I want to start by saying I love my family. I am a family oriented person. I would do anything for my family.
But the holidays… Yeah.
The planning, the cooking, the shopping…
When your prayer room becomes a guest bedroom. When YOUR kitchen becomes OUR kitchen. When YOUR bathroom becomes THE bathroom…
I think you get the idea. We love our family, but right around January 2nd we are ready to say goodbye. We are ready to get back to our schedules. We are ready to get back to the rhythm we had before family overtook our lives.
It’s a time of love, a time of joy, a time to reminisce and let loose. And if we’re being honest, it can also feel like a time of intrusion.
During this past month I have been tested by my family. Before December, I was developing a rhythm. I was growing rapidly in my faith and started to find a comfort in my day-to-day. I was learning how to balance work, ministry and relationships. Then it was December 1st, and my prayer room became a guest room for my brother. Talk about an adjustment. Instead of being able to pray anytime I wanted, however I wanted, I had to start scheduling time to pray and study. Let’s just say I didn’t stick to this new schedule as well as I would have hoped.
I started to get frustrated. I started to let anger build up in me, not because I don’t love my brother, but because I love my space. I love the freedom of living alone. I loved the freedom of not having to schedule and communicate my schedule.
Now that I am here, in January, overlooking my last month, I am disappointed in how I am handling this test. All the months of growing in prayer and studying and all it took was my brother moving in with me to disrupt my prayer life, my studying, and my peace.
The reality is, what is the point of growing in prayer and studying the word if you can’t apply it to every situation in life, including your brother moving in with you.
I’ve learned over this past month that family can be used to test you in a way no one else can. It’s because of how you love them, what you would do for them, and what you won’t do to them. I think it’s because of these reasons that they can also push you farther than anyone else. They push your limits, they push your comfort zones and they cause all those places still in you that have held on to who you were before to rise up once again.
If this past month and holidays were a test for you like they were for me because of those you love the most becoming those who you like the least, pass the test. Don’t give in to those feelings of anger, frustration, irritation and stress.
Use what you’ve learned in your times of rhythm to overcome your times of chaos.
As I sit across the table in Starbucks talking to this God sent man, I start to look back at the conversations we have had. I know what his purpose is. I know what he is called to do. I even know his five and ten-year plan. His future looks so bright and our assignments seem to collide perfectly. But then I hear my mother’s voice in my head so clearly it was as if she was sitting right here with me, “But who is he right now?”
As a single Christian woman I am constantly downloading webinars, videos, and articles on how to discern the God sent from the counterfeit. I am taught to marry for purpose not emotions. I am taught to understand the assignment, purpose and call of the man sitting across from me at this Starbucks. And through all of this, during this courting process, I begin to get to know exactly who he is. I know, if he is obedient to God, a brief overview of what his walk will look like. As I look at him with admiration, honor and respect, I begin to see a person I could submit to. A person I could marry. I see the anointing on him, but I also see the flaws and I must ask myself, “If he never changes, will I still say yes?”
The reality is, when you chose to marry someone, you marry them as they are, right then and there. You have to make a decision, is the person across from me enough as they are right now for me to say yes for a lifetime?
No matter how much we desire to, we can never change someone. We can never fulfill someone else’s purpose and we can never say yes to God for them. That is an individual decision we all must make everyday. The only person you will ever be able to change is yourself.
You cannot marry someone for a decision they will make, for a purpose they will fulfill or an assignment they will complete. You must know these things and understand them, but you must also know the current walk this person is on right now, in this very season. You must ask yourself, can I say yes to this person for a lifetime?
You marry someone for who they are right there in front of you. You pray they will max out their life, but commit to loving them right where they are, and right where they will be, even if that position never changes.
Marriage is about propelling each other into purpose to advance the kingdom, and loving them no matter what decision they make. You know you’re ready for marriage when you look at the person sitting across from you in all of their glory, and the person you pray to change is yourself.
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.