Lead Me, Oh Lord!

Lately, many who have the life spotlight have been doing some wicked things.  It can make you embarrassed to be American, or even human!  When you look at the actions of some, it can really make you look down on them; and raise your own self up a bit. Yes! Go ahead and admit it … you sometimes raise yourself up just a bit and see them suddenly .. beneath you. I think we’ve all done this at least once, even when we don’t realize we’ve done it.

This points out a truth about who we each are.  I’ll talk about me.  You see, I haven’t killed anyone; spoken with ill regard of anyone publicly; abused any child; mistreated anyone because of their ethnicity; etc. etc. etc.  So,  unlike those people I read about or see on the TV screen, I am holier than thou! Right?!?!  WRONG!

Truth is, only God knows why I refrain from what I refrain from and only God knows the things I do that none of you see.  My mind knows the blessing of trusting God completely and submitting to Him in all things; but my heart, without the leading of the Lord, is self serving even when my desire is to be good! Do you get what I’m saying?  You see, there is nothing in this world that can hide its weaknesses and failings like our hearts/minds. We can truly think that what we hope for is for the good of all people around us, but there is something within each of us that favors ourselves over others and the ONLY way to move past it … to have triumph over these thoughts/desires … is to knowingly and sincerely and deliberately place our hearts and minds in His hands. As for me … I do it every single day! I don’t hope in myself, not for one moment. My hope lies in the actions and love of my King.  He searches my heart and knows my true desires; He is faithful to see if there is any evil in my heart and His mercy and grace are powerful and can be counted upon to always lead me in the everlasting way.

I’m ever grateful that I have learned not to depend upon man – not even myself – to do the right thing.  I depend upon the Holy Spirit in me to bring about in my life what The Lord wills to be so.  Even when it seems that I’ve done a good thing, the truth is that it is only the work of the Holy Spirit in me.  Search me, O God! Lead me, O God! Omnipresent God – my soul hides in You!

“Search me, Oh God, and know my heart. Try me, Oh God, and know my thoughts. See if there be any evil in me! Lead me, Omnipresent God! Lead me, Omnipresent God! Light and darkness are both the same. I, in thy presence, Thy greatness proclaim. See if there be any evil in me! Lead me, Omnipresent God! Lead me, Omnipresent! If my make my bed in heaven, Thou art there! Thou art there! If I make my bed in hell, Thou art there, Oh God! Thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning, or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea … even then I will find you there, Oh God, and my soul shall hide in Thee! Omnipresent God, my soul shall hide in Thee!” – the late, Glenn Burleigh (based upon Psalm 139)

What Will Your Memorial Be?

Matthew 26: 12 – 13

“Play it safe” is something we hear so often in today’s world.

No want wants to be viewed as being too outside of the box. But when we, in obedience, perform radical acts of service and worship to our Lord, we will necessarily be outside of the box. People will think we are strange, wasteful, odd, crazy — but the Almighty will be pleased and see that generations will know what we have done for Him.

How do we want to be memorialized?

In Matthew 26: 12, 13 – Christ tells his followers about the woman that put the oil on Him. He tells them that she did it to prepare him for burial when she poured this oil on His body. He tells them a substantial truth that wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.

An extraordinarily odd act of service to The Savior brings condemnation and misunderstanding among men, but honor and everlasting memorial before God.

Praying that we will let God remind us that the only reputation worth building, or defending, is His! Help us, Father, to pour ourselves out like the oil in a jar so that You might be worshipped – so that we may be of radical service to You! And may our desire be that You will remember us — and that You will memorialize us in You!

Henry Highland Garnet served in Jamaica, Liberia, New York & Pittsburgh; 1842 – 1882

Henry Highland Garnet. Born into slavery in Maryland in 1815, Garnet and his family escaped to New York City when he was nine years old. In New York City, Garnet attended the African Free School. In the 1830s, Garnet continued his education at several institutions. He eventually ended up at the Oneida Institute in Whitesboro, New York, finishing his studies in 1840. He became a Presbyterian minister and served as the first pastor of the Liberty Street Negro Presbyterian Church in Troy, New York, beginning in 1842.

His “Call to Rebellion” speech in 1843 encouraged slaves to rebel against their owners. In 1850, Garnet traveled to England and Scotland, where he spoke widely against the practice of slavery. He also supported allowing blacks to emigrate to other lands, such as Liberia in Africa, a country made up mostly of freed slaves. In 1852, Garnet traveled to Jamaica to serve as a missionary. Ill health forced his return to the U.S. in 1855, where he continued his work in the abolitionist movement. In 1856, he served as pastor of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC.

On February 12, 1865, while in Washington, Garnet made history when he was chosen by President Abraham Lincoln to speak to the House of Representatives—making him the first African American to preach a sermon in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1868, Garnet was appointed president of Avery College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Later he returned to New York City as a pastor at the Shiloh Presbyterian Church (formerly the First Colored Presbyterian Church, and now St. James Presbyterian Church in Harlem).  

Fulfilling a longtime dream, Garnet traveled to Africa in 1881, appointed as the U.S. Minister to Liberia. He died in 1882, a few months after his arrival. Garnet was given a state funeral by the Liberian government and was buried at Palm Grove Cemetery in Monrovia.

The humblest peasant is as free in the sight of God as the proudest monarch that ever swayed a sceptre. Liberty is a spirit sent from God and like its great Author is no respecter of persons.” 

Henry Highland Garnet

Louise (“Lulu”) Cecilia Fleming served in Congo; 1887 – 1899.

Lulu was born in 1862 as a slave in Florida. In 1887 she became a missionary teacher in Congo. The school had 49 students, and many of them came to Christ through Lulu’s ministry to them. The students were introduced to Jesus because of Lulu’s ministry to them.

This seems a poor report…and perhaps many may think the work almost discouraging, but to us whom God has given the privilege to labor here it is very encouraging. [It] fills us with unspeakable joy. “

Lulu combined her teaching with weekend evangelistic work in the towns, and within a year, she had learned Kikongo and no longer required a translator. When Lulu saw that women needed to be reached, she began making home visits while urging the mission society (American Baptist Foreign Mission Society of the West) to send more women.

In 1891 Lulu returned to the USA as a student at the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia; Lulu returned to the Congo in 1895 as a medical missionary.

Known as Dr. Fleming, she was stationed at Irebu, further up the Congo River, where she needed to learn a different language. The power of Dr. Fleming’s ministry came from her identification with those among whom she served. The Baptist Missionary Magazine described her as “particularly successful in winning the hearts of the Congo people, putting herself in close touch and sympathy with them.” 

She passed away in 1899 from complications from African sleeping sickness.

Trust God to Meet Every Need

Expect Nothing Appreciate Everything

When Lloyd and I were first starting out in ministry, I used to tell the wives that I didn’t trust my husband, but in God. This sentence worried some people since they didn’t comprehend what I meant. I don’t mean to imply that I expect my spouse to behave badly; rather, I recognize that my husband will never be able to meet every demand in my life since he, like me, is made of flesh. Hubby will, without a doubt, fail me in some way, and I will, without a doubt, fail him in some way! Just cannot meet EVERY need in my life.

Please keep in mind that I am married to possibly the best man on the face of the planet! He is kind to me; he is loving to me; he is patient with me; he tenderly cares for me; he is careful to protect me; he is a good friend to me; he is my very best friend; he makes me laugh; he rejoices in my joys; he feels my sorrows, and though I truly believe Lloyd is the perfect guy for me — he, my LSC, is certainly Is Not Perfect!

When we embarked on this journey as husband and wife, we made intentional decisions to return the marriage to God. We understood early in our marriage that it was best to have no expectations from one another and to rely solely on God in all circumstances. This approach, I believe, has given us both a great deal of pleasure in the ways we bless each other. That may not be clear, so allow me to explain. — In general, Lloyd and I have duties in our marriage: Lloyd takes care of the car, I make sure there is nutritious food in the house, Lloyd will be the provider, I will be the counselor, and so on. While Lloyd and I were both aware of these expectations, none of us held the other to them. We never assumed that the other would be ideal for any given role. He committed to love me as Christ loves the church, and I committed to respect and build Him up as the head of my family; and we agreed that the rest would be taken care of by Our Father’s lead and His guidance. What has happened in these 28 years and 6 months is that when I cook for Lloyd, he is truly grateful because he knows I could choose not to. I am sincerely grateful when Lloyd has the car serviced and fills it with gas because I know he could chose not to. Now, neither of us has ever chosen not to serve the other, but because our trust is in God, not in each other, each act of love is a true blessing that is warmly accepted and graciously offered!

Because it worked in our marriage, we applied it to our relationship with God in all things. Rather than expecting Him to meet our expectations, we just rely on Him to do what He does as God and Father. Instead of living with a sense of entitlement to His benefits, we choose to walk with a sense of humility before Him, setting our petitions before Him and leaving them there. We transitioned from saying “”Good job, God!” to “Wow! Thank you, Father, for your generous care for us!”

Many Christians have reduced God to the role of “Genie.” We declare, “God is a Healer,” as if our words demand that He heal, rather than saying, “God is a Healer,” and putting that ailment at His feet, expecting only that His will be done, and bracing ourselves to be startled by the extravagant nature of His tremendous love. We do the same with each of God’s attributes, such as Provider, Peace Giver, Keeper, and so on. What if we made the decision to expect that we can rely on Him and determine that no matter what happens, we will respond with heartfelt gratitude? He has informed us that we will face trials and should rejoice in them; how can we do so truly if we are continually expecting Him to fix them to our liking rather than expecting Him to work them out for our good and His glory?! I’m not suggesting it’ll be easy, but I believe He’ll give us the strength we need to respond correctly. He is the King! He is right! His ways are all good and holy! Will you not put your trust in Him today? Expect nothing; only rely on God!