Being Saved, Uncategorized

Keeping Your Heart

To be perfectly honest I had felt disqualified to write about spiritual things even though I was commissioned to do so. Well, last week I was rebuked for NOT writing, so I must do as the Lord leads.

False teachers are springing up EVERYWHERE today. They’re on my tv, in my ear, in my family’s ear inviting us to try their wares. Try my manna bread and holy spring water. It’ll heal your body. Try my little prophet friend who can call out your credit card number. Try my miracle while I promise you miracle money just for listening to how great I am. 

While some of these ploys are obvious and meager in their attempts, others are much more pervasive and, ultimately, more dangerous. You see or hear a so-called man or woman of God and they acknowledge Jesus Christ as the son of God. So they pass the first test. And they preach the written Word. They pass the second test. The signs and wonders follow… seems to be a bonus there. But your spirit man knows. Something. Just. Ain’t. Right.

In this dark spiritual hour, we must be cognizant that demonic doctrine has slipped into the church and even some of our most respected national ministers may teach falsities from their pulpits. Some of these teachings have passed down from previous generations because “mama and daddy and ‘nem” couldn’t read and had no choice but to believe “Passa.” Others, however, have turned their backs on the kingdom platform that Christ explicitly stated in the Word, and because of their influence, many believers still accept them as part of Christ’s body.



So how can WE as believers guard our souls from such artfully-crafted lies? Here’s what the Lord has placed on my heart.

  1. We must learn to identify and recognize the voice of God. How does this happen? First, by reading His Word, particularly the Words of Jesus. His words always revealed the heart of God as it pertains to love for the lost and hatred for sin and hypocrisy. Second, through prayer and by prayer I mean you send your requests, then stop and listen for His. The Father’s words have a certain tone about them. They bring peace, yet they turn your mind upside down. His Words pierce and convict your heart of wrongdoing, yet comfort you at the same time. Learn to recognize this tone, by inclining your ear and quieting your spirit. (John 10:5, Isaiah 55:3)
  2. We must do what the Spirit says. Have you ever helped someone through a difficult problem, but they didn’t take your advice? They just wanted to talk and talk and talk, but never come to a resolution. Some people don’t want to do the right thing. Some don’t want to do anything at all. So I’ve learned to stop talking to those folk. I believe God handles us the same way. To keep the communication open, you have do more than listen. Obedience is the key to keep the spirit speaking. (Isaiah 1:17-19, 1 Samuel 1:22, Psalm 51:11)
  3. We must deal with our personal lusts and any desire that leads us away from Him. We tend to think of sex as the only source of lust, but this isn’t true. Anything that we desire so much that it causes us to miss God MUST be put into its proper place. Lust is the result of an imbalance or lack of prioritizing. Put your desires in their proper place, so every seemingly good thing that comes your way doesn’t lead you astray. (Proverbs 4:23, Matthew 6:33, Psalm 37:4)
  4. We must have a solid spiritual covering. Without having the foundation of a solid church home, we are all prey to enemy. God gave us pastors as shepherds. Shepherds guard the door to keep predators out, AND they protect the sheep should a prey sneak in another way. If you are NOT in a Spirit-led, Bible-teaching, fire-baptizing, people-loving church where the pastor(s) seek the face of God, it’s time to search elsewhere. (John 10)
  5. Pride HAS to go! Nothing sets one up for deceit quicker than pride! How many scriptures warn us against thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought? The one that speaks loudest to me reads something like this…”God resists the proud.” Ouch! So you can be a child of God, loving Him, thinking you’re doing the right things, but because of your pride, He will resist you. And most people in this situation think it’s the devil. I check myself fairly often for this, and I always find that in some capacity I’ve gotten a big head even if I haven’t communicated it to others. (Proverbs 16:18, James 4:6, 1 Corinthians 8:1-2, Romans 12:3)
  6. Inspect the fruit. With so many proclaiming to be ministers of the Gospel, it’s no wonder people are being led astray. Jesus gave us ONE litmus test for these situations. You shall know them by their fruit. In other words, not everyone who claims the name of Jesus, preaches His Word, and operates in signs and wonders is a follower of Jesus. You must check their fruits of the spirit. It doesn’t matter how gifted a person is if they lack maturity, joy, peace, and love for mankind. Keep your hateful, squawking Gospel. It’s not true to form! (Galatians 5:22-23, Matthew 7:15-20, Jude 17-25)

Regardless of what takes place in the heart of others, God commands us to keep our hearts with ALL diligence. That means we must spend time questioning our own beliefs, casting down anything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Furthermore, we must keep our pastors, other ministers, and our brethren (and “sisteren”) in prayer when we see them starting to drift away.

I truly believe that God is not willing that any should be led astray, and for this reason, He will restore our lost loved ones to us. But in the meantime, it is our responsibility to protect ourselves and to intercede for those who haven’t made it back home yet.

Thanks for reading. If this post has blessed you in any way, please please please repost, re-tweet, email, share, and forward. Comments are welcomed also. I’ll be glad to answer any questions to the best of my Scriptural knowledge and as the Lord leads.

Your sister in Christ,

Alana

 

Free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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

Letter to the One that Got Away

It ain’t you, so just read the blog and don’t worry. LOL!

(Truth be told, he’ll never see this unless I send it to him.)

Dear Sir, 

I remember the first time we met. You were charming, and somewhat handsome… I was quite taken by your inner swag though I could’ve passed on your sense of style. No one, and I mean NO ONE, should’ve been wearing their hats two sizes too big. But just the same, you were very smart and very much a gentleman, and what woman isn’t drawn to confidence?


I don’t recall what we did on our first or second dates. If I did I probably still wouldn’t write about it. Those days…sheesh! (My readers are judgmental. Don’t mind them. Thank God for the blood of Jesus!) We had so much in common… both having passion for faith, family, and business. You were much further along in life than I was. We attended different colleges, so that drive up and down 64 was a killer. You had a good family background which was rare, and I held you in such high regard. We never made a relationship of it, and part of that is my fault… but it would’ve helped tremendously if you made it clear how you truly felt about me in a timely manner.


I remember sitting beside you on your sofa. We had just finished dinner. I rubbed your chest (always a sucker for a big chest), and you told me about your future goals. I thought for a bit that I could be happy settling down with you, but there was always something nagging at me. Most of the time you were gentle and kind, but sprinkled in were moments of insensitivity, almost to the point of cruelty.


In short, you reminded me of my father.


I remember the last time we went out. Another guy that was competing for my attention called while you and I were together. You urged me to answer the phone, so I did. You must have thought I was going to end it with him and choose you. 


Honestly, between the two of you he was better looking. And between the two of you, he was funnier. And between the two of you, I knew how he felt about me. But one thing you both had in common… You both were jerks! LOL… But I didn’t end it with him that night. I didn’t end it with him until four years ago. So that night, you left in a fit of rage which surprised me to NO END! And by no end, I mean I regretted that night for YEARS! But I eventually let go… Well, you got away.


No one should ever find out a person’s true feelings that way. Things could’ve been different. 


But I’m so glad they aren’t.


You are married.. happily… finally. Your wife is gorgeous. Honestly, if you didn’t have all that swag there’s no way you could’ve gotten her. I hope you keep her. I can’t imagine any other woman putting up with your biting sarcasm. For the year you two were separated, I pray our conversations helped you realize how blessed you are. Your children are beautiful and smart. Your business goals will come to pass.


I had fun seeing you from time to time… just friends checking in. Whenever we walked into a place, people treated us like we were made to be together. It was the strangest thing… But God kept us from doing anything shameful. I’m grateful.


The fact of the matter is I love you like a brother. I don’t miss you, and I don’t wish we had stayed together. I just wanted you to know that I appreciated you.


You see, some men today don’t respect a woman’s choice. Despite the fact that you were the better man, you walked away with your dignity and left me with mine. I learned a lot about a man’s heart that night all of which I had forgotten until a few moments ago.


You love just as hard as we do. You hurt just as much as we do. 


And if… for some reason… any unforeseeable reason at all… I mean it’s very unlikely… but just in case the ish don’t work out between you and your wife….




You need to find somebody else! Because when I let go, it’s for good…




“Platonically” loving you from a distance,


Alana

 

Photo Credit:

Harry Rowed. National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque. Library and Archives Canada, PA-112824 /

 




Being Saved, Uncategorized

Goosebump Christianity

“See that your believing is right, and if it is, you have no reason to doubt.”     -Rees Howells

Welcome to the Belief System Checkpoint. Warning! Your toes will be stepped on. Please remove your Steve Maddens and secure your feet with a pair of steel-toed boots. Go ahead… I’ll wait. Actually I need to find my own because I’m going to need them as much as you.

Now I am not pretending to be a theologist, minister, or even a philosopher. I am simply an imperfect woman who is madly and desperately in love with Jesus. Does that qualify me to make some of the statements I’m about to make? Pretty much, because I’m tired of all the foolishness we do in Jesus’ name that has nothing to do with Him or His Word. Don’t like it? Get your own blog, talk bad about me, and redirect the traffic to me so others can follow me too. (I said all that with a smile.)

I read my Bible pretty often, not always everyday, but at least several times a week. I don’t just read the verses and keep it moving. I meditate on them… talk about it… ask questions… wait for the answers… on and on. Being a critical thinker means I have to verify that the Word someone is teaching me is the truth. Not to mention, God has blessed me with an AWESOME mentor… shoutout to Apostle Demontae… that promptly and sometimes painfully whips me into shape. He’s a very patient man. 🙂

Over the years I’ve heard some krazy stuff… and the only reason I can think people would say any of it is to give folks goosebumps. I like a good goosebump and spine chill as much as the next person, but is that really evidence that GOD is in it? Too often we get caught up and sensationalize a matter and miss the point. 

So here are my top seven favorite goosebump-giving LIES that have been told to churchfolk that need to be EVICTED from our doctrine…

  1. God knows my heart, so if I do this He’ll forgive me. I’ve said this so many times… and even now I catch myself. But if I’ve done something I shouldn’t have, that means something bad is in my heart. And, yes, God knows that. Does it exonerate me from the consequences? Nope. Does it mean God is tolerable of my sinful nature? Absolutely not! God’s grace is not a license to sin, but it will change our sinful nature to a righteous one. In the meantime, let’s just call sin what it is and repent. There’s provision through repentance, but not through manipulation and deceit. And the heart, above all, is deceitful. Yeah, that’s Bible. 
  2. If you don’t tithe, you’ll lose your job. I heard this when I was church-hunting a few years ago, and I was tempted to stand up and shout “The devil is a liar!” That would’ve been wrong of me, so I waited until things were settled in the service and grabbed my children and our coats and rolled out. What the preacher really meant was that if the people didn’t pay their tithes, he wouldn’t be able to put the four-dollar-per-gallon gas in his Escalade. Other than that, I will refrain from making commentary on tithing other than to say that what I tithe is between me and God. No one needs to know how much I make per year, so that part of the envelope is left ____________. (I just lost a lot of readers.)
  3. The “RAPTURE” in general. I have always been taught that there was a rapture and one day Jesus would crack the sky and all his people would be taken out of here. About three years ago, I heard for the first time that this doctrine is questionable at best. I debated with some folks until they finally helped me understand that the word “rapture” is NOwhere in the Bible. Yes, Jesus will return but we don’t know for certain if that’s before or after the tribulation. The problem with this doctrine is that it makes for lazy Christians. What reason do we have to war against the kingdom of darkness if the Lord is going to show up and zap us out of here in a blink of an eye? Why would he tell us to fight? “Peter, go buy a sword so you can hold it on your big comfy sofa and watch TBN til I come and rescue you from the world the devil’s made a mess of.” Nope… that’s not what He said. Granted, I don’t want to be here when all the water turns to blood either… but if I have to, then I need to be prepared.
  4. You’re not supposed to judge. I hear this so much because, yes, I’m a little judgmental. It seems the only people that know this verse are the people who don’t want to do right. Yeah, I said it! Stop quoting this one Scripture if you don’t believe the rest of Bible. And the Bible does say not to judge or you will bring judgment upon yourself, and, boy, is that true! But the Bible also says that we know each other by the fruits of the spirit that are produced in our lives AND one day we will judge the angels. So for me, I’m careful to pronounce my opinion as to whether a person is right or wrong, but I do speak to their actions. Simply put, some things are wrong, and I’d rather someone tell me and save my soul from hellfire than to turn their head and let me fall. Then there are folks who feel like you’re judging them just simply because you want to do what’s right. That’s THEIR problem!
  5. A prophet’s words will always confirm what God already told you. Again, I was raised to believe this, but the more I grow in the Lord, the more I discover that it isn’t always true. Then again, I’m not getting words from a parking lot prophet. Sometimes when I get a word through a prophet it does confirm what God has told me. Other times it’s something I’ve never even considered. Why would God do that? Because I’m a person that’s imperfect and may miss it unless my mentor tells me… I’m not looking for God to match what I already think and make me feel all gooey inside. I’m listening for guidance and direction to make the right choices in life so I can fulfill His destiny for me. And honestly, if someone tells me what I already know, they’re not much of a prophet anyway. JMHO…
  6. Name it! Claim it! Word of Faith has made this euphemism (in)famous. I grew up in a Word of Faith church. “If you want that car, go put some oil on it. Demand it from the Heavens!” But who are we to demand anything? Jesus didn’t respond to the rich man who demanded He perform a miracle. He responds to those who inquire of Him in sincerity, humility, and faith. When the Lord Himself needed a divine intervention, He gave thanksgiving to the Father Who opened the Heavens, and then Jesus made a request that was within God’s will. I can’t imagine anything stinking more in the nostrils of the Almighty than our self-serving sense of entitlement.
  7. God, give me a sign! Oh, I know… we ALL get weak. I would looooooooove a sign right now, but signs are for nonbelievers. You do believe right? Then walk by faith! Walk in the spirit, not the flesh. He is faithful to direct and guide. Just obey each baby step… (personal rebuke embedded here). You will find confirmation as you go, but there’s no sense in being a Gideon in every life situation. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for asking for a sign. Again, we’re demanding God to appeal to our insecurities when He’s asking us to grow up. If I asked my son to take out the trash, and he didn’t do it but told me he was waiting on a sign to see if I really meant what I’d said… You get my point.

I don’t mean to take your goosebumps away, but bad doctrine is a faith-breaker. If you think that God is one day going to do something that His Word never promised He would do, then you will lose faith in Him. And really, the problem is your (my) belief system. Not God.

Goosebumps are often a by-product of feeling God’s presence, and the only way to guarantee that you feel it more (which is the only thing in this world that is ultimately satisfying) is to obey Him. Sometimes I don’t feel Him right away when I pray for others, but once I start, He’s there. He’s looking for growth and initiative… much like your boss. But God pays better!

So how can we fool-proof our faith? First, read your Bible and meditate on the Word. Second, become Spirit-filled if you haven’t already, and pray in the Spirit if you have. The Holy Spirit will trigger us to seek for truth when you hear something that’s not quite right. Third, trust the Lord to keep you. He is able to keep us from falling.

I know I’ve said a lot, and some of it may have hurt. I’m sorry… really I am. But the wounds of a friend are valuable. I don’t want you going through life believing a bunch of lies, then get to Heaven and see what could have been. No more kraziness, people… only the truth should reign in our hearts.

I’m coming out of krazy, and I’m bringing all the religious, uptight, stiff-necked, blessed and highly-favored, folks with me…. ya’ll pray for me! This might be my most difficult battle yet.

Your cybersister,

Alana
Photo by Glen Van Etten
Being Saved, Family, The Best Of CTheLily, Uncategorized

The DoorMat People
So in yesterday’s post I didn’t really tell you THAT much about myself, but I’m not sure if today’s the right time. I mean, really… it’s only the second date. How much do you need to know? I’d much rather let you inside my krazy thoughts than to give you facts and let you stereotype me accurately. But for interest’s sake, you should know that I come across as unexciting and snobby, when inside my head I’m really having a party. If you could peek into my brain, my thoughts would probably make you blush or tick you off… thus, I try to remain quiet. But now that I’m blogging, BEWARE!

I was going to write this deep, philosophical narrative about the moments of uncertainty in our lives, but that will wait for a day when I have much more time to think. Instead, I’m going to tell a story… a nutty story… a story that will make NO sense to at least 70% of my readers… so 7 out of all of you 10 that actually cared enough to click the Facebook link won’t get it. Read it anyway! You may be able to help someone else… 🙂

Three years ago almost to the date, I was extremely worn out from full-time grad school, full-time teaching, extra responsibilities at work, full-time mommying of a two and three-year old, and full-time failing at taking care of myself. My husband at the time was away on business, and I was beyond exhausted. I let my tiredness slip into anger, and before long I was in a full-fledged fit of rage.

I was ticked at everybody. The kids were being… well, kids. I was mad at their dad for being wherever he was for a month. I was just mad! The dang laundry wouldn’t fold itself. I had been let down by friends and family, and the only thing I could think to do was to get away from everyone and everything. Spring Break was just a few days away so I booked a trip to Atlanta. (I had a ball while I was there, but that’s not the point.)

Through my continuous fussing, crying and pouting, I packed my bags and made arrangements for the little ones to stay with their grandmother. 

I started to blame God (silly woman that I am) for my feeling like a doormat. I felt totally unloved and unappreciated because of disappointment and hurt. People just kept letting me down, and the most recent wound made the last one hurt all the more. I blamed myself… I just couldn’t do anything right.

Now don’t get me wrong. I was to blame. I had made poor decisions on how people shared in my life. Too many were too close and demanded too much but provided nothing good for me. But they were wrong as well. There’s no doubt about that.

In a weak attempt to release my anger, I fired my cell phone across the bedroom. An “unmentionable” person had let me down for the last time. That same day I loaded up the little people to find to the closest Sprint store.  What if that “unmentionable” person decided to call me back? I should be available, right? (Put your judgmental finger away… you’ve got some “unmentionables” too.)

The entire 15 minutes of the drive I cried. I sobbed and snotted… snotted and sobbed… until a sweet, tiny, squeaky voice behind me asked “Mommy, why are you crying?”

That threw me deeper into frustration. I wanted to reply “I don’t know why I’m crying!” like the women on the postpartum depression commercials do, but that would’ve been ridiculous.

“Mommy’s tired.”

Yep. That was the truth. I was beyond tired. You’ve been tired too, or maybe you haven’t experienced deep-seated disappointment on top of exhaustion and anger. Perhaps you’ve been the cause of it. If any of us think hard enough, we will find ourselves having played both roles.

So I get to stoplight on Staples Mill near the 7-11… I forget the name of the road there, but I’ll never forget that moment. To my left side I noticed a big white van. On the van was printed an ad that said “Doormat People. You can walk on us.”

My first thought… “I should get a job there. That’s something I actually can do!” My second thought was to my Maker: “Et tu, Brute?”

My third thought was a boisterous laugh, and it came out me so fast and so hard that it shattered the disappointment that I felt moments before. Was God going to walk all over me too? Of course not! But He was teaching me that if I tolerated foolishness, He would tolerate it for me. How could He deliver me out of something that I welcomed and permitted for myself?

What people fail to realize about God is that even though He is sovereign, He isn’t pushy. So in His infinite wisdom, He whipped my backside for blaming Him for my faults and for allowing others to abuse my kindness by arranging a few moments in time where He seemed to step His all-powerful, holy foot across my pitiful face. Then, I was able to ask Him for help, repent for foolishness, and laugh at myself…

Shortly after the giggling began I heard, “Mommy, why are you laughing now?”

Since that day, I’ve searched several times for the Doormat People… once just now. I can’t find them!  Maybe they went out of business because they let their customers get away with not paying their bills? I don’t know… I just can’t find them!

Creepy, right?

Just the same, I’ll hold on to the lesson. If we lay ourselves down at the mercy of those who have no interest in our well-being, we will always lose. No one can save you from yourself, but you… with help from the Maker of course, but the decision is still yours. Even though friends and family love us, the best will most likely dance around the ugliness of your face under other people’s feet, and the worst will exploit it.

Lesson learned.

And as soon as I find out what happened to the Doormat People, I’ll be one day closer to sanity. Until then I’m still coming out of krazy…

Signed,

Alana

 

Photo by Gregg O’Connell
Some rights reserved.


Being Saved, Being Smart, Uncategorized

Definition of Exceptional

 

All my life I’ve wanted to be exceptional. I’ve strived for perfection and excellence in almost every area since I was a small child. In grade school, I only earned A’s. In college, I relished in the fact that I attended one of the top universities in the nation and chose a difficult major. I joined the top sorority, maintained a decent GPA, graduated a semester early, married shortly thereafter, had two beautiful children, earned a Master’s degree while working full-time, and divorced my husband with every bit of dignity I could muster. Even now, as a teacher, I push myself and my students to the limit just to demonstrate that I can do anything short of impossible… not on my own, of course. But with the right help, I most certainly can do it!
Unfortunately, I’ve had this type of zeal in every area of my life… and yes, I do mean unfortunately. I really thought I could do anything until last April when I faced THE most difficult challenge of my life. I shall not blog about it tonight, but I’ll sum it up by saying that my relationship history is ugly. I mean it’s just short of whatever word might be illustrated by a hopeless pit of embarrassment, despair, and bad decision-making. Again, I tried to be exceptional… as in, better than the next woman… as in, I didn’t have to play by the rules to get what or who I wanted. If I was better than the one before me, then why couldn’t I do what (and by what I mean who) I chose?
In retrospect I’ve had two totally different approaches to becoming what I thought was exceptional. Academically, I played by the rules. I applied myself, studied hard, tested well… did what I was required to do and more. With the fellas, I made my own rules. I figured eventually the very next one would be the one that would truly love me forever and ever… because really, that’s what they all say. And why wouldn’t they have loved me? I’m smart, cute, and I cook! What more does a man really need? (Note: I am NOT male-bashing here.)
On my forty-minute commute to work one morning I decided that being exceptional has nothing to do with seeking exceptions. Think about it. Everybody knows that individual who is always looking for a way out. There’s the obnoxious family member that thinks the rules don’t apply. What about the co-worker that expects everyone to come to the rescue when their imminent demise actually does catch up to their foolishness? Picturing anyone yet?
Well, I saw myself. I had no one else to blame for my poor decisions but me. I knew the rules. I had been taught all of the “Thou shalt not’s” and witnessed the result in others just as hard-headed as I was. Yet, because I thought I was exceptional…
So what makes a person truly exceptional? For me, now, being exceptional is understanding the rules and guidelines set before me. If I want to be great, then I can work my magic within the framework and, against all odds, come out on top. When a situation is absolutely impossible, I pray. Honestly, I pray anyway.
What peace of mind I’ve gained in realizing that I’m just not that great! I’m not perfect, and I don’t have to be. And really, life isn’t about me. And rules, they’re just in place to guide me down life’s little paths of impossibilities. As a child, it was right of me to want to be the best. As an adult, it’s best of me to do what’s right.
I’m coming out of krazy, ya’ll. Join me on the ride.
Always,
Alana