No Weapon (Devotional Blog) by Shanelle Gabriel

This past Sunday, something in me wanted to go to church. That doesn't sound like an epiphany to many people (it shouldn't to me; I grew up going to church every week), but with the groggy weather and the warm bed, it's amazing that I opened my eyes on time to get ready. I decided to go to Christian Cultural Center which is, like, 10 minutes away from me. I was up early enough for the 8:30am service but opted for the 10:45. I got there early enough to get a seat and start my Fearless: A Six Week Plan devotional before service started. It reflected on Matthew 14:22-33 where Jesus sent the disciples away on a boat, into an insane storm. It asked me to reflect on my personal storm at the moment. I thought of how much I've been missing my mother, my reoccuring battle to get off of the Prednisone I take for my Lupus, thinking about my brother-in-law not being here for my sister and nephews, and all the other elements I'm fighting to stay afloat in...It's a storm alright. The devotion asks if I've thought about why I'm going through all of this. I just want to know why it couldn't have just drizzled; why did the storm have to pour and toss my ship around....

The devotion asks if I've ever considered that "the Lord would not only allow me to head straight for a storm but might have sent me right into it". No, I hadn't. Suddenly my friends Kel & Flo arrive and sit next to me. They just happen to have come to the same service as I did. Just then, the service starts.

The band begins to play a seemingly familiar tune. I almost fall out of my chair. Fred Hammond, my absolute favorite gospel artist (ever since Commissioned) comes out singing "Let the Praise Begin." I whisper to Kel, "What's the chance of him being here on the ONE day I decide to come to church and at the exact service that I decide to attend?" Kel just smiles. I feel like it's just affirming that I'm on the right path, I'm listening to the right voice.

Every song Fred Hammond sings, I sing along with him: "This is the Day," "Glory to Glory," and more. I'm feeling so moved and revived. He finally goes into "No Weapon." I wonder if he watched Ray Lewis from the Baltimore Ravens say that text and chose to add that to his set, but I know in my heart it was something deeper that led him to select that song. Fred's silvery voice fills the room:

No weapon formed against me/ shall prosper/ It won't work/ God will do what He said He will do/ He will stand by His word/ He will come through...

Fred pauses for a moment and the music breaks. He begins to speak. He says, "There's a reason the Bible says NO WEAPON. It's because God knows there will be weapons targeted and aimed at you. That's not a surprise. It's a fact. But God said that no matter what, it will not prosper." I have a moment. I break out my journal:

"God sent me through this storm because I'm supposed to go through storms. Just like the weapons pointed at me, I should expect them. I'm asking God why me, when really, it's why not me? It's a fact that we are supposed to have trials, but we will NOT stay there."

My friend Kimone once told me (and I totally ignored him), "After this, you're going to have grown-up faith." I understand now. If I can have peace through this storm, if I can have all of these attack rifles and missle launchers pointed at me and still walk out of it, even CRAWL out of it, there's nothing I won't be able to face.

Affirmation is a POWERFUL thing...

Beginning 2013 With God Fearlessly (Blog) by Shanelle Gabriel

A few days ago, a new-found friend of mine mentioned that his New Years Resolution was to get closer to God. I said "Yea, me too," although the year had started and I knew I hadn't picked up my Bible since selecting a Scripture reading for my mom's Celebration of Life back in November. I admitted to him (and myself) that I wanted to get back to where I used to be with God: faithful and fearless. I once had a relationship with God that kept me calm even when my health, my career as an artist, and my crazy love life seemed to be overwhelming and unstable. But those storms seem to have come back with a vengence with some NEW elements to the mix. 

The last few months have been the most difficult period of my life to date. Some of you know that in November I suddenly lost my brother-in-law and a week later, my mother. Right after this, I found myself in a severe Lupus flare, and learned I was having issues (nothing life-threatening, but life-altering) with other systems of my body. Financially, my resources were shot. For the first time ever, I was faced with grown up decisions about what to do with my life, how to handle all this insanity that is coming at me all at the same time, and how, in the midst of my tribulation, to help others around me get through theirs. It's enough to lay a person out, and make them give up. Picking up a Bible seemed like a bandaid after a face-off with Beatrix from Kill Bill. Where do I start that doesn't feel forced? I told myself I'll just pick up my Bible and read till something clicks. Yea, that's REALLY motivating...sigh.

My friend then mentioned he's using this app on his iPhone (no, this isn't a plug for Apple; I get no commission off of their sales). It's the Holy Bible by YouVersion that allows you to start Bible lesson plans that center around different topics and last a variety of days, weeks, and months. Eh, it was worth a shot. A lesson plan called "Fearless: A Six Week Journey" catches my eye. From day one, I felt like the devotional was speaking to my fears, my storm. It asked me some introspective questions, and I suddenly remember a beautiful wood-covered journal that my Soror, Lisa, gave me. I decide to make this my spiritual journal where I keep track of what I'm studying, questions I need answered, scriptures that speak to me, and my overall feelings towards my relationship with God. In two days, my heart feels just a little lighter. I feel like the Word is speaking to my soul, telling me to be stronger, and that I can have that fearlessness that I once had before, even through the insanity that is my life. 

I don't know if you reading this helps in anyway, but feel free to join me on this journey. The lesson plan is here: http://bible.us/r/5N I'll be blogging any major moments and thoughts, praying that my epiphanies help someone else. 


Much love, 


As a Christian, is it wrong to quote non-Christians? (As per my discussion on Facebook) by Shanelle Gabriel

This morning, I posted my daily quote as a status update. Today it was from Deepak Chopra:

" Religion is belief in someone else's experience. Spirituality is having your own experience."

A friend of mine responded: "Careful with Deepak. He does not accept Jesus as his personal Saviour, or acknowledge His true Divinity as the only way to salvation. Just lookin out 4 a sista. :-)"

Do not attack him...He was sincere in letting me know about Deepak's teaching and belief system since it is contradictory to Biblical Christianity. He believe that someone might read his quote and think I am endorsing his teaching and start to read his writings innocently and end up following him. To the person that wrote this to me, I am not offended. I love discussing topics and thoughts such as these, and I do get what you are saying. I just wonder why people don't check the religion of every person we quote on a regular basis. From Maya Angelou to Oprah to Dr. Phil to Ben Franklin. I just think that to look at a quote and consider it an endorsement would be quite a stretch. We quote African proverbs, Aesop's morals, and Confusian sayings...do we look at it as an affiliation with the country or religion? I just think that it's a bit much to look at one quote and tell me "Be careful because he isn't Christian."

As I stated before, we do not check the religion of all of the people who say prolific things in our history. Many preachers will present inspirational quotes in their sermons wherever they find it from. To quote Ghandi, wouldn't mean I follow him. I just think that sometimes as Christians, we can be a little too hypersensitive when it comes to things and people that don't think as we do. To say I can't quote the man, even though he said something very true just because of his religion, does exude feelings of separatism and exclusion. While I do understand where folk are coming from, do understand where I am coming from as well. Responses like this contribute to the reason it's hard to witness to others because many Christians feel like we are the only ones who can speak the truth. We may have more truth than others but if a weedhead or a prostitute says, "Religion is following someone's beliefs, Spirituality is having your own experience," I'd quote them regardless of their accepted lifestyle. It's true and it makes me question my own religion vs. My relationship.

It's one thing if someone said "True that. I wish Deepak's other teachings were as agreeable with what we believe in." That's fine. But when you warn me about his beliefs disregarding the true statement he made, it seems like I'm being told to run away from the man. John 10:16 says, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold." Jesus said that they will hear His voice and He will bring them. It is not our job to ignore them till they are brought over. A Christian writer once said, "There are many people who are one step away from being saved." Deepak Chopra may not be a Christian, but his beliefs focus on the nature of the mind, human relationships, and bringing about positive change in society- all things that I embrace and study myself. I cannot negate a valid statement regardless of who said it.

While I do not embrace all of Deepak Chopra's teachings, yes, there are many people who follow RELIGION which is defined as a "system of beliefs." They follow what the rules are as outlined by a Bible or as outlined by the folk around them. They listen to the preacher or priest, don't question what is told to them, and PRACTICE religion. Religion is defined as following a pattern or behavior. It's focused on actions and deeds, kind of like the Pharisees of the Bible. Being a person connected to the Spirit, having Spirituality, means you are connected to the source. It requires a relationship, a level of personal intimacy that many people do not have. Someone wrote that Deepak was trying to diss religion on the low. If you want to take it that way, fine. But honestly, I am tired of RELIGION especially because religion can't get me into Heaven. Following patterns and rules and doctrine does not mean I have Jesus. If that was all we needed, Jesus would not have died on the cross for me. He would have just gave us advice on following rules. I am seeking a Spiritual connection with God. I hope that this quote helped someone analyze their own beliefs. That's why I posted it.

Stay Blessed