Monday, June 30, 2008

Went to be a blessing, but walked away blessed!


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I called in a voice blog while I was in Dallas for my speaking engagement.

Carla

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

THE PERFECT EXAMPLE

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I’m up working this morning earlier than I normally do. I just have so much work to do with a limitation in available time, so I’m doing my best to cram what I can before my flight for Dallas leaves Thursday morning. It means very little sleep, but I can do it.

I just wanted to take a few minutes to jot some thoughts down regarding a current event. Actually, my mind, thoughts, and prayers have been with our fellow Americans in the mid-west region of the country. Those who have suffered from the devastation of the flooding from the Mississippi river. It’s terrible and my heart really goes out to them.

I’ve been kind of quiet on many of my thoughts from my perspective of surviving Katrina. I may have said a word here or there, but not really much of my underlying feelings. Well, something was stirred in me as I read a very open, honest, and sensitive forum discussion initiated by a fellow New Orleanian who expressed his angry feelings. I related very much to what he said. Reading his thoughts allowed me to deal with my own. In doing so, God opened my heart in many ways and reminded me what love is.

Basically, the young man feels that he shouldn’t care about the flood victims because no one cared about us in New Orleans. He made it clear that he’s not uncaring towards the people’s losses and all, he’s quite angry with the government’s response. There is definitely a difference. He also pointed out, as I too noticed from the beginning of the media coverage, that the folks in the mid-west were not referred to as “refugees” as we were. Yet, their situation was the same in that they needed to be evacuated and they lost their homes. The real difference is that from what we’ve seen on television, the people look different than we do. A shelter full of Black people is a room full of refugees. A group of Black people starving and dying at the Convention Center or the Superdome due to lack of government response is a group of refugees.

This is not the picture we’ve seen of the mid-west, nor the vernacular spoken by those reporting the news.

This reminds me of some of the pictures I saw during the aftermath of Katrina. One picture was that of Black people who’d “stolen” some food. They were labeled as looters. Another similar picture was shown of some White people. The caption stated that they found food to feed their family. Same thing, different people, different language.

The young man who started the forum is extremely angry with the government and all of the injustices that have been exposed regarding our plight with Katrina. I told him that I truly understand and have felt the same way.

He mentioned that he was a Christian and that he loves people – but his love is conditional. He says that he loves people who love Jesus. I reminded him that Jesus Christ is our perfect example. We have never been promised that life would be easy. In fact, we are promised that God would be with us when we go through our trials.

Isaiah 43:2 – “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.”

John 16:33 –“ These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”


Nothing says that we won’t go through anything. We are told that we will, but the comfort is in knowing that the Lord is with us through it all.

My reminding the young man that we can look to Jesus Christ as our example in every way sort of ticked him off.

I’m saddened by that because it is apparent that he is not in a place of embracing who he is. He loves the Lord. Yet, he doesn’t realize that even in the love that he says he has for others, he cannot place a condition on it. You can’t just love those who love Jesus. What if Jesus would have done that? Jesus – our example!
In encouraging him to seek to find peace and to subside the anger, I mentioned Jesus’ example again. As Jesus laid on the cross dying, He still maintained love for those who rejected Him.

Luke 23:34a – “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

As a so-called minority in every way, I have a lot to be angry about. As a survivor of Katrina and a victim of circumstance, I have a lot to be angry about. As a person who has experienced the ultimate betrayal in my own marriage, I have a lot to be angry about. As a person who knows what discrimination is because I’ve experienced it, I have a lot to be angry about. As an American sitting here on pins and needles as a precious loved one is serving in Iraq, I have a lot to be angry about.

I am not alone in any of this. We all have issues that anger us. Anger is a strong emotion and it can harm us in many ways. That is if we allow it to control us and build within us. We can use anger in a positive manner. We can allow it to pull us to action. If we turned all of our anger into a catalyst that would allow us to do something to make things better for others, we could get a lot done.

Ephesians 4:26-27 - "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Paul, in this letter to the Ephesians, doesn’t’ say that we won’t get angry. In fact, he doesn’t even say NOT to get angry. But when you do……….sin not! Deal with it. Process it. Don’t let it simmer and allow the devil to get a foothold. He does this when we allow him to cause us not to love one another. Read the entire chapter of Ephesians 4, Paul discusses loving one another and treating each other with love.

Jesus is indeed our perfect example in everything and every way. When we say that we are His disciples (followers, learners, believers), we have someone to look to for our guidance…..in everything and every way.

Carla

P.S. - My voice blog contains more content than this visual blog.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Our Father...

It's been a wonderful day. My girls and I made this a very nice and special Father's Day for my husband. Nothing big, just really sentimental and nice. Also, as Director of the Marriage Ministry at church, I was able to make a quick presentation in speech and with gifts for all of our fathers and grandfathers in the service. It turned out really sweet.

I thought about something today, as I looked at the children of our church. And even reflected on the many single moms and even the widows. I know for myself, I have taken for granted that it has never been awkward for me as far as Father's Day. I was raised by both of my parents, and I know for a fact that I was a daddy's girl. Being the only girl, I really was treated like a princess. Not that we were rich or anything, but I was daddy's girl.

Daddy died when I was 19. But, I was married at 21, and three years later, we had our first child. So, all of my life, I've been celebrating Father's Day.

Again, I realize that not everyone can say that. My heart goes out to all of the children who don't even know who their fathers are, or for those whose fathers are absent from the home, and for the many women who have men in their lives who are simply their "baby's daddy". I pray for those men who have not stepped up and proved to be more than mere sperm donors. Being male doesn't make one a father. It just shows that they can make a baby. But, it takes a real and special man to be a true father to their children.....regardless of the circumstances that surround them.

So, my thoughts are with the moms, and the children (even grown children) who feel abandoned or left out in regards to Father's Day.

I leave this from the Word of God to comfort you and to remind you that He is your all and all:

God is "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." Psalm 68:5

Know that for all of us, He is everything that we need. We don't always choose what we will experience in life, but whatever it is, whatever lacks, God is the one who makes us whole.

Blessings!

Carla

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'M NOT JUST ANYBODY!

To hear my voice blog of this posting, click the play arrow on the media player below:


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I haven’t blogged for a week or so. I’ve been quite busy with getting some things in order in my life. But, not writing, hurts. I read somewhere recently, an excellent statement regarding writers. I can’t remember where I read it, but it was from a man who said that it is more painful for a writer not to write than it is trying to find something to write about.

No truer words.

A writer never needs to find something to write about, as a writer simply is….and does. All he or she has to do is look around them and material awaits them.

As much as I speak and teach about purpose to others, and as I encourage them to do and be what they are destined to do, I still find myself growing into my own identity. I know my purpose, but it seems that God shows it to me consistently. He underscores who and what I am in many ways. I am sure that He’s not doing this to prove to Himself any of this, but He does so to show me. This reminds me of a devotional I read this week about the “tests” that come in our lives. God allows testing to come. In fact, He may write and produce the test Himself, yet He doesn’t do so for Himself. He knows what we’re made of and what’s inside of us. He knows because He placed it there. But, we don’t always know and we have to go through tests so that we not only know who we are, but most importantly, who HE is! It is through our tests that we become like tea bags. Stronger when we’re placed in hot water!

This identity thing has been tapping in my heart over the last few weeks. I’m seeing where in today’s high tech and money-driven world where many people are doing things and affixing titles to themselves that will allow them to make the most money. Trust me, I’m not against money, as we all need it. But, I have a problem when people do things just for the money. Actually, more power to them if they can, but it doesn’t please me when they suddenly become, let’s say a writer for example, because to have a book to sell means money (in their minds) and will move their products. To me, that tears the integrity of what a writer is. True, in this day and age, ANYBODY……..absolutely anybody can publish a book, call themselves an author, and promote themselves as such. Yet, there is no heart in their work. It’s only words on paper for one purpose…….to make money. Again, I am not against anyone making an income. Do so, but do so sincerely. The success of a writer is not the number of books they’ve moved, or the amount of dollars they’ve made in sells. One level of success as a writer is determined by the amount of lives you’ve positively impacted, touched, and enriched, because of your gift.

Years ago, I attended a seminar and workshop at Southern University at New Orleans with guest speaker author Terry McMillan. This was before Stella Got Her Groove, yet after Disappearing Acts and Waiting to Exhale. She said a lot, but the one thing that remained with me was her encouragement to writers. She said that a true writer writes not from the motivation of money, but for the sheer love of doing so. They write because they cannot NOT write. They write because they have to write.
Many writers (myself included) never even share all that they write because it’s such an intimate part of them, they aren’t always willing or ready to share that with anyone. Therefore, they’re not writing to sell it to someone. They’re writing because a writer is who they are.

I feel bad that I haven’t blogged all week, but God has still allowed me and used me to write for His honor and glory. What I’ve written has caused me to study deeply, pray, and to be a mouthpiece for Him. This is what walking in my purpose is all about because it not only allowed me to empower, teach, and bless others, it has also helped me to become a better and stronger person.

Whatever a person’s purpose is, they know it. They cannot help themselves. They have to function in their capability. It may not be writing for you, but I will say this, whatever you do, remember this: “Write (or fill in the blank for you) even if you’ll never get paid for it.” Greater than money is the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing what you were born to do.

(NOTE THAT MY VOICE BLOG HAS ADDITIONAL CONTENT. YOU WILL HEAR MORE FROM THE VOICE BLOG - http://www.snapvine.com/carlanix)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

STAND STILL - EVEN IN BATTLE!

Voice recording of this blog:


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“Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah…” 2 Chron 20:14a
He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.' " 2 Chronicles 20:15, 17 NIV

I feel a changing of the current. An air of transition in my life. God has brought me through a 6-month period of initiation. A time of preparation. Now I am hearing Him, and seeing Him, changing my course. As this has dawned on me, I couldn’t help but think of a ship as it sails on the ocean. I’m not a nautical person, and I know very little about marine life, but I know that before a ship turns…..or changes its course….it has to slow down to make the turn. It doesn’t just get to a point and suddenly shift.

I did a little reading on the sinking of the Titantic. Everything points to human error and the captain not heeding the warning signs of impending and possible danger. He, and everyone, rested on their laurels and the false conception that the Titantic was unsinkable. It doesn’t seem that they realized that even with something that seems unstoppable, smart leadership and guidance is still necessary. There are outside forces that also played a huge part in the destruction of that vessel.

The captain was warned of other icebergs, yet he remained on the same destructive path. He never slowed the ship down to review the matter, or to prepare to change its course. As a result, it was too late when they came upon the iceberg that brought them down. It was too late to change direction. The iceberg tore through the lauded vessel.

I feel God changing my own course at this juncture in life.

There are a lot of changes God has brought to pass over the last 6 months for me. Some good, some not so good, but all are in His hand. There are some things that I will be doing differently, as I am feeling myself being propelled to soar to the next level. I will be stepping back and away from some things. I will be focusing deeper on accomplishing more in a strange way….by doing less. I will be giving away less of myself, and thus I will be able to give more of myself. I will not be saying as much, but as a result, I will have more to say.

To get to where I need to be, I am aware that I am in a battle. I’ve been in a battle, in fact, but today I finally hear what God is saying to me. He promised to take care of me, to provide for me, and to allow me to do what He’s called me to. I’ve been working trying to get there, but today He’s saying to me to be still. Not only to be still, but to STAND still. As this battle is not mine, it’s His. He tells me that He will fight the battle, and to stand firm and see His deliverance. Not only that, once more He says not to be afraid (I’m told that the term “don’t be afraid” is in the Bible 365 times – I have not researched it myself yet, but hey….).

This battle is not mine and as I begin to STAND still, He can change the course and I don’t have to worry about any iceberg tearing me apart. God is with me!

Carla

Historical Day - FINALLY!

My high school's graduating class of 1979 motto was taken from a speech of the Rev. Jesse Jackson: "If you can conceive it, and believe it, you can achieve it." Barack Obama is the manifestation of this concept for us as a people. Nearly 30 years later, we are seeing what so many have fought, bled, and died for. I only wish that my parents were still alive to see this remarkable day.

Praising God!

Carla

Monday, June 02, 2008

FEED MY SHEEP

To listen to my voice recording of this blog, click the following. Note, that they are done in 2 parts.


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FEED MY SHEEP
By Carla Y. Nix

“He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.” ~ John 21:17

I watched a commercial recently that made me smile. During a video phone call home, a grown military son was asked by his mother if he were eating correctly. She said that he looked a little thin. He smiled and lovingly said that he was eating and that her question was a “mother” question.

He’s darned tooting! A mother question indeed. My 23 year old son lives in Charlotte, NC. He has lived on his own for 2 years now. I still ask the mother question. In fact, his birthday was just the other day, and as I spoke to him on the phone to wish him a happy birthday, as always, I asked “what did you eat today?”

My 21 year old daughter is a college student who lives on campus in another city. We talk practically every day on the phone, and yep……every single time, I ask her the same……..”what did you eat today?”

My youngest child is 10 years old. Every single day I ask her what did she eat for breakfast and lunch at school.

As a mother, it is my nurturing nature that keeps me concerned about my children’s nutrition. It is something that began from their birth. It is vital for a baby to receive good, nutritious food in order for them to thrive and grow. Mothers know exactly what goes into their children’s bodies when they’re babies and as they grow. It’s our business, and our responsibility. Nobody in their right mind would purposely starve a child. So, even as my children have grown, I am still concerned about their nutrition.

When they were babies, I sterilized their bottles, mixed and measured their formula and fed them what they required and needed. I breastfed one of my children, and the difference was that there is no measuring of the milk. You really can’t tell how much the child is taking in. However, the key for knowing that they’re receiving the proper amount is by their development. They will gain weight and thrive well. Also, on a daily note, you know by their out-take. If nothing goes in, nothing will come out (count the diapers!).

Bottomline is that there will be evidence of the child’s nourishment one way or another whether they’re breastfed or bottle fed. There will be growth. The child will thrive.

The importance of proper nutrition doesn’t change just because we grow older. We should eat well, and eat correctly. When we don’t, then our bodies suffer for it.
Our spiritual diet and intake is just as important, if not moreso, than the physical. What we feast on in the spiritual realm is what develops our growth and development in the Lord.

God cares about our diet. I can imagine if we sat down and talked to God, on our spiritual phone, He would ask us what did we eat today. He is concerned about our spiritual nutrition. In fact, He provides for us.

Psalm 23:5 – “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

In reading “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” by Phillip Keller, he breaks down the entire 23rd Psalm from the perspective and experience of a real life Shepherd. Regarding verse 5, Keller points out what “preparing a table” for a Shepherd means. As we know, David, who wrote this particular Psalm, was a Shepherd. David first recognizes the Lord as our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1). Keller says that much work goes into preparing a table for the sheep. It means, preparing an area of the pasture for the sheep that would allow them to eat properly. Months before the sheep enter the pasture, the Shepherd goes and remove the plants that are harmful for the sheep. Keller points out that this means that the poisonous plants are plucked up so that the sheep would not graze on them. The Shepherd does this for the survival of the sheep. He removes all things that are not good for them, so that they may be able to eat in order to grow and thrive.

The Shepherd also “keep an eye out for predators.” He watches for wolves, coyotes, cougars, and bears, for example. These predators often watch every movement of the sheep, hoping for a chance to make a sneak attack on them. While they’re grazing and eating, they are vulnerable to the attack of the enemy and are easy prey.
But, the attentive Shepherd watches out for them.

The Christian is likened to sheep, and the Lord is the Good Shepherd. Keller says, “The parallel in the Christian life is clear. Like sheep, we somehow feel that we have to try everything that comes our way. We have to taste this thing and that, sampling everything just to see what it’s like. And we may very well know that some things are deadly. They can do us no good. They can be most destructive. Still somehow we give them a whirl anyway.”

He emphasized that we should remember that our Master……..our loving Shepherd has been there ahead of us……taking care of our situations before we even arrive to them. He has already removed the poisonous plants that we may ingest. He has already defeated our enemy who wishes to harm us.

Remember, Jesus warned Peter that satan desired to tempt him and sift him like wheat.
“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” ~Luke 22:31-32

Jesus prepared the way, by having already prayed for him. Jesus also told Peter to strengthen others once he repents. See, Jesus knew what was ahead. Peter would deny Him three times. This would be a mistake that would undoubtedly turn Peter around.

The Lord cares about us and what we feast upon. After Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared several times to His disciples before His ascension back to heaven. On the third encounter, Jesus first cared about their physical need for food. It was early in the morning, and they’d been fishing all night, yet did not catch anything to eat. When Jesus appeared to them, He told them to cast their nets to the right side of the boat. They obeyed, and yet another miracle occurred. They pulled in about 153 fish and they had a hard time pulling up the net because it was so heavy. Not only that, as they walked inland, the Lord had already prepared a coal fire with fish awaiting them to be cooked and eaten. They ate that morning, and they ate well. After they feasted on such a wonderful meal, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. Peter got a little aggravated with the questioning, but said, that yes, he loved him. Jesus thus said that if you love me, feed my sheep.

For those whom God has called with the gifts of teaching, preaching, and leading, it is imperative to remember that you have an awesome responsibility. You have been given the stewardship of feeding the Lord’s sheep. His precious sheep. Feeding them with the Word. Feeding them with the truth. Feeding them with good nutritional food that will cause them to grow and develop fully as God would have them to.

Junk food isn’t good for anyone. It may taste good, but it isn’t good for us. Don’t throw junk at God’s people. Don’t feed them trash and cause them malnutrition. Feed them the wholesome Word of God. Teach people how to live holy lives in an unholy world. Don’t fleece the people. Don’t shake them up nor mislead them. Build people up, don’t tear them down. Love God enough to love His people. In doing so, you would do just as He instructed Peter to do – Feed His Sheep!

Suggested reading:
“A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” By Phillip Keller