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This is My Story

Hey guys! God put it on my heart to share my testimony. Some things have happened in my life within the last 1-2 years that most aren’t aware of. God delivered me from some things and has been doing some great things in my life. I broke the video down into two parts or else it would’ve been way too long. I was hesitant about posting the second part because I share some personal things that I went through in 2013-2014 and made some mistakes that I’ve just now been able to forgive myself of. I was worried that those who know me and know what I stand for were going to judge me, but God asked me, “Are you doing this for man’s approval or for my glory?” Since I’m doing it for God’s glory, it honestly doesn’t matter what man thinks of me. With all that said, please keep any negative or judgmental comments to yourself. I pray that this blesses you and ministers to you. God bless!

 

Ferguson

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I haven’t said much about the decision made in the Mike Brown case. I’ve liked and shared a few posts here and there, but haven’t spoken out too much on it, except for one post on Instagram. I decided to blog about it because it breaks my heart to see how much division this tragedy has brought. I see it throughout my newsfeed on Facebook, I see it in comments posted on peoples’ Instagram posts.

I am a bundle of mixed emotions. I believe NFL player Benjamin Watson truly said it best (link to his post: http://www.khq.com/story/27489010/nfl-player-benjamin-watsons-ferguson-post-on-facebook-goes-viral). Like Benjamin Watson said, it all boils down to a sin problem and the answer is Jesus.

What breaks my heart the most about all that has transpired in the Mike Brown case is everyone telling people how they should feel and that they are wrong for feeling a certain way. That is not right. You see, how someone who has had certain experiences views the events in Ferguson may be polar opposite to someone who has had very different experiences. Our personal experiences shape how we view various situations. That’s not to say one perspective or opinion is right and the other is wrong. It’s like my grandpa always says “Opinions are like buttholes, everyone has one.” Everyone has an opinion about what has transpired in Ferguson, and that’s fine. However, it’s wrong for us to tell others that what they think or feel is wrong. What’s even worse is that we are telling others that what the feel is wrong without even acknowledging how they feel. That’s where we are making our mistake. The quickest way to get someone to shut down on you is for you to tell them they are wrong in how they feel about a certain situation without addressing what they feel or trying to understand what they feel. Because of this, we don’t have people agreeing to disagree. Instead we have more and more arguments, more and more hurtful words being said, more and more division. It shouldn’t be that way.

I honestly believe that if we try to see things from the other person’s perspective, acknowledge what they are feeling, and ultimately walk in love, there would not be so much division. Ephesians 4:15 says it best,

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”

For those of us who are Christians, we are ultimately called to a higher standard. This is a time for us to show our lights in this dark world. This is a time for us to show the world the love of Christ. It’s okay for us to be or not be upset about the events in Ferguson. It’s okay for us to agree with or disagree with the decision made. Each and every person has that right. However, we do not have the right to tell others how to feel or think about the situation. Also, if you feel that you can’t respect others’ right to feel and think what they do, then it may be best to not say anything at all in order to keep from sinning.

Each and every one of us hold multiple titles: daughter, son, wife, mother, husband, father, African American, Caucasian, Hispanic, Latino, etc., but for those of us that are Christians, we are a Christian first and foremost and we must never forget that despite what is going on in this world we live in. We as Christians are here to show Christ and we have to remember that. 

The Power of Our Words

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Words. We use them to communicate so much, but as Christians are we using them the way that God intended? Too often, we as Christians speak death on everything…death on our own lives, death on the lives of those around us. We pray and pray for God to turn our situation around or to save a family member, but then turn around and cancel out that prayer with our word vomit. God intended for us to speak life, not death…He intended for us to follow His example. Read Genesis 1:3-30. Each verse begins with, “Then God said…”, and after He spoke, His creations came forth. God provided us with the greatest example of speaking life, of speaking things into existence. He spoke and life began. That same principle applies to our words. Genesis 2:7, “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.” We are created in God’s image. We have God’s very breath inside of us, which means that just like His words hold power, our words hold power. We must follow our Abba’s example and speak life just as He spoke life. 

The Bible is filled with numerous scriptures on our words, our tongue, and our mouth. I wonder why that is? It’s not a coincidence. I honestly believe that it is because God wants us to fully comprehend the power of our words. Our tongue, our mouth, our words hold so much power that they reveal the condition of our heart. Matthew 15:18, “But the words you speak come from the heart…” Luke 6:45, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasure of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” The very words that come out of our mouth reveals the condition of our heart. If we speak nothing but negativity and discouragement, then our hearts our filled with those very things. I imagine a negative, discouraging heart being black and hardened…rotting with each negative word spoken. And if it continues, the whole body will become rotten. James 3:6 gives an excellent description of this, “And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” That is how powerful our words are. They can bring life or they can bring death. 

Our words are supposed to bring healing and to encourage. I absolutely love Proverbs. This book has such a poetic way of describing the power of our words. Proverbs 12:18, “Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.” I love this scripture! It doesn’t come right out and say it, but pretty much we are foolish when we make little snide, sarcastic, or rude comments, and wise when we speak life. I don’t know about y’all, but I want my words to bring healing just like Jesus’ words did! He told the man with the withered hand to stretch out his hand and that man’s hand was healed (Luke 6:6-10). I want to use my words to heal others! I know there have been times when I was discouraged and heartbroken, and simply someone giving me a kind word turned my whole mood around. That’s how powerful our words are. Proverbs 15:4, “Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Life and death…our words can either bring life or death. It’s up to us to decided how we are going to use our words. Proverbs 16:24, “Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Our words can either be sweet like honey or bitter like poison. The choice is ours. Have you ever been around someone that’s really negative? I mean every word out of their mouth is pessimistic. How do you feel around that person? Do you feel good? Do you feel encouraged? I know for me I feel down and then I find myself getting angry. Negative words are like poison. Whether you are speaking them or you are listening to them, those negative words are poisoning your mind and heart. If you don’t like the way you feel around a negative nancy, don’t be one yourself. Speak life. Proverbs 12:25, “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.” As Christians, it is our job to uplift and encourage others. When we see someone down or upset, we are to encourage that person and to help cheer them up not bring them down even more. Ephesians 4:29, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” I know when we think of foul or abusive language, we most often think of cuss words. I think this verse in Ephesians 4 has a deeper meaning then that. I think this “foul and abusive language” includes discouraging words, gossip, any words that are negative. We are called to use our words to encourage others.

First and foremost, as with anything, we are to glorify God with our words. I truly believe that our words mean so much to God. Words allow us to communicate our feelings, but there is such great power in our words. Just think about an encouraging word that you recently received. What feelings come to mind? Joy? Happiness? Cheerfulness? I’m pretty sure that kind word lifted your spirits. That’s why our words matter so much. They can change someone’s mood instantly. They call things into existence. Our words matter to God so much that when we stand before Him on Judgment Day, we will have to give an account for them. Matthew 12:36, “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.” We are literally going to have to explain to God why we said the things we said. That’s how important our words are…that’s how powerful our words are. 

I leave you with this, if you are struggling with your words, I suggest you do a study on words, the tongue, your mouth, etc. Confess those scriptures. Get those scriptures down into your spirit. Here are two you can start with:

Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, My Rock and My Redeemer.”

 

Psalm 141:3, “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips.”

Also, change your perspective. It’s all about how you look at things. Instead of seeing the glass as half empty, see it as half full. Become an optimist and kick those pessimistic ways to the curb. Make it a point to speak life despite what you see in the natural. Just because everything in the natural looks like it’s going horribly wrong, remember the God you serve. You serve an Almighty God who makes all things come together for your good. Just because you can’t see anything happening doesn’t mean that God isn’t doing something. He is always working on your behalf. 

So Your Sibling in Christ Did You Wrong…

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(Originally Posted June 26, 2013)

You know that sibling in Christ who only text you when they need something or they’re having some kind of crisis? Or maybe it’s that sibling in Christ who is always competing with you or trying to outdo you? Or that sibling in Christ that has nothing nice to say and acts like a Negative Nancy? Or what about that sibling in Christ who can tell you everything that is wrong with you, but has yet to shine a magnifying glass on their own mess of a life? Or maybe that sibling in Christ who failed to keep their word to you once again?

I’m pretty sure we’ve all had experiences with our siblings in Christ similar to these. So what do we do when our sibling in Christ does us wrong? Do we do as Christ says in Matthew 5:39 and turn the other cheek or do we hold a grudge and plot our retaliation? Do we say that we forgive them, but every time we see them we give them the cold shoulder? Or do we keep silent and let our anger boil?

Before I get into what we’re supposed to do, let me say this: From my personal experience, it hurts much more and angers me much more when a fellow Christian does me wrong in comparison to a nonbeliever. I’m not sure about y’all, but I get hot when my brother or sister in Christ mistreats me. Why? I believe it’s the expectation. I mean I don’t expect much from the world. My thinking is this “You have Jesus Christ living in you so you shouldn’t be mistreating me like this!” I have to remind myself that even though we have Jesus living inside of us, we still have a messed up, jacked up flesh that is weak and sinful.

Matthew 26:41

“…The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

So, once again, what do we do when our siblings in Christ hurt us?

Confront them! Lovingly, of course.

Matthew 18:15-17

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

Confrontations are never easy and are extremely uncomfortable, but they are a must. Confrontations can go 1 of 2 ways.

 

1. They can go smoothly and the person you’re confronting takes what you say to heart immediately. A lot of times people don’t even realize that they’ve done something wrong and just simply need it brought to their attention.

OR

2. They can be rough. The person can reject everything you say and will likely be angry with you. However, if they are truly in the wrong and they have a true relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit will convict them and they will realize the error of their ways. If they don’t, you can do like Matthew 18:16 says and confront them amongst a couple of other Christians who can help serve as mediators. And if that still doesn’t work, all you can do is give them to God.

The main thing is that you confront your brothers and sisters in Christ when they hurt you. 

 

Ephesians 4:26

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger”. 

 

Don’t hold on to that anger and let it fester or you will end up sinning too. That anger will turn into bitterness and resentment, which will just make the situation worse. 

 

Proverbs 14:10

“The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.” 

 

Bitterness and joy don’t mix. If you’re bitter, you can’t have joy. So pretty much, if you hold on to the hurt of what someone did to you and let it turn into bitterness, your life will lack joy. Is it really worth it?

 

Ephesians 4:31

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” 

 

So in addition to a lack of joy, you will be sinning against God since He says specifically in His word to put away bitterness. So let’s break this down: First you’re angry with the person and let that anger fester. Sin! Then you’re bitter. Another sin! Then, more than likely, you’re probably bad mouthing and slandering that person. Sin! So, in a nutshell, you have done all this sinning just because you refused to confront your sibling in Christ. Is it really worth it?

We don’t want to sin so let’s talk about confronting your sibling in Christ.

When confronting them, please, please, please remember that this is not an opportunity for you to give them a piece of your mind, go off, or tell them about themselves. No, it’s not. Even when confronting our siblings in Christ, we must do it in love. Yes, address the issue, but don’t take this as an opportunity to bring up every single mistake they’ve made or put a guilt trip on them. When confronting them, focus on the facts: what they did wrong and how that made you feel. Avoid using “you” statements as much as possible, “I” statements work best. Be aware of your tone; don’t be condescending or condemning. And please, please, please remember that once you hash it out, that’s it. Don’t bring it up 2 weeks, 2 months, or 5 years from now. Once you deal with it, that’s it. We need to take the same approach that God does with us when we sin against Him and we ask for forgiveness. 

 

Micah 7:19, 

“He will again have compassion on us;
 He will tread our iniquities underfoot.
 You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” 

 

Once we ask God for forgiveness, He takes our sins and throws them into the bottom of the sea and that’s it. He forgets all about them. God doesn’t bring up those sins and throws them back in our face. 

Now for the next step: forgive! After confronting your sibling in Christ, you must forgive them! Yes, this is much easier said than done, but it’s necessary.

Matthew 6:14-15, 

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

We forgive because God forgives us. We all sin against God everyday and need His forgiveness constantly. But if we don’t forgive, how can we expect God to forgive us? We can’t expect Him to be merciful to us if we can’t show mercy to others. With forgiveness, more often than not, it must be an act of faith. You may not feel like you forgive them, but living out that forgiveness is a huge step. By living out that forgiveness I mean walking in love towards them, being kind and cordial when you see them, not getting angry or having something negative to say whenever you hear their name…when you step out on faith and act out that forgiveness, God will eventually line your feelings up with your actions.

I know I’m probably beating a dead horse with this topic, but there is too much strife and unforgiveness amongst the body of Christ. Christians not talking to one another…holding grudges…it has to stop. Think about this: You are going to spend eternity, yes eternity, with these people so you better get it right now or you will have to deal with it when you get to heaven and, trust me, God will not accept any excuses.

Sins of Omission: Failing to Do Good to Others

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Whenever the word sin comes to mind, we often associate it with doing wrong, such as lying, stealing, murder..but what about failing to do good to others? What!?!?! It’s a sin to fail to do good to others??? How is that so?

Matthew 25:31-46,

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

In this passage, Jesus is pretty much telling us what we do or fail to do to others we also do or fail to do to Him. When we do good to others, show others love and kindness, we are also doing good to Jesus and showing Him love and kindness. However, when we fail to do good to others, we fail to do good to Jesus. This makes sense in that when Jesus came, He brought a new commandment:

John 13:34,

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

Jesus commands us to love others as He loves us. This is easier said than done. Just thinking about how much Jesus loves us…it’s hard to wrap our minds around it. His love for us is unconditional…it has no limits or boundaries…He loves us with reckless abandon. Whew! Think about it: His ultimate act of love was dying on the cross for our sins so that we can spend eternity with Him.

Romans 5:8,

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. We didn’t have to get ourself together and stop sinning…we had to do nothing to earn His love. He loved us just because. This is the kind of love He wants us to display to others. Demonstrating this unconditional love is easy when dealing with those who are kind to us…but what about those who hate us or continue to hurt us? Do we have to love them too? What about doing good to others? Are we only supposed to do good to those who do good to us? Or do we only do good to those we know will give us something in return?

Luke 6:32-36,

32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

As believers we are called to a higher standard. If we simply love those and do good to those who are easy to love, we are no different than unbelievers. We are to do good to those who hurt us. We are to do good to those who cannot do anything for us. That’s the thing about loving the way that Jesus does…it’s unconditional meaning that nothing has to be done to earn this love. We love just because…it’s simple as that. My favorite story in the Bible of someone who did good to someone without expecting anything in return is the story of Rebekah. The story is found in Genesis 24. Basically, Abraham sends out his servant to Abraham’s home town to find a wife for his son Isaac. So the servant sets out on this long journey with 10 camels carrying all kinds of gifts for the future Mrs. Isaac. When the servant arrives to Abraham’s home town, he stops at the well right outside the city. Him and his camels are super thirsty…I mean dying of thirst. So the servant prays:

Genesis 24:12-14,

12 And he said, “O Lord,God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. 13 Behold,I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”

So come alongs Rebekah who has no clue as to who this man is, why he is at the well…no clue at all.

Genesis 24:15-21,

15 Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder. 16 The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up.17 Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jar.” 18 She said, “Drink, my lord.” And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. 19 When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels. 21 The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the Lord had prospered his journey or not.

What Rebekah did is an amazing example of doing good to others without expecting anything in return…she did good to a complete stranger! Now picture this: It’s a scorching hot, sunny day and Rebekah is heading to the well to get some water for her family. So she goes down to the well to fill up a jug that can hold a gallon of water, which weighs 8 pounds. As she’s done filling the jug to make that long trek back home, a man who she does not know, stops her asking for a drink of water. Does she get an attitude? Nope, she quickly offers him the water. Then she looks over and sees he has 10 camels and offers to give them something to drink. Now this is no easy task. Thirsty camels can drink up to 30 gallons of water…stay with me here, okay. There were 10 camels and each one of them was thirsty meaning they would need 30 gallons of water…30×10…that was 300 hundred gallons of water! Can you imagine how tired she must have been just from thinking about all of the trips she would have to make to that well to quench the thirst of those camels??? That didn’t stop her from offering to do kindness to this man. She didn’t stop until each of those camels’ thirst was quenched. This is such an amazing example of doing kind to others…of showing someone love! That’s what Jesus wants from us!

At times it is hard to be kind to others, especially if you’re having a bad day or you don’t feel well or you have to do kind to someone who hurt you. Despite all that, we are still called to show others love. When the Lord presents you with an opportunity to show someone kindness, seize that opportunity, jump on that…don’t let it pass you by.

Proverbs 3:27,

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to do it.”

It all boils down to this, when you are able to do good to others, do it. Don’t hold back just because you don’t feel like it or that person upset you. That’s a sin of omission…that’s going against what God has called you to do.