I’m the Most Beautiful Girl in the World: Thanks Prince for the Reminder!!!

"Prince"

“** FILE ** Prince performs during the 6th annual BET Awards in this June 27, 2006, file photo in Los Angeles. Prince will headline the ninth annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, festival promoters announced Wednesday, April 9, 2008. The Purple One will be the featured act on day two of the giant summer music festival, a three-day affair that runs April 25-27 in Indio, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, file)”

 

 

Usually when the death of a celebrity occur I give my condolences via the internet, and I move on. Yesterday, I assumed would be no different as I sat in silence for a moment trying to wrap my mind around the news of Prince’s passing. Honestly, i’m still like I won’t believe it until the funeral.#noLordnotPrince After getting over the initial shock, I went on Youtube, and I found a video that would convey what I wanted the world to know that I appreciated about Prince. I typed out my little tribute:

Rest well to the beautifully weird musical genius, Prince. Many appreciated his voice, but I appreciated his musicianship. I’ll never forget the first time I heard him play the guitar. He made me feel as if I could too!!! Thanks for giving this world what you could. Your gift of music helped make the world a better place for a moment as we all danced our troubles awa.

I had fulfilled my Internet duties, and I started to look through my timeline to see how others were paying homage to this musical genius. I chuckled at how some felt a righteous indignation to condemn people for honoring his influence on their lives and the world. I rolled my eyes at “Super Fans” who made self-righteous post declaring how the rest of us were not true fans because we did not know his favorite eyeliner or designer. I smiled at how cities and meteorologist around the world used Purple to light up the city or represent the rain. He was indeed a gift to this world.

I will admit I was not a diehard fan. Matter of fact, I would not consider myself a fan of anyone I do not personally know.. However, Prince’s music has had an amazing impact on my life. It’s no secret that my father opted to leave my mom with the responsibility of raising me, and my stepfather was not the best replacement for the job. He did not affirm me as a young girl. My mom always assured me I was beautiful, but it was not until 1995, at ten years old that I heard a man declare just how beautiful and special I was as a girl. I was listening to the radio, not really paying attention to the new song being played until I heard the chorus. I gave my undivided attention to the second verse so that I could hear these words again:

Could you be the most beautiful girl in the world? Could you be? It’s plain to see. You’re the reason that God made a girl. Oh, yes you are!

To this day, I cannot describe what happened to me in those moments, but I felt confident  and appreciated by the end of the song. To some this may be a moment you would like to give me your pity, please DO NOT. LOL God uses whomever and whatever he needs to get the message to us, and that day God used Prince. I did not run out and buy the single, but the chorus was engraved on my heart.

Of all the Women Empowerment songs this song celebrates being a woman in a way that does not diminish the value of a man in the process. Being a lyrical genius, he reminded women to take delight in being the object of a man’s affection. In my opinion, there is nothing more beautiful than giving all your love to another.

Prince will truly be missed, but his music has made him immortal as long as we have a means of listening to it. I’m sure he had no clue that his song would be a tool used to instill confidence in a 10 years old girl in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is just a reminder to those who are living to use your gifts because God knows the lives you will touch by doing using them. Prince was unapologetically Black, unapologetically an artist, and unapologetically himself. I wonder what greatness we would achieve if we decided to stay true to what is inside of us no matter who told us that we should change to make them feel comfortable.

Thanks Prince for helping me realize that because God created me, BEAUTIFUL is all I can be, and forgive me for showing my appreciation a few days too late.-Charity Israel

 

The Love Factor

love factor“For you have heard the law that says, “Love your neighbor,’ and hate your enemy. 44But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven…”-Matthew 5:43-45

I’m not sure if anyone has taken notice, but in the last few years of preaching there has been a shift towards focusing on our “Haters.” Particularly in the Black Church setting, there seems to be this crazy fixation on “tell your hater this, show your hater that, and blah blah blah.” I personally feel that this Hater Obsession is doing more harm to the Body of Christ than good. I believe it has assisted the enemy in his plot to keep us separated. It has produced competition, suspicion, and mistrust among believers, and it is has moved us further away from what we have been commanded to do (Matthew 22:36-40, 28:18-20)

I also believe it has distracted us from who our real enemies are and none of these enemies are humans. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world; and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” If we aren’t careful, we will have Christians hating one another instead of confronting that spirit working through an individual. Okay we’ll save “Spiritual Warfare” for another date. However, we are doing a grave injustice to the Body of Christ when we spend a whole sermon on How to Handle a Hater, but we fail to help people identify who our enemies truly are.

Oh and let me get this off my chest, most of us do not have enemies like we liked to believe. Many of us do not have enough going on in our lives to give someone a reason to sabotage our success. I include myself in this number, and this is why I do not spend my time worrying about a “hater” or enemy as the Bible calls them. Many of us have not acquired enough to have people plotting to take it. If you want to know how real enemies behave read the book of Judges, I Kings, II Kings, and Psalms to name a few. Real enemies seek your position, your authority, your power, and your life. If you have not had someone to literally try to kill you or sabotage your job, ministry, marriage, and etc. have several seats in the Petty Christian section. Someone stealing your facebook post, hairstyle, or outfit does not count as an attack against you.

Jesus gives us the anecdote to dealing with people who choose to be enemies against us. He tells us to LOVE YOUR ENEMIES! Say it with me, “LOVE YOUR ENEMIES!” By doing this people are able to determine who our God truly is. We are most like our Father when we choose to love those who refuse to love us. Remember Romans 5:10, “since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while WE WERE STILL HIS ENEMIES..” Surely if God loved us, we can love them. I pray we consider this the next time we are faced with the decision of How to Handle a Hater. Truth be told, we were all once enemies of God and had he not decided to extend His love to us, we would not know the blessing of being his friends (John 15:15).

Here is my point, the actions of others never remove our responsibility to love them as God commanded. Whether the person has decided to be a friend or an enemy against us, we are called to LOVE them both the same. Our feelings and our flesh will never suggest we love someone who continues to mistreat us. However, if we want the world to know that we truly belong to God, we must act like him. He gives us the ability to do it, and he gives us the wisdom to know when this Love should be expressed from a safe distance. Please know that I am continually praying that we as the Body will be found doing what John 15: 17 commands of us and that is to “Love each other!”

 

Have a Magnificent Monday, thanks for reading, and remember LOVE LIVES FREE!!!-Charity Israel

 

The Danger of Living “Your Truth”

truthThe heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

Yesterday on Twitter I tweeted, “If living “your truth” is sin in the sight of God, you are still living a lie. As Christians, the Bible always trumps our truth.” I followed that tweet up with “satisfying your flesh is bliss until the enemy comes to collect and sin is always paid in death.#Romans6:23 #readit” I know death sounds extreme, but it is true. Consider a thief, he enjoys the instant gratification of acquiring that stolen object, but once he is discovered he will either experience death to his freedom (jail time) or to his life (killed by the owner). Consider the adulteress, she enjoys the moments of pleasure with her lover, but once her infidelity is discovered it oftentimes lead to the death of her marriage. Need more proof? Consider the gossiper, he or she thoroughly enjoys spreading rumors, until the death of a friendship or their smile because someone hit them in the mouth and took a couple teeth in the process. LOL

You may be wondering, Charity what does that have to do with living my truth?” I’m glad you asked. Oftentimes, living our truth comes at the expense of clinging to sin. Especially if our truth is being with another man’s wife; cheating your customers out of their money; and etc. Usually our “truths” are lived from our hearts, and that is a dangerous place to acquire truth. Matthew 15:19 says, “For from the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, and slander.” In other words, “it is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”(Jer.17:9) Even as Christians, we risk the chance of being led astray by the suggestions of our heart. This is why Christ admonished in Matthew 22:37 to “love the Lord your God with all your heart…” He knew that if we did not submit to God’s lordship in our hearts that our lives would not reflect His presence in us. Matthew 15:18 says, “But the things that come out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” This also rings true about the way we live. If we are living from the truth of hearts that have not submitted to God, we will live lives that lead to all kinds of death.

The world has a luxury that we gave up when we decided to become a Christian, and that is the permission to live by their “truth.” They have the right to sleep with who they want; marry who they want; and take what they want. We forsook that privilege in order to obtain the privilege of being children of God. We no longer live according to the truths of our heart, but we live according to the truths of his Word. “Following our heart” is no longer an adequate excuse to remain in sin. God’s Truth (the Bible) trumps our truth (the suggestions of the heart).

Christians who lived before the Bible was accessible to all, maybe could have blamed their unrighteous living on ignorance. But we are without excuse. We have to make a decision to live according to the flesh (the suggestions of our heart) or the Spirit (the suggestions of the Holy Spirit). I encourage each of us to take a moment today and examine the “truths” we are living. If the Bible is clear on the matter, bring yourself under the subjection of God’s truth. If the Bible is unclear on the matter, seek wise counsel and be prayerful until you receive instructions on what to do. Always remember living any truth outside of God’s word will result in death (Romans 8:5-13). Today I pray we as believers are found choosing life. Thanks for reading and never forget that Love Lives FREE!!!

 

Prayer: Father thank you so much for the privilege of being your child, and I repent for living a life that does not reflect I belong to You. Today, I ask that you would bring to light all the “truths” that I have been living contrary to yours. Today I submit to your lordship over my heart, and I thank you for the grace to live in a way that is proof of your existence in me in Jesus name.

 

 

 

Meme Credit: The Daily Quote on Pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

Linger or Live?

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, and ultimately the world. I shared how I felt God had placed me on the earth to do something that had never been done. I poured out my heart in hopes this person would provide affirmation and encouragement and instead they told me ” I was not special, and I should focus on other things than what I shared.” Because I held this person in high regards their words held much weight in my decision-making process. I was devastated by the words, but I agreed to their counsel because they were older and had more experience at this thing called “life.” I remember leaving that setting perplexed, disappointed, and discouraged.

By accepting this person’s advice, I had also made the decision to simply exist instead of live. It was the day I subconsciously decided that my dreams were not worth pursuing. It was the day I lost my faith in what could be and started to accept things as they were. All my life I had been on this adventure of doing the impossible, and on that day I entered the never ending saga of simply existing.

At the time I was a bright 23 years old that had returned from college and was ready to change the world. Now I am a soon to be 28 years old mourning the loss of five years wasted. I could be a therapist, lawyer, or doctor by now. I could have started a couple of organizations and could be conducting seminars. But instead I am just lounging in this mediocre life because I chose to esteem the words of man higher than God. I never thought to consult with anyone else. Neither did I consider the fact that the person may be wise in one subject, but it does not qualify them to counsel on another. Looking back, I should have kept my mouth closed and sought counsel from someone who was either doing something similar to what I desired to do or someone who was pursuing their dreams against all odds.

Now with two days before my 28th birthday, I am left with two options: linger or live. I can linger in the past or live pursuing what I believe God has placed me on this earth to do. I can spend another year regretting the time lost; or I can spend this year charting a new path and moving forward. Today I choose to LIVE! I am throwing off my vintage sackcloth and ashes and putting on something that works for the future. I am discarding the words of those who counseled me out of their personal fears and failures; and I’m CHOOSING to CLING to what God has said about me.

I am sure I am not the first or the last person to experience an assassination attempt on their dreams. But to those who have not experienced this let me offer you some advice:
1. Guard Your heart(dreams) with all diligence. It is NOT necessary to share your dreams with everyone around you.
2. If you are certain God told you, do NOT allow man’s word to trump what God said.
3. When pursuing your dreams ONLY take counsel from those who are doing what you desire to do or those who have blazed a trail for others to follow.

If you can relate to the story I just shared, you my friend are familiar with Attempted Dream Assassination. I use the word “attempted” because although it appears that it was dead, I believe God ordained this day to nurse it back to life. To those who have been guilty of living in the past and rehearsing the words that wounded you inside I offer this advice to you:
1. CHOOSE to forgive those who offered wrong counsel or those who maliciously spoke against you.
2. Ask God to restore your faith in Him and what He has called you to do.
3. Build yourself up on your most holy faith and work towards those things God has called you to do (Jude 1:20).

There will always be people who will not understand us or what we do, but we must not allow their opinions to snuff out what God says about us. Today I encourage us all to Live. Live with a determined faith to see what God has promised come to pass. Live with a heart of compassion for those worse off than us. Live with a tolerance for those who do not like us. Live with a love for God that inspires others to do the same. Last but not least, live with the blessed assurance that we can do all things through Christ who strengthen us (Phil. 4:13). God bless you all and I am praying that we will pursue our purpose in the freedom that Love provides!#Philippians 3:13,14