Thursday, February 27, 2014

It's For You...

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His Name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23, NIV).

I’m sitting in my room and I had just finished watching a YouTube video by Paul Washer, who goes all the way in by the way, and I could feel that tug. You know that tug when God wants you to spend some time with Him and you can just feel Him pulling on your spirit. So I pop open the iTunes, click worship playlist, cut off the lights, and I began to pray. I told God that I sensed Him pulling on me and I felt that He was leading me to pray for someone. I felt an urgency to pray for someone but I didn’t know who and I’m asking God please give me the words, show me what it is that You want me to pray for and who it is because I’m not sure why you are pulling on me so heavily. I then said actually, God I don’t need to know who because You know but just show me what to pray for. I felt the Holy Spirit showing me to pray for strength and comfort and I’m thinking okay God. Before I start to pray I repented of anything that would cause God to not honor my prayer and I asked Him to remove any distraction that would keep my prayer from going through. I go to pray and I wonder again God who am I praying for? A soft yet overwhelming response came of “it’s for you.”

It’s funny how when you’re in a position to help other people, you can have a tendency to get so focused on pouring into others that you don’t quite take the time to pray over yourself. Your mind can easily go to encouraging someone else or pouring out to someone else that you don’t allow God to pour into you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have other people who are praying over you and giving you encouraging words but that can never replace having God Himself to pour back into you or even to reveal to you areas of your heart that you had tucked far away. Don’t forget to take the time to pray over yourself as well. I want to share the same reminder that God placed in my spirit tonight with you and that is that it’s going to be okay. It will be okay. You’re stronger than this because I am with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you. You’re going to be okay. It's okay for you to feel this way. Don’t focus on the time that you feel you have lost but focus on the time that you still have and make the most of that. You will be okay.

There is truly no one word that even comes close to explaining just how awesome God is.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Open Thoughts: #MyTruth

        Here’s a fun fact about little Miss Angel; I have very opposing personality traits all in one person which makes life kind of interesting. I don’t mean this is in a crazy bipolar type tendencies way, but more so for instance I’m a very structured organized person that wants things to go exactly as to plan but I’m also a huge procrastinator, pretty messy, and I like things pretty informal and not structured. Like I said, it makes for an interesting life. I say all that to say that one of my “fun” opposing personality traits that I have is that I’m really open because I think it’s important to be transparent…yet I’m also very guarded and it’s a lot that I don’t share for various reasons. With that being said, if you watched the video on The Self Sufficient Christian towards the end you noticed I was talking about an issue but not really talking about it and that was because I wasn’t really ready to share it because I didn’t want it to be taken out of context. In case it’s not painfully obvious, I always feel like I have to overly explain myself so that the things I say are not taken out of context which is why my videos/blogs are always so long. However, I talked to my pastor and his wife about this topic yesterday and it made me realize that it’s not abnormal for me to feel this way and that maybe other people have these thoughts/concerns as well so I decided to share and here it goes…

Believe it or not, I have a huge complex with the thought of marriage. On one hand I have a strong desire to be married but on the other hand I have quite a few reservations regarding it. Just hear me out; will I get married? Yes I will, but I have some fears associated with it that has definitely pumped the brakes on me wanting to pursue marriage. One of those fears is that I don’t want to end up divorced. You hear Christians say that divorce is not an option but the reality is that is not true. Divorce is very much so an option but it’s up to the two people involved to choose otherwise. There are Christians who get divorced all the time and it’s not because they’re not really saved or that they didn’t really have a relationship with God but simply put marriage is hard work and a daily choice to choose your spouse over divorce. I want to make sure that what I am saying isn’t taken out of context at all; I am not condoning divorce none whatsoever! The bible does not condone divorce and I’m not telling people that it’s okay for them to take the option to divorce at all. The reality however, is that there are saved people who get divorced even in spite of the bible telling husband and wife to stay together. Marriage is so much more than a wedding or a ring. It is work, like a lot of work, and it requires you to selflessly love another person. It’s supposed to be a lifetime commitment not just an update to your facebook relationship status. The other side to it is the idea of FOREVER. That’s a long time….like a REALLY LONG time. In contrast to my thoughts on divorce, I have a fear of feeling like I have to stay in a marriage where in the best way to put it we just end up not liking each other anymore so instead of being husband and wife it’s like we’re just roommates. 

The way I view marriage is that it’s the closest thing to really having to understand Jesus’ love for us; well that and having a child. (I’m definitely not saying that you cannot experience or understand this love if you never get married or never have a child). It’s the unconditional love of loving a person in spite of any and everything; having to forgive the unforgivable, having to look beyond all their flaws, having to love the unlovable in them, sticking it out when you don’t feel like it. That’s kind of a scary thought…the thought of having to make the choice to continue to love that person and stay when situations arise that if it was a boyfriend or girlfriend you would end it. I wonder would I have the strength to stay through adultery, addictions, and other things that could happen after we say I do. I’m definitely not trying to act as though there are no deal breakers in marriage so don’t think that I’m saying to stick it out when someone is beating you or something drastic. The reality is however, in your marriage you and your spouse will face some difficult times no matter how saved you both are and you will have a choice to make to forgive them which may not always be an easy decision.

Now to the other side which is just dealing with my mess…I don’t want to get married to this amazing man of God and end up making him an idol because I discover while married that I never allowed myself to completely fall in love with Jesus as a single and allow Him to be completely everything to me as an individual first. I’m just going to go ahead and throw this out there; I am very protective of my purpose (some like to call it guarded with an electric fence and rabid Rottweiler’s) so whoever I choose to yoke myself up with it has to be right no if, ands, or buts about it. Whoever I marry affects me spiritually and that in return will have an influence on God’s ministry that He has given me. I also struggle with the realization that I won’t be perfect going into my marriage and that there will be things that God will have to develop in me as a wife versus a single but also wanting to “get myself together” before becoming a wife. My pastor nicely checked me on that yesterday by saying I can spend so much time trying to get myself together for marriage that I miss the man that God has for me. Insert big eyed emoji! Something that God has had to show me is to not focus on being a better woman to be a wife but to desire to be a better woman to be a better person and that will encompass all aspects of being a woman. 

I shared a ton of negative but now I want to share what I was encouraged with in talks that I’ve had with great men and women of God. First John 4:18 tells us that “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (KJV). This is the verse that popped up in my phone just after I had this conversation with my best friend a few weeks back. She reminded me that God has not given us a spirit of fear so anytime we have fear or anxiety over a situation it’s pretty safe to say that it is not of God. God created marriage to be a great thing; there is no reason to fear it when you allow God to be the center and foundation of your marriage. Will it be easy? No, but God will help you through it and give you both the strength to keep pressing through those hard times and to fight for your marriage. The biggest reality was that I had to trust that God is not going to present me to a jacked up wimpy man with no vision, no leadership skills, or who doesn’t have a heart for Him. He’s protective of my purpose even more than I am so I don’t have to worry about that if I allow Him to do the choosing. Lastly, it’s normal to have the concerns and reservations BUT don’t over think it!  Stop worrying! (Matthew 6:25-34). It’s good to take these things into consideration as a single but you don’t have to worry about every single detail of how it all is going to come together. Trust God with it.

  • Men & women email your testimonies to be added to the Changed Hearts site to!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dear Woman: Grown Woman Talk

Picture Dear Woman,

God placed it on my heart to do a VLOG on how people say you’ve changed once you give your life to Him (which will be up later) and He reminded me of a particular time in my life where I was a very new Christian yet still figuring things out. I initially did not want to share this but I believe that God has a purpose for it and I believe it’s a topic that hits home for us women. With that being said, I want to have a real grown folks conversation with my ladies.

When I first got saved there were quite a few things that I was still riding the fence on and one of those things was fornication. I had an on again off again boyfriend at the time who I was continuing to have sex with even while I was still attending church and developing a relationship with God. The interesting thing was that although I was learning about God and knew about no sex before marriage I didn’t think that applied as long as I was in a “committed” relationship. Long story short, I had convinced myself that I had to stay with this person simply because he was the one that I had lost my virginity to. The relationship was very rocky yet we kept trying to make it work not because we really wanted to stay together but because it was easier to stick with what we knew and were comfortable with versus starting over. The reality was we were both changing into two very different people and it was not God’s will for us to be together. Due to this, every time we tried to make it work it didn’t and it just kept getting worst until it fell apart.

I say all that to say, as women we have a tendency to want to stay in relationships that we know are no good for us that we are hurting in, and that are dysfunctional and unhealthy because we feel like we have a tie to that guy. That tie can be that he was the one you lost your virginity to, or he’s your child’s father, or ex-husband and so you just keep trying to make it work even though you’re unhappy, they’re unfaithful, or don’t treat you in the way that you deserve. The truth is the real tie that you have with this man is a soul tie and God can’t release you from that until you let go of that person that keeps leading you to a dead end. I know that we can feel like we have to stay because we have so much history with a person but that history is not always equivalent to them having a place in your future.

A good woman is hard to find and worth far more than diamonds…” (Proverbs 31:10)

Going along with real grown folks talk…can I be honest? The irony in my struggle of wanting to stay with my then boyfriend was that I also had this worry of only having sex with one person and having this curiosity of wondering if that would be as good as it gets. I wondered how would I know that I was having “good sex” if I didn’t have anything to compare it to? Then I feared would I be tempted to have an affair if I married my then boyfriend because I was curious about being able to compare it. I’m aware that’s a pretty blunt and out there statement but I feel confident that I was not alone in the way I used to think but nobody really wants to talk about it. Here’s the thing, there is nothing wrong with sex; God created it to be a good thing BUT in season and that season is between husband and wife in marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-6). I was watching this video through chaseGodtv on YouTube (I’ll post the link later if I can remember which video it was) and the guy was saying how there is no such thing as bad sex because God created sex to be good (once again between a husband and wife) so there’s no need to focus on comparing it. I believe a lot of people have this fear of abstaining from sex until their wedding day only to find out on the honeymoon that they’re not sexually attracted or compatible with their partner. I don’t believe that to be true; yes, you’re able to have sex once you’re married and that will be an important part of your marriage but it’s not the only part. You have to get off your back at some point…just saying. Plus, in your marriage you will learn each other and can teach each other new things if you know what I mean. Bottom line, when you honor God, He will honor you. Will everything be perfect? No but God will take care of all of the details so stop stressing.

Love you ladies,


Dear Woman: Single Mother

Guest Blogger Brittany Harris. Check out her blog!
Dear Woman,

When Angel asked me to write a blog, a thousand things went through my head. OMG there are so many things to say. Quick back story. When I was a little girl, I used to pray that I would be able to have children! I dreamed of having a family, complete with a husband and 2.5 kids. I dreamed of everything working perfect, “Cosby Show” like. Fast forward about 10 years. I got pregnant at age 18. By age 20, all my childhood dreams had come crashing down and I was a single mom. Never ever would have imagined this would be my life. My daughter is now 8 and it’s been just she and I for 6 ½ years.

So as I racked my brain and asked God what to say, a few things came to me that I really want to share.

  1. Your Child is Your First Ministry- When I leave church, when I leave work, when I leave social media, I am a mother above all else. It is my job to build her up, to minister to her needs, to show her the love of Christ (Love is patient! God is still working on me in that area). Allow God to give you grace in motherhood. The same grace that saved you is the grace that you tap into by faith to do all the things that a mother is supposed to do. Pray for your child constantly. As a mother, it is your job to cover your child. Pray for their safety, pray that they follow Christ, pray for their future. Constantly pray.
  2. Above All Else, Teach Your Child to Love God- As a single mom, I am solely in charge of setting the atmosphere in the home, I am solely in charge of my daughter’s spiritual development. I invite my daughter into my quiet time and I encourage her to have her own. I have taught her how to pray. I demonstrated God’s mercy (She did something wrong and instead of the consequence that she deserved, I taught her that God gives us mercy and doesn’t always give us what we deserve.) I have noticed, and have heard her say, that her love for Christ is growing daily. If she never learns anything else, I have done my job with her.
  3. Allow God to Lead You and Be Your Covering- In a traditional (Dad, Mom, Children) family situation, the role of the father is to be the provider, covering, sounding board, etc. Single moms don’t have that. I had to learn to allow God to be that for me. He is the father in my home. I turn to Him whenever I need help or advice or I need Him to make a way. It doesn’t just apply to me but also my child because she is a part of my life.
  4. Be Gentle in All You Say and Do- Your child’s father may not be the best. But I guarantee that if you allow God to work a gentle spirit in you, it will work better. My daughter’s father and I had an AWFUL relationship. Just horrible. I would always pray that God would change Him. God revealed to me that I was the issue. Although I was correct in what I said, it was how I said it that made the difference. When I learned to have a gentle spirit, our relationship changed. He didn’t necessarily change, but by changing the way I approached and responded to him, that created an entirely different dynamic. And while I’m at it, RESPECT YOUR CHILD’S FATHER! Yeah I said it. He may not be saved (my daughter’s father is not) but what are you demonstrating for your child? Men crave respect. ALL men. Don’t roll your eyes/neck/fingers at him  while popping off at the mouth and wonder why your relationship is a hot, steaming mess. Show him respect, even if you don’t think he deserves it. God gives you plenty of things you don’t deserve. The way you interact with your child’s father may end up be a witness to him and bring him to salvation.
  5. If Your Child’s Father Isn’t Involved, Teach Your Child to Turn to God As Their Father- One of the best things I ever heard from another single mom (well it may have been a movie, but it applies either way) is that she taught her child to turn to God as their father. Do you realize how much that would have helped me as a child if I actually understood that? Teach your child to go to God for help with any and everything!
  6. Last Thing: Support System- My support system has been my biggest blessing being a single mom. It is important to have people you can rely on for help and emotional support. If you don’t have anyone, GET SOMEBODY. You are a person too. Just because you are a single mom doesn’t mean your life has ended. I firmly believe in “Me-Time”. It keeps me sane and level headed. You need that too. It is great to be able to recharge and clear your head and heart so you can be the best mom you can be. They also say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Don’t be afraid to trust people with your child. Your child won’t break lol.
Those are my quick points. Next to my salvation, being a mother is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have learned more about myself that I would have ever imagined. I am honored that God entrusted me with such a beautiful person and I pray I make Him proud.

BONUS: When you don’t know what to do, ask God for help. He made your little person and He has plans for them just like He has for you. Make sure you are always seeking Him for guidance.

-Brittany C. Harris

Friday, February 14, 2014

Void Fillers

If I can be honest, I baked a 24 pack of sugar cookies yesterday in honor of the lovely blizzard we had and I had eaten all of them but two by 5 p.m. Yeah…I know. There’s some relevance, to this just follow me. On snow days you have a ton of idle time and eventually it gets to a point where there are only but so many movies you can watch on Netflix, so many loads of laundry you can do with hopes that the power won’t go out, and you get tired of the impromptu hair day you decided on last minute. The other side of having tons of idol time is that it gives you an opportunity to be left alone with your thoughts. The silence gets a little bit louder and God starts tugging on you to talk to Him about the matters of your heart. This is when the cookie eating started; I knew there was something I needed to give to God but I didn’t feel like opening it up and dealing with it. So what did I do? Watched movie number 2 and ate a few more cookies. When that “feeling” came back I ate a few more cookies and as you can tell this cycle continued on for the rest of the day until I had ate all of the cookies. No I’m not the cookie monster and no I don’t even have a sweet tooth like that but it made me feel better….temporarily, as I continued to go back for more. 

                It’s nothing but a void filler; I’ve mentioned in a previous blog that I used to do this with “retail therapy” and isn’t it funny how we replace one void filler with another. It can be the smallest things that we don’t even think about that we seek to comfort us and make us feel better instead of turning to God and allowing Him to heal our hearts. We continue to turn to other things and people to make us feel better yet we keep coming up short because we choose God to be the last solution. All along He’s waiting for us to just turn to Him instead of all that other stuff and pour out our hearts to Him. First John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins that God is faithful and just to forgive us. However, we won’t do this because sometimes deep down inside we don’t believe this to be true. We feel as though what we’re dealing with is too heavy. We look at the situation and we think we’ve made a mess of things so instead of dealing with the mess we hope that it will just go away and we won’t have to deal with it. It won’t go away; ignoring it won’t make it go away. That emptiness, that tug on your heart, that pull, it will continue as you continue to pacify it with void fillers that aren’t Christ. We can’t be made whole using imitation things to fill our hearts. It just won’t work because there’s nothing like the real thing! Void fillers drag out your freedom in Christ because you fail to realize that if you would just give that issue to Him, you wouldn’t have to keep going back to the counterfeit that only “fixes” the problem temporarily. 

                I was having a moment the other day where I was thinking about how I needed to clean up my room and I started to think about how I really don’t like cleaning (yes I know I need to work on my domestic skills but that’s neither here nor there lol) and I wondered why is it so hard for me to get motivated to clean up? God hit me with the reason is because your mess doesn’t bother you. You don’t have a problem with it as long as no one else sees it. It’s not until someone’s coming to visit that you decide to clean up so you wait until someone is coming for you to get ready. The problem with that is you don’t know when Jesus is “coming to visit” so you can’t wait until He notifies you to start getting ready. You always have to be ready. We can’t afford to prolong confessing our sins to God in hopes that we can deal with it later. Later does not come for everyone; now is the opportune time. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fighting Temptations

God had placed it on my heart earlier this week to talk about fighting temptations and I had somewhat been putting it off and God must have really wanted me to share it pronto because He hit me with this dream last night. I’m going to try to sum it up as briefly as possible so just bear with me. In this dream I had met a guy and this guy was very attractive. I mean VERY attractive! He looked the way that I wanted him to, he was built the way I wanted him to be, and he was the height that I wanted him to be. The best way to put it is he was nice on the eyes and part of the desires of my heart in what I want in a husband. So he picks me up for our first date and he has a really nice car so I’m thinking hmh okay, okay. Then he takes me somewhere; I don’t ask any questions; I don’t ask where we’re going, who is going to be there, or anything. We finally arrive at this place and I see that it’s a club. Immediately the Holy Spirit checks me; I get that gut feeling that is yelling CAUTION! RED FLAG! RUN FOR THE BORDER! I look at the guy and I make the decision to go inside with him because I figure its daylight so it’s not really the club scene right now so it should be okay. The way that the club was set up, there were these winding stairs that you had to walk up like three flights to get inside. To show you how real this dream was as I was walking up the steps the Holy Spirit was showing me my own word that I just preached two weeks ago about being spiritually faithful and claiming to be a Christian yet riding the fence. Then the lyrics of Jonathan McReynolds song No Gray started playing in my head, “it would be cool if we could love the Lord and still go do our thing. You see it doesn’t work like that, you’ve gotta be white or black.” Once again I make the decision to continue to follow this guy in spite of all of this.

 We get inside the club and we sit at a table and order food and I think see, this doesn’t seem that bad. We’re sitting there eating and talking and I’m thinking wow this is a beautiful man and he seems like a really nice guy. Remind you the topic of Jesus NEVER came up; not even once. For some reason I had to go to his car to get something and when I come back to the stairs there is now a line of people like a really long line and they’re all dressed in their club get up. I’m now looking like oh gosh this doesn’t look good so I go back to the car. I don’t know if I was thinking of leaving or what but I just sit there for a minute. For whatever reason I make the decision to go back inside to this guy. I go around the line to get back in and the girl at the door asked me if I was at least 21 and I say yeah I’m 26 (although I’m 25 so that was weird but there’s a story for that later) and she goes to put a hot pink wristband on me to show that I’m legal to drink and I start slightly panicking and thinking omg what if someone sees me and thinks that I’m drinking, this is a mess! Nonetheless, I make the decision to go back inside to the club and now the music is on very loud and people are inside dancing all on each other. I see the table where the guy is sitting and to my surprise there are four other people sitting in our booth with him now. So now I’m really confused like what is going on? I make the decision to go over to the table anyways and what do you know it’s his family…like the whole family; his mother, father, and two siblings. This is our first date remind you. The mom is asking me a ton of questions and the father is staring at me and I’m just sitting there like a deer in headlights. What really took the cake was when his mother said, “So tell me about yourself, what do you do?” I didn’t mention anything about Changed Hearts, ministering the gospel, or anything relative to my relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit urged me to say it and I didn’t. It wasn’t just that I didn’t, but it was like I didn’t want to. We’re talking back and forth and then the mom says son I think she will make a wonderful wife and I’m sitting there thinking oh gosh how did I get here??? Then I woke up….

               Okay, so that wasn’t brief but I wanted to make sure that you understood the depth of this dream. As crazy as that dream sounded, people do very similar things every single day. The amazing thing about God is that with every temptation that the devil sends our way, God has already provided a way of escape! (1 Corinthian 10:13). The problem is we keep making exceptions to the provision that God has laid before us. In my dream I had choices; there were a number of times where the Holy Spirit was giving me an opportunity to flee from the situation I was putting myself in. I had decisions to make and the Holy Spirit was right there willing to lead and guide me through it but I chose to take matters into my own hands because initially it seemed okay. Do you know why God gives us the Holy Spirit to lead us?  It’s because in spite of our best efforts and what we may believe, we’re not capable of making the best decisions for ourselves and so we need that guidance. God sees the end result that we can’t see so He gives us those checks through the Holy Spirit to help us make the right decision but we can’t ignore that and do our own thing. 

Let’s look at what the bible tells us about fighting temptations:

1.      Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against the body (1 Corinthians 6:18). Now granted the apostle Paul is referring to sexual sin in this verse but there’s a keyword that can be applied to dealing with temptations in general and that is to FLEE! My bishop used to say “A good run can be better than a bad stand.” Look, sometimes you have to put on your jogging for Jesus shoes and run. You don’t have to play around with sin to know that the end result is death. Stop seeing just how far you can go and push the limits yet still claim to be saved. The bible says flee not play patty cake.  

2.      Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7). Once again we have another keyword, RESIST! We give the devil too many opportunities to wreak havoc because we don’t choose to resist the temptations that are placed before us. Just as God knows the desires of your heart, so does the devil and he will send you a Lucifer Jr. beautiful man or Delilah woman who looks, talks, dresses, walks, and smells exactly the way that you want as a distraction. You’ll be so focused on the exterior that you fail to see their heart which is wicked and leading you astray.

About 2 years ago I was at a revival or conference and the speaker asked me how old I was and I said 23 his response was didn’t God tell you 25? Just be patient. I got really excited because I wanted to be married by the time I was 25 so I was thinking yes!!!! God’s going to send me my husband in the next two years party over here! So every guy I made eye contact I thought that might be my husband. Insert cup of water for my thirst. The person never said it was a husband that God would give me by the age of 25 but the bigger picture is that God had never told me that I would be married at 25 it was just the age that I had chosen for myself! God had to help me to become content that even if I wasn’t married by the age of 25 that it was okay otherwise I would end up settling for everything but a man of God because I wanted it to happen so badly! Trust me when I say the devil knows the desires of your heart as well and he will definitely use them to tempt you to create idols out of them. 

3.      Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41). Remind you this is Jesus speaking. He told the disciples to stay up and pray because He knew the time was at hand that He would be betrayed. His spirit was willing to be crucified but His flesh was weak. Guess what? Our spiritual man wants to do what God wants us to do but our flesh does not; it is weak and wants to do what the world deems as fun. You need to be prayed up no if, ands, or buts about it. Prayer connects you to God and when you remove that communication you leave yourself open for your flesh to rise up and take over. Your strength in fighting temptations comes through your prayer life. Most people give in to temptations because they didn't prepare on how to deal with them before the temptation arrived. Prayer is your prep.

This obviously is a pretty short list to keep this blog from being too lengthy but I will do a VLOG as well talking about other things regarding fighting temptations. Hope this blessed you!