– Here’s a short stop for your week. God bless! – CJW –
When God breathed into Adam, the Breath kept going (Genesis 2:7). Think of all the people in the world and how many breaths are taken each second. That’s a lot of breathing.
If we look at the Church as the Body of Christ, then inhaling and exhaling take on a new meaning. Church is not a social club. It’s a place for the Breath to resuscitate the Body so it can leave the building and touch the world. It’s a well for the Body to be refreshed enough to share the Living Water with others. It’s a hospital for the Body to be mended during war so that the battle scars become proof of life.
Don’t hold your Breath. It is literally the Ruach Elohim… the Spirit of God. Exhale His goodness. Exhale His grace. Exhale His Word.
A visual I saw on Sunday, May 7th: A man is walking on a deserted small town street. He’s dressed up for church – suit, shoes, trench coat, and hat – but, there were holes in his chest. Perfect round holes with the circumference of an aluminum can. It was a windy day and his posture slanted forward as he pressed into the force. As the wind whipped around and through him, green bacteria grew in the holes. He kept walking, but his pace grew slower. Then I saw the same man, in the same scenario, only this time the holes didn’t exist and the bacteria bounced off his chest as he walked into the wind.
What I Heard:
God wants to clean the holes in our heart left by others and fill it with his Love and Light. You were not designed to walk around with holes in your soul. You were not created with a deficit in mind.
The truth is that we have a lot of holy folks with holes in their hearts. They’ve learned to breathe around them, look pretty around them, and even preach around them. Those holes are lined with bacteria of hate, prejudice, lies, and unforgiveness. And some bacteria is good for you, even the bad ones, for they help build your spiritual immune system. But imbalance and infestation is what causes death of the soul.
I am not exempt. I have had many moments where I didn’t want to love someone, didn’t want to extend myself, didn’t want to be kind, and definitely didn’t want to forgive. But I realized a funny truth about this badge called “Christian” that I wear. I don’t have a choice in representing His character. I have a choice to trust, but I don’t have a choice to forgive. Once I said “You are Lord of my life. Take me as your own. I’ll do what you say. I want to love people like you love. I want to be like you.” I relinquished my duty as a free agent of this world. I now have a duty to show Christ in everything I do. I’m an ambassador, and I don’t choose when and where to take off that title. So, when He says “Call her/him,” I do it. It doesn’t matter if I was wronged or if I know they have spoken ill of me… when He commands it, I do it. It’s frustrating, yes. It’s unfair; yes it is. It’s aggravating; indeed. But, I don’t always get it right either, so I only hope that I receive the same diehard response when it’s my turn. I don’t want the bacteria to stick. I want the Love of God to repel it.
We can’t continue to walk around in garments of gold pretending like we aren’t rotting wood underneath. We’re holy by His grace, not by our standards. We can’t give place for the Body to be infected. After all, infections spread fast, but they don’t have to. We don’t have to die holey.
I’ve been on this Body kick lately. I’m interested to hear everything God has to say.
Peace & Thanks for listening.
Photo courtesy of Human Anatomy Chart. They have awesome images for biology nerds like me. Check them out.
Influential people have a flow that pours in others. The fluency of their power easily transfers from one mind to the next, which in turn pours into surrounding minds. It’s a phenomenon, when it’s allowed to be. The act of being the influencer carries a great weight that one may not even know she is carrying, for instance, an apple carrying a disease. The outside may be beautiful, and the internal flesh may appear perfect, yet the invisible could harm you. Someone could have coughed on the sliced interior or touched it with infected hands, and now what was once beautiful to see, smell, and taste is now a biomedical weapon to slay the health of multiple people.
Keep walking with me and see if you can track where we’re going…
I begin each speech class with the same questions –
Are your words good enough to eat?
Do you share healthy words for others to ingest and digest or do you walk around throwing garbage on the plates of people’s souls?
Do you have good credit with your words?
Can someone take what you say and use it as an extension or “line of credit” of your character?
There are people in your neighborhood still struggling with words that flew into them as children. Hateful words. Hurtful words stating they were stupid, slow, and wouldn’t amount to anything in life. A flow that contaminated what was once beautiful into someone you can hardly stand to see. Their minds were a garden and their souls were fertile to receive the influence, the flow that poured in. But there’s a flip side to this epidemic – this spiritual influenza. If we can receive, we can also pour it within ourselves.
Let’s revisit that root word fluent. When someone is fluent in a language, it flows out of her/his mouth. It’s a river that knows its direction. It is not a second thought; it is part of the person’s internal make-up. It has been developed, strengthened and tested to be influential to the culture for which it was created. According to one of my favorite sites, the Online Etymology Dictionary, the Medieval Latin and Old French etymologies refer to influence was an astrological noun – “streaming ethereal power from the stars when in certain positions, acting upon character or destiny of men,” and “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny.” In other words, what you do and say – your flow – can directly affect the trajectory of someone’s character and destiny, including your own. Just as I’m sitting here with the flu, the trajectory of my week was changed. My goals were not met and my body was under the influence of someone else’s infection. I didn’t ask for it and I didn’t want it, but it happened. Their fluency of the virus flowed into me. I can only imagine that is how the power of our existence can be to others if we allow the river of Christ’s Love to flow within us. We can be the influence if we speak and live in His Love fluently.
You were created to be influential.You were designed to be influential to the culture in which you live. You were made to flow – to receive and to pour into others. You weren’t created to infect, but to inspire. Think of all the good seeds you could sow if you walked everyday with this in mind. You would circulate a positive river within your spirit that could block any influence you do not need. Furthermore, you could very well use the past negative experiences to create your own vaccine against spiritual influenza. Instead of being the diseased fruit, you could be the tree that spreads good health and allows the Flow the reach everyone around you.
In a world where mutual human respect seems to be a dying artform, I needed proof after the presidential election. I needed resuscitation that all was not for naught and that there was good in the world to override the poison I had heard around me. I was also seeking the truth that I wasn’t just aimlessly helping people as they stomped on top of me on the way to their destination. I needed a beep on the heart monitor, a waveform on the EKG to give me some hope to press forward that day.
It came the night that my performing arts troupe was recording a creative piece. I’ve been on a kick lately of pushing us toward the unfamiliar and questioning our systemic practices. This particular evening, we would be taping in my church’s sanctuary and utilizing their colorful lighting amenities. It was exciting to see how it would look, but I was spiritually exhausted.
The blip that I needed arrived in the form of a White pastor of an ethnically diverse church saying yes to a predominately Black troupe and authentically caring about our creative goals. Not once was race a factor. Not once was time an issue. All we cared about was Jesus and making an excellent product to encourage others.
At one point of the 2-hour session, I was overwhelmed. I got so full that tears welled up in my eyes. The lighting, the sound, the attire, the laughter… it all hit me. Here we were, defying everything that society says we should hate about each other and working with sincerity and passion. Let me be clear – prejudice exists and I am not oblivious to it. But there was proof of life available and all I had to do was look around. Proof that the same blood pumps within us all and that everyone isn’t trampling over the other in shameless indignation. The heart of people are walking evidence that proof of God’s life exists. That beep was all I needed to keep going.
What has been your proof of life lately? Have you overlooked your blip?
“We keep changing the chefs never noticing the oven is broken.” – T. D. Jakes, Sermon: Destiny Flocks Together
This isn’t a political piece. It’s bigger than that.
So, since you’re here, you might as well come on in and keep reading. *smile*
I was teaching my Introduction to Communication class today and something flew out of my mouth like a free bird. I can always tell when the Holy Spirit takes over because the faces of my students look like someone punched them in gut and the echo of my words surprise me when I hear them.
We were discussing conflict resolution and communication styles. The students’ conversation turned into how the value of the relationship and a person’s stage in life can affect conflict resolution strategies. Then, I said something that made the environment change. I’ll paraphrase below since I don’t remember the exact wording.
“Sometimes, you have to admit that there are no more band-aids in the box and it’s time to agree to do the surgery. It may not be a pretty quick-fix, but if you have placed a high value on the person and the long-term health relationship, you have to agree to do the work and have a common goal of achieving a shared understanding.”
I felt it. It was a slight shift where my students thought about their personal situations. So, I gave the “pregnant pause” before continuing my lesson plan.
Depending on the value you both have placed on each other and the relationship (whether platonic, familial, or romantic), the conflict resolution outcome will vary. And just because the outcome isn’t a win-win (which isn’t nearly as feasible as people think in most cases), it doesn’t mean the issue was not resolved. Perhaps you have extended every option in your emotional storage and the other person is stuck on fueling the fire. The resolution is to accept the loss of the relationship type and get used to a new normal (lose-lose). The outcome doesn’t always have to be rosy to be the best option.
Let’s take this communication theory further. In the case of our most recent presidential election, I found Pastor T. D. Jakes’ quote most fitting. At times, we place too much responsibility on one person to fix our problems. Just like a surgeon has technicians and a team of doctors to consult, so does anyone that sits in the president’s seat. Unfortunately, just like in a medical situation, we put an unrealistic divinity on one human to heal our diseases. As Pastor Jakes said, we never put the microscope on the systemic leaks that need to be addressed. We simply change the person in the seat. On a personal level, instead of surgery, we opt for the band-aid of another partner, another friend, another job, another state, and all the while, the best option is to dig deeperfor the source of the problem and attempt to resuscitate our lives.
Since we’re all created by the same God, shouldn’t we all get along? Shouldn’t everything be perfect and no surgery be necessary? hmph. Take into account the following verse:
1Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4:1-6
Everyone is living in a tainted shell; therefore, we have to do the work to keep peace abounding in our communication…and in our country. Diligence is necessary. Patience is a prerequisite. Tolerance is essential. We’re in a time where the band-aids are peeling because the problems are too great and the blood is running freely. Let’s do better and choose wisely in speech and in our political footsteps.