Operating in the Favor You Already Have

Last weekend, I attended the 2013 Life & Favor Singles Empowerment Conference  at the Greater Community COGIC. Pastor Matthew L. Brown opened up with a dynamite message about favor. (I missed a lot by putting my notes on my phone instead of on paper, but I have to share this with you.)

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Favor is the traceable, trackable evidence of God’s benefit in your life.  God gave you favor from the day you were conceived. You’ve always had it. It’s an attitude of intentional determination.

It’s important for us to live our lives conscious of this and do everything with an attitude of favor.  Be IN life, don’t just get THROUGH life. Favor allows you enjoy your journey.
Make sure you give your all because favor is renewed every day. You should die empty. Continue reading “Operating in the Favor You Already Have”

Don’t Shoot the Messenger (It’s Not About Me)

Photo Credit: Purestock

When faced with a dilemma, some of us who believe in prayer may not always pray first before asking for a person’s opinion on what we should do about the situation. Sometimes prayer is used as a last resort. I like Joyce Meyer’s line, “Don’t run to the phone, run to the throne.” I have a tendency to want answers fast, so I have to take that advice just like the next person. However, I believe that God can and does use people to speak through, and I know that God has used me many times in the situations where someone has not prayed yet, or has prayed but is waiting for an answer.

If I give you my opinion about your situation, I’m probably going to tell you what I would do based on my own personal experience. The advice I give you is personal and I may even feel strongly about it because it comes from me. That’s what I did in my book (in part).

However, if I give you a message from the Spirit within me, that is, letting God speak through me to address or confirm something you’re contemplating, I take that very seriously and I do not shoot off at the mouth carelessly or emotionally. Further, I am so serious and so unemotional about it–even if I care about the situation as much as you do–that it’s ok with me if you don’t like what I say. Why? Because: Continue reading “Don’t Shoot the Messenger (It’s Not About Me)”

The Ex-Boyfriend

A Couple Sitting on a Bench
Source: Creative

Are you friends with your exes?  How is that working for you?

I ask this question to people all the time, and the answers are as diverse as the personalities of their exes. Some say that they are not friends with any of their exes, some say the opposite. A “lucky” few don’t have any exes because they married their high school sweethearts.

Prior to the teaching I heard  the other day, I’d say I’m friends with almost all of mine–but that’s about to change.

Last Saturday I attended a program at my church entitled “He Said, She Said.” Our pastor taught the men, while the ladies listened to Minister Patricia Gregory (“Min. Trish”).

 

The Suspect Friend Request

It’s an all-too-familiar scenario: Min. Trish joined Facebook, and before too long, started receiving friend requests from ex-boyfriends. Can you relate? For some of us, it’s a dilemma whether to add an ex into our “fb fam.” What do they want? Is there an ulterior motive? Before I got hip to configuring my privacy settings on fb, I had a few people tell me that they looked “all up and through” my photos before even sending a friend request (in my opinion, privacy settings may be prudent, but are not the solution).

Min. Trish noted that the word boyfriend is never mentioned in the Bible. Young women were betrothed to be married back in those days because their parents were friends or partners with a man’s parents, and voila. To my knowledge, there wasn’t much in the way of dating or courting. But now we have choices, and oh, what a variety of results those choices can bring. Continue reading “The Ex-Boyfriend”

The Tell-Tale Signs of a Control Freak

Source: Blend Images

When I was 17, I did what people told me…

Did what my father said, and let my mother mold me…

– Janet Jackson, “Control” (1986)

There’s a difference between being in control, having self-control, and HAVING to be in control. This post contains just a portion of my notes from Pastor Creflo A. Dollar’s sermon at the Radical Redefined women’s conference on March 25, 2011 at World Changers Church International.

We ALL Need Relationships

These days the enemy is attacking women like never before. We all need relationships in order to grow, but Satan uses all kinds of factions to destroy the family and each other.
“[Severely] independent women say, ‘I don’t need no man.’ And not a lot of men will admit this, but we need women–maybe some of just haven’t found the right one yet. But I [Creflo] will tell you, I need a woman. I need THAT woman [pointing at his wife Taffi]! I wouldn’t be where I am today without my woman. God gave me that woman because I needed her. I was selfish and had all kinds of issues, but God gave me my wife to help deliver me from that.”

Remaining single is OK, but you cannot grow and develop without having relationships with people. You can’t just cut everybody off. Respect relationships and bring something to them; i.e., GIVE advantage, don’t take advantage. You cannot grow and develop without having a relationship (courtship or friendship) with another human being.

Continue reading “The Tell-Tale Signs of a Control Freak”

Position, Purim, and Providence

The first time I read the Bible all the way through, I was 8 years old. Needless to say, I didn’t understand everything I read back then, but as I grew in Christ and became more knowledgeable, I realized that consistent study of the Word equips you in ways you never imagine. The Bible is, after all, the sword of the Spirit. You don’t usually internalize something just from reading it or hearing it only once. So regular study is a discipline that I have resumed this year. Ideally, I’d like to set aside quiet time for it daily, but I give myself the grace to miss a day here or there.

In 2007 I attended a 9-week women’s bible study on the book of Esther, right around the time the movie One Night With the King, (somewhat based on Esther), was released. I still have those notes, but decided to study the book again for another 9 weeks using Beth Moore’s guide, entitled Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman. Moore approached the book in a totally different way, and I’ve just finished it. My initial hope was that I would gain a lot of insight into Esther’s redeeming character traits, plus anything new revelations God wanted to send my way for this season in my life. After all, a lot has happened in my life since ’07.

One of the things that strikes me, despite no mention of God in the whole book, is His presence in Esther’s life from beginning to end. She was a female, an orphan, and a Jew– three things that would normally give someone of her time unfavorable status.  Although she was very beautiful, she was also wise and humble. God’s favor and His hand in her life were apparent from the very first mention of her in Chapter 2 (there are 10 dramatic chapters in all). It started with the position Esther took on (she was crowned Queen of Persia in 479 B.C.), wisdom in conflict “for such a time as this,” (Es 4:14) and the resulting establishment of the Jewish celebration of Purim (473 B.C.).

God’s presence and providence are shown throughout the book, as several ironies unfold and scripts are flipped. I specifically remember in these last few years how God turned my feelings of depression, entrapment, hopelessness, and discouragement to happiness, freedom, hope, and optimism. (Followers of this blog can see my progression.) How has God turned the tables in your life of late? If you’re coming up blank, what would you like to see change?

Below are some notes from Moore’s study that I think can stand alone without the context of the story of Esther. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, these snippets won’t give it all away. I encourage you to read it for yourself– you’ll be blessed.

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Meanness always identifies a threat, whether it’s real or imagined. (Haman)

Because Satan has a limited leash where believers are concerned (God and Satan > Job 1), his most powerful tactics are psychological. He can profoundly and destructively influence our thoughts (if we let him).

God designed conviction to be uncomfortable so that we would hurry to repentance and find relief in restoration.

God told His people (the Israelites) from the time of Moses that He’d protect them and fight their battles for them as long as they worshipped Him only. If they forgot Him, He would still love them but not shield them; He used their enemies to turn His people back to Him. [God has blessed me tremendously, but He never lets me go too long without reminding me, through various circumstances, that I need Him every day of my life.]

We are significant. We may not have the title of “King/Queen,” but we are royalty and have been placed in our own sphere of influence no matter how great or small, “for such a time as this.” (See also Ephesians 1:1.) [Our lives matter more than we know, hope, or realize!]

You are not called to live an easy life, but a purposeful one. When you walk in your purpose, you will have to make some of the most difficult decisions of our lives. Just when we think we can’t do it, God steps in and does something miraculous, and we become something that we’re not, and “Who knows?” becomes “I know.”

Fasting with prayer allows you to wholeheartedly focus your petition before God. Refusing sustenance demonstrates desperation and sincerity to receive direction and deliverance.

In a crisis situation, there is no neutral position. Failure to decide brings personal loss and misses the opportunity to fulfill God’s purpose. [No decision is a decision.] Failure to decide is to decide on failure.

Our distrust of God tells our enemy exactly how to get to us.

Ironically, a person is never less aware of divine intervention than when s/he has been chosen to render it.

We don’t realize that our stronghold can be a person until it is one. A person becomes a snare to us anytime s/he consumes an excessive or unhealthy space in our thoughts (negative or positive). [Who is your obsession?] It’s not the person that emotionally masters us– it’s our thoughts about the person that emotionally master us.

Admitting you have an area of brokenness is a huge first step toward wholeness.

If the Jews had been annihilated, Jesus could not have come from their bloodline. Why do you think Satan tried so often to destroy the Jews? Jesus was a threat to him.

God cannot break His promises. His Word is not only His bond but His very breath.

There is shelter in the Most High (see also Ps 91), in whom we find our significance and the only satisfaction of our insatiable need to be noticed.

In the end, people don’t get away with murder or its premeditation.

Sometimes God wants to show us what we can do rather than let us find someone who can do it for us.

Getting the credit is the wrong reason to do the right thing.

Every time God shifts us/our circumstances around, He’s not just fulfilling His own pleasure (Phil 2:13) but He’s also working every detail, good and bad, for our good (Rom 8:28). No matter what evils schemes come against us, God will work it out, work it in, and work it well. (God specializes in reversals.)

I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love, even when I do not feel it.
I believe in God, even when He is silent. ~ Author Unknown

 

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How you ever been were you aware of being placed in a situation or position for a critical purpose (“for such a time as this”)? Did you expect God to use you? Have you ever seen Him turn the tables and ‘flip the script’ in your favor?

First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Conclusion)

Lost? This post is part 4 of a series. (Start here to catch up.)
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Women Are Called to Ministry, Too

The controversy about women in the pulpit continues to pervade Christian society in America. The September 2008 issue of the Fayetteville, GA-based Gospel Today magazine featured five female pastors for its cover story, but Lifeway, a Christian bookstore affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, pulled this issue from their magazine displays. Their decision to do so is based on the scripture passage 1 Timothy 2:11-15.

Continue reading “First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Conclusion)”

First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Part 3)

Lost? This post is part 3 of a series. It will all make more sense to you if you read the previous posts (Part 1 and Part 2) before proceeding.

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Balancing Family Time

“Family and devotional time is on the top of my list—it is what keeps everything else moving forward,” Sharon affirms.  When either of them are ignored or lowered on my priority list, I am less productive and totally not fulfilled.”

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Adequate family time is a priority in the Hurst home. “Being a responsible mom is a major thing for me,” Denise says, whose three children are sons Jeremiah, 9, Dynnell, 6, and Sean, 2, with another son due this month. “I’m raising African-American men in today’s society. I want them to be well-rounded and secure in themselves.”

The Hursts are also cautious about the “PK” (preacher’s kid) syndrome. “Germaine and I do not want our kids to grow up and resent the church. I don’t want them to think, ‘The church took my mom and dad from me.’ So to avoid that attitude later, we make sure we do things together—just us.”

Continue reading “First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Part 3)”

First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Part 2)

(For the backstory, check out Part 1 first.)

Transition to the Pulpit

Since Denise was already a member of the church where she became first lady, there was quite an adjustment from being a college girl to becoming the first lady. “I made a lot of friends at Emmanuel from my years at Buff State, so my friends had to learn how to respect me in a different light,” she says.

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I’ve been told I don’t act like a pastor’s wife,” Sharon says, “but I take it as a complement to say that I’m down to earth.  I’ve been told by people that they are waiting to see what I have on in the pulpit and I just take it that I’m a role model which can be a positive tool to use to minister to young ladies.  I have never heard any negative things about me directly, but I learned to evaluate what is being said. If it’s true, I try to be mindful of it and grow and develop in the area, but if it is not true, I pray that the individual who said it would grow and mature in that area.”

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“Being a pastor’s wife is rewarding, but you can also feel isolated,” Denise admits. Another first lady advised Denise to be mindful of how she behaves—to never let people see her cry or get upset. Denise said she felt like she had to be perfect.  She also had to deal with people’s expectations of how she should act and dress. “Some people wanted me to wear hats like their previous first lady.”

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Iris says she wasn’t a kind of first lady who could sit around and look cute wearing a big hat. “Ladies have to see that you’re a person,” she says. “Sometimes you like to have fun, but sometimes you cry and you go through things.”  Similar to Denise, when Iris became the first lady, well-meaning, mature people in ministry advised her not to be friends with the other women in the church, but to just be friends with other ministers and keep to herself otherwise. But Iris rejected that notion. “I like to hang out with the other ladies, I invite them to my house, and I teach them. I tell people that we do things not because the pastor says so, but because the Bible says so.”

Continue reading “First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Part 2)”

First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Part 1)

The following four-part series of posts is from a previously unpublished article, originally titled “Ladies Keeping God First,” that I developed because of the general mystery I perceived around pastors’ wives. One of my best friends from high school has been a pastor’s wife for several years, but to me, that’s different because we grew up together (her story is included here). However, I was recently a member of a church with a single pastor who married during my time there, and for whatever reason, a few years went by without me really getting to know her or hear from her regularly. Thus the “mystery” ensued, and so did my curiosity.

The recent and currently unresolved scandal with Bishop Eddie Long and his alleged indiscretions again raised issues about the loyalty of a pastor’s wife.  (She has been no more vocal than her husband, but I won’t get into that here.)

I currently worship at a nondenominational church in Georgia, but I was raised as a Baptist in New York. Once I moved south, I noticed that many denominations, including Southern Baptists, did not condone or allow women in the pulpit, nor women to speak to or teach men. This practice disturbed me, and the ladies I interviewed for this story touch on this and other issues.

I’ll post Parts 1 and 2 this week, with Parts 3 and 4 to follow next week. If you haven’t already, I invite you to subscribe to my feed right now, so you won’t miss a thing!

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Ladies Keeping God First

What does it take to manage a household as a wife and mother, take care of the kids, a husband, work full-time, all while working in full-time ministry side-by-side with your husband, who pastors a church?

The life of a first lady is anything but ordinary. She—like her husband—has a divine assignment that is not to be taken lightly.

Continue reading “First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Part 1)”

Not All Popular Preachers Are Pimpin’

Are you so jaded to think that every preacher on TV is tryin’ to pimp you out of your money or your clothes? [In my Bill Cosby voice] C’mon people!

It annoys me when I read or hear comments about credible people who I have learned from, saying that they are ‘nothing but false preachers.’

Nothing but?!

Is that simple? Can you really discount everything about the person’s message (that’s what nothing but does)? Do you have inside ties or information about this person to back up what you’re saying? Even if you do, one person doesn’t qualify to give the rest–or Christianity–a bad name.

And are tithers really stupid to give their hard-earned money to a preacher? Well I don’t look at like that at all. Do you know the average pastor’s salary? I choose to tithe out of obedience to and faith in God, because I have to answer to Him–not anyone down here.

Now I can agree that there ARE false preachers out there (Matthew 7:15, 1 Timothy 1:3, 4 and chapter 4). But not every preacher on TV is necessarily a ‘prosperity preacher’. There is a balance between teaching people how to live the life Christ died to give them–a more abundant life (John 10:10; 3 John 1:2)–and being meek, humble and holy. Everyone perceives humility and holiness differently, but I don’t think you should totally discredit a preacher because s/he likes nice things. Whose to say those funds came from the church?

I worship in my local community and occasionally watch preachers on TV and read their books. Because I have read the Bible for myself, and continue to study it, I know if someone’s message is coming from God’s heart or from their own personal gospel and opinions. You have to know the Word for yourself before you can discern others’ motives. Please believe it.

What kind of fruit does this person’s ministry (and their life) produce (Luke 6:44; Matthew 21:18-19)? Is the person’s own immediate family on the up and up? Are lives being changed for the better as a result of their efforts? Are people coming to Christ and learning how to live their lives to be more like Him (their character, attitude, and integrity)?

I agree that people in positions of leadership are called to a higher standard (1 Timothy 3), but I say don’t let someone’s bankroll, clothing, or vehicle of choice dissuade you from ministers who are popular. They’re not perfect, and as humans they may stumble, but they’re not necessarily crooks trying to prey on those who are already down. Infighting only weakens our cause.

There are thousands, millions, zillions of preachers and teachers of God’s Word that are not out to get you. They really love the Lord and have committed their lives to doing His work, spreading the gospel (that is, the Good News of Jesus Christ– Matthew 28:16-20), and are active servant leaders helping their communities. Please back up off of these, my sisters and brothers in Christ who are trying to do the right thing and making a great impact.

 

“Touch not my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.”– 1 Chronicles 16:22 and Psalm 105:15

P.S.- If you want to quickly look up the above-mentioned scriptures or any others in your favorite Bible version, go to http://www.biblegateway.com/ or your favorite online Bible resource. And if I’ve missed the mark, give me some food for thought–I don’t have all the answers.