Do You Want to be Famous?

In a time when social media continues to rise and opportunities continue to multiply, it becomes easier to forget who started it all. By it, I mean the book idea, the business, the ministry, the relationship. We "write our visions and make [them] plain" with humble intentions to keep Christ at the center. Then, promotion soon follows. Your like buttons are flashing by the hour. Your following hit quadruple digits. And suddenly your plans no longer seem to reflect or lead others to be Divinely inspired. It then seems to be more about staying relevant and popular in fear that someone else will take your spot. What changed? 

In the song "Invisible" by Kierra Sheard she echoes this sentiment:

"A total ecllipse has just begun.
We blocked out the Son.
Can't believe this is what we've come to.
So you think that you're a star?
But the real star has some scars.
On His hands and feet where the nails went through." 

Yes, it is praiseworthy to celebrate and acknowledge ALL the advancements God brings our way; but, when our works are no longer compelled by advancing the true nature of Christ, can we still boast that He is at the center of it all? Shakespeare also concurred that "all the world is a stage", and yet we forget that we are not the stars. We are the players, the cast, the constant moving pieces masterfully orchestrated by the One who created our role to begin with. In Ephesians 2:10,  it states that " we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for GOOD works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (NKJ). God placed the talents and gifts into us long ago so that it would bring benefit to others - not just ourselves. And because of this, we are admonished to walk in them - not what someone else does or what gifts we admire about other people. Walking in someone else's shoes and stubbornly striving to advance our fame than the fame of Christ can deleteriously impact our destiny.

As you make plans and set goals for your life, what is the real motivation behind those choices? Will it bring death to who Christ really is or will it breathe His life into others and your realm of influence?

Ms. Rose on Boldness

Today's post is to spotlight youth who exhibit S.H.E. qualities (Stunning Heroine Evolving). Check out how Ms. Rose reflects boldness and encourages other young women to find their voice.

How do you exemplify boldness? What does it look like to you? Through our faith in Christ Jesus, "God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and a sound mind" (NKJV). There will be moments when fear comes to interrupt our peace; however, when we draw within ourselves and remember the power that works in us, fear no longer has a place to dwell.

When the Seasons Change...

I have yet to meet someone who has not concluded that one of the four seasons is their favorite. Think about it…many will say winter because they love to see the purity of snow that covers the ground like a blanket. Others will say spring because trees and flowers begin to bloom. Another group will exclaim summer because it allows for fun in the sun and boundless vacations. And finally, fall because of the arrangement and assortment of colors the leaves adopt. Although each earthly season offers a unique aesthetic appeal, creation’s response to seasons reflects not only the Sovereign Creator, but also the nature of man.
Yesterday, my husband brought home a beautiful arrangement of Asiatic lilies. Before I could even notice they were not yet in full bloom, he eagerly shared why he purposely chose to purchase them closed than open. The florist explained that the real gratification is not found when they have already expanded. It is rather getting them while closed – watching them grow, enduring a process until they reach their full bloom. My husband is always a fan of a spiritual truth found in everyday moments, but he bought these for me as a reminder of God’s timing and process for his children. My husband holds a front row seat to watching my journey to dream fulfillment, expansion of faith, movement of mountains and every other obstacle course one faces in daring to dream big and daring enough to believe it can happen. As much as I am stirred daily to answer the call and assignments God has for my life, I often find myself wanting to rush and move onto the next which does not allow time to “smell the lilies.” More than that, I am reminded that I must stay in tune to discerning the time and season to better grapple the circumstances I am faced with. We can smell the air and discern rain is coming; we can see a grey or monochrome sky and feel the snow shortly approaching. But as Jesus warns, “You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times” (Matthew16:3 NKJ). Much of how we see our circumstances and our God is correlated directly to how we make decisions and how we understand what is happening. A limited view of God will say, “Why is this happening TO me” while a mature view will boast, “This is happening FOR me.” One thing that all of God’s creation have in common is that whether we agree with God or not, process happens to all and for all. In Amos 3:3 it states, “How can two walk together unless they agree?” (NKJ) Can we say we are walking with God when we are not in agreement with His time and season for our life? I encourage you to seek God on any area where you are still stubborn or hard of heart on something you know He has asked or nudged you to do, but for your own reason you have yet to reconcile this.

As you make the next step in your life or prepare to make any change, ask the Lord to show you the season you are in: reaping, sowing, planting, studying, building, harvesting, launching, or grieving to name a few. The names exclusive to what God reveals to you in your quiet time and prayer. Look to connect the dots of what is happening around you. What are you asked to do? Are people coming to you for the same thing? What doors are consistently opening on your behalf that continue to line up with what has been revealed to you? These are just a few things to consider when aligning yourself with the time and season. 

What Do You See?

It is no wonder that we are reminded to "guard [our] hearts above all else because out of it flows the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). When unchecked thoughts are not properly filtered, they seep their way into our hearts where what we feel becomes our view of reality. Much neurological research furthers this notion that not one person experiences the same reality as another. There are several facts or happenings that take place (objective), and our response in the brain (subjective) dictates how we perceive those same happenings. For instance, two people can witness the very same accident, but walk away with two different emotional reactions or beliefs about what truly took place in that moment. There are even times when we can speak a promise or a truth from God in conversation but still not believe or experience the veracity of it.

One biblical story that has recently entertained me (due to my actions matching the men in the story) yet simultaneously awakened me is the two disciples in conversation on the Road to Emmaus. Here we have two men who are reasoning and conversing about the death of Jesus and repeated all the happenings that took place on that day (Luke 24:13-27). In the midst of their debate, Jesus meets them on the road but they were unable to recognize Him. The two disciples are literally reiterating the very details the Prophets foretold about Jesus being "mighty in deed and word before God" and how he would be "condemned to death" and that the women who went to the tomb did not find him there. They further mentioned that they were "hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel." These events have just taken place, yet their "eyes were constrained, so they did not know Him." Christ's ascension was to take place on the third day and here, the third day is not yet gone and their hope is waning. How often do we say scriptures in our daily conversations or remind ourselves things that God has spoken to us, but when He places those very desires at our feet or has delivered on what He promised, we don't recognize it or even Him in the midst. The reality here is that Jesus had risen. Their doubts however overshadowed this reality even while speaking the truth, thus blocking their ability to recognize the reality of God's manifested plan. What I love about this story is that Jesus continues to walk with them, as they asked for Him to abide with them. As a result, he sat with them and "took the break, blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them." It is then the disciples eyes opened by being reminded of the death of Christ through abiding in Christ.

Let us continue to hope in the truth and manifestations of God's word and revealed nature. Though our circumstances can cause unfavorable thinking, we have a responsibility to "hold every thought captive that rises itself against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5) and mix God's word with faith so that it produces the intended result: rest in His plans.

What doubts do you have that are consuming you to the point of waning faith? What word do you need to take hold of again that you are losing hope in? As the disciples did, ask Jesus to abide with you, and see how He chooses to open your eyes.

Got Joy?

"Joy is not in things. It is in us." ~Richard Wagner

A few months ago, a dear friend of mine challenged me, in addition to her blog audience, to focus on one of the "fruits of the Spirit" mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 that was chosen at random for an entire month. I'm still unsure if she knew the one she gave to me or not, but it was a mystery until day 1 of the challenge to me as the recipient. In situations like this, I try to predict based on my view of my circumstances which topic or focus will be given since I sporadically think I know about myself just as much as God does...absolutely prideful of me. I thought since I was newly married (and technically still am four months in) that the fruit of choice would be love. Much to my surprise but definitely orchestrated by my Father, joy was chosen for me. Right before this challenge began, my husband and I began to face some challenges and issues, and trials that we knew would come in marriage but not as early as they emerged. Emotions were fluctuating, faith was tested, and godly truths seemed impalpable. Much of what we mastered as single people became purified and sifted further as married people. Although I understood joy as a single woman, I now became tested to choose that same joy, same fruit as a married woman.

Many believe that the goal in life is to be happy. She feels good. She feels euphoric. She becomes, however, evanescent. The thing about happiness - like all emotions - is that they fluctuate and are dependent on the circumstance, mood, or situation. We are not sad everyday. We are not angry everyday. We are not disappointed everyday. Happiness is something that brings pleasure but typically is found as a result of an object, experience, person, or item. Joy supersedes happiness because it is a great pleasure that is established and firmly rooted within, watered by heavenly truth, and revealed by the unveiling of Jesus' presence in us. It takes little effort to go binge shopping when you feel depressed or eat some high calorie or sugary food or even indulge in some other avoidance behavior, causing minimal pleasure that does not even touch the root of your ailment. During the challenge, I noticed that the more I set my mind to read biblical truth about the importance of worship and prayer and strategically speaking those things aloud as opposed to fixating on what wasn't going right, or what I wanted to change, a sweet and calm presence illuminated such light, clarity, and peace despite the external chaos and turbulence I was facing.When I do a comparison of moments in my life where I plugged in "empty fillers" through food, people, outings and the like, they only ameliorated the surface of my issue. I still found myself spinning in circles over some of the same anguish. Whereas now, when I plug in what feels at times unnatural because it is still adopting a renewed way to live, I feel a deeper sense of healing, peace, and clarity on the circumstances that is indescribable.  In John 17:8-18, Jesus gives us His prayer for His disciples: those who forsake living opposed to how God designed them to live. What I love is the clarity of what joy actually is. It is something "fulfilled in [ourselves]. Notice it is not an outward focus on someone or something that can come and go at any moment. It is a constant presence; an internal knowing; an established anchor of assurance that our lives, our problems, our desires are all placed in the care of our Creator. Joy propels me to display pure light despite dark times. Joy causes me to smile though I feel agony. Joy allows me to trust despite not knowing what my future fully holds.

I am grateful to God for putting me on my friend's mind to bring this challenge to my attention. I learned that no one can take anything that belongs to you unless you give them permission. And I no longer give the devil or any other antagonistic force to take what belongs within me: joy.

Consider this week your "empty fillers" and how you can boldly utilize God's truth to stand in joy despite what happens around you.