Look Up and Live!

The Prosperity Gospel

I know this is a touchy subject in some circles, but I recently read a blog article on the topic that started me thinking. When it comes to money and prosperity, I think I’m in the Rick Warren, author of the mega-successful Purpose-Driven Life (PDL), camp. He once said:

I don’t think it is a sin to be rich, it’s a sin to die rich. I want people to make as much money as they can as long as they give it away as much as they can.

I understood what he meant. Money is not to have/hoard/acquire but to give/use. He has an interview HERE that you should read. He talks about the decisions he and his wife made after the PDL money started rolling in. He made nine million dollars in royalties in the first three months!

First, we decided we would not change our lifestyle one bit no matter how much money came in. So I still live in the same house I’ve lived in for 15 years and I still drive the same Ford truck, have the same two suits, I don’t have a guest home, I don’t have a yacht, I don’t own a beach house, we just said that we aren’t going to use the money on ourselves.

Second, I stopped taking a salary from the church.

Third, I added up all the church had paid me over the past 25 years and gave it all back. I gave it all back because I didn’t want anyone thinking that I did it for money. And I knew that God was raising me up to a position of prominence. I knew I was going to be under the spotlight and I wanted to live a life beyond reproach. So we gave it all back and the very next week it was either Time or Newsweek came and did an interview of me and the very first question they asked was, “What is your salary?” I was able to say honestly I’ve been able to serve my church free for 25 years. It felt so good to bust that stereotype.

Kay and I became reverse tithers. When we got married 30 years ago, we began tithing 10%. Each year we would raise our tithe 1% to stretch our faith: 11% the first year, 12% the second year, 13% the third year. Every time I give, it breaks the grip of materialism in my life. Every time I give, it makes me more like Jesus. Every time I give, my heart grows bigger. And so now, we give away 90% and we live on 10%. That was actually the easy part, what to do with the money–just give it away, because I’m storing up treasures in heaven.

You’ll have to read the article for the rest of the interview. My question for you is where do you stand on the prosperity gospel? Does it include driving through exclusive neighborhoods claiming houses and cars that will some day be yours? Is it looking to be a funnel that passes on the blessings of God to others? Or is your position some combination of the two?

Let it Flow with “The Big Let Go”

I borrowed part of this post title from Claudia Mair Burney because I wanted to add my two cents.  Hers is a post well-worth reading so you may want to jump over and take a peek.  I’m going to pull-out just a couple of paragraphs here.  She says near the end:

. . .what I’m hearing is a whisper saying, “Let go.” And you know what, I’m going to do it.

I have no idea what will happen. I have no idea if I will write another book. . .I am tired of fear and desperation. They don’t change a thing. The Big Let Go is about not knowing what will happen. It’s about knowing God. It’s an intimacy thing.

This passage caught me because it describes exactly the way I felt as I was making the transition to Christian fiction back in 1997-98.  Actually, it’s about the way I’ve felt at about every major decision point in my life.  The questions change but the answer is always the same.

I hate to admit this but Claudia’s post also reminded me of the chorus to the old Toni Braxton song, Let it Flow:

Just let go
And let it flow, let it flow, let it flow
Everything’s gonna work out right,
Ya know
Let go, and let it flow, let it flow, let it flow
Just let go

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My Spelman Sisters

Last year about this time I wrote the post, Friends and Time, in which I talked about a summer retreat that I went on in Tennessee each July with some of my college friends.  Well, I didn’t make it this year because of some critical work items that I had to get done.  In fact, four of us didn’t make it this year, meaning that only four of us were present.

I really hated to miss the trip but I didn’t see anyway around it.  As a show of good faith and love, I sent my sisters autographed copies of Up Pops the Devil.  Yes, I admit it, I was trying to soften the blow of my bad news.  Though disappointed, my sisters were gracious.

Do you know what those wonderful women did?  They called me tonight and said they were ready for Book Club meeting.  They each had read Up Pops the Devil and wanted to discuss it with me.  Can you believe that? What a loving thing for them to do.

I wasn’t home when they called and when I called back they didn’t answer.  They were watching Kung Fu Panda, a movie I’m sure I would have vetoed had I been there.  But I digress. 

I called back a bit later and we had a great conversation about the book and our host’s new home.  Our book talk just reinforced how the book is mere tool, just as I am.  As I listened to the insights they got from the book, many times I thought to myself “I wish I had thought of that when I was writing the story.” They found symbolism and meaning in what I had written that I hadn’t even seen myself.  All I could say was, “Go on, God.” 

I’m sorry that I missed our retreat but I’m blessed to have those women in my life.  I pray I’ll be there next year. I can’t wait to see my friend’s new house. She designed it herself and from the description they gave me, it’s perfect for her and for our retreats. 

I cherish my relationship with those women.  I’d love to hear about the special friendships in your life.

UPDATE: I didn’t know when I made this post, but August 1 is National Girlfriends Day. (Thanks, Marilynn!) In celebration of my girlfriends and yours, I want to share this poem that I found on the Redhatters website. 

Happy National Girlfriends Day!

Friends and Time

Maybe I should have titled this post, Making Time for Friends.

I just spent a few days with four ladies (Darlene, Cassandra, Brenda and Linda) who went to undergraduate school with me at Spelman College in Atlanta way back in the day. Three were absent from our gathering this year (Valerie, Marilyn and Shirley), so we were down a bit.

We were all in a dual degree engineering program, where after spending three years at Spelman and two years at Georgia Tech, we were to be awarded bachelor’s degrees from both schools. Things changed from freshman year to senior year, with a couple of us continuing the dual route (five years) and the rest taking advantage of the corporate opportunities available at that time (and they were numerous) for math/science four-year graduates.

Though we all went the corporate route after graduation, none of us are in corporate America now. Four of us are educators, one’s a small business owner, one’s a federal employeee, and one’s a technical consulant. I guess the technical consultant could be considered a corporate worker, but since she’s taking a break from that right now I’m counting her on the other side.

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Content being Content

Okay, I know that’s an odd title for a post but it captures well my thoughts this morning. Can I be content being content? I have a full-time job that I love and a blossoming writing career. I’m happy with both.

BUT. . .Yes, there’s a but.

Because I have a full-time job, my writing life and career differ from that of other writers. Just the other day, I got a notice from a writer friend, Jacquelin Thomas, who’s done an Amazon short. Now I’ve wanted to do one of those for my non-fiction book but I’ve never gotten around to it. Getting Jacqui’s e-mail made me feel badly about not gettting around to it. When I see the innovative and creative promotional activities of other writers, I begin to think that I need to do something. I’m not sure what, but definitely something.

Here’s where we get to “Content being Content.”

I have to live my life. I can’t live Jacqui’s life or the life of any other author. My writing career exists within the broader boundaries of my life, which includes the full-time job that I love. This means that I can’t do all the things that full-time writers do. I can’t do all the conferences, my e-mail responses aren’t as prompt, my blog is not updated as often. Sometimes I get overwelmed thinking about all that I could be doing.

So I have to prioritize how I spend my time. The writing has to come first. I’m learning that I have to delegate many of the non-writing actitivies to others. So I have to hire people to help me with those things that I can’t do personally. I just have to get organized enough to figure out when and where I need help. I would love to have a personal assistant (perfect part-time job for a student), but I need to figure out what the personal assistant would do. You see my problem?

On a more urgent note. . .

The trade paperback of The Amen Sisters releases in November and I know I’ll need help promoting it. I have a great Internet publicist on my short-list but her schedule is pretty packed and she’s not sure she can take on my book, so I need help. If any of you know any publicists who may be able to help me, let me know. I need to make a decision within the next few weeks.

Content being Content. . .That’s going to be my motto. I have to “do me,” as the kids would say, and you have to “do you.” Let’s not forget that.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. -1 Timothy 6:6

How ya’ doing?

I hope things are well with you because they’re pretty well with me. I want to report some progress in the weight loss arena for me. In a way, I don’t like to talk about it since it’s a lifestyle change kind of thing, rather than a diet. Anyway, it’s going well and I’m losing weight. I’m not going to post frequently about it but I will let you know as I hit major milestones. How’s that?

Otherwise, life is good. I read an article recently about people who had weight loss surgery who ended up trading one obsession for another. This probably happens most with emotional eaters. Since they can no longer turn to food to manage the obsession, they now turn to drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, anything else to give the “high” or the “relief” that food gave. Here are a couple of links about it:

Other compulsive behaviors replace overeating

Gastric bypass patients trade eating for shopping

Now isn’t that amazing? It is to me because it makes clear that for many of us, food is not the problem; food masks the problem. If you take away the food, we just find something else to mask the problem. And the God that we serve allows no masks. That’s just the way He is.

Have you ever felt like you keep going through the same thing over and over, as though God is trying to teach you something that you don’t seem to be able to grasp? I think it’s like this with those of us who wrestle with eating issues. We must learn the lesson or we’ll continue to wrestle. Forget shortcuts. We’ll still end up back in the same cycle, trying to learn the same thing.

The God of “no shortcuts.” That’s the God we serve. You gotta love it and Him.

Be blessed as you learn the lessons He puts before you. I pray we all learn much faster.

Have a great week!

Another Week of Thanks

redemption Today was another tear-jerker day though I didn’t shed any tears. I just got another chance to see God at work in my life.

Last week was Spring Break for me so school was closed and I had a bit of free time. You know I had to do some reading. And I read Jacqui Thomas’ latest adult novel, Redemption. This book really blessed me. You’ll have to read it yourself to understand. Hint: It’s based on the book of Hosea.

I also started back at CURVES. All I can say is “so far, so good.”

I hope your week is off to a great start and that your eyes can see the hand of God.

Checking In

Ladies, it’s time to reflect on the week. I’m putting this post up but I’ll add my reflections later.

Oh, yes, we need a better heading than Checking In, so let me know what you think it should be.

I can do all things. . .

Okay, I tihnk it’s time to ‘fess up. We did a great thing on this blog when we did the 90 Day Bible challenge. That was a resounding success! We have been less successful with the healthy living/eating challenge and the Purpose Driven Life group reading. I have some ideas on why we were unsuccessful in our last two efforts and I bet you do, too.

So what should we do? How about we take one day a week (or one day a month) and talk about how we gained ground in our walks with the Lord and areas where we need to gain ground? That’s just an idea. That way, we aren’t committed to a specific task. We’re only asked to reflect back on our week with the Lord.

Do you think this is a cop-out? Let me know your thoughts. We can get started in March if anybody’s on board. For those of you still doing healthy eating/living, you can update us on that. For those of you doing PDL, you can update us on that. Or you can update on something else. It’ll be our time to report back on our week (or month) in the Lord.

I want to hear back from you before I start down this road, so holla at a sistah!

Helping a Friend After the Trauma of an Abusive Church

The Amen SistersThis summer Precious Times Magazine published an article that I started writing in the summer of 1993, Helping a Friend After the Trauma of an Abusive Church. The article is a complement to The Amen Sisters. I wrote it hoping that it would help people who have friends and family involved in abusive church situations. So I share this article with you, hoping that you will share it with the people in your life that you think might be helped by reading it. Select the link below to read the article. God bless you.

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