Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson's passing is both woeful and surreal. The self-described king of Pop was unquestionably a gift from heaven. He was so extraordinarily talented. Sadly, he also seemed to suffer from a conflict of the soul. Even though on the one hand he seemed to have it all, on the other hand he seemed to be plagued by a certain emptiness, a void. It seemed as if he tried to fill this void with things reminiscent of good times and laughter: amusement rides, a personal zoo, etc. At the same time, he seemed to search for a greater purpose in his life. Some of his music, like "Man in the Mirror" (listen below), points to this other, searching side of MJ.

The truth is, no one can truly understand purpose unless and until he/she is acquainted with his/her creator. Don't get me wrong; clearly MJ was destined to create music and entertain. In that respect he lived out his purpose and accomplished what no other entertainer has ever accomplished: greatest selling album ever; 13 Grammy awards, etc. Yet, it seems there remained this dissatisfaction, a sense of longing, a void -- he knew there was something else. His songs "Heal the World," "We are the World," "Man in the Mirror," "The Lost Children," etc., hint at a recognition on some level that there was something more he was to do with his gift.

Life is so ephemeral, so fleeting. It is important to seek God, to feel after him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:27). Jesus alone gives true peace, true satisfaction, and true meaning to life.

Rev. Janice Davis Steele

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What do you do when you are facing a challenge you would prefer to walk away from rather than confront? I think we all face these kinds of situations. You know, even Jesus, faced such a situation. As the time neared where Jesus would offer Himself to die on the Cross for our sins, He agonized over the prospect. Jesus said, "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me...nevertheless, not as I will but as You will" (Matthew 26:39).These words from Jesus are quite instructive. They let us know Jesus fully and honestly recognizes the extent and depth of human difficulties. At the same time, they show that despite the breadth and depth of difficulty, God's way is always best. His way will always produce blessing and fruitfulness far beyond anything we could have seen or even imagined at the time we faced the difficulty.Decide today to confront challenges by obeying the Word of God. It will yield a life that is fruitful and fulfilling.

Consider Simon Peter in Luke 5:1-9. He and his fishing partners had toiled in their own strength, pulling an "all-nighter," and had caught absolutely nothing. After having been out all night and after having just cleaned all those fishing nets, Jesus instructs Peter to begin the process all over again by throwing the nets BACK into the water. He had already tried and failed. He had nothing. Now he was receiving an instruction from God that seemed like a repeat of what he had just done. Peter confronted that challenge by saying, "Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net" (Luke 5:5). When he obeyed, the boat filled up so much that it began to sink!

When you agree to say, "NEVERTHELESS, I will do your will, Lord," you, too will understand that God's ways reach far beyond our understanding at the moment, but they will allways yield abundance and blessing beyond what you ever could have imagined while you were facing that trial or challenge. Agree with God and get ready to experience amazing abundance in your own life!

Janice Davis Steele
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Heroes Among Us

On June 10, 2009 we stood transfixed, frozen with disbelief, unable to wrap our minds around the depth of depravity, the viciousness, and the perversion, that apparently so consumed an octogenarian that he engaged in a diabolical mission, bent on destroying lives and shattering families. Why would anyone select the Holocaust Memorial Museum -- a place with such piercingly painful memories of man’s inhumanity toward man -- only to inflict more pain, death, and wickedness? How could anyone openly and brazenly brandish such a large firearm in broad daylight on a busy Washington street without being noticed, much less stopped?

Our attempt to try to process and make sense of it all ends in frustration: the demonic neither yields to nor respects the rational.

We thank God for the heroism of Stephen T. Johns, the security officer who selflessly placed himself in harm’s way. Johns’ heroic act in the line of duty foiled what apparently was the gunman’s deranged plot to kill many innocent individuals visiting the Holocaust Museum that day. In one day, worldwide, Johns’ name became synonymous with heroism. We thank God for Harry Weeks and Jason McCuiston, the two other museum security officers who returned fire and injured the assailant, putting a stop to his demonic rampage.

We also thank God for Jacqueline Carter, Johns’ mother. Her response to it all has been extraordinary -- an exemplar of Christ-likeness. In the midst of such heartrending depredation, and with the eyes of the world upon her, this elegant, beautiful, poised Christian has extended unimaginable grace, love, compassion, and forgiveness. She has told all who will listen that her God and her faith will get her through this. She has openly forgiven her son’s assailant, and has openly prayed that the assailant’s son would find it in his heart to forgive his father for his heinous act. This is not some resigned acceptance of the hands of fate. Neither has her response been some artificial gesture meant for public display. One thing we can all attest to is when pressed hard enough, what’s really in you will come out. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Carter, when pressed beyond measure, has exuded what is in her: the love of God.

You see, Carter has drawn upon the wells of salvation within her (Isaiah 12:3). She has drawn upon a reservoir of the Word of God that has been built up over decades of intimacy with the Lord. She has tapped into and received grace to help in time of need. She radiates with what Zechariah 12:10 calls the spirit of grace. It is a picture of triumph over tragedy. It is wondrous to behold.

I have known Jacqueline Carter for more than fifteen years. I have watched her sing praises to the Lord. I have watched her dance before the Lord. I have watched her delve into the Word of God. Her love of God is genuine. Her worship is authentic.

I tell you, it is one thing to preach Matthew 5:44 (“But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;”) but it is another thing entirely to live it, especially where the rubber meets the road.

The Bible tells us in Philippians 3:17 “Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.” Carter is a model of courageous faith in action. She, too, is our hero.

I encourage you to show your love toward this family by giving to one of the three funds that have been established:

  • The U.S. Holocaust Museum Memorial -- Checks payable to USHMM Officer Johns Family Fund may be mailed to USHMM, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl. SW, Washington D.C. 20024. Contributions can also be made by calling 877-91USHMM (877-918-7466) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or going to the museum's Web site:

  • Wackenhut, Stephen T. Johns' employer, asks that contributions be made by check or money order payable to Zakia Christina Johns in care of WSI Wachovia, 4440 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. 33410.

  • Checks payable to the American Jewish Committee, with "Holocaust Museum Memorial Fund" on the memo line, should be mailed to: American Jewish Committee Washington Chapter in care of Melanie Maron Pell, 1156 15th St. NW, Suite 1201, Washington D.C. 20005. Donations will also be accepted at the AJC Web site:

Rev. Janice Davis Steele

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Monday, June 8, 2009

How to Delight Yourself in the Lord

During the May Triumph! seminar, we learned from the book of Nehemiah how to follow the desires of your heart. God wants you to experience the things you have dreamed of. In fact, it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Phil. 1:12-13. Often, your desires flow from the heart of God to your spirit. He places in you a burning desire, a mission, a task. But what do you do with that? Psalm 37:4 says if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart.

How do you delight yourself in the Lord? Here is a helpful exercise:

I. Daily Smile -- Upon arising, put a big smile on your face. Just smile broadly. Keep smiling for at least five minutes! Bless the Lord! Say Good morning, LORD!

Then name 10 things you are thankful for. Identify things you are grateful for. This simple step will help put you in the place where you are delighting in the LORD. [Psalm 100 tells us to enter His gates with thanksgiving, enter His courts with praise].

II. Acknowledge the Godly Desire -- Make certain the desire agrees with God's Word. God will not deviate from His Word. Once you establish from two or more witnesses (scriptures) that the desire truly is from God, talk to the Lord and let Him know, through prayer, that you acknowledge that it is God who has placed the desire in you. Why do this? Because Proverbs 3:6 tells us that when we acknowledge God in all our ways, He will direct our paths! Direction is what you are seeking, isn't it? Then acknowledge God!

III. Imagine/Visualize Victory -- Imagine having received the desires. What would it look like, smell like, taste like, sound like, feel like? Put yourself in the place. This is not wishful thinking. This is getting a vision of victory. This is a prelude to believing you receive. Seeing is vital. Write it down. Write the vision and make it plain so they that read it can run with it. Hab. 2:4.

IV. Pray -- Mark 11:24 says, "Whatsoever things you desire, when you pray, believe you receive them, and you shall have them." You must pray in faith, believing that you will attain and experience the desire the Lord has placed within you.

Many people who attended the seminar have reported tremendous success in areas of their lives after having implemented these simple instructions. If the Lord is leading you to follow suit, please obey! Then holler back and share with us what the Lord has done! Leave a comment!

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