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Obedience is just better…

It is better for us to obey God alongside with giving him our worship vs. giving him worship and disobeying him. Obedience is what affords us the opportunity to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living; it opens doors. Offering worship alone is like sitting our family down for dinner and then bringing them empty plates. We may go through the motions of preparing but came up empty and therefore unable to give our family anything of substance; something that will change their current status of being hungry. Worship w/out obedience is going through the motions of preparing for God to use us for his glory but missing the opportunity to give him anything substantial to work with so that our status of being hungry can change. Obedience gives us authority that empty worship and works cannot provide. It behooves us to run towards obedience despite what others are doing, despite our feelings or inhibitions and despite the cost. Lose yourself in obedience so that you can find yourself living in freedom and in eternity while still here on earth.

In order to obey, we have to hear. In order to hear, we have to listen. In order to listen we have to be set apart. Although lonely at times, we should never despise being set apart from the noise; we’re never alone.

Obedience is just better. It’s the best way that we can draw closer to God. It’s the best way to learn more about ourselves. While we are being obedient we are becoming the light of the world. While we are being obedient many things also come to light. We become more aware of the things that are still in our hearts that we thought we gave away to God. Obedience is just better. Disobedience is the easy way. It’s the way that we’ve always known. For most of us, our 1st word was no. We’ve been saying no to the right things for a long time and old habits seem unbreakable but they’re not.

Obedience is just better.

The Ebb and Flow of Long-suffering

The regular and repeated way that we experience inevitable opposition is a great reminder to us all that only God can be completely long-suffering. When I think of long-suffering, I think of the waves of the ocean and its movement. I think of the predictable way that your body is forced to move if you’re standing along the shore in the water. Predictable because you can expect to be moved but unpredictable because you can’t always tell how forcible the tide will be. While suffering wrong or injustice our natural response is to hand in our resignation and to run in the opposite direction. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can have an active response to opposition that includes patience – bearing up under our tidal wave and turning it into glory. Love over everything. Godly principles have to rule over our fury and the push to act out. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will continue to develop me so that my walk embodies an attitude that no circumstance can destroy and that one that allows me to endure the waves. I want to always see the beauty in the motion; the ebb and flow of long-suffering. To God be the glory!

Noeffortitis (NO-EFFORT-ITIS)

You were not created to be a professional spectator. Don’t allow life to pass you by while you watch others live out their dreams. Let your passion be your fire. Your purpose is waiting.

Are you feeling ho-hum? Are you losing your zeal for life? Is work dragging you down? Do you have a feeling of emptiness that you can’t shake? Are you all of sudden finding it harder to drag yourself out of the bed or out of the house? I get it, I’ve been there recently. Do you find yourself caught up in a reality TV rut or a mindless funk that you can’t bind?

These are all symptoms of what I call Noeffortitis – NO-EFFORT-ITIS! (this is a fictional term). I can talk about the symptoms of Noeffortitis because I’ve experienced them. It’s a disease of the mind. It can be a result of arrogance, entitlement, just old fashioned laziness or a myriad of other things that occur in our mind, heart and emotions. It’s like being infected with a faith-without-works bug. What happens is that our purpose or what some of us call dreams become stale and no longer become a priority. Getting caught up in the euphoria of a recent victory or accomplishment can be one cause. We become relaxed as if the battlefield and the enemy has disappeared and we won’t have anymore battles to prepare for. Another cause can be the subtle choice of idolatry; something or someone becomes more important that the one that gave us the purpose in the first place. We don’t mean for it to happen but it or they become such a good thing to us that we loose our edge and trade it for self-gratification. I believe the more common cause of Noeffortitis is arrogance. We become so used to winning that we forget that winning is a result of fighting. Winning becomes expected rather than sought after. Before we know it, these attitudes and behaviors can become so predominant in our lives that our faith, fire and focus diminishes. This decline can have a domino effect in every aspect of our lives and can leave us feeling stuck! We become unable to even articulate what we’re feeling. We become too frustrated to pray. Stubbornness settles in and we begin to feel deflated. It’s a perpetual dark hole. Meanwhile everyone around us seems as if they’re floating right past us. How can we shake this off?

The only cure for Noeffortitis is a repetitive concoction of confession, repentance, prayer and the word of God that becomes a way of living. Having a joyous life requires a conscious effort to pursue the purpose that we’re pregnant with. No matter the reason, when we put no effort towards our divine appointments, we delay the promises and frankly stifle our personal spiritual growth. There is a high price to pay for losing our passion and focus, it’s called stagnation.

I encourage you to recognize the symptoms of Noeffortitis, seek out the cure, shake it off and get back to where you belong. As children of God we belong in a persistent place of peace and prosperity. When we experience anything opposite of those characteristics, we have to check ourselves and reclaim our faith, fire and focus!

 

 

The Audacity to have Expectations!

I so love this time of the year when we get to share with family and friends all of the joys of moving forward as we ourselves or our children, grandchildren, spouses, siblings and/or friends graduate. I thoroughly enjoy scrolling through social media and taking in all of the memorable photos and videos. I can always feel the corner of my mouth turning upwards; smiling from the inside out. What a fantastic feeling of celebration that comes over us as the completion of a goal has come to pass! I remember receiving my graduate degree in 2013 and all of the emotions that consumed me on that day. I was full of excitement and great anticipation of what the future would hold. All of those long hours of studying and writing, meeting with project team members and grueling exams gave me the right to expect something in return. I expected to have more confidence and greater self-esteem. I expected my daughter to have another reason to look up to me and to know that she could accomplish this as well. I now expected to get a better job. I now expected a greater salary. I expected a return on my investment. The commitment, dedication and completion gave me the audacity to have expectations. Imagine that! I yielded some of these expectations right away and others I still had to work hard at achieving. Today, I am still striving at some of them. When I achieve one goal, I’m on to the next.

What I’ve concluded is that as children of the most high, we should never become satisfied with the mundane, low level, grasshopper accomplishments that even non-believers can achieve. Life as a co-heir with Jesus Christ gives me the bold audacity to always want more and to believe in dreams that I haven’t dreamed yet! I am a recipient of the investment that Jesus made on the cross. I have access to super natural achievements and miraculous success. The challenge in all of this is staying focused on the assignments and not to be overwhelmed by the processes. It’s going to take a lot of work at remaining to be a vessel that can be used. God does the work but we are the vessels that he uses to do the work. So just as academic matriculation requires studying, working on teams, being tested, learning, making mistakes etc. so does being a student of the gospel of Jesus Christ! There never has to be a stopping point and the results are much greater. The price has been paid, there won’t be any student loan debt and the final reward is eternal. To God be the glory! I have the audacity to have expectations!

#tbt gone too far

While it is critical for us to never forget where we have come from and all that we’ve been able to overcome, dwelling on the past is a dangerous focus. Have you ever spoken with someone that always brings up your past? Or how about catching up with someone that is still having the same conversation that they were having when you seen them 12 months ago? It’s great to reminisce on good times that bring you laughter and/or recognize how much you’ve matured since the summer of 2002 but there is something psychologically inept of a person who refuses to acknowledge who you are today and now. When you encounter those individuals that take #tbt way too far by thinking that they can ignore your now purpose by always bringing up your past. Dismiss the rhetoric immediately. It’s not you, it’s them. Shift the direction of the dialogue quickly. Don’t allow it. Never be ashamed of patting yourself on the back and never be afraid of offending someone that can’t respect, honor or identify with the evolution of your personal growth and maturity. It may be time to bid them farewell or to love and pray for them from a distance.

Challenge your thinking!

Yesterday I realized that we needed toilet tissue, paper towels, bath soap, body lotion, dish washer pods and make-up remover all at the same time. I was ready to whine and complain about needing all of those things (which are luxuries) at the same time and then I quickly remembered the times when needing all of that would have sent me into a crying frenzy because I knew that I couldn’t afford it. Gratefulness began to flow from my heart and fall from my lips! We really only have seconds to re-evaluate our thinking about any thought that appears in our sick minds. We have to determine quickly if our thoughts are pleasing in God’s eyes and representative of a grateful son or daughter.

Today I was able to share a testimony with a single mother about my experiences as single mother and all that I’ve allowed the Lord to rescue me from. I recalled how I was delivered from unforgiveness in my heart for my daughter’s absent father. This allowed my heart to be fertile ground for God to do a new work in me. I was delivered from over-compensating as a parent. I thought that I could fill a void in my daughter’s life with stuff and dragging myself into the ground doing the job of two people without seeking the strength of the Lord or HIS wisdom to know better. As a single mom, I had to change my mind about my divine role as a parent. I had to make a decision that my thoughts were only tripping me up and frankly delaying the development of my daughter’s personal relationship with God.

The start of the work weeks are always challenging for me. My energy level is low and my motivation gets off to a slow start. My weeks only become better and successful when I begin to remind myself that Mondays also matter to God and that work is important to him and has been since Genesis chapter 1. Wherever the Lord has me, I have a purpose there and a difference to make and the wrong thinking will cause me to miss chances and opportunities to edify HIS kingdom.

The bottom line here is that we have to challenge our thinking. Let’s face it, our thoughts are not always Godly. There is no shortage of distractions surrounding us. Life is tough and Mondays come around every week…if we’re blessed to see them. Our minds need constant chastisement and correction. Challenging ourselves to have the right positive thinking is a job in itself but it’s a job with great rewards and benefits.

In ALL things give thanks. Challenge your mind to give thanks no matter what!

Emptiness is a good thing

As believers seeking the will of God for our lives, we must be careful to not become full of things that we cannot control and to remain empty so that God has room to do his work. If there is no room for Him, He cannot fill us with what we need. When a glass is already full, you cannot pour anymore in. When a glass is completely empty from the start, there is more room available for filling. If we’re not careful our hearts can become hard and our necks can become stiff from having a bulls eye focus on how things look.  We can become unconsciously disobedient and deaf to the voice of God; already full leaving no room for the love of God to do its work. Sometimes we can become sensationalized with our pain to a point of no return. It’s easy to become hypnotized by the circles that life from a natural perspective takes us in. The only way to avoid this is to make it a daily habit to become empty. We have the gift of confession and repentance all day long. We can stay empty; it’s a good thing. If we empty ourselves to the best secret keeper there is, He will fill us up with exactly what we need. Have you prayed about it as mush as you’ve talked about it? Have you forgiven others the way that God forgives us daily? Give mercy the way that we receive it. Realize the supernatural implications regarding what you’re going through. There is a plan in place and a finished product in the making. What do you do when you get stuck in your feelings? Empty them out. Holding them in is dangerous. There are many of us screaming on the inside from the pain and heaviness of trying to bear what is never meant for us to bear. What also happens in this vicious cycle of being full is that we become bitter and frankly near impossible for others to deal with. We become self-absorbed and unable to recognize who we’ve become. Do you feel full-but still empty? That’s the primary result of pseudo fullness and spiritual numbness brought on by “handling” things the way that we’ve always handled them. In this season of newness that is upon us, I encourage you to remain an empty vessel. Confess always. Repent often. Forgive quickly. Pray constantly. Talk about your problems less. Put on the garment of praise. Let your words be uplifting to yourself and to others. Spend quality time with our creator-in silence. Emptiness is a good thing!