Forgiveness, Marriage, Why Did I Get Married Series

Why Did I Get Married: Get Out of the Way

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:9

This scripture is a very popular scripture involving marriages. I would even argue that it is high on the list as one of the most important rules to marriage. Early in our marriage my husband and I faced one of the hardest trials of our life. We didn’t know what to do, whom to turn to or where to run. Looking back, it forced us to develop a foundation that involved God.

As the situation began to dissipate, I held resentment and anger that it even occurred.  And what rang true was this scripture, stitched on a wedding blanket that I received as a wedding gift. “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” At that moment, I realized that sometimes that someone could be ME. It didn’t have to be an outside person, but what about the people on the inside of the relationship? Sometimes we can get in the way of our marriage flourishing.

I’ve heard countless stories about couples upset and arguing about things in the past and only one person is continuing to hold the issue over the other person’s head. The unforgiving heart is causing a wedge between the marriage that creates room for the enemy to squeeze in (some wedges are so big that he can just walk in) to kill, steal, and destroy the institution that God has placed as an image of His love.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your Word. Sometimes we like to blame other people for ruining our marriage when in actuality we are mishandling the “goods”.  Please create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me towards my spouse, that reflects You.  Help me to get out of the way and allow You to mold two hearts into being one. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Ladies, if you are in a marriage, or about to be in a marriage, I EMPOWER you to be overprotective of your marriage. Do not allow ANYONE to separate what you have going on with the man God has put in your life as your husband, even if it is you. Sometimes we have to step back and allow God to direct our speech, actions and our heart.

Ladies, how do you protect your message, even if it is from yourself?

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Wise Women Build

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As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is a 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 and her husband serve as Co-Service leaders and Co-Group leaders of SustainedLove, which supports marriage get-a-ways from Family Life. Khalilah 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 two daughters. They attend Vaughn Forest Church. Check out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.

Forgiveness, God's Grace, God's Love, God's Mercy, Self Forgiveness

A New Day – A New You!

I was recently given one of the most thoughtful gifts that I have ever received.  Someone made a calendar for me.  It included pictures of me as well as famous quotes on each month.  It had all the special days of my year such as my birthday and holidays. I was so excited that I had received this gift.  I looked at it daily because there were pictures of me.  As I flipped the pages of the calendar I realized that every month was a new ME: a new picture of me, a new quote for me, a new life for me. That is how God works in our lives.  Things from our previous months and previous years don’t matter; He simply flips the page to our new beginnings.

 “And all the trees will know that it is I, the Lord, who cuts the tall tree down and makes the short tree grow tall. It is I who makes the green tree wither and gives the dead tree new life. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I said!” (Ezekiel 17:24 NLT)

The Lord is always turning the page in our lives. There have been many situations in our lives that we wish that we could simply remove from the calendar.  However, we do not have to remove that day because it is now a part of our past.  God has already forgiven us for whatever lies in our past.

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.  He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:7-8 NLT)

Many times we would like to simply forget things from our past and act as though things never happened.  The problem with that is we forget where God has brought us from.  We do not have to be ashamed of our past or attempt to erase it because it has already been forgiven.  Those experiences that we wish we could turn the page on assist us in becoming the Christians we are.  It is a testimony that attests to where we used to be weeks, months, years ago.  Walk toward your vision, fulfill your purpose, and reach your destiny. Today is a new day!

 Dear Daddy,

 I come before You today thanking You for turning the page on my past indiscretions.  I pray for strength in order to ask for Your forgiveness from the things I am still holding on to. I need guidance in whatever new endeavors that I am moving towards.  Teach me to be an example, based on my previous sins, to show others how far You can bring them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

I EMPOWER you today to forgive yourself of your past so that you can actively participate in your future. Do not let the things that have happened on previous days creep into today and steal your joy.  God has already forgiven us of the things that we continue to carry around. Learn to flip through toward a new YOU!

How have you learned to move past the mistakes of your past to get to the new you that God has ordained? Share your story with us.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Keep At It

Please click here to vote for EmpowerMoments in the 2012 BlackWeBlog Awards!

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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.”

Back To School Series, Conviction, Forgiveness, Patience, Teacher/Student

Back To School: The Wildcat Ways

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

I started working at my new school in early August and I absolutely love my job.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I love this school so much and it hit me—“The Wildcat Ways”.  Our mascot is the wildcat and we operate under four principles: respect, responsibility, readiness, and safety.  These four principles are called “The Wildcat Ways”.  During the first few weeks of school, I spent an extensive amount of time modeling and practicing these principles with my students.

I love the principles because they invite structure and they hold students accountable for their actions.  I thought students had mastered “The Wildcat Ways” until they had a bad day.  I found myself reprimanding them and helping them realize the wrong they had done.  I was so hard on them for not following the “Ways”.  I screamed, yelled and fussed for about 30 minutes until I had an ‘Aha moment‘.  I thought about how many times I had strayed away from the principles that God had instilled in me.  I thought about the many times I have to be reminded of scriptures and the Word of God.

How could I be so hard on them for being kids and messing up when God has not been hard on me for messing up over and over?  God has let His expectations be known and sometimes I still don’t do what’s right.  You know what God does?  He puts me back on the right path.

When I am not respectful to His will…God reminds me that, “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13 NLT)

When I am not being responsible and accountable for knowing the Word and how I am supposed to live…I am reminded that I am to study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2: 15 KJV)

When I am not ready for my assignment or for the next season in my life…God reminds me, “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.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

When I am out of the Will of God, not practicing safety, or not guarding my heart…He reminds me that He is my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence. “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. (2 Samuel 22: 3-4 NASB)

The next time I am ready to throw a tantrum because my students are not actively engaging in “The Wildcat Ways,” I am going to remember that I don’t always do everything I am supposed to do and my Daddy always forgives me and lets me start anew.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for being an understanding God. Thank You for protecting me when I wasn’t being respectful, responsible, ready or safe in Your will for my life.  Continue to mold me into the woman of God that You will have me to be.  Daddy, I need You to continue to guide my thoughts, words and actions when other people don’t do Your will.  Teach me to love with an agape love, the same as You love me!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to remember to be respectful to God in everything that you do.  I EMPOWER you to be responsible and accountable for living in the Will of God.  Always be ready for what God has for you and be ready for attacks from the enemy. Learn to be patient when people are not operating in excellence and remember that God forgives you, so you need to forgive them.

What are four principles you are maintaining today? When was the last time God had to remind you about being patient when people are not operating in excellence?

Read A Related EmpowerMoment: You Know Better!

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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.”

Attitude, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Self Forgiveness, Throwback Thursdays

Throwback Thursday: The Mostaccioli Massacre

It’s Throwback Thursday! This EmpowerMoment was originally published on May 31, 2011. Enjoy this blast from the past!

Sunday, March 27 was my mother’s birthday and I decided to host a small dinner for her at my house. I only invited a few close family members and friends. I’m not a big cook so I kept the menu short and sweet. I settled on one of my few specialties, mostaccioli. Anyone who has ever tasted my coveted pasta dish knows that it’s the bomb dot com! My special blend of sauces, herbs and meat is just scrumptious, if I must say so myself! Unfortunately, that day when my house was full of “just left church growling bellies” my mostaccioli was the absolute worst! It was so nasty that I couldn’t even eat it. What went wrong, you ask? I changed my routine and used a different brand of ground turkey simply because I wanted to save a few dollars. I literally could not sleep for nights after that horrible mistake. I was so consumed with thoughts of how people were talking about me and my food. I was so ashamed and upset that I messed up. I literally could not forgive myself for making such a silly mistake. You’re probably reading this and extremely confused wondering why it bothered me so much. Well, when I make a mistake it really affects me. In the same light, when I sin I have a hard time forgiving myself and I’m willing to bet that some of you struggle in that area as well. Preparing a bad pasta dish is definitely not a sin but the effects of that incident are similar to how we process our mistakes. Let’s answer some questions to help us work through our self-forgiveness:

  • How did I mess up like this? Well, I decided to take the cheaper route and buy some turkey that I was unfamiliar with. Maybe your route was easier or quicker. But the easiest paths often lead us down a road that we really shouldn’t be traveling and into sinful behavior. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. “ (Matthew 7:13 NIV)
  • I’ve messed up so badly, what will people think of me? As I said before, I was so concerned with what people were saying and thinking of me as a result of the food that was eaten in my home. Maybe your mistake has been broadcast for the entire world to see. It’s hard for us to move past our mistakes because we’re too worried about what the world thinks of us. Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10 NLT) (And if everyone is honest, they’ve prepared a bad meal or two themselves! wink wink)
  • God forgave me, why can’t I forgive myself? I was literally tossing and turning in my bed wrestling with this yucky food incident. I was so mad at myself and left wandering how I could mess this up. But then I remembered what I told you at the beginning of this rant—I’m not a big cook! So, yes there was room for error! Romans 12:3 tells us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. (NIV) Remembering that you are HUMAN, that you were BORN INTO SIN and that you will NEVER BE PERFECT should make it a lot easier for you to forgive yourself for that slip-up. Stop being so hard on yourself!

Truthfully, I’ve held onto my mostaccioli massacre far too long. Today I’ve decided to release it! And yes, I will attempt to create my dish again…we can’t stop pursuing our assignments simply because we mess up! Only next time I will stick with what I know works and I challenge you to do the same. Follow the Word because it’s the tried and true recipe for success!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your unfailing love! Please forgive me for my slip-ups. I know there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Now that You have forgiven me, free me to forgive myself. Show me where I stumbled so that I don’t have to walk this path again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to forgive yourself for any mistakes that you’ve made. Repent and release yourself because God already has! Walk in freedom today my dear!

Have you ever made a mistake so terrible that you found it hard to forgive yourself? Share your story with us.

Read A Related EmpowerMoment: Unmasked

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

Forgiveness, Growth/Maturity, Honesty/Truth, Relationships, Spiritual Therapy, Throwback Thursdays

Throwback Thursday: The “Non-Factors” In Our Lives

It’s Throwback Thursday! This EmpowerMoment was originally published on August 20, 2011. Enjoy this blast from the past!

…And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

Recently, I’ve heard more and more people use the expression, “He/She is a non-factor!” or “That/This is a non-factor!”  Being the curious person I am, I asked my godsister where the expression came from.  She told me it came out of the reality show, “Basketball Wives.”  Again being curious, I decided to watch an episode of the show on OnDemand.  Long story short, I said out loud, “CLEARLY, they are lying to themselves about these things being non-factors!”  The people and things said to be “non-factors” are very real factors given that they were constantly discussed or there was always some kind of emotional response every time it/they were brought up.  I continued to sit watching the show shaking my head at what I saw as foolishness when God checked me!  “How dare you judge someone when you do the same thing with the so-called “non-factors” in your life!”  Instantly I was convicted!

There were so many things and people I said I was done with, situations that were “non-factors” in my life; however, I was still talking about them!  Every time I saw them, every time they were brought up in conversation I had an emotional response whether it was:  sadness, anger, longing, self-pity or just plain ol’ attitude complete with rolled eyes and lips smacking!  I realized that I had some real issues in this area.  The Bible says, “…Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you, he will never let the righteous fall!” (Psalms 55:22 NIV)  I realized I “said” I was done with certain things and situations but had not truly given them to God because I had no peace concerning them.  I also realized that I had not moved on from certain people I “claimed” to be over and free from.  God charges us to “…bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive just as the Lord forgave you, and over all these virtues put on love…” (Colossians 3:13-14 NIV)

I was holding on to them through my unforgiveness and I DEFINITELY was NOT showing them Godly love (see 1 Corinthians 13).  I immediately asked God for forgiveness and asked God to help me really give ALL my cares to Him and also help me to genuinely forgive those I was holding on to.  While I am still in this process [and believe me it is definitely a PROCESS], I believe God will be true to His word, “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” (Philippians 1:6 NIV)  Now I can speak to co-workers that I had not spoken to since we fell out last school year, without it being a struggle.  I recently saw an ex-boyfriend that I thought I would never get over and there was nothing there. I even congratulated him on his marriage and truly meant it.  That was a real victory for me; I truly believed that I would never get over him. HALLELUJAH!!!  I can now admit that celibacy has been and continues to be a real struggle for me. I put on the façade that it was so easy for me and said something similar to a desire for sex being a non-factor in my life. This could not have been FARTHER from the truth!

God has shown and continues to show me that if I continue to surrender everything and everyone to Him, He can and will free me from things and people that do not go along with the destiny He has for me.  I will then be able to say, “That/This/He/She is a NON-FACTOR in my life,” and it be the honest to goodness truth!!!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your conviction and Your correction.  Thank You for never letting us be so comfortable that we stop striving to grow in You.  Thank You for always being a loving father that not only convicts and corrects but also leads us in the right direction and remains with us as we go on our journey.  We ask that You continue to show us the areas in which we need to grow.  We ask that You remove anything or anyone that would hinder the perfect plan that You have for our lives.  We also ask You for wisdom that we let go of the things that You want to remove and accept those things that You want us to have.  We pray that You replace the people that we have had to let go with DIVINE connections who You will use to help us get to the destiny You have called us to. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Sisters I EMPOWER you today to be Honest with yourself, expose the so called “non-factors” that are FACTORS in your life and begin to take the following steps to become free from it or them:

  1.  PRAY – Be completely honest with God about it/them 
  2. Don’t seek it/them out – stop bringing it/them up in conversation, stop going on their Facebook page, unfollow them on Twitter if you have to.  Remove any triggers (music, movies, pictures, etc.) that will take your thoughts to it/them.
  3. Check yourself – Two wrongs don’t make a right.  Speak even if they don’t.  If they are talking about you, don’t respond with gossip of your own.
  4.  In ALL THINGS acknowledge GOD, be consistent in your prayer life, continue to study God’s word, never stop thanking and praise God for all the things he has done/doing/will do, and never stop acknowledging who He is/has been/continues to be in your life.

Have you falsely convinced yourself that someone or something is a non-factor in your life? How has this post Empowered you to deal with it?  Share your story with us in the comments.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Pierced

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Ms. Katrina Richard is an up and coming professional residing in Chicago, IL.  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.”

Forgiveness, Gentleness, Growth/Maturity, Humility, Single in the City Series, Singleness

Single in the City 10: A Gentleman with a Future and a Past

A while ago, I was subtly approached by a male who I have a strictly professional relationship with. He expressed to me that his feelings were more than just office-related, but rather he felt that we had a real connection. Immediately I felt he was simply “running game”, so I decided not to entertain it much until I realized that he was not giving up. When I finally decided to give him a chance, our relationship progressed to nothing more than random texts and sporadic phone calls. I started to think that I had missed my opportunity until one day he chose to make his move.

Our first date was AWESOME! He proved to me that chivalry was indeed alive as he held the door open, pulled out my chair, and asked several times if I was alright. At dinner we talked, or better yet I talked and he listened intensely asking questions about ME along the way. I was utterly shocked that I was amidst a true gentleman.

After our meal we went to a spot in the park that overlooked the entire city to finish our conversation. It was then that I found out about his life before he learned to love the Lord. Long story short, the things of his past were not pretty as it involved a lot of violence, crime and imprisonment. Truthfully, a piece of me was turned off at the thought that this man had done everything under the sun until I had a flashback of my life and realized that many situations were quite similar.

“The righteous will move onward and forward, and those with pure hearts will be stronger and stronger.” (Job 17:9 NLT)

Ladies, being in the presence of this man was a reality check in that I had to understand that we all have a past, but more importantly we have a future! As he vividly described the events of his past, he was sure to let me know that all along he was crying out to Jesus but didn’t want to leave what he thought was the “life.” Since he surrendered to God, he has been abundantly blessed while serving the Lord wholeheartedly. As the above scripture implies, once we decide to live a life pleasing to God our past is behind us and our new clean and pure heart will become stronger as we press on. (I am not sure where this relationship will go from here but I am certain that this guy has changed my perspective about men who have endured more than the surface will ever show.)

Dear Daddy,

I praise Your name for continuing to love me despite my past. Thank You for trusting me enough to lead me to my future no matter what I did before accepting You as my Lord and Savior. Help me to stay focused on my not yet opposed to the back then. You have delivered me from it and I receive the blessings that You have for my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Single gals, I EMPOWER you to learn as much as you can while you are in the dating arena. There are many profitable single Christian men if only we can stop focusing on their past and believe in their futures. Have a BLESSED week!! ☺

Ladies, what advice do you have to offer our saved, single ladies in the dating arena? We would like to hear your responses below.

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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

Forgiveness, Fruit of the Spirit, Gentleness, Growth/Maturity, Humility, Kindness, Patience, Throwback Thursdays

Throwback Thursday: If You Live In A Glass House…

It’s Throwback Thursday! This EmpowerMoment was originally published on July 12, 2011. Enjoy this blast from the past!

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!

What is your first reaction when you find out that your Christian brother or sister has made a mistake? Have you been on the receiving end of those stones?

Read A Related EmpowerMoment: Don’t Let It Get To You!

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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.”

Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God, God's Love, Love, Miscellaneous, Restoration

The Dress

This past week I pulled a dress out of my closet that had been hanging there for over three years. The reason it’s been in the closet so long is two-fold:

1. I had gained weight and not been able to fit the dress since I last wore it.

2. It was the dress I wore to the funeral of my first love, the father of my children.

At the beginning of this year, I decided that I was going to make my health a priority. As I made lifestyle changes, I started shedding the excess weight I’d been carrying around. Although I didn’t know where I would wear the dress next, I knew I would be able to wear it in a matter of time. When I took it out of the closet last week, I had no problem putting it on and it actually looked better than it had the first time I wore it! But it was bittersweet.

I was now going to wear the dress to the funeral of my nephew, my sister’s son.

One day last week, I was on my way to the mall to purchase the last outfit I would ever buy my nephew, the one he would go to his grave in. It was then that God began to speak to me about the dress. He told me that while I considered this dress as my ‘funeral dress’, it was a representative of so much more. Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV)

The black dress actually represents God’s love for me! He loves me so much that He has built me up and given me the strength to face the challenges of the black dress each and every time I have been confronted with them. When I had to bury the father of my children, God made sure that I stood strong, was able to love and comfort my children and recognize that even though I was hurting about how he was taken, I got better instead of bitter because of the love of God! When I had given up on myself and my desire to live a healthy lifestyle, was overpowered by the fear of gaining all the weight back again, there that black dress hung as a symbol of strength once again, reminding me that God loves me and will give me the strength to overcome the battle I have with my weight. On those mornings when I didn’t want to get up and do my workout, I could see that black dress; it stood out amongst all the clutter in the closet and I continued to push through.

As I was trying to mentally prepare myself to go back to the funeral home to make the final preparations for the homegoing service of my nephew—whom I will always remember as the snotty nosed little brother I never had, who I have lost so much sleep over this past week because of the way he was taken—I recognized once again that when it came time to step into that black dress and head to the funeral, the love of God would be all around me, holding me up and giving me the strength I needed to take each and every step that day!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for always being the strength that I need when I feel I have nothing more to give, say or do. Thank You for loving me through all of the good and bad times and assuring me that You will always be right by my side. I pray that when doubt begins to creep in, I will first look up and call on Your name because I know that I can do all things through You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Mighty ladies of God, today I EMPOWER you to embrace the strength that you have as an heir to the kingdom of your heavenly Father! Refuse to allow the doubt of people and situations to have any effect on that which you know to be true and continue to stand on His word!

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Ms. Tiffany Huff is the devoted mother of two boys, a blogger, lover of food and travel, and aspiring entrepreneur with a passion for helping others live out their purposes. She is looking forward to growing in her walk and honoring God through sharing her EmpowerMoments. One of her meditation scriptures is Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Forgiveness, Growth/Maturity, I Am Free Series

I Am Free: Unforgiveness

To commemorate our nation’s independence this week, we are featuring a series entitled “I Am Free”. Read this week as our writers share how God has delivered them and set them free!

I am FREE from unforgiveness!

This past session of women’s Bible study at church was life changing for me. We had been reading and studying from The Resolution for Women by Patricia Shearer. One of the resolutions that really resonated with me was the resolution on forgiveness. During this time of study and fellowship with other sisters in Christ, I learned that I had become very angry and bitter because I was carrying around unforgiveness for someone who would not accept responsibility for harming my child. I was praying day in and day out asking God to heal my heart, protect my baby and to do what He needed to do in the lives of those that harmed my child so that they might have peace as well. What I didn’t realize until I began to study what the Word says about forgiveness is that what I was really praying for was revenge. I wanted those responsible for harming my child to experience a little pain; I wanted them to own up and acknowledge the wrong that was done. I felt that was owed to my baby and me. Yet it is not God’s desire for me to pray for revenge or handle things my way.

Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14 NIV)

One of the discussions we had during the study was about things that are deemed unforgivable. The list was pretty long: infidelity, false imprisonment, but “harm against my child” was mentioned over, and over again…and each time, I thought my feelings were validated. Once we got to the Word, I knew I was wrong again.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22 NIV)

After the second session, I picked up the phone and called the person that I was so angry and bitter with! Praise God! The Holy Spirit came over me and I have not felt better a day in my life! I forgave them, even though they had not acknowledged any wrong, and even apologized for anything I did or said offensively throughout the ordeal. His Word rings true each and every time if we will just stand on it! “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

What God put on my heart during those sessions were invaluable lessons:

1. It is not necessary for anybody to acknowledge wrongdoing for you to forgive them. See, when God is working on you He is working on those that have done you wrong as well, and as long as you focus on Him, He will take care of the rest.

…Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27 NIV)

2. Carrying around anger, bitterness and unforgiveness is only hurting you, not the other person(s). Forgiveness is part of the healing process for both parties, and you also will be forgiven.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV)

Dear Daddy,

I can not thank You enough for Your mercy, grace and peace! Thank You for setting me free from the bondage of unforgiveness! Please continue to lead me first to Your Word, before I become consumed with anger, bitterness or the thought of being able to forgive. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to forgive others as your Father continues to forgive you! Let go of the pain, hurt, anger, bitterness and sorrows you are carrying around because you are trying to win a battle that is not yours to fight! Lay your burdens down and give them to God!

Ask God who you need to forgive today? Free them and yourself today!

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Ms. Tiffany Huff is the devoted mother of two boys, a blogger, lover of food and travel, and aspiring entrepreneur with a passion for helping others live out their purposes. She is looking forward to growing in her walk and honoring God through sharing her EmpowerMoments. One of her meditation scriptures is Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Black Music Month Series, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Grace, God's Love, Inspirational, Self Forgiveness

Even Me?

June is Black Music Month! To celebrate, each of our EmpowerMoments will be based on Black music for the entire month. This includes Black songwriters, producers or performers. Stay tuned as we use various genres of Black music to tell our stories and exemplify the beauty of God’s love! Happy Black Music Month! Dance as if no one is watching!

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” (Colossians 1:21-22 NIV)

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that God loves someone like me. I look back over my life and often it is easy to ask, “Lord, can you love someone like me?”

As I’ve ministered to women about their personal stories and shared my own, I am even more convinced that God loves us. Testimonies such as these:

“I was beaten and abused. I was raped and molested and grew up thinking that I was worthless. I was ripped of any purity that my friends spoke of and my self-worth was nonexistent. I wondered could God love someone like me.” Yes He can. “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.” (Joel 2:25-26 ESV)

“I grew up a promiscuous teen and I didn’t see a problem with it. I have had about four abortions and have slept with clergymen, husbands, and just random people. Can God love someone like me?” Yes He can. “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].” (I John 1:9 AMP)

“I grew up in foster care, shifting from home to home. My parents abandoned me and didn’t care to take care of me. I grew up feeling like failure was my destiny. Can God love someone like me?” Yes He can, and David is a witness. “Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child].” (Psalms 27:10 AMP)

“I’m self-righteous. I haven’t recognized that my life has been spared due to grace and that my reputation has been salvaged because of God. I figured it is all of my doing. Can God love someone like me?” Yes He can, but we have to humble ourselves. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10 NIV)

“I preach God’s word in worship service, yet I fornicate throughout the week. I don’t practice what I preach. I steal from God’s church by holding my tithes and I cause offense to his vulnerable followers with insensitive counsel. Can God really love someone like me?” Yes He can. Confess with your mouth and you shall be forgiven. “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13 NIV)

“I slept with my best friend’s husband, and she doesn’t know. I’m scared to confess and the secret is eating me alive. I knew what I was doing, but failed to stand for my morals. Can God love someone like me?” He can, and not only does He love you but He can forgive you too. “…Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:47-48 NIV)

Can you relate to any of these testimonies? If they do not fit you perfectly, I’m sure we all can relate to at least parts of these. I know I can. What’s interesting about God is that through repentance and submission, God forgives and washes away all sins. God reminds us of this in Isaiah when He says, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18 NIV)

Until you can believe that God loves YOU, you will not have power in your life. God loves you beyond your sins and has sustained you through the harsh actions of others. Through Paul, His Word reminds us, “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 38-39 NIV)  This means your past, present, and future cannot separate you from the love of God. Not even the demonic forces (whom many of us call haters) can separate you from the love of God.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for loving me. Thank You for giving me the opportunity to accept the salvation from Your Son Jesus Christ so that now I can say, “You love even a sinner like me.” Lord help me to realize the greatness of Your love so that I may walk in power, knowing and not wavering that You love me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to shout from the roof tops, whether figuratively from your spirit or literally from your mouth (there’s even more power in your tongue), tweet it or update your Facebook page that God loves you. Say it with boldness, “God loves even me!”

Allow the ministry of Beyond Words to usher you into worship with this Love Medley by God’s Chosen.

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As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is a 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 and her husband serve as Co-Service leaders and Co-Group leaders of SustainedLove, which supports marriage get-a-ways from Family Life. Khalilah 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 four-year old daughter. They attend Vaughn Forest Church.  Check out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.