There are people out there who put Salt and Pepper on everything – I mean – everything. And there are people who like natural flavors from juices and oils. Personally, I use seasonings to get a particular taste and I don’t need much to discern them; just a few pinches here and there, live and let die.
Major Ad – Libs
On January 29, 2020, James Ingram, an American singer-songwriter passed away. He is most remembered for his collaborative works with other singers. Some of his notable song credits include: ‘The Secret Garden’, ‘P.Y.T.’, ‘The Day I Fall in Love,’ and ‘Somewhere Out There’. He is most certainly an R&B Crooner in a time where romantic lyrics were in and love songs were appropriate for courting and even marriage. If only there was a way we could import the culture to our times without the social issues that existed in those days.
Ten Ways to Express Gratitude in Words
I am honored that: Unconventional phrasing that shows you respect the benefits another has given you.
Much obliged: Way of showing deep deference by going out the way to say you are indebted to another.
I appreciate: Sometimes you want to assign value to a person’s deeds. I appreciate is an overused phrase but gets the idea across.
To your credit: Another slick phrase to assign value to a good action. Just make sure you’re not keeping tabs.
I wanna compliment – Usually used to flirt in finding pleasure in looks. This can be used in other creative ways so explore a little bit.
Here in tribute: Self-referencing statement that has a more formal flair in showing appreciation.
I commend: A way of showing gratefulness is by praising another’s efforts. Sincere commendations may mix compliments in between.
I’m grateful for: Classic way of showing gratitude. Good way of collecting ideas when you want to look at someone in a different light.
You make me glad: What’s the point of being grateful if it doesn’t affect your emotions in a positive way? Start saying this to yourself if you are experiencing bouts of depression.
Thank you: The hallmark of every expression of thanks. Amazing what simple letters can do.
To embody thankfulness or gratefulness, one must learn the million different ways of expressing gratitude. Here is a challenge for songwriters – can you write a fresh and compelling new song about being thankful? The list above only touched how to express gratitude using words. How would you express it with actions?
If you are looking at some books to help you along your gratitude journey check out a few of these below. I personally haven’t read these books, but I’m looking forward to exploring and honoring those who are helping to shape our world in social justice. Perhaps we can start a book club in the future.
The Source of Self-Regard – Toni Morrison
‘Your Faith Walk: Wisdom and Affirmations on the Path to Personal Power’ (From the Editors of ESSENCE)
Grounded in Gratitude- Tiffany A. Wright
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) – Don Miguel Ruiz and Janet Mills
In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America – Eddie S. Glaude
The Color of Water -James McBride
Transcendent Kingdom – Yaa Gyasi
Don’t Despise Small Beginnings – Jerome Taylor
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man – Emmanuel Acho
You gotta appreciate the Internet. Although it can be a dark and unhealthy place at times, look hard enough and you’ll find reasons to smile – including how petty people can be.
Petty cake, petty cake
Bake me a cake
As fast as you can.
So, I didn’t know how many of you leaders have great cooking skills! (I’m not being smart here.) Have you seen this cake from T.D Jakes? Man listen! Ya’ll can say whatever you wanna say about these folks, but if I hear them preaching Christ and Him crucified, they alwrite with me! And I love bacon! So T.D Jakes and I have a connection already. I love baking because it’s an exact science; what you put in, keep out, where you store it, how long you bake it all play a part in how the food tastes. Let that marinate, because there’s a word in there somewhere.
Now in the last devotional we continued learning about the fundamentals in Hermeneutics and doctrines concerning Biblical Authority. I’ve also proved my case for advanced cultural studies. To do a recap of the main course of thought, I’ll put up a semi-controversial proposition. Test my logic:
A person cannot justly disprove the final claim in the argument without being a spiritual person, for they will have to test the spirit behind the words and not simply judge what’s on the page. Like in today’s devotional scripture:
5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Tim 4:5 ESV
Unfortunately, I haven’t had any drinks in a while, especially after having to go into urgent care. I was told it would take about two weeks to heal and I’m doing better. So thank you all who prayed for me and those who are suffering now. We are more connected than some of us would imagine. For those who may want to experience this fellowship, my charge is the same…
As for you, always be sober-minded… 2 Tim 4:5a
When I was in my twenties, I didn’t drink coffee that much because it had the opposite effect on me. Here I am trying to pull an all-nighter and coffee would put me right to sleep. Now it works like a charm, although I try to avoid drinking it to stay awake. I like natural grace.
Did you know that the effects of losing days of sleep can have the same affect as being buzzed? The disciplines of watching is not for the faint of heart. It’s going against a lot of conventional wisdom as you’re intentionally imposing on yourself bouts of insomnia. And for what purpose? Well at least for the following:
3I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 2 Tim 1:3 ESV
Not exactly sure why the woke community call themselves ‘woke’ for. At best, they are only conscious of the social ills that are plaguing our neighborhoods. Yet when it comes to experiencing what it’s like to be united to the God who never sleeps nor slumbers, there tends to be ignorance of the traumas many are experiencing. Additionally none are aware of how transcendence begets freedom and reconciliation, so they are ignorant of any real solutions beneficial for future generations. Great skill is required for those builders who receive criticism from misunderstandings, impatience, and prevailing opinions. To put trust in anything other than the sacred Godhead is begging to be out of the frying pan and into the fire.
And now for Final Jeopardy: This character won an Academy Award as the star in the toon “Tweetie Pie”.
Isn’t it fascinating what hell people are willing to go through in chasing after something? You know how much hell I went through even though I wasn’t running? Man let me give it to you straight.
Endure suffering…2 Tim 4:5b
Hopefully, that was forward enough. There’s no way around it. Godliness in this life comes with pleasures and pain; prosperity and poverty, sickness and health although many people may have experienced an unbalance of one of the two. Nevertheless, every man has to bear his own cross, and if he will be benevolent, he will also bear the cross of others. Now just a small word out there for our eager martyrs: 1.) Don’t be throwing yourself in situations you weren’t trained for and 2.) Don’t put yourself in a position where you are a risk to yourself and others. Listen if you are watching for days on end and you need to go out to get from point A to point B, take an Uber. There are plenty of ways you can die on a hill without committing suicide. True love doesn’t do harm to their neighbor.
Have you ever had shrimp deviled eggs? Man let me tell you sumthin’, those jokers are fire! A whole lot can be said through cooking. Just so we’re on the same page, I don’t discriminate. I’m an Equal Opportunity Eater; vegan or non-vegan, I be eating. I fast too though… Balance.
Do the work of an evangelist…2 Tim 4:5c
To which we explained in our previous devotional that evangelizing is not bound to open air preaching, neither does it need to be relevant, focused, or fiery. The Word of God is free and will do it’s work in advancing the Kingdom, whether Jesus is openly proclaimed or not.
The Final Dessert
And so we come to an unspoken rule in Hermeneutics in which I’ve hinted at plenty of times although it isn’t apparent; keep interpreting, break it down, and then break it down again; expound on it, and expound some more.
Fulfill your ministry….2 Tim 4:5d
__________________________, because there is infinitely more things one can do with their life. All things are certainly possible with God, except for many it is less probable because we are either unwilling or doubting what is possible. Keep believing.
By the word keep I mean to maintain a state of being, whether that is actively open or more reserved.
You shall not add to the word that ___________, nor take from it, that you may __________ the commandments of the Lord your God that _________ command you. Deut 4:2 ESV
Just like a scientist
would test and experiment
and discover new things
even at atomic levels,
a man of faith would seek out the glory of God in the world and beyond. There are many things that I am grateful for this year; Life, family, friends, health. Thank you again for those who kept me in your prayers.
So in closing this devotional I hope we can leave behind dogmas keeping us from understanding people and the world we live in. May we be more ready to speed up the return of Christ; in unity of faith looking for the Final Consummation of Everything. Even as I work to renovate my own marriage to my sweetest caramel of a spouse; Shandra. Remember our covenantal bond, for the word is suffe’ring’ for a reason. I love you dearly and always. Happy Thanksgiving!
Relationships everywhere in every space and every form are under pressure. The very essence of what keeps humans committed to one another, the basic level of respect and commonality, and purpose are being tested. Welcome to 2020, my friends. I could throw out a statistic to prove my point, but you need to look no further than the words plastered on the one thing we all seem to show complete devotion to nowadays- our technological devices. Newsfeeds, blogs, social media, op-eds, etc. by the nanosecond prove just how divisive our world is. And in many cases, this pandemic has revealed to us just how divided we are with our own families and even within our souls as we face limitations unlike any other time in recent years.
But it does not have to be this way. I am confident that the Creator of the Universe, who I recognize as Jesus has designed a blueprint within the fiber of our beings for us to be reconciled to God and one another. This is why we so yearn and hope for a better way, a better space, and a better experience no matter how bad it gets. I am living proof of this resilient hope and over the next several blogs I am going to present a series of writings that share deep insights I’ve gleaned about journeying towards unity through hardship.
The Backstory: I am a soon to be 36-year-old Christian wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, and lover of justice and people. There are many dimensions to who I am that you either know or will discover as you read these blogs. One thing I will start with is my marriage. Throughout the marriage, I’ve experienced some of the deepest pains and yet deepest joys of coming to understand the true essence of what unity is. I came into this union over 8.5 years ago with my goals, objectives, strategies, and game plan to accomplish the fantasy of what our marriage would and should be. While this ambition was fire, it was the wrong type of fire. It did not help to fuel our common purpose or even passion. The last few years have been a burning away of this me-centric perspective and a slow but powerful revelation of who I am, who my husband is, and who we are destined to become as what I like to call “Jameshan” a unionization of the two.
And that brings me to my first recognition:
Unity is oneness of heart, mind, and purpose.
What I have learned is that purpose for two isn’t a simple merging of two lives, two pathways, it is the birthing of something entirely new that yes includes elements of the two separate entities but it for sure is a new creation. This is why marriage my friends is so hard, because it is a letting go of your purpose for your marriage and a surrender to something that transcends both you and your spouse. I’ve already mentioned and will say so again that I believe God the Creator through Jesus is the binding force of this creation. And to be clear, I also believe marriage is His divine institution created to display the larger scope of His Glory. This is to say Jameshan is one person displaying one part of His glorious plan.
James and I have begun this blog to cultivate unity, to learn how to “move” in concert with one another. No doubt, over the course of 8.5 years of marriage, we have experienced joys, primarily our youthful daughter. And yet we know that if we want to fully realize the potential of our common purpose here on earth as a unit, there are so many things that will need to be mended, addressed, and reconciled. And while that thought alone often fast paces my mind to a place of “giving up”, the endurance that has kept me in this race is fueled by the recognition that common purpose can foster soil to produce oneness.
Until next time, would you join us as we ponder?
Is it possible to have a common purpose with someone while also having vastly different approaches towards the shared mission? If so, how? Leave us a comment, drop a line, and welcome to our journey towards perfect love.
I never want to be the one who takes things for granted whether small or large. I learned so many things from paying attention to details that have been largely rewarding albeit not tangible to others. One of the things I want to do in the coming years is begin a devotional for my Christian family for the sake of restoration, unity, and reconciliation. I am going to begin this John Piper style with exploring texts. However, I’ll be exploring scriptures a’cross’ religions. In the same fashion, I will explore sacred and secular lyrics from different cultures. Now today’s devotional will stem from the Bible and I won’t begin to truly get deep in other doctrines until the grounds have been set for why I’m doing it. I want to avoid -if possible- the unjust claim of Universalism (although the term really doesn’t bother me).
I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 2 Timothy 1:3 ESV
A Whole Peace-A
If its’ not clear why I will explore other religions in great detail from this passage alone, things will become clearer later on in subsequent devotionals. For personal discipline, I’ll build the grounds for belief around this letter. Now I don’t want to bore you with my knowledge of Hermeneutics as technical as it can get. Let’s just say that I regularly analyze data and can come up with at least 7 different ways of looking at information. As a general rule, Biblical interpretation is done by comparing scripture with scripture; whether that is within immediate context or remote passages, the Bible both compartmentalized and in its entirety is one complete thought. Without skills in critical thinking, one will not walk away from the Bible understanding why some people are Christians, why others think or act the way they do. People who have no real understanding of others have no place to give any form of judgment. Yet unsound opinions are the terrors of the day. Hello?
When looking at two different scriptures, we’ll often find tension as the Bible is full of paradoxical truths. For example:
I thank God whom I serve…2 Timothy 1:3a
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. Acts 17:24-25
If God made everything, how can there be man-made temples? If God doesn’t live in said temple, how can He be omnipresent? The Prototype 11:11
The second important rule when encountering data is understanding the linguistics. Unless you are fluent in the author’s language you’ll need an interpreter. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. If you’re not reading the Bible in those languages, you’re encountering an interpretation. The Bible has many translations which can be classified into two categories:
Word for Word: attempts to give the most accurate word equivalent in today’s language. e.g ESV
Idea for Idea: attempts to give the general idea for the sake of cultural relevancy. e.g The Message
Keep in mind when you are doing a Bible study or any other study for that matter that you may be receiving second-hand information rather than the original source. For example:
as did my ancestors… 2 Timothy 1:3b
Literally meaning ‘from my forefathers’. Now I’m no real stickler for grammar or linguistics as I code switch depending on whom I’m with. However, when analyzing language, syntax matters as it conveys different connotations depending on word usage.
‘As’ implies something is being done to the same or similar degree.
‘From’ implies something starting at a place of origin or a place of separation.
Both renderings held together imply mysteries that are unfortunately too controversial in Christian circles today. To keep from straying away from my original purpose in writing this, I will stop explaining those nuances here. Instead for those who may want hints to the hidden insight, I will for now point you to a scripture later on in the Chapter:
By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Tim 1:14 ESV
A Silver Ware
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be financially poor than be spiritually broke. One can redeem the other, another is useless if you want to reach true maturity. There is an awakening left for Christians who are ready to arouse from their slumber; an illumination of the soul that has the capacity to comprehend things beyond normal limitations.
With a clear conscience…1 Tim 1:3c
All too often, our attempts at morality stifle our relationship with Christ. Not that ethics doesn’t matter, rather we are often hindered by arbitrary standards of right and wrong which is based on human traditions, not developing true self-control, and inconsistent with the freedoms afforded to us through Jesus. I find it funny when people try to throw such moral codes in my face.
Additionally, there needs to be a critique of the New Age movement, namely the God Consciousness movement which tries to distinguish their doctrine from previous religions, not truly knowing all what those religions practice and teach. Can we see the inconsistencies? Yet in Christ, an overarching harmony brings it all together.
as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 1 Tim 1:3d
I’ll openly admit, I don’t pray for anyone like that. To my own shame, I don’t love anyone like that, not even myself. A sign of perfect love is constancy which is consistent with the implications of having a clear conscience. I made it a point to grow in fortitude of mind over the summer. Slowly but surely, I have been making significant progress. I hope to finally live up to the truths of the words thankFULL and grateFULL.
Because you O Lord are always praying for us, smitten and grateful for us your creation. Thank you for the peace to be united with you in certain respects. Have mercy upon our souls; forgive our debts and do not remember our iniquities. Impute the righteousness of your Son upon us. Give us the grace to overcome all that is ungodly in our lives while we minister your presence amongst ourselves and the world around us. Amen.
How beautiful is the nature of God! While there are many other things about his nature revealed in this passage that is mysterious and dubious, I hope this serves a greater revelation of the will of God concerning humanity.
What are your thoughts about the devotional? Are you thankful? In what ways can you be more appreciate of life in its totality? Please leave a comment below.