ACTIVE FAITH NOT EMOTIONAL FAITH

active faith

There is something beautifully painful about growing through correction. Criticism is a necessary evil and the chastisement from a genuine place of unconditional affirming love is absolutely incredible. These last six months for me have been extremely powerful in the sense that a routine prayer that I have is being answered in ways that I never would have expected. I call it a routine prayer because it is one that I say often, and I offer it not out of repetition but out of respect and an earnest desire to want to grow spiritually. The prayer simple says, “Lord, convict me and chastisement so I can be the vessel that you need me to be. Show me the parts of Carlette that I have not given to you.”

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s nothing profound or earth shattering about the prayer, but thanks be unto God that he’s not looking for profound, HE just wants honesty. The ways in which he has released the many answers to this prayer over the last six months is pretty amazing. I call it amazing because the lessons that I learned all derived from a hurt place. Although most of us can admit, pain is our muse or that the thorn in our sides keep us grounded but this has been different. The hurt that I speak of was realized when I had to admit what I was purged of. I had to confess to Abba a lot of hard truths about who I am and how I’ve been treating HIM. These revelations aren’t about sin, yet they are about truth. These nuggets of wisdom are about opening my eyes and receiving a new level of understanding about work I need to do on me and how I can improve to bear more fruit for the kingdom.

I can’t share them all with you but one lesson that stands out to me the most is involving my faith. The circumstances of my life this year alone had caused my faith to be emotionally charged to a degree. When the Lord revealed this to me, I felt just terrible and I was downright embarrassed that a woman of my responsibility in the kingdom and exposure to the miraculous had failed miserably and that I had no idea! I got caught up in a rut of emotions. This is primarily because the people and circumstances that were used to test me during this timeframe are people and situations that I hold dear to my heart therefore, when things went left, they pulled on my heartstrings and caused me to have emotional faith instead of active faith!

My emotional faith didn’t cause me to curse God or to stop serving or to stop attending services. It didn’t even stop me from praying and studying the word. What this shrunken kind of faith did was neutralized me. It stopped me from moving in faith literally and spiritually. Several times over the last six months, I became completely stagnant – zombie like. Now that I can think back on these times, the symptoms are so evident but there were pretty much invisible at the time.

Symptoms included:

·         I became super serious while travailing as if my super serious demeanor was going to push God to move faster on my behalf (this cracks me up now that I can reflect)

·         I became “judgy”. I was making judgements of people in my head and didn’t see the harm in it because I wasn’t verbalizing it to anyone else

·         My spirit was depressed – (imagine a choppy wifi connections. Sometimes you’re connected and sometimes you’re not)

The only remedy for this dis-ease in my faith was to desperately cry out for help. I knew that I didn’t feel complete in my spirit and that I was tipping the scale towards giving up on everything. I may not have said it but I was sure thinking it…more often than not. I wasn’t doing enough to combat my wrong thinking and I hadn’t asked for the freedom that I so desperately needed. My heart was willing because I could no longer go on feeling like this. You would never know that I was feeling this way by looking at me or by speaking to me.

God used the most unsuspecting person who I know genuinely loves me to point out some things to me. Their observations were brought to my attention subtly and gently. I didn’t really HEAR them in my spirit when they were first mentioned. In fact, it took a couple of days for me to absorb what had been said. Once I processed the information, I took it to the Lord in prayer and through his grace and unfailing love, HE dealt with me right where I was. I was purged of all that was ailing me. I received my healing and deliverance. Much repentance and a great deal of worship fell from my lips with a pure heart and clean hands. I was able to literally feel the release. It was beautifully painful.

We must be careful not to fall into ruts of routine and pits of mediocracy. The LORD wants us to be alive and vibrant. Full of zeal and excitement. Our energy should be a result of who we know him to be and not based upon the limits that our emotions cause. There are blessing running over. There is healing bubbling up. There are gifts falling free, but our emotions put a cap on the pot and we stay on simmer. Let our faith be on fire as GOD arises so should we! As HIS enemies scatter so should our doubts, fears and anxieties. Confess your feelings. Do emotional and spiritual check ins with our creator. Our emotions must be handed over to the pilot before we can board. There is going to be turbulence and there will be wind, but God is in the control tower. We have nothing to fear. On the way to our destination we will travel through clouds that will test our strength. Be reminded today that we have explosive strength and power inside of us that cannot be put out. The flame is always burning inside of us. Do not become stagnant. Move as the Holy Spirit leads you. Move in expectation. Pack up your stuff, even if you don’t where or how you are moving. Like a pregnant women is an expectant mother, we must be expectant disciples with active faith! 

ARE YOU HUMBLE OR INSECURE?

This is a question that I had to ask myself today after listening to a sermon online about the “Dysfunctions of Comfort”. I strive to be as humble as I can be and I’ve never viewed that as a bad thing, but have I used it as a cover up for my insecurities? I like to think of myself as a secure and confident person in 99% of areas in my life. I stay in my lane until I’ve learned the skill or knowledge necessary to swerve into another lane.

The question that was provoked by this sermon presents a challenge for me. As I am always striving to be better than I was yesterday, I will need to evaluate my moments of humility. I need to check my insecure, less confident inventory to gauge areas in need of growth and I need to break up some of my routines. It’s time to shake things up a little bit and be more adventurous. After all, failing a few times will only lead me to succeed.

I’ve never been much of a risk taker and it is very possible that this cautionary side of my personality may be connected to insecurities that I have not identified. From this day forward, I am going to journal more about opportunities and things that I have been so quick to turn down. I’m interested to see what patterns will come to light and how I can prepare myself for what happens after I say yes more often. 

Now don’t get me wrong, my self-esteem hasn’t been negatively affected yet I’ve been pushed to challenge my thinking and decision making. Stay tuned. I will post an update for sure.

LOVE AND PEACE CHALLENGE

I pray that on this week we will experience unusual amounts of love and peace. The receipt of these fruits is about our perception. Perception is reality. What we perceive to be true is the truth to us. Let’s ask ourselves where our truth is coming from. Let’s evaluate our root and foundation. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior”. Let’s challenge ourselves to combat every thought outside of love and peace with love and peace. If a family member says something hurtful, fill your thoughts of a memory of them that makes your smile or laugh and then share it with them. If a co-worker is slamming doors, remind him or her how valuable they are. When was the last time that you’ve complimented a co-worker on a skillset that they have that is priceless to the team?  If your child disappoints you, respond with a loving kind word that will change their attitude and shock them. If your spouse gets under your skin, pause.  Pray about your response and then shower them with their favorite things.

Consider yourself deputized. You are the love and peace deputy of the week. It is your job to enforce love and peace no matter what. You’ve been designated to influence every place that you step in to. Empower others around you to spread love and peace in their circles as well.

Stand up for it. Cover others in it. Spread it abroad. Express it abundantly. Share it intentionally. Love and peace over everything else. We can all agree that the world needs more of it so let it start with you.

Let’s go out of our way to give a compliment, a hug, a gift, a kind gesture, a loving expression or more. Let’s do the unexpected to make someone feel that they are appreciated. This week won’t be about us or what we need or want; it will be about others.  “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silent the ignorant talk of foolish people.”

Be Free

Be reminded today my brothers and my sisters that we are not victims, we are winners. Accept the victory that we have been given in Christ Jesus. We are not orphans, we are adopted into the greatest family of all times. We do not have to be ruled by the spirit of comparison or competition. We do not have to look for a stamp of approval by the world’s standards. We are approved and already validated in heavenly places by divine order. Now let’s walk this thing out accordingly! Be who you are created to be! Today be free. You are a masterpiece!

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!