Saturday, September 3, 2016

Embracing My Natural Hair

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)

     In November 2013, I took a brave step to stop getting relaxers in my hair. It was a tough and scary decision, because I had become a slave to relaxers due to the false belief that my hair texture was unacceptable; that it was considered “bad” or “nappy” and that I had to straighten it with either a hot comb or a relaxer to be accepted in society. But after 35 years of relaxers—yeah 35 years—my hair was in desperate need of repair. It was constantly breaking and noticeably thinning.

Good Hair vs Bad Hair
     As many African American women age 50 and older can attest, the message that our natural hair texture was unacceptable began when we were little girls. We were told that we either had “good” hair or “bad” hair. If our hair was course, rough to the touch, and hard to comb, it was considered “nappy” or “peasy,” and we had “bad” hair. If our hair texture was soft and manageable, even silky, we had “good” hair. And many of us were jealous of our African American sisters if their hair wasn’t “nappy,” but thick and wavy, and long.
     My mom didn’t know how to take care of my hair. It was extraordinarily course, and “unmanageable” so-called. Whenever she tried to do my hair, I cried and cried. When she couldn’t take it anymore, she brought me to the hairdresser with her every two weeks. And at the tender age of 8 I was introduced to the dreaded and painful hot comb.

Hot Comb Trauma
     The hot combs of old were heated over flames on mini stoves so the hairdresser couldn’t control how hot they were before running them through your hair. Billows of smoke would flow from the comb if the hairdresser left it on the burner too long. My eyes would widen and my body would freeze in the chair praying she wouldn’t burn me. She’d cool off the comb by banging it on a white-turned-brown towel before raking it through my hair. My hair would be weighed down with a ton of grease to protect my hair from the intense heat, and she’d press out every kink she could find as my hair sizzled. Often, the hot comb burned the tips of my ears, the nape of my neck, and the edges of my hairline, and I’d leave the salon in tears wanting never to return. But it would be another five long years before my mom allowed me to say goodbye to the dreaded hot comb and hello to my first relaxer.

Relaxer Heaven
     At age 14, my mom gave me permission to get a relaxer, and I never looked back. From that point on, I swore I’d never go back to the hot comb again. And for the next 35 years I’d get relaxers every 6 weeks, then eventually every 8 weeks, then every 12 weeks as time marched on. But in the end, much to my chagrin, the relaxers took their toll. They weakened my hair, damaged some hair follicles, and forced me to bid them farewell.
     I was so sad and apprehensive. It had been 30+ years since I saw or even dealt with my natural hair. How would I take care of it? How would I wear it? What was I going to do? I never thought I would have to stop getting relaxers. I figured I’d get them until the day I died.

Natural Hair Journey
     To grow out my relaxer, I went to the hairdresser every two weeks to have my hair washed, conditioned, blow dried, flat ironed, and curled. I wasn’t about to do my own hair. In fact, because my hair was flat ironed, it looked like it was relaxed and I was fine with that. At least I was no longer putting that chemical in my hair.
     In the meantime, I discovered an incredible online community of young African American women who grew out their relaxers, were transitioning, or had always been natural. They represented what is called The Natural Hair Revolution. Many of these incredible, beautiful women have YouTube Channels where they regularly post hair care tutorials. They teach you how to wash, condition, and style natural hair. They do product reviews and demonstrate hairstyling techniques to get awesome results for rod sets, twist outs, bantu knots, curly fros, and wash ’n Gos. They even teach you how to accessorize your fro with pretty scarves and stylish head bands. These women are super talented, super creative, and inspirational. My favorite natural hair care vloggers who have YouTube channels are SimplyCin, NaturalMe4c, and Naptural85. I also discovered a natural hair care website called that provides articles, videos, and product reviews on everything you need to know about natural hair care. 
     After reading several articles and watching these videos on YouTube for almost two years, and admiring these and other black women from afar who wear natural styles, I finally took the plunge—I decided to stop blow drying and flat ironing my hair and truly embrace my natural hair.

Joining the Revolution
     I got my first rod set in mid-July and have been getting them ever since. My hairdresser did my first three rod sets. And I did the last two (see photos) all by myself. I learned what products I needed to buy and how to put the rods in from watching my YouTube gals, and much to my surprise my hair came out really nice. Next, I’m going to try a twist out.
     I have to admit that caring for my natural hair requires an investment of time and some extra money. The products are pricey and the amount of time it takes to do my hair on washday is daunting. But I’m a novice at this, and I’m sure I’ll be able to reduce the time it takes once I become more experienced. The good news is that after you do your hair on washday, all you have to do is cover it at night with a satin bonnet and go to sleep.

Feeling Free
     Nonetheless, the hardest part for me is over. I’m no longer a slave to relaxers; I’m no longer afraid to wear my hair in its natural state nor worried about whether the world will accept me. I feel a sense of freedom and peace. Free to wear and accept the hair God has given me. Free to be me!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Personal Message From the Christmas Story

“And blessed (happy, to be envied) is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of the things that were spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45)

          As I sat down last Sunday morning to read the Christmas story, I asked the Lord to speak to me through the story of Jesus’ birth like never before and for His Holy Spirit to illuminate the Word and deepen my understanding of the scriptures I was about to read.
          While I read the story about Zachariah and Elizabeth’s pregnancy, and about the angel Gabriel who visited Mary to inform her she was going to give birth to Jesus, Luke 1:45 jumped out at me for the first time—despite the fact I read this story practically every year. In its context, Elizabeth in her old age and pregnant was rejoicing that Mary came to visit her. Elizabeth exclaimed that Mary was blessed as well as the fruit of her womb, because she was carrying the Lord Jesus. Elizabeth also exclaimed that Mary was blessed because she believed the things the Lord had spoken to her and that they would be fulfilled. Then Mary began to enthusiastically praise the Lord.
          The fact that Mary was blessed because she believed what the Lord had spoken to her would be fulfilled really resonated with me. There are many prayers I’ve prayed over the last 16 years and continue to pray, and they still haven’t come to pass. And there have been and still are times I lose hope and just want to give up. But God reminded me in that passage that He has given me promises: promises for my marriage, promises for my family, promises regarding my career, and countless promises concerning the blessings I have in Christ. And he reminded me that I should continue to believe them, and that they will be fulfilled—and not to lose hope.
          So as I celebrate the birth of Jesus the Messiah this Christmas season, I will once again meditate on the promises the Lord has spoken to me and recommit myself to believing that they will be fulfilled as Mary did and be blessed. If you’ve ever experienced times of great stress, doubt, and hopelessness due to life’s circumstances, join me this holiday season and do what Mary did: Believe the things that the Lord has spoken to you and that they will be fulfilled, so you too will be blessed!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you that you love me perfectly, that you’re gracious, compassionate, and know me intimately. Gently remind me this Christmas season of all the promises you’ve given me. Strengthen my faith and my belief in those promises so I can be blessed and continue to experience your blessings. In your name I pray, Amen!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Baseball Game Blessings

"You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours." (Psalm 128:2) "Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." (Proverbs 31:31)
      This past week the vice president of my company gave me four all-expense paid tickets to go see the Phillies play the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, September 26th. Before she told me about the tickets, she asked me whether my husband and I liked baseball. I said "No," but I'm sure glad my answer didn't stop her from telling me about the special tickets and persuading me to go to the game. 
      She said the tickets were for Dugout Diamond seating—better than VIP. She said we'd literally be sitting right behind the batter's box (right). We'd enjoy free parking in a special lot for Dugout Diamond fans; we'd have access to free food all night long, first in a special restaurant, and then we'd be waited on hand and foot throughout the entire game with free beverages and snacks. She said it would be a really great experience. She and the president gave me these tickets because of the stellar October issue of Today's Dietitian, which is about to mail next week—our largest and most profitable issue of the year. I was so thankful. The president said the October issue was the best she's seen in terms of content and artwork. I was like "Wow!" I didn't realize it was that good. I simply worked hard on the issue as I always do on all the issues. But I must give all the glory to God!
      Of course, my husband accompanied me (above), and I invited my son and his girlfriend (left). I left work early and headed to Philly. We got to the stadium around 5:45 pm due to the traffic. But once we found the special parking lot and parked the car, we headed straight for the special restaurant because we all were hungry. This particular restaurant had different food stations where we could order our food, which was heated up/made right in front of us. There were stations for cheese steaks and hamburgers, salad, sandwiches, pasta, seafood, and ribs. My son had a huge Philly cheese steak and salad; his girlfriend had crab cakes and asparagus and salad; my husband and I had a pasta dish. I later had a salad with grilled veggies, hummus, and crispy chips and bread. The food was delicious—not like the usual baseball game fare of Nathan hot dogs, french fries, and soda. Then we were served pumpkin cheesecake with whipped cream on top. Yum! By that time I was stuffed so I took only a couple of forkfuls just to taste it. Then it was time for the game.
DSC_1607      I saw the professional photographers (right) with their $7,000 super zoom lenses sitting on monopods. I brought my camera and couldn't wait to shoot the game. Of course my equipment paled in comparison to the pros. My son's girlfriend is studying photography so she brought her camera as well. We really had a good time. My husband enjoyed himself more than he thought he would, and my son's girlfriend was so thankful that I invited her to come.
DSC_1591      Probably the most memorable part of the game was the mascot. OMG! He was so funny—the way he shook his butt, his belly, and got the crowd jumping and dancing. We were hysterical laughing every time he came out to entertain us. I also liked the moves of the pitchers. Ervin Santana (below left and center) from the Atlanta Braves was pretty good, although he got pretty tired midway through the game and they had to replace him. I caught a few action shots, but for the most part my photos were mediocre at best. I caught one player sliding into second base and one sliding back to first base to avoid get struck out—if that's even the correct term. All in all we had a great time! Thank you Great Valley Publishing for giving me and my family such a nice gift! I'll remember it always!!
DSC_1417    DSC_1372 DSC_1527    DSC_1585

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Public Speaking? I Think I'd Rather Die

“O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” (Exodus 4:10-11)

     Last week, I traveled to Las Vegas to attend my company’s first annual Spring Symposium for Today’s Dietitian magazine, a two-day event that included several continuing education sessions presented by highly acclaimed nutrition professionals in the dietetics field. I was asked to introduce some of these presenters each day and host a panel discussion of prominent RDs about the value of speaking and writing in their field. My first reaction was “Oh no, I don’t like public speaking. I get too nervous; I stumble and stammer over my words. Oh my goodness!”
     Then I remembered the panel discussion I participated in last year at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Houston. I was just as nervous of the thought of speaking in front of an audience, but once I started talking I was fine and I really enjoyed the experience. So I said to myself, “OK, if I enjoyed last year’s panel discussion maybe I’ll enjoy introducing some of the speakers and hosting the panel discussion.
     Here I was again relating to how Moses felt when the Lord commanded him to confront Pharaoh and demand he set the Israelites free from slavery. Moses was concerned about the very same thing I was concerned about. He was afraid of speaking to Pharaoh and what the Egyptians would think of him just as I was afraid of speaking in front of 275-plus nutrition professionals. Yikes! I was afraid of stuttering and worrying what they might think of me.
     Some people aren’t afraid of public speaking. They can stand in front of an audience with ease and give a wonderful presentation. But I’m not one of those people. So I prayed and asked God to take away my fear and give me a deep sense of peace that transcends all understanding and to guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. He promised to be with me and give me the words to speak, so I trusted Him in that and everything went well. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be, and I didn’t stumble and stammer over my words. In fact, the presenters liked how I introduced them, and one of them invited me to speak with her on another panel discussion she wants to host next year at a national nutrition conference. I said “I’d love to.”
     I’ve come to learn that whenever you ask for the Lord’s presence and His peace, he answers pretty much immediately. He promises to keep you in perfect peace if you believe Him and your mind is focused on Him. So whatever you may be facing that you’re deathly afraid of, just bow your head, ask for His presence, power, strength, peace, and Holy Spirit to be poured out on you. Meditate on scripture about fear and a promise that speaks to your situation. And believe me, God will answer—and people will take notice. They’ll notice there’s something special about you. They won’t be able to put their finger on it, but you’ll know it’s the Lord’s favor, a display of His glory.
     I’m not sure what God is doing in my professional career, but He’s surely stretching me and my faith in ways I’m not expecting. He seems to be elevating me by thrusting me into the spotlight. He knows I’m nervous about being in the spotlight, but He has me doing it anyway, and He’s right there with me. He assures me there’s no reason to be afraid, and He’s right. May I praise His holy name!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

He Is Risen!

“I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever!” (Revelation 1:18)

       Whenever the Easter holiday draws near, I often reflect on this passage of scripture more than any other that speaks of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross and His miraculous resurrection. Certainly there are other wonderful, riveting passages such as in the gospels that chronicle his death, burial, and resurrection, and in the Old Testament prophecies.
       These poignant words of Christ in Revelation 1:18, however, give me special comfort, because He emphatically declares that He is the Living One. He is alive today and forevermore through His spirit living inside of me, in other believers, and in the world at large. He is seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, and He is coming back a second time to take all who know and love him to their promised heavenly home.
       Because of Jesus’ shed blood and death on the cross, my sins are forgiven. And because He rose from the dead, I have everlasting life. I love the fact He is alive, working in my life, working in the lives of other believers, and working powerfully in the world.
       After a busy workweek, with much on my mind, I'm so glad I was able to focus on my Lord this morning with my husband during church services. We were able to reflect on what He’s done for us, on how much He loves us, and on the promises we have in Him because He is alive
      Our Pastor preached on the fact that we don't have to fear death if we have trusted in Christ for our salvation because when we die we will spend eternity in heaven with Him. Christ has freed us from the fear of death. "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (Hebrews 2:14-15).
      I pray that you and your family have enjoyed this holiday weekend giving praise to the Lord for his sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. Because he rose, we too will rise again to live forever with Him. Amen!

Prayer: Lord, may I set aside all of my worries to focus only on you, to focus on the blood you shed for the forgiveness of my sins, to focus on your sacrificial death, and your resurrection that ensures my life eternal. In Your Name I pray, amen.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Protected by God's Angels

“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge … for He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:4,11-12)

No one will argue that when the snow falls, it can make the landscape look beautiful—even breathtaking. In God’s great wisdom, He created the snow to water the earth so that it would yield seed for the sower and bread for the eater. And in His great creativity, not one snowflake looks alike. Each one has its own unique design and pattern.

When the snowstorms hit, as they have in the midwest and northeast lately, the snow can create hazardous road conditions for motorists. A couple of weeks ago during a major snow storm that threatened to dump up to 16 inches in the northeast by night fall, I drove to work early in the morning against my better judgment to beat the snow and get as much work done as possible before leaving the office early.

On my way home between 3 and 3:30 pm, I decided to take the highway, figuring it would be safer since the highways are plowed sooner and more thoroughly than the back roads. I was within 1 mile of my exit, when I saw about three or four cars spinning out of control and banging into one another. (They were about six car lengths in front of me.) Suddenly, my car skidded to the left—right off the highway from the right lane all the way across to the left lane and into a large grassy area.

As I was skidding even in the grassy area, I turned my steering wheel into the skid—to the left and to the right—to prevent my car from doing a 360. My car slid sideways and forward before my car came to a stop. My heart beat quickly in my chest as I realized I didn’t hit any cars; I didn’t hit a guardrail because there wasn’t one to hit, and I didn’t hit any trees.

I prayed to God for help, and thanked him that I was OK as I turned my head to the right and saw that I was now six car lengths in front of the cars that were still spinning out of control and banging into one another. Because there were hardly any cars on the highway, I easily got back onto the highway and drove to my exit, which was now a ½ mile away. I made it home safely and in awe of the way the Lord spared me from hitting those cars. God sure answers prayers, because that morning of the snowstorm I prayed for His protection over me and that He would command His angels to protect me on the road.

This morning another snowstorm hit. I got up at 5:30 am in an attempt to get ready for work. But because I wasn’t feeling well and another snowstorm was on the way I felt the Lord telling me to stay home. And that I did. Thank you Lord for speaking to me and for your power in my life!

** Photo taken this morning with the Nikon D5300: shutter speed 1/250 sec; ISO 400; focal length 45 mm; lens 18-140 mm; matrix metering mode.

** Please visit my new photography blog at Judith Riddle Photography. Visit my gallery of photos and leave me messages on my blog. I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lance Armstrong's Downfall

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). “A man’s pride brings him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor” (Proverbs 29:23). “Before his downfall, a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12).
     By now you’ve heard the story: Lance Armstrong, one of Americas greatest athletes of all time, did use performance-enhancing drugs throughout the majority of his cycling career and to win all seven Tour de France races.

Win at all Costs
     He went through great lengths to obtain and take those drugs and hide the fact he took them. And he threatened, bullied, and attacked anyone who accused him of doping. He lied, cheated, and sued people and organizations to keep his illegal activities secret. But as we all know, his dirty dealings caught up with him. He was stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles. All of his sponsors cut him loose, and Livestrong, the foundation he created to support and inspire cancer victims and survivors urged him to step down as chairman, which was the hardest blow of them all.

Compelled to Confess
     When I first heard the news, I wasn’t overwhelmingly surprised, but I was curious to learn the details about the federal investigation into his doping activities and the investigation launched by the US Anti-doping Association, which strategically backed him into a corner and gave him no choice but to come clean and tell the truth.      
     I was a fan of Lance Armstrong. I didn’t watch the Tour de France races or follow his career closely, but I always rooted for him from the sidelines. Like millions of people, I believed him when he said he didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs, and I had wished everyone would just stop accusing him.

Signs of Softening
     I watched his interview with Oprah Winfrey. I saw a man whose hardened, calloused heart was finally beginning to soften, an extremely prideful heart starting to show signs of humility. He admitted his wrongdoing and realized how much heartache and pain he caused so many people, including his children and mother. He almost broke down and cried when he talked about having to break the news to his children and how much of a negative impact the news had on his mother.
     I felt somewhat sorry for him, but as I watched the interview and learned about all he had done with such malice and evil intent, I thought about what the Word of God says about pride, sin, sowing and reaping, and what happens when your life is built on sand and not on the Rock. Lance’s life fell with a great crash. His pride led to his destruction, his fall, his disgrace, and it has brought him very low. But God is merciful. God gives grace to the humble; with humility comes wisdom and honor; God dwells with the humble; and He revives the heart and the spirit of the lowly.

Hopes of Meeting the Savior  
     My prayer for Lance is that he would learn a life-changing lesson from this experience, and learn that there is a God who loves him and is willing to forgive him if he takes the ultimate step of humility: giving his life to Christ. Only then will he be restored and given new life with true meaning and purpose.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vacation Blessings

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord.” (Psalm 128:1-4)

       The adage “God is watching over you” is truly an understatement.
       This past week my husband, son, and I enjoyed a vacation, a college experience, and a celebration of my son’s early acceptance into Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).
       My son (a soon-to-be high school senior) enjoyed a weeklong stay at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., where he attended a business leadership conference. He learned about all aspects of business and how a company works in today’s economy. He roomed with a high school buddy of his in a dorm, met new friends, and learned firsthand what it would be like to live away from home at college. Just this morning my son said, “I can’t wait to go to college. I’m so excited!”
       While he was away, my husband and I enjoyed our own getaway. We drove to Virginia, where we soaked in the sun on the beach and at the pool, and wined and dined each evening at Catch31, one of the most popular fine-dining restaurants along the Virginia Beach shoreline. The live entertainment wasn’t so great this year as it was two years ago so we didn’t hang around to listen to the bands. 
       I took loads of pictures of our road trip to and from Virginia, while at the beach and the pool. I even took some video. I wish we could’ve stayed in Virginia longer than just four days, but we had to go home to prepare for our trip to Indiana. We took a different route to IUP this time, which was shorter and more direct. We attended what’s called Early Decision Day, where you take a tour of the school and learn that day whether or not you’re child has been accepted. After the 90-minute tour and a complimentary lunch, we picked up a letter at the admissions office. We were all thrilled to learn he was accepted! The school is absolutely beautiful, everything from the campus grounds and office buildings to the library, fitness center, and dorm rooms. It all makes me wish I were young again so I could attend this school and get my college education. But the Lord quickly reminded me that I enjoyed my opportunity to go away to college years ago and that this is my son’s turn. And what a blessing it is.
       Our vacation was hard-won. I prayed earnestly for it in light of the fact this is the busiest time of the year as editor of my company’s nutrition magazine. Due to the workload, I didn’t think I’d get the chance to take a vacation this summer. But God answered my prayers by providing me with extra help to make my vacation possible. And God gave me the wisdom to prioritize my work to get it all done. I owe it all to Him who sits high and lifted up, to the one who sits on the throne. Without Him, none of this would’ve been possible.
       I encourage everyone who might be in a tight situation, a seemingly impossible circumstance to find promises in scripture that relate to what you’re going through, claim them as yours, and pray through them first before taking action. That way, you give God the chance to go before you and prepare the hearts and minds of those with whom you need to communicate. The Lord worked in a mighty way for my family and me, and I’ll be forever grateful. Thank you Jesus for your faithfulness and unfailing love. Amen!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Prayer and Fasting With Diabetes

"Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord." (Joel 1:14) 
       In the July issue of Today's Dietitian, we published an article titled Prayer and Fasting With Diabetes. If you're a person of faith who has diabetes or know someone of faith with the disease, this article is a must-read. 
       The American Diabetes Association reports that more than 23 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Seventy-nine million have prediabetes, a condition characterized by elevated blood sugar levels, which place them at high risk for developing the disease later in life. And each year, there are now 1.5 million people newly diagnosed with diabetes. African Americans are disproportionately affected by this disease and suffer more complications, such as blindness, kidney failure, neuropathy, and heart disease, than other races. 
       Given these statistics, you can surmise there are many people of faith with diabetes who set aside time to commune with God while abstaining from food, drink, or both. But the question is can they fast safely without putting their health at risk? 
       In this article, we discuss that fasting is practiced by the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths and how these practices differ from one another. We review how fasting can impact the health of those with diabetes and provide strategies for fasting safely. Please let me know your thoughts about the article. If you have diabetes or know someone who has the disease and fasts safely, I'd like to hear about your  experiences and theirs. I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did in assigning and editing it.

* Linking up with Spiritual Sundays here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Those Who Will Not Enter the Kingdom

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

In my bible study group last week, we focused on several passages that discussed the work of the Holy Spirit. Of all the passages we read, this one gripped me the most. It begins by listing the habitual sins of those who will not inherit or, in other words, enter the Kingdom of God. If any one has ever had a question about what God considers sin and who won’t enter heaven when they die, this verse, among others, plainly provides the answers.

The passage, written by the apostle Paul to the Christians in Corinth, begins by saying the sexually immoral won’t enter heaven: That’s anyone who’s not married and is having casual sex. Idolaters are people who worship anyone or anything that takes first place in their lives other than God, such as work, family, kids, the pleasures of life, money, drugs, alcohol, themselves, false gods, etc.

Adulterers are those who have sex with someone else outside of their marriage. Then the passage mentions male prostitutes and homosexuals, those who are in sexual relationships with people of the same sex (men or women). The Lord mentions thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers (people who regularly say vicious and false statements about others), and swindlers (individuals who often obtain money or property fraudulently—hence the phrase “ill-gotten gains”).

Then, Paul writes “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This part of the verse is most comforting, because just as the Christians in Corinth received Christ when they were still practicing these sins and were then washed clean by the Holy Spirit, so was I. The Corinthian Christians were not without sin before they received Christ, and neither was I. But once they came to Christ the Holy Spirit washed them clean. They were now holy (sanctified) and forgiven (justified) of all these sins. And once they were washed clean, they stopped practicing these sins to live a life that honors the Lord. That’s what the powerful work of the Holy Spirit does in our lives the moment we place our faith in Christ for our eternal salvation. The Holy Spirit washes us clean from all our sins, makes us holy, and gives us the power and desire to turn from sin.

May we pray for our friends and family members who don’t know Christ and who are habitually practicing the sins mentioned in this passage without remorse, which will prevent them from inheriting (entering) the Kingdom of God. There was a time when I was not qualified to enter the Kingdom, but because of God’s grace and mercy, I was able to respond to His call to salvation and have now crossed over from death to life. May we bless and praise His Holy Name.
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