No Other Gods

What Do You Think? Wednesday

Joshua thought he knew them all, the 10 Commandments that we’ve spent the last few weeks on. As I told you Monday, he snarled a bit and glanced for something else but realized these rules can easily escape. I did, too, only my realization wasn’t of a memory loss but something I had yet to even consider.

Thou shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3).

I had this first commandment locked in mind when my eyes opened to all the idols that consumed my life: African décor; my hair; my Sunday dress; and my need to defend myself were at the top of the list. I wrestled with these gods for years, finally pinning them down and not bowing to them again. But my desire to defend myself is rising again as I wrestle with the loss in the eyes of some loved ones of my good reputation, my new idol that I just recognized as such.

My loved ones have always felt free to challenge me, the way I handled a friendship, responded to my boss or even wore my hair. For the most part these challenges were occasional, but now their challenges are a constant strum and the music seems so loud! I have loved ones who question the effectiveness of the boys’ home education though they have seen the benefits; a friend who questions my social justice record; and some who say I’m insensitive, harsh even. None of the challenges are new. Now they just seem to be a concentrated steady beat.

I thought because some of the challenges—like my decision to home educate or my less visible focus on social justice—were old that my people would have settled my decisions in their minds. Not so. Even though my loved ones are a minority and their challenges oppose the many notes and face to face comments I get, I focus on the noisy minority. I have contemplated returning to an idol to try to get them to see the merit in my decisions, and this is troublesome. My focus, however, is understandable.

We all expect that our loved ones who we believed knew our good character would not question our character (e.g., positioning my children for failure or disregarding those in need). It hurts that the person our loved ones knew to make wise decisions is no longer treated as wise when our decisions go contrary to what they believe. To make the pain go away, to make our relationships right again, we consider what we might not otherwise consider, in my case defending myself. When I wrote a post about how a change in you may change others’ view of you, at that time I didn’t know that the pain associated with their changed view of me is really coming from the death of my reputation. I had a good name among them, but now my character is challenged as I seek to do what I know God has called me to do.

Of course in my attempt to obey Christ I mess up. I say some things the wrong way, at the wrong time, in the wrong tone, but never did I suspect my decisions would negatively color my character. I didn’t suspect that because I had a stellar reputation, one I held in high esteem when I should have viewed it as nothing.

The Apostle Paul commands believers not to put “confidence in the flesh,” citing that his human pedigree could cause him to be the most boastful of all (Philippians 3:4-6). Instead he says,

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith– that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:8-11).

That’s the confidence I need; that’s the confidence we all need as we attempt to surrender all, even a reputation.

What are some of your idols that you have recently uncovered? How have they affected the way you worship God? Please, tell me what you think.

Taking a Hard Stand

What Do You Think Wednesday?

I remember years ago as I was becoming a more biblical Christian a friend began asking me a series of questions: she wanted to know if I would still hang with certain people, attend certain places and do certain things. I don’t remember all her questions or my responses, but when I said I wasn’t going to toss the poems I had written with some curse words and that I would just modify them, she determined that I was still “reasonable.”

Recently, in response to my post about Republicans using the terms “legitimate rape” and “forcible rape,” another more liberal friend referred to me as “reasonable.” She said she appreciated the post that showed that “anti-abortion” doesn’t mean “pro-misogyny.”

But what happens when you do what you think God has told you to do and your friends no longer think you’re reasonable? How do you respond to them and others who oppose what you say, particularly how you say it, when you believe God has given you what to say and how to say it?

Those are questions I believe we all should ponder as the course of this world is fast changing. A friend in conversation last night observed that issues we now face don’t seem to leave room for people to be in any grey area. She cited how some Christians once could easily say they are against abortion except in cases of rape and incest; she finds those Christians she knows now are having a hard time with that position with pro-abortion activists citing the ability to terminate a pregnancy from rape or incest as the reason why abortions should remain legal across the board. You now simply have to choose: either you’re for abortion or you’re not; either you’re for gay rights or you’re not; either you’re a Democrat or a Republican. The world is making it hard to blur the lines, to stay in safe spaces, to move into an area where people may not see you as reasonable. 

I don’t know all my answers to the questions I challenge us to ponder, but I have been meditating on the following scriptures and suggest you do, too. Also, pray that God will give you more scriptures to consider and show you the stand that will please Him:

“Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.”–Matthew 12:30 (NLT)

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth….'” (Revelation 3:15-16)

“But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men….'”–Acts 5:29 (ESV)

What scriptures do you/can you use to fortify you to do what God would have you to do? As always, please tell me what you think.

Time Warped Satisfaction

What Do You Think? Wednesday
“I feel like I’m in a time warp,” one of my high school classmates told me during one of our 25th reunion activities. She described her night out with a few other classmates, recalling, “It was just like high school.” Another classmate confessed that she wished she was back in high school or “at least life before children” so she wouldn’t have so much responsibility. Whether or not we are in a time warp—stuck and unable to get ahead or want to go back—stuck and wishing we hadn’t gone ahead, we can all relate to wanting to be in a different place. While I haven’t tried to live my high school years again or longed for them, I understand the desire for something comfortable, something familiar, something fun, something easy. I understand not wanting to grow up, to have to make the hard decisions that we may want to leave to someone else. I found myself here when I knew I had to take care of my mother for what I thought was three months; I found myself here again when she was still with me four months, then five months, then six months. I longed for truly carefree summers, coming and going as I pleased, fixing one family meal and not having to heed other unique demands. Yes, I know about longing for what we see as more pleasant times. When I think about my dwelling on my times of dissatisfaction with the here and now, I know my state comes from being disconnected from the Vine, Jesus:

I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bear much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing (John 15:5—AMP).

I couldn’t serve my mother like I would serve Jesus because I was stuck on the past and not on Jesus. I couldn’t respond kindly to her barbs because I was focused on what I didn’t used to have to deal with and not on Jesus. I had the wrong outlook when all I could look at was the past and not on Jesus. When I asked Jesus to teach me what He wanted me to learn from my present serving and stopped dwelling on my past, I longed to love and live in the present in hope of a better me in the future. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose” (Romans 8:28—KJV).

Are you disconnected from the Vine? Have you thought, even for a few moments, a few issues, a project or two, your present life, that you could achieve anything without Jesus? Have you tried to be satisfied focusing on past lives and laurels and not tried to be satisfied being stayed on Jesus (Isaiah 26:3)? You may be longing for a life that is long past, one that you were never meant to reclaim, because you haven’t sought Jesus to show you how to claim this life. You may be dissatisfied because you have been trying to live life away from your Source and Jesus lets us know that when we don’t have that vital union with Him we can do nothing. And that nothing includes being strong enough to overcome any circumstances, including discontentment about your present life (Philippians 4:11-13). Jesus makes your life right.

How do you believe you need to prioritize your life where Jesus helps you excel in the present and you not dwell on the past? Please, tell me what you think.

Transplanted to Thrive (Plus new single It Ain’t Over)

What Do You Think? Wednesday

That is a plant that I had just about given up on. I noticed its bloom today, but its beginning earlier this summer looked nothing like this. It was one of four day lilies that were in my flower beds, droopy, and no amount of water or plant food seemed to make them thrive. I decided to dig them up and check out the roots to see if they were salvageable. Most of the roots were brown, dry, dead, but some were firm, moist and still alive. I transplanted them into three pots, and in the space they left I transplanted six tiger lilies from my backyard. For weeks, about five, all nine plants drooped and the water and plant food just didn’t help any of them. I was thinking about digging them back up but decided to keep them in place until the end of the season. Still looking hopeless, I again was about to change my mind and dig them up. In the few days that I waivered I noticed the leaves on all the plants were no longer brown and frail but bright green and standing tall, firmly rooted and thriving. I was so glad I hadn’t tried to transplant them again. I would never have seen that this indeed was their season to flourish and to bloom.

Sometimes as strong black women we see our situation, don’t like it and immediately seek to make moves, our moves, to get us out of the situation. We are like I was going to be with my plants. But if we know that God has transplanted us, we have to resolve to be with ourselves like I eventually was with my plants. Even if we are floundering, weak and limping, we have to know that if we remain in place, complete the season that we’re in, we will begin to get strong and blossom. This is a promise.

For this cause, my dear brothers, be strong in purpose and unmoved, ever giving yourselves to the work of the Lord, because you are certain that your work is not without effect in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58—BBE).

I want you to know that if God has transplanted you, things will get better. They have to. God is a keeper and never leaves us or forgets about us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). If you seek the Lord, digging into His word and allowing it to minister to you, you will be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever (you do) prospers” (Psalm 1:2-3—NIV). To help you remember that, I share with you the new single, It Ain’t Over, by my dear friend and sister in Christ, the anointed and ultra-talented Dianna Hobbs. Listen, be blessed and as always please tell me what you think.

Download It Ain’t Over at

Legitimate Rape?

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What Do You Think? Wednesday
As a strong black woman I have had my own notions on what I believe should be: I believed that I would never get an abortion but others should have a right to one in all circumstances and that people should be able to express their sexual love to whomever they want. As I studied the Bible more my convictions changed. Now, as a recovering strong black woman, I no longer believe women should be able to have an abortion in all circumstances or that people should be able to express their sexual love to whomever they want. You can read in detail my views on abortion and homosexual here and here. Though my views are considered conservative, what I like to believe is that they have not been developed 1) based on my emotions or 2) to promote a political agenda by any means necessary. These two reasons—emotions and political agendas—seem to be the impetus behind liberals who seek to change the historical definition of marriage to include homosexual unions and conservatives, specifically Rep. Todd Akin and Republican vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan, attempting to redefine rape.

When asked about his views on abortion in an interview Sunday on a local television interview, Akin, the Missouri congressman, said, “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” What? He has since said that his remarks were “off the cuff” and that he “misspoke.” His latter statements are hard for me to believe when he and Ryan co-sponsored a bill in Congress to redefine rape as “forcible rape” when it relates to abortion. This was done to limit federal funding for abortions for rape victims. What? Ryan, the congressman from Wisconsin, has since said in an interview on a local CBS affiliate that “(r)ape is rape. Rape is rape, period. End of story.” His new view is hard for me to believe when he still says “I’m proud of my pro-life record, and I stand by my pro-life record in Congress,” which includes his ‘forcible rape’ legislation.

Rape, by definition, is forced and illegitimate. The developed phrases ‘forcible rape’ and ‘legitimate rape’ are by no means misspoken language. You misspeak when you say something “in a way that is inappropriate, inaccurate, or unclear” (Encarta Dictionary, emphasis mine). The term forcible rape suggests brutal rape, which suggests the term rape by itself is not brutal, and the term legitimate rape suggests some rape is appropriate or the violation has the right characteristics to be classified by using the word rape. There is no appropriate, accurate or clear way to express the ideas behind forcible rape and legitimate rape. These redefinitions of rape are intentional, malevolent and shameful. Yes, I am disgusted but certainly should not be surprised.

Humankind as an entity more concerned with its own agenda than God’s agenda will always espouse some view just as horrible as what Akin and Ryan have. Akin and Ryan’s language make clear that we need a nonpartisan, non-human agent, to arbitrate for us so we stay consistent in calling good ‘good’ and evil ‘evil.’ God, the only perfect and all-wise being, defines for us what is good and evil. When we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, one where we seek to please Him and not our strong black woman or any other human notions, we will work to steer clear from redefining what is clearly wrong and leave language up to the Ultimate Linguist.

You’ve read what I think. Please, tell me what you think about what Rep. Todd Akin and Rep. and Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan have said.