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"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it shall eat it's fruit"- Proverbs 18:21

I used to hear this particular proverb all the time as a kid but i never really took the time to understand it until now. We all have heard the popular saying usually used to encourage a young person when being verbally abused to remain strong. The old saying is " Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me" As a young person i would whisper this in my head when being bullied or verbally abused at school or in the neighborhood, i wanted to believe every word of it, but as time went on i learned the hard way that no matter how much of a poker face I attempted to have in the midst of being made fun of, hurtful and sometimes hateful words had the ability to penetrate deep into my heart and lodge themselves into my mind causing great harm. Insecurities were born because of words, tears were spilled because of words and fear and intimidation were experienced because of words, the popular cliche proved to be false.

The writer of Proverbs 18:21 says that Life and death themselves are in the power of the tongue but how you might ask? let's take a closer look

#1- Every word that comes from a person's mouth is a seed sown in the garden of opportunity!

When words come out of our mouths, they have to land somewhere! we release them from our mouth and they then travel to the ears of HEARERS as well as listeners, but they don't stop in the ears, they proceed to take root in the mind of a person. The mind of a newborn baby is fertile ground, the opportunities for abundant life are endless.

#2 Positive words are healthy seeds!

When a kid hears from the womb that they are loved, appreciated, and special, those seeds grow to become trees of dignity, self-worth and Honor! When you release life from your lips, life takes root in the hearers' ears, and it yields life in return. This isn't some mystical/mysterious law of attraction or manifesting type of thing either. God has set up a simple principle in this world called the laws of Sowing and reaping. Everyone who speaks can be considered farmers and when we decide to plant positive words, or words that God has spoken concerning our lives and the lives of others, we're setting the stage to reap a wonderful, desirable harvest.

#3 Negative words are unhealthy weeds

One definition of weeds is the " Unwanted plants that grow in the garden or fields of crops and prevent the growth of desirable plants"

having stated this, let's take the same example from my second point and say that a child from the womb continuously heard that they were undesired, worthless, hated and tolerated only. what would grow would then be weeds, these unwanted plants would spread in the garden of endless opportunities and literally prevent the growth of the desirable plants. A child who becomes the victim of these dreaded weeds would struggle with acceptance, esteem and value, and would live their lives searching tirelessly to fill these voids knowingly or unknowingly.

The bottom line...

no matter how you slice it, the words you say will either lead to life or death! People have killed themselves over a word that was said and in the same token people have refrained from taking their lives over a word that was said to them. To drive the importance of our words I'll leave you with the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:36-37 where he says

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words, you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

let's change the way we talk! but it's not going to be possible without changing what's in our heart, because our words flow from the heart. Ask God to transform you and renew you by his spirit, feeling you with all of his goodness and from that place only will your words be fruitful and lifegiving like they were intended to be........I love you all God bless!

Written by Jalen Perkins

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" There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land. There is only cursing, Lying and Murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed"- Hosea 4:1-2

my heart has been heavy for a while now. As a thirty-year-old black man in America, it pains me to log into social media which has turned into our daily news, to continuously see my people dropping like flies as the reaper seems to have employed other people to do his dirty work for him. Death covers African Americans like a wet moldy bed sheet and the stinch is causing me to not only grieve but become angry at our lack of love and care for one another as a people. 26 year old Charles Jones out of Jacksonville Florida infamously known as "Julio Foolio" unfortunatley as a member of the circus or some would say the drill music rap scene took his turn on the poplular Merry go-round of death this past Sunday June 23rd while celebrating his Birthday. Many rappers have preceded him in death going all the way back to Pac and biggie in the mid 1990's, however it seems that today there is a different evil that's present in these artist causing them to use their music as an outlet of hatred and antagonisms, with the new trend being to even diss their "opps" beyond the grave, something that was rarely heard of when i was growing up.

I think about artist like King Von, FBG Duck, Mo3 and JaydaYoungan. Every single one of them either made fun of their dead enemies directly, or referenced murder in general like it was a sport to compete in. Julio was no different, he repeatedly disrespected his dead foes and made fun of their demise with lines the devil would nod in approval over. The question is what stole the hearts of these young men away replacing it with a frozen stone?

I didn't listen to Julios music at all because i had already heard what kind of content he was known for making, but as is my habit, when one of these rappers sadly pass away, i dig into their discographies out of curiosity just to see what they were communicating in their music. I also take a look at their social media accounts to see where they always promoting death and destruction or did they perhaps show their loving side with their families, or significant others, don't ask me why i do it i just do.....having said that, it didn't take long at all for me to find the answer to why believe Julio and so many other's go down this dead end road Pun intended, the answer is simple They don't feel loved so they lack LOVE to give! Foolio released a song titled "Ion Need Love" Where he's literally spilling his heart all over the track reminiscing on friends and close loved ones that he's lost to the streets. He talks about the danger loving someone brings mainly that it leaves him open to be hurt and that he's ultimately tired of being hurt, even saying that in a couple of past shootings that he survived how he wished he would've died.

When a person says that they don't need love make no mistake about it, they're actually screaming that they not only need it but WANT it as well. Foolio lost his dad to gun violence at 13 years old, and he found himself engulfed in an environment pain, poverty and violence but what hurt his future the most was the love that was absent from his life. The scripture i referenced above speaks of the Israelites and how they had become corrupt as a nation, God says that faithfulness, LOVE, and an acknowledgement of God(concern for his will and ways) were abent from the land which contributed to Immorality of all kinds with death being the end result. It's not a big secret ya'll, our children need unconditional love as young kids, they need life spoken over them from the time they come out of the womb, they need acceptance not based on their performance but based on their humanity, THEY NEED IDENTITY and dignity from their father's especially! Studies have shown what happens when the father doesn't give his son all of these things. I'll end with answering the question i posed in my title, will the cycle of death ever end? Jesus said that "those who live by the sword will die by the sword" Matthew 26: 52

The answer is No and yes! it won't end in this world because the hearts of men will only grow colder and more wicked , we just cant save everyone, let's be real! what we can do is be about our fathers business until he returns and set's up his eternal kingdom where he promises to end all war, violence and last but certainly not least Death itself!

They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed"- Revelation 21: 1-4

This is our hope but until then we aid God in healing the land not killing it ....Blessings

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 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the game's exercises self-control in all things. So, they do it to obtain a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way as not to run aimlessly; I box in such a way, as [i]to avoid hitting air; 27 but I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Several times in Scripture we see believers compared to athletes. For Example, in 2nd Timothy 2:5 as Paul is encouraging Christians to live their lives in accordance with the commands of God he says " An athlete isn't crowned unless he competes according to the rules" Additionally in Hebrews 12:1 the writer compels us to continue to stive for our ultimate goal of entering the kingdom of God saying" Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" the Greek work used for (Race) here is the word (agon) which is where we get our word agony or agonize! In other words, the writers of holy scripture didn't sugar coat the truth of what price we would have to pay to pick up our crosses, follow Christ, and run the race he's set for us, it would indeed involve agony at times.

I have a very simple question for you, are you running your race with all your might? are you leaving it all on the field? Are you running to win? The passage of scripture i wanted to take a closer look at in regard to this topic is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Paul is writing to the church specifically addressing the significance of setting aside certain freedoms and privileges, if need be, for the sake of the end goal, seeing people come to Christ. The Corinthians were emerging out of a culture that served false idols, and they were in the practice of sacrificing meat offerings to these idols and selling the same meat in the markets. This became an issue for the new Christians in that area because some of their consciences were bothered thinking that by partaking in the food in the markets, they were partaking in the pagan worship as well, while other, perhaps more mature Christians believed that they could eat what they wanted because they were clean in Christ alone and no kind of food was going to change that. It is this issue that Paul is writing to address and in this passage, he tells us that we should live our lives like a competitive athlete runs his race, we should run to win!

Paul begins by informing the Corinthians on how in his own personal race he had willingly gave up certain freedoms that he was entitled to have such as getting married and accepting financial assistance from the Church as an apostle, for the sake of the Gospel. Paul didn't want anything to hinder the message that he was proclaiming, he didn't want his goal of seeing people saved and entering the kingdom squandered because of lies of him being money hungry or in it for the wrong reason in general. On top of that, Paul didn't want to live a life contrary to what he was preaching and, in that way, disqualify himself from the race altogether, with his influence being lost for good. He encouraged them and he encourages us to adopt his mindset, to adopt the mindset of the athlete who's running his race not just for the sake of running, but for the sake of WINNING! winning athletes regardless of the sport, and regardless of the gender, all share the same mindset of self-control, sacrifice, diligence and discipline. Those that win all set aside certain freedoms and privileges for the sake of their finish line, for the purpose of prevailing over their opponents. You won't find champions in any arena eating whatever they like, partying whenever they want, or smoking and drinking recklessly in the late night. They all consider winning more important than consuming pleasures just because, all winners work tirelessly giving it their best effort in the gym, and in the kitchen, seeking to set themselves up for success. the question is do you?

Is winning the goal? First of all, what is winning for a Christian? obviously entering the kingdom of God and hearing " well done" by Christ is the ultimate WIN for us! but that race was won by Christ alone with his work on the cross, we aren't running to be saved, we are running because we are saved! It's sort of an oxymoron but it's true. Christ won our salvation and at the same time you and I are striving every day to finish the race and obtain the crown of righteousness.

There are temptations in our way, stumbling blocks, freedoms and privileges even that aren't even evil in themselves but unfortunately can prevent us from running with all our might. Are we willing to give it all for the sake of winning? I believe that a person's perseverance and willingness to deny himself is the fruit of a genuine believer. All of us have good and bad days it isn't about judging a person right where they are, but rather over the long haul, just like a runner in a cross-country race, it's not necessarily how you start, it's how you finish that counts. The assuring part for me in all of this is understanding that I'm not running alone, i have the indwelling presence of the holy spirit to strengthen me when I'm feeling weak and tired or running. All those who belong to Christ has his spirit as well and are supernaturally empowered to run and not just run but WIN! we aren't competing against one another however; Paul says we are to run to win, meaning we are to run in the same manner as the winner would run, with absolute dedication and effort with our eyes fixed solely on the finish line. I implore you today to run with passion and focus! what I've learned is that sacrifice is inescapable, it all boils down to what we value and prize! some will make the choice to forfeit the kingdom for what the world has to offer, and some will do the opposite .......What will you decide?

Jalen Perkins

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