Off My Chest and to Your Heart

IIMG_20150725_151807934 woke up this morning with these five thoughts invading my mind. One is absolutely random, but the other four are near and dear to my heart. Here is what my heart wanted to tell yours:

1. I love all of you!  Please DO NOT attempt to  battle this life alone. If you need an ear to listen or need someone to fight when you’re too tired, let me stand in prayer with you. I’m tired of suicide robbing people of their lives.

2. I love people with freckles. When I see them I just automatically assume they are nice and want me to hug them! I fight the temptation to do it. #mystrangeaddiction

3. Take a lesson from Bill Cosby, you can acquire all the accolades the world can offer, but your character can have them stripped from you. At the end of the day, your integrity, morality, and the route you took to acquire fame or provide it to others MATTERS.

4. God is the ONLY one who truly forgives the dark secrets of our past. God knew we would sin greatly so He sent His greatest to be our ransom. Please DO NOT leave this life without the greatest gift your Creator has to offer, salvation through Jesus Christ. I’m not promoting religion. I am promoting the opportunity to Live Again in the Love you were created in!!!

5. God loves you and there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT. He won’t change His mind about it, and He will spend your life proving it to you!!!

My prayer is that you will come into the awesomeness of who you are according  to your Creator. My hope is that you will develop a relationship with the most amazing God of the universe! The truth is God really loves you, and your past does not bother Him!!! He can handle it! Have a Marvelous Monday beautiful people!!!!

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29 Years and 364 Days Old

WIN_20150514_204707 (3)Tomorrow I will be the Big 3-0!!! Lord willing I would have been on this earth for 30 years, and I’m grateful for each year. I will admit my 20s were rough, and I’m glad to be leaving them!!! I grew up a lot. I cried a lake full of tears, and I learned just how selfish, inconsistent, and a tad bit crazy I truly am. I also learned how resilient, forgiving, considerate, and wise I have become. Today I’ll share my evolution as a 20 year old who knew it all to a 30 year old that is ready to learn all I can. What I have learned about success, love, and God truly has me excited to see what my 30s will have in store for me. Here are my thoughts in light of my personal experience:

  1. Success-At age 20, I was in my junior year of college. I was under the influence of the American Dream, and I knew obtaining my degree would ensure instant success. Oh how naïve I was! After graduating from college and moving back to Little Rock, Arkansas, I experienced the American Nightmare (student loans with no job to pay them). The only job I could secure was a Substitute Teacher position that paid fifty cents more than minimum wage. Since my idea of success was predicated on obtaining a degree and a good job, by the age of 23, I was feeling like an absolute failure!!! I had nothing but bills to show for my time spent away from college, and this reality weighed heavily upon my identity. I felt like a loser!!! One day while working as a substitute at a Middle School, the principal asked if I’d be interested in a more permanent position as a Parent/Teacher Coordinator. I gladly accepted the position because it offered more money, and it provided me with a huge office, a real title, and some influence. It was my big break, and the reason I went to college. I wanted prestige, and I wanted to be able to boast a little about my Benefits package to my friends who had them. I started to feel “successful,” but I was absolutely miserable doing the job. I had no passion for it. It required more hours than I wanted to give, and no one came to visit my amazing office that I measured my success by. As fate would have it at 26, I was just as miserable as I had been as a Substitute Teacher. After being prompted by my sister to move to Atlanta and feeling a peace about it, I resigned from my position and packed my bags. I had 1500 dollars to my name, a few suitcases of clothes, and boarded a plane to start my new life in Atlanta, GA. I had no job, but I had peace that things would be better than they had been. After three months of full-time job searching, I was offered a position as a Flight Attendant. If someone had told my 20 years old self that I would be Flight Attendant at 29 I would have laughed in their face. But God in His omniscience knew it fit my personality to a tee. I now travel for a living meeting wonderfully strange people, and I am trained to save people in the event of an emergency. I am not sure how long I will have this privilege, but I can say I am enjoying my life. I no longer define myself or success by a degree or salary. I simply define success as being at peace with yourself and others as it pertains to the decisions you make in life. I had to discover that success could not be measured by external things because those things can be taken and my identity would follow. My success is gauged by how I feel within. In the next few months I will embark upon a new adventure, and I am looking forward to where it will lead me!
  2. Relationships- The university I attended was the breeding ground for Conservative Christian marriages. While everyone was trying to get a ring, I was trying to figure men out. In the process I managed to entertain a smorgasbord of men. I have dated all types, and  I managed to get my heart broken, mangled, trampled, pulled apart, and healed in the process. My early 20s was torn between college guys and Silver Foxes (old men who like young women). During this process, I was creating a list of what the “perfect” man would look like for me. In 2008, I thought I had met him. I tried really hard to make him understand he was perfect for me, but he couldn’t see it clearly. In 2011, the “perfect” one found me. He matched my revised list to the tee. He was intelligent, witty, wealthy, and appeared to have a relationship with God. His Bible knowledge was impressive, but as time went on the façade was apparent. In my heart, peace was missing, and we were both trying to manufacture something that was not meant to be for us. Past relationships, pride, deception, and apathy brought on the demise of that relationship. Completely devastated by love being lost again, I became bitter and a cynic of love. By 2013, I was spoiled goods and my attitude reeked of heartache and disappointment. No one had a shot with me because I did not believe them. All men had become liars, and to take one seriously would cost more than I could afford at the time. I spent a whole year in rage, remorse, fear of love, and bitterness. Then around the spring of 2014, I decided to take the facebook advice I was giving and simply FORGIVE HIM for what I felt was a waste of time, and forgive myself for giving up on love and giving in to resentment. December 2014, a blast from the past reached out to me on Facebook. We had met seven years ago at the library, and we exchanged numbers. I was dating Mr.2008, and knowing he liked me he decided to back off. When he reached out in December I was emotionally in a good place to receive a great guy. We have been inseparable ever since we met again at Watch Night Service 2015. He is an amazing man and God has used him to be a reflection of His love towards me. Regardless of the outcome of our relationship, he will go down in history as the man who helped heal my heart. The lessons I’ve learned about relationships are: 1). it takes two to make them work or fail. 2). You cannot make someone love you no matter how much you desire to love them. 3).Dating based on a list is bound to produce disappointment. 4). Love will find you, but your heart must be available to receive it.
  3. God-At 20, I was a lover of all things Church! I was attending a Christian university, and I was pursuing His presence with all my might. I was a virgin, and full of self-righteousness because of it. I was very judgmental and having no understanding of grace, I was that Christian that made Jesus look bad. Being spiritual and self-righteous is hard pill for others to swallow. Then at 23, I was asked by someone I respected, “Why are you so mean, and where is your grace towards others?” That question was the turning point of my Christianity. I was unable to give grace because I did not understand how much I needed it. After going on a Word Study rampage on Grace, I started to become more gracious. I also wanted to share with others what I had discovered about this Amazing Grace that is available to everyone. After three years of Minister in Training classes, I became an ordained minister before moving to Atlanta. Shortly after arriving to Atlanta the battle for my Faith started, and here I was a recently ordained minister wrestling with whether I believed if Jesus truly was the Way or simply another way to God. For two years I was in a mental battle, preaching it and wrestling with the idea of it at the same time. It was hard, but it made me a better defender of the faith in which I hold dear to my heart. No worries, I am absolutely certain Jesus is the way, the truth, and the Light. I am absolutely convinced that NOTHING can separate me from the LOVE of God. I am fully persuaded that my salvation is secured when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Since He is the author and finisher of my faith, my salvation is PERMANENT and EVERLASTING! I also will never apologize for what I believe and what the Bible says concerning how Christians should live. I say as Paul did in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” I plan on spending every day of my 30s sharing the GOOD NEWS of God’s love and grace. I am looking forward to thirty with much joy and excitement. My 20s grew me up, and I am looking forward to the adventures 30 will bring with it starting tomorrow! If you made it to the end, THANK YOU FOR READING. If you would simply pray for me concerning the journey ahead, I would truly appreciate it. I’m hopeful, prayerful, and excited about what is in store for me. #Goodbye20s #Hello30s

The Proverb Effect

This morning I came across a very familiar passage. I have quoted it for years, and I have used it as a tool to help others stay on track. But today, the passage became personal. For the first time the words leaped off the pages and proceeded to switch on the light bulb in my head. In a world that is completely lost, confused, and distracted by bad decisions; these verses give insight on how to find one’s way.

Proverbs 3:5,6 says “ Trust in the Lord with all you heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.” According to scripture, if we desire our paths to be guided by our Creator, we must do three things:

1. Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Would you ever tell a secret to someone you did not trust? I’m almost certain that you would not, and choosing not to do so would make you wise. God works the same way. He shares all the good stuff with those who trust Him! To trust Him means we daily submit our all to Him. It means we give our complete allegiance to our God. He becomes first priority in our hearts and daily routine. We trade  in our fears, and yield to His sovereignty, wisdom, and love. God has no intentions of hurting us, and He will never leave us. To trust someone is a choice, and trusting our Creator would be a great choice to make.

2. Lean not to your own understanding. Here the author is encouraging us not to use our finite understanding to discern the ways of an infinite God. This life will bring things our way that will shake the logic loose in our minds. It is important that we do not lean on our logic, but we lean solely on our faith in Him. Our faith will keep us when logic fails us. We must surrender our human tendency to figure things out, and take rest in knowing the Omniscient One has already worked out our lives. As humans, we make decisions based off past knowledge and present circumstances. As God, He makes decisions based on His omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Today, let us choose to lean on His understanding and not our own.

3. Acknowledge God in all your ways. If we want Divine direction, we should daily acknowledge His presence in our lives. We must seek His heart as it pertains to relationships, business ventures, and etc. We cannot continue to go our own way; do our own thing; and suddenly demand He leads us once we are good and lost. We must daily decide to invite Him in everything we do and say. When we acknowledge Him, He takes pleasure in giving us the desires of our heart (Ps 37:4).

I cannot read these two verses without considering Deuteronomy 6:5 which says, “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” Making a decision to love God in this manner will ensure we are walking in the way of the Divine. Psalms 37:23 says, “the steps of a righteous man are ordered by God..” Righteousness is a byproduct of us choosing to trust Him, believe Him, and acknowledge Him in all we do. I will admit initially it will seem like the hardest thing to do, but practice makes perfect. With God’s grace and every experience that He proves Himself faithful, it becomes easier to trust Him with every part of our lives. If we desire His direction, we must make room for His presence. Today, choose to make room for Him. You will not regret it.

Dear God,

In a world that pulls me in every direction, help me to move only towards you. Forgive me for trusting my own way, and help me trust in You more. I repent for acknowledging everything and every one except you. I thank you Lord that today begins a renewed relationship with You. By your grace I will trust You more, believe You more, and acknowledge You more than ever before in Jesus name, Amen!

Buyer Beware: Three Women Men Should Avoid for the REST of Their Lives

 

11143692_10100142778528272_2591301325955744050_nToday as I read Proverbs 6,  I started to think about the countless men who have fallen for the women of their lustful desires. Throughout the passage, Solomon is imploring his son to stay away from three types of women: the immoral (Proverbs 6:24), the promiscuous/prostitute (Proverbs 6:24, 26), and the adulteress (Proverbs 6:26). As I read I felt the need to echo the author and here are my reasons why:

  1. 1.   The immoral woman will corrupt you. 1 Corinthians 15:33, says “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Both the stories of Samson and Solomon are proof of this truth. Samson loses his strength, and the ability to defend his people because of a hot romance with a woman named Delilah (Judges 16). Solomon, the wisest man on earth, has the most tragic story of all as it pertains to dealing with immoral women. I won’t give the whole account, but here’s the part that makes my point, 1 King’s 11:1-4, 9-11 says:

 Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides the daughter of the king of Egypt he married Hittite women and women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, and Sidon. He married them even though the Lord had commanded the Israelites not to intermarry with these people, because they would cause the Israelites to give their loyalty to other gods. Solomon married seven hundred princesses and also had three hundred concubines. They made him turn away from God, and by the time he was old they had led him into the worship of foreign gods. He was not faithful to the Lord his God, as his father David had been…9-10 Even though the Lord, the God of Israel, had appeared to Solomon twice and had commanded him not to worship foreign gods, Solomon did not obey the Lord but turned away from him. So the Lord was angry with Solomon 11 and said to him, “Because you have deliberately broken your covenant with me and disobeyed my commands, I promise that I will take the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your officials.

The wisest man on earth died as an apostate and disgraced his Godly heritage in pursuit of loving his women and appeasing their gods. Both Samson and Solomon lost their way because they opted to ignore the advice of Proverbs 6:20-23. By refusing to adhere  to the advice of their parents to stay away from certain women, one lost his strength and the other left God.

2.   The prostitute or the promiscuous woman will provide you pleasure, but she will destroy your pockets (Proverbs 6:26). She will ensure you have a good time, and make you pay more than what you bargained for. The story of Tamar and Judah is a prime example of how a “prostitute” can take all you have and bring you to shame (Genesis 38). Here Tamar disguised herself as a shrine prostitute in order to have a son and ensure she obtained the inheritance that was hers by marrying Judah’s eldest son. Judah slept with her assuming a goat will be all that was required, and by the end of the story his reputation was the real wage he paid. Loving prostitutes will leave you destitute.

3.   Sleeping with another man’s wife will cost you your life,” is the warning the writer gives his son in Proverbs 6:26. This death can be in many areas of a man’s life, just ask David (2 Samuel 11). I do not desire to call Bathsheba an adulterer in the traditional sense of willingly seducing a man, but the fact is she was married when David slept with her. As a result of attempting to cover up his sin, David orders Bathsheba’s husband to be killed in battle. He is confronted by the prophet, and God pronounces judgment concerning the matter in 2 Samuel 12:11-13, “This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view. 12 You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.” David’s decision to sleep with another man’s wife cost him his newborn son and brought a curse of discord between him and his other children (Read 2 Samuel). David did not die physically, but he was spiritually bankrupt (Psalms 51) and he loss his family life. The same will occur to anyone who lays his head in the bed of a married woman.

The Point: I hope you consider this as a warning and way to save yourself from ruin. There will be many of those type of women grabbing for your attention, but you must not get caught in the moment. Even the author of Proverbs forsook his own advice and ended his life is the worst way possible, away from God. Samson’s life glorified God in the end; but I wonder how many victories did he forfeit by being entangled in the arms of an immoral woman. Judah, a well respected man, lack of integrity was exposed before all the people of the town because of sleeping with someone he thought was a prostitute. David too remain close to God after his moment of weakness, but his kingdom nor his family was never the same because of it. Men you have an opportunity to make a decision today to resist the woman that will cost you more than you can afford. They are not worth your gifts, money, ministry, family, or ultimately your life. My prayer is that with every temptation they present you would resist it. I pray you will be a man of honor, integrity, and self-control. I pray that in those moments when her pull appears strong that you would flee both fornication and conversation with her. I know it’s not easy, but it will be worth it. Your future depends on it. I’m praying for you!-Charity Israel

Dear Future Husband

Last night I was completely naked before you and none of my clothes were off.  You saw me at my most vulnerable state. I let it all hang out,  and as overwhelming as it would have been for another, you took on the task of my emotions at their worst. As I shared my fears, you reminded me of God’s love.  As I shared my doubt, you encouraged my faith. As I blurted out irrational thoughts, you helped me make sense of it all. You were introduced to my flawed and faithless side of me, and you did not flinch or flee. Even when I tried to place the blame on you, you heard me out until I realized I had to take responsibility for my own actions. You reminded me of who I am and whose I am. #theforgiven #theredeemed #theovercomer Last night I was naked before you and you covered me with grace, faith, hope, and love. Your love reminds me of our Heavenly Father.
Thanks for covering,
Your Superwoman
#mosttimesbutnotlastnight

Reflecting on the Past: He’ll Take the Pain Away!!!

Pandora started playing He’ll Take the Pain Away by Kirk Franklin as I was packing. Suddenly tears of joy started to stream down my face. I begin to reflect on how I walked around with such bitterness from the absence of my father; anger towards those who were to protect me but molested me; and the resentment from relationships that always failed. I was tired of holding the secrets of my soul. Ministering wholeness to others, but refusing to surrender my own hurt to God.  I eventually became fed up with dying inside, and I decided to give all the hurts and disappointments to God. I also made a weekly visit to a therapist for a while. Slowly but surely the sting of my past left, and I turned into a conqueror instead of a victim. It’s a beautiful feeling living on the other side of forgiveness. Freedom can be obtained, but we must be honest about who we are and where it hurts. Freedom begins when we stop with the façade, and get brutally honest about the things that hurt us the most. The pains of my past have lost their sting because I surrendered it all to the King!! Get to know God for real. If you’re going to be a Christian you might as well benefit from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Redemption, forgiveness, peace, freedom, and righteousness are all things we can enjoy on this earth. God heals the broken, battered, and mangled hearts. My life is proof, HE’LL TAKE THE PAIN AWAY!!! GIVE HIM YOURS FOR REAL THIS TIME!!! #gratefulheart

Accesory to Murder: A Reflection on Resurrection Day

Happy Resurrection Day! Enjoy!!!

Love Lives Free

Today marks the culmination of one of the goriest murders recorded in history, the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It also celebrates the greatest moment in Christendom, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus a man whose perfection is often questioned; race is debated; righteousness is disputed; and divinity is argued CHOSE to die so that we may live. We, being the ungrateful, the merciless, the selfish, and the prideful. We, being the ones worthy of Eternal Damnation but given Grace instead. We, being the unforgiving became the Forgiven. Isaiah 53:3-6, 12 reveals how we are guilty of accessory to murder:

“He was despised and rejected. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. We did not care. It was our weakness he carried; and it was our sorrows that weighed him down. He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could…

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Getting What You Want from God

fireproof

If you are reading this I assume one of two things about you: you are here to find out how to make God your personal genie or you are here to defend the faith and remind me God is not for hire. If you are the latter, please read all of this before praying fire on my page. By the way, my assumptions have a 87.5% rate of being wrong. 😜  Here are three fireproof ways to get what you want from God:

  1. Delight Yourself in Him. In Psalm 37:4, King David spills the beans on his success. He says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Delight as a verb means to “please (someone) greatly,” and as a noun it means “great pleasure.” David uses it as a verb encouraging those who read to PLEASE GOD GREATLY. By doing so, He will give you the desires of your heart. If God  becomes our greatest pleasure over anything else, nothing will be able to separate us from Him upon its arrival. It gives God great pleasure to be our greatest treasure.
  2. Watch What You’re Doing. Psalms 84:11 says, “For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.”  The Psalmist wrote this in light of his personal experiences with God and the experiences of the children of Israel. Throughout the Old Testament we see this principle in action. Every time the children of Israel did what pleased God, things were great for them. They conquered nations. They had the best land. They acquired the spoils of war, and they lacked no good thing. But as soon as they opted to please themselves and walk in unrighteousness, the good life turned into a miserable one. There were famines, diseases, and death in the land. They were conquered by nations that once feared them. They were forced into exile; and the things they desired ultimately insured their demise. Knowing these things David wisely concludes, “do what is right.” Do the things that please God. Keep His commandments before you, and rid yourself of what dishonors Him. By doing this, God will graciously give you what is good for your life.
  3. Prioritize. In the middle of delivering a prolific sermon, Jesus  summarizes a portion of it by saying these words, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ” (Matthew 6:33) If you take the time to read the entire chapter, you will discover that he  was speaking of those things that causes most of us to worry or sin trying to acquire.  In this verse, Jesus reveals our greatest need and shares the formula for Kingdom success without asking for an offering. To know God is the greatest need of every person on this earth; and pursuing righteousness should be top priority in every Christian’s life.  If we want what is in God’s hand, we should first desire what pleases His heart. Dedicate your life to what honors Him and everything else will fall in place.

Confession: The purpose of this blog was to encourage you to give God what He desires from you. We could spend a lifetime trying to acquire things and never find fulfillment, or we can commune with the Giver of life and always be fulfilled. Everything you need is in knowing your Creator. If we find the time to know God’s heart, he will graciously give us all we need and more.

Prayer: Dear God forgive us for making our pursuit after you about us. We repent for allowing selfish desires to lead our pursuits. Show us the parts of our lives that do not honor You, and grant us strength to pursue what pleases you the most. Today we commit to loving you because of your goodness and not our greed.

Linger or Live?

Throwback Thursday! #blogfromthepast #encouragedalloveragain

Love Lives Free

This morning I woke up and had an epiphany. I realized I have been a resident of my past. I have set up shop in past experiences. I have lived vicariously through the victories of ole. I am guilty of making plans for the future when conversing with others, but I have not put forth any effort in getting those things accomplished. Some where between then and now I lost my motivation and I have become comfortable being mediocre. This may not sound like a big deal for some, but for me this is tragic. How did the Encourager lose motivation? How did the dreamer get comfortable with simply having the dreams and not making them reality?

As I type I am reminded of one incident when I confided in someone that I trusted about my dreams. I told them what I wanted to do for my community, my state…

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Guest Blog: How to Handle Church Hurts by Charity Israel

Thanks Justnamie for the opportunity!

justnamie

Church hurts can range from something minor as Sister Johnson refusing to speak every Sunday to something major like being sexually abused by a church member. Regardless of the size of the offense, if it hurts, we should deal with it. When I was first asked to do this article, I thought to myself, “I get to spill the beans on those who hurt me.” After praying about how to approach this article, I felt impressed to give solutions instead of trying to remember old hurts. I apologize in advance; there will be no juicy tales of deceit, discord, and corruption—reason being, we all have been the offender and the offended at some point in Churchianity (the practice of being a Church member).

Some of us have had our secrets told as “Prayer Gossip.” If you are not familiar with this kind of gossip, it is when information is spread…

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