Snowy Adventures

Recently many states received an unwelcomed visit from Winter Storm Jonas. People found themselves stuck in their homes, some without power, and I am sure snow shovels were in short supply for most southern dwellers. Each individual who witnessed and survived this “snowpocalypse” has a story to share, and here is mine in a nut shell.

Called into work on Friday- Stuck there until Sunday

Travel time to work doubled

Approximately 100 cookies baked

Standing in the freezing cold for over 30 minutes

One call to the police

No shower curtains or toilet paper in the room where I stayed overnight

Bombarded by snow

Double shift on Saturday

Celebration when I looked outside and the precipitation ceased

Dig out my car and 4 other cars on campus (because it is Sunday at this point and we all want to go home)

Subdivision still covered

Shoveled a driveway

Had someone report by car abandoned

Cops shows up sees my car was not abandoned and departs

Went through 3 pairs of socks and 3 pairs of gloves

34 hours without sleep

Wore the same clothes for about that long

16 hours without food

Return to subdivision (Monday by this point)

Shoveled part of the cul de sac where I live trying to get home

Shoveled a spot in the neighbors driveway to park my car (thank you neighbor)

Make it in the house by 2:30 pm Monday

Sleep for 2 hours

Back to work for the night

Return home Tuesday morning to a plowed subdivision and driveway

Me and my car both safely home

This concludes my snowy adventures, what’s yours?

 

Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech August 28 1963

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was phenomenal man who is best known for his peaceful acts and powerful words calling for equality. I have included a link which provides an overview of Dr. King’s lives including some of Dr. King’s most important achievements. I would encourage everyone to read it.

http://thekingcenter.org/about-dr-king

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor and preached this sermon entitled “The Drum Major Instinct” which discusses Mark 10:35-40 and Jesus’ stance on greatness.

 

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I have posted a copy of his most noted speech and included a visual/audio link of him giving the speech.

Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech August 28 1963

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?”

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our chlidren are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “for whites only.”

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exhalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

 

Oceans

Yesterday in Children’s Church we sang Oceans by Hillsong United. It is a very popular song and the students truly worshiped throughout the song. It was a beautiful atmosphere.

God has used this song to speak to me on more than one occasion.

In December of 2014, God called me to Enon (For those who may not know, Enon is a church about 45 minutes from where I was serving at the time).  I was worshipping in Children’s Ministry one Sunday and a song was playing which spoke about going were God wanted. I remember saying to God. I truly want to go wherever you want me. Now most of the time when we pray this prayer, we are thinking world-wide travels. A proclamation to our Father daring Him to send us to the uttermost parts of the world, a fired up faith ready to traipse through the darkest jungles, scale the highest mountains, and cross the loneliest deserts to broadcast the Good News of Jesus. I declare to God, “I truly want to go wherever you want me.” God’s response, “Even to Enon?” Enon Africa? Enon South America? Is there an Enon in China? Of course I kid, I knew exactly were God meant and my response, “Even to Enon.” I know it doesn’t sound like a very large leap of faith, but my declaration to go wherever was genuine and so was my response, so off to Enon I went. This may seem very anticlimactic, but bear with me, the story is just getting started.

I have thought about that moment several times throughout the past year (Wow it has been over a year already since God called me here) but I could never remember the song. I could recollect the moment, the experience, but the song escaped me, until this past Sunday. I was listening to the song Oceans prior to service, I had worked over night that night (I work at a group home) and it had been a slightly challenging shift and I was attempting clear my mind so I could focus on ministry. While I was singing “Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me.” Everything from that event which occurred in December of 2014 came flooding back and I said, “This is the song! This was the line!” I found myself encouraged to be reminded I am where God called me.

But wait there is more!

The song continued to resonate with me and I began to think of the scriptures which inspired the writing of the song. I went to Matthew 14:22-33 and read the account of Peter walking on the water. In this story, it is really late at night or very early in the morning, depends on how you view the 3:00am-6:00am hour and these poor guys have been up throughout the night battling this storm, they are unable to reach land because the winds are so strong and the waves are carrying them far from their destination, they are exhausted and weary. They may even feel abandoned by Jesus, wondering why He seems to be there for everyone else, but nowhere to be found when they are in need. On top of all this, they are now seeing ghosts!

I am sure we have all felt this way at some point in our lives. We wonder if it can get worse and it does. We may even feel this way after great miracles have occurred in our lives (remember this boat trip was right after Jesus fed the 5,000 and the disciples were a part of that).

They soon discover this ghost is actually Jesus and He calls out and encourages them not to be afraid. Peter, being Peter, says, “Hey Jesus, if that is really you, tell me to come out to you.” Jesus replies, “Come on.” (In the Vanessa version of this I see “Jesus I will go wherever you want me to go.” Jesus replies “Even to Enon”)

So Peter steps out and begins to walk on the water. He is legit chillin’ on top of the waves. Dude is defying the very laws of nature, but then something happens. Peter sees the effects of the wind. He feels the winds’ strength and the overwhelming waves created by the squall and he begins to sink beneath them. Peter calls out “LORD SAVE ME” and Jesus reaches down and rescues him. Then Jesus says to Peter, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Time out Jesus! He did have enough faith to believe you would save him. If he had doubted You, wouldn’t he have called out to one of his peers in the boat, “James help me. “Matthew, throw me a line.” But he didn’t, he said, “Lord save me.” Come on, doesn’t that count for something? Then I felt the Holy Spirit impressed upon me, Peter trusted Jesus to save Him from the waves, but he lacked the faith to believe Jesus would see him through the waves.

God has called us to walk through the storm, not to be swallowed up by it. So many times we face storms in our lives and we call out to Jesus and say “Jesus save me.” But the storm was never designed to drown Peter, it was created to take him deeper in faith, to move him to a place where he could trust without borders.  Can you imagine the depths of faith we would reach if when storms arose, despite the wind smacking us in the face and waves grasping at our feet, we walked on. Imagine the borders and boundaries which would be removed from our lives if instead of calling out and asking Jesus to save us from the storm, we thank Him for walking with us through it.

We sing the song and we say the words, but if we truly want to be in a place where our trust is without borders, and our faith is made stronger, then we have to be willing to walk through the storm and not be saved from it.

Maybe you feel you have been walking through a storm and you wonder when it will end. Take heart, the storm will not last forever, focus not on the waves, but on the borders being removed from your life, the depths to which God is taking you in your faith in Him. Do not grow weary in the last hour, you will reach the boat, and those who watched you walk through the storm will be encouraged and God will be glorified.

How is that for a climatic ending? Only this is not the ending, it is the beginning, the beginning of a life where there are no borders in what we believe God can do, the beginning of a relationship with God where our faith is so strong, no storm can shake us, no wind can break us, and no wave can swallow us.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior.

 

Perfection

I started writing a blog almost 3 years ago. I entitled the first post, “1st post” and admitted that I had been “encouraged, persuaded, and slightly coerced” into creating a blog as at the time I was serving at a church where the Media Guy decided it would be a good idea to have all of the staff create a blog to link to the church website. Being one with an inquiring mind, I asked, “why?” He stated it would create an opportunity for us to share our thoughts with people. I informed him I had nothing profound to share, no deep theological mysteries waiting to unfold, and no quotable statements that were so inspiring they would lead the world to a revolution. I was convinced I had nothing of value worth sharing and no one would be interested in ever reading anything I would post on a blog. I was asked to give it a try anyway, and out of obedience and obligation I did as I was requested.

My first post is hardly worth mentioning, and made not one ripple in the pond. My second post had a few readers, but there was no big splash. My third post was very personal and took a lot of courage to post. My blog post did not go viral, I am not even sure anyone shared it, but one young lady commented, one young lady thanked me for saying the words that needed to be heard. By my 4th post, three people had commented. As I wrote more and shared deeper, people thanked me for what was said. I was told the truth behind the words written had encouraged them and they were grateful for what was shared. I eventually went back to the Media Guy and apologized and thanked him. I told him I was reluctant to post, but he was right because I did have words to share and people did care to read them.

I continued to post for a while, sharing what I had. Some posts were spiritual, and some were just fun, some a little of both, but then I stopped. I became so focused on creating dynamic reading material, I talked myself out of posting anything less than perfect, which means I didn’t post anything at all. In my first post I admitted I wanted my first post to be “some deep, thought provoking, eye-opening, post that would revolutionize the lives of every individual who reads it.”

This is what I do, I strive for perfection, and there is nothing wrong with giving my best, but my best will never be perfect, because I am flawed and imperfect and that is okay because we are all imperfect humans living this life together and if I were perfect then I could relate to no one and no one could relate to me. If I were perfect, then I would have no need for God’s grace, forgiveness, and strength, and I would much rather be broken and flawed in the hands of God than perfect without Him. (which in case you were wondering, is not possible).

I don’t really make new years resolutions, that is not the reason I am reviving this blog, I am writing because I need to be reminded I am not perfect, I don’t have to be perfect, and my God loves me and uses me not in spite of my imperfections, but because of them, because in my imperfections, He gets all the glory. So here is to being imperfect so my perfect Father can be seen through me.

(Please forgive any spelling or grammar errors you may notice, I did not re-read this post 10 times to check for errors, it seemed hypocritical.)