Black Music Month Series, Obedience

What Are You Running For?

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! He can be found virtually anywhere if we earnestly look for Him and listen intently! Happy Black Music Month! Dance as if no one is watching!

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord… (Jonah 1:1-3 NIV)

Recently, I ran from something God told me to do. The very thing God instructed me to do was scary, unattractive and nothing close to what I wanted for myself. To some, it may be exciting, and they would kill for the chance to go where God is taking me. However, once He revealed his plan and allowed me to see some of the major players in His plan, I took off. Fear took over and the excuses began to flow: “Lord I’m not good enough. I’m crazy; God can’t be saying this to me. This isn’t how I saw my life going. Oh Lord why me? Is there somebody else you can send? Look, that’s fine but I just don’t want to do it, etc.”

Then the Lord sent a great wind from the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. (Jonah1:4 NIV)

Just like a storm arose due to Jonah’s disobedience, God sent a storm in my life because of mine. Soon after, everything began to fall apart. I was holding on to some relationships I really didn’t want or need, but came in handy as excuses. The relationships became extremely nerve wrecking and then I pulled away from the people. Everything ceased to fulfill me. I had to jump ship in order to find peace. Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. (v.15)

After jumping ship, just like Jonah was swallowed by the great fish, I was pushed into isolation. While there, I repented and began to hear God more clearly. Again, He told me what he wanted me to do with plenty of confirmation. It was not any more exciting or glamorous than before. However, this time I realized what God wanted was necessary in the journey He has planned for me. I had to realize and remember that my calling isn’t just for me, but for others.

In Jonah 3, we see Jonah finally obey God, the Ninevites turn from their evil ways, and God have compassion and spare their lives (v.10).

A while back I asked God to make an example out of me. I didn’t realize what I was asking then. At every turn, I have seen someone watching me and a number of people, especially young women, take to me. Now, I understand why God is taking me in the direction He is and the importance of me sucking it up and doing exactly what He told me.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your mercy and Your grace. Thank You for second chances. Thank You for Your unconditional love and Your patience. Thank You for not allowing us to get too far before You pull us back. Thank You for guiding us, leading us and protecting us. Please give us the courage, strength, peace and guidance needed to do Your will. When we become afraid, please allow us to find peace in knowing You have not given us the spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to stop running! Even when the thing He tells you to do is scary, unappealing and so not like you imagined, trust Him and obey. God will walk with you and give you the grace to get that thing accomplished. Remember also that your calling isn’t just for you, but more so for others!

Enjoy this song by Shekinah Glory Ministry called Yes:

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Bettina Allen is currently working in security, with prior experience in customer service. She loves to read, write and dance. She loves God and is on a mission to be as close to Him as she possibly can. Bettina is constantly learning and growing from life’s experiences. God has given Bettina a word and she would love to share that word, along with all of the lessons He has taught her, with others. Bettina resides in Georgia and attends Life Church of Atlanta. Her favorite scripture is Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

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, God's Provisons, Obedience, Sin

But It Looks So Good!

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3: 2-6 NIV)

I imagine that it wouldn’t have been so easy to tempt Eve if the fruit on that tree was dull, bruised and rotten.  Notice, I didn’t say apple.  The Bible doesn’t specify what type of fruit it was, but I digress.  If the fruit wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, she probably would’ve given the serpent the “yuck face” and went on about her merry way.  But that’s not how the enemy tempted her.  The scripture tells us that this fruit was “pleasing to the eye.”  With our sight the enemy tempts us to disobey God.  He tempts us with that “thing” that we know we don’t need, but it looks so good to us.  As a matter of fact, many times that “thing” appears when you are vulnerable.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t have the same value.  It wouldn’t look soooo good.

Recently, I had the opportunity to make some extra money doing something that is almost second nature to me.  Although I knew what I would be doing was unethical, the large sum of money that I could make appealed to me.  All I could think of was using the money to get some items I wanted for my house and my closet.  I had already gone window shopping in my mind.  I would also be helping someone and in turn they would be “helping” me.  Since I knew I probably couldn’t do the task alone, I solicited one of my close friends to help.  I figured she could use the extra money too.  That’s when that still small voice spoke to me and said with great clarity, “But, why? Why are you doing this? Do you not trust me? Have I not supplied all of your needs? If you take this, you will miss out on the greater that I have in store for you.”  I wrestled with this all day.  Was it really God?  Wasn’t this an opportunity?  I knew better.  I knew that God would never support dishonesty and disobedience to His will.  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (James 1:13-14 KJV)

What was this “greater” that God was speaking of?  Was I willing to risk what God had in store for me for something that in comparison would be so miniscule?  I decided it wasn’t worth the risk, but I didn’t fully release it.

She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. …The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:6,12 NIV)  Less than a week later, the opportunity was withdrawn and I felt such a heavy weight lifted.  I decided not to partake; however I was still involving my friend in something that we both knew was wrong.  I rationalized in my own head that if God didn’t want her to do it, surely He would talk to her.  I ended up telling her how God spoke to me and she compared my action of passing the assignment to her to a child who gets admonished for doing something or being told no, so they tell their sibling to do it instead.  She was right.  When God told me to let it go, I was supposed to completely let it go.  However, I am glad that I serve a merciful God because in the short time since this happened I can see how God is blessing me with that “greater.”

Money isn’t always the subject of temptation.  Many of you may face temptation in a variety of ways. You made a commitment to take care of your temple (body); yet, everywhere you turn there are the most delectable desserts and scrumptious entrees.  You’ve been single for quite some time or maybe your husband isn’t showing you the right attention, but now that conversation with that smooth talking brother makes you tempted to engage in behavior that you know is unpleasing to God.  That food has never looked and smelled sooo good.  That brother that you met was your “ideal” man.  He smelled good, talked a good game, made you laugh, comforted you, and was quite handsome too.  Remember, if it didn’t look good, it wouldn’t be tempting.  Don’t miss out on what God has in store for you because you choose to temporarily satisfy your flesh or “help” God supply your needs.

Dear Daddy,

Forgive me for inserting my nose where it did not belong.  You have told me that You would supply my needs and give me the desires of my heart.  In James 4:7, You told me to resist the devil and he will flee… Help me to resist temptation as I put all of my trust in You.  Lord, I trust You completely.  Daddy, I know that even Your Son, Jesus, was tempted of the devil and He said, “Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God.”  If we are Your children and are following Your commandments, we have the power to speak that to the enemy too.  Thank You for being such a gracious and merciful God, willing to forgive us even when we falter.  Daddy, I love You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today I EMPOWER you to resist temptation.  If you are engaged in anything that you know is not pleasing to God or is in direct conflict with the instruction that He left for your life, let it go.  Do not miss out on the abundance God has for you because you have decided that “it looks so good,” and just this one time won’t hurt.

Have you found yourself struggling with temptation? How do you deal with it?

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Sensory Trickery

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

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

Attitude, Back To School Series, Direction/Guidance, Evangelism, Grandparents, Growth/Maturity, Mentor/Mentee, Obedience, Sin, Submission/Surrendering

Back to School: Rebel Without A Cause

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!

Growing up I was a bit more than your average “church girl”: Sunday – Regular Service, Tuesday- Choir Practice, Wednesday- Bible Study, Thursday- Prayer Meeting, Friday – Teen Ministry, Saturday- Junior Usher Board Meeting. I could quote scripture all day and was known as the over achiever in Sunday School. I wasn’t a member of just any church. I was a member of an Apostolic (Pentecostal) church; one that had many rules and standards: zero makeup, no jewelry, and no pants for women. While I was in elementary and middle school these things were okay for me. Sure I was teased about always being in church and the fact that I never wore pants, but I believed wholeheartedly in what I was doing. Furthermore, my grandmother made me and there was no questioning of her rules.

Then came the summer of transition. I was a 14-year-old bona fide teenager and headed for high school. I started “smelling myself” and questioning this strict regimen. I began secretly changing clothes when I left home so that I could wear pants and even got some lipstick. Boys entered the picture and the late nights began. My attitude completely changed and I became resentful of the life that I was forced to live. See I grew up in the house with older brothers and male cousins and they weren’t subjected to this harsh life, so one day I decided no more. My grandmother came to wake me up for church and I responded with a loud, “I’M NOT GOING!” The blow up was big and I defiantly stood my ground letting her know that no switch, belt or any other form of correction was going to change my mind. (Of course I said all of this after being chased out of the house to the front yard.) Eventually, she decided to let it go and this was the beginning of my “emancipation” from church slavery into the street life and academic failure.

And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. (Luke 15:11-13 KJV)

Thus began my journey as the Prodigal Daughter. At the young age of 14, I made a decision to stop making church a regular part of my life and dropped all of the strict standards that I was beholden to. I began to hang out until 3:00am, go to the nightclubs and started drinking. Although I would hang out with guys, I would not have sex and I would never smoke marijuana. For some reason in all of my rebellion those things were off limits. In my own mind, my behavior was okay because this is what my brothers did, I was staying out of “real” trouble and I wasn’t pregnant. My first semester in high school was the pits. I loved school and was quite studious; however, I kept getting in minor trouble that came with major consequences. Tardies to class (from staying out late) landed me in the Student Adjustment Program (SAP). SAP was like in school suspension but this is where “bad” kids were sent: fighters, people who disrespected teachers, and low performers. This was not my crowd. I was in Honors classes and participated in extracurricular activities even with my wild ways so how did I end up there? Originally I was sent for 3 days but then I got in trouble while in the program and landed an extra 40 days. WHAT?!! I got out of the program and was sent back AGAIN. It was difficult to keep up with my class work especially since this high school material was so new. I received my first set of BAD grades. To this day I never forget those grades because they made the difference in me graduating in the top ten in my class and coming in at #13. I felt like I was stuck in a downward spiral but at the same time I was hesitant to give up my new life.

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 KJV)

One day I overheard my grandmother mentioning to someone that she was contemplating sending me to reform school. Wait a minute! In my eyes reform school meant jail and I, my friends, was not jail material! It was as if a light bulb went off. God showed me how my rebellious living could shape the path of my life. I thought about my brothers, who unfortunately had served time in the juvenile detention center and jail, and I was determined that would not be my life. I was in the valley of decision regarding my life. I could learn the lessons from them without experiencing the path they were on.

While it would be years before I became a regular attendee at church and I never quite went back to the strict religious standards, I picked my Bible back up and began to study His word. I practiced self-discipline. I dove into my schoolwork, got heavily involved in school and community activities where I could make a real difference and joined athletic teams. That experience my freshman year in high school shaped so many others. It helped me avoid situations later in life. I was determined that I would not be a failure and disappoint the woman who worked so hard to provide for me or my heavenly Father who protected me while I was in the streets. I would no longer be a “rebel without a cause.”

Dear Daddy,

I am sorry that my rebellious living brought so much pain to those who gave their all to support me.  Thank You for saving me from myself. If it wasn’t for Your mercy and Your grace I would not be the person I am today. Lord, I am grateful for the training that I received as a child, the mentors that You sent me and the epiphany You gave me regarding my life. God, I ask that You help me share my story and be a beacon of light for other young women. Thank You for taking the time to come after this one lost sheep. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to look back over your journey and be grateful that you are not where you could have been. If you are on a path that leads to destruction, I urge you to consider your ways and ask God to reveal the best path for your life. Lastly, I want you to think about one young woman that you know who could use your guidance. Make a decision today to get involved and be a beacon of light for her. 

As you look back over your life, were you ever a rebel without a cause? Share your story with us.

Read a related EmpowerMoment:  The Night We Almost Died

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

Assignment, Generosity, Growth/Maturity, Kindness, Love, Obedience, Servitude

Maybe I’ll Say Yes…

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others…”(Philippians 2:4 NIV)

I’m pretty sure that many would agree that 2012 is passing by at a quick speed.  Not only is time passing by so quickly, but life is full.  It’s very easy to be too busy with life, family, work, church, and other responsibilities.  Almost every person I know—young, old, male, female, married, or single—complains about how busy he/she is.  When one is busy, which seems to be always lately, there is not enough time to fit in every responsibility and others too.

How does one find time for anything anymore?  The safe thing to do is say ‘no’ to anything extra, especially those unplanned and spontaneous opportunities that pop up.  We couldn’t possibly say yes right?  We have to go to work, clean the house, pay some bills, or we are just plain ol’ tired.  Well here is a wise and friendly reminder courtesy of the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes those things that spontaneously show up are opportunities for the Kingdom of God to advance!

The things you will be rewarded for in heaven are not the houses, cars, clothes, bank accounts, or careers that you attain here.  The things that will matter most are the things you have done for others because of Him.  Calling that elderly person who has no family and talking to them for a while, inviting your child to lay in the bed with you while you watch a movie and share laughs, giving a single mom who needs a break a twenty-five dollar pedicure, or writing an EmpowerMoment for a friend who didn’t have enough time to write one are those things that matter most.  Taking every chance to walk in love and express love to others is one thing that can surely move my Father’s heart!  Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. (1 Peter 1:22 NIV)

This EmpowerMoment was given by the Holy Spirit at an unplanned and spontaneous time.  I was on my way to sleep when I received an email from one of my team members.  She was so honest and genuine in her request for help and although I was tired, the Lord said otherwise.  I must agree that a time like this is when you get the best testimony and juiciest experience.  I’m glad that when my sister called and asked for my help, I paused before I spoke the word ‘no’ and replaced it with a ‘yes’ so that this reminder could get to you.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your unfailing love!  I thank You for giving me the wisdom to know when I need to proceed and say yes.  I thank You for giving me the heart to love and express love towards others.  I pray I continue to trust You and follow Your lead each day as You bless me with more opportunities to give You glory and express Your love.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, the next time something pops up unplanned and not on your agenda, I EMPOWER you to do the following: Pause and Pray.  Ask the Holy Spirit for discernment and instruction of what the Father desires for you to do. He may give you the go ahead of saying ‘no’ or maybe He will make you replace it with a ‘yes’.  Try it and see what happens!

Are you finding time to have these kinds of experiences?

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Mrs. Lisa M. Purnell-Marshall is happily married to the wonderful and inspiring Antoine L. Marshall. She is the proud mother of two gorgeous girls. Her voice is one of the leading and authentic voices for breast-feeding, especially for the African-American community and Generation Y. She currently works inside of her home and plans to become a professional licensed lactation consultant in 2014. She and her family are members at Spirit of Liberty Church located in Markham, IL. Embracing the love that God has for her, Lisa labors to live an acceptable and pure life through the leading and keeping of the Holy Spirit so that her attitude, words, and actions attract the glory of God. In her free time she loves receiving manis and pedis. Her favorite promises that she find comfort and reassurance in are: Psalm34:19: “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” and Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Attitude, Complaining, Goals & Dreams, God's Promises, God's Provisons, Growth/Maturity, Marriage, Obedience, Patience, Purpose, Restoration, Singleness, Stress, Trusting God

Living in the Microwave Age

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6 NLT)

I heard an author last week speak about how this is the ‘Microwave Age’ because everybody wants everything to happen quickly. I thought about life and how God has worked on my anxiety. I was a right now person; if I saw something I wanted in a store, I bought it; if I wanted to say something, I said it; if I was feeling a certain way, I reacted; if I wanted to lose weight, I took plenty of weight loss medicine. I know that was a reckless way to live life. Even my prayer life had turned microwavable. Every time I would really need God to do something I would pray, get up and wonder why He didn’t answer my prayer.

I started to question when was I going to get my blessing? When was I going to get a promotion? When was my marriage going to be the marriage I pray for? When was I going to lose weight and have the physique that I want? When? When? When? When?

How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight.The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted. (Habakkuk 1:1-4 NLT)

The prophet Habakkuk sounds just like me! I found myself saying, “Why is God not answering me? Is He not listening to me? Why don’t I have the promotion? Why am I still overweight? Why is my marriage still not thriving? Talk to me God!”

The Lord replied, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands.” (Habakkuk 1:5-6 NLT)

The Lord spoke to me and told me He is working my situation out for my good. He is building up relationships and even things I thought were not repairable, He is repairing them. He has placed me in a new job that requires that I step up and become a leader very quickly- promotion. He is teaching me discipline when it comes to food and that in order to live a healthy life in Him and on earth I need to exercise. As of today I have lost 30 pounds with many more to go. As for my marriage that God joined together, we are under construction and He is molding us into the people of God that He wants us to be. God told Keviyona I am about to blow your mind!

I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the Lord answered me, and said, write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. (Habakkuk 2:1-3 KJV)

I decided that the microwave way of doing things wasn’t what God wanted for my life. I decided to wait and even though it seems like an eternity to me, it is not a long time in God’s eyes. I did not give up waiting for the Lord. And He turned to me and heard my cry.  (Psalms 40:1 NLV)

Dear Daddy,

I want to thank You for teaching me that fast and quick is not always what is best for my life. Thank You for teaching meBut 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) God I am being patient and waiting on You to lead and direct my path because I am nothing without You. God I want You to continue to teach me that patience is a virtue. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to pray and ask God for the desires of your heart and wait. If you wait and lean not to your own understanding, God will show up and show out. I dare you to be patient on your job, in your home, with your marriage, with your family and friends, with your prayer request and watch God do the work. I EMPOWER you to unplug the microwave in your mind, relax and let God work it out. I know we live in a fast paced society but God works in His time and His time is always the best!

Take a moment to share how waiting on God has blessed you.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Confessions From An Impatient Christian

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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.”

Black Music Month Series, God's Love, God's Mercy, Growth/Maturity, Obedience

He is Worthy of My Obedience

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!

God has been impressing on my heart to really seek Him more, to make our relationship priority. I have to be honest; I have let some other things take precedent in my life. I’ve been feeling disconnected lately from His presence. This happens when I overload my schedule and feel guilty when things begin to fall apart.

The Lord says in Isaiah 1:19-20, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel you will be devoured by the sword.” (NIV)

In order for us to have the “best” of the land, i.e. blessings, we must be obedient. You cannot expect God to bless what He has specifically told you to let go. Today is the right time to get right with Your Father.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who call us by his own glory and goodness. (II Peter 1:3 NIV)

God will give you the power to overcome each and every obstacle that would hinder a meaningful relationship between you and Him if you allow Him to have complete and unrestricted access to your life.

Please allow the song below to bless your spirit. Let each word that speaks of His mercy and love into your heart. Once you understand the love of the Father, you will desire to not break His heart.

Dear Daddy,

I am so thankful for Your mercy and for Your endless pursuit of my affection and attention. Forgive me for not making our relationship priority. Help me to not ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Keep a hedge of protection around me so I may have the strength to withstand temptations and trials. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to allow God’s love and mercy to transform your life. Do not allow anything to place a barrier between His Love and blessings for your life.

Enjoy Karen Clark Sheard’s “His Mercy Endureth Forever”:

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Ms. Renee` N. Chaffin is a single mother who has a heart for helping those less fortunate. She has been active in the non-profit sector, whether through volunteerism or professionally, for the past six years. She is passionate about sharing the love of God, her testimony and empowering people to discover their true potential that was bestowed on them by King of the Universe. Renee` is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration. While on her pursuit of higher education, she is on a seven year journey to challenge God to do ‘exceedingly and abundantly above all she can imagine’ in seven areas over the next seven years. Check out her journey at http://radical7even.wordpress.com. Her favorite scripture is I Peter 5:6: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

Obedience, Siblings, Submission/Surrendering

My Dad Has a Son

If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20 NIV

Whenever someone asks about my siblings, I always proudly say that I have an older sister and “my Dad has a son.”  I can’t tell you when I decided to incorporate this phrase into my repertoire of colloquialisms but I know it was many years ago.  Interestingly, I never saw anything wrong with referring to my “half-brother” this way until about a month ago.

At the end of March, his mother passed away and instantly I began praying for him like never before. CORRECTION — I had NEVER prayed for him before I received this news.  I questioned why all of sudden he was an intricate part of my quiet time with Jesus but I kept on.  I could only imagine the hurt and pain that he was feeling at that time so I continued to pray intensely for him but I could not bring myself to call.

After his mother’s memorial I continued to pray for his strength until the enemy started taunting me the way he used to when I was a little girl.  Envy and angry began to consume me at the mere thought that he was able to have my father around all the time, while I was restricted to these sporadic visits.  So at that moment I convinced myself that I didn’t have to call!

By mid-April, God had stepped in and revealed to me that He wanted me to be a better sister.  At first I felt offended because anyone who knows me is aware that I will do anything for my “SISSY” but then I remembered that I also have a BROTHER!!   For most of my life, I have struggled with the appropriate way to accept what society refers to as my “half-brother” but there are plenty of stories in the Bible where siblings with different parents acknowledged each other and some even were able to have healthy, functioning relationships. 

In Genesis, chapters 16 and 17, the Bible discusses Ishmael and Isaac, both sons of Abraham.  One was born to Hagar, the slave woman, and the latter born to Sarah.  Additionally, 2 Samuel 13 tells the story of David’s son Absalom, his sister Tamar, and their half-brother Amnon and 1 Kings 1 describes the relationship of Adonijah and King Solomon, both born to different mothers. Lastly, the most shocking “sibling-ship” that I discovered was that of Jesus. He had many brothers and sisters. (See Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55Although, each of the above scriptures references depicted different family dynamics (some very troubling), one thing remained the same… they were BROTHERS and SISTERS.    

Now, ladies do understand that I am still working on this.  I have yet to call him, but I do understand why it SO important that I do so.  It is not up to me to determine where I should allow my brother to fit in to my family tree, rather I should just accept the leaf where he hangs and embrace him.  Over the years, I have found that not one family will look the same but as long as LOVE is the common denominator, then the dynamics of the family usually don’t matter.  This one call is going to close an entry gate on the enemy that he has been using all of my life. Only God knows what will come of my obedience…

Dear Daddy,

Lord, please forgive me for the times that I didn’t embrace my family. Help me to realize that my justifications are just excuses not to do the right thing.  I can’t distinguish between the two on my own, but instead I welcome Your insight whole-heartedly.  Please heal any broken family ties. Help me to always be aware of the enemy’s areas of opportunities in my life that I might counteract it with more of Your Word. Open my heart to receive more of You as I continue on my Christian journey. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Sisters in Christ, I EMPOWER you embrace your family, regardless of past situations and circumstances that have occurred. I EMPOWER you to stay sensitive to the Word of God in your life.  Once He gives you an order, act on it!

P.S. I will keep you updated when I finally make the call… I have set a deadline and it will get done!

Is there someone who you need to make “the call” to? Don’t hesistate, do it today! Share your triumphant moment so that others may overcome!

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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

Faith, God's Promises, Obedience, Patience, She is Me Series, Submission/Surrendering, Trusting God

She is Me: Sarah

In honor of National Women’s History Month, EmpowerMoments is featuring a special week-long series called ‘She is Me’.  Each writer will parallel her own life with that of a Biblical woman to enlighten and EMPOWER youCheers to being a WOMAN!

Busy Being God Jr.

Nearing graduation from college, I thought I had it all figured out. I was NOT moving back to Chicago, but instead I was going to make my home in the south, get a great job and start my life with my self-chosen future husband. It sounded like a wonderful plan to me, but God said, “No, if you listen to me and do it my way, I promise that I have a MUCH better plan for you.” Not really convinced that His plan was going to please me the way that mine was, I began working hard to put my plan into motion. I applied to several jobs in the southern region and began making preparations for life that my future and I would lead together. I was hell-bent on helping God out! How many of you can be honest and admit that He has promised to do some things in your life, but you couldn’t understand how what He told you was better than what you had envisioned? Or better yet, you didn’t see the evidence of the promise coming to fruition fast enough so you decided to be God Jr.? If you are afraid to admit it, I’ll show you someone who is just like me…

God promised Abraham (Abram) that his wife, Sarah (Sarai), would have a son and that from that child his descendants would be too great to number. Abraham believed God’s word; however, Sarah couldn’t imagine that at her old age she would really be able to bear a child. That was heartbreaking to her because she knew her husband really desired a son so that his offspring could inherit his kingdom. So, just like me, she set out to assist God in making things happen.

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (Genesis 16:1-3 NLT)

Sarah’s plan seemed like the perfect fix to her solution…and so did mine! She would now have a child through a surrogate mother and her husband would be satisfied. Likewise, I refused to believe that God truly wanted me back in Chicago. I wouldn’t settle for missing out on my one true love in life, so I went on several interviews with very reputable companies. Everyone was pleased with my resume` and my overall package. I was promised jobs from at least three employers. I even started searching for a permanent place to stay. I’m sure I was thinking that God should’ve been thanking me because I was helping Him out tremendously!

Oh, but my plans, just like Sarah’s, went awry! Abram had intercourse with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When she found out that she was pregnant, she became proud and despised Sarai. (Genesis 16:4 GNT) Sarah’s plan fell apart right before her eyes! Instead of carrying a child for her mistress, Hagar began to hate Sarah and wanted to keep the baby. My plans quickly unraveled too. Of the three job leads that I had been promised, each one fell through in a matter of days. I even attempted to reach my interviewer at one of the companies and I was told that no one by that name had ever worked there! I was baffled. Why was this happening to me? I knew that my plan was suitable for my life! Instead of admitting that I was trying to operate in direct opposition of God’s will, I immediately starting pointing the blame finger. As you can imagine, the recruiters from those companies were at the top of my list. Again, Sarah and I were running neck and neck! Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. (Genesis 16:5 NIV)

In all of our blatant disobedience and disrespect to God, He was still so gracious to the both of us. He STILL kept His promise that was made to us, even though neither of us had an ounce of faith in the words that He spoke over our lives. In efforts to sabotage a job in Chicago, I never showed up to the interview and never gave a reason why. However, God STILL kept that position for me. Even in my adamant state to hold on to a man that I just knew was my future, God STILL brought the man that He designed specifically for me into my life to become my husband. Even though Sarah chose not to cling to God in her season of barrenness and instead took matters into her own hands, He STILL blessed her with a child. “Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.” (Genesis 21:1-3 NLT) Oh what a gracious and merciful God we serve! And I think I can speak for both Sarah and me when I say that God was right—His plan was much better!

Dear Daddy,

I thank You for this multi-part lesson on faith, obedience and patience. Lord, I ask that You help my unbelief. If there are areas where my faith wavers, please strengthen those places. Help me to believe You and stand on Your word, regardless of what I feel like should happen. Lord, I pray that You would turn my heart so that I yield to every command that You give me. Help me to take my hands off of situations so that You are in control. Finally, I ask that You teach me patience. I understand that the only way to learn patience is by waiting, so I ask that You give me the strength to hold out for Your promises. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to believe God the first time! I EMPOWER you to understand that He doesn’t need your help determining His will for your life, nor has He ordained you as God Jr.! Instead of trying to manipulate things to your suiting, I EMPOWER your faith to increase, your obedience to be automatic and your patience to strengthen.

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

Growth/Maturity, Obedience, She is Me Series

She is Me: Lot’s Wife

In honor of National Women’s History Month, EmpowerMoments is featuring a special week-long series called ‘She is Me’.  Each writer will parallel her own life with that of a Biblical woman to enlighten and EMPOWER you. Cheers to being a WOMAN!

Don’t Look Back!

Wavering is a part of human nature, and I am no stranger to it. When facing the need to make decisions that will be life changing it is crucial to take the time to consider all options, weigh the pros and cons, and of course pray for guidance.  Once I pray and hear from God though, it is imperative that I take heed to His words and proceed accordingly.  I have been chronically guilty of not doing the latter in the past when making decisions.  Specifically, when it came to letting go of relationships that I knew were unhealthy.  I would pray and hear from God clearly that I didn’t have to cease to love them, yet it was time for me to let go, or walk away.  Then, I did the unthinkable.

I looked back.

I looked back at all of the good times we shared over the years. I looked back at all of the love, the pain, the tears, joy, laughter and comfort that was born of these relationships.  I would count the years invested and think of how many albums full of pictures of good memories I had. Then I would think to myself, “God can’t possibly want me to walk away from all of this time! What would life be like for me without this person or that person? For us? If we didn’t have each other?”

But, that was exactly what God wanted for me!

Lot’s wife looked back too, and she paid with her life.

In Genesis chapter 19, we learn that Lot was instructed by two angels to take his family and leave the city of Sodom, and that Lot was hesitant. He didn’t want to leave the home he and his family had come to know “…Hurry! Take your wife and two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished. When he hesistated, the men grasped the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city for the Lord was merciful to them.” (Genesis 19:15-16 NIV)  As important as it was for the angels to get Lot and his family out of the city, what they said to them once outside the city was most important of all! “Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain!” (Genesis 19:17 NIV)

Lot, his two daughters and wife reached Zoar safely, as God had promised they would. “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:26 NIV

Don’t look back!

The word from God sent through the angels could not have been anymore clear.  Similarly, the word of God was quite blatant to me when I decided to stay in the relationships. I would look back over our relationship and in my weakness I would pray for God to make me stronger instead of leaving like I was instructed to do. I looked back and remembered times when they behaved selfishly over and over again, and instead of leaving I prayed that God would make them more compassionate. Though I was spared and not turned to a pillar of salt, when I stayed in those relationships I suffered with hurt feelings, neglect and years and years of wasted time!

“We live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV

Don’t look back!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your mercy, grace and protection during the times I went against Your will and leaned not on faith in Your word, but my own understanding.  I thank You that You are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and I have no need to fear as long as I am walking according to Your will in my life.  Please continue to order my footsteps in all that I do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to “set your hearts on things above where Christ is….” (Colossians 3:1 NIV).  Trust the word of God when you hear it, whether you believe it is what’s best or not, knowing that His will and plan for your life is ALWAYS best. Remember, sorry looks back, worry looks around and FAITH LOOKS FORWARD!

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.”