What NOT to Wear

woman-1439909_1920All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Peter 5:5

I listened as the young minister spoke on pride and how important it was to humble ourselves. Pride goeth forth before destruction and all that. But I thought to myself, Loria are you guilty of pride? I had been accused of being humble and had actually begun to believe it. All things considered, folks thought that I could have a bigger ego because of all that’s going on. I could¬†make a list but that would be ego ūüėČ Suffice to say, God is still blessing me.

But as I heard the words of the young preacher, his trial sermon, he read the definition of pride and suddenly I wasn’t so sure that I came down on the right side of the equation. I had prayed before he even got up to speak that God would let me hear a good word, something I could use or take away and apply to my daily life. God delivered just that. It came to me that I had a sense of entitlement about support I expected to receive from others. When I didn’t get it, I was understandably disappointed. But I realized that I shouldn’t have been. Hope that people will be there for me,¬† yes, but that they owe support to me is another thing. That mindset meant¬†I had a right to feel slighted or angry, even, if they didn’t come through. And as the pastor continued with his sermon, I felt more and more convicted. I knew God was answering my prayer for I needed this lesson in humility.

The message continued to minister to me on the way home. I recalled the scripture that said, God hates a proud heart.¬† Oh! That hurt, but in a good way. I realized that God, being a good Father, was chastening me because he loves me. He wants me to do better. And He also knows that I want to position myself so that I can receive His blessings. My pride could interfere with that, He showed me. I began to ask myself the rhetorical question: What can He do with your proud attitude and sense of entitlement?¬†I say rhetorical because the answer was obvious. Nothing. Not one single thing. The man of God quoted the verse, pride goes before the fall and I knew I didn’t want that to be me. I didn’t want to have to take a tumble to my detriment¬†before I realized my folly. Lord, make me humble before events¬†brings me down low. Don’t let me think more of myself than I ought! We are beautiful to our Creator when¬†he views us through a covering of humility.bride-1969100_1920

But He gives grace to the humble, it then occurred to me. And I knew God¬† was¬†fostering my understanding. This¬†was a warning coupled with a correction. I was not past redemption. Grace, I have heard, is God’s unmerited favor. Yeah, I want more of that. So He has been dealing with me, truly humbling me. I saw¬†that my attitude was all wrong. Gratitude, it seems, is a close cousin of humility – at least, in my estimation. When I became more humble, I began to thank God for all he’d done, concluding that I’d taken him and his blessings for granted in the past. With gratitude came a fresh realization that no one owed me anything. I began to be simply grateful that others had even thought of me. In humility, there is no expectation because whatever is done for you is gain. Therefore, there can be no disappointment because there is no sense of dashed hopes. Now hope in God is a good thing per the Bible, but hope in people will get you in trouble, LOL! Man will let you down. Because we are human we often fall short of everything we’d like to do for others, despite our best efforts.

Pride says, I should have this! And it is the I, as the fledgling preacher pointed out, which¬†is the problem. That ego, again. The devil’s own sin started with rebellion: I shall ascend,¬† he said. He sold us on the benefit of this plan and convinced us to follow suit. Eat the fruit, said he, and you shall be like God. Therein lies the problem.We basically say, I don’t want to wait until you bless me, I want to control my own future. I is the root of the problem. Like wayward children who¬†insist on independence when we¬†don’t even know how the world works, we attempt¬†to wrest control from Him because we are not persuaded that he knows best. The I’s have it.

beautiful-1868656_1920But there is no surrender in that,¬†and surrender is important. Only when we give up and give it to him can he do anything with it. Ever heard the phrase, too proud to ask for help? If you don’t ask, though, how shall you receive it? We don’t ask even God because we feel we can and we want to do it on our own. We have problems submitting ourselves, bringing ourselves down low, to man and to God. I thought to myself, if Jesus was lowly and humble, never putting himself above anyone but speaking to sinners who the Pharisees thought beneath them – if Jesus could humble himself and make himself lower than his station – who am I to do less? Humility is the way, folks. The young minister concluded his sermon, “Defeat the enemy with your humility.” Simple.¬†If you want more grace, be more humble. Another minister put it like this:¬†We say we want more of God when really,¬†God wants more of us.¬†That may not mean DOING more.¬†Sometimes that means SURRENDERING more.

Be blessed,

Loria

Faith that Conquers

14670609_543510342509270_3669100487200880762_nOne of my favorite songs that has sustained me for years is FAITH, by Vanessa Bell Armstrong. Oh, there are many imitators, perpetrators and duplicators, but no other version can compare to her rendition. This recording is poor in quality but her voice transcends and more than makes up for it, somewhat reminiscent of Aretha Franklin. I rise with every swell of her voice, my spirits lift with her riffs until it culminates in:

Faith, that sees the invisible!
Faith, that expects the incredible!
Faith that can conquer anything!

Oh, to have THAT kind of faith! I long for it and reach for the faith of our fathers, which kept them during dark times. Faith to see my future, afar off, as Abraham did, even though it had yet to be realized. To believe God and count it to Him for righteousness, believing in His promises, that He would do just what He said. Not that I have attained, but I’m getting there. And I realize now, that it would have taken some time for Abram to get there, too. He may have stumbled at¬†times, taken a few bad turns, or even wondered if God had forgotten the promise or if possible, reneged.¬†When Abram found himself waiting on a son for so long that¬†he thought¬†it was humanly impossible for even God to deliver, he and Sarah agreed to have a child through a surrogate. That was a faltering of faith. But God came through eventually. When Abram’s wife was taken from him TWICE, any thinking person (as I’m sure Abram was) would have thought – maybe I shouldn’t have gone this way. He¬†would have questioned, at least, if he¬†made a wrong turn somewhere. But God used those occasions to enrich Abram. By the time God asked Abraham to give his only son as sacrifice, the father of faith was staunch in his belief. He went to obey so thoroughly that an angel had to stay his hand. And so it is with us. We’ll get there. Don’t dismay. The more He does, the more we know He will do. He will not leave us to our own devices. How do I¬†know? Because of what He’s already done. On this,¬†I¬†hang my¬†hat ¬†and my¬†faith. And know,¬†I can conquer anything.

Be blessed,

Loria

Take a listen!

I Won’t Eat Animals!

This little girl is so adorable! I’m impressed with her resolve and her heart. She just wants to be nice, not just to animals but to people. Notice that she doesn’t ask her mother to make special arrangements for her. She’ll “eat whatever’s on the table.” Such a sweetie! I’ve been quoting her for days in my Mrs. Doubtfire voice. “I won’t eat that either,” she says of fish. She almost has me persuaded, LOL! Almost …

Heal the World

I think I’ve fallen in love – just watch! This fitting tribute to Michael Jackson falls during the week of his birthday. Oh, and the guitar solo at the end will blow you away! The song speaks for itself. “There are people dying but if we care enough for the living, we’ll make a better place for you and for me.” If only …

 

MASTERPIECE, a Self Love Anthem

jaz
Jazmine Sullivan performing Masterpiece at BET’s Black Girls Rock!¬†

Click here to listen only … sadly, I am unable to post the video, but let me assure you it is ah-mazing!¬†I’m SO in love with this song – the lyrics reveal why:

My eyes ain’t used to these rays
I’m feeling exposed, but I hide no more
I can’t hide
As the sun shines on all of my glory
My flaws don’t look so bad at all
What was I so afraid of?

Every part of me is a vision of a portrait
Of Mona, of Mona Lisa
Every part of me is beautiful
And I finally see I’m a work of art
A masterpiece

Who is this I’ve tried so long fight?
Filling my heads with lies that I’m not good enough
Then I heard something in my ear
Tell I’m perfect, now that I know the truth
Time to show and prove

Every part of me is a vision of a portrait
Of Mona, of Mona Lisa
Every part of me is beautiful
And I finally see I’m a work of art
A masterpiece

And now I see the pretty colors on my canvas
I’m a work of art, a Mona Lisa
I’ll share my picture with the world
Not afraid to let it show anymore

I can light the night, shine so bright
(Let my colors paint the sky)
I can light the night, shine so bright
(There is beauty in my eyes)
I can light the night, shine so bright
(And I can see it now, I believe it now, I can feel it now)
I can light the night, shine so bright
(Want the world to see, I’m a work of art. I’m a masterpiece)
I can light the night, shine so bright
(I am beautiful)

Every part of me is a vision of a portrait
Of Mona, of Mona Lisa
Every part of me is beautiful
And I finally see I’m a work of art
A masterpiece

I’m a vessel FULL of POWER!

Oh, this song blessed me this morning! Based on one of my favorite scriptures, it reminded me that I am full of power! So often, I feel this jar of clay to be inadequate for the demands that are placed on it. I see my flaws and become consumed with the fixing of them, LOL! The truth is, the light inside me is so strong, it cannot help but reveal my shortcomings. Every crack in this container becomes visible when illuminated by the light within. But this earthly pot cannot change this one important fact РI am full of power! That this vessel is flawed changes nothing.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;¬†persecuted, but not abandoned;struck down, but not destroyed.”¬†2 Corinthians 4:7-9

I am troubled, yet not distressed.
Perplexed, but not in despair.
I’m a vessel full of power,
With a treasure, none can compare.
Persecuted, but not forsaken.
Cast down, but not destroyed.
I AM a vessel full of Holy Ghost power
I’ve got¬†a treasure, from the Lord.¬†
Bruised and battered but not broken

Born in sin but, from sin set free
I’m a vessel¬†full of Holy Ghost power
I’ve got a treasure hidden in me.

Thank you Father
For your power, it has resurrected me.
Oh, the painful cirmcumstances
That my poor soul could not flee.

Be blessed,

Loria

 

 

Jesus, Take the Wheel … er… uhm, Will?

Lord take the wheel
“Lord, take the wheel!” Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns

‚ÄúTeach me to do your will, for you are my God; let your good Spirit lead me on level ground.‚Ä̬†Psalm 143:10

I was taking my customary route, driving down Cicero Avenue, on my way to visit with my mom and sister when I saw a sign outside of a tire shop that read: WILL ALIGNMENT.¬†Wow. I thought to myself, someone was definitely asleep at the ‚Äúwill‚ÄĚ on that one. I smiled at the thought of someone making such a mistake or not even knowing that it was a mistake. Maybe the sign maker or shop owner didn’t know that there was a¬†difference between¬†will¬†and¬†wheel. I mean, you could surely have an alignment of either, but the latter¬†would produce a change in how you drive, the former,¬†in how you think. Funny how I never noticed that sign before, of all the times I‚Äôve driven down that road.

It occurred to me then, that perhaps this was no mistake but a wakeup call. I recalled God (in the person of Morgan Freeman) posting cryptic messages while disguised as the homeless man in Bruce Almighty. Honestly, some of the signs I didn‚Äôt get right away, but after a while I caught on and I found there was usually a meaning behind his poor spelling or word usage. Bruce was able to decode the messages and held up his own sign (pointing to the homeless fella) that read, ‚ÄúWhatever HE said!‚ÄĚ One of the signs that God held up was, ‚ÄúR ewe blind?‚ÄĚ Yep, I was. At least, up until now. How had I had not seen what was right before my eyes? Too busy, I guess. But now I see. It was simple, really. This sign stirred up something in me. It made me think.

I paused to consider¬†what it could mean if that sign were correct. I could use a will alignment. My will and God‚Äôs will, lined right up, side by side, running parallel to each other. That could be great!! I’m so tired of getting it wrong, lol! When it¬†happens enough times, you begin to realize,¬†maybe I’m pursuing the wrong things.¬†I‚Äôve somehow gotten off course, again. But what would it mean for me to live God‚Äôs perfect will for my life, versus living in his permissive will? In other words, choosing to live a life according to what He would want for me, His best and highest usage or purpose for my life and gifts, instead of living in the way He permits or allows me to get away with until I get it together and figure out that His way IS the best way. Experience has taught me that I’ll eventually¬†get to the point (after I‚Äôve stumbled, gone my own way and made mistakes) where¬†I’ll arrive at the conclusion that His way is the only way. It only makes sense to give it over to God from the beginning. Unfortunately, though, I still struggle with trying to wrest control of my own life out of His hands.

Then I thought about how my car performs after a wheel alignment. It usually allows for more control of my car, even when I’m not consciously controlling it. Before my steering was adjusted, I had to be mindful to keep control of the car as it would pull to one side. I drove with my hand on the wheel, slightly turned in the opposite direction to counter act the pulling and to keep the car straight on the road before me. But perfect alignment meant that I could actually relax my grip on the wheel and trust my unseen navigation system to kick in and keep the car straight on a level road, rather than curving off to the side and going in a ditch. I see now, to have a wheel alignment and a will alignment are not so different after all.

Thank you, Father, for the reminder. I hereby give up my will for your will and trust in your perfect navigation. And I’ll try to stop straining to control the situations in my life to make it go in the direction I think it should. I may not always know what you’re doing but I know you have a plan for my life. Your Holy Spirit is better than any GPS and is able to get me where I need to be, and where you want me to be, at exactly the right moment in time. In this way, I would not be able to boast that I achieved anything in my own power but by submitting to your design and perfect timing. So Jesus, take my will.

Be blessed,

Loria