Being Saved, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized

Ninety Down: Flies in the Ointment

[dropcap style=”font-size: 45px; color: #55cfbb;”]I[/dropcap] hate flies.

They’re filthy, disgusting, annoying, and aggressive. Maybe it’s just where I live, but the flies in the burbs of Richmond will roll up on you, light up a cig, and blow the smoke in your face without thinking twice. And these nasty creatures–I’m not sure why God created them– were gathering at my back door.

Over 30 of these minuscule beasts were pressed against the glass panes buzzing “Give us us free.” They must’ve known I was coming for them because they hid in the blinds and soared around my apartment whenever I approached. And for an hour or so, the children and I took turns until every single fly revisited that window and disappeared into the swirling suction of my lavender vacuum cleaner hose.

Like any person with common sense, I looked for the source of the problem. There were no maggots in the trash can. (Thank goodness!) No gaps in the door. No gaps in the windows. I was at a loss…

…Until last week when I cleaned out the old clothes and toys from my daughter’s room. A foot to the left of her bed on the ceiling is a vent. Directly below the vent on the carpet– dead flies.

Nasty, filthy, stinking flies crept in unaware through an area that I had not considered because it was out of my reach. And because of my ignorance, a small swarm of flith-laden creatures had defiled our living spaces. (I thank God for the makers of Lysol and Clorox Anywhere Spray.)

And the old phrase, incomplete as it may seem, came to me…. “A fly in the ointment.”

Flies are attracted to anything with fragrance. They buzz around looking for the juiciest piece of fruit, hottest piece of chicken, or your finely-fragranced body butter. If we are diligent, we cover our wares and swat the flies away. But if we turn our backs for a moment, they contaminate, and something that was good just moments before ultimately gets tossed into the garbage.

And so it is with us, when we take on the lifestyle of a Christ-follower. We. Smell. Good. And the enemy knows he cannot get us to turn back to our life of sin, so he sends in the flies.

He sends in the annoying, the nit-picky, the continual harassment from people and circumstances. There’s a buzzing of my bank account on low, the texts from the guy who won’t kick rocks like I’ve asked him so many times, the forwarded emails with Tweety bird at the end!!! They all aggravate me to the point where I meditate on the wrong things, leaving my fragrance uncovered. Then the flies settle in making whatever beauty and grace I had completely distasteful and repulsive.

Aggravated. Frustrated. Exhausted.

 

[quote]Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour . (Ecclesiastes 10:1)[/quote]

 

A few flies have crept in over the past ninety days… By God’s grace I’ve found the sources and closed some of them. I’m cleaning out the remnants of disappointment and bitterness as I type. And I’ve managed to hide myself enough to discourage them from landing anywhere near me and mine. I’m guarding my heart and my mouth to no end.

So the bank account matter… I trust Him. The texts… Google Spam works wonders. The Tweety Bird forwards… Headed to the trash before they even seen my inbox. I’ve closed the vents.

Because what good is it for me to have suffered what I’ve suffered and lost what I’ve lost and gained what I’ve gained all unto God’s glory yet I bear a bad attitude and lack discretion? Why would I allow my precious relationship with Christ to become anything but by allowing small, nagging situations to enter and remain unchecked. We all have those rough days and weeks, but we cannot continually allow these matters to settle in our heart because they take away from the beautiful fragrance that God places on his people.

After all, flies aren’t the only ones attracted to us. So are the lost and the hurting. Who will embrace them if we don’t? And what hurting person ever seeks comfort from one who bears a bad attitude?

What negativity has been buzzing around you lately?
How can you be free close the vents even in situations where you have little control? 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being Saved, Uncategorized, Video Blogs & Podcasts

Overcoming Sickness

This is my first podcast, and I hope to jump on the iTunes bandwagon soon. Here are the Scriptures used to support this teaching.

[button link=”http://www.consideringthelily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/overcoming-sickness.mp3″ type=”icon” newwindow=”yes”] Play MP3[/button]

[box type=”download”] MP3 will open in another tab.[/box]

Luke 13:10-13

Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

 

Isaiah 53:5

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.

 

1 Peter 2:24

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

 

Luke 1:37

With God, nothing is impossible.

 

John 9: 1-3

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

 

2 Corinthians 4:17

For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!]

 

[button link=”http://www.consideringthelily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/overcoming-sickness.mp3″ type=”icon” newwindow=”yes”] Download MP3[/button]

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Being Saved, Uncategorized

Overcoming Temptation: Tipping the Struggle Scale

[dropcap style=”font-size: 50px; color: #9b9b9b;”] W[/dropcap]e fall into two categories when it comes to temptation: “Struggling” and “Not Struggling”. To dig a little deeper those who are classified as “Not Struggling” are either totally delivered from a situation OR have no desire to fight against the very thing that’s keeping them bound. For those of you who see no wrong in indulging in your vices, this post is not for you.

I’ve struggled. In some ways, I’m still struggling but I’m definitely not falling like I used to. So you’re in good company, and I won’t tell your secrets if you won’t tell mine. Here’s what I had to learn about myself in regards to my weak (read “sinful”) areas.

[quote]But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. James 1:14-15[/quote]

Lust brings forth sin and sin brings forth death. And lust, in this case, is not just a sexual term. Lust is any desire that takes you outside of God’s perfect plan for your life. It may be sexual, abuse of substances or people, cursing/cussing/complaining, gossip… fill in your blank.

So how do you tip the struggle scale to your favor? Start here.

 

READ YOUR BIBLE!!!

If I don’t offer any other steps, this piece alone is sufficient. Prayer does not work once you’re “in” the situation because your will is already compromised. The only way to stand in trying situations is to strengthen your spirit by reading the Word of God. As your spirit becomes stronger, your will becomes more aligned with God’s plan for your life and your desires start to change. You won’t see yourself or those shameful situations in the same light after some time. The Word is a lamp to show us where to go (and where not to go) and a light to make the truth evident. If you don’t read your Bible, you’re navigating your life in the dark!

 

Know your weakness & avoid it. 

Remember God does not tempt us (James 1:13). Temptation comes from within us. For example, put a fine chocolate-y, muscle-y brother in front of me, and I might be tempted. Pour a glass of Crown Royal and dangle it before my eyes, and I won’t blink twice. My lust is not for alcohol, so I cannot be tempted by it. I plead the fifth on the former situation, however. So until I’m able to stand, I should not put myself in those situations. So many folk have criticized me by saying “Don’t you have any self-control?” Well, no, I don’t. And bless God, I’m honest with myself and therefore I can avoid trouble.

 

Check your fellowship.

Somewhere in the Bible it says that we should not fellowship with brethren that we know are fornicators (in the KJV) and acting against God’s ordinances (1 Corinthians 5:11). By brethren the Scripture refers to those who identify themselves as Christ-followers. There is a two-fold purpose here. We cannot condone the continual sin of a person who calls him or herself a Christ-follower, so they must be given some space to allow God to change their hearts. A STRONGER reason is that eating with a person (and fellowshipping in general) is a way in which soul ties are formed, and wherever there are soul ties spirits and desires will transfer. (Bad company corrupts good manners, don’t you know?) Though your friend may not be malicious, the enemy certainly is. You’ll have to limit your ties with such a person to preserve your own soul.

 

Love God MORE!

Who I am to tell you what you should or shouldn’t like? Feelings in and of themselves are not evil, but actions are what bring  judgment. You might like to smoke a little “reefer” (that word makes me snicker), but you have to love God more to find your freedom. There are times in our walk when we find ourselves halfway between a place of sin and a place of prayer. Just choose to love God more, and He’ll handle the rest. Remember where sin abounds grace SUPERABOUNDS!!! (Romans 5:20– This is truly one of my favorite Bible verses.)

 

Consecrate yourself.

No one likes to do this, but nothing will break your nasty habits better than fasting and praying. I can fast for 3 days and see major changes in my most basic desires. Sometimes you have to literally starve your desires, and you do this by overruling your flesh with your spirit. BE HUNGRY FOR GOD!!! This also means that any influence that glorifies your lust issue should be cut off until you can handle it. Personal example… I haven’t watched music videos or listened to most secular music regularly in years because I cannot handle its content. It drives me want to sin, so it must go! A proper fast will bring about a lifestyle change ultimately transforming your desires so you don’t even want to do the same things anymore.

 

All of these steps will help you to resist the enemy as opposed to falling and repenting multiple times. Just last week, I had all these crazy thoughts come to mind that didn’t seem like my own. I wasn’t able to rest because I was so busy thinking and worrying over small things. I heard in my spirit “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). So I rebuked him and all the thoughts went away. The enemy is legally obligated to run from you the moment you choose to shut him down. You are not helpless. You do not have to succumb to his advances.

I think back to a certain relationship when the person kept wronging me in the same way over and over again. After some time, sorry didn’t mean anything to me because I realized he was making a choice to give in to temptation. How much more does God hurt when we continually choose our lustful desires over Him, knowing that in the end we’re still broken and unsatisfied?

Selah.

What’s your personal struggle?
How many more times will you allow yourself to be defeated
when you’ve been given the commandment to overcome?!
And what good thing is waiting for you on the other side of victory? 

 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Being Saved, Being Single, Uncategorized

How to Shamelessly Catch a Guy at Church

[dropcap style=”font-size: 50px; color: #9b9b9b;”] L[/dropcap]ast year I wrote about the ploys women use to catch a guy’s attention at the gym. Sad to say, but this happens in church as well. What better place is there to secure the right guy for you? He knows God, is humble, and possibly in ministry… right?

Hmmm…

And before you all start pointing any fingers, let me just say there isn’t ONE single man that is a member of the church I attend… maybe there is one, but he’s far too young for me. Now before you start picking apart my words and finding a loophole, let’s get to the steps.

  1. Find the right church. Now we know single, Black men are few and far between in some of our churches so you’ve got to scope out the best location. Smaller country churches with lots of married couples and a few singles sprinkled throughout are best. You might as well forget the mega-churches. Those brothers have already been scoped out, and the competition will be far too stiff.
  2. Don’t overdress. Save the bright red dress for date night, honey. Demure and attractive is best. Wear “get-em-girl” dress if you must, but then you might intimidate the heck out of your future boo.
  3. Your hair and make-up MUST be perfect. A low bun just won’t do, ladies. Whatever style you choose, be sure it accentuates your best features and glistens under the bright church lights. Make sure your lip gloss is popping, and don’t forget the waterproof mascara for when the Spirit moves you.
  4. Sit within gazing distance. You want to be where you can see him seeing you. Avoid direct eye contact, and DO NOT SIT BESIDE HIM! I saw a lady do this once. She sat her self right next to a fella and kept standing up and poking her ample bottom in his face. We’d like to think the guy continued to sit there, right? Not this guy! He got up and mooooooved!!! I cheered for him in my thoughts…
  5. You better praise Him. After all, what decent brother wants a woman who doesn’t enter in during praise and worship? I’m not saying you gotta shout and holler (please don’t), but you need to clap your hands to the beat, sing, and dance a little. Show that you don’t mind getting down for Jesus. When the Spirit gets moving and you feel a tear coming, remember to dab (not wipe) your make-up.
  6. When it’s time to greet your neighbor, head his way but completely avoid him. Hug at least one person from each of the following groups: a female close to your age, a small child, and an elderly person. And, honey, you better griiiiiinnn like there’s no tomorrow.  Whatever you do, don’t make eye contact with him. I mean your eyes need to dance around him like he isn’t there at all. He will work harder to make himself more visible later.
  7. After service is over meander at your seat, but look busy. Take your time putting away your notebooks, pens, and highlighters. Say goodbye to your closest neighbors and offer your business card (or two) to one of the married couples in the church. Gracefully head to the door. He will find his way to you even if it’s not until you reach the parking lot.
  8. If he doesn’t speak, fret not thyself. You’ve made your presence known, honey! Rest assured he’ll ask around…. more specifically to the married couple that to whom you passed the business cards. Well, played, lady. Well played.

So I’m not completely serious about this. In no way do I recommend that any woman should take these steps seriously, but if you’re willing to try, who am I to stop you? There’s nothing here that’s wrong in and of itself. But should you be so bold, make sure you find your want to the “Contact Me” tab above and share your story.

On a serious note, kingdom women who desire companionship must demonstrate self-respect. Leave all the desperation, loneliness, and attention-seeking at home in your prayer closet. On a more serious note, don’t go to church looking for a boo. Seek God, and He’ll send the right one in the right time. Yeah, I know it sucks… Ugh.

[quote]I’ve learned that any man that you attract by your own efforts will fall short of what you truly desire.
Every. Single. Time. God knows what we truly desire and need.[/quote]

 

In the meantime, ain’t nothing wrong with being a little coy…

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Being Saved, Being Single, Dating & Relationships, For the Brothers, Uncategorized

Letter to the Married Brother

[dropcap style=”font-size: 50px; color: #9b9b9b;”] D [/dropcap]ear Sir,

 

Need I remind you of the nights you prayed for the warm body that shares your bed?

Need I remind you of the countless dates with women who could not hold your heart or even a worthwhile conversation?

Need I remind you that Christian couples are divorcing everyday and there are consequences called child support alimony?

Yet you risk it all through emails, texts, and private messages. No, the  content may not be inappropriate but it is questionable. And the question to ask yourself is this…

 [quote]If your wife saw this, how would she feel? Your pastor? Your children?

Is this something you’d be proud of IF and WHEN it is revealed?[/quote]

Let me remind you that the Lord sees the intent of our hearts, and though you may be lonely…

Though you may feel neglected…

Though you may be searching…

You are still married, and I am not your wife.

 

Unless there is a defined purpose for a relationship AND that relationship is public, there is no need for us to communicate continually. I need not be welcomed into your life. I don’t need to answer all your questions. No “just because”, “goodnight” or “good morning” emails should cross my networking threshold.

Where is your integrity, man of God? Have you yet to learn that no one can satisfy your soul but God Himself?

Just as you seek to be comforted and entertained, the enemy seeks to destroy YOU. He doesn’t care about your job, your family, or your ministry. He wants your soul. And he will bring you a Delilah when you’re at your lowest point.

 

You’ve found yourself at a stand still and wondered why your prayers are not being answered, yet you do not serve God or your wife with fidelity. How could He bless you when you don’t protect the blessings you already have?

 

If you’ve got to send that message early in the morning or late at night…

If you delete every exchange of conversation…

If you’ve never expressed the objective of the conversation without identifying who you are (and being married is part of that)…

You’re wrong. And I forgive you for trying to use me to soothe your own insecurities.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your marriage,

 

Alana

 

Being Saved, Being Single, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

Precautionary Dating Tale #3: They Just Keep Leaving

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] H [/dropcap]ow many times have you met someone and started a continual stream of great conversations only to have the communication come to a screeching halt? Then pick back up again… Then stop. Again.

It happens more than we care to admit, and it happens with men and women who identify themselves as Christ-followers.

And it’s WRONG! Any action that causes one to feel deserted or abandoned is one that is displeasing to God.

I remember sitting with my old pastor and telling him about this man he sent to date me. Everything was going along fine until we had a disagreement about something, and the brother disappeared for 3 days. What really made me angry was that this guy and I had shared things that were deal-breakers, and disappearing acts are numero uno for me. So having known this, he made a conscious decision to break a date, not call, and completely disappear. He had a good reason of course. There’s always– and by always, I mean never– a good reason to abandon someone that you’ve made a part of your life. I’m not quite sure why he was upset about my ending the relationship, but I digress.

My pastor looked at me puzzled and asked for clarification. The more I explained what took place (which was a very simple story) the more confused he became. He offered me no solace except to say he was sorry, and that really was good enough. Two years later I can confidently say that in THAT particular situation I was NOT at fault for the brother’s choice to abandon, but something I did made him think he could get away with it. (Even though the pastor sent him, I didn’t have to date him.)

Fast-forward a year and some change, and I’m enjoying a long-distance friendship with a very kind fella. Things start to get busy at work, and I find myself overwhelmed with everything! So our conversations were limited in time and frequency, but they didn’t stop altogether. I started to lose interest, and so made myself even more unavailable. His reaction was… ummm… which made me like him even less. I shared my feelings with him, and though I didn’t expect him to receive it well, I didn’t expect him to throw a hissy fit and delete me from Facebook. (Pardon me while I snicker…) This person was the assistant pastor of a church and behaved like a big baby. He was so used to women abandoning him that he thought he’d jump the gun and abandon me. Even though I would’ve liked to just up and disappear on him, I knew that God would not be pleased which is why I openly shared that he wasn’t right for me.

I was wrong in both situations. I began to write two lists, one for the role of the abandonee and one for the abandon-er, but I find that the core issues are essentially the same. So let’s see what we can glean from these matters:

  1. Abandonment stems from and creates emotional instability. Many of us grew up in single-parent homes or homes where one parent was present but only in the physical sense. We’ve come to think that abandonment is a normal and acceptable part of life, and we become predatory daters, self-seeking and totally un-Christlike. Rest assured that if you are up and disappearing on folk you are hurting them because YOU are hurt. Take a seat and allow God to deal with your heart before you rack up too many more broken hearts.
  2. You are your brother’s and sister’s keeper. Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap. It is our duty to guard and protect one another’s souls, not to bring harm. God is love, but He’s also a judge. Be ye careful…
  3. You will leave every romantic relationship but one, so learn to do it the right way. It’s not easy to tell someone that you’re no longer interested, but you owe them and yourself the respect to do so. Check out How to Break Up and Stay That Way for some helpful guidelines.
  4. One who makes promises early on is more than likely unable to keep them. Don’t bother believing or accepting the well-meaning lies. “You’re the one for me… I just know it.” Oop. We don’t know these things until a measure of time has passed and we’ve seen the character of the person. People will sell you a lie thinking they’re telling the truth. Protect your heart and be spirit led.
  5. Don’t tell everything on your heart. In the first scenario I alluded to the fact that I did something to make this brother think he could play games with my emotions. I told him entirely too much about my feelings towards him. He used my feelings as leverage to attempt to manipulate me. When I broke things off, he said to me “But I thought you said I was everything you asked God for.” If that ain’t a big ol’ slap in the face…
  6. Slow your roll! We move entirely too fast. It’s ok to change to subject or make yourself busy so you can slow things down. Talking everyday all day is a guaranteed way to tell too much too soon.
  7. Sometimes a “gentle” rebuke is needed. In the second scenario I was irate about the way the buddy boy carried himself. I called him up and laid him out. I’m not inclined to telling people off, but his actions warranted it. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we can’t be so easily hurt and defensive. He apologized for his actions, and we were able to restore our friendship… minimally.
  8. When they walk, let them. They’ve made their choice. All that “let’s make it work” talk is reserved for marriage. You don’t “make” things work with someone you’re just dating. Why is that so hard for people to understand?
  9. Sometimes you’ll have to give a gentle push. Some people don’t know how to take a break-up. After saying the words, you’ll have to prove to them you mean business. Egos are big in these cases. Worry not about bruising them.
  10. If you’re going to be by yourself, then BE BY YOURSELF! A few weeks ago a young lady sent a tweet to someone asking for advice. Her boyfriend never answered the phone when she called. The person responded by saying “Sounds like you don’t really have a boyfriend. Let him go.” My last relationship was just like this. Being lonely in a relationship is far worse than being lonely outside of one. (But here’s a tip… loneliness eventually goes away if you learn to enjoy your own company.)
In the greater scheme of things, God will allow you to be abandoned continually until you learn to better handle yourself in dating situations. He will permit for you what you permit for yourself. Accepting the same type of mess from people will cause further damage to your already broken heart, and will ultimately push your goal of being happily married further down the line.
People will leave your life, and that’s ok. Let them go and rest assured that when you trust in God, you will NOT be disappointed!

Do you have a “precautionary dating tale” to share? I’d love to hear about it… anonymously of course! Tell me your story, and join CTheLily Newsletter so you’re updating to its posting. And of course,  only share your identity if you wish!  Here’s the link!

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,
Alana

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Being Saved, Uncategorized

Be Not Condemned

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] L [/dropcap]ast night I practiced the technique from Will You Hear from God Part 2: How to Hear from God for YOURSELF!

The Lord took me on a bunny trail which began at 1 Peter 3, and ended with my meditating on the differences between condemnation and conviction. Hop down this trail with me a little ways.

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3: 14-17)

Every so often a mini-attack is launched my way, and it often comes through a believer. I’ve learned to deal with the person as gently as possible and to never to get into a debate, so the verses above really spoke to that situation. I often to ask the Lord why would a believer come so strongly against another, and He said “Because of their own heart issues.”

See… God points out our heart issues in one way, and that is through conviction. The enemy works in the heart of a believer (and nonbeliever) through condemnation. I didn’t get this in a sermon, you understand. He spoke this to me last night, so walk with me.

Imagine if you will, two packages. One  is a ragged, misshapen box with outdated, torn wrapping paper. The other is neatly and attractively wrapped with a beautiful matching bow on top. Both boxes are handed to you.

Let’s take a look at the differences between the contents of the two boxes and their affect on our lives.

[one_half]

Condemnation does the following…

  • Issues you a sentence for your wrong & points to you as worthless, stupid, and unable to do anything right, etc.
  • Says “You’re never gonna change. Look what you did again.”
  • Sings songs like I’ve “Gotta clean up what you messed up. I’ve started my life over again.”
  • Makes you feel dirty and insignificant, so you have a hard time receiving the love of the Father.
  • Causes you to become hypersensitive and thus critical of others who are enjoying their freedom in Christ.
  • Keeps you walking on a tightrope to maintain your salvation.
  • Makes you a sourpuss that no one wants to be around. Oop.
  • Disconnects you from God’s spirit and causing you to be self-sufficient.

[/one_half]

[one_half_last]

Conviction does the following…

  • Issues a judgment on the action and heart intent while reminding you that the price has already been paid!
  • The message inside says “It’s time to change. Here are the tools.”
  • Sings songs like “Oh the blood of Jesus! It washes white as snow!”
  • Reminds you that the Blood of Jesus is enough, and that a righteous man falls seven times but gets back up!
  • Removes the bad feelings that come from sin and guides you to seek out spirit-led support and accountability.
  • Frees you from guilt and shame and allows you to live a life in Christ through freedom and liberty.
  • Causes a genuine change in heart followed by repentance which is followed by JOY!
  • Keeps you hooked in to the life line of the kingdom causing you to grow and blossom into your full destiny!

[/one_half_last]

 

If you struggle with condemnation (i.e. feeling cursed, incompetent, worthless, destined to fail) in your walk with Christ, you will not get far! You must send away the bad feelings and accept Christ’s love for your shortcomings. This is one of the MAIN reasons people do not even come to Christ in the first place! They don’t think they deserve to be forgiven of their sins, and so they won’t be. Let this unbelief not be among those of us who call ourselves Christ followers. Read Romans 8 until you get in your spirit that your walk in Christ is not all doom and gloom!

The message of the cross is heal, set free, deliver, proclaim good news… any doctrine outside of this is NOT the Gospel of Christ. Yes, we have to tighten up some areas of our lives to become free in our spirits but those things should never come through control or manipulation. As a last point, be careful who you allow to feed you spiritually. Many preachers in this time share their personal preferences and opinions which are NOT the Gospel of Christ. Don’t allow others to bind you up over their personal issues.

 We all slip up from time to time. Which box do you choose?
The Father’s conviction which heals and delivers or the enemy’s condemnation which brings a curse?

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

Alana

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being Saved, Uncategorized

The Art of Hearing God’s Voice Part 1: Will You Hear Him?

[retweet][/retweet] [stumble][/stumble] [facebook][/facebook]
God speaks to everyone.

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] E [/dropcap]veryone can hear from God.

But not everyone does hear from the Almighty. Why does this happen?

Matthew 16 addresses this issue, yet it is one of the most mis-preached and mis-teached chapters in the Bible. You know how you’re hearing the pastor tell what he thinks something means, and a still small voice inside says “nuh uh”?

It’s the word “ROCK” that trips us up… I’ve heard so many teachings about that word ROCK… Yes, Peter means ROCK. But is the church built on Peter? No! Is the church built on the the fact that Jesus is the Christ? Meh…. that doesn’t directly address the issue at hand. He IS the Christ and the chief cornerstone, but this scripture is referencing the foundation of the church. (Many know Jesus factually, but not experientially…)

So what, then, IS the ROCK?

The ROCK that Jesus is referencing (use your English skills to diagram these sentences and prove it to yourself) is the fact that Peter HEARD from God.

Let’s dialog it…

Jesus: Who do you say that I am?

Peter: You are Christ, the son of the Living God.

Jesus: Peter, you are blessed! No man could’ve told you this. You heard from the Father. And just as you recognize me as the Christ, I recognize you as a rock. But THE rock, the foundation of my church, will be revelation from the Father. No power in Hell can stand against those who receive revelation from the Father.

Then Jesus proceeds to teach them WHAT to do with the revelation when they receive it via binding and loosing.

I could stop here, but I hear the Spirit so I shall continue. How, then, does God speak to us?

  • Through the written Word – I think back to the Sunday school song “Read your Bible, pray everyday, and you’ll grow grow grow!” Without reading God’s Word we cannot expect to hear from Him in any other context. Chances are you won’t know the tone and sound of God’s voice when He speaks if you have not been reading His Word. Many new believers find it challenging to just open it up and start reading, but press through. The Bible is a spiritual text and the Lord will mature you as you continue. A great starting point for any reader is the Gospels, particularly the book of John. Psalms and Proverbs are also great and easy to relate to life circumstances. (2 Timothy 2:15)
  • In our spirits as a still, small voice  – In order to hear a still, small voice you have to be STILL. If there is no peace in your soul it will be virtually IMPOSSIBLE to hear from God. When I’m particularly stressed or know I have weak faith in an area, I ask God to show someone else the answer, and He does. But it’s BEST that we rule our own souls so that God may communicate with us without the interference of our own mental blockages and emotional issues. (1 Kings 19:11-13)
  • Audibly – Scary! Never happened to me, and I’m not sure I want to experience it either. I would imagine having an animal speak is equally as frightening. (Numbers 22)
  • In dreams and visions – Often we are too busy during work hours to download what the Father is saying, so He gives us dreams and visions to guide us. Everyone dreams, but not everyone may remember. One thing I practice, particularly during times of trying, is to read my Word, pray, and then say “Lord, I open my spirit to receive from you while I rest. Please show me what’s on Your heart.” Then I sleep. Some nights I’ll have 3-4 dreams that provide some insight or direction to what’s going on in my life OR the lives of others around me. He’s not giving us revelation to make us more spiritual than the next person, but to restore order and to bring His kingdom to the earth. When God gives you a dream or a vision, it’s not the end of a matter… It’s the beginning. You are to do SOMETHING with it, and that SOMETHING is to pray about it. If your dreams are heavily symbolic then it may take some time (i.e. years) to attain the full understanding. My eight-year old son often has dreams that are parallel with my own, but his are much clearer and easier to understand than my own because he is pure. The closer I get to the Lord the quicker the revelation comes.
  • Through the prophetic word – This is such a touchy subject, and so one blog will be dedicated to it fairly soon… but for the meantime, prophecy does still exist. God still has prophets in the earth. Any Christian that hears from God can be used by God to prophesy. True prophecy will build up you, correct you, admonish you, and encourage you. There’s much to say on this topic, but I’ll let it rest for now.

A few Scriptures to keep in mind…

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches…  (Revelation 2:17)
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27)
If You love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)

Today, when You hear His voice, harden not your hearts. (Hebrews 3:7-8)

This last scripture is the reason why many are not part of the body of Christ. There are MANY who identify themselves as Christians, yet do not hear God’s voice and many still who hear His voice yet disobey. With all the ways He speaks let us not become calloused and bent on doing things our own way. Thy will, not my will, be done!

 

Will you hear God’s voice today?
What was the last thing He told you to do? 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being Saved, Being Single, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized

Sixty Down: He Keeps Saying “No”!

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A few of you watched my first video which included the announcement of a year of no dating. For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s the link.

In these sixty days, I can’t say that I’ve been terribly lonely. I can say that I’ve already begun to see myself differently and I’ve learned there’s so much more to life than the happiness that only exists (apparently) in romantic relationships. Like family. And money. And peace. And the abiding presence of God.

I would not have believed this if not for the hell I’ve been through the past two months.

In the effort to not over-share (i.e. embarrass anyone), I’ll just say that I’ve had to stand. And by “stand” I really mean kneel in prayer seeking God’s will and provision for me during this season. I’ve had to call on others to hold me up because, at times, my faith just wasn’t enough.

So instead of telling stories of grief and heartbreak, I’ll share those of minimal disappointment… with a moral and happy ending of course.

Maybe six weeks ago I started looking for a new home. My apartment is lovely, but I miss having a big, spacious kitchen with granite countertops where I can make lavish cakes and dinners to feed my friends and family. But I didn’t find a single house that I liked. The seller pushed and pushed and even put a great deal on the table, but I heard a quiet “no.” So on I went to look at homes elsewhere. Found one, fell in looooooooove, and came darn near close to signing the paperwork. Again, a “no.”

I couldn’t understand why He kept telling me “no” but since God seems to know what He’s doing, I passed on both opportunities. Just two weeks later, I found out a third of my monthly income had been lost to someone else’s mishaps.

What if I had signed that contract? Selah.

I relied heavily on that money. Double selah and a “Lord, forgive me.”

With little money in the bank and no guarantee (from what I could see in the natural) of any more coming in, I was excited to hear about a job opportunity– and when I say opportunity, I mean the job I’ve been wanting for the past two to three years. I knew God was telling me “no” but I wanted to be sure, so I checked in with my mentor. He made it easy for me to write an apologetic email thanking the folks for considering me, yet respectfully declining.

Then…. (oh I’m not finished yet)…

My daughter became ill. I don’t know what kinda bug she picked up but baby girl went from having a mild case of pink eye to having a roaring temperature of 104 degrees. Her body temperature was as high as my bank account was low. God gave us favor with the doctors because with the loss of that aforementioned income went the insurance too. But I had to face a real challenge when I heard the cost of her medication… $84 for the full prescription. There was exactly $60 in my wallet. I purchased half the prescription and a bottle of ibuprofen and walked away with only twelve dollars in my wallet. I cried at the checkout counter, yet God showed me mercy. By the third day, I noticed that the pharmacist had given me 3 full doses instead of two and a half!! God bless that man!!! After a few days of pushing liquids and analgesics down her throat, baby girl recovered.

All this with minimal family support due to other circumstances which I cannot even bear to mention here…

I’ve come to a place where I realize that God’s “no” is not a denial of what I want, but moreso the way in which He protects what He wants for me. Had I signed those papers, I would’ve ended up with a house that He didn’t want for me and unable to pay for it.

What did bother me was that I wasn’t hearing any “yes’s”. Well today I heard more than a few! I can’t share at this point, but I will say this…

[quote]When God says “no”, rest assured that He’s protecting a “yes.” Obey Him! Trust Him! Lean on Him!
He will say yes at some point, and be ready to obey.
If you can’t yield to a “no”, then you won’t go with a “yes”![/quote]

There is nothing in this life that we will lose for Christ’s sake that He will not return and multiply to us. Can you even imagine the house he has for me? The job? The husband? No??!! Neither can I…

And that’s the point…

For the scripture says, Whosoever believes on him shall not be ashamed. Romans 10:11

Sixty-down. Three hundred to go…

Looking back, when did God’s “no’s” protect you?
What’s keeping Him from saying “yes” in your toughest situations?

 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your (and my) future,

 

Alana

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being Saved, Being Single, Dating & Relationships, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized

Precautionary Dating Tale #2: Beware the Predatory Dater

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I’m sixty-something days into my dating sabbatical, and I am far from bored. Truth be told, I didn’t do a lot of dating before so I really haven’t felt the impact THAT much except for Sundays after church. (That’s designated boo time in my mind…) Just the same, men have approached me… one really good, and others who are not even worthy of a telephone conversation.

But what I’ve learned (besides the fact that I need not give everyone my number) is that some people are predators when it comes to dating. They have marked a target on my fat bottom, seemingly sizeable bank account, or apparent niceness. These men have set an objective outside of getting to know me, and they’ve told me what they want as if it were honorable to tell the truth about something so shameful.

Women do the same… and in my humble opinion, worse. Lonely ladies everywhere list the attributes they expect a man to have just to take her on a date. These women are predators… not the type worthy of a true gentleman’s time. Don’t entertain her no matter how gorgeous she may be. (What are you gonna do? Whip out your Superman cape and save her from her delusion? Not gonna happen…)

I knew a guy… Biblically-speaking. (Don’t judge me.) This was years ago… but this fella was tall, a beautiful shade of dark brown and muscle-y. Ladies, if you could see a picture of this man, you’d blush. Think tall Greek God wrapped in Godiva’s finest. We played that “friends with benefits” game, and honestly speaking, it worked for some time. We had great conversation and great “conversation”… so great that God himself had to deliver me from the soul tie I had with this guy. Few things are more dangerous than good sex…

But this fella was a predator. And I was easy prey… down on myself, emotionally unstable, disappointed at life, and eager to please anyone who showed me attention. Make no mistake about my position on this. The prey is JUST as wrong as the predator. He wasn’t all bad, and I wasn’t all good. But when I decided to end the sexual nature of our relationship, he had a fit of rage then hunted out new prey.

Years have passed, and I’m no longer the lovesick woman who will settle. So when men with the same qualities as the aforementioned Adonis-like playboy approach me, I lace up my Asic’s and run like–

So how can you spot a predatory dater and avoid the trouble? They might look something like this…

  • The predatory dater is in a rush. Broad statement. Apply liberally.
  • The predatory dater misconstrues your kindness. You say “Hi” and they say “OMG! Why are you sweating me?”
  • The predatory dater is super-sensitive and/or self-absorbed. This person thinks every tweet is subliminal and about him or her. One missed “Good morning” text or late response sends them into a cavalcade of emotion. He or she often feels the need to correct you just to make themselves feel important.
  • The predatory dater will spend a maximum of 3 weeks trying to determine if he or she can get what they want out of you. After that, you won’t hear much at all until their other options are unavailable.
  • The predatory dater says things like “We’ll see what happens. I don’t know what the future holds. Let’s keep this private for now.” These statements often come when plans are being made for a date, future phone call, progression of relationship, etc. Ambiguity and duality are BIG warning signs. You will not regret walking away from a person who says these things.
  • The predatory dater will use you for one or two things at the most. We know the typical things. For men, sex. For women, attention or money. A woman will entertain a man PURELY to gratify her need for attention and have nary a thought about giving said man a real chance. I know because I’ve done it before. But outside of that, people use others for a myriad of reasons. You may meet the predator’s needs for one or two things, but everything else they’ll get from another source.
  • The predatory dater leaves something to be desired. You might really like some qualities in the person, but after talking to him or her, you feel icky inside. You’re picking up on their insecurities that they’ve attempted to project on you. I have a friend who really has been demoted to an “why-are-you-calling-me” acquaintance. He’s a nice guy at the core, but his self-esteem is sooooooooo stinking low that he feels the need to “fix” me whenever we talk. When he and I would hang out, I could never get him to leave. So imagine a person who wants to be around you only to make you feel bad so they can feel better? Ugh! Nice guy… missing a few… gotta go.
  • The predatory dater puts you in a box. Your interactions must fit his or her schedule and be carried out in a specific manner. Say what you want at your own risk!
  • The predatory dater is an expert at seduction. In order to effectively seduce someone you have to persuade them by presenting an ideal that is better than his or her own. To seduce a man or woman of God, the predator has to have a little bit of godliness and a little bit of freakiness. Without the godliness, we wouldn’t give the person a second look. Without freakiness, we probably wouldn’t keep on looking… Think Samson and Delilah.

Proverbs 22:3 says The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.

My pastor often teaches that a person should be qualified before you give them your time. How I wish I had learned this YEARS AGO!  But now that I know, and now that I’ve shared it with you… He who has ears to hear let him hear.

Are you a predatory dater?
What are you looking for in others that you haven’t found in yourself?
Have you been someone’s prey?
What changes will you make to change your dating experience?

 

Dating Precaution #2: If you feel like dirt after a simple text or phone conversation, you’ve been targeted as prey. Play possum.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net