Let Choices Lead and Feelings Follow

Help! There’s a tornado whirlwind of jeans, tops, and dresses all over my bedroom! I cannot make up my mind on what to wear so I throw every article of clothing I feel like wearing in every direction of my bedroom. Can anyone relate?? I like the idea of wearing one blouse in my mind but I like how another shirt fits and feels better on my body. So I change. After walking out the door and realizing I’m not dressed for the weather, I change again. Then I feel like wearing different shoes because they look better with the new dress I put on. This probably goes on two or three more times. Then don’t get me started on my food options. I will probably feel three different ways about my lunch today when it comes time to chow down. There are so many feelings, no wonder our culture thrives on one of the scariest ideas floating around – that your feelings are truth.
feelings face
feelings faces – bernadinia
Our culture is saturated with feelings! Do not misinterpret this. Feelings are not bad. In fact, they were given to us by God. However, to allow our feelings to dictate what we do and how we identify ourselves in critical areas of our lives is deception and misaligned. Our culture believes that those desires, those urges, and those impulses are who you are. Live how you feel! Do what you want, when you want, and with whoever you want. Follow your heart! This is a horrible existence. The reality is this is not truth. Pastor Judah Smith stated it best, “Don’t follow your heart, question your heart.”

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Don’t follow your feelings. Most of the time we cannot identify our emotions or know what we want. How can we trust the roller coaster ride of our emotions dealing with God, people, careers, etc? Yet, it is a sad reality that the same approach we have towards what we’re going to eat and what we’re going to wear, is applied to other major areas in our lives. One of the best ways to safeguard our hearts and lead a life of decision is to understand that it starts with relationship. Here are three important areas of our lives where we can be a generation of people that choose to live by decision and will, not by emotion and frill. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!
  • Our Relationship with God
    • What if God responded to us out of His feelings? We would not be redeemed today! Someone once told me that they are waiting to feel God before they start following Him. Well, that is the wrong approach to our relationship with our Father in Heaven! Friends, let me tell you that our love for God is an act of the will and selfless surrender of ourselves. It is a decision. (James 4:8)
    • Love is a law and laws have no feelings. Romans 13:8; John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Sometimes you feel like running the red light because you are late, but the law says STOP! (Myles Munroe) God has given us a command to obey, even to the point of loving our enemies. We definitely cannot feel our way to doing that. We choose that!
    • Obey God wholeheartedly – If we think of love primarily as emotional desire and not as active committed service, we end up putting duty and desire against each other in a way that is unrealistic and destructive – Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
  • Relationship with our Spouse

    • Andy Stanley said, “Falling in love is easy; all it requires is a pulse, but staying in love requires a plan.” Love is a verb. You do it. You don’t feel it. Love is an act of the will. We think love is some emotional concoction deep in the soul. However, it is a daily decision to love (verb) our spouse. Then those initial feelings we had when we were all googly-eyed during the dating season will return and stay!
  • Living Out Our Purpose and Calling
    • What is that hard thing God has called you to? Did you start out with enthusiasm and emotion but found yourself giving into your feelings of not wanting to do it anymore? Most people start out feeling one way and quit on a “bad” day. Here’s the thing, you cannot rely on your feelings to lead you to greatness. Greatness occurs through daily habits and choices. Commit, follow-through, invest, practice and deliver even when you don’t feel like it.

Start Your Day with WWJD

wwjd

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

You remember the “WWJD” phrase? This was the most popular Christian saying back in the 1990s. In fact, it was so culturally iconic, you weren’t considered cool or Christian unless you wore a WWJD bracelet (maybe not that extreme lol)! However, the motto, “What would Jesus do?”  does hold so much truth in how we demonstrate our actions in every situation and circumstance as believers. I also believe it can be a catalyst for how we shape our mindset to start our day.

This is an encouragement for you this morning to start your day with God. Let me ask you this… did you wake up with a worrisome thought about life? Did you wake up with thoughts of fear? Or how about thoughts of extreme lack of motivation for the day…dreading the work hours ahead of you? Did you wake up feeling rushed, too busy to think with all of the work you HAVE to get done today? If any of those scenarios didn’t fit, then you probably were the one who walked mindlessly to the bathroom or kitchen, possibly contemplating if you could sneak in five extra minutes of sleep. Yet, in all of these scenarios, if we’re not careful, they can be the catalyst to how we go into the rest of our day, with a filter being worried, doubtful, tired, stressed, or without purpose. But what if we woke up thinking WWJD?

Remember that worrisome situation that was on your mind when you woke up? “If you’re tuned into God, the first thing you’ll do in any worrisome situation is lift it up to Him.” When we wake up in the morning and devote the priority of the day to our King, we do what Jesus would have done…go to the Father in prayer. I find setting time each morning to pray before anything else, is the most important part of your 24 hours.

God can do more when we allow Him with our day, then we can do on our own. Give Him control.

Praying prepares our hearts and minds for whatever may come at us that day. Prayer allows us to cast every burden and weight on the Lord so that we can start each morning free and joyful. Prayer is setting the thermostat for our day. When we set it, we carry the presence of God that has the power to influence people and situations for His glory. When we don’t set it, well…we can be subject to the people and circumstances around us. So let’s hold true to the motto WWJD. Let’s start each day communing with Christ in prayer and reading God’s Word, even if its just for a few minutes. I’m telling you, your life will change all for the better! Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

Cloudy and I Know It

Last year was a bit “cloudy” for me. I went through a lot of transitions and experienced some high points and low points. Dreams were put on hold and others came to reality. My faith was tested and my walk with God wavered. Many people believe this myth that because you are a Christian, you won’t have struggles or you do not wrestle with your faith…this couldn’t be further from the truth. I say all of this to say that there were moments I was on Cloud nine. I was blissfully happy and nothing in my surroundings could move me in a negative direction. I saw clearly what life had in store for me and I was ready to dive headfirst into the vision I know that God has for me. Then there were other moments…

…life situations that I allowed to happen and life situations that. just. happened

…and they placed me right in the middle of the clouds and everything became a blur. All I could see was what was right in front of me and nothing made sense anymore. My heart became heavy, my mind stubborn to the Word of God, and I felt myself slowly falling away from God’s pleasing and perfect plan for my life.

Welcome to what I call life. We all have different life situations that will challenge the way we see things. Sometimes we allow those things into our life that we know are not for us…they could be romantic relationships, business partnerships, jobs, excessive social media, etc…and they slowly take our focus from being above the clouds where the vision is clear to suddenly being immersed in them.

Sometimes we allow GOOD things into our life, but it’s not the BEST God has for us.

What’s funny is then we try to justify our actions. We try to make the wrong right, or what we think is right fit into our lives. Let me tell you…it will not work! No matter how bad we desire our own wants, we know in the back of our minds something is off. I guarantee you the Holy Spirit splashed a huge warning sign in front of us at some point but we were so stubborn to follow it because we want what we want so badly. Then I’m sure you get frustrated with the struggles of life because you have no control over it. Well, at least I do. I had a situation that lasted nearly 8 months and it seemed like whenever I fixed one problem, the situation only got worse and was prolonged further!

I understand what it means to feel pain in areas of life that makes you wish you had a huge reset button. (How cool would that be to just reset life lol?!) You’re tired and your strength is weak. You wonder what the future has in store for you. You feel like no one else is going through what you are experiencing. Trust me when I tell you that we all have some giant elephant we are dealing with…some choose to try to hide it which only makes matters worse. Life is certainly not a fairy tale, but I know it is beautiful. It becomes beautiful in its own time. Only when we surrender to God’s will and perfect timing, will we be able to see the beauty above the clouds and even in them.

The serenity about life is that when we mess up…God is still faithful. God is not moved by our conditional behavior. The fact that I fell slowly into the clouds only made me aware how much more I need a Savior that loves me in spite of the filth. It was when I recognized my weakness and vulnerabilities that I could be strong in the Lord. I am not saying that you should accept your shortcomings as a way of living; we are called to be set apart and live a lifestyle that is pleasing to God. However, we are to accept our wrongs as lessons, make them part of our stories that we share with others, as to maintain an integrity and wholeness towards soundness and healing. True healing and peace comes from accepting all of yourself, even the parts you don’t want to; to recognize that you may be on cloud nine or in the clouds. That’s authenticity. That’s integrity. God can only transform what we authentically bring to Him…

Now that the new year is upon us and it is 2017, it is a great opportunity to see clearly what God has for your life. I am joining my church in our annual 21 day fasting and prayer this month which starts today. Why fasting and prayer? It is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all discussed in the Bible. We need our lives transformed! We need results and not talk! We need the power of God! Prayer and fasting is the answer to all of those. I’m believing God for clarity and a clear vision for 2017 and beyond. If you need to get out of the clouds, I encourage you to fast and pray so that your life can be used for Kingdom purpose. I will leave you with 12 things you can expect from a Fast from Lisa Bevere’s “You Are Not What You Weigh.” Be Blessed. Be Revealed.

 

cloud-post

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A FAST

Excerpt from, You Are Not What You Weigh, by Lisa Bevere

  • Fasting Creates a New Hunger -(Ezra 8:23) As the initial hunger pangs or longings cease, a new desire is formed.
  • Fasting Works Humility – (Psalm 35:13) – We feel our natural strength waning. In our weakness, we find ourselves more dependent upon God. It is turning away from what we can provide, and turning toward what God alone can give.
  • Fasting Increases Sensitivity to God – (Luke 2:36-38) Anna in the scripture could hear clearly what God was saying.
  • Fasting Chastens or Disciplines – (Psalm 69:10) David maintained his spiritual life by means of bringing his body into subjection.
  • Fasting Changes Our Appetite – (Acts 13:2) God often uses times of fasting and prayer to speak to the desires of our hearts, and to reveal his purpose and destiny for our lives.
  • Fasting Increases Our Capacity – (Esther 4:16) Fasting increases your capacity for self-sacrifice and imparted wisdom.
  • Fasting Brings Answers to Prayer – (Isaiah 58:9) A godly fast will bring answered prayer and it may come through his Word, or as a still small voice, or by a strong confirmation of what He has previously shown us.
  • Fasting Leads to Quick Healing – (Isaiah 58:8) The healing can be physical, mental, or spiritual. Even natural medicine supports this – many illnesses occur in the digestive system. A short fast gives our body a chance to refocus its energies on healing instead of eating. (Please consult a physician before undertaking a fast if you are ill.)
  • Fasting Opens the Door to God’s Protection and Provision – (Isaiah 58:8) God promised to be a guard before us and behind us. A fast renews your righteousness and sends it on before you. Then, as you give God the glory, He returns righteousness as your rear guard.
  • Fasting Looses the Chains of Injustice – (Isaiah 58:6) This fast has the power to loose any unjust chains that bind us. It is not merely for personal liberation, but it represents God’s desire to see us reach out and loose the ties that bind others, and remove the chains of oppression.
  • Fasting Frees the Oppressed and Breaks Every Yoke – (Isaiah 58:6) A fast is a time when we take our eyes off of ourselves and our own needs; and look around at the oppression and pain of others. In response, we learn to reach out in compassion and help – becoming agents of healing.
  • Fasting Motivates Us to Provide Food for the Needy – (Isaiah 58:7) You are not eating because of a fast, then you are free to share your portion with those less fortunate.

If you would like to follow the 21 day devotions for fasting and prayer, click the link below.

http://21days.victoryatl.com/

 

“Release Your Potential”

There are seeds of GREATNESS inside of you.

potentail apple.png

The average human being only uses 10% of their potential. This begs to question, what if we just accessed 10 percent more? What about 15 percent? There is so much that we can do but we forfeit all that is inside of us because we throw away the seeds with the apple. There are seeds of greatness inside of you. Do you believe it?

This message came from my church currently teaching a series called “Release Your Potential,” and it is certainly worth listening to again and meditating on because we need to tap into all that we were created to do and be. (See the link below).

Most people waste the potential of the apple, not knowing that what’s important are the seeds! The power of the seed is so misunderstood that we end up throwing it away or eating it; instead of planting it and nurturing it. What happens when you plant an apple seed, or any seed? It has the potential to grow into another apple tree and produce a harvest of apples!

You have seeds in you that can become a business. You have seeds in you that has the potential to produce 100 times what you produce. You have seeds of creativity, imagination, and wonder, ready to blossom into something beautiful. Think about where you can be in 2-5 years from now if you just plant your seeds?!

Here’s the thing. Are you willing to sow, wait, and give your seeds to God?

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15: 5

In Christ, we can do all things. In Christ, all things are possible! In Christ, your greatest potential can be released beyond your wildest expectations, beliefs, and even your limited capabilities. The seed is small. But it has the power to yield 100 fold results. The less God has to work with, the more He can make happen in your life. Let Him have control of your seed. Its’ in Christ that we can release our potential. So I encourage you to stay connected to the True Vine and Source from where all of our potential rests. Plant the seed and you will see those things inside of you come to life! Be Blessed. Be Revealed.

For all of my Christian rap fans…Fedel’s “I Will Be.”

 

http://victoryatl.com/messages/

I Felt Like Lebron

lebron

Just a few days ago I had a little extra free time on my hands, so I thought I would make use of it and hit the gym and basketball courts from a busy week. From someone who is used to being in the gym everyday of the week and on the court, to now being back in the classroom and teaching is a complete shift and adjustment for my body…however, I found out quickly my mind did not make that transition altogether yet.

So there I was playing pick up basketball with some people in the neighborhood. I stepped on the court, the only female there, and my competitive nature kicked in. Mind you I haven’t played in a couple of weeks or even warmed up my body to prepare for the run, but I thought, “I’ll be alright.” This older gentleman (I’m trying to be nice) was guarding me… so again, in my mind I’m thinking “go to work.”

At first my body wasn’t moving like I wanted it to. Then with a few runs up and down the court, I caught my second wind, hit a jumper in the corner, got a few oohs from the crowd, and picked up my game. Then I crossed a defender and made a drive down the lane and suddenly started “feeling myself.” It’s okay to laugh…I felt like Lebron.

Anyways, that feeling didn’t last long.

Because the next play I caught the ball and came down on my ankle all wrong. So now, I’m walking around with a LIMP. I’ll probably be rehabbing my ankle for a few weeks. It’s alright; I’ll be back to normal in no time. But what does this have to do with you or anything for that matter?

A limp doesn’t stop the walk. A failure doesn’t stop the process. Being tired doesn’t mean I stop altogether. I keep going. You keep going. In the end you’ll win the prize as long as you keep going.

So yes, in the end you can “feel like LeBron” holding up the NBA championship trophy after years of disappointment and close calls. As Christians, our goal is to eventually hear the words, “…Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:21 NLT)

Now please, hear me correctly. Do not picture yourself crossing the finish line crippled, or holding up the trophy weak and tired. LeBron was playing his best basketball when he held up the trophy. We too will be walking in full stride and strength when we ultimately win our prize. However, it’s in the journey that we will experience these “limps” along the way. So keep walking! Keep going! Imagine victory around the corner and the taste of triumph in your mouth. We will win if we do not faint.

One last thing…go read my friend’s post from today (link below)…she has an encouraging and powerful message that will enrich and inspire your hearts to never give up! Be Blessed family! Be Revealed!

Source: My Life as a Storyteller

12 Reasons You Shouldn’t Quit

 

Endure Quote

You’re in a 12 round fight called life and there will be times you want to faint and give up. It’s not those who start that can stand firm in authority, but those who endure all the way to the end. Listen…the worst thing you can do is be around people who have quit when you are border line making a decision. Get around winners! Get around fighters! Get around those who are a couple rounds ahead of you.

People quit because they believe the lie that they will find rest and quiet in their lives finally. Yet, once you relax your arms in a boxing match, you open yourself up for a complete knock out! Keep your arms up, stay ready, and keep going. These are some great points from Pastor Olivier in South Africa on 12 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Quit. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

Boxer

  • 1. YOU WERE BORN TO BE A WINNER NOT A LOSER – The Word tells us that we are more than conquerors, the head and not the tail, created to reign and rule. However, so many people are walking around defeated. When you are born into the family of God as a new Christian, you are adopted into a family of winners! That’s all we do! That’s all we know! You have to be able to process that in your mind first. There’s a story of a Chinese man walking by a tattoo parlor and saw a tattoo that read “Born to Lose.” The man thought to himself, why would anyone want that on their body? He went inside to ask the owner and the man responded….”Before tattoo on body….tattoo on mind.”
  • 2. YOU WON’T FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF – If you don’t feel good about yourself you won’t feel good about others. “Age wrinkles the body but quitting wrinkles the soul.” God wants to build confidence in your life and the enemy wants to steal your confidence.
  • 3. IT BECOMES A HABIT – The more you give in the more you allow weakness into your life. The more you have resistance to quit, the more you build strength into your life. We train our bodies to quit or keep going. The thing that separates those who quit and keep going is the word COMMITMENT. They are committed to not give up. Givers don’t have less challenges than non-givers. Givers are just committed to giving.
  • 4. YOU WILL FIND RELIEF BUT YOU WILL EXPERIENCE REGRESSION – The word “quit” comes from the word “quiet.” You will find your “quiet” in quitting, but you will actually be going backwards. You are going backwards because you are relinquishing responsibility. The most mature people are those that can handle high volumes and multiple areas of responsibility. That’s why Jesus will always be the most mature person to ever walk this earth because He took on the responsibility of mankind. People give up on their marriages, their jobs, relationships, etc. because they cannot and do not want to commit to the responsibility anymore. God builds into your life when you persevere. When you quit you go backwards and build again.

“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be MATURE and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4 NIV

  • 5. YOU ALLOW THE ENEMY TO GET THE GLORY – People think that evil or demonic only looks like murder, smoking, drinking, or sexual immorality. The truth is that you are more like the enemy when you give up on commitment. You’re more like Jesus when you remain committed and do not quit. Jesus endured the Cross! He went through the shame! We need to be people who can bounce back and pick up where we left off.
  • 6. YOU’VE COME TOO FAR – You have invested too much already. You have come too far to turn away now. Don’t put a period where God put a comma. You can pause, but don’t stop. God has great plans for your life so you must keep going. You’re destined for glory. Pray all the harder and stay fueled up.
  • 7. YOU CAN CAUSE OTHERS TO GIVE UP AND LOSE RESPECT FOR YOU – People are watching you. When you give up it’s a trigger for someone else to do the same. There are so many people hovering over making a decision of whether to give up or not and some people are going still only because you are. In their mind, they are saying that if you can do it, they can too. But when they see you throw in the towel, than it gives them an out to quit. It’s okay to have your time of weeping and crying in difficult times but straighten up and keep going. Stay the course and have staying power.
  • 8. YOUR FUTURE IS STILL UNFOLDING AND ITS NOT OVER YET – The reality is that you will get tired, but keep going! Something is happening in the unseen. You have to plant yourself and wait. The problem is that we keep trying to uncover what God is trying to grow. People may laugh at what you believe God put inside you, but don’t let that make you try to hurry the process. What comes out will eventually write your destiny.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NIV

  • 9. STOP AND REASON NOT REACT – When you quit you are reacting. Quitting is mostly emotional. Never make a big decision out of emotion. Uncomfortable does not mean it’s not God. We cannot live our lives off feeling; we must live it on principle.
  • 10. YOU MIGHT FEEL ALONE BUT YOU’RE NOT ALONE – God is with us. God’s love never quits. God never takes from His children. We are the ones that leave Him! People feel alone and understand that the best among us are capable of some of the most unimaginable sins. However, God will help us through His grace to live the way we ought to.
  • 11. YOU CAN HANDLE MORE THAN YOU THINK – The enemy will exaggerate the giants in your life but you are well able! You can do all things through Christ which gives you strength! (Phil. 4:13)
  • 12. YOU CAN LOSE YOUR PLACE AND YOUR REWARD – Don’t give up on your eternal reward. There is something waiting for you at the end of your race. Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”Don’t give up what’s eternal for some temporary relief here on earth.

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. If you have quit or are thinking about it, be encouraged…Jesus is ready to welcome you back with grace and mercy! Stay the course, you never know who is depending on you.