What Do I Say?

October 5th, 2009

By Roline Thomas

In an episode of the TV sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond”, the rambunctious Frank Barone is caught by the store manager sampling trail mix. While Frank’s son Ray and granddaughter Ally look on, a heated argument ensues between the store manager and Frank. As a result, Ally becomes frightened by her grandfather’s public display. When the three returned home, Ray speaks to his father about the negative impact his behavior had on Ally. Initially Frank defends his actions, but later he decides to talk to Ally. Frank asks Ray, “What do I say?”

Frank doesn’t know what to say to Ally because he never talked to her before. He admitted to reading stories and singing songs to her, but he never had a real conversation with her. As I listened to Frank Barone’s confession, I thought about a time in my life when I did not know how to talk to God. Indeed, I was saved, attended church services, read my Bible, and sang songs to Him, but I really did not know how to talk to God. I listened to people whom I labeled “prayer warriors” pray in a powerful and confident manner. I didn’t know anything about sending up timbers and expecting a blessing.
Being a city girl, I did not understand the meaning of being mindful that “my bed was not my cooling board and my blanket was not my winding sheet.”

Prayer is our lifeline to God. Prayer unleashes God’s power so that he is able to work in our lives. God is waiting for you to talk to him. He is waiting for you to acknowledge him, think about him, and show him love, honor and respect.

Matthew 6:7 says. “When praying, do not say the same thing over and over again, just as the heathens do, for they think that they shall be heard for their use of many words.” When you talk to God he doesn’t want to hear the same prayer over and over. Prayers prayed in that manner lose their meaning and becomes insincere.

God deserves more than memorized prayers. He deserves to hear your own heartfelt words. Acknowledge who God is in prayer. He is our Father in heaven. Confess your sins. Thank Him for all he has done, is doing and will do in your life. Talk to him in detail about your needs, hopes, dreams, joys,
and everything else that is having any kind of importance or effect on your life.

Consistency is a key in prayer. If you don’t talk often to God, you will find yourself not knowing what to say, much like Frank Barone.

Bragging Rights

September 28th, 2009

Bragging Rights
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD.” – Jeremiah 9:23b-24a

Isn’t it amazing how we brag?! We boast about our magnificent homes, luxurious cars, fattened wallets, to die for wardrobes, higher educational achievements, fabulous careers, and our significant other.

There is nothing wrong with being proud of your accomplishments When I look at my daughters and my husband, I want to tell the world of the amazing feats that each have achieved. However, God says, He is the only one to be bragged on. Why not?! Doesn’t everything we have and accomplished come from God?

Have you bragged on God today? Have you told someone how proud you are to serve Him? Do you ever converse with people and just can’t seem to stop talking about Jesus? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it’s time for you to REALLY get to KNOW God. Spend intimate time alone with God. Read his Word. Talk to him in prayer. Let Him speak to you. I have discovered that I only brag on those who I personally know. I challenge you to cultivate your relationship with God by getting to know Him in a personal way.

Be Blessed,
Roline

Let Your Light Shine

September 1st, 2009

Are you holding back your gifts and talents because you are afraid of how others may perceive you? So that you won’t come across as a know-it-all, do you withhold truths? Do you purposely not do your best so that you won’t upstage another person?

All who profess to be Christians have God’s glory within him. Evidence of man receiving the gift of God’s glory is found in Jesus’ prayer in the Garden at Gethsemane. In the Bible, John 17 contains the following verses:

10-And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
22-And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.

Jesus says the glory of God is within us. That’s powerful. How powerful is this Glory of God? The woman with the issue of blood reached out to touch Jesus. She did not touch Jesus’ flesh, but she touched something that was touching Him. Because she touched that which was touching him, Jesus felt that virtue or power had gone out of him. In other words she had drained Him. The woman had pulled from Jesus’ glory!

As believers, we have that same glory of God within us that was in Jesus. POWERFUL! Have you ever ministered and you felt drained? That’s because people were being blessed by the glory of God within you. They tapped into your glory!

Marrianne Williamson made a very profound statement:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

We as Christians must stop portraying “false humility”. You know—when they get up to sing and state – “pray for me, my voice isn’t all that good” —and then they sing better than Patti Labelle. Or musicians declare, “I don’t play that well”—knowing they are skillful in their craft! Having false humility does not allow the Glory of God to be manifested in you. Actually it’s lying! You can be honest and humble.

When you let your light shine before men, without holding back, men will see your good works. And because you demonstrate the glory of God within you, others in turn will glorify your Father which is in Heaven. Don’t dim your light, let it shine bright.

Roline Thomas

Have you ever?

August 20th, 2009

A Friend posed these questions;
Have you ever felt so alone that your heart hurt?
Have you ever experienced a time when you felt even God had left you?
Have you ever felt the sting of rejection and wondered why?
Have you ever just sat and cried for what seems no reason at all?
Have you ever……

That’s the way my week began.

We have a major event, the Women’s Conference, scheduled for this Friday and Saturday. On the Sunday following the conference, we have guest female OUTSTANDING preachers, usually from out of town, to preach during our 3 morning services. We are a mega-church, so this is a mega-sized event. Being married to one on pastoral staff has its privileges. We have reserved seating, usually in the front, and there are catered receptions. Because I am Pastor T’s wife, it is not expected that I volunteer to work, but, I always like to serve. I volunteered to serve, attended the volunteers weekly meetings over the past 2 months, but, as of Monday the leaders had nothing for me to do. I was kind of down about that.

Then Tuesday, after another visit with the foot doctor, and yet another bad report of my declining condition, I left the office feeling depressed. So I went to Dillard’s to clear my head before I go to my husband’s office to drop the news on him. It was one of those got to tell him to his face things. By the way, a Peter Nygard jacket did call out my name, so I took it out of display misery and purchased it. LOL! I’ve never made depression purchases, so I realized just how messed up my mind was.

I was thinking about my “call” and my “condition”. I began to question my call. Why would God call me to preach when I am in so much pain? Why is my condition worsening? So, I had my 10 minute pity party and then headed to the church.

When I entered the church building, headed to my husband’s office, I was immediately stopped and called into Bishop’s office by his assistant. I’m thinking what did I do? What now?! Well, he needed me to reschedule Bishop’s preaching date at the Prison. So, I’m like WHEW!

But then he said something that put my “call” and “condition” back into perspective. He said, “Bishop wants you to preach this Sunday during the 10 o’clock service.” WHAT?!!!! WOW!!!! What an honor! This is HUGE! God knew I needed encouragement. But he did abundantly, exceeding, above all that I could ask or think. The opportunity for an associate minister to preach during a Sunday service says a lot about the preacher. Bishop only selects the best, especially on this particular weekend—-so, I’m like REALLY??!!! Basically, God confirmed the call in a way I wasn’t expecting.

And so it finally adds up why my service wasn’t needed this year in the capacity I thought I’d be in. I wasn’t needed to serve at the conference, usually as an armor bearer to our guest, because I will be one of Sunday’s “guest speakers.”

So, when I got to my hubbie’s office, I went back to depression mode, only for a few minutes. I needed to justify purchasing that jacket. LOL!

St. Mark BC Women’s Conference – Aug 09

June 25th, 2009

You don’t want to miss my church’s annual Women’s Conference. Great speakers & singers.

I Got Shoes

December 31st, 2008

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
—1 Thessalonians 5:18

A trip to a school in the Kenya slums reminded me to always be grateful.

The slums in Kenya, Africa are indescribable. The stench in the slums hits your face like a rushing wind. Since there are no public sewers, people simply toss their waste outside or, as I witnessed, relieve themselves wherever they so desire. Walking through the slums was no fun. Our mission team walked through mud and filth, hopping back and forth over trenches filled with flowing waste water. Finally we arrived at the school where we would minister to hundreds of children and their adult teachers.

As they sang a song, I decided to take pictures of the children dressed in tattered clothing. That’s when I noticed the shoes. Some were too small, some too big and some were breaking fashion laws. Some had holes in the soles and some were missing fasteners. All were muddied, torn, and in poor condition. However, the children and adults were sincerely singing praises to God

I was reminded of old song that the African slaves in America would sing:
I got shoes
You got shoes
All God’s chil’ren got shoes

Slaves didn’t have decent shoes. This song was sung at a time when the children of slaves did not have shoes to wear, but walked barefoot. The slaves knew in spite of their present condition, they were blessed to have a Father who provides for them. The slaves sang the affirmation that all God’s children would have shoes and they looked forward to that time when the Lord would change their circumstances. They were singing the song in faith, claiming what they knew God could do.

The adults and children we encountered in the slums remind me of the slaves. In my natural eye, I saw what they did not have. However, through my spiritual eye I understood why they were singing. They were praising our God who is able to do exceeding, abundantly, above all we could ever ask or think.

The inward attitude of gratefulness of the slaves and the Kenyans was manifested outwardly in spite of their condition and their circumstances. What hinders you from being grateful at all time?

I’m Still Pastor Thomas’ Wife!

December 24th, 2008

Although I have been preaching for the last 9 years, a month ago I officially received my license to preach the Gospel. Although for seven years, I fled from the call, my lifestyle and walk has reflected the call for well over a decade.

Rewind back 7 months–In May 2007, twelve women were selected by my Pastor, Bishop S. Arnold, to begin a special training course for women called to preach. For the next 10 months, we would meet weekly and be trained in our area of ministry through classes where we were not only instructed by also given homework assignments. Then, in March 2008, the nine of us that remained were presented to the church and from that day forward we sat with the other ministers in the designated area and were allowed to serve just as the other male ministers of the church.

Since March, I have sat with the ministers, and sometimes I would sit where I always sat prior to my “coming out”—in the pew designated for Associate Pastors Wives. After all, I’m still Pastor Thomas’ wife.

On a Sunday after receiving my license, I went to sit in the area reserved for the Associate Pastors wives. When I got to my seat, a member said to me “I was surprised that you came here to sit.” She was making reference to the fact that I am now a minister, and from her tone, she led me to believe that I had changed. My response to the woman was “I may be a minister but I’m still Pastor Thomas’ wife!

Years ago, when I began walking in my call, I inwardly changed. The licensing certified publicly what had already taken place privately. The woman’s comment made me ponder two self-evaluating question, “What has changed between now and my acknowledgement of the call?” and “What has not changed between now and my acknowledgement of my call?”

The latter of the two was easier to answer. What HAS NOT changed:

    I’m still Roline Thomas
    I’m still married to Pastor Thomas.
    I’m still a mother.
    I’m still a grandmother.
    I’m still a friend.
    I still love the Lord.
    I still love to preach.
    I still love serving others.
    I’m still actively involved with several ministry of my church.
    I still love gumbo.

So, what HAS changed? That’s tough, because the license came years after the call. Has my attitude change? Has my relationships changed? Certainly each day my relationship with God has changed—I’m closer to Him today than I was yesterday. But really what has changed? Perhaps those closest to me can help me with that answer. Ahhhh, the lightbulb goes off—-It’s not me that has changed it’s the people around me that has change. Why?—their perception of me has changed. The way others view me has changed. With the call becomes change—perhaps a change in you, but watch out for the change in others. They are the ones who begin to look at you differently and treat you differently. Be careful that their changed view of you doesn’t change you.

Who’s Your Guide?

December 17th, 2008

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
—Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV)

Five months into my daughter’s lengthy illness, I had to make a telephone call to my parents who lived in another state. It was difficult to tell them that their precious granddaughter’s surgery did not go well, and she was about to have a third surgery, all within one month’s time. Hearing the urgency and uncertainty in my voice, they immediately traveled to visit her. It was late in the evening when they arrived at my home, and upon their insistence, I loaded them up in my car, carefully leading my mother, who is blind. We were off to the hospital.

My parents waited in the hospital’s lobby while I parked the car. Once I entered the hospital I grabbed my mother by the hand to lead her to the elevator. Immediately, my dad grabbed my mom and said it was his job to lead her. So, we got into the elevator headed to my daughter’s floor. While riding in the elevator, I began to warn my parent’s of my daughter’s appearance. Her body was very weak and she had lost a great deal of weight. The news was very unsettling for my father and caused him to become even more anxious to see his granddaughter.

When the elevator door opened, I exited followed by my father. As I turned to remind my father to get my mother, the elevator doors began to close. In the excitement, my dad had forgotten about leading my mom. We did manage to retrieve my mom, who was a little shaken up by the whole ordeal. After all, she was in an unfamiliar place. My mom trusted my Dad to lead her safely to her destination. My mom failed to realize that Daddy could not lead her in a place that he had never been, and his emotional state made him even more unreliable.

Faith in God requires dependency on the One who has seen your destination. Only God can guide you to a place you’ve never been. Whether it’s a new business venture, teaching a Bible Study, or purchasing a new home, God wants you to trust in and depend on Him. God wants you to become his dependent child. In other words, don’t place your faith in man’s leading (as in mom’s case, who would leave you alone in an elevator), but totally lean to God for direction. God is a reliable guide. Sometimes we may not understand the route God is taking us on, but remember, we must walk by faith and not by sight. In other words, we are blind and can’t see the pathway to our destination, but, with God as our reliable guide, He will lead us if we allow him to order our every step.

Something to think about:
1. Has there ever been a time when you did not totally depend on God’s direction? What was the outcome?
2. What hinders Christians from trusting God?
3. Think of a time where you trusted God completely? What could have happened if you had tried to “assist” God?

Thoughts About My Licensing Sermon

November 13th, 2008
Min. R. Thomas

Min. R. Thomas

My church, St. Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock, AR under the leadership of Bishop Steven Arnold held its annual Associate Minister’s Revival, Monday, Nov. 10th – Wednesday, Nov. 12th at 7:00 p.m. each night. For the first time in the history of St. Mark, nine women preached. All nine were licensed on the culminating night as ministers of the Gospel.

As my preaching date approached I reflected on the Little Rock 9. Back in 1957, nine courageous youth attended Central High School as the first and only black students willing to integrate. They were met with much opposition. Because of their perseverance, they became the catalyst of educational equality for all races in school. The Little Rock 9 didn’t realize the magnitude of what they were doing. They didn’t set out to make history, but indeed they did.

I and the other eight female ministers who were licensed on last night did not begin our journey setting out to make history. I then tagged my own personal name to our group of nine—we are the “St. Mark 9″. We were selected by God to be the history makers for such a time as this. And as history is continually being written each day, we have yet to realize the magnitude of what we have done. But as I look at my fellow female ministers, some who were previously licensed by other churches/organizations, I also celebrated that we all shared in this historical moment, this glorious day of change and shifting.

The St. Mark 9

The St. Mark 9 with Pastor Thomas

In Matthew 19:30, Jesus says, “But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” Although I was the last preacher to speak for the week’s revival, I was the first woman out of the nine to be issued an official license to preach. Although we were all “line sisters” who crossed over together, I can’t help but acknowledge that I, the last to preach, became the first woman to be licensed in the 117 year history of St. Mark Baptist Church.

And so you may think preaching is easy. My night to preach was truly amazing, yet challenging. I had been ignoring an illness for quite some time. As soon as I got up to preach, my condition reached the point where it caused me great difficulty to stand. I began to preach and was greatly distracted by what afflicted me. I wanted to stop the message to sit down but, I pressed on. I’ve preached many times, and never have this happened to me. WHY NOW! Although it was paining me, I pressed on. God was gracious.

One of the congregants sent me an email which read:

You were off the chain..You truly blessed my heart Sis Roline last night, and about your sister-”I just ain’t feeling it..” and especially about the Jonah and the fish spewing him out while in the sea and placing him on solid ground to redirect him to where he should have been all the time…Thank you so much for inspiring me to be a woman of god, thanks for being a Titus 2 woman in my life..setting an example for those women in your area of influence. I know we don’t get to talk alot but I love and respect you dearly, you are so open, entreatable and for being real..and lady–FUNNY!! You are a true gem-truly..If you ever need anything, holla….. be blessed my sista and that you are..gone’ with your bad self..

While I was preaching, my condition weakened me and distracted me. However, only one lady, a person who I mentor, said she thought something may have been wrong. She said she could tell by the way I had moved my legs at one point, something was happening to me. However, she said by the way I preached, you would have never thought that I was going through what I was going through.

I was somewhat down after I finished preaching, because I know I didn’t preach it like I “could” have. However, after getting a flood of calls and emails which carried the same sentiments as the one I shared, all I can say is God is good!! The Word did what it do!

I did make an appointment with a doctor for next Tuesday. Maybe that’s why God allowed me to be distracted by this illness while I was standing. I don’t think I would have made the appointment without having been afflicted on last night.

My topic last night was “It Doesn’t Look Good, but I’m Coming Out”. I preached about Jonah who God placed in a dark, messy, nasty fish because he “wasn’t feelin’ “ God’s command. Jonah’s fish experience was his own fault because he “wasn’t feelin’ it”. But even though Jonah did it to himself, and his situation didn’t look good, Jonah came out of the fish.

I have neglected going to the doctor because I “wasn’t feelin’ it”. As a result, I got swallowed up by my own God prepared fish. Last night was my fish experience. In terms of my condition, it doesn’t look good but I’m coming out.

Be On Your Best Behavior

November 11th, 2008

By Roline Thomas

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. – 1 Peter 2:11

My 9-year old niece Kayla spent two weeks of her summer vacation with our family. Two days into her stay, she told me “I don’t think I can stay here another day because it doesn’t feel like home!” After regaining my composure, I said “It doesn’t feel like home because it is not your home. But, while you are here, be on your best behavior.”

In I Peter 2:11, Christians are likened to aliens and strangers in the world. Simply put, this world is not a Christian’s home. Christians are also urged to abstain from and deny ourselves of sinful desires, our own self-indulgent urges. Jesus said that he was in this world, but not of the world. (John 17). He showed us that we don’t have to adapt to, or embrace worldly methods.

Does the world look at you as though you come from another planet? Do you stand out in the crowd? Does the world look at you strange because your beliefs, morals, and values do not mirror theirs?

Peter reminds us of the clarion call of God, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Carrying a Holy Bible does not make you holy. To be holy is to be set apart by God for God. Holiness is living a lifestyle pleasing to God. Our daily behavior- the things we do, say and think- must glorify God.

As Christians, we are not to allow ourselves to be comfortable in this world, for it is not our home. But while we are here, let’s be on our best behavior.