Tag: #outofthebelly

Shake It Off!!

Shake It Off!!

Shake It Off!

“And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.” Matthew 10:14, NKJV

The command to shake the dust off your feet appears only four times in the New Testament. In each of these cases Jesus is speaking to his disciples. Jesus told his disciples that they were to preach the gospel to everyone. And where they were received, they should stay and teach, and where rejected they had no further responsibility. Imagine it, they were free to walk away with a clear conscience, knowing they had done all they could do.

I feel like the scripture is telling us how to deal with people in our lives. The Word is our all-in-one resource toolbox, it has everything we need and more. Do you realize friends, how crucial our mental and physical health can be affected when we Do Not shake the dust off our feet, or simply, wash our hands of it and let it go.

The Disciples job was not to change people. Did you hear me friends? The Disciples job was not to change people, but to share a message of hope and healing by reminding the people they had choices, nothing like options. Amen. There was real help for their unique situations, they had the life changer and problem solver Jesus Christ. See Friends our job is to help with the planting and care of the things God puts in our hands to do, but at the end of the day, HE’S THE WATER WHO MAKES IT GROW.

 There was this story about an old goat who was grazing on the farm, when he accidentally slipped and fell in a well, that farmer tried all he knew to get the goat out but he failed. So he decided he’d give him a descent burial, so he took his shovel and began to cover him up with the dirt, but every time he’d throw dirt on the old goat, he’d just shake it off and pack it under his feet. Pretty soon, that goat was able to step out of that well. What is the moral of the story? No matter how much dirt you have shoveled at you, shake it off and pack it under your feet.  All of that dirt throwing is just making you stronger. Don’t you dare count God out. Where man puts periods, our God is full of commas, and like that old goat, your stubbornness means you will never give up on YOURSELF, no matter what anyone says or thinks.  Keep shaking it off friends and pack it under your feet!! Amen!!

Remember friends, we are each other’s keeper and the only time we should be looking down on someone is when we are helping them up.

You Got What It Takes!

You Got What It Takes!

You Got What It Takes!

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall the do; because I go unto my Father.” John 14:12 KNJV

The scripture shows us many occasions of people who had what it takes, and God used the resources the people had or owned to help them out of their situations.

Let’s look at a few examples: When God asked Moses to go deliver the children of Israel, he was afraid and wondered how we was going to do it. He used what was in his hand, and that was a rod. When the children of Israel were being oppressed by the philistines, David used his sling shot to put Goliath down. When a widow came to Elisha crying about a debt, the Lord increased her oil to sell and pay the debt.

Think about how far you have come this year friends. If you are like me, you may have not seen any of this coming, but our God does not half do anything. He has been with you and I all the while. He helped me to use what I had. Writing.

Over the years these undiscovered and even less talked about gifts have always stirred inside, I could always feel that there was something there. But I just kept on writing to Mr. Christ about me and my little world. Then one day he opened my eyes and put a fire inside of me that burned as I moved by faith and not fear, as I stepped humbly into my calling.

Having God in our lives is where it all begins dear hearts. Keeping our eyes open by paying attention as God shows us how to move. Stay in prayer as we trust God in all things, and I MEAN ALL THINGS. Keep a grateful heart. Know and believe in your purpose, stay with it. We gotta learn to be patient with ourselves, remember Rome was not built in a day. You are not alone; you and I have the Good Lord and those amazing cheerleaders who remind us not to give up. This journey we are on takes Love, adventure, creativity, laughter, with an attitude of optimism, along with no diggity no doubt.

YOU know I never was in the military, but I spent a semester in college Army ROTC. Back then the slogan was, BE ALL YOU CAN BE! As I think of us as soldiers of the Lord we are growing from the inside out. Here are a few more reminders that you got what it takes friends: courage, commitment, service, leadership, initiative, inspiring the next generation. Those are only some of the amazing things you are doing. God is working behind the scenes preparing you for that finale. I am so excited for you!

Do you realize you are actively living your dream right now? Even as you work toward your goals, you are in motion. As you head toward your destination, take time to smell the flowers. In other words, enjoy the journey. What a beautiful view. Keep love, a sense of adventure, creativity, laughter (lots of it), with an attitude of optimism, along with no diggity no doubt!

Remember, YOU GOT WHAT IT TAKES! God has not brought you this far to leave you. Stay positive, focused, and prayerful. Remember who you are and whose you are. Keep your head up. You were made with a purpose on purpose.  AMEN.

Remember friends, we are each other’s keeper and the only time we should be looking down on someone is when we are helping them up.

God Confronts His Prophet

God Confronts His Prophet

God Confronts His Prophet

“Then the Lord said, is it right for you to be angry?” Jonah 4:4 NKJV

Do you ever notice how God ask questions He already knows the answer to? Let’s look at some examples of what I mean: Adam and Eve, their eyes were open to nakedness, and they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord. And the Lord called to Adam asking a few questions. First, he asked, where are you.  And then he followed up with a second question, who told you that you were naked. And finally, he asked Adam if he had eaten from the tree which he had commanded him not to. The prophet Isaiah was asked, whom shall I send. Jesus asked Peter, who do people say that the son of Man is?

To me, the story of Cain and Abel greatly resembles the Lord’s line of questioning to the prophet Jonah. Adam and Eve, they had two sons Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer who offered God a portion of his crops as a sacrifice only to learn that God was more pleased with Abel, a herdsman, who presented God with the fattest portion of his flock. The Lord made it clear to Cain that he could have improved on his offering. Do you see the similarity of he and Jonah’s reaction to God’s right to choose?

 Jonah wishes to die because the people of Nineveh were saved, and Cain’s premeditated the demise of his brother Abel, killing him in the field. God asked Cain the same question He asked Jonah, “why was he angry?” As we switch back to Jonah, we have heard all of his complaints as he continues to remain on the wrong side of the issue. God asked him a question concerning his overall behavior: “Is it right for you to be angry?” As I think about the question, didn’t God’s right to choose benefit for Jonah? Was it not God’s mercy that kept him alive inside the belly of the great fish? Was it not God who spoke to the fish who vomited Jonah onto dry land? Wasn’t mercy extended to him when he disobediently went somewhere else instead of where he was told to go? Was it not God’s mercy that gave him a second chance to do His bidding?

God was not finished teaching our wayward prophet yet as he prepared an objective lesson. Still upset, Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of it where he made himself a shelter. He was still hoping for a fire from the sky, world wind, earthquakes, just something to stop their celebration. The Lord prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from misery. Jonah was grateful for the plant. It was relief from a compassionate God. But Jonah was unable to recognize it because he was too busy being mad at God’s right to choose. He was having a relapse in memory y’all, for crying outloud Jonah, could he not remember where he was? In the belly of a fish!

But look at God, as the morning dawned, He prepared a worm, and it damaged the plant and it withered. When the sun rose, God prepared an east wind and the sun beat upon Jonah’s head, and he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and he was ready to die. He was angry about EVERYTHING! The Hebrew word for angry is to be hot. So, Jonah was feeling God’s sizzle.

The scripture says: “But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”  “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” Let me pause there to say that this would be Jonah’s last response, imagine it friends, this would be how Jonah would be remembered in biblical history. Still stubborn as a mule! Lord Help.

The Master Teacher, Lord of Lords, the Great I Am, would have the final words as He says to Jonah, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow.  It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Niveveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left- and also many animals?”

What’s the point? God answers to no one! But we will answer to Him. He rules with ultimate authority and power over EVERYTHING. He owes no explanation, we must trust in his vision, He indeed friends can see so much further than we can. I didn’t always feel I deserved his grace and Mercy, but he looked beyond my faults, and His love lifted me. Thank you, Jesus. Hallelujah. Salvation is the Lords. Amen

Remember Friends, we are each other’s keeper and the only time we should be looking down on someone is when we are helping them up.

What’s Going On?

What’s Going On?

What’s Going On?

 

“But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ‘isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish.  I knew that you are gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:1-3 NIV

Chapter 4 of Jonah brings some big uh-ohs concerning Jonah’s behavior and attitude yet again. As we ask the question best sung by Marvin Gaye, what’s going on? But before we jump into it, let’s take a moment to reflect on the facts thus far:

  • Prophet called by God to go to Nineveh; bails from the presence of the Lord by going on ship anywhere but where he was instructed to go.
  • Caught in a dangerous storm and through the casting of lots is found guilty by the crew who was then thrown overboard and left for fish bait.
  • Swallowed up by a Great Fish, he served a sentence of three days and nights of solitary confinement.
  • He realized that salvation is the Lord’s and from that statement alone that the Lord gave the fish a command and he vomited Jonah onto dry land.
  • Jonah gets a second chance to redeem himself as he does God’s bidding, and he preaches to the people of Nineveh.
  • The preaching WORKED and the people of Nineveh REPENT!!

Now that we have the facts up to this point, we can discuss “what’s going on” with an anger prophet as we go into the fourth chapter. Can you see that old see attitude creeping back up?

Jonah was now full of displeasure, disappointment, and annoyance at not only the people of Nineveh, who were getting ready to party hardy, but God too. He could not contain his anger anymore, as he begins to sulk, mumble, and grumble. And just when we thought our prophet had learned his lesson in the belly of the great fish.

Can you see a little clearer how his story had nothing to do with the people of Nineveh, instead it had everything to do with him. Starting with his attitude. This attitude was brought on because God chose to save the people of Nineveh. And get this, since he figured God would show mercy, he went on a rampage, reminding God why he ran the opposite way in the first place. And then had the nerve to tell God to take away his life, for it is better for him to die than to live. Can you say man overboard again. Even in this situation, God was throwing him a rope. But He will not disappoint in schooling our prophet on a few things, besides there is no one better to provide this lesson than the Master Teacher Himself.

Remember friends, we are each other’s keeper and the only time we should be looking down on someone is when we are helping them up.

Preaching and The Response

Preaching and The Response

Preaching and The Response

“Forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” Jonah 3:4 NKJV

Our prophet was gung-ho and he loudly let the people of Nineveh know the state of their city. Having been through his own ordeal-not that they would believe his fish tale, he stayed focus on his task and on God’s message to the people.  He was doing God’s bidding and speaking, what thus says the Lord. Jonah went up and down streets speaking God’s message full of warnings.

The people responded to Jonah’s message of destruction with concern as they embraced it, hook, line, and sinker. That’s a pretty appropriate term if I do say so myself. The people of Nineveh believed God-not the second, third, or fourth time, but the first time. They responded by proclaiming  a fast, as they all put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.

The words Jonah had proclaimed came to the king, who along with his people arose from his throne, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Did you know that the concept of sackcloth and ashes was a customary symbol of a public sign of repentance and humility before God? It also could represent disgrace or mourning. Sackcloth is a coarsely woven fabric, usually made of black goat hair, and it was very uncomfortable to wear. Can you say itchy. The ashes signified desolation and ruin. Everyone in that city responded with repentance, fasting, and sackcloth and ashes. It was an outward sign in response to an inside condition.

The king did not stop there friends, he proclaimed a fast and published it throughout Nineveh saying, “Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea let them turn everyone from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not!” Jonah 3:7-9 KJV

The people of Nineveh took Jonah’s message and its charges seriously. God saw their works, as they turned from their evil ways. Their repentance moved the Lord to extend grace and mercy to them. Jonah doing the Lords bidding had PAID OFF for the people of Nineveh. This was cause for celebration don’t you think? Look at the lives saved, and the pride Jonah should have felt as a servant of God.

BUT….wait.

Second Time Around

Second Time Around

Second Time Around

“And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.” Jonah 3:1-3 KJV

Because of the grace and mercy of the Good Lord, Jonah was going to get a second chance to do Gods bidding. And this time when the Word came to Jonah’s ears he arose and went. A now obedient, air breathing, fish free smelling prophet was ready to take up his bed and not just walk but run to duty.

Let’s put a pause on Jonah for a few minutes as we talk about the phrase “take up your bed and walk.”Did you know this term represents a call to action? Let’s look at the story, there was a pool called Bethesda, it was where the blind, lame, and paralyzed would lie. Not just outward infirmities, but inwardly as well. People who were sick in their bodies and mind would lie as close to the pool as possible, waiting to get their chance at healing in the pool. The word states, that at a specific season an angel would come and trouble the water, releasing miraculous healing. 

There was a man, who had been sick a long time, he could never seem to get his chance to get into the water. But look at God, When Jesus learned that he had been in that condition for such a long time. Jesus asked him one question, He said, Do you want to get well?” This makes me so emotional, as I heard the Lord saying to me, “Jannie, my daughter, do you want get well?  The man didn’t know Jesus and went to explaining his dilemma as though he was talking to just some ordinary person. But he was in the presence of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. He said to Jesus, Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred, while I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.

 Let’s look at the concept of people waiting on an angel to release healing into the water opens up some thought. Here I see two types of power represented here: external and internal. On one hand, the miraculous healing power given to the angel by God, who is the resource to externally complete His will. And On the other hand, we see Jesus who is the source, that is all inclusive, as God on earth. 

Jesus who is both wise and powerful, speaks to the man again, this time he is not asking a question, but instead with commanding power and authority, says to him, “get up! Pick up your bed and walk.” All he had to do was just believe. How did the story end? It ended with the man taking his first step. 

As we move friends to the starting line, we do so with faith and no more excuses. A now motivated Jonah made the three day journey in one. Jonah enters the city of Nineveh.  

Remember friends, we are each other’s keeper and the only time we should be looking down non someone is when we are helping them up.

Out of the Belly

Out of the Belly

Out of the Belly

“I will pay that I have vowed, salvation is of the Lord.”  Jonah 2:9 KJV

A prayerful Jonah approached the throne of God reminded by his own words, that he would pay what he vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. At depths unknown, Jonah fell silent.

As we continued our journey into Jonah, the voice of the Lord called deep within the ocean to the great fish in its state of dormancy, and in obedience, it began to move. Out from its protective lair, it began its ascent out of the chilly dark abyss and headed toward the surface of light and air. With its precious cargo safely inside, the fish moved smoothly as it glided through the water. Can you see the sovereignty of God here, not just over mankind, but all creation.

Here more of my imagination comes to the forefront. As the fish approached the shores of Nineveh, its now-working esophageal muscles began to go flaccid. Startled by the aggravating noises and movement along the walls of the fish’s stomach, Jonah found himself in a pressurized wind tunnel as he began to move up and away from his current position.

Saturated in complete darkness, Jonah began to yell at the top of his lungs as he was violently tossed around. It was then the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. Like a slingshot, he was spewed up and out of the fish’s mouth. A yelling Jonah catapulted, taking a hard nosedive as he went headfirst into the sand.

Coughing and shaking off the sand with the smell of fish all over him, he began to wipe his face and head with his hands. He breathed the fresh air deeply as he weakly pulled himself up from the sand. He turned around toward the sea, hoping to steal a glimpse of his underwater prison, but it was nowhere to be found-no evidence for his now curious eyes. Only memories of darkness and the smell of rotten fish.

A bewildered prophet stood shoeless in the shallow waters, looking at calm, rolling waves approaching the shore. He stood as a silhouette. His undernourished body reflecting off the water. The rays of sun filled the sky, scattering colors of oranges and dark blues as it began to disappear behind the clouds of night. With no words to describe where or what he had been through, he silently took a seat on the sand, mesmerized by the ocean.

Remember friends, we are each other’s keeper and the only time we should be looking down on someone is when we are helping them up.

Solitary Confinement

Solitary Confinement

Solitary Confinement

“Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me” Psalm 42:7 KJV

Again, more of my imagination sees a frightened Jonah who was full of anxiety as he was feeling claustrophobic in his cramped belly spaces. Even if he told someone, no one would believe his tale of the high seas. He really couldn’t believe it himself, but he was inside the belly of a monster fish. Maybe this was other side of madness or did he finally loose his mind. He had escaped death, but for how long. Both hungry and thirsty, his grumbling stomach and dry cotton mouth continued to betray him. Unplanned and unprepared, he was forced into a complete fast from everything.

Unable to hold his feelings anymore, tears ran down his face as he became flooded with anger. He took his frustration out on the fish, hitting at the walls of its stomach until he was tired. He began to think about everything that has happened thus far, starting with the Lord’s call of him to go to Ninevah. He thoughts about how he ran from the presence of the Lord as he got on that boat heading elsewhere. His choices put an innocent crew in danger and all because of a lack of obedience.

Relenting and no longer full of foolish pride, we move into to Jonah chapter 2:1, a still tearful Jonah cried for help. Our prophet was made to reflect as he spent time in the depths of the sea, deep in solitary confinement. The dictionary defines solitary confinement as isolation. The lesson would deal firsthand with disobedience, as Jonah would be reminded of God’s authority OVERALL.

I picture Jonah contemplating that his prayers had fallen on death ears and that he had gone too far this time. Both physically and mentally drained, he remembered the Lord in sorrowful contrition as he prayed to Him saying, “I will pay that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.” Then Jonah fell silent. Amen.

Remember friends, we are each other’s keeper and the only time we should be looking down on someone is when we are helping them up.

Swallowed Up

Swallowed Up

Swallowed Up

“Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights…Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly.” (Jonah 1:17, 2:1 KJV)

This is where I get to share my imagination. This great fish that the Lord had prepared for Jonah was not for digestion but ingestion. Let’s look at the definitions of these two words. Digestion means the process of breaking down food, that can be used for the body.  Ingestion means to take into the body by swallowing. The ingestion or swallowing of Jonah was meant to be a kind of holding cell for our prophet.

Keep in mind, that this fish was prepared with a special function to protect the human life it would house inside. It would need an airtight seal, necessary oxygen for breathing, and a pressurized container suitable for the depths below. Finally, for its assigned purpose the great fish would not need food, as its nonworking digestive track was made inoperable.

Only fully gripped by my own imagination do I attempt to understand the phrase “swallowed up.” Like a big vitamin and a gentle swallowing motion, Jonah was pushed down the fish’s throat as he passed through the esophagus, a simple tube with a muscular wall leading into the stomach. As he slides down a slippery slope toward a nonworking, expandable muscular stomach wall into a clear, jelly like lining that was both longer and wider than he was. Lying there, a still passed-out Jonah would remain. Is anybody as intrigued by the thought of where Jonah was the way I am? An alive Jonah was in the belly of a fish, no doubt a miracle of God’s mercy to a disobedient prophet.

The great fish swished and gracefully glided, descending into a chilly abyss of underwater mountains and thickets of coral, passing by vividly colored fish, extinct volcanoes with piles of lava, and sea stars on the broken ocean floor. It watched massive loosening rocks tumble down from above like an avalanche as it passed by, going deeper into the ocean’s black hole and coming to rest in a large underwater lair.

At some point Jonah opens his eyes to complete darkness. Gagging and coughing as the smell of rotten fish came across his nose. Thoughts began to race across his mind as they became clearer, he remembered being thrown into the ocean and a fish bigger than he had ever seen. In his mind, he said, “it was attacking me, and I was fighting to get away.”  There was that stench of rotten fish again, as fear gripped him, as he realized he didn’t get away. Could it be? O Lord my God, is it even possible? Amen

Remember friends, we are each other’s keeper and the only time we should be looking down on someone is when we are helping them up.

Grandma’s Wisdom

Grandma’s Wisdom

Grandma’s Wisdom

“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long-life bring understanding?” Job 12:12 NIV

December 18, 1991

 Grandma,

 In the time when you are weak God is strong. Take up the Whole Armor that you may stand in these evil days. Gear up with the Belt of Truth, then put on your Breastplate of Righteousness, on your feet is Peace shield yourself with Faith, protect your head with the Helmet of Salvation, and in your hand is the Sword, which is the Word of God.

 Love your Granddaughter,

 Jannie V. Cudjo

 I was twenty-two years old when I wrote this loving message to my grandmother. I found it in her Bible, still neatly folded between the pages. My grandma, Madea, Jannie V. Taylor Green passed away March 16, 2013. When I found the forgotten note, I took my time reflecting on those sweet memories of her and I laughing together, as I drove us to the grocery store. I would push the buggy as she went from isle to isle with her list in hand. And the cooking she would do, yep I just kept my plastic bowl in my car, cause I was gonna want to take some of whatever she cooked home. Even after all these years, I still get sentimental when I think of her. But I focus on those sweet memories that bring a smile to my face. I was blessed to have had her to share in a great many of the milestones in my life. She was always there with love and support for me.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the wisdom my grandmother shared. She taught by example. She took care of business, stretching every penny. She always took the time to show me how to do thing. It was never a bother. I think she enjoyed teaching us kids. My grandmama loved me like the rock of ages, she loved me. Grandma knew God for herself and reminded me to keep Him first. Her selfless acts of love and prayers made room for my family’s dreams. She encouraged us to live life, and the importance of pushing through to fulfill our goals.

If you are blessed to have your grandma, show her love. Make the time to go by and see her. Don’t put off what you can do today. Give her those flowers so she can smell them right now. She needs to see your love in action: kindness, gentleness, joy, and laughter. Let there be no regrets of what you should or could have done. Friends, if we keep living, we too, will be those seniors needing all the love, understanding, and compassion others can give.

Allow me to share this short exert from my first book, Out of the Belly:

As I wiped the tears from my eyes, I took my finally loving look at my grandma, who was sleeping in the bosom of God. I knew he would take good care of her for the family and me. In my few moments standing there alone, I spoke in just a whisper, “I will carry the love and memories of you as long as I live. It will never be goodbye, and one day, if I live my life half as good as you did, I will see you face to face. Oh, what a reunion that will be. Until such a day, I will smile when I think of you. Oh, one more thing, could you do me a favor? While you are up there singing with the angels, can you keep an eye on me?”

Did I tell you she looked beautiful in pink?

Remember Friends, we are each other’s keeper and the only time we should be looking down on someone is when we are helping them up.