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.”

Goals & Dreams, Humility, Servitude

The Kingdom’s Greatest!

I am a mountain

I am a tall tree

Oh, I am a swift wind

Sweeping the country…

If anybody asks u who I am

Just stand up tall look ’em in the face and say,

I’m that star up in the sky

I’m that mountain peak up high

Hey, I made it

I’m the world’s greatest!

Those are some of the lyrics to R. Kelly’s song, “The World’s Greatest.” I’ve heard this song several times sung by graduating classes at commencement ceremonies. As I proudly watched and listened, I could see destiny in the eyes of the graduates. It was always my prayer that they would truly grasp that they are great and run with that mindset. Graduating classes are not the only ones desiring greatness; we all do in one area or another. Some of us desire to be good mothers, entrepreneurs, cooks, wives, friends, sisters, leaders, teachers, and the list continues. However, we must ask ourselves what standard of greatness am I trying to reach? Is it the world’s or the Kingdom’s? There is a mandate that God places on us when we want to be great in His Kingdom!

James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.” “What is it? I’ll see what I can do.” “Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left.” Jesus said, “You have no idea what you’re asking. Are you capable of drinking the cup I drink, of being baptized in the baptism I’m about to be plunged into?” “Sure,” they said. “Why not?” Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink, and be baptized in my baptism. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. There are other arrangements for that.” When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John. Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.” (Mark 10:35-45 MSG)

Let’s break that entire passage down:

In verses 35-38, James and John desired to be great and reign with Jesus. Jesus asked them could they really drink of the cup that He drank of. We must be careful what we ask for. Yes, Jesus is not selfish; He wants to share His power, authority, and dominion with us, but the question is can we drink of the cup? Can we drink of the cup of sacrifice, holiness, giving, sanctification, compassion, forgiveness, faithfulness, obedience, and last but not least SELFLESS service?

In verses 39-40, James and John said they were able to handle the cup. Jesus agreed. And so are we!! The reason Jesus agreed was because He knew that after He left He was leaving the Comforter (Holy Spirit) which would assist with the partaking of the cup! (When the pressures of life are present, don’t forget the power that raised Jesus from the dead lives on the inside of you and will guide you to all truths and translate the plan of the Father to you.)

In verses 41-45, the other ten disciples got angry. (Please know when you’re pursuing greatness, haters and nay-sayers will be angry, but that should not stop your pursuit!) Jesus used this moment to teach. He told them how they’d seen how godless rulers (the world) throw their weight around, but that wouldn’t be their story! He let them know His expectations (standards) of His followers were different from the world. Then Jesus announced, in HIS KINGDOM if we want to be GREAT we MUST BE A SERVANT!!!!! Then He gave His mission statement: He came to serve, not to be served! God in the flesh gave up His privileges to serve us by carrying the cross and dying!!!! His selflessness was great; that’s how He became great! To become the Kingdom’s greatest, we must empty ourselves and SERVE!

Dear Daddy,

I come humbly asking to be great in Your Kingdom. Father, I desire to be great to bring Your name and Kingdom glory. Father, in the name of Jesus, reveal the motives in my heart. Shine Your light on any dark area that will cause me not to achieve greatness by Your expectations. Father, I truly want to be used by You. I thank You for a spirit of wisdom and revelation. I thank You that the eyes of my understanding are enlightened that I may know the hope and purpose of my call.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to grasp the mindset that you are GREAT in God’s Kingdom and run with it! I EMPOWER you to get a mission statement like Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit what God has ordained for you to be GREAT in your MISSION and make a STATEMENT by standing on it!

How have you furthered Jesus’ mission by serving others? Share your story with us below.

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Ms. Rodnisha L. Anderson resides in Chicago, IL and serves as an elder at Life Redeeming Ministries. She works diligently with the Singles and Intercessory ministries. She is married to the Lord and becomes whatever she needs to become to reach the people for the building of God’s kingdom. Rodnisha truly desires to witness successful single women thriving in the kingdom of God.  Her favorite scripture is 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

Direction/Guidance, God's Provisons, Growth/Maturity, Humility, Submission/Surrendering

The Illusion of a Self-Made Woman

LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us. (Isaiah 26:14 NIV)

I am educated, have a career, decently paid, live in a safe neighborhood and drive a nice car. You could say that I am living the “American Dream”. Everything that everyone sees currently is all a blessing from the Lord. If people were to really understand the struggles, the sleepless nights and late night prayers crying out to my Heavenly Father, they would understand that this dream came with a mighty high price tag. Even with all the struggles that I endured, they now seem like a distant memory and I at times get caught up in the material blessings that God has given me. In fact, at times I can begin to believe that this wonderful life I have been given is due to all of my hard work. I fall under an illusion that I am a self-made woman.

Being a self-made woman means that I have not submitted myself, my thoughts and desires unto God. This life I am living is about me, my needs and wants. The illusion that I have built this life for myself can lead me to make decisions and then ask God for His input after I have already made my decision.

I must admit that for the past few weeks I have not been in prayer or studying the Word like I once had. Although, I believe that I love God and have a heart for Him, I was so busy making my own decisions that I wasn’t respecting His authority in my life.

Then like Paul I was given a thorn in my flesh. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (II Corinthians 12:7 NIV)

Last week was one of the most challenging weeks I have had in quite some time. In fact my well put together world crumbled rapidly in a 24 hour period. I had no idea what decision to make and I was at a loss. Things that seemed so important just the day before paled in comparison to what I was facing. Could I actually deal with the situation? The answer was no, in my own power and strength I couldn’t. It was due to this “thorn” that for the first time in weeks I reached out to my Father in deep and sincere prayer. I knew that there was nothing humanly possible that could be done and I humbled my haughty heart to the Lord. I was in prayer like never before and made plans to begin fasting.

I thank God, for His perfect timing and orchestrated “thorns” in my life. Those are instances of Him calling me back to His loving arms. Do not allow thorns to harden your heart, allow them to draw you closer to Him. He might not remove the challenge but He can give you the strength and peace to endure it.  Allow the “thorns” to remind you that EVERYTHING that you have is from God and not from your own strength.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You so much for blessing me with material items, but help me to remember that things are not my source. Help nothing, not even my own desires, separate me from the path and plan that You have destined for my life. Help me to remember that I am made to worship You.  Help me to allow You to humble me when needed.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to let God be ruler over every decision that you make. Do not allow things to become idols in your life.

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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.”

Assignment, Attitude, Career, Growth/Maturity, Humility, Patience, Preparation, Trials, Trusting God

Stay In Your Season

“I hate this place! I will not finish this year at this school! I understand exactly what you mean girl. The boss is crazy and I am not feeling this.”

This is the conversation that I found myself having in 2011. I learned a lot about myself this year. I learned that I was an emotional creature. I let my emotions guide my decisions sometimes (well, all the time).  Let me give you an example. I have written in previous posts that I was thankful for being back in the classroom. From August to November I had the worst experience as a teacher that I have had in eight years. The students walked in and I thought, “I can control these kids because they are just going to do what I say.” I figured it didn’t matter what it took because the kids were going to complete my work because I said so. Guess what happened? I was firm and they didn’t care. If I raised my voice they raised their voice. There were days I would assign work and less than half the class wouldn’t even attempt to try it. I know you are wondering how this makes me emotional. Well I was crying every day, I was losing my hair, of course I was gaining weight again and I was angry all the time. Through these emotions I came to the conclusion that I was leaving that school. I spoke to some of my spiritual family and told them my plans and they had my back. I made up my mind that I would abandon the same kids that every other teacher has left. I went on an interview and what I thought was my way out was really a message from God.

I talked to the interviewer and she questioned me about lesson planning, teaching, behavior management and my passion for kids. As I spoke to her I heard myself saying I have met students that didn’t want to learn. It has never been this hard to teach kids. I need structure in my life and I just really hate my place of employment. I know you are thinking, “Keviyona, you have lost your mind!” No! I had not lost my mind but I had heard God’s voice. God spoke to me and said, “What happened to you trusting me? What happened to you staying in the race? What happened to you staying in your season of preparation?” I pondered and said I have always thought I was walking into my season. The more I consulted God, the more insight I obtained. I realized that every day of our lives is a season. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV)

Let’s look at seasons in nature to get a general idea of how seasons work. In nature, things come forth, grow and fulfill their purpose and die. Notice that winter and spring are times of preparation. In the winter the ground gets very cold or freezes, which kills germs or bacteria that could be harmful to crops. Plants that have died during the previous season decay and help replenish nourishment to the soil. Then, as the late winter and early spring comes, the soil is plowed and made ready, seeds are planted, nurtured and grow…Then in summer and fall, crops mature and are harvested. The farmers then sell the crops for money and use the money to support their families and enjoy the good things of life. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up. (Ecclesiastes 3: 2-3 KJV)

I was in my season of winter. God was trying to kill my old way of dealing with issues. I was used to moaning and complaining to the people that love me and not saying anything to the people that were inflicting the pain. God was killing everything that I thought I had done on my own as a teacher. Yes, I am guilty; I had a spirit of arrogance on me as a teacher because I was labeled as “one of the best in the school.” God had to humble me and make me realize that it doesn’t matter how many degrees I have or how well I know instruction, I need to depend on Him for everything. Instead of God letting me run away from my job He made me face opposition head on. He told me to stay in my season!

By staying in my season of winter and not running to a new school, (this doesn’t mean that I won’t leave when the timing is right) I have seen a shift in the atmosphere. I’ve seen kids that would not do it at first start to work for me. I have seen students eager to learn. I’ve seen students that are ecstatic because someone really believes in them. I have seen students tell the trouble makers “shut up so Mrs. Ray can teach me something.” I am at the beginning of my summer where there is light at the end of the tunnel. I can see the flowers blooming. I can see my growth and my student’s growth. Most important, I can see God on my job. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)

Had I not stayed in my seasons of winter and spring, I would not have realized that God was preparing me for the next season in my life. I wouldn’t have realized that I had more to learn even though I am a “vet” in the teaching profession. God had to humble me as a teacher and take me outside of my comfort zone in my winter season in order to prepare me for my summer and fall seasons, which bring leadership. I learned that there is not one season in my life but every season is a lesson that I have to learn in order to go to the next level. And we know that God causes everything to work togetherfor the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8: 28 NLT)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for allowing me to have seasons of preparation and seasons of harvest. I thank You God for teaching me that I must go through seasons in order to reap my harvest. I thank You for covering me with the blood and putting me back on the course and the plan that You have for my life when I stray. I thank You God for teaching me to stay in season! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Women of God, I EMPOWER you to stay in whatever season you are in. Remember that whereever you are in your life, that God is preparing you for greatness. God does not want you to change the course in the middle of the season, He wants you to endure to the end. I EMPOWER you to go through your season of preparation in winter and spring and reap your harvest in fall and winter. Stay in your season!

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Seasons Change

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

Attitude, Favor, Growth/Maturity, Humility, Pride

A Humbling Experience

“First pride, then the crash the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 MSG)

I didn’t achieve??  What do you mean I didn’t achieve?  There must be some mistake, I ALWAYS achieve!  These were just some of the thoughts that went through my mind as I looked at the results of my National Board Certification attempt.  I was sure my eyes were playing tricks on me. I received a 267 when you need a 275 in order to pass and become a National Board Certified teacher.  My shock moved to disbelief and then to anger then to sadness!  I could not believe I was not a NBC teacher.

After I calmed down and started to seek the Lord, He showed me what my real issue was.  My PRIDE was hurt more than anything else.  The only thing I had ever failed at was romantic relationships (that’s an EmpowerMoment all by itself).   I had always been academically successful; school came easy to me. I loved and still love learning.  I attended a private university on a full scholarship.  When I entered into teaching, it was a cakewalk.  I never struggled with the difficulties that many young teachers struggle with. 

God has always given me incredible favor.  Unfortunately, I allowed myself to become full of pride (an excessively high opinion of one’s self).  I had also become slightly arrogant.  For example, I ordered a cake congratulating myself on becoming an NBC teacher THREE days before I was supposed to find out if I had achieved National Board Certification.  I just KNEW I had it.  I didn’t even pray to God about it.

Needless to say, I needed to be humbled and taken down a few pegs and humbled I was!

“…God will bring down their pride, despite the cleverness of their hands…” (Isaiah 25:11b NIV)

…May the arrogant be put to shame… (Psalm 119:78a NIV)

Yes, God wants to show us His favor.  Yes, He wants to bless us “…exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV) Yes, God wants to do everything He can to help us achieve the destiny He has called us to; HOWEVER, we must be careful not to get prideful and/or arrogant as God blesses and promotes us.  Please don’t make the same mistake I did because God WILL give you a HUMBLING EXPERIENCE!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for continued favor!  Forgive me for taking Your favor for granted and taking on the spirit of pride as if I have or could ever accomplish anything without You.  You are my God, everything I have and everything I am is because of You.  I give You ALL the glory because it is through no goodness of my own but because You love me, show grace and mercy to me, and because You favor me.  Help me never to lose sight of this again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

 Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to assess your current behavior and actions in all areas of your life. Are you prideful or arrogant in any area of your life?

  • Financially –  spending just because you can and neglecting giving? 
  • Relationships – doing whatever you want to in the relationship just because you know they are not going anywhere? 
  • Career – not being diligent in your work because you just KNOW they are not going to fire you? 

If God chose to, would there be any area where you are due for a “humbling experience”?   If so, STOP and turn it around TODAY!  Pray and ask God’s forgiveness and then take steps to turn that behavior around.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Knocked Down From My High Horse

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