If you are tired of living in darkness of unresolved tensions there is a way out… the Jesus way. The Elephant has left the room is your personal invitation into the Holy place where you can finally discover authentic intimacy with the real Jesus!
Pastor, Capital Community Church
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Sitting down for dinner as a family is one of my life favorite things to do. Especially when we start on a topic of discussion we are all participating in even if I may be the target. That’s how we grow and learn more about ourself. It happened one night. It was one of those wonderful moments when all five us were present. We were enjoying light joyful conversation when suddenly the atmosphere began to change and a bit of tension starting beaming through our time together. Voices started raising a little. We were disagreeing about how I was spending time at the gym. My husband was adding his two cents about how he felt I should be using a particular machine, feeling it would help me lose more weight. It’s a given, you never bring up this topic, especially in mixed company…but he did. Everyone starting chiming in except for my son-in-law who has wisdom beyond his years. Finally, I spoke up and said to the silent, more non-confrontational one in the group, who when he speaks, we all listen. I looked at him and said, “I think the Elephant is in the Room”, we chuckled and then he said, “I think the Elephant is on the Table.” It was. We all laughed and I knew my next book title was born.
In scripture we all love to read about the Fruit of the Spirit. It gives us that warm fuzzy feeling that if we would all embrace them, our lives would be lived peaceful and beautiful. After all, love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness and goodness are all areas every Christian should be striving for, to live this way. But when we look at them through the lens of Christ, it may be how we all desire to live but what do they really look like? It certainly is absent of selfish motives and desires that the flesh would like to say is the way. Loving these attributes should be the desire of all of us if we want to live effective lives, touching souls for eternity, and living above and beyond what our flesh could ever do.
I’ll never forget the first time I felt true love. You see, loving the Jesus way can look like enduring a lot of hurtful emotions and pain. I remember so vividly my dad sitting on the side of the bed, explaining to me why I was getting ready to be whipped and he said the words, “I don’t want to do this, it hurts me worse than it will hurt you, but my reason is to show you that when you don’t respect your mother, brother’s or sisters, there will be a punishment for it.” I eventually learned the lesson, that discipline will come until I got it right. That’s true love. Being willing to have the hard conversations and then being able to endure the proper discipline is essential if we are going to grow into the developed Christ like Christians God desires for us to be. Our walk will not be free from trouble but will be filled with it until we eventually get it right. We all know that is a lifelong process but we do grow and eventually become the vessels God is using time and time again to lead others closer to the heart of God.
The Elephant on the Table, when embraced through the lens of the fruit of the Spirit, will find us producing fruit and leading many to Christ. Let’s embrace those moments of hard conversation and disciplines we receive from God to enhance our lives, so that we can be the effective Christians we should all be wanting to be. Have those hard conversations. Keep your heart open, put aside defensiveness and come to the realization we will never grow until the Elephant on the table is dealt with through the eyes of Christ.
Spring amazes me with its stunning spender of yellow, pink, purple and white colors. It’s the moment God brightens the earth with yet another masterpiece of His glorious beauty. Spring air, accompanied by rain, produces bright green hues everywhere which provides the perfect backdrop for His kaleidoscope of color. With sunlight making its way through the cloud covering, I stand in awe of the miraculous creation of color God makes for us. He thinks out every process of this majestic canvas and He does this simply for us to enjoy. Winter can be cold and barren, bitter and stagnant. And then, Spring, with its glorious colors, reminds us of His desire to make things new and fresh. Often Spring is a time when God starts something fresh and new in us. It’s a time of new beginnings. As you venture through this Spring, allow God to form something miraculous in your life. Take the time to take in the beauty around you. Let Spring remind us that we too are a canvas of God, and we have the potential to produce beauty and growth. Growth that can change the world for someone else needing hope. Before you know it, these incredible colors will be gone. The blooms will blow away and new growth will turn to leaves. So, enjoy Spring, the time for growth and new beginnings, and ask God to begin something new and beautiful in you!
In Matthew 5:7 it is quoted, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” It is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm. Mercy. We’ve all needed it. I remember as a young girl I was about to be disciplined by my father for acting out. Just as the discipline was coming down in the form of a belt, my brother stepped in and took the discipline for me. I’ll never forget the act of mercy Paul showed me that day and the relief of escaping the dreaded belt. Mercy isn’t always easy to come by, but we have been taught through the word of God that if we show mercy, we will obtain mercy. How many of you have escaped punishment for your wrong because someone was gracious enough to extend mercy to you?
To be truly merciful we must first see the misery through the eyes of Jesus Christ. We must see the drunk or the mental abuser from the lens of a past filled with hurt that may have provoked this lifestyle. Without this view of mercy of HIs mercy towards us, how can we extend mercy to others? Without first seeing the misery of someone and having compassion for them we cannot be the hands and feet of Jesus. We must be willing to look at others from God’s perspective. God provided the ultimate amount of mercy on the cross being sacrificed for the sins of the world. When we look through the lens of God’s loving compassion, we can see the hurting who need mercy in a whole different light.
There is a saying that says something like this, “never judge a person’s actions, or mood, we have no idea what they may be going through in their own life.” So many difficulties can be made more bearable when we don’t take offense to actions that are hurtful towards. Mercy offers forgiveness; it offers forgiveness by replacing hurt and resentment with compassion.
In dealing with the elephant in the room mercy will go a long way. So many are afraid to confront huge issues because of pride and how they may respond or what the response will be. Let mercy pour our of your heart and see the miraculous things that will happen because of it.
A lack of mercy and forgiveness keeps you from living out God’s divine and perfect plan for your life. Live in moments of extreme joy and peace when you learn to release bitterness, pride and anger. You can exchange it for a life of receiving and giving mercy.
Food is my weakness. I love just about anything, but I especially love anything baked. Whether it’s fresh snickerdoodle cookies straight out of the oven, a hot cherry pie topped with vanilla ice-cream, or a fresh baked chocolate cake loaded with from scratch, chocolate frosting. I crave the best. My mother created everything from scratch out of necessity. She raised 11 children and it was cheaper to bake or cook from scratch rather than buying store bought entrees or desserts. We did not complain, she simply knew how to bake and made the best of everything. One Thanksgiving she decided she was going to bake all of eleven of us our own favorite pie from scratch. So, the baking began. She made cherry pies, pumpkin pies and my personal favorite, pecan pie. My mouth waters just thinking about it. What a great memory she created for all of us that year. It’s something I’ll pass down to my kids, grandchildren and their children, a love for baking from scratch and making simply the best.
But there is something far greater than good baked food that I want to pass down. Something that I hope everyone who is reading this will crave and hunger for. As good as homemade food is, it leaves you hungering for something more later, a quick fix that leaves you craving later again. It never completely satisfies you. But God’s word promises that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. Pursuing a hunger for God and His righteousness is the greatest thing we an ever do. A genuine thirst for the things that please the Lord will lead you to a life of joy and completeness. You’ll never search again for anything else because a pursuit for Him will satisfy your soul. Far too many people spend their life aimlessly searching for something else to fulfill the “God-shaped void” in their lives. All of us are hungry, all of us thirst; the problem is that we aimlessly try to fulfill that emptiness, that hunger, with things other than the righteousness of God.
In Mathew, it says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” John Calvin said it well when he said, “We should never be clothed with the righteousness of Christ except we first know assuredly that we have no righteousness of our own.
Nothing in all the world satisfies the soul like Jesus. Pursing a life pleasing to him, being kind, loving, joyful, thankful and filled with long-suffering and gentleness guarantees a life that will please God. Pursue His righteousness and He will fill you. Thank you Mom for making those Thanksgiving pies and creating memories to last forever and thank you Lord for giving us all a desire for those things, that will please you, for it will carry us into eternity.
We were in the second grade and it just happened naturally, I’m not sure when we “first” met, but it was an innocent kindred friendship that just formed naturally and it has lasted for over 45 years now. Michelle always had my back. I remember in High School she warned me about a guy that wouldn’t be good for me, she warned me to stay clear from him. He had wrong intentions and I knew he wasn’t a good guy but sometimes your just vulnerable and she was looking out for me like any good friend would. We spent time in each others homes and it was in Michelle’s home that her mom introduced me to my first try at Kibosa and sauerkraut and it was awesome. I remember when Michelle’s home had a house fire, and they lost most of their belongings and how sad that was, but she was happy that the figurines she collected at the time made it through the fire and one was an elephant that I had purchased for her. In the fifth grade we built a gingerbread house together in our classroom and it turned out amazing! We got in a disagreement one day on the playground and I thought it may be the end of our friendship but it wasn’t. Years later, after I moved away to Indiana, her family traveled to see me after I had breast cancer and we both still talk about that trip and the profound effect it had on us. For my 50th birthday my family flew me out to see her for a few days, and she made those days the most special time of our friendship! It meant the world to me! When my mom passed, she was there at her funeral, forging another reason why this friendship is so dear to my heart.
So it seems like forever ago now that we first met and the years have proven that true friendships last, and they have a profound effect on our lives. We don’t talk much at all, maybe just a handful of times during our friendship, but we know that at any moment, if a crisis comes up, we would be there for each other.
But there is a forever friendship that I want to talk about that changed my life forever. I was walking out of a prayer meeting, early on a foggy California morning, grieving still the passing of my dad at such a young age and it was like an audible voice spoke to me, I heard the whisper of God’s voice as he gently took me by the hand (in my mind) and said, “I’ve got this, for the rest of your life we are going to do life together.” He has been a father to me, a good, good father and my best friend.
He was there when I walked down the isle on my wedding day and his anointing filled our ceremony. He was there when both of my kids were born filling our room with joy and blessings I’ll forever be grateful. He was there when we purchased our first home, started a church, and through every high and low there has ever been. He’s been there.
He was the father and friend I needed when I got my cancer diagnosis, the peace I felt throughout the whole trial was amazing and then the miraculous phone call came and I heard the doctor’s astounded voice say, “You have no cancer, you won’t need chemo or radiation, you won’t need to take medicine, you have no cancer.” He was so faithful to give me the gift of a better life.
He walked with me through the entire time my mom was passing away, he pushed away anxiety when it was tempting to take over my mind. His peace filled the room many times as my mom and I would enjoy an afternoon or morning together. He was there as we shared a favorite book, a cup of coffee, and talked about life and scripture. When others may not of understood what I was going through at this time, He did. And that’s all that mattered.
When I walked through a severe depression and a midnight I wasn’t sure I’d make it through, He was there promising me I would. When my mind was choking from anxiety and fear, and not knowing what tomorrow held, he was there.
He’s not only my friend but one that will be there forever and throughout eternity. He’s my forever friend and he wants to be yours too, He’s got you, holding your hand and saying, “we’ve got this” and trust me…he does forever!
Real, I’ve always been drawn to it. Homemade pie made from scratch with “real” ingredients, or a genuine authentic heart that flows with pure beauty and honesty, I love it. There is, however, a risk in being transparent. Sometimes it can taste different and sometimes authenticity hurts and crushes us; at other times, it leaves us moments of pure beauty and awe. Nothing can be compared to real, it’s refreshing and most of the time, we welcome it, if we have an open heart. Whether it hurts us or whether it refreshes us, being genuine is always good. “Real” always comes with a risk worth taking but you end up with something of great worth.
The first time I really enjoyed avocado toast, I couldn’t believe the amazing flavor and the instant gratification it gave me. I do enjoy avocado but it’s not necessarily on my top ten list of favorite foods. When I chose “avocado toast” off the menu and decided to give it a try, it was truly amazing. It was refreshing, tasty and most of all, it felt healthy. My taste buds were completely satisfied, so the smile I had covering my face, depicted all the above. I dealt with the doubt that I had that it could even be slightly enjoyable, but I was willing to try it. It went beyond my expectations and more. The flavor melted in my mouth and before I knew it, I had wiped out the entire entree. I can easily talk about my experience because I gave it a chance and loved it.
For a lot of us, like trying avocado toast, “the elephant” in the room isn’t easy to talk about but it’s in choosing to talk about it, that the real comes out, clearing our perspective on someone else’s viewpoint. And it’s invigorating. What can add flavor is when tension about the elephant starts rising. Our face may turn all shades of red, but we can get through the conversation, with a right attitude and spirit if we take the risk of being honest. Unfortunately, I’ve seen both sides throughout my life. By both sides I mean a battle always has two sides. The winning side and the losing side. You may forfeit friendships and relationships over being real, but you win by realizing that a particular relationship wasn’t meant for you. Not because who we lose is a bad person but because they be hindering you from becoming who you are meant to be.
To read more on this article, you can read it in my newly released book “The Elephant Has left the Room”. It can be purchased here on my blog or on Amazon.
It was just a simple invitation and the altar was flooded with hungry hearts, needing a fresh touch from God. I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed how quickly an altar filled up this particular Sunday but they came ready for refreshing and answers. I wanted God’s spirit to just take over, I didn’t want the feeling to leave. It was real and it was what we’ve been praying for. It was just a glimpse of what God wants to do again and again around the globe, in every church, in every nation and crossing all denominational ties. Our church is on the brink of something explosive. I don’t want to miss a service, We come expecting and ready, open and focused.
I’ve been drawn with hunger to true authentic Revival for many years. If I see the word revival on the headlines of an article, book, blog, youtube or the paper, I’m intrigued and anxious to read it. I can’t get away from it, God has been in Revival since he left the earth when He promised to send His spirit and pour it out. I’ve told my family in jest that I want to be buried with the book “Another Wave of Revival.” God has always had Revival brimming, and just like those gathered in the Upper Room and those gathered at Azusa, Asbury, Pensacola, and The Great Awakening, He has something for this generation that is just as powerful and effective. I’m hungry for it. What will it look like in this generation? Only God truly knows that answer but He wants to sweep our world again with it!
I’ve been asking myself lately, am I just intrigued with it and love to read about or do I really want to see it happen? I came to the conclusion, that yes, I really want it, there is no feeling like being in the presence of God, fully present, weeping, hungering, interceding, and being surrounded by his beautiful presence, but only God can bring this and he does it through those hungering for nothing more than Him!
In the Azusa revival it is recorded that those attending could be found for hours laid out on the floor sometimes weeping and interceding and at other times there was a quiet sacred hush that came over the whole congregation and people would give up any time restraints just to sit and soak in the awesome presence of God happening. People hungered and they came from around the globe to experience what was happening. Many gave up any time constraints and responsibilities at home or on their jobs to travel to California and experience the authentic global transformation that was happening. It spread to many places globally. People from all races, religious backgrounds and manmade systems left their ties to what was familiar to them to come and experience this grand authentic move. You had to be there, present, to know the feeling of being completely lost in Him.
So what does this authentic move of Revival look like for us today a hundred years past the time of Azusa? Or 50 years removed from the Asbury revival? Or from the Great Awakening at the turn of the century? What does it look like in 2022? Life seems to be careening forward at record breaking speed. Our lives are busier than ever before with the quick speed of computers, cell phones that can get us information in just seconds, our curiosity is distracted and torn in so many different directions that our focus on Him has suffered like never before. We have to be intentional in spending time with God every day. When we pray and seek God with all of our heart ask him to remove distractions, time restraints and the pressure to keep up with the latest and greatest causing us to work unreasonable hours and neglecting our time with him in the process. When the church offers open doors for prayer and they make time in services for the move of the spirit, take full advantage of that. Put away your cell phones, clear your mind and fully engage in the moment. Don’t miss church, be faithful to the house of God every time the doors are open. Be a praiser and help usher in an atmosphere where God can move in and change the whole dynamic of the service.. When our hearts stay hungry, when our minds are steadfast and focused, when we give up all time traps and let our hearts and minds fully engage, there is no telling what God will do for us. I don’t want to miss what I feel brimming in my Spirit, a Revival that will change our world as we know it. He promised to do greater things than he even ever experienced and I am fully confident he will do it. Are you ready? If not, get ready, you don’t want to miss the Revival coming that will change our world!
“For I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 
It is the most beautiful thing you can ever become. Real. All of us want it. The real thing, to be purely authentic, to be honest, to be true to yourself. It is a natural instinct to want the very best and to feel good about it. The interesting part is this, all of us have a different perspective of what “real” may look like. One of the most genuine things we can come to grips with is to recognize that every single one of us is different. Our thumb print is evidence of that, every snowflake is proof that God made zero duplicates. Zero. I love that about humanity and how God precisely formed us individually. Therefore, keeping an open mind to true authenticity from each individual perspective is important.
In Psalm 139:16 it says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” 
This verse alone is proof that the Great Master of the universe is concerned and loves each of us individually. He loves us so much that His desire is for us to be exactly what He created us to be. The answer is evident but getting there can be a challenge. The answer is “be the real you”, not a cookie cutter of someone else. I want this book to be a tool for you to become more of who God meant for you to be and less of what everyone else may expect you to become.
The Velveteen Rabbit has always been my favorite childhood story book. It tells you, in a real way, when you actually become real. There are so many quotes that could be chosen to explain real but here is one quoted from the Skin Horse in the story, that makes a great point:
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” “Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “But, when you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
He said, “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen too often to people who break easily, or who have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“When you are real, you don’t mind being hurt.” That’s a huge statement. Who likes to be hurt? Crushed. Left broken. Left bleeding. Left a mess. Who likes that? But what if you understood that it is what hurts you that makes you real? Authenticity takes on a whole new meaning and understanding. Real gives you worth. Real, may even save the soul you’re talking to but most importantly, save you. Real comes with a great price but the problem is that most of us don’t want to bother with becoming pure and authentic for that reason. We accept the mundane, the way of the gossip, the way of the coward, the crowd, we accept being cool instead of being real. We choose to follow in footprints that don’t belong to us and instead we take the beaten path, while we should be creating an original unbeaten path that God specifically designed for us.
A great depiction that has no comparison to anything or anyone, is Jesus Christ. He knew He would need to be real, to hurt, to bleed, to die, in order to save the world. He went all in. He came down to earth, robed Himself in flesh and dwelt among us, humanity. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for us. He is the greatest example of being real that we will ever find throughout history and the history to come but He did not let coming to earth be in vain, He gave us the choice as well: to follow in His footsteps and become Christlike, to become pure in heart or not. He left us the choice to leave everything else behind, follow Him and become real too, so we can change the world. But I feel that so few picks this up. That may be the reason He says in Mathew 7:14:“Because straight is the gate and narrow is the way but few there be that find it.”
The few that do find it, have the treasure of great price. All of us can have it. He made an all-inclusive invitation for everyone to receive and achieve. Let’s strive for real in everything we do and say, let’s be the honest, authentic people God wants us to be. Let’s change our world by being real.
There is only one book that I ever remember my dad reading. I’d see it open on the kitchen table during his devotion or laying open on his lap as he was preparing for his next sermon. In pictures you’d see it proudly tucked under his arm. The Bible was his strength. It was priceless to him. His Bible is etched in my memory, and it’s left a profound impression on my life.
With Father’s Day approaching I began to think abut his Bible. I began the search to find out which one of my eleven brother’s and sister’s had inherited his brown, leather Bible, worn from many hours of reading, teaching and preaching from it. Most thought my oldest brother was the lucky recipient. It wasn’t him. We went down the line from the oldest to the youngest; all eleven of us were questioned, I was devastated to find out no one knew what had happened to his Bible nor did any of them have it in their possession. I was anxious to see how marked up it was and to look at the worn pages. I wanted to see if he had written along the margins, or left messages for his kids to reflect on. Unfortunately, his Bible is gone. Unless a miracle happens, we will never see it again, except for in pictures.
As we celebrate this Father’s Day, if you were asked, what is your favorite book, what would your answer be? With all the amazing books out there, let it always be said that your Bible is your most treasured asset. Don’t let it go missing. You will never regret it and hopefully your kids will treasure it when your life is ended and say, “my dad loved this book the most.” To my hero, my dad, thank you for leaving an example of loving the bible, and leaving memories that will last the rest of my life.
“And suddenly there arose a great storm in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves, but He was asleep.” Matthew 8:24
I’ll never forget it. I can see in my mind, in slow motion, the incident. How many of you owned a banana seat bike? Our large family of 13 had one. It was light blue, with a white seat, big blue daisies were all over it, a perfect artistic master piece. My sister actually had the owner rights but she was kind enough to let me ride it once in a while. I was in fourth grade, loud and proud. After school was dismissed I ran to the bike rack excited to have the privilege of riding the bike home that day. My sister was on the back holding on tight, when down the steep hill we went, as fast as my little legs would let me go, our hair blowing in the wind. It was amazing! The faster the better! Then suddenly…out of no where, a bully threw a stick out in front of the bike… on purpose. The jerk! I didn’t have time to stop. It was a horrendous crash. I went flipping off the bike flat on my face. My sister about landing on top of me. We were scraped up and bleeding bad! I still have a scar on my knee to prove it! The beautiful blue bike lay in a mangled mess, like a crushed soda can. I was furious. I ran home, storming through the door announcing the incident at the top of my angry, crying lungs! In an instant, my oldest brother rose to the occasion, running out the door ready to meet up with this bully and give him a piece of his mind. It was not a pretty sight. My sister and I went to school the next day looking like Santa Claus; white bandages on our chins, knees and elbows. Everyone was asking what in the world happened!
It all happened so fast, so suddenly! How could someone be so mean? Why would he do that to us? Didn’t he realize who he was messing with? Anyone mistreating an Odum girl had to face 6 brothers and a dad who would be sure vengeance took place. What in this world happened?
We can all relate to a suddenly. Those moments that completely take us by surprise, unexpectedly. The accident that wasn’t your fault, that car that turned in front of you, totaling your car. That person who cut you off in line and sudden rage tore through you, tempting you with words that you never dreamed you would ever say. The phone call catching you suddenly by surprise, announcing the death of a loved one. Jealousy shows up on the job, and your job is suddenly in jeopardy. You are misunderstood, assumptions are made and your reputation is suddenly gone. You post a picture on Facebook and it makes someone upset, creating havoc you never expected. These sudden moments can change us…for life. Without notice they come. They leave footprints on our heart that will last the rest of our lives. Uninvited but inviting us to make a choice. What we do about these “suddenly” moments is so important.
Spiritually, what happens to us when our suddenly comes? Will we make bitter decisions or better decisions? Will we decide to fight back or lay back and let God handle it? It’s not easy. Our flesh was created to defend, the desire to fight back, to win. There is nothing wrong with the fight in us but if our attitude and spirit are wrong, we can fight until we are blue in the face and lose every battle. Fight, but do it with God and with a right spirit. You will always lose having a wrong spirit, period. You will always win having the right spirit, always! God has our best interest at heart whether it looks like it or feels like it or not, He does. Even when it seems as though others have won over us, regardless if we feel defeated, it is guaranteed that a right spirit always wins. Our suddenly will come. It will come uninvited, without warning, blind siding you, pushing you into darkness, into territory unfamiliar to you. With a right spirit, our suddenly’s become our greatest asset because God always has our best interest at heart.
What keeps us prepared when these suddenly’s come is so important. You want to be ready and we can be. You will suddenly wake up one morning, or run into someone, or get an email, or phone call and in a moment, your circumstance will begin to work in your favor. You will feel the weight has lifted, doors have swung open and the promises that God had for you all along begin to unfold into a beautiful new awakening. It could take years, but regardless of the length of time, it will be worth the wait, if we are prepared. Don’t give in and fight the suddenly with your ugly flesh wanting desires, God made us to conquer, He made us for more. He wants to live through us, in us and for us but we have an enemy that realizes our potential with God. He will fight us emotionally, spiritually, physically, through our dearest friends and our loved ones, to defeat us. Our greatest enemy is playing havoc with our emotions and thought process and he will send careless people into our lives to derail us and get us off course but God will win when we choose, during these sudden moments in life, to stay calm and let Him fight for us. Continue reading →
“Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s chosen ones (His own picked representatives), who are purified and holy and well beloved by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, (and) patience (which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper. Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so must you also forgive. And above all these (put on) love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness (which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony). And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts (deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state) to which as (members of Christ’s) one body were also called (to live). And be thankful (appreciative), (giving praise to God always). Colossians 3:12-15
I was far from anything that remotely looked anything like humble or patient. My temper was second to none. I could definitely hold my own. I had the lungs in the family as my brothers often reminded me. You never had to guess where I stood on any given subject or what I was thinking. I was not tame. One particular night when my brother was watching us, he stuffed my mouth with a dirty sock and locked me in a closet. I was obnoxious and didn’t know when to keep my mouth shut. No one was going to tell me what to do, how to dress or how to act. I was confidently “Mary Odum.” I was the representative in the family that didn’t put up with unfair treatment. There was one particular time that comes to mind when my sisters came and got me and said, “Mary, you’ve got to help us. Mom is not treating us right and we don’t know what to do.” I took the situation by the reigns, marched right to my mother and said, “we will not put up with this. We aren’t going to tolerate your behavior in this situation, it is unacceptable.” My sisters were quaking in their shoes but not me, I was going to stand my ground. I stood strong, clothed myself with confidence and went straight at the issue and that was the end!
I’ve changed through the years with how I handle my disposition and I approach life situations that need confronted differently, but it was definitely a process to get there. I had to clean out my closet, my heart. I will have to say, that girl is still inside of me, but time has taught me how to properly clothe her.
How we treat others is of upmost importance in the Kingdom of God. God doesn’t tolerate behavior that is hateful, judgemental, angry, mean, ugly or filled with bitterness and un-thankfulness. When we walk around in the molly grubs, with ungrateful hearts, and wear a face that looks like we ate a sour lemon, people will have no tolerance for it. If you are wise, you won’t tolerate it either. It’s just not acceptable. We cannot be raging tornadoes or Debbie downers and expect God to answer us! We can’t make demands and shout out anything that comes to our minds. How we clothe ourselves is so important. Flee from drama, gossip, and anyone who does not represent what they should be as a child of God. It should literally scare us to tolerate behavior like this.
We were made for so much more! We have what it takes to become powerful in the Kingdom of God and in the community around us. When we clothe ourselves with peace it will leave people and lives astounded. Our lives speak so loud without ever saying a word. Our lives are extremely powerful whether we realize that or not. Our actions and behavior are effecting people every single day. Our actions will either be powerful for the good or powerful for the bad but they can’t be both. We have the power to choose! God gives us that distinctive honor to choose how we dress both in our attitudes and in how we present ourselves to the world around us. In the scripture above it is written in the word of God to clothe yourself with perfectness and yet none of us within ourselves are remotely close to being perfect. The only way we can obtain this state of being perfect is deciding that every day we are going to give God the reigns of our life and allow Him to direct and administrate our wardrobes, our lives. He’s given us the greatest honor and privilege in the world to become “like Him.” We have to choose to be clothed like Him and give our hearts whole heartedly to him withholding nothing. When we make this decision, our lives are literally filled with unexplainable peace. We can walk into the most horrendous situations and be filled with peace. God equips us with everything we need to live the life we can only hope to have without Him.
It is said that Mother Theresa lived a life of giving her all, every single day. This comment about her life is noteworthy because at the end of her life she said she felt unfulfilled, empty and lonely. She didn’t have the peace that comes from Him. In one despairing letter to a confident she wrote, “where is my faith – even deep down right in, there is nothing, but emptiness and darkness – My God – how painful is this unknown pain – I have no faith- I dare not utter the words and thoughts that crowd in my heart and make me suffer untold agony.” (https://www.biography.com/religious-figure/mother-teresa). Mother Theresa worked hard many years of her life, advocating for very noteworthy aspirations, but left this world clothed without peace, without that perfect state of mind we are promised in Christ. The greatest thing we can ever do is get into the presence of God and ask Him to clothe us as Colossians 3 encourages us to do. When we do, we will find our purpose but more importantly, we will find the peace of God that He longs to give every one of us. When we find that, it will transform the world around us!
My hot temper didn’t get me anywhere, but looking back, I can see the mercy and hand of God on my life. He brought me to a place of humble appreciation for Him and gave me the discipline to surrender my temper. The trade brought me to a life of prayer, peace and perfect harmony. Choose to clothe yourself as God’s chosen ones, purified, holy and well loved by God. Then watch as He transforms your entire wardrobe to one that will be marked by tenderhearted pity, mercy and kind feelings towards everyone and everything life throws at you. You’ll be grateful you did! It works!