Part 3 - Be Grateful

OK, it’s been a busy week and I’m ready to resume my conversation from Part 1 and 2. If you are reading this for the first time, catch up quickly by reading the first two parts of the blog entitled “Attitude Adjustment.”

The next thing that will help us nurture a grateful heart is affirming our purpose with the word of God and patterning our lives after those who have lived through the vicissitudes of life, but still stand atop the winner’s circle. I’m now taking a brief look at Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul, a great leader of the church in the first century, traveled on three missionary journeys spreading the message of Jesus Christ. On one such trip to Philippi he and a companion named Silas were locked up for preaching the message of Jesus the Messiah. (Acts 16:16-36) How did Paul and Silas -- two preachers -- respond when locked up in jail for preaching the message of Christ? The book (Bible) says at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God. These men of God didn’t focus on the unsavory or distasteful. They didn’t concentrate on the lack of bail money, physical abuse, or injustice. Our focus shouldn’t be on what we lack, but what we already have and if we can be grateful and thankful at all times, our attitude can invoke something in God to rescue us. If we can continue to praise our source, which is God, and thank Him for resources, which are people, we can enjoy the benefits of seeing our chains and shackles fall to the ground and we can be a greater witness to others, like Paul and Silas. These men could rejoice because despite being persecuted, they understood their purpose and recognized that it’s worth suffering for what you’ve been born to do.

Though our assignments may be tough, difficult, and stressful, we must find a way to enjoy what we are doing by conditioning our thinking to embrace the good even when bad exists. Paul and his evangelistic partner were locked up for doing something good. They were in both a humiliating and debilitating situation but yet these men found a way to rejoice when others would have complained. If we search deep enough we’ll discover that God is yet good even at midnight in our lives. If you’ve got food to eat, thank God. If you’ve got clothes to wear, thank God. If you have reasonable health, thank God. If you’ve got even a small income, thank God. If you’ve got some kind of place to live, praise God. If you’ve ever endured any suffering and lived to talk about it, thank God. If you are dealing with the most difficult pain and hurt in your life but you are still standing, thank God. I guarantee if you keep thinking you will find reasons to be thankful, joy will begin to fill your heart. Don’t allow the bitterness of opposition poison the fruit of a purpose-driven life. I’ve got more in Part 4.

Part 2 "Principles Don't Change"

I hope that you read last week’s blog; if not, just scroll down to it and catch up with what I discussed. This blog is just a continuation from last week; but last week’s entry will help you fully appreciate what I am talking about today.

I think it is human nature to not want to live under pressure and subsequently seek ways to alleviate our struggles. My personal issues magnify when I don’t immerse myself consistently in principles that give life. When I neglect to rehearse and apply certain principles that impact me positively, spiritually, psychologically, and physically I tend to become susceptible to the challenges. Is it possible that you are vulnerable at this time in your pressure-filled life because you have neglected certain powerful principles that have always empowered you to survive and thrive?

Former President Jimmy Carter said, “We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.” The problems we face may change, but principles stay the same because when a principle is rooted in truth, it can never change. The truth that brought you through past challenges is the same truth that will bring you through today’s troubles. I had to remind myself that despite hardships, one of the foundational truths in which I live by encourages me to be thankful. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Yes ma’am and yes sir! The next time my cousin acknowledges that I am blessed because of the assignment God has given me, my response will be thanks and praise God!

For those who have been in the battle of your life don’t focus on your wounds, pain, or scars from the fight. Take some time now and give thanks. If you are alive, give thanks. If you have a place to live, give thanks. If you have food to eat, give thanks. If you have some clothes to wear, give thanks. If you still have hopes and dreams, give thanks. If you can still recognize God’s influence in your life, give thanks. If you experienced serious hardships but you still have your mind intact, give thanks. If you still have hope, give thanks. If you’re surviving and thriving against all odds, give thanks. Praise and thank God for what He has already done and what you believe He’s going to do. Take a praise break and it will adjust your attitude. ONCE YOUR ATTITUDE IS ADJUSTED YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT -- YOUR ALTITUDE WILL ELEVATE. FLY HIGH! Let’s keep talking in Part 3.


I recently attended the home-going/funeral of my dear Aunt Lillian Reed.  She was truly a precious woman of God who suffered greatly physically and endured many other challenges in life, but lived triumphantly with a spiritual and psychological strength that very few possess. 
I was so glad to see many family and friends at this occasion that I hadn’t seen in quite a while.  Among my wonderful loved ones I hadn’t seen in years was a cousin whom God blessed to achieve the optimal academic benchmark and then be favored to teach at one of the nation’s prestigious historically Black colleges.  By the way, Dr. Shaun Fletcher, we are godly proud of you. 

So, this incredibly astute cousin and I are talking while waiting to go in the church and he said, “You pastor two churches -- wow what a blessing!”  My reaction humorously spewed forth unimpeded like the same knee-jerk reaction you have when the doctor hits your knee and it straightens out.  I responded with a flurry of humor-ridden negatives, requested prayer, and ended with “Man, but I’m optimistic.”  He answered with a smile on his face, “Yeah, I can see.” From that moment on I have pondered our brief conversation.  Incidentally I want to say thanks, cousin, because your statement, my answer, and your response provoked a series of thought-provoking, self-introspective reflections.

First of all, I’m grateful to be called by God to pastor multiple churches.  When you have the assignment, which I believe can only come from God to pastor people, it indicates that God trusts you. The problem with most of us is that we become so consumed with surviving and the daily grind that comes with working, until we lose sight of how blessed we are.  The rigors of traveling between two churches had worn me down.  I drive 11-12 hours roundtrip weekly to one church.  Both ministries are starter churches which are operating with minimal finances and limited resources. Imagine dealing with this while trying to sustain my own family of four. My assignment didn’t feel like a blessing.  Honestly at times, it has been very difficult.  

I marveled at his statement because in my opinion he has a great job, which I thought was incredible and he says I’m blessed.  I would have accepted that I was blessed because of my relationship with God, but in that moment it was hard to comprehend that being a pastor of two churches was a blessing because of the load I was carrying. 
The spirit of God spurred me into deep self-examination.  While I feel like I must work harder and necessity is laid upon me at this time to do what I am doing, the real question is am I going about this the right way?  Whenever we are doing something we know in our hearts we were meant to do but we aren’t enjoying it, that is usually an indication that maybe our approach is wrong.  

In reminiscing on recent difficult moments in my life it poses the question -- can a person feel good living in a pressure cooker daily?  Is a person wrong for focusing on their problems daily with the sincere intent of finding solutions?  What’s the key to doing what you love to do and yet overcome the challenges that go along with it? It’s lunch time, but I’ve got more in Part 2.  Chicken wings, here I come!!!

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