Tag Archives: devotion

Black Ice


Ephesians 6.10-17


Do you ever get so caught up, that you misstep and slip and fall?  I do.  I mean there are so many important things going on around me that warrant my attention and time, my advocacy and voice. There are so many injustices in the world and so many opportunities to hang out and have fun.  There are reasons to celebrate and things to abhor.

During this lenten season, I’ve committed myself to get caught up or catch up with the Lord. To allow God ways to be my ways.  To really know God and to hear God and what God desires.  Generally, fasting becomes a kind of Black Ice for me.  I can become so caught up in the fast and what the fast requires and how long the fast will last and what I cannot have and when I’ll be able to have and if it’ll make me lose weight, that I have oftentimes not really been fasting but found another thing to get caught up in another way to slip and fall.


I’ve seen the enemy and it’s me. If I’m honest the only thing that can really slip me up is me, my mouth, my attitude, my reaction, my inaction, my will, my desires, my hands, my feet, my heart.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

When I get caught up in the Lord’s will and desire for my life, alignment happens, order comes, I decrease that God increases in and through me. Every little thing doesn’t require my attention and response. I don’t have to be 4 places at the same time.  My fasting becomes what it was supposed to, a time for me to retreat and draw closer to God. At that point, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. I am able to withstand all the little invisible things that would make me slip up and fall.

Loving Caring Forgiving God, thank you for your peace.  We Praise you Lord that in the midst of trials and tribulations you steady our gait and help us to step back to understand your desire and your will. Gracious God Thank you for the power of prayer and the suit of armor that enables us, not just to manage our own stuff, but strengthens us to encourage others to seek you for theirs. We stand firm in the name of Jesus, Amen.

snow day whatever makes you comfortable

snow day whatever makes you comfortable

zionone of the things that i think folks always get caught in is law versus faith.  the law is easy. it’s a set thing. the law is readily available. the law is quantifiable. the law is tangible. you can FIND the law. you can read the law. you can justify the law. the law and the following of the law is measurable. there can be clear judgement based on the the law. the law is comfortable. that’s it. In the law there is comfort.  everyone wants to do and think and believe that which makes them comfortable.

what i have found is that which makes us comfortable is not the same as that which God requires, desires or even has prescribed. the things that make us comfortable are also the things that have broken up our households and families. the things that make us comfortable are generally the things of least resistance. comfort keeps us in our homes watching tv and cooking more food than we will ever eat on a snow day, instead of serving God by serving people.

it is definitely easier to write off everyone who does not look like act like walk like talk like live like love like think like us.  when folks and situations don’t fit into a quantifiable equation, then life stops being easy. relationships require thought and consideration, people become more than just people, but become human and we have to begin to imagine them not in the image of the law, but in the image of God. that’s work, that’s hard work, that’s uncomfortable work, generally, because it makes us have to know God. yea, i know, we all know God, the heaven and hell and law God, but do we know the compassionate, living, loving, merciful, just, forgiving, healing, faithful God?

getting to know God, really know God can put us in an uncomfortable situation. the uncomfortable part comes mainly because to know God is to faithfully trust God. to faithfully trust God, means to in all situations and relationships asking God for wisdom and discernment. getting God’s wisdom and discernment  means that once we know better, we must do better. treat people better. have better relationships. live better lives.

lol the crazy and most uncomfortable part about all this is that all of a sudden when we are no longer bound by the law, but operating in faith and thereby grace, we realize that life isn’t and never really was about us. our living is about God and all about glorifying God. we glorify God through reconciliation and forgiveness and compassion and respect and tolerance and healing and comfort and caring for others the way that God cares for us.

snow days are great ways to start becoming uncomfortable. we are already not doing what we would normally be doing. let’s take the next step

loving God. thank you for your faithfulness even and especially when we haven’t been faithful. thank you for the opportunity Lord to spend quality time with you. Lord in the name of Jesus help us to not get caught up in the expectations and normalcy of others, but strengthen our resolve that we are able to operate and love and live our lives in faithfulness to you. healing and delivering God, help us to see our children and our families and our associates and even ourselves as you do – in your image. in the name of the One who came to abolish the law that we might operate in faith and in your grace. amen

rainbows and promises


Snapshot 2015-02-21 13-10-17Genesis 9:8-17

There it is, not with a pot of gold, but with something far more significant. The bow in the sky  even in the cold icy snow is our reminder of God’s covenant with Noah. The promise that God made with not just Noah but with all successive generations – that’s us! God promised that the bow will remind him never to destroy the earth with a flood again! God has established that he is faithful, that he keeps his covenants to us – successive generations.

Being stranded in this cold icy weather provides a great time to reflect on the promises God has made to us and how faithful God has been to those promises. It is significant that in the midst of both literal and figurative storms the bow in the sky doesn’t just remind our just and faithful God about his covenant to us, but it also provides us comfort and peace as we think on all the promises of God!

Magnificent and Merciful God we bless your Holy and you Righteous name! We thank and extol you for your faithfulness towards us especially when we have not been faithful to you. Incline our hearts to see your covenant with us as an opportunity to trust you with all that we are. Help us dear God to be faithful, trustworthy, promise keepers that reflect your love. In the covenant name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Toni Belin Ingram

trusting believing living


I have always marveled at those who hear from God, those whose path is guided by God’s truth, those who trust fully and wholly in God for their lives and livelihood. I thought of them as folks who were super special, extraordinary, incredibly favored folk. Then I did a restart on my life, putting my trust, cares, concerns and family in God’s hands. Not only did I learn that I too am super special, extraordinary, incredibly favored, but I learned YOU are too! You just have to live it. Not the fake it until you make kinda living, but wholeheartedly trusting God with all that we are.

This Lenten season is the perfect opportunity to restart our spiritual lives. To truly spend time in devotion and meditation to hear from the Lord. To embrace the Lord’s ways and trust God for our lives. To sit still in the early quiet of the morning pushing through the distractions of life, family needs, bills, what’s for dinner, enables our minds, souls and hearts to hear the God’s truth of how God wants us to live trust and forgive.

Gracious and eternal God, still our minds of the distractions of our lives. Open our hearts that our sinful souls and bodies feel your forgiveness and healing. Lord reveal to us who we are in you. Show us holy and merciful God the plan that you have for us, that we see ourselves as you see us, in your image. Loving caring God enable us to embrace the quiet and faithfully trust you with all that we are and ever hope to be. In the trusting name of Jesus we pray.

pursuing God’s Provision

pursuing God’s Provision

Here we go again. I hear the Lord say. Ash Wednesday is here they’ll parade in and out of church, put some ashes on their heads, commit to a fast for the next forty days and the entire time ask others what is allowed and what’s not can they eat this or that all the while succumbing to the distraction of being on a fast. You know the distractions that make you talk about what you’re giving up fasting, never what you could possibly gain.

What would it mean to fully and faithfully fast. Not to hear folks talk about our piety for fasting, but rather to hear God talk about who we are in the free pardon of sins and our circumstances. What if on this Ash Wednesday, we weren’t so busy parading around, but inwardly expressed our sinfulness and our need for forgiveness to the One who has already forgiven us. And then commit to operate in the grace and forgiveness of Christ.

Holy Righteous and Eternal God show us the fast that you choose. Teach us merciful God to not get so caught up in the ways of this world that we forget who we are in you. Strengthen us loving God that in the time of trial we will reflect your peace and your righteousness in our lives. In the faithful name of Jesus we Pray. Amen.

the real work of Easter


I’m not now nor have ever been very holy and righteous… not bragging nor am i lamenting I’m just saying

this past Sunday I was so inspired by the people children and some adults who had decided that their lives were worth risking for the sake of the Gospel.  We had a phenomenal time in worship.  Children and their parents were baptized, all of a sudden I felt the Spirit of God tell me that it was time – Heal and Deliver God’s people and for this I was born.  Amazingly enough the day before some very wonderful people came and worked and worked and worked, then some supportive, albeit crazy women told me that before I was going to be able to get them convinced that baptizing 40 folks, many of whom were unknown to them, was a good idea, I would need to pour some oil all over their bodies.. I laughed. But I did comply.  The night before I had gotten the most fragrant blooms out of my other mother’s yard for the purpose of making the oil fragrant naturally.  I did and I prayed that God’s anointing fill this place, but more importantly that God’s anointing change us to the Easter people that we are supposed to be.

That evening, I walked to the train station and enjoyed the quiet solitude, I knew that something big was to happen.  I couldn’t sleep.  I joked around with Raymond trying to make him stay awake (to no avail), I texted and played on the phone with some friends mainly not to loose my mind from what I knew only to be the anxiousness of participating in something that was so much more than me.

When I got to church, the place had been transformed by the creative hands of a woman who loves to serve God more than anything.  Because of her faithfulness, I could see the presence of Almighty God ready to take control.  I had read and prayed, studied and consulted, begged and pleaded, but nothing prepared me for what happened next.  The funny thing is I have no clue.  You’ll have to ask someone else.  I know lives were changed, minds were eased and hearts were opened.  I have no clue about the particulars.  I remember a woman who I had never seen before bless me with her warm smile and tender touch, as if to confirm what Jesus had already said.

We baptized so many children and so many adults that children came after crying asking can they too be baptized.  I knew that only God was working this thing called the real work of Easter out.

I always tell people that just when you turn it all over to Christ all hell breaks loose.  I wasn’t lying and it happened barely as I got out of church.

For whatever reason, not his fault I told Raymond I was divorcing him when Asha went to school.  I felt the power of the devil trying hard to destroy me at my very core.  I have spent the over half my life loving and taking care of  Raymond and in my heart I knew nothing could change that – but JUST when I let my guard down the devil came and attacked … I tried to pray – it wasn’t working. I texted Dwayne, the one person who wouldn’t judge me or Raymond and who would intercede on my behalf.  Then Raymond and I went to visit some friends, the next morning all was back right with the world.

The next day we discovered why our water bill was $1000, there is a busted pipe in the back yard. the car messed up, we only have two and Asha took one to Destin.  that was cool because some wonderful folks took care picked me up and provided Raymond dinner.

Today, our air conditioning is out, there are millions of termites swarming around the wood outside our home and the deck to our house is sinking and some kids broke into one rental house and a tenant refuses to move out of another one…. but my GOD is able and the devil is a liar.  Raymond and I are hanging out in the sun (on the sinking deck) having a ball yelling at the dog praying no neighbors complain about him today… Ray may not like I talked about him (he’s perfect and does no wrong you know).

I tell you this because the real work of Easter is just beginning.  I know that if the enemy is attacking me the enemy may try and attack you too.  I want you to know that does not mean that God is not able or that you aren’t worthy of God’s blessings or that Jesus didn’t come for you.  It may simply mean that you are moving in the right direction – ask Jesus right now to be your peace.

My daddy always used to preach Jesus is a rock in a weary land, shelter in the time of storm, a wheel in the middle of a wheel, a mother for the motherless and a father for the fatherless, that God is the Great I AM, the beginning and the end, a battle ax in the time of war.

There is a war going on and not just in Irag. The real work of Easter comes not just early Sunday morning when the Spirit is heavy and high.

The real work of Easter comes the next day, when in the midst of everything going on with you, you can see the hurt in someone else and be able to tell them that Christ died so that we can have the peace that surpasses our very understanding.

The real work of Easter is about making sure that you are available not just on Sundays – but Monday through Sunday.  I too believe in self care, but if I treat my neighbor right by serving them when they need it most despite what I believe that I need. God will restore me 200 fold.

The real work of Easter makes us know that our salvation is not for ourselves, but the people that we are in community with – even when we don’t know their name,

The real work of Easter is about denying myself and when I’d rather sit on my deck and have Tequila Tuesday – getting up and ensuring that those new to the faith don’t loose heart.  Many of my members asked if the folks would come back after they were baptized, I told them that if we loved them right they would.

The real work of Easter is about loving God’s people despite who it is we believe ourselves to be, despite who it is we believe them to be.

The real work of Easter is about embodied the very presence of Christ, so much so that it doesn’t matter what happened or how it happened or even if you remembered, but that someone else knows that through your testimony God will work it out for them too.

Hardships endured


Hebrews 12

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 
   “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, 
      and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 
 6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, 
      and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”[a]

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13“Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

14Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

I am excited about Fasting and Praying and Journeying to the Heart of God with www.ibelin.me and his facebook and twitter group.  There is something about being around other like minded people to help keep you motivated and on the straight and narrow path.  I look forward to sharing in the devotions and the prayers.

What I recognize is that I also need to expand and express myself more than I have.  So I have decided that in addition to journeying with the group, I will catalog my own journey through the Lenten Season texts.  Prayerfully, my witness will encourage others to want to know Christ more intimately.

Hebrews 12:7a says endure hardship as discipline – how appropriate this text is for me right now.  As a mother and wife and daughter and pastor and sister and friend I endure not only my hardships of finances, physical and mental well being, job security, health and wholeness, but in my co dependence, I have also for many years experienced the hardships of those that I am in relationship with.  So many of us are losing our homes, have lost our jobs, in relationships that are not working, do not like who it is that we have become are enduring hardships that we do not understand, let alone have the ability to manage them.

I do not suggest that God has ordained these hurtful hardships for us, but I do believe that as we go through the hardships of life we have the opportunity to be trained and to learn from these hardships.

I lost my job many years ago, the embarrassment I felt made me feel overwhelmed and like a failure.  For months I refused to leave the house except to pick up and drop off kids, after I gained 40 pounds, I was on the floor crying because no clothes would fit and I cried out to God to ask what had I done to deserve this.  God yelled back, “nothing, but what are you doing to prevent it from happening again?”

Verse 11 says No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13“Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

God gave me the opportunity to reclaim myself not for me, but for God, to have peace and to be able to participate as a witness that this life is not about me and about who I desire to be and what it is I believe makes me important, but rather I was and still am able to reclaim myself and build myself up for those that I witness to.

Let us Pray

Gracious God, thank you for loving me enough to allow me to endure hardships and learn from them.  Thank you for the opportunity to witness to your goodness and to your grace and to your mercy.  Strengthen and encourage me that I am able to speak peace and healing to those who are experiencing hardships now.  Help me to live in peace and strive to be holy so that those I am in relationship with will come to know you more intimately.  In Jesus Name Amen.