A Life Changing Experience

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This year I had the privilege of attending the 2014 Pinky Promise Conference, which was beyond incredible. For those of you who do not know what Pinky Promise is, it is an organization created by Heather Lindsey in which she encourages women to pursue Jesus and lead a holy, pure life (i.e., save yourself for marriage). It’s also a sisterhood for women to uplift and encourage one another in their Christian walk. It’s a remarkable organization with an anointed leader. If you haven’t already, check out the website www.pinkypromisemovement.com

The Lord put it on my heart to share with you all my experience at the conference and all that He ministered to me. Let me just say that every single woman that attended that conference left a changed woman. I mean the way that God showed up…the way that His Presence fell on that place…we could not help but leave there changed! All of the speakers were phenomenal and truly allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them. Heather said she’s going to post the videos of the speakers on her site so when you get a chance, definitely go check it out.

On Friday and Saturday morning of the conference, we had quiet time. Quiet time was truly a life changing experience for me…God really ministered to me. During quiet time, all the women met in the ballroom to pray (either individually or in groups) while worship music played in the background. During quiet time, God began to reveal my heart to me…He began to show me some unforgiveness in my heart that I was unaware of because I suppressed it…He began to reveal somethings to me about myself that were not easy to accept. You see, I thought that I had my Christ walk together…don’t get me wrong, I knew I was far from perfect, but there were certain things like unforgiveness that I was sure I wasn’t struggling with…boy oh boy was I wrong! God ministered to me about friendships. A few years ago, I was part of a ministry in which a couple of my siblings in Christ hurt and disappointed me. I thought I had forgiven those individuals, but in reality I forced them and those hurts they inflicted to the back of my mind so that I wouldn’t have to think about it. I didn’t realize it, but because I didn’t lay them and the pain I felt at the feet of Jesus, that pain kept me from allowing others get close to me. This is what God told me,

“You have let past friendships that have ended badly harden your heart instead of laying those people and the pain they inflicted at My feet. Because you have held on to this pain, you have put up a barrier preventing others from getting close to you. When others try to get close to you, you hold them at a distance…you only let them get so close to you…you only let them get a glimpse of the real you in order to protect yourself from getting hurt. Although you’ve been able to protect yourself from getting hurt, it was at the expense of some rich and rewarding fellowship and friendships.”

That absolutely wrecked my heart…I honestly did not realize I was doing that, but the more that I thought about it, the more I could see how I did shut people out in order to keep myself from getting hurt again. I just began to cry out to God…pour my heart out to Him, asking Him to help me truly give the past to Him and move forward so that I can experience the friendships He meant for me to have. I asked Him to show me what to do to change and He gave me my answer the next day during quiet time. That next day we were asked to pray and intercede for others so we got into groups of two and more. I got into a group with 3 other women in which we prayed for one another. As we were praying, I could feel a heaviness on one of the women. I tried to ignore it, but the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let me so I asked the Holy Spirit what He wanted me to do about it. He told me to go and put my arm around her. Now, for those who know me, y’all know that is way out of my comfort zone. I’m one of the least affectionate people…I wasn’t always that way, but, as mentioned before, my barriers I put up around me kept me from being affectionate. Anyway, I started trying to convince the Holy Spirit that He did not want me to go and put my arm around this woman. I was like, “Holy Spirit, are You sure You don’t want me to just pray for her? Prayer is very powerful!” If you have never experienced the Holy Spirit tugging on your heart, this is how it feels: it’s like a nagging pulling that you can feel all the way to the depths of your soul…it’s a relentless tug…you have no peace or rest until you do what the Holy Spirit has told you to. So now I couldn’t just go back to praying and interceding because I could not even focus! Finally, I put aside my fears and concerns, and scooted myself next to that woman and put my arm around her. As soon as I did that, one of the other women in our group came and started praying for the woman. The woman broke down crying, but it was okay because she had her sisters in Christ there to uplift and comfort her. Now just imagine if I hadn’t obeyed the Holy Spirit. Would the other woman have come over and started praying? What about the woman who was hurting? Would she have left quiet time with that heaviness on her heart? While I was comforting my sister in Christ, the Lord began to minister to me again,

“The remedy to a hardened heart and breaking down barriers is helping and comforting others as I lead you, My child. You must walk in obedience. Obedience allows Me to shape and mold you into the woman I have called you to be. It is through that obedience that you submit to My will for you.”

Just imagine if I hadn’t obeyed the Holy Spirit? Do you think God would have still given me that revelation? I doubt it…or I would have gotten it much later. For those of you reading this, I don’t know what your situation is or what you are going through, but if you have any unforgiveness in your heart, lay it at the feet of Jesus. If you are unsure of whether or not you have unforgiveness in your heart, let me help you out…you know that friend that betrayed you, how do you feel when you see a post from them on Facebook or Instagram? Does anger flare up inside of you? Do you start to think negatively about that person? Then, yes you have unforgiveness in your heart. Maybe it’s not unforgiveness in your heart…maybe fear is holding you back…lay it at the feet of Jesus. 1 Peter 5:7, “Give all your worries and cares to God,  for He cares about you.” God cares about every single aspect of your life. He cares about when you are hurting, but He doesn’t want you to  hold on to those hurts allowing them to harden your heart. A hardened heart prevents you from feeling and if you can’t feel, how in the world are you supposed to have relationships and friendships? Give all that hurt to God and allow Him to mend your broken heart…let Him make you whole again, and as the Holy Spirit leads you to do something, walk in obedience. Your obedience will allow God to do great and mighty things in your life.

 

 

 

 

Shut the flesh up!

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Zechariah 2:13,

“Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He has roused Himself from His holy dwelling.”

I came across this verse today as I was reading Jesus Calling (If you have not picked up a Jesus Calling devotional, you need to do so now…and I mean right now. You are missing out on some great stuff!) This verse made me think about the continuous battle between our spirit and flesh. It says in Galatians 5:17“The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” This battle is no joke. It is a constant struggle between our spirit, which wants to do what is right and honor God, and our flesh, which wants to indulge in pleasure and do everything that is contrary to the word of God. Jesus even tells us in Luke 9:23“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” In order to be a true Christ follower we are to indulge the spirit and neglect the flesh, which is easier said than done. Denying the flesh is painful to be truthful. I mean you are denying your flesh what it wants, and your flesh pretty much responds like a two year old throwing a serious, full blown tantrum. I’m talking kicking, screaming, crying…the works! But denying your flesh is so worth it in the end. Romans 8:7-8 says, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” When we deny our flesh, we submit to God’s law and we please God. I don’t know about you, but I love to please my Abba! Jesus has equipped us to deny the flesh. His finished work on calvary…His victory over death has enabled us to deny the flesh and no longer be a slave to this flesh. It says in Romans 6:23“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Basically, if we choose to indulge our flesh and reject Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will spend eternity in hell. I believe Zechariah 2:13 tells us one of the ways to deny the flesh. When we are in God’s Presence, our flesh must be quiet because He is holy. You want to deny your flesh? Get on your face before God daily in His word and through prayer. The key word is daily. We have to deny our flesh 24/7 and it’s not something we can do in our own will power. If that was the case, Jesus wouldn’t have had to die on the cross. By spending time with God, you will be in His Presence, which will silence your flesh. Also, ask God to help you develop a spirit of self control. This is key to denying your flesh. If you have no self control, how are you supposed to deny your flesh? One way to develop self control is through fasting and prayer. When fasting and praying, you are denying the flesh, which weakens it, and you are strengthening your spirit. You have to strengthen your spirit and weaken your flesh. Simply put, you gotta shut the flesh up!

“My beloved daughters, I am Your Father, the God of abundance. Do not fret over whether or not I have a man for you or that all of the “good ones” are taken. Do you not know that I have unlimited resources? I have a man of God, especially for each of you. Not just one that claims to serve Me, but one that is truly living his life according to My word, one so on fire for Me that you can see My light shining through him. Do not settle for less than you deserve. How will you know that he is the one I have for you? When it’s the man I have for you, your spirit will react to him, not your flesh. Your spirit will leap with joy! So rest in Me, My beloved. Don’t worry, just rest.”

Anchor of My Hope

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This morning did not start off the best. There were some disappointments and unexpected changes happened. I am one who does not do well with change. This is possibly due to my slow to warm temperament. God has helped me tremendously in this area. In the past, I would shut down completely if there were any changes in plans, especially last minute changes. This morning God helped me to just go with the flow and not react…no attitude or anything…just go with the flow.

While in the shower this morning, the Lord ministered to me. I don’t know about anyone else, but honestly the best conversations between God and I, and when I hear Him clearest, are when I’m in the shower or when I’m locked in my room sitting Indian style in the middle of my bed. This morning while I was talking to Him about how my morning began and just thanking Him for keeping me calm, He said to me:

“Beloved, just like when an anchor is dropped to keep a ship still and in its place, is the same way I keep you still and calm in the midst of a storm.”

This is what Jesus does for us. Life is not perfect. Nine times out of ten something is going to go wrong. The unexpected will happen. People will disappoint us daily. Things will be lost…relationships broken…but in the midst of all that, Jesus is there to keep us grounded…to keep us from losing our minds…He overwhelms us with His love and peace…His joy…He is our anchor of hope.

Hebrews 6:19,

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…”

According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, the Greek word for hope is elpis, which means “favorable and confident expectation.” In Hebrews 6:19 it refers to how hope is expressed “in endurance under trial.”

Jesus is the anchor of our hope in that we put our “favorable and confident expectation” in Him during trials, and by doing so we persevere through these trials.

I am so thankful that I have Jesus as the anchor of my hope…I honestly could not make it in this life without Him keeping me grounded daily. Seriously…I would have lost my mind or been dead if it wasn’t for Him.

When everything that can go wrong goes wrong, lean on your Anchor of Hope…allow Jesus to keep you grounded in the midst of your storm. Everything around you can be complete and utter chaos, but as long as you have your Anchor of Hope (Jesus), you will be still in the midst of that storm and you will be calm and grounded.

Defiant Optimist

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Sounds like such an oxymoron, but it’s how we should be. We should be an optimist in that we focus on the positives, believe the best, hope for the best. We should be defiant in that when trials arise, we refuse to let them defeat us, we refuse to give up, we refuse to lose the battle. When I think of defiance, I think of young children. You can tell them not to do something, and they will look you dead in your eyes and do what you specifically told them not to do. That’s how we must be when opposition arises. Opposition tells you that you will not survive, that you will not make it through. Look opposition dead in its eyes and overcome it, persevere through it. Be optimistic in that your hope is in Jesus, your hope is in knowing that He will bring you through the other side still standing.

Your Masterpiece

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“I am the subject- made clean by Your sacrifice, whitened to a clear canvas- refined and processed, ready to be painted by You. You are my paint, You are my artist. You are the brush that creates the beauty that I represent, that I hold, that I provide. Nothing of my blank canvas, my self-glorifying ways, is beautiful. Without Your perspective, Your vision, Your living water and paint, I am blank and empty – discarded and wasted.. But through waiting and dwelling on Your easel, in Your presence… Through allowing myself to be painted.. Through patiently taking Your brush strokes with willingness and acceptance, with understanding and submission – I am slowly layered, created and brought to a new image. I am no longer a blank self-glorifying canvas, no longer a frame waiting to be stretched and covered. I am whole, I am ready, I am in the making and in preparation for the day, when finally Your paint will have set, hardened, and I will be firmly grounded beneath Your layers of perfection- After years of reflecting you on earth- You will take me; Your precious artwork- and place me in Your beautiful gallery in Heaven. How blessed I am to be Your creation, Your artwork… Your masterpiece.”

-Author Unknown

Beauty for My Ashes: My Testimony

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(Originally Posted on June 9, 2013)

Isaiah 61:3

“to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.”

 This is my testimony. It is not easy sharing this, but God has put it on my heart to do so. 

 Warning: This is a very long testimony so you will be sitting here reading for a while. I suggest grabbing something to drink and some food to hold you over while you read. After reading this, please don’t feel sorry for me. I’m not sharing this to get sympathy or pity. I’m sharing this because I want everyone to know how awesome Jesus is. I want you all to know the true power of the love of Jesus and how accepting Him can truly change your life. He has truly made me a brand new person. After reading this, I hope it will encourage you to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, rededicate your life back to Him, or simply grow even closer to Him. Even further than that, I hope it motivates you to seek Jesus with all your heart. I’m also sharing this to clear up any misconceptions of Christians so-called not having a past or not having things to overcome. All Christians are ex-somethings. Jesus has a lot of changing to do within all of us, but the fact of the matter is that He CAN do it and He WILL do it if you let Him and trust Him.

 Even before I was born, the enemy had a hit out on my life. My mom got pregnant with me when she was 24. At the time, her and my dad were having a lot of problems in their marriage. It had gotten to the point that she didn’t want to bring me into the stressful situation so she had decided to have an abortion. While in the waiting room to get the abortion, the Holy Spirit comforted her, told her to not have the abortion, and reassured her that everything would be all right. She walked out of that clinic and never looked back. I was born several months later on July 23, 1989. I really don’t remember much about my life before the age of 4, but my mom always says that I was a happy child and a very inquisitive child. However, when I was 4, my world was turned upside down: my parents got a divorce. Now that I think about it, my parents’ divorce hurt me much more than I thought. I was devastated at the fact that my daddy would no longer be in the home with us. For the longest I was angry with my mom because I felt like it was her fault. I would get to see my dad every other weekend and that was okay until me and my mom got in an argument or she wouldn’t let me do certain things. Anytime she upset me I would tell her I was going to live with my dad. I would call my dad and ask if I could come live with him, but he would always say no because my mom needed me there with her. Eventually I just stopped asking. It made me feel like he didn’t want me or that he didn’t want me around that much, which broke my heart. When I was 7, my dad remarried. The day of his wedding I was angry. The reality of the fact that my mom and dad would never be together again had finally hit me. On top of that, my dad’s new wife and I did not have a good relationship. Before the marriage, her and I had a great relationship, but after the marriage everything between us seemed to go down hill. Our relationship involved much deception, rejection, division, and all around confusion. By her actions, I assumed that she hated me and I know that my actions showed that the feelings were mutual. As I got older, I began to hate having to go over my dad’s house every other weekend due to the fact that me and my stepmom’s relationship was volatile, and the fact that my dad and I hardly spent time together because he was always working. As time went on, I began to resent my dad. That resentment eventually grew into hate. I hated him for always saying that he wanted to spend time with me, but was unable to make time for me when I came over to visit. I hated him for never showing me in his actions that he loved me. I hated him for not doing anything about me and my stepmom’s troubled relationship. In my mind, a father was supposed to be a protector, but I didn’t feel protected.

 I didn’t discover boys until I was 13. I guess that’s typical since that’s when most kids begin puberty. The first time I was ever in “love” was when I was 13. The reason why I put love in quotation marks is because now that I look back on it, that was not true love. It was very distorted and perverted.  True love is biblical love, God’s love, agape love. Jesus’ definition of love is this:

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

 My first relationship was very unhealthy. I made the guy my everything. It was to the point that our moods were dependent on each other. If he was up, then I was up; if he was down, then I was down and vice versa. After our very first kiss, our relationship escalated out of control. We didn’t have sex, but the things we did were sexually immoral. When our parents found out about our relationship and how unhealthy it was, they told us to end things and they kept us from each other. When this happened, I fell into a deep depression. I wouldn’t talk to anyone; I just kept to myself. It got to the point that I began to have suicidal thoughts. Every night I cried myself to sleep. I just didn’t want to go on with my life; I wanted to give up and just die. Because I made him my life, I felt like a piece of me was missing. My mom realized what was going on with me so one night she grabbed a bottle of olive oil, rubbed some on my forehead, and began to pray over me. She even prayed over me in the Spirit. I thank God for her. She demonstrated and still demonstrates the power of prayer. After that, each day I got stronger and those suicidal thoughts began to leave me. It took time, but I grew stronger. My mom and I started back going to church, but I never really developed a relationship with God. I just saw church as somewhere my mom forced me to go. I never really paid attention in church nor did I have a desire for the things of God.

 Although I was over my first love, I felt lonely and empty. I felt like something was missing; I had a void in my life. I thought the way to fill that void was with a relationship so throughout middle school and high school I dated different guys. Nothing sexual ever happened between me and these guys…I just used them as void fillers. I still felt lonely and incomplete…I knew something was missing, but I didn’t know what it was. Then I met C. I met C through my best friend at the time. He wasn’t anything special and I didn’t really like him, but I really wanted a boyfriend so I asked him to be mine and he agreed. I settled just so that I wouldn’t be alone. After a few weeks of dating, he took my virginity. It wasn’t anything special. I just wanted to get it out of the way. This is the biggest regret of my life, but I can’t go back and change it. The reason why I gave my virginity away so easily was because I didn’t know that my body was not my own.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

 I dated C all through my senior year of high school. At this time, my mom was working a second job to help take care of me and pay for all my expenses (graduation, my debutante program, etc.). Since my mom worked nights, C would come over my house and we would just have sex. There was never anything more to our relationship. I wanted more, but didn’t push it because I didn’t want to end up alone so I just settled for what he was willing to give me. I was insecure and didn’t know my worth, which was why I settled for anything. One night my mom came home sooner than we expected and everything was revealed. She was angry, but even worse she called my dad. He came over and yelled at me and C. While he was yelling, I didn’t really get anything out of it. I kept thinking, “Who is he to yell at me? He hasn’t even been a part of my life and now he wants to discipline me?” I didn’t take him seriously. I acted remorseful and sorry, but in reality I wasn’t sorry for anything. I continued to see C a little after that and then a couple of months later I broke up with him.

I didn’t feel anything after the break up. I was focused on finding my next boyfriend. At the end of that summer, I met my next boyfriend. He was one guy that I would have never imagined myself dating and I would have never thought in a million years that I would fall as hard for him as I did. He knew how to make me laugh and he was so easy to talk to. I could talk to him about any and everything. When we first became friends, we just talked and then our relationship soon led to something sexual. We were what you would call “friends with benefits” for a few months until he asked me to be his girlfriend. Once he made me his girlfriend, I made him my life. I would spend all my time with him; I would do any and everything for him. In the beginning he didn’t take advantage of it, but after a while he did, which wasn’t his fault. That’s what happens when you constantly do for someone to the point that you enable them. After about a year, I got tired of constantly doing and not getting anything in return. I tried talking to him about it, but things didn’t change. So I started talking to another guy. This guy had so much going for himself. He was going to college; he worked, and had a car. I thought I had hit the jackpot. Little did I know, I was walking in to an even worse situation. So I broke up with him for the guy that I saw as doing more and could give me more…

 This new guy took me on dates, he wined and dined me. For our first date, he took me to six flags and he paid for everything. I seriously thought I had upgraded. He wanted to wait to have sex, but I didn’t. I kept bugging him about it. Now, that I look back on this, I realized that I had a serious problem when it came to sex. A spirit of sexual immorality had attached itself to me. It was to the point that I felt like I couldn’t control myself…like I was addicted. Finally, he gave in and we had sex. After that, our relationship was ruined. That was all he wanted to do. He no longer took me out. Sex was our relationship. After a while, he broke up with me. I wasn’t saddened by it. However, even though we had broken up, we still had sex with each other. The arrangement was fine with me for a while, but then it got to the point where it wasn’t enough so I went back to my ex and began a sexual relationship with him. I was so far gone. Having a sexual relationship with two different guys; I was truly lost. That was the furthest I was ever away from God. This lasted for about a year. I no longer wanted a relationship with a guy because I didn’t want to get hurt. Instead, I took on a “player mentality”. I wouldn’t have a boyfriend; I would just talk to and mess around with different guys. My life was spiraling out of control, but I didn’t realize it. I thought I was protecting myself by not committing to anyone. Little did I realize that I was letting these guys use my body, which was not my own to give away to begin with.

Finally, I got to the point where I was completely empty. None of these guys could fill this empty void. I felt alone and so lost. Finally, I decided to seek God. I went to church one Sunday by myself and I rededicated my life back to the Lord. That was the happiest day of my life. I finally felt peace and joy. I no longer had a void in my life. I had truly found my missing puzzle piece. I had started going to church consistently and God began to bless me tremendously. He used me to help bring my mom back to Him. She started going to church with me.

 Things were all going well until I met a guy at church. I met the church boy one night at my friend’s church. She had invited me to the youth night at her church. We went bowling. I met this guy and I was mesmerized. I thought he was perfection. He was handsome, had so much charisma, was very charming, and he was a Christian. We talked some while bowling, but he didn’t ask me for my number. That night I went home with him on my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about him all week. I even told my mom about him and I told my friend that I liked him a lot. I even begged God to let him be the one he had for me. That following Friday, I got a text from him. My friend gave him my number. Coming to find out, he liked me as much as I liked him. After that, I was quickly headed down a path to heartache. We talked to each other every day, all day. We spent as much time together as we could. Once again I was slowly making a guy my life, which left little room for God. After our first kiss, trouble arrived. I had it made up in my mind that I wasn’t going to have sex again until I was married. Little did I know was that in order to do that, I couldn’t put myself in tempting situations. I didn’t realize at the time, but for me even kissing is too  much of a temptation. Although him and I would just make out, it was way out of control. Hormones running wild! One day him and I were talking on the phone and he said he had something to tell me, but he was afraid to tell me. I begged him to tell me and he did. He said that he loved me. Even though he only knew me for about a month, he knew that he loved me and that I was the one. That made me the happiest person on earth. I knew I loved him too. In my eyes, it was a love at first sight type of deal. That night me and him hung out and I decided to go all the way with him. Afterward, I felt so guilty. I felt horrible because I had broken my promise to God. I felt so disgusted with myself. I felt nothing but condemnation. What had I done??? I also felt insecure. I started to wonder if he would treat me differently because of what we had done. I became afraid and I voiced that to him. Little by little things did begin to change. The good morning texts stopped. The texting all day stopped. The spending as much time together as we did stopped. All of the sudden he no longer liked talking on the phone. I became angry. I was angry with myself for being so stupid. I was angry with him because he was supposed to be a Christian. In my mind, he was supposed to be different than the other guys. He wasn’t supposed to do me like this. In my mind, us having sex was supposed to bring us closer, supposed to cause us to fall in love even more. Boy did the enemy have me fooled! After 3 months, I broke up with him. I couldn’t take it anymore. But soon after I broke up with him, I regretted it. I felt so alone. I had finally hit rock bottom. I would cry all day every day. I shut myself off from everyone including family. I would sleep all day just so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain. I had fallen into depression once again. I would text him asking and begging him to take me back, but he wouldn’t. Finally, I just stopped texting him, but I didn’t stop torturing myself in that I still went to his church with my friend. One day I went to his church and I was dressed up really cute. He text my while in church saying that I looked beautiful. I was so happy. I thought that he was going to take me back, but I was wrong. We started back hanging out again and I thought that I could get him back if I gave him my body. I was fooled again. I did all the things I thought a girlfriend was supposed to do minus the title. I would cook for him and pretty much do anything he asked. This lasted for a couple of months and then I stopped. I realized how stupid I was being.

Once again I began my cycle of looking for a boyfriend. Once again I met someone. However, I met the worst person possible. He was nice, but on our first date he seemed very controlling. He kept me out until 4 in the morning when I told him my curfew was 2am. I asked him to take me home, but he refused to. I didn’t think anything of it, but I wish I had. The day after our first date I went over his house under the impression that we would eat and watch movies. He had something else in mind. He wanted to have sex. I said no because I didn’t know him that well. He disagreed. He started trying to take my clothes off. I kind of laughed it off because I thought he was just playing around, but then he became more forceful. That night he raped me. Although this tragedy occurred, that was the night that Jesus was finally getting through to me. I realized that I needed Him more than anything or anyone on this earth. I didn’t blame Him for what happened. Instead I ran to Him with my arms wide open knowing that He would catch me. I was tired of feeling empty and alone. I was tired of playing Russian roulette with my life. I wanted something more out of life. Most importantly I realized how badly I was hurting Jesus, my Lord and Savior. After that incident, I left guys alone and got back into church. I started back growing closer to God.

 Once I started truly focusing on God, church boy text me out the blue. Once again I strayed away from God and hit rock bottom. This time he asked me to be his girlfriend. At first I was hesitant, but finally I gave in. I told him up front that I wasn’t having sex again until I was married. He didn’t understand why. Instead of saying the most important reason, which was because God says fornication is a sin and I want to please God in all my ways, I told him about me being raped. I expected him to be angry. I expected him to try to comfort me. Instead, I got an “oh I’m sorry to hear that, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from having sex.” I was angry. I was beyond hurt. Instead of leaving, I went ahead and had sex with him, but I hated him after that. After that we barely lasted a week before I broke up with him again. After that last break up, I realized that I couldn’t be with him. What kind of guy who truly loves his girlfriend could say that to her? Most importantly, whenever I was with him, I would lose the joy and peace of the Lord, God’s presence would leave me completely and I valued that way more than my relationship with him.

 After that, I never looked back. I got serious about my relationship with Jesus Christ. I got involved in church, I changed my circle of friends. I did everything I could to keep from falling back into that lifestyle. 

1 Corinthians 15:33 

“Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.”

 This is so true! If you want to live a holy and pure life that’s pleasing to God, you can’t continue to live the way you were living before you knew Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

 Since you are a new creation in Christ, that means that all that you did while you lived in the world must stop, all the places you went to while you were living for this world must stop, and all those people you hung with while you were in the world must go. You can’t expect to truly live for Christ if you don’t stop doing what you were doing before Christ. That’s like taking a shower, grabbing dirty clothes out of the hamper, and putting them on. It doesn’t matter that you took a shower, you’re going to stink!

 Three years ago, at the age of 20, was when I gave up the guys. Three years ago I truly dedicated my life to Jesus and I’m proud to say that I have not looked back. I have been free from fornication for the last 3 years and counting. No longer do I desire that lifestyle. What I do desire is to be married and to save myself for my future husband. That is how amazing Jesus is! I have truly forgiven the guys that have hurt me in the past. I have no anger or hatred towards any of them. I can’t even remember the last time that I have struggled with depression. The joy of the Lord has truly been my strength! That’s the power of God! God has truly healed my heart. He has honestly given me beauty for my ashes. 

Galatians 5:1 

“In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].”

I am no longer a slave to fornication. I no longer feel empty or like something is missing. I am complete in Christ. Jesus is my missing puzzle piece. I have been made whole in Christ. Jesus is the love of my life. He is the only man in my life other than my daddy.

Jesus has also healed my relationship with both my dad and my stepmom. Was this easy? No. Did it hurt? Yes. But God is so good. I love them both dearly and I am so proud to call them my daddy and stepmom. God has worked wonders in both of our relationships. I adore both of them and they both adore me. All I had to do was show them the love of Christ, trust God, and bam their hearts were softened towards me and mine towards them. All that anger, resentment, hatred…it’s all gone. I feel nothing but love for them both. I see them both through God’s eyes. God has healed those wounds, He has relieved the pain that was there. God is amazing!

 God has done so many great things in my life. He has taken me so far and has used me to help so many people. I love Jesus so much! I have fallen in love with Him. I grow closer and closer to Him every single day. My life isn’t perfect and I still go through things, but no longer do I worry or fret over trials and tribulations because I know my Savior will get me through it and that the storms I go through are meant to strengthen me. 

James 1:2-3 

“Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort of fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.” 

 I rejoice when I go through a storm because God is strengthening my faith in Him and maturing me in my Christ walk.

Gosh, I can’t even remember the last time I was depressed! God is so good! I just want to share Him with the world. If God could change me and deliver me from the lifestyle of sexual immorality, mend broken relationships in my life, and free me from depression, He can do it for you! I just thank Jesus for looking at me and saying that He wants me despite being messed up and jacked up. He chose me! He looked at me with love in His eyes. He wanted me. I could’ve been dead, but He saved me. He snatched me up off the path of destruction I was headed down and put me on the path to everlasting life with Him. Jesus is amazing! He is my Redeemer, my Comforter, my Prince of Peace, my Protector, my Healer, my Savior, the Lover of my soul, the Love of my life, my everything!

The Dreaded “S” Word: Single.

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(Originally Posted June 14, 2013)

Are you a single that walks around moping and sighing “Woe is me”? Are you a single that when another one of your friends gets engaged or married, you look towards the heavens and cry out, “Lord, when is it going to be my turn!?!?” If you answered yes to either of these, then this post is for you (even if you answered no, this post may help you).

 We live in a world where a lot of the focus is on finding “the one”. From your mom setting you up on blind dates because she’s ready to be a grandma to your family always asking you when you’re going to get married, being in a relationship is a huge part of our society. From Singles’ Awareness Day aka Valentine’s Day to the millions (well, maybe not that many) of jewelry commercials about engagement rings, if you’re single, you can’t help but be reminded of that very fact.

 Well, I got news for you! You don’t have to be miserable in your singleness. As a matter of fact, Jesus never meant for us to be all torn up over our singleness. He meant for us to be content in our season of singleness.

 Paul says in Philippians 4:11-13, 11 …for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

 Because we have Jesus Christ living in us, we can endure any season we are in with joy. Jesus will give us the strength we need to face and handle each new season in our life. We don’t have to be down or depressed because we are single. No, it’s not the end of the world if it’s going on 3+ years that you’ve been single. Learning how to be content in your season of singleness is not easy. Trust me. It has taken me a couple of years to learn this and I still have my moments.

 When I first truly came to know Jesus, I had no desire for a mate. It wasn’t even something that crossed my mind. The reason why was that I believed that I didn’t deserve for God to bless me with a mate after all of the mistakes I had made while living for this world. The first thing I had to do was forgive myself as Jesus forgave me.

Isaiah 43:25, 

“I am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

 If God Himself has forgotten my sins, I need to do the same. Once I had truly forgiven myself for my past mistakes, God placed in my heart the desire for a mate. He removed the fleshly desire of fornication and replaced it with the godly desire of saving myself for marriage. However, once that desire was there, I started letting it consume me. I obsessed over the who, when, what, how…it was a mess! It was all I thought about. I would wonder if every godly man I encountered was the man that God had for me. I would get my hopes up high only to be highly disappointed. At times I would even blame God. I would get mad at God for putting that desire there. I was literally on an emotional roller coaster all because of my thoughts.

 This brings us to one of the ways to go from being unhappily single to happily single: your thoughts. Your thoughts are powerful. Your thoughts can effect your mood, effect your outlook on life, effect your relationships, effect your entire being.

Proverbs 23:7, 

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…”

 You are what you think. So if you continuously dwell on the fact that you are single and you think being single is horrible, then you are going to be sad every time you think about the fact that you are single.

2 Corinthians 10:5, 

“casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”.

 We shouldn’t sit and dwell on these negative thoughts because they go against God’s word. God wants us to be content in whatever situation we are in, whether that be single, dating, married, etc. So when those negative thoughts about your singleness arise, start casting them down with positive thoughts. Start praising God for the season you are in and how He is able to use you greatly in this season. Praise God for preparing you for the next season of your life. Just praise God. If you’re praising God, you can’t be negative and miserable.

 Next, realize that you are not single. You are in a committed relationship with Jesus Christ. And please don’t look at me with that tone of voice. You know I’m right.

Ephesians 5:23, 

“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is Himself its Savior.”

 Our relationship with Christ is even compared to that of an earthly marriage. Jesus is our Heavenly Helpmeet and He will prepare us for our earthly helpmeet. So if you can’t be committed to Jesus, how can you expect Him to bring you your future spouse? This took me a while to fully understand. I knew it in my head, but I didn’t let it get into my heart. I kept focusing on the fact that Jesus isn’t physically here with me. The thing is that Jesus’ presence surpasses any human being’s presence. No one, and I mean no one, can make you feel like Jesus can or love you like Jesus can.

Isaiah 62:5, 

“…as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”

 Just as your future husband or wife is going to be bursting with joy over you as you exchange those vows, Jesus gets that excited about us on a daily basis.

Matthew 10:30, 

“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” 

 Now if this isn’t love…Jesus knows the exact number of hairs that are on your head. What man or woman is going to sit and take the time to know you that intimately by counting the very number of hairs on your head? Not one I tell you. That’s how much Jesus loves you. He knows every single detail about you. Jesus’ ultimate act of love was when He died on the cross for our sins so that we can spend all eternity with Him. Jesus’ sacrificial, unconditional love is…whew…amazing…breath-taking…it’s just…wow! No other love can compare to it. Now I can go on and on with scripture about Jesus’ love for us, but I think you guys get the point. Bottom line is this: if you are living this life for Christ, then you are in a committed relationship with Him so start acting like it. You’re not single. So no moping, no sad face, no grumbling. Rejoice in the very fact that someone as perfect as Jesus Christ, as loving and kind as Jesus Christ, wants you!

 The next question is, what to do in this season of earthly singleness? Well, I’m glad you asked! There’s so much you can do! 

·      Grow closer to Jesus: Take full advantage of this season of your life and spend so much time with Jesus. This is something I have heard so many married folks say. See when you get married and have kids, you won’t have as much time as you do now to spend with Jesus and you will feel the difference. So go have you a beach date just you and Jesus, have you an hour or so long worship session in your living room, get lost in God’s word for hours on end without having to worry about the time. Just spend time with Jesus. Take advantage of this time because when you’re married, you will miss this time you have.

·      Get involved with your church: Serve in different ministries! Get involved, meet people. This is something I’m about to do when I move back home at the end of the month. Seriously, if you are serving in different ministries, you won’t even have time to think about the fact that you’re single. Plus, it will help strengthen your relationship with Christ and you will meet other great Christians who can help support you in your season of singleness.

·      Go on a mission trip: This is the perfect time to go on a mission trip. Save up for it and just go. I have never been on one(but all that’s about to change next year! Already started saving and everything.), but from what I’ve heard they are very rewarding. Just go if you have the opportunity to. You get to share the gospel and travel. Does it get any better than that??? When you’re married, you may not be able to drop everything and go on a mission trip so take advantage now.

·      Finances: If you’re finances are all jacked up, work on getting them straightened out now. God is not going to bless you with a mate if you can’t be a good steward over the finances you currently have. Learn how to budget your money, pay your bills on time, pay off your credit cards…you don’t want to go into a marriage in debt…that will cause all kinds of problems.

·      Dreams: I don’t know about you, but in the past I would make statements such as, “Oh, when I get married I’m going to…”. Don’t wait until you’re married to fulfill those dreams. If you’ve always wanted to take a cooking class, go do it. If you want to travel, go do it(save up of course, don’t go into debt!). If you want to go to school to get your B.A., then go do it. You want to start a business, do it now. Stop waiting. You can’t pause your life until your mate shows up. If you do that, you may be waiting forever (just kidding) and end up wasting most of your life. Enjoy your singleness. Just yesterday I took myself out to dinner and I loved it. I sat and read my book while enjoying a very nice meal. Just go do it. Who cares if you do it by yourself, just do it!

 I leave you with this:

Matthew 6:33,

 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

 If you’re about God’s business, He will add to your life (i.e., a mate). Focus on God and He will work out all the other details of your life.

 And

 Psalm 37:4, 

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

 You make God your greatest desire and joy, He will fulfill the desires of your heart. He just needs to know that when He does bring you your mate that you’re not just going to kick Him to the curb. He has to remain #1 in your life no matter what season you are in.

 

I Say I Love Jesus…But What Does My Heart Say???

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(Originally Posted September 28, 2013)

Isaiah 29:13,

“And the Lord said:
‘Because this people draw near with their mouth
    and honor me with their lips,
    while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,'”

 

We say we love Jesus, but our lifestyle begs to differ. We profess Him as our Lord and Savior, Master of our life, yet our lives don’t bring Him glory in any way, shape, or form…

 

I can say I love Jesus until I’m blue in the face, but if I don’t represent Him in all that I do, if I’m not living according to His Word, my words mean nothing…all I’m doing is giving Him lip service. What does lip service look like?:

 

  • One minute we’re praising and thanking Jesus for all that He has done in our lives, and in the next breath we’re cussing out that driver that just cut us off on the freeway…but what does God’s Word say???

James 3:10,

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

  • We serve faithfully in the church, pay our tithes, but we’re shacking up with our boyfriend or girlfriend…but what does God’s Word say???

1 Corinthians 6:18,

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”

  • We haven’t been to church in a month of Sundays but we think Jesus understands because He knows our heart, plus we pray and read our Bible when we have time…but what does God’s Word say???

Hebrews 10:24-25,

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

  • We go to church faithfully, serve in different ministries, but have a jealousy so deep rooted in our hearts that it even shames Saul’s jealousy of David…but what does God’s Word say???

James 3:14-15,

But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.”

  • We say we love Jesus, but we have bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, or deceitfulness rooted in our hearts…but what does God’s Word say???

Galatians 5:19-21,

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

 

God’s Word is perfectly clear on what it does and does not mean to be of Him. Not only does God warn us about giving Him lip service instead of our hearts, He tells us specifically to give Him our hearts. 

Proverbs 23:26,

“My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe My ways.”

 

Jesus wants our hearts not our empty words filled with so many promises we never even fulfill. So what does it mean to give Jesus our hearts? It means to literally devote our lives to Him. It means that everything we do, we do it to honor and please Him. It means obeying His commands even when we don’t feel like it. It means making Him number one in our lives. It means denying ourselves daily. It means being a true Christ follower, meaning that our lives should mirror Jesus’ life in all that we do. It means taking that saying, “What would Jesus do?” to heart and living it out. It means giving Jesus our lives. Think about this: we can live without certain organs, such as one of our kidneys or our gallbladder, but if our heart stops working or someone takes our heart out, that’s it, we are done because it is literally our lifeline. So when we give Jesus our hearts, we give Him our entire life. We are literally saying, “Jesus I will now live for You, I will please You in everything I do.”

 

So what now? We have to change. No more being lukewarm Christians. This is what Jesus says about lukewarm Christians:

 

Revelation 3:15-16,

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot or cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”

 

Jesus is literally saying that because we choose to have one foot in this world and the other foot in the church, He will spit us out of His mouth because we are such a bad taste to Him. He would rather us either serve Him wholeheartedly or serve this world wholeheartedly. Us going to church every Sunday is not doing Jesus a favor. Us sending up a prayer every now and then or cracking open our Bibles every so often isn’t going to appease Jesus. Living this life as if we’re doing Jesus a favor and that this life is about us and what we want is the wrong attitude to have. This life isn’t ours to live any which way we choose. God breathed His very life into us! We didn’t create ourselves, He created us for Him!

 

Genesis 2:7,

“then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

 

God’s very breath gave each and everyone of us life. Let that sink in. If we have the very breath of the Creator of the world, Creator of the universe, the breath of the Holy, Pure, All-Powerful God in us, then why are we living in mediocrity? Why aren’t we living in excellence? God created each and everyone of us with a purpose and a calling. This life is not our own to do as we please. Our body isn’t even our own.

 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20,

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

 

If we have truly accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, why are we still living like we did before we came to know Him? Why are we blending in with this world instead of standing out like the light of this world we were called to be (Matthew 5:14-16). When we truly come to know Jesus, the Holy Spirit begins to work in us, changing our lives day by day to make us look more and more like Jesus. 

 

Philippians 1:6,

“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

 

When we have truly turned our lives over to Jesus, we will see a difference in ourselves. Our desires will change. Living life like we used to when we lived for this world won’t feel right to us. The Holy Spirit will convict us, we will feel a tug on our hearts if we do something that goes against God’s Word. If we’ve been knowing Jesus for some time and nothing about our lives has changed, then that’s a serious problem…

 

When we make that commitment to Jesus to give Him our hearts, we can’t keep living life like we did before. There are certain people we have to stop hanging around, certain music we have to stop listening to, certain movies and shows we have to stop watching. We need to be surrounded by those who push us closer to Jesus not pull us away from Him if we’re going to make it in this Christ walk. Us accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and then turning around and going back to hanging out with those same people who don’t want to have anything to do with Jesus or watching those shows and listening to that music that promotes fornication, drinking, cussing, is equivalent to taking a shower and putting on the same nasty, dirty clothes we had just taken off. The bath was useless because we went back to our same funk and stench.

Ephesians 4:22-24,

“to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

This scripture nails it. In order for a change to occur in our lives, it starts with our mind. What are we putting into our minds? What thoughts are we dwelling on? Our thinking effects everything. Before we can do anything, we must think it first. We all have our struggles. There are certain struggles in our lives that we are going to see fade away quickly when we come to know Jesus. There are others that are going to require work on our part. For me, my biggest struggle was lustful thoughts. I had to get on my face before God daily. I had to pour my heart out to Him and lean on His strength to help me overcome. I found scriptures all about thoughts, the mind, lust, etc. I had to fight this with scripture. Get a concordance and find scriptures pertaining to your struggle and confess them daily. Start thanking and praising God for helping you to overcome even though you haven’t seen it manifested yet. For me, I also had to change what I listened to, watched, and read. I had to cut out all R&B music and Hip Hop, which was so hard for me because I loved me some R&B, but I loved Jesus more so I died to myself and made the sacrifice in order to make sure I stayed pure before Him. I don’t even watch TV anymore other than sports, re-runs of Fresh Prince, The Cosby Show, and other clean 90s shows. I love to read, but I had to stop reading romance books. I literally had to go through all my stuff and get rid of anything that could cause me to fall into lustful thoughts. I had to make a choice. Either I was going to be fully committed to Jesus or fully committed to this world. What’s your choice going to be? We can’t claim to know, love, and serve God, if we refuse to look and be like Him in all that we do.