Posts Tagged ‘Holy spirit’

It is never easy to lose a loved one. We miss the sound of their voice, the warmth of their embrace  and the very scent that defines them.  Yes even for those of us who trust and believe that heaven is our final destination, in our humanity, the grief of loss is a pain that is comparable to none.  A verse that is often used for comfort or is commonly used in times of grief reads “to be absent from the body is to be present with The Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). In other words, we can find some comfort in knowing that death takes us from the  perils, suffering and devastations of this world and brings us to an unimaginable place of joy and ecstasy, as we stand in the very presence of God.  

But as I read this verse a few weeks ago, The Lord would show me a different perspective. We don’t have to wait to be literally absent from the body through death to be present with The Lord.  We can be present with The Lord in this life. How?  By choosing to be absent from the body of our “fleshly ways” and walking in the power of the Spirit.  Besides the literal meaning of what our bodies are, that being the physical aspect of ourselves, metaphorically the “body” or “flesh” biblically represents the aspects of ourselves that are earthly, sinful, carnal. It is through the medium of the sinful flesh that we lie, steal, cheat, hate, walk in pride, lust, anger and indulge in all things sinful.

When we have a carnal or fleshly mindset it separates us from God. How could this be? Simply because the carnal mind is enmity(hostile) against God; it is not subject to the law of God nor indeed can  be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7-8, NKJV). So not only does the flesh or a carnal/fleshly mindset offend God, but it literally causes us to be hostile toward God. If not put in check, it pushes us away from the very Source of our life. That’s why every day, every minute, every second, we have to make the decision to be “absent from the body, so we can be present with Lord” even in this life. This however cannot not be done with sheer motivation or will-power. We alone, in our limited sinful human capacity cannot overcome the “flesh” on our own. We must accept the free gift of salvation through making Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Then God’s Holy Spirit, through our cooperation and submission, will transform us to become more like Christ. Just like Jesus willingly gave up his flesh to be crucified, through the power of the Holy Spirit fortifying and empowering our own spirit, we can crucify those fleshly ways. We can deaden that fleshly mindset that is hostile and contrary to God. We can begin to walk in holiness, righteousness and become all who God has called us to be. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can have access to God’s presence and all the benefits that it entails–indescribable love, peace, joy, wisdom, guidance, supernatural power and everything we need to endure the trial of this life.

It will not happen overnight. I’m not saying it is alway comfortable. The flesh to be sure does not go down easily or submit willingly. It will fight submission to God. You will even fight yourself. You may still say an unkind word when the Spirit says to hold your peace; you may still lie sometimes when you know it is wrong; you may still feel some bitterness when God says to love. Transformation is a lifelong process. But know that through the limitless power of the Holy Spirit it can be done. You can adapt the mind of Christ. You can the enjoy the presence of His Presence in the present…..and yet still I rise.

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,
Stillirise323

 

 

School had been a part of my journey for so long.  Beyond elementary education and high school, I pushed through 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school and 3 years of residency training to become a physician.  That’s in addition to presently having to keep up with continuing medical education studies on an ongoing basis through my professional career.   I don’t take credit for these accomplishments.  All that I am, all that I have done and all that I will become I fully recognize and admit is due to the benefits of God’s grace.  I am the tangible and visible manifestation of the miracle and mystery, the immeasurable depth and detail, the intimacy and infinite possibilities of God’s grace.

It is the thread that weaves through and holds together every fabric of our existence.  When you draw breath each morning, can take a step forward, see food in the cupboard, clothes on your back, loving friends and family, enjoy the scent of spring flowers,  was spared that car accident, so and so forth –all of this  and more, every thing we are blessed to have or do, are compliments of that curious thing called grace.  Rooted in grace, is God’s  love; even when we don’t deserve it.  I will be the first to admit I am not perfect.  I’m an ok person, but catch me in the right mood and I am not so lovable.  But grace says I love you irregardless of , irrespective of and in spite of you.  I see your flaws, but I love you and I want to bless you anyhow.  God is merciful to extend His grace to us and in the same way, despite what we see and know, we must extend that type of grace to others.

It was by God’s grace that I came from being a little Jamaican girl of a modest background, to a family physician practicing in New York City.  When endless hours in the hospital sometimes overwhelmed me to the point of wanting to give up, it was God’s grace that was sufficient and His strength that was shown perfect in my weakness.   It was God’s grace that kept my sanity through some really difficult trials and heartbreak.   It was His mercy and grace that spared my life and supernaturally delivered me from some dangerous situations.  I need no convincing regarding the reality of God’s grace.  I have seen and experienced it firsthand over and over again in day to day living and in miraculous ways. The unbelievable fact is that grace is not something I earned or deserved.  True to the scripture that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Roman 3:23, NKJV), I fall short of His glory and commit trespasses every day.  But God’s grace, his unmerited favor, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the gift that He lovingly and freely gives to bless us and allow us to overcome the inevitable trials we must face.

That being said, given my journey thus far, surely I would be the last  person that anyone would expect to return back to school.  Surely I had paid my dues and put in enough time?  Right?  Well, God is certainly not everyone and He certainly is not just anyone. The Lord spoke to me about seminary back in 2010 while taking a bible course at a friend’s church, where the pastor of the church wrote “this is seminary level work” on a paper I had written.  This would give me a further glimpse of the overall plan God had for my life.   Shocked and humbled by the comment, I got a quickening in my spirit that comes when only God is speaking.  Terrified and still unsure, I didn’t share this with anyone.  My thought process was something like this:

“Really Lord?  More school”?   I enjoyed the bible institute and the subsequent discipleship classes I took a at Greater Allen Cathedral, but formal school? I loved learning more about God, the things related to the gospel, the Church and the Kingdom.  I looked forward to that aspect of school.  But the pressures of papers, deadlines, public speaking—Lord are you serious? Seminary school?  “Alright, Lord if this is You,  I really don’t believe it is for now.  You have to confirm every detail of this endeavor—timing, location, everything.  I told you wherever you take me I will go, but this is a big move.  I don’t want to take this step until I’m absolutely sure.”  That was fall 2010. Over the following years I prayed, waited and watched.  All the while I drew closer to Him and developed a deep relationship with Him.  He began to show Himself in ways I never knew before and where I struggled with hearing God previously, I now am so much better at discerning His still small voice.   I learned to allow God’s Holy Spirit to “ …guide me in all truth..” (John 16:13, NLT) and “… teach me in all things…” (John 14:26, NKJV).

Finally, over the past year the Lord began to confirm through other people, unaware of what I felt in my spirit years ago, that I was destined to go  to seminary or pursue some sort of path in formal ministry.   I still don’t know all that God is up to.   But that is the comforting thing about God. I don’t have to have it all figured out.   Even when we are clueless and totally unsure,  God knows.  God is omniscient—He is all knowing.  He knows everything about all things at all times.  He knows the grandest to the most minuscule details of my life.  Even when I step out in blind faith, I am stepping out with an all-seeing God beside me.  Notice I said beside me because He is omnipresent.  He is always present.  Herbert Lockyer said it best in his book, All the Doctrines  of the Bible when he said God “has no center and His circumference is everywhere.”  God told me through His word “Behold, I am with you and I will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; I will not leave you until  I have done what I have spoken to you” (Genesis 28:15, NKJV).  Based on that scripture, because God is always speaking and it will take my lifetime to fulfill my purpose, God is sure to never forsake me.  His word cannot lie. Finally God is omnipotent.  All power is in His hand.  His very essence is power.  So not only is He with me through this life’s journey, but He has the power to bring every plan and purpose for my life to pass.  The arm of he Lord is not shortened.  Having applied to seminary, by God’s grace and provision I  have been accepted to start in  2014.

And so begins the next leg of the journey and I press on. Where would I be without the gifting of God’s grace?  Grace has brought me thus far and it will see me to the very end.  I know I can’t rise without it simply because, God’s:

Gifts & Resources  Allow Constant Elevation.

And Yet Still I Rise,

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323

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It would come on suddenly…the migraine headaches, the palpitations, the squeezing pains in my chest.  Occasionally at first. You know–when I was out of my comfort zone.   Speaking in front of a crowd,  writing this blog,  any monumental change.  A twinge of anxiety that would assert  it’s presence and disappear as quickly as it came.   Then it seemed to happened when I thought about the tasks I had to do for the day or even my life.  Really God? You’re going to have me doing this, going here, doing that?  Why me? How am I going to do all you called me to do?  But by God’s grace I pushed past that. I was good.  I got it Lord. No fear. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).  I had licked this thing so i thought.  But then, more relentless.  More insidious. More forceful.  Suddenly everything seemed like a task and  everything brought on panic attacks.  I didn’t answer this text; I didn’t check in with this person; I have to call my family; I have to go there, finish this, do that.  My mind wandered and my body reacted to the most irrational thoughts.  I couldn’t sleep, I was tired and I couldn’t take anymore.  I mentioned it to a few folks–casually threw out a “yall pray for me” and tried to downplay it.  I prayed, I rebuked and demanded that this thing called panic go! Get out of my life.  It seemed to get a little better, but this time the devil was stubborn and was hell bent on not budging.

Hmm…alright.  New month.  My fasting the first 3 days  should take care of this.  Day 1 and 2, it seemed this thing is getting worse instead of better. Lord…don’t you see what’s going on? Don’t you see me fasting and praying?  By the morning of the third day, I literally thought something was squeezing me.  Waves of pressure and panic seized me intermittently.  I had 3 events that day and couldn’t go to the first because I felt so sick.  With tears pouring down my face, I cried out to the Lord that August 3  and said “Lord I need You. I am tired of feeling this way.  I can’t do this without You.” That was all my Father needed to hear.  One of His dependents was crying out to Him and He wasn’t having it.

You see, in this world where independence is esteemed, encouraged and exalted, dependency is viewed as a sign of weakness.  Women boast of being financially independent of men, children eager to taste adulthood strive to  move independent of their parents and every one wants to be their own boss.  But I am not ashamed to say that I am absolutely dependent on HIM.  When we humble ourselves and realize we are truly nothing without God, that  His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and that He is looking “….to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him…” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NKJV), then we will really learn to lean on and trust  in Him.  You see dependency brings deliverance; dependency brings breakthrough; dependency shatters bondages and breaks every chain.

How can I articulate the  awesomeness and sovereignty of God ?  How absolutely NOTHING escapes Him?  How my last blog post “Remember My Chains” unbeknownest to me, was a prophetic plea for my own struggles? How God remembered my chains and arranged the entire weekend to break them just because He loves me?  How I called Dr. Pat (Lunch Date With Jesus), that gifted praying intercessor who prayed for me on a non-prayer conference day?  How after her prayer, I had strength to attend the only event that I was ordained to attend out of 3:  an informal get-together with my fellow Greater Allen Haiti missionary team family.  How evangelist Caroline Clemmons, a mentor and guide to many did a praise dance and exercise to that encouraging song “Break Every Chain” that charged the atmosphere for praise, worship, warfare against the devil and ultimately ushered in the very presence of  God’s Holy Spirit? How all I could do was worship and bow in the presence of Jehovah Mephalti (the Lord my Deliverer) until I was weak and passed out, overwhelmed by the power of God as He broke the chains in my life and used others to intercede for me.  Chains were shattered all around the room that night.  God absolutely blew us away.  Words cannot articulate that experience.

Yet that wasn’t enough.   God loves to stun, shock and amaze. Jamaican people have a phrase that a certain person may be “extra.” Meaning extravagant, over the top, excessive. For me, God can never be too “extra.” His “extra”means extra favor,  extra blessings, extra mercy and extra grace.  Still reeling from the night before, the next day  the Reverend Terrence Mckinley Director of Ministries at Reid Temple AME North Campus who has  had such a positive influence on the lives of so many of us as the former young adult pastor of Greater Allen AME,  ends his powerful sermon on hope with an  altar call.  An altar call and a mighty prayer to the song”Break Every Chain”; the very song from the night before. The words that stuck out the most to me in that prayer? Something to the effect of ” don’t stop praising.  Your mind getting right and your heart getting regulated is in this praise.”  I was beside myself. God who am I that you are mindful of me?  God was saying it is finished. Signed, sealed and delivered.  There is nothing like the love of God.

So you see good people, we have to learn to develop a healthy and necessary dependency on God.  If He was filing taxes, could you be claimed as one of His dependents?  Those who learn to rely on Him won’t lack any good thing.  Because I learned to  depend on Him, yet still I rise….

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323

Living in NY city, more often than not you may stumble upon people sleeping on subways cars, under bridges or passed out along walkways or sidewalks with nowhere else to lay their head.   Driving along the street you might glimpse a disheveled man holding out a sign with some sort of plea for food or assistance in some way.  In many of the subway stations as you hasten to work you may rush past a man or woman sitting forlornly in a wheelchair begging for change, hear the faint voice of some poor soul talking animatedly in deep conversation with no one other than themselves or come across the even worse scenario that I personally witnessed of the old man talking to the garbage can and attempting to reprimand it by beating it with his belt.

Their lives, their circumstances, their story screams out BONDAGE!  But they are not alone.  Most if not all of us may have been and continue to be bondage in one form or another.  The financial bondage of debt and economic struggle; bondage of toxic relationships in dating, marriages, family issues and unhealthy friendships; the emotional bondage of insecurity, fear, doubt, anxiety; the bondage of sin and how it leads to destruction and unfulfillment in this life.  Paul, one of the greatest apostles in the history of Christianity and responsible for the majority of the writings of the New Testament of the bible, was stoned, beaten, falsely accused, jailed and constantly scandalized all for the purpose of his  spreading the message of Jesus Christ. You can scarcely find a Sunday sermon where Paul’s writings are not mentioned; his words are that impactful and still speak to us today.   Fast forward to July 29, 2013, riding the E train, a simple statement from the great apostle Paul would forever change and broaden my perspective on things.  Paul sitting in a prison in Rome writes an encouraging letter to the church in Colosse,  a church he wanted to help steer in the right direction after they were influenced by false teachings. And in the  state of his physical bondage, Paul simply says to the people of Colosse “…remember my  chains. Grace be with you..” (Colossians 4:1, NKJV) in closing to the letter.  Remember my chains—-it just kept resounding in my head.  Remember my chains! Remember my chains! Remember my chains! You know it is so easy to get caught up in our own issues and become so self-absorbed in personal problems that we blindly become less sensitive to the needs of others. It is something we are all guilty of.  I can admit that sometimes after dealing with patients all day, straining to balance my own challenges and feeling the weight of the struggles of family and loved ones, there are times I just can’t bear to deal with another thing.  It’s not that you don’t care, but it can be tiresome and overwhelming–there is so much to juggle in this life.  This life is not easy. But there are those who are crying out, ” REMEMBER MY CHAINS!” Paul was able to articulate it.  Some people can’t or don’t know how.  Paul was in physical bondage.  But because he had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and was filled with the Holy Spirit, he was spiritually free.  The bible says where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.  So many today however, beyond physical bondage are more confined by the spiritual, emotional and mental bondage that the devil uses to keep them in captivity.  The man beating the inanimate garbage can to the voice in his own head is pleading:  Remember my chains!  The children in Africa daily dying from hunger, desperate for just a grain of rice is screaming:  Remember my chains!  The girls as young as 8 years old in Thailand raped over and over again, sold into a life of sexual slavery and torment are begging:  Remember my chains! That seemingly annoying coworker who seems to want to chatter about her endless problems when you just want to go home at the end of the day is saying:  Remember my chains.  They may not say it outright but you see it in the desperation of their situations, you feel it in their hurt and pain, you see it in the hopelessness of their eyes or in some cases their dysfunctional behavior.

You know, extension and intercession are two great ways  you can change someone’s life and situation for the better. When you extend your focus, your energy and your motives beyond you and your agenda and extend yourself out to serve others, God can use you as a powerful life-changing tool.  Extend your resources and your tangible blessings such as food, clothing and money to help those in need.  In reality, a lot of us may already do that.   But can you go one step further and extend you?  When you extend and give of yourself in intangible ways such as time, an encouraging word or embrace, being a listening ear or a source of strength and support to someone, the difference you make in that other person’s life is invaluable.  And perhaps the best thing you can do for anyone and they never have to know it, is to intercede or stand in intercession on behalf of someone in prayer. We can so easily spend  time talking to God and asking God about our own needs.  But God is well pleased when we take our eyes off of ourselves and implore Him to bless, help, have mercy, deliver and turn someone else’s situation around for the better.  It was my discipleship teacher the Reverend Julia Russell who shared with us that even when seeing the homeless on the street, passing a car accident or faced with any unfavorable situation where you may not even know the person, simply saying Lord have mercy for this person or this situation opens the channel for God to move on their behalf even when they don’t think or know to do so for themselves.   When you go before God to meet the needs of others, don’t be surprised when He takes care of you and blesses you without you even asking.

Many of us are blessed because someone remembered our chains and God used them to bless us.  Will you take more time to pay attention and attend to the cries of those saying, “Remember my chains.” ? When you help break chains and bring freedom in the lives of others, God will surely bless you and cause you to rise higher….and yet still I rise.

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323