Accountability, God's Grace, Growth/Maturity, Patience

Who Do You Think You Are?

This 40 Days to a Turn Around has been an amazing journey, but God had to check me in the midst of it.  I was beginning to become too confident.  Personally, I was doing well and was on track.  However, I listened to others that had faltered or slipped up.  I was viewing their slip-ups as weakness, but how many times have I slipped up in life?

God had to reveal to me that I will still mess up in some capacity. “How then can a mortal be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure?” (Job 25:3-5 NIV) I was born into sin, and it will always be something that we all struggle with.  Who am I to think I’m better than anyone just because I have been strong and focused on this one thing?  There are so many other things that I am still doing wrong.  Perfection does not exist among mere mortals!

I looked at times I had become upset with others for slipping.  I realized that I do not have the right to judge.  I am in no position to look down on or admonish someone else for their shortcomings. 

The spirit challenged me also to take a deeper look at why I was upset with them. I was shocked to find that the root of my judgment was jealously.  I was jealous because I wasn’t the one at the party, I wasn’t drunk and I wasn’t having sex! Those were things that I wanted to be doing.  No sex, but still lusting.  I was not focusing on uplifting and picking those up who had fallen. I was too focused on what they had done wrong.  What if God only looked at the things we did wrong?

It is often times easier to forgive the people in the world that have messed up.  Why are we so quick to forgive sinners, but not saints? We are all the same.  We sometimes make it so difficult to forgive saved people of certain infractions.  However, at the end of the day we are all God’s children and all guilty of sin. So really, who do you think you are?

Dear Daddy,

I come before You asking for forgiveness for ever thinking I was without sin.  I pray that You will continue to work on me and all my faults.  Help me to focus on the things that I need to change.  Reveal to me the sins that I commit that I do not always see.  Lord, open my eyes and reveal to me the things that I need to work on. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today I EMPOWER you to help your friends, children, loved ones that have faltered.  Uplift others instead of condemning them. Be a positive influence in others’ lives.  Encourage others to know that we fall down, but we do get up!

What is your tactic for correcting in love and not slipping into judgment?

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Remember Where You Came From…

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Ms. Sherita Shelton currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Professional Counseling and is currently pursuing her counseling license.  Sherita works as a therapist and case manager for children as well as adults.  She facilitates groups for single women and offers mentoring and individual counseling for her clients.  Sherita’s favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lot not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

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Direction/Guidance, Evangelism, Leadership, Mentor/Mentee, Mentoring, Teacher/Student

Remember Where You Came From…

…And the One Who Brought You Out!

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)

Recently I started working with a group of girls at an elementary school in a poverty stricken neighborhood. The group that I work with is in sixth through eighth grade. Twice a week for an hour, we get together for empowering sessions. The sessions are on a wide range of topics from financial empowerment to self-esteem empowerment. Upon first meeting the girls, I was a bit taken aback. For such a young group of girls, they seemed to be very forward and extremely boy crazy. Everything that came out of their mouth was something perverse or vulgar. I couldn’t believe how comfortable they were tossing subliminal sexual messages around in my presence. It was almost as if all they wanted to discuss were things that were associated with the opposite sex. Again, I was nearly appalled at some of the things the girls were asking and telling me.  When leaving that session, I got in my car and had a quick pow wow with the man upstairs. Knowing that He sent me on this assignment, I reminded Him that I was going to need His assistance to be effective as the task at hand. Many questions started swimming around in my mind. A few of them went like this: How did they get like this? What type of parents do they have? At this rate, will they be successful in high school? Why are they so into boys at such a young age?

With absolutely no answers and still a boat load of questions, I solicited my weekly prayer partner for assistance. As she prayed for my strength, wisdom and courage to deal with the girls, I nodded my head in agreement. However, as she continued on asking God to remind me of how far I’d come and to remove any judgment on my part, I had to open one eye. Surely, she wasn’t talking about me! Oh, but surely she was! I was instantly convicted; for a moment in time, I was looking down on those young girls. There I was casting judgment on girls who reflected pieces of me. At some point in my life, I was exactly who they are now…it’s just no one knew about it. At some low era of my existence, I did the very things that they were discussing so freely…I was just never caught! I shared with you just last week a laundry list of things that I was guilty of. (See She is Me: Lydia) With a rap sheet like that, how dare I look down on those girls!

Besides the fact that God truly loves us, do you know why He even bothered saving us? It was so that we could be useful to the building of His Kingdom.  “For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time–to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:9 NLT)  Every single thing that we have experienced in life was not just for our own development; it was to benefit God’s people as well. There is someone, somewhere that needs to hear YOUR testimony. In my case, those girls need to know that I have walked in their shoes before and I know what dark places those paths lead to. With the right balance of love, honesty and firmness, I can help deter them from walking the path of death. But, if we get too arrogant or puffed up with pride, we miss the opportunity to minister and deliver those who are in captivity.

Many Bible readers are familiar with the header scripture. We love to proclaim that we are ‘a chosen nation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation’. But the part that seems to get tossed to wayside is the latter part of that verse.  You are His possession and were chosen that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Yes, He called me from that dark, grungy place of promiscuity, lust, fornication, drugs, alcoholism, etc. into the brighter place of salvation, forgiveness, love, redemption and restoration. However, it’s more important WHY He called me from that hopeless place—to help others who are in currently in that dark space and cannot see the way out for themselves.

I am determined now more than ever to make an indelible impact on those young ladies. I understand more fully just how important my story is to the next person. So, the next time God sends a lowly soul to you, please don’t rest in the seat of judgment.  Remember where you came from and the One who brought you from that place. Extend the same love that He extended to you. You may be the only person standing between them and salvation and/or deliverance.

Dear Daddy,

Please forgive me for the times that I placed judgment or looked down on one of Your children. When there is someone struggling with an issue, help me to embrace them the same way that You embraced me when I dealt with my issues. Teach me unconditional love that covers a multitude of sins. Lord, I ask that You send people to me who I can minister to based on the things that I have experienced in my life. Give me the courage to share my testimony so that others may come to know Your healing power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you remember where you came from! Recall that you used to be in that dark place and recall how God transitioned you into His marvelous light. With that on your brain, I EMPOWER you to minister to those who are still in that place. Who better to help them than one has walked a few miles in their shoes? Remember, they shall overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimonies! (Revelation 12:11)

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Dont Leave Them, Lead Them!

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

Faith, God's Grace, God's Love, God's Mercy, Single Parents, Spirit of Rejection, Trusting God

Send her away.

I am a single mother. If you would have told me three years ago that I (the I am never having sex before marriage woman) would be a single parent I would have never believed you.   In fact before I had my son, I must admit, I was extremely critical of some women who had children outside of marriage. This was during my hypercritical Super Christian days when I was still a virgin and at that time I was only focused on the law and not grace. I judged those women, because 9 times out of 10 the father of the child was “no good” before the woman ever got pregnant.  I figured she had to know that this situation was not going to work (judgment).  I’ve always been told: “just live a little longer” and see where life takes you.

Just three years ago I was a virgin, in a committed relationship with a believer and a junior in college. My life was like a fairytale. Then the fairytale ended. My boyfriend and I broke up. My parents divorced and when I was on the verge of graduation the economy took a nosedive.  With all of the pressure I wish I could say that I just prayed my way through. Instead I cried, whined and rebelled. WHERE was God? I also tried to reach out to a family member who I had lost touch with and kept getting rejected. The void in my heart turned me from God; I could not understand how He could watch me trying to reconcile this broken relationship and not step in to mend my broken heart.

I soon was introduced to Nathan who was all too eager to let me cry on his shoulders and in his bed.  My spirit was at war with my decisions, but every night I stayed with him. I silenced that voice, because I wanted to feel love from a person (even if it was fleeting). I soon found myself pregnant by a not so happy father-to-be.  The minute he found out I was pregnant he began trying to talk me into not keeping the baby. I was told not to get too attached to the idea of keeping the child because my salary was not enough to support one. I was told that my family would not be supportive and he already had other children to support.  All of this reminded me of Hagar:

She (Sarah) said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.” The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring.” Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. (Genesis 21:10-14 NIV)

Keep in mind Hagar was a slave, meaning she had zero, zippo, nada funds to support her son. Not only was she a slave but Abraham who was quite wealthy sent her away with a cup of water.  Abraham, a “believer”, basically sent his baby mama (she had the title of wife but he wasn’t treating her as such) in the desert to die. Lets reflect on her situation. She was forced to have a baby with an elderly man, then once her mistress had a child of her own she was kicked out of the family and forced to fend not only for herself, but her child. Thank God He is not like man. Hagar’s situation might be different from mine because she did not have a choice in having a baby with Abraham, but our situations are similar.

Now that our little bundle of joy is here, his father and I have struggled in co-parenting.  In reality, like Hagar, many decisions fall squarely on my shoulders and I do not have much input from my son’s father.  Although this has caused many stressful and sleepless nights, my Heavenly Father has supplied every need we’ve ever had. None of what I am doing is because of ME.  I can do nothing in my own strength. God is using my situation to show me that blessings come from HIM; if my son’s father was doing everything I wanted, I would look at him as my source.  And, if I were not connected to him, my son and I would not pray for him and his children every night. God is my Daddy and He knows how to provide for both me and my son.  My son is a blessing; he keeps me humble and focused. He is something that I desperately needed without me even knowing it.

For all of you single women especially single mothers remember this: For your Maker is your husband–the LORD Almighty is his name–the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. (Isaiah 54:5 NIV)

God will go before you and fight any battle. It is our job as women to protect ourselves from connecting to a man (emotionally, spiritually and physically) that has no desire to be our husband.

My Son and I

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for supporting me when people try to send me away! Help me not to focus on the negative, but focus on the wonderful things You are doing. Remind me to pray for those. Help me to be careful to make sure that I am not judging another individual. Keep me humble so that I may hear Yvoice. Help me to be the woman who can walk in integrity and love, while allowing You to patiently work out . In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Lovely Ladies, I EMPOWER you to let go of any bitterness you have towards any person that you think has done you wrong. Remember Joseph’s brothers threw him in a pit, but God used that to save a nation.  Your situation does not determine your destination!

For more information on emotional and sexual integrity check out the book Every Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge.

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