About Judah of Praise

I am single, an ordained minister, a New Yorker, and I love God. I am a seeker of truth and often ponder the deeper things in life. Once I discover something, I try to live it out and make it true for me.

LUKE 22:32 (Make A Comeback)

THE RIVER WALK

comeback

“But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32 NLT)

Read:Judges 2:10-23, Judges 3, Luke 22:14-34, Psalms 92, Psalms 93:1-5, Proverbs 14:1-2

Relate:  When we make big mistakes, there is a small voice in the back of our heads telling us, “you can’t comeback from this one.” I wonder if this thought crossed Peter’s mind when he heard the rooster crow. He had been so certain that he would do anything for Christ, even go to prison or face death, yet he failed to admit to even knowing Jesus that same night. This is why he wept bitterly as he realized his failure. He had truly believed in his own strength to stand up for his beliefs, and he had failed.

Peter was not left in his failure. In…

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When Faith Fails

Perspective is a powerful thing.  It can influence and even ingrain what we know as truth, or it can distort what we perceive as truth. Does that make sense?

Faith in itself cannot fail, but our perspective can cause faith within ourselves to remain dormant.

Capture

When John the Baptist (Mathew 11: 2-5) was imprisoned and sent word through his disciples to inquire of Jesus on whether He was the one whom they had all expected to come, John displayed a moment of lost faith.

Was it his imprisonment that distorted his view of Jesus?

John may have never expected to end up in prison, especially not after prophesying in the wilderness all of those years about the coming Messiah, and encouraging those around him to ‘prepare ye the way for the coming of the Lord.”  John doubted. His faith failed him for a moment, until Jesus sends back a response – with a different perspective:

“Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.”

Was the kingdom of God that John preached in the wilderness different from Jesus’ response—the manifestation of the kingdom? Perhaps.

The bible is clear in its saying “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:9

In order for faith to succeed and be active in our life, we have to set aside our views and expectations of outcomes and trust God’s sovereign will for our lives, no matter what the circumstances dictate. Our current views are only a part of the picture and not the whole story of God’s will for our lives.

Faith in Motion

As I continue to uncover faith in the next few posts, one thing I realized is that while faith is unseen, we can perceive it and recognize it at work.  We can perceive its movement in various life settings and recognize its deep work in our life’s journey.

So, enjoy the following images, some of which were taken from my previous travels, and see the various types of faith in motion through pictures! And know, that when you feel like “O ye, of little faith” that we all carry a measure of faith that streams through us in layers and dimensions of God’s grace.

Child-like faith

1.-Child-like-faith

Persevering faith

2.-Persevering-faith

Nurturing faith

3.Nuturing-faith

Fountains of faith

4.-Fountains-of-faith

Waiting faith

5.-Waiting-faith

Reachable faith

6. Reachable faith

Filling faith

7.-Filling-faith

Joyful faith

8.-Joyful-faith

Wonders of faith

9.-Wonders-of-faith

Questionable faith

10.Questionable-faith

Carrying faith

12.-Carrying-faithFriendship faith

13.Friendship-faith

Working faith

14. Working-faith

Avenues of faith

15.Avenues of faith

Beauty of faith

16.Beauty of faith

Unseen Faith

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
— Hebrews 11:1

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From one of his sermons on faith, John Wesley stated: “But what is faith? It is a divine “evidence and conviction of things not seen;” of things which are not seen now, whether they are visible or invisible in their own nature. Particularly, it is a divine evidence and conviction of God, and of the things of God.”

By far, this is the most comprehensible description of faith I have read to date. But, when you are facing a trial, a sickness, a financial or personal loss, what comfort does this description bring?

We live in a “got to have it now” world; a world of quick fixes, fast solutions and real, tangible answers. However, faith fits in none of these worldly categories. It’s slow, it’s very patient, and it’s never rushed. It will never respond to our fears or selfish desires.

Our desire for a quick resolution to our problem or a quick end to our sickness is often driven by fear of the unknown, our fate and our flesh requiring the comfort it so desperately longs for; all normal responses and quite understandable, especially when you are not physically well.

So, how do we believe for our healing if it’s not visible?

1 Corinthians 13:12 states, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

We can look in the mirror and see the physical manifestation of a sickness or see the pain and trauma we experienced as a child – and that can bring you down to its level. But, you can also choose to see the divine creature that God created, although not perfected, uniquely formed and made in His image. We can declare our healing as we journey to wellness.

In one biblical account, a woman with an issue of blood (Mark 5:25-34), came into real faith after having spent all she had on many physicians to heal her condition. But, her condition actually grew worse. Arriving at the end of her rope was this woman’s journey to Jesus and where her faith was formed. I know. I’ve been there.

You do all you can in the natural to obtain relief for your condition, but doctor after doctor, medication after medication, herbal supplements, and more, sometimes brings you back to square one with no where else to turn.

Perhaps, it was divinely purposed for this woman to have spent all she had, because God had to be glorified in her midst. God, had to show her something higher above her circumstances.

Faith is seeing, believing and having the confidence in what we hope for, not when something becomes visible. It is what God says about you and not what society, your own thoughts or even sickness may dictate. Faith, always unseen, must be a journey beyond our physical senses. Believe in what has not manifested yet and let faith arise through your journey to healing. It’s not the end result as much as it is the road you journey in getting there. It’s a matter of unseen faith.

A Lifeline of Hope

A Lifeline of Hope

Growing up in East Harlem, I lived in a tenement building that was the hang-out spot for heroin addicts. Hope was not an option back then—only survival.  During a recent trip to Manaus, Brazil, on a site visit to Shade and Fresh Water, an Advance project of the General Board of Global Ministries, I was reminded of my own story as a youth, and the lifeline of hope that was extended to me through creative arts programs, which Shade also offers.

Every day, upon exiting my apartment building, I pressed through the crowd of heroin addicts on my way to school, often also clearing the way for my mother, who escorted me.  During those formative years, I witnessed domestic violence, gun shootings or stabbings, excessive drug use, and more.  Rather than fight my surroundings, I acclimated to them, becoming part of the drug scene.

By the time I was eight years old, I became the “look out” for the neighborhood drug pusher, and he agreed to show my family and me respect when we entered and exited the building.  Rather than playing like normal children at the nearby playground, I would stand watch for undercover detectives or cops, as heroin addicts would make their way to the rooftop to use drugs.

When I visited Shade Fresh and Water (Advance #11580A), I was reminded of the unfriendly, untrustworthy, just-survive world of selfish addiction, pain, and violence of my youth.

Many of the children living in Manaus slums are exposed to drugs and abuse, as I was.  They may also become vulnerable to prostitution, teenage pregnancy, and more.  These children are no different than me, except that now I look to my past to identify with them. They, however, may be living this life daily.

A young Shade and Fresh Water participant takes a break after the morning activities at a play area behind the church. Photo: J. Santiago/UMCOR

Shade and Fresh Water gives children a rest from their everyday environment and opens them up to the world of possibility. The program’s name is based on a Brazilian saying which basically says, “When you are going through life struggles or issues, all you need are a little shade and a little fresh water.”

Through learning programs that offer sports and recreation, the arts, and Christian education, Shade participants, ages 6-14, learn how to respond to difficult life issues versus acclimating to their toxic environment as I once did.  The children learn how to apply practical life lessons, work as a team, collaborate on exercises or demonstrations, and express themselves through music, dance, or sports. Shade creates an enjoyable environment for children and teenagers and makes them feel loved and protected while involving them in the program.

While visiting Shade projects with UMCOR Health executive Patricia Magyar, who was assessing the project for future collaboration and support, I saw several children minister liturgical dances to their congregations.  This reminded me of the opportunities I received in summer camp or after-school programs that fostered positive, creative learning environments through dance and the arts. Back then, my involvement in dance became my way of escape, my lifeline of hope from the everyday drama at home or in the neighborhood. It also secured the early foundation of a future call to dance ministry.

Watching the girls dance in Manaus was a priceless opportunity to recognize just how far God has brought me from the days of my youth.  But I also recognized how important our choices are when serving one another. To know “you did good” because a person’s life has changed or has been impacted in some positive way, is powerful and humbling thing. I left Shade with the desire to return to teach dance, share the love of God, and share the piece of rope that once was extended to me.

While creative expression is just a part of the fresh water provided by Shade, the program is certainly building a foundation for the future of these at-risk children.  It was a privilege to witness it.

The Journey Begins

Ministering in the dance at Manhattan Grace Tabernacle’s Sunday service in the park.

Where we walk, how we walk, and how we stand in life is what marks the soles of our feet, and also determines our destiny. It’s an everyday life journey that determines who we are, what we are made of, and how we measure up.  Whether it’s in our jobs, our homes, with our family, our church or community, and our individual faith, it’s how we respond to life, to God. That in itself helps form who we are and who we are to become. It’s a plumb line that measures our character and tests our faith.  It (the soles of My feet) is a faith walk. It’s a look into the soul and is a measuring rod that examines the heart against the word of God.

Where my feet take me, from a Christian  perspective, is what this blog will be about.

So, naturally, when I got home after work, I looked up “the soles of My feet” and found the scripture in the book of Ezekiel. Chapter 43:6-7 reads, “Then I heard Him speaking to me from the temple, while a man stood beside me.  And He said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever.”

God was showing the prophet Ezekiel a vision of the temple where He would dwell. The temple was regarded as the footstool of God.  In 1 Chronicles 28:2, the word footstool is a metaphor describing the Ark of the Covenant or the tabernacle as the earthly base of God’s activity and presence. It’s a place where He lays His feet.

If we examine the soles of our feet in respect to walking out a Christian faith, what will we find there?

  • Are we resting or wrestling with God?
  • Are we learning at His feet?
  • Did you hurt yourself stepping on a stone and now find yourself limping along life and living in the past?
  • Did someone drop a huge rock on your foot, and now that rock of offense has taken up territory in your heart?
  • Has your life’s path been a walk on the beach? No substance? No truth?
  • Do your feet need washing from walking your own desired path?

I think we all can use a  foot washing from time to time.  Perhaps, my aim in discovering “the soles of My feet” is the challenge to live out a lifestyle that models and resonates with the humility of following Christ. No more talking about it, but truly living it — a difficult journey indeed.  So, what are you following? Where are your
steps leading you?

“Let us go into His tabernacle; Let us worship at His footstool.” Psalm 132:7 

“God will make the place of His feet glorious.” (Is. 60:13)

So, my hope in this blog journey is that my walk and my words glorify the living God. And, that in the process, someone is blessed by what is in my heart to share, whether it’s my failures or successes.  Wherever He takes me and leads me, step by step, I will follow.

Let the dance begin.