Courage, Death, Gifts/Talents, Health/Sickness, Obedience, Purpose

My Testimony: She Shifted

Happy New Year EmpowerMoments family! We have surely missed you! As we kick off the new year, we are beginning with a series entitled “Testimonies & Lessons”. We believe Revelation 12:11 when it says that we overcome by the word of our testimonies. We pray that our testimony and lessons from last year will EMPOWER you to triumph this year! May God bless you and make 2014 the greatest year of your life thus far!

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV

When I found out about our Testimony Series, I started thinking to myself, I don’t really have one. God has me in the season of planting and rebuilding, so breakthroughs and the fruits of this season have yet to sprout. But God kept dealing with me to write about the one thing I don’t want to write about — my Aunt’s death and how it became a testimony in my life. I don’t want to talk about it because it is still too fresh, I am still in denial, and I feel guilty for grieving so hard when I know my cousins are grieving harder. But “to obey is better than sacrifice”. (I Samuel 15:22 NKJV) I am a witness that God can use your gift to bless you.

Around the fourth of December I received a call from my Dad that my Aunt had a stroke, was unconscious, and on a ventilator at the hospital. I was so distraught, yet strangely peaceful at the same time. I was almost mad at myself for having that type of peace. My Auntie was a firecracker. She loved hard, fought hard, talked hard, worked hard, everything she did was 1000%, from her love to her anger. She was so authentic. She understood my “not so saint-like” moments. I told her secrets that I was embarrassed to tell others and she would talk me through them telling me what I was going to do!

About two or three years ago I noticed my Auntie started acting different. She started talking about the Lord more. I noticed a Shift. She shifted into a woman who became verbally expressive of God’s goodness. As the year progressed her Shift became more evident.

As God would have it, I had to travel to Atlanta for work the week she was in the hospital. As soon as my plane hit the ground I rushed to the hospital to see her. I wanted to keep ignoring the voices in my head that she wasn’t going to make it. But I knew what God sounded like; I was in denial. On the drive there I was in a fog. God kept talking to me about my Auntie’s life and how she Shifted. She became the woman He wanted her to be and her time to celebrate with Him had come. At first I was angry because I felt He took her before she could enjoy more of the prosperity that comes with submitting to God’s will here on Earth. I wanted her to experience more of that, but God continued to confirm to me that she had Shifted, and now it was her time.

He also said to me in the car that it was time that I Shift. It was time for me to Shift into the boldness of the call of ministry He placed on my life. I didn’t want it. My words to Him were, “God I don’t read my Bible enough. I don’t pray enough. I’m not obedient enough. I’m not good enough. I don’t know enough.” Seeming as though He totally ignored me, He began to give me orders about how He was going to confirm the power He had placed in me, through her. He said these exact words, “When you touch her, she is going to Shift, and then you will know.” I’m thinking to myself, yeah right God.

See, for the past few years I have doubted my gift. I was never sure if I was acting out of emotion or if it truly was God. He said, “Today is the day I will confirm it for you.”

I arrived at the hospital and saw my Aunt on life support. My first thought was, “Lord, I’m definitely NOT going to touch her, I might break something or hurt her. You are going to have to literally move my hand; I don’t even know where to place it!” My Dad was in there with me and he started rubbing her arm as he and I were casually talking. I heard God say, “Your turn.” I responded, “You gotta do it; I might break something. You will have to take over; I just can’t.” We waited and chatted some more and lo’ and behold I found myself caressing her arm, relishing in her warm soft skin that I always remembered. I began to think that I was hallucinating because her machines started acting weird. My Dad screamed, “What happened, did you see that?” I froze and stood there and watched her vital signs rise and her eyes flutter and open. I almost fell on the floor but my legs were stuck. God spoke and said, “See, just as she Shifted in her life, it is now time for you to Shift and operate in the gift; I put it in you.”

My Aunt died that next morning and I would be lying if I said that I was ok with that. I really wish that her movements weren’t reflexes and that she was in recovery right now, but God already confirmed that the “strange thing” that was going to happen wasn’t to bring her back to us. Rather, it was to use her to confirm His power, that I really do know His voice and should now walk in boldness operating in my gift.

Dear Daddy,

Over and over again You show Your power, Your majesty, Your glory, and Your omniscience. I am grateful that my Aunt received Your gift of salvation before she died and that I was able to experience her Shift into the Woman of God You were molding all along. God, it is my prayer that just as You held my hand and guided me to the brink of my Shift, that You do the same for my Sister in Christ reading this EmpowerMoment. Lord, it is my desire that You confirm in her Spirit the direction You will have for her to go and the confidence she needs to get there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to Shift. It is time to put old things away and Shift into a life of obedience with God. Is it time for you to Shift into a new dimension or to Shift some things around? I’ve Shifted to walking boldly in my gift from God. I’m a tad scared at times, but I’m dedicated to learning, refining, growing, and understanding more and more about this gift He has trusted me with. I EMPOWER you to seek your heart and your ways and Shift where God says so.

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As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is a university administrator. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV) Khalilah also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment. Her passion is mentoring young women and marriage empowerment. She resides in Orange Beach, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their two daughters. They are members of New Beginnings Christian Center in Foley, AL.

Accountability, Career, Commitment, Courage, Faith, Trusting God

Stand Up for What You Believe In!

A few weeks ago Chicago Teacher’s Union made headline news. We went on strike to prove to the city and the world that we were worth far more than the District was offering us. Now I am going to be honest when the vote first came up a little less than a year ago I was all for it because I didn’t really believe we would go on strike. When reality set in and we couldn’t report to our place of employment I became discontented because I had to evaluate what we were fighting for. I had a choice to make; I could cross the picket line or I could stand in the fire. The main reason I was indecisive is because I was thinking about not getting paid. God had to remind me of how many times He has come to my rescue and bailed me out. I was reminded that I need to keep my life free from love of money, and be content with what I have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:12 ESV)

The same way I had a choice to make with the Union, I also have choices to make with my beliefs in God. Regardless of going without and losing money, I didn’t go to work because I believed some kind of change would come. In Mark the 5th chapter, a leader named Jairus believed that God could raise his daughter from the dead. When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. (Mark 5: 21-24 NIV) As Jesus was going to Jairus’ house, some people ran from his house and told him to leave Jesus alone because the girl is dead.  Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5: 36 NIV) How many times have we believed God would do something and people would tell us we were crazy or we should spend our time standing up for something else? I have been desperate for Jesus to come into my house and people have told me it’s too late, leave Jesus alone, and find something else to stand up for.

When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5: 38-42 NIV)

Imagine if Jairus had not stood up for what he believed in despite what people said. He would have missed His blessing. His daughter would not have lived again. How many things have we let lay dormant because we are scared to stand up for what we believe in? I want all of you to have the same belief in God that Jairus had, that God can do the impossible. Stand up for what you believe in!

Dear Daddy,

Continue to give me the courage to stand up for You and Your son Jesus. God, I am asking that You guide my footsteps and my words so that I won’t stray away from my belief in You. I am asking that You give me the same faith that Jairus had in the Bible, believing that You can make the impossible possible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to stand up for what you believe in. I dare you to put all of your faith and belief in God and watch how He resurrects a situation that has laid dormant in your life. Remember ladies, if you don’t stand for something with your spouse, your children, your employment, school, people, thoughts, etc. you will fall for anything!

Although others may doubt, what are you standing up for because you believe in it?

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Blinded By What I See

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Mrs. Keviyona Ray is an ordained minister and co-pastor 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.”

Character, Courage, Honesty/Truth, Integrity, Leadership

Lacking Integrity

…As long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit.  I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. (Job 27: 3-5 NIV)

Recently, a friend called me for my advice on a matter.  My friend, a current graduate student, explained to me that she had been assigned a partner by her teacher to do a PowerPoint project on leadership and integrity.  Well, my friend took the initiative to start the project, contact her partner, and do the research.  She also emailed the PowerPoint to her partner in the middle of completing the assignment with some things that were left  that the partner could complete, but the partner failed to do that and my friend had to complete them herself.  My friend had completed the project with very little communication and no help from her partner until the night before it had to be submitted.  This time the partner told her that she was finally looking over the project.  It was then the partner put her name on the project, added one quote and a paragraph, and submitted it to the teacher.  The partner didn’t know that my friend had already submitted the project over to the teacher with a note saying in a nutshell that her partner did not fully communicate or help with the project.  So my friend wanted to know if she had done the right thing by telling her teacher.

Later that day I received another call from my friend saying that she wished she hadn’t said anything because the partner still got credit for her work and earned an easy B.  As my friend shared all of this with me, I thought and told her, “How ironic that the lesson was on integrity.”

However, this is not what solely sparked my EmpowerMoment.  Whether the partner was right or wrong is not why I am writing this EM.  This situation led me to remember the time God had to teach me about integrity.

Now, I am a person who is virtuous and trustworthy.  I have also been told by others that I am trustworthy, loyal, honest and a person who people can trust with their lives.  However, I too had to be reminded by God that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23 NIV)

Some years ago my church was studying and learning about revival and during this time I had to pray and ask God to search my heart for any sin I was committing knowingly or unknowingly.  One of the things that God brought to me was lying on my timesheet, recording I arrived at this time or worked X amount of hours knowing it was untrue.

Yet, I felt justified because my job and my then part-time position was flexible and if I had to be in class or go downtown to drop off paperwork I could leave work with no questions asked.  I felt justified because I have always struggled with tardiness, not that I can’t or haven’t been on time.  I felt justified because some days I would even stay later to make up hours.  I felt justified because I thought I couldn’t be the only one doing this.  No matter how much I felt justified, I was still wrong.  If I said I could work from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., then that means I need to be there at 10 a.m. consistently, not at 12 noon whether someone is watching or NOT.  I have to do the right thing whether it’s popular or NOT.  I have to hold fast to my morals whether I am patted on the back or NOT.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24 NIV)

My heart was heavy about this and I sincerely repented of lying and deceiving.  I took for granted my job, that no one was standing over my shoulders, and that people trusted me.  After God exposed my sin to me and forgave me, He wasn’t done with me.  I had to confess to my boss.  I did and ladies it humbled me and scared me!  I was scared of the result of my confession.  My boss listened, didn’t make me feel worse than I felt, was glad that I confessed and really appreciated my honesty.  Later on my boss made sure the employees had more accountability with our timesheets and consistency and I think that was because of what I had done.  I am relieved to say that I did not get terminated and I was more punctual than ever, but if I did run late I would make a phone call and not lie on my timesheet.  I learned a lesson on integrity and I have been on my job now for about 11 years.

Dear Daddy, 

Thank You for Your righteousness, holiness and justness.  Thank You for Your mercy and unfailing love too.  Thank You for exposing some things in my life so that I can have better character and unadulterated faith.  Thank You for Your forgiveness and giving me humility to confess my sins.  Help me to exude Christ-like character each day no matter the cost.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to live a life worthy of your calling you have received (Ephesians 4:1).  Watch for creeping sin because sin not only displeases God but also blinds your perception of things.  Exude Godly character whether someone is looking or not.  Hold fast to your faith and your morals.  Do not compromise your integrity for anyone including yourself!

Take the time to read about Job (Job 1, 2 and 27:1-5) and Joseph (Genesis 39), two people who maintained their integrity even in difficult times or situations.

Ladies, has God ever had to check your integrity? How did you recover? Share your story with us.

Read a Related EmpowerMoment: Can God Trust You?

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Ms. Tannika Moore loves the Lord and loves to write!  Besides writing poetry or editing written work for family and friends, she currently works for NEIU Educational Talent Search program.  She help assists Chicago public high school students with their reading, writing, etc. as well as helps them consider and prepare for college.  She, like many of her students, is the first of her family to graduate from college.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in English-Professional & Technical Writing.  God, the Creator and Great Father has also created her to be a Compassion Person and Encourager and so she loves to encourage people according to God’s Word and help them to see, think and become better thru her support, actions and writing.  Her favorite scripture comes from Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus

Completion, Courage, Encouragement, Goals & Dreams, God's Promises, Motivation, Persistance, Spirit of Fear, Spirit of Rejection

How Bad Do You Want It?

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. (2 Chronicles 15:7 NIV)

Recently I was watching BET’s Sunday’s Best. As I sat watching the aspiring gospel singers, I was amazed at some of their personal journeys. As the season 5 auditions commenced and I listened to each of the contestant’s stories, I was truly in awe at some of their tenacity. Of the top 20 finalists chosen to compete on the show, several of them had been rejected by the judges on previous seasons at least once, twice or even three times. Yet, they didn’t let that deter them from what they felt that God was calling them to do. Listening to their stories made me ponder my own journey. There I was at a point in my life where I knew I wanted to accomplish so much more. After all, business dreams have been dancing around in my mind for nearly 8 years that I have yet to see come to fruition. However, I had to be honest with myself and ask, “Have you really been relentless in your pursuit of your dreams?”

I shared with you a while ago in “No=Go” how I had to move past a place of fear and rejection and pick up the pieces of a dream that I have been fathoming for quite some time. At that time, I was victorious in finally mustering up the courage to reenter a business plan competition where I had once been rejected. I felt confident in reapplying, not because I knew that I would win, but because I knew that God was pleased with my courage to move past my point of fear. Unfortunately, I was rejected again and instantly returned back to the place of feeling like maybe my dreams were not truly meant to happen. How many times has God moved you from a place of hopelessness to a place of promise, and yet one little incident sets you back right where you started (or even further back)? We have to remember what God has promised to us. We have to hold on to our dreams regardless of how things are looking around us.

God promised Joseph that he would be the leader of his people. However, if you know anything about Joseph’s story, you know that he experienced much rejection before he ever saw that promise fulfilled. His brothers rejected his dream and threw him in a pit. (Genesis 37:18-24) They sold him into slavery because they knew they didn’t have the power to kill his dream, but needed to deter him from pursuing it. (Genesis 37:27-28) Next he was moved to Potiphar’s palace where he was placed in charge of all of Potiphar’s land and possessions. (Genesis 39:1-6) It seemed that just maybe that was going to be the position where his dreams would begin to flourish, but that’s not how it played out. Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of trying to sleep with her and Potiphar threw Joseph into prison. (Genesis 39:11-20) Ever feel like you are about to experience your dreams become reality only to have someone/something snatch it right from under you? Yes, I know exactly what that feels like, but we must maintain an attitude similar to Joseph’s. Even in prison, he kept his promise near his heart and still operated in his gift. He interpreted the dreams of his fellow prisoners with the hopes of being elevated once again and back on the path to pursing his dream. (Genesis 40:9-15) But again, it didn’t happen like that. Instead he was forgotten and left in prison. Can you relate? Has someone promised you assistance in reaching your dreams only to forget you and move on? Fret not! I know that God will make good on His promises! Alas, Pharaoh had a dream that needed interpreting. Based on Joseph’s faithfulness to his calling and gift, someone brought his name up as a recommendation to interpret it. Joseph’s wisdom pleased Pharaoh so much that he made Joseph ruler over all of Egypt. (Genesis 41:37-42)

Joseph was 17 years old when God first gave him that dream. Finally at the age of 30, Joseph saw his dream come to fruition. For 13 years Joseph held onto his promise and continued to remain faithful to his calling. How long are you willing to work and wait for yours to come to pass?

Today I ask you the same question that I had to ask myself: How bad do you want it? Are you willing to see your dreams rejected, trampled on, abandoned, locked up and dismissed by others and STILL believe that God is going to bring those things to pass? If you answered yes, then you have to ACT like it. Be relentless in the pursuit of your destiny. Do not allow other people, or even yourself, to abort what God is trying to birth in you. Just like the Sunday Best competitors, you may find yourself with one, two, or ten ‘no’s’, but turning back and giving up now is not an option! Keep pressing toward the goal; your diligence and perseverance are about to pay off!

Dear Daddy,

Please forgive me for the times that my faith faltered and I thought it was better just to give up than to push on. Please help me to be tenacious and deliberate in the pursuit of the dreams that You have placed in my heart. When I get weary, please encourage me and replenish my being so that I may continue on. I thank and praise You in advance for bringing my dreams to fruition. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to keep pushing forward. The effort that you put in should reveal to the world how bad you really want it! Remain faithful to the gift that God has given you while putting in consistent work to see your dream fulfilled.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: But I Promised You More!

Did God give you a dream that has not yet come to pass? How do you remain encouraged when everything around you makes you want to doubt?

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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 three lovely daughters where she is an active member of New Life Covenant Church.