Are You Chasing God; Or Running From The Devil?!

So here is a thought……

What is your inspiration in this journey of being a better, more complete person (aka a Christian)? Is it fear or freedom?

As for me, I’d like to believe that my inspiration is freedom. But it wasn’t always this way. Once I accepted Christ as my Savior, if I could be completely honest, not much changed. Sure my faith grew over time, because I learned to lay my burdens on the Lord, and allowed Him to carry my the burdens of my cross more often, rather than worrying myself to death.

But still, there wasn’t  some epic change in my heart or in my life.

Eventhough, I now had direct access to Jesus Christ himself, and access to the greatest book ever written, I was still being ruled by fear.

Fear of messing up the whole “Christian thing”, and backsliding into old bad habits. Fear of not being a “good enough Christian”. Fear of not being a “good” example to the world looking on at my Christian experience. Fear of not knowing enough bible scriptures or praise and worship songs ( Don’t act like yall never mothed the words to a song in church, knowing full and well, you don’t know that song!). Fear of not fitting in, within my church. Fear of people knowing my past, and judging me based on it.  Overall fear of being fraudulent and found out.

Looking back on those fears, I know now that it was nothing but the devil messing with my mind, and trying to keep me limited in my Christ experience. Because, my heart was pure and my actions were as close to a “good” Christian as you can get (aside from indulging in a little rachet TV). I’m more mature and seasoned now in this walk, and can look back at my younger more vulnerable self and see that instead of seeking God, what I was doing at that time was fleeing the devil.

If you have read some of my past post on this blog, you know I am not shy about my bouts of struggle within my Christian journey. However, what time and God has opened up my eye to  is that: Being a Christian should be a beautiful and liberating experience. It should be the freedom that releases us from the pain, disappointment and burdens of our past. Once we accept Christ as our savior, we should be proud to step into His grace, and the remnants of our past mistakes should no longer color our vision, or burden us with guilt or fear.

So often we focus on what we should not be engaging in as Christians that we neglect the works we have been called by the Lord to do. We shun ourselves from the very people/places that God wants us to lend our gifts, because we are so focused on trying to perfect Christianity.

The question becomes, are you chasing God or running from the devil.

Think of the mere image of running from someone/something. It’s freighting, and tiring. There is no rest and you’re so overcome by fear that you over exert yourself, and eventually burnout and that very thing or person claims victory by catching you.  It’s in the same vain that we may find ourselves running from the devil. We become so overcome by the fear of the devil that we keep looking back trying to make sure Satan is not gaining ground; and before we know it he has us.

Now imagine and adverse concept: the idea of chasing something/someone. There is no overwhelming fear, but rather just the right amount of excitement to keep us moving forward. The trill of the chase is exciting, fun, and invigorating.  And that’s exactly what our journey with the Lord should be like.

I don’t want my Christian journey here on earth to be limited to fear. I don’t want fear to be the fence that keeps inside the terms of my Christianity. Sure, we should all fear the LORD but even that fear should be loved based.

I accept the freedom that comes with chasing God. I am no longer a prisoner of my past. Or unwilling to explore life from a fun, exciting and energized perspective. One of the first thing we learn as Christians is to not be worldly. Well, I agree. However, I also encourage fellow Christians to embrace the beauty of earth, and remember: everything the sun touches is yours ( a little lion king humor)….enjoy it!

Be blessed, be encouraged.

How To Tap Into The Person God Created You To Be

As we mature into adulthood and grow older, that doesn’t always equate to growing wiser. The wisest people I know are in touch with not only themselves, but more importantly their creator. They love the Lord and seek Him diligently. They speak as though they know the Lord. Their words are not hasty, or rough. They are a conduit of the Lords work; He flows effortlessly through them into others.

There comes a point in most of our lives where we look into ourselves for a deeper understanding of self. However, to understand the creation, we must first know and understand the creator. What I have learned in my seeking journey, is that there is no knowing myself, without knowing the Lord. There is no having a purpose, without at least seeking to find out the reason behind the creation. God speaks to us every second of the day. He is speaking through our thoughts, through the people around us. He is speaking. However, are you listening?. It doesn’t matter how much God speak’s, until we are ready to receive His guidance, all His speaking will go unnoticed.

If you want to know the person God created you to be, ask God to show you. And when He does, pay attention. If you are finding it hard to listen to the Lord, or even speak to the Lord, grab a journal. Slow your thoughts down by writing them out to the Lord. Allowing yourself to write out your prayers/thoughts to the Lord, will put you in a quiet space to receive whatever He has to say back to you.

Try it. And tell me if it works for you.

Have a blessed day.

Monday Mantra: Jesus Has Not Left The Room

Good Day readers.

Today, just wanted to drop a short, but hopefully inspirational note.

Have you ever found yourself in a room of people that may not be your cup of tea. Or alone in a room by yourself, in search of answers, feeling lonely and alone!

One thing to never forget, is that Jesus has not left the room. While we may look around for clues of His presence those clues may never be revealed, but we must know within our hearts that Jesus enters a room before we do, and He remains long after we are gone. He dwells within us and among us for protection and guidance.

Jesus is everywhere you are. In every room you enter, know that His presence is there. Fear not, for the Lord has come before you!

Have a blessed and fruitful week.

Monday Mantra: Setting The Atmosphere To Receive Our Blessings

Sometimes we feel like we are doing all we can to be blessed: We pray, we fast, we read the word. Still nothing. Well, please keep in mind, that what I have learned, albeit reluctantly, is that the Lord sometimes hits the pause button on our blessings, because He sees something we don’t. Maybe we are not ready, prepared or any other reason that the Lord may deem.

However when we truly search or hearts for the truth, what we may find is the possibility that we are blocking our own blessings. A lot of times when we find ourselves doing all the things we think we ought to do to be blessed, the mechanism, such as praying, fasting, going to church, tything, etc., yet the blessing seem to never manifest. It’s then that we should take a step back.  Look deeper, into our hearts, into our personal lives, those crucial places that only God has insight into; question ourselves to find out if those are the places in which the work needs to be done most.

Taking a step back and setting the atmosphere to receive the blessings that the Lord holds for us, allows us to put ourselves in a position to receive what God has ordained for us, in a genuine and grateful way. Some blessings are so great, that God wants to make sure we receive it with the right intention in our heart. A blessing, properly received, is treated with care, and a tender love that mimics to God our gratitude.

James 1:12

Blessed is the man that endure temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

To set the atmosphere in our lives we must examine several layers of ourself as we know it:

Look at your heart, is it clean, and pure? Does, it harbor hate, or unforgiveness towards anyone? Are you holding on to any grudges?

Psalms 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

If any of these are true, then it is time to cleanse your heart, because these ailments are blocking your blessings.

Watch the words you speak and how you speak them. Our tongue gets us into more trouble than we bargain for with the Lord.

1 Peter 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evi

Speaking untruths, or being malicious in the way we talk about others will block our blessings for sure. Set the atmosphere to receive your blessings by speaking life and positivity into every situation and person you come across.

Lastly, look around you, is your home/personal space clean and tidy? You may not have much, but with the little that you have, how well are you treating it?

1 Timothy 3:5 For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?

God will not add to your life, if you do not care for what you have already. When we care for what we have, we honor God. When God feels honored he releases more into our lives. More importantly, how can God trust us with much, when he can not trust us with the least?!

Please, don’t grow weary in well doing. God hears your cries, he hears the desires of your heart, and he will fulfill your needs as he sees fit. Remember, to bless the Lord no matter what!

Be blessed, and have a great week! Return this week for some yummy recipes, including a delicious Banana Bread recipes. 🙂

 

Touching Tuesday: The Gift of Friendship

 

Do you know what it is to walk into a room and not know anyone?

Not even a single soul. It’s a pretty weird, and uncomfortable feeling. Now imagine going through life like that, with not a single friend.

Just alone.

Friends are necessary in life. Having someone to call a friend is a blessing. Being a friend to someone is a gift. We don’t realize how much we need a friend until we don’t have one. Family is great. However, sometimes you just desire someone who can relate to you, and not be necessarily “related to you”. The truth is sometimes family lets us down, and our friendships will be the saving grace we need in though times.

I desire to be a good friend.

Up until recently, I can honestly say I did not have much friends. I had my family, and my associates. I kept up a barrier between me and anyone that was not family of some sort. Perhaps, trust issues, or perhaps I wanted to keep this veneer front of perfection up. I didn’t want outsiders to come too close and see that my simple life was actually a hot mess. But then, my entire world turned upside down. I found myself, by myself. Sure I had my close family members. But at some point you don’t want to become a burden to your family. Then, I found myself in the presence of people willing to hear my story, and willing to be a shoulder to lean and cry on. That was something I was not used to. It was amazing. Like a self cleansing therapy. What’s more important, is that I knew those people were not judging me. They listened with a open heart. Looking back I don’t know where I would have been without the help of friends. The closer I let my friends in, the more I realized we all had our own common share of “mess” going on in our lives. I listened to their burdens, and was their shoulder in times of need. Because of that I now know more than ever that friendship is a give and take. Sometimes you will give love, and times you just have to be vulnerable enough to take the love.

Jesus had a few  friendships. However, one of my favorites is the one he had with Mary Magdalena. It was an uncommon friendship. However, we often find our best and deepest friendships in uncommon connections. The very thing that tends to separate us, is often the tread that keeps us connected.

I encourage anyone and everyone that is blessed enough to have a true friend, to hold on to that friendship. Be kind to that friendship, and be a server in that friendship. Nourish it and love on it to ensure it grows into a good tree that may enhance the garden that is your life.

Be blessed, be encouraged.

Monday Mantra: Endure For The Greater Good

A real note from the editor:

I’m tired.

I’ve been patient. I’ve been humble. I have prayed. Talked to God. Written to God. Read the word. Worked on myself. Been kind to the unkind.

And still nothing.

Yes, I am growing in faith, and yes, I am becoming a better person. But the fruits of my labor are scarce. I look around and I am disheartened to say the least. Because, I see so much happiness, so much joy around me. And I am happy for my family and friends, but a part of me can’t help but to wonder when is my happiness coming. I feel as though I have to work hard for every little bit that I have. Nothing has ever come easy to me. Sure that’s a great character builder, but at some point the only thing that one can be, is tired. Sometimes, I feel like giving up. Why keep trying when the results will continue to be the same.

The only thing that keeps me going is a message I’d like to share with you all:

Endure for the greater good.

I don’t know where these trials and tribulations will take me, but I know I will continue to endure. And I hope those who feel just as spent as I do will endure as well. Let this be our #MondayMantra:

Endure for the greater good.

Romans 5:3-4

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that the suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

James 1:12

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

Monday Mood: #Forgive

Today I woke with a thought in my spirit. I figured I would share:

If you think it’s weak to forgive, you’ve obviously never forgave someone before.

The strength it takes to forgive someone who has wronged us, is unmeasurable. Not even time can measure it, because when the wound is deep enough, we find ourselves needing to renew that forgiveness time after time throughout our lives.

Forgiveness is medicine to our soul. It can heal wounds that we carry, but don’t even know we are burden by. Those wounds tend to resurface time and time again in our lives, until we are willing to fully dress them in the clothe of forgiveness.

Sometimes, the most important person we must forgive is ourselves. Often we will walk through adulthood, carrying the pain of wounds from childhood that we had no choice but to endure. And we tell ourselves things like “it wasn’t your fault”, or “you were a child”, but how often do we mean it. We tend to subconsciously attack ourselves and beat ourselves up and it shows in our behavior in every area of our lives.

Forgiveness has the power to make a broken person, whole again. The moment we turn on that switch of forgiveness, a light that had previously dimmed, reestablishes itself within us. We reclaim a subtle but definitive part of our innocence.

Forgiveness is a beautiful gift, to be given and received. Feel free to offer that gift of forgiveness today, or open to receive it.

 

How To Build a Strong Prayer Life

What is your pray life looking like?

That is an important question, in this day and age that we live in. There are a million awful things occurring around us daily, and the question begs, how do we survive any of it, without a strong prayer life?!

We don’t.

Constant communication with the Lord is the only way to see our way through. But it’s not enough to be in constant communication with the Lord, what’s more important is to be in meaningful communication with the Lord. Building a strong prayer life to me, entails understanding that I am not just talking to the Lord, but that He is also talking back; and being present in mind to quiet myself enough to listen/feel for His words.

Personally, I am in a place in which I am trying my best to build a strong prayer life. Along the way, I’ve figured out some key factors that may help someone else on a similar path:

  1. Schedule your time with the Lord: We schedule everything else in life; classes, work, activities, and more. However, our most important daily appointment is with the Lord Himself. Honor that time you have scheduled for you and your Master, and protect it.
  2.  Timing is everything: My heart tends to be more full in the morning, my mind tends to be clear in the morning, and my inner peace tends to surface most in the a.m hours. Therefore, I try to schedule my time with the Lord around that time.
  3. Find your position:  I like most, have knelled to pray since I have been praying. I still do, but I also find peace in sitting and talking to the Lord with my arms extended out and turned up, ready to receive the Lords peace. That position, makes me feel like a well, ready to receive the flow of abundance.
  4. Clear your head by speaking the issues out loud: I like to think of prayer as a moment to release all my trash. So often we find it hard to pray because we have too much chatter going on in our minds. Speak to the Lord out loud about those issues, just so we can purge them from our minds, and come forth to the Lord with a clear mind. A cluttered mind will not hear the Lord. Therefore, release yourself of those thoughts, and put yourself in a position to hear with your heart the words of the Lord.
  5. Approach with a thankful heart. We all have problems. And a lot of times problems brings us to prayer. However, that doesn’t mean we must allow those problems to overshadow our willingness to be thankful and grateful for all things. Therefore, find time in your prayer life to extend a heartfelt thank you to your Father. There is always something to be thankful for.

Spicy Shrimp and Plenty Green Sautee

I love shrimp. Honestly. I really enjoy most shell fish, especially in warmer months. In my unprofessional opinion shrimp really is great when it comes to taking on flavor. A simple marinade for a short period of time goes a really long way.  My go to flavor for shrimp is butter garlic. Yum, at just the thought. However, I thought this time I would try a spicy garlic flavor, and opt to leave the butter out.

Before, we get into the recipe details, let’s talk a little Jesus! As I mentioned shrimp is delicious and it takes on flavor and seasoning with very little effort. For all intents and purposes, I’d say that that makes shrimp very useful. I can’t help but to wonder how easily, we (God’s children) take on the things of this world by which we are exposed to. Are we easily flavored by the world?

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

It’s important to remember the purpose and intent by which we were created. While shrimp was created to be an enjoyable dish to tickle our pallets and satisfy our taste buds, humans were created I’m sure with a far greater purpose. Which is why we have the ability to choose what flavor we take on. Will we choose to walk in the loving, kind ways of Jesus, or be influenced and colored by this cold world. The next time you face adversity, keep that in mind.

To go along with our flavorful spicy shrimp, we’ll go with what I call “Plenty Green Sautee”. And when I say plenty of greens, I mean plenty! Packed with all sorts of vitamins and mineral, this sauté is a perfect side dish.

Start by de-shelling and cleaning about 2 lbs of Shrimp

Jesus x Food:: Shrimp

Now grab a few plugs of fresh garlic. Peel them and chop them. Grab a medium yellow onion and do the same.
Jesus x Food:: garlic

Jesus x Food :: Garlic and Onions Chopped

And now, my favorite part of cooking: Creating a spice. I love this part because this pretty much determines the taste of the dish. I went with some salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and seafood seasoning.

Jesus x Food:: spices

Now add that generous amount of spice to your Shrimp.

Jesus x Food :: Shrimp

Also, add some of that garlic that we chopped earlier and also a chopped Jalapeño for heat!

Jesus x Food :: Garlic and Jalenpenos ChoppedNow cover and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile…..

Jesus x Food :: Garlic and Onions Chopped CookedIn a medium to large skillet add a few drops of olive oil over medium heat. Then, add the previously chopped garlic and onions.

Now pile on the greens. Asparagus, Green beans, Spinach, and kale. Yum!!!

Jesus x Food :: Plenty Green SauteJesus x Food :: Plenty Green SauteBring to a tender sauté. Be sure to season with a little salt and pepper while this green goodness is still cooking, so it can take on the seasoned taste.

Once the greens are tender, add a little homemade Italian dressing:

Jesus x Food :: Italian Dressing

Now it’s time to grab those Shrimps and heat another skillet with a few drops of olive oil, and add the Shrimp.

Jesus x Food :: Cooked ShrimpCook through for about 20 minutes on med heat. Add a little water about 5 minutes into cooking.

And now,

Jesus x Food :: Finished ShrimpEnjoy! A simple, yet flavorful, healthy dish.

Word Of The Day: #Peace

It’s no secret we live in an era, in which information travels at the speed of light.  Whether it’s a socio-political up rise from half way across the world, or what your neighbor’s having for dinner on #MeatlessMonday, getting the latest “news”, is as easy as refreshing your social media feed. However, in all the noise/information buzzing around us constantly, finding peace can be a trying task onto itself.

Unless we have tapped into what God has intended for us regarding peace.

What we must keep in mind, is that peace is not a thing to be acquired. The gift of peace already lives in us. Getting to that peaceful inner place, may be easier for some than others. However, with practice and patience we all have the ability to find it.

Some may call it meditation, others may just call it quiet time. However you refer to it, peace is vital in connecting with our spiritual selves and more importantly our maker.

In Mark 4:39 we see how Jesus speaks to the wind , and it gives us definitive direction in getting to our own peace:

And He arose, and rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still.” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Command your chaos to cease, and  simply be still.