Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Enslaved By Your Own Emotions

“Anything I put before my God is an idol and anything I want with all my heart is an idol. Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol.”

When we think of idols we typically think of the golden calf or we think of how we’ve allowed people or possessions to become an idol. We fail to acknowledge the idols that we’ve created that are not tangible. That includes all of those feelings and emotions that we allow to run wild and keep us from spending time with God and giving our cares to Him. Granted, I get that may seem like a stretch when you think of idol worshiping. You wouldn’t say that you worship your up and down emotions and you definitely wouldn’t say that you admire those fickle feelings. However, we continue to allow fear, worry, anxiety, stress, anger, and all these other feelings come between us and our relationship with God. We allow these “feelings” to take over and torment our hearts and mind as we entertain what we feel like on any given day instead of trusting and believing God’s Word. We don’t turn to God to help us through our day instead we let our little feelings fester and take over and now our day is based off of how we feel versus who we are (need a reminder of who you are? Listen to this song). We believe the status of our troubles and our problems more than we believe God. We don’t even realize how we allow these feelings to take over and become idols in our lives but just as we give our time and energy to people and things when we make them idols, we do the same as we continue to feed our feelings. Anything that you put before God is an idol.

I’m aware of how girly this is going to sound, feel free to judge me, but when I’m feeling down I have to shop. When I buy stuff it pacifies my feelings and then I feel better and if I can’t find anything I want to buy I continue to feel down and stay in a rut. Crazy, trust me I know. FYI, yes shopping can be an idol as well. I was having a pretty down week and I was getting dressed to go shopping and something says why are you trying to replace Me? Why do you continue to try to fill voids without Me? You know better…When you get that gut instinct about things or you hear that little voice in your head it’s not simply just your conscience. It’s the conviction of the Holy Spirit trying to get your attention. God is trying to get your attention! He’s trying to bring you back to Him and get your focus off of the crazy emotional rollercoaster that your feelings have had you flying around on forever. But instead of turning to God we allow these things to fester and we continue to feed these negative emotions. Don’t you know that God desires to help you with every single aspect of your life and not just the “church” stuff? He so desires to show you how much more He can do in your life if you would just stop putting Him into this box of what you think He is and is not capable of. 

God’s looking down at you saying My child, give Me your worries. I care about you. I love you. I want to take the weight of your burdens from you but you don’t trust Me to handle it. I won’t fail you, I haven’t failed you yet. My yoke is easy and my burden is light. I didn’t give you this life for you to be burdened by it. Let go of the worry, let go of the anger, let go of the fear, let go of who hurt you. Trust Me when I say I’ve got you covered. 

 Allow God to be your peace in the midst of stress and fear. Stop worrying about what tomorrow is going to bring (Matthew 6:34). We get so worked up about things that haven’t happened for us yet and we fear things that may never even happen. We miss being present for today because we’re stressed and worried about tomorrow. Allow God to take care of you and handle your cares and frustrations. I say allow because God wants to take care of you! He wants to cover you and shower you with His love, joy, and peace but you have to receive it. Don’t allow your feelings to replace God in your heart. Sometimes our fear that God won’t be able to take care of us or our problems is greater than the truth and belief that He can. The enemy knows your fears and insecurities just as God does and he loves to fuel that fire of your up and down feelings. It’s time to put that fire out; stop fueling that fire. Do you know what happens when you stop feeding something? It will eventually starve. Stop feeding those things that you know are not of God.  God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). That little tidbit was not just put into the bible for kicks and giggles. It was put there because it is the true word of the living God. I don’t know what you believe, but I still believe God to be the Great I Am and not the Great I might be or the Great I was. Ain’t nothing changed but the day. Take your eyes off of what’s wrong and allow God to establish your foundation on the solid Rock and not your fickle emotions. Stop looking at your situation and get your eyes on the One who can change things. Great life tip, the best way to encourage yourself is to encourage someone else.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fully persuaded? A call to obedience

Think about all the things that we say yes to daily; the things that we don’t even want to do, the things that we are unsure about, the things that we say yes to knowing that it may have some negative consequences. Now, think about why is it so difficult for us to say yes to Christ? We say yes to so many things yet when Jesus gives us a command we answer Him as if He’s given us a multiple choice question like we have options in obeying Him. The Word tells us in Matthew 5:37, “But let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (KJV).  So why do so many of us continue to give Jesus a “maybe, not right now, I can’t/don’t want to do it” type of response? A command is not an essay question for us to give this long drawn out response as to why we can’t do what He has told us to do right now.

There are so many believers that have so many excuses as to why they can’t fully submit to Christ and a lot of it has to do with them having that King Agrippa spirit. You know the one that’s not quite fully persuaded to follow Christ yet (Acts 26:28). They’ve heard the Word, know who Jesus is, but has yet to truly make a commitment to serving Him because they still feel as though they have other options or time. They haven’t made up in their mind whether or not they will really serve Christ because they don’t know if it is something that they really want to do yet. They don’t want to lose themselves and they still think that they are capable of going through life their way.

Just follow me…I developed benign tumors a couple of years ago and I had a surgery to have three removed in January of last year. After that new ones continued to grow and they kept getting larger and I was talking to my doctor about my frustration with it and she pretty much said you either learn to live with them or you keep having this surgery to have them removed. So I’m thinking there has to be a way to get these things under control so I go on Google to see of any “natural” remedies or alternatives to surgery and the only thing I could find was trying a vegetarian diet to help keep the tumors under control. I’m thinking uhm no! I love me some chicken, forget the red meat and pork I can’t do without my chicken!!! So I tried exercising, eating healthier (well somewhat…) and anything else I could think of to try and get these bad boys under control. Flash forward, I go back to the doctor and they’re continuing to grow. I was tired, upset, frustrated, and anything else you can think of. I decided three months ago to try out this whole vegetarian diet and that decision came about because I had finally gotten to a point of desperation where I tried everything else and it didn’t work. I gave up my old eating habits, the things I loved (all things chicken), and walked into this foreign territory because I didn’t want to continue dealing with the same thing.

I say all this to say thay you don't have to wait until you hit rock bottom to finally submit to Christ but some of us need to get to that place of desperation with Jesus where we realize that we’ve tried everything else and it doesn’t work. Where we are so tired of dealing with the same mess; tired of falling over the same stumbling blocks; tired of hitting the same brick wall. We know what the answer is but we keep avoiding it because we aren’t willing to fully commit and walk into this unknown territory and leave what we use to know behind to follow Him. We don’t want to give up our lives to serve Christ but let’s be reminded that Jesus tells the people “for whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25, KJV). Come close, let me share with you a little secret; YOU DON’T BELONG TO YOURSELF! Your life is not your own! (1 Corinthians 6:19). You were bought with a price; a price that only Jesus could pay when He died for our sins on Calvary. Stop trying to figure out a life that does not belong to you! People always say you need to go and have all these experiences in order to find yourself...NO you need to go find Jesus. 

   Now on the other hand, you have those who are ready to follow Christ but they make the mistake of trying to bring their old baggage into their new relationship with Christ. In Luke 9:3, Jesus tells His disciples, “take nothing for your journey, neither staff, nor bag, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece” (KJV). Jesus sent His disciples out to do the work and told them to not bring anything with them. Think about when you’re traveling; the more luggage that you have, the slower you move. It takes you longer to get to your destination because you have to wait at the airport to get all your mess and then carry it out as it weighs you down. It’s time for us to clean up the clutter. Too often people try to live for Christ while carrying excess baggage that He told them to lay aside! There are too many people who continue to hold on to things that are killing them spiritually and some naturally. They hold on to dead relationships, addictions, anger and unforgiveness, and they wonder why they can’t go forward. Let it go! Jesus wants His people to stop waiting at baggage claims to pick up the baggage that was dropped off at the beginning of their destination. Get rid of the distractions and the things that are cluttering you from getting closer to Jesus. I get tired of hearing people say that God can bless your mess. It’s not because I don’t think that He can because He can do all things, but when are we going to get tired of continuously giving God mess???

I told God I wanted to be obedient to Him and that I wanted to fully submit my life over to Him and you know what the first thing was that He told me to do? It wasn’t to go start a ministry, it wasn’t to preach, and it wasn’t to write a book. He showed me the word CLUTTER and said get rid of it. He showed me that He needed to me to get rid of the junk, the clutter, both spiritually and naturally to allow room for Him to come in. I’ll be honest, He told me to clean up my room to make room for His presence. You wouldn’t invite people to come to your house messy so don’t welcome My presence into your mess…yup messed me all kinds of up! He showed me to be obedient in the small things first and then He would give me the bigger things. We have to show ourselves to be faithful in the small things so that God can see that we have enough character to handle the bigger tasks (Matthew 25:14-28).

            Obedience is what will open the door to your purpose. So often we look at what other people have accomplished in God and we want what they have. Be content with your portion. God created each of us with a purpose in mind and what He created for us is not going to be for anyone else. We have to learn to stay in our lane. When you’re on the highway, if you get into the fast lane and you’re going below the speed limit or even doing the speed limit people will try to run you over. Stop trying to get into other people’s lane because that can destroy you. You will get run over, messed up, and broken trying to live out someone elses purpose. You’re not equipped to handle what God gave to them; He will equip you to handle what He has for you and you alone. What God created for you will not belong to anyone else. Stop looking at what everybody else is doing and keep your eyes on Christ. Don’t lose sight of what God has commanded of you. Every day wake up and commit to submitting to Christ and laying down your life to follow God’s will for your life and not your own. Choose today to set aside all the things that have distracted you and gotten you off course from serving God. Repent, lay aside your clutter, and walk in Him. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Trusting God When It's Difficult

"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Romans 5:3-5, KJV).

Do you ever feel like you want to trust God but life is just happening and you don’t understand why it has dealt you what appears to be the worst deck of cards possible? It’s like God, I want to trust You but I need something to happen! Something has to change because I’m tired and I just don’t get it. I’m serving You God, why are You allowing these things to happen to me when I am living for You and loving You? If we can be honest with ourselves, I’m pretty sure we’ve all had one (or maybe multiple) of these moments before where it just seems like nothing is working out. When it seems like life is passing like kidney stones at times, the hardest thing to do is the one thing that we must do and that is to trust God. Truth moment…I was supposed to write this blog almost two weeks ago and I kept putting it off for various reasons. I believe the devil was trying to give me some extra material for trusting God even when it seems difficult as he has been working a serious nerve these last couple of weeks! In the words of a friend, “victory is my birth right!” so boom (thank you Desiree lol). So how do we trust God when it seems like everything and everyone is against us, nothing is working out for our good (or so it appears), and everything that can go wrong is wrong? You trust the season that God has you in. Well that’s easier said than done Angel! When it doesn’t make sense, when it seems like your season is dryer than the Sahara, when nothing appears to be working out for your good, trust God to be who He says He is and cast your cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7).

            We have a tendency to feel as though we can only come to God with all of our happy, bubbly, easy, breezy, beautiful, covergirl emotions and that we shouldn’t tell God the bad and ugly that we feel. We feel like we can’t share our frustrations, our anger, or our confusion, because we don’t want to complain to Him or we feel that we’re not supposed to. I just want to share a great life tip with you all; just because you don’t vocalize this feeling that does not mean God doesn’t know that’s how you feel. He knows and sees into the innermost parts of your heart. You can’t keep anything from Him! Just like momma always seems to know what’s going on with you, especially when you’ve done something wrong, God sees through you even deeper than that. The problem is that we try to be so PC with God like He doesn’t know what the real deal is. We tell Him we’re content and at peace with things knowing good and well our heart is angry, rolling its eyes, and sucking its teeth. If I can be honest, sometimes I just need to vent and the truth is I really don’t want to hear an encouraging word all the time. Sometimes I don’t want to hear that everything is going to be okay, I know that because I believe in God. But sometimes I just want to be upset and feel what I am feeling so I can get that out instead of pacifying my hurts, my frustrations, and my pains because I need to deal with that stuff. Should we stay in that place forever and be emotionally led by feelings? ABSOLUTELY NOT! However we have to get that stuff out of our hearts and allow God to help us deal with it.

            I was having quiet time one day and I typically start off my quiet time with “okay God I’m going to be honest with You, it’s not like You don’t already know.” So I’m pretty much venting about my frustrations with work, school, life, etc. and then once I consider myself to be done I go on to reading the bible. Well this day, I wrap up my venting session and something on the inside was like uhm so you’re not going to deal with that? I knew exactly what the “that” was but I had been telling myself, I’m at peace with it, I trust You God, I know it’s going to work out but the bottom line was that was a lie. So now I’m looking all crazy in the face like I just vented can we leave it at that??? I’m fine about the other stuff okay God? I’m good. You ever talk to a person and you know you’re in the wrong or better yet you know you’re lying, and they know this too, and when you’re finished talking their only response is “oh, okay.” That was the overwhelming response that I felt was that feeling of the “okay” response. So I started to talk; I started with the usual PC response, “God I don’t know why this is happening but I trust You.” (Response: Okay). “It is what it is; it could be a lot worst so I’m thankful anyways.” (Response: Okay). “I can accept that I may have to deal with this for the rest of my life and that’s okay.” (You get it by now…Response: Okay). Then the flood gates of heaven open my eyes and my eyelids start sweating (That’s my term for crying. I have a complex about crying for some reason. I hate crying unless I’m being slain by the Holy Ghost. Pray for me folks lol). “God why are You allowing this to happen to me? Why do I have to deal with this issue? I’m frustrated God. I don’t want to have to go through this and I don’t understand why it is getting worst instead of better when I’m living for You God. I trust You but I’m frustrated! I don’t get it.” Response: That’s it, get it out, and then I really did have a peace about it.

          I was watching a sermon by Steffany Frizzell not too long ago and she said the most disgusting yet profound thing that made me go wow!!! She said, “sometimes you have to vomit in order to be able to swallow.” I know, my initial reaction was eew too, but then I laughed, and then I went ooohhh when I got the revelation of it. In order for us to receive what God is trying to put into us, we have to make room by purging what’s on the inside of us. We have to get that stuff out in order to take in what He’s giving us. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life is that it is so okay not to be okay. One of the best places to be is to be broken at the feet of Jesus so that He can put you back together with a firm and steady foundation that’s unbreakable if you remain with Him. God doesn’t want us to give Him this dressed up representative of ourselves that’s wearing a full coverage foundation attempting to hide all the blemishes of our hearts. He sees straight through that maybelline. God wants us to pour out to Him so that He can teach us how to deal with the tests and trials that we face. Don’t you know that everything that has happened to you and is going to happen to you is for your good? Romans 8:28 wasn’t just thrown into the bible by mistake. It says, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose” (KJV). Everything that you went through and are going through not only happened on purpose but it happened for your purpose! That may be very difficult to grasp when you are going through what appears to be hell on earth but God has a purpose for our go through.

I remember reading a quote that said “be glad that you are going through because if you’re going through that means you aren’t stuck.” That's a great little nugget to keep in mind. Last year I wrote a blog called Year of Development and I hated that year from top to bottom. In January I had a surgery that left me very insecure, in April my Bishop died who was very instrumental to helping me develop a relationship with Christ and was pretty much the father figure in my life, this also happened around the time that my pastor and his wife suffered a lost. We were all dealing with these issues at the same time trying to be strong for one another but it was difficult. We were all living for God and I just could not wrap my head around why He was allowing us to experience this sadness and these losses when we were really living for Him. Over the summer, multiple friendships that were very dear to me completely fell apart, in the fall my family was dealing with a drug issue that had been going on for quite some time and fell apart. It just seemed like it was one thing after another and another and another. I was so frustrated and I remember being a little sassy at one point and saying God, “You have stripped me of everything what else do You want from me???” I want to strip you of you…I knew at that moment that I had absolutely no clue what God was trying to do in me but I knew that wherever He was taking me next, He needed me to be focused on Him. He needed me to be dependent on Him and not myself, things, or other people. That year of development prepared me for Changed Hearts: I AM Woman, it helped me to minister better, it helped me to connect more, but most importantly it helped me to grow in Christ. I wouldn’t trade that season because I needed it. Did I hate it? At the time absolutely! I was so frustrated, I didn’t understand why God was doing this to me but in the end it all worked out for my good.

 It’s okay to be frustrated. It’s okay to not understand. Bring those cares to God and trust Him through the process. Matthew 11:28-30 says, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (KJV).  Give Him all your cares and frustration and rest in His peace. God does not set us up for failure. Everything that we go through is not to break us but to make us unbreakable through Him. Trust where God has you in this moment. So it doesn’t make sense, people think you’re crazy because you’re still serving God even though He hasn’t healed you yet, even though your family still isn’t saved, even though you’re still at that job that you hate, even though school isn't working out the way you thought it would, even though your finances are jacked up while you're paying tithes, even though you’re loving God and get a flat tire and a speeding ticket in the same day, even though nothing good appears to be coming from your current circumstances. Trust Him anyhow. I love the story of the three hebrew boys in the book of Daniel when they are getting ready to be thrown into the fiery furnace and they say, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. BUT IF NOT, be it known unto thee, O king, we will NOT serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up" (Daniel 3: 17-18, KJV). God I know that you're capable of changing my situation right now but even if you don't, Lord I will still serve You and I won't turn my back on You. Even if You don't deliver me from this hell that I feel like I'm experiencing right now, God I still know You to be God and my circumstances do not change that. Speak this truth to yourself. God has not left you and He has not forsaken you. Allow Him to be your peace in the midst of your chaos. Don’t hate the process because it’s not created to beat you up. God knows what He’s doing. He’s the author of your life and He is creating your story perfectly. Rest in that truth.  

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders."