The Price of Freedom

We know real freedom isn’t free. If we look back over all the wars fought, including biblical ones, the price of freedom looks like it is always filled with sacrifice. Before you start throwing stones or sending me negative comments as if I don’t know that war and freedom “are” filled with sacrifice, let me explain.

True freedom is not purchased with loss and sacrifice, it is purchased with obedience. When we see wars raging, and our soldiers fighting for injustices, it isn’t because freedom is expensive, it is because rebellion is. Let me repeat that. Rebellion is expensive.

When our troops are fighting for our country, for the lowly and the meek, it is because the rebellion of others demands a price. And that price is high.

Sometime’s I wonder if the original word freedom was spelled freedoom instead. That may just be my perception as I find myself in the “DOOM” chapter of Isaiah this morning. Isaiah 30 actually starts off with “Doom, rebel children!” What a way to start the morning!

When you become a Christian, there are several bible verses that you learn right away and they come up all the time during sermons, studies and even in conversation with other Christians. One of those that always sounds cliche to me is, Psalm 37:4, “Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Like the reward for accepting Christ is getting the stuff we want.

Throughout my Christian walk, (for the last 19 years) this is the go to verse for, “How to get what I want from God.” This meme sums up how I feel about that.

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I have also heard pastors, Sunday school teachers, and anyone else who has ever read a daily devotional tell me that we have to align our desires with God’s and then he will give us what we want. Duh.

Instead, what do we hear? “God is my fairy Godmother, and he will give me all the good things that I ask for. I just have to ask for good things.” Answer me this, what is your definition of good things?

Scripture is living and breathing. “God breathed”, and when we truly sit in it and let it permeate who we are, the most amazing things happen. God has shed some light on this for me today and boy do I love a good morning admonishing!

Psalm 81:7-15 can be rough business, but I think it can shed some light on a deeper meaning of Psalm 37:4.

“In your distress, you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me, Israel! You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me.  I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.  “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me.  So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.  “If my people would only listen to me if Israel would only follow my ways,  how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! I’ll send the God-haters cringing like dogs, never to be heard from again. You’ll feast on my fresh-baked bread spread with butter and rock-pure honey.”

For those of us who have accepted Christ’s gift on Calvary, God has rescued us. Look at the bold text. He rescued us, He warned us about our rebellion, but we would not listen, so He let us have our way and what we desired in our hearts. (Sound familiar?) If we would only listen, he would subdue our enemies (sin, things of the flesh, rebellion).

When I see God’s word tell me he would subdue my enemies, (before today) I thought to myself, “Woot woot, God is my knight in shining armor! You better watch out, everyone who has ever hurt me, God is coming for you!”

The reality of it is that WE are the enemy that God will subdue if we listen. The biggest enemy we have on this earth is ourselves. We are weak and we want what we want. I would like to flip Psalm 37:4 from the fairy Godmother paradigm to one that looks at the fulfillment of our hearts desires. What is the big question here?

What is the condition of your heart?

If God will give us what we want, what exactly is it that we are asking for? 

Maybe you know that this verse is a two-way door, both good and bad. I sometimes forget that with all things there is always the dichotomy of good and bad.

God will give you the desires of your heart. If your heart desires rebellion, the soft fuzzy wuzzies of illusion and your focus ISN’T hard work and obedience, you may have a heart problem. One you need to address. God will allow you to choose the rebellion you seek. He isn’t going to participate in it, but if that is what you choose, He won’t stop you. The verse doesn’t say, God will give you the desires of your heart but only if they are good, it just says he will give you what your heart desires. If you desire drama, lies, slander, and just all around sinful behavior, guess what? He’s going to step back and let you have it.

Remember Psalm 81? The Message Bible version reads, Verse 11 and 12 say, “But my people didn’t listen, so I let go of the reins and told them, ‘Run! Do it your own way!”

If we desire the things of this world more than we desire the gifted personal relationship we can have with our Creator, He won’t stop us. He already sacrificed His Son for us, He isn’t going to beg us into a relationship. The phrase, “Be careful what you ask for.” holds new meaning for me. I am in heart check mode this morning. What am I asking for?

Rebellion is a poorly built house. Built on sand and not the Cornerstone of Christ, not the firm foundation of God’s word. Slowly but surely, the house will begin to shift, sink and fall apart. When we least expect it, all of the rebellion and all of the desires of our hearts that were not God’s come crashing down. Likely right on top of our heads!

If you know anything about me, you know that my company works with authors to create books. For 13 years I have helped craft leadership and self-improvement books a plenty. Hundreds of books a year giving people hope and inspiration. A common theme in leadership books is that real leaders have mentors and seek the leadership of others to help them grow as they lead in their own world.

I often find that even in the midst of studying His word and asking for God’s guidance to lead me and show me the way, I still have my self created roadmap in my back pocket. You know, just in case God doesn’t know where we are going.

Have you ever had the map that speaks to you on in your car? It gives you the direction right before you need it, but rarely gives you much notice of what comes directly after. I find myself trying to grab it and see what comes next. I want to be fully prepared for that next turn, or exit that I need to make. What I have learned is that this method causes me to miss the turn that Siri or that lady on Waze just told me to do because I was focused too far ahead. I always think that I can get just a step ahead of God and use my map while I wait for Him to inspire me with all the needed directions to step into my calling. This meme wraps it up perfectly.

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Life is meant for this moment, not only in preparation for the next one.  In the most important place in our lives, our relationship with God, we try to be the leader. When we lead, we cheat ourselves out of a real and personal relationship with Him and gain ourselves a one-way ticket to slavery. We are ill-equipped to lead ourselves.

Everyone needs a leader.

The Cost of Rebellion = Conflict, suffering, grief, and death
The Price of Freedom: Obedience

We will be free when we choose to live in obedience. Every place in the bible where we see war and conflict, loss of life and sadness, grief and misery during hard times, it was always in the wake of disobedience.  It was moment after moment of God saying, “How many times do we have to replay this same movie before you get the lesson? You don’t have to live this way!”

The other hard truth is the real cost of rebellion. The mistakes we make, the true cost of rebellion doesn’t only affect the person that made the mistake. The true cost of choosing slavery and disobedience is that we are not the only ones who will pay for it. Those we hurt, those we sin against, those we refuse forgiveness to, and our children, generations of children and grandchildren will be the ones that continue to suffer the cost. Again, rebellion is expensive.

“Wait a minute, why would I choose slavery or rebellion?”

Sin nature. It is in our nature to be selfish, and self-obsessed. This doesn’t have to mean you are selfish at buying yourself things, getting others to do things for you, or thinking you are the next best thing to sliced bread. This can be so many things that you would never even notice.

Selfish: Fear of doing things for others because they will take advantage of you so you better keep it all so that you can stay safe and not get hurt.

Self-obsessed: Endless inner focused negative self-talk, obsessing over mistakes.

Anything that we do that forces us to hide is NOT freedom. 

How do we recognize rebellion in our own lives?

Look at Isaiah 30:8-21 again. A rebellious child of God looks like:

  • someone who doesn’t act like a child of God
  • Isn’t willing to listen to the Lord’s instructions
  • Prefers pleasant illusions over truth
  • relies on oppression

We lie to ourselves if we think that we can be in a covenant relationship with God and be like verse 9, Deceitful children. Deceitful means to give a false impression. We know who we are in Christ. But ask yourselves if that is who you are truly allowing yourself to be as you live each day?

Christ gave us the ultimate freedom, to live in Him, and with the choice to be free from the sin and bondage that keeps us from the true desires of our hearts. From truly living in the peace freely offered up to us. The truth is that we have to daily make the choice to live in the truth, His truth. Check your heart. Do you feel like God doesn’t give you the things you ask for? What is it that you are asking God to give you? Is it freedom, or is your heart asking God for rebellion?

Obedience is hard.
Rules are hard.
We have an enemy who knows our weaknesses
Not to mention, we are far from perfect.

How do we stand in freedom, when the enemy tells us that rebellion is easier, and we believe him?

We pick up what we have already been equipped with. The Word of God. We stand tall knowing our Savior has taken care of everything for us! We are not at war. We have already won. Christ defeated death, he defeated the enemy that tries tirelessly to make us impotent Christ-followers instead of powerful warriors.

Stand on the truth of God, of who you are, of what you mean to him, and let Him lead you to the victory you need!

Isaiah 30:15-17 gives us hope!

“God, the Master, The Holy of Israel,
    has this solemn counsel:
“Your salvation requires you to turn back to me
    and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down
    in complete dependence on me—
The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.
You’ve said, ‘Nothing doing! We’ll rush off on horseback!’
    You’ll rush off, all right! Just not far enough!
You’ve said, ‘We’ll ride off on fast horses!’
    Do you think your pursuers ride old nags?
Think again: A thousand of you will scatter before one attacker.
    Before a mere five you’ll all run off.
There’ll be nothing left of you—
    a flagpole on a hill with no flag,
    a signpost on a roadside with the sign torn off.”

18 But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you.
    He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right—everything.
    Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.”

You can’t outrun God.

Look at verse 18. Look at God’s love for us. No matter how far we stray, no matter how long we have let the desires of our hearts create more discontent in our lives, He’s not finished. Psalm 103:12, we know that “As far as sunrise is from sunset, He has separated us from our sins.”

With rebellion comes destruction, with obedience comes favor. Every single day we have a choice. I don’t always choose right, but when I put my map back in my back pocket and let God give me directions, I make it to exactly where he wants me to be.

The funny thing is, when he leads, I get to where I need to be and find I wanted to be there all along. Heart desires fulfilled, lives changed, and Glory given to our God who has patiently waited through generations of rebellion to bring us home.

Amen

 

 

 

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6 Weeks

Life is made up of a collection of moments. The moment you read this is the only one you have right now. We can’t live in the future of our plans any more than if we spend our days dwelling on the past that we can somehow change it. Those moments are gone. Left to the interpretation of our imagination, the feelings we felt while we experienced them and the passage of time that all too often leaves us wondering what really happened. This breathable moment, this is the one we have right now. Later is later, but for now, I pray this moment as you read blesses you.

We often forget that the journey is better than the destination. I can hear you saying, “But what about the beach, or a trip to a beautiful country that you have never been to.” Those are wonderful things to have. Creating a memory bank of happy and joyful experiences is one that we all should strive to do. Those moments are part of the arsenal we build when the times are less fun than a wonderful vacation.

This world is moving fast. Too fast. What moves slowly and without understanding is our recognition and perception of time. We are neither truly here nor there. Just passing through, a wisp of smoke on the wind, a wave rolling through the ocean until it meets its end as it crashes on the shore. It is why the time we have is so very important and how we spend it matters and it shows us what is important to us.

Today marks six weeks since I began my journey of giving the first fruits of my day back to God. To say that this has changed my life would be an understatement. This isn’t a change you can see. I didn’t lose weight or change my hair, though to look at me you would be able to sense something different about me. Until now, I truly didn’t know that there was something I could wake up and have every day. What have I gained over the last full 6 weeks?

Peace.

As like most of American’s who are entrepreneurs, I wake up early. Earlier than some I know, but 4am is my friend, and while it isn’t my favorite moment when I roll out of my bed, the anticipation I now feel at going from my bed to the Word of God is something that does propel me faster. (Especially if I set up the coffee the night before!)

I have been getting up at 4am for years. It started after working with author Steve Nudelberg on his book and several choice realizations that you can get more done when you give yourself more time. The problem with that is I was only using that time to “get ahead” in my day.

I would start off by looking at my phone for the daily crisis. This is the harsh honest truth. I so expected to find a daily fire, that instead of starting my day with joy, I started it with panic. “What is going to be on fire today?(OnFire, no pun intended), What is going to be broken today?”

This is a crummy and dare I say, foolhardy way to start the day. Instead of a peaceful cup of coffee I was ordering up a large doses of cortisol(our favorite stress hormone), first thing in the morning. Then I thought I could go to God’s word to find peace and continue my day like I didn’t start it with my hair on fire. This DID NOT work.

I don’t speak for everyone, but for me, I cannot go to God’s word in the morning after reviewing what the day looks and give him my full attention. If you are one of those magical people that can compartmentalize your life like that, Praise God that you have that talent. It is not one of mine. What my current journey is showing me is that there is so much more to God’s word. So much more of what He wants for us just sitting in His word. I need only start where He is.

This giant realization came to me a week into my Breaking Free study with Beth Moore. This study has been a huge blessing and I hope one day I can personally hug Beth Moore and thank her for stepping into the calling God had for her. What a gift she is!

The Church and we as a collective of the Christian faith have the word tithing all wrong. I can literally see you beginning to squirm in your seat or feel a little more uncomfortable at this word. The church has used this word and the call attached to it in many sermons dedicated to showing us how we are supposed to give our first fruits. Let me ask you a question. What do you consider to be your first fruits? Cain and Able had no money, only what they produced by their hands.

Normally, when I pose an opinion of my personal interpretation of something I like to start it off with, I think, or I feel. I am NOT starting this off like that.

I KNOW that first fruit, tithing 10%, means everything in our lives. Starting with the first breath out of bed, the first part of my day the first part of LITERALLY everything. Maybe you are a brilliant human who figured this out already. It was a big revelation for me. I had always thought if I gave my talent and money to church I was set. Listen to me on this one point. If all you get from this writing today is this point that would be enough.

God wants all of you. He wants all of me. As a church, He wants the whole body of Christ. What does that mean? He wants us to love and dote on Him the way He loved us and gave Christ as the price to bring us back into relationship and kingdom.

The first part of everything. That for me meant my day. But I had one problem that I had to address. I would bet money that you have this same problem. My next question for you is, what is your alarm clock?

Another bet I feel like I could make pretty good money at is that many of us use our cell phones or our apple watches to get out of bed in the morning. This was my #1 obstacle to achieving a peaceful morning in the word.

My alarm goes off, I grab my phone to shut off the noise so I don’t wake up anyone else and what do I see before I even get to my bible? Notifications!

My stumbling block of which I didn’t even realize, was that I was unintentionally scanning what was up on my notifications screen before I ever left my bed. Maybe you are guilty of this too. Many of us in modern America and other well off countries do it. It has become a nasty habit. I now compare this to any other bad unhealthy habit, like smoking or drinking. The buzz you get from that temporary serotonin boost of seeing if anyone noticed you on social, or if you have something important that you need to do after you finish your bible study.

I can’t speak for you or this broken world. But I can tell you a fact of my life after this transformational 6 weeks. My soul cannot afford to start my day any other way, then in God’s word, free of distraction and free of drama.

There is nothing on my phone or in this world (especially at 4am) that can’t wait until I finish that time.

I hear so many of you saying, “I can’t get up at 4am!” I don’t blame you. It isn’t something I would have chosen for myself. But as a mom, a wife, and an entrepreneur, 4am is the only time when I can. And it is now more than important. It is like food, like breath. After six weeks, no missing days, of journaling and learning, I no longer feel like getting up is a chore to have peace. It is a necessity. I go to bed looking forward to the wee hours of the morning and that time with God. I long for it to extend out into my day. Just there, in the word, letting God use all he has built to speak to my heart so that I can help others better see what He has for us. This love story of the redemption of His people. Of every single one of us that chose to come out of the darkness and into His light.

Now, since my phone is my alarm clock, I found myself trying desperately not to look at my phone as I turned off the alarm and navigated my way to the dark office where I study. That first week the curiosity of what those notifications that shaped that lit up screen was very hard not to look at. The enemy tried to make me feel guilty and selfish for not starting my day serving my company and my clients. That taking time for “me” to spend with God somehow meant I was cheating on everyone who needed me. The enemy sucks.

I can say that the few days I failed and caught enough of a glimpse of what was happening ruined that time for me. There is nothing worse to my heart than sitting in that special time with God and feeling like all I can think about is work. Not Him, not what he wants me to see. Those days were the most fruitless of my times with him and the weight of loss was heavy. He was revealing to me that I had a choice. I could choose to spend my time with Him or not. That is a heavyweight indeed.

To overcome this, I had to get rid of the obstacle. My cell phone.

Don’t panic. I didn’t get rid of my phone. I did, however, buy an alarm clock. I went onto Amazon (since I loathe shopping in person) and looked for an alarm clock that I felt could suit my needs. I purchased it, overnighted it to my house and now I have an alarm clock that slowly gets brighter like the sun for 30 minutes prior to going off to the sounds of birds. The first night was a huge failure and I am glad I used my phone for a backup. Turns out that if you want your alarm to go off it isn’t enough to set the clock and alarm time. You have to turn it to on.

Go figure. I felt like Ian Malcolm in that scene with Eddie Carr in Jurassic Park Lost World:

turn it on

Night number two, much better. Switch it to on. Worked like a charm.

I am still getting used to waking up to the bright light of this mini sun next to my face and I am pretty sure that Joseph (my husband) thinks that his hippy wife is crazy (scratch that, I know he thinks I am crazy), but this is working for me.

So what has happened since I removed the obstacle of notifications from my morning God time? Well, I am so glad you didn’t ask internet. I am going to tell you anyway.

Peace happened. A peace that I didn’t expect. I expected to be better able to learn, I hoped that it would give me eyes that could see the day full of possibilities like Jesus sees it. Not how I saw it before. Picture my day as mompreneur and wife waking up to being on the set of Ninja Warrior. I am standing on the platform getting ready to start the obstacles to try to get to the end and hit the buzzer and win. (Isn’t that our goal every day, to make it to the end and feel like we won?)

Just one problem, I’m wearing a suit and heels and I haven’t trained at all. This is not going to go well. No matter how well you plan your day, blocking your hours, if you don’t have a sense that you can actually accomplish those things in a way that matters, a way that helps others, the enemy will get in your head and spend the day filling it with the things you came up short on. Even when you didn’t come up that short. We afford ourselves little grace when it comes to the things we expect ourselves to be excellent at.

I was trying desperately to serve my family and my company, not to mention my clients with this cup that I had not invested any time in filling. Your spouse, your kids, even your best friends can try to fill you up, but it’s a sad little snoopy band-aid, and it is a temporary fix to a problem that can only be fixed by God. I feel like is closer to a hemorrhaging gash that needs God’s tender care and only His grace-filled sutures can close up the cuts and cracks that are causes all of ourselves to flow out in a pool on the ground instead of a life-giving mist that helps everyone (including yourself)

No one else can fill your cup the way Christ can. Period. That is just the truth.

I am not telling you to give up your 4am sleep. I am not asking you to try to find a way to get quiet in the midst of the morning school routine. I am telling you that an indescribable peace that can equip you to handle every fire, every crisis with focus and with patience is available to all of us.

I thought that something in me was broken. That I was just meant to feel like I was riding life’s roller coaster and that it was supposed to be hard and stressful. That peace was something people with more faith than me got. And don’t get me wrong, life is supposed to be hard, but it doesn’t have to feel like a crisis and there can be peace and joy in the middle of crisis if you choose it.

The choice to live in a peace that surpasses all understanding is a choice. You have been equipped with the full armor of God, Christian. If you are reading this still then you know that God has given you everything you need. You don’t have to put it on. It doesn’t hang on in your closet while you sleep. The armor is always there, it came as the stylish accessory to the Holy Spirit. Complete with our handy dandy sword of truth. All these shiny pieces at our disposal whenever we need them.

It isn’t that we don’t have the things we need; it is that we choose not to use them. In your hand right now is the shield of faith.  To use it to stop the fireballs of the enemy, don’t you need to lift it up?

I knew that I had all of the things that I needed to shield myself from the enemy’s attacks. I just wasn’t using them. Painful realization but I choose every day now to live only in truth. How can I lead, teach or coach others if I sit in silence? Living in the lie that stress is just a way of life for us in this country and I just need to learn to deal with it, or medicate it, either option is stamped with the American seal of approval. I choose not to live by those approved standards any longer.

Now, my first breath of the day, my first hours, are not mine but His. This day was given to me by Him, this breath gifted and sanctified for His glory. Why not spend that time, accepting the gift, giving back in gratitude what is not mine, but rightfully His?

I don’t speak for everyone and I know that 4am can be a stretch, (sometimes I sleep in on Saturday till 6am shhhhhh)

My goal is not to admonish you into 4am, my goal is for you to see if you give God back some of the time he has given to you, whenever that is, you will reap endless spiritual rewards.

If you learn anything from my experience in all of this then take this away. God is so for us. We can get angry with him when bad things happen, we can stomp our feet when things don’t go our way, but if you just let go of what you think should happen and you embrace the unknown, step into His plan, that is where freedom lies.

You know those glow in the dark stickers that you have to expose to light for a time before they will glow brightly? Sure, if you only give them a little light or even none at all there is a faint glow there. But if you put it under a lamp or take it outside and let the sunshine on it, it glows like a beacon. That is me and that is you. We can glow just enough on our own with only the basic of light in our faith. That may even save people. How much more can we shine, how many more can we save, if we could send that light out brighter and farther? We need God to pour His light into us, every day, to recharge us so we can shine. 4am has given me back my ability to shine. My light shines a little brighter and a little farther because I let God charge me up. I am not a faint glow anymore, and as I continue to walk this daily, I pray that God uses me to become a blazing fire, one that helps spread His grace and hope. One that helps people see the power in His presence.

Christ is waiting to wake us up in our hearts. He is our love story. Song of Songs, verse 2:10-12 says, “My beloved spoke and said to me, ‘Arise my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season for singing as come.”

Let Him be your love story, let Him cast that light into your life, to fill you up with His, grace, mercy, joy and of course, His love.

As my daughter’s sweet Sunday school teacher says every time she walks out of her class to head to service, “I love you and God loves you.” May your peace be multiplied.

Always Your Sister in Christ,

Tiarra

It is about me

I have been on a journey of freedom this past three weeks. To open myself up to seeing all of the things that God wants to transform in my life and giving him the free reign to change me, to change my life and to shed light on my foot path. It is not easy. Taking responsibility for the freedom God has already granted me through Christ and actually doing the work has been brutal. But the most incredible part is that despite what is hard to see, what is hard to accept about who I have been and who I am in this moment is that God renews me everyday with a sense of hope that this hard work will be rewarded in ways that I will never fully know until I see him face to face.

That said, if anyone reading this knows anything about me, they know I am a fixer. God gave me a heart for service from the moment I was born. When my little sister came into this world when I was four years old I was determined to protect her. That spirit of protection and service has led me to running to save anyone who calls me up to say they need saving. I am the forever life guard at the pool. Sitting on the edge of my tall chair, overlooking those treacherous pool waters, waiting to blow my whistle and come to the rescue.

Broke down on the side of the road? I’m on my way!

Don’t feel good? Let me bring you some soup!

Can’t finish something? Let me do it so I can free you up for better things!

This isn’t a bad thing, but something that I realized during my journaling time is that I spend so much time trying to save everyone else that I forget to save me. “Only one life preserver? Let me give you mine as my head dips under water.” It even happens when I am journaling during MY personal time with GOD! Writing to the collective “WE” instead of requesting Him to work on me and my walk.

Let me explain before you start thinking that I have decided to become a self involved jerk who doesn’t care about people anymore.

Four days ago, I was up before the sun, as I am dedicating the first portion of my day to my time with God and my relationship with Him and if that time is going to happen, distraction free, I get to get up at 4am. (See that I said get to, not have to). I concluded my study and the prayer journal that I have gives you space for what verse impacted you, what observations you had through the study, the application of the verses and then a place to pray about what you learned.

I wrote down my notes, began writing my prayer for the lesson and went on with my day.

The next morning I got up at 4am, began my study and when my prayer time came, I noticed something. Even when I pray after MY time with God, I was using the collective we, seemingly looking to share a lesson with the world that lives inside my journal despite this being my time to spend with my Creator. I am still trying to save all the world in that time, not wholly focused on how I can change, but focused on how, “Maybe if I pray for the whole world, and write this for everyone, things will be better.”

Now maybe you always write your journal entries from your perspective. I am grateful that you do! It was a stunning realization to me that even in time I set aside for God and for me, I am still trying to save the world. Now this isn’t bad, per say. We know God wants us to share his message and his word, be a light unto this world. (Isaiah 49:6) But when I (notice I let myself be the focus here for a moment) focus on saving the world in MY time with God, I dilute the words, the messages and the change he wants to provoke in me. This is His time, the first part of my day. In my eagerness to give him my morning, I forgot that I need to give him my heart and my mind and my soul in those minutes too. No one else is there with me but God, so for those moments, I don’t have to save the world.

To let myself be in his presence, to see that I am worthy to let God focus on me, and do the work in me. I cannot be a better servant, a better leader, a better __________(you fill in the blank) if I don’t first open myself to let God do his work in me. In all of the lessons that God showed me, this hurt my heart to know that even though I so long for that intimate relationship that I was still so focused on how He could equip me to save the world, I didn’t think about how I be a better light and I could save so many more people if I let Him save me first.

The enemy would have us think that it is selfish to think of ourselves or focus on ourselves. That celebrating daily victories will be a stumbling block and create selfish hearts instead of allowing us to stay selfless and humble. The enemy is a liar and he is wrong. 

A sweet friend of mine shared with me yesterday that she often beats herself up during the day when she has those little victories. She checks off those little boxes on her list of things to accomplish for the day and then rebukes the good work she has done because she doesn’t want to become boastful or self centered by giving herself credit for completion. Those little victories are gifts from God, not for us to boast in ourselves, but boast in Him who got us through those moments. Our days and weeks are comprised of those little moments, and those victories are His! Let us remember that God created us in His image, and that every single one of us matters. Stand firm in the truth that if that Creator of the Universe, the Great I am, felt the need to create a you for this world, and loves you and believes you matter, then you DO!

We can claim the good feelings it comes when we serve, when we work hard and reach our goals. It isn’t boastful to let ourselves be built up in our lives. We can’t shine God’s light if we bury the good works He has given us to do. We just have to remember that as we take the credit we deserve to be humble, give thanks to God for those victories and keep pushing forward.

The two easiest paths to live in are to take too much credit and give no thanks, no Glory to God for it and be boastful or to live in self deprecating behavior that causes you to become your own doormat as you let fear of becoming selfish and self centered prevent you from the joyful life God wants for you.

It is NOT, I repeat, it is NOT selfish to let yourself celebrate your victories, nor is it selfish to let yourself enjoy the things that God has placed in your life. He wants you to have joy in all things! It is however a choice on how you respond. You can choose to become self centered, or you can choose to stay God centered.

As the lesson fully continued to sink in yesterday, I realized that we matter so much to God, that He wants us to love ourselves the way He loves us. He gave His life for us, for a joyful abundant life, not a lack luster life of disgruntled sacrifice.

When we abandon our victories or boast over them, it diminishes what God is doing and breaks it down to a worldly view instead of His. It steals credit from God, steals the glory in what He is doing. It takes those potential moments of praise and worship, moments to share what God is doing in your life and makes them ordinary. There is absolutely nothing ordinary about God! There is also nothing ordinary about you.

Let me say this to you dear one, you reading this, I wasn’t accepting victory every day, I wasn’t writing in my journal about me, and the most painful realization came this morning as I chose to journal about my journey with God and what I want Him to do in MY life. I wasn’t allowing God to work on me, I was just reading to learn. If I want to see 1,000 generations of lives changed by taking a step toward breaking generational bonds, and NOT creating more curses, I have to realize two things.

  1. The work starts with me and in me.
  2.  The enemy only has the authority I give him.

We are already victorious. We have no need to wake up every day and ‘put on the armor of God” As deliverance Pastor and faithful man of God, Don Dickerman said, “Where do you hang it up and why do you take it off?” We were suited up in the full armor of Christ when we accepted him into our lives. It doesn’t come off, it is however up to us to use it. Christ has given us victory over the enemy and over the grave. VICTORY! A huge win that we can stand on. He gave us the word of truth, and that word is here for you to stand on and have victory every day. Don’t give your daily victories to the enemy! The enemy lost the war, and every day his job is to steal the joy from you, and to steal the glory of victory you could give to your Heavenly Father. Give them back to God, stand on His word for your victory. We are not waging a war that God has not already won. We are merely fighting for our ability to daily impact lives and live in relationship with God.

The truth for me today is that God believes that I deserve to live in victory in Him, that I deserve to have joy in all moments, and he believes that I was created to make a difference. What if, we chose every morning to start with what God believes in us instead of the world?

Let the sword of truth pierce your heart today, and as 1 Kings 8:61 says, “May your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God.” Be committed to God, to the transformation of your heart and mind, the renewing of your spirit and the hope we have in Christ Jesus.

God can make us whole again, but only if we let him. My relationship with God is about him and about me, together. The world is in there too, but I have to start giving God the space to work in me before I can take on the world.

Here is an excerpt from my ME centered prayer this morning. One last realization came as I prepared to share this with you, when I let God change me, when I let God focus on rebuilding me and my heart, I am empowered by HIS spirit to serve and help others. I am strengthened to serve at a higher level. And I can be a brighter light in this world when I don’t let the enemy dim it. Have hope. God can redeem and renew anyone who gives him their heart and their life. Read Jeremiah 17:9-10 and verse 14. (I am using The Message Bible here)

“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be. VS 14: God, pick up the pieces. Put me back together again.”

“God,

I don’t know the way. Every unknown path is dark to me. You are my light. Let me let go of the wall that I have been using for so long to keep my balance and my footing. This wall that keeps me from letting you steady my walk. Take my hands, guide my steps and create in my the heart of a servant who carries your lamp to share your hope, your forgiveness and your truth.

I am ready to see you move. Fill me with courage to face what comes against me as I boldy step out of the comfortable darkness that conceals the mistakes and shortcomings I have and instead bring me into your light and expose everything to truth. I am yours. Be Near to me, Oh God.

In the mighty name of my Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.”

 

A love letter of Freedom

As I was finishing my prayers and my study, this love letter came to me. I pray that it blesses you as it has blessed me. God wants us to live in freedom. The key to freedom is what are we focused on? He wants to be our focus. Focus on anything other than him will create places of spiritual stronghold. Freedom is a choice, one we must choose everyday.

May your day be filled with the joy of God and the peace of God, that which surpasses all understanding.

Amen

Oh My Child,

Do you not see all the value and good that I have placed inside you? I have placed upon you a spirit of joy, of forgiveness, and of freedom and yet you allow yourself to remain captive.

Your yoke of slavery is already broken, yet in your day to day you let that collar remain, as if you derive comfort from the familiar. Are you afraid of what I have for you beyond this bondage? I have not given you a spirit of fear. You have been given a spirit of power and I have given you Freedom. I have given you the word of truth. You must actively seek my voice and my word.

Even Satan can quote scripture. He is the deceiver. You cannot trust yourself or your knowledge of how he operates to keep you safe. His goal is to keep you trapped in distractions. To live in victory over the devil, you must walk in righteousness with me. All the more reason for you to bury your heart in my word and feel your heart and mind with my praises. Seek me and my word alone for truth and understanding. Keep my holy word on your lips and be in constant prayer for my supernatural revelation through my word.

I will give you courage to leave this familiar land of bondage to a new land of freedom.

You know my freedom. You received it when you accepted me into your life. Stop living in the pain and loneliness of before. Your future does not start in the past, it starts now! You have new life!

You have a choice. Stand firm in my love, my forgiveness, and my grace. Or continue to live in a space that hinders you from living in the full purpose that I have claimed over your life.

I love you, and you have witnessed me set many captives free. You know that anything asked for in my will is freely given to you. I have already paid for your freedom. On the cross. Freedom is yours for the taking! It is your time to be in true freedom and to stay in that freedom! It is time for you to truly know who you are in me.

Cared for

Loved

Worth it

Free

Empowered

Spirit filled

Joyful

You are bought and paid for by my blood and you are blessed to be the bearer of forgiveness! You are worth the life I gave for you!

How much more can I give you to show you that you have value to me?

By my stripes, by the nails in my hands, and by the piercing of my side and my death and resurrection you are free!

You are my treasure. You are my child.

Paid for with by the ultimate price and worth it! I have a calling on your life. Choose now to seek that calling and carry out my will and purpose instead of floundering with no direction. The road map of your life is already planned by me. You need only follow it to have your steps lit up along the way. And when it is time for you to come home, you will spend eternity in splendor. My word is your written guarantee.

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth it will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out and joy and be led forth in peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song before you and all of the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55 11-12

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free stand firm and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.“ Galatians 5:1

Infinitesimal

in·fin·i·tes·i·mal (/ˌinfinəˈtes(ə)m(ə)l/)

adjective

1.
extremely small.”an infinitesimal pause”

minute, tiny, minuscule, extremely small, very small

Our universe is so expansive. To consider how big we are in the grand scheme of things is to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of creation. We are in fact infinitesimal. So very small in the world, in the universe and in so many ways.

So why point out the obvious? We know we are small.

Because to think that God created each of us uniquely just the same way he created the stars, the planets and the expansive space that occupies millions of galaxies is incredible and amazing.

Most days, I feel infinitesimal. Small, hardly noticeable and surely not as special or as talented as so many others God has given gifts too.

But this is a lie, while yes, I am small, I have a big God who stands before and carved my path. No matter what happens, I need only call on him and I find my way back. “The light for your path is over here.” God says to me.

Sigh.

If only we always followed his slowly lit steps. At least grace tells me that I can always come back, lay my head on the lap of my savior, creator and Heavenly Father and find myself covered in peace and forgiveness that I can’t earn, that I don’t deserve, but that I will gladly accept every second, every moment of every day that I am gifted breath.

If you find yourself feeling small, and maybe even overlooked, remember your God is bigger than this world, and because you(we) are small, he can carry us in the palm of his hand.

Always Grateful,

Tiarra

Where are you going?

Where are you going?

While I was driving to My middle child’s allergy appointment I thought about the hundreds of cars on the road. Where is everyone going? I thought about dance recitals and plays, jobs and summer school. I thought about hospitals and funeral homes.

I thought about final goodbyes and burying loved ones. If anyone else is like me, I get frustrated with the aggressive drivers and the passive ones. Our culture is in such a big damn hurry all the time.

I thought about how if I slowed down and had more patience, that maybe even though I’ll never know, maybe that extended grace in the car might save someone’s life.

Be patient with this world. We all seem to be in a hurry. Slow down. Maybe God put you in that traffic jam for a reason. To think, to pray, to remember to slow down. For whatever reason, have grace.

This world still needs you.

Old post I never shared here.

Sigh

To describe how you bring light into my life when all seems bleak or bland is without words. I love you more than this faulty English language can say. Perhaps if I spoke another language I could actually put it into words. But for now, this will have to do.

Oh me, love.

It’s the hair that rises on my neck and the prickle of goosebumps across my skin and the feel of your breath knowing that in only moments I’ll feel that breath and those lips and even those teeth, as they lay claim to what is theirs.

It’s the laughter that erupts from an unexpected pick up and toss on the bed.

It’s the feeling of swollen lips after the most incredible kiss

It’s the smile knowing that across my hips are the fingerprints of where you couldn’t get me close enough.

It’s the safety, the peace, and the pure bliss of my face on your chest, the feeling of your heartbeat, whether racing or at rest and the rise and fall of breath.

It’s the title that I bear, wife, knowing that I belong to you and you to me.

Even more, it’s knowing that we are partners in this life. Navigating rushing waters, following dreams, losing it all and gaining it back. It’s knowing that we can captain this ship together.

My love, my husband, my sweet Joseph, May I always pour into you, the way you pour into me. May you always see and return the desire to be together and may we always be seeking as we do this day, to be the best to each other and our girls.

I love you.