Standing at the pulpit of a Los Angeles Baptist church in 1972, Aretha Franklin — known more for hits like “Respect” and “Chain of Fools” — started singing her own rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
As she sang the ode to divine deliverance, Franklin prompted members of the congregation at the recording of the gospel album to shake their heads and raise their arms.
The R&B star took on the role of a minister of music as she rendered one gospel song after another.
“You’ve got a mighty good friend in Jesus,” she sings at one point.
“Sing, Aretha,” someone in the church seats shouts.
“Amazing Grace,” the documentary about the making of what would become the best-selling live gospel album, spends 87 minutes giving viewers a chance to see the woman known just as Aretha go back to her roots. The singer, who died at age 76 last year, was first recorded singing gospel music at her father’s church at age 14.
The title track features Franklin’s unique arrangement — almost 11 minutes long — with multiple notes attached to the words “amazing,” “grace” and other words in that time-honored hymn.
“That track was completely free in terms of meter, in terms of rhythm,” said Aaron Cohen, author of “Amazing Grace,” a 2011 book about the recording of the album. “She wasn’t being confined to a two- or three-minute pop song where she has to hit these notes to fill it out. Granted, every song she did she did her way, but more so with ‘Amazing Grace.’”
Aretha Franklin interacts with James Cleveland’s Southern California Community Choir while recording her “Amazing Grace” album at a Los Angeles Baptist church in 1972. Photo courtesy of NEON
The long-awaited documentary was delayed for almost five decades in part because of technical issues: The film and its accompanying sound were not synchronized when the recording was made. Decades later, digital technicians were able to link them, enabling the documentary directed by Oscar-winning Sydney Pollack to be released.
Now the musical mastery of Franklin’s voice is combined with a bird’s-eye view of the church setting where she recorded gospel favorites while playing a Steinway or standing at a pulpit with a large mural of the baptism of Jesus behind her.
The film captures not only the freedom with which she expresses herself musically, but the call and response between the artist and James Cleveland’s Southern California Community Choir, outfitted in bright silver vests.
“As a singer she was the star but, in that environment, she was also there to serve as well,” said Cohen, former associate editor of DownBeat magazine, who has seen the documentary six times and previously viewed raw footage.
Delores Klyvert, a fan of Franklin’s, said “Respect” is one of her favorites but she got a fuller view of the artist as a woman of faith when she stopped by a movie theater in Washington, D.C., on Good Friday.
“I knew about her father, her church, her religious background,” said Klyvert, a member of a multicultural nondenominational church in Richmond, Va. “It was just that it brought it to the forefront and let me actually connect with it a little better. I knew it but it’s nothing like actually seeing and hearing.”
Near the start of the film Cleveland introduces Franklin by saying “she can sing anything — anything.” But the focus for the two nights of recording and the two LPs of the original album was the genre of gospel.
She sings the first selection, “Wholy Holy,” a cover of a Marvin Gaye song, at the Steinway grand piano, dressed in a long white dress with sequins, eyes often closed.
The film shows a predominantly black congregation, some men dressed in plaid jackets with wide lapels and some women dancing in the aisles, seeming to respond to both the method and the message of Franklin’s music.
“It does capture that emotional immediacy that there is in this kind of church,” said Cohen, “this whole character that is a community just comes so alive in a very vivid way in the film. And it’s about sharing. It’s about sharing an experience.”
As a camera pans the congregation, viewers can spot director Pollack, Franklin’s mentor and gospel singer Clara Ward and the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger (who toured with gospel singer Dorothy Norwood in the same year the “Amazing Grace” album was released).
When Cleveland takes his turn at the piano to accompany Franklin, he adds more about her background.
“You know being a daughter of a Baptist minister, you had to know these hymns before you could do anything,” he said.
In the middle of the slow-moving “Precious Memories,” Franklin sings, “We ought to sing that one more time.”
Her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, was in the audience for the recording. In one poignant moment, he stands over his daughter seated at the piano and mops the sweat from her brow.
The Rev. C.L. Franklin wipes sweat from his daughter Aretha’s forehead during the 1972 recording of her “Amazing Grace” album in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of NEON
At another point, her father recounts a story of his trip to the dry cleaners where the proprietor speaks of missing Aretha’s involvement in church music.
“If you want to know the truth, she hasn’t ever left the church,” he said.
More than seven months after her death, Franklin is getting renewed attention on the big screen and beyond. On April 15, she was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for “her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.”
A week later, on Easter Sunday, BET aired the Stellar Gospel Music Awards at which singers Regina Belle, Erica Campbell and Kelly Price sang in tribute to Franklin and her family was presented with the inaugural ICON Award in her honor.
The “Amazing Grace” documentary was shown at about two dozen locations across the country on Easter Sunday, followed by a live-streamed address of the Rev. William J. Barber II, who has co-led a revival of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign, from Barber’s North Carolina church. A representative of the film said theaters in Austin, Texas, and Brooklyn, N.Y., sold out.
“When we relaunched the Poor People’s Campaign in 2018, Aretha called me to pledge her support,” said Barber in a promotional video about the film. “You are about to hear and see the queen of a gospel tradition that was forged in the fires of America’s worst injustice. This music has sustained millions through many dangers, toils and snares. It not only kept them. It moved them, like it did Aretha, to stand for justice.”
As summer temperatures kick into high gear, concern increases about women’s church attire. In fact, many churches are printing bulletins this very second kindly asking women to be mindful of their hemlines, necklines, and exposed shoulders. There’s certainly nothing wrong with desiring women to observe modest dress during warm weather. Paul’s appeal wasn’t for women to adorn themselves in modest apparel (unless temperatures exceed 70 degrees) (1 Timothy 2:9). But what concerns me is the limited concept most Christians have of “modesty.” Modesty is a virtue involving much more than women’s fashion choices.
Actually, church dress codes might not even be necessary if more grasped these four lessons in true modesty:
Modesty Begins in the Heart
Many often quote 1 Timothy 2:9–10 to tell women to “cover up.” But Paul’s appeal is actually deeper than that. He’s asking women to forsake gaudiness and vanity in favor of a spiritual posture that glorifies God, inside and out. Paul is essentially saying that what we profess should be reflected in how we dress, assuming what we profess is sincere. True and consistent outward modesty only springs forth when the heart desires to please God. One could certainly “cover up” for the sake of following man-made rules, but it is hypocritical to clean up our exterior to please man while our hearts remain impure before God (Matthew 23:25–26). When we make a decision to revere Him, modest behavior and dress become personal convictions.
Modesty is a Daily Practice
Most women know that dressing like Gomer just won’t cut it for worship service. From my observation, women in general, despite their church-going experience, are keenly aware of the need to cover up and be appropriately attired for church service—even in the dead heat of summer. But what about how we dress for ministry meetings and other events hosted by the church throughout the week? What about how we appear to the world outside of church? The level of care we take to maintain modest dress on Sunday doesn’t seem to translate Monday through Saturday. This may occur because the church often teaches “modesty” as an outward religious practice, rather than a way of life for those who are called to be sanctified and set apart as people of God. For many, Sunday service is where we “officially” meet God. But people of faith should revere God daily, and our hearts, public appearance, and behavior should reflect that.
Modesty is an Act of Love
Men are visual creatures and women definitely know this. To deny this fact is to either be utterly naïve or embarrassingly disingenuous. Genuine concern for our brothers should help us refrain from dressing or behaving in any way that could cause them to stumble. This point is not politically correct, but it is nonetheless legitimate for followers of Christ. We are called to love one another as ourselves and abide by God’s standards, not society’s (Matthew 22:33; Romans 12:2). Jesus makes it clear that any man who so much as looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her (Matthew 5:28). While we cannot be burdened by what men think when they see us, we can choose to honor God by not seeking to intentionally motivate lascivious thoughts and behavior.
Modesty Also Applies to Men
Women are often the burden bearers of modesty, but each point above also applies to men. Modesty is a Christian disposition, not a female characteristic. Men in Christ are also charged to observe decency and propriety and to revere God daily. And just as women should avoid intentionally enticing men with immodest dress or behavior, men must love their sisters in Christ enough to not take advantage of those they assume are “immodest.” Paul is clear that female and male believers must clothe themselves in Christ; walk properly and “don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires” (Romans 13:14).
Dress codes and guidelines for attire may be helpful this summer, but such policies are only half the battle. True modesty is about physical and spiritual clothing. Churches truly seeking to ensure appropriate attire in the house of God must be equally vigilant in outfitting their female and male parishioners in the spirit of Christ Jesus.
How far is too far when it comes to appropriate clothing in the church? Weigh in below.
Which made it surprising to us that plans for a public elementary school in Akron, Ohio that four-time NBA MVP LeBron launched in 2018, to help students who are struggling to stay on track academically, largely ignored how important race is in educational attainment.
While we can appreciate the NBA great using his star power and considerable wealth to open a school for children in his hometown who are struggling academically, much like LeBron once was himself, we levy this criticism from our vantage point as scholars and students who study race in education. One of us – Kevin O’Neal Cokley – is an education scholar who has studied and written a book about the psychological and environmental factors that impact black student achievement. Two of us – Nolan Krueger and Marlon L. Bailey – are doctoral students in an educational psychology department.
Before we explain why we believe the I Promise School should deal with race more boldly and more explicitly, let us first identify the areas where we believe the school is getting things right.
Instead of relying on suspensions and expulsions, which tend to disproportionately impact black children, the I Promise School relies on what the school’s leaders refer to as the five “habits of promise.” Those are: problem-solving, perspective, partnership, perseverance and perpetual learning. This is especially important given how school suspensions and expulsions lead to higher dropout rates.
Values and supports families
One of the things that stands out most about the school is its “I Promise Family Plan.” This plan offers a range of supports and resources for students and families. The resources include a food pantry, a barbershop and hair salon, and help for parents to improve English comprehension and earn their GED.
Especially noteworthy is the school’s treatment of fathers. Instead of assuming that fathers are not involved in the lives of their kids, the I Promise School has a Father’s Walk Day in which fathers are formally welcomed to the school.
The school also features a seven-week summer session focused on STEM designed to help prevent the “summer slide” – that is, the loss of learning students suffer during summer vacation.
Questions about race
Despite the many things to like about the I Promise School, we question whether and to what extent the school deals directly with issues of race. Scholars such as Richard Milner suggest that schools must confront both poverty and race in the classroom in order to create optimal learning.
Educators with a critical understanding of how race and poverty manifest in the classroom might rely less on an one-size-fits-all curriculum and instead ground learning in an understanding of the lived experiences of their students.
Since the I Promise School has students from diverse backgrounds, some might ask why we think the I Promise School should confront race and poverty.
It is true that students are selected for the school based on their test scores and how behind they are in reading, not on race or any other demographic characteristic. However, the reality is the I Promise School is located in Akron, where the student population is disproportionately black – 46.1% – compared to 13.8% of national K-12 enrollment. Furthermore, Ohio has a staggering “achievement” gap between black and white students, with only 37% of black children in Ohio reading at grade level compared with 70% of white children.
The I Promise School’s 20-page master plan document does not focus on issues of race or race-equity despite research that shows some of the most vexing issues facing students – such as disparities in graduation rate, literacy and higher education admissions – are linked to race and poverty.
Prominent educational scholars such as Tyrone Howard have asserted
that when educators ignore race or adopt colorblind approaches, they fail to realize that avoiding the topic denies students an essential part of their being. This in turn only increases the likelihood of race becoming an explosive topic.
One critical factor to consider is the racial composition of the school’s staff, administrators and, in particular, teachers. Research suggests that students do better when their teachers look like them and can relate to their experiences. For example, it has been shown that black children are assessed more harshly for disruptive behavior when their teacher is white as opposed to black. Research has also shown that exposure to just one black teacher between grades 3 and 5 reduces the rate of dropout for black male high-schoolers.
Based on the school’s staff directory, the I Promise School appears to be lacking in teacher diversity – something we believe that the school should be more mindful of in the future.
Will the school defy the odds?
To be clear, we are celebrating LeBron James for fulfilling his dream and creating the I Promise School. He deserves praise for caring enough to give back to the community where he grew up.
The I Promise School could be a big “win” for students and LeBron James, a man who has dedicated countless hours and millions of dollars toward positively impacting Akron’s youth. We believe if the I Promise School incorporates social justice and the primacy of race into its approach, it could be transformational for its students. If, however, the school fails to address issues of race and equity in its design, the school likely won’t spur the generational change that proponents of the school envision.
Editor’s note: Officials affiliated with the I Promise Academy declined to comment directly for this story but cautioned against judging a school based strictly on publicly available documents.
One of the marks of a Christian is how we treat the most vulnerable in society. Even Jesus remarked that when we feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, provide clothing for the naked and visit those who are sick and in prison, it is as if we are serving him. Well, Van Jones isn’t just visiting prison, but in the CNN Original Series “The Redemption Project with Van Jones,” premiering on April 28th through the restorative justice process, he connects victims or surviving families with those who caused great violence in their lives for a chance of experiencing redemption, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
I can’t front. I became teary watching The Redemption Project with Van Jones. The pain is palpable, the responses are raw and yet healing. The show, with its focus on redemption, grace, and forgiveness, is a much-needed balm at a time where vitriol is fired off 280 characters at a time.
“I’ve just been
so saddened by the exit from our culture of empathy, of forgiveness, of grace,
of love, of second chances. It’s in all political parties. It’s in all racial groups, economic
groups. It’s so trendy
and fashionable to block people and cancel people and flame people and be the
4000th person to retweet something negative about somebody. Just this pile on,
nasty culture and we really wanted to do something that was 180º in the other direction,” said Jones.
Uplift it does. Each episode chronicles the restorative justice process of a victim or surviving family with the offender whose actions changed the course of their lives. It’s risky, to say the least, but as the late filmmaker and activist Toni Cade Bambara famously said, “…wholeness is no trifling matter.” It takes great courage and strength. The victims, surviving families, and offenders alike have to dig deep within, confront painful truths, and open themselves to healing even if it does not come in the ways they anticipate. Don’t expect a happy ending every time; The Redemption Project is unscripted and unrehearsed. Sometimes there is forgiveness. Always there is healing.
Van took some time to talk with Urban Faith about the need for empathy in our nation, his personal faith journey and how it connects with The Redemption Project, and why this show is necessary for such a time as this.
How did this project come about? Why now?
For 25 years I’ve been working inside of prisons. I know that somebody can go into a prison and just be a horrifically misguided human being and ten years later, twenty years later, not because of prison, but really in spite of prison, have transformed themselves into someone who has more wisdom and more strength than 99% people who are not in prison. And so, I knew that we have these diamonds sparkling inside of our prisons and that people don’t know. And then when I see how foolishly we have been conducting ourselves outside of prison, having so much data, and so little wisdom in our society. We can now know everything about somebody – with Facebook and YouTube, somebody can whip out their cell phone or camera phone and get on and boom, everybody’s mad. We have all this data, but we have no wisdom to process all that. And if we’re going to have this much information about people, we need to have a more empathetic and understanding culture. And so, I’m trying to push in that direction. That’s the secret agenda.
That’s the secret agenda! I love it! So, the show really shows the worst in humanity as you tell the story of what happened and then delves deeper into the stories of people so that we as viewers can bear witness to the best in humanity. The focus on humanity, being in the same room, making eye contact, and physical touch, how important was it for you to show the humanity of those who folks have written off as inhumane?
The show works because you take people who you would ordinarily just write off and you complicate it, and you begin to show this person was eating out of garbage cans when they were fourteen and you certainly start seeing these people in a different way. Not to give excuses for anybody’s choices because there were other people eating out of garbage cans who didn’t make that choice. But it is to give context. And it is to try to color in some of the humanity. In the way the show works, you take somebody who has done something really bad and who wants to make amends 10 years later, 20 years later and then you take somebody who they hurt—or all too often the surviving family member—and you talk to them and everything they have gone through. You put those people in a room together and let them talk to each other. When that happens, we don’t know how it’s going to work out, but it is a situation where miracles have happened on our show.
I’m glad you used the word miracle. Because as beautifully human as it is, it’s also deeply spiritual work. There was the episode with Teria and Josh, where the Restorative Justice facilitator says, “There is healing. People are lighter.” Throughout the show, you have your themes; redemption, restoration, healing, forgiveness, wholeness, and all of that. As I watched, I thought this is big. This is us in all of our humanity, and yet at the same time, it is bigger than us. Can you talk about the role of faith and spirituality in the project—both your personal faith journey and the role of faith in the lives of the victims or surviving families and the offenders.
Well, I can only speak for myself. I grew up in the church. My grandfather was a Senior Bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME), Bishop Chester Arthur Kirkendoll. I’m his grandson and I grew up in the church and that’s been my touchstone. In my teenage years and early 20s, I got away from it but came quickly back home. Nine times out of 10, the people who are participating in our series, once you scratch the surface, they are also people of faith on both sides. Because you gotta think, who would be willing to even extend the opportunity to have a conversation in these contexts on either side. It’s usually people of faith. Now, not everybody involved in the show is a person of faith, but I know that for me, I insisted—and I didn’t have to fight that hard—but I thought it was very important that the people be able to speak and say, “Listen, I’m praying to God right now” or “I’m doing this because of Scripture” and you’ll probably hear the word God more on my little one hour show than on all of the rest of cable TV combined that week because our culture has become so secular. But this is a case where people’s spiritual journey was key on both sides of the table.
That makes a lot of sense. Because you can feel that. It’s palpable when you watch the show and I’m sure that it was also palpable as you journeyed with each story. You do a lot of work in preparation, but at the time of the sit-down, you are not present in the room. And I wondered, is that an intentional decision? Talk about the decision not to be in the room.
When you’re dealing with stuff of this magnitude it takes a lot of preparation. It takes very skillful facilitators. Even before they sit down, they have to write letters and they really go through a lot because they’re taking a huge risk, emotionally with everybody involved. I don’t have that training and it’s not appropriate for me to be there just because I have a TV show. But I am in the next room over. I’m watching it on the monitor. And we realize that me watching it is actually a part of the show because…by the time we have those folks sitting down talking to each other, I have spent hours and hours with each one separately. And so, I’m pulling for each one. I’m nervous. The first time we did it, after it was over, I cried so hard that my nose started bleeding because my blood pressure was so high and it was just so stressful. But what I love about this show, it’s the opposite of the “True Crime” genre. Everybody loves True Crime, but True Crime is basically Whodunit. In this situation, it’s almost like once you figure out Whodunit, you’re done. Even once you know Whodunit, you’re still suffering 10 years later, 20 years later. What do we do then to have people take at least one more step towards healing? We show that part of the process, which is even more powerful.
As I watched you in the other room, I noticed at times that your eyes were closed. I think it was the episode with Donald Lacey and Mike, I was teary watching it and I wondered how you prepare yourself even for that moment?
You know, sometimes you’re not prepared (chuckles). I wish I could lie and say I was prepared. I’m in there boohooing and stressed out. I’m not any more prepared than anybody else. But you show up and you try. And sometimes there’s a presence that enters the room and everybody can tell when something really extraordinary is happening. Listen, two of the surviving parents, as I’ve said many times, do not get to a warm fuzzy place with the person who took their child’s life. But they still get some of their needs met because they get information they never had, they get questions answered they’ve always had, so there’s still a step towards their healing. But in three of these, the surviving family members and/or the victims try to get the person out of prison. So, you have the whole range of human response to pain and tragedy in these eight episodes. Because it’s real. This is not reality television. There are no scripts. There’s nobody getting prompted. There’s nobody getting paid. This is literally people making the most vulnerable moment of their lives, sharing that with the person who changed their life, one way or the other.
Seeing Donald Lacey at the beginning of the episode you hear him say, “I just wanted revenge” and then by the end you’re seeing this beautiful embrace…
(Laughs) Don’t give away
all the goodies now!
We won’t give away all the goodies. Even me saying that little bit is really just a snippet. I think folks need to see this show.
I’m just giving you a hard time because there’s beautiful stuff that happens, there’s bad stuff that happens. There’s a moment in that show that I think is the most heartbreaking moment in the whole series even though at the end of the day things take a turn. Because it’s so real and you can’t script it because, literally, who knows. We’ve had people who swore to God they didn’t want to have the conversation; they were ready to forgive and then they couldn’t do it. Once they say down and saw that person, they couldn’t do it. We’ve had other people who’ve sworn to God they wouldn’t even shake the person’s hand and they went the other way. It’s just an amazing experience. The only thing I want to add is that this is my life. Ok. You have the Van Jones Show that I have every other Saturday. I call that Sesame Street for grown people. I’m trying to have meaningful conversations. I don’t care if I never go viral or don’t have the greatest ratings in the history of the world. If we can have a meaningful conversation with somebody in public life and let them talk about who they really are, that’s what I’m trying to do…the Redemption Project. Also the Reform Alliance, with Jay Z, Meek Mill, and about half a dozen other heavy hitters put together to try to fix our court system, our criminal justice system. I love working with the Reform Alliance because we’re bringing Republicans and Democrats together. I’m a strong Democrat and I’ll vote Democrat for the rest of my life, but I don’t believe any one party is perfect. I don’t believe we can get anywhere without each other and we have just gone too far in a negative direction. Obviously, I’m going to stick up for mamas getting their babies snatched at the border and transgender people being mistreated. You can’t just fight and still have a country. You have to find something you can work on together. I want to be as passionate and excited about where I do agree with Republicans as where I don’t. If we can agree that the criminal justice system should be fixed, if we can agree that addiction and mental health are big issues, if we can agree that poor kids need more help—we many see differently how to help them—but if we can agree on that, let me be as excited working with you where I agree with you as I am working against you where I don’t. And we’ve now come to a place where we can be excited when we’re mad and what we’re against, but we can’t be excited about what we’re for and that’s wrong. So, I’m hoping this show will add some medicine.
The Redemption Project with Van Jones premieres on CNN on Sunday, April 28th and will air on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Rev. Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah is a preacher, chaplain, teacher, artist, writer, thinker, and dreamer who loves to study the Word of God, encourage others, and worship God. Rev. Owusu-Ansah holds a BS in Studio Art from New York University, an MFA in Photography from Howard University, and a Master of Divinity, Pastoral Theology, from Drew University. You can check out her website at https://www.reverendmotherrunner.com.
Up on the cross is where Jesus overcame. I have a victorious life, but I will remain at the foot of the cross.
Sometimes I find myself getting so caught up in me and the
things I experience day to day. I think
back over my career the past thirty years and I feel as if I’ve been dealt a
bad hand. I did all the things I was
taught to do to be able to have a prosperous career. After high school, I attended a major
university and received a bachelor’s degree.
After securing a good job and working for several years, I decided to further
my education and get an MBA so I could move up in the corporate world. It wasn’t enough to boost my career, so I
joined associations in my field and even held offices. It still wasn’t enough. I had gone as far as
I could and started seeking employment with other companies.
I got another job, and I was starting to rise up the ladder.
But when a new management group came on board, I was stuck again. Less qualified people were hired on my level,
even though I had more experience. It
became clear to me that it’s not about what you know, but who you know.
I began to feel that life is so unfair. I did all the things I had been taught to do,
but I was never able to move into management positions. I complained to God, asking, “Why am I being treated so unfairly?I’ve done the right things, but I’m not prospering
like others. What am I doing wrong? Am I being punished for something I did
earlier in my life? I go to church every
Sunday. I teach Sunday School. I attend Bible study. I sing on the choir. I am
the VBS director. I don’t just know your name, but I personally have a
relationship with you.”
God dropped in my spirit: Because of who you are and whose you are, you will experience trials
and tribulations. You may never have
more than what you have. As a matter of
fact, you may have even less than what you have now. I need you to be a vessel for me. I need you to serve. You say you want to do My Will, experiencing
these types of things and not getting where you think you should be is exactly
where I want you to be.
I am understanding why I need to remain at the foot of the cross. I’ve done what I perceive to be the right things, but that doesn’t mean I will get what I have planned for my life. I need to be able to accept the disappointments in life and continue to have joy and peace. I need to know that the things I want are not necessarily the things God wants for me or needs for me to be. When His will is placed in my life, I need to know it may not look like what I expected.
Every day of my life is a victorious life. I need to stop complaining, stop
whining. Each day that I am alive is a
new opportunity for me be an example to others on how to take disappointment
and handle it as an assignment from God.
As I feed on God’s word, my actions should be as the Bible states “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20, ESV). I should be challenging myself to live a victorious life and to stay away from sin, such as complaining and whining about what I wasn’t able to accomplish but concentrate on and be thankful for my many blessings from God.
I will stay at the foot of the cross. I need to keep “executing God’s plan for my life. Keep advancing in my kingdom purpose. I need to stay focused on the outcome.” I will stay around the Cross and live a victorious life. Are you challenging yourself to live a victorious life? Search yourself and decide what you will leave at the foot of the cross.
Lord, each day I am alive is a victorious day for me. I need to be an example so others can see that I am at the foot of the cross. I have sins such as complaining, whining, gossiping, not always being humble and so much more that I need to leave at the foot of the cross. Thank you, God, that you correct me and instill in me the desire to do better. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Luke 14:27, NLT: “And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”
TONIA WILLIAMS. Tonia lives in North Augusta, SC where she grew up. She received her BA degree in Journalism from the University of South Carolina (USC), Columbia, SC and her MBA degree from Brenau College in Gainesville, GA. She is actively involved with her church, Old Macedonia Baptist Church, where she sings on the choir, is Director of Vacation Bible School, and teaches the Women’s Sunday School class