Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Embracing the Good ( By: Patsy Clairmont...Repost from Women of Faith)

After going through some tough times myself I read this in my email this morning and thought that I would share.....Love, Roschelle

Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things. — 2 Timothy 2:3, 7


It isn’t natural to look for good in bad. It’s far more human, when bad rears its ugly head, to gaze upon it stymied. But when we believe that God designs and redesigns all things for our good, even when the intent of others is for our demise, it allows us to let them off the hook and look up. Our task is to detect and embrace the good, which means we will have to be alert and discerning if we are to benefit from the windbreaker of gratitude.

I’m not thankful when my heart is broken, yet I’m grateful that through internal ruptures comes a deeper compassion for others who grieve. I had no idea how unaware and indifferent I was toward the agony of others until I suffered through a season of intense winds and came out of that time with enhanced sensitivity. It wasn’t that I hadn’t cared about others; I just didn’t have a clue what their struggles were costing them until hardships exacted a high price from me.

Someone once said, “We can only know joy to the degree we have known pain.” Hardships have the potential of carving out greater space for God’s grace within us. And grace helps us to live with life’s inequities without the disabling residuals of anger, bitterness, and disillusionment.

— Patsy Clairmont

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What's Your Motivation?

So I'm re-evaluating my approach....on everything.  Have we ever found ourselves in a place where we thought that we were handling everything to the best of our abilities the CORRECT way? Of course we have....we plan everything out, we do our own risk assessment of the situation and figure out how to make a situation work out to the best of our advantage without overstepping anyone or trampling on anyone needlessly.  But then wait, out of nowhere we are faced with something that completely stops us in our tracks and makes us think again. One little gust of wind is all it takes to blow down our house of cards...We try so hard to salvage what is left and it's like when we try to salvage anything, the pieces left just seem to internally combust in our face.  We cry, we pout, we scream, we feel hopeless......but we know we need to keep moving...to stop is to give up.  We may need to take breaks to cry, wipe our noses, pray, but we keep moving.

In finding what God's will is in our lives we may feel like we lose our way, get sidetracked and have blockades in our way from those who do not want us to be successful. I find myself getting burned out sometimes from doing things....not because I don't enjoy them, but maybe because I DO enjoy them, but for the wrong reasons.  When I'm not living in a way to help others and become selfish, things get stale....I run out of energy, I'm grouchy, grumpy....whatever.  Now I'm not saying for everyone to call, text, email or contact me otherwise to see what kind of creation I can do for them (lol), but I'm saying that as long as I keep everything in the right perspective then I have less occasions of my house of cards falling in on me.

I make sure to have my priorities right and have balance in my life....I remember to pray, take care of my family's needs, read my Bible, be good at my occupation, attend church, be a great friend, keep my morals and beliefs, have hobbies that are beneficial to someone even if the greatest impact is not on myself, etc.  I've seen that when my motivation is not right, then I'm not successful.  When the deck of cards is bent and the cards are damaged from continuous use and not taken care of properly then they will set you up with a shoddy foundation.  But when the motivation is correct (a fresh stack) then you can have great results.  Remember this: When we become self-centered, the undesired results will also be centered back to us...

Friday, November 5, 2010

How Fat is Your Character?

Now before you think "What in the world?", reread the title: How Fat is Your CHARACTER.  This past week I was thinking this: The good that people ASSUME about us should never outweigh the TRUE WEIGHT of our character. (I know I am guilty of this myself, so please do not think that I am pointing fingers.) 

When you look back in history or just look at certain groups and civilizations, being fat is a sign of being wealthy. (I'm not not talking about gluttony, that's a whole separate subject.) There's enough food to eat, there's no thought of starving...the people are plump.  We should be the same way with our character.  If we one of God's children then we have more than enough to eat and there is never the thought of an upcoming famine. 

God equips us with so many things: gifts, talents, fruit of the Spirit and the armor of God.  We should be learning as much as we can and gaining weight in our character to the point that it is overweight....but then again, your character can never be overweight, but it can certainly be underweight.  When we neglect our bible reading, study time, fellowship with other believers and such, our character "body" becomes lean, trim and is soon withering...but if we are putting up a good front, we will continue to have other people assume things about our character.  Our character is shaped by the choices we make. When we have the chance to make the right decision we are taking the initiative to positively influence our character. So many times we let what other people assume about us precede what is the truth about us.  Whether it be good OR bad, we let other people's opinions and not GOD shape our character.  We should always strive to live for God and to do what He has for us and not coast on the cloud of praise. 

When God is shaping and molding us, it will hurt and we may go through some much needed pruning but that is the cost. While God is putting us in situations that are building up our character, He is adding that heavy weight that will stick to us.....compare a light salad with a grilled chicken fillet to a home-cooked meal of greens, cornbread, smothered steak, mashed poptatoes with gravy, corn and your favorite dessert.....which meal will stick with you???? 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Grow, Stretch and Strain, Take a Hiatus, then Plow....

Okay, so you can look at the title and figure it out that's what I've been doing. You all know that I've been blogging for under a year and it has been a wonderful experience.  I started making YouTube videos and looking into other ways to "expand my horizons".  Recently I've been thinking of how so many of us are involved in a ministry whether it's a large group at our local church, community, workplace or if it's just a self-started personal ministry.  Everybody has something that they are involved in where they can contribute to making a difference in someone's life. If you are a secretary or aide, you can set the tone for an office with your attitude.  If you are a stay at home parent, you can do the same with your family and those who come by for a visit. If you work in a medical profession, you are working in an area that can affect someone's health and livelihood. In the church, you can help strengthen another's spiritual walk. 

No matter where God has placed us, we have to learn to keep at what ever work He has given to us.  It will not always be fun, nor will it always be easy. When we first begin, we will grow in ways we never imagined...then as the load gets heavier, we question God about if we are really doing what He wanted us to do.....we stretch to cover everything or to move out of our comfort zone (without remembering to pray for continual guidance and other things) and then IT happens....we strain ourselves.  Whether it's our spirit, body, finances, patience, perseverance, or peace of mind, we strain something.  Then there we are looking helpless and ridiculous thinking "now, if I had only consulted God first....."  The good news is that He is ready and able to quickly repair us..even if we have to bear the consequences, He still gives us a solution.

Sometimes we have to take a hiatus, disappear, lay low.....only to rise for a quick breath then sinking again into a dark abyss....like a hippo...  Similar to sabbaticals, hiatuses are like mini rejuvenation vacations.  When I think of a hiatus, in my mind I'm in a spa, being pampered gently till I doze off only to wake up and have drool running out the side of my mouth.  It's during those times where we refocus, gather our material, sanity, and desire.  Saturate ourselves with the Holy Spirit.....We start to remember why we got into our ministries in the first place and before we know it we're on that last step (which happens to be the beginning of the first step): Plowing. 

We return feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, like a younger but wiser version of ourselves.  We have the stamina we wish we had before...we stand in front of the door of opportunity ready to march in and seize whatever comes to use it or to be used in whatever way is determined.  We are ready to plow the field before us to prepare it for future yield. Don't get discouraged when things don't quite work out how you want them to.....things happen for a reason independent of how we feel they should go.  God has the situation under control....so go ahead, go through the cycle....every time you will come out better prepared, stronger, fresher than when you started.

I'm Done

That’s it. I’m done. Done with the following:

• neck-turning, eye-rolling, head-shifting drama

• “I-think-I’m-better-than-you-because…” drama

• “If-they don’t-stop-getting-on-my-nerves” drama

• “They-must-not-know-who-they’re-dealing-with” drama

How many times do we as women admit that we start or encourage drama? (I include myself in that question.) Probably not often enough. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I think we create drama by just some of the everyday normal habits we have without knowing it. Most of the time it is initiated by some directed action towards each other. There is drama in our homes, friendships, workplaces, etc. Not all drama is major show-stopping drama, it may just be something small, short-lived but intense. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines drama as 1) a state, situation, or series of events involving interesting or intense conflict of forces and 2) dramatic state, effect, or quality.

In our capacity to serve the Lord there is no room for drama. You may think, “Well, it says a series of events involving interesting or intense….” and the events may be interesting and/or intense….but the rest of that definition is “conflict of forces”. How do we serve our families, friends, church, coworkers, etc. with the right spirit if we have the mindset of conflict? There’s no way to get a job done if we want to keep drama in our corner. I know I’ve had to come to the realization that some people had to be cut out of my inner circle because of their perpetual roles of oil in my water. When you have water and oil in a bottle together and you pour them out, you will have traces of oil left in the container, the same way other people’s drama will leave a trace on your life (and vice versa). God can still use you, but you will be less effective.

When we realize the impact we can have on others with our own drama, and what steps we need to take to not taint our lifestyles and witness then it should prompt us to shut down unnecessary drama. Not saying we go around telling others that they need to “get right with God” and “stop being messy” but that we should “douse the fire” and not feed it with gossip, bitterness, hate and the like. That goes to include talking about the drama saying “well, if it was up to me….” like we know better than the parties involved. If we all take the time to pray and self-evaluate, God can and will show us how to avoid dramatic situations, thus rendering us a valuable addition in the areas He has placed us in.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I Used to be a Rolex, Now I'm Just a Plastic Swatch Watch

In the book "The Believer's Guide to Spiritual Warfare", Thomas B. White talks about how Satan can use issues we deal with to set us back in our spiritual walk.  He says on page 38:

"Most of what you and I deal with daily are the faults, foibles, and physical infirmities of our own natural selves, with all the emotional and psychologival baggage that we carry through life.  Beyond that, each of us has individual areas of besetting sin that nag at us and drag us down with discouraging regularity.  If this were not enough, the covetousness, pleasure, and humanistic appeal of the world sysytem presses upon us all.  Now alongside, and sometimes in and through these battles, the devil takes what he can get and aggravates our unresolved emotional problems, besetting sins, and willful blunderings. We are like a finely tuned watch mechanism into which pieces of grit are dropped. What could have functioned well according to original design wears down and malfunctions due to an external, foreign influence."

Now I don't care if you don't agree with the rest of the paragraph.....the bold section can't be more true of humanity.  God made a perfect, sinless man (and woman) who of their own free will sinned, therefore passing it on to the rest of us.  As time has elapsed, more and more sin and corruption has become mainstream, adding more grit to that mechanism....

As we were going over this in our bible study on Wednesday, I just thought the beginning product was like a top-of-the-line Rolex and the end result of what it is now is like the plastic Swatch watches from back in the 80's and 90's....hence the title....I Used to be a Rolex, now I'm Just a Plastic Swatch Watch.  Not saying that we all are that way but through Jesus Christ and salvation, the opposite is true. We get an upgrade from a plastic Swatch watch to the Rolodex......

Don't forget to replace your batteries!! Stay charged up for Jesus, don't go dead and be of no use!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Words lie, Actions don't.....

We say we’ll call, and we don’t. We don’t even text.
We tell people we love them and we don’t…
We tell people we’ll help them do something and we don't....

So many times, we get caught in saying one thing but going back on our word, sometimes unintentionally. Words are what we use to tell people how we feel, what we are doing, and what we plan to do. Our actions will either match what we say or they will tell a different story.

I have had numerous conversations with friends who have been in relationships whether they are friendships, dating or marriages and there is sometimes a broken line of communication on their part or on the other’s part. There’s:

• The girl who tells me that she doesn’t know what to think of the friend who seems to never remember anything she tells her. Her friend forgets birthdays, major events, everything….she only calls when she herself needs something, but never to catch up.

• The child who thinks that the parents care more/less about just them than their other brothers and sisters.

• The guy who tells me that his wife is distant….she seems to give their children and male friends more attention and help than she gives him.

• The girl who believes the lie of “I love (lust) you” from a boyfriend who has ulterior motives.

The only thing I can think when I’m approached with these issues is that words lie and actions don’t.

For the girl with the self-absorbed friend….that friend is showing that she doesn’t care about how she can help you, but what can she get out of the friendship. No matter what she tells you, you have no reason to believe that she will keep her word. It doesn’t matter if she promises or even prepares to do something she said she would….you can’t be sure that she’ll do what she says until she’s finished. You want to think that “Maybe THIS time she’ll______” but her actions have shown you otherwise. Birthdays are forgotten, events blown off, etc. We form friendships with people and we keep in touch with them for years while other friendships turn into more of an acquaintance relationship. When I first started going to school, I went to a large community college….and I can say with no hard feelings that there are only about 3 or 4 people that I keep in touch with on a frequent basis other than on Facebook. Even if I don’t get to talk to them as much as I want to, they know that I’m still dependable and I will keep my word with them and others.

For the child who feels that their parent only loves/dislikes them and not their siblings, it’s hard to prove this is true, but it is not hard to see when a parent gives more attention and encouragement to one child and the other. When children are small and all in the same house as their siblings, it’s easy to see. Parents may say that they love both kids the same amount but in different ways (personality –wise) but the child may see a difference in their actions. As the children grow older they’re wondering if their parents approve of them or if they are proud o f the things they accomplish in life because they never received that verbal affirmation.

For the man with the distant wife, he may be trying all he can to engage his wife in conversation and doing things together (hobbies, outings, etc.) but to no avail. He spends time wondering why and if it has to do with him, but she quickly says no. She says she loves him and their children as much as he loves her and the children, but he is always seeing no reciprocity. He notices that she is quick to take care of any of the needs of the house, their children and to comfortably give her male friends attention and have conversations with them about personal issues, but she seems to have no interest in her husband other than the occasional “how was your day?” He’s left thinking, “she says she loves me, but she never shows it”. **NOTE: For this, I would recommend the book “The Five Love Languages”. If you’ve taken it, and are married, TELL your spouse what your love language is, they can’t read your mind. I personally don’t care what a spouse says about how they like to show their love for their mate, it doesn’t matter at all if it’s not their mate’s love language….My reaction “yeah, that’s nice, but that doesn’t spell love to them”. In this case, she may know that his love languages are Words of Affirmation or Quality Time but only want to practice Acts of Service. In his eyes, her love is elsewhere because her words of affirmation go to and her quality time is spent with other people.

For the dating girl, she may get the boyfriend (or the guy who she is dating although he says there’s no title….) After hanging out two or three times, going to the movies, going out with friends, he may tell her or impress on her that holding hands isn’t enough. Soon after that, kissing isn’t enough….then touching or fondling isn’t enough and next thing she knows, he’s trying to get her to engage in sex. The whole time he’s telling her “I love you”, “I care about you”, “I don’t want to rush you into it” and of course she believes it….almost. But she notices that he always acts pushy about it, then pouts and sulks when she refuses. If he really meant all those things he said, he wouldn’t pout and sulk.

Looking at all of these you can see where words lie, actions don’t: A friend acts with compassion, concern, attentiveness; a parent gives all children same amount of attention, encouragement and love; the wife talks with her husband about personal matters and spends time with him; the boyfriend doesn’t pressure his girlfriend into a compromising situation but instead suggests activities where they won’t be tempted to have sex. Even when all these things are done, if the attitude is wrong, the sense of doing something out of force will overshadow the actions themselves, which renders the actions void of any true connection and valid affection or love.

Our words are covering what our true intentions are. We only befriend people because they can do things for us or get us hookups on items… We put more effort into one child over the other because of their intelligence or good looks. We marry someone not because we love them but because we know they can provide us with stability. We date as a means to fulfill our fleshly desires without the marital obligations and vow. If people saw that was how we really are in our hearts, they may treat us differently.

The kicker is: WE DO THIS TO GOD ALL THE TIME…..say we love HIM but don’t show it, with our actions, words, attention, etc. We come to God with our hands out and up to receive, but not down to get to work. Our words lie in His face, but our actions tell him something else.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Are you living on a highway or a turnpike?

So many times we make up in our minds what our goals are and the path we need to take to get there. If we find ourselves off track traveling down a highway and we make a wrong turn, we can either get off at the next exit and turn around or catch the next freeway that intersects our way. If in case of emergency, a.k.a. God intervenes, He uses the "for emergency vehicles only" turnaround. We get off and turn around when we realize our wrongs and want to get them right.

When we are living on a turnpike, there is no way to turn around. You have to go to the next major city and make a turn around. You are forced to "deal with the consequences" and travel down the path until you have a way out. You have to pay the tolls you pass through, you have to spend your time..and your resources.

If you have had your "come to Jesus" inital meeting, the highway of your life has Heaven at the end but if you get sidetracked and start leading to Hell, you can take a detour to get to where you belong.  But if you are on a turnpike and headed for Hell, make that next exit at the next town, take a rest break to get yourself together and get back on the turnpike headed the right direction. On a turnpike, we become desensitized to our surroundings because it's the same old scenery...nothing changes....no exits, rest stops.....nothing. If our lifestyle isn't right we become so desensitized not realizing that we started off on a higway, got off on the turnpike and are halfway to the wrong destination. We ignore the traffic on the other side and if we're headed to Hell we don't want to be calloused to our surroundings and not see that we need to change. 

Remember, take the highway....the turnpike may be the most direct route...but it may not get you to where you want to go...with no way out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Self-Realization, Acceptance and Appreciation

I LOVE my hair....no really, I DO. I love the way I would get deep waves in it when I would wet it and pull it back.  Right now I'm going through a process with it...accepting and appreciating what God gave me.  It's curly as all get out and even when I would take a flat iron to it, it was STILL not completely straight.  I remember (and so will most of you who've known me for the past 10 years or so) changing my hair every month.  Long short, curly, straight, black, brown, auburn, red.....I've done it all. Aside from my love of hair in general, not just my own, and being able to do so many things with it, I started to think about my natural texture.  I realized that all that processing is WAY too much for my lovely locks, no matter how my hair texture was.  So I got to the point where I decided no more relaxers, straightening combs, flatironing, etc. (I still like to dye it every now and then.) I had to accept that my hair would never be blond and that it would never do exactly what I wanted it to do among other things.  After months of thinking and doing tons of hair research, I made the decision that I was going to appreciate my natural hair and loc it...let it do what it wants to do...man, did I get some flack from some people for that...but I don't care.  (Side note: If they didn't like it, they would have to take that up with God.) Measuring one strand of hair untouched was only 1", stretched out it was just under 4"....that was what made up my mind... I was breaking it off by managing it too much.  Some wondered if I had some major lifestyle change and my answer was no. 

Was I a pot smoker? No...(never been a smoker)
Was I looking at becoming involved with Rastafari religion? No...
Was I gay/butch? No...(most definitely not, I love my husband...and I believe it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve)....
Was I trying to be more Afro-centric? No....
I can still keep it clean and style it and (most importantly) it will be ALL MY NATURAL HAIR.

*Now to many of you who wonder what my hair has to do with my title, humor me and just keep reading...

As I was coming to realize the beauty of my hair I started thinking about the rest of my life. There are many things that contribute to me besides my hair: my mannerisms, my attitude (the way I try to be optimistic when the flood waters of life are about to drown me), my hobbies (sewing, painting or make handmade cards) and my interests (natural hair care for specific reasons, volunteering/mentoring, remodeling/interior decorating).  I've come to realize I'm turning out just as God intended.  He already knew but it was on me to figure that out with his help.  I'm starting to understand what my God given talents and gifts are and now I'm in the process of figuring out how to use them properly.

In figuring out what I was halfway decent at I've come across stages that all of us cross: Realization, Acceptance and Appreciation.

1) Realization
When we realize certain things about ourselves, we go through a "fact-finding" stage.  God put certain things in us to do and to not do.  He gave us personalities, interests, likes and dislikes. This is where we see ourselves in black and white and come to admit certain things to ourselves whether they are good or bad things.  We don't count the bad things as things that can't be changed, we just see that we have some less than great things about us, and possibly areas where we need to be strengthened in.  At this time we usually make decisions about what to do about the negative things and how we can further or maintain our positive things. No matter what our reasons are for changing or not changing, we will encounter these two things: Opposition and Support.

  • Opposition:  People WILL talk about you...and if they don't talk about you, they will think badly about you, Facebook about you, gossip about you, do anything they can to shed a bad light on the things you are trying to accomplish. They will "forget" goals you may express to them, dissmissing them as trivial or not important because your goals don't benefit them.  They won't try to aid you in understanding them, they won't because they would have to actually CARE (even if it's just a little) about you to HELP you.
  • Support:  You will find that those who really take the time to understand you and your goals or at least take the time to value that you are coming to your self-realization and setting goals for yourself will support you in any way they can (or at least feel comfortable doing). You may have to find clubs or online groups that have the same interests to support you in your endeavors if you don't find a large number in your circle of friends or acquaintances.  If there is something that you have an interest in, there is support out there, you just have to look for them sometimes.

2) Acceptance
This is where we accept the things about us that we realized before. God isn't going to chnage things about us that He put in place because we don't like them.  Example: cosmetic plastic surgery....people change their noses, lips, bodies to make them how they want...God didn't give us all lipo'ed bodies and botoxed facelifts.  He made us how He wanted to. Whether the things are good or bad, up to this point we haven't been able to change those things about ourselves. We have to accept most of the time that there are things that we aren't great at doing, while there are other things that we are good at doing.  When you realize things about yourself (especially when you see there is a pattern of it going on/not going on) then you can't deny it. I accept the fact that I have issue finishing some books I start. The realization behind it is that I sometimes pick out books/magazines to read that are genres that I have very little interest to me because they have nothing to do with my interests (People vs. Real Simple...Real Simple will be read, read and read again....)

3) Appreciation
When we've gotten to the point where we realize and accept differents aspects of our lives, we can begin to appreciate them and how they work together. We realize that all our interests, traits, likes, etc. all work together and help us in the areas where God has put us to use in. While others may not understand or like what you're doing it doesn't matter.  You have to appreciate what God has given you or placed in you and learn how to use it for His glory and that's all that matters.

So after going through these 3 stages, we will be able to see and experience that when we go through them we are so much more "free" afterwards....Free from haters (cause they won't bother us as much anymore), free from self-denial (we've learned to appreciate the good things more and to find the good in what we thought was bad about ourselves), free to help others (since we've gotten past ourselves and the "I/me me me" attitude to where we can benefit someone else).

Why don't you start your own path of self-realization and learn some things about yourself? It's rewarding and fulfilling to live as God made you....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Do You Like My Ostrich Shoes? ~Satan

So I went through a really tough time where I had been done wrong and in a conversation I had with someone (while only saying that I had been done wrong and the offense was unwarranted) I told them I wasn't going to worry about it, I had given the issue to God.  The remark I got was "What?! but if you don't address it, it's like you are burying your head in the sand! You should not just let the issue continue, cause it's like you're condoning it (the offense)." I responded to them that I'm not burying my head in the sand but rather giving the control over to God to fix it.  I trust God's judgement call more than my own reasoning, ANY DAY.  I started thinking about how so many times we bury our heads in the sand because of how hard a situation seems and willingly act oblivious to everything going on around us.  We give up and just let things continue as they are and before you know it, the Devil's played with our minds enough to the point where he has us where he wants us. We let him ruin our lifestyle, testimony, ministry, whatever we're involved in. At that point he has our hide at his disposal!  If your head is buried in the sand, who is looking after your body? (**Side note: Ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand, but actually just lay their heads on the ground, they're camoflauged by the sand/ground.**)

If your head is "buried in the sand" you have no way of making sure that the rest of your body is safe.  The Devil can batter and bruise us so bad to ruin us and then he will wear us like a pair of ostrich shoes, talking about, "Yeah you see these??? I just got these off the shelf TODAY! They're hot! I've been checking these (us) out for a while and wasn't sure if I was going to get them, but I finally did."  Nothing like the Devil to show us off to our saved friends in a (now) helpless state to diminish our use for God.....but wait, remember we had our head in the sand, so we're of no good use AND DON'T EVEN KNOW IT. In our minds we've still got it together, but we are actually so far from that....

There's only one place we CAN bury our heads....in the sand of Jesus Christ.  He'll take care of us even when we're not going to take care of ourselves.  When we bury ourselves in him, we allow him to transform us...but even then He won't let us bury our head, he'll take our WHOLE being....mind, body, and soul.  When He's done with us we won't be ashamed, beaten, bruised, abused.....or be  fashioned as a pair of ostrich hide shoes. We'll be made over with a new (better) mindset, with a new walk and talk, a new purpose and a deeper relationship with Him.  He'll wear us like a badge of honor for the way that we represent Him well....it pleases Him when we do right.

So what happens the next time I'm done wrong or offended? I deal with it the way I should and with the best attitude I can.  If it passes and is resolved easily, GREAT! If not, I can always go to Jesus and spill my heart and mind out to Him and know that He (already) has everything under control....The Devil ain't getting a pair of shoes (or a matching clutch) off of me....

Be Encouraged!!

Love in Tact or Love Intact?

Something I was reminded about....

When speaking the truth in love we have to remember to use tact.  Now we can say "oh well I'm just BEING honest" and meanwhile we are stomping on the emotions of others.  We must remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you want others to tell you undesireable news and soften the blow with tact then we need to make sure to make our own efforts to do the same.  Let's just say you don't care whether the person uses tact or not.....doesn't matter.....WWJD?....he'd use tact..

On the other hand we need to be sure to speak in love (not out anger, envy, jealousy or deceit).  We should not make it a point to be a meddler and cause contention.  We should always guard what we say because we can never take back words after they leave our mouth. What we say can either build someone up or let them down and we may never know how what we say affects someone's life.

Just as having Love in Tact and Love Intact, it's not just something that concerns our verbal communication, but it also includes our actions.  We need to be careful in all that we do.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What fork do you choose?

**Thanks to (you-know-who-you-are) for your email....you got my gears turning...

Many of us have gone to a banquet or fancy restaurant and sat down only to see that there's a large amount of silverware per person. We see many pieces of flatware but the most important ones are the forks...those are the main eating utensils we will use..(unless the meal is soup..haha).  Now as we consider all the pieces that make up a place setting all those things are complimentary.  They won't help you eat.  The knife is for cutting although you could just pick up a chunk of food and bite off it and the spoon can help you pick it up, but not securely since it's rounded with no pointers to "stab" the food. The glasses are for refreshment and the plates/bowls are to hold the food.

So back to the forks....you have your dinner fork, the main fork...the one we scan for first.  It's job is to maneuver food around the plate, hold food while we cut it, then to pick and secure the food to get the right amount of it into our mouths without dropping any (hopefully).  Then you have the salad fork, it's only job is to handle that salad with a pointed prong and you have your dessert fork.  It resembles the dinner fork but is smaller for desserts.

Just as we have to choose the appropriate fork to eat with, we reach different forks in our life and we have to choose which one is appropriate path to travel.  We have forks in our life with our jobs, relationships, and careers.  We have to be sure to look to guidance from God as the main source of wisdom and not be intimidated, distracted, or surprised by the differences we notice.  Sometimes we see a path that looks clear and easy, only to find that it bends out of the way and is a dead end while the path that may look problem prone just looks that way but was actually a breeze and got us where we needed to be.  I know I have come to some forks in the road and the choices were clear....give up or keep going.  I know I had times I wanted to give up, and start from scratch...no fixing what is broken, just throw it out and start again. Don't like this job? no problem, just quit....don't like these friends...no problem, just remove them out your life.  But I have had to look to God and ask Him, "God, WHY in the world am I here....and even better what in the WORLD do you want me to do?" Sometimes I felt like doing the right thing would cause so much pain....and yes, I won't say it was easy to get through, but I know I'm glad I did. Life is so much smoother when you just do as God wants you to....but you have to look at that fork and choose as you think he would have you choose.  Nothing like getting on a path to find out it's not where you should be.  If you find yourself in that position, take the next side street and get back to where you need to be.

Try not make a decision based on that first look, cause looks can fool you.....think about how the end will be....weigh the ending...not the beginning....God WILL guide you and protect you as you travel the path you're on.  He has promised us to keep us if we do His will and if you have chosen that path, then don't get discouraged. God will have your back, and if your friends are true friends, then they will too.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's the little things...

So how many times do we look for completion in ONE major step? Life doesn't happen like that.  There are choices made, both good and bad, activities to be enjoyed or regretted, friendships to make and enemies inevitably created.  We don't take the time to smell the flowers....LITERALLY.  When's the last time that you sat and just watched kids playing, that were not your own? Or just sat outside and really soaked in the sun with or without your friends and just let the time pass by?  I know I have had moments where I've sat outside in my little patio area and just written (for a blog) or just been out people watching and I've started to notice the smaller details.  We are sometimes pushed to do something grand or spectacular to make huge impressions on people when if we got their opinions those aren't the things that would mean the most to them.  It's the little things that count....a hello, a hug, your time.  Not a huge announcement every time you speak to them (when it's only about 2 times a year) or just remembering a birthday (which thanks to FB, it's harder to forget since they remind you). 

We gloss over and undermine the effort it may have taken that person to get up the courage to do that small thing and we make them feel as if they aren't important with what they have done to/for us. When we do that, it does nothing but discourage them and make them feel as if they're not appreciated.  We need to remember to thank those who do for us and mean it. They may not be doing it for any attention or thank you's but it will be a boost to their self confidence and it doesn't cost us anything but some honesty.  

It takes bricks to build a building, many drops to fill a swimming pool, fibers to make a shirt and friends to build a lifetime of memories...every little bit counts.....

Friday, July 23, 2010

Don't Fake the Holy.....

So last night at VBS part of the subject was living a Holiness lifestyle.  The conversation was about how the church has become so much like the world in different areas and how we need to remain separate from the world in our dress, actions, lifestyles (remember we're representing Christ/Jesus/God/Holy Spirit who is the only way to Heaven).  Well one of the things that came up was about the importance of living a holy lifestyle and I started thinking that I've seen people "fake the Holy". (Holy meaning your lifestyle/relationship with God.)  People want to fit in with the church folk so bad that they will fake it instead of realizing that you can't fake it if you have a real relationship with God. Bible reading and prayer life are things that help build that relationship on the foundation of salvation. And the sad part about faking the Holy is that it might not be just the lifestyle that is being faked....but the persons actual salvation may be faked too...so much church activities and spiritual emotion that they just completely bypassed salvation and are trying to "live their way into" salvation.  That's where we not only become a hinderance to ourselves but to other who are assuming that we are living the real deal.

People catch the Holy Ghost and show however it is in them to show it, they dress a certain way, talk a certain way (using all the big dictionary words....or at least the "big" church/clergy/spiritual sounding words), go to certain events....and while that may all contribute to their holiness lifestyle, you will find some who "fake the Holy".  **Now a side note about catching that Holy Ghost: some cry, some shout, some pace, some sway, some get quiet and just sit with closed eyes, some take a victory lap.  Everybody reacts in a different way and it is not my job to judge someone on their abundance OR lack of show of emotion or otherwise....God may speak to them differently than how he speaks to me.  I can't say that people don't look repentant enough if they're going through something....that's not my place...

People will read a bible verse of the day, a commentary or paraphrase of scripture and consider their Bible reading done.  Memorizing scripture, but not ingesting it into their lifestyles to change them for the better.  They will consider their prayer life to consist of saying grace and praying when in trouble.....but no....that's not enough.  My habitual prayer time has become during my commute to work...I usually don't listen to the radio or CDs but instead ride with all the noise off....with my phone ringer off....and God and I get in about a good 30-minute talk...if I actually get to be off then it's a 30 minute, no tv/internet/distraction first thing after I get up.

It doesn't matter how many times you fast, how many times you pray, how you praise, how you worship, the things you deny yourself in the name of God, how many verses you can recite, what church conventions or convocations you go to if you are FAKING THE HOLY...Stop lying to yourself and get right with God.  When you truly realize how good God is to us, you're reminded of how much we have in him and that right there makes you want to have the right kind of relationship with him...

Reminder: I'm So Blessed

This morning I roll over to hit the snooze on my cell phone, whose alarm tone is a rooster crowing.....I lay there with one eye open looking at the blinds thinking, "Man, it's nice and sunny already......today is going to be a good day....."  I proceed to pull myself up out of bed, get ready and dressed, leave a quick good morning note to everyone on Facebook and get out the door.  As I'm driving to work, I'm singing along with a WOW Gospel CD and it hits me like a truck.....I'm truly blessed.  When I was younger, I did so many things for myself, not really caring about how I may have affected others and God allowed me to live in a great and supportive family.  He gave me a wakeup call when I had my open heart surgery at 19 and you would think that I would have gotten it right then.....but no.  I think that's when I got worse....I didn't party in high school...or when I first got into college...man, I didn't even date until I was 19...and I had put homeboy on probation for a year before I would date him (seriously, you could ask him), haha....But in my early 20's there are two or three years whose activities are a complete blur.  I can remember where I was working or where I was going to school but I know I was involved in activities outside of church that were damaging to my witness for Christ. 

I have always been a person who is not afraid to make new friends wherever I am, but when partying and drinking every weekend, I'm sure my parents prayer life was getting a workout. But over the years of making the wrong choices, I was still active in my church in various ministries.  Too many times the Holy Spirit was giving me a good 1-2-kick and I would ignore it as nothing, refusing to see it for what it was. In 2003-2005 there were some tough family issues that had come up to be dealt with and in 2006 when I had my car acident (which was the death of my first Honda) the light finally came on.  (The accident was not even the slightest bit alcohol or partying related, I worked out of town so I was up at 3:45 am and after work I had been to a banquet that lasted very late into the night.) I had a very close brush with death and was able to walk away from my totalled car with just major bruising.  It wasn't until I realized outright that my other actions will completely damage me if I didn't make a change and get right with God that I started rethinking friendships and relationships. I think that it definitely helped me to reimmerse myself in the right kind of relationships with people who were a good influence.  It helped for me to also go get involved in community ministries and put my outgoing personality to use in a good way. 

Now, I'm married, with two wonderful step kids who I love dearly.  My parents, sibling and inlaws are all doing well (even though I wish I could see them all more often).  I have a college education and a good job that still allows me time to pursue my hobbies (all artsy type hobbies...lol) and I'm finally starting to see what in the world God wants me to do for him.  Now, I'm not saying that it's easy street from here on out.  I still have a life to live daily that will have it's share of worries, trials, disappointments and heartbreak. But as I keep my focus where it needs to be (on God and what he has for me to do), I can still say, I'm so blessed.  He could have let me get alcohol poisioning, die in a drunk driving accident, be assaulted at a party/club or claimed my life back while I was out "living my life" but He didn't.

Now I wake up in a state I never thought I'd live in with a new group of friends and relationships, a job I would have never guessed to have, and doing what I believe God has for me to do......all I can keep saying to myself is.....Man, I'm So Blessed.

Don't put off to tomorrow what you know you need to do today....cause tomorrow's not promised, and thinking about that, neither is later today....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Because I Said So.....

How many of us remember when we would ask our parents WHY we had to do a task, chore or anything and their answer was "Because I Said So....."? I remember asking why things had to be done a certain way, why my way wasn't good enough or why it mattered when I did it.....haha, I'm sure at some point I gave my parents a headache. There was always a lesson to be learned by doing whatever it was the way they were instructing us to do it. Usually they would explain to us in GREAT detail the lesson they 1) hoped we would have learned and 2) hope that we would apply in our future choices and actions.

Well, many times we go through life questioning God the same way.  While I sit in the middle of what is a test offollowing my flesh vs. God's will for my life, I find myself wondering "God, why do I have to do it your way?" His answer: "Because I Said So.....And that's all you need to know."  And even though I want to cry, scream at and doubt God, I simply realize that HE is already working out my issues for me.  When I look around at my situation and circumstances and think "Why me?", "Because I Said So....." rings in my ears and reminds me that He won't put on me more than I can bear at ANY TIME. His grace is sufficient for me.  He keeps love in my heart, understanding in my mind, a song in my spirit, my feet from running and my determination complete.

I have to remember God's Sovereignty that nothing touches me that has not passed through the hands of my Heavenly Father.  So now when we come up against opposition and we know how to handle it the way God has shown us, we can go from hearing "Because I Said So....." as a curse and look at it as a blessing in the making.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Facades (How, why and the price we pay)

How many times have we talked to people and they say things like "I'm (this)" or "I'm (that)" like they need to hype themselves up for us to know who they are.  If we are a woman/man of God, our actions, words and beliefs should show others that.

How can we say we love God and we still demolish his temple, our bodies?  Drinking, smoking, cheating (emotional, verbally, or physically), backbiting, being envious....why?  We put up facades of being something we are not....It may be the facade of being a good person when we're busy living in sin with no thought of changing. We act like we're so innocent but we live doing things that bring shame to ourselves and even to those who have led to believe we are who we appear to be. On the other hand we may try to appear worldly when we have given our lives to Christ.  We try to act like they do, talk like they do, party like they do, live like they do.  In our minds we know we have to go to church on Sunday morning but we're spending our Saturday nights clubbing until the lights come on.....you think I'm talking about you? No, I was talking about myself that time....I used to but not anymore.

We may have up a facade so we can enjoy "guilty pleasures".  For example, all of you know I'm married, and many know that my hubby is on a long assignment to Korea. Now at my workplace, I let my coworkers (male and female) know that I'm married by talking about my spouse, saying I'm married and wearing my wedding band.  If I wanted to I could not mention my spouse, not wear my ring, deny the fact that marriage is for life..or just flirt with my male coworkers. If I was attempting to do that I would be putting his trust in me on the line, and my reputation, my character and my marriage in jeopardy.  I would be leading others on to get from them whatever emotional, mental or physical needs I have fulfilled. While my thinking would be, "well, my husband will never find out, God already knows and I will be held accountable for what I've done. I would be leading them to believe a facade.  I'm NOT single, I am MARRIED and I  LOVE my husband and I don't want it any other way. Am I saying that we're perfect? No, but we are trying to do right by each other and God.

Now some of you may be saying "well that's not me", well it could be gambling, drinking, pornography, compulsive shopping or putting other things before our personal relationship with Christ. If it is shopping, I may feel like I have to have the newest everything....everything the celebrities have.....and in the process run up outrageous shopping bills. That may be fueled by the desire to fit in and be accepted. In any case living a facade is living a lie and we need to make sure that we're living as honestly as possible....we should want to live right as an example of Christ.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Say what we mean and Mean what we say

So many times we can be having a conversation with someone and they ask us for our honest opinion on something and we tell them what we THINK they want to hear instead of just being honest.  Other times when we are mad, we say things we do not mean to the other party to hurt them emotionally.

There is a difference between:
1) speaking the truth in love and the other party rejecting it and
2) speaking the truth and using it to shame the other person

The difference is in how we say/use it.  We should never say something trying to shame/convict someone into doing the right thing.  We should also not just go around speaking the truth in love without tact.  A little tact can go a long way.. We may have to preface what we say with "This may sound wrong but..." or "I cannot think of any other way to say this but..." but we should always make an attempt to be tactful.

On the other hand of saying what we mean, we need to mean what we say.  If we have no intention of helping someone do something, we should not tell them that we will.  In an attempt to make ourselves look better (to look like we care or plan on helping) we make ourselves look just like those who do not help or care at all.  In the end the people who approach us for help know not to ask us for anything because we never follow through.  Even if we are very capable of doing whatever the task is, they STILL will have issues trusting what we say, because we've never shown them that we can follow through, show up or help.  They will hear one thing out our mouths and see another from our actions.  Even worse is that when we really do want to help and show up, people are surprised because we actually followed through which makes us feel worse that we cannot be depended on.

Sometimes when we truly want to help or show up, we have just spread ourselves too thin to be everywhere all the time.  I remember I used to go all over the place to do things with my friends and I had to stop myself from committing to everything just to keep everyone happy.  I had to realize that I spent so much time staying busy that I would have to break engagements just to have time to myself.  I know that sometimes I would have so many things on my plate that I would miss events and would have to go back and apologize later....

Every now and then we just need to remember to speak to people the way we want to be spoken to ourselves.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Killing Old Habits vs. Giving them New Life

We have all had bad habits.  We say we need to get rid of them, we need to come back to Jesus, we need to live as a better example to someone else....But how many times do we go back repeatedly and instead of standing strong in the mindset of doing what is right, we wallow and splash in the mindset of doing wrong and if not the wrong thing, then at least we have a defeated attitude..

So many times we say " I am determined to not (fill in the blank), and I am going to (fill in the blank) to make it better so I don't continue to do it" and that is where we stop.  SAYING things do not put them into action, DOING things put them in action.  Last time I checked, God is the only person that can make things happen instantly just by speaking it.

We cannot claim to be doing away with old habits if we constantly and secretly feed them, keeping them tucked away in crevices where no light can fall on them.  We've all heard the saying that what's done in the dark comes to light.  Well how would we feel if some of those hidden things were to be exposed on TV like how celebrities and government officials are exposed.  Forget a level that high...how about just being exposed to our families, friends, church, workplace?

Giving our habits new life by finding ways to keep them barely alive so we can indulge in the wrong kind of pleasure is something that may not be seen by others, but always seen by God.  Now this can be a number of wrong pleasures....it could be sexual misconduct, using emotional dependence (knowing what to say to someone to pull on their heartstrings to get a pity party whenever you want attention), mental control (knowing  how to manipulate people so you can get out of doing things yourself) or many other things.

When we say that we are killing an old habit, we need to banish it from our lives and stop making excuses of why we can't stop repeating it. We forget that when we say that "we can't because...." God always says " But I can......"

How is God supposed to bless us in our lives if we continue to harbor our greenhouse filled with little pots of bad habits....we look at them as just little seeds that aren't doing anything.  God sees it as something that will take root and grow and before we know it, it will outgrow the little area of our life that we are trying to restrict it to and take over other areas....

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Power of the Positive...I learned this firsthand...

So many times we go through crisis, deal with compromising situations, and make hard decisions in our lives.  It's so easy to see the bad or down side of things..so easy to be pessimistic..so easy for us to throw ourselves a pity party....so easy to forget who we belong to....

We always hear about "speak life, not death" or "power of life and death are in the tongue" and so many times it's treated as just that, something we hear but don't believe.  But those sayings are true whether or not it is based on a part of the Bible or not.

Have you ever known someone to talk down about themselves and they live in such a way that they fully embody the things that they said about themselves???  No job, no direction in life, no life, no SO (significant other), no transportation, no higher education, no will power, no happiness,  no opportunity for ANYTHING good to happen...ALWAYS complaining...

At the same time, look at people who have made goals for themselves and you hear them always speaking positively about the process they're going through, even if they have setbacks or failures, they remain positive.  Every time something bad or unplanned happens in the life of an optimist, they make sure they see it as not a total waste...they learn a lesson from it and keep going. They put themselves in the way to be influenced by a more positive source whether that source is God, other people or something they read, watch or listen to. There is power is positivity, whether we're alone or in larger groups.  You ever notice how much you can accomplish when you're positive?  Think of the show Biggest Loser....the contestants had some major hurdles to jump mentally, emotionally, and physically....but then look at their results...

Sometimes we need to "man up" or sleep on an issue (whether it's figuratively or actually speaking)....this is something that I've had to do many times.  When we are faced with some kind of conflict we have to remain in control of our actions, thoughts and words.  We don't just affect ourself when we don't, but we affect anyone who is within reach (physically--within earshot, emotionally, spiritually and mentally--think of being on the "same page" with someone where they can identify with you).  We can change the opinion that someone has of us if they catch us on a bad day...

All Satan has to do is catch us on the day where things are poppin' off all over and we have a bad attitude...but we can counteract that happening if we remember to stay positive from the jump....About a week ago I was talking to my BFF and we had both been thinking (on our own) about how to be more positive about the things we deal with in everyday life and go through with our marriages and friendships  ...I have had to make it a point to be more positive..(yes people, I'm not ALWAYS happy, optimistic and cheery...I have my bad days too...lol). Now I'm not saying that it is easy, cause of course after committing myself to it, that stand was tested, just yesterday...

But remembering that GOD always has our best interest in mind, we can have a more optimistic outlook on our lives.  We may be in a place where we're doing things or acting in such a way that is contrary to how we should be but that doesn't mean that we GOD can't get ourselves out of those situations and be in a better state of mind. And that's another thing....it's not us that does anything for ourselves....it's going to be GOD that gets us out from where we're at.  (This does not mean that we don't sit back and do nothing to clear our the issues/negativity/hinderances). 

I read an article the other day that made me think of something....it was about "empty apologies", you know, screwing up then having the "oops, i'm sorry about that (again) God" mentality. (That's a whole 'nother blog right there....lol)  Well that can be applied to being positive....we can talk positivity and write positivity ALL DAY LONG, but it makes no difference if we don't believe that what we're positive about will come to pass...and that there is some good in the situation (even if it is just the lesson that we will learn).

Stay Strong, Committed and Positive :-)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Honda Buybacks

Most people that know me, know that I LOVE my Honda....but I'm tired of these nice advertisements and letters from the dealers to inform me that MYcar is SPECIAL....why? Not because I carefully chose it, but because there is a HIGH demand for my cars....people are trying to buy my make/model in my year quick.  And in the same (breath) they also want to tell me how they can get me into a newer car with a low payment for a new model being released (or that is already out). 
So many times Satan will come along with some hot new item that is supposedly much better than what we have in Christ, but we're too psyched by the shiny wrapping, the glitz, glamour, respect, prestige that accompanies the hidden costs.  When we're offered a deal on a newer car with better gadgets that are supposed to help us drive, we see the low cost of the car (the price to upgrade) meanwhile we don't see that in the future that the price will skyrocket or that it will just be a large payment right away.  We may have to get used to spending more on gas or upkeep for the car, the insurance may cost us more too....Instead of being satisfied with the reliable, presentable transportation that we already have (and that may be paid off too) we want better/more so we go get it when we really don't need to....

Life as a Christian may not be easy all the time, but if you are doing what you should and living right, God takes care of us in every way....Temptation may flash by us attempting to draw our attention and we, many times, look to see what it is and start to try to figure out how it is better than what we have (or so we think).  We may "test drive" the sin and in turn "buy" it and ditch our old reliable transportation (lifestyle).

We have to remember that what we currently have (lifestyle) is BETTER than what is being offered by the competition....we already have what we need and maybe even some things that we just want.  The "better"/newer item that is hot off the block will come at a price...it may be where we spend our money, it may be our time, it may be our witness or reputation....and in the worst case, it may cost us our life. Like getting a car note for that "better" car when we had a paid off car, we will have to make adjustments in our life to pay for the things we may have thought we wanted......

So do what I do.....shred that buyback letter/postcard and toss it in the trash....not today dealers (Satan).....I will keep my car (Jesus) with it's years and mileage :-) Besides my history with Him is better than the history with you.

Quality (Day) Labor vs. Salaried (You do get compensated.....but for what?)

Disclaimer: In no way am I trying to insult anyone or down-play their hustle if they work through a day labor facility....I'm merely using the establishments operation setup to prove a point through comparison.....we all have bills to pay....at least it's honest work.

Quality (Day) Labor vs. Salaried (You do get compensated....but for what?)

So I was passing a day labor company the other day and saw about 12 to 15 people standing outside waiting for the office to open....and I started thinking why didn't they go to a staffing agency? But there could have been many answers...then I thought....is the employer REALLY going to get quality labor (which was the name of this particular business)? Now I have actually gone to one of these places with my brother before....there was a company hiring a lot of clean up crew for a Lakers vs. Spurs game (most were going to work and see bits of the game whenever they could sneak away....including me..lol) and man! I feel for anyone who has to and can do this everyday....they get kudos from me....my body felt so worked....but anyways...

Back to that "quality" (DAY) labor....If you have a job that is in action 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (or even 24 hours a day but Monday through  Friday) and you ONLY put in work during your 7-3, 8-4, or 9 to 5 shift, then the rest of your time is yours to use but the work is piling up or being mishandled.  Do you seriously expect to paid for the other 16 hours of the day when you did no work?  Do you expect to acrue time off while you're not working? no.....with day labor you get paid for the time you are there....that's it....

With a salaried position, an 8-hour work day is a lovely dream....everybody expects to do 40 a week and that's it, but many times you may pull extra hours or find yourself on overnight schedules and such. The pay is higher though...you earn more than a day labor employee and there are other benefits that you are entitled to. 

In God's Kingdom, the job of saving souls is 24-7-365.....we can't expect to actively reach the world for 4 years while we're working in an outreach setting and reap the benefits over a lifetime while we go on about our business....that's working for quality day labor but getting the salary....We always have to be on the job, the work never ends, the demand is high for good quality employees...but the pay we receive is MUCH higher than the compensation we get through quality day labor. We may never be the employee of the month, but giving our best is all that's required once we're on God's payroll.  Our payroll is ongoing until we get our pay from God himself.  When we try to do quality day labor in God's fields, we get poor results.....When we do the work of the salaried (whenever it's needed), then we get to reap the harvest....

Make sure you pick your job type wisely.....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Is your candy worth your wrapper?

Dove chocolate........Hershey's Symphony Milk Chocolate with Almonds.....Twix....I could go on and on about my favorite candies.....My mind starts to remember the taste of sweet creamy chocolate....mmmmm...they say "Diamonds are a girl's best friend" well chocolate comes in at a close second.....

So many times we can see the label of a product or a business and good things come to mind...Chick-fil-a: great food but closed on Sundays....Popeye's: has good spicy fried chicken....Southwest Airlines: no baggage fees.  Businesses spend so much money when it comes to marketing their products to make sure that they have a logo that will help sell their product and make their logos memorable for the customers. 

They either use flashy colors, or great design layouts that have a way of sticking in our memory.  For anyone that has ever taken a marketing, design or digital imaging class, you know that when you come up with a brand you cant' just do an okay job....you have to do a great job.  What you create for a brand will become part of people's everyday lives...they'll see the brand on TV or on a poster and all the things your company is known for will start to scroll through their minds. This will either prompt them to buy whatever it is you have OR encourage others to buy it too...

Along with the design, the actual wrapping has to be taken into consideration....if you need to have it freshly sealed, then you need to have a gummy or glued seal so that moisture cannot get into the package and spoil the goods....if it's something you may eat soon after you buy it then maybe just wrapping it will do (think Subway or McDonalds)...whatever the case, the wrapping has a reason for being the way it is....and it needs to do that job.

SO.........

What are you selling?  Does your "inner Jesus"/Holy Spirit/Lifestyle have the correct wrapper?  If most of us had to have a wrapping worthy of what we carry with us, we would be ashamed.  Can people look at us as Christians and know that there is something different?  Jesus is a breath of FRESH air, but so many times we walk around full of HOT air, with bad attitudes.  Our wrappers shouldn't be deceiving either....don't proclaim to be something that you're not. If we say one thing, but act differently we have on the wrong wrapper. Do we church it up on Sundays (and some Wednesdays) then "party like a rockstar" the rest of the week?  And even if we DON'T party, do we act in a less than appealing, unchristian-like manner?    God can do anything and everything but it doesn't help if we don't live actively believing that...we present something great on the outside while the inside is stale and or rotten.....we put so much effort into looking like the most saved & righteous people, but then we don't actually TRY to live that way......we all have struggles, but that's only one batch of our product....not the entire product line....We should live so that others wonder, man that [wrapper] sure seems good, the [product] must be great!!!

So I ask again, is your candy worth your wrapper?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lose Yourself and You Will Lose Yourself.....

So many times we are told to lose ourselves   in a moment, our feelings, music or in something, to just give in. When we give in, we just handed over the decision in our lives to whatever we gave in to. From the biblical viewpoint, Jesus = found (dedicated, taken care of, safe, our purpose is decided) and Satan = lost (unorganized, lacking - in whatever you need, always in danger, meandering).  If we go with the "get lost in it" mentality, we give in to our own human desires and don't have God's agenda in mind. 

1) We can get lost in love and date and/or marry the wrong person. So many times, we or our family/friends end up with the wrong guy or wrong girl only because we are looking for love where we shouldn't be..or when acting in a way to please ourselves we end up making choices that impact our lives forever. Before I got married, if I was interested in a guy, I would say "God, if this isn't the one, just take him out the picture...I don't mean any harm towards him, but if he's not for me, take him please"....God heard and answered when he needed to.  There's nothing wrong with being lost in love if you are with the RIGHT person....but if that's the case, then you've fallen in love so you're NOT LOST. So many times we may not realize it but when we date the wrong person, we can damage ourselves AND/OR the person we're dating to make us/them less than suitable for their future spouse.  When we marry the wrong person, not only do we jeopardize ourselves and them, but ALSO whoever God intended for our future spouses to be.

2) We can get lost in our talents/gifts....We may be great writers but write the wrong material...we may be great painters but paint the wrong things..great actors but act in the wrong movies...great orators but talk about the wrong subjects...singers but sing the wrong songs.  In whatever our talents and gifts are when we start to get lost in them, we use them for our own edification and not Gods.  If we don't use them wisely, God can and will take them from us (I have experienced this one firsthand and am determined to not go through that again).  I have a signature line on my emails that I got from a plaque my lil sis/roomie gave me a few years ago...it says "Our life is a gift from God, what we do with that life is our gift to Him".....that right there sums it all up.

3) We can get lost in our own goals. The same as talents/gifts, when we become lost in our goals, we act recklessly, wanting to fulfill our goals no matter what it costs us, our families or friends. We begin to work towards our goals by ourselves. There may be thoughts of prestige, respect and compensation that we may receive or the ability to say "look at what I did" not "look how God's blessed me". We forget that we need to stay grounded with our support group who will be happy and willing to encourage us along the way. True friends and family love to see those they know succeeding in life. When we put ourselves in the mindset of being goal-oriented and not God-oriented, we're in the wrong....God can make our goals a reality with MUCH less work than we'd ever put into them, we need to keep Him at the forefront...

When you lose yourself in whatever it is, you lose your identity. Your personality changes, you may change your attitude toward things, you may change your appearance, your friends, your activities, etc.  You become less and less like yourself than when you kept yourself "on point"....aka, on top of your game. Remember you don't have to be at the point where you have "arrived" to be on top of your game.  You lose authenticity when you make those changes because you become less grounded as "you" and start being shifty, indecisive (or even decisive in the "whatever happens happens" or "whatever goes" attitude) or physically pleasure-filling based. You may start to seem or look phony in the areas where you say God has put you, because now that your mentality has shifted you are trying to live for yourself and God.  We already know the Bible says you cannot serve God AND man....so one of those has to go.....

We have to be mindful to not to let our self-fulfilling mentality take over because they say that an idle mind is a devil's playground. Remember, lose yourself and you really will lose yourself.

Leaving you with something to think on.....

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Confidentiality

C – Careful not to gossip
O – Only for my ears, keep it to myself
N – Never give out information
F – Friendship’s main component
I – If they didn’t tell anyone else, neither should I
D – Desirable character trait
E – Enriches bond between friends
N – No one’s personal details are for public discussion
T – Trusting someone to not share what you say
I – It is not a one-sided decision
A – Always keeps other’s best interest at heart
L – Loose lips can put you out of the loop
I – Intrinsic freshness seal to relationships
T – Trust can be lost or broken if not exercised
Y – Your friendship’s health and duration can be determined by your level of it

Sometimes in life we are put in positions where we have to exercise confidentiality. I have been in this position at least twice formally with volunteering. The first time was mentoring in a program for two years for girls whose mother-only parented homes were either going onto or coming off of welfare. The second time was while being a counselor at Agape Pregnancy Help Center for 3 years. I would hear stories of how home life was from young girls and young adults (and sometimes from clients older than myself) about the things they faced on a daily basis. Sometimes I was horrified at the lack of humanity and carelessness they described, other times I may have been saddened by the vacancy of love and support one would expect to get from home and from friends. (All this would of course make your mind race, but how you show it on your face is what makes the difference. You don’t want to react in a way as to make the other person think that they can’t share with you when that is the desired goal.)

Now that I no longer am involved in either of those ministries, I have had more time to look at my personal relationships with my friends….not saying that I haven’t done this before, but now for the lack of other counseling/mentoring venues, I’ve had more time to give them more attention. I’ve realized over the years that confidentiality between friends is something that is the unsaid super glue. Now there are things that my friends and I may talk about that is okay to be shared, but there are also some secrets that we will be taking to the grave. Everything may not be a secret, but it’s not something that’s up for public discussion either. When I look at the different levels of friendship I have with people, confidentiality is the marker of how close my friendship is with a person. I still keep in touch with friends from home and younger “sisters” of mine and one of the things that they know I do have is a good level of confidentiality. Knowing that you are the kind of person people can just talk to is a good thing; it means that you don’t spread their business.

Now there’s different bonds of confidentiality, there’s the confidentiality that I have with my husband, there’s the confidentiality that I have with my girls, there’s the confidentiality that I have with my parents, there’s the confidentiality I have with my coworkers…and so on. I can’t assume that any group shares confidentiality with each other and I shouldn’t cross contaminate. I can’t share things with my parents that I hold in confidence with my husband and I can’t share things with my husband that I share in confidence with my girls. There’s a difference in speaking up if a party is in danger and another if you’re bringing up something that was told to you with the intention of it being just for your ears.

I have been in the position before where I have told female friends of mine (they really were friends of mine) things that I’ve opened up about to just them only to later hear someone else ask me about it. Needless to say, those friendships crashed and burned, and not on accident. I gave chances for there to be some absolution to the issue but when it happened a few times, I had to just let them go. Usually it was cross contamination of my confidentiality with them being crossed with the confidentiality of another friend who they were close to but that I did not know myself. There is no quicker way to hurt a friendship than to break confidentiality. When people feel that their confidentiality with you is in jeopardy, they will make sure to keep you out of their business.

But there is also the matter of keeping information personal. If there is something that you need to vent or talk about but you can’t find the proper channel, you may have to keep a journal….or just tell God and pray over it. If you don’t know if you should talk about it or not, think about it….if it’s something that you really don’t want to ever hear about again, keep it. There is no law that says that everyone needs to know your business (including your friends) and the only time there may be concern is when accountability needs to be in place for you. Don’t feel like you have to tell your friends all your business to keep them as friends, you don’t have to…friends share information because they want to not because they feel forced or out of obligation.

We shouldn’t go fishing for information out of our friends…not saying this is less important when you’re younger, but I don’t think that teens have as big an issue with this because of where they are in life with trying to figure out themselves and what they’re going to do, they share information sometimes TOO easily…haha. But if we’re talking to our friends we should never ask them about something that they look/sound not too eager to share. When they get to the point when they just openly come to you, then you know they are ready to share and you’ll also be hearing the most relaxed honesty at that time. They may just be experiencing things that they want to keep personal and there’s nothing wrong with that, we have to be aware of the need to be courteous and caring.

You may wonder what keeping information personal has to do with confidentiality, it has a lot to do with it. Maintaining confidentiality is an outward decision; keeping personal information is an inward decision. They both take discernment and practice. I’m not writing this to say that I in any way have mastered these techniques but that I try to do better about them daily. I know I’ve breached confidentiality before and had to apologize to both parties (the one who it was about and the party I told) and while it may have been over something I thought to be small, it shouldn’t have been done. I also know that I’ve had to remove myself from certain people because of the amount of attention they want to give me trying to find out all the details of my life…

I’ll just leave you with the hope that something you read makes you think about and value the diverse relationships and confidentiality you have with others….remember, having confidentiality makes you a better friend/acquaintance and shows you can be trusted...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Change your mind

When our circumstances don't change, sometimes we have to change our minds....or mindset.

How many times do we find ourselves frustrated with the results we get after trying to accomplish something for the milionth time? If the ingredients are A, B and C, why do we get upset when the results are always ABC....we want XYZ but we don't have X, Y and Z going in....We think that by repeating the process and wishing, talking, venting and ignoring what the original factors are that we can miraculously get a much different outcome......no people....we're not magicians....

Instead of continuing to put up with the same results after doing things the same way every time:  Accept that the results are not going to change, and find a different approach or change our attitude. 
If you hate to clean, turn on music, it will help the time pass faster...If you don't like to be the one to drive your friends everywhere every time you all go out as a group, nominate another driver or speak up. If you don't like to cook every night, order out.  I sometimes say, "it's not what you say/do, it's the DELIVERY".  Sometimes finding another way of doing something will get your real message across and get the result you want without you having to get all bent out of shape and upset.  Sometimes, just changing your attitude is enough....whether you need to be more lax or more firm depends on the situation....

Instead of trying to fight God's will for your life: Recognize the real reason why you're fighting it and then get over yourself.  Yes, yourself....I could have said "get over it" but when we are the cause of "it" then I'll just cut to the chase and call it like it is...It is SO misguided for us to think that we know better than God when it comes to what is in store for our lives and when the appropriate time is for us to throw things out of our lives.  We always want to hang onto friends, habits, objects and other idols in our lives that do nothing but cause us pain...why? Cause we haven't just said "yes Lord"....personally, my little thing was forgiveness without a grudge....and MAN! I'm not even going to pretend like the sermons I heard weren't speaking to me....it seemed like EVERY sermon I heard was about forgiveness....the right kind of forgiveness.  Once I finally learned to do that, there are some things that fell into place in my life...and it was a wonderful feeling. How are you going to fight the one that GAVE you life? It doesn't make any sense especially since He can take you out or take everything you have if you DON'T listen to Him (Examples: Annanias and Saphira (they lied, they died) and Micah ( build up your life with the wrong things, God will take it all...Judges 18:22-26)

Instead of allowing ourselves to be influenced by others in a bad way: Grow a backbone.  When we die our friends won't be the ones to give account for the things we did. So many times we live our lives to please everyone but the one that counts: GOD.  We act a certain way, dress a certain way, buy certain items, go to certain events all because we get talked into by someone who doesn't live our life or experience what we go through. Everyone needs some accountability to doing the right thing...maybe you can get that with your family or closest circle of friends...everyone has different issues to deal with and they don't handle them the same way, but if you have true friends, they'll be honest and open with you about any areas that may be lacking a little luster. I remember a friend of mine asked me if the way she acted embarassed me in public.  While she didn't embarass me, I would wonder if people would take her seriously, which is what I did want for her....she's a great woman growing in God and I didn't want that to not shine through...but after that situation, I realized that whoever brought that to her attention is a true friend of hers because if you're not a friend, you usually won't care.

In the end we have to change somehow....if we don't we're just going to be running in circles, being repeated offenders....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Are we withdrawing from an empty account?

Out of:
patience = you have irritability
self-control = gives in to desires and emotions
willpower = turns to laziness
kindness = becomes frustrated easily
empathy = becomes uncaring
sympathy = loss of loyalty
love = filling with selfishness

Is our spiritual bank account running low? Then we need a deposit of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. When we don't know how we can go on with our days because of thoughts that consume us and issues we deal with, we HAVE to look for him to fill us up.  We should never expect perfection from anyone but Jesus, He can do all but fail us.  Sometimes we have to take a step back and breathe.....(and if we're female, getting out a good cry usually helps)...Life will dish out so much, but we don't have to accept everything as being of God....the Devil will try our patience, self-control, willpower, kindness, empathy, sympathy and love.  We just have to stay focused, cause God won't put more on us than we can bear...and when we feel like we are going through, we shouldn't ignore the times of feast between the times of famine. Even if they are short times, God allowed us to have them.

I'm wishing everyone an endless deposit of GOD to their day....we always need him......

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Running From the Enemy

So I had a crazy dream last night…you all will think I’m nuts after this….but this really was my dream last night.  But first some background info…..

Some of you may remember the cartoon “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” that used both live human action and cartoon animation. Well if you do, then you remember “The Dip”. “The Dip” was the only way to kill a cartoon since cartoons never died, they just survived many death attempts. In the movie, Judge Doom tries to buy Toon Town and get rid of the “toons”, as they were called, via spilling the dip across Toon Town.

Okay back to my dream…..or at least what I remember

So I’m hiding out in some old run down barn sitting in a rustic Model T car and my toon pet dog is going nuts. My dog goes to hide under a car where the 4th tire should have been and as Judge Doom comes flying through a back door with wood planks flying through the air, my dog takes off running carrying me in the car…We race over to the freeway and it’s packed. Bumper to bumper. But is that a problem? No, not for a toon….My dog just jumps on the first car and starts driving over the tops of all the cars ahead of us. As we’re racing down the freeway, I hear police sirens wailing and I can see Judge Doom in the rear view mirror and he’s gaining ground.

Just as we come up to an overpass, my dog jumps and I’m thinking “why in the world is this dog trying to jump over the overpass instead of just running beneath it?” Well my dog surprises me and hangs a sharp left landing on the bridge that was just a moment ago almost above our head. To our advantage, Judge Doom didn’t see and continued down the freeway but I knew he’d be back on our trail in a second…So my dog starts to take off running again but then slows down right away. I start trying to call out it to keep running, trying to figure out why the dog stopped when our lives are in danger and we could be caught at any moment. The dog looks at me then points to the side where there appears to be a kid’s T-Ball game getting ready to start and they were having a moment of prayer. I’m thinking, “Dog! Keep running! You can speed without barking……” but then the dog just looks at me with this look that says “wait and look…we’ll be okay”…..they start playing some song over the PA system at the game and all of a sudden the sky just cracks open and this blinding light just shines through…..

This is where I wake up and realize that I’m hearing “reveille” from the Army Base across from my neighborhood…..goodness, what a dream. Then I started thinking about how many times we run from our enemy, Satan. We try to do the right things and stay out of trouble and there are times when we are going through situations where we feel like we’ll never make it through and we may break. But then something brings us to a complete stop and we’re forced to pause and think why….it is at that time when the Holy Spirit reminds us of who He is. He reassures us that God is in control and has us in His care and we don’t have to run anymore.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.- Psalm 46:10

“Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them” - Anonymous

Friday, May 14, 2010

Understanding Fasting: A Guide to Help Save Your Sanity

Excerpts from the book “Fasting” by Jentezen Franklin

For those of you who have never really looked into fasting or understood why there is a need for it, this book will help. This year I participated in a corporate fast with my church and no joke, it was hard for me to do…. After seeing my misunderstanding of fasting, I received this book as a gift. At first I did not want to read it, but knew that it would only help me if I did read it… And it did. Most of the information in this guide are straight from the book word for word (including chapter titles-which will be helpful if you get the book). This guide is just going to give you the main points from the book and biblical references. If I can understand exactly what the author was saying in plain terms why bother to reword it to pass it on….below is the info for the book in case you decide you want the full version of it.

Fasting by Jentezen Franklin
Published by Charisma House
A Strang Company
600 Rinehart Road
Lake Mary, Florida 32746
www.charismahouse.com

ISBN-10: 1599792583
ISBN-13: 978-1599792583



Section 1: The Private Discipline That Brings Public Reward
The discipline of fasting releases the anointing, the favor and the blessing of God in the life of a Christian.

1—Fasting for Your Breakthrough
The three duties of a Christian are giving, praying and fasting and when you faithfully follow those three things, God rewards openly.

References:
-Matthew 6

-Matthew 17: 20-21
20And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.21Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
2—Dethroning King Stomach
Some ate themselves out of God’s will for their lives. There is no convenient time to fast.

References:
-Genesis 25:34
Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

-Ezekiel 16:49-50
49Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

-Hebrews 12:15-17
15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be de filed;16Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.17For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

3—How Much? How Long? How Healthy?
If it doesn’t mean anything to you, it won’t mean anything to God. (I think the reason there was no exact, definitive information on guidelines for what to fast from and for how long is because of that reasoning). Fasting is a spring cleaning for your body, purging your system of toxins.

4—Every Assignment Has a Birthplace
Fasting keeps you sensitive to His Spirit, enabling you to live holy. Fasting prepares you for a new anointing, God can’t put new wine in old wineskin bags, if you want new you have to rid yourself of the old. Satan hates it when you fast, don’t let him get your focus on your appetite and circumstances rather than the promises of God being released when we employ the powerful weapon of fasting.

References:
-Romans 12:1
1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye pre sent your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

-Mark 2:22
22And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.

5—Swatting Flies
A comparison was given for the vulnerability in Satan’s kingdom comparing it to flies. Weakness relates to the lifespan of flies which ranges up to 40 days and if you stop short of 40 days with pesticides to exterminate them you only kill the current generation but not the next generation.

In the bible, the number “40” represents cleansing and purification:
Noah - flood for 40 days and nights
Moses– 40 years in Egypt, then 40 years in the desert, delivering and bringing God’s people to the Promised Land

6—God’s Coming to Dinner?
We shouldn’t look at fasting as another bothersome ritual as if we are eating the same thing for dinner every night. Fasting is a constant means of renewing yourself spiritually. When you worship you magnify God.

7—You Shall be Filled
When you hunger for God, He will fill you and when you hunger for more, you will receive more. *We need to hunger after God more than we hunger after religion.

References:
-Matthew 12:1-8
1At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.2But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.3But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;4How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?5Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?6But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.7But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.8For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

8—Rewarded Openly
Fasting whether corporately or individually is a private discipline. Where there is little private discipline there is little public reward. We should keep it personal. Fasting can break poverty from our life and can break us from sexual addictions and demonic powers. Health and healing will follow a time of fasting. God will also target your children with the rewards of your fasting.


References:
-Matthew 6:1-4
1Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.3But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:4That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

-Joel 2:28
28And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

9—Nothing Shall Be Impossible-It Works!
Different examples were given over dilemmas that people overcame with their fasting.

Section 2: Opening a Door to God’s Promises
Lack of control over the flesh opened the door for sin’s temptation…part of the sacrifice of fasting, seeking God and studying His word is that normal activity fades into the background. Fasting is abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. We shouldn’t fast to obtain merit with God or get rid of sin, the only thing that does that is salvation: being cleansed with Jesus’ blood.


10—He Pleased God
Hungering for God brings with it a much greater reward than satisfying the temporary hunger in my body. When the Holy Spirit calls you to a fast, He’s preparing you for what’s ahead. If you want to please God, believe Him.

References:
-Hebrews 11:6
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

11 -- Garment of Praise
Fasting breaks the spririt of heaviness. There is power in corporate fasting and corporate praise! It creates a river of healing, of deliverance and victory, cleansing in the house of God. It’s time to exchange the ashes for beauty, mourning for joy, the garment of heaviness for praise.

References:
-Isaiah 61:2-3
2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

12– Fasting, Faith, and Patience
Jentezen gives the illustration that digging up a seed too soon because you see no sprouts damages the results...give it time, it will produce. We have to let the fasting take root. Don’t measure faith by the size of the problem, God will reward your diligence.

References:
-Matthew 17:20
20And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

13— God’s Priorities
There is no higher authority than to know the heart of God for a situation you’re facing. Fasting puts you in the mainstream of God’s priorities, it tunes your priorities more vertical and more in line with God’s desires. What you put first will order the rest (Spirit before body). Fasting allows us to clear the inside which will then make the outside more presentable. Fasting slows life down to help find whom our hearts desire

References:
-Matthew 6:31-33
31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
-Matthew 7:1-5
1Judge not, that ye be not judged.2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
-Romans 8:13
13For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

-Galatians 6:1-3
1Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, re store such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.2Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.3For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

14— For the Little Ones
[We fast] to know the right way for our lives and for our children’s safety and future. We need to trust the reliability of the scripture when things get a little crazy.

References:
-James 4:6-10
6But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.9Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

15— Is Your Blade sharp Enough?
It is time we set ourselves apart to seek the Lord and find understanding. When we fast and pray, we sharpen the will of God in our mouths (usually our meal times turn into study times).


16— Seen but Not Heard
We should enter a fast seriously only after having repented of known sins. God will hear us and answer.


References:
-Isaiah 58:8-9 8Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward.9Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;


17— Go for It
Fasting will help you identify areas of hidden sin in our lives. We have no place for pride or complacency. Don’t let blessings of the past mess up blessings of the future. Blessings of sanctification brings God’s promises of his covenant. God wants us to ask him for the things that are bigger than ourselves.