Written and read by Marvin L. Williams
Popularity: 25% [?]
My first trip to Africa was in 1995. I went on a medical and Bible teaching mission trip to Ghana, West Africa. We visited the capital city of Accra, where I preached and witnessed God do an amazing work of transformation. I assisted Dr. Mervyn Smith treating illnesses and organizing a clinic in Obuasi and Kumasi. That trip changed my outlook of the world and gave me a deep desire to be involved in serving Africa is some way. When we arrived in Ghana, one of the natives asked me, "What took you so long to come home." That statement ...
I have been married to Tonia for the last 14 years. We will celebrate our 15th year anniversary on July 10th of this year. This year, for our yearly escapade, we will celebrate our 15 years together in Aruba. Thanks, Stowers. I really love being a husband, and I am learning more and more what it means to be a good and godly one. By his grace, I am learning how to love Tonia as Christ loved the church. Each day, I am understanding more and more of what it means to die so I can truly live. God has blessed ...
My story begins on the Westside of Chicago. I am the second child to Silas and Beatrice Williams. I had a fairly normal childhood - summer breezes, little league games, hide and seek, fishing trips, riding bikes, sitting on the stoop, talking about what we were going to get for Christmas, catch a girl kiss a girl, Saturday morning bowling and martial arts movies, sleepovers, Friday Night hamburgers, watching Creature Feature and Night Gallery beneath blankets and eating stove top popcorn. Man, those were the days. I didn't fully realize it at the time, but my parents loved us very much ...
Written and read by Marvin L. Williams
Popularity: 25% [?]
The other day as we were eating breakfast, my oldest son complained about his sister “always” copying him. Tonia and I tried to explain to him that it was a compliment and an honor for his sister to want to copy him. I know it can be annoying to have a younger sister or brother doing everything you do; I had a younger to sister who copied me all the time, and it was annoying and frustrating. However, it wasn’t until I became older did realize that it was a compliment and an honor. Then the sheer responsibility of giving and leaving an example worth copying frightened me. Was I supplying her with a healthy or unhealthy example? Did she see something in me and copy something from me that would negatively affect her later? If so, then I would be responsible for giving her a poor example to copy. I began to feel the weight of my example and pattern?
Whether we know it or not, people, especially our children, watch us very closely and want to be like us. They imitate the way we walk, the way we talk, the way laugh, the way we sit, the way we eat, the way we write, the way we spend money, the way we treat people, and especially the way we treat God. Can’t you feel the weight of your pattern? But, we should not shy away from the responsibility of people wanting to copy us, but lean into it. We should say like Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Copy me as I copy Christ.” The question that I ask myself is, am I giving people a Christlike pattern to copy? Does my life, love, and attitude remind people of Jesus? If not, then maybe I am not doing a good job of copying his radical and perfect pattern. I tell you, some days I simply don’t leave a good pattern for people to follow, not because it’s hard, but because I am selfish and filled with unhealthy pride. Each day, by his grace, I desire to strive to leave an example worth copying and say to others with confidence, Copy me!.
What about you? Are you giving people around you a good pattern to copy? Are you setting healthy or unhealthy examples for people to imitate? Can you say to someone with confidence, “Copy me!”
How do you feel about telling someone: “Copy me!”
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In the Broadway play My Fair Lady, Eliza is courted by a man named Freddy. Freddy writes her love letters every day. But Eliza’s response to all these written promises is to cry out in frustration: “Words! Words! I’m so sick of words! Don’t talk of stars burning above! If you’re in love, show me! Don’t talk of love lasting through time. Make no undying vow. If you love me, show me now!”
In the same way, we need to show our love and gratitude to our heavenly Father with actions, not just words. Sometimes I wonder if God sighs with deep frustration: “Words! Words! I am so sick of words! Marvin, don’t tell me how much you love me, worship me, and adore my name. If you love me, show me now!“ Here are a few ways we can show our heavenly Father how much we love him: resourcing the poor in all kinds of ways (not just with money), caring for widows and orphans, walking with those whose lives are ravaged by HIV/AIDS, being advocates for literacy in urban schools, helping the marginalized find a place at the table, visiting the sick, visiting those who are in prison, living on “enough” and giving to brothers and sisters who are in need. I have to keep reminding myself, “talk is cheap.” Actions are costly, but they reveal how much I really love God.
What other ways can we show God how much we love? How will you show Him today that you love him?
Popularity: 15% [?]
As I ponder the quest to my rest, I am guilty of delaying my yes, at the behest of my flesh. Most days, my first reflex is to acquiesce to the request of my flesh, but I detest my flesh and through the power of the Spirit, I contest my flesh, wrest my flesh, desire to best my flesh, in hopes to arrest my flesh. I keep reminding him that he’s an unwelcomed guest in my flesh and that he’s too underdressed to play chess with a King who can checkmate him in one move or less. Ah, but as I move toward my spiritual rest, I delay my yes at the behest of my flesh. Every day, in my own power, I am hard-pressed to check my flesh. Ya’ll, it’s complex. So, I must live and move in Him who was made manifest in the flesh in order to divest my flesh, undress my flesh, depress my flesh and give me recess from my flesh. Lest I forget the One who said come to me and I will give you rest and the One whose passion and death removed my sin as far as the East is from the West, I will daily return to Calvary, the place of the Ultimate Love fest. But, sometimes I am guilty of delaying my yes at the behest of my flesh. Through the Spirit’s power, I will pass the test and my flesh won’t best me today, misdirect me today, negatively affect me today. Ya’ll, I’m walking in the Spirit. I can hear it, that is, His voice, leading me, guiding me, prodding me, prompting me, pushing me, convicting me, changing me, transforming me. I don’t desire to delay my yes at the behest of my flesh. But, why do I say yes to the request of my flesh? Here in lies my stress. So, I must ingest and digest the life and words of the One who gave me this new nature living inside my chest. But, I must confess, I am guilty of delaying my yes at the behest of my flesh. Who will deliver me from the mess of my flesh? Ah, yes! Jesus, the One who bested sin and death.
How has your flesh/sinful nature delayed your “yes” to our heavenly Father? How will you use your mind and body as instruments of righteousness under the Spirit’s control today?
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As someone who makes a living talking, I know how powerful words can be. They can, like knives, pierce the heart and destroy a person’s life. On the other hand, our words, like medicine, can promote health and give life. I have seen this with my children. When I fuss and zero in on what they did wrong instead of what they did right, I see their spirit’s shrink. But when I praise them for a job well done or a “herculean” effort, their spirits soar. Needless to say, words are very powerful.
However, there are times when my words are careless, have no positive impact, have no redeeming value and action, and bear no fruit. Sometimes my words cause people’s spirit’s to wither or fade away.
The alternative is using our words to build a person up according to their needs. Let’s ask God to help us observe people’s lives to understand better what their needs are, and then use the right words to complete them. But, we must make the investment in discovery. After we have discovered the needs of people around us, let’s bestow a blessing on them with our words. Ask God to help you to use your words to benefit and complete others.
Tell your children you love them and are proud of them
Tell your spouse specifically how they have added value to your life
Tell a co-worker how much their work means to you and the company
Tell a friend specifically how they have been a blessing in your life.
Tell someone you forgive them
When was the last time you intentionally used your words to heal, bless, or minister to someone else? Who will you bless and encourage today with your words?
Popularity: 11% [?]
We all have a choice as to what kind of affect adversity will have on our lives. Paul, in Romans 8:35-39, described how followers of Jesus can choose as to what kind of affect adversity will have on them. Paul lists seven things that a follower of Jesus might perceive as coming against or separating them from Christ’s love – trouble, hardships, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword. Instead of letting these things separate and defeat us, Paul says that we are more than conquerors.
The Greek word that he uses is hypernikao – hyper (super) and nikao, (conqueror, victor, prevail). Nikao comes from the root word nike (yep, just like the shoe company). Thus, we are Super Nikes, through Jesus! A Super Nike is someone who doesn’t just defeat his enemies, adversity, and hardships, but he overwhelmingly conquers, prevails and causes adversity and hardship, through Jesus Christ, to become his helpers. Through the One who triumphed victoriously over every enemy, we too can conqueror and overwhelmingly prevail over every enemy that comes against us. These difficult circumstances do not have to discourage and defeat us, but they can become our helpers, shaping and molding us to look, talk, think and act more and more like Jesus.
Each day we have the difficult decision and the great opportunity to be Super Nikes. So, let’s allow Jesus’ victory over death, the grave, the devil, sin and every hardship, to be made real in our lives today – moment by moment. Through Christ,
illness can become our helper
pain can become our helper
ridicule can become our helper
financial difficulty can become our helper
a broken family can become our helper
loss of a job can become our helper
stress on the job can become our helper
We are Super Nikes! Will you let adversity and hardship weaken your faith? Harden your heart? Or, become your helpers in conforming you to his image? Our difficulties, in God’s hands, can lead to our good and God’s glory.
What difficulty or adversity do you need to place in God’s hands today? Think of the last bout you had with adversity. Did you run from from God or run to God?
Popularity: 13% [?]
I have been blogging since November 2008, thanks to my good friend Pastor Clarence Stowers. He is one of my Soul Shapers. I started using Typepad as my blogging platform and I have enjoyed my relationship with them. However, I decided to move to WordPress because it is more user friendly and has more robust features.
I would like to thank my web/blog designers Chris and Erin of Arcane Palette Creative Design. They spent the last month designing, coding and transferring all my content and images from Typepad to WordPress. I thank God for Chris and Erin’s patience with my changes and additions. The design is hot.
You will immediately notice some changes, with some brand new and exciting features that I think you will love. Here are some of the changes:
1. Exciting new Soul Man design. I wanted the design to have some grunge and swagga. I think they hit the ball out of the park, upper deck.
2. The header banner changes. I was really excited about the way this part of the design turned out. I have three banners – A Soul Story (Personal and ministry testimony), The Heart of my Soul (My family), and Africa (I have a growing love affair with the Continent). If you click on these images, you will be taken to content/narrative about each. I will be adding more pages to this banner.
3. Side panel photos rotate. Every time you refresh the page or go to a new page, you will see a different picture of me, my family or ministry in Africa.
4. I have added some pages that I am really amped about, including Soul Music and Soul Shapers. Soul Music will be a page dedicated to original poetry and spoken word pieces by me and other artists. The Soul Shapers page is dedicated to people and ministries who have shaped my soul in a variety of ways. I will add more to the list and a brief narrative for each as to how they have shaped me.
5. I had Intense Debate installed. Intense Debate is a robust comment plug-in. It will allow for threaded comments, ratings, user profile, etc.
6. I will add advertisement pages to the site. I will only run adds for products or services that I personally use and feel comfortable recommending.
If you need a web designer, who specializes in WordPress, I highly recommend Chris and Erin of Arcane Palette Creative Design.
What do you think of my new home? What do you like about the new design/blog? What don’t you like? I really want to know.
Popularity: 16% [?]
When we were growing up and would do something that did not make sense, was out of order, or was done the wrong way, my mother, when she didn’t want to soil our little innocent ears with dirty language (ha ha), would say “you all are doing that, “bass ackwards.” Well, I believe she would say that Mark Cuban’s apology to Denver Nugget forward, Kenyon Martin and his mother, Lydia Moore was ”bass ackwards”
As Dallas Maverick’s owner, Mark Cuban, was walking off the court and leaving the arena on last Monday night, a Maverick fan yelled that the Denver Nuggets were “thugs.” Cuban saw Lydia Moore, Kenyon Martin’s mother, and said to her, “That includes your son.” He said it in a nasty and vitriolic manner. The confrontation was unnecessary and Lydia Moore took offense at Cuban’s statement and attitude.
A couple days later, Mark Cuban did apologize, but he did it on his blog. He apologized publicly before he apologized privately. His apology was “bass ackwards.” What Cuban should have done was first apologize to Ms. Moore and K-Mart and then apologize publicly. He could have done both, but in the right order. Now, I partially understand why he did it the way he did. He reaches thousands with his blog and he wanted to quiet the grumbling of the public. But, he did it “bass ackwards.”
We all go through relationship issues, don’t we? We will either have to apologize for an offense we initiated or we will have to receive an apology from someone who has wounded us. We have all experienced relational strain and friction because we’ve offended or been offended, right? The key issue is not so much the offense, although that is important. I do not want to minimize the gravity of any offense. But, more important than the offense, is how we respond to the offense.
I think Jesus would call Cuban’s apology “bass ackwards,” too. I am not certain if Mark Cuban is a believer, but I believe we can use this situation to inform believers on how to handle conflict when it arises. If we have a grievance or problem with a fellow brother or sister or friend, we should seek to resolve the matter privately and immediately (Matthew 5:23; Matthew 18:15). If we don’t handle grievances and offenses properly, we can end up with broken and irreparable relationships. Broken relationships can hinder our relationship with God (Matthew 5:23) and we run the risk of becoming hypocrites if we claim to love God while we hate or remain emotionally distant from others (1 John 4:20-21). Our attitudes toward others, especially our brothers and sisters in Jesus, is really a reflection of our relationship with God.
I don’t want to give the impression that reconciliation is easy. Most times it is extremely difficult. It takes time, patience, risks, many conversations, a lot of prayer and obedience to Jesus’ words. Even if they do not respond to our apology or us reaching out to them, we are responsible to obey. As much as it depends on us, we must live in and promote relational peace.
The goal of resolving relational conflict privately and immediately is reconciliation. Are you going through a relational conflict? How are you handling it? What has helped you resolve this kind of conflict in the past? What has prevented you from resolving it the way Jesus has instructed us.
Popularity: 14% [?]
Tupac’s “I Ain’t Mad at Cha,” was released as the fourth single from his album All Eyez on Me. It was released shortly after his death. The song was a heartfelt tribute to the friends he knew before he became famous. In the song, Tupac is, in a “ghetto thug” way, reassuring friends, who had turned their backs on him, that he held no grudges against them.
Now, I can’t tell you how many times I failed God, and I thought He held grudges against or was mad at me for my past sins and failings. I thought he had amputated my eternal future because of my diseased past. Have you ever felt this way? If Jesus forgave all our sins, why are we struck with and stuck in so much fear and doubt? This is probably true for several reasons: 1) Satan uses past guilt to stifle our spiritual progress 2) Present sins make us feel inadequate to be used by God 3) Our own conscience reminds and condemns us of our past sins and how we once lived 4) Non-Christian and self-righteous friends point out inconsistencies in our lives.
When past guilt and present failures make you feel spiritually inadequate, fully embrace these truths:
Read Romans 8:1 again. This is the reassurance of God saying, “I Ain’t Mad at Cha.”
Which lies do you tend to believe and cause you to be stuck in the rut with feelings of spiritual inadequacies? Which truth(s) do you need to embrace more fully?
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