Saturday, December 1, 2012
This is a pretty commonly known passage in the Bible, yet I’ve never had to opportunity to really dig into the meaning behind this man’s words. (I mean other than the obvious lol). When I first read this my mind automatically formed several questions. For one, why would Jesus ask this man how long has His son been like this? I'm sure Jesus being all knowing as the son of God already knew how long this boy has been dealing with his condition? However, upon further examination…. Jesus wasn’t really asking that question because He didn’t know, but just as anything He does…to prove a point. When Jesus asked the man how long has this boy been like this....or to put it plainly, how long has this boy lived with this condition? The man answered "since he was a little boy." See after hearing that his son has been dealing with this condition since he was little, it kind of made more sense why the man responded the way he did. Now, I'm not saying that "unbelieving" should always be excusable….I’m just merely pointing out that this man had some reasoning behind his response.
Now this was interesting to me because this conversation was followed by the man telling Jesus how the disciples couldn't do it. So I'm only imagining when the man was bold enough to say "if" you can to Jesus he was only speaking on what he saw...or rather the lack of what he didn’t see. See, in this man’s experience, no one has been able to give his son any relief of his condition since he was a little boy. So in my opinion, only naturally would the man have doubts that his son just may not be able to be delivered from this spirit. After years have gone by and after failed attempts of the releasing of the evil spirit it makes sense to me why this man at this point is now at the end of his rope. He finally got to the people closest to Jesus and they couldn't even help him.
So finally turning to Jesus as his last and only help,(that's a message in itself) in a moment of desperation says, "have mercy on us and help us if you can." The Message translation reads: "if you can do anything, do it." When I go back and read this, I feel this man’s desperation. This man was defeated long before he even reached Jesus and His disciples. He has watched his son suffer with this condition practically his whole life...and finally he gets to Jesus and basically says, "I understand if you can't do it either, but off some small chance, off some small whim....if you could...please help us". Now I'd be lying if I said I didn't know where this man was coming from. Have you ever dealt with something for so long and it just felt like it was never going to get better? Have you ever been in such a place where you just didn't know how God was going to turn the situation around and work it out for your good? Or in the case of this man, "if" God was even able to do it because it had never been done before? No, just me? I felt for this man. He had tried everything to release this stronghold from his son and by the time he gets to Jesus he has such little faith left.
"I think one of the worst mistakes we as Christians can make is trying to be somewhere spiritually where we're not."
Apparently, Jesus didn't like that answer, because in verse 23, Jesus basically “let this man know” (if you know me, you know exactly how I said this lol). He says, “’If!?’ What do you mean ‘if’ I can!? Don't you know who I am!? All things are possible if a person truly believes.” Then the man cries out in total humility,(verse 24) “Lord, I do believe…but help me overcome my unbelief.” Whew. We have to stop right here. I think one of the worst mistakes we as Christians can make is trying to be somewhere spiritually where we’re not. I know we all want to be that “spiritually mature Christian” that never questions or doubts God, but we are really doing a disservice to our relationship with Christ by not allowing Him to meet us exactly where we are…or in most cases where we’re really not. Yes, this man was weak enough in his faith to ask “if” God was able, but he then became strong enough to admit he struggled with unbelief. We cannot fool God. He looks past our words and does a deep search into our hearts. Therefore, we must always be honest with God about the true conditions of our heart. How can we ever expect God to build up our areas of weakness, unless we admit to Him where we’re not strong?
"Therefore, we must always be honest with God about the true conditions of our heart."
I also want to encourage that person who has been waiting on God to fix that “condition” in their life. You feel that so much time has passed and you’re feeling more discouraged then expectant. You’re starting to feel like the father in this story and you’re prayers are including a number of “if you can’s” and “if you could’s” out of unbelief’s that God might ever come through on His promise. Stay encouraged. There are so many things to learn from this passage, but one very important thing to remember is it doesn’t matter how much time has passed. It doesn't matter how long you've been dealing with this stronghold. God is faithful to do what He said He’d do in your life. However, we must believe that He is able to do it. Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” He is moved by our faith and He moves by our faith. So if you haven’t already, from this point forward….learn how to be completely honest with God. He already knows the area’s where you’re lacking so we can stop pretending to be strong when we’re really weak. God’s power works best in our weakness. For like Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “That is why I take pleasure in my weakness….for when I’m weak, that’s when I’m really strong.”
Monday, November 12, 2012
Time to be a little transparent….yes, I’ve fallen victim to placing myself in the “waiting” column when I was in denial about an answer God had already given me. It’s funny how we think we can change God’s minds on things. I remember praying to God about a particular guy situation a while back and asking Him to make it clear to me what I should do. So I prayed and I waited, prayed and I waited, prayed and I waited. But here’s the thing….the whole time I was “waiting” God was making it beyond clear to me that His answer was no for the relationship. That’s not the answer I wanted to receive so I actually convinced myself that He didn’t say no, He was just using all of the MILLIONS of red flags to say wait, it will get better. No my friend, this in fact is NOT how God operates. When God wants you to move or not move, He will make it plain to you either through His word or through another believer….and we know when God is making something plain to us. Amen somebody.
"God is a very specific God, He's too great to give you a general non-descriptive answer...and when something is for you, it will undoubtedly be for YOU."
Now allow me to interrupt your thoughts if I could, because I feel like someone just read that “through another believer” part and got real excited because your best friend told you that God told them you were going to be famous one day in be in front of millions of people. Now that sounds real good, but the truth of the matter is your friend and any other believer for that matter will always be confirming what God already told you through His word and will be specific to what God has already laid on your heart. Meaning….your friend won’t be telling you something that God didn’t already tell you. So stop allowing people to come up to you after church and whisper vague and generic blessings in your ear. God is a very specific God, He’s too great to give you a general non-descriptive answer…and when something is for you, it will undoubtedly be for YOU. I’ve had to remind myself of this quite a few times after I realized “prophecies” that I was allowing other people to speak over me were NOT being fulfilled.
"Eating fruit out of its season is poisonous"
So now that we’ve finally come out of denial to what God is saying, it still leaves us with the question, “now what?” What do I do after God tells me “no”? Well first before we can really ask that question we have to realize that God never just says, “no.” He never leaves us hanging out in the open without any resources or direction on where to go next. Notice, I didn’t mention that He gives us an explanation to the “no.” God doesn’t always reveal the “why” to us. In fact, out of all of my quiet time dates we’ve had or the long talks I’ve had with Him in my car and even the low points in my life where I’ve cried out to Him has He ever shared the answers to every question on my test of life with me. Why? Because it’s not about “why” He said no…it’s about us trusting that He has our best interest at heart and whatever it is that HE has is better. You’re asking for [this] and He wants to give you [THIS]. Yeah that initial “no” may sting a little (or a lot) but I think we can all agree that we want the better God has for us.
So having said all of that….here’s where it might get a little tricky. This may sound cliché’ but I also don’t think “no” necessarily means never. What you’re praying for may in fact be something that God wants for your life….it’s just not for you at that time. You might ask what’s the difference between “not the right time” and God telling you to “wait?” Well, waiting to me is God saying, “I have what you’ve been praying for but I’m still setting it up, I’m still putting some finishing touches on it.” Meaning it’s within your possession but it’s being delayed until God finishes working everything out. Now, “not for you at that time” means it’s going to be given to you….but it could be in a completely different season in your life in a completely different way then what you prayed for….ultimately resulting in “no” for right now. Either way, if God is giving you the red light whether it be a permanent “no” or a temporary “no” it should no longer be your focus. A good friend once told me, “eating fruit out of its season is poisonous.” When we’re requesting something from God, we always have to have the mindset that He honors our request according to His will. So that means we may not get everything we pray for or when we pray for it….but it does mean God will give us the very best possible thing instead. Now that’s a win-win situation isn’t it?
So to answer the question, “what do I do when God says no?” It’s simple, accept His answer and pray for redirection. The Bible tells us in Psalm 37:4 to “delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When you redirect your focus back on Christ, you’ll find you get more and more of your hearts desires….because it will be HIM putting the right things in your heart to desire. So be thankful for God's "no" it just means, He loves you too much to let you have your own way.
*For more information on this topic, check out the following scriptures:
Saturday, November 3, 2012
“It starts with a thought. A thought is planted in your mind and then once it takes up residence in your mind, it then forms into an emotion. Once it becomes an emotion, it then begins to travel throughout your body and eventually this emotion turns into an action. Once you begin to continually perform this action, it then forms into a habit. Once a habit is formed, it’s ultimately destined to turn into a behavior. The behavior, which formed from the habit, came out of the continual action, and the action which was provoked by the emotion, all originally formed from…..the thought.” –Bishop Keith W. Reed
It’s crazy what can happen just from a single thought. The mind truly is a powerful thing, and if we’re not careful with our thoughts we could end up doing a lot of damage in our lives. A lot of things that weigh heavy on our hearts stem from a single thought. Worry, doubt, fear, anger, confusion, disappointment…..the list goes on and on. Ultimately these things come because there’s some type of disconnect between what WE think to be true and what the Word of God SAYS to be true. Here’s a helpful hint that will probably help in almost every situation we face: EVERYTHING ISN’T ALWAYS WHAT IT APPEARS TO BE. If I could be real, the #1 mistake I make in almost every area of my life is I get a TINY glimpse at what God is doing in my life and then I hit the ground running with it! I’m laughing as I write this because I can be so silly sometimes. When I went through a rough patch with my previous job I prayed for God to open a door faithfully every single day for like 5 months straight. (Now you might be like, “5 months…that’s it!?” but when you’re in a tight spot for even a week it could feel like an eternity). I prayed this for 5 months and it seemed like God went ghost.
“I’ve learned we have to test our thoughts. Question where they came from.”
So one day I received a text from a friend out the clear blue sky who asked me if I would be interested in a communications position at his friend’s company. He knew that was my major in college and decided he’d ask me if I was interested. I thought, “WOW! I didn’t even tell him I was looking! This MUST be God!” Now here is where a lot of us go wrong. In a matter of seconds, the thought of getting this new position began to build up an emotion which then led me to start trying to figure out how I was going to tell my boss I was leaving and to figuring out how I was going to pack up everything off my desk and of course trying to calculate what my new salary would be….ALL BEFORE I EVEN APPLIED FOR THE POSITION! Can we say psy-cho! Lol All of this happened because of something I thought was for me. Which it turned out…..it wasn’t. In fact the same situation occurred several times again before I finally surrendered and said, “Lord, where is it You want me to be?” I’ve learned we have to test our thoughts. Question where they came from. Was it something we desired for us, or was it something God desired for us. We can’t just jump on the first thing we see just because it looks like it fits the description we’ve been praying for. Amen somebody.
“I found that He’s not as concerned with changing our situation as much as He’s concerned with changing us.”
I later learned that after a bunch of failed attempts and dead-ends that God wasn’t even asking me to apply to any of those jobs in the first place. It wasn’t until I prayed that prayer and asked God where did He want me to be that I found out He wanted me to stay exactly where I was. There are some things that God can only teach us in our tight places. I found that He’s not as concerned with changing our situation as much as He’s concerned with changing us. My job was such a greater lesson than getting a new position. During that tough waiting season, I learned to adjust my thinking. Each time doubt, fear, worry and frustration begin to kick in…I began to turn those thoughts over to God. I began to meditate on scripture instead of meditating on my own thoughts. When we get our thoughts in alignment with God’s word we find that there’s less and less room for those type of emotions to dwell in your heart.
All of our thoughts don’t always come from God or even ourselves, some of our thoughts are planted by the enemy. He wants you to feel worry, confusion, disappointment and doubt. That is why it is vital to measure what we’re thinking to what is in the Word. Our thoughts can consume us and give us a false hope of reality but the Word of God makes everything plain. Take a moment to give that “thing” that’s been on your mind the heaviest lately. Ask yourself is what I’m thinking about drawing me closer to God or further from God? Get in the habit of testing your thoughts and whatever is not making sense, wait on God to make it clear to you. It’s not God’s will for you to become dependent on what you think, His ultimate goal is for us to become dependent on Him. Don't allow your thoughts to form the behavior of someone who always worries, doubts, and is fearful. Instead of constantly dwelling on every little thought that hits your mind, attempt to keep your mind stayed on Him and in return He promises to give you perfect peace on each and every situation.
*For more on this subject check out the following scriptures:
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
“And the Lord told Abraham, ‘leave your native country, your relatives and your father’s family and go to the land that I will show you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing to others'” Genesis 12:1-2
I absolutely love Abraham’s story. He is noted as the father of faith and for great reason! I mean come on, when you read the above scripture you would have to have great faith to even comprehend what God was asking of him. When I first read this scripture, I imagined God saying to Abraham, “leave everything behind that you know to be familiar. Everything that feels comfortable. Everything that feels ‘like home'…..and follow me to a new place.” Now come on, let’s be honest….God said a whole lot in that scripture, but left out a whole lot at the same time! lol I look at this scripture and it shows me two things in particular: (1). Abraham was told to leave everything behind and (2). He had no idea where God was asking him to go.
“So Abraham departed and did as the Lord instructed.”-Genesis 12:4
God gave Abraham little to no instructions, yet the Bible says in verse 4: “So Abraham departed and did as the Lord instructed.” That is mind blowing to me. God basically told Abraham, to leave this familiar place and go to a new place that you don’t know…..but I’ll let you know when you get there.” ……and Abraham did it!!! Now I don’t know about y’all, but I can’t say that I wouldn’t at least question God on this. I mean like c’mon you got to give me more instructions then that. lol In fact, I was looking for the verse where Abraham at least asked for further directions, but he didn’t! He just did what God told him to do. Imagine that, right? Not talking back to God, not questioning Him when He tells us to do something, but just being obedient.
Recently, I started in a new position working in the field that I’ve always wanted to be in. Although this has been a long time coming, it’s still unfamiliar territory for me. Going to school for something and actually being put on the job for something are two completely different things. I had to trust God to get the job, but now I’m realizing I have to continue to trust Him to do the job. I also believe that this new job symbolically marks the new season that God is entering me into. The season of the unfamiliar. The season where I will be taken out of my comfort zone in order to further follow God’s will for my life. See Abraham may not have had many details on where God was taking him, but by faith Abraham knew that there were things that God had for him in this new, unknown, uncharted place.
“For some of us, we’ll forfeit the great promises of God because we are too busy being comfortable.”
Imagine what awaits us outside our level of comfort. There are some things that God can only give us by stepping outside of our “familiar” places. For some of us, we’ll forfeit the great promises of God because we are too busy being comfortable. I can imagine that Abraham had some fears about this unknown territory that God was trying to take him in, but his level of trust and reliance on God outweighed his doubt. That is why the Bible tells us to have faith like Abraham, the kind of faith where if God said it, then that’s good enough. I have to admit, I do have some fears and hesitations about entering this new, unknown, unfamiliar season of my life……but I’m determined to have faith like Abraham that follows the word of God. So allow me to personalize verse 4 and say, “So Leah departed and did as the Lord instructed.”
*I encourage you to read the full story of God's call to Abraham starting in Genesis Chapter 12!
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
“Write the vision, and make it plain.....for the vision is yet for an appointed time...”- Habakkuk 2:2-3
When I first graduated from college, I met with one of my mentors who sat down with me as we discussed my future direction/goals both career and personal wise. I told her that I wanted to go into marketing and long-term, I specifically wanted to focus on brand development. She quickly replied, “that’s nice, but where do you really see yourself long-term and think outside of your career.” Although this conversation took place two years ago, I still remember sitting on her couch being asked this question as if it were yesterday. I remember really thinking hard about this question….where did I honestly see myself in the long run? What was most important to me when considering my “goals” and “achievements” of my future? I had never really thought of that question outside of an interview or my career plans. I was completely stuck. Lol. Finally after not saying anything for what seemed like 30 min (in actuality it was probably like 3 but everything is intensified when you’re put on the spot lol) I had finally came up with a reply. I told her, “well long-term, I’d really love to be a wife and mother and have my own family.” I remember her smiling as if I had just said the magic words that were going to unlock the next level in a video game lol. She told me to always have that in the back of mind when making any future plans….in fact, her exact words were, “never lose sight of your main objective.”
This little session I had with my mentor two years ago has stuck with me ever since. Sometimes, we really should sit down with God, the one who created us in the first place about our future plans and objectives. Now….let me be very clear by saying this is by NO means a dialogue. This is not the opportunity for you to go back in forth with God about everything you want to do in life and then pray over it and ask God to “make it happen, cap'n!“ No. Rather, use this time to find out where your heart really lies. What are your hearts desires? What motivates and encourages you and how can you use those passions to promote and elevate the Kingdom of God?
" *Everything pertaining to this person's life is subject to change depending on the move of God."
I feel like now is another point to interject and say once again, this is not your time to shine and tell God exactly where You’d like Him to place you in life, but rather close your mouth and open your heart to hear the plans that HE has for you. The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you…” Not, I know the plans that YOU have for you. Lol. I have to laugh a little when I read this scripture. I’m a planner. I like to have everything figured out before I set out to accomplish something……there’s just one problem with that…..it doesn’t leave a lot of room left for God’s plan. I think we get so caught up in fulfilling our selfish goals and pursuits that we completely disregard the plan and direction that God has on our lives. I like to think that when we accept Christ as Lord over our lives, our name now comes with a big fat asterisk next to it with a little note at the bottom that says: *Everything pertaining to this person’s life is subject to change depending on the move of God.
"Don't be so caught up in your own plans and aspirations that you limit an all powerful God."
Although God does give us a vision and goals to achieve, He still has full control and can switch things up however and whenever He sees fit. I encourage you to get quiet before God and really listen to how He speaks to you on the direction He wants to take you in your future. Let Him produce those long-terms goals in you and never forget your main objective. Don’t be so caught up in your own plans and aspirations that you limit an all powerful God. Here’s the truth….whatever plans you come up with on your own for your life…will NEVER compare to the great and mighty things God already has lined up for you. Remember, He has your absolute best interest at heart….your plans for your life may result in you being happy……but His plans will result in you being satisfied.
*For more on this subject, check out the following scriptures:
Thursday, September 27, 2012
"For I know the plans that I have for you. They are plans for good and not for disaster. Plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11
Have you ever been scared that if you fully submit to God’s will for your life you’ll end up being a hermit and knitting Jesus sweaters in your room? Or maybe that you'll end up marrying someone that's heavily involved in church, but you're not necessarily "in love" with them? Or my favorite, He’ll place you in a foreign land like Zimbabwe to do missionary work? Lol I know these were all thoughts that crossed my mind when I kept feeling a tug to be more committed in my walk with Christ. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love the Lord with all my heart, but the thought of not being truly happy and satisfied in life was a humongous fear of mine. I thought that submitting to God’s will for my life would mean me becoming a loner and walking around quoting Bible scriptures all day and when I wasn’t doing that or eating/sleeping I was supposed to be praying. I had a very misconstrued view on what a "committed" relationship with Christ meant. Although the Christian lifestyle does require much, God already knows our deepest heart's desires. In fact, God knows us better than we know ourselves. When we talk about God’s level of love for us, we have to remember that because He IS love….it’s impossible for Him to withhold the very best possible things for us in our lives.
"We get so caught up in how we always expect things to work out and then God comes in and shakes that whole plan up!!!"
One thing that I struggle with is over analyzing every situation. It’s actually a blessing in a curse. On one end, I always think things ALL the way through which result in me making very well-thought-out decisions. However, I’ve also found this to be a curse when trying to compete with my own logic and God’s infinite power. I try to figure out what God is doing in my life off my own limited perspective. In all honesty, I actually find myself attempting to think like God. I try to figure out what's going to happen next, when it's going to happen, where, etc. Some may say I'm a planner and I just like to think ahead, nothing wrong with that. However, the Bible tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6 that we are to TRUST in the Lord with ALL our heart…..and here’s the hardest part (well for me anyway)…. AND DON'T DEPEND ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING. Whew! This scripture is my life verse, but yet it’s ironically the hardest scripture to put into practice for me. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this lol. It’s so hard to not depend on your own understanding….especially when you think you know what’s best for you! We get so caught up in how we always expect things to work out and then God comes in and shakes that whole plan up!!!! But despite how He shakes things up, we must always trust and obey Him. ESPECIALLY when we don’t understand! That’s the point! Lol. God wants us to get to a point in our faith where even when we can’t make sense of anything, we can still say, “but Lord, I trust You.” Believe me this is wayyyyy easier said than done, but we can’t keep using the excuse, “one day I’ll get to that point.” If we truly desire to trust God, we have to put this in to practice EVERY SINGLE DAY.
"We don't know what our future holds, but we must learn to place our whole heart in the One who does."
God is not the Riddler from Batman. He doesn’t want us to walk around being confused, unhappy, or disappointed….but these things kick in when we try to match our point of view with God’s point of view. We will never be able to think like Him and no matter how well we get to know Him, we’ll never be able to predict His ways! But if we can just get to place where we stop trying to figure Him out and stop trying to push what we want and what we think we need and just trust Him…..He will blow our minds. I say it all the time, God is God for a reason. He’s Sovereign…..He can do what He wants to do, when He wants to do it and how He chooses to do it. All He asks us to do in return is trust Him. Proverbs 3:5-6 is a scripture that I quote to myself literally every day. I have to constantly remind myself to place my full trust in God and not just rely on my own logic about what I think is best for me. Then as we find in verse 6…..it says that God will show us which path to take. That’s why we trust Him. We don’t know what our future holds, but we must learn to place our whole heart in the One who does. He see’s our ending just as clear as He see’s our beginning..…and you’ll find once you start trusting Him, you’ll end up exactly where you were supposed to be all along.
*For more dealing with this topic, check out the following scriptures:
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
".....And God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies." - Philippians 4:8-9 (MSG)
Last week I had a great conversation with one of my closest friends, Tiffany. I have to shout her out because this girl has truly pushed me and encouraged me to be a better Christian and our friendship is the epitome of the scripture, “iron sharpens iron.” We were talking about the things that hold us back from reaching our fullest potential and we both expressed fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure and fear of what it looks like right now. That “fear of what it looks like right now” is the clincher! So often we can’t see past our current situations and current circumstances, therefore we pick up an attitude that it’s impossible to get beyond this point. We allow the enemy to trick us into thinking that “this is as good as it’s going to get” and “you gotta deal with the cards you’re dealt” and this is a big fat LIE! When we accept new life in Christ, we are given a new hand of cards. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” While talking to Tiffany it was like I had an “aha” moment:
So it's like as if God is the painter and we're both standing in front of a blank canvas and God says, "if you trust me I will take this blank canvas of nothingness and make it into a masterpiece, but I need you to have faith and never doubt that despite what it looks like, I'm working it all together to make a beautiful picture." So after we say yes, I trust You, God starts painting. However, a masterpiece takes time...so naturally, we begin to peek over his shoulder and look at the random mixes of colors splattered on the canvas and say, "God what are you doing!? This looks a mess!!" Our prospective of this current picture now gives the devil an opportunity to step in and say, "you're waiting on God to turn this into a beautiful picture but look at what it looks like right now...a hot mess!" Then we turn and look at the picture again and we're like you know what it IS a hot mess! At this point we start trying to take the paintbrush back from God because clearly it doesn't look like He knows what He's doing because "right now" it just looks like a big blob!
"God what are you doing!? This looks a mess!!!"
But…..we forgot the first question God asked us, “Do you trust Me?” See, when we begin to sit back and allow God to work on our blank canvas of nothingness, and allow Him free reign to do whatever He wants to do, we see over a period of time how each little blob, and splatter and mixed color are all really working together to create this big beautiful picture....because He knows exactly where and when each color needs to fall into place. God is the best painter I have ever come to know, I'm so glad He asked little ol' average me if He could work on my blank canvas of nothingness. Whenever I begin to get fearful of “what it looks like right now” I begin to look at my once blank canvas and see that even those dark blobs, and splattered colors of paint are all working together for my good. J
*For more on this topic, check out the following scriptures:
Monday, September 10, 2012
If it’s one thing I’m learning more and more each day, it's that it is imperative to surround yourself with people who are going in the same direction as you. This is something our mothers have told us a thousand times before, but yet somehow we still thought we could move forward in God’s plan for our lives by keeping everyone we started out with in our circle. As much as I wish this could be true, it just doesn’t/can’t happen this way. When God is calling us to a closer relationship with Him, it causes for some things to change….including but not limited to, a shifting of friends.
“Do not team up with unbelievers……for what does light have in common with darkness?” -2 Corinthians 6:14
I’m often asked the question if I lost any of my friends when I made the decision to become more committed in my relationship with Christ and what did I tell them? The answer is yes, I did…..but I didn’t have to tell them anything. See when you begin to move in a certain direction in life…only one of two things will happen: either they jump on board or they jump ship. From my personal experience, I don’t ever remember having to sit down and formally “break up” with a friend. As your interests and desires change as you grow in Christ, it will be inevitable for your friends to take notice. They’ll either accept the change they see in you or they will reject it by distancing themselves from you. I mean let’s be real….if your friend is trying to get it in at a club on a Friday night, the last thing they’re trying to hear is you wanting to go to a Young Adult Bible Study! Lol Eventually enough of these “mishaps” will result in them to stop hitting you up. Honestly, it sucks when it happens that way, but the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 6:14 not to team up with unbelievers, for what does light have in common with darkness? We should be moving to a point in our relationship with God where we won’t even want to associate ourselves with things that are contradicting to His word.
“We should always associate ourselves with people who ADD to our lives and not people who SUBTRACT from it.”
Now right about here I probably lost someone. Lol Let me guess, your next question is, "does this mean I can’t be friends with someone who’s not a Christian?" The answer is: of course you can! However, there is a difference between being friends/acquaintances with someone and being “associated” with someone. When you’re associated with someone, you now risk being labeled under whatever reputation that comes along with that particular person or group. Truthfully, this is where many of us go wrong. We try to hang on to CeCe or Tyrone from around the block because they were our first real friend and every time God makes it beyond obvious that y’all are headed in two different directions, you pretend like you don’t see the clear lifestyle differences! This ultimately results in you continuing to go places and do things that you KNOW God has called you away from. Let’s take a minute to do a self-evaluation. Think about the people you talk to on a consistent basis. Do these people add peace or do they add drama to your life? Are they bearing fresh or rotten fruit on your tree? Simply put, are they making you better or making you worse? We should always associate ourselves with people who ADD to our lives and not people who SUBTRACT from it.
It’s true, people who aren’t on the same page as you as far as the direction you’re headed, can and WILL stunt your spiritual growth. In Proverbs 27:17 it tells us that “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Iron is such a strong element that only something of its kind can make it even stronger. Same thing applies with our friendships. If we truly want to grow in our relationship with God we have to surround ourselves with people who are also trying to do the same thing. It’s time to do a serious friend check. Everyone can’t go where God is taking you…..and that’s okay. You may lose some people along the way, but the blessing is the people who choose to stay with you find that their lives will also begin to change for the better all because YOU made the decision to choose Christ. Don’t worry about who’s not with it….God never takes something away without replacing it with something far better.
"God has great things in store for your life and no
dead-end friendships are worth you missing out on it."
So you do the math in your own life. Identify the people who aren’t adding anything positive to your life and SUBTRACT them from it. Better yet, continue to grow closer to God and watch them subtract themselves. God has great things in store for your life and no dead-end friendships are worth you missing out on it. Allow God to add peace in your life by subtracting people and things that no longer hold your interest and watch how your happiness and joy will multiply….yes, God is the ultimate mathematician lol :)
*For more dealing with this topic, check out the following scriptures:
2 Corinthians 6:14
1 Corinthians 15:33
Thursday, August 23, 2012
It’s funny how when we really begin to grow in our relationship with Christ we sometimes get to a point where we subconsciously think we’ve reached our “spiritual maturity” peak and there’s nowhere else for us to go. Oh okay, so just me? Lol. I have truly been growing and maturing in my walk with Christ and I caught myself thinking that I had worked on every area that I was supposed to work on….and pretty much had everything under control. If you’ve also felt like this at some point let me politely pop your bubble: we will NEVER be complete in Christ until He returns. That’s why the saying says “we STRIVE for perfection.” Meaning we are not perfect. So if we’re not perfect, then we are still subject to sin….yes, even those of us who are "strong" in our faith.
"Part of the growing process is when God guts out all the things that aren't like Him....to make us just like Him."
Recently, I was confronted with a particular situation at work where I could have responded one way….but instead I took the low road and chose to respond out of my flesh…meaning what Leah REALLY wanted to say. I knew the moment I hit send I was wrong for the way I worded what I said….and as a consequence I accidentally sent the email to other people. See, when you are disobedient and don’t do things out of love…God will deal with you. In this particular situation…God dealt with me by exposing me. Here I am in my private life thinking I have everything together….I’m active in church, active in ministry….encouraging people to grow in God…..and all of that is awesome! However, God had to remind me that I am still not all that I should be. When we are growing in our walk with Christ….it is an on-going process….meaning we will always be growing. In this situation, God literally had to show me a side of myself that still wasn’t like Him. Part of the growing process is when God guts out all the things that aren’t like Him….to make us just like Him. It’s uncomfortable, it’s frustrating and in this situation extremely embarrassing but it’s all to make us better Christians.
One of the many things I love about God is that He loves us wayyyyy too much to keep us the same way we are! We may think we have it all together, but God looks at the heart. It’s nice that we take special detail in our outward appearance, but it’s worthless if our life doesn’t match with what we say and how we live. If we truly want to be people after God’s heart, we have to allow Him to operate on us….rebuild us from the inside out. Being exposed by my coworkers was a truly humbling experience. I learned that whether I’m a work or at church I am to deal with everything out of love. We should be representing Christ no matter where we are or what we do….a lesson that should be well ingrained in me by now, but somehow I forgot this important principle.
"Dealing with things through love is not only 'the right thing to do' but at the end of the day, it keeps us credible."
I thank God for grace….the opportunity for me to get it right. As imperfect people we are going to mess up, it’s inevitable. The important thing is getting it right. Although it was not an easy conversation….I did confront my coworker and with all the sincerity in the world, gave her a genuine apology. Now whether she really accepted this or not….and in some cases people may not, I had done my part. I saw how God revealed a side of me that wasn’t displaying me in a good light and I learned a valuable lesson about demonstrating love…in everything. Yes, I know this is not easy…..but it is required if we want to be more like Him. Dealing with things through love is not only “the right thing to do” but at the end of the day, it keeps us credible. I want to make sure that how I present myself at church on Sunday…is the exact same way I present myself at work on Monday, in the supermarket on Tuesday, and so on and so on. God doesn’t expose us to embarrass us, He exposes us to better us. I know I don't always get it right, but I thank God that He loves me enough to help make me look more like Him. (Proverbs 3:12) So when you end up in a similar situation or even worse situation….make the choice to act differently….choose to act out of love.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
"I couldn't offer a sacrifice to God that doesn't cost me anything"
Wow. That one sentence speaks volumes!!! Now of course David already had a grateful spirit at this point since God spared his life...which made him even more more determined to pay God back any way he could. However, this mentality should be used whether we're in good standing with God or not. Our sacrifices for God should always cost something....if not its not really a sacrifice.
This scripture really speaks to me on a personal level because I can't count the times I've placed God around my life as opposed to placing my life around God. Spending time with God and being involved in Church is awesome.....as long as its convenient for you. But what about those times when it's not? What about when your friend got you tickets to go see Beyonce` in concert but you promised to teach Sunday School to the kids the same day? Or for the fellas, someone offered you tickets to see your favorite football team? For most this isn't even a question of what you would do lol. But all jokes aside, is God not worth more than Beyonce` or a football game? We HAVE to get back to the place where our worship is based on sacrifice. Sacrifice means that sometimes we'll have to give up those things that we love the most just to show God that we love Him more. Believe me this is easier said than done, and that Beyonce` situation is a bit extreme, but it does put things in perspective. It's not fair of us to demand so much of God, and in return give Him so little. Especially when the little we do give, still somehow benefits us in the end. Hmm...now how does that happen? lol When we love someone so much, we drop everything for them. Their needs come before ours and we will do anything to show our level of love and commitment for them.....but for some reason....we don't go as hard for Christ. Why is that?
"You prove your highest level of commitment when you choose one thing over something else."
You prove your highest level of commitment when you choose one thing OVER something else. Sorry guys, I'm really preaching to myself right now. I've been finding myself fighting to put my phone down or turn my TV off just so I can spend time with Him and allow Him to feed my soul. I mean I'm worried about missing an episode of Basketball Wives where (none of them are married mind you) just to sit and read my Bible which literally breathes life into me. Sounds kinda dumb when I write it out, I know. lol
You know what else? Sacrifice doesn't just mean time. Sacrifice could also mean choosing to not go to certain places...or even worse---who you've been choosing to go to these places with. Yup, sacrifice is so much more than spending time with God, it's a lifestyle. Just like your faithful husband/wife wouldn't want you hanging out all night at a strip club, God doesn't want you there either. Even when everyone else is doing it--correction, especially when everyone else is doing it. This life of faithfulness to Christ will have to cost you, but it's all so God can give you back more than what you've lost.
Every time I hear the word sacrifice it reminds me of Abraham, and how he was ready to kill his son, the VERY thing he BEGGED God for...just to show God he loved Him more. I can't say I have a heart like Abraham's just yet, but I'm striving for it everyday. Jesus committed the ultimate sacrifice by being tortured and murdered on a cross for us...and guess what? Even if He had to go through all of that just for you, one person......He still would have done it. Talk about sacrifice! Christ died just so that we could have the opportunity to be in direct contact with Himself, the creator of life, the planets and the stars, but yet we still struggle with "finding time" to spend with Him. Now that I've called us (myself included) out on this....let's strive to develop an attitude like King David, where we dear not offer God a sacrifice that doesn't cost us anything. "For His sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, all so I could gain Christ." -Philippians 3:8
*For more on "Sacrifice" check out these scriptures:
2 Samuel 24:21-24
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
"I will keep you in perfect peace, if you keep your mind stayed on Me." -Isaiah 26:3
As I was writing "Walking on Water" the words "keep your eyes stayed on Christ" really stuck with me for some reason. I begin to really break that down as to what that meant for me and where I am right now. I don't know about you, but I can be easily distracted. I honestly think I have some form of attention deficiency lol, but it's often hard for me to keep my focus. Honestly, that's a common problem for many of us....but the real question is, what are we being distracted by?
"Whatever you feed the most, will grow the most."
I know for me social media is one of my biggest distractions. I find myself stuck on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram way longer than I need to be. Now let me be clear in saying social media is not the devil. Lol .....But the negative things that you see and read that are subconsciously seeping into your heart and mind...is. I was once told a long time ago that whatever you feed the most will grow the most. If we're constantly feeding our spirit with Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, then we can be certain that this is what will eventually produce in our hearts. Allowing the influence of social media to take residence in your heart is a very dangerous thing if you are trying to have a heart that's after Christ. It's dangerous because you're opening the door to feed your spirit with more Facebook/Twitter/Instagram than the word of God.
I'll use myself as an example. There was a point in time where I was very content with where I was in life with who was in it and the things that I had. Then I begin to look on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram and saw what other people were doing...and that quickly, my prayer went from "Thank You Lord for blessing me with what I have" to "Lord why don't I have this?" and then frustration and anger begin to set in. What's funny is we fail to realize that people can make their lives look like WHATEVER they want them to look like on social media!!! lol By focusing on what other people were doing I was now falling in the trap of misconception. I all the sudden went from gratefulness to discontentment....all because I was looking at other people. Pretty similar to what happened to Peter when he took his eyes off of Christ on the water and he sank. I found myself sinking in my own sorrows off of what I thought I was "supposed" to have. But that's because I was feeding my spirit with non-spiritual things. I was looking at others instead of concentrating on the many things God was doing in my life.
"If we want more of Christ in our life it starts with our focus."
If we want more of Christ in our life it starts with our focus. Our focus must be Him. Even if that means shutting down a few social accounts to gain that focus back. Christ lost my attention for a little bit, but it's time for me to go back to having tunnel vision where all I'm looking at is Him. The moment we stop wanting other people's lives is the moment God can really bless ours.
For another great read on the subject of social media, check out this awesome blog post by Emily Wilson: complexsimplicite.tumblr.com
*For additional reading on keeping your focus on Christ check out these scriptures: