Thursday, December 23, 2010

Suffering by Grace Trusting Today

Guest Blog:  Rachael Watson

Suffering by Grace: Trusting Today: "Eight months ago, God called me to have faith to believe that nothing is impossible with Him. And I believed. Seven months ago, God called..."

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Man In The Mirror

© 2010, Chantelle Henderson

*Be prepared for a book instead of a simple blog.  I did not set out to do this blog at all.  It started with two sentences and now 2 hours later I'm wrapping this up.*

I am sitting here watching the video at the end of this blog with my heart grieving and tears rolling down my face.  For some reason I've had more people than ever come to me lately and say, "I just wish I could be real" or "I just wish I could be myself." with other people.  My heart breaking right now because we must come to and understanding that if we are Christians we show it by our love one for another:

John 13:34-35  [The Message]

"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other."  

You would think that with today's teaching from various outlets such as Christian Television and church on the internet that Christians would be aware now more than ever about how deep our love should go towards the various backgrounds, races, sexual orientation, religions, etc. that we would simply love one another.  I don't know.  Maybe it's because years ago when I was jacked up (and still can be sometimes) just about everyone judged me in the church except one.  One woman who dared to step in and mentor me.  Because she saw me as a mighty woman of God, with each prayer, each dinner, each lesson she taught me, I slowly began evolving into what she saw with His eyes, instead of her own which would have screamed, "SHE'S A HOPELESS CAUSE!  

I was unaware until several years later that I was the topic of many discussions and not in a good way.  When Mary broke the alabaster box and anointed Jesus' feet with the content, the precious, rare, and expensive perfume (which is said to be worth a years salary) tears flowed down her cheeks and onto His feet.  She cried to the extent that there was enough to wash her tears with her hair.  

This woman had some MAJOR opposition.  She was not only NOT supposed to be there, but she could have been stoned.  She was known as a "sinful" woman who dared not belong in the presence of Jesus!  The people accompanying Him at dinner treated Him just like any old guest.  Their attitude was like, "No big deal.  So we're chillin' with Jesus." She, however, recognized that her need for His love and forgiveness far outweighed the opinions of others and the consequences she may have had to suffer.  ONLY because of her faith, she risked everything she had to come face to face with the Savior of her life - The Lover Of Her Soul.  

Luke 7:36-47 [New International Version]

 36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.  39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”  “Tell me, teacher,” he said.
   41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
 43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”  “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.  44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

I don't necessarily notice  99% of the time how people see me, seriously!  Like this woman, I have an "Excuse me.  I'm here to see Him and not you, so please get out of my way." attitude.  I do my very best not to become haughty with that gift.  It is a gift you know?  Maybe it's because that's what got me through.  That's what kept me going to church and getting the word when I could feel the stares of disapproval.  That's what still keeps me going; trying to constantly remember that were it not for His love and forgiveness, I would for sure still be left in my pit of despair.  Granted, it may be presented in a sharp, no-nonsense manner (which I'm REALLY working on), it doesn't matter what you used to be or what you used to do, where you've been.  I'm interested in seeing you through His eyes and celebrating with you on your own journey to gain access into the very heart of God, Papa.  This is what I whole heartily others to see in me:  I want them to see the love of Christ shining through me.  I want others to feel His love from my heart.  I want them to feel like no matter what they are the apple of God's eye.  I want them to see me in my spiritual, TRUE spiritual and natural condition so they can see the cracks being filled in as I am on The Potters Wheel being made and molded into what He purposed for me.  

In the same manner, even now, as we journey through our lives on this side of eternity while we are passing through this earthly realm, we all fall short, screw up, fail, and need HIS Mercy and Grace EVERY DAY.  As Christians we should be able to love and accept people right where they are.  We say it all the time, but rarely do it.  Many people stay the same simply because no one chooses to see what they could become.  The word of God says that “we are to bare one another’s burdens”, Again from The Message Bible.  ( I love how it just puts it out there!)

Galatians 6:1-5 [The Message]

Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

So, we all have been there.  And especially because we’ve been there, we are called to encourage, lift up, and restore friends and strangers alike.  We have to answer the call to mentor the way someone took the time to do with us when we were in our muck and mire.  Our victories, and battle scars, and wisdom, and knowledge are not for us.  They are for the lives of others we pour into.  When we don’t love and accept people right where they are we add great weight to their feeling of inadequacy. We all have good intentions but you know what they say about intentions???  If not, look it up.

How about the man or woman who is sitting in a corner getting ready to pull the trigger because they have an attraction to the same sex, but knows from negative comments you’ve made in front of them before, or that the pastor just condemned them to hell at last Sunday's service "They will never understand.  I'd rather be dead than face the rejection of the very ones who are supposed to embrace me as I find my way on this side of eternity."

We hold up our signs with pride that say, MURDERER outside the abortion clinic.  We yell and scream at them and throw them "to the wolves".  Um, how about putting up some money to pay for her doctors' bill, put a roof over her head.  Be there at her doctors' appointments to hold her hands as she weighs the one decision that will forever change her life no matter which path she chooses.  Oh yeah, take one of your fancy cars out of the garage that sit there as a mere decoration that you "play with" once a year and put some gas in it and adorn it with a big red bow and hand her the keys.  I guess it's easier to tell someone they are a baby-killer, murderer, whore, slut, and many other words used to describe those who are about to walk in to the clinic than to actually take the time support them spiritually, physically, financially and socially.  Your attitude is "Keep it simple.  Just don't do it." and yet you don't make the time to mentor her.

How many times have we seen the man with stringy hair, torn shoes, the stench of not bathing for days, and rough, cracked hands from being outside in the cold with nothing to keep him warm.  You’re afraid to shake his hands because he may have a parasite.  Did you know that in that moment you may have very well been coming in contact with an angel unaware.  Yes.  Angels are real.  Just think, you've been honored with the presence of an angel and we dismissed them because “we were too good” and didn’t want to be defiled by showing any kind of compassion, or God forbid get to close physically.  What a blessing missed!  Just sit and soak in that for a minute.  WOW!

Hebrews 13:2 (New American Standard Bible)

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

You label someone as “crazy” because of their erratic and unbalanced behavior.  They are “different”.  Has it ever occurred to you that he or she may have been traumatized and the only way they could cope was to create an unrealistic world, where at times they still find security and solace?  There are days that they actually think to themselves, “I’m going to get out of the house today and actually take a step and spend time with another human being instead of isolate.”  When they do, you caught them outside of what they consider their safe place so yeah, they may be taking baby steps but you’ve written them off.  Instead, you could have empathized with that person, taken a little more time and energy than you’re used to and point them to a healthcare professional who may be able to give them a diagnosis that will give them understanding of why they behave the way they do.  For the first time in their life they have answers, may need to take medication (so what) but they feel more alive than the minutes, hours, and days of their life feeling numb and non-existent. 

You can take a woman who has a beautiful home, a brand new car, two kids, a great husband, and the life she’s always dreamed of……and yet, she feels as empty as the woman in a one bedroom apartment, living off welfare, while trying to make it from day to day.  How many times have we rolled our eyes at the woman who is buying steaks with her food stamps and goes outside and gets in a new car.  You know what.  That was me 18 years ago.  I got steak because I lived in a household of 5 people and it was nice every once in a while to show my appreciation of not having to pay rent or childcare because my mother and father were helping me out.  I was scoffed on one of those days that I bought a steak and got in my PARENT’S new Cadillac.  I was driving it because the car I was driving from buy-here pay-here lot was breaking down and not safe for me to drive.  Heck, I’ll even admit that with many of these things I’m addressing I am guilty of doing myself and I should know better!  Being a former adult entertainer who wore stilettos to church with a skirt that could be mistaken for me forgetting to put on anything at all.  I’d come right through the church doors right off of a shift.  Was I greeted with the love of God?  Anything but. … And yet again I have caught myself being on the other side of the road with promises of NEVER doing to them or treating them the way I was.  But here she comes.  Her hair is disheveled.  She looks like she’s been partying all night.  Her breath even smells like she’s been drinking.  I arrogantly greet her with a smile and my name while thinking, “Dear Lord woman.  God put on some clothes and look presentable.”  Then there were the ones around me who saw her and didn’t even acknowledge her presence.  How dare I?  You could not have paid me $1 million dollars to believe I would ever think that way.  If I don’t watch it, I’ll be honest and tell you that I am still capable of it.
Yesterday, I heard a story that hit waaaaay to close to home as it involved someone that I know and love very deeply.  On the outside that person may seem to act happy and look content in their life, but I know for a fact that they are tortured in their mind and spirit because they just want someone…..just ONE person to love them unconditionally, to hold them when they cry, and listen when they need to talk.  After my conversation with this person I posted this as my status.  I admit.  I was angry and fired up!  How dare you treat this person like that?  You are absolutely no better than they are and I know it because I’ve seen how you live your life when you’re on the other side of town thinking no one is going to see you go into the very places you preach are “the devil’s playground” where the “whores who have lost souls” need to get right with Jesus.  Here is my quote:

"2 all the self-righteous-sanctimonious-pious-holier-than-thou people out there who call themselves Christians. SHUT IT & quit acting like U R better. That's not it. U just haven't been caught YET. Were it not 4 the blood of Jesus, we'd ALL B LOST! It's the same blood, no more or no less that saved U, that saves some1 who is caught N their sin & needs restoration. Do not call yourself a Christian if U can't do this!"

While I will not apologize for confronting the issue head on which is what gets and keeps me in trouble most of the time, I will say that it did not come, at that moment, from a place of love.  It came from a place of being utterly pissed off and bitter.  I started typing this blog you are reading right now as a sentence or two for a video I posted that gets in the face of our lack of love and compassion; our fake smiles and “picture perfect” lives.  My fingers could not stop typing.  It’s just all flowing through my heart.  Again, it started out as me watching the video for one of my favorite songs and it turned into this; for all intents and purposes a book J.

As I pour out each word this serves as a stern reminder TO ME that I need to practice what I preach.  I am a hypocrite if there ever was one and I truly repent.  I recognize that if I get too puffed up with knowledge and forget all that He has brought me through, I am still capable of doing the opposite of living out His greatest command only second to loving and serving Him-To love our neighbors as ourselves.  We try to live perfect lives and expect others to do the same, when He is saying, "I just want you to love others with the same love I have shown you.  Otherwise, your works, ministries, degrees, titles, and posessions mean nothing to me."  Well, actually He's the reason you have them, so He's not impressed with any of it to begin with.  Maybe men are, but not Him.

Matthew 22:32-38

When the crowds heard him, they were astounded at his teaching. But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”  Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.

I'll be honest, artistically I’m not a huge Michael Jackson fan.  He did sing a song years ago that paints a beautiful picture of where the change needs to begin - with ourselves.  The song is "The Man In The Mirror" and the main chorus:

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror.
I'm asking him to change his ways.
No message could have been any clearer.
If want the world to be a better place,
Take a look at yourself, and then
Make the change."

Just like getting out of the shower, many of us have just walked out the door not giving any thought to the blurred condition of the mirror.  If we’d stayed a little bit longer the fogginess would disappear to reveal what remains.  May the “fogginess” of ignorance, judgment, and fear of letting other people see who you really are dissipate to reveal a beautiful child of God.  A reflection of someone who is loved and able to give love in return no matter what they look like, do in life, or what background they come from.  Let’s look at that man or woman in the mirror and repent for past judgments and outright dismissal of someone based on what we see rather than their true reflection as a child of God.  Maybe if we just believed the best in a person, they would see their own reflection of what they really could be in life.  They may behold (for the first time in their life) that once the mist of lies and confusion, and hope for healing, lifted it would leave only reflection of who they really are and will become in Christ.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Casket The Grave And The Tomb

© 2010, Chantelle Henderson

“What a strange title”, you may be thinking to yourself.  Yes.  Even for me it is; well was.
In His infinite ability to impart artistic insight to me, He gave me a word picture [Now that’s a surprise **sarcastic**.  Most of my blogs are a direct result of word pictures].  In the canvas of my mind I saw Him paint a casket, a hollow grave, and a tomb where Jesus’ body was laid to rest only to be resurrected.  The casket represented death [as the enemy of our soul did not want us to breathe life to begin with].  The uncovered pre-made grave was a vision of me lying in it and being prepared to be buried alive.  And, finally, I observed a picture of me in the tomb, but being resurrected and The Father’s hand rolling the stone away.  It was a very odd word picture to me.  But my spirit understood it far too well, for it represented the sensitive, mending wound, and dark season of my soul.

I now rejoice in telling you that I have come to a place of life resurrected!  I feel alive again.  I am dancing with the Partner of my life.  I am praying again and hungry for more of Him than I indisputably have been of late.  In the contentment of being in a desert for so long, I did not realize just how thirsty and spiritually dehydrated I’d become.  Mirages of a life that was just enough for me to survive day by day, one day at a time, for the last seven months seemed sufficient and fostered enough security for me to keep going. I knew it was bad, but the more I moved out of that mirage of self-pitty and choosing to be alone into His reality, the sphere of the mirage proved to be quite abominable, and closer to being near death’s doorstep [spiritually] than I ever thought possible.  It was my 11th hour and I found water for my thirsty soul among the prayers of a spiritual mother and finding a new church to call home.  For the first time in months I’d just been given water.  Not only was I drinking it, but I was swimming it!

I was participating in the party of self pitty, lonliness, and bitterness the enemy was throwing for me.  I was oppressed, depressed, and any other “pressed” someone could be.  For seven months, I very rarely had contact with those I hold most dear to my heart.  If there was any communication to be found it was in this crazy, virtual, and sometimes delusional world called Facebook.  On that networking site I could make my status sound good and even make people laugh as evidenced by how many times the “like” button had been pressed or a “LOL”.  I could “talk” to friends without the sadness of my voice and the absence of my usual loud, boisterous, and unique laugh exposing the hopelessness I was drowning in. I decided to go off Facebook for a short, short time and wrote a message to my Facebook friends explaining my much-needed discontinuity from my virtual, disingenuous existence.  In the content of that message I further shared that I had to lay down Facebook among other activities in my life that were taking away my time and affections away from Him.  

If only they knew I felt like I was dying on the inside.  Everyone thought I was so strong and yet I was hanging on by a thread.  I had lost my hope, my joy, and desire to be with people, and worst of all, with my Heavenly Papa on a daily or even consistent basis.  Sure, I had a few days here and there when you could have found me reading a Psalm or a Proverb, unspoken prayers (mostly for me asking Him to please bring me out of this desert).  Yet, even in my pleading and begging, I was not in a place to receive the very things I was seeking-His joy and peace; His love and grace; His mercy and life to operate in me to the extent that I would “feel” it.  By my own doing I put up a wall between my deliverance and the place of wanting to give up and die.

So......on to the infamous word picture.......

The casket was clear glass like the one in the movie Sleeping Beauty.  It was intricately lined with pink and dainty but with the finest silk.  There was not a hint of satin.  It was adorned with an indescribable carving of my name.  I’d never seen anything like it.  It looked so beautiful and welcoming.  I stared at it for a minute and considered just resting there for a while.

Just as quickly as that vision came, another one appeared.  The casket I so admired was absent from my grave “pit”.  I was sitting comfortably in a pre-dug grave and looking at the sky wondering what I was doing there but for whatever reason feeling safe.  Suddenly, someone was tossing shovels full of dirt on top of me.  Whoever it was, they were trying to burry me alive and I did my best to avoid each drop of dark, wet dirt.

Just like the movie The Christmas Carol, my attention was instantaneously drawn to the very tomb that Jesus was laid in.  The stone that concealed the closed tomb and any sense of escaping to freedom would only be displayed by small glimpses of the sun beaming through.  That’s how I knew when it was night or day.

I sat and prayed and knew that I knew that I knew what it all meant.  When I accepted Christ, that casket sat around for a while and collected dust in the depths of hell where the enemy schemed to make my permanent home.  He wanted it to look inviting with all the seemingly beautiful and extravagant details.  Whenever I wanted to “just stop for a rest”, I would go and lay in the coffin.  When I did, there he was roaring about as a lion, waiting to seal the lid.  I thought I was resting in a beautiful, glorious place, and a princess-and-the-pea bed, while all along it was an illusion of beauty mocking the true glorious and awe-inspiring place of true rest beside calm and peaceful waters.  Many times I stopped for a rest and just when the top of the casket began to descend, His grace would hold it until I could barely escape once again.  This occurred many times on my journey of life.

Once I realized that the coffin was nothing but the devil’s false sense of preservation, I did all I could to not go back there, although many times I did and every single time, there was Love and Mercy to keep me from being sealed in an inescapable coffin had it ever been shut that appeared one way and was only prepared for my spiritual death.  By the time I’d learned my coffin lesson, as enticing as it appeared at times, I had to stay away from it and certainly not stop to “rest” in it.

Looking back and bidding farewell to the exquisite piece of art most would simply call a casket, I walked out of the funeral home and into a uncertain future and wondered around glancing at the grave yard.  There were several tombstones there.  The carvings were things I’d been through that the Lord delivered me from over the years.  It was no coincidence that I was there.  It just couldn’t be.  While the tombstones were different in shape and sizes, some made of marble and others of concrete, they each displayed a battle I’d faced at one point and time in my life.  Sexual Abuse.  Alcoholism.  Promiscuous Sexual Encounters, Eating Disorders, Insecurity, Bitterness and so forth and so on.  They were buried and dead. Upon further observation, I noticed that there were others, but they were un-carved; just blank.  What were they for?  The Lord showed me that they were the things yet to come in my life that the enemy will TRY to use to deter me from God’s purposes and calling on my life; things he would entice me with to open the door to his ability to have things to engrave on the empty tombstones.  It was Autumn so it was a bit cold and windy.  Trying to avoid one strong gust of wind I shifted and an enormous hole caught my eye.  I got towards it with both curiosity and excitement when I finally saw that it was just a “hole” that was being prepared for the next earthly tent’s coffin to be laid to rest in.  It seemed harmless enough.  I thought, “It would be cool to sit inside of it to avoid the wind”.  Little did I realize that it was the wind of the Holy Spirit I was seeking shelter from and had no idea that He was trying to breathe fresh wind into my broken and tired soul. And here I was; settling for a pit full of dirt just out of mere curiosity.  Just when I was getting comfortable, even leaning back on a wall of dirt I began to feel and see dirt-filled shovel loads entering into the pit with me.  I tried to dig myself out, but the more I tried, the faster the pit was filling up.  It was similar to what I always imagined drowning in quick sand would be like.  How many times have I done that?  He’s trying to give me the fresh wind of His Holy Spirit but because my guard is down I settle for something else-some “pit”.  At times these pits seemed hopeless to climb out of.  I really should have known by now not to climb in a pit full of dirt.  Once again, His strong arm of mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness would overtake the grave master and He would pull me out once again, brush me off, and reconciled me back to His loving arms-the safest, most secure and intimate place to be. 

Now it’s time for the tomb.  Eventually life wears you down.  You can’t sleep.  You can’t eat.  You can’t go to the bathroom or brush your teeth.  You are so tired that all you want to do is sleep and yet when you try to sleep, there is no rest.  It takes all you have in you to take your next breath.  While I would love to tell you that my body has never tried to find rest in the casket of giving up and ending it all, the truth is that I can’t.  I can’t say that because it’s not true.  I would also love nothing more than to sit here and tell you that taking comfort in a pit of escape (that’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one) has never been a temptation, but again, I cannot.  Not only has it been a temptation, but something I participated in willingly.  Sometimes it was because of anger and resentment.  At other times it was to escape from it all.  After all, it would be the last place anyone would look for me in…..a pit.

Every time I agreed with hell, the enemy was right there waiting for me to give up and die in my misery, depression, and lack of will to fight.  Before I knew it I woke up one day in the tomb.  It was the exact tomb Jesus was put in after his crucifixion, burial, and eventual victorious resurrection.  I stood there with a choice to make.  Am I going to stay here and die or am I going to fight to partake in a promise of life more abundant?  I began to scream out to God for help.  I needed a lifeline and I needed it yesterday!  Once I said the word he gathered together an army of prayer warriors, some who knew I was in a tomb, and others who had no idea but were obedient and faithful to remember me before the Father as He led them to do so.  Because of their prayers and the awesome power of agreement, the stone began to roll away.
I found myself recalling His rich words of a future and a hope from my Bible which is worn with torn pages, highlighted scriptures, and sticky notes.  The Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance: 

Romans 8:11 (Amplified Bible)-And if the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, [then] He Who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also restore to life your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies through His Spirit Who dwells in you.

We cannot begin to comprehend that realm of power because it is not our own.  It is being found in Him.  It is found in knowing that no matter how badly you want to “check out” He will move Heaven and earth to keep you from believing there is no hope.  Just as a earthly mother (also known as a mama bear), He stands in front of EVERY AND ANY THING that would try to harm you.  Even as parents, however, there is so much we can do before it comes to a point that we must let our children make their own decisions.  We have free will so He will not force Himself on us.  He’s a Gentle Man and able to do mighty things in the midst of our season in the tomb, but it’s up to us to tap into that power.  That supernatural strength.  That supernatural, eternal, all knowing, all sufficient love, grace and mercy that it will take to roll the stone away. 

I yelled out to Him that I wanted that stone rolled away.  He wasn’t finished with me yet (as if He didn’t already know).  That I desire to be closer to him more than ever.  With each word of truth.  With each prayer of a sister warrior.  With each memory of Him not letting me die when I shouldn’t have lived.  With every ounce of strength I had in me because of Christ Jesus and that Name and His blood, the stone was pushed away.  Hallelujah!

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead resides in me – in YOU.  Once that revelation hit me, I began ripping of my shredded grave clothes and putting on the new ones He then gave me-Resurrection clothes.  He bestowed on me a crown of beauty instead of ashes.  He gave me the oil of gladness instead of mourning. He restored back to me a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Is. 61) .  The stench of my grave clothes was completely taken over and consumed and with the beautiful aroma of my brand new wardrobe.  It was a time of  being covered in the blood of Jesus Christ, The Anointed One.  I was being clothed with His righteousnesses and peace and joy.   You could compare me to a beautiful bride seeing her Beloved face to face for the first time as I walked down the isle.  It was an isle of forgiveness.  An isle of revelation.  An isle of repentance.  An isle of releasing jealousy.  An isle of denying hatred and bitterness access to my heart.  With each step I took toward The Lover Of My soul, tears streamed down my face and my heart and spirit felt like they were about to blow up with an explosion of His love for me because I could not contain it.  I couldn't even begin to describe that for which there are no words for in any tongue or any nation.  Only when I cross over into eternity will I know and maybe not even then.  It overwhelms me to think about it.  I was out of the casket, the grave, and the tomb.  Determinately I kept walking towards him and away from my isolation , when I reached the altar of his love and mercy and beheld His face, the veil was lifted and we continued to enter into the Holy of Holies.   

Now I stand outside the tomb.  I see how many times I’ve come close to being there permanently and my soul now cries out for His salvation, wisdom, peace, joy, hope, and all things that pertain to life and Godliness more than I ever have before.  I want all of Him that I can get.  No matter how I’m feeling I want my soul to yell as loud as it can, “Hallelujah!  I worship You.  I agree with You.  You are my Keeper.  No matter what, I choose to praise You and worship You because You know the end from the beginning and You know the number of days I have yet to live.”  How will I do this?  
One second, one minute, one hour, one a time.

So there you have it:  The Coffin.  The Grave.  And the tomb.  Where are you?

*I'm attaching a youtube video of one of my all time favorite songs, "Faith", by Jason Upton.  I listen to it when I feel like all hope is lost.  It's actually a spontaneous song of worship during a time of darkness in his own life.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Blog From Guest Writer Darrell Creswell

This blog is going to be different because it was written by someone else.  It is my honor to introduce you to a fellow writer,  Mr. Darrell Creswell.  He is a very anointed writer and surprisingly asked for my permission to write a blog about me based on my testimony.  Not only did I give him permission.  I was truly humbled and honored that he would want to do so.  To find out more about Mr. Creswell and his compelling & moving  blogs filled with God's truth and revelation, please visit:  Thank you Mr. Cresswell, again, not only for writing such a beautiful piece, bringing honor and glory to God, but for allowing me to repost it on my own blog.  I still feel just as humbled and honored now as I did the day you asked me about writing this piece.  Blessings Always, And In All Ways.  Your sister in Christ,

Chantelle…….A Masterpiece Michelangelo Couldn’t Create
© 2010, Darrell Creswell

Recently I sat reading Chantelle’s information. As I went from line to line, I felt the tears began to flow as the Spirit of God quickened in me. I felt the Spirit of God explaining her to me as I began to fully His beautiful creation, this masterpiece in Christ Jesus.

In our communications I have realized what a very unique person Chantelle is, as I have the other half of her life, her husband Ryan. Together as one, Ryan and Chantelle’s story rivals that any one that has ever been written. The miracle of love poured out as these two lives became one by the grace of God, is such a tremendous love story, it would make even Shakespeare jealous.

To understand the life of Chantelle Thomas Henderson, one needs to understand the works of Michelangelo, Donatello and Auguste Rodin. These men represent arguably 3 of the greatest sculptors of all time. Chantelle, her life, her marriage to Ryan, and what she has become in Christ Jesus is nothing short of a masterpiece that is equal to Michelangelo’s “David”, or Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker”.

To understand sculptures let us travel to in 300 B.C., somewhere between the Black Sea and the Persian Gulf. Here we see an artist crafting with his hands a vision that he wishes to create. He starts with crude non distinguishable chunks of beeswax. He works with the wax and creates the form that the sculpture will resemble. He then covers it with liquid clay and then cooks it in a fire. In the flames the wax is lost, replaced by empty space. Tin and copper - alloys of bronze – are gathered, mixed and heated. Once the alloy is melted, it is then poured into the cavity where the wax had been inside the fire-hardened clay. The metal then cools and the sculptor knocks the clay from the metal. The first bronze of the still crude sculpture is cast.
There are many rough edges, marks, core pins, sprues, vents, and risers that are attached to the rough initial first cast. These protrusions, scars and blemishes are removed with a saw and tool marks are polished away. Incomplete voids created by gas pockets or investment inclusions are then corrected by welding and carving. Small defects where sprues and vents were attached are filed and ground down and polished. Much work is needed to transform the crude chunks of wax that are then covered by clay, treated by fire and then worked skillfully by the master’s hand to remove all blemish and scars to finally reveal a masterpiece.

Chantelle’s life is that masterpiece, and God is her Master Sculptor. To understand how this masterpiece began we need to travel back to 1971, in Memphis Tennessee where Chantelle was born. She was given up for adoption at birth and at a young age was exposed to pornography and sexual abuse by her family members. While babysitting at the age of 14, a father of the children she was babysitting began sexually molesting her and abusing her.

Even though Chantelle had accepted the Lord into her heart as nine year old, the sexual abuse she was encountering at the hands of this pedophile continued into her teen years. The wounds she suffered emotionally as a result of the abuse led to more problems in her life such as to drinking, and partying.  She struggled to maintain some sense of sanity by trying to immerse herself in the church but to no avail, as the wounds suffered by the abuse she was encountering led to an eating disorder, and the use of cigarettes, marijuana, and alcohol.

The sexual abuse finally ended when she moved away and gained employment as a flight attendant. Even though the sexual abuse had ended she struggled to deal with and to medicate the deep wounds she was suffering by using cocaine. The abuse she had suffered beginning as a child had wounded her as the drugs altered her reality, she allowed men to use her, worked briefly as an exotic dancer, and became pregnant.
Where Chantelle found herself in life, was a far cry from the young girl who loved to go to church every time the doors were open, and attended youth camp every year. Gone was the innocence of her youth, destroyed by the sexual abuse that started as a child and continued until her late teens. Her childish giggles and laughter had faded into the horror of addictions of drugs and alcohol. The dances she enjoyed in too-toos as a little ballerina turned into dances that she’d perform on a different stage as an adult, while she removed her clothes; as the wounds of her pain, masked by sin hid the masterpiece that lay within. She felt shame, injected into her heart by the lies of the enemy as he preyed upon the innocent heart of a child, as was set out to destroy that which Christ had died for to redeem, Chantelle.

Satan thought that his plan was perfect. Chantelle was abused; her innocence was shattered, her joy gone, and replaced with sorrow and bitterness. She was in New York, struggling to deal with her life and she was using cocaine. One night as she did more and more cocaine she began to feel the powerful effects of the drugs taking a toll on her body. Suddenly she began to feel she was going to die. She sat in a fetal position fearing for her life on the cold hardwood floor of an apartment, and the God of her youth was quickened to her heart. She began to cry out to the Lord and promised Him that if He allowed her to live until the next day, she’d pack everything and move back home and that’s exactly what she did. The Master had begun to form His masterpiece.

As she went back home she found herself in church where she met a young man named Ryan. She had not dated since coming home as she could not get over her past enough to allow it to bring restoration and healing to my own life and heart. She as dealing with herself, and there was no room for a man in her life. But she consented to meet him for a date following a four hour telephone conversation with him.

Ryan was a strong Christian, and innocent to say the least. Before asking her out, Ryan had no idea of her past. So there they sat on their first date that night at Olive Garden on Highway 78 in Snellville, Georgia. Chantelle decided to lay it all out for him, all of her past, and then she wouldn’t have to worry about a second or third date. So she fired both barrels. She waited for him to bail out the nearest exit, or make some excuse to leave. But he didn’t…..he stayed.  Not only did he stay, when he went home that night the Lord spoke to him that Chantelle was to be his wife. Here we can see our Lord the artist, in love crafting with his hands a vision for Chantelle and Ryan’s lives that only He could create.

Ryan and Chantelle were married and it would take much work by the Hand of the Master for His masterpiece to be finished as no great work of art is done in a day.

God started with crude non distinguishable chunks of life that Satan had left of Chantelle and began to mold her with love and care from His Son. He began working in her life and slowly began to create the form that resembled a sculpture. God brought Ryan into her life and Ryan’s love was the clay that held the wax together and they were tested by fire.  In the flames the old wax was lost, but the form of the sculpture God was creating was held intact by the solid hardened clay. The empty space inside the form of the clay was to be replaced by two separate elements melted together to form a single alloy that would become God’s handiwork inside the form crafted by His hand. Chantelle and Ryan were the alloys melted into God’s spiritual bronze that was then poured into the cavity where the wax had been inside the fire-hardened clay. The alloy forged by fire then cooled and the clay was no longer needed as the alloys had forged, becoming one. A sculpture was formed and the Master Sculptor knocked the clay from the metal. The first bronze of the masterpiece God had made of Ryan and Chantelle’s life was cast.

There were still many rough edges, marks, etc., attached to the rough initial first cast. But by the Masters hands these protrusions, scars and blemishes were removed by the working of the Spirit in their lives and are continually being polished away.

In Chantelle’s life as it is in all of us, much work is needed to transform the crude chunks of wax that are our lives, so we can skillfully be transformed by the Master’s hand into His masterpiece.

Chantelle Thomas Henderson is the handiwork of God the Master Sculptor, and she and Ryan form a masterpiece as they were forged together and they became a thing of beauty that Michelangelo in all his glory could not even come close to creating….As Chantelle explains ….God says, “I will give you beauty for ashes.” (Isaiah- 61:3)  That He certainly did, and then some…..
Sunday, September 12, 2010

How Big Is Your Elephant

How Big Is Your Elephant?
© 2010, Chantelle Henderson

This was originally a post I had between me and a group of friends, but as I read over it again tonight, I felt compelled to put it out there for everyone.   It’s a short one! Can you believe that!!!??? I hope it encourages you to stop and think for just a moment about any elephants you may have in your room.

Ok mighty men and beautiful women of God, this one is just something personal between you and God.....just provoking you to think about and maybe even face this "thing" that may be in your life more than worship and adoration and time spent with the Father. The thing(s) I'm talking about are idols.  It can be a person, or a thing. Anything you worship more than The One who is The Lover Of Your Soul.  I looked the word up in the dictionary and these are some of the definitions:

An image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed. Biblically.

An image of a deity other than God. the deity itself.

Any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion a mere image or semblance of something, visible but without substance, as a phantom.

A false conception or notion; fallacy.

An image used as an object of worship.

A false god. One that is adored, often blindly or excessively. Something visible but without substance.

In my prayer time this morning I asked God to show me any idols in my life. People or things that I give more attention to than Him.  His Holy Spirit is so gracious when it comes to seeking Truth - if you are asking with a sincere heart and crying out to Him, "GOD! SHOW ME THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE HIDDEN!  I DON’T WANT TO LIVE IN DENIAL ANYMORE!"  As in my case, He did. There were actually some surprises in there. I'm sure we've heard the statement that "We can't conquer what we don't confront." How true it is. It is so easy to ignore the elephant in the room, but one day it's going to get so large that you won't be able to get around it. You'll have to deal with it. So in light of speaking about idols, I would just encourage you today to ask the Lord to show you anything that may be taking time, energy, effort, emotion, or passion, that actually belongs to Him, but your affections are set on something other than Him.  My elephant's gettin' pretty big, so with the Lord's help, I'm gonna start confronting some idols in my own life. How about you?  Is there an elephant in your room?  How big is your elephant starting to get?  How big is it going to get before it overtakes you?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Psalm Of Brokenness

My Psalm Of Brokenness
© 2008 Chantelle Thomas-Henderson

Psalm 5:15-17

"Unseal my lips oh Lord that I may praise you. You would not be pleased with sacrifices, or I would bring them. If I brought you burnt offerings, you would not accept it. The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise."

I've been longing for a past
That I know is forever gone.
Clutching my pillow through the night
And feeling so all alone.

Falling on my knees
And releasing all my tears
Crying out to you, O God,
To deliver me from my fears.

Looking for my friends
Who are no where to be found.
Standing at the crossroads of life
With different paths all around.

Which one do I take?
I desire the one that leads me to you.
Show my feet where to walk
That I may not walk on what isn't true.

Nothing is familiar to me.
Everything is so new.
I've been stripped of all my comfort zones
And am unsure of what to do.

You are the lover of my soul
And the lifter of my head.
May you never hold the bottle in vain
That holds all the tears I have shed.

I've lost everything
That was once a part of me.
That somehow became idols
That had me bound when I thought I was free.

Holding on to my first Bible
With it's pages tattered and torn.
Returning to my first love
Whose power caused me to be reborn.

But this one thing I do know.
Is my Abba Father's loving arms.
For it is there I find my refuge
From this unfamiliar journey's storms.

Throughout all of this
I hear your Spirit's words so gently spoken.
Telling me that in this state,
I am finally, truly broken.

Now you can build me up
And make my life what you want it to be.
Thank you for loving me enough
To show me that in you and you alone I am free!