Confessions of an Ex-Racist Christian

This morning I woke up and felt led to open one of my journals. As I read it, I laughed at a few of my foolish request, and I smiled at my growth as a human trying to learn how to live this life. Since it is  Throw back Thursday, I will share an entry of Introspection from September 9, 2015:

I believe one of the hardest thing for a person to admit,especially a Christian, is he or she is a racist. No one who claims to love God wants to admit they have a problem with His creation; but it is  part of the Church’s reality. It took me roughly 25 years, six years ago, to admit racism lived in my heart. It was something I tried to ignore, but, living in the South and becoming more aware of the injustices of my tribe, I found myself HATING white people. I  found it difficult to admit my racism because I had friends I genuinely cared about although I could care less about their kind. To my credit, I did not hate my friends just all of the “other” white people smh… I figured, if I refrained from watching slave movies that it would go away. I thought, if I tried harder to befriend them that it would go away. I assumed, if I tried to replace negative thoughts about them with good ones my problem would be fixed. Oh how I assumed incorrectly! The more I attempted to fix a heart issue with my logic, I despised them more. Finally, I had a moment of truth with God because the hate in my heart was conflicting with the cry of my heart to love him and his people.  I poured my heart out to Him concerning the matter. I confessed that I was in fact a racist, and I held deep hate in my heart towards Caucasians. I confessed that my knowledge of how their ancestors treated my tribe and how some treat us today makes it difficult to forgive and love them. I even admitted that I felt I had both the right and plenty of reasons to stay angry with them. I repented for claiming to love God and hate his creation. I knew I could not be an effective dispenser of God’s love to the world with this kind of hate in my heart towards people. I asked God to change my heart and teach me how to gather knowledge without hate being attached to it. When I decided to be honest about the condition of my heart, God did an amazing work in it. I no longer carry that Hate I did towards my lighter brothers and sisters. I stopped  accusing them all of being one way based on the actions of a few. I truly make a conscious effort to judge a person by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Life has truly been much sweeter with hate out of my heart. Thank you God for helping me!-Charity

For those who will read this, particularly those who claim to be Christians, please consider your ways.  Take the time to tell God how you truly feel about certain groups of people. 1 John 4:20 says, “If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” My encouragement to each of us is to be honest about who we are in God’s presence so that we can love as God commands us. We as believers cannot expect the condition of the world to change when we refuse to change and deal with the hate in our hearts. I am praying for each us that we would truly allow the love of God to permeate our hearts and be the change this world needs. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

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#TBT: The Prude and the Prostitute

Tonight, I took one of the many goofy quizzes that pop up in my News Feed on Facebook. It was titled Which Biblical Heroine Are You? I took the quiz sure that I would get someone like Esther, Ruth, or Anna; but to my surprise, I was Mary Magdalene. I literally chuckled considering the fact, my past was nothing like hers. I mean we are complete opposites! She was a prostitute, and I am what some may call a prude. She had a plethora of men, and my list of men is practically non-existent. I honestly was a tad bit offended, and then I read the kind description attached to it. It said:

You’re a woman with a past, that’s for sure… but your past has made you into the person you are today and you wouldn’t change a thing. Even though you’ve been hurt, you’re an incredibly sensitive and caring person who loves deeply and passionately. A people person, you love going out with your friends for a night of fun and mild debauchery. You have a steady, comforting presence that draws people to you effortlessly and you’re the most true, loyal friend that anyone could ask for. Ignore the haters and keep being your fantastic self.

“You’re a woman with a past, that’s for sure…”  I let those words sink in, and I began to reminisce on what my past entailed. I considered my environment, my friends, and a many  dumb decisions I made in my life. Growing up I desired to be “bad,” but the fear of my mother kept me away from most things. I considered the many flesh fulfilling thoughts I contemplated,  but I never managed to act upon them. After taking a trip down Memory Lane, Mary and I had more in common than I thought. She was a broken woman, so was I. She was in dire need of a Savior, so was I. She was wise enough to accept the grace of God, and so was I.

I grew up in an environment that ONLY manufactured those type of people.  If God’s grace had not intervened on countless occasions I would be a hood rat, a prostitute, a crackhead, a drug dealer, an alcoholic, and etc. I go to bed tonight grateful for the unmerited favor that God has shown me. Who I am today is not based on any goodness of my own but SOLELY based on the loving-kindness of God. I look at those who are what I should be with eyes of compassion not judgment because it should have been me too. In my self-righteousness I could not see how the prude and the prostitute could have anything in common, but after looking through Grace’s lenses we are one and the same. Two broken women who lives were transformed after meeting Jesus. Neither one of us are bound by our past, and both of us free to share the Good News. That’s pretty amazing to me!

 

Tonight’s Challenge: Take a moment to reflect on the goodness of God in your life. Take some time to remember where he brought you from and the situations he has pulled you out of in life. Surely you can take a few moments out of your evening to say “Thank You Lord!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/55439/20150508/exclusive-interview-a-d-the-bible-continues-actress-chipo-chung-discusses-mary-magdalene-and-her-special-relationship-with-jesus-christ.htm

The Wedding that Didn’t Happen

Today is August 5, 2016 and it is has been a year since my beautiful grandmother on my father’s side passing. However, today I mourn for a different reason. Today, if things had gone as planned, I would have burned my Single Woman card forever. Yep, today is the day I would no longer be a Porter. Instead I am single once again and telling my story to complete strangers. For those who have not been following me on Social Media, on Christmas Eve 2015 I reconnected with someone, and from that moment we were inseparable. Considering that fate brought us together again, we were both pretty sure that this meant marriage.

This man took great care of me. He made it his business to make me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. He was kind. He enjoyed a good laugh. He had a career. He was a Christian, and he was fine!!!! Tall, dark, and pleasing in my sight was the man I fell completely in love with! He knew everything about me. He managed to accept those things about me that I wrestled with accepting about myself. I was hooked on that Milk Chocolate man, and he was hooked on me. Then March 3, 2016 came and my little fairytale ended. The united front we once were had become divided. The vision of life we had together started to look better apart from each other.

Things were not bad. He did not cheat and neither did I, but we both felt that it was in the best interest of each other that we go our separate ways. It was the sweetest breakup ever, and I could not be mad because I felt the same way. But after a few days of sitting alone and coping with the fact, us breaking up included there being no wedding, I became furious!!! I read over every text message of him declaring how excited he was about us getting married. I kept having flashbacks of us going shopping for rings, checking out venues, and how gorgeous I looked in the gown I tried on. I was pissed that I spent money on Bridal magazines, fabric samples, and anything pertaining to weddings. I was highly upset that I introduced this man to absolutely everyone important to me. More than anything I was ashamed that I would once again be single at all the family functions and have to dodge conversations about my Relationship status. I was on the brink of marital bliss, and instead I ended up drowning in tears full of disappointment, anger, and shame.

I was highly annoyed with God that he would permit my heart to know this kind of pain, and I kept quiet about it for almost four months until I could speak about it without falling apart. To be honest, this was my greatest fear realized. I never wanted to be the woman who knew what it was like to be with “The One” at a family function and have to do the walk of shame at the next family function. I never wanted to know what it was like to give your all to someone only to hear “let’s go separate ways!” It was one of the greatest blows to my heart even though I agreed it was truly the best decision for both of us. This was the most painful moment in my experience with love, but the beauty that came from living through this nightmare was worth every tear. You’ll have to wait until Monday to hear that side of the story. Have a wonderful weekend beautiful people.-Charity Israel

P.S. I made it through typing this blog without a single tear. It appears my days of mourning have ended!!!

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://weddings.lovetoknow.com/wiki/African_American_Wedding_Clipart

 

The Blessing of Confession

PhotoGrid_1469807035387Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.”-Psalm 32:5

For the last few days I have been meditating on this scripture; and reflecting over the many times in my life that I wanted to live in rebellion rather than experience redemption. I remember the countless times I tried to justify certain thoughts, behaviors, and motives. I can recall the plethora of times that I lingered in sin a little longer than I should have and the consequences that accompanied such dumb life decisions.

Once I started to get serious about my relationship with God honesty became a requirement for it to function properly. As I began to spend time in prayer and studying scripture, sin was not so easy to commit or leave unconfessed. The magnitude of His love compelled me to tell the truth about me. I could no longer pretend that the life I was living was one that pleased Him. I had two options: to live a lie and remain outside of his presence or to start confessing so that I could fully enjoy His presence. Like the psalmist I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”

I John 1:9 tells us “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” As I did this I began to experience freedom from guilt, shame, and public opinion of my past. Assurance in God’s forgiveness produces freedom. However, we will NEVER know that freedom if we choose to remain in rebellion and unconfessed sin. We will spend our time trying to justify our actions to ourselves and to those around us. Even worse we will become reprobate and sever our relationship with God. He never leaves us, but we will leave Him as we allow both shame and pride to keep us from confessing what we have done. One of the most cunning weapons of the enemy is to convince us that we have done too much wrong to receive the love and forgiveness of God; and I am here to tell you that as the “Father of Lies” that is one of his greatest lies!!!

The Truth of the matter is “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.” (Rom. 5:8,9) There is no sin, outside of blaspheming the Holy Ghost, that will keep you from the forgiving grace of God. If he sent His son while we were in sin, surely any sin we have committed is forgivable if we are willing to confess it. Do not allow the enemy of your soul or even yourself talk you out of receiving the freedom from guilt that is made available to us through confession.

God sent Christ so that we could have the opportunity to have a relationship with Him if we so desire it. Do not let the moments of slipping or even falling into sin keep you out experiencing the beauty of having a relationship with the Creator of the universe. He gave us an anecdote for renewing our relationship with Him after we have fallen prey to the sin and our selfish desires. Confession is the key, and it is a blessing to those who will humble themselves and tell God the truth. I pray from this day forward you will choose to confess instead of cover up. You will never have peace inside until you reconcile your relationship with the One who made you, and confession makes it possible. I pray you will find the time to do it.-Charity Israel

The Danger of Living “Your Truth”

truthThe heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

Yesterday on Twitter I tweeted, “If living “your truth” is sin in the sight of God, you are still living a lie. As Christians, the Bible always trumps our truth.” I followed that tweet up with “satisfying your flesh is bliss until the enemy comes to collect and sin is always paid in death.#Romans6:23 #readit” I know death sounds extreme, but it is true. Consider a thief, he enjoys the instant gratification of acquiring that stolen object, but once he is discovered he will either experience death to his freedom (jail time) or to his life (killed by the owner). Consider the adulteress, she enjoys the moments of pleasure with her lover, but once her infidelity is discovered it oftentimes lead to the death of her marriage. Need more proof? Consider the gossiper, he or she thoroughly enjoys spreading rumors, until the death of a friendship or their smile because someone hit them in the mouth and took a couple teeth in the process. LOL

You may be wondering, Charity what does that have to do with living my truth?” I’m glad you asked. Oftentimes, living our truth comes at the expense of clinging to sin. Especially if our truth is being with another man’s wife; cheating your customers out of their money; and etc. Usually our “truths” are lived from our hearts, and that is a dangerous place to acquire truth. Matthew 15:19 says, “For from the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, and slander.” In other words, “it is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”(Jer.17:9) Even as Christians, we risk the chance of being led astray by the suggestions of our heart. This is why Christ admonished in Matthew 22:37 to “love the Lord your God with all your heart…” He knew that if we did not submit to God’s lordship in our hearts that our lives would not reflect His presence in us. Matthew 15:18 says, “But the things that come out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” This also rings true about the way we live. If we are living from the truth of hearts that have not submitted to God, we will live lives that lead to all kinds of death.

The world has a luxury that we gave up when we decided to become a Christian, and that is the permission to live by their “truth.” They have the right to sleep with who they want; marry who they want; and take what they want. We forsook that privilege in order to obtain the privilege of being children of God. We no longer live according to the truths of our heart, but we live according to the truths of his Word. “Following our heart” is no longer an adequate excuse to remain in sin. God’s Truth (the Bible) trumps our truth (the suggestions of the heart).

Christians who lived before the Bible was accessible to all, maybe could have blamed their unrighteous living on ignorance. But we are without excuse. We have to make a decision to live according to the flesh (the suggestions of our heart) or the Spirit (the suggestions of the Holy Spirit). I encourage each of us to take a moment today and examine the “truths” we are living. If the Bible is clear on the matter, bring yourself under the subjection of God’s truth. If the Bible is unclear on the matter, seek wise counsel and be prayerful until you receive instructions on what to do. Always remember living any truth outside of God’s word will result in death (Romans 8:5-13). Today I pray we as believers are found choosing life. Thanks for reading and never forget that Love Lives FREE!!!

 

Prayer: Father thank you so much for the privilege of being your child, and I repent for living a life that does not reflect I belong to You. Today, I ask that you would bring to light all the “truths” that I have been living contrary to yours. Today I submit to your lordship over my heart, and I thank you for the grace to live in a way that is proof of your existence in me in Jesus name.

 

 

 

Meme Credit: The Daily Quote on Pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

Forgive Them!!!

intercessorForgiveness is one of the greatest jewels of the Christian faith. It is what God graciously extends to us through Jesus Christ, and it our Christian response to others. Intercession is also a jewel. God in his kindness was often times willing to forgive a nation because of the prayers of one person (Exo. 32:32, 34:7-9; Deut. 21:8; Ps 79:9; Isa 2:9; Dan. 9:19; Amos 7:2) Throughout the ages, people have selflessly stood in the gap for those who had no desire to please God. They have been a saving grace to our human race, and all their prayers are appreciated.
In the Old Testament, we find that those being persecuted by pagan nations often prayed for the destruction of their enemies. They did not just pray for their destruction, but they fought many battles to ensure it. In the New Testament, however, there is a new response to those being persecuted by their enemies; and that is praying that they are forgiven. Many of us would not consider forgiveness as a form of intercession. We do not consider it intercession because we often focus on the offense instead of the proper response to it. We often let the hurt fester, and we adopt it as a new chip on our shoulder to stay angry at the world. It is the bitterness from unforgiven offenses that operates as a toxin in the Body of Christ (Heb. 12:14, 15). In the New Testament, we discover the proper response of an Intercessor when the offense becomes a physical attack instead of a spiritual one. We must forgive, and that forgiveness becomes an intercession for those who attack us.
There is leader in the Bible who used forgiveness as a form of intercession. This man led a small core group of 12; fed over 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread; and he gave up his life so that everyone would have an opportunity to know God. This man is named Jesus. It was Jesus who spent his life exemplifying what it meant to love God and your neighbor only to be, at the end of it, wrongfully accused and sentenced to death. It was Jesus, who while visiting one city, heard the crowd shouting “Hosanna, Hosanna!” one week and chanting “crucify him!” the following week. It was Jesus, the one who healed the withered hand and crippled feet, who had to have his hands and feet secured to a cross by nails. It was Jesus, the one possessing eternal life, with his last breath uttered these words in Luke 23:34, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Jesus who had every right to be upset, offended, furious, and betrayed made his last words an intercession. I would assert that if Jesus was praying “Father forgive them,” that he had already forgiven them (us) in his heart. He made an “allowance for our offenses” as Paul admonishes each believer to do in Colossians 3:13, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Jesus showed us by example how we should respond to those who would love nothing more than to see us dead, FORGIVE THEM.
In the book of Acts chapter 6 and 7, we find the story of a man named Stephen. The bible described him as “a man full of faith, the Holy Spirit, grace, and the power of God. He performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:5, 8) He was loved by the brethren and hated by religious leaders because of his wisdom and the Holy Spirit in him. These men conspired against him and found people to lie on him. Their lies led to Stephen’s arrest and a meeting with the Council (vv. 6:9-7:53). It was during this meeting that he spoke only what the Spirit told him to say. His words of truth made those living a lie furious. Out of their anger, they drugged him outside of the city and began to stone him (vv. 7:54-58) This man who was obedient to what the Holy Spirit asked of him was now facing death by the hands of those claiming to know God. His response to their actions was a prayer. Acts 7:59, 60 says, “As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.” Stephen like Jesus interceded on behalf of his murderers so that their sins would not be counted against them.
As intercessors it is important that we are found, even in the face of death, interceding for our offenders. It should be the desire of every intercessor that all come to know God, including those who hurt us. The story of Jesus and Stephen proves that we can be completely in the will of God and have to suffer persecution. They show us that the very people we are called to help may bring us the greatest harm; but we must forgive them. In our humanity, holding an offense will always be justified, but our call to “live according to the Spirit” nullifies that human right (Rom. 8:5). The life of an intercessor will present us with moments to be greatly offended; but we have to be wise intercessors and keep “allowances for offenses” in stock. The enemy would love nothing more than to hold you hostage, from you assignment, by the offenses you refuse to let go. Effective intercessions are those wrapped in love, grace, and forgiveness. Reinhold Niebuhr says “Forgiveness is the final form of love.” It is my prayer that if any of us are found having to surrender our life for this great Gospel that our last prayer would be, “Father forgive them!”

The Day God Lied

 

csa

Yesterday I was considering where my life is compared to where I desire it to be. I thought about the promise I believe God has spoken concerning my life; and I thought about the time that has passed since hearing them. Shortly before accusing God of being a liar, the things I failed to do came to my remembrance. As I sat with the thoughts of His promises and my slothfulness, also known as disobedience, this CSA (Christian Service Announcement) came to me:

Obey the first set of instructions before you start complaining about what God has failed to do. You have to participate to see the manifestation of some promises in your life.

As I sat with this thought, three people came to mind: Abraham (Gen. 12-25),  Hannah (1 Samuel 1), and Jesus (Philippians 2:8-11). In order for Abraham to become the Father of Many Nations, he had to leave his hometown. In order for Hannah to receive her son, she had to pray like a drunken women before those in the temple.  Jesus had to die on the cross, in order to obtain the name above all names. All three of these people had one thing in common, they participated in the promise. They went where they were instructed.  They abandoned their comfort zones. And one gave up his life in order to experience the manifestation of the promise.

After reflecting upon their stories, I had to consider my own ways. I had acknowledge that every Promise I shouted over had a set of instructions that I overlooked. I could no longer hold God solely responsible for my position in life. I refused to Go where he suggested. I refused to sow my time, money, or service where He was asking me. And it was I, who allowed the comforts of my complacency to keep me from stepping out on faith in His word. #guiltyascharged

Sitting with this discovery of my disobedience, I had two options available to me. I could soak in self-condemnation, or I could repent and start fresh. I opted for the latter. I asked God to forgive me for accusing Him of being a liar. I acknowledged that my disobedience has been the hold up in reaching my dreams. I repented for comparing my position in life with others; and I asked the Holy Spirit to help me redirect my focus on  the assignment God has for me.

It has only been 24 hours, so I cannot boast about some grand change taking place; but I have faith I am back on schedule. To the person reading this that can relate to my slothfulness, I hope you choose the latter as well. God forgives, and He is always ready to restore us. You can prolong the process and wallow in regret, or you can repent and move forward. The beauty of the Christian faith is that it is one of gradual perfection, meaning each day is another chance to get it right. #choosewisely

 

Dear Love

 

 

Dear Love

It has been awhile since we have seen each other, and your presence is greatly missed. The first time we met, I was frightened by you. I questioned “why would you want me, and what made me worthy of you?” Out of fear, I abused you. Thinking I would be rejected, I neglected you. You had no choice but to leave. Please forgive me for pushing you away.

The second time you came around, I was determined to make it work. After experiencing the beauty of you, I wanted to prove I had learned to accept you. So I put up with a lot and ignored many signs because I did not want to let you down. I was so in need of the high you gave, I yielded my heart to someone who did not completely understand you. I suffered greatly trying to manufacture something as divine as you. In the process of desperately wanting to experience you, I paid a high price. I cashed in my self-respect, standards, dignity, and my faith (almost).

I wanted you so bad, but you were not present. Once this synthetic or faux love came to an end, my heart was completely hardened. I was remorseful that I tried to force your return. I was bitter because I knew it was not you; and I allowed the façade to go on too long. I was hurt. Trying to create Love is far more painful than waiting on you. I owe you an apology for imitating you and becoming so bitter that I started to question your existence. Next time I am blessed with your presence, I will receive you with open arms. I will not question why you returned. I will not question whether I am worthy of you. I know that I am.

When I am certain it is you, I will gladly give you my heart. You can be trusted. There is no desire to reject you because you accept me. There is no need to impress you because you are completely into me. I now know I can trust you with my insecurities. I know you will not find the scars of my life repulsive. I am certain I can trust you with my fears because in your perfection, you take them away. I am convinced my past sins will not intimidate you because you cover a multitude of them.

I no longer fear you, and I will not rush your return. I will continue to prepare my heart for your residency. I am daily cleaning out my skeletons and facing my demons because You deserve my whole heart. So know my heart is open to you again. Know that I am preparing myself to receive and keep you next time. There will be no games you will have to win or walls you will have to break down. I no longer possess a list of how tall you are; how much you make; and what you must look like. I just want you in the package you choose to come in. You graciously accepted me, and I will extend that grace back to you.

Sincerely,

Charity Israel

 

Dear Daddy,

Today marks the one year anniversary of your passing (September 3, 2012), and I must admit I have not been able to write about this for a year. But I suppose doing so will put my mind at ease and thoughts of our past to rest. I first want to say “THANK YOU” for rearing two girls that were not your own. It is no secret that we did not have the best of relationships due to some of your personal life decisions; but I must acknowledge the effort you put forth. After leaving home and having to face or suppress my own demons, I understand your internal conflict that we had to physically witness. I understood your need for escape and your temporary leave of absence from your responsibilities as a husband and a father. I understand why you chose certain things to help you cope with failure, unrealized dreams, and the desire to do better but not quite “getting it together.”

I appreciate you staying away at your darkest times and returning when daybreak arrived. I appreciated your charisma, and during your good days how you gave love and laughter to everyone around you. I am grateful for our verbal spats. You taught me how to stand up for myself. I also apologize for them. I should have been more respectful.

We had this talk before but know that I FORGIVE EVERYTHING said that took a blow at my confidence, my talents, and my dreams. I now know your greatest pain in life was coping with your unrealized dream. Until the day of your funeral, I did not know you made history and set  Basketball records in high school and college that have yet to be broken. I did not know I was living with an urban legend until your friends shared stories of the Glory Days with us. I am sorry I never took the time to get to know you.

By the time we met you were living from a place of brokenness, and we did not know how to fix you. I get you now! The older I become the more compassion I have towards the way you handled Chris and I. You honestly had NO CLUE on how to raise young girls, but you were a great friend to us as women. Thanks for the encouraging phone calls and laughs. Thanks for the thick skin you gave me to stand my ground even when the earth around me chooses to crumble. Thanks for every attempt made to show us that you loved us. You did your best. The last time we saw each other, you proudly introduced me to your nurse saying “This is my oldest daughter Charity, and she is a doctor.” You have my word on making that come true.  Your approval was always important to me, and that moment affirmed all those years that you heard and believed in me when I thought you did not. I am glad to know you died proud of me.

I find myself thinking of you more now that you are gone than I ever did while you were here. I always assumed Ole Cole would be around, but you got to see God before I did. You were always good for surprises. I know you are safe now and free from a world that was not so kind to you. You were a troubled man, but I am grateful your last days were full of the rest you needed. You will be missed and thought of at every event. Maybe we can dance together when I get to heaven since you won’t make my wedding. What I know about a good but severely broken man I learned from you, and no matter the dysfunction that plagued my childhood I will only hold on to the good.

Thanks for Trying,

Your Eldest Daughter