Archives for category: Spiritual

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.

For the past few evenings, God has been nudging my heart to read the Book of Job.  If you’ve ever read the Book of Job, then you know exactly why I wasn’t jumping at the bit to read it.  It’s not the most cheery book in the Bible.  However, tonight, I decided to hunker down and sludge through the 42 chapters.  After all, it was only 20 pages in my Bible.  I grabbed my Bible; snuggled under my covers and I began to read.  I never made it past the first chapter.

 

After just a few verses, I found myself angry with God, even doubting him.  The fact that God had allowed Satan to test Job was counterintuitive to me.  I was especially mad at the fact that God was even talking to Satan.  After all, the Bible said that God detested evil and stayed far from the proud and the wicked.  Well, Satan is definitely the embodiment of all things wicked and evil.  So, why was God even chatting with Satan?

 

As I was having my existential breakdown, I contemplated whether my questions grieved the Holy Spirit.  Surely, I could have skimmed past the verses that didn’t make sense to me and pretended that my uncertainty didn’t bother me.  But what sense did that make?  God knew my heart, so, there was no point of even pretending.  Additionally, my Type A personality couldn’t allow me to move forward.  As strange, or as wrong, as it may have been, God needed to make sense to me.  At the very least, His existence had to be consistent with who He says that He is because, at first glance, my image of God in the first chapter of Job, seemed anything but consistent with who the Bible says that God is.

 

In an effort to better understand the first chapter of Job, I meditated on the words found in Job 1:6: “One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the LORD, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them,” (NLT).  I asked God for revelation.  I earnestly wanted to understand the chapter.  Moreover, I earnestly wanted to understand God’s character.  Like Solomon, I prayed for wisdom, and God gave the following revelation:

 

According to Job 1:6, the members of the heavenly court, or angels, came and presented themselves before God, and the Accuser, Satan came with them.  The phrase “presented themselves before God” seemed to suggest that the angels, including Satan, had to give an account to God for their activities/actions.  Perhaps they were going before God for judgment.   There are several passages in the Bible that corroborate the notion that even angels are subject to judgment.  For example, in the New Testament, Paul stated that believers should exercise good judgment when attempting to resolve secular disputes as there will come a time when believers will not only judge the world, but they will also judge angels as well (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).  As a sidebar, I must note that the translation of the Greek word for judge is krino, which also means to rule or govern.  I digress.  Another example that indicates that angels are also subject to God’s judgment is 2 Peter 2:4. The passage reads: “For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment,” (NLT).  Even Jude, the half bother of Jesus, weighed in on the topic by saying, “And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment,” (Jude 1:6, NLT).

 

The above passages support the notion that Satan presented to God in the book of Job, not as a peer or comrade, but as one who is subject to God’s authority.  In Job 1:7, God asks Satan, “Where have you come from?”  The question required Satan to give an account for his actions.  This is similar to when God asked Adam, “Where are you,” (Genesis 3:9, NLT)?  Considering that God is omniscient and omnipotent, we could conclude that God knew the answer in both cases. In both examples, God was not interested in unearthing the truth.  He was exposing their pride.  Proverbs 16:5 says, “The Lord detests the proud: they will surely be punished,” (NLT).  When God asked Satan about Job, God knew the status of Satan’s heart and that Satan had already set his sights on Job.  In fact, when God brought up Job’s name, Satan didn’t even flinch or pause.  He immediately knew exactly who God was talking about.  When God mentioned Job, Satan must have been ecstatic because he thought that he had finally found God’s Achilles’ heel.

 

As Satan roamed the Earthy, he must have noticed how the angels, who are at God’s command, fawned over Job.  In fact, in his accusation against God, Satan said, “… Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is!  But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face,” (Job 1:10-11, NLT)!

 

In allowing Job to be tested, God was exposing Satan’s pride.  He knew that Job was indeed faithful and that Job would not be tested beyond his limit.  Scripture tells us that God will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we could bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).

 

As I attempted to conclude my studies, my reading took me back to Jude.  Verse nine was of particular interest.  It read: “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you,” (NIV)!  The verse reminded me that judgment belongs to God and God alone.  To further understand the verse, I went on a quest to find out more about the archangel Michael.  My search brought me to Daniel 10.

 

In Daniel 10, the prophet Daniel had been praying and fasting to God for an answer to a vision that he had been given.  After 21 days, an angel appeared to Daniel and advised him that that the answers that he sought had been delayed because he, the angel, had been held up by a spiritual battle that both he and Michael were still involved in.  The angel replied, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince,” (Daniel 10:20-21, NIV).

 

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” (KJV).  Both the verses in Daniel and Ephesians remind us that there are things of this world that we do not understand and cannot explain.  There are battles and wars being wages in the spiritual realm that are beyond the scope of our comprehension.

 

In the Book of Job, Job’s spirit waned.  He eventually questioned God about the calamity he faced.  God’s answer was similar to the conclusion that we just drew.  There are things of this Earth that are simply inexplicable.  We just have to trust God and stand on his word.  “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires,” (Hebrews 4:12, NLT).  Like Daniel, we should take comfort in knowing that Word of God has power to break strongholds.  According to 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds,” (NIV).

 

This poem is dedicated to those who are praying without ceasing and are tirelessly waiting to hear from God.

Echoes of Silence 

The echoes of silence are all that I hear.

Humbled by life, I seek you in prayer.

A knock on the door—is anyone there?

Then it dawned on me—

Maybe He heard me, but don’t really care.

For the first time, I looked in the mirror and stared,

And wondered where is the God of old that nations once feared.

Who cared—

Who dared—

To put nations and empires to shame,

And recued those who called upon him by name.

Elohim, El Shaddai, El Roi,

Jehovah Jireh, Rapha, Nissi, my Adonai.

 

The echoes of silence are all that I hear,

Chanting the chorus, “God are you still there?”

World upside down.  Life—Unfair.

God, is silence from you just really a “no?”

My faith is slipping, and I’m letting it go.

Faith lukewarm.  Heart now cold.

Faded memories of faith once bold.

 

The ghost of Isaac and Abraham, they knock at my door.

The prophets and saints that went on before.

They said, “If He did it once, then He’ll do it once more.”

Like the judge who couldn’t ignore the knock on the door.

 

When echoes of silence are all that you hear,

When it seems like your prayers, they fall on deaf ears,

And the core of your life is rooted in fears,

Just trust and believe when he tells you He cares.

He’s the same one who says that He bottles your tears.

Loves you so much that He counted your hairs—

On your head.

And even notices that a sparrow drops dead,

For not one of these can fall outside of His care.

Ears fine-tuned.  Your whispers He hears.

His voice so soft—not found in the echoes or blares,

But in the spirits of those He consoles.

Remember Jesus?  His wrist: bloodied with holes.

He feels your pain.  Trust me! He knows.

Yet He overcame death and from ashes He rose.

 

When the echoes of silence are all that you hear,

Your beating heart is proof that He’s near.

 

Copyright 2016 Khadine Alston.  All Rights Reserved.

 

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

1 Corinthians 1:27

 

I pray that this quote encourages you as much as it has encouraged me today.  God is about to do something in the lives of the unassuming—the brokenhearted, the forgotten and the unrecognized.  He is about to elevate leaders that the world has criticized, mocked, beaten, captured and imprisoned.  He is about to do a new thing.

 

I know that I am speaking directly to someone’s heart today.  The Lord is about to use you in ways that defy imagination.  He is about to make your enemies your footstool.  Every tear that you have shed has been captured.  Psalm 56:8 says, “Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record?”  God has heard your cries.  There might seem as if there is no way out.  It might appear as if everyone has abandoned you and told you ‘no,” but please know that it is during your darkest hours when God does His finest work.  It was during the darkness that God called light into existence.  It was after Pharaoh’s heart was hardened that God parted the Red Sea and delivered the Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians.  It was after Job had lost everything that God restored him two-fold.  Please be reminded that God is a God of grandeur, and while his preparation might be done in seclusion, His restorations are never done in private.  God’s promotions are for His glorious victory.  Therefore, they are always on display. Matthew 23:12 says, “those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted,” (NIV).

 

Be grateful for all who denied you.  God is elevating you in a manner that you will be indebted to none other than He.  The blessings of the Lord make a man rich, and it adds no sorrow with it, Proverbs 10:22.  Know that God has already blessed you, and He is about to make a public proclamation.  In Jesus, name, Amen!  The Bible also says that even before God restored Job, Job repented and humbled himself.  He praised God even while he was covered in ashes and riddled with sore.  Wherever you are, praise God.  Praise His glorious name.  Know that the end of your story was written even before the beginning, and it’s not over until God says that it’s over.  Glory to God.

2But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;

I had nearly lost my foothold.

3For I envied the arrogant

when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Psalm 73:2-3

 

During this season, I have experienced some of life’s greatest disappointments and setbacks.  Most recently, I entered a business venture. As part of my due diligence, I implemented all the necessary safeguards to reduce, if not, eliminate my risks.  I read.  I researched.  I hired an attorney. I had a contract drafted.  However, life sometimes teaches us that there are no failsafe plans.  There are no world systems that could entirely mitigate moral corruption.  Although most, if not all, legal agreements are drafted based on the worse case scenarios, most people enter contacts with the assumption that the opposing party has some semblance of integrity, or at the very least, he or she has a fear of or a reverence for the law.  A year and a half after signing my contract agreement, the opposing party involved still managed to express flagrant disregard of the agreement by violating several terms of the contract. This morning, as I evaluated my situation, I thought about the above verse.

 

Oftentimes, it feels as though the lives of the wicked are bountiful.  Many of them cheat, lie and steal, yet they still manage to thrive beyond the imagination of the meek.  It’s easy to look at the proud and the arrogant and be envious.  They leap and abound.  Their lives are grand.  They enjoy fine things, and they seldom seem concerned with the toils of those who are pure at heart.  “They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong…they are not plagued by human ills,” (verse 4 and 5, NIV).  They play by their own rules.  They scoff at honor and valor.  The lives of the wicked seems grand, indeed.  However, there will come a time when the Earth’s grandeur will cease.  Each man will be equal, and God will judge each man according to his deeds.  “God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad,” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).  It’s so easy to want the wicked to pay—to take vengeance into our own hands because it might seem as though God is moving too slow.  However, Romans 12:19 says, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD,” (NLT).

 

The truth is, waiting on God can seem slow, and, at times, feel torturous.  However, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV).  In His justice, God has given even the sinners time to change their wicked ways.  Psalms 73 goes on to say that God has placed the wicked on slippery ground.  The wicked will perish if they continue to do wickedness.

 

To those who are longsuffering, I ask that you give your suffering to God.  Leave your vindication in His mighty hands.  God is just, and He judges fairly.  Even King David, whom the Bible refers to as a man after God’s own heart, experienced God’s immense favor despite being reprimanded for his egregious sins. Although David had many shortcomings, God did not forget the promises He made to David.  During earlier times, God decreed that David would not only rule as king over all Israel, God also promised David that he (David) would always have a line to the throne (Jesus).  One of David’s biggest fall from grace was when he had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his soldiers named Uriah.  As a result of the affair, Bathsheba became pregnant.  In an effort to cover his tracks David tried to convince Uriah to sleep with his wife, Bathsheba, so that he could pass off the baby as Uriah’s.  Uriah, who was a committed soldier in David’s army, refused to lay with his wife because he did not want to break his allegiance to his fellow fighters by indulging in merriment during battle time.  After David realized that his attempt to cover his tracks had failed, he gave orders to have Uriah killed.  Fortunately, God did not allow David’s position as both king and the “apple of His eyes” to usurp Uriah’s life.  God was not only faithful to David, He was also faithful to Uriah, because the Bible says that God is not a respecter of man (Acts 10:34).  God avenged Uriah’s death by destroying the seed that was created from David’s and Bathsheba’s deception. Thankfully, God did not stay angry with David forever.  He pursued David and blessed him.  Moreover, David repented for sinning against God.

 

In all of our lives, there will be times when we feel forgotten about—by family, by friends, and even by God. Many of us feel like Uriah, a lone soldier in a vast army—a number in the crowd.  The temptation is to give up on God because we feel neglected or betrayed by Him.  However, just like God fought on behalf of Uriah, He will avenge us too.  The Bible says that God will leave the 99 sheep to find the one that has wondered away (Matthew 18:12-14).  It is during our weakest moments that God will seek us out and pursue us.

Martha Picture

When I think about the adult life of Jesus, I often wonder what life was like for Him. Besides His disciples, did He have a lot of friends?  I imagine that most people who befriended him were more interested in His miracles than His friendship. But what about His disciples? Where they His friends?  I believe He loved them all dearly, even though, He might have been a bit partial to Peter, James and John.  I also believe that Jesus had a genuine friendship with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. He loved them dearly, so much so, that He wept when Lazarus died.

Jesus, if you would have been there, my brother would not have died. Jesus, if you would have been there, my father would not have gotten cancer.  Jesus, if you would have been there, we wouldn’t have lost our child. Jesus, if you would have been there, I would have been delivered from the clutches of drugs and alcohol. Jesus, if you would have been there, I wouldn’t have been molested. Jesus, if you would have been there, I wouldn’t have gone to jail. Jesus if you wouldn’t have been there, I wouldn’t have (fill in the blank).  Do any of the above scenarios strike a chord? How many times has Jesus wept in our lives? Instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt, we scold him. We curse him. We abandon him.

I believe the reason Jesus cried was probably deeper than what we see on the surface. I don’t believe that Jesus cried because Lazarus died. Why would he? He was the Son of God, and he knew that he was about to raise him from the dead. In fact, in John 11:4, Jesus said, ““Lazarus’ sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” Jesus had promised that Lazarus would not die in that moment. However, the caveat was that God would receive the glory.

When it came down to it, Mary and Martha, whom he loved dearly, did not trust him. They called themselves His friend, yet they didn’t even give him the benefit of the doubt.  The body was already buried.  The wailers were already mourning.  They had fully embraced death.  I believe in that moment Jesus’ humanity took over. And he was deeply saddened.  To make matters worse, Martha had the nerve to give Jesus a piece of her mind.  Now, it’s easy for me to sit on this side of time and judge her through the lens of retrospect.  However, Martha is no different from me.  How many times have I “reprimanded” God for not delivering a promise on my timetable?  How many times have I buried living promises because their slow movement mimicked rigor mortis?  How many times have you?  Thankfully, God is faithful, even when we are not (2 Timothy 2:13).

40 Jesus responded, ‘Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?’ 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.’ 43 Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44 And the dead man came out, (John 11:40-43, NLT).

Here is one of the pivotal things that Jesus did when He was surrounded by unbelief. He praised God. Psalms 100:4 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name,” (NIV). Before Jesus attempted to access the promise, He ignited His praise. So often, so many of us cannot wait to get in God’s court, not so that we can praise Him, but so that we can wag our finger at Him and give Him a piece of our minds.

The Bible says that we should enter His court with thanksgiving. Doing so, reminds us of our rightful position before the throne. We serve God, not the other way around. God encourages us to be authentic–to share our hearts with Him and surrender our pain. However, we need to acknowledge that He is God.

Today, as we embark on our second day of our challenge, I challenge you to enter His gates with thanksgiving. For the next 20 days, start your morning by thanking and praising God. Before you open your eyes in the morning, enter His court with thanksgiving. It doesn’t have to be a long sermon, just thank Him. Also, throughout the day, thank Him for your “Lazaruses.” Thank Him for those promises that are not dead, but are sleeping and waiting on the right time to bring glory to God.

Today’s Prayer: Lord, we step into your court with thanksgiving. We thank you for being God. We thank you for making all things new. “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me,” (v.41). Lord, on the authority of Jesus, I pray, “Lazarus come out!” Lord, you know us individually, and you know what our “Lazaruses” are. Lord, we speak to those promises that appear to be dead, but are only sleeping. Come out! Come out! Come out. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Tupac Quote

“I gotta stop treating people like I owe them something,” Tupac.

This quote came across my social media page the other day, and it stopped me in my tracks. Wow! How liberating.

I have always believed that no one owes me anything. I had never thought about that sentiment from the opposite perspective. However, it was something that I needed to hear. It’s something I believe that many of us need to hear.

As Christians, particularly Christian women, we believe that we have to be everything to everyone. We can’t. There is only one God, and only He can be everything to all. We are human, and we will fail and falter. The problem is, when we have conditioned people into thinking that our role in their lives is to be subservient to them, this becomes the expected norm of the relationship. They call. We answer. They ask. We give. They dish. We take. Most people do not like change. So, oftentimes, we find that once we try to redefine these skewed relationships, people become resistant and some often get angry. They might say things like, “You’ve change,” “You’re just not the same person,” “You’ve gotten brand new.” The truth is, you probably haven’t really changed. You’ve probably always hated being treated like a doormat, but you just never said anything. To those people whom you’ve allowed to walk all over you, there was no perceived problem in the relationship, because as far as they were concerned, their needs were being met. You filled the lonely gaps between romantic relationships. You picked up the pieces after the break up. You spent hours “talking” while they vented about a problem. For them, there was no problem. But what about your lonely nights, broken heart and failed dreams? Were they on the phone for hours listening to you cry and vent like you had been for them?

“But, they are my friend,” you say. “I’ve know them since (fill in the blank).”

“Ten years ago, they did that one favor that I feel obligated to repay over and over and over again.”

Whenever we judge the merit of a relationship, we should never judge it based on the question, “What have you done for me lately?” However, relationships MUST be symbiotic. If you find that you keep holding yourself hostage to that one, kind deed that an individual performed many moons ago, and you constantly feel indebted and need to repay that act, it might be time that you reevaluate your motives and reevaluate your relationships. Yes, we must remember kindness. So many of us are quick to forget. Yes, we must maintain a sense of loyalty, but we do not owe anyone anything. We have a responsibility to love God and to love His people, but we are not indebted to anyone.

In my own life, I have had to redefine several relationships. There were people who were always used to me running to their beck and call. They called. I answered. They asked. I gave. They dished. I took. Now that I have established new boundaries, there are those who’ve said that I have changed. They don’t like the fact that I am no longer their doormat. However, I can’t be who God has called me to be and go where He wants me to go if I am wrapped up living people’s lives and riding the waves of their emotions.

One of the biggest lessons that God taught me a few years ago is that the reason why many of us cannot get past our current season is that we keep bypassing our exit and repeating seasons with people who are currently in the season that God is trying to graduate us from. Friend, sometimes the very thing that we are trying to save someone from might be the fire that God is using to refine them. So, now, instead of moving into our new season, we are going into battle against God and getting burned.

For 2015, I encourage you to evaluate ALL your relationships. The Bible says, “Iron sharpens iron,” (Proverbs 27:17). If you are in relationships that are not allowing you to grow, move on. Those lopsided relationships might be the very things that are hindering your growth.

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!!

According to popular belief, it takes 21 days to establish a habit. That idea stemmed from Maxwell Maltz’s book Psycho-Cybernetics, a book on improving self-image. However, there are critics who assert that the 21-day theory is a misinterpretation of his work. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. Let’s leave scientific theory off the table and look at common sense for a second. Common sense tells us that if we keep doing something over and over, then it will become a habit. I don’t know whether 21 is the magic number. I would imagine that the number of days to establish a habit would differ for each person. I would also imagine that the longer an individual commits to a course of action, the more likely he or she will continue doing it. When trying to develop a habit, the hardest step is not the commitment to continue. The hardest step is the decision to start.

In my life, it is God’s grace that has allowed me to achieve all that I have. In fact, Philippian 4:13 say that I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me. Notice, the Bible said “all” things, not “some” things. Therefore, I want to accomplish “all things” in my life. In order to do so, I have to establish some new habit, and I am going to do it in 25 days. Why 25? ”The number twenty-five in the Bible symbolizes ‘grace upon grace.’ It is composed of 20 (meaning redemption) and five (grace) or grace multiplied (5 x 5),” (biblestudy.org).  In everything I do, I want to do it with God’s grace.  So over the next 25 days, I would like to start a challenge called “25 Days of Fearlessness.”

Being fearless can often appear daunting.  The spirit of fear constantly threatens to overpower and immobilize us.  Fortunately, God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).  The best way for us to understand who we are in God is to simply understand who God is.  The challenge over the next 25 days is to chronicle God’s magnitude in our surroundings.  Take a picture of something that you believe illustrates God’s enormity.  If you don’t have a camera, write it down.  Describe it.  Journal the encounter/experience.  For those of you with access to social media, post your picture on your social media page with the caption, “25 Days of Fearlessness.” Also write a brief description of how your picture illustrates God’s greatness.  Relate that image to the challenge(s) you face that day.  Use your image to remind you of who God is and who He has created you to be.  Most of all have fun!! Happy posting/journaling.  See you tomorrow.

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!