Monthly Archives: March 2012

Hollywood Hills Crying Out! Day 34/40


It’s 4 AM and I’m rockin’!

I’m listening to Maurette Brown Clark’s “No Rocks” because today’s passage is where Jesus says, ‘If they (disciples) keep quiet, the stones will cry out!’

When I got to that verse, I immediately heard Maurette’s song:

You don’t have to pump and pry me
For I know just how good You have been
You don’t even have to bribe me
Because You’ve proven Yourself over and over again

I love to praise You
In my praise, I find liberty
If I don’t praise You
The rocks will cry out for me
Don’t need no rocks crying out for me…
(c) 1998 Maurette Brown Clark, Zomba Enterprises

I love that. It’s not perfect English, but hey, I don’t need no rocks crying out for me!

I’m a visual person. The artist in me hears that phrase and sees the Hollywood Hills shouting and worshiping God. Can you see it?

Two wonderful friends recently invited me to hike up to Griffith Park Observatory where you can see Mount Lee and the HOLLYWOOD sign in the distance. It was amazing. I’m still trying to find my legs, but what if I stood on the mountaintop and silenced those peaks:

“Shhhh, it’s my turn to praise God! You’ve been hollerin’ all day. Give a sister a chance to get a shout in, please!”

Can you see it?

I’ve never had a problem with vision. I see stuff – in 6-D, high definition, super-technicolor. I see it! Every peak shouts God’s glory!

Whether in Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills, the Grand Canyon or Stone Mountain (shout out to my GA fam!), I hope that every time you pass a mountain in the future, you’ll say,
“Shhh! It’s my turn!”

Let’s look at the text.
Day 34:
Look below or CLICK: LUKE 19: 37-40

Entire passage: LUKE 19: 28-44

37 When he [Jesus] came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Jesus is making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a borrowed colt. Throngs of people spread their coats and palm branches along the road. As He descends near the Mount of Olives, all the disciples start shouting and praising and blessing their King.

This is no cute hand pump or whatever we’re doing in church these days. The word used for “cry” is like screaming or croaking. One scholar describes it as the sound a woman gives in labor. Another says that word describes a war cry. This is not composed. It’s full-fledged, all-out hollering.

Yesterday, we talked about blind Bartimaeus hollering for Jesus in order to be healed and gain his sight. Well, this display is Bartimaeus times a thousand.

The Pharisees have had enough. This is blasphemous to them. They tell Rabbi Jesus to stop His disciples from this public praise party.

Maybe Jesus would have, if it wasn’t His final entrance. Up to this point, He has been telling His disciples, many of the people He’s healed, even demons, not to tell His true identity as the Christ, the Messiah, the King. But now, Jesus’ answer is different.

He tells the Pharisees, “If they (my disciples) keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Certainly the Pharisees, who knew the Scriptures inside and out, would’ve heard a reference to Habakkuk’s prophecy that the very stones and wood of the houses the arrogant Babylonians built off the destruction of others would cry out against them: “Surely the stone will cry out from the wall, and the rafter will answer it from the framework.” (Habakkuk 2:8-11)

This idea of God’s creation testifying against God’s created beings runs deep.

And Jesus, Maker of the world (John 1:3), makes it clear that if man stops rendering Him praise, what He’s made (stones, rocks, hills) will keep on going. There is no interruption on the glory that is extolled upon our God. There is a continual chorus going on in the heavenlies even as I write this. I just want to get in on it.

I don’t need no rocks crying out for me.
Move over Hollywood Hills.
“Shhhh! It’s my turn!”

What about you?
Got a praise?!
Let’s tell the rocks to hush so we can bless our King.

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Our weekends through LENT are times of reflection and thanksgiving. Traditionally, during Lent, SUNDAYS are considered mini-celebrations (symbolizing Christ’s resurrection) following FRIDAYS’ special times of fasting (symbolizing His death). Thus, LENT starts on Ash Wednesday and goes for 46 days ending Easter, but the 6 Sundays are excluded, equaling 40 days. We make a sacrifice of something meaningful for the entire 40 days, but Sundays are excluded. So, Saturday, you’ll get a devotional that you can meditate on for the entire weekend. If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks.

1) Confession & Repentance – Let’s confess our wrongs and ask forgiveness
2) Complete transparency – Let our guard down and talk to God about our lives.
3) Listen – Let’s quiet and listen to God’s Spirit re: the scriptures, etc.
4) Intercession for others – Let’s pray for our family, friends, coworkers, church, etc.

What Do You Want? Day 33/40

WHAT DO YOU WANT? | Day 33 of 40 (LENT)

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Hold up.
Did I just read that right?

“What do you want me to do for you?”

No mistake. That’s what it says.
Jesus actually asked that???
Twice. In the same chapter?

How would you answer that question?
If God’s Son asks you, “What do you want me to do for you?” or “What do you want?”, what would you say?

A job?
A house?
A child?
A spouse?
All of the above?

What do we want?
What are we asking the Maker of the world to do for us?

C’mon, Bible scholars. It’s Friday. Let’s have some fun.
Let’s look at the text.

Day 33:
Look at: MARK 10: 46-52

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” ^52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

This passage is pregnant. I just don’t have enough space on this blog to do it justice. But let’s just give the summary:

Bartimaeus is blind. He wants to see. When he hears that Jesus (the One who has done miracles and can actually restore sight) is passing by, Bartimaeus starts shouting. Can’t you see this blind beggar lighting up the side of the road hollering for Jesus. HOLLERING! And he won’t stop. He is making so much ruckus that folks insist that he shut up. No. Not Bartimaeus.

His faith kicks in. Besides, what does he have to lose? Really? If blind Bartimaeus has heard that Jesus can heal, why would he not ask him to heal?

What is it that stops us from asking the Lord for what we want? Pride? Fear of rejection? Lack of faith? Is it that term “WANT”? Would it make us feel better if Jesus asks Bartimaeus “What do you NEED me to do for you?”

After all, Jesus is not Santa Claus sliding down a chimney or a Genie whose belly we rub and get 3 wishes. Would it sound more ‘spiritual‘ if Jesus asks, “What do you need?” But that’s not what the text says. That word ‘WANT’ translated in the original language, is “wish, desire, purpose, will to have”. Jesus is literally asking, “What do you desire?”

Can you understand that we who have the privilege and responsibility of publicly unpacking God’s Word on a weekly basis would be cautious to say, “Jesus is asking, What do you desire?” ‘Cause, we don’t know what folks are gonna come up with! Westerners could hear this scripture and think God is supposed to give them a Rolls Royce or Maybach just cause they wish or desire it.

Is this a wide open request?
Will Jesus give us anything we want?
I’m glad you asked.
Let’s back up a few verses. Same chapter.

Look at: MARK 10: 35-45

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” 38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” 39 “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” 43 …whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Context makes all the difference in the world.
Will Jesus give us anything, anything, we want?

Jesus restores Bartimaeus’ sight. Why doesn’t he give James and John the honor of sitting on his right and left in glory? Don’t they deserve it? They are 2 of the 3 in Jesus’ inner circle (Peter’s #1). They have left family, career, everything to follow Jesus and have been at His side for 3 years. Jesus has just shared with them that in Jerusalem, He will suffer many things and die and rise again (Mark 10:32-34). Surely, since Jesus is going to rise again, He could hook James and John up with some key positions in glory, right?!

Where’s their Bentley, Jesus?

I’m making light. There’s nothing wrong with a Lamborghini or Bugatti or Porsche, or any material possession, in and of itself, for that matter. And don’t be too impressed that I’m rolling off the names of expensive car manufacturers. Cars are not my thing. I just GOOGLED ‘Most expensive cars’ and this Forbes list came up, pictures and all.

Now, shoes on the other hand… My dear friends gifted me a slammin’ pair of designer heels for my B-day and it was on! I’m still rocking boots my dad gave me Christmas as well as these insane booties from my mother-in-law. And what made these gifts so special is that they came at a time when I cut way back on wishes and wants. I haven’t bought a new pair of shoes in probably a couple of years. All my sister-friends are gasping and clutching pearls. I confess. Sacrifices have to be made. Right now, it’s all about Hollywood Christian Ministries and Hope in the Hills, a bible fellowship we’ve started. That’s it. So maybe I should rephrase my “want/desire/wish” question:

Where are my Stuart Weitzmans, Jesus? Or Christian Louboutins? (His name is Christian!)
Just kidding!

The point is, when Jesus’ disciples selfishly ask Him for fame and fortune, He responds differently than when Bartimaeus asks in faith.

I love the way Mark records Jesus’ contrast.
Same question: “What do you want Me to do for you?”
Different answer.

Bartimaeus gets “Your faith has healed you.”
James and John get, “You don’t know what you’re asking.”

Ultimately, Jesus explains to His disciples that whoever wants greatness must be willing to serve. We’ve been exploring “Upside Down D!” (Discipleship). Here’s a prime example. The way up is down. The way to glory is through humility.

Jesus is not upset with us for hollering at Him from the side of the road. If we learn anything from blind-then-healed Bartimaeus, it is to shout and keep shouting until Jesus stops and calls for us. And when Jesus asks, “What do you want Me to do for you?”, we can rest assured that whatever we ask in faith, He is able to do.

The real question is, “What are we asking for?” or even, “Why?”

Are we seeking fame and fortune to sit next to Jesus on His throne so that all people can bow down and worship us? If that’s the case, we might get hit with one of those, “You don’t know what you’re asking!” or “Greatness is preceded by servitude”.

I’m sure Jesus reserves the right to respond to our requests according to what’s truly in our hearts.

What do we want Jesus to do for us?
What do we want?
Why do we want it?

Just some thoughts to ponder as we head into Holy Week.
One week to go until Easter. I hope this series has been a blessing to you.


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1) Confession & Repentance – Let’s confess our wrongs and ask forgiveness
2) Complete transparency – Let our guard down and talk to God about our lives.
3) Listen – Let’s quiet and listen to God’s Spirit re: the scriptures, etc.
4) Intercession for others – Let’s pray for our family, friends, coworkers, church, etc.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Day 32/40

DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY | Day 32 of 40 (LENT)

Who can forget ten-time Grammy Award winner Bobby McFerrin and comedians Robin Williams and Bill Irwin dancing a hilarious “Charleston” in McFerrin’s video of mega-hit ’88 Song of the Year, Don’t Worry, Be Happy?

If we aren’t happy before we see the video, we certainly have reasons to smile afterwards.

As we round the final bases and slide towards Easter’s home plate, we’ve been discussing “Upside Down D” (Discipleship) and the countercultural way of doing things Jesus asks of His followers. One such unconventionalism is Jesus’ command: “Do not worry”.

Definitely easier said than done.

Who wants to worry?
Yet, how hard is it NOT to worry, when life’s curve balls barrel across the mound at 100 mph!
Seems impossible NOT to be stressed out when rent is due, gas is $4.50/gal and the refrigerator looks like an arctic barrenland.

Still, Jesus tells his disciples to leave worry behind, especially when it comes to the basic necessities in life like food and clothing.

Day 32:
Read below or click here: MATTHEW 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a
single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Three times, Jesus says, “Do not worry”.
When great communicators (I’d argue Jesus tops the list) repeat themselves, it’s usually because what they’re saying is important and they want us to get the point.

Three times:
Do not worry… about your life.
Do not worry… about what you’ll eat, drink, wear.
Do not worry… about tomorrow.

But isn’t that exactly what we’re tempted to do? Worry about every minute to Titanic detail of our lives? What will we eat? What will we wear? Where will we live? How will we make a living? When’s our next acting gig? Will we ever place a song? Will we get the right contract? How will we pay our bills? When will be be healthy again? What about our children? What about our relationships? Will he love me? Will she respect me? What will people say?

Worry, worry, worry.
Jesus says, “Not!” (My paraphrase)

Notice, He doesn’t say that there won’t be things to worry about. Obviously, we all have needs. He simply advocates making the choice NOT to worry.

Neither does He say shirk all responsibility and freeload. He says, “Don’t worry. But seek God’s kingdom and righteousness”. We still have action to take. We still have choices to make.

So, how do we daily make the choice to NOT worry?
April 1st is on Sunday. Bills are due.
How? We decide to trust instead.

Jesus couches the conversation in the context of relationship and faith. He says, our heavenly Father knows we have needs. We’re His children. Our father provides for His children. If we have faith and seek Him, He provides what we need. That may not include wants, per se, but we’ll have food, clothes, life. Things may not be what we want them to be, but we’ll have what we need, when we need it.

Does that mean our houses won’t foreclose? Not necessarily.
Does that mean our relationships won’t weather storms? Not really.
Does that mean we don’t ever face physical challenges? No.

Jesus says each day will have enough trouble of its own (vs 34). That sounds to me like we will DEFINITELY face some issues. This explains why many of our lives, including my own, have been so “adventurous”.

The key is, when we do face hardships, we may have to go against our human norm and consciously make a decision to NOT worry about them… because we have a heavenly Father who will provide what we need.

If life is particularly challenging right now, please know that I get it. I really do. I really do. And I’m not making light of our circumstances. They could be horrific. And I don’t advocate faking the funk and slapping on a phony smile of pretense.

The best advice I can give is to be completely transparent and honest with God about what’s going on and how we feel about it and ask for 3 things:
1) His intervention
2) grace to wait on His timing, and
3) the ability to trust Him more.
Let’s really press in during the whirlwinds.

There’s a reason that Bobby McFerrin’s anthem became the first a’cappella song to reach #1 on the Billboard Chart. He tapped into our universal desire to hope. Deep down, I believe most people really don’t want to worry. Who wants neck and shoulder pain, hair thinning, headaches and ulcers? That’s not cute. Most of us truly hope for the day when “Don’t worry, Be happy!” is our reality.

When we follow Christ, we know that hope will become a reality in eternity. But I also believe we can actualize that hope to some degree on this side of heaven. And it starts with making a decision to trust God with all our concerns, talk to Him candidly about them, and seek Him and His way of doing things… which includes NOT worrying.

I’m embracing this today.
What about you?

C’mon all together now:
Here’s a little song I wrote
Might wanna sing it note for note
Don’t worry, Be happy…

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1) Confession & Repentance – Let’s confess our wrongs and ask forgiveness
2) Complete transparency – Let our guard down and talk to God about our lives.
3) Listen – Let’s quiet and listen to God’s Spirit re: the scriptures, etc.
4) Intercession for others – Let’s pray for our family, friends, coworkers, church, etc.

Upside Down D! Day 31/40

UPSIDE DOWN D. | Day 31 of 40 (LENT)

Yep. Your eyes are not deceiving you. That is an upside down house.

On purpose.

Apparently, there are several on-purpose, upside-down buildings all over the world: South Korea, Japan, Spain, Poland. Who knew?

The interior design student who posted the house picture above reported that its builder was making an artistic statement about the current state of the world, among other things. She said that workers had to take breaks every three hours because they became disoriented and confused, and some tourists got dizzy or felt seasick when in the house. Go figure.

Guess being upside down takes some getting used to.

We’re exploring that concept in our current series, “Upside Down Discipleship” or “Upside Down D!” (for short) during Lent. I’ve been preaching each Sunday about the seemingly bizarre way of doing things we’re called to when we follow Christ. The series will culminate on Easter with “3 Mary’s, a 1-woman play”, a revised, shorter version of my play “The Cross: Mary, Mary & Mary”, that some of you may have seen in the past.

I can only imagine what Jesus’ disciples must’ve been thinking when He said things like, “Deny yourself and follow me”.

Why would anyone, in their right mind, want to deny him/herself? For what?! This could be a totally foreign concept to our “Me/My/I” generation.

We’re more likely to say, “What do you mean, ‘Deny myself’? I thought I was supposed to ‘Get mine!'”

Upside down.
Let’s look at that passage.

Day 31:
Read below or click here: MATTHEW 16:24-27

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Let me tell you. By worldly standards, this is NOT the way to get followers in 2012.
Not in politics.
Not in business.
Not in Hollywood.

We’re designing a website for our new bible fellowship. If we posted a message on the homepage which said, “If you roll with us, you might die”, would you come? Probably not. But that’s what Jesus said to his disciples.

What’s fascinating is that just before the verses quoted above, Jesus tells his disciples that He will suffer horribly and die, then rise again. So before He tells them that they will lose their lives following him, He explains that he’s definitely going to lose His life. What a sales pitch!

But He breaks it down like this:
What can this world offer in exchange for our soul?

Is there anything, anything, that we can think of on this side of heaven that compares to what we will experience in eternity with Him?

Everything, yes, everything that we have on this earth is temporary: our beautiful homes, clothes, cars, jewelry, possessions, bank accounts, retirement funds, sex, food, vacations… it all goes bye-bye when we die. Steve could not take his iPod/iPad designs or billions of dollars with him last year.

This world, this side, is not the end of the story. And Jesus says each person will be rewarded according to what we have done. We will all be held accountable for our actions.

I understand this is not a popular message. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s WED parade. I actually think it’s quite encouraging. We don’t have to second guess what’s expected of us, if we decide to follow Jesus. He tells us straight up.

And here’s the best part:
When we “lose” our lives for His sake, our lives are actually “found”. We are rescued from death. We are saved from penalty. That’s upside down for sure!

How are we doing with our upside down discipleship?
Have we had incidents of ‘denial of self’ recently? Especially during this fast?
Anybody had to take up a cross or two or three while following Jesus?

Take courage.
He who promises reward is faithful. Nothing we have given up goes unnoticed.
Even as we travel the road of the cross, let’s remember it leads to a glorious resurrection.

That’s Upside Down D!

All this upside down talk has me thinking of pineapple upside-down cake: pineapples, cherries, brown sugar. Anybody else hungry?

Excuse me, breakfast calls.

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1) Confession & Repentance – Let’s confess our wrongs and ask forgiveness
2) Complete transparency – Let our guard down and talk to God about our lives.
3) Listen – Let’s quiet and listen to God’s Spirit re: the scriptures, etc.
4) Intercession for others – Let’s pray for our family, friends, coworkers, church, etc.

Perfect 10! Day 30/40

PERFECT 10! | Day 30 of 40 (LENT)


LaLa Land. 1984. Olympics.

Rising-starlet-gymnast Mary Lou Retton needs a PERFECT 10.00 to best Romanian Ecaterina Szabo for the All-Around Gold medal. It would be the first All-Around Women’s gold in American history. No pressure.

Six weeks earlier, Mary Lou has emergency surgery on her knee. But that’s ancient history now. She aces her uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise, but still trails Ecaterina by 00.15 points. If Mary Lou nails her vault with a 09.50, she will tie for first place. Anything lower than 09.50, she’d receives silver. With a PERFECT 10.00, she clinches gold.

And that’s exactly what she does:
VIDEO [41 secs]: Mary Lou’s PERFECT 10.0

From the Olympic games to Dancing with the Stars, the “10” is the highest standard. Not that we’re striving for perfection, but we can certainly keep putting forth our “10” effort for the last 10 days of our Lenten season of fasting, prayer and reflection.

Just 10 days to go!
Can you believe it?!

There’s a fascinating scripture in the book of Daniel that reveals what a difference 10 days can make when dedicated to the Lord. (We finished Nehemiah yesterday with “Remember Me“)

Day 30:
Read below or click here: DANIEL 1: 11-20

Entire Chapter: Daniel 1

11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. 17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. 18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.

The competition is set:
Weighing in on God’s side are four young men:
Daniel and Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah – AKA Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
These aren’t just any random dudes. These are Israel’s rising stars.

When Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, conquers Jerusalem and carries God’s people into captivity, the king orders to serve in his palace: young men from Israel’s royal family and nobility, without physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, and quick to understand. These four are among Israel’s best.

But there’s a problem.

All of the young men commissioned to serve in the king’s palace are required to eat the king’s royal food and wine, which does not jive with how God’s people eat and the dietary traditions based on their law. Daniel and his 3 friends request to not eat the king’s food, because doing so would go against God’s law. In order to get a green light, they are first tested.

So, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego undergo a 10-day fast without the king’s food to prove to the king’s official that if they obey God, He will take care of them.

Much of the Book of Daniel reveals Daniel (and his friends) making decisions to stand for God in a foreign land where the customs are not of God. Daniel stands up for God and is rescued from a lion’s den. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stand up for God and are rescued from a fire.

All four comrades stand up for God by refusing to defile themselves with the king’s diet, and the Lord rewards them.

This scripture is not saying that only vegetarians are holy (though I’m convinced that we vegetarians are a little holier! :=) Just kidding!) or that we’re only supposed to drink water. This is not really about the food at all.

The real question is, “Will they obey God’s laws?”
When taken away from their home, “Will they still obey God?”
When no one else does, “Will they stand for God?”
When no one else was looking, “Will they do the right thing before God?”

We can ask these same questions.
Will we obey God?
When we are tested, will we still obey?
When no one is looking, will we do the right thing?

Even if it means giving up choice foods for 10 more days?!

Now, we don’t do things for God to just become “ten times better” than others, but it is incredibly encouraging that God sees our sacrifices and reward us, which in Daniel and his friends’ case results in them being “ten times better”.

Let’s keep pressing into God over the next 10 days.
Don’t give up now. We can do it.
It’s Mary Lou Retton vault time.

I personally look forward to Easter and the great celebration where we all jump up and down and hug and scream and party because our greatest champion, God’s own son, won the greatest victory of all time, on our behalf – the victory over death. Mary Lou won’t be the only one doing somersaults!

Watch out. I’m getting my warm up on now!

Go forth,

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1) Confession & Repentance – Let’s confess our wrongs and ask forgiveness
2) Complete transparency – Let our guard down and talk to God about our lives.
3) Listen – Let’s quiet and listen to God’s Spirit re: the scriptures, etc.
4) Intercession for others – Let’s pray for our family, friends, coworkers, church, etc.

Remember Me. Day 29/40

REMEMBER ME… | Day 29 of 40 (LENT)

How many times have we prayed this prayer: “O God, remember me…?

These are the final words, the last prayer, that Nehemiah records in the book that bears his name.

Three times, he prays, “Remember me, O my God…”

Why? Because all that Nehemiah does is for the Lord.

Obviously, he does many reforms on behalf of his people, but his motivation is not to receive thanks from the people. Nehemiah simply wants the Lord to remember what he has done.

What a different way to live! I imagine it’s quite freeing.
No longer would we have to wait on folks to acknowledge our good deeds on their behalf or give us a pat on the back. Whether or not people ever say thanks for our hard work becomes a non-issue because we aren’t working for them. We’re working for God.

That’s not to say that a “Thank you” from the people we help isn’t warranted. But rather, our work is not dependent upon their gratitude; therefore our work doesn’t start or stop based on their response. Wow! Is this helping you? I’m being more freed by the minute!

Look at Nehemiah’s prayer:
Day 29:
Read verse below: NEHEMIAH 13:14

Entire Chapter: Nehemiah 13

14 Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out my loyal deeds which I have performed for the house of my God and its services.

Nehemiah led the people of Judah in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. He initiated the re-population of the city. He re-instituted worship and sacrifices in the house of God. He restored the Sabbath, giving, and the sole worship of God, not foreign idols. And after all of this, he says, “Remember me, O my God, for good.” Vs 31

Let’s be encouraged today, Fam, especially those who feel like you’ve been laboring endless hours that seem to go unnoticed.

God notices.
God rewards.
Let’s do whatever we do today for Him.
And know that when it’s all said and done, He remembers us.

Go forth,

1) Confession & Repentance – Let’s confess our wrongs and ask forgiveness
2) Complete transparency – Let our guard down and talk to God about our lives.
3) Listen – Let’s quiet and listen to God’s Spirit re: the scriptures, etc.
4) Intercession for others – Let’s pray for our family, friends, coworkers, church, etc.

Respond or subscribe to BLOG BELOW:

Got Song? Day 28/40

GOT SONG?! | Day 28 of 40 (LENT)

Everybody’s got a song…

Meaning when we hear the first bars of music, we think (or say out loud with fervent exuberance), “That’s my song!”

Lately, for me, it’s been Micah Stampley’s “Heaven on Earth“.

Followed closely by Chris Tomlin’s “Our God“.

You play either one of those songs, and you will get an all out Lett concert – choreography and all. By the time either bridge rolls around, I can visualize the heavens opening and entourages of angels singing and dancing with me. Sometimes, I imagine they have on combat boots and when they stomp in the heavenlies to the music, things on earth shift. I have no idea what my neighbors must think when they see me stomping to the post office in the morning. Hey, why should the angels stomp without me?!

Needless to say, music is powerful.
That’s why it’s included whenever God’s people have a praise party for Him.

Yesterday, we saw Nehemiah and the nation of Judah dedicate the wall of Jerusalem with so much joy that they are heard from afar. Do we remember what was going on with the music?

Day 28:
Read below: NEHEMIAH 12: 27-28, 40-43

Entire Chapter: Nehemiah 12:27-47

27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. 28 The musicians also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem… 40 The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; so did I, together with half the officials, 41 as well as the priests… 43 And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.

Singing is integral in the celebration. The Levites are summoned. Our equivalent would be those who make a living singing and ministering to the Lord. The Levites are the professionals. They are skilled and have extensive training. When the Levites show up, there is going to be some serious singing going on! Bring it Pavarotti! Sing Aretha!

Not only did the Levites bring the heavy, but Nehemiah also enlisted two choirs to give thanks, while walking on the wall that they were dedicating. They led the people in rejoicing with great joy, so much so, that they’re heard from far away. Can we imagine what that must’ve been like? Come on, Mississippi Mass Choir!

Got a song?
Perhaps one of thanksgiving?
Go ahead, imagine that you’re a professional or part of a mass choir.
Feel free to let loose.

Music is a beautiful gift of expression we’ve been given, and I believe it blesses God as much as it blesses us. Why else would there be a whole songbook in the Bible (The Psalms)?

Don’t hold back.
Go head, let’s sing our songs.
With full technicolor videos popping off.
Let’s give the angels some competition today. Why should they have all the fun?!

Go forth,

Our weekends through LENT are times of reflection and thanksgiving. Traditionally, during Lent, SUNDAYS are considered mini-celebrations (symbolizing Christ’s resurrection) following FRIDAYS’ special times of fasting (symbolizing His death). Thus, LENT starts on Ash Wednesday and goes for 46 days ending Easter, but the 6 Sundays are excluded, equaling 40 days. We make a sacrifice of something meaningful for the entire 40 days, but Sundays are excluded. So, Saturday, you’ll get a devotional that you can meditate on for the entire weekend. If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks.

1) Confession & Repentance – Let’s confess our wrongs and ask forgiveness
2) Complete transparency – Let our guard down and talk to God about our lives.
3) Listen – Let’s quiet and listen to God’s Spirit re: the scriptures, etc.
4) Intercession for others – Let’s pray for our family, friends, coworkers, church, etc.

Where God’s Party People? Day 27/40


Another party?! Really?!

In one week, we’ve suggested “Eat, Drink & Be Merry!“, “Celebrate Life, Love & Birthdays!“, and have a “Great Rehearsal” of God’s great blessings!

Could we, God’s people, really be saying “party” again?!
Don’t worry. We haven’t become drunk off the Hollywood Kool-Aid and now all we want to do is Eddie-Murphy-‘Party-All-the-Time‘. But between family birthdays and the biblical texts, there’s just been reason after reason to celebrate.

And, here’s one more!

My baby brother and his wife had another baby boy yesterday, rounding off their family with three boys and a girl. So, now “Auntie Ima” (moi) has a total of seven nephews and four nieces. The miracle of life is so precious, and we thank God that daddy, mommy and baby are wonderful. Isn’t that a fantastic reason to do a happy dance?!

Why do we celebrate and have parties? Or tell our Facebook friends that it’s our birthday so they post well wishes on our walls? We could simply roll out of bed, not tell anyone, and let the day go by like every other day. But that doesn’t feel quite right, does it? When it’s our birthday, whether we party or not, there is something deep within us that says, “This day is important. We must do something to mark it. It’s cause for celebration.”

In a few months, my brother and his family will “dedicate” our new nephew and pray and speak blessings over him before the Lord during a dedication service. Dedications are important celebrations. Just like birthdays, they mark a special moment in time.

Nehemiah and the people of God understand the importance of celebrations when they complete rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. Today, we see that they dedicate the wall during a great party with lots of fanfare, pomp and circumstance.

Forget Diddy’s White Party (the clothes are white). Or Elton John’s Oscar Party. Those have nothing on Judah! Nehemiah appoints two large choirs, leaders and people to walk on top of the walls singing and celebrating. It was more than a block party. It was a whole nation throw down. God’s people know how to party!

Day 27:
Read below: NEHEMIAH 12: 27-31, 38, 43

Entire Chapter: Nehemiah 12:27-47

27 Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites from all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem so that they might celebrate the dedication with gladness, with hymns of thanksgiving and with songs to the accompaniment of cymbals, harps and lyres. 28 So the sons of the singers were assembled from the district around Jerusalem, and from the villages of the Netophathites, 29 from Beth-gilgal and from their fields in Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built themselves villages around Jerusalem. 30 The priests and the Levites purified themselves; they also purified the people, the gates and the wall. 31 Then I had the leaders of Judah come up on top of the wall, and I appointed two great choirs, the first proceeding to the right on top of the wall… 38 The second choir proceeded to the left, while I followed them with half of the people on the wall… 43 and on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy, even the women and children rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard from afar.

God’s people make so much noise partying over what God has done in helping them rebuild their wall, lives and nation, that their joy is heard from afar. They’ve got cymbals and harps. Do you know how loud a cymbal is?!

I’m not saying we should party all night in drunken, ungodly debauchery and keep our neighbors up to the wee hours of the morning so that they call the cops, but wouldn’t it be great if the whole city, whole nation, stopped what we were doing (our neighbors included) and sang and rejoiced with great joy for God’s goodness.

The closest thing we have, where our whole nation celebrates together in an outward fashion, is probably the 4th of July. Fireworks light up every sky from LaLa Land to the Big Apple. It’s different than New Year’s Eve because the weather is usually warm enough for everyone to come outside and sing and celebrate together, as opposed to counting down with Ryan Seacrest on TV. There are 4th of July BBQs and cookouts and block parties. Food, fellowship, fun! Music, dancing, singing. Good times.

I’m convinced that God does not have a problem with His people partying. Verse 43 actually says that God is the One who gave the people their joy to party. God’s people should be some of the most joyous people on earth. Other folks should be coming to us because we are full of joy.

Why, Fam, do we decide sometimes that it’s better to represent our God by embracing frowns, mean-mugging and sour dispositions? Don’t get me wrong. I understand, better than most, the incredible pain and sadness that is endured on this side of heaven. But here is what I also understand. The text makes it clear that all the people celebrated the dedication of the wall. Everybody. Whether dealing with something catastrophic or not, all of God’s people in
Judah took a day to sing and celebrate and rejoice. God gave them great joy.

That doesn’t mean that those whose hearts were broken couldn’t be honest about their pain. It means that their pain didn’t stop them from celebrating how good God had been to them.

Does that encourage you as much as it encourages me?

There are times in our lives where we have full permission to stand on our wall (or accomplishment/blessing/whatever God has done) and sing and celebrate and rejoice and dedicate that blessing back to God and say, “Thank you! You’ve been good.”

What if we found something, at least one thing, daily to dedicate back to God, to say ‘Thank you, Lord. You’ve been good’?!

I think that kind of daily celebration and joyfest, even if it’s one song or a smile, would transform the lives of many artists here in the LaLa. Depression, disappointment and discouragement over what we don’t have would be forced to give way to joy, fulfillment, and encouragement over what we do have.

Is there anything today that we can celebrate?

Where are God’s party people?
Where you at? I know you’re out there!
Holler at me. Does this make any sense to you?
Respond below.

Let’s sing, dance and rejoice.
And if we don’t have it, let’s ask for joy.
The text says He gives great joy.
That’s my prayer for us today: that God would give us great joy.

Go forth,


1) Confession & Repentance – Let’s confess our wrongs and ask forgiveness
2) Complete transparency – Let our guard down and talk to God about our lives.
3) Listen – Let’s quiet and listen to God’s Spirit re: the scriptures, etc.
4) Intercession for others – Let’s pray for our family, friends, coworkers

Leaders Lead. Day 26/40

LEADERS LEAD. | Day 26 of 40 (LENT)

I woke up this morning with a simple thought, “Leaders lead”.

I was pondering an important decision regarding our bible fellowship, and that’s where my mind landed, “Leaders lead”.

After we’ve prayed, done our research, sought counsel, weighed the pros and cons, and drawn from our wisdom and past experiences, we as leaders make decisions and move forward because that’s what we do. We lead.

And the most effective leaders lead from a place of service. We don’t count it lightly that we’ve been entrusted with the responsibility and gift to cast vision and make decisions that impact lives. We constantly ask the question, “What are the needs of those entrusted to our care?” And we keep those needs ever present as we serve and set courses of action.

Time Magazine’s “People of the Century – Top 100” list included several of the most influential servant leaders of all time, many of which sacrificed their all in service of those whom they led:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mother Teresa
Mohandas Gandhi
Nelson Mandela

The selfless character that these humble giants possessed can also be seen in Nehemiah and the leaders of Judah that we’ve been studying over the last couple of weeks.

We’ve seen Nehemiah, a former cupbearer to the king, become broken over the condition of his people. He then fasts, prays, asks the king for resources, and gets commissioned to go rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, which is a stepping stone to rebuilding the nation of Judah. As new governor, Nehemiah appoints godly leaders to help govern and rebuild the city.

The wall has been rebuilt in 52 days, but the city is still fairly vacant. That’s when the leaders lead by example and start moving back into the city and arranging for other people to move back into the city. That was a big step.

Day 26:
Read below or click: NEHEMIAH 11: 1-2

Entire Chapter: Nehemiah 11-12

1 Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem. The rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten of them to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. 2 The people commended all who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.

What a great experiment?!
The leaders went first. Somebody had to step out and get the ball rolling. Then, others were assigned to follow suit and all were commended who volunteered for the move. The rest of the chapter lists all the leaders by name and genealogy. There are priests, Levites, and gatekeepers, all listed by name. Again, this is a big deal.

It’s like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founding Apple, Inc. and enlisting their first team of movers and shakers. They did not know what to expect. They had no guarantee of success. But somebody had to step out.

Most of us have a leadership capacity in some area of our lives, whether it’s at home, work, or socially. Are we willing to step out first and take the plunge, if need be, for the sake of those whom we are responsible for?

Would we leave our established lives to move to a city that is being rebuilt, that may or may not make it? Would we take the risk?

What decisions are you facing today?
I want to encourage you to boldly move forward.
Sink or swim, we’ve got to jump in the water.
How will we know what a great city we can build if we don’t move and make it happen?

Leaders lead!
That’s what we do.
So, leaders… lead!

Go forth,

1) Confession & Repentance – Let’s confess our wrongs and ask forgiveness
2) Complete transparency – Let our guard down and talk to God about our lives.
3) Listen – Let’s quiet and listen to God’s Spirit re: the scriptures, etc.
4) Intercession for others – Let’s pray for our family, friends, coworkers, church, etc.

Great Rehearsal. Day 25/40


Rehearsal usually means sweat pants, sweat shirts, or just plain sweat, if we’re dancers or athletes.

Actors run lines and blocking. Musicians drill and run. Choirs sing again and again and again.

Usually rehearsals precede actual events. We rehearse in order to get our movements, notes, words, and actions so ingrained in our bodies that when we perform, everything flows from a place of familiarity.

There’s also another definition of “rehearse”. While it means “to train and make proficient through repetition”, it also means “to present an account of”.

Today, let’s look at God’s people in their great rehearsal: presenting an account of how great their God is.

Day 25: (Only 15 to go!)
Click here and read: NEHEMIAH 9: 1-21
Entire Chapter: Nehemiah 9

By Chapter 9, God’s people have ate, drank and celebrated; and are back to a solemn assembly and fast. They confess their sins, hear God’s law, and are instructed to “Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.” Verse 5

Commence the “Great Rehearsal”!

The people of God begin to bless God and rehearse (give an account of) how He made heaven and earth and land and sea. They recount His covenant and promises and rehearse the entire Egypt saga, Mount Sinai, Moses, Canaan, their disobedience, God’s faithfulness, their disobedience again, God’s faithfulness again and on and on. They end their rehearsal of all God’s goodness with an agreement to follow God’s law again (Nehemiah 10).

We usually use our weekends during LENT for reflection and thanksgiving. However, today, let’s follow the lead of God’s people in Chapter 9 and rehearse what He’s done thus far. This could be the last 25 days or the last 25 years.

If we had the opportunity to “stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is everlasting to everlasting”, what would we say?

I would say, “You alone are the Lord. In the last 25 days of this Lenten season, You have amazingly answered our prayers and blessed several of our brothers and sisters with much-needed, steady employment to provide their needs. You have healed sicknesses and revealed true diagnoses. You have mended relationships and protected those we love from seen and unseen danger. You have revealed areas of growth and revealed sin that I could repent. You continue to teach me to forgive and love like you forgive and love. You opened doors that only You could open and lovingly slammed doors that were not Your absolute best for me. Thank you.”

What would you say?
“You alone are the Lord. You have….”

Let’s not be shy. Let’s rehearse His great blessings and exploits. Let’s present an account of His goodness.

Why? Because He absolutely deserves it.
And after we’ve greatly rehearsed, let’s agree to follow Him.
After all, the spotlight rightly belongs to Him, and He won’t lead His children whom He loves astray.

Got my sweats on. Warming up.
What about you?

1) Confession & Repentance – Let’s confess our wrongs and ask forgiveness
2) Complete transparency – Let our guard down and talk to God about our lives.
3) Listen – Let’s quiet and listen to God’s Spirit re: the scriptures, etc.
4) Intercession for others – Let’s pray for our family, friends, coworkers, church, etc.