Friday, August 28, 2015

Hold then Walk, Understand then Know


 For the daughters of Grace...

The phrase "it's a process" keeps me encouraged.  It allows me to mediate on patience.  It reminds me that the cultivation of the inward woman or man is an intimate, meticulous undertaking that often spans years.

It is not always easy for me to be patient.  I am an imperfect woman - anointed with femininity and responding to life with the level of awareness that my experiences have afforded me.  I am human.  Sometimes it seems as though my efforts to move forward are misguided or in vain.  At other times it seems as though the love I give, my best attempts to sow do not fall on good ground.  Yet what I have come to realize more and more is that it is only my job, my call to sow.  Surrender to Life.  The Most High waters with rain showers, shines the light of the Sun (Son), and allows the decomposition of the old woman or man to enrich the soil of life.  I plant.  I sow.  "From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same" be obedient to the process.  The Most High gives the increase.  The Most High grows the harvest.

God is Sovereign.

For me, life has not always been easy.  For everyone else this is also true.  In this moment, I recall a conversation from my past with a peer.  I listened as she expressed how she felt like a fool - she felt stupid for loving a man that mistreated her, abused her (her former husband).  In that past moment I listened, intently listened without response.  And we sat together along still waters.  Sometimes to really hear "a word from above" one must sit still, hold their position until Christ says, "take up your mat and walk." 

God is God.

I've learned and I am learning to wait, to sit still and hold my position until the currents of life begin to ebb and flow in a way that erodes resistance.  God "troubles the waters," The Most High "stirs up the gift" of love.  The Holy Spirit opens and prepares the way.  But as God does so, to our human eyes, it often looks like chaos.  As my life moves forward, I work to discipline my gaze and allow myself to see through the storm.  The eye of the storm is a calm center - order in the midst of chaos.  The winds of life blow and the waters move, trouble and stir.

God is Sovereign.

I've learned and I am learning to see through the storm and to wade courageously through the wind and waves.  I am grateful to my Ancestors, all of my fore-mothers for showing me and my peer the way.  The beauty of learning and acquiring a piercing gaze is that when I allow myself to see the Divine Eye of the storm by keeping my eyes steadied on Christ I have found that I go from wading through water to walking on it.

10 years have past since that conversation with my peer.  And during those 10 years I have experienced so very much.  Today, in a sense, I have a former husband of my own.  Today I had lunch with my peer and I believe we both have come to understand that we, as women, are not foolish or stupid for loving.  My peer and I have experienced 10 years of Divine Cultivation.  We have waded in the water for 10 years.  We have come this far by faith. 

God is love.

I've learned and I am learning.  Life is a process.  Today I walk on water.  I am grateful for my journey thus far because I have come to know that love is not a banner of weakness or shame - does not bear characteristics antithetical to righteousness (what is holy and just).  Love is a banner of strength and spirit-filled confidence.

Image result for ausar and auset

As I write, I am reminded of one of my favorite love stories, the love story of Ausar and Auset.  We, male and female, are created and purposed to love and be loved.  "God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth."  The dishonor, the weakness and shame does not reside with women who love.  To love is to honor life.  We, as women, are not weak.  We do not bear "the mark" of shame like Cain.  To be a woman who loves without abandon is to be a woman endowed with Divine Wisdom and Intelligence.

"Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men."
~1st Corinthians 1:25, KJV

"We live in the world but we are not of the world."  And if we, as women, are not careful the world (patriarchy and rugged individualism) will have us believing that we are foolish and stupid.  If we are not careful, the world will have us believing that we are weak and shameful.  Truly, the foolishness and weakness never resides with those who give love, it resides with those who dishonor the gift.  

"Do not be misled, my beloved brethren.
Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].
And it was of His own [free] will that He gave us birth [as sons] by [His] Word of Truth, so that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures [a sample of what He created to be consecrated to Himself].
Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.
For man’s anger does not promote the righteousness God [wishes and requires]."

~James 1:16-20, AMP

For me, understanding the process of life comes by "enduring until the end," to have faith until a season of learning has come to a close.  To know God is to hold to Her/His cultivating hand.  To know love is to discipline our gaze, to gird ourselves with courage and wade through our fears.  I am afraid of storms yet I pressed and I continue to press forward anyway, anyhow.

ALL POWER and ALL GLORY belongs to the Most High.  To call a woman (or man) who loves foolish, stupid, weak and shameful is, in direct effect, to call God foolish, stupid, weak and shameful.  Is this not profane?  Is this not blasphemous?  As I write, I am reminded of something Malcolm X once stated, "If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing."

Women and men alike...hold fast, walk worthy and keep your heart.

May we all hold then wade until a peace beyond this world's ability to understand rest with us.  To have peace in the midst of chaos is to indeed walk on water.   There is no failure in love, in God.  May the mistreated, the abused, the disregarded, the low in worldly stature, the unseen continue in love.  May we continue in God until everyone's understanding is full grown...until what is above, is so below.

As it is in Heaven, so let it be on Earth.  Amen and Ase.

"You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

~1st John 4:4-8, NIV 

Love is sovereign.

The Eternal Return


Thursday, July 2, 2015

And a Child Shall Lead Me

Faith & Purpose

Love is the way, forward is the motion... 

And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatted domestic animal together; and a little child shall lead them.  
 ~Isaiah 11: 6

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Whole Tithe and Offering

I am not an expert nor the final authority.  I am simply someone who takes the times to reflect, pray and meditate.  One of my favorite books is The Disciplines of The Spirit.  It was recommended to me by a good man, a grounded man.  And his recommendation, along with my mother gifting me with Iyanla Vanzant's Acts of Faith, has helped me to keep my heart "with all diligence."

My usual routine is to pray and meditate in the morning while the members of my house are still sleeping.  It allows for quiet, stillness.  Too, there is something about being up with the sun that puts me in the mind of Christ, Christ-consciousness.  I have found that praying and meditating at the start of my day grounds me, "establishes my goings and sets my feet upon a rock."  Taking time to reflect, to consider my own divinity and my own humanity, allows me to walk my day with a perspective that allows me to actively consider my "neighbor's" divinity and humanity.  I guess one could say that it is my way of entering my own "Garden of Gethsemane."

Today in my garden a flower began to bloom...
I thought of beginnings and endings.  I thought of letting go.  And my thoughts begin to rest in the moment.  In the moment, I reflected on the idea, concept, and action of tithing.  For me, tithing is a spiritual discipline.  It is a spiritual "rod," a tool used to discipline us - to grow us up in the knowledge of the Most High.

For me, spiritual discipline (temperance) is a mark of good practice.  Fruit of the Spirit comes by good practice.  So now, if I am a person who struggles to love myself and others well, then I must ask myself, "Am I engaged in good practice?"

For me, the spiritual purpose of tithing is not simply to render money into a collection plate.  It is to help us to lean our personality, our natural tendency toward ego-centric thinking and ego-centric action toward the cause of God.  Love.

5 Whereas the object and purpose of our instruction and charge is love, which springs from a pure heart and a good (clear) conscience and sincere (unfeigned) faith.

But certain individuals have missed the mark on this very matter [and] have wandered away into vain arguments and discussions and purposeless talk.

They are ambitious to be doctors of the Law (teachers of the Mosaic ritual), but they have no understanding either of the words and terms they use or of the subjects about which they make [such] dogmatic assertions.

Now we recognize and know that the Law is good if anyone uses it lawfully [for the purpose for which it was designed].    

 ~1st Timothy 1: 5-8, Amplified Bible

Exercising My Faith...
I believe the object and purpose of tithing is to strengthen us, as with any good muscle training, in giving freely from the well-spring of our heart.  Yet I have observed that most of us stop our "training" at material giving.  Material giving is our "warm-up."  

I believe the instruction and charge of material giving is to prepare us for the demands of "resistance training."  It is designed to gradually increase our "heart rate," our spiritual stamina.  Once we have consistently given material goods to others (ex: providing for our family's material needs; food, clothing and shelter), have we moved beyond the warm-up phase of our training?  Have we moved beyond the "flesh" of material giving on to greater Glory?

I believe the fundamental goal of tithing is to create "lean" heart muscle, to exercise our faith and burn the "fat" (extra weight that stunts compassion-work) from our spirit.  We are "exercising our faith," ever increasing our ability to overcome our urge to resist helping our "neighbor."  Has what was begun in the flesh now been completed in the spirit?

I believe the object and purpose of material giving and the instruction and charge of tithing is to grow us into zealously desiring to meet the needs of the heart, the seat of our emotions and spirit.  What are needs of the heart?  

For me, it is to have my unique experience of being human acknowledged.  Like Peter denied Christ, we often pretend that we do not see our neighbor.  We pretend to not know, we choose to "forget" our spouse, our children, our parent, our friend, and even a stranger's need to have someone listen, support and care about the "issues of life" that are of dire importance to them: 

  • As spouses, we pretend to not know how important it is to our wife or husband to engage in deep, intimate conversation or to kiss them sweetly when they leave and come home from work.  We pretend to not know, we choose to "forget" that a marriage is built upon trust - placing our needs in the hands of another.
  • As parents, we pretend to not know how important it is to our children to attend and show undivided interest in the events surrounding their chosen extracurricular activity (dance, martial arts, sports, music, visual arts etc.).   We pretend to not know, we choose to "forget" that the health of our children's self esteem is rooted in our ability to prioritize, be attentive even if it means taking a day off from work or missing an "important" meeting.

  • As daughters and sons, we pretend to not know how important it is to our parents to be appreciated for their sacrifices with a warm hug as we enter their home for a sit-down conversation.  We pretend to not know, we choose to "forget" the value of our presence in our parents' life and so we fail to consistently visit.

  • As friends, we pretend to not know how important it is to listen intently, to tune in to the stresses of the relationships that are momentarily weighing on them.  We pretend to not know, we choose to "forget" that the "first work" of friendship is the ability to find a common-bond within unique, respective experiences.
  • As strangers, we pretend to not notice our "neighbor" who has fallen on the sidewalk of life and how important it is to acknowledge their need(s) - to see them, extend a helping hand and lift them.  We pretend to not know, we choose to "forget" that the greatest purpose of love and charge of love is to be a "living sacrifice," to give of ourselves.
The spirit of God, the heart and power of God is in us.  Have we been diligent in guarding love and keeping love, meeting the needs of God's heart in our neighbor?  What human vessel, human temple, human storehouse have you tithed into today?  

Like the meek and need-stricken widow, I believe we reach a level of "Master-y" in Christ (live his example of the "first-work" of faith and sincere fellowship) or spiritual maturation when we know, we choose to "remember" to freely give our all.  Love.   Love is a choice!

41 And He sat down opposite the treasury and saw how the crowd was casting money into the treasury. Many rich [people] were throwing in large sums.

42 And a widow who was poverty-stricken came and put in two copper mites [the smallest of coins], which together make [q]half of a cent.

43 And He called His disciples [to Him] and said to them, Truly and surely I tell you, this widow, [she who is] poverty-stricken, has put in more than all those contributing to the treasury.

44 For they all threw in out of their abundance; but she, out of her deep poverty, has put in everything that she had—[even] all she had on which to live.    ~Mark 12: 41-44

 I believe that when we give from the seat of our heart, the place of our own poverty (need), we are giving from a place sight, clairvoyant compassion - allowing oneself to be "pricked" by the understanding that we are all human and unified under the common-bond of a need for love.
  • Who is my spouse?

  • Who is my child?

  • Who is my parent?

  • Who is my friend?

  • Who is my stranger?

Who is my neighbor?

Have I tithed into the emotional and spiritual needs of my neighbor?  Have I been wholistically exercising my faith - submitting myself to the conditioning of my mind and heart?  Am I a cheerful giver or a begrudging thief?  What is the condition of my heart?  

Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, How shall we return?
Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud Me. But you say, In what way do we rob or defraud You? [You have withheld your] tithes and offerings.

You are cursed with the curse, for you are robbing Me, even this whole nation.

10 Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

11 And I will rebuke the devourer [insects and plagues] for your sakes and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground, neither shall your vine drop its fruit before the time in the field, says the Lord of hosts.

12 And all nations shall call you happy and blessed, for you shall be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

13 Your words have been strong and hard against Me, says the Lord. Yet you say, What have we spoken against You?

14 You have said, It is useless to serve God, and what profit is it if we keep His ordinances and walk gloomily and as if in mourning apparel before the Lord of hosts?

15 And now we consider the proud and arrogant to be happy and favored; evildoers are exalted and prosper; yes, and when they test God, they escape [unpunished].

16 Then those who feared the Lord talked often one to another; and the Lord listened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who reverenced and worshipfully feared the Lord and who thought on His name.

17 And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I publicly recognize and openly declare them to be My jewels (My special possession, My peculiar treasure). And I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him.

18 Then shall you return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him who serves God and him who does not serve Him.    

~Malachi 8: 7b-18, Amplified Bible

Life to the full...  
In the economy of Love, am I a rich woman/man or am I a poverty-stricken woman/man?  Have I returned?  Have I freely given?  

 We are all ministers, caretakers of love - called out, purposed and charged to keep and guard each other.  Have we sincerely concerned ourselves with the vicissitudes of our neighbor's life?

As a minister and caretaker, have I sown abundance and wealth into my neighbor's heart or have I sown lack and poorness?  In the employment of Love, have I tithed the whole tithe of my income?  Do I only give from my surplus or am I "exercised" in giving from my heart, the seat of my most earnest need? 

I the Lord search the mind, I try the heart, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.    ~Jeremiah 17: 10, Amplified Bible  

I believe God judges the heart - rightly divides the cheerful giver from the begrudging thief by searching each heart.  In the economy of God, I believe Christ also audits the heart of our neighbor to determine our endurance.  

 Image result for heart of God
The race is not brought unto completion by the quick works and might of the flesh, but rather the race is graduated unto completion by the ones who endure in God.