God Isn’t Finished With You Yet

I wrote the post “The Comeback” over a year ago and wanted to revisit it again today, especially after being inspired by Tiger Wood’s legendary comeback yesterday. Your past is not the indicator of the future God has for you; neither is the present moment. In fact, we are all in this process called life together, we just happen to be at different places in our journey. Here’s the good news:

God does not call you based on your history, He calls you based on your destiny.

When you’re faced with doubters and critics in your journey of life, keep believing. When you’re faced with setbacks, keep believing. When you’re alone and your circle of friends no longer is with you, keep believing. When you think you’re past your prime, God’s time is always better. You have to teach yourself to hope when others default to despair. You have to develop grit and deepen that passion on the inside of you. There are no gains without pains. Just keep believing. “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.” (Proverbs 24:16) Get back up again. Fight again. What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger if you choose.

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We are all going to come to a point in our life where “we need a fresh start, a new beginning, a spiritual turnaround, a change of direction”… we need a comeback. Comeback and underdog stories are what I love. In fact, the ultimate comeback story belongs to our Heavenly Father when He conquered death, hell, and the grave and is alive today! No matter what circumstances or situations we are facing or have experienced in the past…hope is still available to us and we can overcome through Jesus Christ. Still believe! Still trust! Here are a few appetizing points from this book I read by Louie Giglio, “The Comeback: It’s Not Too late and You’re Never Too Far.” Be Blessed. Be Revealed.

The Comeback by Louie Giglio

  • God is always good, and God’s plans will always prevail, even when our plans don’t.
  • Jesus is always there for us. He doesn’t stop healing us. He never stop forgiving us. He won’t stop restoring us. He refuses to stop loving us.
  • He melts the grip of sin and dire circumstances and leads us back to his springtime full of life and growth, productivity and beauty.
  • God isn’t finished with you yet. Jesus is a dream restorer.
  • We are in the plan of God and not the plan of men.
  • It doesn’t matter how far you’ve gone, what you’ve done,or where you’ve been. God always throws the door wide open and says, “Welcome home!”
  • His grace comes in oceanic proportions.
  • Nothing gets in the way of God’s great plan.
  • Sometimes we try so hard to cheat death, but Jesus wants us to beat death.
  • He wants us to understand our constant need for the extravagant grace of God.
  • The thing we need most is not to be perfect but to be in love with Jesus. All the condemnation already fell on Jesus.
  • We need God’s saving grace to be made alive. We need God’s transforming grace to be made alive every day.
  • There’s more at stake than what happens in your life. What’s at stake is how God wants to raise up hope in a community, a nation, and the world to the point where people look around and see what God is doing in people’s lives.
  • He is the person our hearts and souls were made for. Jesus is enough.
  • Give it away. Give God your dreams. Give God your intense feelings. Give God your little and see what he does with it.
  • We all have an ability to have a relationship with almighty God.
  • In the unpredictable places in life, we learn that the one thing we can predict is that God will come through.
  • He doesn’t want our dreams. He wants his dreams.
  • Keep doing the very best at whatever God has put in front of us.
  • God is still at work. God has not forgotten you. Your comeback will probably look different that you have imagined it, and that’s okay. Wait and believe.

 

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The Comeback

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We are all going to come to a point in our life where “we need a fresh start, a new beginning, a spiritual turnaround, a change of direction”… we need a comeback. Comeback and underdog stories are what I love. In fact, the ultimate comeback story belongs to our Heavenly Father when He conquered death, hell, and the grave and is alive today! No matter what circumstances or situations we are facing or have experienced in the past…hope is still available to us and we can overcome through Jesus Christ. Still believe! Still trust! Here are a few appetizing points from this book I read by Louie Giglio, “The Comeback: It’s Not Too late and You’re Never Too Far.” Be Blessed. Be Revealed.

The Comeback by Louie Giglio

  • God is always good, and God’s plans will always prevail, even when our plans don’t.
  • Jesus is always there for us. He doesn’t stop healing us. He never stop forgiving us. He won’t stop restoring us. He refuses to stop loving us.
  • He melts the grip of sin and dire circumstances and leads us back to his springtime full of life and growth, productivity and beauty.
  • God isn’t finished with you yet. Jesus is a dream restorer.
  • We are in the plan of God and not the plan of men.
  • It doesn’t matter how far you’ve gone, what you’ve done,or where you’ve been. God always throws the door wide open and says, “Welcome home!”
  • His grace comes in oceanic proportions.
  • Nothing gets in the way of God’s great plan.
  • Sometimes we try so hard to cheat death, but Jesus wants us to beat death.
  • He wants us to understand our constant need for the extravagant grace of God.
  • The thing we need most is not to be perfect but to be in love with Jesus. All the condemnation already fell on Jesus.
  • We need God’s saving grace to be made alive. We need God’s transforming grace to be made alive every day.
  • There’s more at stake than what happens in your life. What’s at stake is how God wants to raise up hope in a community, a nation, and the world to the point where people look around and see what God is doing in people’s lives.
  • He is the person our hearts and souls were made for. Jesus is enough.
  • Give it away. Give God your dreams. Give God your intense feelings. Give God your little and see what he does with it.
  • We all have an ability to have a relationship with almighty God.
  • In the unpredictable places in life, we learn that the one thing we can predict is that God will come through.
  • He doesn’t want our dreams. He wants his dreams.
  • Keep doing the very best at whatever God has put in front of us.
  • God is still at work. God has not forgotten you. Your comeback will probably look different that you have imagined it, and that’s okay. Wait and believe.

 

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Go Look at the Horizon

I have a confession. I don’t like waiting…

For example, the thought of long lines, being put on hold on the telephone, and the worst…traffic…makes me want to avoid them at all costs! Here’s the thing, if you know anything about Atlanta, GA traffic, you don’t have the option of avoiding it. You learn how to deal with it. You find out that morning rush hour is from 5:00 am to noon and that evening rush hour is from noon to 7:00 pm. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Atlanta has its own. Never honk at anyone. Ever. Period. Seriously. Something worse could happen. I’ve learned to pack meals and even listened to entire book audiotapes to pass the time away. I’m telling you it’s a fine art in how you deal with waiting in Atlanta traffic.

But life has you wait for more than just long lines and terrible Atlanta traffic. You could be waiting on a job opportunity, a dream in your heart to come true, your future spouse, a change in your health, financial turnaround, or waiting to have kids. The wait is different for everyone but everyone has a wait. Waiting is a big part of the Christian life and prayer. In fact, you don’t get the option of whether you have to wait as a Christian, but you do get the option of HOW you wait. I recently listened to a message from Jesus Culture Church in Sacramento called “The Prayer of Anticipation.” It has definitely encouraged me in my own waiting process so I wanted to share some great points that will hopefully encourage you as well on waiting on God. Be Blessed. Be Revealed.

Lamentations

  • There are two types of waiting: Passive waiting and the Biblical concept of waiting. People think waiting is passive. They distract themselves with other activities and get their mind off what they are waiting for. Yet, this is not the Biblical concept of waiting. The definition of wait in the Bible come from several different Hebrew and Greek words. In general, it means to LOOK, EXPECT, HOPE FOR, LIE IN AMBUSH FOR, LONG FOR…I don’t forget about it. I keep looking. I anticipate. I lean in to prayer and expect it. Waiting on God is to seek Him and pray anticipating that what your Father said will. come. to. pass. It’s not going through the motions of prayer. We can pray and not believe. Yet, waiting on God is to pray AND believe in faith.

 

From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:4 NRSV

 

  • Waiting helps us know the character of God. When I can know God in a deeper way and trust His character, it can help me get through the long process of waiting. When we do not know that God is faithful, consistent, not a respecter of persons, kind, good, etc. we can become bitter, hurt, discouraged, and stop praying in our waiting process. God wants you to get to know Him while you wait! Lean in and position yourself to know that God cannot deny His own character. If He did it for other people, He will do it for you! When fear or doubt try to cloud your mind remind yourself that God is faithful. He is the most consistent person you will ever meet. He will not fail you. Even when we are not faithful and consistent, that does not stop God from being who He is.

 

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  • GO LOOK AT THE HORIZON. When Elijah prayed for rain in the Bible, he told his servant to look toward the sea for rain. When the servant came back and said there is nothing there, Elijah told him to go back…seven times. On the seventh time, the servant responded, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” Before you knew it, a heavy rain poured. You and I need to pick-up the prayers we put down and pray with anticipation and expectation! We need to keep looking at the horizon until it comes and lean into God! It may take seven times, it make take 7,000 times but that is part of trusting that God will deliver. It’s coming and God’s timing is not our own. Don’t lose heart. Don’t lose hope. Just Go Look One More time. 

 

 

 

Jack Kelly Scholarship Fund — Nicci Kelly, LLC

Hoop Dreams

I was blindsided. You know that feeling; that one breathless moment of having the wind knocked out of you. I never saw the hit coming and I’ll never forget the pain. During my 8th grade year, my basketball team went on a perfect undefeated regular season. We were the favorites to win the championship game against heavy rival Bruner Middle School. My father was in remission from leukemia. He missed the majority of my games due to his chemotherapy treatments, so it was only right for him not to miss my final game. He was my number one fan. In spite of the doctor’s orders, telling him he should stay home and rest would have been like trying to stop a bull from charging a red flag. My daddy was blinded from the consequences because he made up in his mind to see his little girl play. Friday night came and the small middle school gym was packed out along with people standing on the walls. Yet, for some particular reason, beyond all the excitement and anxiety of the game, deep down I knew something was not right. We lost that game at the buzzer by one point; the pursuit of a perfect season crushed.

That hurt was only a fraction of what I was about to lose.

Not even 36 hours after losing my championship game, I lost my hero. My daddy died Sunday morning from an infection he caught most likely from being at my basketball game. I was blind sided again; hit by a blow so hard I became paralyzed from the sudden shock. It was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. I questioned everything…my faith, my purpose, my gift of basketball, my dreams… I wanted to play professional basketball and my dad was the reason behind it all. It seemed without him I had nothing, because he believed in me.

I knew giving up would not be the thing my dad wanted so I kept playing. I kept grinding through the difficult days and even the joyous days because he was not there to celebrate with me. I never thought I would look back all these years so thankful for all of the experiences in my life and how far I have come. God allowed me to live my dreams through overcoming what seemed like impossibilities. I know what it’s like to have a dream that you want so bad that it keeps you focused and working when no one else sees you. You wonder if all the work will one day pay off. Most importantly, I had people to come into my life and take me under their wings. Family, friends, coaches, and teachers..they believed in me and prayed for me even when I couldn’t do those things for myself.

I want to do the same for others. This scholarship is dedicated to my dad, Jack Kelly, to help fund high school girl basketball players that have hoop dreams. Out of nearly 500,000 girl high school basketball players in the nation, only 6.4% make it to play any level of college basketball. Less than 1 percent go on to play professional basketball. Although the stats may seem daunting and against you, it’s not impossible. Sometimes, all it takes is one moment of a person believing in another to see a dream come to reality. This scholarship will help fund a high school girl during the summer to pay for camps, summer league, travel, etc. Right now it is limited to one player but we will look to expand the scholarship as it continues to grow. If you would like to know more and even be a part by donating, please click the link below. Thanks for your time family. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

Jack Kelly Scholarship Fund — Nicci Kelly, LLC

 

 

Power of Believing in Yourself

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In 2008, a first year head coach hung a sign up in his football players’ meeting room which had the word “BELIEVE” on it. The team was going through so many problems. They had not one ten games in a season in 18 years and had not won a championship since 1981. Fast forward nine years later and Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers football program are now your 2017 College Football National Champions. His team needed to believe in themselves, if they were to overcome a record of mediocrity (Schiffer, 2017). “Believe,” Swinney says, “is a powerful thing. Powerful enough to change anything” (Hayes, 2017).

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic of belief lately. We all have things and values that we believe in. Our lives are a reflection of what we believe and the habits we build around our belief system. Believing is so simple, we do not think about it, and often we miss it all the time. However, I want to pose this question to you. What do you believe? More specifically, what do you believe about yourself?

There are very few successful people who are not positive and confident in themselves. In many cases they are even less gifted and less skilled in what they do, they just think differently than others who are not as successful. Believing is the doorway of entry. It is the doorway to hopes and dreams and the future that you imagine it to be. Believing is a process of becoming and growing into all of the purposes and potential hidden inside of you and I. Unfortunately, I think our society has misinterpreted what it means to believe in oneself. The problem is that today, many people think that they can do anything, alone, and without any help from others. There is no such thing as the self-made man and independent go-getter. These people are trying to make a life of doing something, rather than becoming something.

As Christians, we are not only called to believe in Jesus, but we are also to believe in ourselves too. We must see ourselves the way we really are, with the help of Jesus Christ. Writer Gerald Kennedy has a lot to say about this topic. He says, “the more we understand the reality of our own hearts, the more we see the need for Christ; pride is the root of sin.” The world is full of people who feel hopeless and reckless, but they try to build up a picture that looks as if they are strong and can stand alone. I have been guilty of this as well. It is the lust of proving oneself that they are a star, to tell the world how good they are and that they deserve praise. Yet, even the very best of us fall short of the righteousness of God. The difference where we fall short and what God has for us is found in the healthy and pure form of Belief…in oneselfANDin God.

Finally, through Jesus Christ, our eyes are opened and we see the truth about who we are….children of God. We were never meant to do this thing called life alone. We were made in the image of our Father, created for Himself and for His great pleasure. Romans 8 speaks about being God’s children. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17). Then in Romans 8 verse 19, it says, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.”

Do you realize who you are? You are an heir to God and co-heir with Christ! You are created a little lower than Elohim! You are a mighty warrior! You are a masterpiece, created from the very hands of God the Universe! You are above and not beneath! You are royalty and a citizen of the Kingdom of Majesty! You have the very breath of God inside of you! Do I need to continue? You are set apart, holy, and purposed for great destiny! You are whole, healed and free! You can do more than you think you can and you can have more what you think you can have!

When you understand and BELIEVE who you really are through Christ, only then can you truly be REVEALED.

You won’t get anyone to believe in who you are until you believe in yourself. Break off the old mindset and up your game of self-perception! It is those who know their God that can truly know themselves. It is those that believe in themselves and God that will truly do great exploits.

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God just wants your belief. God cannot use your unbelief. Look at the countless examples of people in the Bible that believed. Abraham was counted righteous because he believed God. Moses led the people out of Egypt because he surrendered to a belief in himself and God. Esther saved a nation because she believed. The woman at the well in the New Testament believed in the coming Messiah and as a result went to witness to her town about the Christ who was there. So my question to you again is this. Will you simply… just…. believe? Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

 

 

Burden of Strength

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Photo Credit Gino Astuto Artist

There’s an invisible armor that we all tend to bear… Its superhero characteristics include the illusion that you have it all together. There is no moderation in these commendable qualities you possess. You can take care of others, be independent, put your needs aside or indicate that you do not have any to begin with. This armor of strength is your superhero mechanism to reject all forms of denial, depression, or sadness that you may feel because you have an obligation to control yourself and those around you. Nothing happens without you or without your consent. Nothing comes past this armor that you bear. Nothing…

The saddened state of this armor is that you probably did not put it on yourself. Society teaches us to be independent, strong, financially dependent, and incredibly self-sufficient. For the African-American culture, there is an epidemic of the stereotypical “Strong Black Woman” who has to dance between the image of being strong but vulnerable enough to be with an equally “Strong Black Man.” The pressures that both black woman and men face are too heavy to bear so often times it leads to a co-dependency that ultimately destroys cultural relationships and healthy authenticity. For the typical “white” culture in society, men and woman bear the armor of strength through status and hierarchy that only deepens the divide that our country has been fighting for hundreds of years. Other minority cultures bear the armor to protect themselves from being hurt and taken advantage of, which furthers the distance of reconciliation and restoration that is so desperately needed…

I’m sure you’re familiar with the story of David and Goliath. “In 1 Samuel 17, just before David goes out to face the giant, Saul tries to protect David in the best way that he knows how by dressing him in his own armor (Walker-Barnes, 2014).

” Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them: “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. – 1 Samuel 17:38-39 NIV

If we are all honest, we all have been dressed by an armor that we are not meant to bear or is not our own in some sort of fashion. We cannot allow culture and society to paint the picture of who we are supposed to be…and so like David, we need to begin the process of taking off this armor that is “too heavy a yoke to bear (Walker-Barnes, 2014).” Only then can we be free and move and discover our own identity in Christ. Even the best of the best superheros dismantled his suit and identified as human…Clark Kent to Superman and back to Clark Kent. But what does this look like for you and I?

“It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV

When we accept Christ we are no longer slaves to the things of this world, no longer slaves to the armor that it wants us to bear, and no longer slaves to the pressures that it wants us to conform to. Those yokes are heavy and will cause us to have real life issues that are detrimental to our physical health and overall well-being! Who wants to live life like that? I’ve been there and to be honest often times find myself back in a trap that wants me in bondage to bearing the heavy burden of this world, especially when it comes to trying to take care of everyone in my circle. But let me tell you what joy it is to become slaves to righteousness. God’s yoke is easy and light. God bears the yoke for us and thus we are led to freely and wholeheartedly obey the love that sets us free…Please don’t misunderstand that we are not supposed to walk around with no armor. Ephesians 6 advises us to put on the whole armor of God…we are supposed to be protected and guarded but the difference is the weight of the world’s armor will be a burden, while the weight of God’s armor will liberate you.

I have recently taken a class that addressed this issue of the burden of strength (in particular African-American woman) but I believe so many others deal with it as well. We read a book from Chanequa Walker-Barnes called “Too Heavy A Yoke: Black Woman and the Burden of Strength” and a lot of this content I wrote about comes from this book. She really does a masterful job of offering historical, social, and theological influences on why we deal with this burden of strength and even crafts practical ways in which we can begin the process to being free from these stereotypes. I will address three here that she mentions that I thought were most insightful to me. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

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  • Find a safe community or small group – Walker -Barnes speaks about becoming a part of community in which you trust and feel safe enough to “dis-armor.” We are meant to be in relationship with other people and intimately connect emotionally and spiritually. Do you have a community of close friends, small group, or safe place where you can be vulnerable and let down your guard? Also, “when you are able to demonstrate compassion for others, you learn to be compassionate toward yourself (Walker-Barnes, 2014). I often like to ask myself “who is sitting at your destiny table?” Who you associate with often determines where your future will look like in the next couple of years including your well-being.
  • Acknowledge that we are not the Divine – this is one out of the twelve steps Walker-Barnes crafts in the book but I thought was probably one the most important. There is a Power greater than ourselves who can restore to us right relationship with ourselves and others. The biggest take away is that there is hope! There is healing available to you and I if we are willing to receive it.
  • We carry this message to others – it’s one thing to get it for ourselves….but trust me there is more work to be done in generations that follow us and they need to know that they don’t have to bear a burden if they do not have to. Let’s be a generation of bridge – builders that offer hope and restoration for a better tomorrow.

 

 

 

They’re Cheering You On.

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There was a time in college I woke up late for my team’s 6:00 am mile run. Yep, I slept right through my alarm and rolled over in the comfort of my bed as my teammates ran the mile early in the morning. I awoke to the sound of a knock on my door. It was more like a banging. As soon as my eyes opened, suddenly the realization of where I was and where I was supposed to be hit me like sirens going off in my head. I ran to open the door and see who was banging and it was my head coach.

With my hand still on the door handle and my eyes locking eyes with my coach, I did what anyone else would have done. I slammed the door back shut. Then proceeded to run to my bathroom to try to figure out how to explain what just happened. My coach came in and followed to check on me. In the most understanding way, she simply told me to get dressed for the run and head over to the track.

When I arrived at the track, all of my teammates were still there; finished with their timed run. So I stretched and stepped up to the line…alone. My coach had a timer in her hand and told me to go when I was ready. I took off. I had so much adrenaline built up from being late and having to be timed, I ran the first lap faster than my natural pace. Lap 2 came around and I noticed myself getting tired early. Then the most interesting thing happened…

I heard the sound of my teammates cheering me on to finish. Mind you they already finished their race. Yet, two teammates joined me on the second lap and my energy picked up. My determination increased. My wind came back. Lap 3 came around and other teammates joined me and the cheers got louder. By the time I was on my last lap, my entire team was running with me pushing me to finish strong to the end.

I will never forget the power of teamwork and love in that moment of my life. I was late, I was tired, I was defeated before I even started and finished my race. Yet, I had people who went before me and cheered me on to the finish line.

Life will often happen the same way. We mess up. We get tired and our faith will get weak. Hope seems lost. Yet, scripture says that we have a cheering section ready to inspire and motivate us to the finish line. They did it. Most importantly, Christ did it and so can we.

Sometimes we win because we have strength to finish on our own. Other times we win because of who’s watching us. You’re not alone. You have teammates cheering you on!

Hebrews 11:1 also talks about the weights and sins in our lives that can slow us down and get us off track. What are you willing to give up in order to get where you are trying to go? What are the weights you need to lay aside to be the champion you need to be? It’s a daily struggle to lay aside the sin in our lives and live as the champion in Christ that we are. Paul in Romans 8 speaks about this internal battle we have that we as Christians struggle with. However, in the very next chapter we get clarity that we are winners, even if we don’t feel like it.

 

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Olympic Gold: USA Women’s 4×100 team. Photo from SB Nation.

We are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37) and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because He has set us free from the law of sin and death (v.1-2). So when your faith gets tired and your hope seems lost, remember that you are not alone in your struggles. You have a group cheering you on to the finish line because they know you can make it. Christ already won. There’s a champion, fighter, builder, and thinker in you! Get focused again and push yourself to the limit! In Him we are winners and in our weakness, He is made strong.

It’s time to run again. Be Blessed family. Be Revealed.