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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Overcoming Betrayal

Celebrating Valentine's Day is difficult for many people. Often it's not because of being single but because of the past betrayal experienced in a relationship. Explainable (or not), purposed (or not), the result is betrayal hurts creating a long lasting pain that affects the ability to love again.

However, betrayal is forgivable. You don't have to live in the pain of that betrayal but become free from it allowing yourself to love and give yourself again, either to the person who betrayed you or someone new by releasing the one who betrayed who.

Betrayal is a gross violation of trust and can be one of the most devastating forms of pain inflicted upon a human being. The suffering of betrayal is often magnified by a sense of vulnerability and exposure. For many, the pain of betrayal is worse than physical violence, deceit, or prejudice. Betrayal destroys the foundation of trust.

David was no stranger to betrayal: “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God” (Psalm 55:12-14). The closer the relationship, the greater the pain of betrayal.

Jesus knew the pain of betrayal firsthand. The worst, most treacherous betrayal of all time was Judas’s betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15). “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9, NKJV; cf. John 13:18). But Jesus did not become vindictive, bitter, or angry. Just the opposite. After receiving the traitor’s kiss, Jesus addressed Judas as “friend” (Matthew 26:50).

Despite the pain, there is a way we can overcome betrayal. The power comes directly from God and the strength of forgiveness.

After David laments a broken trust in Psalm 55, he provides a clue to how to overcome the pain. He says, “But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice” (Psalm 55:16-17).

The first key is to cry out to God. Though we may want to strike out at the betrayer, we need to take our cause to the Lord. “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

Another key in overcoming the pain of betrayal is to remember Jesus’ example. Our sinful nature impels us to “repay evil with evil,” but Jesus taught us otherwise: “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. . . . Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:39, 44). When Jesus “was abused, he did not return abuse” (1 Peter 2:23). We should conform to His example by not repaying abuse for abuse, including the abuse of betrayal. Believers are to do good even to those who harm them.

Another powerful key in overcoming the bitterness of betrayal is our God-given ability to forgive the betrayer. The word forgiveness includes the word give. When we choose to forgive someone, we actually give that person a gift—the freedom from personal retaliation. But you are also giving yourself a gift—a “grudge-free life.” Trading our bitterness and anger for the love of God is a wonderful, life-giving exchange.

Jesus taught that “loving our neighbor as ourselves” should be proactive: “But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Without question, it is enormously difficult to forgive a person who’s betrayed our trust. It is only possible with God (see Luke 18:27).

Those who have experienced God’s love understand what it means to be loved unconditionally and undeservedly. Only with the help of God’s Spirit can we love and pray for those who seek to do us harm (Romans 12:14-21).

Monday, January 21, 2013

Enjoying The Privileges

Every year when The Martin Luther King Holiday comes around I get a normal response when asked: "Do you work tomorrow?" For the past 20+ years my response is the same, "Yes, I work tomorrow". And they respond as usual..."Really, man you should take off! Don't you know what this day means?"

I respond I know what this day means..."It means I have to go to work!"

My response is not neglecting the rich heritage of African Americans but it is to enjoy what they've fought and died for over the years. If you have the privilege of taking off on this day then take off. And if you have the privilege of going to work on this day then go to work. Either way, it's a privilege we can enjoy because of what those before have given of themselves to bring to pass privileges that many of parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and so on have not been able to enjoy because time would not permit.

My grandfather said to me once in one of many conversations we shared together, "Boy, the best way to make me happy alive or dead is to make sure you enjoy the privileges that Doc King(that's how my grandfather referred to Martin Luther King), and so many others have fought for in this world...equality".

It is my sincere hope and prayer that my grandfather is smiling down on me as I enjoy the privilege of going to work with equality.

Enjoy the privilege of working or at home as a reminder that these privileges came with a cost!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Blessing of Uncertainty

For the past 1 year or so, I've been living in a shadow of uncertainty. What is a shadow of uncertainty you ask? My answer, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. This is the worse place to be in. But, I made it my aim and my goal to live as if my tomorrow was today which is to say I see myself in my tomorrow while living today. That's what faith is...the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

The world I live in was turned upside down for many and various reasons for which I take blame for some and others I cannot control. The uncertainty had me feeling lost, abandoned, frustrated, stressed, and lonely. However, I couldn't sit there die (so to speak). So I made up in mind to change my response to the situation by living the best way I know how despite of the uncertainty. Much like those in biblical times...

Noah kept building an ark for a flood he only heard was coming.

Abraham moved from his country to go where he didn't know where he was going

Ezekiel preached to dead dry bones uncertain if life would be restored

I think you get it now...

There are times in life when you're uncertain of tomorrow. Uncertainty is not a reason to quit but a reason to live. It's not a reason to sit down but a reason to get up. It's not a reason to say no but a reason to say yes. Uncertainty is not a friend of failure but friend of success.

There are so many things about tomorrow I don't seem to understand. But one thing I do know about tomorrow. I know God is holding my hand.

Don't trip about the uncertainty of life's tomorrow. Live in your tomorrow today.

Be blessed!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Don't leave, Church Isn't over

As a teenager before leaving the house my mother would give me a pep talk. She would say stuff like: "Clint, don't be in those streets acting a nut." Or, my grandfather would say to me; "Clint, you got Smith blood in you don't do nothing that will bring shame to the Smith name". It always bugged me because I thought to myself (and sometimes said it openly), I'm not a kid, I don't need these pep talks before leaving the house.

Now that I'm older with teenagers, I see Tracy doing the same thing. Before Aysia or Myles leave the house she will give them a pep talk and their reaction was my reaction when I was growing up, 'I'm no kid, I don't need these pep talks before leaving the house".

There is a similar reaction among Christians in worship services. The preacher can't say the word "Amen" quick enough before people start walking out of the worship service. However, the worse thing a believer can do is to leave before the "Benediction".

A benediction is a declaration of blessings from God upon His loved ones. In laymen terms, it's a spiritual pep talk from God to us saying, when you leave this house don't be out in those streets acting like you don't know who Jesus is.

Benedictions are sometimes found at the close of some New Testament epistles (e.g., 2 Corinthians 13:14 and Ephesians 5:23-24). Benedictions, though brief, offer words of assurance or precepts designed to bring joy, peace, comfort, and security to those who place their trust in God.

Benediction is the final blessing on God's people before they enter back into a lost world filled with many temptations and challenges.

There are many benedictions recorded in Scripture. Here are a few examples, starting with one of the most well-known:

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

“The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 121:7-8).

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

“Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13).

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21).

“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11).

I want to encourage you to please don't leave a worship service before you receive the final blessing ( or covering) over your life as you enter back into a lost world.

Get yo final blessing first!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Don't Look Back

One Christmas year as a child, my brothers and I longed to have bikes for Christmas. So we made our list for Santa with the #1 item on the list being a bike. It seemed like it took years for Christmas to come. We waited and waited and waited for Christmas. Well the time had come, we set out cookies and milk for Santa hoping he would bring our bikes through the chimney (well the front door cause we didn't have a chimney).

We went to bed early on Christmas Eve with hopes of waking up seeing our bikes under the tree. We sprung up at 5 am, ran to the tree and there they were our bikes. We didn't care about anything else under the tree at the time just the bikes. We opened the rest of our presents quickly so we could put on clothes to go outside and ride.

We were having a blast riding up and down the street. Then we heard our names being called to come in for breakfast. We kept riding like we didn't hear anything. Then our names were called again and again. The last time our names were called came from Pop so I looked back and right when I turned my head my brother stopped in front of me and I crashed the back of his bike, bent frame, and bent the wheel. We had to carry the bike home. I wrecked my brothers bike because I looked back rather than looking forward.

As we've come to 2013, I want to encourage you to not look back at those things that can cause you crash the destiny that's in front of you. Your tomorrow looks much brighter than your yesterday. Your past may explain you but it doesn't excuse you.

Move forward in Jesus name!