For the Sake of Friendship

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The theme of the retreat was “Surrender” and it was based on my book, “I Am Hagar: Forgotten No More”.  The retreat was held offsite at a Christian retreat center – great for camping during the summer or renting an upscale cottage anytime of the year.

On this particular retreat we were set up in one of their beautiful cottages that made us feel right at home and provided most of us with the rest and relaxation we needed.  Each cottage had its own special name.  Happiness, Faith, Joy, Jubilee, just to name a few.  However, there was one name that was disturbing and somewhat alarming to some of us.  The name?  “Amistad” – with the word “Friendship” below it.

 

 

First of all, for those who may not know, “Amistad” was the name of a ship that transported slaves and was featured in the well known movie by the same name. On it the slaves endured horrible atrocities which have lingered in the memories and hearts of many African Americans as a painful reminder of what was done to their ancestors.

Below the nameplate at the “Amistad” cottage was the word “Friendship”.  It was also the only sign that had an explanation word after it.  Actually, it felt like an oxymoron.

 

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Secondly, all the other cottage names were positive and self-explanatory while this one didn’t seem to fit. Although it did need explaining, the word “friendship” didn’t help.  Needless to say, none of us were impressed with what appeared to be a very insensitive and demeaning message on that cottage.

In defense of the decision-makers at the camp, we didn’t know them or understand the reason behind the decision.  Perhaps it was in effort to be inclusive.  Perhaps there was something of significance to the name that we didn’t know. We wondered if they included the word, “friendship” after it so as “not to offend”.  However, it did offend.  A powerful name like “Amistad” is too full of historical pain and anguish for a lot of people.  Some of us wondered how the nameplate was accepted in the first place.  We chalked it up for effort through ignorance, which is probably one of the most common ways people offend.

All-in-all, it left many of us feeling unsettled, disappointed, embarrassed and yes, even angry for what our African American sisters were feeling.  During the retreat, a few of the women who were staying in that cottage revealed their feelings of  frustration and anger about the sign.  It brought deep sadness and hurt that someone would do such a thing, especially at a Christian camp.

That was enough for the leaders of the retreat. They decided to call the contact person of the camp and lodge a complaint.  It was received and within an hour the sign was removed.

Following the retreat, a formal letter was sent to the leadership of the camp and the issue will be addressed at their next board meeting.  The church group is suggesting that the new name be “Surrender”.  I personally think that’s a great idea!!

 

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This whole scenario played out in the hours between my second and third talk that I gave on that day.  Why is that significant?  First because there were various cultures and races represented at the retreat and secondly, my third talk was entitled, “He Sees Us”.  During that session, I challenged the women to consider what their “us” looked like on a personal level and for them to think about how they include other cultures and races in their personal relationships. I also challenged them to look at their “us” from a women’s ministry angle and then as a church community.

How might God  use them/us to stand together with the people He has put among them/us?

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That day and through the experience with the sign, we were not only given the opportunity to stand with our sisters of colour in what they were experiencing but we also witnessed first hand how the Holy Spirit was very present and showed us in a clear way that He saw us!!

We should hurt when our brothers and sisters hurt.  In this case, it happened to be around the issue of race and slavery. That is true unity in Christ.

Friends, it is our Unity in Christ that binds us to each other.  Unfortunately, we often allow the messages of the world, the flesh and the devil fracture that unity.

Let us not take our oneness for granted or to excuse away our ignorance.

Let us keep learning and growing forward with our brothers and sisters of all races and cultures.

Let us not only keep the lines of communication open between each other but especially between us and God.  If we do so, we will be able to hear what the Holy Spirit wants us to do to be part of the solution instead of the problem as far as the sin of racism is concerned.

Let us give and receive forgiveness (for misunderstandings) freely as Christ forgave us WHILE we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).  His forgiveness is available for all of us.  He went to the Cross on our behalf and sent his Spirit in order that we would be drawn to Him with confession on our tongues and a receptive heart for His forgiveness.

Have you been forgiven much?  Then I remind myself and encourage you to share that forgiveness freely.

REFLECTION:

What “sign(s)” has God put in your life to challenge your walk with Him?

What circumstance(s) has God put in your life to grow a deeper intimacy with Him?

Who has God brought into your “us”?

How is God leading you to stand / walk beside another person to become part of the solution and not part of the problem?

 

For more information on this retreat, the “Understanding Culture” workshop or other topics, and how you can have them at your church or community group, check out

https://wordpress.com/page/kinitaschripsema.com/188  (retreat)

https://wordpress.com/page/kinitaschripsema.com/586  (Understanding Culture)

https://wordpress.com/page/kinitaschripsema.com/413  (Speaking Topics)

Or please feel free to contact me at kinitaathome@att.net.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Kinita

 

Do you see what I see?

From my heart:  It’s been awhile since I last wrote.  Life has been very full and very complicated and I haven’t been able to blog the way I have wanted.  I decided I wanted to finish out the year better than it started. I have many pieces waiting in the wings.  I hope you will continue on this journey with me and that you will receive peace and insight for yours. 

I love to write and share what God has put on my heart and I THANK YOU for joining me!!!! 

“I’m looking at the man in mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways…”

You might recognize those lyrics if you, like me, are a child of the 80’s.  “Man in the Mirror” was one of Michael Jackson’s most critically acclaimed songs released in 1988 and nominated for “record of the year” at the Grammy awards.  Many radio stations continue to play it today, nostalgically taking me back in time.

A song I turn up in the car and sing along to my hearts delight.

Truth be told, I was a huge Michael fan growing up and even remember seeing him in concert when I turned 13.  Sadly, his life ended at the age of 50 leaving behind a legacy of music, fashion and talent that no other artist has ever measured up to.  He was aptly named “the king of Pop” for those reasons.

In the past several months, the lyrics of this song have taken me into deeper intimacy with Jesus causing me to have a lump in my throat and tears to follow.

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Here’s why.  I have been asking God to change His ways.  I have had more requests for Him than affirmation, praise and gratitude for Him amidst the many storms surrounding me and many others in this country.  I sat with these lyrics and God showed me something different.  He changed the lyric for me to read, “I’m looking at the man in the mirror and He’s asking me to change my ways”.  Who is this man you ask?  Please read on.

I look in the mirror and see a woman.  A woman of strong convictions that aren’t always received by those around her.  A woman with scars, blemishes and character qualities that aren’t always welcomed, accepted or admired. That’s ok, because God isn’t finished with me yet.  More importantly, He loves me just the way I am.  I don’t spend a lot of time looking in the mirror.  But the glimpses I get I haven’t liked because the messages of rejection seem to be louder.  I confess, surrender and ask God to show me what He wants me to see.  To show me how He has created me and what He wants me to do with it all.

That’s when it happens….

Amidst the pain and struggle in my journey, I see the Man in the mirror.  It is Jesus.  The King of kings.  I see the tenderness of His eyes and He is smiling and delighting in me.  He tells me I’m beautiful and reminds me of His healing in my life.  He shows me His scars, on his hands and feet as He reminds me that I have been crucified with Him, therefore I no longer live but He lives in me (Galatians 2:20).  He reminds me that I have a Companion and Comforter in the Holy Spirit especially for all those times I feel alone.  I feel the Holy Spirit’s presence while I look at this Man in the mirror and He has become my Advocate.  He points me to the things I need to think on as He has written them in Philippians 4:8, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and whatever is admirable.  If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” 

Do you see what I see?

This Man in the mirror is asking me to change my ways.  Not because He doesn’t love me just the way I am but because they aren’t ways that reflect Him.  He loves me more than I will ever know yet for today I receive that correction and walk in the way He wants me to.  I tell Him it is hard to change some of those ways in my own strength and He assures me that when I am weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).  I need to surrender to Him and He will do the changing.

I am learning to sing out those verses to my heart’s delight as I grow forward (and older) on this journey to find Jesus in the small moments of life.

A song written the year I graduated from high-school has become a landmark in my heart for the woman I am and the woman I am becoming as God grows me to hopefully reflect Him more and more each day.

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 REFLECTION:

What do you see?

Who do you see?

Is God asking you to change your ways? How will you answer Him?

Is God asking something of you that you feel is impossible to do / change?

 

 

 

“Be the change you want to see in the world” –Mahatma Ghandi

Thank you for taking this journey with me,

Kinita

The Great Debate

As a Canadian living in the USA, especially during election season, my voice hasn’t always been welcomed in some conversations. I have been okay with that for the most part because politics has never been a strong passion of mine anyway. I struggle with retaining information pertaining to what party stands for what cause and what their plan is to carry it out so I have often felt that I don’t have much to offer. Broken promises and failed expectations seem to be the bottom line in most political arenas these days, that much I understand. So I pray.

My personal life has been full of broken promises and failed expectations as well, so, on some level I understand this political circus we are in right now. However, it doesn’t give me the right to “dis” or slander anyone. I am just tired of it, as I imagine many of my American friends and family are as well.

This morning in my devotions I read James 1:26-27, “if anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he declares himself and his religion worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

This is not my voice, but God’s – thru His Word – Scripture.

“A tight rein on his tongue”. I think this idea has been absent by the politicians throughout these past few months (maybe years. Maybe decades). So many people have shared that they are sick and tired of the rhetoric and lack of verbal self-control many of the politicians have shown.

I too have struggled with maintaining a tight rein on my tongue over the decades. Maybe you think this is one of those times. It has been a life-long process of surrender for me. If you know me personally, you have heard me on more than one occasion say, “Refraining” as I tightened the rein on my tongue (while tempted to make a sarcastic or harsh comeback)

I trust that other speakers, writers or those with a quick wit know what I am talking about. On occasion, when I haven’t had a tight rein on my tongue I have also made promises and broken them, which sometimes makes me not much different than those I am watching in the world in the world of politics. But with God’s help I am growing in the right direction everyday!!

To some I am a religious person. But honestly, I care more about my relationship with Jesus than I do with being religious. I have learned that when I care more about cultivating an intimate relationship with Jesus, I am more receptive to His Voice and what He is doing in my life and am ready to pour out what He has poured into me. As a follower of Christ, when we fill ourselves with Christ and His Word, that is Who we pour out.

When we allow ourselves to be polluted by the world then we pour out that pollution on those around us.

People are hungry for the truth. People are hungry for honesty. People are hungry for strong character. Me included.

Follower of Christ…what are you pouring out?
Hate, anger, resentment, slander, tolerance, apathy and compromise? Not helpful.

Please don’t live your life in a way that deems the religion of Christianity worthless.
Please don’t refrain from cultivating an intimate relationship with Jesus.

Whoever becomes the President, God still remains The King.
REFLECTION:

Will you receive this scripture today?
Will you please learn to keep a tight rein on your tongue as you face the barrage of political rhetoric?
Will you please own up to your broken promises?
Will you please forgive those who haven’t fulfilled your expectations?
Wanting to stand United…in the States and in the Body of Christ.
Thank you for joining me on my journey,

Kinita

Not Alone

Worked out this morning…not just for my body but for my mind and soul specifically. Having some personal challenges lately and thought a boost to the endorphins would be a good idea.While on the eliptical, “Home” by Phillip Phillips came on my playlist. These lyrics struck me…
“…settle down, it’ll all be clear. 

Don’t pay no mind to the demons they fill you with fear. Trouble, it might drag you down. 

You get lost you will always be found. 

Just know you’re not alone…”
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The struggle is real. The enemy wants to get me down in the midst of the challenges I face. But God reminds me that I am not ALONE. He is right here with me in the midst of ALL of it.
So I share this with YOU as a reminder that YOU are not alone in your struggle either.  It might feel like it because your “peeps” aren’t around or your “person” didn’t show up.  Trust me, I understand. Forgive them and fix your eyes back on Jesus. The Author and Perfecter of your faith. (Hebrews 12:2). 

God sees you, hears you and knows exactly what you need. Trust Him to provide a “home” for you.  

There is no place you can get lost to that He cannot find you.
Self-discovery…I don’t like to workout alone. Need to find me some workout buddies!!

REFLECTION:

Are you at home with Jesus while still on earth?

Don’t know Him? Let me know and I would love to pray for you today!! 
Thank you for joining me on my journey. 

Kinita