class and say that we cannot be so hard on the disciples. How many miracles have we seen in our own lives? How many times has God delivered us? How many times has He made out of no way for us? Must Jesus say to us, as He did the disciples, “Where is your faith?”

We are not much different from the disciples.

This message spoke so deeply to me because unlike myself, God is faithful at all times. He is true to His Word. He is consistent. Additionally, as in the passage, He not only provides, but He goes beyond. They ate………and were satisfied. They were full. He’d taken care of them in every way, actually. He first took care of their spiritual needs by teaching them. This particular crowd remained with Him for three days hungry for His Word. He loved them so much, and was moved by compassion, that He refused to send them away without providing for their physical need. And He did so abundantly.

As I face challenges and some difficulties in my life, I pray that I not forget the feedings of the multitude. May I not wonder and ask as the disciples did as one with eyes who cannot see, ears who cannot hear, and one not to remember.

Carla

Saturday, March 22, 2008

THE LAST SEVEN SAYINGS OF CHRIST FROM THE CROSS

I was with my mother when she died 24 years ago. However, I had stepped away for a few minutes as she was talking with someone else and I did not feel the need to be in their conversation. I may have only walked a few feet away when my mother suffered a massive heart attack and dropped to the ground. I ran to her and horrifically watched life leaving her body. It was quite traumatic.

Between the time of her death and the funeral, the individual she was speaking to made a point to contact me. She let me know what my mother was saying to her. My mother was talking about me. Concerned about me. Trying to secure an opportunity for me. My mother was expressing her love for me.

I have never forgotten this and although her passing was premature (she was only 48 years old), and not a day goes by even now, 24 years later, that I don't think about my Mama, I still find comfort knowing that I was on her mind as she passed.

Last words are memorable. Even last words from someone who is still alive, but you may not have seen for awhile. We tend to remember the last things that were said.

Jesus Christ spoke from the cross as He was dying for you and I. Each saying, each expression, was significant and motivated and wrapped in love.

Let's recapture our Lord and Savior's last words from the cross:

In no particular order:

(1) Matthew 27:46 tells us that about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" which means, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Here, Jesus was expressing His feelings of abandonment as God placed the sins of the world on Him – and because of that, God had to "turn away" from Jesus. As Jesus was feeling that weight of sin, He was experiencing a separation from God for the only time in all of eternity. This was also a fulfillment of the prophetic statement in Psalm 22:1.

(2) "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Those who crucified Jesus were not aware of the full scope of what they were doing because they did not recognize Him as the Messiah. While their ignorance of divine truth did not mean they deserved forgiveness, Christ's prayer in the midst of their mocking Him is an expression of the limitless compassion of divine grace.

(3) "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). In this passage, Jesus is assuring one of the criminals on the cross that when he died, he would be with Jesus in heaven. This was granted because the criminal had expressed his faith in Jesus, recognizing Him for who He was (Luke 23:42).

(4) "Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46). Here, Jesus is willingly giving up His soul into the Father's hands, indicating that He was about to die – and that God had accepted His sacrifice. "He offered up Himself without spot to God" (Hebrews 9:14).

(5) "Woman, behold your son!" and "Behold your mother!" When Jesus saw His mother standing near the cross with the Apostle John, whom He loved, He committed His mother's care into John's hands. And from that hour John took her unto his own home. (John 19:26-27). In this verse Jesus, ever the compassionate Son, is making sure His earthly mother is cared for after His death.

(6) "I thirst" (John 19:28). Jesus was here fulfilling the Messianic prophecy from Psalm 69:21: "They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." By saying He was thirsty, He prompted the Roman guards to give Him vinegar, which was customary at a crucifixion, thereby fulfilling the prophecy.

(7) "It is finished!" (John 19:30). Jesus' last words meant that His suffering was over and the whole work His Father had given Him to do, which was to preach the Gospel, work miracles, and obtain eternal salvation for His people, was done, accomplished, fulfilled. The debt of sin was paid.


Carla

Friday, March 21, 2008

THE ROAD TO CALVARY - WATCH AND PRAY

MATTHEW 26:36-40
36Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 37He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."
39Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
40Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. 41"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

LUKE 22:39 - 45
39Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." 41He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." 43An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
45When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46"Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

You know, I think that we tend to take the crucifixion of Jesus way too lightly. We know that Jesus died for us, was buried, was raised and is now ascended in heaven with the Father. But, do we REALLY think about what Jesus faced as He faced the cross?

Sometimes we say "thank You", but our gratitude must be more than mere words. More than lip service. Our lives should be a reflection of our gratitude and our debt. Afterall, He paid a debt that He did not owe, and we owe a debt that we cannot pay. The very least we can do is allow our actions to be symbolic of Jesus sacrifice for us.

As you can see in the two accounts above (Matthew and Luke), Jesus went to the Garden of Gethesemene (where He often brought the twelve), one last time to pray to the Father. He asked that they would also pray.......to pray for their strength......not to fall to temptation. The very temptation that He knew (and previously told them) would befall them. He further separated Himself from them so that He could pray alone.

Jesus knew what was facing Him. He knew what His purpose was. He knew what His assignment was. And His divinity side knew exactly what He would have to go through. He knew that He would experience a period of separation from God the Father because of the sin that He would bear. For you. For me. He knew of the agony. He knew of the shame (death by crucifixion was a shameful death). He knew of the physical pain. He knew of the temptation (yet again, satan would try to tempt Him in the hope that He would not die according to the scriptures -- we must remember that satan will always try to keep God's children from fulfilling their purpose and destiny).

My limitation of words cannot express the brutality and violence that Jesus would go through........yet again, for you.....for me! I cannot adequately describe the pain that Jesus endured for ME! Therefore, the human side of Jesus struggled and anguished as He faced the cross. Jesus, as our perfect example in all things, demonstrated to us what we are to do when we face adversity (to say the least). He PRAYED! Matthew tells us that He actually fell with His face to the ground and prayed THREE times! In between, He would notice that He disciples were not doing what He asked, for they slept. Certainly they were tired, but as I always say, God does not instruct us to do something that we're incapable of doing. Sincere and earnest prayer is often sacrificial, and we're not always willing to make the sacrifice. Ever notice how we too become DEEPLY sleepy when we attemtp to pray? That is no coincidence and it's a trick of the enemy.

In John 17 (the entire chapter), he records elaborately the Lord's prayer. Jesus prayed for Himself, His disciples, and then all Believers.

Luke and Matthew (above) shows the agony He felt as He, for a fleeting moment, asked that God would remove the "cup" that was His. Luke is the only account that mentions that an angel came to strengthen Him. I am sure that it was through this strength that He was able to say to God to let His will be done.

His will. God's will.

God's will is bigger than ours and it's more than us. We too must learn to submit to God's will. Jesus shows here that it definitely was not about Him, because the human side of Him anguished over the task ahead of Him. "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Mat 26:41) We must be careful to pray and ask God to allow us to operate in the spirit, and not to let our flesh (self) control us. We will fail every time!

I want to encourage you this day to follow Jesus' example. Pray! None of us will EVER face what Jesus did. I know that at times we may feel as though we are at the end of our ropes, as though we're up against a wall, or even that it is the end of the world for you. Jesus literally faced, and went to hell for you and I so that we would not have to experience it. We can pray to God our Father in the powerful name of Jesus.

And let us not forget to thank the Lord for what He has done for us. We cannot take it for granted. If I were to save your life, would you not thank me? Would you not think of my bravery and heroism every single day of your life? Would you not be grateful?

Jesus saved your life!

Carla

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

THE ROAD TO CALVARY - BETRAYAL AND DENIAL

TEXT: Matthew 26:20 - 25; 31-35

20When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21And while they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me."
22They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?"
23Jesus replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."

25Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?"
Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you."

31Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
" 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' 32But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."

33Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will."

34 "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times."

35 But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same.


On His way to the cross, Jesus was betrayed and denied......not by outsiders......but from His own inner circle. Therefore, we should not expect that we will never experience the same in our lives. However, I believe that what's most important here is not solely to bring comfort to us when we are betrayed and denied, but it is to help us keep in mind that we all have within us some Judas and Peter.

We too betray and deny our Lord and Savior by our actions, and inactions.

Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Obviously, he valued this more than salvation. He valued it more than a personal relationship with the Lord. He valued it more than the love that Jesus had for him.

Peter, who BOLDLY declared his love and devotion said that he would never "fall away". No matter, he said, if others did. Yet, when the pressure was on and he even feared for his life, he denied the Giver of life.

You know, it's quite easy for us to point our fingers at Judas and Peter. Granted, I am not condoning or justifying their actions. But, I can't personally be so quick to point out their faults when the same weakness lies within me.

I don't think that I would ever sell out for the sake of money, as Judas did. But, who am I to say what I, or anyone else, would or would not do when pushed up against the wall and facing dire straits. We really don't know WHY Judas was so willing to sell out. He obviously felt bad enough about it in the days to follow that he could not face living anymore. He reacted wrongly about his actions, but he had to have had some deep remorse regarding it. How unfortunate that he did not rest in knowing that the One he betrayed is also the One to forgive and restore.

We may say that we would never deny Jesus, or our faith. We may say that we're Christians, we're strong in our faith, no one can or will not shut us up or make us change who we are. That's great! Yet, when we do not live according to God's Word, treat others as we should, love as we should, represent the Lord by our actions, speech, and even thoughts; then we are denying Christ.

We deny Christ when we lack faith. We deny Him when we are disobedient. We deny Him edge Him out of our lives (EGO).

We can't fault Peter and Judas without first examining ourselves.

Isn't it wonderful, however, that we serve a loving and forgiving God!

Carla
Stay tuned for the rest of our lessons on The Road to Calvary! I pray that these have thus far been a blessing to you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A MORE PERFECT UNION (Senator Barack Obama's speech on race relations)

Text of Obama’s Speech: A More Perfect Union

Here, the full text of Sen. Barack Obama’s speech, “A More Perfect Union,” as prepared for delivery.

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”
Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.
And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way
But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so na├»ve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans — the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know — what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy.

Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.
She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.
But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

Monday, March 17, 2008

THE ROAD TO CALVARY - PLOT AND BETRAYAL

TEXT: Matthew 26:1-5; 14 - 16 (NIV)

The Plot Against Jesus
1When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2"As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."
3Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. 5"But not during the Feast," they said, "or there may be a riot among the people."

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
14Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. 16From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.


(26:1-5) Jesus once again prepares the twelve for things to come. It's important to notice Jesus' mentioning of the Passover Feast (the Jews' great annual celebration in remembrance of the exodus from Egypt, Their lives were spared when the death angel passed over their homes because of the sacrificial blood that was posted on their doors -- thus they were able to leave Egypt). How interesting that the Lamb of God was being handed over to shed His blood. Jesus is the Passover. He is/was the ultimate sacrifice. He is our salvation.

Jesus' mention of the Passover also sets a timetable. After He states this, the enemy began to put the plot into action. An official meeting was held at the palace. The elders, the chief priests, the high priests.........this was the Sanhedrin Council.........the leaders........they took this very seriously. They wanted to, however, wait until after the Passover. Not necessarily for "religious" reasons, but due to the fact that the city would be filled with many celebrants. They didn't want to intice a riot on the possibility that the multitude of people would side with Jesus. Afterall, they were just praising and worshipping Him as He made the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

(26:14-16) Judas Iscariot obviously did not accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Although he was a follower, he did not learn. His character was such that he was an opportunist and when he saw that he could make personal gain for being with the Lord, he jumped at it.

Everyone that is with you, is not for you. Everyone that is in your circle is not your brother or sister. Everyone that walks with you does not have your back. And everyone that say that they want to learn from you may not believe in you. This was Judas. Someone who was willing to sell his soul for silver!

But, we can't really be mad at Judas. He played an integral part in Jesus' work and His journey to calvary. The Jewish leaders had ample time and means to arrest and kill Jesus. Yet, Judas' role played into theirs because it was all done on the sly. It was underhanded, untruthful, and with malice. Their actions, and Judas', simply demonstrate what we will, have, or had already experienced because of who we are -- Children of God. As such, satan is always trying to find ways to destroy us and to hurt us. Evil basically lurks and crawls around and does things underhanded. Evil will stare you in the face, smile at you, give you a kiss, and then hand you over for destruction.

As difficult as it may be for us, when persecution comes our way, we have to stand tall and remember what Jesus went through just for us. We can rest assured that He will deliver us.


Carla

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Black and White

You know what? I'm really getting sick and tired of all of the bickering, pettiness, and finger pointing that is going on in the Democratic political fight for the presidential nomination. It is so childish and elementary that I just wish that they would all just shut up and stick to the issues. There is too much tit for tat..........but I guess it all spells POLITICS (is there any wonder I've never been interested in politics before?)

This last attack against Obama really set ME off regarding his pastor's comments. Although I think that the pastor should have been more "careful" or "sensitive" in his remarks, simply because of his relationship, I think that once again, the "masses" are missing the entire point.

It is a BLACK AND WHITE issue!

barack 2


Pastor Wright's words may really have been strong and nerve shattering, but as a Black woman, I was not shocked or amazed by what he said. Reality is that we hear this type of talk in the Black community, from the pulpit, at the water cooler, in the kitchen, on the porch, in the car, on the corner, at Big Mama's house, in the barber shop, at the beauty salon.............WHERE EVER we are......it is said, we hear it, and we know it!

My angst stems from the fact that White America are too afraid to say something that may upset us....the Black community.....about Obama (nobody wants to be called a racist). Yet, they want Barack Obama to denounce, defned, and speak for every statement made from other Blacks. He cannot control what people say! Nor does he represent an entire race of people. Should he have to defend every statement that, let's say, every Black preacher says regarding America, Whites, etc.?

I watched CNN last night where Pastor Wright's comments were the big topic. I watched as Anderson Cooper interviewed Obama regarding them. I watched the panel discussion. All in amazement, I might add. It was as though they couldn't believe that anyone would say anything negative about America. The fact remains that our Black experience in America is quite different from theirs. And regardless of how one may feel about Pastor Wright's comment, that is what he was saying!

It is reality for us. Yes, it is truly BLACK AND WHITE for us in many ways. That doesn't mean that we don't love our country. It means that we are still suffering from injustices in many ways.

Lest we forget that it was always the Black church and the preachers who spoke out against disenfranchisement and the wrongs that befell us. Had the church NOT spoken out, where would we be today?

Carla Y. Nix

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

COMPLETE?

“I simply went from an A-cup to a B-cup. I didn't want double Ds and be a little bitty size 2. That would look nuts... this one really hot House of Dereon top -- I just wanted to fill that out! I put it on and I looked SO good! I'm so happy. I feel complete."
-- Destiny's Child singer Kelly Rowland on her breast implants.


This quote is from a blog article By Karu F. Daniels, BlackVoices.com (AOL) posted today.

Personally, I think that Kelly is an absolutely beautiful young lady with great talent. For the life of me, I don’t understand why adding to what God has already given to her, going from an “A” cup to a “B”, would make her now feel “complete”. How does enhancement to one’s breast enhance them as an individual? How does this add to someone’s character?

kelly rowland

I’ve long been one to speak out when women feel that they have to live up to an image in order to feel good about themselves. I remember once I spoke my mind when Toni Braxton first had implants and decided to pose nude (or nearly so) many years ago. Some said that my opposition was because I was jealous. That comment stunned me, as it was totally ludicrous. I was most dismayed with her actions because I love Toni’s singing and I felt that she was selling herself short, and cheap, by stooping to such a level. The woman can sing! What was the purpose of her exposing her body? That made no sense to me. Years later, she developed problems from the implants and had them removed (Ebony Magazine, December 2000).

My question remains, why would someone want to put something foreign and unnatural in their body simply to look a certain way? Moreso, why does Kelly Rowland now feel complete with a “B” cup? I can tell you that there is a woman out there with a natural “B” cup who is saying that she wants a “C” cup.

My concern is that a woman ought to be able to feel good about herself and feel complete with what God gave her. She is already complete!

If a bigger cup makes a woman more attractive, then to me, she ought to wonder about the one or ones she’s attracting. If a man can’t love a woman as God created her, then that man isn’t worthy of her attention, and definitely not her love.

If it is the size of the cup (or the bottom, or the entire body) that brings the attention, then I truly feel sorry for the relationship. There will always be another set of boobs that will come into view. What sustains is pure love. After the fascination, infatuation, and lust goes by the wayside, tell me what still stands. If there was never a meeting of the minds, an attraction of intelligence, and the love of a person’s character, what is left?

Too many of our women are falling for the hype. They are trying to fit an image that society has set for beauty, and they are failing to nurture and develop their inner strengths and real beauty. Why do so many women think that they have to wear revealing clothing (boobs hanging out, skirts up their butt, pants skin tight, etc.)? Look at our young girls. If parents allow them to dress like hoochie mamas from a young age, they definitely will grow up believing that this is how a lady should look. Furthermore, if they see Mama doing it, then who can blame them for their own distaste and classless attitude.

Some men may like what they see. After all, it’s all up in their faces. But, a woman should have more pride in herself and demand to be respected by the way that she presents and carries herself. If she has to pump up her bust line, expose herself, and dress scantily to attract a man, then I truly feel sorry for her.
All you have to do is look at the way that many women and young ladies (and of course even girls) pose for pictures. They will turn backwards, or poke their butts out to the camera. Why? I was once taking pictures for our scrap book at work, and most of the female students (teens and young adults) automatically struck that pose. I refused to take the pictures. I told them that I didn’t want pictures of their tails, I wanted a picture of their beautiful faces.

The scary thing is that this was so NATURAL to them. They posed like this without much thought. It is just so common and too many of us who know better are silent and allow it to happen. We accept it. We fail to realize that it’s not cute, when it’s really sad.

I feel bad for Kelly Rowland. She represents so many women. We all (women AND men) need to gain a knowledge of who we are. We need to know our purpose in life. We need to live a fulfilling life and come to love who we are.......just like God made us. God doesn’t make mistakes. He does not do incomplete jobs. Any incompletion we feel has to be because we are not complete in Him. Something is missing, and I’m here to tell you that it’s not the size of our bust.

Carla

Monday, March 10, 2008

SHOUT!

“And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.
Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.
And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat.” ~Joshua 6:2, 4, 5a


Right now, I am listening to “When the Battle is Over” by Walter Hawkins. I am really rejoicing as the song says, “Don’t wait ‘til the battle is over, shout now!”
Last night, I was “speechless” as I accepted the fact that I had not exhibited total trust and faith in God as I am going through this transitional period in my life. Tonight I am rejoicing and full of great anticipation as I have been encouraged and know that I don’t have to wait until I see the blessing, I know that they simply have to be manifested. God is true to His Word, and unlike us, we can take that to the bank!

My lack of faith was disobedience. My lack of faith resulted in worry. When we worry, we are not obedient. How can one worry and have faith? It does not mix. It does not add up. It does not make sense. When we worry, we are in essence saying to God that we don’t believe that He’s able. We diminish His authority in our lives.

Obedience is important. God commanded Joshua as he led the Children of Israel through another battle. God told Joshua EXACTLY what they were to do in order to receive the blessing of conquering Jericho. First, God confirmed that He’d already worked it out. He told Him that He’d given them Jericho. This was before it was actually accomplished. But for, and with, God, everything is current. You see, He is……..not was……or might be. He is!

Next, God told Joshua EXACTLY what to do and how to do it. Joshua was not to change the command. He was not to act on his own. He was not to do what he thought he should do.

Then God told him to do something that seems a bit strange. He told the people to SHOUT with a GREAT SHOUT as they marched around the walls of the city. He didn’t say to simply march around the walls and they will fall (the falling of the walls meant that the battle was won – they would be able to inhabit Jericho). They had to do something first. The shouting was an expression of praise. See, they were to praise BEFORE the battle was over. They were not to wait until the battle was over, they were to SHOUT in advance!

As for me, I am shouting now. I am praising Him now. I am thanking Him now. I am marching around the walls and I know that they will come tumbling down because my God has already given me the city! See, God never told me that I wouldn’t have trying times. He never said that I wouldn’t have challenges. But, He did tell me that I was to use my gifts and talents for Him. He did tell me that He would provide and that He would open doors. He did direct my path. I am reminded of Jesus’ words to the disciples one day. He told them, “Let us go to the other side” (Mark 4:35). Other than the fact that they were going to go to the other side of the sea in a boat, He did not tell them HOW they were going to get there. Because He said, “let us go”, He meant that they would get there. They did not know that a horrible storm would arise. Now think about it. This must have been a huge storm because the disciples became terrified and obviously feared for their lives. Some of these disciples were fisher men by profession, so to be on a boat in stormy weather must not have been new to them. But, this particular storm had them all afraid. Well, Jesus certainly wasn’t worried. He was comfortable……..asleep! The disciples woke Him in a panic. Jesus got up and calmed the storm, but He questioned their faith. “And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:40)

Do you see yourself on that boat? Are you afraid? Jesus is on board. He may be quiet right now, but He’s already said that we’re going over to the other side. Why do we doubt Him?

Join me………let’s shout now! Please don’t wait ‘til the battle is over…….the battle is already won….and He has given you the city! SHOUT!

Blessings!

Carla

Saturday, March 08, 2008

MOVE!

I’m not quite sure why, but I am speechless tonight. Quite unusual for me. Actually, I’ve been at a loss of words for the last few days. I’ve wanted to write, to blog, to create, to just be me…….yet I haven’t been feeling it. As always, there’s a lot going on with me. It’s always something! I say I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I guess I really do. Frankly, I’m just tired. Not physically. I’m emotionally drained and mentally exhausted. I’m still working at bringing my life into order…..or under order….. under control.

On one hand, I am thrilled to have the time and availability to do what I love and to love what I do. Yet, everything is not tied together yet. Everything is not in order yet. I feel so unorganized.

And then on the other hand, it is such a struggle now without my income. My goodness! It is amazing how much and how far my little dollars went. We take a lot for granted.

Then I question myself, fuss at myself, and wonder if I should have continued to suffer and endure the sacrifices I made and all that I went through to work for somebody else. Well, each time I questioned and second-guessed myself, God ALWAYS showed me that I was NOT wrong and that I was on the right path. He has shown me over and over again that I’ve done the right thing.

What He is consistently beating into my head is that I have NOT totally released myself to Him by fully trusting Him. Now THAT’S a hard pill to swallow. The truth hurts! I’m not proud of it, but I have to face the fact that no, I have not truly allowed myself to simply believe! You know, it’s hard to do that when you are trying to maintain control. Something has to give. It’s time for me to relinquish my perceived control and to do as the Lord continually speaks to my spirit……..He asks me, “When are you going to trust me?” Then, He tells me, “You have to believe me enough to know”.

As long as I hold on with clinched fists to fear of the unknown, then I am denying the One who is all-knowing free access in my life.

Tonight I sit here, oddly enough under cold temperatures of 38 degrees in March, watching this beautiful crackling fire in the fireplace, and I say that I am speechless. I guess it’s not that I have no words to say (uh……just look above)……..I simply have no justification for my actions. How can I justify not trusting God? In fact, I am ashamed of my actions.

Please pray for me as I move self out of the way. I am reminded of an old gospel song……..”If you move yourself, then God can have His way”.

Lord, I am sorry and I’ll just move on over……I am getting out of the way!

Carla