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.”

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Commitment, Focus, Motivation

Ignite My Fire

“…This is what the Lord God says: I am about to ignite a fire in you, and it will devour every green tree and every dry tree in you.  The blazing flame will not be extinguished, and every face from the south to the north will be scorched by it.” (Ezekiel 20:47b)

As I started the fire for our “Ladies Only Barbeque”, I watched the blazing charcoals ignite, giving me the indication that it was almost time to start the party.  I placed the chicken on the grill and listened to our barbecue sizzle, crackle and pop as the smoke hit it.  I continued this routine for the next two hours, turning every piece with extreme caution to avoid scorching the skin.  Twenty plus wings later, I realized that the meat was BARELY even cooking.

Although I witnessed sound effects in the beginning, the fire was non-existent and I really was clueless about what to do at this point.  I was tired beyond belief, in desperate need of a shower, and just plain over the ENTIRE thing when my neighbor came outside with a bag of Match Light charcoal.  He restarted my fire with one strike of a torch and the flame burned for the rest of the evening, well beyond my last few pieces of chicken.

After enjoying the fruits of my labor, I had an epiphany of how similar this grill master experience was to my relationship with the Father.  I was raised in the church and HOT for Jesus at a very young age, but the older my “coals” got, the less intense the fire became.  I sizzled and crackled for the Lord in the youth choir, on the praise dance team, and of course on Sundays.  However, the more I witnessed the “fun” things that my peers were partaking in, the heat of my flame became lukewarm.  Before I knew it, I had allowed my fleshly desires to extinguish my passion for God and yet again, I was completely clueless as of where to go from there.  Tired from running in circles, in dire need of a spiritual cleansing, and simply in a dangerous state of mind is when my forgiving Father threw a MATCH at me that was guaranteed to shed LIGHT on my murky situation.  Soon after, I let the light shine through my flame and ignite me to burn during the dark nights and bright mornings!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for sparking my flame in You despite the decisions that I have made in my past.  Please help to keep my passion for You despite the things that may be going on around me because those things are nothing but distractions sent from the enemy to stop me from reaching my full potential.  Help me to remain focused on the fact that You are the fire of my entire existence.  Breathe a fresh wind into my life!  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to get/stay fired up for the Lord.  This is not the time to become halfhearted in your faith, but rather the time to press through and set the Kingdom on FIRE!  Have a blessed week.  

How do you keep your fire for God lit?

Please read a related EmpowerMoment:  When “Church” Wears Off

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Ms. Latasha Sampson is an accomplished writer who is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Human Resources Management.  She resides in Nashville, Tennessee where she is a faithful member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. She serves tirelessly with the Evangelism Team there.  Latasha also works at Mt. Zion as a member of the Administrative Support Staff. Her favorite scripture is “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.” Isaiah 54:17

Assignment, Back To School Series, Commitment, Completion, Graduation, Motivation, Persistance

Back to School: To the Graduation Line

School has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.  Read this week as our writers will share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  So, come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  (Galatians 6:9 NIV)

I didn’t know what to really expect about my first day/year of college.  I remember being so nervous about starting college and being a freshman all over again.  I became so nervous that I felt physically sick.  I was entering a new season and change looked scary.  However, I made it through my first day of college and my first year too.  I eventually became comfortable and familiar with being a college student attending a university in a city close to home.  College was actually not a bad experience, but my grades proved otherwise—I went from a straight ‘A’ senior in high school to a ‘D’ and ‘F’ student in college. It was during my sophomore year of college that I began to experience a setback.

Some time before this setback, I changed majors.  I changed my major from Art & Design: Graphic Design to English: Professional & Technical Writing.  I only picked graphic design because people kept saying that a career in computers would be lucrative.  So, I thought this program of study was best because I could make money and still be creative.  Yet, I shifted majors after failing one or two of my graphic design classes, much prayer and a conversation with a stranger that ended with this question: “Why are you working with computers if you love to write?”

After I switched majors, I began to excel, yet my GPA was so low it was hard to recover and so I was dropped.  I had been dropped (yes, dismissed) from the university and I also lost my financial aid.  I had been dropped because my GPA was continually low, and less than 2.0 and I had been placed on academic probation again although I was working hard and rarely missing class.  I was shocked and in dismay.  I could have let this setback overcome me; however, within a day of finding out this news I inquired from my school’s officials on how to get back in school.  I was told that I had to petition to get reinstated and get my financial aid back.  Staying out of school wasn’t an option so I immediately tried to resolve it.  I filled out some petitioning forms basically describing the cause for my poor academic standing and why I wanted to get back in, etc.  Then I had to visit my dean for the first time.  I remember sitting outside her office with the door open, waiting for her to be done conversing with another student.  The student, who was a young man, resembled a child sitting in the principal’s office waiting for the principal’s judgment.  When done, he walked out and as he passed me, the dean looked at me and said in her motherly tone, “Now what’s your problem?”  Her greeting made me so nervous.  I went into her office thinking that I didn’t ever want to see her again, especially under those circumstances.  I had to explain to her that I had been dropped and the reasons I believed my GPA was low and not improving.  I remember telling her it could be that I had been working too many hours and studying less.  I had been working two part-time jobs for a while and I remember with one I worked 70 hours in 10 days.  I also was trying to still bring up my GPA but I had failed the same math class at least twice.

So she helped me to come up with a plan of action.  I needed to study more and work fewer hours. The dean had mercy upon me and reinstated me.  Praise God for His mercy!  I didn’t just get reinstated, but my school released my financial aid.  I had to take student support classes where I was taught how to write research papers, take tests and manage my time.  I also sought math tutoring.  I was determined to succeed and I excelled in my major.  We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Hebrews 6:12 NIV)

There were other trials and tribulations that I had to overcome during college.  I had to overcome my fear of public speaking when I took a speech class. My grandmother, whom I shared a special bond with, passed away. I had family issues and past wounds that surfaced that led me to seek counseling.  I had a financial aid issue once or twice again.  I had sarcastic relatives ask me how long it was going to take me to finish.

When I finally reached the end in 2007, it was a relief and I was at the season of completion.  I was doing well, passing all of my classes, and enjoying all things writing related.  I had been praying well before graduation.  I prayed to the Lord to let NOTHING hinder me from graduating.  The day I graduated, I was happy, nervous, and proud of myself.  The ceremony was beautiful because I was getting my Bachelor’s degree, and my class was the first class to graduate out of the newly built convocation center.  I was also the first person of my family to graduate from college.  When I walked across the stage, guess whose hand I had to shake?  Yes, it was the dean I had to face in bad circumstances.  But now I faced her with a smile and with the evidence that I had successfully made it to the end amidst trials and tribulations.

Going to college was not just an academic experience, but a life-learning one.  I learned so much in 7 ½ years of college.  I learned to be patient.  I learned there is a time and a season for everything.  I learned that God’s grace can carry you through.  I learned to persevere and that all things are possible with God.  I learned that tests and trials define your character and strengthen your faith.  We need not just arrive at salvation, but let’s strive for that Crown of Life through maintaining our faith, patience and dependency upon God.  Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  (James 1:12 NIV)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your mercy and grace.  Thank You for always finishing what You start and being a God of excellence.  Thank You for teaching me patience and perseverance.  Thank You for strengthening me and loving me beyond my failures, weaknesses and disappointments.  I thank You for every test and trial which strengthens my faith.  I thank You, Daddy, for giving me a destiny and I pray You continue me on that path to live and fulfill Your purpose for my life.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to maintain patience and perseverance to the end.  Maintain your faith through the tests and trials, waiting periods, and the process.  Never give up what God has ordained for you.  Hold fast to your faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Trust Him through every test, trial and storm.  Ask the Lord to perfect His patience in you and give you an understanding of the lesson behind each test and trial.  Know all things are possible with God if you believe. 

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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.

Commitment, Faithfulness, Honesty/Truth, Praise/Worship

What Are You Really In This For?

I attended a Christian poetry set recently.  One of the poems recited basically asked the question, “What if you got to heaven and you found everything you ever wanted and saw everyone you wanted to see there…except God?  Would you still want to be there?”

It took me back and made me really ponder the question, “Katrina, what are you REALLY in this for?”  There’s a popular song that says, “If the Lord never does anything else for me, he’s done enough!”  When we really think about that statement, do our hearts really feel that way? 

I had to admit that at times, I have had the wrong idea of what my life is all about.  Many times I have emphasized being saved so I can go to heaven, when my real purpose is to glorify God.  We were created for worship…PERIOD.

I had to repent for my selfish way of thinking.  “…and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me, whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10: 38-39 NIV) I was so focused on getting to heaven and getting what I want God to bless me with, that I was missing the mark.  If I continued like this, I would never gain what I desire because at its root, my heart was self-serving.  My primary goal, instead, should have been and IS now, working to give glory to God and build His kingdom.  “…Seek ye first [wholeheartedly] the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you…” (Matthew 6:33 NIV)

Dear Daddy,

I love You so much!  I thank You for who You are in my life and how much You love me!  I cannot thank You enough for how You take care of me.  I deeply appreciate how You hold me and never let me go in spite of all my issues.  Lord, forgive me for the times I took on a selfish spirit in which my relationship with You became more about what You were doing for me.  Lord, I ask that You give me a Job anointing. No matter what, I never want to stop loving and serving You.  I want to continue to draw closer to You. Lord, help me to increase my love more and more every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you reflect on the following questions: “What if you knew that regardless of how much you praised, worshipped, and served God in your life, you were still going to receive your due payment for the sins you have committed? (meaning you would still go to hell)  Would you still follow Christ?”

Feel free to answer the questions in our comment section below.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: When “Church” Wears Off

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 Ms. Katrina Richard is an up and coming professional residing in Chicago, Illinois.  She strives to incorporate knowledge and life-skills to teenagers in her profession as a high school history teacher.  Katrina is very active in her church community where she serves in the prayer ministry as well as in the nursery.  She has a passion for serving in the lesser known areas of ministry because she believes every facet of ministry is important to kingdom building and spiritual development of the believers. Her favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Commitment, Completion, Faithfulness, Focus, Growth/Maturity, Motivation, Persistance

Commitment Issues

My cousin and I had a conversation last week about the many reasons I may still be single.  However, the one that stuck out to me the most was my failure to commit. It is not as though I have never been able to commit because for many years I was in committed relationships.  Somewhere along the way I developed an anxiety about the thought of committing myself completely to anything.

Ironically, this week my church has challenged us to a 40 day turn around, and the first area that we must focus on is greater commitment.  I have realized in doing this that my failure to commit extends past physical relationships and has transcended into spiritual ones as well.  I have been cheating on God! I say that I am committed to our relationship, but I am constantly looking outside our relationship for affirmation and confirmation that only He can give me. “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of Truth.” (Psalm 31:5 KJV)

I struggled with whether or not I should use that scripture because it was given to us to use as a part of our fast.  However, God placed that scripture in my heart during my prayer time before I even knew it was on the paper.  That was amazing to me that God was revealing things to me in a variety of ways. God wants my greater commitment to be with Him!  We all have some areas of our life that can use more work in the area of commitment.

In my situation I realized that I can not commit myself to a relationship in the flesh until I commit to Him in my spirit.  I say I am vested in the relationship I have with my Daddy, but I’m questioning His whereabouts all the time. And yet, He is the one who has proven Himself time and time again in my life.  “O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many baskets ye took up?” (Matthew 16:8-10 KJV)

God has proven to me that He is a faithful God.  I am the one who is cheating, but I put the blame on Him.  If I am going to be in a committed relationship with the Lord I must trust Him completely.  I can’t look at the things that other people have done to make me afraid of commitment. Jesus committed himself to me when He died on the cross.  It is my turn to show my commitment to Him.  Am I willing to close my eyes, and go to sleep because I trust Him that much?  Am I willing to communicate with Him first before going to others outside our relationship? Am I willing to spend more time with Him so that our relationship can continue to grow?

Dear Daddy,

I come before You today asking for Your forgiveness for all the acts of cheating I have been involved in throughout our relationship.  I pray for forgiveness, as well as continued strength in regards to our relationship.  I need to understand that You are always here with me even if I cannot see You.  I need to realize that being committed to You is the first step and all things will work out how You see fit.  Thank You, Daddy, for sticking by me and staying committed, even when I was unfaithful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to show the Lord that you are trustworthy.  If God cannot trust us in a relationship with Him, then how can He trust us in the next dimension? I challenge you to commit yourself to whatever it is God has called you to do, whether it’s to become a better mother, daughter, employee, servant, or lover of the Lord.  Whatever area you need to commit to, like Nike JUST DO IT!

What are you willing to do in order to show God your commitment? Tell us about it in the comment box.

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Ms. Sherita Shelton currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Professional Counseling and is currently pursuing her counseling license.  Sherita works as a therapist and case manager for children as well as adults.  She facilitates groups for single women and offers mentoring and individual counseling for her clients.  Sherita’s favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lot not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”