Being Smart, Pursuit of Purity, Uncategorized

Reveal the hidden places where we’ve run to instead of You, Lord. Show us the height from which we’ve fallen into ourselves and not into You.  (From “We Return” by Alberto and Kimberly Rivera)

I marched… more like hobbled… out of the neurologists’s office with my orders in hand. MRI’s, blood work, and other tests had to be completed in the coming weeks, and even though it all sounded like torture, I felt comforted. My doctor’s was kind and knowledgeable demeanor put my mind at ease. I held on to those papers tightly over the next few days… a little TOO tightly. They reminded me of his promise that he’d find out what was going on. For days I flipped through those papers looking things over as if they had the answer. I would’ve made them a blanket if I thought they could keep me warm.

The Holy Spirit sharply rebuked me. “Take comfort only in MY Word!” I had exalted the doctor’s orders over God’s Word without even realizing it. Somehow the comfort I received from man caused me to switch off my “now” faith in exchange for a sympathetic and hopeful “We’re gonna find out what’s wrong with you.”

Being taken care of feels good. Something about addressing an uncertainty brings a bit of comfort. But at the most the doctor can only do what man can do, and this situation is spiritual. I’d be a fool to let these papers, much less a diagnosis, replace my faith for divine health.

I had to quickly counter my steps towards unbelief. I grabbed one of the three empty journals in my bedroom and a fresh ink pen. I began listening to sermons about divine healing and health from the Copelands, Hagin, Joseph Prince, and anything else I could find on YouTube. I’ve started to write all the scriptures I can about the nature of God, healing, and finances (because medical bills– YIKES!).

I read through these scriptures ALOUD three times a day. I’ve found a prayer that I shout at least three times a day. Instead of holding on to the doctor’s orders, I’m holding on to words of life personalized by my hand and God’s voice. The orders from the Great Physician are far more powerful and life-changing than anything a doctor can do.

My daughter, attend to my words. Read and say them over and over. Incline your ears to my sayings.  Be ready to hear from Me at any point in time. For they are life to you because you’ve found them. They are health and medicine to your flesh. Proverbs 4:23

I will hold fast the confession of my faith for my complete and total healing without wavering because my God is faithful Who promised. Hebrews 10:23

With long life will You satisfy me and show me Your salvation. I’m not satisfied with only 35 years of life. My children need me. I have more work to do. Save me! Psalm 91:16

Let Your hand be my help for I have chosen Your precepts. You have laid the foundation, but I can’t see the end. I will trust what You’ve given me so far. Hold my hand and help me to obey and trust Your Word. Psalm 119:173

What does any of this have to do with purity? Well how many times has life pressed you into the wrong person’s arms or into some substance to find comfort? While God provides us many ways to enjoy our lives, He desires to meet our needs before any other. That’s why He gave us the Holy Spirit who is known as THE Comforter. Have you ever noticed that when you’re having a crisis, no one is free to answer the phone? Fill up with His word, and turn to Him first in times of need.

There is situation so urgent that we cannot first acknowledge God! 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

Alana

Being Saved, Being Smart, Pursuit of Purity, Uncategorized

You should send the children to their fathers. You’re going to be in a wheelchair in a few weeks, and I’m going to kill you by October.

Those are the words the devil whispered to me just two weeks ago. I’ve been having significant physical challenges since February, but this October will mark one year since the struggle began. The old deluder satan gave me my death sentence, and I almost accepted it…

Where I’m from whenever someone tells of an unfortunate occurrence, another person shouts “The devil IS a lie!” Yes, I know we should say liar but where’s the flair in that? The truth of the matter is that the devil DOES lie, so why is it so tempting to believe his poisonous words?

The word lie implies that what was spoken is completely untrue, and because there is often some air of truth to what is said, we become tempted to wholly agree. For example, I was in significant pain, nearly helpless, and becoming worse by the day. It was plausible that I could die in a few months if not for the Lord’s mercy. The logical thing to do would be to send the big kids with their dad, and my baby with hers. I had to decide whether I wanted to agree with a plausible half-truth, or the truth of the Word of God. It’s a good thing my faith in the Lord speaks louder than logic!

The Bible provides several descriptions of satan’s character that help us understand exactly what to do with him when he starts running his filthy mouth. Let’s look at the different ways he lies to God’s children (2 Corinthians 2:11).

As a deceiver… When the serpent told Woman “If you eat this fruit, you will be like God” he was telling her a fact. But facts are often void of truth. She would be like God in that she would know good and evil, but God never intended for us to know evil, much less have to discern the difference between the two. The devil deceived Woman by giving her a fact and spinning it in a way that would appeal to her senses… “It looks good so it must taste good so it must be good.” Whenever the devil tells you something that appeals to your five senses, I guarantee there is a deception attached. Stop, and let the Holy Spirit (not your feelings or your heart) lead you. (Galatians 5:16)

As a beguiler… The devil operates as a beguiler when he uses charm to entice a person to agree in order to take something away and to corrupt (Colossians 2:18). Beguilers look good, smell good, and have the very thing you want, but they are deeply entrenched in their own lies. In 2017 terms, they are catfish. Beguilers are trained to pick off the innocent and unstable (2 Peter 2:14).

As a deluder… The devil operates as a deluder when he uses your own blind spots (maybe pride or ignorance) to trick you into doing something that is irrational or believing something that is unrealistic. When I think of a deluder I think of someone selling snake oil or adjusting the odometer of a used car. Deluders operate by leaving out important information. Deluders conspire. When you come out of the delusion, you say to yourself “What in the world was I thinking?” You have power against deluders by staying full of God’s Word. Those who are deluded, by definition, have made a choice to believe what is unreasonable and unlikely.  Isaiah 44:20 says “This kind of man feeds on ashes and is satisfied; A deceived mind has led him astray, so that he cannot save himself or ask ‘Is this thing that I am holding in my right hand not a lie?'” MIND. BLOWING.

As a mocker… Mocking is a tool the enemy uses to make a person feel insignificant. “You’re fat. You’re ugly. You’re unworthy of love. No one likes you anyway.” I once had a dream that someone close to me was bad-mouthing me in a public setting. I had another dream immediately following where I saw a monkey hanging over my bed laughing at me. Mockery is a tool the enemy uses to beat you down emotionally. You have to cut it off quickly and even shout “SHUT UP!” and counter the mocking by saying the opposite of what he said. If he says you’re ugly, you shout “Shut up, devil! God made me beautiful!” Depression and anxiety soon follow if you are not diligent to cut off these types of lies. (Proverbs 23:7)

As a trickster… The devil uses trickery by getting you to agree to a set of terms then changing up the game. Guess who loses? Not him. Anytime you can get something quickly by doing this, that, or the other, KNOW that it will cost you far more than you’re willing to pay. Think Jacob and Laban (Genesis 30:25-43). Be careful of contracts and agreements that offer promotion. Only God promotes, and He does so by our obedience. (Psalm 75:6-7)

As a tempter… The devil works as a tempter when he entices you to believe that a sinful act is acceptable under certain conditions. It is just a small matter and easily forgivable by God when a tear-trenched prayer is offered. (Ah. I’m stepping on my own toes here.) But the same devil that tells you it’s a small matter to get you to do it will condemn you afterwards by taunting “How could you do something so big and awful!” The tempter becomes the accuser. The tempter becomes the accuser. The tempter becomes the accuser. (Did you get that?) How do you get free from the lies of temptation? Do what Jesus did in Matthew 4. Speak the Word of God and act in obedience.

No matter HOW he lies, YOU must be quick to catch it and cast it down in Jesus’ name. If you believe the lie, you empower the liar. Don’t even mentally assent to the words of the devil. Immediately reject them!

Here’s what the Holy Spirit spoke to me about the devil and his lying. And before I say this I want you to picture Oprah standing on her stage and shouting “AND YOU GET A CAR! EVERYONE GETS A CAR!” That’s how excited I am about this revelation.



It’s not so much that he is a liar (even though he is)…

THROUGH THE EXERCISING OF THE WORD OF GOD, YOU MAKE HIM A LIAR!

YOU MAKE HIM A LIAR!!

AND YOU MAKE HIM A LIAR!

EVERYBODY MAKE THE DEVIL A LIAR!

NOW SHOOOOOUUUUT!

 

OK, I’m done here. I’ve preached myself happy.

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

Alana

Being Saved, Being Single, Being Smart

My struggle with purity began before I can remember. Sometimes these things are passed down through generations and activated when a person comes of age. Let’s just say I was in full-blown bondage by the time I was 15 years old. And yes, I grew up in the church and in a two-parent home. I made straight A’s in school too. We get a little stereotype-y about these things, so let’s just clear the air right now. The devil does NOT discriminate!

I had a youth pastor at the time who was on FIRE! I used to sit on the front row, and he’d jump on the chair beside me and PREEEEAAACH! That Holy Ghost preacher spit would drop all into my curly ponytail, but I didn’t mind because I knew whatever the devil had planned would not work.

One night he preached from Deuteronomy 23:14.

For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.

Again, this message of obedience as a prerequisite for deliverance is evident. CLEAN UP YOUR CAMP! Because the Lord is coming! He’s coming to deliver you! But would you have Him stumble upon your mess?

So I can speak in parable, or I can step on toes, and the Lord told me today that I’m not writing loudly enough, so here goes:

  1. Delete the nudes: yours, his, whoever’s. Get rid of them.
  2. Unsubscribe from impure websites and anything that has become a snare to you. This may include Christian dating sites because we know ChocolateProphet69 ain’t really in love with Jesus!
  3. That incognito tab is a trap, boo. Let’s be real. If you have to use it, it’s probably for the wrong reason.
  4. Visit your social media photos, and ask the Lord which ones send the wrong message about you. If you need help, ask a friend or auntie that you know is honest and discerning.
  5. End relationships with people who pull you into impure conversation. Even if it’s just for a few days, tap that “Do Not Disturb” so you can hear from the Lord.
  6. Clean out your nightstand. The toys gotta go! That little act ain’t as secret as you think. The sin shows on you!
  7. The clothes that draw the wrong type of attention… I mean, sis, you bad, but do you have to show ALL your glory? Those clothes. Don’t trash them, but hang them in plain sight and inquire of the Lord.
  8. Whatever other item I may have missed, but is tugging on your heart… OBEY!

Read and meditate on Psalm 119:35.

Pray:

  1. Father, make it easy for me to obey You.
  2. Give me discernment so I can judge my actions  and remain on the right path.
Being Smart, Uncategorized

I was looking for a piece of paper with some illegible scribble. That was the only sign in my mind that my dishwasher was fixed. Everyday that I came home and found no paper I became more and more despondent about having to wash dishes by hand.

I had become fond of the paper. The one time I could decipher the scribble, it read “I fisc the hole.”

Fisc? Ok, sir. Thank you ever so much. Now can you fisc my dishwasher? I know you said the part had to be shipped, but it’s been over a week now. And I NEED that paper? I will have conquered another item on my list once I get that paper.

So for seven days I trudged into the house, glanced at the mess on the dining room table… no paper… no fisc-ing. By day eight, I had resolved to call the rental office to remind them of my suffering. How dare they leave me without my modern day convenience? Yep. I came in the house, saw no paper, and planned to make the call. I glanced in the kitchen and thought “Boy, it looks different in there” then headed to my room to get a power nap before homework and dinner.

At 5:30 someone banged on the door and the kids shouted that the maintenance man needed to speak with me.

“Do it work alriiight, ma’am?”

“Work? Does what work?”

“The dishwasher, ma’am. I fisc it today. You no knooow?”

I felt like a fool. How could I not notice the paper I had been looking for for days? I ran into the kitchen, again admiring its cleanliness. To my surprise, my dishwasher was running perfectly with all the kids’ dishes from breakfast, my KitchenAid mixing bowls, silverware, and God knows whatever else was floating around the sink.

He followed me into the kitchen and watched as I discovered his gift of kindness. I hugged him and thanked him profusely for his kindness. And then I asked…

“But where’s the paper?”

“No paper dis time. I just come and do it for you.”

I gushed… half from embarrassment and half from… well, no. All embarrassment. All those dishes. All that mess. And I didn’t even notice the mighty gift that was offered to me because I was looking for a sign.

A foolish and perverse generation seeks after a sign… (Matthew 16:4)

That’s what the Holy Spirit spoke to me. That’s the same thing Jesus said to the Pharisees and Sadducees when they asked him to do a magic trick to make them believe.

Let us not be so wicked in our hearts that we look for the sign rather than trusting in the goodness and faithfulness of the Father. 

Selah.

 

Being Smart, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized

Lower Than Parallel

I thought this was a joke. Who would ever in their right mind think to squat lower than parallel especially with weights on his or her back? I didn’t mind doing it at home when the trainer made me. He’d chant “lower, lower, loooooower” until my rear nearly touched my heels. Whatever. I was only squatting my body weight, so it was feasible. But in the gym with seventy additional pounds on me? Nah. Wasn’t going to happen.

I scavenged the workout sites, myth pages, blogs, etc. They all said the same thing. To restore the former glory of my thighs, I had to squat lower than parallel. In-freaking-sane. I chugged my water and mentally prepared myself for the challenge ahead. Off to the gym I went with a protein mix in hand to help me recover from the damage I was about to do to my hein poss (that’s “hind parts” for you infrequent readers).

I went hard. One hundred pounds on the leg press… five sets of 12. Another one hundred on the abductor and adductor machines. Sixty reps each down for the count. Leg extensions… not too many pounds and minimal sets and reps. They hurt.  On I mosied to the back extensions… long as my muscles loved me. One hundred twenty pounds was too easy.  I thought about upping the weight but didn’t want to get cocky, so I played it cool. Then I knocked out some lower than parallel squats at 70 pounds. They hurt… dropped the weight to 60. Finished. I was still feeling good.

Really I was feeling great. I figured if I had to down a nasty protein shake I better give my body a reason to need it. I took my highfalutin heiny on over to the Freemotion Hammie machine. I had been eyeing it for a while and felt it call unto me like a pint of Graeter’s Mint Chocolate Chip. I set the weight to 15 pounds, secured my right foot and squeaked out 5 reps. Repeated on the left side. Turned. Took a step. Cheeks locked up ass-aptually.

Out of stride and with awkward motion I stepped right and left in tiny gaits to minimize the pain. The children saw me coming to pick them up and waved for me to hurry. I had to stop in shame and hang my head. A little baby tear streamed down my cheek but mixed in with the sweat. No one could know how badly I was hurting. One of the workers opened the door for me at which point I sat my locked up hein poss on the cool floor and rolled it around in agony. Poor Brandon was mortified.

I’m not easily embarrassed, but I felt sorry for my kiddo. Not nearly as sorry as I felt for my hot achy muscles, but I tried not to cry aloud for his sake. The child care worker ran to the front desk to grab me a singular ice pack. I guess she didn’t realize I have two cheeks like most human beings. I slid the ice pack down into my pants, chomped on a banana, and enjoyed the relief. Before leaving I requested another ice pack, and away I went with my two babies and two large ice packs tucked safely away in my drawers. I really gave the fellas a show.

You guys know I have a gift for turning my foolishness into a lesson. Here goes… in 100 words or fewer!

[quote]First, don’t do heavy weights on fasting days. Heh. I should’ve known better.

Second, if you want to see any real change in your areas of weakness you have to go lower than parallel… proverbially speaking of course. You have to dig deeper. Go past the point that seems to make the most sense. Cast aside the status quo. It may hurt immediately. It may hurt later. But when you’re finished, stop what you’re doing and rest. Rests some more, then reflect. Then do it all over again.[/quote]

You’ll be happy to know that my cheeks have fully recovered and are, in fact, rounding out to my satisfaction. I’ll be back in the gym Saturday after eating a few properly balanced meals at which point I will avoid like the plague that dang Freemotion Hammie machine. Choose ye this day which battles to fight!

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your thick fiit thighs (if that’s your sort of thing),

 

Alana

 

Photo credit: Creative Commons License Helga Weber via Compfight

Being Single, Being Smart, Dating & Relationships

Go Back to the Woodwork from Whence Thou Came

Women know that at least three times a year a phenomenon occurs in which random old friends, text buddies, and former flames show up and demand a little attention… and sometimes two or three will come within a few days’ time. Here in the South we call it “coming out of the woodwork.” Basically folks try to re-enter our lives through subtle means… a “Thinking of You” or TOY text, FB poke, or a trepidacious “Hi” via social media. Should we respond to this seemingly harmless greeting, the ball-and-chain, headache inducing conversations will pick up where they left off oh so many months and years ago. So  smart women everywhere have employed the most powerful strategy for deflecting these games… by IGNORING!

I thought I was smart… I can even be a little braggy about my brainpower, but today, I’ll dismount my high horse. Yesterday I responded to one of those dumb “TOY” texts. I even had this person’s number saved in my phone, but I had clearly forgotten that he existed. He has one of those common names, so I thought I saved a good friend’s name in the wrong number by mistake. After ten minutes of going back and forth thinking I was talking to one person, it eventually hit me that I was talking to Mr. Nasty Man who was a musician and in the seminary and quite possibly one of the most perverted individuals that had ever crossed my path. I. Was. Appalled.

The conversation went a little something like this. I’ve removed the personal details. (And I’m not worried about him seeing this. He’s only interested in my drawls, and since my blog address ain’t on those, we’re all good here.)

 

Me: What’s up with you? 6:09 PM
Him: Lots. Too much to text 6:15 PM
Me: But you don’t like to talk. 6:15 PM
Him: I don’t? 6:16 PM
Him: You must not know who you are talking to. 6:17 PM
Me: Wait. I know who you are now. 6:17 PM
Him: Wow 6:17 PM
Me: (location name) 6:17 PM
Him: Lol 6:17 PM
Me: Horny man 6:17 PM
Him: Not cool 6:18 PM
Me: Well. It’s been a while. 6:18 PM
Him: Now an ordained minister. 6:22 PM
Me: What made you think of me? It’s been months. 6:28 PM
Him: Think of you often…. Just didn’t reach out. 6:29 PM
Me: Gotcha. 6:31 PM
Me: You living right? 6:32 PM
Me: Lololol. 6:42 PM

 

You see what I did there? NO?! Let’s dougie on down to lesson lane.

I sent three clear messages in this short conversation…

Message #1: I am not playing with you. Who are you? What do you want?

 

Message #2: I am not here to be played with. I will be kind, but a snake is a snake is a snake and no ministerial title, sir, will make you less than that. Only the blood!

 

Message #3: I’m doing my best to live holy to the Lord. You? No response. Oh ok. Bye.

 

I believe God allows these things to happen to show us how much we’ve grown… or haven’t. I could’ve been mealy-mouthed and given him the entrance he wanted with fanfare and balloons, but I value purity and righteousness faaarrrr more than a textual romance. Y’all don’t hear me though.

If Jesus will keep me, then I will be kept!!!

And now that he’s crawled back into the woodwork from whence he came, I shall change his name in my phone to “DNR”… Do Not Respond. God bless him but somewhere over there far from me.

Ghandi said it best…

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”

 

 

With a little tough love, sincerity, and lots of hope for a foolishness-free future,

 

Alana

 

Photo credit: Creative Commons License Petras Gagilas via Compfight

Being Saved, Being Smart, Uncategorized

I have recurring dreams often. The first time I’ll dream from point A to point B. The next time I’ll dream from point A to point D. Then at some point– maybe days, weeks, months, or years later my dream will finally make it to point Z.

And most times– dreams are strange things, you know– I won’t even recall having fragments of the dream until that dream has come close to the point of resolution.

So imagine my surprise this morning, when I woke up replaying a dream in which statues of foreign gods and goddesses were strewn about my home. I was surrounded by them, and they seemed to be mine. Some were small and unassuming like fine home decorations.  Others were tall statues made cast of iron. One in particular had long feathered arms, a round head with a short neck, sharp teeth, and protruding eyes. I thought “Why would I buy something so ugly and violent?” The Lord spoke immediately and said “You didn’t buy it. It was passed down to you.”

I knew that these idols were not only displeasing to God but also detrimental to my spiritual condition.

Then my cousin, a sweet gentle young woman, came to visit and as we talked I found myself putting these things away… in a trash bag to be more exact. And as I tossed demonic heap into the garbage bags, she nodded and smiled in agreement. And that’s the last thing I remember when my alarm went off.

Those who’ve followed my blog long enough know that the Lord just drops Scripture phrases in my mind, and then I’ll go hunt for the reference. Well this is what I heard in my spirit today….

“And I will walk among you, and I will be your God…”

I copied and pasted what I heard into a browser and Leviticus 26:12 popped up as the reference. Nice, right? Or just meh? Yeah, I went for meh. But I know my Lord’s voice so I knew that what He was saying would be found right in that chapter, so up to verse 1 I scrolled.

You shall make for yourselves no idols nor shall you erect a graven image, pillar, or obelisk, nor shall you place any figured stone in your land to which or on which to bow down; for I am the Lord your God.

WELL NOW! Speak, Lord! But for real, Father. There are no graven images, pillars, obelisks, or figured stones in my home. You can come on walk up and through here and I promise you won’t find one! Try me, Lord! It’s not here. There is one massive obelisk just a few miles away from me, but that ain’t mine. And more than likely, Father, my Hindu neighbors have many of the idols I saw in my dream. So why would you give me this dream?

Obviously He wasn’t speaking of my physical home, but my heart. God exposed the generational crap passed down from my ancestors and the trinkets I’ve welcomed on my own. Time for it allll to go!

Selah.

I can honestly pick out two of the many idols that the Lord revealed… unhealthy food and, uhhh, tweeting. Through some prayer and fasting I’ve found myself less controlled by desires for these things. I believe those were the items I put away in my dream.

CLEAN ME OUT, JESUS!

Surely I’m not the only person who has idols erected in my heart. Perhaps you’ve never considered that the benign and seemingly good (read “tasty”) things you’ve invited into your life can become idols. Here’s how you might identify those things that you exalt above Christ. (Idols can be people, objects, ideas, concepts, thought patterns, etc.)

  1. You are unwilling or unable to let go of it.
  2. You feel that you need a certain person or thing to accomplish a goal or feel a sense of satisfaction.
  3. If the Lord showed up in your home, you would hide or trash it right away.
  4. If the Lord told you to give this thing away, you’d refuse or resist.
  5. You don’t feel safe, secure, or loved without this thing.
  6. You feel you’re missing out if you can’t partake in activities with this thing.
  7. You esteem this item or person above God’s statutes.
  8. Your mood changes based on interactions with this person or thing.
  9. You find your thoughts and dreams heavily focused on it.
  10. You defraud or deceive others to have time with this person or thing.
  11. Your time and money are disproportionately spent on this person or thing.

So how many things just ran through your mind? I’ll give you a moment to reflect. Go ahead and read the list again. I’ll wait.

*twiddles thumbs*

*twists locks of hair*

*plucks eyebrows*

Hopefully you heard SOMETHING from the Almighty if you didn’t turn Him off. I’d be remissed to stop writing without telling you HOW to get rid of your idols, so at the risk of writing a super long blog, here goes! (Our freedom is what matters most here!)

  • Consecrate yourself. Spend some time reading your Word and in prayer. Limit your diet for a few days to really allow your fleshly desires to be diminished. The goal here is to strengthen your inner man.
  • Make up in your mind that you want nothing more than you want God. If you don’t, then there’s no need to proceed any further.
  • Invite the Lord into your home and spirit as they are right now. We often feel the need to clean up before He comes, but when He gets there, He’ll show you exactly what to get rid of. He won’t scold you for your mess like your mother will.
  • Yield to His leading. I’ve found that the Lord has made things that I formerly loved very distasteful to me. He has literally changed my desires. And this is a great thing!!!

Now that I’ve told all my business with half the detail, I’m PRAYING that you too can become free of the images and idols that impress upon your being. You are created in the image and likeness of God. Any person or thing that destroys or alters who you are in Christ must be removed for your salvation’s sake.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Photo credit: Mary Harrsch via Compfight

Being Saved, Being Smart, Uncategorized

There is no character in the Bible that leaves me more disappointed and despondent than this smart, eager, ambitious, fahn (I’m using my sanctified imagination here), wealthy young brother we meet in Mark 10:17. Our preachers call him the rich, young ruler. I’ll call him Yuppie BC.

Short story time!

[quote]This young guy rolls up on Jesus and His disciples and says “Jesus, you’re so good. I’m amazed by how good you are. I’m good too. Can I come be good with you?” This fella just knooooows Jesus is about to give Him the same keys to the kingdom that those sinful, raggedy, wretched disciples had. Jesus looks back at the fella and says “Only God is good. Yes, you know the commandments, but you’re missing something.”[/quote]

I would’ve paid a couple day’s wages to see the look on the yuppie’s face when Jesus told him to go and sell all he had. I can only imagine what he thought in that moment. “Isn’t my obedience enough? Why wouldn’t you want my money? If you had it, you all wouldn’t have to live like this? And I’d make a great disciple– probably a better one than these fishermen and tax collectors. Plus my father gave me those things, so I can’t just give them away. I’ll do anything but that.”

The yuppie peaces out down-trodden and defeated. Jesus says to His disciples “With what difficulty will those who possess wealth and keep on holding it enter the kingdom of God!”

And then something phenomenal happens when we read this in church.We. Stop. Reading. And our pastors go on and on about how God wants us to give up our wealthy lifestyles, etc., etc. I can’t even pretend to understand that logic for the simple fact that I kept reading.

Jesus knows His disciples are perplexed by what He’d just spoken, so He clarifies.

“Children, how hard it is for those who trust (place their confidence, their sense of safety)
in riches to enter the kingdom of God!”

TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT MATTERS! You can own things, but things can’t own YOU!

Another short story!

[quote]I had to go to Cincinnati for business a few weeks ago and my finances were limited. When I returned I was worried about the condition of my car. I knew I needed tires and some other things, but I drove like someone who was afraid of life itself. And I just kept praying and praying, but God told me hush up. Why? Because I was praying out of fear. I was afraid because I didn’t have the money to get the tires I needed and so He showed me that my faith and security rested in the money I didn’t have and not in Him. Oh Selah to the utmost! I repented. [/quote]

So let me ask you, young urban/suburban/rural professional…

  • Do you own things, or do your things own you?
  • Are life’s comfort’s dulling you to the call of ministry?
  • Is there someTHING or someONE that you’ll have to release for the sake of maturing in 2013?
  • Or maybe you think you’re so “good” already?

There is no greater call than the one to serve our Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t let what you have or lack OR what you have or haven’t done keep you from going deeper into Him.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

 

Being Saved, Being Smart, Family, Uncategorized

How a Seed Meets Your Need: What to Do When You’re Broke

I’m TIRED of not having any money. I work hard. I manage (i.e. work magic with) my finances. I mess up some things unfortunately. But by the 12th of the month when all the requisite bills have been paid, the grocery shopping has been completed, and the gas tank filled, my hair is nappy from the box relaxers I have to buy and the soles of my shoes are wearing thin. There is entirely too much month left and too little money for me to do anything about either of those situations.

Let me paint a picture for you.  I’m a single mom of two growing children with massive appetites. I make too much to receive income assistance from the government, and too little to cover my rent without whispering a prayer every time I make the payment. I’m paid once a month for ten months out of the year, so I’m staring down the business end of a summer with no paychecks. In an effort to not depress you, I trust HIM COMPLETELY! Why? Because there is absolutely NOTHING I can do to fix this problem. That means it’s all on Him!

I can hear all you finance snobs thinking “Well why don’t you just…” Whatever you can imagine, I’ve done or it’s impossible for me to do. Thanks for thinking for me.

I have much to say, so I’m thinking a mini-book may be in order, BUT for now, I’d like to share what God most recently revealed to be concerning the following Scriptures.

[quote]For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10)[/quote]

And second…

[quote]And God Who provides seed for the sower and bread for eating will also provide and multiply your resources for sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness which manifests itself in active goodness, kindness, and charity. (2 Corinthians 9:10)[/quote]

Let me ask you a few questions.

Are you a sower?

Do you regularly and freely give of your finances and time to assist others, or are all your givings tied up in the first tenth? Notice 2 Corinthians 9:10 says GOD WILL MULTIPLY YOUR RESOURCES FOR SOWING, but that only applies if you’re already one who freely and joyfully gives. Let me qualify this by saying that in this season of my life I’m not able to give nearly as much as I would like, but the amount is hardly what’s on God’s mind. He looks at the condition of heart. Many times I will ask the Lord to provide a giving opportunity, and He does!

Are you an eater?

ALL of us are eaters. We all need provision for food, clothing, housing, etc. Sometimes we eat our seed thinking it’ll satisfy us, but that is the best way to stay financially strapped. Would you eat a few grains of wheat to satisfy your hunger? Absolutely not! Not only would you still be hungry, but you’d lose your chance to plant the wheat which would yield many more seeds and stalks of wheat and ultimately bread!

Life application here… When you find a few straggling dollars in your wallet, move them away from the spending area to a safe place for storing until a sowing opportunity arises.

What’s seed? What’s bread?

The Scripture says that God provides the seed. Should you have a certain amount of money and the offering plate is coming, consider the following to determine if you should give or keep your money. How much do you need to cover that nagging bill? Is what you have in your wallet enough? If the answer is “no”, then you have  a seed. If the answer is “yes”, you have the bread (provision). Keep the bread to pay the bill. The Lord often provides a little seed to accompany the bread. Be faithful to sow it.

In short, seed won’t meet the need, but bread will. Paul CLEARLY states in this same chapter that every man should give as HE PURPOSES IN HIS HEART! Not as the church or social expectations dictate! Giving according to what someone demands, requires, or expects will NOT reap a blessed harvest in and of itself. You must still give it willingly and cheerfully. If you find yourself not wanting to give, it’s best to hold on to that money until God gives you a heart change or a release to do so. There have been many times I was in service and the Lord laid out plainly for me to give NOTHING, or I’d left my wallet at home so that I couldn’t. Not every church is good ground. There have been other times when I needed to give sacrificially and He changed my heart to do so.

Another life application… God wants us to use common sense. Don’t get suckered into giving all of anything to any preacher. The workman is worthy of his wages, but not ALL of yours!

How can I get some bread?

Sometimes the seed isn’t money at all. Perhaps it’s your time or clothes you’ve held on to for years. But when God requests that you give, it will open the doors and windows for provision. Consider that a seed must first be planted to grow. Once it grows it becomes a full stalk of wheat, then the wheat must be harvested, beaten, and milled to produce flour. Once the flour is made, you can mix it with yeast and other ingredients to make the bread. All of these processes take time. So it’s best to sow as often as the Spirit leads so that provision comes in regularly. Having said that, God can and will turn that thing around quickly! He’s done it for me, so I know He’ll do it for you. Just remember we must sow the seed to eat the bread!

 

In the past few months, the Lord has taken care of us. I can’t explain how it’s happened, but He’ll send people to help me here and there or money will show up at just the right time. And all of this happens in tandem with crazy attacks from the enemy. Every time I think I’m sinking, God comes through! I don’t want to stay in this place by any means, but financial hardship is one of the ways God develops character. Notice in that saaame Scripture Paul says that God will provide and multiply your resources for sowing AND increase your fruits of righteousness.

When it gets down to it, this money thing is all about your relationship with Christ. Just like singleness, marriage, education, raising a family, etc. It all begins and ends in Him.

As a final encouragement, I’d like to share with you a message from Bishop Nate Holcomb that has GREATLY impacted my understanding of how to use my faith to trust God in these circumstances. If you’re still hungry for truth and understanding, THIS video is for you!

Thanks for reading my post! Here’s what want you to do next …

  • If this article has blessed you in any way, please Re-tweet and Share on Facebook. 
  • Share your comments below.
  • Check out my book Late Nights on the Straight & Narrow via the link.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Image courtesy of  rogiro via Compfight

 

Being Single, Being Smart, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized

More God in 2013: Five Ways to Make Room for Him

“New year, new rules, new regulations!” that’s what my Grandfather used to say. Every year to his children. So I’ve been told.

I’ve made a list of the things I’d like to accomplish this year, and I noticed one thing. Everything I’m lacking going into 2013 can be resolved if I make more room for the Lord in my life. Think about it. The areas where we struggle most are the areas that we’ve submitted the least to God. What’s more is that it’s NOT His will for us to continue to struggle. But He is limited because we do not grant Him access.

Here’s are five simple ways you can be more successful in achieving your goals whether you start tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day.

  1. Dedicate the first three days of every month or one day a week to fasting. Limit your diet during this time, and focus on feeding your spirit through reading and meditating on the Word. Spend at least 5 minutes in prayer a few times throughout the day. Also turn off social media, television, radio, email, and your phone to the most feasible extent. Your goal is to hear from the Lord during this time. Let Him share what’s on HIS heart.
  2. Take communion daily with family during dinner. Or weekly. You don’t have to wait until the fifth Sunday at church. Matza bread and grape juice are sold on the Kosher aisle of your local grocery store, but you already have bread and water in your kitchen. Communion should be a solemn and worshipful experience. Before coming to the table to partake examine yourself. As you partake of the bread and wine, meditate on how Christ’s death paid the price for every single one of your needs for peace, provision, and health. (Disclaimer: If you’re willingly living in sin, don’t do this. 1 Corinthians 11 tells us why.)
  3. Memorize a new Scripture every week. While you’re memorizing be sure to meditate as well (Joshua 1:8). Choose something relevant to your life experience and make a conscious effort to share it with others in a casual way. Placing sticky notes around the house will help with this. You can also use a dry erase marker to write keywords on your bathroom mirrors.
  4. Give financially OUTSIDE of your church. We tend to give so much of our money to the church we have nothing left for alms. Follow your convictions regarding tithing and such, but purpose in your heart to be a blessing to people you pass who are in need. Help someone pay for their groceries when you’re standing in line. When you’ve come back from Costco, call up someone you know is struggling and offer them some food. God will provide for YOU! It is our duty as a church to provide for the poor.
  5. Master the art of silent prayer. I know many are against the idea of contemplative prayer, but we can’t all shout and say “Lord God” after every three words. I don’t know about you but I face challenges every ten minutes on the eights. Learn to commune with the Lord in your spirit. As believers we should be able to quiet our minds enough to hear from God even in crazy situations. But practice makes perfect.

I know your Facebook friends are telling you that you can lose weight if only you had more discipline, or you can manage your money better if you tithe, but start here. Let the Lord guide your path. Make room for Him and everything else will fall into place.

Selah.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Photo credit: Creative Commons License Christian Holmér via Compfight