A Word to the Men

As I reflected on several conversations I’ve had in the past with men, these insights came to me so I thought I’d put “pen to paper” on the subject.

I was recently told by a male friend that I am viewed by other men as intimidating, though sometimes I wonder why. Why is that? Is it because of the way I am willing to counter something I disagree with, whether it’s with a male or a female? I am really curious to know….

Anyway, I am digressing from my original thought. One thing I’ve discovered in speaking with men (work-related or otherwise) is that apparently women are discounted by many of them. They may never say that out loud, but I sense many times that opinions on certain issues or convictions about certain moral concerns that a woman may express may be viewed as being immature, lacking in substance or highly emotional. The way I’ve seen many of them handle women (that cause me to believe women’s opinions are discounted by them) is to try to talk her out of her beliefs or opinions, to ignore her suggestions or ideas or by ridiculing her outright (and I’ve experienced all three).

Men, I’d like you to understand this: God created woman from the rib of man, fashioning her in His image and likeness. Therefore, women are highly valued by God and receive special care from the Lord. Examples of this are demonstrated throughout the Bible, but especially within the New Testament in the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. Never was a woman rebuked or discounted by Him – and He is THE MAN! If ever any man should have rebuked or ridiculed women, Jesus was the best candidate for the job because He had all knowledge and all wisdom. Yet, it would have gone against His nature, as He was also all-loving and super-compassionate. Hopefully the men reading this are taking notes on Jesus’ strategy and style….

Men, whether you are interacting with your wives, girlfriends, daughters, grand-daughters, co-workers and subordinates, remember this: women have a wealth of wisdom and intuition about people and situations that was not given to most men. Men are very logical and factual, so many times the nuances of a situation may not be readily apparent to them. But with a woman in the picture, the vision, the discussion or the issue has some added ‘flavor’ that a roomful of men can never replicate.

I’ve also discovered that although society has expanded and advanced in areas of technology, knowledge, science and women’s rights we are still way behind in human relationships. Women are now as educated (or more educated) than many men, and apparently this is what intimidates many men. And that male ego again – “I don’t want anybody to make me look like a fool.” But how many men have discounted great ideas or suggestions from women, only to discover later that “She was right!!! How was that possible?”

In my working years I have always reported to men until recently. My current supervisor is actually younger than me, but she’s great. It’s easier to relate to another woman, and I find it very uncomplicated to report to her, as she values me as a fellow woman. I may not be at her level of understanding of the subjects she has mastered, but that is mainly because I was not exposed to the types of professional experiences she has had. I find that as I master a new skill she is very supportive, and if I give a great suggestion she doesn’t overpower it with her own just because she’s “THE BOSS”.

I also think men see it as a weakness to admit that a woman has made a valid point on a subject or that her opinions should be respected and even implemented! I know men hate to be disrespected, but so do women! Women desire love, attention and affection, but respect should also be high on that list. (Of course if we’re discussing a professional situation, respect should be the only item from this list that should be considered.)

But gentlemen, I respect you as long as you respect me. I honor you as long as you honor me and my perspective on life. We can “agree to disagree” on subjects too. A woman should not have to submerge her feelings, opinions, desires and convictions because the men in her life think she has nothing valid to offer. It makes women miserable to be continuously made to feel inadequate, unworthy or less than a man. I’m not saying a woman is an exact equal to a man, but she should be regarded as one who was created by God with a specialness within that only she can offer.

Children know and accept the wisdom of a mother. How about the men? Do you believe in your women?

Men, I recommend that you begin to listen to the women in your lives – professionally and personally. You will begin to discover a whole new world awaiting you, as wisdom abounds. You will also live a more harmonious life everywhere you go.

Guests At The Party

Hopefully you’ve had the chance to attend at least one really good party, one that has a lot of pleasant memories.

Just imagine with me: You walked into the best party you’ve ever been to, and you found most of the guests (in their gowns and tuxedos) serving other guests, cleaning up spills and doing things they should not have to do during an event to which they were invited.

How much different is that from us? We have walked into the best Party ever, hosted by the King of kings and Lord of lords. He has placed us at his banqueting table of love. But when He turned His back for a moment, we got up and began cleaning up the room and taking away used napkins, etc. As He turned back around from what He was doing and found us in this frenzied, unnecessary activity (the activity of worry, unnecessary planning to “make sure” something works), He frowned at us in displeasure, but gently reminded us of this:

We are the Guests at this banquet! Why are we taking on the role of paid waitresses and waiters? Why can’t we accept that God did ‘all of this’ for our redemption? For our healing and deliverance? For everything we need for both now and later?

Trust is the key to believing that all God promised is true and MUST come to pass! Believe that you will receive and you shall have it.

So, put the napkins down and rest the used utensils aside.

God has called YOU to His banqueting table. You are one of the Guests of Honor, so why concern yourself with the things that only the Host should be concerned about?

Why do you allow your troubles to force you to step in and attempt to ‘help’ God out all the time? He doesn’t NEED our help! When we think we’re cleaning up and ‘helping out’, we’re actually making a bigger mess! We’re taking on a role we were not created to do!

Really!

May God help us as we resist the urge to clean up,

Michelle.

Humility While Leading Others

Written in July 2007 based on circumstances I was experiencing. This piece is still relevant in many circles (especially in our churches) today!

 

I have not been in many leadership positions (I think mainly because I am quite shy), but I have always been intrigued with leaders and I watch them very closely. What I now notice as a common trend is the tendency for leaders to become overconfident in their abilities and in their judgment.

I am certain that many start out shaking in their boots at the task that was laid before them on accepting the role, but as the years passed and certain decisions were successfully made, they become more confident in their ability to lead in that position. Then over time, they began to cross the line….

They may forget that they are also fallible humans, even if others around them are following them or subordinate to them. They may speak to others unkindly and discount others’ opinions (which may be valid ideas or suggestions). They may misjudge character based on their own perceptions and not based on the truth of a matter. They may think that everyone else has “that problem” or “those problems”, but not them. They may have others watching someone they do not trust or whom they think will hurt them or their interests, and manipulation of circumstances and people becomes the norm.

Family life may disintegrate if they take their headiness home with them (and usually, they will). Throwing one’s weight around to show “Who’s boss” may become the order of the day after a while, causing fear and insecurity to take root in the family.

But then, one day it all comes to an end. Why, because God has heard the cries of those who are hurting because of the leadership style they have adopted. Also, God will intervene because of arrogance, which He hates. Proverbs 16:18 states, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Many times such leaders are sure they will never be reprimanded or caught or stripped bare, so they are usually caught by surprise when it happens.

Let us recall Nebuchadnezzar, the king who hardened his heart and craved worship that rightfully ONLY belonged (and still ONLY belongs) to God. He received several warnings until he was given a final warning, which he scoffed. He was sent to crawl on all fours for seven years, living in the wilderness like a wild animal. Once the seven years passed, his right mind came back to him and he acknowledged that God was indeed the only God deserving of worship. (Read the entire chapter of Daniel 4 in the Holy Bible.)

I grieve for some leaders who I am now submitted to in several situations. Please help me pray that they will heed the voice of the Lord (no matter what vessel God uses to deliver His Word) and will allow Him to be the only One who receives the worship and praise He truly deserves.

Let us pray:

Oh God, have mercy on our leaders. Give them humble hearts, hearts willing to learn and submit to Your authority. May they allow you to have free course in their lives. May they never take the credit for anything they have been able to lead successfully, knowing that the success is only granted because You allowed it to be so. And help them to learn about and be mindful of the story of King Nebuchadnezzar and several current examples (in churches and in corporations) we have today.

May we all allow you to have our hearts completely and to stay humble before You both now and forever.

My Heart…..

I wrote this piece in July 2007 but it is just as relevant for me today.

 

My heart is burdened now. Have you ever wished all the best for others, but you get the feeling that those same people don’t feel the same way about you?

Have you ever felt alone at a time when you ought to be excited and you should be able to share your excitement with others? Have you ever wondered what did you do for you to feel this way, how did you do what you thought you did, and so on?

Well, hey…. All I can say is, God knows me best. God has a plan for my life, no matter who or what may oppose or object. God is in control of my every move, and I make it known: I refuse to do or say anything that isn’t directed of God. I must breathe Him in; I must feel His presence near me, or I perish. I truly believe He is speaking to me even more than He’s ever spoken to me, mostly because I’m listening a lot better now.

So, where am I going? God has begun to show me bit by bit where I’m heading, and it is too awesome to describe. He’s shown me that I will have a huge impact here on earth. And I embrace that. He sent his servants here to my church two weeks ago to show me and confirm to me what I’ve felt in my spirit for so long. Things I hadn’t told a soul, God confirmed it.

So, I believe the separation issue is one where God gets a chance to be closer to me than ever before, because He’s the only One to Whom I can talk freely.

Others may think they know where I’m going, what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, but God and I are really the only ones who know. (And, in all honesty, God is the One Who truly knows. He’s only telling me stuff on a “need to know” basis.)  My calling is unique, so my path must reflect my destiny.  I must learn some lessons, meet some people, and experience some things. And God will be there all the way while I do what I need to do.

I don’t expect everyone to agree or to understand, but this is who I am; this is who I am becoming.  For many years I’ve lived in the shadow of others, seeking their approval for every step I took and for every decision I made.  I have many regrets because of this.  But now I’m heading down a unique path, so those days are over.  I must now truly “get it” on my own.  If I was not walking according to His will, He would not be speaking to me so much! He’d be telling me to repent, etc. But that is not what I am hearing….

To God be the glory, because He is using my life and will continue to use my life to bring glory to His holy name. Yesterday, Mark 11 vs. 23 and 24 caught my attention after I had a heart-to-heart discussion with Him on this subject. Then later in the day, Mark 11 vs. 22 also caught my attention. Verse 22 says, “Have faith in God.” It then discussed believing and not doubting and commanding the mountain to cast itself into the sea and it would happen. Verse 24 states, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” I was ready to dance when I read this, but I had leave my car and go inside to work….

Now, that’s POWERFUL. And if my desire is to please the Lord in everything, big, small and in-between, then having faith in God must give me the right desires for the right things, as everything would be lining up. My will would then become His will, so my desires would become His desires towards me.

So, why should I worry that others think I’m making huge mistakes with my life? Why should I feel inadequate, thinking that I don’t know the voice of God for myself and thus allow others to imply to me that they know His voice better than I do? And why should I doubt what He’s shown me and told me so many times in so many ways? Why should I believe that someone else will always get “the revelation” about my life? And why can’t I get that revelation directly from God for myself? Am I unable to approach the Throne-room of God on my own, for myself? Since the day the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom, the day Jesus died, I had access to the Throne-room for myself.

I will seek the Lord, and He will continue to take my hand and lead me where I need to be. God knows my heart, God knows my intentions, and God knows that I only want what He wants for me, nothing else, and nothing less.

I do not hold any grudges, but my heart is sad.   I should have expected this. Someone told me today that oil can only come out of olives one way – and that is, they have to be crushed. (Elder Lenore Artis)

So, let the crushing begin…..

But after the crushing, the oil that comes out is the oil of the anointing that God has placed on the inside of this dark-skinned olive.

Thank you, God for your spirit of encouragement. You promised to fulfill your Word in my life and in the life of my family. Manifest yourself today and from this moment onward.

What’s Beneath The Surface? (Aug 2007)

What do you have beneath the surface?

What motivates you to keep on doing what you do? Why do you say the things you do, go to the places you go and even wear the clothing you do?

What lies within your spirit?

What I’ve discovered with many of us is that we’ve been taught principles, “ten steps to this or that”, creeds, recited prayers, declared promises and borrowed beloved phrases and sayings from other gifted orators and writers. But after you’ve internalized all of that, what’s next? What do you do with all that information? What types of decisions do you make based on what you now know? Do you use what you know to take you to another level?

I know I’ve asked a lot of questions within the last few seconds, but these are questions I’ve asked myself time and again. A few blogs earlier I spoke about being real. Now this is where the “realness” begins: What do you do with what you know?

Many of us were raised on tele-evangelists, powerhouse sermons and real-life examples of the Christian faith. Others of us saw just the opposite: Maybe our parents were never married, maybe we have uncles who molested nieces and nephews, maybe our dads beat our moms when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But what I’ve learned about life and people is this: No matter what we’ve been exposed to, no matter where we came from, no matter what others may have said to us or about us, we choose what lies beneath our surface. We choose what we believe. We choose whom we follow. We decide whether we’ll go with the flow or stand out in a crowd. We decide to live a mediocre life or soar into the heavens (literally or figuratively) and make a difference.

So what lies beneath your surface? Hate? Self-disgust? Anger? Mistrust? Pretense? Deception? Unforgiveness? Bitterness? Pride? Hurt? Jealousy? Or is it the wish to make a difference in the lives of everyone you meet? Or do you have love just beneath your surface? Genuineness, maybe? Forgiveness? A softened heart? An open mind?

What’s beneath the surface? Whatever lies beneath your surface helps to decide where you end up in life. So if you are pretending to be who you’re not, look into becoming the real you. Don’t be ashamed of yourself, because there is only one of you. There are no other “you’s” out there, even if you are an identical twin. So if you hate or are envious, get that handled by asking Jesus to come in and heal your spirit. Hatred and envy twists everything. Again, this is as a result of you not loving the real you. Admit your shortcomings to God and make the decision to love you – and even love others! It is very hard at first (I know – been there, done that), but it can be done!

If you have love beneath your surface, keep loving. Some may think you are not real, but with time they’ll see the truth in your life and your witness. Because I’m a giver (in every way) I find that many try to just take and hope I won’t notice that they’re there only for the handout. I see it, but I still give. Why? Because of who I am below the surface. I must give, and I also protect others from unnecessary harm. Things I could do to hurt or “mess others up” I pass it by because within my heart is love, forgiveness and a heart of giving. I can’t help it….

So, my friends, check what’s beneath your surface. What makes you, you? What motivates you? What do you think about when you are alone? What types of friends do you keep? Do you have any who will speak the truth? Do you have any who will push you on to greatness? Or do you have a whole crew of “remember when” friends? Your old pals may not fit where you’re going! Think of that….

So, look at the environment you grew up in, look at the experiences you’ve had and look at the impact you’ve made in the lives of others. Are you happy with it? Can you change anything? Whatever you have control over, you can change. Don’t ever think that because you’ve messed up, because you were born and raised in the projects or because you are ‘slow’ academically that you have nothing to offer to the world. Consider this: Dr. Ben Carson, one of the world’s renowned brain surgeons, was raised in poverty in a single-parent home. But because of his mother’s sacrifices and his wish to change the world, he is where he his today. Today I heard a bit about the history of George Foreman. He too was from a life of abject poverty where nobody in his family had ever amounted to anything. But we know him, right??

In that same way, we can get to know you too. Do you have a life-dream beneath the surface? A song waiting to be sung? A poem, rap or play in your spirit that has to get out there? One person’s autobiography I am waiting to read is that of Tyler Perry. He’s hinted here and there of his struggles from being totally unknown, impoverished and facing many obstacles to becoming one of the most famous writers and actors of all time! Do you have a story to share with the world? I know I do. I’ve been asked many times about writing a book, and I must do so soon.  (Update: It is written! Editing stages at this time.)

What’s beneath your surface? A sermon for the world to hear? A choreographed dance that others need to see and appreciate? A business venture that will tap a little known market? Are you ready to show what’s beneath your surface? Don’t be shy! God has made you one-of-a-kind, so don’t expect to see the same thing out there already. Your story, your style, your writing, is different from anyone else’s. Don’t be afraid to show who you really are!

We’re all waiting with bated breaths, expecting to see what you’ve hidden beneath your surface!

High Value and Honor (Dec 2007)

 

I haven’t written in a long time (I’m usually your weekly blogger type), but I felt the need to share something that isn’t new news, but just something that stood out for me this week.

A gentleman with whom I work was discussing with his peers his complex plan to impress his girlfriend of two years with just the right diamond in the best setting he can afford. He knew from almost the beginning that she was “the one”, but he just wanted to confirm it. Over the couple of years they’ve been together, they’ve vacationed, visited relatives from both sides and added many miles to automobiles to visit each other, etc. I remember conversations where he’d say to her, “I know you want me to come over, but you’re exhausted. Why don’t you rest tonight then I’ll stop by tomorrow.” I would sigh when I heard that…..

Now do not think for a moment that I’m endorsing everything I just mentioned; it was highlighted for me to make a point. Whatever and whomever we value, we will endorse its value with our honor. We will cherish it and make sure it has the best treatment. If what we value is a person, we will give him or her the best we can offer (financially, emotionally, physically and so on). Do you know what is the best you can offer to someone else aside from your money and taking them to the best restaurants or on the best vacations? Your time and your undivided attention.

Yes, your time. Your undivided attention. Honoring and respecting someone is best demonstrated with how attentively we care for the other person’s needs. We will bend over backwards to surprise our lover or our children (or our bosses) and just to see smiles of surprise, satisfaction or excitement on their faces is enough.

The absolute best situation is when this is a two-way street. Nothing hurts more when someone values another more highly than they are valued in return. Another thing I’ve realized is this: When we love ourselves and have a lot of self-respect, it is easy to love others unselfishly. The opposite is also true. Many who do not know how to show love and how to give respect and honor on others are usually having a difficult time loving and respecting themselves. When we love unselfishly then we don’t have to be on an intense search to find this honorable love for ourselves – it will somehow come to us. I think of a magnet when I state this.

As I am healing (both inside and out), I am preparing my heart for the love that places a high value on me. Of course, God already loves me in that way, but as I heal from my previously painful life and begin to love myself as I need to do, that love will come to me; I won’t need to search for it.

I will wait.

 

Turn Your Pain Into Ministry (Aug 2007)

Lucinda Moore, one of my Facebook & Twitter friends, sings “Turn Your Pressure Into Praise” and is actually writing a book on her life at this moment. (Blessings, Lucinda!)

My theme in this blog is turning my pain into a place of ministering into the lives of others. As I’ve written over the past several months, I’ve received many encouraging messages via email and even via phone saying “You should write a book.” I believe I shall, eventually, but I don’t think the time has yet come for that to happen. There is so much more that I need to experience and work through, so much so that I know the book would be considered unfinished if I attempted to take that on now. (Update: My manuscript is being edited now!)

But anyway, my reason for writing again is I wanted to share this: I am beginning to understand the reason for my pain. This is why I’ve written publicly and sharing it with anyone who will listen. Why, because my pain is not just for me to endure. My pain is meant to help someone else. I strongly believe that, and in fact, nothing else makes sense to me than other than that. This is why I stated in an earlier blog that it is useless to hide our pain, our past and our mistakes, because others are watching and learning (or if we’re hiding it they’re not learning) from those of us who walk this Christian pathway. I know my fellow employees, family members and friends are seeing these crazy things happening to me and are wondering “Why?” but my attitude and my thankfulness to God in spite of it all makes all the difference.

I remember speaking with a friend of mine several years ago. She went through an abusive marriage, a horrendous divorce and even has repercussions from that divorce until this day. As she was being publicly humiliated by her ex-husband and as many people sided with him because he was such a slick person, a couple sat on the sidelines then eventually turned against her without a proper explanation. Later on when the truth came out that she had not fabricated any of what she was experiencing, they came to her and apologized. Then they made a confession. Years before, their marriage had many bumps as well, but they worked through their issues and today there are no visible reminders of their past experiences. Immediately my friend lashed out at them (and I couldn’t blame her). Why? Because they stood by and watched her suffer, knowing that they had the tools and the experience that could have helped her through her pain, but because they labeled it “their” pain, they did not step forward to help her. I felt badly while I listened to her recount the story and I made a promise to myself never to do that to anyone else.

This is why I write.

Many times we say to ourselves when we experience pain, humiliation or some other situation, “Why me?” But do you know what we should really be saying? “Why NOT me?” I’ve found myself telling God on several occasions, “Thank You for the vote of confidence, but I wish You’d stop putting so many of these burdens on my shoulders!” But then I reflect on Job, a man discussed in the Bible, who lived an upright life and who tried to do the right thing every day and still lost it all.

But who remembers the last chapter of Job? He received double after it was all over! His last 10 children were the most handsome and the most beautiful in all the land, even more than the first 10 who died, and if he was rich at the beginning of the book of Job, he was FILTHY rich by the end! Now I don’t dwell too much on riches as I believe it’s going to happen for me based on the fact that I have to help people, and I must be free to help as many people as I can in any way that I can. Financial prosperity is the only way I’ll be able to do so unhindered. But that’s really not the point in all of this. Job was tested, tried and stretched in ways unimaginable for any human, yet he passed the test.

I too will pass this test, because I must be able to recount to the world how God healed my body, delivered my son from his issues, placed us in a new, wonderful family and how He is actively using our lives to minister in His name. What better testimony is there?

So as I go through my time of forced solitude, I must reflect on where I am in life, where I’ve been and where I’m going. I’m getting there. I’m already there in the supernatural; I am just waiting to see it manifested in the natural.

I’m so excited, I can hardly contain it. Will I be healed completely in every way? I absolutely believe it, and I will believe nothing else. God’s plans for me need complete healing, or how else will He be effectively glorified through my life?

So I turn over all my disappointments, my painful moments and memories and even this current physical situation over to God, Who has every situation in His hands. Let’s all stand back, and see God work wonders as He turns my pain (and yours too, if you allow Him) into effective ministry for His glory!