Your Name Here

“Then the Lord said to Satan,
‘Have you considered my servant Job?’”
Job 1:8


Has your life ever been so full of ups, downs and misadventure that you’ve thought to yourself, “Surely the Lord has put my name in for a bid?” Kind of like Job when the Lord literally set him up.
Poor Job had to endure one thing after another. Have you ever had a season like that? Well I have. In fact, I’m smack dab in the middle of it right now. It actually started about a year ago, so for some strange reason, I thought that when the clock struck twelve on January 1, and the year 2016 began that all of the craziness of last year would magically end. That the season of crazy unbearable difficulty would suddenly end. Well, no such luck!
Since crazy is still happening in my life, the Lord reminded me of what gospel singer Israel Houghton said on one of his earliest CDs, “Seasons are not governed by clocks and calendars, but by revelation and truth.”
Hmm. You mean to tell me that just because the year has ended, that doesn’t mean my trouble will too? Who wrote these rules anyway?
Today, as I was reflecting on the last couple of days, the thought came to me that maybe God has put a bid in for my testing. Maybe, just like he did with Job, he said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Marlena?”
In your case He’d say, “Have you considered my servant [your name here]?”
I think God has more confidence in me than I do.
So if you are going through a rough patch, like me, just remind yourself of the promise of James 1:3,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.”
Well when this is all over, I will be mature and complete, and I’ll have the battle scars to prove it!
(Contributing Writer: Marlena Patterson)

Give Me a Break

“I will also give you rest from all your enemies.”
2 Samuel 7:11
I never thought I was a person who had enemies; just people who I didn’t like and who didn’t like me. That is until this past year. That’s when I realized that there are people who are actively against me. Their words, deeds and attitudes make their opposition very apparent in that sneaky, sly, “Hey girl I like your shoes” sort of way. (I’m giving the side eye.)
Just to give you a visual, I watch a lot of football. Whenever my favorite team plays (THE Dallas Cowboys by the way), I route for them to win. Although I am for the one team, I am not actively against the other. Sure there can only be one winner but I am not hoping for the failure of the opposing team. Does that make sense?
Unlike my football scenario, I realized there were people doing and saying things not just to elevate themselves, but to also diminish me in the mind of others.
So what can you do to catch a break?
Enemies, as they are, don’t commonly go on holiday. They keep pushing your buttons and wearing on your nerves without ceasing. But this scripture offers refreshing hope.
“I will also give you rest from all your enemies.”
Ahhhh! Like the fizz of a lemon-lime soda tickling your nose while sitting in a lawn chair at the beach on a warm summer day.
(Let’s enjoy this moment of peace.)
Now that we’ve woo-saa’d, let’s write this good word on the tablet of our hearts, or in S-Memo, either one works, and carry-on as if we know for certain that soon the Lord will give us rest.
(Contributing Writer: Marlena Patterson)

Abraham’s Top Secret Mission

“Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah.
Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Genesis 22:9
Has God ever asked you to do something so nuts-o that you couldn’t tell anyone about it? I mean, folk would seriously have you committed, or arrested, if they knew. Something so radical, that you had to do it first, or at least make an irreversible commitment, before even hinting to anyone about it.
Sure you consulted God’s Word and your “go-to” Godly counsel people (I hope) to make sure you weren’t completely out of your mind, but after that, you told no one.
Well that’s what happened to Abraham. He had a secret mission from God that he literally told no one about. Because they would’ve locked him up! Of course I’m talking about the infamous story where God provided a ram in the bush (Genesis 22) to sacrifice instead of his son. The son they prayed for all those years, the son of the promise, the son through whom a bunch of Ancestry.com leaves are supposed to come.
Y’all know he didn’t tell that boy’s mamma where he was going that day! And when it was over; after Abraham untied his son, you know he told him, “Now don’t tell you mom what happened today and we’ll stop and get Fig Newton’s on the way home.” Let my husband tell me God told him to kill my son. I do not think so!
Just as a side note, I wonder if Isaac looked at his dad differently after that adventure. I mean, if my dad tied me up, held a knife over me and was about to “sacrifice” me, I’m not going no where else with dad. EVER!
Anyway, here’s a few examples of why you just can’t tell people the sometimes strange things God asks you to do.
Once God led me to walk 60 miles in 3 days in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. A worthy cause right? When I told people what I was doing, after I signed up by the way, although most people were supportive, I was met with some negative responses like “Why are you doing that?” and “Humph! I couldn’t do that. That’s doing too much.” Then, earlier this year, I told someone really close to me that I was doing The Daniel Fast, and they said, “Oh yeah? Well we’ll see how that goes.”
Really? I mean can a sista get some love here?
The point is, as you’re fasting this Lenten season, whatever it entails, tell only those people who are sure to support and encourage you. There will be some days when you’ll need to be uplifted and some when you’ll need some accountability. But whatever you do, don’t tell the naysayers.
If, by chance, you’ve already been unfortunate enough to have made that mistake, it’s okay. Acknowledge that they hurt your feelings for not being supportive, choose not to talk to them about it anymore and don’t hold it against them.
Once it’s all over, you can have some Fig Newtons.
pattersonphoto (Contributing Writer: Marlena Patterson)

Lent Is Here

“But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting,
but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father,
who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Matthew 6:17-18
Image of Matthew 6:17-18I am one of the biggest advocates of planning ahead. I preach it and I practice it and for the most part I’m consistent, except for when it comes to Lent.
I just don’t know what it is. Every year the Lenten Season comes around the same time, and every year I’m surprised that it’s here. Then I spend the day before Ash Wednesday scrambling and scurrying to get prepared for the 40+ days ahead. If I’m going to fast, I very spiritually ask God to tell me what to fast, and if possible by the end of the day so I can stop at the store when I leave work. Then I write down what I want to “get out of my fast” and the “purpose” for which I’m fasting.
Rubbish! I mean seriously, most of us are fasting because that’s what we’re supposed to do at Lent. Unfortunately fasting has become less of a spiritual practice and more of a fad. Some people are so accustomed to it, that they haven’t asked God what their fast should consist of in years. They know they’re going to do The Daniel Fast, or stop drinking or give up Facebook because they do the same thing every single year.
And the reasons we fast are just as bad as the methods. Sure we say we’re doing The Daniel Fast so God can be our source. But it’s actually because we know we’ll lose at least 8 lbs. and reward ourselves with a cute new Easter outfit. We avoid (I mean abstain from) social media so we can finally do the stuff we’ve been putting off for the last month. We don’t watch TV because there’s nothing good on this time of year anyway. Well, except for The Walking Dead which returns this Sunday.
Sorry, I digressed.
If you find yourself fasting out of habit, or just so you can say you’re fasting, rededicate your fast to the Lord. Actually talk to your Heavenly Father about what He wants for you during this season. He will tell you. When he gives you the answer and you follow his lead, he will give you all the strength and support you need to successfully complete your fast and be victorious in the end.
(Contributing Writer: Marlena Patterson)

Read Your Bible (Particularly the Proverbs)

These are the proverbs of Solomon, the son of David and king of Israel. They will help you learn to be wise, to accept correction, and to understand wise sayings. They will teach you to develop your mind in the right way. You will learn to do what is right and to be honest and fair. These proverbs will make even those without education smart. They will teach young people what they need to know and how to use what they have learned. Even the wise could become wiser by listening to these proverbs. They will gain understanding and learn to solve difficult problems. These sayings will help you understand proverbs, stories with hidden meanings, words of the wise, and other difficult sayings.
Proverbs 1:1-6 (ERV)
bibleThe world would be a whole lot better if everyone just read the Proverbs in the morning instead of the newspaper or our social media news-feeds. I mean seriously. If everyone in the world, Christian or not, just adhered to the Wisdom of Solomon, we may not have half of the issues we have. Why? Because it’s all relevant.
Here’s an example. Proverbs 7:6-23 (ERV) begins, “One day I was looking out my window at some foolish teenagers and noticed one who had no sense at all.” I mean seriously. How many times have you looked out your window and saw some teenagers acting nuts-o? And there’s generally one in every bunch that feels like they have to be the wildest.
Anyway, the scripture goes on to say that the teen with “no sense at all”, wound up walking through the neighborhood near “that” woman’s house. Some of you know exactly who “that woman” is. Now, even if you live in a wonderful neighborhood that doesn’t have a “that woman”, then you at least have heard stories about her from friends, or seen her on a popular prime-time television show that’s shown on Thursday nights. (I’m just sayin’.) You can pick one.
The boy knew he had no business over there in the first place. But it’s getting dark and the woman suddenly appears before him. He didn’t even have to read the Proverbs to know she was going to pop up, because in 1984 the prophet Whodini said the “Freaks Come Out at Night”.
Verse 10 says the woman was dressed in her booty shorts and stiletto sneakers because she had plans for him. What? That’s not what it says? So what’s the word the Bible uses? Hmm?
Brothers! Let me tell you something. Most of you are not as smooth as you think. It’s not likely that you “just happened” to notice her from across the room. It was probably planned.
Okay. Let’s jump down to verse 13. I’m going to translate what happens in 2015 while you read along in your Bible. But my version is much cleaner.

“She saw the young man and said, ‘Hey Tony. Where my hug at?’ Then she said, ‘I just got finished making that homemade lasagna and strawberry cheesecake. I told you I could throw down. You should come and get some while it’s hot.”

Know your Bible! Don’t get bamboozled! Now, “that” woman, is your baby mama and you’re stuck with her forever!
Now ladies. Before you jump down my throat, it works both ways. Except a man wouldn’t be called “that guy”, he’d be referred to as, “Girrrrl (with the roll of the eyes), you betta watch out for him because He. Is. A. Dog.” You see; the guys have it much worse.  But in case you’re interested in reading it, that version takes place in 2 Samuel 11.
Anyway, you read the rest for yourself. All I’m saying is, read your Bible. Particularly the Proverbs. They can save your life.
pattersonphoto(Contributing Writer: Marlena Patterson)