Blessings, God's Provisons, Praise/Worship

Thank you, you, and You

ThankYou

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (I Thessalonians 5:18 KJV)

I just want to take a moment to say thank you to you and you and especially You! Less than a week ago, I celebrated my first year in practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner. I can hardly believe it! As I reminisce on all that has transpired up until this point, I can’t help but to be filled with gratitude. The devil had so many stumbling blocks along the way but what he meant for evil, the Lord meant for good. I can’t thank God enough for certain people in my life that He allowed to help me in some way or another!

And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19 ESV)

It was several weeks after my mother had passed away and I sat listless, nearly lifeless, and without a clue of what I was going to do with myself. I had spent nearly the last year caring for her as she fought cancer with everything in her. I thought her healing would manifest on earth. Being sucker punched doesn’t even begin to describe the emotions I felt. Furthermore, my emotions were still raw regarding the son I’d buried just about nine months prior to mom dying. One of my favorite uncles was visiting and I remember like yesterday him asking, “Retta, what are you going to do with yourself now? It’s time you think about the future.” I responded with “I don’t know, I’m thinking about nursing.” That was nearly eight years ago and as down and out as I was at that time I knew God had cultivated something greater in me. I was not going to be destined to a life of depression, grief, and turmoil!

And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed and enlarge my borders, and that Thine hand might be with me and that Thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!” And God granted him that which he requested. (1 Chronicles 4:10 KJV)

With the help and support of my family and friends, I embarked upon a new journey in life. I discovered not only my passion, but my calling…nursing. I can even recall one of the last conversations with mother when she told me that she thought I should be a nurse. The same uncle who questioned me was the same one who provided the finances (and ongoing support) for me to start my journey. Another uncle provided me with unwavering support and guidance through counseling sessions and prayer at a time I felt like God had deserted me. I had aunts (my mom’s sisters) who engulfed me with love, support, prayers, and shoulders to lean on. I had a few close friends and cousins who went above and beyond to encourage me, provide healthy distractions and ongoing prayers. The list continues from my in-laws, extended family and church family who all offered support in some way.

Then there was and still is my husband who never turned away from me no matter how rough it got. He saw to it that every need was met. He was patient with me and loved me through all the emotions that come with loss.

Now nearly eight years later, I’ve gone from taking a class to receiving a BS degree to become a nursing assistant, working my way through nursing school and becoming a registered nurse, and then becoming a relief charge nurse to clinical coordinator all while returning to graduate school and becoming pregnant two more times (after losing our first son, I didn’t think we’d have more children). I’ve completed clinical rotations and residency, graduating with honors though I didn’t get to participate in commencement due to the arrival of my youngest son two days before the ceremony. I passed the national certification exam and found employment that suits my personality, passion and skill set. Now…one year later I’m reflecting on the good ness and mercies of God. You can’t tell it, let me tell it what He’s done for me! What He’s done for me, He’ll do the same for you! To God be the Glory for the things He has done! I thank Him and I thank those of you who shared with me along the way.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble. (Psalm 107:1-2 ESV)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your will for my life. Thank You for turning things around in my favor! The devil thought he had me but You sustained me! Thank You for placing the right people in my life at the right time! Greater is coming and greater is here! In Jesus’ name, Amen!

I EMPOWER you to not give up when the situation seems grim! I EMPOWER you to trust Him and embrace the support He provides you through others. I EMPOWER you to be thankful in all things. I EMPOWER you to share! Share your trials and triumphs with others so that others may be empowered. You never know how your testimony can help others. Then, when you look back over it all, always give thanks!

What are you thankful for this morning?

Please help us bless and EMPOWER homeless women and their children as the beginning of a new school year nears!  For more information on how you can donate and help make a difference, please click here http://www.gofundme.com/cfeux8.

 __________________________________________________________________

Mrs. Coretta Collins is a wife and mother who enjoys reading, writing, movies and spending time with family and friends. She is avid about health, healing and helping which serves her well as a Family Nurse Practitioner in a hematology and oncology practice. Striving to be led by the Lord throughout life and having overcome significant challenges, 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 a hope and a future. Coretta is a member of St. John A.M.E. Church in Birmingham, Alabama. She resides in Calera, Alabama with her awesome husband and two wonderful sons.

 

Black Music Month Series, Contentment, Praise/Worship

Have A Praise PartY

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!

Have A Praise PartY!

I shall rise above the ashes.

I shall rise above the bitterness in my heart.

I shall rise above the comments about me snickered behind my back.

I shall rise above my poverty.

I shall rise above depression.

I shall rise above the inadequacies that so distinctively bound me to deep seated insecurities.

I shall ignore the voice that makes me doubt.

I shall move the mountain of darkness that clouds my hope for freedom.

I shall look to the hills, where my help comes from, my help comes from the Lord. Psalm 121:1-2 (paraphrased)

I shall set my mind on things above, not on earthly things, Colossians 3:22 NIV

These are the phrases that go through my mind when I sing this song. For many people this song is nothing but an irritating repeat on their local radio station, but this song literally brings tears to my eyes. Why? Because it causes people to break out from and ignore their circumstances and to dare to be HAPPY! Because of God’s freedom, I am at liberty, I feel like a room without a roof! When I decided to have a relationship with Christ, I was no longer bound by the chains of my past shame or by the thoughts of man. This song rings freedom. The freedom to not be perfect, to not look like everyone else, to not dance as good as everyone else, to not look as good or dress as nice, but to be Happy regardless of your current situation or circumstance!

I become teary eyed because I serve a God who has the audacity to bless me in spite of my wrongs, short comings, lies, disobedience, and ways that aren’t so good. He humbles me. The Bible tells me, because I love and accept Jesus and recognize my responsibilities as a Christian, my past has been erased, my sins where like scarlet, but he made me white as snow (Isaiah 1:18 KJV). Therefore, I am able to lean on Jesus who will keep me from falling, having the ability to present me faultless to the Father (Jude 1:24 KJV).

That makes me Happy.

I am Happy because “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NIV.

Doesn’t the thought of that just make you want to shout?

Dear Daddy,

When I think of Your goodness, my soul cries out HOLY HOLY, how great You are! Lord, help us to be able to look over our circumstances. Help us to force our attitudes into happiness until You see fit to move us. Father, help us to remember that in due time, You shall make every crooked path straight and every insecurity certain. Help us to smile, dance, love, and laugh so that we may be a light to others. May we be the vessel in which Your glory can shine!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to be HAPPY! H.ave A. P.raise P.artY. Get up out of your chair, listen to these lyrics and dance like no one is watching. God already said that all things will work to your good, so instead of pouting, get up and dance!!

Are you committed to being HAPPY in spite of your circumstances?

Listen to Pharrell Williams’ song Happy and dance as if no one is watching

Please click here if you cannot see the video.

___________________________________________________________________

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.

combating the attacks of the enemy, Faith, Freedom, Healing, Praise/Worship, Prayer

3 P’s

These past couple of weeks have been trying but typical displays of the enemy’s tactics.  On Mother’s Day, I caught a bug and throughout the weeks I was sick off and on.  Then I started experiencing anxiety symptoms and they lasted for days.  I have never experienced the anxiety lasting for days like this and the symptoms were a resounding gong vibrating through my body.  My chest hurt, my body ached, and my throat had a scratchy, lumpy feeling.  My stomach had a pit feeling that wouldn’t leave also.  I had some stress and some worries but sometimes the symptoms would appear when I thought my mind was clear.  I was back at this point again when I had already claimed my healing before.

I couldn’t figure out why I was ailing physically and mentally, when on the flip side I had also been informed that I am to receive an award from my job.  I had been getting the word out about my newly published book and feeling good about accomplishing one of my goals.  I was starting to physically plan and prepare for my business too, and I was nervous, but excited.

However, being sick and anxious were beginning to make moving forward or just the simplest tasks difficult these past two weeks.  I felt sluggish and began to focus on my issues more than God and all my blessings. The Sunday before this past Sunday, I remember feeling heavy, my legs feeling heavy and the pit feeling in my stomach.  It was hard to even stand during praise and worship.  My pastor basically said to the congregation when Praise & Worship was ending that we were going to praise God and stay right there in that moment until something breaks because he felt the heaviness or something holding us back.

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (Heb. 13:15 KJV)

I felt like at that moment God was speaking to me personally and when we praised God, I felt so much better.  I felt that thing lift off of me.  But then the sickness and anxiety continued the next week.  I admit I felt hopeless. This past Sunday, between Praise & Worship and the sermon, the themes I kept hearing were freedom, freedom from fear/anxiety and bringing forth praise.  No matter the circumstance or how you feel, praise God through it all.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1 KJV)

This Memorial’s Day, as I read some of Kenneth E. Hagin’s workbook about Faith, I began to understand what I, like many of us, had not been doing or fail to do in some areas of our lives.  I had not been exercising my faith.  I had not been receiving or continually walking in my healing.  I was instead doing more hoping than believing; I was focusing more on my circumstances than God.  I had not realized that faith is not “I will” or “I hope.”  Faith is “It is now.”  I have to exercise my faith and trust in God’s promises: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5 KJV); For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11 KJV).

In order to exercise my faith and continue to trust in God’s promises, I have to follow the three P’s:

    • PRAY! Pray for relationship and intimacy with God and not just His Promises and Provisions. Believe when you pray that you have received too.  Pray without ceasing also.
    • PRESS!  Faith without works is dead so put some action with your faith.  Fight the good fight of faith.  Persevere and trust God.  Someone told me that if God sends you, to go even when you are afraid.
    • PRAISE!  Praise is a weapon.  Praise allows you to focus on God and not your circumstances.  Moreover, as you renew your mind with the Word of God, you can’t help but to respond to God with praise.  Praise and the Word also changes your perspective and focus.

Dear Daddy,

Help me to believe when I pray and not hope that I am healed, but believe and receive it, even when there is no evidence of my healing.  Help me to press and praise my way through, trusting in You and relying upon Your grace to do so.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to PRAY, PRESS and PRAISE your way through.  If it God’s will, whatever you desire, believe you received it.  Faith is knowing you have already received God’s promise.

___________________________________________________________________

 Ms. Tannika Moore loves the Lord and loves to write! Besides writing poetry or editing written work for family and friends, she currently works for NEIU Educational Talent Search program. She helps assist Chicago Public School students with their reading, writing, etc. as well as helps them consider and prepare for college. God, the Creator and Great Father has also created her to be a compassionate person and encourager so she loves to encourage people according to God’s Word and help them to see, think and become better through her support, actions and writing. In April, Ms. Tannika’s poetry book, Setting The Captive Free, was published. It is her first book. For more details and how to purchase your copy, visit stcfpoetrybook.com. Her favorite scripture comes from Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

God's Protection, Joy, Praise/Worship, Prayer

Thank You For Protection

Thou art my hiding place; thou wilt preserve me from trouble; Thou wilt compass me about with songs of deliverance. (Psalms 32:7 ASV)

Yesterday my family and I were on our way back from out of town. We were driving down a dark highway when suddenly a humongous deer jumped across the road. My dad hit the deer, but the deer kept going. I was in the car with my brother; he saw the deer and when he said, “I hope daddy didn’t hit the deer,” my dad pulled over. We jumped out of the car and immediately went to check if my parents were okay. Thank You God, they were okay.

Approximately 10 minutes before this accident happened, I told my brother that we needed to pray for my parents and their safe return home. We always pray before we get on the road but the Holy Spirit led me to say an extra prayer for their protection.

When we saw the car, I begin to rejoice and God removed whatever was further down the highway. He stepped in and intercepted what could have turned into a fatality. Everyone was trying to figure out why the deer jumped in the road, but I simply thanked God because my family’s lives were saved. Again God stopped the devil.

Blessed be to God, Who hath not turned away my prayer, Nor his lovingkindness from me. (Psalms 66:20, ASV)

I thank You God for protecting my family on the dangerous highways. I thank You God that no hurt, harm or danger was afflicted upon them. God I thank You for hearing and answering prayers.

Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. (Mark 11: 24 ASV)

Dear Daddy,

I thank You for being a prayer answering God. I thank You for protecting my family. God, continue to protect my family. Please continue to fill my Spirit with uneasiness when it is time to pray for my loved ones. Allow me to feel when they are in danger or going through situations that prayer can turn around. God, continue to teach me to be an intercessor for my immediate family, extended family and friends. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to give God some praise. I know that God has done something miraculous for you and I need you to give Him praise. Ladies, listen to your instinct and if God tells you to drop everything and pray, I dare you to drop everything and pray and watch Him work. I EMPOWER you to become an intercessor for your loved ones and watch God show you He is a prayer answering God!

Take a moment and tell us when you have given God some praise…

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Praise is What I Do!

___________________________________________________________________

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.

Faith, Praise/Worship, Prayer, Word of God

Just Do It!

 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 NIV

But how…

The above scripture used to seem so complex to me. Sure, I knew that I was sinning, wrong, wayward, and lost. But “HOW” was I supposed to get back on track. I would see all of these charismatic people, on fire for the Word, rarely doubting God and I would wonder “HOW” did they do it. People would tell me,  “pray about it,” “it will get better” or, “be patient.” I would often wonder, but “HOW?” How am I supposed to be close to God? How do I start a relationship with Him? How do I pray without sounding weird? How do I begin to remove the sin (that I relished in) out of my life? How?

Many years later, being on the other side of this question, I’ve learned that Nike actually declares one of the most profound statements of my time; JUST DO IT! I remember speaking to one of my mentees and she said, “How do I begin to read my Bible?” Now, depending on who you talk to, some will say start at Genesis, start at Psalms, start at Proverbs, start at Matthew, and so on. But what I have come to learn is to “Just do it.”  There is no perfect way to read God’s Word. Sure, there are ways to scholarly advance throughout the Bible, or ways to dissect it better, but in layman’s terms, JUST DO IT.  Pray before you open it, ask God to enter your heart and mind, and trust that what you read will become embedded in your heart.

How do we pray? In Bible School we are taught to pray as Jesus did, but for me, at one time I couldn’t even understand that. I knew the Lord’s Prayer but I didn’t feel like I was being sincere. One day I literally lay on the floor, face down, and sat quiet. I began to think about all the great things that have happened in my life, the awesome “coincidences” that I knew only God could do, and I just started reciting them in thanks. I had to Just Do It!

In addition to becoming connected to a supportive body of believers, here are some tips that gave me a boost along my walk with God:

  1. How do I study God’s Word? Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV) I wanted to correctly handle God’s Word, but how? I found a Sunday School book and started following its lessons and it grew from there. It may seem weird, but it helped me to focus on “learning” God’s Word. Stop by a church and ask them for one, I’m sure they’ll give you one.
  2. How do I pray in power? I wanted to be able to pray boldly not wavering in doubt. Opening your mouth to God in prayer is power in itself. But what I wanted was to feel connected, comfortable (not complacent) enough to focus on God, and strong enough to pray for others. But how? I kept doing it, over and over and over.  I started by making a prayer list. I would write down the things I wanted to say including who and what I wanted to pray for. Next, I would read my “list” to God. This was how I started learning how to converse with Him. The more I prayed, the more in tune I became. Praying without ceasing and believing that God heard me revealed His power.
  3. How do I exhibit faith? Having faith is understanding its definition. Faith is to have complete trust or belief in something. I was very skeptical of having faith that God actually cared about every little thing in my life. But I had to JUST DO IT. I had to talk daily to Him, and make a decision that I was NOT going to try and solve all of life’s problems. I had to literally shove worry out of my mind and trust that God was going to work it out. I actually believed that God would not let me down and that His Word was true. I have professional training in the science field, so naturally I like to solve things. There is always a cause and effect, whether immediate or delayed. But I can’t take that approach with faith. I have to leave it there, believing that God will lead me to the solution or He will just fix it!

Dear Daddy,

I want to really be able to say that I can call You Daddy. I want to know that when I pray You hear me. I want to be able to read Your Word and actually understand what it means. I want to grow in faith and believe that You really do care about something as small as me being upset about my appearance to something as grand as the health of my children. Lord, please send tangible examples and wise people my way so that I can continue to cultivate my relationship with You. Starting today, I am going to JUST DO IT! I am going to “try it out” and pray that I grow and feel Your Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, many of us are learning how to grow in Christ. Today I EMPOWER you to JUST DO IT! It may be reading more, praying more, worshipping deeper or praising louder, but JUST DO IT! Do it in faith, believing that God knows your heart and will receive your truth with open arms.

What are some tips you have for those of us “starting out” in Christ? Share with us some ways that you strengthen your walk with God.

Read A Related EmpowerMoment: Two Way Street

Please vote for EmpowerMoments in the finals for the Black Weblog Awards: Best Series: Single in the City; Best Writing in A Blog; and Best Faith Based Blog. Click here to vote.

___________________________________________________________________

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.

God's Love, Inspirational, Praise/Worship, Thanksgiving

Reminiscing

For I am convinced that 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)

The other day I came across an old CD I hadn’t listened to in years.  It was a sunny day and I was driving along to the gym.  I couldn’t wait to roll the windows down, pop in the CD, and do my best karaoke rendition of SWV!

Not only was I looking forward to singing along, but I was looking forward to singing from the heart.  You know the kind of singing you do when the words of the song sound like you wrote them yourself?  The kind of singing where you can insert your name and the name of the one you love (or used to love) into the words of the song and remember when….yep, that’s just what I was expecting.

That’s just what happened at first.  I sang my heart out during the first two tracks.  I was gearing up to belt out track three, the infamous “Weak,” and The Holy Spirit showed up.  All of a sudden the words of the song took on a whole new meaning:

I get so weak in the knees I can hardly speak.
I lose all control and something takes over me.
In a daze and it’s so amazing, it’s not a phase.
I want you to stay with me, by my side.
I swallow my pride; your love is so sweet.
It knocks me right off of my feet.
I can’t explain why your loving makes me weak.

My God!

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with God’s grace and goodness that I get weak!  Sometimes I feel like I am in a daze when I am surrounded by His presence and yearn to have Him with me always!  Sometimes I have to swallow my pride and do what it is that He has called me to do because He loves me so much!  The chorus to the song sums it up; sometimes I can’t explain why the love of God makes me weak!

When I arrived at the gym, I sat in my car just thanking God for loving me and for allowing me to experience His love on a level that is so amazing.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your unconditional and unfailing love.  Thank You for Your constant reminders of Your love for me and that Your love surrounds me everyday.  I pray that I will be able to live a life that is worthy of the way You love me.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to get weak from the power of God’s love.  Let the Holy Spirit overcome you till you are falling on your knees and thanking Him for the love He showers upon you!

Describe a time when the Holy Spirit overcame you and led you into sweet, divine worship.

Please watch SWV’s “Weak”: 

Read a related EmpowerMoment:  A Divine Encounter

___________________________________________________________________

 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.”

Anxiety, Black Music Month Series, Encouragement, Growth/Maturity, Pain, Praise/Worship, Trials

The Valley Experience

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

For the last couple of weeks, I have been in a strange place emotionally and spiritually.  Things that never bothered me before like finances, family drama, everyday issues etc. are now really getting under my skin.  I have been tossing and turning every night and when I finally awaken the next morning, I feel physically drained.  I go to church every Sunday but struggle to “feel” God’s presence as I worship and sing praises.  Whenever I get home, either from work or church (which is all I seem to really do these days), all I want to do is go to bed.

However, even during this time, I REFUSE to stop giving God glory.  In fact, it seems my worship has gone to another level. “I will bless the Lord at all times, and his praises shall continually be in my mouth…” (Psalms 34:1 KJV) I know that God has delivered me before and He WILL deliver me again.  “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.  Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence…” (Psalms 91:2-3 NIV)

I also know that God has me in this place for a reason. Whatever the purpose, I know this experience is getting me one step closer to my destiny.  “And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose…” (Romans 8:28 NIV)  Because of this knowledge, I have peace, “…You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance…” (Psalms 32:7 NIV)

I want to encourage you today and let you know that for every valley that you experience, there will eventually be a mountain top experience. Of course in the valley the mountain looks insurmountable, but He is able to take elevate you back to the top. Maintain your faith as you wait for Him to move you from the valley.

Dear Daddy,

You are my God, the Lord over my life.  I am nothing without You.  You are holy and righteous.  You are sovereign and I know You have everything under control.  I submit to Your will for my life.  I submit to my valley experience.  I understand that it is necessary in order for me to be everything You called me to be.  I ask that You equip me with what I need to continue on, whether that is faith, love, wisdom, or something else.  Forgive me for the times I was not submissive, forgive me for the detours I’ve taken that has lengthened my process.  I acknowledge the times I have been my own enemy in the choices I’ve made.  I ask that You help me to persevere and not be so easily distracted.  Please deliver me from all unrighteousness.  I love You and I praise You for everything You’ve done, are doing, and for whom You are in my life.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to be encouraged during your time in the valley. I EMPOWER you to know that a mountain top experience is in your future if you simply hold on. If you are currently going through, remember two very important things:

1)      Keep praising and worshipping God no matter how you feel: “Sing to the Lord you saints of his; praise His holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night but rejoicing comes in the morning…” (Psalms 30: 4-5 NIV)

2)      Understand there is purpose in your trial(s):  “For he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold…” (Job 23:10 NIV)

While in the valley, reflect on previous mountain top experiences with Kurt Carr’s “For Every Mountain”:

 

________________________________________________________________

 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.”

Black Music Month Series, Contentment, Gratefulness, Praise/Worship, Thanksgiving

My God is Awesome!

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!

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1:8 KJV).

As I prayed and pondered about how I would start Black Music Month off, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said give God some praise.

As I am entering the sixth month of 2012 I can’t help but reflect on my life. Of course the first thing I thought of was the struggles. I thought about all of the things that have not been according to my plan. While I was thinking negatively, “Awesome” by Charles Jenkins and Fellowship came on. It moved me to tears because despite what I felt or despite what I’ve been through my God is awesome!

I thought a little further and yes, my husband and I have had some struggles and issues but God has sustained us and by His grace and mercy we are still together. My God is great!

Awesome is defined as inspiring awe, showing or characterized by awe. The slang definition is very impressive. What a great way to describe my awesome God! He just keeps on awing me!

Yes, my finances have not been what I’m used to having but God saw fit for me to have exactly what I need and many of my luxuries. My God is a provider! “But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 KJV)

Yes, my so called friends and family have turned their backs on me, but God is able. I have not been lonely because God has been right there. My God is a friend! “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18: 24 NASB)

Yes, my job has not been everything that I have wanted it to be, but I am employed and I am grateful. I have stood in the storm and God has blessed me with increase. “The master said, well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25: 23 NLT)

This year I went to the doctor and found out I weighed more than when I was pregnant. Wow, right?! Being overweight is a sickness, but my God is a healer! As the sun went down that evening, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus. No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed every one (Luke 4: 40 NLT)

Yes, someone broke in my house and violated me and my family and the part that really surprised me was that our insurance claim was DENIED. But, my God is a protector! “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalms 18:2 NASB)

My God is Awesome/He can move mountains/Keep me in the valley/Hide me from the rain/My God is Awesome/Heals me when I’m broken/Strength where I’ve been weakened/ Forever He will reign…

The next time I feel like nagging and complaining about what should of, could of, would of happened, I am going to remember that my God is awesome!

Dear Daddy,

I thank You for being an Awesome God! I thank You God for being everything I need You to be, even when I don’t deserve it. Please God continue to be my provider, my healer, my deliverer and my friend. I’m destined to be great with an Awesome Daddy like You!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Awesome Women of God, I EMPOWER you to know that you are awesome and amazing because your Daddy is awesome. Instead of complaining, give God some praise. The highest praise is Hallelujah. Tell God hallelujah for saving you, for healing you, for protecting you and for providing for you. The next time you feel as if life is getting the best of you remember our God is awesome!

As Black Music Month begins, remind yourself how awesome God is with Charles Jenkins and Fellowship:

Share your story with us below about how awesome God is in your life.

_________________________________________________________________________

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.”

God's Protection, Praise/Worship, Trials

Praise Before You Pout

At the age of 12, my mother and I were in the grocery store parking lot at night. A man came up behind us pointing a pistol saying, “You know what I want, give it up.” While he pretended to help us load our groceries, my mother scrambled through her purse to come up with a small amount of money, maybe $30. He took the money and left. As soon as we got into the car my mother burst into a crazy praise. I don’t think I have ever heard her scream and shout so loudly. I was in tears and all she kept saying was “Thank You God, thank You God, You are awesome and worthy…” and so on. As an adult, I look back on that situation to find out how powerful that moment was. Her first reaction was to praise, not to pout! Later once the offender was caught, we found out that not only was he high on crack cocaine but the gun was loaded and cocked! She could have praised later, but she praised in advance!

Let’s appraise ourselves. When we are faced with a traumatic event, of any intensity, do we praise immediately, or do we wait until the event has passed and we see a favorable outcome?

There is one thing that separates us from being able to praise immediately opposed to waiting for the outcome. FAITH! You really have to believe what God’s Word says in order to praise before you pout. I remember harsh break ups with guys that I just knew were “the one”, finding that at the end of the day my money was not going to stretch to the next day, or receiving a pink slip from a job that I felt was the pinnacle of my career. I grew in the Lord and in His Word and realized that I should have praised at the onset of each of those situations. I would have been much happier and less stressed and depressed.

This is what allows me to praise at the onset of disaster and rejoice in the Lord in every situation:

  1. I BELIEVE with ALL of my heart and soul that: “All things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV
  2. I BELIEVE with every limb of my body that: “In him we were also chosen,having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:11-12 NIV
  3. I BELIEVE with all that I have in His Word. “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 KJV

Praise cannot be your first reaction if you do not seriously believe God’s Word. Instead you will find yourself scared, fearful, and worried about situations in your life. Don’t mistake me, I’m not a carefree person and I am no stranger to doubt or deep concern; but I have to pull myself together quickly! I desire to rid myself of stress and anxiety. I practice being a good steward over the things God has given me — my marriage, my job, my finances, my children, and my opportunities — and that takes work. Ultimately, I believe that if I walk by faith, God will take care of every want and need. He will sustain me when I feel that I am falling. He will restore me when I feel that I am empty. Therefore, because of faith, I can praise at the brink of tragedy. I don’t have to wait until the outcome occurs. I know that God loves me and He wants the absolute best for me.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for moving some things out of my way, even when I perceived them as failures. When tragedy hits, I have to admit, my first reaction is not to praise, but that is because I forget that Your Word is true. You told me that ALL things work out for my GOOD. So God, please help me to remember this when he walks out on me, when I lose my job, or when I can’t seem to keep my head above water. Please help me to remember that You will work out EVERYTHING. I just need to stay faithful to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Sistah Girl, I EMPOWER you to trust God with the issues you face and praise Him before you pout. I dare you to praise God for your situation. If you really need God, really want Him close, praise Him in advance! Not only will He show up, but He will give you the desires of your heart.

What encourages you to praise before you pout? Share it with us by commenting below.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Praise the Lord Anyhow

________________________________________________________

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.

Commitment, Faithfulness, Honesty/Truth, Praise/Worship

What Are You Really In This For?

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

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

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

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

Dear Daddy,

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

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

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

Read a related EmpowerMoment: When “Church” Wears Off

_______________________________________________________

 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.”