When the BEST is YET to Come

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Post by Kendria Smith

I have to admit that I have seen, heard and used the phrase a lot lately—so much so that it has become a bit of a catch-all "Christianese" tag line. I have heard it proclaimed during sermons at church, seen it used as a hashtag on social media and I write it in greeting cards and text it to friends and family, especially when I want to sound spiritual but do not know exactly what to say.

In theory, "the best is yet to come" sounds like an encouraging phrase meant to provide a sense of hope and anticipation for what God has in store. But there are a few key words that have given me pause and caused me to reflect on how I would prescribe the affirmation to my own life. Do I even believe what I am telling others to believe?

"YET"

How do we define the word "yet" in "yet to come?" It can be considered a point-in-time. But when? Today? Next week? Next month? I would much rather open a birthday card from a friend or relative that read "the best is NOW to come."  So if the best is coming, I'm sure many of us would really like to know when we can finally expect it!

Living a life without faith is kind of like waiting every day for the mailman to deliver a package that you never took the time to order.

Galatians 6:8-9 explains, "Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

This scripture speaks to our level of determination, perseverance and patience. The verses make it clear that God is much more concerned with our attitude and how we act during the waiting season, than the fact that we survive the waiting season to finally get what we want. It might be an easier journey in our Christian walk if we knew when our blessings were scheduled to occur, but "yet" requires us to shift our focus from what God can give to us and instead occupy our time with what God can do through us in the meantime.

"THE BEST"

Do you believe that God has the very BEST planned for your life? This may be a difficult question for some of us to answer. You may be thinking about your current situation, shaking your head as you read this and wondering how anything could change for the better at this point. While for others, this question may bring a smile to their faces as they consider how good God has been and the many ways they expect to see his favor in the future.

Consider the promises in His word:

·       "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless
." Psalm 84:11

·       "Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!" Isaiah 30:18

·       "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." Jeremiah 29:11

·       "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." Luke 11:9-10

One thing that all four of these verses have in common is the requirement of faith. How can you expect the "best to come" if you don't believe it even exists? Living a life without faith is kind of like waiting every day for the mailman to deliver a package that you never took the time to order.

I have come to realize that "the best is yet to come" should be more than a catchphrase. It should be a battle cry demanding that we extend ourselves beyond the convenient and comfortable; not only in actions, but through words, as we affirm into our reality the very best that God has already set in motion.

Fellowship or Followship: Exanimating Your Walk with God

Post by Kendria Smith

I was sitting at work one afternoon when my cell phone, resting next to me at my desk, lit up. It was an Instagram notification alerting me that I had a new follower request. I did not recognize the name or profile photo, but nonetheless, I clicked on the stranger's profile to view its content and gather a bit more information. Hmm… from what I could tell, she enjoyed travel, was also a foodie and an avid shopper. It all sounded normal enough for me to click the accept button and confirm my new follower.

Thanks to modern technology, we have access to most of our relationships at our finger tips and can choose to manage them actively or passively. Gone are the days when we need to place a call to extend heartfelt birthday wishes to a friend or relative. Now, it just takes a second to hop on Facebook and add the obligatory happy birthday or "HBD" message to someone's page, along with everyone else. And why trek out of town to visit your best friend's newborn baby when your newsfeed is flooded with images of its every waking moment?

The scripture is very clear.
God’s desire for us is to “remain in Him” and it is for our own good.

Herein lies the difference between "followship" and true fellowship. "Followship" is passive. You can check in when it is convenient and filter through what doesn't grab your interest. Fellowship may not always be convenient. It will most likely cost you something—most likely your time and attention.

We can also look at our relationship with God through the same lens. Are you committed or would you say…it's complicated?

John 15:5 states, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

The scripture is very clear. God's desire for us is to "remain in Him" and it is for our own good. As branches, how are we to grow and produce fruit if we disconnect ourselves from "the vine?" In order to be in fellowship with God, we must be purposeful with our actions. This means that we devote time each day in prayer and nourish our mind and spirit in His Word.  We also must recognize that fellowship, unlike followship, is a two-way street. A healthy relationship is not something you just turn on when it is convenient, the way you'd click on an app to review the number of "likes" and messages you received on a particular photo you posted while on vacation. It involves the willingness to remain in constant communication and listening to what others have to say.

Revelation 3:20 describes it best- "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me."

We may not see God but we know from His Word that He is omnipresent. He is always with us, through the Holy Spirit, to guide us and fellowship alongside us, especially during moments when we feel alone or overwhelmed. Choosing a relationship of fellowship versus "followship" comes down to how available we want to make ourselves as Christians. Do you prefer "bare minimum Christianity"-- checking in to church on religious holidays, living out the same cycle of struggles, and attempting to bargain with God when we finally come to the end of ourselves during a major catastrophe that we cannot resolve ourselves? Or do you prefer to spend your time on this earth living out of purpose—to love God and love others and experience all the joy, pain, sacrifice, peace and growth that a relationship of fellowship comes with.

Your choice may require commitment but it does not need to be complicated.

Let Prayer Pave the Way

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Post by Kendria Smith

When I graduated from Syracuse University in spring of 2004, I had a liberal arts degree and no plan. There were no blueprints for how I was to design a successful, independent, post undergraduate existence. Of course, I received tons of well-intentioned, often unsolicited advice from loved ones, including my mother who saw my trepidation to this newfound independence and urgently "suggested" that I join the military…

So I did what many new grads with nearly a dime to their name and zero life experience to draw from have done.

I moved to New York City.

Why? Well, why not? It just felt like the right thing to do. New York is the city that never sleeps and the land of opportunity. If you hang around long enough you are bound to find your path, your people, your place, right? And so I did.  I told myself, "Just give it five years." That's all I would need to build a successful career, meet the man of my dreams and purchase a condo in a luxury high-rise in midtown.

Twelve years flew by! Although spending most of my time as a single, administrative assistant living in a five-floor walkup on the Upper East Side wasn't exactly the life I envisioned for myself as a 21 year-old, God had provided me with a secure job, a strong sisterhood of friends, and a loving church community. The places I had traveled, people I met and experience I gained in more than a decade was beyond my expectations, but by the start of 2016 I had become restless. Nothing was really wrong per se but after a week of prayer and fasting, I realized that after 12 years I had become COMFORTABLE. 

My prayer for God to change me and use me in a greater way set off a chain of actions that within a few months made it clear to me that doors were closing and my time in New York City was coming to an end. But I was no longer a young, invincible graduate with the world at her finger tips!

I may have experienced challenges here and there, but in the last 12 years I had built a pretty good life for myself. Now, in my mid-thirties, I had become older, wiser and a lot more fearful! How do I begin again?

Put Prayer Before People

When I decided to leave New York and move to Nashville, Tennessee you could only imagine the response of shock and confusion I received from well-meaning friends and relatives. You would have thought moving south was synonymous to moving to another planet. The only way I could combat all the noise and remain steadfast to the steps God wanted me to take was to stay in prayer and drown out the voice of fear and doubt. Was I 100% certain that I was making the right decision? No! But did I believe that God was going to redirect me if I made a misstep? Yes!

His Word is very clear-

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Pray for What You Expect, Not What You Experience

Pray for what is to come. I'll be honest-- this may take a bit of creativity. In order to remain hopeful for the future, I started researching my new city and created a Pinterest board of cool places I wanted to visit, the kind of car I wanted to drive,  color-schemes and decor for my new apartment, and local, scenic wedding venues I could imagine myself being married in one day. I guess this was my version of "professing life to the dry bones" and speaking reality where it did not already exist.

"Then he said to me, 'Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life." Ezekiel 37:4-5

Pray Patiently and Continuously

Although, I made the decision to move out of New York and start a new life in Nashville, it took four months to actually come to fruition. Within that time, there were many days when I felt like I was making the wrong decision, did not see any progress and could not understand how God's plan was going to come together. I was able to secure an apartment in Nashville three weeks before moving but I left New York at the end of July with no job prospects and not much savings to survive on.

Through each step of faith there was prayer, prayer and even more prayer as I finally made the move and saw doors open for job interviews, a new car within my budget, a local church that felt like home and a small group that provided encouragement and much needed guidance, as I acclimated to my new environment.

Was this new season of my life perfect? No, life never will be. But God reminds me every day of how He used my little mustard seed faith, nourished by prayer, to see His plan to fruition. If we follow 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 commands to "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances," we open the door for discernment, peace and favor, and there is no telling where that can lead us too!

Is fear keeping you from living the fruitful life God has planned for you?

Grace Under Fire: What to Do When God Hasn't Chosen You, Yet

Post by Elisia Downing

Post by Elisia Downing

As members of the body of Christ, we live our lives with great expectations of God's blessings. As we wait, seek and ask God for promotion - we must be still and remember that our timing is not always in alignment with God's timing, and that our pathway is not always the road that He intends for us to travel. However, if we are patient and wait on God - the time and season will come for Him to elevate and promote us into the position that He has prepared for us (Proverbs 5:6). As we seek to live a life that is pleasing to our heavenly father, we must not become complacent but always work to the best of our ability to function in a capacity that is disciplined, practical and that honors what we stand for as believers.

There will be times that we will be challenged to endure long seasons of waiting. What we do not often realize, is that delay does not always mean denial.

There will be times that we will be challenged to endure long seasons of waiting. What we do not often realize, is that delay does not always mean denial. We may be delayed because we are not mature enough to manage what God is preparing for us. We may be delayed, in order for Him to create the shift that allows us to move forward (Romans 8:25). We may be delayed, so that we can appreciate the blessing and realize that it is such - when God is ready. The Word speaks of humility before honor (Proverbs 15:33). Before promotion comes, we must be humble enough to learn, to listen, and to develop the strength that we will need to endure what comes after the elevation. While success shines brilliant, it does not come without a price. If God has not prepared your heart for the trial - you will crumble under the pressure that comes with the reward of honor. Each day, we are blessed to be a blessing unto others. This is a gift that does not require the valor of a title. As we pray for God to promote us - we must also ask why it is that we are seeking promotion. Is it for financial gain? Is it for the sake of vanity? Or, is it so that we can be used by God as a vehicle for progress?

Promotion is not relegated to our professional lives - it is also a tool that can be used to develop our relationships in marriage, as singles, in family, and in finance. We have not been created by a mediocre God, therefore we have not been created to live mediocre lives. While we wait on God for promotion, we must always seek to learn and to add value to the various communities that we are a part of. Always remember, one is not fit to receive, what one is not equipped to give. While we wait on God to arrive at a new level, we must pray and become diligent at working to ensure that our intent is pure, that we are emotionally healthy, and that we are spiritually sound in Him to receive what we are asking for (Ephesians 2:8-9). While in prayer - ask for a strategy to help you live as your best self. As you become stronger and execute the strategy that God has revealed, what you seek will come swiftly and at times without expectation. Make sure that you are ready to receive - and to run into your destiny.

Being Broken is Temporary!

By Deborrah Green

By Deborrah Green

My mother says to never keep broken objects in the house, so I try not to. When I have something, I really like and it breaks, if possible I will put it back together and restore it. I have a small angel statue that broke into a few pieces some years back. I glued it and placed it on my front porch, keeping in mind what my mother told me.

Recently, my roommate knocked the angel off the front steps while helping me. The angel broke into more pieces. I was surprisingly not upset, but somewhat disheartened. Buying another one would be easy, but costly, so I looked to see if I could again glue it back together. Whenever I work on a project, I talk to God for assistance and guidance. As I placed the pieces in its place, I was missing a piece and had to wait until morning to look outside for the missing piece. Pleased to recover it, I quickly glued it in place. Although it was not perfect, it was the best I could do, because smaller pieces missing. I reviewed my work and thanked God for showing me how to turn the pieces correctly to fit. 

As it dried and I looked at the angel, I realized the broken angel represented each time I have been broken and God put me back together. When I felt shattered and cried myself to sleep or until I felt God’s comfort and peace. Could I buy another angel? Sure I could, but at this point, I did not want to. I let the glue dry and spray painted the angel in a shimmering silver instead of the white I had it in. My angel was broken, but I was able to restore it with glue and a new coat of paint. It now sits on my front porch, glued in place. 

DO NOT WALLOW IN YOUR BROKENNESS. ALLOW GOD TO RESTORE YOU.

The angel is a reminder that God is my Healer and my Redeemer! Like me, I am renewed, with the Grace of God and with Jesus in my life. God put me back together each time I felt broken. (Proverbs 30: 5 Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.) If a piece of me chips, when I pray, God’s word mends me (Proverbs 30:1 NIV…..”I am weary, God, but I can prevail”.) If I fall apart, I call on the name of Jesus and He restores me. No matter how broken I may feel at times, when I put my trust in God, He restores me. When I seek His peace, He embraces me. 

Do not wallow in your brokenness. Allow God to restore you. It does not take much, just ask and wait. Won’t He do it? Yes He will! Be Blessed! Not Stressed!!

Thank you Lord

Post by Deborrah Green

Post by Deborrah Green

I notice that the enemy works overtime to distract me from reading my word the way I used to daily. I make sure to read a scripture or two. My thoughts are constantly manipulated with foolishness and weighed down with issues that are beyond my control or are not mine. I have to swap negative thoughts like an annoying fly. I reflect on the days when I wanted to take my own life, but that is my past. (Luke 4:8 KJV, ....Get thee behind me Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.) I am looking forward to my victory over my current situations that is trying to ruin me. In my mind I repeat (Isaiah 54:17 KJV, No weapon formed against me shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn….) No enemy that come against me will win! I have the victory, in the name of Jesus! This should be my mantra by now, because when I overcome one issue, another comes my way. 

I went away with my mother on her ministry trip a few weeks ago, I needed to be with God and get a break from my life. My mom told me the celebration, with the praise and worship was a blessing. With everything I was going through, that is what I wanted and needed. I was blessed the way I had hoped and imagined, but then I came back and I found myself dealing with all kinds of issues. Seeing that the more I stand for God, and declare Jesus as my everything, the more the attacks. In the past I would have crumbled, but I say let my haters hate and my enemies do their best, my God will protect me, because this too shall pass! I declared healing in my body and received prayer; the doctors call with news that they found something and I need more tests. No worries, I declare I am healthy, in the name of Jesus! I received it already, so no test results are going to matter. I know I am doing my everything in my power to be mentally, physically and spiritually 100%. 

MY PATH IS ROUGH, BUT NOT ROUGH ENOUGH TO GIVE UP, I KNOW THAT AS LONG AS I CAN CALL ON JESUS, I CAN MAKE IT! I WILL MAKE IT!

My path is rough, but not rough enough to give up, I know that as long as I can call on Jesus, I can make it! I will make it! They wonder how I do it? How am I not angry? How am I surviving with no job? How? My answer, God is good. He is more awesome than I can imagine. I need not limit the things He can and will do for me. I will be a little sad, but it is temporary. I will be a little angry, but it is temporary. I will hold my head up and walk in His power and strength! God is the only reason I am still walking this earth. He told me I have a purpose, yet there are days I feel useless, but I know I am not! I may be struggling to find my way some days, but all I do is talk to God and pray, He brings me through. I struggle to stay focused. I struggle to complete tasks and I am disappointed in myself. I wonder what is holding me back, I have to fight to stay on track. Others do not want me to succeed, they want me homeless, jobless and miserable. Been there, done that, not going back! They take my kindness for granted. I feel abused and manipulated, but I cannot dwell on it. I thank God for making me who I am, instilling strength and wisdom in me. The more I seek Him, the better He makes me. My reaction to adversity is defeated with prayer. This is a season or time, like many others that will pass. It is only temporary according to Pastor A. R. Bernard. In the “meantime”, I am working hard to press on and move forward. Reading my word gives me the peace I need. 

Thank you Lord for everything, the good, the bad and the ugly, because You show me I can be better and I can do better! 

Thank you for loving me. Thank you for the peace You give me when everyone in my life tries to ruin my day and stress me out, I pray to keep your words in my mind and in my heart so I can stand strong against my enemies, who keep coming for me. (Psalms 59:1 KJV, Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me.; Psalms 64:1 KJV, Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy.) I need your word and your promises to sustain me, Lord. I am committed to You and want to walk in your Righteousness Lord, my Savior each day. (Psalms 55:22 KJV, Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.) You tell me to be patient and wait, and I am trying. It is difficult some days because the more I seek your face Lord, the more my enemies come for me. The more I have to fight the negative thoughts and beg you to protect me. I continue to love and trust you because I know, You Lord, know what is best for me. A day will not pass without me depending on you or appreciating You for all You have done and continue to do. God I love You. You bring me joy and peace. I long to do better. I pray to do better. God I beg you to help me. 

Spring Cleaning: Clear the Clutter and Keep Your Peace

Post by Kendria Smith

Post by Kendria Smith

I woke up on a sunny Saturday morning in late April to the sound of neighbors chatting on the stoop next door, dogs barking, and birds chirping in the trees outside my window on my busy street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

It was spring and the weather was finally beginning to take a drastic turn for the better that encouraged shedding a layer or two, taking a stroll instead of hailing a cab and enjoy a long, casual brunch outdoors.  Yet, as I watched the weekend bustle four floors below me, I finally resolved myself to the dreaded, solitary task at hand: SPRING CLEANING…

My entire day was committed to this one activity, and although it tends to be a pretty common practice for most people this time of year, for me the obligation of purging and reorganizing my belongings was born out of sheer necessity. After nine years in the same apartment, I was finally packing myself up and relocating to a new life awaiting me in West Harlem.

Although I was looking forward to the change of scenery, I began to deeply regret my decision moments after pulling every bag, box and suitcase out of my closet and from under my bed and dumping its contents onto the middle of the room, revealing items that dated back 12 years to my college days. How could one person collect so much stuff in one tiny New York apartment? When did I become a hoarder and not even realize it?

No matter how daunting the task, I realized there was no way I was bringing all this clutter with me into a new space. So I created two piles -- “keep” and “discard” and made my way throughout my apartment using my best judgment to determine the true worth of every item I came across. Because let’s be honest, if you haven’t worn it in over a year or, better yet, if you didn’t realize you owned it in the first place, do you really need it? No.

I was a woman on a mission working late into the afternoon, when finally five hours of cleaning and six trips to the local Goodwill Store later, all shelves, closets and drawers were clear. I was able to look underneath my bed and see straight through to the other side and I had eight boxes neatly packed against my living room wall and ready to be transported to my new apartment.

It wasn’t until I dropped to the couch that evening, feeling exhausted and hungry, yet victorious, that I realized this very physical act of preparing for a new season in my life paralleled to my spiritual journey, as God continuous to bring me to new levels in deep companionship with him.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

So how can we practically prepare ourselves for a new season? Whether you are a new believer or a veteran in faith, here are four steps to help pave the way for God to make His move:

IT WASN’T UNTIL I DROPPED TO THE COUCH THAT EVENING, FEELING EXHAUSTED AND HUNGRY, YET VICTORIOUS, THAT I REALIZED THIS VERY PHYSICAL ACT OF PREPARING FOR A NEW SEASON IN MY LIFE PARALLELED TO MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY, AS GOD CONTINUOUS TO BRING ME TO NEW LEVELS IN DEEP COMPANIONSHIP WITH HIM.

1.     Embrace the Silence

Revelations 3:20 states, “Behold, I stand at the door and continually knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.” Our personal relationship with God is so special because it’s meant to be unique. God speaks to each of us in different ways, but the question is, are we taking the time to listen? Asking myself this question led me to fast from social media for a month! I was so wrapped up in what was going on in the lives of others around me that the voice of comparison and discontentment was drowning out my own heart’s desires, and more importantly, the discernment and direction from God. Whenever I felt the longing for “virtual connection,” I would force myself to cancel the noise and embrace the silence that helps me to reset my motives.

2.     Take Inventory of Your “Obligations”

Many of us hide behind the guise of “busyness.” For some, it gives the illusion of importance to have every hour of our day accounted for by an activity. But when you find yourself feeling haggard day-after-day or in desperate need of a vacation, do you ever ask yourself what you are so busy doing and why you are doing it? As a Christian, I’ve had many seasons where I’ve fallen susceptible to what I like to call the “Martha madness” (Luke 10:38-42). I’ll spend my entire Sunday at church sitting in or serving in multiple services, attend multiple mid-week activities, leading a bible study every Wednesday evening, volunteer every Saturday morning and then whine to God about how tired I am and how hard Christianity is! Over time, I’ve learned to discern exactly what God is requiring of me versus what might make me feel good at the moment or look good to others.

3.     Stop Worrying

Yes, I know first-hand that it’s much easier said than done, but the Bible is pretty clear on this one—“Therefore I tell you, stop being worried or anxious about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, as to what you will wear. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by worrying can add one hour to his life?” Matthew 6:25-27 #TRUTH

4.     Love Others & Do Good

There’s a wonderful thing that happens once we come to a true realization that God has a beautiful plan for our lives and we don’t have to have it all figured out, despite your best efforts. We can finally move outside of ourselves and our own desires to a greater purpose that we’re all called to as Christians: sharing God’s love through our everyday words and actions. Some days it may be quite the challenge, but the reward is a supernatural level of freedom and peace that the whole word is unknowingly fighting for today.  It’s all encompassing, it’s contagious and best of all, its value can never be stored on a hanging in the back of your closet or stuffed in a box under the bed. 

What Time, What Season?

Post By Carla Nelson

Post By Carla Nelson

There was a time in my life when I was a part of an organization, coordinating their events and I loved it. Calls at any time (morning, day or late at night) would ignite my creativity and I would immediately enter into the initial state of planning to produce the engagement. Then one day I lost the fervor and I couldn’t fathom what was taking place in my life. I asked myself why it was such a challenge to do the same things I had been doing. I couldn’t let go of my role and yet I wasn’t as empowered by the thoughts of what I loved so dearly. My passion for events has always been there but in that particular setting for that particular group the grace had been lifted. SMH (Shaking My Head), I felt lost, the energy I once thrived from had seemingly waned. It was time for a change and deep within I knew this but didn’t want to actually let go and submit to that factor. A slight fear existed; the question of what I was going to do next was present. How else would I use my talent and ability? And for whom? Was this the end? Oh Lord!

Prior to this occurrence, I worked for a major corporation for many years and had come to experience the same loss of zeal for the role in which I was serving. Trying to search out what I should do, I started seeking counsel from others; not always a good idea, it just depends on the mindset of those whom you are talking to. In this case, I was talking to people who didn’t possess the same sort of progressive desires that I did, nor accomplishments that I desired to produce. Not good. So the advice I received from them was to stay on my job; where was I going to find another good job like I had they would say. So their reservations became my reservations and I allowed those thoughts to keep me bound to that job in misery. I could barely get up in the morning. I knew I had a gift and I knew I wanted to launch into a greater level in my life. I just didn’t know how to do it. Had I realized the voice of God in my life and sought Him more for direction than people (those without the same type of passions), God would not have had me ousted from that job (via layoff) to prove His position in my life.

GOD WILL PROMPT YOU TO DO SOMETHING, BECAUSE OF HIS GRACE, MULTIPLE TIMES TRYING TO HELP YOU GET IT.

 

God will prompt you to do something, because of His grace, multiple times trying to help you get it. Yet if you don’t take heed to what He is saying, He will go into taking whatever measures necessary to get the message through to you, so His will may be accomplished in your life and the lives of others. 

Okay, well having that initial experience you would think I’d learned the lesson. Yeah okay, I guess not. So I stayed in this role with this organization again in discomfort. I held on to that role pushing and only depriving myself to keep going to fulfill the requirements I had committed myself to. The thing is I was holding the next person who was called to that role back as well. So I was hindering myself and that person too. My, My! I was depressing myself and hindering the next level in my life that God had for me. Nevertheless God is faithful and what the devil means for bad, God will use for your good and He did. For quite a while I continued in the role, suffering in my soul because it was no longer fulfilling the thirst in my spirit. Yet, I began seeking God like never before and now here I am almost 7 years later having feverishly sought out the direction of God for my life, and I am better than I have ever been before in my life. To God be the Glory! 

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”
Matthew 7:7 NLT

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Matthew 6:33 NLT

For a seven year period in my life, I continued on a roller coaster ride; experiencing divorce, layoff, physical health challenges, challenges with my family, financial and ultimately depression because I wouldn’t let go of various things, thinking there was nothing better. When all that time, He had the life I live now in store for me. I was like the children of Israel, who were in the wilderness for forty-years and couldn’t reach the Promised Land because of a mindset.

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV

I allowed my commitment level and Peter like doubt (Matthew 14:29-31) to hold me hostage, because I didn’t understand that there is a season for everything and that seasons end. I didn’t understand that when you let go of one thing/role that it does not in any way mean that you are not faithful. It does mean that you have accomplished everything you need to in that role, that you are being obedient to God and that you are moving out of someone else’s way. It means that God wants to take you further and it’s time for the next grade so that you can continue to grow and excel. If you repeat the first grade it means you haven’t learned what you were supposed to, but if you have accomplished the objectives, why keep repeating what you’ve already learned when the next grade awaits you so you can build upon the foundation laid by the prior class. It’s when we fight the current that we are taken under by the water and drown, if we let go and stop fighting our body will begin to float right to the top.

And yes there may be struggle in the beginning but we struggle when we first start learning to walk. We fall down and yet we get up and keep trying to walk and the reward is amazing. If Oprah hadn’t recognized the season in her life and let go of her talk show, she might not have the OWN Network now. There would be people who did not hold the jobs they hold with that organization. There would be writers who might not have a career creating shows we are entertained and educated by. These things and more happened because she let go and went after the next level/season in her life.

So through those experiences, I caused myself lots of unnecessary pain. Yet I learned the greatest lesson ever, how to truly listen and hear the Voice of God in my life. I learned how to accept and embrace when He says a season is up. 

Let go and let God guide you into knowing when the seasons of your life are changing! We must give something in order to receive, so we have to give up that current grade level in order to enter into the next.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 NIV

Single And Loving It???

Post by Deborrah Green

Post by Deborrah Green

Single and loving it is what I profess, but I do not always feel that way, because I want to be married and have a family. I am seeking God in the midst of my singleness while in a relationship and I am faced with challenges, especially after reading 1 Corinthians 7:25-38. I want the hopes and dreams I had as a little girl to come to pass. I have wasted too many years doing it my way and failing it to do it God’s way which produced doubt and I do not want to doubt God!

I want to believe and know with all my heart, God will bring what is on my mind and what is in my heart into my reality as long as it is His will. I may not know when, but I know that as I take the time to prepare, I will be ready when God blesses me with a mate. Being single is a journey. It is a time that I can spend with the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:8 NLT, 8 So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am.) all by myself until I am blessed with someone who wants to spend time with the Lord together. When I thought I was ready to be in a relationship and it did not work, I learned it was not because I was not ready, but because they were not the right person for me. I was bothered by each failed relationship, seeing that things happen for a reason has kept me seeking God and relying on His word to guide me.

I decided to look within myself to find out what I was doing wrong. I used to ask others and wanted to reach out to other singles and even married couples, but after speaking with God, He has the best answer because He has the blueprint for my life. (Psalm 139:16 NLT, You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.) I want to be happy in my singleness but there are days that are difficult, such as Valentine’s day, not because of the day itself, but because of the representation of Love. I am glad to know that God loves me and it should be enough, but why is it not enough? Is it because of the stigma attached to holidays? I had to ask myself and ask God to help me see what am I really feeling? Is it more important to have a ring on my finger? No, because I can purchase my own. Is it more important to have a man by my side? No, but it is nice to have a companion, a person to love and share my love with. 

Then there is the emphasis that society places on being in a relationship because we can either live single and focus on the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:7 NLT, But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another.) or we can wait for our mate, chosen by the Lord. There are times that I feel out of sorts as a single woman in today’s society because everything is sexual and there is not enough emphasis to live according to God’s word. We need more support on how to live single with Christ as the center. How to live celibate and wait; not to be in a hurry because we are afraid of being alone. When you say celibate to someone, the response is Celi-what? Yeah right? Who does that? (1 Corinthians 7:1-2 NLT, ……...Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations. 2 But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.) I can’t do that. Anyone professing to be celibate is practicing self-gratification. (1 Corinthians 6:13 NLT, ……But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies.) What do you mean wait until you are married? What if it is no good? I used to think that, then I felt betrayal to God, which hurts more for failing to honor my commitment and promise. (Psalm 53:2 TLB, God looks down from heaven, searching among all mankind to see if there is a single one who does right and really seeks for God.)

Trying to get others to see God’s way is not easy, it is a hard conversation to have. Then there are other comments as a woman, I have to endure, but will not accept. Such as, I am getting older; my eggs are drying up; I won’t be able to have a family; these statements cause a person, to doubt and violate their covenant with God as a celibate single. 

Singles do not have the support needed to stay true to living a lifestyle in the word and maintaining celibacy proudly because society says it may never happen and we have to seize the moment while we can. I want to trust the Lord with my singleness while in my current relationship, keeping God is first! I am happy he respects my celibacy and commitment to God, but when dating someone who is not celibate, not saved, it is different. It is difficult to listen to other Christians tell you the person is not right for you; the person is cheating; you are unequally yoked; he needs to be saved. It is stressful. It is not in my control. The mindset of the most of the comments make me dizzy, but when I listen to what God is saying, trust Him and read His word. I look for information on Christian relationships and living life successfully as a single Christian which places me at ease. If it is love it should resemble (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 TLB, 4 Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, 5 never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. 6 It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. 7 If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.)

SINGLES DO NOT HAVE THE SUPPORT NEEDED TO STAY TRUE TO LIVING A LIFESTYLE IN THE WORD AND MAINTAINING CELIBACY PROUDLY BECAUSE SOCIETY SAYS IT MAY NEVER HAPPEN AND WE HAVE TO SEIZE THE MOMENT WHILE WE CAN.

When I speak to God, God is telling me to wait, be patient, don’t let the negative words trip me up. God knows what He is doing. I used to wonder what if I did not like the person God chose for me or if it did not work out? I was doubting God. He knows better than I do, because had I listened earlier in my life, the life I hoped for and planned out when I was six, married with children, educated, in a nice house living with my husband, would have been fulfilled. I lived with someone to see if it was possible, so I know I can do it, but when it came time for them to purchase a ring and take the next step, they found reasons why they did not want to. Looking back, God showed me I was not mature enough to be in that relationship and it was not right for me, but my question was answered, can I live and share my personal space with another human being? Learning from my bad mistakes has showed me it is very necessary to pray about every relationship, every decision. I involved God in my past relationships, but not enough to listen and follow His word. Now I know, as long as God is involved, which ever direction my relationship goes, I will accept, because I am seeking and praying for His will and direction for our lives. No matter the outcome, we are friends and will always be friends.

Singles need to encourage one another to do what is pleasing to God!

Deep Wounds

Post by Nicole Hall

Post by Nicole Hall

When you realize that the chains of rejection and abandonment have kept you bound most of your life, deep wounds.

When your mother is angry and bitter because her life isn't what she expected, deep wounds. 

When prayer is all that you can offer your mother because she rejects any other type of communication, deep wounds.

When your children don't understand why their parent has abandoned and rejected them for his/her own selfish needs,deep wounds. 

When your spouse leaves for another man or woman, deep wounds.

When you recognize that you have created boundaries that certain people will never cross again because of the hurt they inflicted, deep wounds.

When the people you used to look up to become the ones you need to minister to, deep wounds. 

When you realize who you are in Christ after having lived a life of low self-worth and fear for decades, deep wounds.

 

When you search for answers to life's difficulties in all the wrong places, deep wounds. 

I’m sure you have your own deep wounds.

When you finally find God and He begins to heal your heart, thank you Lord.
 

WHEN YOU REALIZE WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST AFTER HAVING LIVED A LIFE OF LOW SELF-WORTH AND FEAR FOR DECADES, DEEP WOUNDS.

When you recognize that joy has come in the morning and God is healing your Spirit, praise you Lord. 

When you know how to look to the hills for which comes your help and you recognize that God is healing your mind, bless you Lord.

I have learned that God is a faithful God who keeps His promises to His people. He's a good Father. He heals us, He listens to us, and He sends provision and hears the cries of your heart. He is willing to supply all that you need. Let God have His way with your life, in your life and through your life. Give God all of the painful experiences; the anger, breakups, betrayal and He will trade your beauty for ashes. His goodness prevails in every situation and may simply be a quiet yes, a day off, $20 or a plate of food. God can do exceedingly and abundantly above anything we can ask, think or imagine.

God keeps His promises. Let Him heal your deep wounds.

Scriptures to meditate on:
Psalms 30:5 NIV
Psalms 121:1 NIV
Deuteronomy 7:9 NIV
Jeremiah 17:14
1 John 5:15 NLT
Psalms 34:18 NIV
Ephesians 3:20-21 KJV

Is This Why You Have That Problem?

Post by Carla Nelson

Post by Carla Nelson

A little girl was watching her Mother prepare Sunday dinner. Being inquisitive she asked, “Momma, why are you cutting the ends off of the ham?” Her Mother answered and said, “I don’t know, it’s what my Mother always did.” 

So the little girl decided to ask her Grandmother. “Grandmother, I saw Momma cutting the ends of the ham off and she said it’s what you always did. So Grandma I’m just curious, why did you cut the ends off of the ham?” Her Grandmother answered and said, “Well I don’t know, it’s what my Mother always did.” 

WHAT BLESSINGS ARE BEING NULLIFIED IN YOUR LIFE BECAUSE OF REPEATING WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN OTHERS DO WITHOUT THE FULL UNDERSTANDING OF WHY?

So this young lady continued to seek out understanding and decided to talk with her Great-Grandmother about the situation. She goes to her Great-Grandmother and says, “Great Grand Momma, I saw Momma and Grand Momma cut the ends off of the ham, they have directed me to you. Why did you cut the ends off of the ham?” Her Great-Grandmother answered her and said, “Well I don’t know why they do it, but I did it because the ham wouldn’t fit in the pot.”


Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. 
And you do many things like that.” Mark 7:13 NIV  

What blessings are being nullified in your life because of repeating what you have seen others do without the full understanding of why? Answer that question and therein might be the solution to some of your challenges of life. 
Be Blessed!

Seeking God No Matter What!

Post by Deborrah Green

Post by Deborrah Green

How do I stop the hurt when I do not know where I went wrong? I am trying so very hard to do what is right, to live the way God wants me to live, yet it often seems wrong or so I think when it appears to me that I keep messing my life up, even when I am trying to live right. It hurts when I feel like I am unable to do anything right, especially when I know, I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). I have to keep reminding myself of this scripture to push out the negative feelings. I want so much out of life and I know the only way to have what I want is to give God what He wants and what He so richly deserves; my praise and honor and anything He asks of me, (Psalm 34:1 ESV) “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth”. I often think, who am I to expect so much and give so little in return? Yet, as Christians, in our human state going about our daily lives, that is what we do. 

I am eager to know God better than I do and to hear His voice more distinctly each time I call His name. (Psalm 5:3 NIV) “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” I do not want any more distractions. I have so much to do and there are times when I just want to sit still, let go and let GOD! (Psalm 46:10 NLT) "Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world." Yet I have to keep pressing toward the mark (Philippians 3:14 KJV). I read, fast, pray, mediate, talk to GOD, sit in silence, worship, praise HIM, listen to music to keep me focused on God and still I feel like I am not doing enough. I work on my walk daily. I have gone from seeking God occasionally, like I used to do when I was in need or attended church, to seeking Him daily and asking Him for guidance and direction throughout my day, praying, Lord, I cannot go through my day without you. I need you more than I need anything else. You are the air I breath, because of You I am able to see another day, Hallelujah!

I WILL KEEP SEEKING GOD,
NO MATTER WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH, BECAUSE I KNOW HE IS WORKING IT
OUT FOR ME!

When I have so much on my mind and I am desperate for an answer and I cannot hear God speak to me, I go to His word and look for the subject of my thoughts in scripture to find the answer (Proverbs 3:5 NIV) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on our own understanding.” It is in His word that I learn I have to trust God. Failing to trust God is wrong and things do not work when I try to work it out on my own, I found that interesting. I am working on building my trust in the Lord and I know I trust Him, even if I do not trust myself or if He is answering me. I think sometimes God is talking to me and it could be me making up answers in my head. I know that sounds crazy, but when you really want something, whether it is bad or good for you, there is no telling what you are actually hearing, especially when the voice is the same. That is why I have to see it in scripture. I am constantly checking myself to make sure I am doing what is right and saying what is right because I cannot afford to keep messing up. I am thankful the Holy Spirit walks with me and keeps me out of trouble. I want to move forward. I want to get out of this place I am in. I used to think I was in a forest trying to find my way out, now I feel like I am in a jungle, fighting to get out, as I stay away from the vultures and the creatures who want to harm me. 

I can only trust the Lord, with my heart, my mind, my soul, my finances and my destiny. He knows my future; my problem is I want to know it too. I am not impatient, but until I know what direction I am going in, (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) “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.” I am either wandering in this forest or standing in a cross road, waiting. (2 Samuel 22:2-4 ESV) “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” I have chosen to wait and allow God to lead me, realizing I have more lessons to learn. 

(Hebrews 12:10-15 NLT) “For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.” No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

(1 Peter 2:19-21 NLT) For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

I will keep seeking God, no matter what I am going through, because I know He is working it out for me! AMEN!

How We Dress And The Message We Send

Post by Deborrah Green

Post by Deborrah Green

Whenever I go to the mall or browse clothes online, I feel like I have been thrown into the cultures of time. How men and women dress has changed in the last twenty to thirty years. I did not grow up wearing designer clothes but my parents always made sure I looked nice. Because of them I never tried to be a part of the trends or wanting expensive, name brand clothes. My parents had rules about presenting yourself a certain way, wearing the proper under garments with my attire, especially shear or light clothing and low cut blouses. I had low self-esteem since I was around age six and I would do crazy things to get attention to feel better, like following friends wearing make-up, dressing inappropriately, which led to getting unwanted and improper attention, created wrong mindsets, wrong thoughts, wrong impressions, equating to many problems. After a while, I was tired of the negativity, rumors, fights, foolishness and I decided I wanted to be seen for the mind I had, not my body. I often wished I could wear a potato sack every day, so I stopped dressing to impress and to get attention. 1 Peter 3:3-4 NASB, “Your adornment must not be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”

I look back at when I started wearing fitted jeans and short skirts and realized it was more for me and not to acquire a man’s attention, because I have had a lot of weight issues, up and down so I had to cater to my size at that moment. I never liked revealing blouses because I was harassed so much in High School, I preferred to stay covered up and I am always cold! I also realized that I catered to the men I was involved with, but I learned more about myself. After meeting a nice young man who loved the Lord, (I asked God to meet a young man with a heart for Christ, attended church, saved and sold out for Him, but I knew I was not ready); as we got to know each other, he told me that he did not want a woman who wore a lot of makeup, he preferred none at all; he did not want a woman who wore revealing clothing, he wanted a woman who preserved it all for him.

I WENT TO THE MALL TO SHOP FOR SOME WORK CLOTHES ONE DAY AND LEFT FRUSTRATED, EVERYTHING WAS EITHER TOO SHORT, TOO TIGHT, TOO REVEALING OR JUST PLAIN UGLY AND EXPENSIVE!

 I thought, wow, he has not seen my closet; I had no problem with the make-up, I wore very little, but when I thought about my wardrobe, that would be a challenge, if we entered into a relationship. I asked him to show me in scripture what God said about how a woman should dress. He quickly referenced, 1 Timothy 2:9-10 NIV, “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” I ended up reading all of 1st and 2nd Timothy twice to get an understanding and then I had to pray and I pondered over more scriptures for additional reference, such as, Proverbs 31 NLT, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLTIsaiah 61:10 NLTEphesians 4:22-24 NLTRomans 8:512:1-2Titus 2:11-14. I was not ready to change how I dressed for anyone. When I was ready I wanted to change for the Lord, not for a man, because I did not want to feel restricted or deceitful wearing what I wanted when he was not around. But God knows what we need at the right time and people come into our lives for a time and a season. It is interesting how God works, because, I used to attend church dressed in a variety of ways, but with caution because if my mother had a problem with how I looked, she had something to say. If she did not like my clothes, she bought me dresses ladies would wear. One Sunday, I wore jeans to church because I was going uptown with my mom to visit a friend in the hospital, but I did not care for the looks I received and that was the last day I wore jeans to Sunday service. Elder William Pointer recently preached one Sunday on women’s attire and being a distraction, if I did not think so before, I knew I was a distraction that day. Reading the books of Timothy caused me to pay attention to the dress code around church and when I did, after attending for over twenty years, I never noticed that those who serve are always professionally dressed. I was considering serving and this was a good time to put into practice what I read in the word. After my last Customer Representative Training class, I stopped wearing pants to Sunday services and to choose wisely. I reflected on what my mother’s teachings on dressing appropriately, how I should dress for church. Always stating that ladies wear a slip with a dress, to prevent others from seeing straight through you. Wear a lengthy dress, if I cannot bend without exposure, it is too short. Wear a camisole under low cut blouses and sheer.

What I have noticed over the years, these practices have gone out the window. I am not surprised with the amount of exposure on the television and in stores. I went to the mall to shop for some work clothes one day and left frustrated, everything was either too short, too tight, too revealing or just plain ugly and expensive! Each time I think about what I want to wear to go out or to attend church, this scripture comes to mind, Matthew 6:25 NASB, "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” 

I make sure I have appropriate clothing for church, work and for different settings, knowing that there is a time and a place for everything. Some of the attire in the stores is too provocative and is not meant for church. What looks good on the model, may not look good on me and does not need to be in my closet. I thank God for my mother and my sister for being an example on proper attire and the Holy Spirit for keeping me in check and convicting me! I am always mindful of what I do and how I present myself! I joked with a woman one day saying, if it was not for Eve, we would not be worrying about what to wear today! We chuckled and she agreed. Though I am blessed to attend a church, where Pastor Bernard allows guests and members to come as they are, this has been abused. I am offended and distracted sometimes, but as my girlfriend told me, it is more important for souls to be won. Maybe that is all that person had in their closet. Maybe that person does not know any better. The subject came up again, and it was that maybe the mothers or older women in the church should address the issue. Either way, I hope Elder William Pointer’s message reached many and is conveyed to others, it was a good word!!

God Forbid!

Post by Edward Adams (Singles Ministry)

Post by Edward Adams (Singles Ministry)

We all know when we first get saved that it's a process. We never come to God perfect. Matter of fact, we come to God broken, used, abused, neglected and with a host of different problems. God uses the altar as a place of exchange to give us righteousness for our problems. This is what makes us, “new creations”. However, this does not mean we should remain stuck at this level throughout our Christian journey.

Maturity comes when we accept responsibility for our words, thoughts, actions, and intentions. (1 Corinthians 13:11,Matthew 5:28) We have to make sure that we continuously press towards the mark of the high calling of Christ. To that effect, we must also understand that the Holy Spirit is still in the process of changing us. Yes, the Holy Spirit, not us. Often times we think the changes we undergo are the result of our hard work to become a better person.  Sure, there are improvement systems that we put into place for our own betterment.  However, it's the spirit of the living God that moves us to the place where we can become better people. As such, our reliance on the Holy Spirit must be paramount in everything we do and say. If you feel that you can make it on our own apart from the Holy Spirit, you’re leaning to your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV) Repent right now. Don't worry, I'll wait. The Holy Spirit is right next to you for a reason.

As mature Christians, we cannot make God's word a stumbling block for the people who are observing us. Furthering the Kingdom of God should always be our ultimate goal in everything we do. Often times we neglect our duty to the one who has redeemed us, which ultimately stunts our growth and demotivates onlookers. Matthew 6:33 (KJV) says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This scripture reveals the type of focus we need to sustain our own maturity in the faith as we inspire others.

AS MATURE CHRISTIANS, WE MUST RECOGNIZE THAT THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS WE JUST CAN’T DO ANYMORE.

As mature Christians, we must recognize that there are certain things we just can't do anymore. This is the focus in so many scriptures. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.” (Romans 6:1-2) “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” (Roman 6:15) “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid.” (1 Corinthians 6:15) “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” (Galatians 3:21) The central theme in most of these verses is that the word of God offers us maturity, grace, and promise; and God forbid that these declarations come back to us as void (Isaiah 55:11 KJV).

A Time for Fellowship & Prayer - The Women's Ministry Prayer Breakfast

Post by Nicole Hall

Post by Nicole Hall

Love, Hope, Family, Faith, Friends, Believe, Live, Dream... These were the words decorating the tables, that welcomed the ladies as they entered the grand ballroom. Before the words could even permeate, all over the room, friends hugged and chatted, laughter could be heard throughout and anticipation of what God was going to do hung gently in the atmosphere.

Jennifer Robinson, a CCC member and self proclaimed “choir’s cheerleader” couldn’t contain her excitement. She said, “Every event I attend, whether it be a meeting or retreat is excellent and high caliber. When your expectations are met, you always know what you are getting.” 

The praise and worship team began to pray asking God to draw us closer to Him and to each other, to be able to lift each other up in prayer and in support of one another. The women were led into worship singing “I am a friend of God.” A chorus of voices sang, “You are the Risen King; seated in majesty.” As the women lifted their voices in unison, the Holy Spirit came down and settled upon the room. 

Moving at the unction of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Jamaal Bernard had the women sing the song again telling them to, “send thunder up to heaven.” At his direction, the women gathered into groups and prayed one for another. When the prayers ended, Pastor Jamaal said that we would “stand in expectation of the requests that were uttered to the Lord.” He lifted up the Women’s Ministry that would be ordained by God and “a womanhood that could stand on God’s word that says we are above and not beneath.” He prayed that we would be women with “heads held high, a sense of quality and security; that God would remove any hindrance so He could use us. That God’s will would be done in everything we have, everything we are, the good, bad and the ugly.”

Danielle Parchment, a CCC member who was excited to attend said, “I like to see the possibilities. You could be that light for someone.” She continued, “Women are so caught up, they forget to love one another. We need to pull each other’s arms and pull them along. That’s very important!”

Women from churches around the city and in other parts of the country stood up and introduced themselves and Rita Bernard was in awe over the number of women who attended. Over 500 listened as she laid out the plan for the Women’s Ministry in the coming months and then received instructions for the day’s tasks; creating Vision Boards. We were told to have our sisters help us, be comfortable and have achievable goals; move forward at a pace comfortable to us.

“A vision board is like a bucket list,” said Traci Caine, a ministry participant. She said, “I just told my husband last night that I wanted to create a vision board and I was so excited to find out that’s what we were doing.” Traci came with her longtime childhood friend Teishia Phillips-Unthank, a CCC member. Teishia said, “I’m just happy to be here with like minded women.”

After the ladies had received their instructions they dove into the task of creating their visions for a successful 2016. It was quiet and all you heard was the sound of scissors cutting, magazines rustling and Gospel music humming in the background. As we passed around magazines and asked one another to search for specific pictures as we thumbed through, the women began to open up to one another. “Do you ladies ever feel as though you share so much that you don’t have time for yourself?, asked one of the participants. The whole table responded not just with a chorus of “Yes” but with solutions to help. This was sisterhood and friendship in action.

Pastor Karen Bernard, the event host, spoke to the ladies and gave a testimony about her early Christian walk. As she talked about the importance of calling out the “Blood of Jesus,” a participant at the table whispered, that she had a similar testimony and began to weep. Another participant asked for prayers for her niece who was visiting from another church. Both ladies were comforted and prayed for as the sisterhood and love continued to blossom. As Pastor Karen, who was also celebrating a birthday, gave her testimony, she passed on sound wisdom to the ladies. She said that we serve a God who compensates, He can turn things around and He gives. She told us that she is constantly working on herself and her attitude. She said that she makes sure her face is not offensive and makes sure that her daughter-in laws and grandchildren know that she is available to them. What awesome advice to give to women as they created such transformative goals for 2016. 

Stephie Calixte attended the event with her aunt, Manite Noel. Stephie comes to CCC on Sundays with a friend and enjoys the worship and message. She said, “I feel spiritually fed when I leave. I still have a lot to learn but I want to stay on a spiritual path.” She enjoyed this event saying, “It’s not so easy to create your vision,” she said seriously. But then she chuckled saying, “I want to fit in so much!” 

Danielle Parchment agreed, “All of the ministries at CCC build upon the themes that Pastor Bernard speaks about and gives me some structure.” She continued, “This is an important event to have for women so we can come and talk to one another.” Indeed, we have more in common than we have apart. Love, friendship, hope, dreams, faith.

Are You Afraid To Die?

Post by Gene Redd (Marriage Ministry)

Post by Gene Redd (Marriage Ministry)

“..And also that he might deliver and completely set free all those who through the haunting fear of death were held in bondage throughout the whole course of their lives.” These are the words used by the writer of the book of Hebrews to explain the epic power and dominion that death has held over mankind.

When we read the phrase “haunting fear of death,” it’s not only referencing the cessation of life.  It’s also referencing anything having to do with loss itself. Whether it’s the loss of a car, the loss of a home, the loss of money, or simply the loss of our place in line. The bottom line is, we as human beings are deathly afraid of losing.  We fear loss of any and everything.  We even stress when we lose our train of thought.  We struggle with loss because it symbolizes death to us, and no one wants to die, everyone wants to live.  Even the martyr takes his own life with the warped expectation that he’ll have a better afterlife because of their valiant actions. The confused teenager takes their life to experience a life free from pain and disappointment.  Each and every day, some person, somewhere on the planet, attempts to kill themselves, not because they want to die, but because they want to live.

Every person wants to live, but not every person wants to pursue life. Sadly, most people spend their limited time on this earth fighting to stay alive.  And there’s a big difference between a person who pursues life and a person who fights to stay alive.  For the person who fights to stay alive, “self-preservation” is the primary goal.  That person’s life revolves around protecting themselves from life’s hurts, pains, and disappointments.  They desperately want to experience life, but the fear of death paralyzes any and all attempts that they make to pursue it.  As a result, this person enlists themselves in a lifelong fight to stay alive at any expense.

I WOULD LOVE TO REPORT THAT CHRISTIANS NO LONGER STRUGGLE WITH THE FEAR OF DEATH OR DEATH-RELATED ISSUES; BUT OF COURSE, THAT IS NOT THE CASE.

The person who pursues life sees things from a much different perspective.  This person focuses on “the giving of self” as a primary means to life.  They are motivated by the joy that springs from their obedience to Christ, and they challenge themselves to love others in ways that increase their faith.  They make decisions, based not upon what they’ll gain in the end, but rather, whether the end will bring them closer to Christ.  The person who pursues life has no need to fight to stay alive.

When the first man (Adam) ate of the forbidden fruit, it was an act of disobedience that brought death, sickness and disease into the world.  Through one single act, death gained dominion over man.  This left man with no other choice than to live his entire life “in bondage, haunted by the fear of death” as described in Hebrews.  Ever since then, man has walked the earth engulfed by a prison of fear, marked by insecurities, paranoias, and an intense fight to stay alive.  This is the death legacy passed down from Adam.  But when Jesus Christ died on the cross, the death sentence that once loomed over man finally was repealed.  This removed death’s legal power and dominion over man.  And with death no longer occupying legal power and dominion over man, man no longer needed to fight (or fear) death.  Therefore, for the man who is “born again” (born of the Spirit of Christ), he can rest assured in knowing that the power of death that once plagued him finally has been overcome.

I would love to report that Christians no longer struggle with the fear of death or death-related issues; but of course, that is not the case.  Many Christians, though spiritually redeemed and made anew in Christ, still walk in that remnant of fear, which for thousands of years was interwoven into the fabric of humanity.   Before Christ, fear permeated every aspect of man’s being, from how he related to God, all the way down to how he related to people (even himself).  But Jesus took away man’s “life of fear” and substituted it with “a life of faith.” That’s what Christians call “the good news.” The “not so good news” is that the obsession with fear that once dominated man for so many years didn’t depart from him so quickly.

Unfortunately, for many Christians, the fear of death still holds the same power that it had over them when they were in bondage to the law of sin and death.  As a result, we see Christians in the world today living lives dominated by the fear of death.  We see Christians living lives dominated by the fear of unhappiness.  We see Christians living lives dominated by the fear of hurt. We see Christians living lives dominated by the fear of loneliness. All of these fears are sourced from man’s central and most prolific fear; the fear of death.

As Christians, we must work through our own death-related fears in order to love in ways that God calls us to. If a husband or wife fears their own death, fights to stay alive, or puts a greater premium on their own life than they do their spouse’s life, they’ll never walk at the level of freedom necessary to sacrifice their life. This is an individual’s first step towards love. They must confront their own fear of death.  So tell me, “Are you afraid to die?”

No New Year’s Resolutions

Post by Deborrah Green

Post by Deborrah Green

I vowed a few years ago to never do New Year’s resolutions. When people talk about New Year’s resolutions, I ask them, what is the point in starting something, you already know you are not going to complete, despite good intentions. I am not being negative; I am keeping it real! Be realistic! I decided to set goals instead, pray on each one and work towards the completion of each one. I create a list of goals in a book and go back and check each one off of the list as I accomplish each goal. I do not check my list often, but I reward myself for the difficult to achieve goals. Sometimes motivating myself or keeping my momentum can be challenging; therefore, when I do not reach my goals within the same year, then I see to it to make changes and strive for it again! 

WHEN I WAS STRESSED OR FELT WEAK, THIS SCRIPTURE COMES TO MY MIND:
PHILIPPIANS 4:13 NLT

This year I will speak into existence the things I desire, I will pray and trust God, thanking Him each day and rejoicing when I achieve it! As it is written, I will commit to memory: Job 42:2 NLT, "I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.” I especially like this scripture and wish I had it every time someone asked me to put off completing my education. Some would say take a break, wait a year, focus on work. Focus on a job I did not like and I was not going anywhere. I know had I stopped for any reason, I was not going to return because I was going through so much, so I pressed on. When I was stressed or felt weak, this scripture comes to my mind: Philippians 4:13 NLT, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Psalm 28:7 NLT, “The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”

I pray that the New Year will bring us all what we desire in our hearts, our minds and our souls. I will continually pray for peace, love, financial freedom, good health, jobs/careers for the unemployed, homes for the homeless, and that GOD meet every need of every believer and non-believer. I pray that one day soon, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior! To know and accept Him, not just in a time of need, but all of the time, because He died for us and is here for us! AMEN!

He Didn't Do All That!

Post by Carla Nelson

Post by Carla Nelson

There is a joke that talks about how the devil was sitting a long side the road crying. One of his demons approached him and asked, “Satan why are you crying? What has you so upset?” Satan slobbering all over himself answered between moments of catching his breath, “Yes, yes I have done a lot of wrong and enjoyed doing it, but some of this they blamed me for I didn't do."

Funny, I looked this morning on my Facebook feed and low and behold someone posts a pic of a boot on their car saying the devil tried to stop them. Stop it!!! You didn’t pay them dog gone tickets and trying to blame the devil! Now ain’t that something and I know in my life I’ve done the same thing tons of times. There are a variety of reasons for things we endure, for now let’s explore reaping and sowing. 

We reap what we have sown or didn’t sow and often times what has been sown for us. Know your family history, you may have to be the cleanup man or woman and let the buck stop with you. 

“Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children
for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
Exodus 34:7 NIV

Examples:
Sowing lack (not giving tithes) well you might reap lack. If you get money and it’s like your pockets have holes because something else goes wrong as soon as you get it, well what have you been sowing? Been there done that so I can talk about it. Tithing works trust me on that. No more lack!

MY LIFE TRULY BEGAN TO EVOLVE INTO SOMETHING AMAZING WHEN I ACCEPTED RESPONSIBILITY FOR THESE THINGS AND STARTED BECOMING THE CHANGE
I WANTED TO SEE.

Let’s take our bodies (health), if we sow junk into our bodies and sow no exercise, no preventative maintenance, overwhelm it with excess weight then what type of performance are we going to reap out of our bodies? Poor health. Trust me on that one too. I was over burdening my body with surplus weight and after losing that weight I can walk better, get up better from seated positions, dress better and even my feet are smaller so I’m better all-around and I’m not as tired climbing stairs.

Unforgiveness, hmmm… yep trust me on this one too. I previously shared my testimony about the allergy I had for what about 15 years because of resentment in my heart. Got the resentment out of my heart and the allergy went too. I was sowing corruption into my soul like poison and it was overflowing to my body. No more hives breakouts and no more money for medication; oops even got to keep more money because of decreased expenses.

My life truly began to evolve into something amazing when I accepted responsibility for these things and started becoming the change I wanted to see. I was always taught to make sure you go into a new year with a clean house. “How you end the year is how you'll start it out” they would say “don’t have no dirty clothes in your house”, etc. (superstition another problem from my family). Granted there is some truth in everything. The thing is, as I heard someone say the other day, “Your house isn't clean unless the closet is clean.” Just remember if you want things to end up right, you have to start out right. Have an awesome 20-16, clean your closets and your house too, to reap much continued success.

Our Wealth Transfer Problem Is Regressive

Post by Carla Nelson

Post by Carla Nelson

As I was thinking this morning, a previous revelation re-entered my mind.  Some years ago, during my 7-year crisis, hum it’s funny how things come to you during a storm.  But that’s the purpose of the storm so you can learn from it (at least that’s my belief).  I remember a conversation with my Mother.  I was sharing with her that I realized it was my responsibility to setup shop to take care of her, my Grandmother and my Grandfather.  Financially they were not prepared to take care of themselves in accordance with a lifestyle they were accustomed to and had the mindset to rely on Social Security.  Social Security is supposed to be a stipend; we aren’t supposed to survive on that little bit; that’s play money.  Documentation from the government even states this factor.  Unfortunately they didn’t and still don’t have that mindset.  But by God’s grace I have it.  To God be the Glory!  So I shared with her that I realized I had to setup not to just take care of them, but that I had to setup in a way so that taking care of them ­­would not be a burden to my family while doing so.  A reality many of us face, some unknowingly so.

There it is, a part of the root problem to our wealth transfer problems.  Our parents didn’t set up their barns appropriately for various reasons.  The main one being lack of knowledge oftentimes because there is no desire to seek it out.

My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.

In my lifetime I’ve seen people take the scripture about honoring thy Mother and Father and use it as weapon aimed toward their children (unintended manipulation) versus a strategy for long life.   And yes, we do have a responsibility to coordinate the care of our parents, how could we even fathom not doing so.  Yet oftentimes what happens is being financially responsible for the care of our loved ones and simultaneously our own family becomes a burden and the cycle continues, we keep digging ourselves deeper into an already huge hole.  When does it end?  From my perspective, it stops when a generation decides to educate themselves and employ their gifts and talents to want more, seek more and thus do more, to produce a surplus to fill that void and setup their own barns appropriately.

A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.

Proverbs 13:22 NIV

You see the parable in Matthew 25:14 -30 talks about the talents God has given us and how some of us have hidden them and not produced more than what was given.  Those talents equate to money.  God says he has given us the power to get wealth.  But the question is what are we doing with that power? 

But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV

Our wealth transfer problems reach back way before our existence (the regressive state) and so we have been working with what we’ve been given, inadequacy.  So for me, I have realized the ditch is big enough and to stop digging.  So yes, many of us have to fill in the ditch left for us.  But let’s not just fill it, but make it overflow.  Let’s be the change we so needed and can be for our future generations by leaving a legacy of wealth and not lack.

Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.

God Is Relaxing on a Beautiful Beach, Today!

Post by Darlene Aiken

Post by Darlene Aiken

Matthew 10:30 KJV says, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Placing emphasis on the word “all” is one of many indications that our God is beyond AWESOME in every imaginable and non-imaginable manner. For we do not even know how many hairs we have upon our own head. Should we ever decide to take on the feat of counting our individual hairs on our head, we'd have to begin over every second, as according to Dr. Oz, the average person sheds approximately 50 to 100 hairs everyday. So, without knowing what part of the day the hair sheds, does it all shed at once, more in the day or night, etc. how do we begin to count. Who is even interested or have that kind of time?

Since His Word also states, in Romans 2:11 (NIV) for God does not show favoritism, this would include all people. If you notice above, I spoke about Dr. Oz who stated the average person, however God possesses knowledge about ALL people, creation, and things already created and not yet created.

Now, given what I have spoken about the above, I'd like to ask each person reading this to really take a moment to meditate on what I'm about to say.

Since our God is ALL knowing and He's known what He knows before we were even thought about. He knows what He's known before our parent's parent's Parent's and so on were thought about, that means He knows the path that He designed for us to take and He knows the path that we will actually take. He knows some of us are super hardheaded (I admit that this would be my category - insert me kneeling for repentance prayer here), some of us are hearers, some of us are doers, it took some of us a long time to become believers, some are not yet believers, and so on. The beauty is He already knows our path and He has already made provision.

God has already allowed Satan to do whatever he is doing with a limited time in which to operate. Everything that Satan and his cohorts indulge in, plan to do, are planning to plan, is with God's permission. This includes those who have not even been born as of yet.

God knows who He is going to use and in what capacity. He already knows His plan for whatever situation we are facing right now. He already knows the outcome. In fact, He already knows that based upon our actions, lack of actions, words, lack of words, obedience, lack of obedience, praise, lack of praise, who we will effect and affect. What type of testimony we'll have and the timing of it.

God is waiting on all (there's that big little word again) of us to recognize and fall in line exactly where He already knows we're going to end up. God is bored because He is just waiting, I imagine on a beautiful beach today waiting for us to catch up to what He already knows. We just have to not only read His Word and implement it, but do so with complete FAITH. Then and only then can we begin to live according to God's plan for us without worry nor fear.