Forgiveness, Kindness, Love, Patience, Speech

Coming Home…Again!

Clifford Harris Jr. first came into my life in 2003. One of my friends talked about him constantly, so when we heard he would be performing in Tallahassee we made our way to see him. This was my introduction to T.I.P. better known as T.I. and I have been a fan every since. In him I have always seen a person who is good at heart but who often falters in his decision-making. He is no angel nor would he be considered a saint but neither am I.

T.I.’s troubles with the law and multiple incarcerations have become fodder for the media. Recently I have heard several discussions regarding his release from prison and it seems as though his fate has been pre-determined –“He’s just going right back to jail;” “I hope he doesn’t make a song about forgiveness AGAIN.” At first I shrugged it off but then I became appalled at the number of people who chose to publicly and privately speak “death” upon him instead of life. It was as if people forgot about their own transgressions just long enough to cast stones at him.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3:9-10 NIV)

I am not a T.I. fanatic but I found myself defending him as if he were my own brother. Wait! He is my brother! No matter how many times my biological brother found himself behind those iron clad bars he was always welcomed home. We didn’t place bets on how long he would stay out or stress his spirit with our disbelief in him. We prayed that God would deliver him and that he would “straighten up.” We saw the good in him along with those areas he really needed to change. We didn’t condemn him because we knew that if we looked hard enough each one of us had something that we repeatedly had done; yet we asked and expected our Father to welcome us back to Him every time.

Often we find ourselves discussing the business of family, friends and co-workers and readily speak “death” upon them with our doubts and nay sayings. Instead of welcoming them home, we anxiously await their next mess up. With so many doubters, detractors and fake supporters, I understand why it’s so easy to fall prey to bad vices.

This Empowermoment isn’t about T.I. as much as it is about allowing people to redeem themselves and embracing them when they seek to do the right thing, even if it’s their seventh time. This doesn’t mean that we should purposely sin; but we all do things some times that aren’t pleasing to God. No matter how many times we fall, the important thing is that we can get back up and come home to Jesus…Again.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for embracing me with open arms EVERY time I fall. Thank You for encouraging and not discouraging when I fall prey to temptation. Help me to be the same way with my fellow brethren. Bridle my tongue when I have it in my mind to speak “death” upon someone’s life. Help me to forgive and move forward just as You do time and time again with me. In Jesus Name, Amen! 

Today I EMPOWER you to speak Life. Speak LIFE into your family, your friends, your finances, your marriage, your household, your job and your spirit. If in some way you fail, repent and know that you can always Come Home, Again!

Ms. Chancee` Lundy currently resides in Atlanta, GA and is a small business co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend, community servant, and child of God. She is passionate about causes that truly uplift the community. One of her favorite scriptures is Hebrews 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Attitude, Gentleness, Kindness

Treat ‘Em Right!

Be careful how you entertain strangers, for some have kicked it with angels incognito (Hebrews 13:2 Pastor Freddy Haynes Remix) 

He’s not really a stranger but he’s my “secret” friend. It’s okay to hang out with him alone or around the house and have him fix stuff for me; but all I can think of is embarrassment when it comes to taking him around other people. Surely you can understand. He splits verbs, ends his sentences with prepositions where they are not required (ex: Where they going at?) and the words “ain’t,” “y’all,” “fixin to” and “nem/dem” are popular in his vocabulary. My grammar is far from perfect but hearing him talk sometimes makes me cringe. I definitely wouldn’t want to subject anyone else to that annihilation of the English language. Besides that, he’s my friend not my “friend.” He likes me and I wouldn’t want him or other people to get it confused. He’s a super nice guy but just not group ready, in my opinion. I should correct that to he’s not group ready for my social scene. You understand, don’t you?

As I got ready to head to a public festival where thousands of people would be gathered, I could tell that he really wanted to join me. He’s not from here and his job is a lonely one so he doesn’t get to interact with people much. I acted oblivious at first and then I kind of let him know that I would be hanging with my friends so he couldn’t come to the event. Immediately, I felt guilty as if I knew that he wanted to enjoy a slice of life and I was denying him.  I asked him if he wanted to go but the damage was already done.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12 NIV)

On my way to the event I was consumed with guilt about the way I acted but shrugged it off because I was going to enjoy myself. As I drove on to the festival, each friend that was scheduled to come with me called and cancelled. I was bothered by it but not completely disturbed because the friend who invited me always has plenty of people under his tent and around his barbeque grill. It’s like our own private party amidst the big festival. Finding people to socialize with wouldn’t be difficult.

I arrived, spoke to my friend who was manning the grill and plopped my chair down amongst a group of females (who I have interacted with at some of his events before). They half-heartedly spoke and immediately went back to their conversation. I could have been a leaf on the tree we were sitting next to. Usually, I fit well into social scenes and can become “Chatty Cathy” but today was quite different. I was never included, invited or welcomed into the conversation. As another one of their friends wanted to join the circle and it began to rain, I decided to move my chair to a nearby tent and join another circle. In this group no one was talking and if they were it was to the person immediately next to them. I was amongst a crowd of people but felt isolated and alone.

The festival was in a park and there was a pavilion where people were dancing. Surely, I can enjoy myself on the dance floor. I went to the dance floor and danced a few songs but even that was lonely because I had no friend on the floor with me and no one asked me to dance. I walked to my seat, plopped down and thought “God, I get it!!!”

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40 NIV)

I was worried about my friend “embarrassing” me and not fitting into this social scene but in reality I would have had a blast with him present. He would have had the opportunity to enjoy this small slice of life and I wouldn’t have been lonely. Instead, I was worried about a group of people who didn’t split verbs but weren’t paying me any attention or care one bit about me. Who was I to treat his feelings so callously?  Surely, I did not treat him how I wanted to be treated or show him God’s love. God has no grammar or spell check and He’s not embarrassed to hang out with me even when I’m at my worst. I sat there for a few more hours bathing in my Karma and reflecting on my actions knowing that my small act of kindness would have gone a long way.

Dear Daddy,

Every person on this planet is Your child and should be treated as such. Forgive me for breaking Your Golden Rule. I am glad that You look on the inside and not at our outward appearance. You’re not concerned with our grammar but with our heart. Help me to be more like You! Let me show Your love and compassion to my neighbor and take my nose out of the air. Remind me that the very person I turn my nose up at can be an angel that you have sent my way. When I find myself in these situations, give me the courage to make the right decision even when it’s not the “popular” one. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today I EMPOWER you to treat others as you wish to be treated. You may not give money but you can give a smile and a “how you doing?” to that needy person who is constantly bothering you on your way to work. I EMPOWER you to listen to others and before making rash decisions put yourself in their shoes. I EMPOWER you to love your neighbor that you can see so that you can truly express your love for a God that you cannot.

Ms. Chancee` Lundy currently resides in Atlanta, GA and is a small business co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend, community servant, and child of God. She is passionate about causes that truly uplift the community. One of her favorite scriptures is Hebrews 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Attitude, Fruit of the Spirit, Growth/Maturity, Kindness, Patience

My Reputation Precedes Itself

Before you read this post I have to give you a disclaimer: The job I work is a God given talent and I love every minute of it! I have worked in public education almost eight years and I was out of the classroom for two of those years. I have always been known for the authority that I have in the classroom and my “don’t take any mess” attitude. This summer I was assigned back to the classroom. All I could think about was how I was going to show those students that “my reputation precedes itself.” Keep in mind that this group of students had also had a reputation of being some of the most disrespectful and disruptive students in the building.

Ladies, I went in ready for battle the first day of summer school. I went into the class frowning and if a student breathed too hard I had to let them know who was the boss. All I could think was, “I’m not going to let these little kids run over me.” Instead of getting to know them personally, I did something that I had never done as a teacher. I took what I had heard about them and formed an opinion. Someone once taught me that you can catch more bees with honey but I refused to be nice to the kids because I was going to show them I wasn’t playing! I didn’t even care about winning them over; all I was concerned with was teaching them and ensuring that they listened. Every day I went home drained because I was trying to show them who was the boss. I was too busy trying to keep my reputation in tact that I didn’t even get to know who they were.

God started to convict me and I didn’t understand why. I was led to Acts 9 where Saul, a person that was a murderer of Christians, was converted to Apostle Paul. Even though the Lord chose him, at first his reputation preceded him. Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” (Acts 9: 10-14 NKJV). This made me question myself. Who did I think I was to treat people how I wanted to treat them based on what I had heard about them? If the Lord could give Paul a chance after he was a murderer, why couldn’t I give these children a chance despite what I had heard. Furthermore, who did I think I was to think that my reputation was more important than doing what was right and pleasing to God?

Luke 6: 31 says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (NIV) As God spoke to me, He told me that I should have gone into that room and treated those students how I wanted to be treated. He also reminded me of my past. What if He had really let my reputation precede me? What if He had not started fresh and forgiven me for my sins? Where would I have ended up? Ladies, it scared me to even think about how it would have been if the Lord treated me how I treated those students based on my reputation. All I could say was, “Thank You Lord for Your saving and forgiving grace!”

I had to apologize for my actions to those students and start fresh on the first day of the new school year. Instead of treating them based on their reputation, I thought about Paul and how God created him new and he became one of the most profound writers in the Bible of all times. The first day of school was a new beginning for me and the students and it was wonderful! 1 Corinthians 4:1 says “This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.” (NIV) I realized I don’t want any reputation unless it’s as a servant of God. I don’t want to be known as anything but a woman after God’s own heart. “Lord, let THAT reputation precede itself!”

Dear Daddy,

Thank You God for keeping me and protecting me when I have strayed away from Your will for my own reputation. I thank You for forgiving me when I thought I had to portray a certain image and it wasn’t mirroring You. I thank You that I am learning that if the reputation that I have is one that is not in Your will or pleasing to You, then I don’t need it. Thank You for teaching me to treat people how I want to be treated and not based on their reputation. Thank You Daddy for not letting my reputation determine Your will for my life! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to not worry about what your reputation used to be. Today and everyday take a look at your life and see if you are living up to what God wants you to be. I EMPOWER you to not treat others badly or in ways that are not pleasing to God because of who they used to be. Since we all are works in progress,  I EMPOWER you to read your Bible, pray and ask God to give you a reputation that is pleasing to Him!

Mrs. Keviyona Ray is an ordained minister and co-pastor in training of The Christ For All People International Church. She is passionate about sharing the word of God with everyone she encounters. As a professional, Keviyona is a teacher for Chicago Public Schools. She loves her ministry of teaching and changing children’s lives. She is a devoted wife and mother of a wonderful daughter. Two of her favorite scriptures are Jeremiah 1: 5 – Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations and Proverbs 29:18 –  Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.