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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Darkest Hour: The breaking of Dawn

Sunrise - Tigner Rand
 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. Psalms 119: 147

Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.Ecclesiastes 11:7

Dark times of trouble
The darkest hour is during trouble times, midnight, or just before dawn. In Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sermon, A Knock at Midnight, he states midnight is a confusing hour when man’s faith often waivers. During the Montgomery bus boycotts, the darkest hour of their struggle became the first hour of victory.  Just when it was certain they would go down in defeat dawn came with the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling over segregation, their faith prevailed.  “Disappointment, sorrow, and despair are born at midnight but morning always follows”. 

God's Majestic painting
Tigner Rand
The light in darkness
Pre-dawn or the early morning was time for David to sing, praise, seek guidance and discover the night will shine like day, for darkness is as light to God; though weeping may endure for a night Joy will come in the morning. David found solace, peace during this period of day.  

Instructors, family members and friends stated my greatest work was around midnight.  Early morning has allowed me to capture creative thoughts and amazing writings.  It has severed as my ideal to praise God! 

God's daily masterpieces
Each morning, starting with a fresh canvas, God creates a work of art. A blue or grey sky along with basic primary colors yet each morning the composition is totally different.  One day more red, orange and burnt sienna, while on other day’s pinks, blues, and even gray tones. Sometimes God chooses a sunrise against a light blue canvas splattered with floating pink cotton candy clouds or a sunset blended with burnt orange and amber colors against the evening sky which give way to sparkling star diamonds of midnight blue heavens. God’s art and colors are vibrant! 

Amazing art in the sky
I captured these breath taking sunrise images one morning while driving.  Within seconds one could see the tapestry change; same colors a d sky just a different perspective of beauty to witness.  These pictures are just subtle reminders of how amazing God is yet we often over look this beauty as well as dismiss God’s daily blessings and miracles in our lives.

Image by: Tigner J.
Used coffee grounds - yesterday's problems
To bring this closer to home, coffee drinkers would you attempt to brew a fresh pot of java from yesterday’s depleted grinds?  Then why start your life with yesterday problems?  God starts each day with a fresh slate to paint, we to should begin our morning as a new dawning, a new beginning by casting aside the troubles of yesterday and start fresh. Allow God to whitewash your doubts, fears, sins, and troubles today that your "darkest hour of struggle can become the first hour of victory!"

Tigner J.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A new life with Christ in 2012: What not to do

Single tree of life: Tigner J.
 Then the LORD said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in the entire world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you. Obey what I command you today.  Exodus 34:10-11

As 2011 comes to an end, many have strived to reach high marks, by focusing on positive affirmations or people, while to a greater degree, multitudes perceived this year as a progressively negative period in life. Regardless of what category you placed yourself, please be reminded 2011 [today] is officially history which signifies it is time to cast aside all burdens, leave behind any additional baggage: worries, fears, or uncertainties which impede you from attaining dreams. New opportunities sit ready to spawn innovative adventures; they are yours for the taking.

Anticipate 2012 being an exciting year filled with opportunities for new beginnings, a year with plenty of ups and down, good news and bad news, and ample wins and losses but remember despite the falls or stumbles, allow God to be in the midst of your state of affairs.  Take time to reflect over 2011 see from whence you came; do you see growth and development, a new creature in Christ, aligned in God’s will or one stagnant, standing still, continually focusing in the past destroying all possibility of making a change for the better? 

There is plenty of upside in 2012 just as there will be downsides however, don’t get stuck in a holding pattern of sulking because you see individuals growing and prospering while you appear to fail. The joys and pains of life is a beautiful thing; there will be peaks, valleys, dark and sunny days but remember there cannot be flowers with out sunshine and rain or a testimony without a test! 2012 should be about togetherness revitalizing strength in Christ, stop attempting to do it alone, immerse self in God’s word, study and understand it.  Surround yourself with positive like minded people, pray talk and mature collectively when two or three come together in His name, the Holy Spirit is present!

One important 2012 plan of action, become a positive thinker, optimist and true believers of God. Be crazy enough (having deep faith) to believe that your world can become what you make it provided Jesus is part of all your endeavors: This means work, decision making, goal setting, relationships, no matter what consult ‘The Great Counselor’ on everything.  Otherwise fall back into the trap of negative thinkers, pessimist or ideology of an Atheist. These adversaries belong in the category of being doubters who believe what can go wrong will go wrong.

The most excellent way to end 2011 is to follow the Master’s plan and cast your burdens upon God and he will sustain you Psalms 55:22.  It is never too late, let pass adversities and doubt stay behind latch on to God’s Life Line, keep holding on be encouraged, stay strong and do not give up your faith!   2012 is a new year, a breakthrough for new beginnings go ahead and make plans to rekindle dreams and the fire with Christ.  Make 2012 the best year of your life!

Tigner J.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Angels of Secret Generosity, the meaning of Christmas

O Christmas Tree
Photo: Tigner J.

When man gives from the heart, and not grudgingly God will make all grace and blessings abound toward them. 2 Cor. 9: 7-8

What is Christmas

Christmas is a picturesque season of happiness, good cheer to all men and women. It is a festive season when people annually decorate homes with trees, lights, ornaments and front lawns with huge blow up dolls, which really don’t make sense.  

Black Friday and Scrooge

There are bright colors, reindeer, some old man in a red suit and an over abundance of God forsaken Christmas sweaters and vest. Christmas is perceived as a time where people “want a whole lot of this and a whole lot of that” while fighting for bargains on Black Friday. Loved ones are bestowed with expensive toys, gadgets and clothes to neatly wrap under a Christmas tree. Before you call me a cold hearted Ebenezer Scrooge please continue reading there is a reason for the season.

Christmas and Christ

Christmas is suppose to represent the Birth of Jesus Christ, the greatest present ever given to mankind, God coming to earth as man atoning our sins. His existence was a journey of teaching humility; how to give, and be a blessing to others yet somewhere along the way got it twisted thinking that our hands should always be on the receiving end. Christmas is a time for praising, singing of songs glorifying His name and most importantly serving our fellow man.

The general public has become numb or even skeptical of extending a helping hand to family let alone strangers until now. During this Christmas season we have witnessed thousands of spectacular incidents of unexplainable altruistic behavior from complete strangers’ nationwide - individuals paying off 
lay-a-ways for strangers, to a man in Waycross, Georgia who bought $500 worth of McDonald’s gift cards - in $25 increments to distribute to needy families.  

This kind gesture inspired the McDonald’s owner, Brian Fey, to match the donation by giving half the gift cards to the Pierce County Food Bank and half to a local homeless shelter. Paying it forward, random acts of kindness are actions which really embody the true spirit of Christmas and should transcend beyond one month but include 365 days a year. Giving can be contagious! 

Jesus Christ told his followers it’s more blessed to give than to receive. He also stated for with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38.  Sorrowfully, we often hoard God’s possessions opposed to giving to those in need. Contrary to popular belief, all things under the sun belong to God; he has blessed us with custodianship of earthly belongings we so often times cherish. Looking back over 2011, we had good times, faced some bad, and not to forget many blessings. I challenge you to take on the “I can’t help it disease” and begin showing random acts of kindness in 2012 and beyond by making yourself available as a giving vessel to others. Take time to recognize God’s blessings in your life and pass the blessings forward!   With your new mindset of giving, who can you bless today?

Tigner Rand

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Love Music and so does God!

Make a joyful noise
A Jazzy Image: Tigner J.

Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord all you Lands!  Psalm 100:1

There are over 1500 references of some form of music mentioned in the bible with words like: melody, hymn, instrument, psalm, harp, lyre, trumpet, horn, and voice.  A prominent Pastor was asked why he always whistled Andy Griffin show theme music. His response, since he could not sing; it was a happy tune which allowed him to praise God.  Biblical references note that instruments where used to praise and worship God so much so David, a musician, scribed one hundred and fifty chapters of Psalms with liner notes notating their purpose, how to arrange and which instruments best complimented them. The Gospel of Mathew records Jesus and the disciples finished Passover with singing as they went to the Garden of Gethsemane. Music is everywhere!

Music is a composition of imagination in the form of notes which produce a melodic sound intertwined with, syncopated rhythm which compels one to sing, dance, laugh, or cry.  Songs can make a soul merry, cure pains; a merry heart is like medicine but a broken spirit dries the bones.  A piece of music is timeless withstanding the test of time; it is a lover, a peacemaker, which can tame the cry of a baby or sooth the rage of a savage beast. When God created the world, the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy Job 38:7. Is it safe to say God loves music?

Many are blessed with a gift of music through song, dance, and instrumentation. Use that gift just as the little drummer boy, who had no gift to bring yet he could play for the new born King, Sing to God a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy in everything you do. I love music, any kind of music both instrumental and vocals from its many variations down to an artist’s interpretation of a gospel standard. Like many of us who cannot play sing, or dance, find your gift of music in your soul enjoy it but also find a way to Praise the one God who sits high and looks down low.  Shout joyfully to the Lord all the earth, break out in song, rejoice, and sing praises because music is life that can stir the soul. Let the music play and take you away! 

Tigner J.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm So Crazy

Popperfoto collection: Albert Einstein

Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Mathew 6:30

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”  Albert Einstein

Life making us crazy

“I didn't know enough I just had too much on my mind, does that make me crazy?”

All have experienced this place of temporary insanity, brought to us by love, family, friends, jobs (lack of a job), and even material things. Just name a poison and there you will find a whirlwind of mental chaos: 99 problems pushing you close to the edge, you are trying not to lose your head, but does this make you crazy?

Stop worrying

Jesus posed a question to the community, “is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”  Can any of you add an inch to your head by worrying? Even today, life’s rat race has one moving so fast often times not knowing if you are coming or going, overwhelmed with insurmountable pain which infiltrates logical thinking, easy tasks become challenging, stress and worry tag along ultimately causing health issues.  You are so crazy  - worrying like idolaters!

Worry can cause mental illness

A dear friend from school has reached a point in life where he has encountered this madness, a coherent mind succumbed to illusions pure divine craziness - mentally and physically -  no one knows his whereabouts. One minute home thinking about working next walking the streets, he “gotta see a doctor because he thinks Scotty is calling beam me up!”  

Economic mental melt down

The state of America’s economy, without notice, can cause us to experience, a slight mental meltdown, a bit of craziness of sorts. Though man’s mind is vast and capable of doing virtually anything we have to also learn letting go and letting God is a good thing when life is out of our control.  There is a thin line between sanity and insanity and a wide canyon between self-control and God control.

Despair has affected all in some way - foreclosures, lost jobs, family crisis, hopes and dreams vanished. What do you do when facing these problems?  God knows what you want and need, however seek the Kingdom of God first and his righteousness and all other things will follow.

When your heart is overwhelmed with pessimism shout - "hear my cry O God," attend to my prayer for He is a shelter, a strong tower when chaos rises.
You can not always control how you feel, nevertheless listen to your inner spirit let go of all your faults, defects or shortcomings lay them on the alter let God’s word flow through, His Spirit not only moves it removes  otherwise these things will make you crazy!

Tigner J.


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Sunday, December 11, 2011

What if God acted like Parents?

Image: Tigner J.

Will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you. Isaiah 30:18

A Parent's advice

Parents [Adults] we have bestowed antidotes of life to children, yet for some reason kids opt not to pursue our advice. You know the scenario: child is confronted with decisions in school, you provide wisdom to rectify situation.  As days turn into months procrastination has taken residents in child’s mind. Such situations are played out daily in households, making parents [adults] frustrated, angry vowing to let child bump their own head, ‘experience is the best teacher’. 

It goes without saying, parents [adults] want the best and will do anything for their offspring but children can turn a parent’s happy heart into a sorrowful one based on actions or a lack thereof. Within a person’s reach are a host of reasons garnering negative results: fear, doubt, nonchalant attitude, or immaturity.   How do you react when confronted with a wavering loved one not performing to their full potential? Do you continue encouraging, coaching, get mad, scream until blue in the face, sling insulting words or turn your back and walk away?

Getting on God's nerves

What if God acted like parents [adults]: “this child is getting on my nerves; I’m so mad I don’t know what to do! Why is it so hard for this child to understand?” “You are too old to make such dumb decisions,” what is on your mind that you cannot remember to follow through and make it happen!” Without an education you are wasting your talent and your life! .We all have heard or spoke these very words one time or another. 

I’m so grateful God is nothing like parents [adults], not turning His back each time we don’t listen, or follow His guidance scribe in the Bible. God’s behavior is not like our behavior and thoughts not like ours:  He is not quick to anger; He is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. God waits for us to Humble ourselves, that He may lift us up in due time. He desires that we cast all anxiety on Him.  Yet, time and time again people walk away from God’s extended hand, by Edging God Out based on our own understanding. From our actions, we constantly tell the Father we got this; in return He smiles and waits.  Likewise, parents [adults] we need to take the same attitude as our Heavenly Father does, be patient kind, not quick to anger.  Call unto the Lord in prayer and He will answer and tell you great unsearchable things you do not know. Jer. 33:3 by example, parents [adults] practice waiting on your children just as the LORD must wait for us to come to Him so He can show us His love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for His help Isaiah 30:18. because God’s love, mercy, grace, is forever covering us and its great God do not act like parents [adults] for if He did we would be in trouble!

Tigner J.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

The homeless can Give the Power of Prayer

Then peter said silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you in the name of Jesus ChristActs 3:6

How to deal with Homeless people 

Raise your hand if you have come upon a homeless person asking for money, food, or some far fetched plea.  According to National Alliance to end Homelessness[i], on any given night, in America more than 750,000 people are homeless. Over the course of a year, an additional 2.5 million will temporarily live either on the streets or in emergency shelters. Though many panhandlers could be swindlers attempting to con another victim, I have learned to remove self judgment and base my response on how the Holy Spirit leads me regarding their request. 

A Lesson from a homeless person

Recently, at a stop light, I witnessed a woman who appeared to be homeless based on tattered clothes, unclean appearance, and sores covering her face and hands.  Making her way to each vehicle, it appeared no one supplied any donations. Me being the next car in the long procession, I lowered my window and before she could utter a word, “I don’t have anything” blurted from my mouth.  Realizing in hindsight, unlike previous encounters I responded before being asked.  To my dismay this woman had a prophetic comeback to my quick witted answer; “yes, you do have something to give the power of prayer!” 

Driving off dumbfound, the story of a lame man at the beautiful came to mind, Acts 3:1-9 where Peter told the man money he had not but he did have Jesus.  I also recalled Paul’s charge to the Romans to behave like Christians by letting love be without hypocrisy, be kind to others with brotherly love and steadfastly pray Thes 5:12-18.  I’ve heard sermons and read these aforementioned stories on many occasions with intent to implement in a way to bless someone along my journey.  My brief visit was a prime opportunity to put words into action, yet I missed my cue to empower or pray for this lady. I allowed my carnal mind to lead me astray.

The Power of prayer

For days, “you have the power of prayer” lingered in my mind and raised questions. Are my prayers self-centered? Do I pray enough for the indigent as well as others? Is praying effective?  Just as too many ask is their praying in vain? No of course not! Prayer does change things. Prayer is powerful; it can alter situations affecting an individual to world changing issues.  Prayer, no matter how small once it reaches God it does not fall on death ear it will manifest, especially when people learn to touch and agree together through prayer, when two or three come together in His name he is among them Matt. 18:20.  

 I charge you to try God [again] through prayer not asking for things that can rust or corrupt but be like Solomon ask for wisdom to discern between good and evil, I Kings 3:9 pray for others well being, ask for a forgiving spirit,  filled with joy, peace, and love.  For many claim to be Christ like yet when given opportunities such as mine they also fail.  During our life journey we all will stumble upon more situations of: homeless people, co-workers, strangers, or family members partitioning for help in spite the fact money you have not. Remember to give them what you do have in the name of Jesus.   As for the unfortunate lady, I watched through my rear view mirror as she made her way along the road seeking other benevolent givers. As space separated us, I could hear her last directive:  “pray for me and others too because we all need prayer.”

[i] Facts based on 2008-2009 statistics

Tigner J. 

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