Family, Gentleness, Hospitality, Kindness, Relationships

Welcome

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:17-20 NIV)

Two weeks ago, my household changed.

As I held my now 3-month old nephew (too adorable!) for the first time, I watched as my younger sister and her friends loaded one big garbage bag of “stuff” after the next into my living room. It was so much stuff that I felt overwhelmed for a second, but it quickly passed away as I looked on the ones I loved. Reality set in, my sister and two nephews were moving in.

My family and I had been praying and preparing for this as best as we could ever since we found out that my sister wanted to move back to Illinois. She was living two or three hours away in another state but because of certain circumstances, she decided it was best to move back home. “I’m up here basically by myself,” she said. The family members (on her father’s side) who were up there with her were now incarcerated. Additionally, three months before she gave birth to my new nephew, she experienced such tragedy. She received a call that her boyfriend was shot. He, a well-known tattoo artist and in the midst of getting his life back on track, was robbed, stripped of even his clothes and shoes, and fatally shot in his head. He was murdered senselessly, never getting a chance to see his unborn son. I couldn’t imagine the pain my sister must have been experiencing. Yet my family and I have tried our best to help her cope. One thing that is certain is that God is a comforter and a healer, and I trust that He will continue to administer healing to my sister and this young man’s sons who have to grow up without their dad.

So when my sister expressed moving back home, I understood why and the season. The rest of the family and I welcomed her and my nephews with open arms. Now it isn’t peaches and cream or all gravy over here all the time but we are managing and maintaining our family and household. We have had to make some adjustments but I believe my sister has settled in nicely. I have realized that in this season I will get to see my nephews more, help my sister and also share God’s love and Word with her and my nephews. Mostly every night I have my 3-year-old nephew pray with me before bedtime. This is a treasured moment and a chance to emphasize the importance of prayer even at an early age. Yesterday I didn’t even have to say let’s pray, he asked on his own (smile).

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for welcoming me into Your kingdom with open arms and eternal kisses. I thank You for being such a great Father and supplying me with Your unfailing love. Thank You for Your daily mercies and not turning me away when I came home. I also thank You for expressing Your love through me and to me. I thank You for being the Comforter and a healer also. I love that even during difficult times, You can use our experiences for our good and bring life and blessings our way in the midst of it all. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to embrace seasons and others. Embrace all seasons that come your way by rejoicing and remembering God is in control. Open up your heart, forgive and embrace others with the love of God. We should be compassionate like the man who welcomed his son back and love on our family, friends, the fatherless, the hurting, and even those deemed “hard to love” even if they have strayed. We should not say “I told you so” or hold record of wrongdoing. We should also pray continually for repentant and humbled hearts as God opens the door for many to come into His eternal kingdom.

Has God told you to roll out the welcome mat for someone or has someone done it for you? How have you used this experience to show God’s love?

Read a related EmpowerMoment: For the LOVE of Family…

TODAY is the last day to support EmpowerMoments in the Black Weblog Awards. Click here to vote!

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Ms. Tannika Moore loves the Lord and loves to write! Besides writing poetry or editing written work for family and friends, she currently works for NEIU Educational Talent Search program. She help assists Chicago public high school students with their reading, writing, etc. as well as helps them consider and prepare for college. She, like many of her students, is the first of her family to graduate from college. She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in English-Professional & Technical Writing. God, the Creator and Great Father has also created her to be a Compassion Person and Encourager and so she loves to encourage people according to God’s Word and help them to see, think and become better thru her support, actions and writing. Her favorite scripture comes from Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

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.

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As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is a College Biology Instructor. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Higher Ed and Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV) She and her husband serve as Co-Service leaders and Co-Group leaders of SustainedLove, which supports marriage get-a-ways from Family Life. Khalilah also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment. Khalilah resides in Millbrook, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their two daughters. They attend Vaughn Forest Church. Check out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.

Accountability, Direction/Guidance

Take It With a Grain of Salt!

Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man.  He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?”  Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”   “Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’”  (2 Samuel 13:3-5 NIV)

In case you don’t know how the story ends,  Ammon, with literally sickening lust for his sister and at the advice of his friend, raped and disgraced his sister.  It went downhill from there.  There were other accounts told in the Bible of how even kings accepted and followed the wrong advice and kept the wrong company.  We have to be careful of the counsel we keep.

Friday, an associate gave me a ride home.  As she talked about her problems, I listened mostly, but tried to direct the conversation toward God.  I had previously given her scriptures to read upon her request and this was now my chance to ask if she had read them, but she gave me the eyes-to-the-side glance as to ashamedly say “girl no.”  As we continued to talk, I think I was trying to relate something from my life to what she was going through and we somehow got on the subject of me moving forward from my ex-boyfriend.  As she responded, doubt began to creep up in my heart as to whether avoiding total communication with my ex was the right thing to do.  Her whole gist was you have to give people a second chance sometimes and maybe there was another reason why I really was avoiding him.

However, I explained to her that I believed that I had an epiphany or better yet a word from God that every time I respond to his emails, it is not just him holding on still, but me as well.  I also explained that I was trusting in God for someone better and that when God removes someone or allows someone to be removed out of your life, He doesn’t make any mistakes.  I am remembering how I had once prayed the first time my ex was trying to come back in my life.  I admitted and prayed earnestly to God to give me strength to let him go because I was weak and couldn’t let go on my own.  Ladies, He answered that prayer!  So why go back now?

I have been drawing closer to God and learning to surrender all areas of my life to God.  Going back to my ex could mean losing spiritual ground I’ve already gained and dealing with the same issues I had to deal with while being with him.  I also believe that I would only receive him back because I am afraid there is no one else out there for me.  So, I am moving on, but talking with her and the angst of getting back out into the dating world made me start to doubt.  Thank God though for friends I can turn to, as well as the Word of God.  I talked with two friends and their advice was frank, non judgmental and on point with what I was hearing from God.  “Move on! You are in a different place in your life and he is not on that same plane or same spiritual level as you.”  What also stood out to me is what one also said, “YOU CAN’T ACCEPT ADVICE FROM EVERYONE!” Some things that you hear must be taken with a grain of salt!

The godly gives good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray. (Proverbs 12:26 NLT)

I believe God would also add that His advice is even better and His wisdom supreme, so get His perspective on the situation.

Dear Daddy, 

Thank You for friends that stick closer than a brother (or sister).  Thank You that they can be honest with me even when the truth is hard to hear.  Thank You for Your sound judgment and uncorrupted wisdom!  Thank You that You see and know everything so You will best direct me in any situation.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to STOP before you go seeking or accepting someone’s advice.   Pray first, ask God to open your heart to the truth and remove the blinders off your eyes.  Then ask God who to seek advice from or what advice to accept.  Better yet, get God’s perspective on the matter by going to His Word.  His counsel is pure, unbiased, and sound, not based on human and natural insight and will never get us in trouble!

 Read a related EmpowerMoment: Speed Dial or Backup?

Have you voted for EmpowerMoments yet? If not, please click here to vote for us in the 2012 Black Weblog Awards!

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Ms. Tannika Moore loves the Lord and loves to write!  Besides writing poetry or editing written work for family and friends, she currently works for NEIU Educational Talent Search program.  She help assists Chicago public high school students with their reading, writing, etc. as well as helps them consider and prepare for college.  She, like many of her students, is the first of her family to graduate from college.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in English-Professional & Technical Writing.  God, the Creator and Great Father has also created her to be a Compassion Person and Encourager and so she loves to encourage people according to God’s Word and help them to see, think and become better thru her support, actions and writing.  Her favorite scripture comes from Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

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

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

Commitment, Focus, Motivation

Ignite My Fire

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

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

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

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

Dear Daddy,

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

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

How do you keep your fire for God lit?

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

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

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

Back to School: To the Graduation Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Daddy,

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

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

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Ms. Tannika Moore loves the Lord and loves to write!  Besides writing poetry or editing written work for family and friends, she currently works for NEIU Educational Talent Search program.  She help assists Chicago public high school students with their reading, writing, etc. as well as helps them consider and prepare for college.  She, like many of her students, is the first of her family to graduate from college.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in English-Professional & Technical Writing.  God, the Creator and Great Father has also created her to be a Compassion Person and Encourager and so she loves to encourage people according to God’s Word and help them to see, think and become better thru her support, actions and writing.  Her favorite scripture comes from Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Completion, Courage, Encouragement, Goals & Dreams, God's Promises, Motivation, Persistance, Spirit of Fear, Spirit of Rejection

How Bad Do You Want It?

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. (2 Chronicles 15:7 NIV)

Recently I was watching BET’s Sunday’s Best. As I sat watching the aspiring gospel singers, I was amazed at some of their personal journeys. As the season 5 auditions commenced and I listened to each of the contestant’s stories, I was truly in awe at some of their tenacity. Of the top 20 finalists chosen to compete on the show, several of them had been rejected by the judges on previous seasons at least once, twice or even three times. Yet, they didn’t let that deter them from what they felt that God was calling them to do. Listening to their stories made me ponder my own journey. There I was at a point in my life where I knew I wanted to accomplish so much more. After all, business dreams have been dancing around in my mind for nearly 8 years that I have yet to see come to fruition. However, I had to be honest with myself and ask, “Have you really been relentless in your pursuit of your dreams?”

I shared with you a while ago in “No=Go” how I had to move past a place of fear and rejection and pick up the pieces of a dream that I have been fathoming for quite some time. At that time, I was victorious in finally mustering up the courage to reenter a business plan competition where I had once been rejected. I felt confident in reapplying, not because I knew that I would win, but because I knew that God was pleased with my courage to move past my point of fear. Unfortunately, I was rejected again and instantly returned back to the place of feeling like maybe my dreams were not truly meant to happen. How many times has God moved you from a place of hopelessness to a place of promise, and yet one little incident sets you back right where you started (or even further back)? We have to remember what God has promised to us. We have to hold on to our dreams regardless of how things are looking around us.

God promised Joseph that he would be the leader of his people. However, if you know anything about Joseph’s story, you know that he experienced much rejection before he ever saw that promise fulfilled. His brothers rejected his dream and threw him in a pit. (Genesis 37:18-24) They sold him into slavery because they knew they didn’t have the power to kill his dream, but needed to deter him from pursuing it. (Genesis 37:27-28) Next he was moved to Potiphar’s palace where he was placed in charge of all of Potiphar’s land and possessions. (Genesis 39:1-6) It seemed that just maybe that was going to be the position where his dreams would begin to flourish, but that’s not how it played out. Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of trying to sleep with her and Potiphar threw Joseph into prison. (Genesis 39:11-20) Ever feel like you are about to experience your dreams become reality only to have someone/something snatch it right from under you? Yes, I know exactly what that feels like, but we must maintain an attitude similar to Joseph’s. Even in prison, he kept his promise near his heart and still operated in his gift. He interpreted the dreams of his fellow prisoners with the hopes of being elevated once again and back on the path to pursing his dream. (Genesis 40:9-15) But again, it didn’t happen like that. Instead he was forgotten and left in prison. Can you relate? Has someone promised you assistance in reaching your dreams only to forget you and move on? Fret not! I know that God will make good on His promises! Alas, Pharaoh had a dream that needed interpreting. Based on Joseph’s faithfulness to his calling and gift, someone brought his name up as a recommendation to interpret it. Joseph’s wisdom pleased Pharaoh so much that he made Joseph ruler over all of Egypt. (Genesis 41:37-42)

Joseph was 17 years old when God first gave him that dream. Finally at the age of 30, Joseph saw his dream come to fruition. For 13 years Joseph held onto his promise and continued to remain faithful to his calling. How long are you willing to work and wait for yours to come to pass?

Today I ask you the same question that I had to ask myself: How bad do you want it? Are you willing to see your dreams rejected, trampled on, abandoned, locked up and dismissed by others and STILL believe that God is going to bring those things to pass? If you answered yes, then you have to ACT like it. Be relentless in the pursuit of your destiny. Do not allow other people, or even yourself, to abort what God is trying to birth in you. Just like the Sunday Best competitors, you may find yourself with one, two, or ten ‘no’s’, but turning back and giving up now is not an option! Keep pressing toward the goal; your diligence and perseverance are about to pay off!

Dear Daddy,

Please forgive me for the times that my faith faltered and I thought it was better just to give up than to push on. Please help me to be tenacious and deliberate in the pursuit of the dreams that You have placed in my heart. When I get weary, please encourage me and replenish my being so that I may continue on. I thank and praise You in advance for bringing my dreams to fruition. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to keep pushing forward. The effort that you put in should reveal to the world how bad you really want it! Remain faithful to the gift that God has given you while putting in consistent work to see your dream fulfilled.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: But I Promised You More!

Did God give you a dream that has not yet come to pass? How do you remain encouraged when everything around you makes you want to doubt?

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Mrs. Kristen Harris is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and dedicated servant. She is extremely passionate about women’s spiritual advancement, hence the founding of EmpowerMoments. As an avid reader, Kristen enjoys reading the Bible 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 three lovely daughters where she is an active member of New Life Covenant Church.

Assignment, Completion, Gifts/Talents, Goals & Dreams, Motivation, Purpose

The Veronica Effect!

Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:7 NIV)

Rarely do we get a chance on EmpowerMoments to just pay tribute; but today I shall take that privilege because today is indeed her day. My friend and business partner, Veronica Davis has been committed to improving transportation since she saw how the effects that poor transportation planning and lack of investment disproportionately affects minority communities, particularly African Americans. Today, she is being honored as a White House Champion of Change Transportation Innovator for her volunteer efforts. To her, I say congratulations! It is a well-deserved honor. A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men. (Proverbs 18:16 KJV)

When you think of transportation you may only be thinking of your automobile; however, there are millions of people that rely on other methods such as buses, rail systems, bike lanes and walkways on their daily commute. Access to a variety of transportation modes can affect where a person works, provide access to healthy amenities for the community, and minimize environmental pollution.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10 NIV)

As a dedicated transportation planner, Veronica combines her professional life with her passion to ultimately benefit the community. What started as a twitter hash tag (#BlackWomenBike) grew into a movement within the District of Columbia. After noticing the absence of black women on two wheels she and two other women founded Black Women Bike in May 2011. The organization started with the 3 founders and grew to over 550 African American women in Washington, DC ranging in age from late 20’s to late 60’s. The women bike for recreation as well as to work, simultaneously receiving the benefits of exercise. So many women in her immediate community have started biking that it is being dubbed “The Veronica Effect.”

Let’s pause right there. She has so many other accomplishments but I want to focus on “The Veronica Effect.” I believe that God wants each of us to serve others in such a way that there is a noticeable change after we have been present. We should be using our talents to enhance the lives of others, to speak up for the less fortunate and to teach others. We should do our work so well and strive to impact others such that people will know it was “The _____________ Effect.” Like Veronica, we should focus on filling the voids. Imagine if we all stepped up to the plate and filled the many voids that God has placed right before our eyes. Ultimately, we want people to see that it is not us but it is the God who lives within us that gifts us with our ability to impact. It really is “The God Effect.”

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for gifting me with certain abilities and passions. You have shown me the voids and I ask that You give me the willingness to just do it. Don’t let me vacillate any longer on the things that You have called me to do. I want “The God Effect” to be evident in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today I EMPOWER you to review those things that God has called you to do. Has He shown you the void, but you are waiting on someone else to fill it? God is calling you for a special purpose? Step out on faith and start a movement. Allow the God Effect to be real in your life.

Has God given you a vision but you are hesitating to follow through? What’s keeping you? Share your story in the comment section.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: The Pursuit of Excellence

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Ms. Chancee` Lundy lives in Atlanta, Georgia 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: every where 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.”

Jesus, Leadership, Mentor/Mentee, Mentoring, Righteousness, Throwback Thursdays

Throwback Thursday: He Is I, I Am Him

It’s Throwback Thursday! This EmpowerMoment was originally published on May 27, 2011. Enjoy this blast from the past!

On last Friday I made a reference to Zacchaeus. If you’re not sure who he was let me tell you a little bit about him. He was a man not liked by the people because he was a tax collector. He wasn’t a tall man, in fact he very small in stature. He heard that Jesus was coming through Jericho. No one would make way for him to see Jesus so he decided to climb a tree to see Him. As Jesus passed by, He noticed him in the tree, asked him to come down, and told him that He would be staying at his house. The people of the town were in utter shock that Jesus, the Messiah, would actually take the time to even acknowledge this sinner.

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ ” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19: 1-10 NIV)

Zacchaeus was determined to see Jesus even though the crowd was large, even though he was small, and even though he was a sinner. His faith was sufficient and Jesus recognized that. He made a promise to Jesus to turn his life around and he was forgiven for everything. This is where I see me. I liken myself to Zacchaeus. I had to fight the crowd and find sanctity in my own tree so that the Master could see me. This is not only one of my favorite biblical stories because of its powerful message of climbing “above the crowd” but it also shows that Jesus wasn’t hanging out with the Holy…He was hanging with those who needed to be saved. I’m sure in my past people caught flack for hanging around me. Even now I catch flack for hanging with certain people but you never know why God has put you in someone’s life. You may be the example that they are waiting for. Our only concern should be living right by example and those around us who are struggling in their relationship will see that if God can deliver us from the mess that we were in He can surely do it for them.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for my tree. I also thank You for placing me in people’s lives and for placing them in mine. I remember what You did for me and I pray that those around me who don’t know You can find You through the life that I am trying to live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today I EMPOWER you to stick with those around you who have fallen. Do not give up on that FRIEND who is lost. REMEMBER that you were there once. PRAY for him or her. In time they will find their own tree and rise above to seek out Jesus in the crowd.

How do you encourage those who have fallen by the wayside to turn again to Jesus; or, do you find yourself in the position of Zacchaeus?Share your story.

Read a related EmpowerMoment:  Dont Leave Them, Lead Them

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Shawna Dix is a mother, educator, and all around child of God. She is passionate about God, her son Jalen, family, friends, and her students. She loves teaching because it allows her to shower our youth with love and guidance. She resides in Pentagon City, Virginia and works hard educating inner city youth in Washington DC. She prides herself in being a realist. She exclaims that she is in no way, shape, form, or fashion perfect but she has accepted that she serves a perfect God who is able to do ALL things!

Accountability, Character, Righteousness, Sin

Better Check Yourself

I have been reading Leviticus and I must admit that it is not one of my favorite books of the Bible. I found myself once or twice nodding off while reading the book. I even raised an eyebrow and thought how meticulous the Israelites, under the Old Covenant, had to be when presenting an offering or sacrifice and their selves ceremonially clean to God. As I neared the end of Leviticus, I asked God, “Why am I reading this?”

It was then while reading Leviticus 21:16-18, the light bulb came on or shall I say the Holy Spirit answered my question. “Don’t come before God any kind of way.”

You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart form the nations to be my own. (Leviticus 20:26 NIV)

I should constantly examine myself and my walk with the Lord. Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind. (Psalms 26:2 NIV) I should also check how I approach God in my prayer, praise and time with Him.Every time I read the Word or pray, my phone rings. Although I am actually better at this and I rarely answer it now, I would interrupt my time with God and answer it. Excuse me God; I know this is Your time and You come first, but something has come up is what I’m saying to God. As always, I should have sent the caller to voicemail. After talking to the person, I would go back and try to talk with God and it wouldn’t be the same. There are times when I have come before the Lord not only with my prayer requests, but with daydreams, thoughts of what I have to do, and a Santa Claus list.

Can you identify with this? Do you, like me, read the Word while lying down, ignoring God telling you to get up. God knows and you know too that you will fall asleep if you don’t get up. Have you rushed prayer or shortened your praise? Your breakthrough or answer could have been that very next minute. How many times have we come before God with unforgiveness, bitterness or an unwillingness to obey?

God wants His people to realize that although we are under the New Covenant, He still wants us to be holy. It was not an option then and it is not an option now. God wants His people to be holy, undefiled and without a blemish as He is. Does that mean we, as believers of Christ, will never sin? No. But we should hate sin as God does and not be mastered by it. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14 NIV) We are not perfect but we should be cultivating a perfect heart, one that is full of God’s love as well as undivided towards God. We should be maturing spiritually, seeking God’s presence and obeying His every command. Our love and desire for Him should outweigh our love and desire for the world. Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4b NIV)

Let’s be attentive to how we present ourselves to God:

  • Come correct. Confess your sins and repent sincerely. Have a pure heart, an uncluttered mind and make your petitions before God with the right motives. Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22 NIV)
    When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:3 NIV)
  • Have the Fear of the Lord. God doesn’t want you to be intimidated or shaking in your boots. Come boldly before the throne of grace with respect, reverence and honor of our God!
  • Acknowledge who He is; glorify Him and praise His Holy Name!
  • Come with His Word. Get to know God through His Word. Saturate in it and obey it. Speak His promises back to Him.
  • Have a forgiving heart.
  • Bring humility and your undivided heart. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (Proverbs 3:34 NIV)
  • Be consistent and come expecting!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your Son Jesus being our scapegoat and for sacrificing Himself that I may have salvation, mercy and an eternal inheritance. Thank You for reminding me that I am to respect You, honor You, love You wholeheartedly, obey You and be mindful of Your Presence and Power. You are an all consuming fire! You are the Only Wise God, Pure and Holy. You are a Jealous God! Thank You for the New Covenant and help me to keep my part of the covenant. You are Worthy and a Covenant Keeper! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to check yourself. Your relationship with God requires you to look good on the inside FIRST! Let God purify you and consecrate you so that your reflection resembles His Son. Be ye holy as He is holy!  Ask God to show you how He sees you as you are reminded to check yourselves.

How have you been presenting yourselves to God? What changes do you believe you need to make?

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Ms. Tannika Moore loves the Lord and loves to write! Besides writing poetry or editing written work for family and friends, she currently works for NEIU Educational Talent Search program. She help assists Chicago public high school students with their reading, writing, etc. as well as helps them consider and prepare for college. She, like many of her students, is the first of her family to graduate from college. She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in English-Professional & Technical Writing. God, the Creator and Great Father has also created her to be a Compassion Person and Encourager and so she loves to encourage people according to God’s Word and help them to see, think and become better thru her support, actions and writing. Her favorite scripture comes from Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.