Thursday, December 27, 2012

Year of Development

As 2012 brings to close another year, I wanted to take some time to reflect on this past year. I must be honest this has been a very difficult year for me in probably every aspect from physically, spiritually, emotionally, health wise, you name it! I believe that this was a year of development for me and let’s just say it was not a very fun process but a very necessary one. I can truly say with every difficulty came a lesson learned and I just wanted to share a few things that I learned in 2012. 

1.       I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
This took on a WHOLE new meaning for me in 2012. It is so easy to say “I can do anything as long as I’ve got King Jesus” when you are not going through anything! Anyone can talk a good game when the game is going good but let that bad boy take a left and it is a whole different tune. I can truly say that I learned that I am a lot stronger than I ever thought I could be in this year alone and it was not because of my own strength but because of the strength of Christ. One the hardest things I dealt with this year was losing my Bishop. I just knew that man would live to be the same age as Moses and Abraham :) and no one could have ever told me that I would lose him this year.  It was like I lost the closest thing I had to a father figure...That was a big change that took place that I honestly wasn’t prepared for and I didn’t really know how to go forward after it.

This year I also had to deal with a lot of personal battles within myself and within my family. I lost a lot, I cried a lot, I was confused a lot but when I look back what I see is that I got through. A lot of the things and people that I thought I needed so much were stripped away from me. I was kind of forced to deal with me and everything that was really dealing with me. Being saved does not exempt me from tests, trials, tribulations, etc. But the perk in it is that I have Jesus constantly walking with me and helping me along the way every single step. When I read Philippians 4:13 now, it takes on a completely new meaning as I truly realize that my help comes from the Lord. How can I give up when I have the One who is willing to be strong for me! I was reminded that I don’t have to carry the cares of this world on my own.  First Peter 5:7 reminds me of this when it says “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (NLT). When I learned that my strength lies in the hands of the Lord, things didn’t seem so heavy anymore and I could rest in His peace regardless of what was going on.

2.       I need God daily.
I can honestly say this has probably been one of my hardest years spiritually. I have never cried so much, prayed so much, studied so much, and gotten frustrated so much lol all at the same time sometimes! Bottom line is I cannot do this thing called life being weak in my spirit. I need to spend time with God daily, no if, ands, or buts about it. Do I spend time with God every single day? NO I have not and that’s exactly how I learned that I needed Him daily! I learned that spending time with God daily is not a “requirement” or a habit but it has to be a desire from within. When you’re hungry you want food and to satisfy your hunger fix you eat. If you go long enough without eating after awhile you’re not really that hungry anymore. It is the exact same thing from a spiritual view; if you don’t spend time with God daily, after awhile you no longer desire Him anymore. I had to learn that I will want what I give my attention to.  I have to feed my spirit daily. God showed me that I have to be intentional about my walk and that I have to desire spending  time with Him from my heart and not simply from a place of obligation.

3.       I am not my skin OR my hair.
Earlier this year I had to have surgery that left me with scars that let’s be honest didn’t leave me feeling the most secure or confident about myself. This was probably the most insecure I've felt in myself. That was a huge reality for me to accept that I’ll be honest I’m still somewhat learning to deal with. Although I hate to admit it, it showed me how vain I was and how focused I was simply on my outward appearance. In 1 Peter 3:3-5 it says:

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves…” (NIV). 

My outward appearance is not what is of importance point, blank, period.  God doesn’t even care about it; He cares about my inner appearance regarding how my heart reflects His.  Beauty, scars, and everything else will fade away one day, but what will I have to offer God when that is gone? I must say this ties in with learning to spend time with God daily because once I put my focus on Him I had less time to be focused on miniscule things that are not relevant to helping me grow in Him.

Lastly, a change that I made this year was the decision to go natural. I had actually stopped getting perms back in 2011 but I was just flat ironing my hair so I never really wore my hair curly at all until this year. So many people have made comments about my hair, some positive some negative, but at the end of the day it does not define who I am. I am not my hair; my hair is simply a reflection of me.  It taught me to be bold in decisions that I make regardless of those who don’t agree with my choices. It reminds me that I cannot waiver or change my opinion about what I think or believe in simply because someone doesn’t like it or agree with it. My hair is not a fashion statement or a part of a trend, it is simply my choice to be free.

Of course this is not everything that I learned in 2012 but I just wanted to highlight a few things. I’m constantly learning and growing and I hope to continue to do so daily until I’m out of here. Here’s to a blessed 2013!

Monday, December 3, 2012

When the music fades...

There’s something about hearing a song that the words really captures your heart and speaks to you in a way that words can’t really describe. I was listening to Israel Houghton’s song Jesus be the center of it all (great song, highly recommend it!) and there’s a moment where the music is playing and he is just talking and he mentions a song by Matt Redman and he recites the following lyrics from the song, “When the music fades and all is stripped away and I simply come. I’ll bring You more than a song, for a song in itself is not what You have required. You’re looking into my heart. I’m coming back to the heart or worship and it’s all about You. It’s all about You, Jesus.”  So of course I have to go on YouTube to listen to this Matt Redman song and I’ll be honest it’s not really my type of music however when I simply focused on the lyrics alone I could feel a shift in my heart. The irony of this song is that it is talking about what are you going to do when the music stops…it’s like when you don’t have the praise and worship team to push you into worship can you still get into the heart of worship.  When there is no show, no one around, just silence, and all the “stuff” is stripped away are you able to get to the true heart of worship. Can we really praise and worship God with our lives when there is no music, no one around, and we’re left alone with just Him.  

      John 4:23-24 says, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (NIV). We can’t just put on a show for people on Sunday mornings during service. God wants our full hearts and our full service. The chorus of this song says “I’m coming back to the heart of worship and it’s all about You Jesus. I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it, when it’s all about You.” Awhile ago, I asked God to show me my heart, show me where I fall short, where I am weak and what He revealed to me is that the way I was serving Him had become routine. It was more about doing what was “right” then serving Him from my heart from a place of devoted desire.  I’m going to be honest this got me really discouraged and really frustrated because I’m thinking okay…so what am I suppose to do??? Obviously what I was doing wasn’t working and I thought I was doing something…yeah, no lol. The purpose of God revealing this to me was for me to get back to the true heart of worship where it’s all about Him. Truly all about Him, not about service, works, doing good deeds, but simply all about Him. God so fully desires all the areas of our hearts. He is jealous for us, for those times that we ignore Him and replace Him with idols and neglect Him. He wants our attention and He wants it from a sincere and genuine place, not out of a feeling of obligation or duty. Serving God isn’t a chore; it’s a lifestyle that I will be honest is really hard sometimes but it is even more rewarding than the struggles that we face.   

Israel Houghton says in his song that “it’s not about my pursuit of being the perfect Christian, speaking perfect christianese, logging my time on Sunday mornings. It’s about the privilege, the honor, of standing in Your presence, feeling Your touch, hearing Your voice, leaving changed.” What have we made it? What have we made our walk with Christ to be? God doesn’t want us doing this in vain or because we feel as though this is what we “should” be doing. I found myself thinking of how I would feel when all this is over and I leave this earthly dwelling and I stand before Jesus eagerly waiting to get into heaven to meet my Maker only to hear Jesus say to me “I never knew you, depart from Me.” The thought of that completely breaks my heart. God doesn’t want us doing things in His name, saying that we know Him and that we have a relationship with Him and it is all simply lip service. What about our life service? What good is it to attend church and say we love God and we know Him yet we live like hell the other 5-6 days that we are not in church. We have to get back to the true heart of worship. The world’s motto is fake it until you make it; the Word’s motto is faith it until you make it to the other side. We can’t afford to fake it for anyone and act as though we know God if our relationship is simply for show or to build a good name for ourselves. He wants more than our songs, more than our service, more than our attendance at church. He wants our hearts, our sincere hearts, and our lives that desire to serve Him and follow Him according to His will and not our own.  Live intentionally, continue to work out your salvation.

“I’m coming back to the heart of worship and it’s all about You, it’s all about You Jesus.”