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Lord, I Believe; Help My Unbelief!

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I am reminded this morning, there are areas in my life where I believe without a doubt and there are other areas in my life where I say I believe, but in the back of my mind there is some doubt. Have you been there? Are you there now? Do you know what I’m talking about?

I remember years ago, someone asking me, “What is your belief system?” In other words, what do you believe in? I am a follower of Jesus Christ. There is no doubt about that. As proud as I am to say that, I have to admit, I too, doubt sometimes.

In Mark chapter 9 verses 14 – 29 there is an interesting story unfolding. Jesus has come down off a mountain with 3 of his disciples. They were met by a great multitude. Jesus was wondering what was going on. A man responded by saying, “My son has a mute spirit. I brought him to your disciples but they could do nothing about it.” Jesus responds, “O faithless generation!” Jesus was probably thinking, “These disciples man, boy I tell ya, they still don’t get it.” (See Mark 9:19)

This man knew the power Jesus had. He was seeking Him for an answer. Jesus responds in verse 23, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” I love this response. He starts off His response by saying, “If you can believe.” Meaning, you have to have some faith, you have to believe it can happen, you have to search deep down within. The man goes on to respond in verse 24, with tears in his eyes, he cries out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”How profound is that response?

Help my unbelief!There is something inside of all of us that tells us not to believe. Something that tells us, no, this cannot happen. There is no way possible. Jesus is calling us to believe; if you can. Imagine if you can. How would life begin to look for you, if you can start believing in yourself? How would love start looking for you if you can start believing in it again? How would relationships start looking for you if you can get over a hurting past?

“If you can believe; all things are possible for him who believes.” What are you believing this morning?

This morning I stand with God and His promises. I stand with Mark 9:23 “If you believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  Let me say this: If God has called you to do something, no matter how hard it is or may be, He will make a way for you to make it happen. Trust in His word. Know that it is going to take some faith. Know that you CAN believe. Verses 25-27, Jesus commands the spirit to come out and for the son to arise.

Whatever you are doubting in this morning, cry out to God, give it to Him, believe in Him and watch how He speaks to your situations, circumstances and life!

If You Can! – You Can!

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I’ve Failed But I Didn’t Give Up!

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I love life and the experiences life brings. For me, failure has been one of my greatest learning tools. It’s actually funny. I never thought I would see failure in the way I do now. Whenever I failed at something back when I was in junior high, I was a complete wreck! Today, I find myself after failing at something, to be inspired. Like Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”

Let’s get real here for a moment:

Discouragement. Falling down. Not accomplishing what you set out to do. Inconsistency. Lack of motivation. Poor time management. Negative thoughts. Loosing sight of what’s most important. Remaining focused. These are all words that I’ve dealt with first hand. I’m sure you have to. Failure is something most people do not want to admit. Let me be the first to admit, I’ve failed a lot in my 27 years of living. I’ve failed tests, I’ve failed people, I’ve failed in my goals, I’ve failed at keeping my word and I have failed myself.

If you’ve never failed at something, how would you learn to not give up?

Failure by definition is the lack of success. If we were to measure success, we would find that you and I have our own standard of measurement for success. Meaning, we tend to define success differently. Although success is defined differently in our lives, you and I can identify when we are not successful in something. It is often, I find myself in certain seasons of life not living up to my full potential. (Can you identify with me?) It is in these seasons where mentally, spiritually and physically I am low and in constant battle. I easily identify myself with failure.

You are not a failure because you’ve failed at something.

If you are like me, you don’t like stress and you don’t like it when life gets hard. Most people that I know are this way. They want success and life to be a smooth journey. They want to live a life without problems, a life where there is no failure but we know this to not be reality. Life is full of ups and downs. If you haven’t noticed by now… Life is the greatest roller coaster ride you will ever get to ride on. 🙂

Success is not in giving up, but success is in the constant fight to keep pushing forward!

When feeling like a failure starts to creep into your mind, you have to remind yourself that you are strong, you are a warrior and you are an overcomer. The human mind is strong and my friend we have to take a stance in life. We will not give into the battle of defeat but we will continue to march forward with the faith and belief that we can conquer what we set out to do. You and I are not failures. We may have failed over and over in life but this does not mean we will continue to fail.

On this day, choose to fail forward. Each time in the future when you fail, each time you fall; You are failing and falling to learn how to advance forward in life. As Eric Thomas put it, “Don’t cry to quit, don’t cry to give up but cry to keep pushing.” You and I have what it takes to make it in life. It’s time to activate it!

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

– Thomas Edison

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You Complain Too Much!

Do you ever sit and think to yourself, “I complain too much!?” I know in certain seasons of life I can be a complainer. You know what I am talking about. We tend to say things like: life is overwhelming, I never get enough rest, there is not enough money to pay my bills, everyone is getting on my nerves, etc… The list of complaints can go on and on. The funny thing I find about complaining; the things that I find myself complaining over are usually the things that I either prayed for, I created or I wanted in my life. Think about it.

Whenever I get tired or I feel overwhelmed, it is usually because I stayed up too late, or I didn’t get enough rest or I didn’t balance my schedule right. I believe complaints are created and caused by you and I. Complaining is created by our response to life, situations, problems and circumstances. You and I have the choice not to complain. In is in our hands to speak a complaint or to not speak a complaint.

With this being said, stop complaining so much. Instead, respond with an action and a response that will allow you to continue to overcome to move forward. As Christian rapper Andy Mineo put it: “Make moves, don’t make excuses.” Does life get hard? You bet it does. Does life sometimes suck all of the energy out of you. It sure does. Does life make you want to squeeze all of the lemons in the world? I would hope so! Lemonade is good!

You get the point I am trying to make. You and I have the choice each day to make the best out of our day or to respond with half hearted responses and complaints. Listen, nothing comes to a complainer but complaints. If you want to make the most out of your days, be sure to eliminate the number of complaints that you send out to the Universe. “Our thoughts become our words, our words become our actions and our actions become our habits.” If you create good habits you will have great thoughts. When you have great thoughts, your words will be filled with life and positivity. Speak life! Stop complaining!

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Dear, New Christian!

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I can imagine what you are experiencing right now. The joy of finding Christ. The joy of God’s got it all under control. The joy of experiencing new freedom. The joy of release and breakthrough. The joy of something fresh and something new. The joy of being happy again. The joy of finding peace. The joy of overcoming your fears and doubts. The joy of trusting in Jesus!

Oh, how joyous it is to be chosen to be apart of the Kingdom of God.

But wait, let’s take a step back for a moment. Why do I still have problems? Why do I still have struggles? Why does it seem like people are upset that I made a change to my life? Why is my family upset that I want to be at church each week? How come I feel so guilty when I think negative thoughts? What is going on in my life???

I have to admit, leaving an old lifestyle of living all for self gratification, then to transition to a new lifestyle of how to live for Jesus is hard. As new Christians, believers in Christ, some of the first questions we tend to have are: What if I mess up? What if I sin, does this mean I am going to hell? Can I still listen to all my same music? Can I still party and club? There are so many questions and thoughts and to be honest, these questions will not be answered over night. So I say to you, Mr. and Mrs. New Christian take it a day at a time and be prepared for a journey of a lifetime! A journey where your world will be flipped upside down. In a good way of course. 🙂

I want to share with you 10 thoughts that will help you in your transition. These 10 thoughts are in no specific order but I believe each are equally important in your walk with God. Becoming a new Christian is an exciting time but it can also be a scary time. Scary, meaning, you don’t know what’s next or what to expect. You have tons of questions but no one is answering. I believe through these 10 thoughts that I mention, if you apply them to your walk of life your questions will be answered. You will grow, you will learn and you will become the person God has called you to be.

Here are 10 thoughts I have to you, the new Christian:

1) Find a mentor! Get with someone that has been down the path you are now going down. Trust me when I say this, you need someone wise in your life that can speak honest truth, with love, grace and mercy.

2) Find an accountability partner. Get with someone close in age that is on the journey you are on. I prefer male to male and woman to woman accountability partners. Unless of course you are married.

3) Stay in the word daily. Whether you are reading 5 minutes a day or 2 hours a day. Read God’s word, for it is your foundation to life!

4) Get connected to a Christ centered, Bible believing, teaching church. I cannot tell you how important it is to be connected to a local church that you can call home. We need to be connected to believers from all walks of life.

5) Pray! Spend time each day and night praying. God wants to hear from you and you need to hear from God. Prayer is our direct communication to God.

6) Journal! Write down your thoughts. Write about your struggles. Write down your victories. Journaling allows you to release your thoughts. It also allows you to keep track of your walk with God.

7) Get in a life group/small group. Being able to do life with others are key and critical to your walk. You will have support, prayer, encouragement and accountability. Trust me, doing life with others is needed! Can’t do it alone.

8) Worship your God! Find out what fills up your spiritual tank. It can be singing songs, listening to sermons, praying, dancing, etc… Give God glory each day for Who He is and all He does.

9) Read books! Never stop learning. Never stop investing in yourself. There are so many amazing books out there to strengthen your walk with God and to give you a better understanding of the Bible.

10) Serve! Serve the local church but most importantly serve for your God. Your local church can use your gifts, talents and passions. Plus, there is so much joy in serving God. God rewards us for our service. Then again, we owe our service to Him!

I will close with this. As a follower of Jesus you will mess up, you will fall short, you will have struggles, you will need help, you will need prayer. You will come to learn that we are broken, weak and needy individuals and that it’s okay to admit this. We need Jesus every single day and we need our brothers and sisters in Christ. Living for Christ is the best thing that can ever happen in this life. I am convinced. Stay encouraged new Christian. One day, you will be sharing and teaching this to other new Christians. Enjoy the journey!

 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” – Colossians 3:16-17

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Don’t Add To Your Plate!

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Today, I received a text message with an encouraging word. A word, in which I thought I would share with you. The text said:

“Do not try to figure Me out, child, for you are mine and I am yours and I hold you in the very palm of My hand.  Together, we will do great things together…. Together I say.  Let nothing stand in the way of your time with Me.  Nothing.  I can get done in 6 minutes what you attempt to accomplish in 60 hours.  I am proud of you– you have pushed through (and at times push through) what your past presented to you, yet I was there through it all, strengthening you, never forsaking you.  Keep your eyes on Me and do not add to My plate.  Continue to dine with Me, and Me with you.”

Encouraging right? What baffles me is how on time this word of encouragement is. I love how sovereign God is and how He goes before us and shares thoughts with us right when we need them. Sometimes I believe we think we can out think God or God doesn’t know what we are going through. Who are we kidding?

I am a person who likes to have a lot on my plate. I don’t mean dinner plate but hey there is nothing like a stacked delicious meal. I like to be busy during certain seasons of life. For me, I receive joy being pulled in different directions. It’s weird. It’s like an oxymoron or something of that nature. I like to connect with people. I like to lead. I enjoy teaching, coaching and helping others. When I am stagnant it sometimes feels as though I am not accomplishing anything.

So, then I receive this text today. All of it is great but what connected to me the most was the second to last line. “Keep your eyes on Me and do not add to My plate.” How often do I try add to God’s plate? Better yet, how often are my eyes wondering other places than being focused on God? When we keep our eyes focused on God it is hard for us to add too much on our plate. Why is that you asked? It is simply because God tells us, shows us and reveals to us what should be on our plate. Through prayer, wise counseling and seeking God, He will set the plate for us so that we will not add too much. Too much on a plate can lead to sleepless nights and stress. Then again, too much on my dinner plate usually leaves me to feeling like a glutton, but that’s a different story.

To close I will say this… We add too much on our plate when we are not spending time with God. It’s amazing the cycle we tend to place ourselves in. Cheating on our time with God, going about our day to day lives on our own strength, then feeling overwhelmed, seeking God, He shows up, refreshens us and then we start the cycle all over again. My friends, if we continue to dine with God, He will always show up. In fact, God waits for us daily to invite Him to the table. I want to encourage you, as I have been encouraged today, to keep your eyes focused on God and to join God in His work. I mean God is a great chef and server. Let us let Him fill our plate! : )

Give us this day, our daily bread.” – Matthew 6:11

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Forget It!

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One of the hardest things in life is to forget. Especially dealing with past hurts, pains and memories that is. Sometimes it’s easy to forget to schedule meetings, people’s names, friend’s birthdays, or who you needed to call back. I am not talking about those things. I am talking about things we have been carrying near and dear to our hearts. I want to bring up a scripture by our dear brother Paul. In Philippians 3:13 Paul says this: “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.”

Notice Paul says, “forgetting.” The “ing” at the end of “forget” tells me that the forgetting is in process. It’s not saying I forgot all at once. Paul is saying, “look, there are some things from my past that I am not well pleased with. There are some decisions that were made that I am not proud of. There are some things, which are in the process of being let go.” The process of forgetting is a patient process. One in which many do not like to go through.

What I have realize is this. There are some things from our past that we tend to carry along with us for way too long. There are some things from our past always trying to sneak back up on us and if we allow it to, it will. Many times we tell ourselves, “I am over this, or that doesn’t bother me anymore,” but the moment something comes up from the past we respond in the same manner we use to respond.

In the action of moving forward one must take their eyes off of what’s behind. How can one see what’s ahead by looking at what’s behind? It is nearly impossible. Eventually you will have to look ahead to see where you are going and I believe this is what Paul is getting at as he finishes the rest of the scripture in verse 13. He goes on to say, “and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.”

If you know like I know reaching towards anything requires effort. My friend, it is going to take some effort for you to move ahead and let go of what’s behind. One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible and a very impacting scripture is found in 2 Corinthians 5:17. It says, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 

When you became new in Christ, ALL of those old things passed away. In other words they died! There is a new you! Christ has forgiven you. Now it’s time for you to do your part and make sure those things continue to stay dead. Your life is now new. As you continue to grow closer to Christ, Christ will empower you and you will begin to grow farther away from what’s in your past. Becoming new in Christ gives us a renewed heart, mind and spirit, and this leads to forgetting all that’s behind just like Christ does with our past. 

My dear friend in Christ, be encouraged. God is not done with you. He loves you and he is developing your character. We are all a work in progress. Keep on holding on. God’s got you! 

James 1: 2-4 – “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

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Don’t Be Afraid To Love

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For years I was afraid to love. I was afraid to give another human being my heart, my trust, my everything. Love can be scary. Reading books about love, magazines about love, watching movies about love, and seeing how love was dealt and dished out in my home growing up left me with questions. Questions like: Is this for me? Can I seriously love someone for the rest of my life? What if love doesn’t work out the way I want it to? What if someone breaks my heart? Will I ever recover?

Coming from an environment, background and childhood where love was tossed around like a game, I began to become callus to what real love looked life. I experienced glimpses of what love looked like, what it felt like, how it was to be shared and received but still I didn’t have a definite understanding on love. (I’m still learning as I go)

When it came to love, for me, during my teenage years I wanted to experience something real but I was trapped in a game that most young men play. Which is, abuse love, make it seem real to women, lie to women to get what you want, just don’t get caught up in your own game.

I was scarred. Not many good examples around me, fighting against the system in which I grew up in, the games I played with hearts and trying to find my pathway in life, the Creator of love met me on my journey in life. I heard about a love that was unconditional, a love that was unchanging, never ending, a love that was powerful enough to change my heart, my way of life, thinking, and actions. This type of love that I was hearing about intrigued me. It didn’t seem real. I certainly knew I didn’t deserve to experience a love so genuine; especially given the way I was abusing love. But I got captured!

A 17 year old young man, fighting against his environment, fighting against what everyone else was doing, fighting against becoming a statistic, fighting against society, culture, fighting against lust; the battle to living in love certainly seemed like a battle that could not be won. In this process of allowing this great divine love to capture me I had to come to the realization that I had to let go of everything I knew, everything I had been taught and throw it out the window.

There I was. Standing at a cross road where my past and future were clashing. There in the present was a Savior calling me to let go and stop being afraid of change. To stop being afraid of His great love. Not sure about you but change can be scary. It’s not easy letting go. Think about it. The God of the Universe, the Creator of all, desiring you to give up your life to come and be apart of something greater. To come live with Him. Is that not crazy or what?

Being afraid to love and not knowing how to love is a real struggle. Is it easy to love? No, it’s not but having a God that helps, a God that provides, a God that guides, makes it all possible. We don’t have to be afraid anymore to love. We can let go of our doubts, insecurities and we can love freely. We can love with everything we got. We can love with every fiber. As we love our God and continue to develop our love relationship with Him, He will shape each love relationship in our life. Love is the greatest gift of all and I want to continue to live and dish out all of the love I have to give while I am here on this earth. Amen!?

1 John 4:18

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”