A Call to be the “church”

For the last few months, every day has been unpredictable. As the number of COVID cases increase in areas and new information is shared about the virus, it is a reminder of how different the times are right now.

Jobs have shifted, stores are operating differently, businesses are closing their doors and for many, the church has been unable to physically gather.

Through every closure, they are an increasing amount of needs.

I’ve been thinking about how much people need to feel loved and valued in this season. Whether they live alone or juggling everything with small children in the home; people need to be reminded of how loved they are.

In this season where there is so much that’s unknown, let’s be the church. Not the walls confined to a building but the actions produced from love and empathy. The church is way more than a building; it is a heart posture to love our neighbor.

How can you be the church in this season?

  • Serve: many communities are still in need whether it is helping to provide food for those who have lost their job, making masks for people who may be without or writing letters to front line employees expressing gratitude. Find creative ways to serve the needs of your community in a safe way.
  • Spread the Gospel: there are so many creative ways to make the Gospel known whether it is talking to a friend or loved one; sharing a church service on social media, encouraging people on social media, or sewing a Bible verse on the masks you are giving out. Ask God to reveal who in your world needs to know Him and pray that He softens their heart to be receptive of you to deliver the message.
  • Love your neighbor: with all of the racial injustices heightened and people acknowledging the oppressed, now more than ever there is a great need to show your love  by supporting those who look different than you. What a blessing it is to listen, lament and learn from other people.
  • Pray pray pray:  In Tony Evans Bible Commentary, he said that “prayer is an earthly request for heavenly intervention.” We need to collectively pray for all the decision-makers, health officials, and the people in our world. We need God to heal our land and stop this virus from spreading. We need God to expose and dispose of racism that has been embedded in our country. We need God to move. We need a spiritual awakening.

Oh what a time to be the church.

 

God with “us”

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Photo by Matheus Viana on Pexels.com

Immanuel// God with Us

I sat with the words, God with “us” all night as I wrestled with how to construct my feelings. I, like many of you, have felt the need to monitor my news and social media consumption due to the events and injustices in the world. I found myself being in an emotional rollercoaster going from anger to sadness, yet God allowed these words to give me a sense of comfort.

God with us is not just me, not just you but “us”, a collective group of people. Not specific to one race or gender; but all of us.

When the angel told the virgin Mary, she would give birth to a son and He will be called Immanuel. This was to show how God, in human form, would send His son, Jesus, to be with us. He walked this earth and was amongst a collective group of people – many of which were considered the least of these.  Jesus was with the people and for the people. He didn’t come for just one specific type of person, but for all of us.

In light of the injustices of the world, I have struggled with words. I have struggled some nights to sleep in peace and pray because what is happening in the world has been consistently happening. I have been tired.

Tired of seeing little black boys and girls lose a father. Tired of seeing young, black boys dying.  Tired of living in a world that overlooks me because of the color God gifted me with. Just plain tired.

Yet what I have observed this time around has been the beauty of silence being broken and called out. Some people who have overlooked those of us with black and brown skin, have realized (or surrendered) the sin of their nature and have spoken up to educate and acknowledge what is still happening in our country.

As I watched the diversity of those protesting and saw the diversity of people posting and educating their followers while highlighting black voices, it overwhelmed me. And for once the name Immanuel became more than a Biblical story of Him walking this earth with “us”, it also became a picture of the power of “us”.

The power of us working together to amplify black voices and highlight systematic racism which has crippled our brothers and sisters. It became an understanding of how a collective diverse group can ring louder than the voice of just one.

God with us became truer because God is for all His children and with all of His children. And if we would collectively come together to do what is right and to love all of His creation maybe just maybe then we can confidently have liberty and justice for all.

What COVID-19 Is Teaching Me?

My heart goes out to all those who have been impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19. This is a challenging time within this world. As we seek to understand the severity of what is happening, we should all take cautionary measures as outlined by the CDC.

Over the last few weeks, I have been praying for this world and seeking to see God in all of this. I know He is up to something and I recognize how Believers have a role to play in the midst of so much uncertainty. I believe we are called to a place of hope. I believe our gaze should be on God while we will safely power through these times.

I wanted to share with you four main thoughts that have been on my heart and I hope it will encourage you through this turbulent time:

  • Let’s monitor our media consumption: Let’s stay informed with updates as needed but let’s not allow an overload of information to cause fear to erupt. We need to know what is happening, yet we need to create a quiet space for God to speak to us. We can seek to educate ourselves but we can’t neglect how much we need God. So I have to ask, are you reading your Word as much as you are keeping up with the news? Again, I believe it is important to stay informed but let’s not miss what God is saying to us right now.
  • Love your neighbors: What if we as Believers responded with a heart to serve and not discriminate against those who are ill or self-quarantined for precautionary measures. The Bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) so as the people in our world are having to adjust to new temporary standards, I believe there is no better way to display God’s love than by serving and asking “what can I do for you?” Let’s use wisdom and get creative in how we serve them, but let’s serve those who need us. Let’s show up for others and spread His love. Let’s not shame people for what they are experiencing during this time instead we should be committed to love and extending grace.
  • Keep faith on the front line: As others fear, let’s encourage through our faith.  2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us how God has not given us a spirit of fear. It doesn’t mean we will never experience fear but we don’t allow it to cripple us. This is a critical time for us to hold on to our faith knowing that He is with us and we will get through this with Him on our side.
  • The power of the spread: This virus has taken the world by storm. Businesses are selling out of essentials, travels are being banned, schools are being closed and people are in a state of panic because of what they could be impacted by. As I observe the chaos around us, I wondered what it would be like if the Gospel Message could spread as quickly as the COVID-19? As Believers, we have been impacted by this Message; yet are we doing enough to spread it? The Gospel Message should be contagious and we should carry it with us wherever we go. It should cause a change in how we lead our businesses, help keep people in a place of peace and it should remind us how we have nothing to fear with God on our side.

Friends, I am praying and believing for this virus to cease and stop impacting the lives of those we love. I am praying for healing for those who currently have the virus and the medical professions who need the strength and wisdom to help treat them. And I am praying for a new level of faith to arise within each of us. There are people in need of our faith-filled words and gestures, can they count on you to respond?

Lastly, this verse has been on my heart and I think it is a sweet reminder during the days head:

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. 

Remember, God is with us. Let His Word comfort our hearts and silence our fears.

Choosing to Worship

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Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

If you know anything about me, you will know how much I love to worship. Singing was a passion of mine as a child and since then I have kept a love of music on my heart. I am that friend who will send you worship songs that speak to your situation or random songs that the Lord has placed on my heart. I love finding new songs to add to my playlist.

This year, I have declared 2020 will be my year of worship. It will be the year where I will choose to worship no matter the circumstance or the location, I am committed to worship the One who has changed my life for the better.

I love the story of Jesus’s birth and how when the wise men were so in awe to be chosen to see Him that they feel down and worshipped Him (Matthew 2:11). Isn’t that a beautiful visual?  It was their first response to Him as soon as they saw Him.

That’s my desire for this year, I don’t want to turn to Google to help me figure it out, I don’t want to turn to my friends to have them congratulate me, I want to worship the King of Kings before I do anything else.

This year will have its peaks and valleys, maybe you’ve already experienced them, but I want to encourage you to choose to worship no matter what this year brings. I believe through our choice to worship, God will help change our perspective and see Him working in the midst of our situations.

I desire for God to marvel at our faith this year because of our decision and desire to worship Him through it all.

Drop a comment below and let me know your word for this year. And if you are interested in hearing, my favorite song right now, click here to listen and be prepared to worship!

Remember Me, Lord

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Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people; come near and rescue me

-Psalm 106:4

The last couple of weeks have been a little rough. I’ve been constantly on the go but truth be told, I haven’t taken much time for me —to rest, recharge or even focus on the things I love. Sometimes the Lord has a way of putting a stop to our plans and reminding us of the importance of finding true rest in Him.

This verse reminds me of seasons where I have felt like God had forgotten about me when I felt as if He is paying attention to the details in everyone else’s life but mine, and even reminds me of the moments where He has intentionally made me wait. I hear David being similar to me saying “Lord, I’m over here, would you pay some attention to me.

Although this verse reminds me of those things, it also convicts me because there have been seasons of my life where I wonder if God is saying the same thing to me “Remember me, my child. Your Creator and only Source of true peace and strength, remember me, while you are focusing on doing and not spending time with me. Remember me too.”

God has not forgotten about you. He has already marked you as His beloved child and even in the wait, He is close to You; however, the true question is, are you drawing closer to Him in this season?

 

 

How Much More?

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If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! −Matthew 7:11 (ESV)

I love holidays because it is a time to slow down and spend time with the ones you love however Father’s Day is always a little different. It seems like the middle child who often gets overlooked because Mother’s Day stole all of its shine. We don’t see as many social media posts honoring dads, restaurants aren’t as crowded and there’s just hardly any marketing around this holiday.

I recognize that Father’s Day is difficult for many people − those who may have lost their father or even those who may not have a relationship with their earthly father. The Lord gifted me with a good father and grandfathers to be able to gain great wisdom from and to also see a great example of fatherhood yet I know that’s not everyone’s story. My prayer is that you will choose to see the joy in today. That regardless of how your story has been written that you will be able to see a new perspective.

I find so much comfort in hearing this verse in Matthew 7 spoken by Jesus because I think it is an invitation to all of us regardless of your situation with an earthly example of fatherhood. Jesus says how much more will your Heavenly Father do for you if you would just ask.

Those three words: how much more has been impressed on my heart.

I am thankful today (and everyday) for my father and all that he has done to sacrifice, lead and support our family and as I reflect on that today; my heart is brought to joy of how much more my Heavenly Father will do for me too!

Sisters those three words are powerful and I pray that you allow it to sink in your heart. How much more, will He do for you regardless of the season you’re in or the circumstances, He can do so much more for you

My prayer for you today: Heavenly Father, thank you! Thanks for the good examples that you have given us on fatherhood. I pray that all of the fathers would feel loved, honored and valued today. I ask Lord that you would send an extra dose of your love to my sisters who are discouraged today because of their earthly examples; remind them of how much more You are able and willing to do for them. I am praying and believing that you are going to blow the minds of those who are willingly and faithfully believing you for more!

A Virtuous Woman…Who Can Find?

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When I think of a virtuous woman there is a name that often comes to mind— my grandmother. She would sit in the congregation or sometimes in the choir, never to be seen yet never unnoticed. At home, you could find her in the kitchen preparing an amazing meal and even if you tried to help you would only be in the way. Let’s not forget that my grandmother was a defeating champion in a game of Scrabble but she never boasted about it. She would just quietly put a word on the board and leave us all speechless.

My grandmother lived a beautiful, simple life. Her love for her family was unmeasurable, yet her love for God was unlike anyone I have ever seen.

She didn’t need to be the center of attention but she kept God at her center. My grandmother reverenced God and all that He is. She knew His resumè and knew what He had done for her throughout the years.

I often wonder if the Bible says “who can find” because it means that she’s rare and unique.

As we approach Mother’s Day, I am reminded of my grandmother who is my angel in Heaven but also all of the amazing women (my mother, aunts and mentors) the Lord has blessed me with who are still on this earth. I am grateful to not have to look far to find examples of virtuous women in my life.

It is my prayer that you will also have an amazing community of women to look up to whether it be in your family, church or even your place of employment. I hope that you will celebrate this special day with those in your world.

I do recognize that this day is hard for those who may have experienced loss. I definitely have moments of sadness when I think about my grandmother but I also rejoice because I know she is worshipping in Heaven. I don’t have all the answers to what Heaven will be like but I imagine that when I get there, she will be one of the first angels to embrace me with her sweet, gentle hug because I am a product of her prayers.

The Lord says that He is close to the brokenhearted. So if you find yourself broken during this holiday, know that He is willing to hold you close. He can fill the void and turn your sadness to worship.

Can I pray for you today?

Father, I ask that you help us to rejoice even in the midst of loss. Help us to hold on to the truth that we will see our loved ones again. Send an angel here on earth to comfort my sisters who are in a place of brokenness. Let them not spend this holiday isolated or in grief but in celebration with those in their world. Keep her close this season and help her to feel your comfort like never before. Amen.

God’s Perceived Silence

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Our Bible study group at work is currently reading Faithful: Heroes of the Old Testament and as we looked at Gideon last week, there was one question in the study that has remained in my heart. Priscilla asked, “When we feel God is ignoring us, could it be that His perceived silence is intended to point us back to His Word?”

Way to pierce our hearts with that one!

I have struggled lately in this area and I knew this message was for me because I felt convicted about my quiet time and prayer life. As we discussed it as a group, I realized that a couple of us are in the same boat.

I am learning that my biggest frustrations often come when I am spending more time with trivial things than I am in God’s Word. His perceived silence should get my attention and turn me to Him —not leave me frustrated with the idea of feeling like I need to figure it out on my own.

Maybe you have been in this silent season while seeking God for direction, answers or even healing. I want to encourage you to press on! I know it’s not easy and I’m right here with you cheering you on as we travel this road together but know that God desires the very best for you and He desires to speak to your heart, but you (and me) have to prioritize Him.

In order for us to hear what He wants to say to us, we have to be intentional in our time with Him and intentional to give Him the opportunity to speak.

It is easier said than done but I believe it is so important in our walk with the Lord.

God wants to see more of us excited to be in His Word and excited to be in His presence. He wants us to know that He hears us and sees every tear and frustration.

I believe that He wants us to know that His silence is our own perception; oftentimes because we are not receiving what we want when we want it. John Piper once said, “We are simply called to trust the promise more than the perception.”

So maybe His silence really isn’t silence at all because He is waiting for us to open the Word and allow Him to speak to our hearts.

Faith in Work: Honoring in the Dark Season

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 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving- Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

What a blessing it is to rise up every morning excited about the opportunity you have to do a good work.  Although there is no perfect job as there are problems at every employer, I do believe that when you are at a job you love, it doesn’t feel like work.

But what happens when there’s a difficult season? Maybe there’s a lot of change going on at the job or maybe you’re in a season where you feel overlooked and waiting to be noticed for your hard work.

Every Believer says promotion comes from God, which is true but what do you do when it doesn’t come in the way that you have hoped.

This verse reminds me to change my perspective of how I work. I believe God honors hard work, He sees it and notices every detail. I know that I need to trust Him even when I am having a hard time at work. It’s a reminder that I’m not working for my supervisor or the CEO of the company, my ultimate work is for the Lord and it is up to me to trust that He will walk through this difficult season with me.

Even when it seems as if your work is unnoticed and that you are working hard and not reaping benefits from it, trust Him through it. Friends, I know it’s hard but when we can press through during the difficult seasons, we can come out on the other end stronger. Our Father is able to see far beyond our current circumstances so we have to trust that He has our best in mind.

If this season is difficult because of a co-worker, boss or things within your own heart, lay it at His feet. Don’t carry negativity with you  this season, it will only make it harder. Instead choose to have joy even through the difficulty.

The Woman from Shunem

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Later Elisha asked Gehazi, “What can we do for her?”

Gehazi replied, “She doesn’t have a son, and her husband is an old man.”

 “Call her back again,” Elisha told him. When the woman returned, Elisha said to her as she stood in the doorway, “Next year at this time you will be holding a son in your arms!”

“No, my lord!” she cried. “O man of God, don’t deceive me and get my hopes up like that.”

But sure enough, the woman soon became pregnant. 

-2 King 4:14-17

I love this story of the woman of Shunem. The Bible never tells us her name but I love her heart to serve. In this story, the wealthy woman and her husband had invited Elisha to stay at their home whenever he would pass by. Because of their generosity, Elisha wanted to bless them; however, the woman told Elisha’s servant that she was well taken care of and therefore she did not make a specific request. However, the servant saw an opportunity for Elisha to bless her anyways.

Her response to this blessing makes me wonder if this son was something that she longed for. Something that maybe she stopped believing God for or it could very well have been a blessing she never knew she needed.

The servant saw an unspoken request. He saw an opportunity. He saw something that she could not get for herself, that money couldn’t buy it.

I love how sometimes the greatest blessings are those things that we don’t even ask for.

I think about how when a coworker has a big event happen in their lives whether it be the birth of a baby or death of a loved one; how we rally together and deliver food without ever being asked. We know there is a need and we want to help provide for it.

I think we are all believing God for something. Maybe you’ve given up on a dream and stopped believing God for it. Regardless of where you are, I believe that He is still in the blessing business and wants to meet your needs, He wants to meet you where you are. For some blessings, it may take longer to come to pass but God will always provide even for the things we don’t even know to pray for yet.

I encourage you to read the rest of the story in your quiet time and see the dedication of this mom to her son but I want to leave you with this thought: Never miss an opportunity to serve someone because you never know how your generosity will pour back into you. Elisha was so filled with gratitude because of her heart to serve that he didn’t want to leave without blessing her and even with the blessing looked dead (read 2 King 4:18-37), he still honored her.

Our acts of service will not only bless those we are serving but in return, we will receive blessings we may not even know we need.

Today’s prayer: Father, thank you for always providing for us. I want to specifically cover those who have stopped dreaming, those who have stopped believing you for great things. I ask that you set a fire down in their souls and remind them of the great plans you have for them. I believe this is a time to believe you for bold requests. Increase our faith in you and give us the endurance to circle our desires in prayer.