I’m choosing to stretch. I want God’s very best and that won’t be found in my comfort zone. I’m letting go of my fandom. I don’t want to just hear about Jesus and his great works. I’m Following him so I can experience His great Works. Will you commit to following him no matter the cost??? I’ll warn you, it isn’t safe, but there’s no limit to what God can do in you and through you if you’re willing to let him cal the plays!!
There’s a myth out there that the bible is hard to understand. Our favorite excuses for not consistently reading our bible are so played out. If you’re like me, then I’m sure you have said “ I don’t read my bible because the thees and thous are too much and it makes heads hurt. Or you have told God, I have to do x, y, or z, so I don’t have time to read my bible today.
Let me be blunt, those are weak excuses. How do we dare say God I don’t have time for you or I don’t understand your word. There are so many translations of the bible (like Amplified, NLT, NIV, etc) which are written in common English and make the Word of God plain. If we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t read our bible because we take for granted that God is faithful and He’ll be there when we need him. We continuously choose other things and people over God and then we give him some lame excuse for why we missed quiet time or why skipped out on our bible plan today.
I’m not condemning you because I am guilty of making excuses to God as well. But I am convicted about it and I hope you are too. Christin Caine made it plain when she said “ “Do not forsake quiet time with God. The truth you store up in silence comes back to you in a storm.” (Undaunted) When we spend time with God in the quiet place, he rewards our faithfulness publicly. He adds all things unto us when we seek the Kingdom of God first! (Matthew 6:33)
God said and we believe “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”(Matthew 6:6)
Well HELLO—- I haven’t sat in my writing a space in so long, it feels like unfamiliar territory. It’s 2018, so I’m sure you think I’m riding the new year wave and have decided to blog once more. But truth is, I haven’t thought about blogging and the change of the calendar didn’t alter that.
But I read a blog called Where I have I been by my friend, Amber Underwood that challenged me. You see Amber answered the question on a personal level, but I believe the Holy Spirit asked me that same question. Not just as it pertains to this blog, but truly as it related to my relationship with Christ.
Since I last posted, sooo much has happened!! I completed my penultimate semester of undergrad and it was CRAZY Busy. Here are a few signature moments:I turned 21, joined a new church (Faith Chapel in Birmingham), completed 18.5 hours of coursework, secured a summer internship and pledged the sorority of my dreams!! (DELTA SIGMA THETA)
I’m not bragging but God was moving!!! His favor was shown in so many areas of my life and I’m ashamed to say I don’t really think I’ve held up my end of the bargain. Yes, I consistently went to church and small group. I listened to worship music and sermons in my free time. But somewhere in my grind, I missed God.
I missed the personal touch of Jesus that made my relationship with him mine, unique. I missed the desire to talk to him in my journal every day. I missed the discernment to sense the Holy Spirit speaking continuously. I missed setting aside time to read my Bible alone outside church consistently. I missed the ah-ha moments where I received revelation and needed to share that teaching via this blog using the gift of writing.
All those gifts, talents, and activities I had previously discovered in my relationship with Jesus weren’t utilized consistently by me in this last season of my life. And I for one am determined to be better. Because God has been too good for me not to honor him.
Many of the blessings I spoke of which were manifest in the last season were honestly the result of prayers and sacrifice from earlier seasons. I heard someone say you can’t attain new blessings from old sacrifices. And I believe that to be true. I’m asking God for Elevation in many areas of my life and I believe God is asking for re-dedication from me.
So, I’m choosing to be intentional about my relationship with him. In the words of my sassy friend, people make time for what’s important to them. Therefore, in an open forum, I’m declaring that my God is important to me. I choose to be better not because it’s an obligation, but rather because I want to. I miss the intimacy of my relationship with Jesus. I miss the peace of his presence.
Where are you in your walk with Christ? Are you stagnant or growing? Do you yearn for more? I know Jesus wants more of you and more for you. Will you join me in re-dedication? It’s okay if your method looks different from mine. God has called each of us beautiful ( Song of Solomon 2:10) and He makes our crooked paths straight (Isaiah 45:2)!
Cheers to New seasons and new beginnings. Cheers to grace that has been poured out first in blood and now with Love. Cheers to Jesus, who is ever present even when I don’t give my best. Cheers to The One who is always waiting for me to re-approach his throne boldly (Hebrews 4:16) and whose love endures forever (Psalm 136:26).
We live in a time where it’s all about movement. You’re expected to be on the go. Busyness is celebrated because to the world, busyness looks like you’re doing good. But what if busyness is emptiness. What if we’re filling our time and our calendars with things, but not God? How can we fulfill our purpose if we’re always on the go, but moving without a purposed direction?
In my young life, I have learned that EVERYTHING God is contrary to the world. When I say everything, I mean everything. One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 55:8- 9 which says his ways are not my ways and his thoughts are not my thoughts. We know this is true because it’s in the Word. So, how can we as believers expect to understand God’s way if we’re moving on the world’s schedule?
I don’t speak from a place of judgement, because I’m just as guilty as anyone of setting my clock to the world’s schedule. Many of my days have easily been ruled by school, by work, by meetings, and all these other responsibilities. But I have noticed that when this is my reality, my strength falters quickly. I experience burnout. I come UN-DONE.
Everybody’s UN-DONE is unique, but we all have a common thread. Unbalanced emotions, lack of energy, feeling like everybody is requiring more of us than we can give. Operating in our strength leads us on a path of destruction; we will inevitably crash because our human strength is simply not sustainable.
BUT GOD!!! Well, his strength is made perfect in weakness (2nd Corinthians 12:9). He desires to give us our strength. He wants us to lean on him. The oft- quoted but not always spoken with power and context,I can do all things through Christ who STRENGTHENS me. That is our key; that scripture is the reason we don’t have to be UN-DONE. When we are intentional about giving God the best of ourselves, he carries us through our other duties. When we seek first the kingdom of God, He adds everything else we need to our life (Matthew 6:33)
So in the midst of your busy schedule, I challenge you today. STOP, wait on the Lord and allow him to renew your STRENGTH. (Isaiah 40:29)
I had the great privilege of watching my University honor Autherine Lucy Foster, its first admitted black student, this week. As a student of color and a Civil Rights scholar, I can not adequately explain what the moment meant to me. I watched a courageous woman of God speak about her time pioneering change, so that I can be where I am today. I heard a spirit of gratitude in her voice as she reflected. She never imagined God would use her to initiate a movement of integration. I also heard a strength built from her faith when describing how she withstood the resistance of all those against her.
And I left the ceremony, different than I came. I walked away from the ceremony more in touch with my purpose in this season of life. The spirit of the Lord had asked me a question….
“Who knows if you were made for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14
The same question was posed thousands of years ago in the Word of God to a woman named Esther. Esther was favored by the Lord as a minority (Jew). She had been appointed Queen of a Nation and the King loved her. The challenge came when the King issued a decree declaring all Jews must die. The time had come for Esther to stand for her faith and for her people. She hesitated because questioning the King was risking death. But as with us, God did not give up on Esther after one no. He spoke again and asked her “were you not made for such a time as this”?
I wonder today if God is asking you “ were you not made for such a time as this?” Raise your hand if you feel unqualified to do what He has asked you to do in this season. I want you to know I have both of my hands raised in response and I hope yours are too. Faith is the kryptonite to feeling unqualified. If we were qualified for everything we are called to, then why do we need God. The bible says God will produce in you EVERY gift needed to fulfill his purpose. (Philippians 2:13). Not just that, but God’s strength is made perfect in your weakness (2nd Corinthians 12:9).
As I encourage you, I am speaking to myself as well. I was convicted by a spiritual mentor earlier this week. She said “every time someone acknowledges your accomplishments and how God is working in your life, you bring the bar down and lower the standard. Don’t do that. You can be humble and still be bold in expressing what God is doing through you. “
Wooh!! Needed that check in my spirit. Yes, I do feel unqualified for the places where God has me, but there’s something beautiful about that. Because I trust Him and I know that its only Him that has me there. I also know that He’s right there with me. So cheers to knowing that I am created for such a time as this and I will rise up to the bar so that His name can be exalted through me.
Ever have the feeling you Need to read your bible? You’re not sure why or what, but you know you need a moment with God. That was me earlier this week. I hadn’t been sleeping peacefully all week and I seemed to always wake up more tired than when I went to bed. So, Wednesday morning …before class, before work and before everything that was ahead of me for the day, I had the feeling I needed to read the Bible. God was drawing me and I obviously was missing His message.
So, I opened my bible not sure where to flip. I thumbed through the pages and landed where a prayer booklet was inserted. The scripture was Isaiah 8. Can we just give a handclap of praise that God always knows what we need to hear and when we need to hear it?
At first, I didn’t think the scripture was relevant to me as it was talking about an invasion. (remember this) Then, I got to verse 19 and God asked a question. He said, “should the living seek guidance from the dead?”
And my spirit was convicted. God sent a flood of images and thoughts through my mind about where I have been seeking guidance. I have an amazing family and I want their approval. But I can’t want their approval for my life decisions above God’s instructions. I have awesome friends who keep me accountable and add laughter and joy to my life. But, I can’t run to my friends every time I have a problem and expect their wisdom to be all my answers. I follow gifted pastors who teach the Word of God in an exceptional way. But my pastors aren’t Perfect and they aren’t God.
One thing I know is God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14). And not in a I own you and nobody else can assess you, possessive human sense. He’s a jealous God because He paid a high price for us. He gave His Son’s life for us (John 3:16). He’s a jealous God because He restored our righteousness when we were dead (Ephesians 2:1).
Yet when life happens, we run to everyone but God. The One whose love was expressed by His Blood. If you took a bullet for someone, would you feel some type of way if they sought everyone else’s advice over yours? I’m not saying God doesn’t speak in different forms like pastors, friends or family. Because He most definitely does! But sometimes God whispers where only we can hear. Sometimes, He wants to write a message only you can see.
In my study, I realized that the enemy had sent an invasion ( did you remember? ) my way. The enemy wants our thoughts and our habits, but we must fight him. We must fight to hear the voice of God, to stay in His Word and not this world’s flow. Our lives have been redeemed and they are called with purpose. Don’t be distracted by the world and its voices. Matthew tells us if we seek first the kingdom, everything else will come (6:33). Our family and friends may be great but they are human and flawed just like us. They were once dead just like us and they need Christ just like us.
But our Heavenly Father, well he’s always been alive. He stands the test of time and He is filled with truth and wisdom. He desires to speak to you, to spend 1 on 1 time with you, and He wants to personally communicate with you.
I challenge you to get quiet before the Lord. Seek him without expectation. He smiles when we say, Lord I want to experience you or I just want to be in this moment with you. I don’t need anything except your presence. I’m choosing to seek guidance from the One who is and has always been alive. You are the Lord of Lords, King of Kings, and the Creator of the Universe. I need you and I want you God.
Get ready!! Heaven and earth will move when you call on the character of the Holy God. He responds to the cries of His children. Cheers to a lifetime of moments with the Holy One!
The last weekend in October was suppose to be a glorious one for me. It was fall break, so I didn’t have school on Thursday or Friday. I could relax and work on some of my leisure projects. For the weekend, my family was gathering in Birmingham for the annual Magic City Classic. I was pumped because this would be the first time I saw my parents in 2 months, a long time for our close knit unit.
The weekend unfolded as I’d hope. I hung with one of my close friends, my brother, my parents, my Godparents, and even saw a couple of my cousins during the weekend. We ate great food, shopped at the malls, tailgated the Classic, and attended the game. My brother’s school, the AAMU Bulldogs, pulled out the win in what was a great game!!
Most importantly, I got to fellowship with my family. Quality time is one of my love languages, so I enjoyed every moment of the weekend with my loved ones. The laughter and the memories did not fade from my thoughts quickly.
So, as I said, it was a Great weekend. Which is exactly why I didn’t understand the feeling of emptiness and weariness that overcame me as I returned to school. At first, I thought it was just discontentment and lack of excitement for the school week ahead. But the more I thought, I couldn’t escape feeling disconnected. I felt disconnected from God himself. I felt weary and unheard as I prayed to God about some things on my mind. Lord, how come I don’t sense your presence after this lovely weekend, why do you seem so far away? – These were the questions trickling in my brain…….
Then, I heard a quiet voice whisper, Did you spend any time with me this weekend?
Me: I prayed twice…..
The voice: Yea, but your prayers were a list of complaints, you didn’t thank me for bringing your family together or tell me how your days had gone—instead you complained about what was wrong and didn’t ask my input. Did you spend any time with me, just sitting in my presence or was I not needed because you had your family?
Me: A sense of conviction overwhelmed me… I knew the voice (the Holy Spirit) was right. I had gone the entire weekend without spending intentional time with God. Sure, I prayed a couple times but It was of shallow faith and complaining in nature. I blamed God and others for what was wrong in my life instead of thanking Him for all the good of the weekend. No wonder, I sat Sunday night and into Monday feeling disconnected and unheard. I had missed the presence of the Lord in the middle of a great weekend . Despite the highs, I was still unfulfilled. The Holy Spirit reminded me that he is my strength and my source—without God, I am nothing and doomed to failure. My hope and joy can’t be filled by my family as great as they are. I need the presence of God!!
I wrote this post long ago, but am just publishing. Truthfully, I have had a few days like this experience since October. I want to be one who is satisfied with Jesus and seeing the World from His View. I can’t do that if I don’t spend time in His presence. Let’s reflect, think on the questions below. They challenge me when I feel like God is silent. The truth is that God is always present, but we’re not always searching him out.
- Do you feel disconnected? Why?
- When was the last time you spent uninterrupted time with God?
- Have you ever missed His Presence? How did you handle the situation?
Well HELLO!!! It has been about 2 months since I last blogged. I apologize for my absence; I haven’t forgot about blogging or neglected it intentionally. Quite the opposite happened! God took me on an unplanned sabbatical! Let’s flashback.
The day was Tuesday, November 29th. It was the last meeting of the semester for my small group and I. The whole purpose was to debrief and discuss our goals for the coming season, our Christmas break as we are all college students. And during that time, I uttered words I had no idea where they would lead me. I said “During Christmas break, I want to grower closer to God and allow him to develop me more than ever before”. I know God heard me, because the next eight weeks challenged and pruned me in ways I could not have imagined.
Moving forward, break started on December 12th. I was pumped to relax, catch up with friends, and not worry about school or work for a couple weeks. I set my list of goals for this season and prayed God would meet me in this place. I wanted to read the Word, read five books on faith, and be intentional in my prayer time. Seeing that I had no school, I fully expected to pop out lots of content for this blog. BUT God had different plans and I could not be more grateful that His plan went forth and mine did not.
I can’t give a day by day recap because I’d be writing forever and you wouldn’t finish reading. Cheers to short attention spans 😉 However, as my season transitions again, I thought I’d share 5 lessons I learned in my unplanned sabbatical to encourage you in your faith journey.
- Pursuit is more important than Performance to God!
When I said to my small group, I wanted to grow closer to God and allow him to change me from the inside out, I was saying YES to God. I just finished an amazing book by Lysa Terkeurst called When Women Say Yes to God. In the book, she talks extensively about radical obedience and living life in tune with God’s will. I expected my Christmas break to be an easy, relaxing season.
Truthfully, it was a HARD season. The unexpected happened and then it happened again. I was knocked off my feet by the obstacles of life. My aunt passed away unexpectedly which rocked my family. My car broke down when I was out of town by myself and I was unable to get it fixed for three days. The beautiful thing was that when I was knocked off my feet, I fell to my knees. And God met me in those hard moments. He was my peace, He was my strength, He was my comfort and He was my provision. I had to choose to be vulnerable with God in those times and let him know I wasn’t okay. Even in not being okay, I had to choose to worship and trust God because He was still God in my difficult circumstances. Sadness, tears, and grief didn’t stop me from connecting with God. And my pursuit of God allowed him to sustain me in my weakness.
2. God wants to see progress and he is not expecting perfection.
So, I entered this season with my eyes set on pursuing God. And that is what I did. Can I tell you that when I started pursuing God, the devil started pursuing me. I don’t mean the previously mentioned obstacles; I think those were God’s plan. No, I am talking about the devil came for my whole life. He attacked me in the quiet places, when I was all alone. Thoughts of doubt and fear flooded my mind. My inadequacies were never more on display than these times. The ugly persona of sin reared its head. I fell flat on my face and messed up so many times. I could not understand how I could say YES to God, spend time with Him daily and still be attacked in different areas of my life. I experienced conflict, showed jealousy and battled discontentment. The devil took hold of my mind and it was a fight to win it back. There was one week where I just could not win.
BUT God spoke to my heart in a gentle, loving way. He told me that the only way to fight the lies of the devil was with truth. I needed to spend more time with him in His Word and less time with the world. But God I protested, it’s my break and I want to do this and this. And yet, I found that the more time I spent with him, the better my outlook became and the less control sin had on me. I was not perfect, but as the year changed from 2016 to 2017, I saw a change in me. I saw Progress. God dealt with my heart on conflict and how I needed to handled different situations in my life. He exposed seeds of jealousy and discontentment in my heart and offered to uproot those things if I would allow.
3. Pruning requires patience and sacrifice.
When God said, he wanted to uproot those things in my heart that weren’t like him, I had to say YES again. And this time my YES was an SOS to the devil and his demons to test me in the very areas I was pursuing change. Then God prompted me to do what I knew I could not do on my own. I was sitting on my bed one afternoon when I heard God nudge me and then say I’d like you to fast. At first, I was like Yes God; I was planning to fast for the New Year anyways. But then God said I want you to do my fast, not your own. God’s fast for me was the Daniel Fast, to only eat fruits and vegetables and drink water for 21 days. Additionally, He said to fast from social media. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE meat, so my first reaction was God I can’t. And to be honest, I didn’t want to nor did I plan to do this fast. But I told one of my friends what God had spoken and she encouraged me to carry through. I still wasn’t convinced.
I prayed God would speak another word to my heart. But God is not a man that he should lie and his Word doesn’t change. So, I prayed God would change my heart in order that my desires would align with His. And that is exactly what he did. In the days leading up to my fast, God began preparing me for the 21 days ahead. He allowed me to hit the reset button. I was praying for vision and God answered my prayers of vision with another focus, he spoke to me about sacrifice. My fast was my sacrifice. I remember telling God that this would be hard. To which God responded, “don’t worry about the pain, remember the purpose.” God promised to be by my side the entire time and to NEVER leave or forsake me. I am so grateful for his promise which carried me through those 21 days. He was my strength and my sufficiency. In my weakness, God was strong and he allowed me to complete the work he started in me.
4.God can’t speak if you’re not in position
I didn’t say any of the above for you to be impressed. Truthfully, this is the first time I have truly reflected on this previous season. It was not about what I couldn’t have. Instead, I had to make my fast and my life about what I did have and that was the presence of God. I spent more time in prayer than ever before. There were many hard days when I wanted to give in, but the covenant I made with God was more important than my appetite for food and for worldly pleasures.
The word of God filled me when my stomach was empty. His voice comforted me when my strength was failing. And the intimacy of His Presence truly changed me from the inside-out. I can’t accurately put into words what this season meant to be. It was a season of growth; God planted so much inside of me that I believe will come forth in coming seasons. He instilled knowledge from His word and from books of faith. He also convicted me when I sought knowledge over His presence. God showed me flaws in my thought patterns and He revealed that I’m not immune to sin even when I am seeking His face. He sustained me and carried me in the hard moments, and He picked me up when I messed up. I am so thankful for the intimacy of these past eight weeks. God renewed my faith and reminded me of His promises. He let me know that he withholds no good thing and He is always with me. I needed God so much in this season, but I truly believe I’ll need him more for the next season. Without him, I am nothing and I can do nothing.
5. Your YES Matters
I hope my story encourages you. I pray you say YES to whatever God has asked of you. And when you say YES, know it will change and challenge you like never before. BUT the other side of your YES is where blessing and purpose await. God is for you and He LOVES you!