Friday, October 11, 2013

15 Things I'm Learning at 25


1. Destroy self-doubt at all costs.
You can have all the support in the world, but all of that means nothing if you don't believe in you. It not only causes you to miss out on great opportunities, but it mentally paralyzes you from accomplishing all the things God has called you to do. Not a good look. The gifts God has blessed you with could literally be someone else’s medicine, so stop telling yourself you “can’t” do something.  Someone else’s life could depend on it.

1 1/2. Have encouraging friends.
Speaking of support…..make sure the people you have in your life aren’t staying there rent free. At 25 I've realized the true value of a friendship isn't in who looks the best standing together in pictures
, it's who can add life to my life. Ask yourself this question: am I better because of this friendship? Any answer other than "yes" is a no and well a no means it's time to let them go.

2. Be on time! [or try really hard]
I'm definitely the pot calling the kettle black for this one.  At Hampton University we had a saying, "To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late and to be late is unacceptable." We are now into the “professional” stage and after a certain age it's just not cute to be late. Well, unless it's a social event. Or if it's an awkward gathering and you'll be forced to talk to the other early people there...then it's okay to be late.  Matter of fact just be on time for church, work and interviews. Definitely interviews.

3. Spending daily quiet time with Jesus is vital.
We’ve all been bamboozled into thinking that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I would like to say that’s false.  Your quiet time with Christ is the most important meal of the day.  The Word of God is literally food for our soul. Let me be very blunt: GOING TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY MORNING IS NOT ENOUGH. What would we look like or feel like if we only ate one meal a week? Unfortunately, some of us suffer from spiritual eating disorders because we’re not getting a well balanced diet of the Word. We (me included) have got to stop fitting Jesus into our schedule and start fitting our schedules around Jesus. He doesn’t enhance our life, He is life.  Amen?

4. Take care of your body.
The time for eating whatever you want and then going to bed is over. Take care of your body. Change doesn't come over night but it does come in one decision. Make an effort to workout at least twice a week. Also watch what you eat. Only go to Outback once a week instead of three. :-) Incorporate more vegetables in your diet AND DRINK MORE WATER! (This entire section was really written specifically for me).

5. Singing your heart out relieves stress.

If you tell me you don't put on full concerts in the shower or go completely IN while you’re alone in your car stuck in traffic then we obviously could never be friends. I mean I’m no Beyoncè, but you definitely can't tell me I'm not when it's just me and my iPod. There are no better acoustics than the studio in your shower. You're the one that's crazy if you think otherwise lol


6. Don’t keep making the same mistakes.
A while back I was given some of the most freeing advice that I’ve ever received. “It’s okay to make mistakes.”  This can get tricky but it is also the absolute, honest to goodness truth.  I think as Christians we’ve built this facade that we can’t mess up. While I don’t at ALL take this to mean actively go and look for trouble, there will be times when we don’t get it right.  Learn from them. Mistakes will happen, it’s inevitable, just never make the same mistake twice, because then it becomes a choice.

7. Be serious about your dreams.
Stop asking God to invest in what you’re not willing to invest for yourself.  Yes, we absolutely can do all things through Christ that gives us strength….but the keyword is do.  God is not our personal assistant or even worse, He’s not our slave.  God planted specific desires in each of us that He ultimately wants to use for His glory so He's giving you what you need to accomplish them.  It’s not always that people don’t believe in your dreams, it’s just that at some point you have to actively start pursuing them. Remember, faith without works is dead. So start proving the doubters wrong and start walking out on faith.

8. Build on your strengths.
Which brings me to my next point….know your strengths. We live in a society where we're so focused on what we lack rather than what we actually do bring to the table. For years I tried to develop my weaknesses, but imagine how much more effective we could be if we would build upon our strengths. The truth is we’re not going to be the masters of everything.  There will be some things that we just won’t be able to excel in…..and that’s okay! Surround yourself with people who make up for what you lack and vice versa.  Stop secretly asking God to make you another person and learn how to be the most effective person you already are. 

9. Learn how to encourage yourself.
A few years ago, Sheri Jones-Moffett came out with a song that still plays on gospel radio stations across the country: Encourage Yourself. It’s a great song, but did you know that this is actually scripture?  The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 30:6 (KJV), that after King David was under attack and being threatened, he "encouraged himself in the Lord." We all have our days where the glass is half empty, but we have to learn how to speak life into our own lives.  Your mom might not have the right words one day and your best friend may not pick up the phone. It’s in those moments you’ve got to learn how tell yourself to keep going.  Learn the Word and then apply the Word for YOU!

10. Set your alarm and pray for your family and friends.
I’m strong believer that there’s no better gift to offer someone then the gift of prayer.  If you really love your friends and family and want them to do well….pray for them.  Every prayer shouldn’t be about you and your situation, your friends and family have situations too. Pray for them.  While you’re at it….pray for your enemies too.  You never know what someone else is going through. Ugly attitudes are just a reflection of the internal pain that they’re experiencing.  I’m not saying be their friend….but even the ugliest heart is worth our prayer.

11. Know when to walk away.
We’re all guilty for continuing to water dead plants, but there comes a time where you have to realize when something has stopped growing. It sucks to be hurt in a situation, but sometimes we could have avoided the whole thing by just walking away. The Bible tells us in Matthew 7:20 that just as you identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify a person by their actions.  We know an apple tree because it bears apples.  If someone’s tree is bearing anything other than what they’re claiming it to, take that as your cue to walk…no run away. 

12. Always trust God’s timing.
Staying on the subject of fruit….eating it out of its proper season could be poisonous. We live in a society where everything has to be microwaved and even fast food takes too long. This is dangerous, because we tend to get impatient and make our own things happen.   But, here’s the problem: time means nothing to God, but yet His timing means everything. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, "God has made everything beautiful for its own time." We may not understand God’s methods, but we can be confident that however He works it out….and whenever He works it out, it will be the very best possible thing for us.

13. Stop taking social media so seriously.
Although we may really think it at times, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are not bible. It is not the standard to everyday living and it is certainly not everyone’s reality.  Keep in mind that people only show you what they want you to see. So the next time you land on someone’s profile and think, “Gosh I wish I had his/her life” know that they’re struggling with something just like you.  Oh and never give your phone to a non-Instagram-mer.  They don’t know the rules and they WILL double tap.

14. Always remain thankful.
Life gets rough sometimes and it’s very easy to look at all the things you don’t have rather than what you do have.  I’ve often found myself asking God for more only to realize, I wasn’t being a good steward over what He already gave me.  If we’re faithful over a few He’ll make us ruler over many. Also, a thankful heart extends past all of our material desires; we must learn to be thankful in each in every situation we face.  The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Jesus Christ."  Even in the worst of situations, remember there’s always a reason to be thankful.

15. Tomorrow is not promised.
I hate to bring on the subject of death, but the truth is we all have an expiration date.  So having said that….LIVE LIFE! Not carelessly, but unapologetically. The most common misconception about Christians is they don’t know how to have fun.  I’m not sure what Christians you surround yourself with, but me and my friends have a blast. (Yeah I know I just said blast, but I honestly couldn’t think of any other word.  I know that also didn’t help my case lol.) Your time on earth is temporary, so what are you doing to make an impact?  At 25 I’ve realized that it’s not my life goal to own a certain car, live in a certain size house or make a certain amount of money (okay, still working on the last one hehe) but my biggest heart’s desire is to make a difference. You only get one life on earth, make the absolute most out of it…..and not just for your own pleasure, but to help change the world of someone else. 


“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.' ”- Erma Bombeck


This is my top 15, what’s yours?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Weak-Minded....




“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.– Romans 1:20

I read an interesting status the other day that basically said people who devote their lives to religion are statistically less intellectual than people who choose to follow no religion.  I’ve been hearing this argument for years and it also explains a lot of atheist viewpoints as to why they believe there’s no God.  It took me back to an article I read years ago written by an atheist who thought that Christianity was nothing more than a man-made religion that caused an escape from reality.   Much like antidepressants, religion was created to just make you “feel better.”  In his article he stated that, "Christians are some of the most weak-minded people because of their inability to deal with their struggles or difficult circumstances. So much to the point that they have to create a 'mythical being' who is there to help ease and take their pain away."  Now isn’t that something? We created the Creator.  lol

"....as Christians we're taught to fully trust and depend on Someone we can't even see or touch."

I can’t lie, this did mess with my psyche for a few hours.  I mean think about it, as Christians we’re taught to fully trust and depend on Someone we can’t even see or touch.  I can imagine to an outsider how this seems completely foolish or “weak minded” as the author puts. But think about it….is it really easier to believe that a God who you can’t see, hear (audibly) or touch actually exists? Or is it easier to live life selfishly, on your own terms, without restrictions?  I find it quite ironic that atheists by definition don’t believe in a higher deity, but in actuality they do...it’s just themselves.  In essence they’re their own god.  They set their own boundaries, they do things according to their own moral judgment, and they live to please….self.  Does self-reliance really make someone more intellectual?

"It's not enough to know about Him, we've got know Him..."

Although the author of this article brings up an interesting point, there’s just one minor hole in his accusation. Beyond the institute of religion, we have to remember as Christians our faith is based on relationship, not religious doctrine.  It’s easy to become devoted to something out of habit or repetition, i.e. church, bible study, choir practice, etc.  But it’s our relationship in Christ that holds our true foundation. I often encourage people to read faith-based books and DVD series that educate us on the historical influence of Christ, but at the end of the day there has to be more.  It’s not enough to know about Him, we’ve got to know Him and we do this by experiencing God at work in our lives.  You can read about God all day, but it’s not until you come to know Him personally that you’re able to speak from experience.


"...even without relationship, we have no excuse not to know there is a God because the earth itself declares His glory." 

There will be many strangers, co-workers, friends and even family members that will challenge your beliefs and make you question if God is really even real.  But it’s in those moments where I challenge you to simply look up.  Notice the sun shining brightly during the day and watch it leave its shift and turn it over to the moon at night.  Or try the impossible task of counting the stars and remembering them all by name.  The Bible tells us in Romans 1:20 that even without relationship, we have no excuse not to know there is a God because the earth itself declares His glory.  Wow.  God had everything so perfectly designed that even if we choose not to give Him praise, He’ll just get a rock to cry out in our place.   The existence of God, the true meaning of Christ’s crucifixion and whether religion is just man-made will forever be questioned and challenged….but as Christians, it’s not our job to join in the debate. The truth is, there is no rational explanation for the existence of God. In fact, there are countless examples in The Bible that completely defies every reason of logic.  But I’m okay with that, because the work that He’s done in my life is more than enough evidence for me.  

Bible Study
*For more information on this subject, I encourage you to read the book of Romans.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Are You Committed?



Every girl has that first high school crush experience where we thought we were in the most serious relationship of our lives.  We thought just because he let us share his locker or he had a candy-gram delivered to our homeroom on Valentine’s Day in front of everyone that he was “the one.”  Although those feelings were so exciting to me at the time, it was also my first introduction to this word, commitment…or the lack thereof.  I found out at a young age that one of the worst feelings I would experience was being 100% invested into someone that was only 50% invested in me. It’s those times where you go out of your way to accommodate someone just to find out that the time and dedication you are giving to the relationship isn’t being reciprocated.  If you’ve never been in a situation like this before then be grateful, because it’s an awful feeling. I remember whining to one of my friend’s one night about how I felt like I was being used by this guy and I remember using these exact words, “I feel like I’m always wanting him more than he’s wanting me.”  There are very few feelings worst than being in a relationship all by yourself.  Fortunately, I healed from this situation, as most of us do, and vowed that I would never commit myself to someone who wasn’t willing to commit to me.  I didn’t want to feel the heartbreak of making someone my priority who was only making me an option.  I didn’t want to devote all my time and energy in someone who only wanted me when their plan A or B fell through. I didn’t want someone to just call me when they needed something.  But how dare I make such strong demands in my relationships and turn and do those exact same things in my relationship with Christ?

"Christianity isn't a title, it's a lifestyle."

Everyone’s quick to put God in their twitter bio and in their Facebook “about me” section, but how many of us are truly committed to Him?  I was always taught growing up that you go by a person’s actions and not just their words.  It’s easy to give God credit with our lips, but what about our life? What’s the real relationship like behind closed doors?  When it’s just you and Him?  How invested are you really? Do you hit him up only when you need something? Or as a last resort when you’ve decided all your “other options” fell through?  Or are we putting Him first and seeking Him for every single thing that takes place in our lives?  We often say what we would never do in our relationship or marriage yet we show no remorse when we cheat on God every day.   Christianity isn’t a title, it’s a lifestyle.  No one wants to be in a relationship where your significant other treats you no differently than he/she treats anyone else.  In the same breath, we can’t say we love God, but place Him on the same level as every other thing in our lives.  There has to be a difference.  There has to be a commitment. 

"When you're committed to someone, you're willing to do what it takes to change."

I’m often asked, “what made me decide to all the sudden give up certain things and become more committed in my relationship with Christ?”  Of course this can’t be answered in one sentence, but I basically came to a place in my life where I realized how unfaithful I had been to such a faithful God. But one thing I can say for sure, and make no doubt about it, I didn’t “all the sudden” decide anything.  It was NOT an overnight process and I am STILL working towards being a better Christian every day, but the change started when my commitment started. When I started thinking about how highly God thought of me and how much of a priority I was to Him, but yet He came second and in some cases last in so many areas of my life. When I made up in my mind that I wanted to honor God more than I wanted to please my flesh it became easier and easier to turn down things that once gave me so much pleasure.  When you’re committed to someone, you’re willing to do what it takes to change. You no longer make decisions based off of how it benefits you, there’s now someone else to consider.

"God doesn't want you to be perfect in order to make a commitment, He just wants......you."

Three years ago I made the decision to become committed to my relationship with Christ. I now realize the things that were so hard for me to give up were absolutely nothing compared to the things I’ve gained.  It hasn’t been easy and there have been times where I’ve stepped out on the relationship, but I can honestly say it has been the most rewarding and satisfying decision that I ever chose to make.  God doesn’t want you to be perfect in order to make a commitment…..He just wants…..you.  So let me ask you, are you willing to commit?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Stay Encouraged

My first video blog! Ignore the cover shot, I promise this isn't a sermon lol.  So weird to see and hear yourself talk! Hope you enjoy and more importantly I hope you are encouraged to continue this Christian walk.  It's not easy, but it's so worth it.

Also, MAJOR shout out to Brandon "B2" Howze for putting this video together for me! Hit him up for any video production needs.... he's AMAZING and I just wanted to let the world know :-)


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

No Parking...


"...Right behind you a voice will say, 'this is the way you should go, whether to the right or to the left.'" - Isaiah 30:21 

I remember a few years ago, me and a few of my girlfriends decided to take a trip to Myrtle Beach for a little summer get-a-way. I remember we loaded the car up, put our sunglasses on and set Molly (that’s what I called my old GPS) on the dashboard.  We pumped the music and started cruising down the highway.  You honestly couldn’t tell us anything, we just knew we were doing it big going to Myrtle Beach. lol Well you couldn’t tell us anything until half-way there, Molly became possessed! We hit a patch on the highway with nothing but woods where there were no satellite signals, and poor Molly had no clue what to do.  First she went blank, then kept saying, “recalculating!”  We were completely terrified because we had absolutely NO clue where we were or how to get to Myrtle Beach.  
"We just have to keep driving until we get a signal."
We were completely and totally dependent on this GPS.  Out of complete fear we pulled over and just parked on the side of the road because we had no idea what we were going to do.  We were too far ahead to turn back, and too far behind to “feel” our way to Myrtle Beach.  We were completely stuck. As we were sitting on the side of the highway, I begin to get scared that we may have to forfeit the trip and just turn around, but then all the sudden my friend had a great idea.  She said, “wait, if we’re just in an area without a signal, then eventually we’ll move back into an area with a signal and Molly will just recalculate.  We just have to keep driving until we get a signal.”  Turns out, my friend was totally right.  Eventually we realized the wooded area didn't last the entire highway and we eventually came back in an area where there was a strong satellite signal and Molly was able to recalculate us.  Funny thing is, we never even had to make a turn to get back on track, we just had to keep moving on the original highway.  It’s crazy how up until recently, what use to be just a funny story to tell has become so relevant in my life today.  

"God does what we can't do, not what we won't do." - Tye Tribbett

After hearing a sermon by TD Jakes about being redirected by God, I was immediately reminded of this story. I realized that I’ve been parked on the side of the highway for a long time.  Fearful of making a mistake, apprehensive of making a wrong turn, I’ve allowed my decisions to be dictated by “playing it safe” rather than putting my whole life in God’s hands.  When we make decisions based on our fear of an uncertain outcome, we’re not operating in faith.  Faith says that even though I have no idea how this is going to work out; I know that it’s going to work out.  I think that’s what messes us up.  We like to have a detailed agenda of God’s plans for our life.  We want to know the who, what, when, where and the why….and THEN make the decision on whether or not we choose to accept the offer. But God doesn’t operate like that.  The Bible says in Proverbs 16:9, "We can make plans, but the Lord determines our steps."  But the funny thing about Him directing our steps is we have to be walking in order for Him to do so.  Just like the GPS couldn’t recalculate us while we were parked on the side of the road, we can’t be instructed by God if we’re not already in motion. For some, God is already beginning to place specific desires in your hearts that you’ve been waiting to come to pass. But because of fear and uncertainty you haven’t fully moved out on faith to go after it.  You’ve been hoping that at some point it would just fall into your lap, but it won’t. God wants to bless us with our hearts desires, but there’s also action required on our part. How will we ever know if we’re headed in the right direction if we’re not moving!?  It’s like I heard Tye Tribbett say at one concert, “God does what we can’t do, not what we won’t do.”

"There are so many promises that God wants to fulfill in our lives, but we have to move to where God has them."

When God promised Abraham that He would bless him, His first instructions were to “Get up and leave.”  Abraham had NO idea where he was going, but the promise was that when he got where he was supposed to be, God would tell him.  But Abraham had to first move into the promise. There are so many promises that God wants to fulfill in our lives, but we have to move to where God has them. It would be nice if we never had to step outside of ourselves to receive all of the things God has in store for us, but that’s not the way He works.  He has our lives already planned out. Each day already numbered before we were even born, but He just needs us to start moving in His direction. He knows we won’t always know the way, and He knows we might get scared that we’re making a wrong turn, but the promise is even in those mistakes, He’ll still direct our path.  It’s all a part of the beautiful journey in our relationship with Christ.  Lastly, I want to encourage those who feel like they’ve been moving, but aren’t hearing from God.  TD Jakes said it best, “a GPS really only speaks when we need to make a turn.”  If you’re in motion and you’re not getting any signals, it could be that you’re already in the right direction, exactly where God wants you to be and when it’s time to move, He’ll give you the signal. 


If you’ve been, sitting on the side of the road, watching life pass you by….I encourage you to let today be your last day in park. Put your GPS (God) on the dashboard of your heart, throw your shades on and put your life in drive. He knows your destination, He just needs you to move in His direction.

-Leah

If you haven't already, check out my post, Unfamiliar Territory dealing with moving out of your comfort zone. :)

Bible Study

*For more encouragement on this topic, check out the following scriptures:
Psalm 32:8
Proverbs 3:5-12 (MSG)
Psalm 37:23
Isaiah 30:20-21
Isaiah 48:17



Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why?

"Who am I to have your ear whenever I call Your name?"

I've made a personal commitment to make sure I post a blog at least once a month and it being the last day of April I can't break that commitment. lol  My cousin sent this song to me a few months ago and it truly blessed me.  I'd give a little inspirational message with this, but the lyrics really speak for itself.  I hope this song blesses you as much as it blessed me....and if anything, I hope it makes you think....enjoy.


"Why" by Jonathan McReynolds 




Who am I to have your ear 
when-ever I call your name 
And who I to be forgiven 
when certain things just don't change. 
And I haven't done a thing to 
deserve your favor and your grace. 
After all the hurt I've cause you 
Lord I must say you got me wondering 


Why oh why x4 



Said you would save me than I looked at you 
and laughed in your face 
Said you would heal me and than I turned away 
and treated you like you were fake 
In spite of me not being worthy 
you still giving new mercy's 
Day after day 
and chance after chance 
you never throw me away 
So you got me wondering 



Why oh why x4 



I know the word 
and the word is love 
and it's sent from up above 
something I'm not worthy of 


I know the who and the is you 
your alpha and omega 
your daddy and your savior 



I now the when and it's over and over again 
you prove to be my friend 
from the morning to PM 



And I don't have a spectacular bone in my body 
but you love anyway 
so father I just want to say 



Thank You (continuous) 




Who am I to have your ear 
when-ever I call...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Powerless



"....we too are weak , just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with Him, and have God's power." -2 Corinthians 13:4

There are so many scriptures that talk about having power over the enemy and that the devil is already defeated, yet why is it that we've become so powerless when it comes to life's challenges? If the word is God's truth and He can't lie on what He said....then why do we always admit defeat before the battle begins? I say "we" because I'm certainly included in this thought provoking discussion.  I think for some of us, we have a misconstrued idea of what life as a Christian should be like.  The world seems to be moving into this "prosperity" message and we only like to quote things like, “Name it Claim it,” or the scripture, “Christ came that we might have life, and life more abundantly,” but we skip over the scriptures that deal with the challenges that come along with this Christian title.  

"He adds by subtracting, He multiplies by dividing, and He makes us strongest when we're the weakest."

Now let me be clear in saying that whether you’re saved or unsaved….we WILL GO THROUGH CHALLENGES! But the beauty is, as Christians, we have a great life insurance (assurance) plan, with Christ no matter what arises in our lives we’re fully covered! I know trials and tribulations is not the favorite topic of discussion and it certainly shouldn't be the focus of our lives as Christians, because after all…Christ did come to give us a better way.  But the truth is we need to be reminded that it’s actually good to be tested by God.  Paul said it best in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “I take pleasure in my weakness, for in my weakness that is when I’m really the strongest.  This just reminds me of the awesomeness of God. He adds by subtracting, He multiplies by dividing, and He makes us the strongest when we’re the weakest.  That is the kind of God we serve.

"The best way to experience God is to witness Him at work in our lives."
One of my favorite scriptures to quote is, “God can do exceedingly abundantly above all we could ever ask or think,” and for so long I always stopped there.  But if we continue to read the rest of that scripture, it says, “according to the power that is at work within us.”  A brand new car, a big house, and a great job are all wonderful blessings…but NOTHING can compare to the great work that God does within us.  What good are all of those blessings if we don’t have the spiritual stamina to maintain them?  The best way to experience God is to witness Him at work in our lives.  So knowing all of this, knowing that we experience the full power of God as He transforms us, we now should realize why it is better to endure testing and trials.  These trials allow us to experience the fullness and the abundant life that Christ came to give.  It’s like in our relationships, whether with a boyfriend/girlfriend, friend or family member, you grow closer after having gone through something together.  The same way goes for our relationship with Christ.  We grow in our relationship through testing and trials…..but more importantly we really get a better understanding of who God really is.  As we get to know Him better, we realize the power and the authority He really has and then in return we have over our situations through Him. 

"If He allowed it, that means He already worked it out."

God was, He is, and He will be in control of everything that tries to come up against us.  I once heard a preacher say, “In order for God to allow a situation to occur in our lives, He had to have already worked it out.  Which means He walked all the way to the end of our problem to make sure it was resolved and then walked back to the beginning to now bring us through.” Now who wouldn't want to serve a God like that?  There is absolutely nothing too hard for God.  If He allowed it, that means He already worked it out.  We are no longer powerless when it comes to our sins, tests and trials.  The Bible is a spoiler in the sense that when we peek to the end, we realize after this long spiritual warfare………WE WIN!

-Leah


Bible Study
*For more scriptures on this topic, check out the following scriptures:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Wait, what???





A few months back I wrote a post titled, "Yes.[No].Wait." which primarily focused on how to respond when God tells us "no" when answering a prayer. A few days, ago I received a few questions on this post and I thought they were really good so I decided to make another post, in case anyone else also struggled with the same questions.


***I have abbreviated the comment/question for spacing, but please feel free to read the entire question here :

Hi Leah, I've asked these questions a few times in the past but never really found an answers I can live with. So I'd love to hear your ideas. Here's the questions:

Assuming you have prayed within God's will - yes, no or wait.
In reference to the no & wait, how can we tell the difference when God goes silent?
I assume most people like myself would continue praying & keeping the faith as we believe this silence is God thinking things over in his good time. Hence perhaps giving us a 'wait' answer. 

You wrote, " “No” meaning, you’ve pretended like God hasn’t already made it clear to you that His answer is NO and you’ve told yourself you’re in the “waiting stage.”"

What if God hasn't made a 'no' answer clear? Does that mean we should naturally accept His silence as a 'wait'?

And what exactly are we waiting for? Are we waiting for our prayer request to faithfully manifest in our lives. Or, are we being asked to merely 'wait' for God's answer to be a clear 'yes' or 'no'?

How do you know the difference between a 'no' or a 'wait' when there's no guidance from God either way?

First, thank you for taking the time to read my post. These are really good questions, but let me just repeat it back to you just so I'm clear my response is addressing exactly what you’re asking. When praying to God and waiting for His response, you're asking how can we determine what is a wait and what is a no, because unlike "yes" which gives a self explanatory answer, "no" and "wait" can sometimes seem interchangeable and can be considered gray areas when getting an answer from God? And if we feel that we're being led to "wait" what exactly are we waiting on God for? (Hope I got that right lol).
 So let’s go back to your example of the dispute with a friend. I think the most important thing we have to realize is it is not God's intention for us to be confused or turn into a skeleton from “waiting" to hear a response from God. One thing that I’m learning, even after this blog post is to evaluate exactly what you are asking in prayer. It's very easy for us to get caught up in the, "Lord should I do this?" and "Lord, do you want me to be his/her friend?" prayers and it kind of turns God into a magic 8 ball and we shake him to get a yes, no or maybe answer. Now don't get me wrong, can we ask Him direct questions like that and expect a direct response? Absolutely. But I would encourage you to take your prayer life a step further and along with asking God for a direct answer, also pray for wisdom and insight on the situation that you are placing before Him.
 In the example of the dispute with a friend, you mentioned several characteristics of the friend that are contradicting to your walk with Christ.  Much like in relationships we notice red flags, it's the same thing in the case of friendships and I'm sure you've noticed red flags, (still assuming this is an example lol) as you were able to name the issues your friend was dealing with right off the bat.  You also mentioned that you had a feeling that the friend would choose to forfeit the friendship just so they didn't have to own up to any responsibility with the disagreement. Here's where the wisdom comes into play, knowing all that you know about your friend...I would ask, what am I gaining from this friendship? Is this person even really a friend? Breaking down the situation further (no matter the case) and asking these questions help give us a better evaluation of why and what we're exactly asking of God.
 I think you raise an excellent question about what do you do when you're just flat out not hearing from God for an answer? I would like to challenge this, because for me personally I use to say this ALLLLL the time! But the truth is God does speak, but what are we doing to hear Him? First things first, whatever it is that we are putting before The Lord, we must get rid of that vision we have already set in our minds of how we want the situation to work out. This could be very distracting when "waiting" to hear from God because whatever response you're getting isn't matching to what you expected or hoped for.
 But for those times where we feel like we don't hear anything at all from God I would ask, what are you doing to make sure your frequency is tuned into His station? For example it's so easy to pray, Lord are we going to remain friends? And then wait by the phone to get a call from the friend. So after two weeks go by and no call you're confused on whether it’s a no or wait, but God doesn't give confirmation through air lol. He confirms and reveals things to us in His word and through other believers. So my challenge to you is, after you've prayed about it, are you then asking God to direct you through His word?
 So say you prayed on this and in your quiet time with God you came across the scripture, "therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 6:17) and this automatically tugs at your heart as your mind automatically goes back to the situation with your friendship.  Or you attend church the next Sunday and the sermon is on, "God taking people put of your life" please don’t count these as coincidences. This in fact is God speaking to you on your situation. ALONG with your friend not being receptive to repairing the situation. God's word reveals. I would be bold and count this as a "no." But here's where our trust in God is key: no doesn't necessarily mean never. But this is also where we tend to get confused so let me quickly say.....a "no" for right now is still a no.  Does that mean you'll end up being friends later? Maybe. But our job isn't to focus on the future, it's to be obedient in what God is saying now. Our relationship with God is a faith and trust walk.
So to go back to your original question,  If we're waiting "by faith" for what we've been praying to manifest in our lives, that to me is assuming that God wants this for you and not truly accepting what God's will may really be.  We have to want God's will more than our own. I believe all “wait’s” eventually turn into a yes or no, but the bottom line is whatever God decides at that time is what was the very best possible thing for you. The "wait" is just honestly designed to keep you seeking Him until He reveals the "yes" or "no" (Proverbs 3:5-6). And I would even take it a step further to say that God is not just about changing our situation, He's really about changing us, so that waiting period could really be for your benefit because when you "think" you're not hearing from God, it's really exactly where He wants us. It's causing us to seek Him more and become desperate for His presence, which He loves!  But after that yes or no is revealed that's where trust kicks back in and says, “Lord I see this is where you're leading me for this situation. I may not agree with it but BY FAITH I believe that it's all working together for my good.”  (Romans 8:28).  God knows what outcome we really need and when we need it. The Bible says in Psalms 84:11, "no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly." So He has our best interest at heart no matter what answer He gives us.
Whew! I know that was a lot, but I truly hoped this helped! Please feel free to write back, this is a tough subject but soooo glad you brought it up! :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

How's that working for you?


I recently had the opportunity to attend a Christian Leadership Conference a couple of weeks ago, and the instructor raised an interesting question, "What are some things that cause us to lose our intimacy with God?" One of the attendees gave a very blunt and honest answer and said, “fear that He’ll change me and mess up my regularly-scheduled-programming.”  A few people laughed, some even slapped hands in agreement….but the instructor just smiled and asked, "but how's that working for you?"

"In some weird, twisted kind of way, we like living in our junky, smelly, mess."

This convo might have made you chuckle, but the dialogue was beyond true. It's so crazy how one of our greatest hesitations as it pertains to our relationship with Christ is the fear that He'll change us. I mean, but that's the point isn't it? To transform and renew our minds? To become more like Christ?  I mean that is why we gather at church on Sunday, or if we're really fancy come out to Bible Study to get a mid-week fix?  It's all worship and praise when we meet "collectively" but the fun suddenly stops when God wants to get personal.  Why is that? Why is it so hard for us to open the door and invite God to come and clean all the junk and clutter building up in our hearts? You know what I think? .....I think it's so hard because.....we like it.  In some weird, twisted kind of way, we like living in our junky, smelly, mess.

Sooooo #honestyhour, I'm not exactly the neatest person.  I tend to store things instead of throwing them away and as a result my room tends to get a little (a lotta) cluttered. But here's the funny thing....I know exactly where everything is. It may not look right, but despite all that mess, I'm still able to function in it.  I tend to get comfortable in the clutter. Was it my ideal way of having my room look? Of course not, but it worked for me....that is....until it became unbearable. 

"We've become so accustom to living in junk that we've somehow convinced ourselves that that's actually how we want to live."

Don’t frown up your nose at my junky room lol.  Especially when some of us right now should be signing waiver forms for TLC's show "Hoarders" for all of the crap that we have stored up around our hearts! We're so used to living in clutter that we don't even recognize how disconnected we are in our relationship with Christ. Our mess brings a sense of comfort. A sense of familiarity. It may not be our ideal way of life, but at least we know how everything plays out.  No, I'm not growing at my job, but it pays the bills. No, I'm not gaining anything from this relationship, but I’m tired of being lonely.  No, I'm not satisfied with where I am with life, but it’s easier to live this way. We've become so accustom to living in junk that we've somehow convinced ourselves that that's actually how we "want" to live.  But here's the truth....after awhile you can't function in all that clutter. There is no such thing as organized chaos when it comes to our relationships with Christ.  He’s not the God of confusion, but He’s the God of peace.
"We say we want God, but we don't want the change that inevitably comes with Him."

We want to be able to "hear from God" or "know God’s will” for our lives, but God can't even make it through the front door because our lives are just too piled up with junk.  At some point we have to make a decision. Either continue to live in the clutter, or allow God to come in and clean house. God will never be able to be Lord over our lives if we have a million-and-one other things that are already taking up residence in our hearts.  Yeah the cleaning process is going to cause you to throw away things you've been holding on to for years or to break old habits. And yeah it may even cause you to cut ties with someone you've been clinging to for what seems like forever, but we have to learn to stop giving out “ALL ACCESS” passes to the matters pertaining to our hearts. We say we want God, but we don't want the change that inevitably comes with Him. You can't have Christ and not change. Point blank.  So instead we just continue to do things our way and only enjoy the bare minimum of this "abundant" life that Christ came to offer. I mean that's cool I guess....but just curious...how's that working for you?


-Leah


Bible Study
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Break Me...

Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice
...Create in me a clean heart, O God.-
Psalms 51:8,10


Have you ever heard the phrase, “be careful what you pray for?”  Well after a few weeks ago, I can honestly contest to this truth. It all started one Sunday morning when I was getting ready for church (completely late and wrong lol) and the song, “Seattle” by Mary-Mary came on the television.   One line in particular really grabbed my attention:

“Open up my heart, fill me with Your love
Every single part, make me what You’re made of……I just want a heart like Yours.”

I really loved that, and those words stayed in my mind for the next few weeks and it really started changing from a song into a personal prayer.  After practically wearing the song out lol, I started praying that God would start to pull out the things in me that weren’t like Him, and to literally “break my heart of the things that break His heart.”  Now if you’re like me, I already had a preconceived notion what those “things” were….like being softhearted when I saw people that were homeless, or fighting for justice when I saw something I know to be wrong…..you know all the practical stuff. However, the things that break the heart of such an all powerful God go a little bit deeper than the surface.  Although, the Bible clearly speaks about taking care of the less fortunate and standing for what is right…..God is also totally and utterly concerned about the specific things pertaining to you.  How silly of me to think I could pray this prayer and God not actually begin to do it!  I can honestly say that since I prayed this, it’s as if an extremely large magnifying glass has appeared over my heart, only magnifying the spots and the blotches that I didn’t even know existed….or forgot existed. So take it from me, if you’re not serious about God performing open heart surgery on your life….DON’T ask Him to do it.
"How many times have we abused God's grace and mercy on the things that are ultimately destroying our spirit?"

I absolutely love in Psalm 51 where David asks God to create in Him a clean heart.  That word “create” is so vital, because David wasn’t just asking for forgiveness…..he was literally asking God to break or destroy his old heart and rebuild a new heart within in Him.  How many times have we asked God to forgive us of something, yet turn right back to it once we felt the coast was clear?  How many times have we abused God’s grace and mercy on the things that are ultimately destroying our spirit? God is not our personal genie.  We don’t pull Him out and rub Him when we want our wishes granted, nor is He our one phone call when we need someone to bail us out of jail.  We have to get God back to His rightful place on the throne of our lives.  He’s the absolute supreme being, and don’t you know, He has the courtesy to want to use all of that power in working to make us become just like Him?  Crazy, huh? 


I’ve said this many times before in my blog, but I stand by it: God isn’t as concerned with changing our situation as much as He’s concerned with changing us.  Whew.  If I really had enough time to tell you all the things I’ve experienced in just a few weeks, it would be an entirely new post.  But even through all of the challenges, I can honestly say….it’s making me better.  These recent situations have truly revealed the most deeply hidden traits about myself that I never fully brought to light.  In case you’re wondering…It does NOT feel good to learn these things, but man oh man is it necessary.  I asked God to give me a heart like His, and to break my heart of the things that breaks His heart….and He’s definitely doing it.  Piece by piece.  Layer by layer.  His ultimate goal is to get all the impurities out so that when He puts His face over my heart, He will only see His reflection.   Man, I love Him.  I guess I’m maturing, because it takes a mature Christian to say that despite all this discomfort, I’m so grateful for this process.  My life is far from perfect, I’m experiencing a lot of road blocks and things definitely don't always go my way, but I keep pressing, because at the end of the day, all I really want is "a heart like Yours." 
-Leah
Bible Study
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Monday, January 7, 2013

The Dark Valleys


 
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me....." -Psalm 23:4



Psalm 23 is a very familiar passage in the Bible to most, with "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want," being the most common scripture out of the entire chapter.  Yet out of all the times I've read this passage and have come to learn it by heart, I went back and read it again and it gave me a completely new understanding.  I also want to make note that I went back and read this in 4 different translations: New King James, New Living, Amplified and The Message.  I didn't do this to be deep lol, but rather each version words the same scripture in a different way.  If you have a Bible that offers multiple translations, or if you have a Bible app on your phone I strongly encourage you to look up scriptures in different translations to help give you a better understanding of the Word.  In this particular scripture, "The Message" translation pulled at my heart in a different way than any of the others.


"Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when You walk at my side." -Psalm 23:4 (MSG)


 These subtle, yet confirming words completely changed my perspective on this scripture. Recently, I had been going back and forth in my mind on a number of different things that have been occurring in my life.  I was beating myself up on certain decisions I made and opportunities I chose not to take because after praying on it, I felt that wasn't the direction God was taking me in. However, after making these decisions, it seemed like things were getting worse.  Which led me into a terrible state of confusion and frustration.  I kept thinking, "but God, if this is what you wanted me to do...why do I feel like I'm being punished?  Why do I feel like I made a mistake....or I made the wrong turn?" I just couldn't understand why I would be experiencing so much turbulence even after seeking Him and making these decisions after prayer.  But then I read this scripture, in that particular translation, "even when the way."  Those four words tell me that just because I'm experiencing some challenges and some set backs, it doesn't mean that it's not still God. 


"We must learn to become completely reliant on God and His word."


When I see those words it tells me that sometimes "the way" is going to take me into some dark valleys.  Sometimes "the way" is going to take me on what seems more like dirt roads than defined pavements, but just because I'm in those dark places doesn't mean I'm still not on the right path and in the will of God.  Sometimes those "dark valleys" are exactly where God wants us to be....why? Because if we go on to read further in verse 4 David says, "I'm not afraid when you walk by my side."  To me everything circles back to dependence on God.  We must learn to become completely reliant on God and His word.  The Bible can't just be a fuzzy bedtime story, but it has to be the reference point of every single move that we make. 


"It's not by coincidence, it's not by happenstance, but it's by design that you are where you are."


As Christians, we focus so much on triumph and victory (which is definitely the outcome) but we sometimes fail to mention there's a middle step required in between to get there.  We can't be overcomers without anything to overcome.  I truly thank God for His word and how it confirms so many things in my life.  I haven't made a wrong turn, I haven't strayed off the path.  I'm just walking in an area that requires me to hold His hand a little tighter and to draw in a little closer because He can see things in darkness I could never see in broad daylight.  It's not by coincidence, it's not by happenstance, but it's by design that you are where you are.  I was recently reminded by a friend that Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," which simply means that we don't know!!! God is the one in control and He's the one ordering our steps and He knows the way. Even if that way happens to go through the darkest, lowest, loneliest times of our life, it's worth being there because it's nothing like walking with Jesus. It may not look good, and Lord knows it doesn't feel good, but be confident in knowing that it's all for your good.  Take assurance in knowing that He purposely brought you to this "valley" so He could purposefully bring you out.  This dark place is just another opportunity to experience Christ in a closer way.


-Leah


Bible Study
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