Monday, September 27, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Series Cancellation


Dear Blog Readers,

I decided to cancel my blog's "Sharing Our Stories: Being the Change We Seek" series, effective today (Sept. 27, 2021).

I am sorry for any disappointment this decision may cause.

All of the previously published posts for this series will remain on this blog, always available for you to read and share at your convenience. 

I hope that you will continue to work on being the change you seek in this world.

Take care and God bless you!

Sincerely,

Alexis A. Goring, MFA
Founder of "On My Heart" (blog)

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Pushing Past Despair


Goodness is Coming
A guest post by Amber Hoopengarner

“I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living.” – Psalm 27:13 (AMP)

When reflecting on my children’s school year thus far, it causes me to become saddened.

My heart hurts for them.

While it has been trying due to the pandemic, my children have been dealing with other factors such as racial slurs from classmates or racial jokes that are delivered by so called “friends”.

I remind myself that these children are just children and that it is probably what they are learning at home that causes them to say such things. But that does not change my feelings about the fact that it is not something I want my children to experience.

As a minority family we have experienced our share of racial incidences that prove to me that racism is still alive and well. I am thankful that I have a hope who I can lean on (Jesus Christ).

Like David in the scripture above (Psalm 27:13), I must believe that I will see goodness and that my children will see change. I must hope beyond hope and minister to my own soul that God will allow us to prevail. We will not be defeated; we will be made better.

I pray that we as people—especially those of us in the BIPOC community—can gather our emotions, our outrage, our tears, our fears, and bring them to God knowing that He has control of all things. We cannot control people’s actions or what they say or think. Nor can we change their perspectives.

However, we have the ability to hold on to the truth of God’s Word (The Holy Bible) that clearly states that if we keep hoping if we keep on believing in the God who has saved us and healed us so many times before…if we can just stay focused on seeing the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living in our own lives and experiences, then we will be strengthened day after day.

We will not despair though the circumstances may change and the battle rages on. The world may grow more violent, hateful and unkind. But we will rise up, push forward and focus on our Creator who is our Living Hope!

Let’s Pray: Dear God, You know what is going on in the Earth right now. You know the battles we have been facing and the injustices we are up against. Help us to believe that we will see Your goodness. Inspire us to believe that You will continue defending us and fighting for us. We thank You, dear God, for everything You do for us. We commit to pressing on because we know that we are victorious through Jesus Christ. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Amber Hoopengarner is a writer and self-published author who is also a Certified Life Coach working with women who suffer from PMADs and children who suffer from mental health disorders.


She is a Maternal Mental Health Advocate and works to help raise awareness within the church of mental health disorders especially among BIPOC women.

Amber graduated in 2016 from the University of Phoenix with an Associates in Human Services Management and is currently in the process of obtaining her bachelor’s in psychology. She also has certificates in Mental Health Coaching, Bibliotherapy and CBT as well as in Perinatal Mood Anxiety Disorders.

Amber loves God and people! She enjoys making a difference through bringing up issues and challenges that sometimes would not otherwise be addressed. She believes that God wants His people to be loved where right where they are while they are working on who He has called them to become.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: A Defining Moment in Time for All of Us


A Defining Moment
A guest post by Rev. Dr. Angelle M. Jones

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself.” –Luke 10:27 (NIV)

Reflecting on the happenings of 2020, we all probably have a few memorable moments that will forever define the year as one like no other. 

Call it spiritual, an instinct, or maybe even intuition, but from the very onset of the pandemic, I knew that this unknown phenomenon would be different.

As a minister open to divine movements that sometimes turn into defining moments of the Spirit, I felt a shift was taking place. It was as if the challenges of life and the unseen nature of things in the universe were in some way spiritually and physically aligning. In a new way it seemed that even though nothing was happening as I wanted it to in my life, there seemed to be something monumental happening in the spirit realm. As news of the pandemic began to unfold, instead of resisting the unknown, I immediately found myself working to embrace what has become for me and others as a defining moment.

Before the media started sharing that an unknown virus was attacking the world, a friend in high places warned me that life as we knew it was going to take on a sudden change. I knew instinctively not only was life-changing in the present, but things were forever changing. I felt that whatever was taking place would have much more of a long-term effect in a way that I couldn’t explain. I believe the Holy Spirit chose to use the time to make a demarcation in the world. This time of uncertainty, including the racial unrest in America, became a defining moment for those who may be uncertain whether there was a God.

This was a time, especially after the riots incited by the killing of George Floyd, that Americans knew we were being defined. The racial differences we’d all allowed to become the norm were now placed on display for the world to see as anything but genuine. The restrictions between living in the uncertainty of COVID-19 and now the truth of racial injustices and disparities became an everyday disruption.

A few months in, the attention of the world was suddenly turned toward America’s original sin of racism and the continuous cry for racial and social justice. With heightened racial tensions, even Black Americans who had lived through the racial unrest and riots of the sixties, or the elders who lived through the Jim Crow era, were hypersensitive to these new restrictions. Never before in America, the land of the free, had we ever felt restricted to come and go as we pleased. Our country and the entire world seemed frozen in time.

With every new bit of news came new changes. With every change, I found myself embracing this as a defining moment. As the world found itself fearing an unknown virus that had quarantined what seemed to be the entire universe, I found myself being asked by the Lord, “Can you trust Me?” As I wrestled with what seemed to be the obvious answer, I realized the question at hand was really, “Do you love Me enough to trust Me?”

As the eyes of the world were shifted interchangeably between the pandemic to the ongoing fight for racial equality, there was an obvious fear by Blacks and Whites. Not since the sixties and the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had life in America been disrupted in such a way that everyone knew this would become a defining moment; a moment of change. With trepidation, I took to writing and to sharing my passion for social justice. This became my opportunity to share how the intersection between the scriptures and the face of justice revealed my answer to God’s question. I propose that this was a defining moment.

I recognized that by entering the fight for the struggle for the whole of American humanity to live in the equality we have so long fought for, my love for God was revealed. As an activist, I knew I had a part to play.

I realized as difficult as the time was, in the midst of it all, the timing was my defining moment. It was my time to use my voice as a minister and my writing to help eradicate racism.

As an oracle of God, I found myself using the words of scripture intersected with those I penned to fight for justice and equality. My love for God serving as my foundation, I used everything within my heart, soul, and strength to speak truth to the powers that be.

This was the time that God had ordained from the very beginning of my existence for me to use my pen to speak. I took to social media, blogging, and writing for publications and anyone who would listen. I preached a message of justice seasoned with God’s love for my neighbor.

How will I show that I love God with my whole heart, soul, and mind in this defining moment?

I will show the world my love for my voiceless neighbors. I will write the story of those I love as my neighbor who has been born in pain. I will recite the narratives that have been painted by the trauma inflicted upon the ancestors of those still struggling to overcome. I will pen the anecdotes of my neighbors from the past with hopes to change the history of their present and their tomorrows.

I will write to break the chains of the emotional scars placed upon my ancestral brothers and sisters. I will chronicle a message of hope to shine God’s love onto this defining moment.

But I cannot do this alone. Therefore, I ask you, my friend, “How will you define the moment?”

~*~
Author Bio:

“Inspiring and Motivating With the Power of Words”  


Dr. Angelle M. Jones believes that the power of words inspires, and motivate to bring about transformative change individually and collectively.

Angelle originally hails from Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in African-American studies from the University of Cincinnati. Angelle has a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia and an earned Doctorate in Ministry on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, and his philosophy of The Beloved Community from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Her ministry career began as a staff member of the Northeastern Ohio Billy Graham Crusade in 1994. For twenty years, as founder and director of In The Spirit Ministries, Inc., she led teams on mission outreaches throughout the world. From 2007-2012, Angelle served as Missions Director of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio where she currently resides. Angelle is founder and director of GlobaLife Coaching and Consulting serving as a Life and Transformation Coach and Church Consultant.

In 2016, Angelle authored and self-published her first book, Happily Never After. Along with sharing words of hope by sharing her writings on her social media platforms, she has been published in Vantage Magazine which is a literary source for faculty, students and alumni of Columbia Theological Seminary, and Ready, which is a cutting-edge online magazine addressing current events and trending socially relevant topics for women.

Angelle is the mother of an adult daughter. She is a grandmother and great-grandmother.

~*~
Connect with Dr. Angelle:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angelle.m.jones.5
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abundantgrace1/
Email: globalifeconsultants@gmail.com

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Kristen's Review of the book "White Lies" by Daniel Hill


Kristen Terrette’s review of Daniel Hill's book 
White Lies: 
Nine Ways to Expose and Resist the Racial Systems That Divide Us 

When considering curriculum for a church small group, my friend and fellow small group facilitator recommended I read White Lies: Nine Ways to Expose and Resist the Racial Systems That Divide Us by Pastor Daniel Hill of River City Community Church in Chicago. 

She said she probably preferred Hill’s book over Be the Bridge by Latasha Morrison. This was kind of a shock, since I love Morrison’s book and its group curriculum! It’s one we’ve used at our church before. But after reading White Lies, I know exactly why she made the claim.

She and I are both White Christian women, currently living in the suburbs. We both are on a spiritual journey, as Pastor Hill calls it, learning and growing in knowledge of the reality of White privilege, White supremacy, and race divisions. We both have a strong desire for racial reconciliation and unity, and to see the world and especially the Church, awaken to these systems. And yet, she and I attend a (lovely) church whose desire is to be multicultural, but at the moment still very White.

This book, like the other ones I’ve read, challenges White supremacy in a want for reconciliation and speaks directly to me as a White Christian. But where this book is different (for me) is that it’s written by a White man. Being a White male, Pastor Hill has the backing to be brutally honest with his audience, because he is the very audience he’s speaking to.

Though the books I’ve read by Black authors gave unique insight to their struggles and heartache—pains and hardships that I cannot fully understand—reading a book on White supremacy written by a White man is very different because there is no sugarcoating. Even still, I must mention Pastor Hill does wrap is challenging words with love. He is very good in helping the reader take next steps on their journey.

Pastor Hill has written a book that, though its more intellectual in scope, was hard to put down. And it is the perfect book for the churches like mine (and like my White friend and I) to read and discuss. Every page’s depth, scope, and theology challenged me to process the ideas, claims, and resolutions proposed and taught. This meant it was not an easy, leisurely read for me. It was one where I had to sit down with intentional focus and quiet surroundings to fully understand Pastor Hill’s message.

I cannot accurately explain the impact this book has had on me, and I can’t wait to get going on a small group in my church with this curriculum. I already have the discussion guides! 

If you want to be challenged and grow, this book is for you. I give it 5 of 5 stars!

~*~
Reviewer’s Bio:

Kristen is passionate about storytelling and helping people take their next steps in their relationship with Jesus.

She lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. where she served as a Children's Ministry Director for many years. With the support of her husband and two children, she now stays home writing fiction and non-fiction.

She also serves on the women’s leadership team at her local church and writes for Crosswalk and Wholly Loved Ministries. You can check out her articles and novels at www.kristenterrette.com.

~*~
Connect with Kristen:
Website - www.kristenterrette.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/authorkristenterrette/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/KTerrette
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/kterrette/
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16252020.Kristen_Terrette
BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kristen-terrette
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/kterrette2/

~*~
Book Blurb for White Lies:

What can you do to be a force for racial justice? 


Many White Christians are eager to fight against racism and for racial justice. But what steps can they take to make good, lasting change? How can they get involved without unintentionally doing more harm than good?

In this practical and illuminating guide drawn from more than twenty years of cross-cultural work and learning from some of the greatest leaders of color, pastor and racial justice advocate Daniel Hill provides nine practices rooted in Scripture that will position you to be an active supporter of inclusion, equality, and racial justice. With stories, studies, and examples from his own journey, Hill will show you:

· How to get free of the impact of White supremacy individually and recognize that it works systemically

· How to talk about race in an intelligent and respectful way

· How to recognize which strategies are helpful and which are harmful

· What you can do to make a difference every day, after protests and major events

We cannot experience wholistic justice without confronting and dismantling White supremacy. But as we follow Jesus—the one who is supreme over all things—into overturning false power systems, we will become better advocates of the liberating and unconditional love that God extends to us all.

~*~
Author Bio:

Daniel Hill is the author of White Lies, White Awake, and 10:10: Life to the Fullest


He is the Founding and Senior Pastor of River City Community Church, located in the west Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. The vision of River City is centered on the core values of worship, reconciliation, and neighborhood development. 

Formed in 2003, River City longs to see increased spiritual renewal as well as social and economic justice in the Humboldt Park neighborhood and entire city, demonstrating compassion and alleviating poverty as tangible expressions of the Kingdom of God.

Prior to starting River City, Daniel launched a dot.com in the 90's before serving five years on the staff of Willow Creek Community Church in the suburbs of Chicago.

Daniel has his B.S. in Business from Purdue University, his M.A. in Theology from Moody Bible Institute, his certificate in Church-based Community and Economic Development from Harvard Divinity School, and his D.Min. from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Daniel is married to Elizabeth, who is a Professor of Psychology, and they are the proud parents of Xander and Gabriella Hill.

~*~
Buy Daniel’s book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Walmart

~*~
Connect with Daniel:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pastordanielhill
Twitter: https://twitter.com/danielhill1336

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Solidarity


God's Heart for Solidarity
A guest post by Sherrinda Ketchersid

I’ve been looking into the word "solidarity" lately.

According to Oxford Languages, the definition of solidarity is: unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.

We’ve seen on the news people protesting by bending on one knee (instead of two) during the national anthem at football games. We’ve seen people wearing certain colors to show support for a cause. Recently, American shot putter Raven Saunders put her arms in an X shape while on the Olympic medal podium to show her solidarity with those who are oppressed. These actions make you stop and look, don’t they? They point a finger to what is wrong in the world. They make you sit up and take notice.

I decided to see what the Bible has to say about solidarity. 

Here are a few of the many verses I found in my search:
  •  “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)
  • “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” – 1 Peter 3:8 (ESV)
  •  “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” – Romans 14:19 (ESV)
These verses speak of peace-making and building unity with others. When others hurt, we hurt with them. When others are oppressed, we stand up with them and for them. We must pursue what builds others up and brings peace. Pursue! That is an active word, right? There is something to do when we take up solidarity with others.

I watched a YouTube video of an interview with Larycia Hawkins, who became the first female African-American tenured professor at Wheaton College in 2013. She was placed on administrative leave after she posted a photo of herself wearing a Hajib on her personal Facebook page. She did this to show solidarity with women Muslims who were up against rising ethnic tensions at the time. 

Something she said at the end of the interview struck me as something I need to address. She said, “All of life is sacred. I think you all think that you think that, but I don’t think you do because you send your kids to private schools so they don’t have to go to school with the poor black and brown kids. I would challenge you to rethink all of your commitments through the lens of every child is your child.”

I am reading and learning more and more about what it means to be antiracist, but have I really looked at my life—my decision and commitments—through the lens of true solidarity?

Sometimes, changing your lifestyle to reflect solidarity is hard. Sometimes it causes us to sacrifice. But isn’t that what Jesus teaches? He came to serve, not to be served. Take up your cross and follow Him. I’m not saying we must all move into neighborhoods different from ours or pull our kids out of private school. But I do think we need to reexamine our lives through the lens of solidarity. We need to take a look at everything through the lens of peace and unity with others—especially those who are different than us.

Let’s Pray: Father God, help me to see with Your eyes. Open my heart to the needs of those around me who are struggling under oppression, discrimination, and hate. I need to see the world through the lens of Your heart. Help me to bring unity and peace to those around me. Help me to be a person of solidarity in this world. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Sherrinda Ketchersid is an author of historical romance and a minister’s wife who loves to paint in her Bible. 


She loves to read, spend time in her flower garden, and try her hand at new crafts. She likes to blog and is part of a group called The Writers Alley.

Sherrinda lives in north-central Texas with her husband of 35 years. With four grown children, three guys and a gal, she has more time and energy to spin tales of faith, fun, and forever love.

~*~
Connect with Sherrinda:
Website: www.sherrinda.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SherrindaKetchersidAuthor/
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/sherrinda
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sherrinda
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sherrinda/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19022507.Sherrinda_Ketchersid
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/sherrinda-ketchersid
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sherrinda-Ketchersid/e/B07Q5Y8QHF/

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: A Bible-based Message for the Hearts of Strong Black Women


Breathe, Martha, Breathe!
A guest post by Amber Hoopengarner

The Lord answered her, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.”
— Luke 10:41-42 (TPT)

Am I strong because I have been able to live through circumstances that should have caused me to lose my mind, or did I just not have a choice? Black women are known for being strong, right?

For years, we have been known for carrying all the burdens of our lives and those around us and still smile and be supportive of those who we love and serve. Rarely do you hear us admit we do not know if we can go on any further or that we just want to give up. We have been known for doing the work no matter what the circumstance.

I found myself crying to God the other day after a situation combined with other situations caused me to feel helpless and for a day or so, a bit hopeless if I am being honest. As a Black mother and wife, I have the added stress of looking at the news and seeing the headlines of a Georgia mom who claims the school she wanted her daughter to go to is being segregated, or how the right to vote could potentially be taken away from those whose skin color is anything but White, or the countless number of stories where police took extreme measures against people of color in situations that did not warrant it.

The real issue is that we have been too busy being labeled as Martha when we should consider ourselves and live our lives as Mary. The world’s issues of race and politics in addition to our everyday life stressors, is enough to make you go crazy and lose focus on the person at the center of our lives who is Jesus Christ.

Jesus knew that worries and cares of Martha. Yet he explained that they were not going anywhere. He said that the focus still needed to be on Him, and the time spent in His presence.

Jesus knows that we are in historical times in our country (especially as people of color), but He does not want us to ever get away from the fact that He is what truly matters. Doing things His way, that fighting His way and defending His way is what we are called to do.

The world will continue to have race debates and discrimination until the day Jesus returns. Therefore, we should continue putting our hands to the plow and forging our way forward as long as we remember who we are doing it for (it’s all for Jesus).

Let’s Pray:
Dear God, we come to you humbly and boldly, repenting of our sins and asking for forgiveness. Help us to stay focused on you as we stand up against racial discrimination. Let us remember to keep You, Your words, and Your ways as our main focal point. We never want to get so wrapped up in all around us that we miss what You want to impart in us in our intimate time with You. Thank you, God, for loving us and reminding us of what matters. In Jesus’s Name we pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Amber Hoopengarner is a writer and self-published author who is also a Certified Life Coach working with women who suffer from PMADs and children who suffer from mental health disorders. 


She is a Maternal Mental Health Advocate and works to help raise awareness within the church of mental health disorders especially among BIPOC women.

Amber graduated in 2016 from the University of Phoenix with an Associates in Human Services Management and is currently in the process of obtaining her bachelor’s in psychology. She also has certificates in Mental Health Coaching, Bibliotherapy and CBT as well as in Perinatal Mood Anxiety Disorders.

Amber loves God and people! She enjoys making a difference through bringing up issues and challenges that sometimes would not otherwise be addressed. Amber believes that God wants His people to be loved where right where they are while they are working on who He has called them to become.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Strong Enough to Know When to Stop and Protect Your Health


Strength, Self-Care, and A Life Lesson for Black Women
A guest post by Kai A. Pineda

A few weeks ago Simone Biles, an American artistic gymnast who has won 32 Olympic and World Championship medals, did something most of us have never had the courage to do. What many called selfish, stupid and wrong I saw as bravery.

While the entire world was watching, Simone unapologetically made a decision to choose something more important than a gold medal—she decided to choose herself. According to CNN, Biles withdrew from the women’s team gymnastics final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, citing mental health concerns as she attempts to protect “her body and mind.”

The choice Biles made to put her health first resonates me in a deeply profound way because in the African American community, Black women historically have been raised to put everyone and everything before themselves. From the time they are born the idea surrounding their value is steeped in what they can do or have, and not around who they are.

They are trained to give to the point of exhaustion and hold everyone else as more important. This misinterpretation of selflessness has been detrimental to the Black woman for centuries.

With mental health discussions on the rise, many who’ve battled with mental illness or mental and emotional stresses in the Church, have been told they can pray it away or told, “You need more faith!” These words have caused some to reject therapy and or medication. Within the African community, counseling or therapy was seen as taboo. Even the Black church in time passed turned their noses up to the idea of help beyond praying and traveling.

I know this personally as a close friend of mine for years avoided a diagnosis because the ministry she attended told her to trust God. After years of back and forth stays at hospitals and a final episode where she went missing for days, she let wisdom through the Holy Spirit lead her to find a Christian psychologist who prescribed her what she needed.

We as the Bride of Christ must understand there are spiritual and natural sides to everything. To ignore one is dangerous. Jesus Christ lived on this Earth and dealt with evil spirits and the worries of men. He was moved with compassion knowing the complexities of humanity and our deep need for saving. God has always been our protector and provider. In all things we must get understanding and use wisdom. Seeing a doctor, having surgery, or taking medicine doesn’t make you faithless.

As an African-American woman, I have felt unseen and devalued constantly. I know the pressures to be perfect and to stand out amongst a crowd who doesn’t always think you matter. This can be a heavy weight too carry alone. And though we have the Holy Spirit to help us, God has also prepared people to walk with us through releasing trauma and facing our own fears and fragility. God cares about our physical and spiritual health.

In closing, I’d like for you to read this message from God found in 3 John 1:2 (TPT), which says, “Beloved friend, I pray that you are prospering in every way and that you continually enjoy good health, just as your soul is prospering.”

Let’s Pray: Dear God, thank you for caring about all aspects of our health (mental, emotional, physical and spiritual). Thank you for always understanding our fragility and being there for us no matter what we face in this life here on Earth. Please continue to equip us to walk the path You’ve set for us. When we feel weary and like we cannot move forward, strengthen us and carry us until we’re strong enough to walk on our own two feet with You by our side. Thank You that you will never leave us. Please help us to trust You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:
I am a fire-starter and a passionate student of the Bible who helps others discover their identity and the beauty within the Body of Christ by leading them into an encounter with the Word of God.

I am married to a man I am madly in like with and love more than I can explain. Together we plant home fellowships within the U.S. and abroad.

I am an author who released her first book, Dear Church: Vol 1: The Beauty of The Body, in 2019. The second volume will be released in 2021.

I have recorded two praise and worship albums and love to travel.

I am an introvert who loves her family, people, rainy days, a chai latte from Starbucks, and my Maltipoo McLovin.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nor challenging people to live lives based on a biblical standard and not personal preferences.

~*~
Connect with Kai:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kai.a.pineda
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iamkaiapineda/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kai_A_Pineda
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/92920689-kai-pineda

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Upholding the Oppressed


Called to Uphold the Oppressed
A guest post by Dr. Angelle M. Jones

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” 
– Psalm 82:3-4 (NIV)

I am a racial reconciler. Networking and bringing races together is what I’m called to do. As a reconciler I live in community with a diverse group of people who I am grateful to call friends.

What I’ve learned about being a reconciler is there is a cost. Whether Black or White, friends and family often don’t understand the call. Especially in times when we’re in seasons of racial tension they don’t always get it. It is in these times, that it most brings me joy to move about doing the work of God with different races, ethnicities and cultures, of God’s people.

As a Black American, I have often been confronted with the question, “Am I a Christian who happens to be Black or am a Black Christian?”

I used to struggle with the question and at times felt conflicted to even try to answer. Today, not only do I not struggle with the answer, I finally realized it’s a question I don’t have to answer. I am a Black woman. I am a Christian. Most importantly, I am a container of God’s voice, striving to be all of who I am. As a Black woman blessed with a gift to write and speak and teach, I carry the responsibility to share my gifts in social, cultural and academic contexts. As a Christian woman I carry the responsibility to speak God’s word and to teach God’s people. No matter where or when I speak, I hope to be a vessel of God’s love. In whatever context, I have decided that whether to Black or White people, I will speak. Whoever has a voice, let him or her hear.

I recently had an encounter that called for a reckoning with a young Black man who was obviously inebriated, mentally challenged and oppressed. While friends and I were walking and talking on the way to our destination, the young man stopped and asked me why I was with them. (I quickly assumed he meant my White friends). I said, “They're my friends.”

This young man then told me they're the enemy. He called them “White devils” and told me that I shouldn't be with them. He began calling them very derogatory names. He looked at my friend’s daughter and called her “Karen”. He said that all she had to do was to start crying and a Black man would go to jail. He then accused me of not caring about him as a Black man, because I was friends with them. He was irate and angry. He was obviously oppressed. 

Of course, we were all shaken and I could've followed as they walked away, but I knew I couldn't. My friends continued walking which they should've, but as wrong as he was, I knew I had to address him. More importantly, I needed to acknowledge his pain. I knew that as much as he needed reprimanding, he also needed to be shown God's love.

In my study of God’s word, I have noticed the intersection between the use of the word “oppression” when discussing the plight of Black people in this country and its use in scripture. Acts 10:37-38 says that Jesus was anointed to heal the oppressed. In relation to the pain and plight of African-Americans, I believe it will take the anointing and grace of God for America to heal from the sin of racism.

I could've argued to try to prove to the young man that I knew the history of White supremacy and why as Black Americans, we’re in the situation we're in. Instead, I quietly prayed and got him calmed enough to talk to him about God's love. I reminded him that God loved him and has a purpose for his life. I told him that if he wanted to ever see it fulfilled, the one thing he needed to do was to allow God's grace to help him to forgive.

I explained to him that we cannot blame every White person for racism. Most importantly, I reminded him that if he wanted to continue to live, he'd better think twice before walking up to White women saying the things he did to my friends. Thank God my friend’s daughter wasn’t a "Karen" or he would've been dead! I had to be very hard on him because he's convinced himself he doesn't care. Sadly, he feels it doesn't matter if he lives or dies.

Thankfully, I was able to get John (I asked his name) to finally settle. Like a child, he actually sat down on the ground and crossed his legs Indian style while looking up at me as I continued to talk to him. I took the time to encourage him to seek the Lord to help him to stop drinking. From what I’d learned about the demographics in Seattle, I’m almost certain that John was homeless. Because the liquor was definitely in control, I’m not sure how much he'll remember about what I said.

As a Black woman, I could empathize with his oppression. More importantly, I realized that he was oppressed not only as a Black man, but also, although created in God’s image, one who was also spiritually oppressed. As a Black man trying to survive in a society that makes him feel like he has nothing to lose or to live for, I could see the trauma that has grown roots inside him. I could see the hopelessness in his eyes. In the end, John gently grabbed my hand and kissed it.

No matter what color. No matter what socio-economic status. When given the opportunity in the midst of a Divine moment, what do you think you would do? As a Black Christian woman called to uphold the cause of the oppressed, hopefully I did what Jesus would do.

~*~
Author Bio:

“Inspiring and Motivating With the Power of Words” 


Dr. Angelle M. Jones believes that the power of words inspires, and motivate to bring about transformative change individually and collectively.

Angelle originally hails from Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in African-American studies from the University of Cincinnati. Angelle has a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia and an earned Doctorate in Ministry on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, and his philosophy of The Beloved Community from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Her ministry career began as a staff member of the Northeastern Ohio Billy Graham Crusade in 1994. For twenty years, as founder and director of In The Spirit Ministries, Inc., she led teams on mission outreaches throughout the world. From 2007-2012, Angelle served as Missions Director of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio where she currently resides. Angelle is founder and director of GlobaLife Coaching and Consulting serving as a Life and Transformation Coach and Church Consultant.

In 2016, Angelle authored and self-published her first book, Happily Never After. Along with sharing words of hope by sharing her writings on her social media platforms, she has been published in Vantage Magazine which is a literary source for faculty, students and alumni of Columbia Theological Seminary, and Ready, which is a cutting-edge online magazine addressing current events and trending socially relevant topics for women.

Angelle is the mother of an adult daughter. She is a grandmother and great-grandmother.

~*~
Connect with Dr. Angelle:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angelle.m.jones.5
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abundantgrace1/
Email: globalifeconsultants@gmail.com

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Perspective


This Hour’s Perspective
A guest post written by Stephanie Bankhead

Violence, disunity and death pervade the hour we are in. When this hour is over, what do I want to be able to say my posture was? When I look back in 10 years from now, 20 years — or even when I’m gone from here and living in the next life looking back — what do I want to be able to say about how I handled myself?

If the past eighteen months was the final answer, I would have to say that I was anxious and distracted. I allowed the madness of the world be the loudest voice in my heart and mind. But I do not want that to be my story.

One of the most eye-opening situations has been my inability to keep my focus on the Lord. Prior to March 2020, I would have told you that my relationship with God was deep, full and meaningful. I would have told you that I trusted God and followed closely to Jesus and His teaching. Along came 2020.

Fear became the dominant emotion and anxiety followed closely as well. I was surprised at how I was reacting to the situation. The old me would have said I wanted a “do-over,” but NO WAY do I want to experience any of this all over again.

Over a year later, my faith still feels terribly shallow. My thoughts are scattered. I can’t seem to go more than 15 minutes without getting on Facebook or checking my news app. Why? In complete candor, I really don’t know. Speculation swirls in my mind. The unknown is scary. Remember the old saying, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know?” Maybe that is my underlying reason. Do I think that if I know all the facts that I won’t be as scared? If that’s the case, it’s not true. The facts scare me.

So where is God in all this? My relationship with Him feels like a miles long river that is only a few inches deep.

Deeper.

My heart’s desire is to be deeper with God. To know and love Him with all my heart. To be sold out for Jesus and His way. In a recent Bible study, it was mentioned that during first century Israel the disciple of a rabbi would be expected to follow the rabbi everywhere he went. The idea was to follow so closely the dust from the rabbi’s shoes would get all over the disciple.

That is exactly how I want my life to be defined, by the dust of Jesus’ shoes. How does that happen?

First of all, the noise has to be stopped. I have taken breaks from social media, and certainly from the news. That has helped. I’m also making exercise and sleep a priority. I found an app that reads bedtime stories to me while I drift off to sleep. And I’m keeping this one verse at the forefront of my mind.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”— Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

There’s my answer. This Bible verse (
Matthew 6:33) unequivocally answers my questions.

Seek God first and above everything else. Trust God to handle the rest.

~*~
Author Bio:
Stephanie Bankhead is a Bible teacher, mentor and author of several Bible studies. She has worked at a local church as the Women’s Ministry Leader since 2013. 

In 2018, she became an ordained Teaching Pastor. Before that, she worked as the director of a very successful youth volleyball club.

What both of these experiences taught her is that women are still little girls inside. Deep down we are all still asking the same questions, “Am I capable? Am I attractive? Am I enough?”

Stephanie delivers sermons and speaks at women’s events on a multitude of topics. Her favorite topic is teaching people what the Bible says about their own identity in God.

Stephanie lives in Amarillo, Texas with her husband of 32 years. They have a rescue pup who barks too much, and a bird abandoned when her two grown children flew the nest. Her four grandchildren are the apples of her eye.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: We need each other


Not "Me, Myself and I"
A guest post by Kai A. Pineda

“I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, transparent and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.”
–1 Corinthians 12:14-18 (MSG)

To be created equal in America has meant something different for each American.

Our history tells us we have not always been equal, and our current climate shows us we still have far to go. But why within the confines of Christianity have we adopted the notion that one group, one denomination, and or race is superior than the other? Why are we acting as if one is not necessary and we can get along or carry on without one another? WE CANNOT!

The world would have us believe you do not need anyone. The best thing you can do is to adopt a “Me, Myself and I,” attitude. If you are focused on yourself and making sure you are good above anyone else, then you will be successful. The truth is, this is not true at all. Think about it for a moment. How lonely would it be if you believed you were capable of doing everything by yourself, within yourself?

I am innately an introvert. I am very comfortable being by myself and with myself.

However, I am very aware of the dangers awaiting anyone who does not connect with others.

Because of my role as a pastor, I am with people quite often. I can honestly say I would have never thought I would be a pastor. Because of my love for God and obedience I accepted the call on my life and it has allowed me to meet some of the most incredible people. I, the introvert, love meeting new people, and engaging and learning about others. Their culture, ways they grew up, and their faith, intrigues me.

I have learned to appreciate the nuances and subtleties of the human race.

It is our unique make-up that makes the world truly beautiful.

Let’s pray: Dear God, Help me to break out of my own way of doing and seeing things. As a part of the global Body of Christ I cannot only think about me. Give me your heart towards my brothers and sisters who I know and those I do not. Remove any selfish ways in me. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:
I am a fire-starter and a passionate student of the Bible who helps others discover their identity and the beauty within the Body of Christ by leading them into an encounter with the Word of God.
I am married to a man I am madly in like with and love more than I can explain. Together we plant home fellowships within the U.S. and abroad.

I am an author who released her first book, Dear Church: Vol 1: The Beauty of The Body, in 2019. The second volume will be released in 2021.

I have recorded two praise and worship albums and love to travel.

I am an introvert who loves her family, people, rainy days, a chai latte from Starbucks, and my Maltipoo McLovin.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nor challenging people to live lives based on a biblical standard and not personal preferences.

~*~
Connect with Kai:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kai.a.pineda
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iamkaiapineda/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kai_A_Pineda
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/92920689-kai-pineda

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: A Call to Open Your Eyes


Open Your Eyes
A guest post by Amber Hoopengarner

Jesus told them, “If you would acknowledge your blindness, then your sin would be removed. But now that you claim to see, your sin remains with you!” – John 9:41 (TPT)


Reading over this scripture above I cannot help but wonder how many Christians today are blinded and have no idea or worse yet, think they see everything clearly and are really stuck in sin because of it. Sure, they do not attack those of other cultures or ethnicities, and they do not treat them as less than, but they do not get involved in making change either.

In a time where there is major shift happening in the world and where Christians and the church should be the first to stand up, they are not. If we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, could start having real conversations about what we do not know and do not understand then we could have major impact and create unity like we have never seen before. The time is up for the church to be divided for there to be “White church” or “Black church”. We need the body of Christ to rise and be “The Church”!

I need my Caucasian church partners to ask questions if they do not understand. I need the African American church to be open to answering those questions. We all need to start embracing other cultures in the faith so that we can encourage and empower one another. There is no more time to walk around thinking we are seeing clearly when we are really missing the whole picture altogether. Something powerful can and will happen when believers in Christ get together and start decreeing the goodness of God and sharing their testimonies.

Jesus Christ did not come to save one race of people. He came to save all humankind! Jesus loves us all like we are His best friend, brother or sister. It is time that the men and women of God who claim to be His disciples stand up and do the same.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, I ask that you bless the one who is reading these words right no. Please touch their heart God and do a supernatural work. If they have been blinded, touch them and help them to truly see. God, forgive us for the times we allowed what we thought we knew to block us from learning your truth. Let us walk hand in hand with other churches of other cultures and races so that we can help build your Kingdom the way you called us too. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Amber Hoopengarner is a writer and self-published author who is also a Certified Life Coach working with women who suffer from PMADs and children who suffer from mental health disorders.  


She is a Maternal Mental Health Advocate and works to help raise awareness within the church of mental health disorders especially among BIPOC women.

Amber graduated in 2016 from the University of Phoenix with an Associates in Human Services Management and is currently in the process of obtaining her bachelor’s in psychology. She also has certificates in Mental Health Coaching, Bibliotherapy and CBT as well as in Perinatal Mood Anxiety Disorders.

Amber loves God and people! She enjoys making a difference through bringing up issues and challenges that sometimes would not otherwise be addressed. Amber believes that God wants His people to be loved where right where they are while they are working on who He has called them to become.

~*~
Connect with Amber:
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/amberwha35/

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: A call to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God


A Call to Action 
A guest post by Heidi Lewis-Ivey

“They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”
– Isaiah 61:4 (NIV)

July 4 is a special day for American citizens because The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. This act resulted in the official separation of the 13 original colonies from Great Britain amid the Revolutionary War.

This is also considered the birth of our nation. It’s interesting to me that at the same time, Black people were enslaved, and Native people had been pushed off land they’d inhabited long before 1492. For me and many others, this Independence Day feels different and I have to ask, “How do we reconcile the history of this nation in our hearts?”

I attended a virtual conference last weekend whose theme scripture was Isaiah 61:4. As I listened to the speakers talk about rebuilding the ancient ruins, restoring places long devastated, and renewing the ruined cities, I began to ask myself, “What does this all mean?”

Hoping to find answers to my question, I did a word search and rediscovered these definitions, according to Merriam-Webster:

Rebuild means “to restore to a previous state” and “to make extensive repairs to.”

Restore means “put back or bring back into a former or original state.”

Renew means “restore to existence” and “to make new spiritually: REGENERATE”

There it was, the word “regenerate” that is the supernatural work of God’s Holy Spirit.

To reconcile racism in the history of America, there needs to be regeneration. The Holy Spirit reminded me that this process begins with repentance. In this case, it is repentance not for our individual sin, but for the sins of the nation.

According to Rev. Melwyn Misquitta, “identification repentance” is first the work of intercession. During this act of intercession, one identifies with a particular corporate sin (national, regional, ethnic, religious, vocational, or family) and represent the perpetrators (or victims) by repenting of that particular sin.

There are several Biblical examples that I will share in a short list below. Note that in these examples, the Bible characters Ezra, Jeremiah and Daniel didn’t commit the sin they confessed. But as representatives, they identified with and confessed the corporate sin.

Read these three Bible verses for the details:


1. Ezra 9:6-16

2. Jeremiah 3:25; Jeremiah 14:7

3. Daniel 9:8-10

Finally, read Micah 6:8 (NIV) for details on what God requires of us. The verse says: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Closing Thoughts:

1. Speak out for justice in the nation. Read Amos 2:6b-7 (NRSV) for details.

2. Speak out for justice among nations. Read Amos chapter 1 (all of it).

Let’s Pray: Father God, we as a body of believers repent for the sin of our nation. Lord, forgive us for the injustices we have perpetrated against each other. Have mercy on us for the division that exists. Help us to live up to the creed that all men are created equal and that we are one nation under God. Forgive us, oh Lord, because we have not displayed your love for each other. Lord, we have allowed our fears and false beliefs that have been passed down through generations, to turn our hearts. Heal us from the inside out and cause your love to permeate within us. You said in John 13:35 (KJV), “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” This is my desire. In the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Heidi Lewis-Ivey is an ordained elder, a prophetic minister, an internationally acclaimed speaker, and an award-winning and bestselling author.  


She is the author of Can I Rest Awhile? and a co-author in Soulful Prayers Volumes 1 and 2 and Soulful Affirmations.

She has her Master of Business Administration in Organizational Leadership from Norwich University and a Bachelor of Science in Management from Boston University.

Heidi is a member of the Pentimenti Women Writers Group, a mentor with YearUp, a board member for Friends of Young Achievers, and a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Strategist.

She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

~*~
Connect with Heidi:
LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/heidi-lewis-ivey
Instagram: www.instagram.com/iamheidi01

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Introducing the writers


Introducing Heidi Lewis-Ivey, in her words:

I had my dream job as an executive working in London helping clients identity their profitability strategies. I had a two-bedroom apartment around the corner from St. Paul’s Cathedral.

In the evenings, I visited the galleries and museums. On the weekends, I could be found in Paris at the Louvre. Back home in the USA, I owned a 3,000 square-foot brick Colonial house and drove the car I wanted. I am the girl who is a first-generation high school and college graduate from public housing that made good. I lived a life that was expected of me. My parents mapped out my life and I followed it to the letter. I carried their hopes and dreams.

However, this lifestyle came at a price to me. I wasn’t prepared for the White male-dominated world of finance. I’d never encountered wealthy people. They spoke differently and acted differently. For the first time, I was exposed to wealth and privilege. I learned their language and their behavior. As a result, I found myself code-switching. There were very few women, let alone women of color. I was the only Black Woman at the table. This meant that I had to prove over and over that I had earned the right to be there.

I experienced a great deal of racism and bias from other women. They would come to my office for meetings and would turn and speak to my manager (a White man) and not to me. They often pretended to marvel at how well I spoke or at my intelligence. Oh, did I forget to mention wanting to touch my hair? The environment was difficult. It was hard to go to work every day. But I could not disappoint my family. I introduced them to a middle-class lifestyle and taught them to invest their money. We dined in some of Boston’s best restaurants and ate food we never knew existed. I took my Mom to her first Broadway show.

Later in my career, I became frustrated with being the only woman of color in the room. So, I asked a question that I already knew the answer to. I asked a CEO how many people of color were part of his management team? He gave me the standard answer about the number of women in leadership. In my reply, I suggested that a committee be formed to discuss diversity across the firm. To my surprise, he agreed. This was my introduction to Diversity Equity and Inclusion.

Being the change I want to see is about doing the work.

I’ve become an ally for the PRIDE Network. I know this is unpopular with the faith communities. I provide consulting services to organizations helping them to define their DE&I strategies. I volunteer with nonprofits that provide programs that help young women find careers in STEM. I also have a new book project scheduled for release late summer where several women share their stories on how they’ve navigated racism and biases in their careers and communities.

More importantly, I’ve committed to examine my own prejudices and biases and change the way I show up. In doing so, I keep Micah 6:8 (KJV) in mind: He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

~*~
Author Bio:

Heidi Lewis-Ivey is an ordained elder, a prophetic minister, an internationally acclaimed speaker, and an award-winning and bestselling author. 


She is the author of Can I Rest Awhile? and a co-author in Soulful Prayers Volumes 1 and 2 and Soulful Affirmations. 

She has her Master of Business Administration in Organizational Leadership from Norwich University and a Bachelor of Science in Management from Boston University.

Heidi is a member of the Pentimenti Women Writers Group, a mentor with YearUp, a board member for Friends of Young Achievers, and a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Strategist.

She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

~*~
Connect with Heidi:
LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/heidi-lewis-ivey
Instagram: www.instagram.com/iamheidi01

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Why we need to lament


A Call to Lament
A guest post by Kristen Terrette

Lament.

It’s a word I rarely used until about a year ago.

To lament means to passionately express grief or sorrow and, in my opinion, to go a step further in our repentance. When we repent, we feel sincere regret or remorse about our wrongdoing or sin and turn away from it. But lamenting brings a physical element to this sorrow, this guilt, this the feeling of shame. When we see people lament in the Bible, there’s an action to it. There is weeping. There is crying out. There is fervent prayer.

I use this word regularly of late. I’ve long thought slavery and the Trail of Tears, treating humans as property and “savages”, was sinful, shameful, and disgraceful. And in truth, there aren’t many Americans who don’t feel this way. But we’ve got a long way to go in lamenting and repenting for the hundreds of years of sin our country (USA) that our White ancestors were a part of.

When I look at our nation and finally truly see its sinful past against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) groups, and its effects happening even today, I lament my role in perpetuating it.

And what baffles me is the push back from White Christians over lamenting our sinful past. This very idea causes many White people to react in offense and shock because they feel that they do not need to lament something they weren’t a part of.

But I believe that’s simply not true and impossible.

Since the beginning of history, ethnic groups have been conquered, their lands taken, plundered, and their people were placed under the rule of the conqueror. Sometimes the conquerors destroyed those they deemed “unworthy” so completely that entire villages, towns, even nations were wiped out forever. And, sadly, it is a historical fact that this cycle happened to the Indigenous people in the United States. They were conquered in horrendous ways. Oftentimes, by White Christians.

And then there is the history of slavery in our nation.

With the Transatlantic Slave Trade, individuals were kidnapped and trafficked. We talk a lot about the current trafficking atrocities in the world. We’re passionate about ending this sin against humanity. But why does the same passion seem to be now politically incorrect when describing the Transatlantic Slave Trade in our own country, by calling it what it really was—a people group trafficked by White Christians?

Innocent men, women, and children were kidnapped, abused, murdered, raped, chained, torn apart from their families, forced into labor, their human dignity stripped, and placed in situations totally out of their control.

Some people may say that they never had slaves, but we live in a country whose thriving economy and very existence was built on human trafficking.

You may say your ancestors came to America for a new life after the abolition of slavery (as some of mine did). But your family, and mine, profit from an economy that was established through the forceful enslavement of human beings.

What is stopping us from seeing and admitting our past? From being willing to lament? Why are White Christians not leading this charge by the hundreds of thousands?

Blindness.

Blinded by the enemy and blind to the devil’s generational curse on us.

I lament this. I cry over this. I tell God I’m so sorry my country hurt Him and His beloved so badly. I tell Him we have sinned against Him and to please forgive us.

Daniel is an excellent example of the power of personal and national lamenting. According to Daniel 9:4-5 (NLT), he said: I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands. But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations.”

And later in Daniel 9:16 (NLT), he pleads for God to turn His anger away again. The verse reads, “In view of all your faithful mercies, Lord, please turn your furious anger away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain. All the neighboring nations mock Jerusalem and your people because of our sins and the sins of our ancestors.”

Daniel was a great and godly man. He likely did not personally sin against God in this way, but he prays and laments anyway. He was not alive when his people (his ancestors before him), sinned against God, yet he prayed and lamented anyway.

I want to follow Daniel’s example. I want to break the curse of blindness over our nation’s sins. I don’t want to be the source of any more abuse to people of color. I want to make a difference, taking strides to make things right for those who have been hurt.

This is my plea for all of us. That we pray and seek God, read and inform ourselves, and not only from people who are like us. That we seek to be informed with an open mind and spirit of love. That we are brave and open to change. That we are bold in tearing any veil the enemy has over our eyes.

Lament. Let us begin to use this word freely and sincerely. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Kristen's passionate about storytelling and helping people take their next steps in their relationship with Jesus.


She lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA, where she served as a Children's Ministry Director for many years. With the support of her husband and two children, she now stays home writing fiction and non-fiction.

She also serves on the women’s leadership team at her local church and writes for Crosswalk and Wholly Loved Ministries. You can check out her articles and novels at www.kristenterrette.com.

~*~
Connect with Kristen:
Website - www.kristenterrette.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/authorkristenterrette/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/KTerrette
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/kterrette/
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16252020.Kristen_Terrette
BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kristen-terrette
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/kterrette2/

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: God's Calling You


Get Your House in Order
A guest post by Kai A. Pineda

When the order came to stay in our houses in 2020, I was excited about the rest I would get. Little did I know God was not only calling us to a time of rest, He was seeking a time for us to get our houses in order.

Maybe you have heard the phrase “Get your house in order” before, but this is not about spring cleaning your home. I believe God was calling the entire world to get their houses in order! From the government, all the way down to the way businesses were ran and finances were handled. Everyone had to reevaluate everything pertaining to their lives and livelihood. 

For the follower of Jesus Christ, there was another house we had to get in order: our spiritual houses. It seemed like before the Coronavirus, I would have conversations with people who would talk about how they wished they had more time to pray and or study the Word of God. Some people who spent their days comparing their walk to another person’s walk with the Lord, craved for more intimacy with the Father. Then there were those who had felt disconnected from the heart of God and the ways of God. Now we had the time. Here was an opportunity to make all these wishes come true and a genie was not required.

I will be honest and share with you the journey I had been on before March 2020. The beginning of the year was going well and things I had desired were starting to happen. At the same time I knew there was a place within God I was longing to go and He was longing for me to come to. I was to release the second volume of my book Dear Church on my birthday. It was written, edited, and ready to go.

I remember reaching out to my book launch team manager and sharing with her that I did not have any excitement about releasing the book. She told me this was not uncommon for writers. I listened and thought maybe she is right. But something else was happening within me. I pushed the book launch date back to April 16, and then life started to change. Before I knew it, the book I had written which I knew was what God wanted, was not what God wanted to say now. He told me to hold that book and write about what the world and the children of God are currently facing.

It was then that I understood the lack of excitement in my spirit. It wasn’t because it was the second book, it was because God was showing me something was coming and I needed to pause to see what He was doing. While all of this was happening I was also teaching on discipleship for the year with our fellowships. The way in which God was revealing what it meant to be a disciple was wrecking me. Matthew 4:19 says, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

As I began to study the word “come” in the text above, God told me that 2020 would be a year of being made into disciples and would require three things: commitment, consistency, and courage. Little did we know we would be faced with a pandemic which would test all three. Our commitment to God would be tested. Our consistency in our faith and relationship with God would be challenged, and courage would be necessary in the face of fear and the unknown. It was a year when everyone everywhere was feeling levels of pressure they were not used to. All I knew was we had to come to terms with where we were and forge ahead in faith.

Today, in 2021 the same is true. We are still being tested in these three areas as we are still confronted with racism within the world and within the church. In order for us to keep remaining the disciples Jesus calls us to be we cannot allow the world’s way and allow man’s sin to keep us from becoming and creating the Bride Jesus will come back for one day.

So what will your commitment be to the Word of God when someone hurls a racial slur? How will you remain consistent in the Word of God and the ways of God, when brothers and sisters in the faith are doing whatever they want? How will you demonstrate courage when you are confronted with doing the right things for your fellow man, when the wrong thing is so much easier?

Daily, we have to make the choice regarding who we will serve.

But for me, I agree with God’s disciple Joshua when he said, “For me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). This is my decision today, tomorrow and forever. What’s yours?

Let’s Pray: Father God, I pray simply for greater commitment, consistency and courage 
in my life. May I be like Jesus Christ and pause before doing anything that does not bring You (God) glory. I am your servant and I desire to please you through faith. Where I am wrong, correct me. Where I need to grow, challenge me, and were I cannot stay, show me the course you have laid. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

*Note from Alexis: Kai's message today reminds me a song by Steven Curtis Chapman titled, "For the Sake of the Call." Listen to it here

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Author Bio:
I am a fire-starter and a passionate student of the Bible who helps others discover their identity and the beauty within the Body of Christ by leading them into an encounter with the Word of God. 

I am married to a man I am madly in like with and love more than I can explain. Together we plant home fellowships within the U.S. and abroad.

I am an author who released her first book, Dear Church: Vol 1: The Beauty of The Body, in 2019. The second volume will be released in 2021. 

I have recorded two praise and worship albums and love to travel.

I am an introvert who loves her family, people, rainy days, a chai latte from Starbucks, and my Maltipoo McLovin.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nor challenging people to live lives based on a biblical standard and not personal preferences.

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Connect with Kai:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kai.a.pineda
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iamkaiapineda/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kai_A_Pineda
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/92920689-kai-pineda