Archives for category: Self-Help

For the past few weeks, I have been itching to write a series. In the past, I have written several, but recently I have not been able to find the time to commit to writing one.  However, the topic, “I am not a Slave,” has been resting on my heart for some time.  So, tonight, I figured I would give it a go.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery,” (Galatians 5:1, NIV).  In our fallen world, there are so many things in our lives that have come to take us captive.  War is constantly being waged against our freedom.  Fear, regret, pain, poverty, past failures or world systems are just a few of the strategies that the enemy employs to attempt to reel us into slavery.  Today, we will highlight one of the greatest enemies of freedom: The tongue.

“The tongue can bring death or life” (Proverbs 18:21, NLT).  In the beginning of time, God said, “Let there be light,” and so it was.  In just a few words, God spoke life into existence.  I believe that much our lives’ path is determined by the words we speak over ourselves.  Unfortunately, the perils of life have caused many of us to have suffered temporary, spiritually blindness and spiritual amnesia, which have manifested in our speech.  Our declarations have become influenced by our past and current circumstances.  We forget that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  We forget that the same God who delivered us from the valley of the shadow of death yesterday is the same God who, today, declares Jeremiah 29:11 over our lives: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” (NIV).  In our amnesia and blindness, we have a tendency to decree failure over ourselves.  This altered state also allows us to tolerate the actions of those who speak words of destruction over our lives.  Unfortunately, we fail to realize that our negative words have the power to prophesy a yoke of bondage and slavery over our lives and our future.

Today, I decree that we are not slaves to our tongues.  We should recognize that our words are powerful.  They can shape how we, and others, respond to the world around us.  Our words can build up or they can tear down.  Today, I ask that we use foundational words that can positively impact our lives and the lives of generations to come.

Sometimes, I wonder whether hard work, drive and ambition are dying virtues—extinguished—buried somewhere along with chivalry, good manners and decorum.  Our social media culture has created the expectation of overnight success and instant stardom.  A few decades ago, people were trying to keep up with the Jones.  Now, it seems as if most people are trying to keep up with the Kardashians.  Once upon a time, resumes were reflective compilations of tenacity, hard work and dedication, a stark contrast to today’s Internet culture where opportunities are heavily reliant on self aggrandizement and even, self deprecation.  Followers equal dollars.

 

Here is my question:  If everyone is off becoming an Internet super star, who’s actually learning and training to become our next leaders—our doctors, our lawyers, our teachers, our philosophers or our politicians?  Where are the new, future world changers?  I’m not saying that the next visionary cannot be discovered behind a computer screen.  What I am saying is that there is a low probability that ALL our future leaders will be discovered on YouTube.  The sobering fact is that many of us are going to have to put in a little elbow grease in order to achieve success.

 

The pursuit of celebrity is nothing new. The over-the-top lifestyles that are oftentimes depicted in movies, magazines and television can be alluring, but there is a cost.  You are either going to pay in time or in kind.  Oftentimes, shortcuts are more expensive in the long run because nothing is ever truly free.  The question is: Are you willing to pay the associated price?

 

I think we need to go back to a time where we revered the people in our communities—people whom we actually know and have seen the results of their tireless efforts.  The unsung heroes in our families and our neighborhoods are often the ones who are making the most difference in our society.  They should be the ones whom we celebrate.

 

Fame and fortune should never be terminal goals because as independent virtues, they are both inherently valueless.  They should be deemed as conduits for change—a means to an end.  To whom much is given, much is expected (Luke 12:48).

A while ago, I was perusing the pages of Instagram, and I came across the quote, “Jesus was king of the clapback.”   For those of you who don’t know what a clapback is, don’t worry, up until that Instagram post, neither did I.  Simply put, a “clapback” it’s the ability to give a quick-witted retort to a comment, typically one with negative intentions.  When I thought about the spirit of the quote, it made me chuckle, because it was kind of true.  Jesus was no shrinking violet.  Although he was meek and humble, he wasn’t afraid to let you have it.  Just ask Peter.

 

Out of Jesus’ twelve disciples, Peter was definitely one of Jesus’ favorites.  Several modern day commentaries have even cited Peter as one of Jesus’ inner three. (James and John were the other two.)  Peter was with Jesus during His Transfiguration.  Peter walked on water with Jesus.  He prayed with Jesus.  He even lopped of a man’s ear for Jesus.  You could say that Peter was one of Jesus’ besties.  That is why what I’m about the say is all the more significant.

 

In the early days of Jesus’ ministry, people varied in belief about who they thought Jesus was.  Some thought he was Elijah the Profit.  Others thought he was the prophet Jeremiah, while other believed that he was John the Baptist.  When Jesus asked Peter who he thought that he was, Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” (Matthew 16:16, NLT).  Jesus must have been pleased with Peter, for He responded by saying, “’18Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven,’” (Matthew 16:18-19, NLT).  Wow, Jesus called Peter a “rock,” and not just any rock, but a rock upon which he would build His church.  That was definitely high praises coming from the Son of God.  Peter must have been beaming.  He must have been proud, because Jesus had not said this in private.  He had praised Peter in front of the other disciples, but it’s what came next that would make today’s urban youth label Jesus “King of the Clapback.”

 

When the time drew near, Jesus had begun to prepare His disciples for His death.  He warned them that he would suffer death at the hands of man for the glory of God.  When Peter heard this, he rebuked Jesus stating, “’Heaven forbid, Lord,’ he said. ‘This will never happen to you,’”(Matthew 16:22)!  Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns,’” (Matthew 16:23, NIV).

 

“Get behind me Satan.”  Did Jesus just call Peter Satan?  He did, and here is why?  When it comes to the truth, it is either black or white.  There are no shades of gray.  Something is either true or false.  If God’s Word is true, then it stands to reason that anything contrary to the Word of God is false.  Truth comes from God.  Falsehood comes from Satan.  God told Jesus that he would die for the sins of man.  Therefore, when Peter attempted to contradict God’s command to Jesus, he spoke a falsehood.  He spoke of the devil.  In a crude sense, in that moment, Peter was being the devil’s representative.  Maybe Peter was thinking about his own desires.  In fact, not too long ago, Jesus had call him the rock.  Maybe Peter thought that Jesus’ death would compromise his plans of what he envisioned his position as the “Rock” to be.  Who knows what Peter was thinking.  What we do know is that Jesus knew that Peter’s motives for speaking weren’t aligned with God’s plans.

 

“Get behind me Satan.”  When I thought about this post this morning, the first passage that came to my mind was Jeremiah 29:11, “11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” (NIV).  Earlier in the post, we stated that anything that is not of God is of Satan.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God said that He has plans to prosper us and to give us hope and a future.  Therefore, anything (or anyone) that threatens our hope, our prosperity and our future is acting as Satan’s representatives, and we need to tell that thing (or person) to, “Get behind me Satan.”  James 4:7 says, “resist the devil and he will flee from you,” (NLT).

 

Jesus wasn’t afraid to call a spade a spade.  Jesus was destined to die.  In order to fulfill His destiny, He had to speak against all that threatened it.  Each of us has a destiny, which we have to work to ensure that we fulfill.  The devil comes to kill, steal and destroy, (John 10:10).  As such, we have to be mindful of his various presentations.  Satan is the master of disguise.  Sometimes, he manifests as friends, family, co-workers, preachers, employers, employees and much, much more.  Whenever, individuals in our lives contradicts what God has commanded us, we need to rebuke them.  That rebuke doesn’t always have to be confrontational.  Sometimes, we could do it during the privacy of our prayer time.  If someone is getting between us and our destiny, we should call them by name and say: (Insert name), get behind me Satan!

Have you every prayed really hard for something only to get it and think, “God, get me out of this thing as soon as possible.  This is not what I signed up for?”  I’m sure we have all been there.  The lessons we learn in these cases are:  Things aren’t always what they seem and usually require more effort than we realize.

 

During these past few years, one of the Bible verses that most heavily rests on my heart is “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it,” (Numbers 23:19, ESV)?  How many of us when praying for a miracle simple pray for said miracle without any accompanying manifestations?  Seldom.  We dream about our miracles.  We fantasize about them.  Our prayers are often layered petitions.  We dream of owning a home so that we could share it with our loved ones.  We dream of getting an education so that we could impact a generation.  Many of our prayers are gateway requests.  Imagine what could happen if we cut God off at the path when we ask Him to revoke our granted prayers.  We could potentially block other blessings associated with our initial prayer. Could it be that the reason that God does not readily rescind on what we might perceive as misguided prayer requests is, not because of punishment, but, out of a desire to bless us?

 

In Genesis 32:22-28, Jacob is all alone in the camp when and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break.  “When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!’  But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’  ‘What is your name?’ the man asked.  He replied, ‘Jacob.’  ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob,’ the man told him. ‘From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.’”

 

Maybe that very thing that you are trying to escape from is the living God himself.  Let’s break down Genesis 32:22-28.

 

  1. Jacob was all alone when a man came and wrestled with him until dawn began to break.
    1. Jacob was all alone.
      1. God’s greatest works in our lives are usually found in moments of great solitude. Those moments can often be a time of great loneliness.
    2. A man came and wrestled with him.
      1. It would appear that this man sought out Jacob. Jacob did not go looking for this man.  John 15:16 says, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name,” (NLT).
    3. Jacob wrestled with the man until dawn began to break.
      1. Dawn is the period of day right before the light rises. Even though Jacob was shadowboxing in the dark, daybreak, light, was on the horizons.

 

 

  1. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket.
    1. The previous verse said a man came and wrestled with Jacob. It did not say who started the fight.  What if the “man” came in peace and only responded to Jacob’s engagement?
    2. Could it be that maybe “the man” tried to plea his case to Jacob, but could win against Jacob’s harden heart?
    3. Jacob was so enraged and defensive that the only way “the man” could get his attention was to throw him off guard by “wrenching” his hip out of its socket.
      1. Are there any areas in our life where we are wrestling with God?
      2. Is there any potential area in our life where God has touched it and wrenched it out of its socket?

 

  1. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!’
    1. Sometimes we are not always on the same page as God. The Bible says, His ways are not our ways nor his thoughts our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Jacob could have been interpreting the comment literally.  Maybe he thought God was telling him to release him physically. Maybe when God told Jacob to let Him go he was telling him to stop fighting with Him.  Maybe God was telling Jacob to release the anger that he had towards Him.  Ephesians 4:26 says, “’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” (NIV).  Maybe God was telling Jacob to let go of his anger, to forgive, before dawn broke.

 

  1. But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’
    1. Again, it seems as if Jacob might have been referring to a physical restrain. Nonetheless, he had the wherewithal to know that he was in the presence of divinity, and he wasn’t willing to let go of that opportunity to be blessed.  He had fought too hard throughout the night to walk away empty-handed.
      1. If we have been struggling for some time, it would be foolish of us to walk away without our blessings.
      2. Let go of the anger, but do not let go of God.
  • As we let go, we should ask God to bless us before we leave from the place we find ourselves in.
  1. Your name will no longer be Jacob,’ the man told him. ‘From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.’”
    1. Jacob did not give up, and God rewarded Him.
    2. Jacob might not have gotten it right, but he did the best he knew, and God rewarded his faithfulness.
    3. At the end of the battle God gave Jacob a new identity.
      1. We can never go through the trenches with God and come out the same. Matthew 23:12 says, “But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted,” (NLT).

 

Summary of Genesis 32:22-28

  1. God will isolate us so that he can begin a transformation in our life.
  2. Let go of our anger and press into God’s grace.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask God to bless us. Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you,” (NIV).

DECLARATION:

I WON’T LEAVE HERE UNTIL YOU BLESS ME!

 

Traditional slavery, chattel slavery, is officially illegal in all countries.  However, while most of the world has since eradicated the antiquated systems that once forced multitudes of people into involuntary servitude, today, there is a new form of slavery—a new slave master.

 

According to Cambridge Dictionary, slavery is defined as “the condition of being legally owned by someone else, or the system in which people are owned by others.” Wikipedia puts it this way:  Slavery is “a legal or economic system in which principles of property law are applied to humans allowing them to be classified as property, to be owned, bought and sold accordingly, and they cannot withdraw unilaterally from the arrangement. While a person is a slave, the owner is entitled to the productivity of the slave’s labor, without any remuneration.”  In today’s capitalist economy, financial institutions have become the new captains of the slave trade.

 

Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender,” (NIV).  No where is this truer than in “free trade.”  The average American is shackled by debt.  According to an article published on Nerdwallet.com, as of October 2015, the U.S. household consumer debt profile was as follows:

  • Average credit card debt: $16,140
  • Average mortgage debt: $155,361
  • Average student loan debt: $31,944

 

The article further went on to say that the total debt owned by American consumers was:

  • $11.85 trillion in debt
    • An increase of 1.4% from last year
  • $918.5 billion in credit card debt
  • $8.09 trillion in mortgages
  • $1.19 trillion in student loans
    • An increase of 5.9% from last year

 

The median household income for 2014 was $53,657. As the numbers suggests, most Americans are in over their heads in debt.  The problem is not so much the debt itself.  The problem is the issue of usury, which is illegal and morally reprehensible.  Merriam-Webster defines usury as, “the lending of money with an interest charge for its use; especially:  the lending of money at exorbitant interest rates.”  How does one quantify and/or qualify exorbitant?  Today’s credit card APR can range from low 13% all the way to 29.9 %.  I would make the argument that even 13% could be considered exorbitant.  Who determines exorbitance?  I’m sure it’s not the average citizen.

 

The main difference between traditional slavery and economic slavery is that most individuals, at some point, voluntarily entered into their financial engagement(s).  However, the similarity that both conditions typically share is the inability to readily disengage from the entanglement.

 

Let’s take another look at the definition of slavery.  The first part of the definition of slavery asserts that slavery is orchestrated by “a legal OR economic system.”  By definition, the financial system is an “economic system.” So, check.  The second condition of slavery is that an individual is “legally owned” by another individual(s).  Yet, another check.  I must say this, although individuals are not physically owned by financial institutions, they are economically imprisoned and shackled.  Before I expand on this though, I would like to state the third condition of slavery, which is “they cannot withdraw unilaterally from the arrangement.”  Check!

 

Most financial institutions are in the business of buying and selling debt.  It is not uncommon for people who are saddled with debt to see their loan(s) change hands several times during the lifetime of their loan.  With each change of ownership, there are new notices and disclosures, which are usually multiple, page documents that are typically indiscernible, microscopic fine-print with an inherent obligation for compliance.  In essence, the borrower does not get to pick and choose which terms and conditions they accept and agree with.  Once the loans are sold, the borrower’s finances become subject to the new lender’s (“owner”) discretion. The borrower cannot readily disengage from the financial obligation without legal recourse or ramifications.  In some cases, many individuals are working solely to pay debts.

 

There are people who are reading this post and are probably thinking that individuals who are indebted are in the position that they are in because of poor decision-making.  While that may or may not be true of some, it’s not true of others, and I caution such thinking.  There are many individuals, who have made prudent decisions, yet have still found themselves victims of circumstances, including divorce, life, sickness, death, fraud or even hunger.  Not everyone in debt is living above their mean.  Some people are simply trying to live.  A mother who uses her credit card to buy food and clothing for her family is a far cry from a squanderer.  A young, doe-eyed humanitarian who made a prudent decision to attend medical school to refine his God-given gifts and impact his community and the world around him is far from what I would call irresponsible.  While I am sure there are people who’ve placed themselves in the lion’s den, this is not everyone’s story, and the truth is, even if it were, do they deserve to be eternally imprisoned?

 

King Solomon said it best when he said, “I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all,” (Ecclesiastes 9:11, NIV).  One on the worse things that any of us could do on our journey on this Earth is to make distinctions between “us” and “them.”  If anyone has lived on this Earth long enough, one of the valuable lessons learned is that time is the ultimate equalizer where “they” often becomes “me.”

The most difficult point in any race is not the starting point or the finish line. It’s the half-point mark. By that point, you’ve gone too far to turn back, yet you have so much further to carry on.

Day 10—the halfway marker.

We are half way through this 21-day challenge, and everything in me wants to quit—to give up. Eleven more days. That seems like a lifetime away.

In our modern-day society we have gotten away from the concept of perseverance. In a culture where everyone is a winner, and even those in last place get second runner up, there is no motivation to press forward. Why should we push on when we could settle for second string?

There is something to be said about winning—about victory. When we quit, there is always the question of “what if.” What if we hadn’t quit? What would have happened had we stayed the course? Thankfully, God is great, and He will still bless us even when we fall short. However, we could only imagine that the blessings on the other side of victory are much sweeter.

A few years ago, I watched a story about Olympic athlete, Derek Redmond, who tore his hamstring muscle during the 1992 Olympic semifinals. The pain that shot through his legs brought him to his knees. As each runner sprinted past him, Derek saw his Olympic dream of a gold metal dissipate into the wind. But all was not lost. Out of nowhere, his father dashed onto the field and assisted him as he hobbled towards the finish line.

Friend, there will be moments during the middle of your race when you feel like giving up. I encourage you not to quit. There will be moments when you have done all that you can do to stand, yet you feel as if you are standing all along. Don’t quit. Proverbs 18:24 says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” (NIV). Sometimes, you just can’t do it by yourself. If you are in the middle of a race, and you are tempted to quit, call on a friend who can fill in the gap and pray for you. If you have no one to stand with you, ask God to send you an angel. Don’t quit now. You have come too far to turn back now. Fight through the tears. Run through the pain, but whatever you do, don’t quit! You want to be able to say that you finished the race, not that you never crossed the finish line.

Lord, we come before in reverent honesty and thanksgiving for You are the friend that sticks closer than a brother. Lord, we acknowledge that we cannot do it by ourselves. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help,” (NLT). Lord, send us people who can help us to stand when we feel like falling. Lord, give us the strength and the courage to stand. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!

I usually don’t post other people’s video, but if you’ve never seen Derek Redmond’s story, grab a tissue and check out Connie Lynne’s YouTube video.

They say the pen is mightier than the sword. So, today I want to pierce though these pages and make a declaration: God is still on the throne, and He is not dead. Although the enemy has come to kill, steal, and destroy, God has already won the battle.

Have you ever felt like David? Well, today, I am David. I am crying out to God and asking Him “how long?” How long, God, will the wicked prosper? How long will the wicked triumph over men of God—your people? How long before God intervenes in the face of injustice? Will the man with no conscience reign forever? Will God be blinded forever to the evil man’s acts of injustice?

Here’s the funny thing about God. If we are quiet long enough to wait for His answers, we can sometimes find them in whispers. Here is what God whispered to my heart today:

Psalm 5

O Lord, hear me as I pray;    

 pay attention to my groaning.

Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God,    

for I pray to no one but you.

Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.     

Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness;     

you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked.

Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence,   

 for you hate all who do evil.

You will destroy those who tell lies.     

The Lord detests murderers and deceivers.

Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;    

 I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.

Lead me in the right path, O Lord,     

or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow.

My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.     

Their deepest desire is to destroy others.

Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.     

Their tongues are filled with flattery.

10 O God, declare them guilty.     

Let them be caught in their own traps.

Drive them away because of their many sins,     

for they have rebelled against you.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;    

 let them sing joyful praises forever.

Spread your protection over them,     

that all who love your name may be filled with joy.

12 For you bless the godly, O Lord;     

you surround them with your shield of love.

 

The message on the tips of my fingers weigh heavily on my heart this morning. I feel an urgency to remind someone today that God is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19). While the promises that God has made to each of us individually might differ, His collective promises are true and are found in the Bible. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has plans to prosper us and to give us hope and a future.

As we move into a new seasons in our lives, God has opened amazing doors that only He could have opened. Now, more importantly than ever, we have to remind ourselves that God would not have promoted us only to watch us fail. Know today that if God guides, He will provide. If He elevates, He will sustain. When doubt and fear threaten us with failure, we need to press into our yes from God. We shouldn’t just step into our yes, we should lean into it. Press into it. Aggressively pursue it. When God says yes, He will NOT change His mind. When God says yes, it cannot mean no! I’m telling you today that God has already said yes to you.

Favor:                   Yes

Faith:                     Yes

Peace:                  Yes

Hope:                    Yes

Health:                  Yes

Prosperity:            Yes

Safety:                  Yes

Promotion:            Yes

Increase:               Yes

Family:                  Yes

Friendships:          Yes

Marriage:              Yes

Fertility:                 Yes

Children:               Yes

Legacy:                 Yes

God has already said yes, yes, yes!!

20140622_100201-1On Monday, February 17, 2014 I started a countdown to what I thought was going to be my emancipation.   I had two target dates. The first was March 28, the date of my very first production—What’s Your Status: An HIV Awareness Story. The second was May 5. In my heart, I believed that was the date that the tides of my life were going to change. However, May 5th came and went without much fanfare. In fact, the entire month of May was rather uneventful, yet, in my heart I felt I still needed to continue the countdown. As each day went by, I crossed it off my calendar. I was in unknown anticipation of something spectacular yet to come. It wasn’t until the end of this weekend that I realized what I was counting down to.

Before I continue, I must go off on a brief tangent. A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with my uncle. We were discussing the topic of evangelism. Our discussion about sharing the gospel stemmed from an earlier conversation that I had with an acquaintance who had questioned me about Christianity and my relationship with Jesus. My acquaintance asked me whether I believed that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. My answer was simply, yes. Now, I say the word “simply” in gest because it wasn’t as simple as just saying yes. I have found that people who question the authenticity of Jesus have a hard time believing that He is the only way. Truthfully, if I were not a Christian, I too might have a hard time acknowledging the fact that someone that I didn’t believe in controlled my destiny—my fate—my eternity.   However, the fallacy of that argument is that belief does not precipitate truth. Whether or not someone choses to believe in a particular principle (or person) does not negate or validate the authenticity of the argument. Needless to say, I found the conversation with my acquaintance uncomfortable. I felt silently attacked. I felt judged. I couldn’t gage whether this individual’s questions were genuine interest or whether they were an attempt to be argumentative. Nonetheless, I answered the questions that were asked of me as best as I could. Even after the conversation was over, I still felt a little unsettled. I wondered whether I had said all the “right things” and whether I said them the “right way.”

I relayed my ambiguity about my conversation with my acquaintance to my uncle, and the very first thing that he said shook my core and resonated with my soul. My uncle reminded me that long before anyone talks to an individual about God, God has already revealed Himself to that person. In John 15:16, God said that we did not choose Him. He chose us. The second point that my uncle made was that no one, single person is ever responsible for the salvation of another. We all fall in line on a chain of messenger. Each person plays their specific role in delivering the message. Furthermore, God uses everything in and of the Earth to draw His creations closer to Himself. You see, it’s never about us. It’s always about Him. When we try to take on the role of conversion, we are placing way too much pressure on ourselves—pressure that God never intended for us to bear. The best way that many of us can share the Gospel of Christ is by sharing our lives and our stories. How we live and what we do should convey what we are trying to preach. People will seldom listen to our words if our actions fall short.

So that was my tangent. Back to the countdown. This past weekend, I finally realized that the thing that I had been subconsciously counting down to was the Vous Christian conference that I attended over the weekend. It was a life altering event. Thousands of young adults packed the Filmore Auditorium in Miami Beach, Florida and celebrated Jesus. In fact, they were blowing the roof off of that auditorium. It was spectacular. The preaching was great and the worship was amazing. As the weekend drew to a close, I realized that the reason that I had been counting down was that God was preparing my heart. He was drawing me to Himself. It’s great to know that even in 2014, God still choses me, and He also choses You!

I was born a slave.  As an ancestor of the son of man, I was born a slave to sin.  As a black woman living in the United States, my ancestors were owned by man.  Even today, there are so many things in this world that attempt to hold me hostage. Thankfully, I embrace the freedom that Christ has given to me. Christ died on Calvary to set me free, for who the Son has set free is truly free indeed, (John 8:36).  Nonetheless, there are still forces that be that attempt to incarcerate me. One of the greatest of them all is money.
Many Christian erroneously think that having money is sinful. It’s not. That belief is not even Biblical. Having money has never been an issue. It’s the love of money that’s the problem (1 Timothy 6:10). Why? The love of money equal idolatry, and God will not stand for anything or anyone being placed ahead of Him. However, Christ understood that in this world’s system, money is needed, and in some cases, required. Christ illustrated that best when he produced the coin from the belly of the fish when asked to pay His taxes. This miracle illustrated two things:
1. Even Jesus, the most powerful man that ever lived, honored the laws of the land.
And
2. God will make a way where there seems to be no way.

In today’s upside down world, there are those that use money to keep people in bondage. Debt is the biggest shackle of them all. Proverbs 22:7 says that, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” As I sat today to pay my student loan, I thought to myself, “Wow, this world’s system is created to make us perpetual slaves.”  The truth is this, no one told me to go to school, and no one forced me to acquire debt to pay for my education. However, the system is designed such that there is a cost for advancement, one which neither my family nor I could independently afford, even though a great portion of my education was funded by academic scholarships. Like many, I knew that in order to advance the visions that God placed on my heart, I would have to assume some liability—take risks, including possible debt. But advancement of our dreams, if we are not careful, could result in situations where we are in the same, or worse, positions than before, particularly financially. If we are not careful, instead of making an impact on the world, we could find ourselves just trying to make a dent in our debt.
Many of us are slaves to the lender, which is exactly where the lenders want us to be. Let’s face it, the system is designed that there are more poor people than there are those who are rich. If everyone had a million dollars, we would all be equal, and the enemy is not a fan of equality.  The customary practices of usury in our society is designed to create and maintain a distinction between the haves and the have nots. Think about how many great ideas were conceived by financial slaves, whose visions were stillborn, or worse yet, stolen and nurtured by others with the financial wherewithal.
In the world’s system, debt is inevitable. But in the body of Christ, even the inevitable can become the remarkable. If we were to be honest with ourselves, most of us do not have the initial financial resources to attend college, start a business or pursue other ventures. One thing I do know is that we can use debt as a launching pad, but we do not have to remain indebted indefinitely. Our finances is an area where many of us overlook and underestimate the power of God and the power of prayer. Though it might seem weird, pray over your stack of bill. Ask God to help you to be a good financial steward of your money and resources. Ask God to make supernatural provisions. Also, set up a plan. Many of us do not have a financial plan. We can always ask God to move on our behalves, but sometimes, we have to take that first step.
Today, I want to issue a financial challenge. Over the next 30 days, incorporate a financial plan and budget. Write down where you see yourself financially at the end of 30 days, 1 year, 5 years, 15 years and 30 years.  Pray over the 30 -day course that God will give you favor, wisdom and abundance. Also, pray Deuteronomy 28:13 over your life:

The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them, (NIV).

 

The promises that were made in Deuteronomy were made to the Israelites. But our God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). The promises that were made to one are still available to all today and forever.  Therefore, I pray that God will make us the head and not the tail; above and not beneath; and a lender and not a borrower, in Jesus’ name. Amen