Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Destructive Speech

July 30, 2020

Capital One asks: What’s in your wallet? I ask, What’s in your mouth? I’ve learned that every day I pack a powerful weapon, a little instrument inside my mouth, the tongue, which only gets sharper with use. If we are not careful, it can become a critical, catty, conniving, and callous instrument.  It can slice and dice someone’s reputation and good standing in less than a minute. It can destroy a lifelong relationship in seconds. It can block the sweet aroma of distinctiveness we were designed to emit.

We live in a culture that says, “If you know it, share it.” No matter what it is, if it’s the truth, tell it. If you want to blast it, blog it. If you think it, tweet it. If you want to share it (whatever “it” is), put it on Facebook. No information is sacred. People get a thrill out of exposing the good, the bad, and the ugly in a matter of seconds. No time for fact-checking or asking, “Is it wise to do this?” This quick to the draw philosophy is not in step with God’s timeless truths about our tongue. “Too much talk leads to sin” (Proverbs 10:19 NLT).

I’ve discovered the longer I talk, the greater my chances of saying something I should not say and sinning with my tongue. I’m just talking to be talking. Have you ever had this experience? Your conversation starts out with need-to-know information, and as it progresses you begin speculating about other people, questioning and indicting their decisions that have absolutely nothing to do with you. Their situation bombards your mind all day. You can’t function at your optimum. You’re not praying for them, just thinking about it or telling others about it. Chances are you slipped into the sins of gossip and slander.

What is gossip? It is idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others. It is habit forming. Gossip is an acceptable cultural pastime because we are inundated with information about the private affairs of those we know and don’t know personally as a result of reality TV, celebrity magazines, and all forms of social media. When it doesn’t come to us, we can go to it and quell our curiosity. Gossip is inviting and “delicious.” “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (Proverbs 26:22).

Where gossip is, slander usually follows. Slander is a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report. It’s spreading false information or rumors with the intent to ruin someone’s reputation. It’s premeditated. You know exactly what sharing that information will do: it will put a blight on someone’s character and ignite a firestorm. Engaging in both of these pastimes is sin. It is so easy for us to be repelled by what we consider the big sins and look with contempt on those who murder or commit adultery. We are smug in our righteousness because we don’t do those things—but our words and word count equally matter to God. “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you” (Matthew 12:36-37 NLT).

What a sobering reality that every careless, idle word we speak will be judged by God Himself. This is definitely an incentive to only speak when we have something constructive to say. What grade would you give your daily speech? The talk about yourself, and about others? Let’s aim for an A.

Unwanted Mail

April 19, 2020

I got an unwanted letter in the mail. When I perused the envelope and saw it was from the District of Columbia government, I sighed. I live in Maryland and it had been years since DC had reached out to me. It’s always my goal to never get mail from any city, county, or state’s Traffic Adjudication Division. When I do, I know it means I must give up cash designated for something else.

The speeding camera caught me early one morning driving to a Super Wal-Mart. I wanted to get their early and beat the rush. The ticket said I was clocked going 7 miles over the speed limit. I won’t argue that since I saw my license plate in the photo.

With sadness about the consequences of my offense, I paid the ticket and then decided to once again live by this resolve: If I always obey the speed limits, I never have to worry about getting a speeding ticket. It all depends on me. This was my fault. Sounds familiar? God’s Word says, if we always obey His rules, life will go well for us. He will make our way prosperous and we will experience good success. (Joshua 1:8) If we choose to go our own way, then we have to suffer dire consequences. The ball is in our court. God gives us a free will and respects our decisions.

I don’t want any more tickets. Paying for one poor decision is enough to get me back on track. What about you?

God’s way is always the best way. That’s Excellent Living.



1 Thing

January 12, 2020

Life, if you let it, life can be all consuming about nothing. That’s right, Nothing. Consuming about the trivial, the latest morsel of gossip or criticism about that celebrity, politician, or that “friend” on Facebook. I’m convinced that knowing the ins and outs of other people’s lives is an effective tool of Satan to distract us from what really matters: following single-mindedly, God’s plan for our lives.

When Jesus called the disciples He gave them a simple command, “follow me,” not your friends, colleagues, or family members, but ME. He added that to be a true disciple, you must forsake everything and everyone and exclusively follow Him. No other option. No debate. It’s ALL or nothing. Are you all in? Are you willing to walk away from the known, to follow His path of the unknown in 2020? It’s the only way to experience abundant life, life to the fullest without regret.

I’ve been a Christ follower most of my life, but this year, I’m intentionally forsaking every dream, every desire, every longing, for one thing…following Christ wholeheartedly, without reservation. Before I was born, He had already mapped out His plans for me, how He wanted to be glorified in me, whether in my living or dying. I don’t have to waste my time giving Him directions. His route is perfect. God is the navigator. All I have to do is obey Him. This takes the pressure off of me to get it right. As He told me years ago, Cheryl, I don’t need you to be smart. I have enough smarts for both of us. I just need you to follow me. I’ll tell you what to say, what to do, and where to go. I’ve already anticipated everything. You do your job and I’ll do mine.

“Lord I get it. I’m ALL in.”

Won’t you join me?

A Lesson in Kindness

October 20, 2019

For the past few weeks I’ve been reflecting on a kind exchange I needed to observe.

I was at a boutique shop for an appointment. While “Anna” was assisting me, a lady came up to her and said, “I had a 1:30 appointment. You didn’t see me sitting and waiting? I had a 1:30 appointment.” I didn’t say a word, but I was thinking, “I’m the one with the 1:30 appointment. What’s going on? Anna never books two clients at the same time.” Anna remained calm and never corrected the lady about her appointment. The client asked her how much time she should allow to be there. Anna told her and exhibited only graciousness during the entire encounter. After the lady left, I said softly to Anna, “I love how you handled that because I know that you didn’t schedule her for 1:30.”

She said to me quietly, “I know her. She’s been my client for years. Her appointment was for 12:30. I was looking for her then.” So I asked, “Why didn’t you mention that to her (I know I would have)?” She said again, “I know her. What would that have accomplished? She would have denied it. There would have been a disagreement and that wouldn’t have been good for the shop. I added, ‘plus, You could have lost a client.’ And then she said, besides, it would have hurt her. It wasn’t worth it.”

Wow. I was moved when she said, “It would have hurt her.” Why embarrass or demean a demanding woman in public with the truth? Why make her feel bad? I immediately remembered times when I’d done exactly that: determined to set the record straight with someone at any cost, even if he or she was hurt or denigrated in the process. After all, it’s all about getting to the facts, or to the truth. Or was it? Or was it simply my ego at play, proving myself right and the other person wrong at any cost, even if it “hurt” or belittled the friend, co-worker, relative, or stranger?

Anna modeled a better way…one of humility, grace, love, kindness, and courtesy. Later she said to me, “I’ve been in this business for 36 years. I haven’t always gotten it right, but I’ve learned some things over the years.” As I was leaving, she whispered: “Oh by the way, the client did ask me later, “What time was my appointment?” I told her. She said, “I can’t believe it. I thought for sure it was for 1:30.” Anna left it at that.

And I left the shop with a tangible lesson on how to respond in a Christ-like manner.

Lord, thank you for your daily dose of Grace and a chance for a do-over.

Managing Expectations

July 14, 2019

Several months ago I heard Pastor A. R. Bernard say this in one of his messages: When you know someone’s nature, you know how to deal with them. If you expect something different you are naïve. It takes awhile to discover the true nature of a person…It lowers the degree of your disappointment when you manage your expectation. Why would you expect 100-fold from a 30-fold person? If you do, you are the naïve one. You’ve got to know the nature of the person and how to interact.

I know truth when I hear it and I immediately embraced it. This one principle has made a huge difference in how I interact with people. I am the one who has changed, adjusting my expectations on how I know them to be vs. how I wish they were. Here’s an example. There’s a cashier I encounter regularly whenever I shop at my local grocery store in the early morning hours. Her checkout line is the only one open so I’m stuck. I’ve never known her to be in a good mood. She’s cranky, argumentative, and quick to complain about almost everything. I often wonder, “Why did she take a job dealing with customers?” I wish she were nicer, cheerful, kind.

After hearing Dr. Bernard, I decided to change my approach when encountering her. I now anticipate her to be exactly as she’s always been. I don’t expect her to have  had a life transforming experience with Jesus over the weekend (even though that would be wonderful). I tell myself before I get to the register, to remain calm and friendly no matter how difficult she will be. Sure enough, she has been exactly as she is each time, but I’m thankful to say, because I managed my expectations, I was not disappointed. I kept my cool and my Christian witness. She didn’t change, but I did.

God has done something  in my heart. I no longer judge her. I pray for her and now have a sincere desire to understand why she is the way she is. Is she living with a broken heart, broken dreams, or a history of abuse? I’m looking for a way to let her know that God cares. He has already given me a strategy. I’m just waiting for the right time.

All the Time

April 28, 2019

A dear friend since 2nd grade, Marilyn, told me about her meeting with a personal shopper. The lady asked Marilyn when was it most important for her to look her best: at work, home, special occasions, etc. Marilyn responded: “I want to look good all the time.” The personal shopper wanted her to be more specific, selecting one category, so she rephrased the question. Marilyn’s answer was the same: “But I want to look good ALL the time.” I smiled and chuckled when she told me the story.

I would have to say that as adults, every time I’ve seen Marilyn, whether in a casual or church setting, she looks great. I love her sense of style. Since she told me that story, I think, “She really does look good all the time.”

I have often reflected on Marilyn’s dialogue and asked myself, What do I want to be known for ALL the time? The answer always comes with this fill in the blank: “I want to be gracious all the time, kind all the time, prayerful all the time, pleasing to God all the time, loving and wise, especially in how I use my time and my tongue.

I can’t report that I’m there yet, but I can say the desire is strong and I do believe what Philippians 1:6 says: “He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” He’s the Scholar and I’m the pupil. He promises to make me a new creation in Him. Lord, that’s what I want more than anything.

One Faithful Man

January 27, 2019

Proverbs 20:6 says “A faithful man who can find?” I met one. His name? Carlis Moody, Sr. He set for me the GOLD standard, the marker, of a godly man. I met him the same day I arrived on Northwestern University’s campus in Evanston, IL sight unseen. Before arriving I had prayed consistently to the Lord that while excited about the opportunity to grow intellectually it was equally important for me to continue to grow spiritually. He answered that request. After getting settled into my dorm room I opened a Yellow Pages to locate a church. One specifically caught my eye: Faith Temple Church. I called immediately and found out there was a special service that evening. A lady agreed to pick me up so I could attend. I proudly say I spent my first night away from home in the House of the Lord.

Carlis Moody was the founder and pastor of that small church. He accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior as a child and was ordained at age 16. He became a teenage pastor. He married his wife Mary at age 20. They had four children. I remember him saying how he prayed one day, “Lord, I don’t know how to be a husband or a father. I need you to teach me.” And God did.

Pastor Moody was a man of integrity who feared God. He knew hundreds of passages in the Bible by memory and would recite them before we could find them in our Bibles. Just being around him, there was no doubt that God was the love of His life and He delighted in doing His will. Next, were his wife and children, and then the family of God. He eventually got the opportunity to preach the gospel in 38 countries.

I watched his life closely during my undergraduate and graduate years. I never saw an inconsistency in what he said and what he did. Never a hint of scandal. He kept his life pure. He walked in genuine humility. Bishop Carlis Moody transitioned to his heavenly home on January 12 at the age of 84. Evanston Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd, called Moody “an amazing human being and a perfect example of someone who lived a very purpose-driven life.”

I am without excuse. Bishop Moody confirmed that it is possible to live a holy life in today’s culture. “Thank you Lord for allowing me to intersect with such a man of God.” May I follow in his footsteps, for your glory.



The Mirror

October 21, 2018

If you’re like me one habit prevails every day and that is a look in the mirror, not just one time but several throughout the day. It’s not narcissism but “now-ism.” What has changed and needs to be corrected since the last time I looked? If I see something, I do something about it, if I can. Then I’m on my way. Thank God for mirrors. I may think I’m okay, but the mirror tells me the truth about me. I can’t hide anything. It reveals every blemish, scar, shiny nose, hair out of place, or every sliver of food stuck in my teeth.

God’s Word is my BIG Mirror. It reveals what others cannot see, what’s lodged in my heart. With a glance I realize there is a pinch of pride, a 1/2 cup of criticism, teaspoon of entitlement, and some days a sprinkling of fear. One option is to walk away and do nothing, overwhelmed and disgusted by the residue. The other is to immediately deal with it just as I do after an examination in any mirror that’s close.

James 1:21-25 (NLT) says, “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.  But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

It’s humbling to gaze in The BIG Mirror. It always does its job, revealing the crud of sin still lurking in our hearts. But it doesn’t stop there.  God’s grace and mercy provides the power to bring about a complete transformation.




No Matter What

July 1, 2018

Do you really Believe that God is who He says He is, and that He will do what He says He will do? Despite the chaos in the world and in our community, God is still on the throne and not surprised by the evil in the hearts of men.  BELIEVE…to have confidence in the truth, the faith, the existence, or the reliability of something. We may say we believe but our behavior and words can betray us. We read the Bible and attend church, but then spend sleepless nights worrying that our prayers won’t be answered or wondering if God really cares about what we care about.

I find it interesting that we don’t hesitate to put our money in the bank and not think about it anymore until it’s time for a withdrawal. We don’t know the employees personally or ask for their criminal background checks. We trust them, yet we don’t know them.  We board a plane, putting our lives in the hands of someone we’ve never met. We don’t ask to see the pilot’s report cards or college diploma. Sometimes we never see the pilot the entire trip. Yet we sit back, buckle up, and relax with the full expectation that we’ll reach our destination. It doesn’t matter that there have been crashes and casualties. We believe.

The God of the Universe deserves this kind of confidence and much more. His track record is perfect. An authentic belief in God produces an unshakable faith and calm rest no matter what is going on in the world and in our lives. We miss the opportunity to experience this rest when we don’t believe. Hebrews 4:3 (NLT) says: “For only we who believe can enter his place of rest.”

So what about believing the God of the Universe no matter what? Put ALL your hope and trust in Him alone.  I admit at times I’ve been flaky when He isn’t, but when I read His love letter daily (the Bible), my faith is bolstered and I’m confident that my loving Father, the Great God, will handle perfectly anything that comes my way today, and the next day.

It’s Time to Believe!

The Cost of Royalty

April 22, 2018

The countdown is on for the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle next month. Despite years of honing her craft as an actress, Meghan is abandoning her career for a “higher” role. She has adopted Great Britain as her new home, learning the customs and the protocol of royalty. She wears hats now and a longer hemline. She converted to the Anglican faith. We’ve heard no complaints from Meghan about what she’s had to give up for love. She appears to relish her new assignment. After all, it’s a girl’s dream to become a princess.

When we accept Christ’s priceless gift of salvation, we immediately become royalty, sons and daughters of the Most High God. It doesn’t get any better than this. The decision requires the relinquishment of our agenda, for His. It calls for a new way of thinking, speaking, living, and a new “royal” wardrobe because wherever we go, we represent His Kingdom. We are charged with  always articulating God’s truths on any subject. Our past pursuits hold no allurement because we have traded them for a much higher calling with absolutely no regrets.

Our royal position counts for eternity. Let’s live it out daily to please the King.