Best of 2011 Series, Self-Esteem

Best of 2011: #1 — It’s the God in Me

Alas, we have reached number one EmpowerMoment of 2011! Remember that with the God in you, you can acheive anything!  Let’s make history in 2012!

It Ain’t What it Look Like…

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV)

When I turned 30 I was a tad devastated because I just knew I was entering this new world of “Divaness”. But what I ran into was a sensitive marriage, an extra 80 pounds of weight, health issues, low self esteem, and not sure of where my life was headed. On December 28, 2010 I made a decision because I looked depressed. I paused and took a moment with God and poured out my heart and asked God to “Create in me a new heart and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 (KJV) I began to get deeper into prayer and began to slow down my chaotic life of being so busy. I began praying continuously, without ceasing so I could hear Him. I prayed getting dressed, driving to work, watching TV, eating dinner, and teaching my classes. I took “internal, eternal worship” to a whole new level in my life because I knew He could restore me. Months passed and one day my aunt said, “It’s something new about you.” By then my marriage had strengthened because I was listening to God as how to act, respond, and love my man. God gave me a sense of drive to lose weight (36 pounds to date) and exercise more. I even ran a 5K! I got bold and cut off all of my hair and started wearing a cute asymmetric cut to refresh myself. So why am I sharing all of this?

We don’t always have to look like we are down trodden because we are going through a disaster, but seek God and find joy in the midst of it.  Hasn’t God covered you, your mess and your embarrassment?  This fact is enough to EMPOWER myself. Sometimes all I can say is, “It’s the God in Me.”  The God in me is what makes me feel like a million bucks when I only have one. It’s the God in us that’s making our marriage as blissful as it is even when we aren’t sure if we are doing it right. It’s the God in me that makes being a mom look so “cute” and “fun” when I really feel inadequate.  It’s not me, not my deeds, not my actions, not even how I worship and pray, but God’s grace and mercy that has made Him show favor towards me. This is the “something” that my Aunt saw. It’s not me at all, it’s God, and for this I owe Him.

I selected “It’s the God in Me” to celebrate Black Music Month for a couple of reasons. When I’m jogging and I hear this song, I almost cry because only God could have turned me into a runner. People think that I am simply motivated, but not so much. I prayed for God to give me this drive. Not only that, but this song is so “divafied” that I feel encouraged that God has covered so many of my raggedy characteristics and made them look “polished.”

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your grace. Thank You for being a sustainer in the time of trouble. Thank You for being a strong fortress when I feel weak. God, help me to share my story so that others know that they don’t have to feel beat down, but can walk in confidence knowing that if they have You, You will supply every need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Girlfriend, I EMPOWER you today to hold your head high in confidence that the God in YOU is what will keep your smile when it really is a frown. The Bible says, “Greater is He that is in YOU, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 KJV)  So don’t look beaten, because you aren’t. Jesus encourages us during times of sacrifice and fasting, “But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:17-18). Get a new tube of lip gloss, smack those lips, and walk in the beauty that God has blessed you with. The Potter is on the wheel and while you are being molded, relax, let it flow, and strut in God’s promise to never forsake you! What they don’t know won’t hurt them right? But we know, “It’s the God in Me!

Those shoes are my motivation pair. When I’m down, I strut around the house in them, just because they make me feel cute!

As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is College Biology Instructor. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Higher Ed and Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV) She teaches Young Adult Bible Study and Sunday School and also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment.  Khalilah resides in Millbrook, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their energetic three-year old daughter. They attend St. Luke Christian ChurchCheck out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.

Best of 2011 Series, Sex

Best of 2011: #2 — Between the Sheets

We are featuring our top EmpowerMoments of 2011. They made us laugh and they made us cry. They comforted us during troubled times and made us uncomfortable in our mess. But most important, they EMPOWERED us to be greater women all around! We are better wives, mothers, daughters, friends, servants and employees. We have been EMPOWERED to love harder, forgive more and listen better. We thank God for EmpowerMoments! Enjoy the Best of Series!

Disclaimer: Today’s EmpowerMoment is for the MATURE and MARRIED folks! We are going to discuss something that rarely gets any pulpit time…

Over a year ago I attended a women’s retreat with my church. I’ve been to several retreats in the past, but nothing as amazing as that purging, life changing experience.  During one of the sessions, the facilitators gave us a packet to fill out. The questionnaire was for not for anyone else to review, rather it was a chance for us to really examine what was at the core of a lot of our issues. (There is something very cathartic about pouring your heart out on paper.) The packet started off with basic questions like your name, age, Christian experience, etc. I was breezing through the questions thinking, “This is a piece of cake!” Then the questions started to get a little more intense asking things about our past…you know those “have you ever” questions that anyone with a checkered past dreads so much! But even those questions were easy to answer as most of it I had already discussed at one time or another. It was until around page 8 that I got a little stuck. The question read, “Are you sexually frigid?” Honestly, I wasn’t even sure what the question meant so I skipped over it to come back to it later. After all, that’s what we were taught in regards to our standardized tests, right? After completing the rest of the packet, I returned to that question and pondered it for a while. I was still drawing a blank. I knew what sexually meant and I knew what frigid meant, but what exactly did they mean together? At that moment, my heart began pounding fast and my throat tightened. That was a clear indication that I NEEDED to know what this question meant. I raised my hand and asked for clarification…

“What does this mean” pointing to the page 8? “Sexually frigid means being cold in bed…ummm kind of acting like you really don’t want to be there.”  Maybe my facial expression said guilty as charged or maybe God moved her spirit, but she instantly slipped into a profound prayer. I’m convinced it was the latter because the things that she prayed only He would have known. Page number 8 forever changed my life and marriage…

The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.  (1 Corinthians 7:3-5 NLT)

Yes, I was indeed guilty of being sexually frigid. Sex was a pawn that I used to get what I wanted and when things didn’t go my way, I withdrew. Sometimes I would only engage because I knew what 1 Corinthians said and wanted to act like I was obeying it. But it was just as if I was disobeying God because my heart and mind were not engaging with my body.

In her book, For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn explains that men need fulfilling sex to feel loved, desired and confident.  It is important that we give the kings in our lives the boost they need to face the challenges that they meet on a daily basis. I once read this quote that I replay anytime the enemy is trying to convince me that I don’t want or need to satisfy my husband: “satan loves marriage without sex just as much as he loves sex without marriage.” In essence, fornication and withholding in marriage have the same detrimental effect and leave no one happy but the devil! Page number 8 changed my life and marriage in more ways than one. I implore you to take my advice and change yours!

Dear Daddy,

Please forgive me for the times that I didn’t do what you commanded me as a wife to do. Remind me daily that my body is not my own. Give me burning desire for the man who You created just for me! Thank You for the wonderful gift of sex! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER to you get BETWEEN THE SHEETS! EMPOWER your husband’s confidence by giving him what he needs to face the world. EMPOWER your marriage by vowing to have a healthy, active and happy sex life!

P.S. Visit our friends over at Christian Nymphos if you need some ideas!

Read another marriage EmpowerMoment: Who Do You Think You Married?

Mrs. Kristen Harris is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and dedicated servant.  She is extremely passionate about women’s spiritual advancement, hence the founding of EmpowerMoments.  As an avid reader, Kristen enjoys reading the Bible and other non-fiction pieces. Her driving inspiration is when God says to her: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11) She currently resides outside of Chicago, Illinois with her wonderful husband and two lovely daughters where she is an active member of New Life Covenant Church.

Best of 2011 Series, Self Forgiveness

Best of 2011: #3 — If You Live in a Glass House…

We are featuring our top EmpowerMoments of 2011. They made us laugh and they made us cry. They comforted us during troubled times and made us uncomfortable in our mess. But most important, they EMPOWERED us to be greater women all around! We are better wives, mothers, daughters, friends, servants and employees. We have been EMPOWERED to love harder, forgive more and listen better. We thank God for EmpowerMoments! Enjoy the Best of Series!

I know we have all heard the saying “If you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones.” Three months after God called me to be a minister, I messed up. After being celibate for a while I had sex and got pregnant. I thought I was going to die. All I could think was, “What will people say? What will I do now? How will I face the church?” And guess what– my thoughts and questions were accurate. Even though I was remorseful and realized the terrible mistake I made, “church folks” started to treat me like I had the plague. People were whispering and all my duties at church were stripped from me. I was terrified and petrified because I thought the way I was being treated was my punishment from God. But I was so wrong! Thoughts went through my head of getting an abortion or simply leaving the church! Genesis 50: 20 says what you meant for evil, God meant it for good. (ASV) See what the devil and people thought would destroy me, helped transform me into the woman I am today.  God led me to John 8 where the teachers of law and the Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus that committed adultery and they said she should be stoned because that was the law. Jesus responded by stooping down and writing on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8: 7-10 NIV)

I went to the Lord and He reminded me that everyone sins and falls short. God revealed to me that He forgave me and I needed to forgive myself. He also revealed to me that it’s easier for people to throw stones at you and judge your situation than to deal with their own mess. Everyone has some mess, but they will throw stones at you in order to not deal with the stones that are in their houses and lives. The very situation that I thought ruined me made my relationship stronger with God because I had to lean and depend on Him. Psalm 121:1 says, “I lift up my eyes until the hills for whence cometh my help. All of my help come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (KJV) I learned man will fail you but God will be with you until the end. I kept trusting God and that very thing people threw stones at is now my wonderful husband and my daughter. My ministry and my worship are for real. Those very people that counted me out and threw stones at my situation have come back to me for an encouraging word or a prayer because God showed them that nothing could separate me from His love . If you live in a glass house, please don’t throw stones.

Dear Daddy,
Thank You for being a forgiving God! I thank You for never giving up on me or counting me out. I pray for those that throw stones, that You reveal their mess to them and help them clean it up. I thank You for teaching me that if You are for me, no one can be against me. I thank You for the courage to stand when people said that I shouldn’t. Thank You for being a God of second chances! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

I EMPOWER you to not give up on God because He will never give up on you. God will forgive whatever sin you have committed and give you another chance. Do not let people determine your destiny; God already has a plan for your life!

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Send her away.

Mrs. Keviyona Ray is an ordained minister and co-pastor in training of The Christ For All People International Church. She is passionate about sharing the word of God with everyone she encounters. As a professional, Keviyona is a teacher for Chicago Public Schools. She loves her ministry of teaching and changing children’s lives. She is a devoted wife and mother of a wonderful daughter. Two of her favorite scriptures are Jeremiah 1: 5: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” and Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

Best of 2011 Series, Speech

Best of 2011: #4 — Do You Understand the Words Coming Outta My Mouth?

We are featuring our top EmpowerMoments of 2011. They made us laugh and they made us cry. They comforted us during troubled times and made us uncomfortable in our mess. But most important, they EMPOWERED us to be greater women all around! We are better wives, mothers, daughters, friends, servants and employees. We have been EMPOWERED to love harder, forgive more and listen better. We thank God for EmpowerMoments! Enjoy the Best of Series!

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 NIV

I was meditating the other day about some things that have started to either come to life or have died in my life. When I was a new bride, I had an issue with this mouth thing. My new groom and I knew that I had an issue with my mouth, so that was the bulk of most of my prayers then. “Lord please help my mouth.” I was a nagging wife, but tried to act like I was “saying” things in a nice way so they would be masked as inquiries…WRONG.

Over the years, God had to deal with me about my mouth and how I approached my husband. I said things like, “Do you just not get what I am saying?” or “I can’t believe you would do that.” My mouth was casting murder on my husband. Through this death, it didn’t help that we were going through individual emotional problems, financial problems, job problems, and identity problems. Over the years God had to teach me the true underlying issue with taming my mouth. SELF CONTROL and PATIENCE. I had to learn to stop, wait, and think before I said something.  One of my spiritual mothers asked me, “Kay, what life are you speaking into your husband?” I couldn’t answer. I’d become so mad over the years because of my judgment of his decisions, different argument style or lack thereof that I didn’t know what to do.

God started showing me, in the midst of our discussions, how to approach and respond to my husband. “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4 NIV). I started speaking life over my marriage and over my husband. I WAS THE ONE TO PUT THE SUPERMAN “S” ON HIS CHEST. When he made a decision I didn’t like, I waited maybe a day or two before responding. I would take my issue to the Lord for guidance on bridling my tongue.  “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) My theme scripture mentions he that loves his mouth will eat its fruits. I must say I am definitely eating “fresh” fruits from speaking gently to my husband. The return is one hundred fold.

Not only have I learned how to speak to my husband, but I am a new mom of one daughter. Raising her is all new to me. When I started disciplining her, it was with harsh tones. “You BETTER not do that again, you hear me.” Or “If I have to tell you one more time (screaming at her) I am going to spank you.” I was convicted every time I spoke to her like that because I felt I was depositing deathly correction into her spirit. I walked by her room one day and saw her scolding her dolls, saying my exact words and in my exact tone. I was heart broken. At that moment, and since then, I’ve learned to provide gentle, stern correction that’s not as irate. Before, I was bearing irate fruit from her. Now that I speak more gently, yet stern, even if the rod is coming afterwards, her spirit is not broken or degraded.

There is life or death in your tongue. You have the right to choose. You can say, “I hate my job”, and you will probably go into work with that attitude, have a bad day, and leave every day feeling defeated. Or, you can wake up saying. “Lord, I thank you for giving me a job. Father help me to see the good in it until you see fit for me to move on.” You can tell your spouse, “I really wish you would get your act together”, which will lead to broken spirits, broken communication, and anger. Or you can say, “Honey, I believe in you. I know things may be tough right now, but I am certain (because you prayed) that God will give you the tools you need to move forward and I am backing you 100%.” You could walk around feeling defeated because you hate how you look, your personality, your weight or your hair. Or you could say, “Lord, I love me some me. You made me wonderful and until I can see what You see, encourage me to smile, because You made me.” What you say can determine how your entire body reacts. Study James 3.

Dear Daddy,

Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me. Thank You for this word today teaching me to control my tongue. I want to speak life, not death. I want to be an encourager, not a complainer. Help my mouth of praise carry over into my daily activities and my relationships. I love You for always speaking to me, so please help me to speak to others in a more virtuous way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Is there an area in your life experiencing a premature death? Your tongue has the power to speak life. I EMPOWER you today to speak life into your dead situation and watch how God multiplies the fruit of it.

Read related EmpowerMoments: FIRED! & Lord, Help Me Watch My Mouth 

As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is College Biology Instructor. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Higher Ed and Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV) She teaches Young Adult Bible Study and Sunday School and also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment.  Khalilah resides in Millbrook, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their energetic three-year old daughter. They attend St. Luke Christian ChurchCheck out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.

Best of 2011 Series, Gifts/Talents

Best of 2011: #6 — The Pursuit of Excellence

We are featuring our top EmpowerMoments of 2011. They made us laugh and they made us cry. They comforted us during troubled times and made us uncomfortable in our mess. But most important, they EMPOWERED us to be greater women all around! We are better wives, mothers, daughters, friends, servants and employees. We have been EMPOWERED to love harder, forgive more and listen better. We thank God for EmpowerMoments! Enjoy the Best of Series!

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”  – Martin Luther King Jr.

Have you ever heard of Gary S. May, PhD? While I am sure you may not have heard of him, you probably have heard of people who are just like him…Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry…I bet those names sound a bit more familiar.  He isn’t a billionaire (hmmm I may need to check on that), but just like the “media celebrities” I named he is doing what he loves using his God given talents. He is no actor, athlete, politician, or reality TV star. He is an academician and I would argue that his impact on society has been far greater than many celebrities and politicians you can name.

A Little Background: Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit in on Dr. May’s public presentation. He is one of my mentors and amongst four candidates interviewing to be the next Dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. If you are giving me the virtual “Kanye Shrug” let me tell you why that is a big deal. Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering ranks #4 in the nation and thus far, outside of the HBCU’s and with the hundreds of engineering schools in the country, I have found only one African American Engineering Dean at a predominantly white university. I could spend time here telling you about the importance of engineering blah, blah, blah, but that’s not as important as the two lessons I learned by watching Dr. May make it to this step in his career:

  1. The Pursuit of Excellence
  2. Exhausting the Talents God Gives You

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10: 31 ISV) As I sat watching Dr. May’s presentation I was both empowered and convicted. Empowered because I felt a renewed sense of faith in my own abilities and convicted because I haven’t been the best steward of my talents. In the above Bible verse, God tells us to be excellent in all things that we do because we are doing it for His glory. How many of you are working at mediocre jobs, in mediocre positions, receiving mediocre pay, leading mediocre lives, raising mediocre children, have mediocre friends and dating mediocre people all because you do not recognize it or are afraid of or too lazy to pursue excellence in EVERY aspect of your life? Ladies, our Father demands excellence. Is He pleased with your pursuit of excellence? Would you feel comfortable speaking directly to Him and saying, “Lord ,this mediocrity I have in my life is for Your glory…this is the BEST I can do”?  He wants OUR BEST, wants us to HAVE THE BEST and wants us to BE THE BEST! Period.

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” – Maya Angelou

Dr. May also reminded me of what happens when you use all of the talents God gives you and invest your talents in doing what you love. I don’t know any person who hated their job and achieved greatness at the same time. In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25: 14-30,  we learn that God gives each one of us talents and certain abilities in which we are gifted. God rewards us for using our talents and when we don’t He takes our talents away and punishes us. Matthew 25: 29-30 tells us “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (KJV) God has given me so many dreams, visions, opportunities and outlets to express my talents and while I can’t sing or dance I have sat on some of the things that I know I can do well. I haven’t fully invested in nurturing and expressing myself through those gifts. I don’t want God to take those talents away. What about you?

Dear Daddy,

Give me a spirit of determination to pursue excellence in ALL that I do whether it is my career, my family or my personal endeavors. While I understand I am not perfect, I must continuously strive to do what is pleasing and brings You glory in every area of my life. Help me to recognize all of the talents that You have given me and to use them according to Your purpose and not hide them. Lord, help me to use my gifts to serve You and others. God, give me guidance so that I will know how to use my talents in ways that are pleasing to You. Jesus, when I stand before Your throne, I want to be exhausted and used up knowing that I lived my life to the fullest using every single gift that You deposited in my spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today, EMPOWER yourself by thinking about ways that you can become excellent in all that you do. Ask yourself what perfection looks like (as a wife, single woman, mother, Christian, employee, employer etc) and strive for it. EMPOWER yourself by recognizing that everything in life is a gift from God and must be used responsibly. Ask God to expose all of your talents to you, make a list of them and then write a short paragraph on how you plan to use your talents. Each day read it and begin execution.

P.S. If you want to find out more about Gary S. May, PhD click here

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Shake Us Again

Ms. Chancee` Lundy lives in Atlanta, Georgia and is an entrepreneur as she is the co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC, an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend and community servant. She has used her gift of public speaking to lead workshops across the globe speaking to crowds as large as 10,000 people. Her guiding scriptures this week are Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Best of 2011 Series, Obedience

Best of 2011: #7 – The Night We Almost Died

We are featuring our top EmpowerMoments of 2011. They made us laugh and they made us cry. They comforted us during troubled times and made us uncomfortable in our mess. But most important, they EMPOWERED us to be greater women all around! We are better wives, mothers, daughters, friends, servants and employees. We have been EMPOWERED to love harder, forgive more and listen better. We thank God for EmpowerMoments! Enjoy the Best of Series!

“…Obedience is better than sacrifice…” (1 Samuel 15:22 NLT)

It was a balmy night in August of 2010. We were on the second leg of our European Excursion. We had waited so long to experience one of the infamous “foam parties” in Ibiza, Spain. So imagine how excited we were to find out that one was taking place at Club Amnesia on the first night of our visit. That was a double treat because way back in the day Jay-Z had piqued our interest in Club Amnesia when he mentioned it in one of his songs. Surely, this was going to be one of the best nights of our lives—WRONG, that would be the night that we almost died…

On our way into club, the majority of our group decided that 60 Euros was too steep of a price to pay to get in. Oh, but not the “Final Four.” We had traveled too far and already spent a nice amount of money to get there not to indulge in the foam party. So the group left us and we paid for our ticket into party paradise. Little did we know, we were buying a ticket into hell on earth and that would be the night that we almost died…

Once inside the massive warehouse type structure, we were amazed at the number of people inside. There had to be at least 5,000 partygoers. In the midst of this sea of people, it seemed that the “Final Four” just didn’t belong. I instantly heard a still, small voice whisper, “You should leave now.” My thoughts were, “Surely, I’m not about to leave now, especially after I just paid about $80 in US currency to get in! Let’s get this party started!” I suppressed that inner voice because it was speaking against what I felt I should do. What I didn’t understand was that that voice was trying to save my life because that would be the night that I almost died…

As we waited patiently for the foam party to commence, we witnessed things that I cannot even begin to explain here. Things that would be illegal to do in public here; things that you would be ashamed to tell your mother you saw; things that would make you cover your eyes but then peek just to be sure it was really happening; most important, things that would vex your spirit man. Yes, I know you are sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what could have really been that bad. Well, on stage entertainment included men having live and real relations with one another. Yes, it was just that bad. As we stood there and realized that we were planted right in the middle of a present day Sodom & Gomorrah, each of us heard that still, small voice say, “It’s time for you to leave.” Individually, God was speaking to each of us but we weren’t aware of that.  So we all ignored that command because we didn’t want to spoil the fun for the other three.  What we didn’t realize is that we wouldn’t have been spoiling the fun for each other, we would have been saving each others’ lives because that would be the night we almost died…

As the night passed, I grew increasingly uncomfortable with the environment yet annoyed with this voice that kept trying to ruin my experience. I was convinced that if we could just hold out until 2am for the foam party, all of my feelings of uneasiness would subside. I ventured off and found out that we were in the wrong room for the foam party. As I walked back to retrieve the group and let them know that it was just about time for the foam to be released, that voice rose again. Only that time it wasn’t still and small at all. It was more like a loud, thunderous voice that said, “LEAVE NOW!”We can’t leave now. It’s finally time for the foam party and we have been waiting for this!” I proceeded to grab the girls so that we could have the time of our life. I should’ve been grabbing them and heading for the nearest exit as we were about to literally experience a taste of death on the night we almost died…

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27 NIV)

We ran excitedly to the foam party room and tried to press our way to the front. However, there were so many other people in there that we couldn’t get as close as we desired. Settling for our post in the middle of the room, we braced ourselves for the release of the foam! I thought, “Yes! Finally, the moment we’ve been waiting for!” And the countdown began: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5-4-3-2-1…

What happened after 1 is still kind of sketchy. What I can tell you is that the foam was released and my breath was instantly taken away. It literally felt like a hand was choking the life out of my body. I couldn’t open my eyes; it felt as if someone has glued my eye lids shut.  I saw my life flash before my eyes. I couldn’t speak so my spirit cried out to God. “PLEASE don’t let me die in this place! I have a husband and two girls that I have to return home to. Save me Jesus!” It was at that moment that the grip was released from my neck and I was able to catch my breath and open my eyes. I searched frantically for my friends and saw that they were in distress too. Ironically enough, we were the ONLY ones under this attack; everyone else was still dancing and enjoying the party. Why? Because that was the night that Satan desired to kill us…

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32 NIV)

This small passage of scripture embodies our entire lesson for today. Satan had already asked God for permission to attack each of us that night.  However, Jesus was interceding on our behalf. He was praying that our faith in Him would allow us to obey that voice inside of us urging us to leave. Our faith is about more than just believing in God. It is about hearing and heeding His commands and knowing that if He is telling us to do something, it HAS to be for our good.

In the latter part of verse 32, Jesus tells Peter (Simon) to strengthen his brothers after he has turned back. Here is where we failed terribly. When we heard the Holy Spirit speaking, we should have turned our back on our desires and strengthened each other to do the same.

Dear Daddy,

Please forgive me for all of the times when I blatantly disobeyed You. Lord, I know that You have my best interest in mind. Teach me to know Your voice for Your Word says Your sheep listen to You. Thank You for covering me when I know You told me to go and I stayed or when You told me no and I chose yes or when You said be quiet and I still spoke.  Lord, give me the will to obey You and Your Word at all times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

I didn’t share that long story with you to entertain you. However, I shared it with you to EMPOWER you to obey God ALWAYS! Obey when it makes sense and even when it doesn’t. Your life depends on your obedience!

Today’s EmpowerMoment is dedicated to three of the “Final Four”: LaTosha Brown, Kristi Cofield & Chancee` Lundy. May each of you hear and heed His voice daily!

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Consider Your Ways!

Mrs. Kristen Harris is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and dedicated servant.  She is extremely passionate about women’s spiritual advancement, hence the founding of EmpowerMoments.  As an avid reader, Kristen enjoys reading the Bible more than anything. Her driving inspiration is when God says to her: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11) She currently resides outside of Chicago, Illinois with her wonderful husband and two lovely daughters where she is an active member of New Life Covenant Church.

Best of 2011 Series, Finances, Tithing

Best of 2011: #8 – Where “Dem” Dollars At?

We are featuring our top EmpowerMoments of 2011. They made us laugh and they made us cry. They comforted us during troubled times and made us uncomfortable in our mess. But most important, they EMPOWERED us to be greater women all around! We are better wives, mothers, daughters, friends, servants and employees. We have been EMPOWERED to love harder, forgive more and listen better. We thank God for EmpowerMoments! Enjoy the Best of Series!

Literally, ask yourself, do I really know where my money is going? Furthermore, am I being a good steward over my money? Often times we can have money matters mixed up. For example, there is a difference between being able to afford something versus being able to pay for it; having wealth and having money; and budgeting versus balancing. The former tends to require effort and self control while the latter may have you broke, stressed, and unable to effectively manage your funds. When my husband and I married we had big dreams to ensure we followed all of the statutes learned in our marriage maintenance sessions prior to our wedding day. We knew that tithing was a big part of that. Unfortunately, the day after our wedding our financial life shattered. Not due to the wedding, thank God it was paid in cash, but due to an unexpected occurrence that changed our lives (another blog). So we ignored the thought of tithing because we couldn’t “afford” it. What we noticed, shortly after our “bright idea” was that our money started to become extremely tight. It almost seemed as if it was infected. And according to Malachai 3:8-11, it was infected. We could not get past our swamp of bills because we were being disobedient.

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.  “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing You?’  “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing Me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. (Malachai 3:8-11)

At one time, we reached a really low point financially, so we came up with another bright idea to “tithe.” (Insert chuckle here.) We were convicted with money maintenance and gave God our issue. He gave us a heart to tithe. (Pause) When you tithe, it is an act of worship. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Pastor, the Deacons, or the Trustees and what you perceive they are doing with the money. God gave “you” a command to fill His storehouse. After you’ve done your part, that’s all you need to worry about. If you truly believe that God is a just God, you will also trust that He will deal with those that mishandle holy things. Don’t get caught up in judging someone else or you will be judged in the same way. If you need to search for a new church home, etc. that’s one thing, but don’t disobey tithing because of your criticism.

Girlfriend, there is a difference between affording something and being able to pay for it. If you have to shuffle your bills and suffer your budget to purchase something, then you “can’t” afford it. Better yet, if you don’t have a budget, you need to get one fast. We have to learn to live within our means. Does this mean you can’t buy nice things? No. One of my family members has an affinity for authentic Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and the list goes on; however, she budgets her money by saving throughout the year before she goes on her fashion frenzies.

I want to encourage you to make smart decisions with your money. Don’t take the scripture “Do not worry about tomorrow” out of context. It’s about worry, not about wise financial preparation. Be smart about preparing for hard times, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8).

I don’t want you to think you are to center your life and focus around money. But we should be good stewards of it. Are you leaving an inheritance for your children? Can you pay for a flat tire or collision without borrowing money? If you are snowed in, can you feed your family for a week or three (don’t mistake this for greed or hoarding)? Can you own your home or car? If you lose your job, can you manage your household for, at minimum, three months? This has nothing to do with status, but everything to do with the ability to manage your funds.

Dear Daddy,

You know that finances are a thorn in my side and I am thankful to know that You have set out a map for me, in Your Word, to follow. Help me to grow in this area realizing that I have to tithe to You out of obedience and to give to the needy as an offering of love, also through obedience. Help me to be a good steward and to think before I swipe, and pray before I purchase. Help me keep it in order. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you today to look at your pocket book and do a self examination. Am I being a good steward over my funds? Am I tithing? Am I giving to those that need it? Is my house financially in order?

There are thousands of formulas and programs to use to help you manage your funds. My husband is a Dave Ramsey fan, so we use the envelope method. But here is our simple and easy Excel program we use monthly, and sometimes weekly. Sometimes it’s thin (or even invisible) and sometimes it’s okay. But at least we know where our money is going, how we can improve, and what changes we need to make to fix the bumps of last month. Download it here and enter your numbers! Sample Budget

The Proverbs 31 Woman had it right, read her passage here.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: What Do You Have to Offer?

As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is College Biology Instructor. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Higher Ed and Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV) She teaches Young Adult Bible Study and Sunday School and also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment.  Khalilah resides in Millbrook, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their energetic three-year old daughter. They attend St. Luke Christian ChurchCheck out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.