Draw Near

Dance the Word 2017“So let’s come near God with pure hearts and a confidence that comes from having faith. Let’s keep our hearts pure, our consciences free from evil, and our bodies washed with clean water.” – Hebrews 10:22 CEV

In May, just before our graduation from seminary, a classmate released a book titled Power Walk*. As a fellow author, I immediately purchased the devotional journal and began my “40-day journey to power”. Since I graduated on May 13, 2017, my journey to power should be complete but somewhere along  the way I stopped walking. I’m not sure why and I am not sure when, but I stopped walking.

Although I stopped power walking toward what God has for me, the power of God that dwells inside of me was still operating. Even as I resisted, God used unexpected people and situations to draw me closer to him. On today, the eve of the bi-annual Dance the Word conference which is themed “Draw Near”, I realize that with each ministry in motion movement God has been stirring up the gifts inside of me. As I listen to the lyrics of each and every song, I have resumed my journey to power as I minister with power in the dance.

As I peek over to the devotion for day twenty-four in Power Walk, I see the header: ME: Okay God, what do you want me tell your people today? GOD: Stop walking away from me.

So in obedience to God, I charge everyone who is reading this message right now:

“Stop walking away from God and Draw Near!”

Rev. Joy L. Wilkerson, © July 12, 2017 www.mydestaisjoy.com

*Power Walk: 40 Day Journey to Power is by Karren D. Todd and can be purchased on Amazon.

 

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Dented But Not Destroyed

Dented CarLast week I was involved in a minor fender bender. I perceived that the accident was the other driver’s fault as the damage to my car is to the rear driver side and bumper. However, I received a citation for failure to maintain a safe lookout. That is a blog for another day (after I go to court). First and foremost, I praise God that that no one was injured and I was able to get in my much dented and bruised paid in full car and drive to work. It is my intention to upgrade for my 50th birthday but that is still some months away.

However, the accident caused me to take pause and reflect on the overall condition of my car. Despite the dragging bumper cover shown in the picture above, the car is drivable. Cars are modes of transportation to get you from point A to point B and that is pretty much how I look them. This is only the second car I have owned in my forty-eight years. It was purchased new after my first car, which I purchased after earning my undergraduate degree, had the transmission go out for the second time. I left it at the Nissan dealership and never looked back as I jumped ship to Toyota.

I have never been one to focus on owning a fancy car. I like the look of a Lexus or Mercedes. When I ride in modern cars with high technology sound systems and back up assistance screens, I am impressed. Yet it just doesn’t make we want to run out and buy a new car. I prefer to spend my money on fine dining, travel and entertainment. I may not have anything to show for my expenditures once it is over except a fuller stomach, pictures posted in Face book and Instagram, passport stamps and ticket stubs, but the memories are priceless.

A walk-around my car reveals many dings and dents. I admit many are self-inflicted. One dent represents my impatience one year as I hastily left the Southern Heritage Classic game. In an effort to beat the crowd, I took out some stake in the ground that I obviously didn’t see. Once I was backing out of a parking spot and bumped into another vehicle that was also backing up. There was minimal to no damage so we opted not to call the police and kept it moving. During a period of high stress and distraction, I nearly took out the rear passenger side of my car making too sharp of a right turn into my garage parking space where I live. My space, unfortunately, is beside one of those concrete support beams, which by the way is painted yellow for high visibility. When I first moved in I would cut the steering wheel short as I backed up. It took me a minute to realize I was hitting the beam but I quickly learned that I had to clear the beam before I could turn.

Damage NoneBased on the above, I am sure you question my driving skills and are maybe even thinking that the previously referenced fender bender (which left virtually no damage to the other vehicle) may very well be my fault. But I will let the judge make the decision on that case. Despite my previously self-inflected dings and dents, all the bangs and bruises on my car are not my fault. I was involved in a hit and run once where someone side swiped my car and took the driver side rear view mirror off. There is no evidence of that now as it was repaired. I have been driving down the highway and been hit by rock chips that left cracks in my windshield. I have a split right now going from the passenger side (rock hit in the shade part; it spread before I realized it existed so I could not get the crack sealed) all the way across to the driver side. At one point it stopped midway but the hot weather caused it to spread again. It dipped down when it got to the driver’s side so it is not obstructing my view. However, I know it must be repaired because I risk the windshield falling in on me and I being shattered with glass.

Yes, I risk being shattered by glass and cut to pieces. When I meditate on that cracked clay potit makes me think about this body that houses my soul and spirit. I have been dinged and dented; I’ve been bruised and battered, but I’m still here. I am able to get from point A to point B under my own strength. Despite the personal choices I have made that have left self-inflicted scars on my heart, I’m still here and I am still pressing. It has been said that what does not kill you only makes you stronger. I am a witness. The Word says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body (2 Corinthians 4:7-10).

I know that on this side I will not be perfect, but I am striving for perfection day by day. Each ding and dent that I have experienced, I chose to learn from it. Sometimes I experience temporary amnesia but then when I start to see something familiar and I remember what happened last time, I say no, not again. New methods sometimes blindside you and lead you astray to your old unproductive ways and habits. But there is nothing new under the sun. The method of the enemy may have changed but the devil’s end game is the same…to take your eye off the prize which is Jesus Christ. If you stay in the Word you can stand on the Word and the life of Jesus will be revealed in your body. You can keep pressing toward the mark of the prize of the high calling in Jesus Christ.

Patched CarRegardless to the physical affliction to your outward body, as long as your internal organs are protected, you can keep moving. Jesus can heal the broken heart and save the sin sick soul. We are vessels with a whole lot of power with a treasure from the Lord. Yes, I am looking forward to getting a newer model but there is still work yet to be done in this vessel so I have patched her up and I am moving forward. The Corinthian Song by Micah Stamply says, “Bruised and battered but not broken. Born in sin but from sin I’m free because I’m a vessel; got a whole lot of power with a treasure hidden in me”. Thank you Father for your power! Dented but not destroyed, driving to my destiny.

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Change of Plans

Travel PlansFor almost twenty years I have been moving. When I arrived in Memphis in January 1998 I was only going to be here for six months. Yes, that was my plan. I had every good intention of returning to a previous place of residence (yep, you guessed it…because of a man). But God closed that door. It was not in the Father’s plan for me to move backwards so he opened a door for me to stay.

So I stayed. But I was not happy. I bought a house. I still was not happy. I got a new man – a little happy but not overjoyed because I simply was not living right. I got a new car (because my old car broke down not because I was trying to be happy J). I had gotten a promotion. This promotion came on the heels of me trying move (again). I was determined to leave Memphis. But God opened the door for me to stay.

So I stayed. But I wasn’t happy. Then things began to fall apart in my life at which point my family wanted me to come home to North Carolina. Then I didn’t want to leave. This was home. This was comfort. If I had left in the midst of my failure, I never would have recovered. God had a plan for me. Now my eyes couldn’t see the plan, my ears had not heard the plan and it surely had not entered my heart the things that the Lord had in store for me. Why? Because I didn’t love the Lord quite that much back then. But I stayed. I wasn’t happy, but I stayed.Joy W Book front small

Despite my unhappiness, the Lord provided. Jehovah Jireh provided shelter – a place to lay my head. Through the ups and downs, God kept me. While I was in my mess, I met another man. I know you all are like, “Really?” Well misery does like company. But God provided a way of escape. The way was always there, I just had to choose to execute the evacuation plan. Seeking first things first was the key. (Matthew 6:33). I got out. I got loose. I got delivered. I got set free. No more chains holding me!

But you know how we do. We forget where we have been and what we have gone through. We forget that it was God who closed certain doors and opened other doors. We forget that it was God who provided the way of escape and we start doing our own thing again. But when you know better, you do better. Or you get convicted sooner. When you slip, you don’t fall down as hard or stay down as long. There finally comes a point when you say that enough is enough.

You start singing Shana Wilson’s, “Lord, Give me You, Everything else can wait; Lord, Give me You, I hope I’m not too late”. See “everything else” is my plan and “Give me You” is God’s plan. When you say, “Lord, Give me YOU” first “everything else” will be added in God’s time.

God is the standard. ~ Jesus is the key. ~ Holy Spirit fill me up as I wait on thee.

I wait in tiptoe anticipation of the plans you have for me. “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the mind this woman the things God has prepared for me!” (1 Corinthians 2:9) But I love you Lord and I’m going to wait – trusting, knowing and believing that is not too late.  Delight yourself in Lord Psalm 37and he will give you the desire of your heart (Psalm 37:4). Delight yourself in the Lord and he will order you steps.  Ready to move forward God’s way. Delighting myself in the Lord and following his change of plans.

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Stay Focused on the Father…

Trust GodFocus is required to be successful
Career success requires focus
Focus on getting the proper education, training and experience

These things are obtained over time and
Sometimes you may have to work overtime
But not consistently and continuously
Because to stay focused, productive and efficient
you must practice self-care
Occasionally you must “stop, drop and roll”

That’s right. Stop “doing you”, drop your cares on the Father and
roll into the glory that God has for your life.
This is not only true for your career but it is true for any area of your life.
It is true for relationships, particularly with those of the opposite sex.

Some of us seem to make a career of finding a mate or having a mate find us.
We get distracted spending time on social media and dating sites.
We spend inordinate amounts of time talking on the phone
to people who we know are nowhere close to being “the one”.
For those who talk like they halfway have some sense we may go out on a date.

After we meet them face to face we realize they posted untruths in their
profile about both their height and weight. Often, the initial meet-up is the only meet-up
You both mutually decide (without talking) that there is nothing there…
and it just fades away. You may encounter a few pests that try to keep lurking around.
You ask the Lord for protection from stalkers.
If you are fortunate, you will garner a good platonic friend or two.

If you have a lot of free time on your hand
the process can be a fun hobby that may, over time, reap beneficial results
But this girl here is a minister no less with a full-time job.
Yes, I am what they call bi-vocational.
I don’t have time for these distractions.
I’m going to have to wait on the Lord.

Maybe while I am focused on witnessing to some fish, instead of playing on Plenty of Fish, I will cross paths with the one God designed just for me.
In the mean time I am going to stay focused on the work that Lord has for me.
Stay focused on the Father and the rest will come.
#FocusedontheWord #Matthew6vs33 #1Peter5v7 #Psalms55v22

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Drop the Dead Weight

the weightWhat a year this has been!?! Now, on the surface it has been pretty normal. Work, school, and church. Church, school and work. School work, Church work and Job work. Work, work, work. Busy, busy, busy. But what have I accomplished. Not much of anything. Where is the passion? Where is the joy? Oh Lord, it is laying in the tomb. What must I do get the fire back? What must I do to stir up the gifts that are bubbling over inside of me? Oh to restore the passion. Oh to restore the joy. I’ve got to drop the dead weight.

Easier said than done when you are operating in your strength and not leaning on the Lord. Easier said than done when you are not listening to the Lord and doing what it is that you choose to do. Worse yet, you are listening to the Lord and clearly heard what the Father said. Yep, he said, “Wait”. “And while you wait, I want to you to do this and do that”. I’m tired Lord. I’m tired of waiting. I’m tired of working. Tired of church work, school work and job work. I have been doing the same thing forever it seems and I is TI-RED. Lord, I want to do something new. I want to do something different.

Well, I was positioned for a transition. The Lord said “…forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT). Well, I was too impatient to wait on the something new and something different promised by the Lord. I was manufacturing “excitement” in my personal life because my church life, my school life and my work life was just dry and mundane. Boring, dull, and dead and I was not trying to wait for the Lord to create any rivers in the dry wasteland.

NotAnxiousWhy was I so bored? Some time ago the Lord told me to move. God gave me the “what” but because he didn’t give immediate clarity on the where, when, how and why instead of me waiting patiently until I received further instructions, I waited anxiously and started trying to locate a “who”. I got on Match.com, BlackPeopleMeet.com AND Plenty of Fish looking for something new and different. Let me tell you, on-line might work for some, but I don’t think it is for me. I was more frustrated and wrecking havoc in my life and those in my circle.

See, the Lord informed me through the oracle of my pastor that a shift was coming and I needed to prepare for it. He said, “In a shift you don’t get all the information. You walk according to the instructions you have. Stop worrying about what other folks are doing or not doing. Stop worrying about what they are saying to you or about you. Stay in your lane. Your promotion; your breakthrough is in your lane. Stay in your lane and be ready for the shift”.

Wow! Stay in MY lane and focus on what the Lord is calling me do. The Father said move but the Potter has to prepare me internally – heart work – for the shift that will take place spiritually and the move that will take place physically. I have to move in Bible obedienceobedience in the spirit before I can advance forward physically in the natural to new and different things. Not new and different things that I can do in my own strength, because that doesn’t require God. I’m talking about the stuff mentioned earlier in Isaiah 43 and the stuff in Ephesians 3:20 that my mind does not even know to think. My lane was all about being still and knowing and not moving until God says go. “Wait I say on the Lord and renew your strength…” (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV). “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14 NLT). The Creator said wait loud and clear. I heard him but I was being hard headed doing what I wanted to do.

But you know what they say, “A hard head makes a soft behind”. Well, my tail may not be hurting physically but emotionally. Whew, I have been on a major rollercoaster ride. Praise God the ride has come to an end and God has clearly said, “Don’t make me have to do this again!” (Yeah, another message from God’s oracle). The passion is coming back. My joy is being restored. See, I’m writing again. My focus never totally left the Lord. I took a few breaks but every time I was quickly reigned back to my lane. The length of my detours have gotten shorter and shorter. See you learn as you go. You have to be completely committed to your Creator if you are going to be creative. I am a writer. A published author no less. God is calling me to use my gift with the pen (and keyboard) to spread the gospel; to take a stand for social justice.

I cannot (and neither can you) get weary in well doing. In due season we will reap if we faint not (Galatians 6:9). Work while it is day because night is coming when no man or woman can work (John 9:4). Boredom, dullness, dryness, etc. is a trick of the enemy to get you off your game. Don’t fall for the okie doke. Drink you some water and keep it moving. Draw near!!! (Hebrews 10:22 CEV)

Hair BackYes, I’ve looked at it from all angles. I’ve prepared for the shift. No more time for church work…time for ministry. No more time for school work…let’s apply some of this knowledge I have obtained. No more time for work work…wait a minute, I do have to eat. Let’s not rush this thing. My current employment is my resource provided by the Source so I will stay until the Gentle Whisper says go.

If your flame is fading; if your joy has lost its sparkle and you want it restored, you’ve got to drop the dead weight and leave it in the tomb. Then get up. Don’t lay there with your dead stuff. Don’t let any rocks cry out for you. If you don’t want to take my word for data, listen to the Lord because he does not bluff. Drop the dead weight and cast your cares on Jesus, the one who will never leave you nor forsake. I promise if you choose to live your life for Jesus, the Comforter will provide all the excitement you need. Just look back over your life and “put a praise on it!” God is indeed doing a new thing! Do you see it!?!

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INDULGE

sundae

Do not indulge in Saturday pleasures
If you are not willing to endure the Monday blues

Intentional sin may provide temporary happiness
But it does not bring you joy

Joy is the fruit of the Spirit
Only the Spirit gives joy.

Indulge in the Word daily
Do what it says and you will have pleasures evermore

Indulge in joy – Jesus joy.

Joy L. Wilkerson © January 23, 2017

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Kicking it With the King IN Me (At Christmastime)!!!

candleStax Records produced a song in 1973 by The Emotions titled What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas? (Check it out on YouTube). It begins “‘Tis the season to be jolly but how can I be when I have nobody. The yuletide carol doesn’t make it better knowing that we won’t be together. A silent night I know it’s going to be. Joy to the world but it’s going to be sad for me. What do the lonely do at Christmas?”

Yes, that is the million dollar question…What do the lonely do at Christmastime? Well not really.  In this 21st century in which we live, people gone do what they gone do, whether they do it alone or with someone else. Often we feel alone even when we are with other people. Sometimes being alone is needed and makes you feel great. If you are with the wrong somebody at Christmas, New Year’s, Easter or any other day, you are going to feel lonely. Even if you are married or in a committed relationship there will be times that you will be alone or feel lonely.

There is difference between being alone and being lonely. Being alone can be positive or negative depending upon whether you choose to be alone or want to be alone. Sometimes you feel accomplished and brave when you do certain things all by yourself or without help. However, being lonely is pretty much a negative adjective…lonesome, abandoned, deserted, isolated, forlorn, solitary…okay, that’s enough.  I think you get the picture.

Well if married folks and people in committed relationships can be alone and feel lonely…how in the world do you think us single folks feel?  I mean, what do we really do at Christmastime? Now I can only speak for my single self but I don’t think I have ever been in a serious relationship around the Christmas holiday.  However, I generally do not feel lonely at Christmas because I am at home with my family and do not have a lot of time to dwell on the fact that I am single and alone (i.e., unaccompanied, by myself, on my own, etc.). And most days I am okay with being single until I start thinking about the fact that I do desire to be married.  Then my goodness, I really start singing the blues.

Yet, I am reminded that while I live in the world, I am not of the world and so I cannot dwell on what the lonely do at Christmas (I mean really…that is a secular song. IJS). I have to dwell on God’s timing. The Lord knows the desires of my heart (and yours too) and in due season, if we don’t grow weary in doing good, we will reap a harvest (a spouse, a promotion, a job, a house, peace of mind, good health, etc). Everybody is not trying to harvest the same thing but let’s be clear, one “crop” that I wish to “reap” is a husband…IJS.

crownIf there is anyone else desiring this crop, all I can say is “wait on the Lord”. As we wait patiently for the harvest, we must recognize our worth. A Facebook friend posted a quote from Morris Chestnut (he’s so fine) that said, “When you realize how much you’re worth, you’ll stop giving people discounts”. You have a value far above rubies, so do not sell yourself short. Do not compromise or dummy yourself down. Don’t settle for anything less than God’s best for you because it will only lead to frustration and disappointment. With each discount that you offer, you reduce your profits.  If you offer too many discounts you will barely break even. More discounts will have you operating at a loss and eventually you will just be giving your stuff away for free.  #StopIt!!!

Wait I say on the Lord and be of good courage. Wait on the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)

There is another song that has been speaking to me during this holiday season. Donald Lawrence has a song titled There Is A King In You (on YouTube as well). The song opens saying “you come from royalty, an aristocratic dynasty. The goal of the enemy is that you don’t know who you are. There’s power when you speak. Be mindful of the words you release… You were born to rule. There is a King in you.”

crossYes, King Jesus, in the form of the Holy Spirit is in you.  Regardless to what harvest you are expecting, God is calling you to wait and be obedient in a barren season. Commit your work to the Lord knowing that your plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3 NRSV) because there is a King you. There is a King in you and in due season you will reap if you faint not. You are the head and not the tail; above and not beneath. Let the past go and look toward the future. The best is still yet to come for you.

Embrace the King in you.  Yep, that is what I am going to do at Christmastime. Kick it with the King dwelling inside of me.  After all, it is his birthday…IJS.

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