That’s Good Preacher!

“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.” Acts 7:54-55

 

Have you ever been in a sermon that everything the preacher said made you wanna shout? Yeah, me too, but that was not the case last night. Last night, preacher LET US HAVE IT. He was certainly convicting some hearts and pointing out some things that we all need to be aware of. The title was “When My Feelings are Attacked,” but I think all I heard was “how not to attack feelings.”

Stephen is only verses away from being “rocked to sleep.” Praise the Lord that he is full of the Holy Ghost, even as they gnash him with their teeth. All he can see is the glory of God! This man is preparing for death and his sole focus is the heavens opening and receiving his spirit. The primary thing that stood out to me was his strength due to the Holy Spirit.

You’re probably expecting me to give you a motivational quote about strength through trials and glory in tribulations, but I can’t. My heart just isn’t there. Maybe because I know you’ve heard it a thousand times. Maybe it’s because I’ve become more sensitive to those who are NOT full of the Holy Spirit. Maybe it is because I think we need to stop putting the focus on how we can feel better through troubles and start investing in the lives of others. Are we not called to give these people some sort of hope? Where does their strength come from? I’m sure you’ve wondered, heard, and asked that but how has it changed your attitude? I don’t enjoy being depressed, discouraged, or conflicted but the Holy Spirit is within me. Christ won’t give me more than I can handle and my moments of weakness have only grown my faith.

If I’m speaking to someone who is not full of the Holy Spirit then I have to be aware that my gnashing teeth could cause scars. Verse 55 would’ve sounded more like “He had no hope and he ran to drugs and destruction…” had Stephen been a lost soul.

I am challenging you to focus on sharing words of truth and love with those people who need the strength of men and women of God. Be willing and courageous enough to stand in the gap for them.

If you’re a Christian, then you’re called to do this. This is not “full-time ministry,” this is being a servant of Christ.

 

 

 

I’ve Gone Too Far Pt. 2

“The truth is, I am powerless to stop his love for me. I did nothing to activate his goodness toward me. I am incapable of deflecting the endless showers of blessings that come from his storehouses and rain over my life. It’s all grace. Grace upon grace. God’s extravagant grace. Indeed, I am a victim of grace. And so are you.” -Robin Gunn 

 

My prayer for you, today, is that you can catch a glimpse of this amazing grace. I’m asking the Heavenly Father and creator of the universe to give you the slightest idea of the abundance of His mercy that He pours out for all of us. Can we look back on situations where we received forgiveness from family and friends and see that the Lord is the master of forgiveness?

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard folks rejecting Christ because they have “gone too far.” SOMEHOW, the enemy has managed to convince sinners that God’s grace won’t work for them. Sadly enough, Satan is in the background laughing as he lies to these broken souls. Unfortunately, there are even Christians who have a skewed perception of the grace and mercy that the Lord shares with us. So my question is, how can we spread awareness of this magnificent grace if we do not have a clue how powerful it is?

Remember my story about my parents accepting me with open arms, after I’d hurt them through my drug addiction? Have you had a similar experience? Maybe you’ve hurt a boyfriend, mother, grandparent, or best friend and they offered you forgiveness? It was relieving to be forgiven and accepted by my family again.

I was so amazed that all I had to do was accept their love and receive their forgiveness. If their mercy extended to such magnitude, then what about Christ Jesus? The man who is willing and able to save me from the fiery pits of hell! How great must His grace be? Do not be afraid, He is greater than the fear you have within your heart.

You ARE a victim of grace.. every minute.. every hour.. every day..

 

 

I’ve Gone too Far Pt. 1

“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O Earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” Isaiah 1:2

 

By the grace of God, I am not the same person that I was on November 24, 2014 when the Lord ALLOWED me to hit rock bottom.  

 

I won’t stand before you and pretend that I woke up one morning and my sinful nature was gone. I’m not foolish enough to expect you to believe I did a 360 overnight. I refuse to falsely claim I completely trusted in the Lord, the day I quit doing drugs. I cannot confirm, before you, that I completely understood what was happening in my life. To say that I became fully committed to my walk of faith would be a lie. BUT, by the grace of God, there was a change being made. There was a revival within my heart that only the High and Mighty Savior of the Universe could be leading. When I look up the word revival, words such as recovery and improvement appear. Praise God that He took the time to look upon me and say “I want her in my kingdom, she is valuable.” Without Him choosing to start a recovery process, from within, I was helpless.

I had rebelled against my savior, my family, and my friends. The people who raised me seemed to be suffering the consequences of doing so. Isaiah 1:2 reads, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O Earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they rebelled against me.”

That was me and there was no denying it. I was rebelling against all sources of authority. I cannot honor my parents when I am dishonoring the Lord. If I am rebelling against my Lord, how can I honor my mother and father? The two go hand in hand. Immediately, I was able to think back to my childhood when I would cry for love or affection and my grandmother would hold me and rock me. She gave me comfort and showed me how loved I am. Everything in the world seemed to be just fine, when I was there in her arms. The list goes on and on of the care that I received from my family throughout the years.

Nobody’s life can be perfect, but I had no right to bring down the very people who brought me up. I can look back at what I put my family through from the drugs, to the disrespect, and the nights that they would stay up wondering if I would come home. It took a long time for me to accept forgiveness from my earthly parents and my heavenly Father. I did not feel worthy of their acceptance after all I had done to them, but they graciously wrapped me up in their arms and loved me as if I was the same little girl who they would rock when I had a bad day at school. They accepted me with open arms and they just wanted their daughter back.

I have already admitted to you that I was not a saint overnight, but something much more incredible happened. I had my joy back. I felt an overwhelming sense of grace, love, and peace.

Ponder this.. If my earthly parents were so gracious, then how was my Heavenly Father responding?

Shame Vs. Grace

When amid trials and tribulations, Christians can run one of two ways. In a moment’s time, we make the decision to lean on the cross or run to the heat. By the grace of God, the route that we choose does not have to be our final destination. Many times, I found myself wandering from the cross. Sin became the captain of a ship that I wish I would have never boarded.

From personal experience and an outsider’s view, I’ve realized that shame is its own battle when we go down that dark path. Think of the moment in Genesis when God called on man. Adam says “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Was the man really hiding from the Lord because of his nakedness or because of his sin? How frightening is it to come to our pure, holy, heavenly, almighty Father when we feel dirty? I have a hunch that Adam was feeling how I felt, just before I found myself at the altar, after years of betraying my Savior.

People can make salvation hard. Churches might make salvation intimidating. Your friends might make salvation sound deceitful. Your past may tell you that salvation cannot save you. I am thankful that by the grace of God, Titus 3:3 says, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

We all come from somewhere and none of us were born into salvation. It doesn’t matter if your daddy is a preacher, your uncle is a deacon, and your mama plays the piano at the church. We all have been foolish and we all lived in sin until the Lord showed us his grace. There is absolutely no excuse for Christians feeling that they can pick and choose the people who the Lord can bring into His kingdom.

 

Today, I challenge you to encourage someone who is “different than you” to join the kingdom of God.

Modest is Hottest

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:30‬ ‭KJV‬‬

 

 

 

I thought I knew something about being a woman of God because I was raised in the church. Oh my, was I wrong! Culture shock at its finest is what I faced as I drew nearer to the women of God from my church.
Seriously, they were mentioning this online boutique that they liked because their dresses were modest. Here I was, preparing for a bikini competition that I’d participate in the next month. Modest? Come on girls, it’s not the 50’s. I found it humorous that they seriously cared how long their dress was. We all know that you shouldn’t show much cleavage and when your arms are down your fingertips should be near the end of your dress, if you’re going to church. Save your short dresses for dinner dates and beach trips.
Have you ever tried to do what you want AND draw near the Lord at the same time? Ha, me too!
At this time, I was training two times a day and spent hours meal prepping each week. I was clearly creating my own form of a God. I’m grateful that the one and only Lord and savior is a jealous God. He was NOT having it.
I was becoming uncomfortable with the idea of putting my body on stage, in a bikini. I heard the Lord telling me that I could not do this bikini competition. I prayed about it, asked for advice from people at the church, and knew I had to stop immediately. This was the first step towards the woman I was becoming. The Lord NEEDED to see I was willing to give up this competition. Despite the hours I sacrificed, the thousands of dollars that had been spent, and the miles I’d traveled… I did not have a choice but to give it up.
I truly believe that my willingness to hear His voice is the reason He’s blessed me with a Godly man. I can’t help but feel comfort in the decision I made. My conscious won’t let me dress immodestly. My fear of the Lord gives me comfort in my coverage. This desire to be seen as a light in the world prevents me from dressing in a way that doesn’t glorify Him.
As Christians, we HAVE TO do whatever we can do to proclaim, represent, and confirm that He is alive in us!

The Comfort of the Cross

Being from a small town in South Carolina, I’ve learned a few things that may differ from your culture. One thing that is for certain would be that you can never predict the weather. Leaving home in the morning when it is below sixty-degrees does not mean that you can get away with wearing a sweater at noon. In fact, chances are that the temperature will increase so drastically that a stroll in the park will turn into a struggle in what feels like a sauna. A day in the winter could be the greatest time of the year to catch a tan, then the next day you may need your Ugg Boots.

Sometimes, us South Carolinians forget this. It was a lovely morning, so I was certain that I could enjoy the outdoors after my classes and I had a destination in mind. My small town of Graniteville, South Carolina has a cross in the local cemetery. I’m not talking about a cross that is made of a couple of logs, though those are lovely. I am referring to a cross that you can see throughout the town. I am speaking of a cross that stands as high as an eight-and-a-half-story building. This cross took three months to manufacture. When I speak of this cross, I also speak of the highest point in Graniteville. Mentioning this cross is mentioning comfort for people. The ironic thing about this landmark is that it does not even scratch the surface of what the cross at calvary has been doing in people’s lives, for thousands of years.

Reaching my destination brought the comfort of salvation into perspective for me. Seeking relief in the heat is what lead me to the shadow of the cross. In that moment, I could enjoy the breeze, I could focus on the cross instead of the heat, and I could appreciate the destination. I couldn’t help but ponder how often I desire the peace provided by the cross. Thoughts running through my mind included the magnitude of Christ’s love and why He would love somebody like myself. Ephesians 3:17-19 says, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”

When something as big as Christ is within someone as small as me, He cannot help but being seen. One major purpose of Paul’s authorship of Ephesians is to present the relationship we can have with Christ through the grace that He is extending towards us. Because our faith is anchored by love, and His love is so powerful, it should be grounded within me like a tree in the earth. Imagine the way that roots seep into the terrain. We do not expect a tree to be uprooted easily, but we expect growth and strength. Similarly, our relationship with Christ should prosper as we water it with His word.

Notice, Paul says “the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” Well, of course Christ’s love surpasses knowledge. Being a human who knows time, boundaries, distance, and the reality of injustice; how could we ever comprehend something that is the alpha and omega, faithful, never-ending, and righteous always?

How can we, who fight sin daily, understand why a blameless man would die for us on a cross? Theologians, Christians, Historians, and God’s children throughout the world would say “love is the reason.” The beauty of this wondrous love is that no person can grasp it in entirety. If I could live for Christ for three years and have all the answers, then I may come to an abrupt halt. Fortunately, the depths of His love is so great that I cannot dive to the bottom.

Why Are We Here?

Why am I writing this blog? Why are you sitting in that cubicle yet again? Why are you driving to another meeting? Why are you waiting for another conference call? Why do you need to get an education? Why do we get up for church on Sunday morning? Why do we serve in the community? Why do we pray for our sisters? Why do we care if a stranger knows they’re valuable? WHYYYYYY ARE WE HERE?

As Christians, we know that we are here to glorify God. We understand that we are meant to be a light; but sometimes we may wonder if we are in “full effect.” Are we being used how the Lord desires or are we slacking in so many ways, without the intention? Are we missing some sort of “sign” or are we exactly where He wants us?

Is it a lack of faith or a desire to be faithful? Maybe it is both. I want to get where the Lord wants me right NOWWWWW, but we both know that is not reality. He knows that He has some molding to do within my heart. I know that I need to humble myself before Him and let Him guide me. Through this journey I will learn so many things about my Savior AND myself. I have already learned how impatient I can be, but I’ve also seen that He answers prayers. He is teaching me and I am eager but I do not feel forsaken, by any means. Christ has revealed enough to me to keep me comforted, but not enough for me to feel that I can do this on my own.

If He came to me and told me exactly what my future would hold, then I would try to figure it all out for myself. How stressful would that be? How could my little mind comprehend and organize all the plans the Lord has for my life?

This is a blog of faith… a reflection of attempting to allow the Lord to direct my path and trusting God to articulate my future into a life that will glorify His name. This is a blog of a relationship… an authorship of what Christ has done for me, in me, and with me through many years.