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Christian and Socially-Conscious…One Woman's Expression

Archive for the tag “spiritual growth”

Time To Build

It started as a whisper…a reocccuring remembrance of Deuteronomy 15:6:

When the Lord your God blesses you as He promised you, then you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow….

For weeks, I would be reminded of these very words.  I tried to ignore these nudges, but they only grew louder.  There was no denying that the time had come for me to consciously  get out of debt!  Why?  Well, I could list numerous reasons.  I mean really, who desires to remain in debt?  Sure, it can become comfortable—similar to walking around in circles for 40 years.  Circular walking makes me dizzy though.  I want what He has Promised!

Frog

So last year at this time, I was receiving student loan and credit card bills fully aware that I needed to PAY THEM OFF sooner than later!  I had no clue how I would do this.  Admittedly, I was not in a position where I had extra money.  (Who really has extra money though?)  Times were definitely hard and there I was being consumed by a divine  pressing that I could not disregard.  Have you ever been there?  Maybe it was not with your finances, but in any area of your life???  Have you ever felt God telling you to do something and you wanted to do it, but you did not know how?  For me, getting out of debt sooner than later would be entirely God’s work.  I would more or less be a functional spectator because it was truly outside of my control.  It really came down to me believing that God would do it if I simply followed His lead.  Once I surrendered to this belief, He revealed to me enough of the why to encourage me along the way.

Jeremiah 1.20

As I write this, I am smiling because of what happened next.  A few days after my surrender, if not the very next morning, I was watching Joyce Meyer on television.  (For those of you who may not know about the ministry God has given to her, see:  http://www.joycemeyer.org/ ) Well, I was actually listening to her because for some reason that morning I was unusually sleepy.  At the end of her broadcast, however, she announced that she was giving away a FREE book on getting out of debt.  You would have thought an alarm was blaring in my ear if you saw the way I instantly jumped out of bed.  All I had to do was email/tweet/call/contact the ministry and they would send it.  I know God did that for ME!  As I fought sleep, I did not know I was fighting to receive a blessing (but in hindsight it was clear).  I got my copy on April 30, 2015.

got FRee joyce book 4.30.15

On September 5th (2015), I paid off my credit card debt.  Today, I paid off my student loan debt.  (Thank you Joyce Meyer for allowing God to use you to bless me!)  The beginning was the hardest, but it was fun seeing the progress in both myself and in the reduced balances.  God is so awesome!  Throughout the whole process, He allowed me to treat myself (and others) regularly along the way.  He is amazing and I am in awe.

greatness

Excitedly, I am moving on to complete the next steps of the why.  It is a process.  Be encouraged!  Be obedient!  God will provide the how!  Just trust Him!  It’s time to build!

 

Reduced Growth

Have you ever hit rock bottom?  Okay, okay…maybe not rock bottom, but have you ever felt like you had?

Rest

He must become greater; I must become less.  –John 3:30

Recently, I listened to this teaching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Lea0aLUN5Y  given by Priscilla Shirer.  (Yes!  She is one of my favorite Bible Study teachers.)  This teaching reminded me of some of the lessons I received while reading Charles Swindoll’s book entitled, Great Lives: Moses: A Man Of Selfless Dedication (Great Lives Series).  Remember, I blogged about it:  Book Review: Moses

The idea of becoming less is what is on my mind.  Becoming lessYES!!–how painfully necessary such preparation demands; how awesomely miraculous such experience propels.  I understand it with greater clarity now….  I understand why I had to grasp reduced growth.  I needed to know, to really be conscious of, the importance of uninterrupted fellowship with God—not just singing gospel songs and saying prayers, not just attending church services and reading the Bible, not just doing a Bible Study and joining a ministry.  All of these things are independently great, but I needed to get it on the basic level of trusting Him to sustain me in every way, every picosecond of every day.  Okay, Okay….Has anyone else wrestled with trust issues, or am I the only one?  (LOL!  The struggle was real.)

girl pouting

Once I got it, however, I respectfully and humbly understood that God and I are not peers.  We are not equals, nor is He a little bigger or a little stronger.  God is greater.  I am less.  He is serious and I need to be too if I want what I say I want….all that He has promised me.

Woman Praying

Without hesitation, I could share with you example after example illustrating God’s continuous (meaning “never-ending”) attention to my survival.  If you have ever hit rock bottom, or felt like you had, you know the value of someone caring that you live.  Let’s face it, people regularly pass each other and avoid making eye contact.  Saying, “Hello,” isn’t even an afterthought.

oh no

Yet, to know that even when you think you have nothing to give, nothing to barter; that even in that space and time that there is a God who still cares enough to ensure that you will eat, be housed, be clothed, be protected; that you will not only smile but you will laugh and laugh often; that you will breathe and breathe with ease because you had found rest within His greatness, all of your trust issues supernaturally fall by the wayside.  They become annoyingly heavy to carry.  You realize that in God’s peace, in His security, you do not have the weight of the world on your shoulders.  You never did.  What you called hitting rock bottom was your place of surrender.  I have been there.  It is a process necessary for rebuilding.

Blog Work

 

Don’t you just love His masterpieces!

 

Light Affects

This morning, I was reflecting on a number of things when this thought came to my consciousness, “When the light comes on, the crickets stop chirping.”

Then I read these timely verses:

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” —John 3:19-21

Woman Standing On Rock

Good versus evil?  Light versus darkness?  Truth versus lies?  Have you ever taken a moment to really consider these forces—to give proper respect to what they are and how they are?  I have been thinking…

girl pouting

about how effective and powerful Christian fellowship would be if all who profess their love for Christ fought to love each other.  Sure, it sounds easy…to love your Sister, to love your Brother.  Love, however, is an action word.  In my Wendy Williams’ voice, “How you actin’?”

Woman Yelling At Woman

There is so much devastation living in dark places, perpetrating as solid Rock for building beautiful structures upon.  No one shouts about the heap of dead fruit being produced, yet armies boldly plot to destroy healthy blooms.  Is that where the confusion resides?  Do people get a pass because they profess the same faith?  Do we not know the tree from the fruit?  No one remembers the biblical lessons about Jesus’ anger regarding making His house a den of thieves?  (You know that’s real, right?)

Woman Praying

Oh but the presence of light….  Its illumination changes the atmosphere.  Its very power is undeniable.  UNDENIABLE and formidably respected by the doers of deeds in the dark.  UNDENIABLE and contagiously inspiring to those doing deeds through God.  So, shelve your fear and radiate.  Your presence has Light affects.

We’ve Met Before

Every now and again I meet someone who says something to me, about me, that captures my attention.  My spirit recognizes his or her identity immediately, yet oftentimes my head is puzzled.  What an interesting experience.  Has this ever happened to you?

YOU LOOK FAMILIAR……

Woman Looking in Mirror

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”  “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.  Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”  Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”  Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree.  You shall see greater things than that.”  He then asked, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”  —John 1:47-51 

Woman Reading Bible

I am taking these divine encounters more seriously nowadays.  In years prior, they were simply light and fun because they came with an instant sense of comfort.  Trust was automatic.  I knew the person saw ME and I, in turn, recognized the person as Family.  As I grew in faith, I began to understand that which bonded us was greater than coincidence.  I realized that these meetings were significant.  What was light and fun began to feel heavy and now meaningfulEverything works together….

“With age comes wisdom,” they say.  Now, I am more conscious of how rare these meetings occur.  Now, I am very sensitive about understanding the purpose of our encounters—acknowledging that everything is spiritual.  Truth is, the more I grow in my faith, the more I desire to connect with the people God wants me to connect with.  We shall see greater!  We will do greater…together…because we believe!  Yes, I have grown to cherish these experiences, these relationships, these people………. these whom I’ve met before.

 

 

Relationship Differences

Relationships, I never took them lightly;  Now, I am not sure if I can take them any more seriously.  Associations are the difference between life and death.  Who wants to LIVE?  I do!

Friends

Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.  Luke 22:3

As a child, it was vital that I believed that my friends cared about my life.  As far as I was concerned, family –well– I was stuck with those people, so even if they got shady we would still be connected but friends –well– I could drop them and keep moving.  There would always be new friends to meet, right?  There are always people looking to laugh and have fun.  There are always people looking to connect.  Friends are just a hello away… or so I thought.

Without knowing it, I developed a hard-line habit of emotionally and (sometimes) physically detaching at the first hint of me questioning a friendship’s reliability.  Rarely would my friends question my change in behavior.  This lack of concern confirmed within me my right behavior.  Life went on.  The cycle continued.

Thank God for growth and grace!  As I began to understand me more, I began to understand what kinds of people I wanted to grow with.  As such, the more I understood my spiritual gifts and talents, the more I began to understand what kinds of people I needed to grow with.  I began to understand the difference and importance in having divine relationships versus those which are also great but are in fact spiritually secular.  (Note, sharing the same faith is not the lone criteria.)  I needed to find peace and clarity with knowing that there are numerous personalities and people who I can have fun and laugh with, spend time and play with, work and relax with, but divine relationships are appointed to build God’s kingdom and advance His purpose.  I needed to commit to live my faith with the people God assigns to sharpen me and I them for His purpose, one greater than us.  The more I stand in agreement with this, the more I find myself consciously and continuously praying for clarity and protection regarding these sacred relationships, as well as over myself.  Why?  Simply put, I believe.

Listen, we pray over people we do not know.  We pray over things that are transient.  We pray over solutions to problems and for cures to diseases and over prayer lists and over our churches and over our church Family, yet how many of us pray over our divine relationships?  How many of us know the differences between divine relationships and secular ones?  Note, there are differences.

Satan will try to enter anybody and anything following the Lord, even one of Jesus’ Twelve.  Make no mistake about it.  He will try to enter me and he will try to enter you.  Spiritual warfare is real.  We must do better with our journeymates.  A temporary distraction can lead to irreversible repair.

Book Review: Moses

Someone asked a question to which the answer came with an analogy using a reference of Moses’ life.  Yes, the Moses from the Bible.  It was in that moment, the seed was planted.  I wanted to read more about this Moses.  Clearly, I was missing some key and necessary points for my spiritual growth.  The time had come for me to meet this man, to discover  some commonalities we share, and to gain guidance—or at the very least, points for consideration.

It did not take long for the planted seed to sprout.  I guess you could say, it fell on good soil.  Seriously, I longed to know more about Moses immediately.  Within days my curiosity turned into a clear instruction, and my instruction manual came in the form of “Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication” by Charles Swindoll.  (See:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/moses-charles-r-swindoll/1111384112?ean=9780849913853)

Admittedly, this has been a timely read for me.  It came when I was wrestling with returning to a place I had left.  You see, I rarely return to things once I have concluded to depart.  Are you like that?  It is not like I consciously choose not to return.  I simply do not think to do so.  Something major has to draw my attention back to something once I have checked out.  For me, that “something major” most likely has to be God-inspired.

Rest

Oh, how foolish I feel now having read this book admitting that I was wrestling with a God-inspired return.  Sometimes I have to laugh at myself.  If you find yourself in a similar position, this book is definitely worth reading.  It does not stop there though.  I gained so much insight (and confirmation) reading this book in the areas of leadership, walking by faith, trusting God even when dealing with the rabble, maturity, temperament, and so much more.  Without giving too much away, one of the things that I have found myself thinking more about is the idea that God parted the Red Sea.  Ok.  Ok.  I know, we have all heard of this before, but in reading this book, at this time, it dawned on me that GOD PARTED the Red Sea.  The visual scene became real.  I begin to think about the tsunami that happened in 2004, not for the scientific nor religious discussion but purely as a modern day reference that ocean-sized water can be pulled back.  In some way, it made it easier to visualize the parting of the Red Sea—the crossing and the demise.

Think about it: The same God that did that for Moses and the people he was divinely instructed to lead, is the same God that is alive today.  I think, sometimes, we devalue the greatness of that.  Earlier, I began to think about the biblically referenced miracles and became so excited about my future and about the promises God has given to me.  That same God is my same God.

Upon reflection, this book has been a great source of encouragement for me.  It has reminded me to relax.  I do not have to know the route before starting the journey.  I just need to follow God and be obedient.  This book has reminded me that blessings will come to me.  They will chase me.  Frankly, that is how I prefer it.  This book has illustrated that there will be obstacles, frustrations, and failures, but the making of thick skin should never thicken my heart.

Woman Standing On Rock

As I type this, I am smiling.  Earlier, I received a phone call.  On the other end of the line was a person who I had never met, yet he had a blessing for me.  This man did not know he served as confirmation, but I knew.  I am headed in the right direction.

If you are looking for a book to read.  I recommend this one.  It has blessed my life.

Stirring

Something is stirring…..

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.  And how much more valuable you are than birds!  —Luke 12:24

Have you ever had a thought that lingers…and lingers….and lingers?  Out of the blue, it is pressed upon your spirit—first coming as a whisper then growing into a statement, increasing into a yell and settling as an authoritative instruction?  The more pronounced it becomes, the more certain you are of its manifestation.  Well, this is where I am.

Through a storm I came.

Strong,

Yet dazed.

I survived.

Rest,

I requested.

Refuge,

Granted.

Now the time has come to adhere to authoritative instruction.

beach bw

So now,

How much more valuable are you than birds?

God feeds them.  And how much more valuable you are!

I was reminded of this just the other day while sitting at the beach.  Out of nowhere came a woman, with bread.  Out of nowhere came birds, who ate.   “And how much more valuable you are than birds,” God reminded me.  “Do not worry,” God comforted me.  “I am with you,” God assured me.  Things will not be easy, but there will come things of ease.  Something is stirring.  Let’s do this.

Neighbors

Who remembers Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood?  I loved watching this show as a child and still remember that its theme song ends with a simple question, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”.  (For those who are not familiar with this, here is the song:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vtc7A67kZlQ )

Friends

At the beginning of every show, Mr. Rogers would ask me (the viewer) if I would be his neighbor?  Have you ever thought about who are your neighbors?  Do you limit your neighbors to those who reside in homes you see surrounding your house?  There was a time when I did.  Now, I have a much broader definition.

He answered:  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”  “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied.  “Do this and you will live.”  But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  —Luke 10:27-29

Do you think Christians see each other as neighbors?  (YES, I know the cited verses come out of the Parable of The Good Samaritan.  My thoughts, however, are in regards to the Christian community.) 

As I ponder this, I wonder how the world would be if Christians actively and proactively confirmed that we are neighbors.  Would this awareness spill over to being less judgmental about our religious differences, our socially constructed racial differences, our socio-economic differences, our political differences, and so on and so forth?  I often think about, how is it possible that people professing Christianity can have so much disdain for another person, for another Christian in particular, because of differences in politics, or because of differences in complexion, or because of differences in sin.  I think about how various denominations and sects amongst The Church have people more loyal to a church’s bylaws than to The Father, to The Son, and to The Holy Spirit.  I contemplate how we have become so desensitized by the terminology of Brother and Sister that we have loss the concept of Family.

Upon introspection, I challenge myself to be more conscious of the people I pass and of the ones I engage.  I would like to think that if I saw someone in need I would stop to help, but I know this is not always my truth.  As I mature, I understand that everyone I pass has a need.  Some have needs I can see, while others have needs I cannot see.  Yes, everyone has a need.  I am no exception.  Yet, I am to love my neighbor as I love myself.  Ahhh, and that is where the balance lives.  The central question is, “How do I love myself?”  How do you love yourself?

God is great isn’t He!  A few years ago I took a considerable amount of time to discover for myself how I loved myself.  By doing so, I realized that I was not loving me continuously, consistently, or enough.  How tragic, right?  Once I made some life-altering changes, gone were the emotional attachments that tired me as a result of my good and merciful deeds.  Long gone they are.

My neighbors are people who I know and those I do not know.  Although I am not as bold as Mr. Rogers, I have grown to a point that when I show up in a place, I do with the same inquiry, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

We Are Family

Remember when Sister Sledge sang, “We Are Family”?  That song always made me happy because I had an idea of what family meant and that mental association filled my spirit with joy.  Like so many others, as I grew older I expanded my definition of family to include friends.  Friends disappointed me though.  Such disappointment reminded me that family is family in fact, not contingent on how I may feel.

One day, I found myself in another environment which challenged me to redefine my concept of family.  Yes, one day I was entering a church building and someone referenced me as a Sister.  Up until that point, I was not in the practice of identifying other Christians as my Brother or Sister.  Initially, I frowned by these labels because outside of Sunday sanctuaries, these same people fell significantly short when compared to the behavior of my biological family and really close friends, who were my family.  It took some time, but I began to understand what Jesus meant.

Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother. “  —Mark 3:35

Friends

These days, if someone identifies themselves as a Christian I take notice.  I want to know if we are Family, so I pay attention to their traits.  Truth is, for me being around family is fun and I am always open to meeting new relatives.  It makes no difference if I see my family members often or not, the love that exists in the security of knowing that we are bonded through blood creates an unspoken fort of protection.  It creates an environment where we can relax, be vulnerable, and love without fear of being taken advantage of or of rejection.  We cheer, challenge, and assist each other to higher heights.  Jealousy does not exist amongst Family.  We understand the concept of being blessed by association.  The unity we have is reflected in the verses Sister Sledge sang:

Ev’ryone can see we’re together
As we walk on by
(FLY!) and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won’t tell no lie
(ALL!) all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We’re giving love in a family dose

What a powerful image: FAMILY.  Either we are, or we are not.  Differences in our denominations, our complexions, our languages keep many sanctuaries segregated.  These things become distractions, keeping many Relatives apart and diverting many away from one crucial question, “Are you doing God’s will?”

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