The reality is this: your life is not your own. You have a choice with what you do in your life, but the formulas of life are out of your control. Simply input your choice into God’s promise, and that will be your outcome. You control your choices, but God controls the result.
This was not an easy concept for me to grasp. I like to be in control. I had to come to terms with the fact that I was not. The outcomes would be expected, the choice was mine, but the formula for life was set before my conception. And there was nothing I could do about it.
My peace came when my soul yielded. To know that I am simply a vessel for God’s use was one of the most frightening places to move into, yet the most liberating place to stand.
This life of mine, this life of yours, is God’s. You were bought with a price. Not to enslave you, but to free you. There is freedom in being out of control. To give up your control is to yield to God’s. He created it all, and His control means perfection.
The world has attempted to teach us that control is power. That yielding is submission and submission is a place of enslavement. This is a principle birthed from the Kingdom of Darkness meant to keep us bound by our flesh. Our flesh is simply a vessel in which our spirit operates here on Earth. It was never intended to be the captain of our lives, just the vessel we work through. The Prince of Persia wants us to believe that it is on us, but there is no truth in this.
Our responsibility is to yield and be obedient. Everything else is on God. That’s what He promises us in His word. Simply yield to His instructions, and He will take care of the rest.
It’s all on God.
The most peaceful place to reside. It’s not your responsibility to control the results. Simply input obedience and give Him the control. There’s no stress here. No worry, no fear, no doubt.
Liberation. Freedom. Peace. Joy. All you must do is give up control.
God has been calling me to ministry since I was a child. I have also been running from ministry since I was a child. I’m not kidding. The minute I got my small glimpse of freedom in college, I ran as fast as I could. I became president of the “My flesh runs my life” club.
Am I proud of it? No. But what exactly caused me to run so far from my call that God had to disrupt my life in such a way that I came crawling back asking for forgiveness? That beautiful, sparkling pulpit you see every Sunday morning and hopefully Wednesday evenings if you’re diligent.
That pulpit everyone around me seemed to desire, but I wanted nothing to do with.
See, I had a unique glimpse into the life of ministry that many don’t get to see. What I like to call “back room ministry”. The ministry you see at home in the tired face of your mother. Seeing invitations declined to what seemed to be pure fun that are left on the counter to collect dust. The 3am wake up calls from God that leave you dozing off before the night-time news. The long table of wine glasses for family friends and the water glass in front of your parent.
The exposure to ministry I got as a child of a pastor was a real-life, up close and personal view of what bearing the cross of ministry looked like. I saw the hugs, tears, thank you’s and god bless you’s on Sunday mornings, but I also saw the sacrifice on Saturday night.
And I ran, because I didn’t want to be that different.
When I stopped running and accepted my call, I started to see how my peers began treating me differently. The “she thinks she’s too good to go out with us now” comments and the “why does she have to get a prophecy every time someone comes to church” looks. I just couldn’t understand it. My entire life I had been running from my cross, I finally pick it up and carry it, and you despise me for it because I’m headed towards the pulpit?!
The truth is this. I would love to be called to speak only to a few people at a time. I would love to get a prophesy only calling me to my small group of friends, or the one or two people I will be ministering to at my job. To be honest, I would love to simply stand in agreement with the Rhema words of my peers and rarely get a prophesy myself.
That simply is not what God has asked me to do. As a pastor’s kid, I understand all too well what that cross looks like. This is why I don’t understand why people run towards the pulpit with such desire. What you see on Sunday mornings is only a glimpse into what it takes. Trust me, those Sunday mornings aren’t all sunshine and rose petals either. People only want the pulpit for the encouraging sermons, but what about when God asks you to bring conviction to His church? Does it look attractive then?
My heart for my generation is that everyone understands the importance of their call. That they not envy the gifting and anointing of those around them, but simply walk in what God has graced them to do. We all have a pulpit, whether that is in front of the masses on a Sunday morning, or at your job during the week. Each is just as important to the kingdom, one not holding a greater value than the other.
But please understand that for those who are called to be shepherds, to speak to the masses, and to be a mouthpiece for God to many, the cross they bear is great. The heart breaks they will experience are numerous and the daily sacrifices are countless. The scrutiny is exhausting and the love is conditional.
Don’t run from your pulpit, wherever it may be; its invaluable to the kingdom of God.
Don’t envy the pulpit of others; you don’t know the cross they bear.
I would like to welcome my partner, Caleb O’Neil, and I hope you all are looking forward to everything we will accomplish together. Below is the first of many blog posts from Caleb. Don’t forget to comment with words of encouragement and like this post. ENJOY!
Consumer Christianity is not a new concept, but honestly its an irritating one for me.
Growing up as a pastor’s kid has given me a unique and slightly cynical view of the current state of this Western Charismatic Church Culture we find ourselves in. Don’t worry, God and I have been having some intense talks about it and He is helping me with my cynicism. However, this post will reflect the honest thoughts of a millennial concerned for his generation.
Many people find themselves hopping from church to church looking for somewhere that is going to fulfill all of their needs and have been bitten by what I like to call the Consumer Christianity Bug.
There is no church in this universe that will meet ALL of your needs.
It is time for us to stop approaching church the same way we approach shopping at the mall. Walking into a store looking for goods and services, then sending management an email that you’re not happy with your experience and will no longer be returning to the store.
If you find yourself at Apostle Bishop’s Conference on Wednesday, then Prophet Apostle’s Webinar on Thursday and finish off the week at Dr. Evangelist’s Summit on Saturday, but by the time Sunday gets here you can’t make it to your own local house, there is a problem. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to use alternative resources or participate in things outside of your local assembly, but it should not be used as a substitute.
If you don’t find yourself planted somewhere there will be no actual growth. Who cares if you’ve been activated to write multiple books, prophesy to the multitudes and cast out devils if you have not been discipled in having Godly character. All you become is a consumer who is easily swayed by a good marketing strategy. Do not let a catchy slogan, a photoshopped image and pretty background have you abdicating your role in your local assembly.
The real question you should be asking yourself is not “what can this church do for me”, but “what can I do for this church”. If you haven’t spent time praying and seeking wisdom from the Holy Spirit as to where He is calling you to SERVE, it may be time to do that.
There must come a shift in our thinking away from “what’s in this for me”.
I believe it is time for leaders to seek fresh vision on how to reach my generation. There is a method currently being used, and although it is effective in drawing a crowd, it is not making disciples. In due time, we will pay a price for it. This method is not the mission. The mission is still to make disciples that advance the kingdom of God.
If you are a leader banging your head against the wall asking why am I losing all my youth, I have one tip for you. The only real “marketing strategy” you need is love. Jesus is still the head of the church. When we, as followers of Jesus, gather together there should be love in the room.
It is time to become intentional in making the love of God flowing in our churches priority number one.
I was rehearsing a song the other day and one of the lyrics said “I’m denying myself so you can come and pour into me.” I’ve sung this song many times before, but this time that lyric started to resonate in my spirit.
For the last two weeks I was on a consecration after receiving a life-changing prophesy. After making a decision to follow the plan God has for my life, I wanted to catapult myself into this new season.
As you can expect, day one I was all for it. I had the scriptures I was going to study ready. I had the book I was going to read set aside. I got up, set a plan for my day, and started getting my breakfast ready.
Here come the internal conversations. “It won’t hurt to watch a little HGTV while you’re eating breakfast before you start studying.” One hour of TV turned into several…. It’s noon and now I’m hungry for lunch.
“I’ll just go get a quick bite to eat and then come back and start studying.”
Next thing I know, the day is over and I hadn’t picked up my bible once. As I said my prayer that evening I repented and actively had a desire to do better the next day.
I’ll save you the long story. In a nutshell, that one day turned into my entire week. By Friday, I was so mentally disappointed in myself that I started to break down. “Why can’t I just do what I planned to do for the day? Why is it so hard to motivate myself?”
What I really needed to be asking myself is, “how can I work on denying my flesh?”
That’s what I was doing. I was feeding my flesh over feeding my spirit.
I think that’s why that lyric starting to stir something in me. I thought all I had to do was make a plan for my week and just walk it out, but when you are used to feeding your fleshly desires it’s not always that easy.
Denying yourself, denying your flesh, is one of the hardest yet most gratifying things you could do in your walk with Christ. It’s hard to not watch TV all the time. All of your life, you’ve done what makes you feel good. And let’s be realistic, it feels better to stop thinking in front of the television instead of clearing your mind to really study God’s word. Well, that’s until you have a new assignment and the anxiety starts to kick in, but you haven’t filled yourself with enough of God’s word to ease your mind. Or when your friend becomes ill and you don’t feel as powerful to cast out the sickness in their body because you haven’t built up your faith on your own.
It’s a sacrifice. Plain and simple. You don’t always get to do the things your flesh desires. On the contrary, you have to deny your flesh everything it wants. That’s what that lyric meant by denying yourself. The more you feed your flesh, the less room you have for God to fill you.
You have to starve it, until there’s nothing left of you and all that’s present is God.
If you’re in your 20’s, on Facebook, and following millennial ministries, you might’ve noticed the majority seem to focus on one goal…marriage.
The big question of your 20’s, “How do I pick the right person to marry?”
I’m not saying I didn’t have this same question because I did. Marriage is a very important decision most will make in their 20’s. It is imperative to marry in purpose and with the right perspective on marriage to advance God’s kingdom. So what is my biggest concern with this linear focus of my peers?
Do you even know your purpose? How many of us in our 20’s can answer this question? If you can’t, how diligent are you in seeking God about purpose as you are about marriage?
This might come as a shock, but marriage is not your only purpose. Walking down the aisle and saying “I do” isn’t going to answer all questions about why you are here and what you must do as God’s representative. This idea that you will find yourself once you are married is not biblical, but a worldly mindset.
Another shocker, marriage should further advance your purpose, not become it. The act of marriage will not complete you. You will not find wholeness in becoming someone’s spouse. An insecure single person doesn’t find security in their marriage. They just become an insecure married person.
For me, my purpose is the focus of my single season, of my 20’s and of the rest of my life. The first questions I asked God, what does it mean to be made in your image? What did you call me to do as your representative on Earth? What is my specific assignment? How do I develop the gifts you have given me? Father, give me the heart of Joshua and show me my Moses in this season.
Being single should be a time to develop and grow in God. It’s a time to heal and become whole in Him. Learn who you are as His image on Earth and what you are called to do.
Start your purpose driven walk and you will realize your future spouse’s path will be parallel with yours.
I’ve had a total of three relationships in my life. Each were drastically different, yet taught me valuable lessons about myself and my love languages.
The first taught me the strength of a soul tie and how to properly communicate. The second taught me the difference between lust, worldly love, and Godly love. It also helped me understand that seeking wisdom from those over you is always a good idea. The third taught me how I want to be loved. It exposed my love languages. It also exposed how important it is to be equally yoked.
None of these relationships were with the person God has intended for me to be joined with. Yet I had grown used to companionship. In my last relationship, I had grown used to being treated like a Queen.
For the moment I’m single…now what?
What I’ve come to learn is there’s a beauty in being single. This season is not to be taken for granted.
During those lonely nights, when you just don’t want to be alone, who do you run to? It’s easy to text back someone you would just rather entertain, but won’t take serious. It’s easy to send that late night text to an ex. It’s easy to drown the feelings out with shots of tequila or a blunt.
But will you run to God first? Will you seek Him in such a way that His love fills every void?
That’s what being single has taught me. I used to run to men to fill voids that their love was never intended to fill. I had to learn that until God’s love was enough for me, no other man’s love would ever be received properly.
No man can be my God, and there’s no love like His.
And I don’t say this so you can think it’s easy. It’s not. It’s not easy to stop the lonely thoughts. It’s not easy to push through the negative emotions. It’s not easy to wait on God when you’d rather have Him send you your man NOW, but it’s worth it.
Your desires don’t always match your current heart condition. That’s the ugly truth. Just because you want it, doesn’t mean you’re ready for it.
His love is enough to heal you. His love is enough to fill your voids. His love is enough to give you peace. His love is enough to give you joy. His love is enough to help you find comfort in being single and waiting on Him.
The honest truth is no one can love you like God can. So stop wondering why no one loves you how you want to be loved and start focusing on the love that you were created to need.
A man’s love will never seem adequate until God’s love is more than enough.
Just a few weeks ago I made a decision to fast. First time IN MY LIFE I decided to fast on my own. The Daniel Fast. An entire five days of fruits, vegetables, and water. I was fasting for clarity. I was asking God some very tough questions and I wanted to hear clearly as to get guidance on what to do and honestly, it wasn’t the physical part of fasting that was the hardest.
As an emotional woman who has spent most of my life more broken than whole, I form emotional attachments to men that I shouldn’t out of my brokenness. Recently, I have formed one of these such connections. Although that connection had ended prior to the fast, I didn’t realize how dependent I had become on the wrong people until I took away the food that gave me a momentary distraction.
To put it simply, I am ready to be in love. I would like to get married soon and I dream and imagine my life with someone all the time. What we will do for the kingdom of God. How our relationship will be. The places we will reach together that would seem unreachable on our own. Yet my desires had caused me to shift my focus from waiting on God to scouting my options. Until I fasted.
Not being able to console my emotions with chocolate was devastating. So I prayed. Staring at my phone every two seconds realizing I didn’t have a significant other to talk to all the time made me feel lonely. So I prayed. Feeling down because I felt like my desire for a relationship was so far out of reach and I couldn’t eat fried chicken to distract me from the feeling. Yet again, I prayed.
Drink water. Get a negative thought. Pray. Drink more water. Vegetables. Fruit. Water. Feeling lonely? Prayer instead of chocolate. Water. Prayer
That was my week and honestly, I can’t wait to do it again. Why? Because I realized who my man really was! These emotional connections I felt like I needed from men never left me feeling complete, but those moments of intense prayer just to fight a thought or a graving with God left me feeling weightless. I felt free. I felt at peace. I felt loved.
I realized, I was never alone. The emotional connection I always craved was always right there, waiting for me to start the conversation.
In short, that week of fasting reminded me, God is first and foremost my number one man. He is my best friend. The strongest emotional and mental connection I will form. He is my love. He is my peace. There is nothing that can substitute that relationship. Not food. Not a man. Not even chocolate (and I LOVE chocolate).
If you’ve never made the decision to fast on your own, I highly encourage you to do so. Whether it’s to get clarity on an issue you’re struggling with, or just to get closer to God.
I came out of my fast completely in love with my Savior. I pray you will fall in love with Him, too. I promise, it’s the greatest love you’ll ever know.
Hey all. I’m not sure if any of you have noticed, but I haven’t posted in a while. There’s a few reasons for that. If you’ve read any of my previous posts you probably know that I sometimes struggle keeping a clear mental state. And lately, that has been a bit harder than normal.
Both my grandparents are pretty sick. My emotions have been running haywire. The attack on my mind has been nonstop.
I used to think that ignoring my emotions was how you battled them. Being hard meant being strong. The farther down I could push my emotions, the less I reacted to them, the more successful I was at mastering them, or so I thought. To be sensitive was to be weak. To cry was to show weakness and as a black woman in America, I was not meant to be weak.
It wasn’t just the way I was raised. My mother is actually quite sensitive and is the strongest person I know. Yet growing up I was more like my dad. My dad is fearless and strong. I never saw him cry. He always seemed to get things done and didn’t seem to be ruled by emotion. Yet each of my parents showed me the beauty and the power in both being sensitive, and the ability to make decisions without being ruled by emotion. Yet for me, I couldn’t seem to master balance and emotion in the same breathe so I chose to be more like my father. He always was on top of his emotions, never underneath their power.
So why couldn’t I be more like that? For most of my life that’s what I aimed to do. I would do everything I could not to cry. And when I did, I would get so angry with myself for every tear that fell. I still do sometimes. It’s exhausting, but I thought it was necessary. How else could I possibly get through all the trials and tribulations of life?
In every relationship I’ve had I seemed to fall on one end of the spectrum or the other. In one relationship I was hard, emotionless and blunt. You could say I wasn’t the best friend a girl could have. In another I was overly emotional, cried all the time and seemed to never find a balance. I was told I was weak, a crybaby and easily manipulated because of my outward expressions of emotion. It was as if, no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t successful.
And then, in my twenties, something in me starting to change. It started at church. Every time I would walk into church something would cause me to cry. At first I had no idea why, I would just become upset that I was crying.
God was changing something in me. He was allowing all the walls I had placed around my emotions, around my heart, to fall in His presence. He was changing what I thought about my tears. See, God is sensitive. Jesus cried. And He is not weak. So why did I think my tears meant weakness?
It took a long time to learn to see my tears as my strength. To look myself in the mirror, in the midst of my tears, and realize that as they fell, I grew.
My greatest victories have happened through my tears. I have forgiven through tears. I have been delivered as my tears fell. I learned to love myself in the midst of my emotions. I have learned to confront my emotions. To acknowledge them and let the tears fall. To move forward even with puffy eyes and a wet shirt. See, I realized that neglecting my emotions enabled my weakness, yet my tears could be partnered with my strength.
So lately, I’ve cried quite a bit. And I walk. Forward. Through my tears. And this makes me stronger than I have ever been. I don’t always feel strong for crying. Sometimes, I still get upset with myself as the tears begin to fall. I have to constantly affirm myself in my emotions. That they are normal. That they aren’t wrong. That I am entitled to have them. That I am entitled to feel. That I have to acknowledge them in order to move through them, in order to remain balanced and in control of my mind.
So cry when you feel the urge. Don’t be afraid to cry in public. Don’t be afraid to feel. For if you don’t acknowledge your emotions you give them a power over you. You become ruled by them. But if you let the tears fall and keep moving forward, you will find a strength you didn’t realize you had.
When did things become so segregated? Not just racially segregated, but religiously segregated. The branches of Christianity have turned into their own cliques and to be honest with you, I’m tired of it.
It’s like high school all over again. If you’re a Baptist, you sit at this table. If you’re a Pentecostal, you sit at that table. If you’re non denominational, there’s a table for you. If you believe in the universe, there’s a separate table for you. And, oh the atheists? You all are in the corner on the far side of the cafeteria. What are we, sixteen?! Since when did what you believe mean you had to be ostracized from everyone else? Oh, and don’t decide to sit at another table one Sunday. Don’t decide to try to learn about beliefs beyond your own. Don’t educate yourself about the world around you. Why would anyone want to do that? The world revolves around you and your clique, right? Now, everyone from your previous table is going to question whether you really believe in what you say you do. “You see her over there with the “universe” people. She says she believes in God, but I just don’t know.”
Look, the reality of it is this. We all want to believe in something and in our current society, there are a lot of options. Just because someone believes in something different then you doesn’t automatically make them this disease you must stay far away from. Oh, and it doesn’t mean you will become “infected” with their beliefs if you talk to them either. Well, unless you aren’t really sure what you believe, and you are just following whatever crowd you look the most like. Then, you might become infected with what’s around you, but that’s on you, not them.
Especially Christians. We have to stop making people feel less than us just because they believe in something different. Why would they want to be Christian if every Christian they know is “cliquish” and talks about everyone who isn’t like them? What’s attractive about that? To be honest, I wouldn’t want to sit at your table either.
That’s not what Jesus is about. That’s not what God is about. God doesn’t have cliques and He for sure doesn’t have prejudices or preferences when it comes to His children. Oh yeah, and if you forgot by chance, we are all His children. Even the atheist you have avoided in the hallway is God’s child. Just because he doesn’t believe in his creator, doesn’t mean God is all of a sudden not his creator anymore.
You want to make believing in God attractive? Get rid of the tables. Bring everyone into the same room. Just this big empty space where everyone must sit next to each other. Then, talk. Be open to what people have to say. Stop forcing Jesus down the throats of your peers and start learning the heart of those around you. Feel the pain in their voice, hear the desperation in their words, feel the love they express and realize we all aren’t much different then the next. We all want love, so show love. God is love. When you show love, you show them God. Just bring in the presence of God with your presence and let Him work.
I believe things can change. Come into the room, I promise it’s safe here. Just kick off your shoes, let your hair down, and drop your religion at the door.