20170704_214052You are enough.  You are bright enough; beautiful enough; gifted enough.  Plain and simple, you are more than enough. Learn to encourage yourself.  Learn to drown out the voices of doubt by speaking daily words of affirmation.  Place these assertions over your mirror, on the walls or on your refrigerator.  You are beautiful!  You are worthy!  You are gifted!   You are smart!  You are enough!  Ephesians 2:10 says, “we are God’s handiwork.”  Psalm 139:14 says you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Our media driven culture has created a comparative society where our worth is determined by sound bites, selfies, and carefully crafted online profile.  We are constantly fighting against need to say that what what we have is not enough.  Today, let us celebrate everything, including our imperfections, that define who we are.

Advertisements

Baggage.  It can, at times, be a four-letter word.  We all have it.  Some of are not only carrying our own baggage, but we have allowed ourselves to become saddled by other people’s “stuff.”  Learning to release is one of the most important things that we can do for ourselves.  Galatians 5:1 says, “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,” (NIV).

Christ died on a cross for us to be free.  Why then do we continue to enslave ourselves?   Slavery prevents us from running the race that God has set forth for us.  When our minds are cluttered with nonsense, we cannot focus on our priorities.  As such, we’re tired.  We’re sad.  We’re angry.  We are everything but productive.  On the road to self discovery, one of the most important things we could do for ourselves is to let go.  Letting go allows us to focus on the things that are important to us.

One way to re-center our focus is to carve time out to do some of the things we like to do (e.g. exercising, writing, taking a walk on the beach).  Another way is to write down our plans.  Habakkuk 2:3 says, “’Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.   For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.  Though it lingers, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay,” (NIV).

Seeing our goal, dreams and/or desires affixed on paper allows us to remember what is important to us.  We need to do what it takes to preserve our focus.  Relax.  Breathe.  Meditate.  Yesterday, we wept it out.  Today, we are letting it go!

The theory that it takes 21 days to create a new habit has been debunked over the years.  New research has suggested that the time it takes to create a new habit could vary between individuals.  Additionally, changing a habit also varies in the duration of time it takes to fully adopt a new behavior.  However, I do believe that there is some merit to the 21 days.  The time frame is short enough to not be daunting and long enough to be impactful.  So, with that said, we are going to go all in for the next 21 days on a path to self discovery and reinvention.
Day 1: Weep It Out

There is nothing like a good cry.  Right?  You know the type I’m talking about—the ugly cry—the one where you snort spastically because you can hardly catch your breath and your nose and eyes leak like faucets and muddle your face with a sludge of mucous and tears.  Even Jesus did the ugly cry.  John 11:35 said that Jesus wept.  The verse did not say that he cried; it said that he wept, implying an expression of deep sorrow.  Bawling is cathartic!  It raw!  Most of all, it’s honest.  For many of us, the ugly cry is our first step in acknowledging our vulnerability and/or our humanity in particular areas of our lives.  Weeping is a release of toxicity—pent up emotions.  It’s an opportunity to face our demons head on.  How can we expect to fight what we don’t see.

 

Our inclination to cry out is not just an expected manifestation of our humanity; it is commandment, not to be confused with the Ten Commandment.  The Bible tells us to cry out to God.  Sometimes, if we are not careful, we could tend to minimize the word ‘cry’ and use it interchangeable with the word ‘call.’  Crying out to God does not equal calling on Him.  The former implies a sense of desperation and urgency.  There are times when we have to be completely undignified in expressions—let it all hang out.

 

The good news is that our cries never fall upon deaf ears.  Psalm 18:6 says, “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears,” (NIV).

 

So, tonight, let it all out.  This blog post is the permission that you need to let it all hang loose.  Weep.  Sob.  Ugly cry.  Let it go.  Psalm 30:5 says, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning,” (NLT).

I wrote this post almost two years ago. I ran across it this morning. I thought it was worth re-sharing. I hope it blesses someone today!

ThatNextLevelThinking

Empty Well

It is so important for us to read the bible in context.  So often, we memorize key verses and phrases, and neglect to see the bigger picture.  This morning, as I thought about this blog on empty wells, Galatians 6:2 came to mind: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” (NIV).  But as I meditated on the verse, I realized that it was the second verse of the chapter.  What did the previous verse say?  In fact, the previous verse served as a cautionary statement.  It said: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted,” (NIV).  The New Life Version reads, “You who are stronger Christians should lead that one back into the right way. Do not be proud as…

View original post 795 more words

20149f74d2c8c097dd24d5ea6375582f

Sometimes, it can feel and seem as though the wicked are triumphing. David said that he almost lost his footing when he saw the prosperity of the wicked (Psalm 73:2).

Recent news stories of increased human wickedness could lead us to believe that virtue is a sentiment of the past and that our best days are behind us. But David reminds us that the prosperity of the wicked is only temporary (Psalm 73).  Additionally, goodness is not just reserved for a distant future. There is goodness in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13-14). There is goodness on Earth. Grace, kindness, peace, humanity still exist today!

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.

Father,
I stand on Your Word in 2 Corinthians 10:4 when I ask You to dispatch Your angels that You have assigned to me–messengers and militia alike. I pray that the heralds would be unobstructed in the delivery of their answers from You to me and the people and the things concerning me. Father, give the angel authority to slaughter any opposing demonic forces attached to me and the things concerning me, including, but not limited to, my person, my health (mental, emotional and physical), my family, my assignment, my dwelling, my domain, my finances, my anointing, my blessings, my prayers, my praise and my worship. In Jesus’ name I pray!

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds,” 2 Corinthians 10:4

Today, I pose a few hypothetical questions.  What if when we get to heaven we realize just how literal God was when he said, in Genesis, that He had given man dominion over the Earth?  What if when we get to heaven we realize just how many of our life outcomes were under the control of our prayers and our tongues?  What if we realize that our lives and the lives of others could have been dramatically changed by a simple declaration of our faith?  Would we do things differently now?  Would we declare more things in the name of Jesus?  We do know that nothing happens outside of God’s will, but what if much of our lack (e.g. spiritual, physical, emotional and financial) is due to a failure to ask—a failure to make a bold declaration?  What if many of our prayers confused begging for asking with belief (i.e. faith)?  I don’t recall the woman at the well begging Jesus to heal her.  She simply touched Him, and she knew that she was healed.  In fact, Jesus told her that her faith had made her well.   How about we hedge our bets here on Earth and start declaring things that be not as though they were.  What do we have to lose?

Your phone rings, and your heart flutters.  On the other end of the line is yet another bill collector making a futile attempt at debt collection.  There was a time when your phone rang incessantly, and you spent countless hours mentoring, inspiring and championing those on the other end.  You bore the burdens for countless many.  But where are they now?  Your spirit yearns for even just a few words of encouragement, as your days have been dark, and your cares have been many.

The silence is deafening.  Your well has run dry, and the takers have moved on to fertile springs.  Many would look at your circumstances and pity you as the one who once was.  I challenge you to see your situation through different lens.

Many people have a disproportionate amount of takers in their lives—self absorbed narcissists who think only of themselves.  Oftentimes, takers align themselves with givers because givers are typically selfless and seldom place requirements on takers.  However, times of trials are perfect opportunities to reassess and re-equilibrate dysfunctional relationships.  It is a time to sift the givers from the takers.

Relationships should be reciprocal and edifying.  They should have additive value.  If the people in your life take disproportionately more than they give, move on!  Chances are, they probably aren’t your friend, at least not in the true sense of the word.  It is okay to say no.  It is okay to be protective of your mental and emotional stasis.   True friends understand that it’s not always about them.  They understand that you also have desires that need to be met and hurts that need to be nurtured.  True friends give as much as they take.  While giving and taking in healthy relationships might not always be in the same arenas, the actions ultimately balance out.  If you find that your needs are just not being met, it may be time to find some new friends.

Our delayed blessings aren’t always due to our so-called wrongdoings, strongholds or generational curses.  Sometimes, we could be in the right with God and still face calamity.

 

“Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’  ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ Satan replied.  ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.  But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’  The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’  Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord,” (NIV).

 

God knew that Job was a righteous man.  Satan’s tests were not a testament of Job’s unfaithfulness, but, instead, of his righteousness.

 

Lesson 1:  Testing builds our endurance and increases our faith.

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything,” (NIV).

 

Lesson 2:  Those who believe in God are not immune to trials and testing.

“…do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed,” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

 

Lesson 3:  God will not allow us to be tested beyond our limits.

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure,” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT).

 

One of the many problems that we often face when we are going through our fiery trials is that there are observers who will accuse us of living faulty lives.  Job’s wife and friends were no different.  They accused Job of secretly sinning against God.

 

“His wife said to him, ‘Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die,’” (Job 2:9)!

 

“Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished?  Where were the upright ever destroyed?  As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it,” (Job 4:7-8, NIV).

 

“Surely God does not reject one who is blameless or strengthen the hands of evildoers,” (Job 8:20, NIV).

 

Lesson 4:

When we are going through fiery trials, we have to be steadfast in our beliefs about who we are and who God has called us to be.

 

“Job’s three friends refused to reply further to him because he kept insisting on his innocence.  Then Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the clan of Ram, became angry. He was angry because Job refused to admit that he had sinned and that God was right in punishing him.  He was also angry with Job’s three friends, for they made God appear to be wrong by their inability to answer Job’s arguments,” (Job 33:1-3, NLT).

 

The details of Job’s trials might not be mirror images of our adversities, but the skeletal outline is the same.  Many of Job’s friends and family were against him.  Over and over, they falsely accused Job of sinning against God.  Job must have felt as if his back was against the wall.  Additionally, there were times where it seemed as though even his cries to God had gone unanswered.  Isn’t that the case for many of us.  During our moments of fiery trials, there is often radio silence.  During times of difficulties, some of our closest allies become some of our biggest critics.  They blame our actions, or lack thereof, for our woes.  However, we should take a cue from Job and remain steadfast.

 

Lesson 5:  The moment we pray; a command is given.

 

In the Old Testament, the prophet Daniel was disheartened by the world around him.  He often prayed for favor, guidance and deliverance.  On one of the occasions when Daniel prayed, the angel, Gabriel, appeared to him and said, “‘Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given,’” Daniel 9:22-23, NLT).

 

The moment we begin to pray, God hears us and a command is given.  Our prayers are what connect us to God.

 

Lesson 6:  Sometimes, the immediate receipt of our blessings/breakthrough could be due to a temporary blockage caused by spiritual warfare.

 

In the Book of Daniel, Daniel had been praying to God for a specific answer.  In the natural, it seemed as if his answer was tarrying.  After a period of praying and fasting, an angel presented before Daniel and he said the following to Daniel: “‘Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia,’” (Daniel 10:12-13, NLT).

 

Maybe the answer to our prayers is being upheld by a spiritual battle.  During times when it seems as though our answers might be loitering, maybe we should pray that our answers be released.

 

Lesson 7:  Prayer and faith are the spiritual armors needed to fight against spiritual warfare.

 

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).

 

Scripture tells us that there is a spiritual resistance surrounding us.  The enemy’s mission is to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).  Fortunately, God have given us His Word as a defense against the wiles of the enemy.  He has also encamped his angels around us to protect us from harm.

 

Psalms 91:11-12 says,

“For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.  They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” (NLT).

 

Hebrews 4:12 reads:

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,” (NLT).

 

“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,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

 

Lesson 8:  Keeping a written account of our visions/prayers helps us to remember them, recognize them, understand them, clarify them and thank God for them.

 

Sometimes our visions are blurry and even truncated.  Writing them down could allow us to thrash out the hazy details.  Additionally, reviewing past visions reminds us of God’s faithfulness.

 

Habakkuk 2:2-3 says:

“Then the Lord replied: ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.  For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.  Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay,’” (NIV).

 

As we check in with God, we may need to revise our written prayers/requests.  We need to make sure that the herald is carrying the right message.  If we don’t know what to pray, the Spirt will guide us.

 

Roman 8:26 says:

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans,” (NIV).

 

Final Lesson:

 

Sometimes, we are exactly where God wants us.  What we might consider as an imposition could oftentimes be divine positioning.  Our trials aren’t always caused because of something we’ve done wrong. According to Habakkuk 2:3, the vision may linger, but it will not be delayed.  Though the answer may be blocked in transition, it’s delivery will not be prevented.  Like Daniel, we might have to fast and pray for the receipt of our answers, but we should know that once we have prayed, a command has been given.

 

 

Take home message:

 

  1. Nothing happens without God’s knowledge or consent.
  2. We will never be tested beyond our limits.
  3. Once we pray, a command is given.
  4. Write down the vision.
  5. God’s promises/answers might linger, but they will not delay.
  6. If the answer tarries, go to God in prayer using the weapons of God, which is the Word of God.