Fix your gaze. #focus

The world we’re living in is crazy, and by crazy I don’t just mean Trump in America. We’re in perilous times. As I sit here and reflect on the rough day that I had yesterday, I’m thankful to the Lifter up of my head and my friends and family to remind me where to look.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:1&2 (ESV)

I chose to rejoice and be glad yesterday. I chose to recount my blessings and be grateful for what I know could be so much worse. It’s easy to get distracted by our circumstances and let our emotions take a roller coaster ride. We don’t have to stay there. We can hop off at any moment. God has given us the freedom and strength to fix our gaze on Him instead.

straight-aheadI was thinking…
What if America could no longer rubberneck? What if the tragedies that are so prevalent in other countries were suddenly sweeping our states and dividing like never before? We’re getting there, but FEAR NOT.

It makes me think of how crucial it is that we learn how to fix our gaze on God, now.  That we pass tests, now. That we’re faithful in the small, now. It is crucial that we fall madly in love with the One who first loved us, now. That we become mesmerized by His beauty, NOW! The peace the world gives, my friend, is not everlasting. No matter what, take heart! Don’t you dare turn your head. Keep looking straight ahead at our Prince of Peace who has overcome the world. For when your eyes are on Christ…when the world fails you, you will not fail with it.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33 (NIV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27 (NIV)

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. –  Proverbs 4:25-27 (NIV)

 

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Back to Basics.

Society convinces us that we have to be the masters and creators of our own destiny. We are consistently urged and praised for being trendy, multi-tasking go-getters, that ride or die, hustle and flow, with faces that are “beat” and “eyebrows on fleek”. Social, economic, and educational systems have been installed like conveyor belts to strategically move us along through life like lab rats, with little allowance to function outside of them. Death seems to be the only way out, and somehow, we have to get back to the basics. What does God say?

Wait for Him. (Psalm 27:14)
Be Still. (Psalm 46:10)
Trust Him. (Proverbs 3:5)
Seek Him. (Matthew 6:33)
Don’t Worry. (Philippians 4:6)
Your Beauty is Internal. (1 Peter 3:3)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2 (NLT)

I find myself having to ask God often if He is pleased with me, and I find myself often shocked to learn that He is. I’m shocked because His way seems to strike such a nerve with so many people, that even I doubt at times, hmm…maybe I was wrong. I am grateful for his affirmations of the truth. I guess Jesus had the same problem on earth as well. He challenged the thoughts of many hearts and upset a lot of people by bringing His sword.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6:10 (ESV)

The truth forces people to make a knowledge-based choice that they are accountable for on the day of judgement. It disrupts their ignorant bliss, while making God smile. So if the world is unhappy with your decisions, you’re likely doing something right. You go, girl!

Sadly, we have gotten so used to the glory that God has bestowed upon us, that we seemed to have forgotten where it is from. “We woke up like this”, remember? No longer are we humbly asking our Father to move on our behalf. Instead, we are abusing His power and making demands and declarations to get what we want in our own timing. We’re moving on our own behalf, taking matters into our own hands, and although it’s unholy, it works.

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. – 1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV)

We have to get back to the basics. There’s much forgiveness to be asked of God and so much unlearning that needs to take place within us, but gratefully Jesus left us with a beautiful gift of help for the process; The Holy Spirit.

The masses want to be rich, and many are slowly dying, trying. We’ve allowed money to come in and take the wheel and drive our actions, when the most liberating path of life is one under the control of God. We all have desires within our hearts— some that God has placed there, and others that we may need to let go, if serving Christ His way is our goal. We must embrace the truth that we all have different God-given portions as well. Our portions may or may not even require that we have certain natural or spiritual gifts. That is the beauty of being a member of the body of Christ; we all have a different beauty mark.

With our variety of beauty marks, we share the beautiful promise that God will supply all of our needs. That’s a promise to rejoice over! Have you ever wanted something that you just didn’t need? I think we all have. I have found that grateful and content people are the richest people! Dollars are on the bottom of their list of things they perceive as valuable. Their enjoyment of life is not contingent on a paycheck or salary. They praise God when they have little and when they have much. They praise God for who He is, not for what He can do for them. They go back to the basics as often as necessary, returning to their first love, Jesus Christ.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

God is on your side, and I do genuinely believe that one of the many ways that He wants to bless us is financially, but He knows the truth within our hearts and for some us, let’s face it: money is a god in our life. It has way too much value! If God gave us all the money we could ever dream of today, and asked us to give it all to our neighbor tomorrow, He knows that some of us would struggle with obeying His voice. That’s a problem. So, He’s sweet and very patient with us. He tests our faithfulness on smaller scales. He’s a good Father who well prepares and equips His children. So when He pops the question on a larger scale, the truth in our hearts (regardless of the dollar amount) will be, a cheerful “it’s a small thing”. God is a jealous God, so if money means too much to you (and He knows if it does), then the chances of you getting it (from Him) are slim.

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. – Philippians 3:8 & 9 (ESV)

We have to get back to the basics. At the end of the day, despite the many disguises, there are only two masters to choose from and serve; God or money. Every choice that we make is linked to the servitude of one of those masters. We have to decide if we want to know the truth, and be honest with ourselves about what we’ve been embracing as a lie. It can all be a humbling experience, but it births something beautiful and it is amazing how God’s grace and love remains constant through it all. You can do it.

*Special thanks to the LYBM team for allowing me to contribute this post!

© 2016 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

Can’t We All Just Get Along?! #Harmony #Unity

As I browse through the timelines and hashtags of social media, I see so many saints distracted. I see celebrity headlines and discussions highlighting Kirk Franklin, Kanye West, Kylie Jenner, Meagan Good, Donald Trump, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! *gag*. When will it end?! It’s always someone, and if we’re not careful when engaging, it certainly has the potential to destroy our fruit.

weapons of mass destructionLook here: All of these people need Jesus, just like you and I. Where’s the remnant that is praying for them instead of reading and talking about them? We don’t need to indulge past the headlines to do that. Forget pop culture. Where is Jesus culture? Must we mix?!

 

Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” – 2 Corinthians 6:17 (NLT)

Let’s be honest, some of us are just feeding our flesh with these discussions. We gave up “Scandal”, but we’re still “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” (no shade, I used to keep up with them too! lol). This type of chatter just fuels our sinful nature and employs gossip and drama as horrible department managers within our temple. We live in an era where fasts from social media are at times legitimately necessary, and sometimes harder than fasts from food! Believe me, I know. Been there, done that, do that!

 

blah blah blahI see Christians debating over justifiable topics too like what day the Sabbath is, or whether or not Christmas and Easter are pagan and should be celebrated; *sighs* my spirit is grieved. Meaningless! Meaningless! Meaningless! Here’s a suggestion: Keep every day holy. When we feud with one another we don’t represent our new spiritual identities in Christ. No! We shine light on our carnality, and remind the rest of the world why He was crucified.

Now, I’m not saying shut up and don’t ask anything. Questions are the devil, chile! Noooo. But, I do recommend that we check our heart motives for asking, stop relying so heart-check.jpgheavily on people for the correct answer, and we stop judging one another based on what we believe is the wrong answer. It’s meaningless!

This reminds me of the historical bickering in Paul’s day regarding the circumcision of Gentiles. Remember? This is what he had to say about that:

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I, Paul, tell you this:
If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. – Galatians 5:1-4 (NLT)

Let’s forget about the legal nonsense and keep God’s grace in the race! Our reasons for wanting an answer should be purely for the edification of the church. In all honesty, some answers will likely vary from person to person, or season to season. I’m ever discovering that God is much more out of the box than I think. If you’re hollering that Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, yet you don’t feel like it’s Christmas unless you have a tree, that’s a heart matter to address. Do you see what I mean, here? It’s much deeper, and what may be sin or inappropriate for me, may not be sin or inappropriate for you.  The heart of the matter and the preservation and growth of our relationship with Christ should be priority.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. – Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

So, How about we put an end to all of this dissension and choose to agree to let God reveal His truth to us and make us right? There is power in that agreement. We don’t have all of the answers. We are but little children seeking an Almighty Father for keys to His Kingdom.

 Let us remain focused on this simple sum of instructions given by our Savior:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. – Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)

i'm for truthA person who loves God keeps His commandments (See John 14:15), and a person who is filled with The Holy Spirit, and heeds the convictions of the Spirit, wants to be right for the right reasons. They don’t want to argue. They just want the truth to win, and one who loves God will rejoice when it does! ( See 1 Corinthians 13:6)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. – John 16:13 (ESV)

Some things we don’t need to know, but the things that we should, I pray that the Lord would reveal them to us, so that we won’t suffer ignorantly due to lack of knowledge (See Hosea 4:6). If you happen to be that person in the body of Christ that The Holy Spirit reveals it to for us all, please do share it in love. In the meantime, the only question I have is…Can’t We All Just Get Along?!

God, Man, and Woman #Feminist #Leadership #Power #Authority #GenderRoles

I recently finished up one of Ron Carpenter’s teaching series titled, “What Makes A Man”, and found it to What Makes A Manbe wonderfully insightful.  Initially the title brought some doubt about whether or not it was for me (a woman), but after hearing his introduction, I was convinced that he would share something that my heart was ready to receive.  By learning “what makes a man”, it became clear to me, that which does not make a woman, and therefore, what a woman should not seek to make herself into.  God has already done a great job.  You, woman, are beautifully made and there is no flaw in you!  (Song of Songs 4:7)  My heart was stirred, and any competition within it was getting squashed in my prayer closet!  Yaaaay!  This night…I was hearing, I was receiving, and I was getting. my. life!  God is truly for us.

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”
~ Habakkuk 2:3 (NIV) ~

My attention was drawn to the somewhat controversial topic of a woman’s role.  I want to flashback to Genesis and recall a story about us and for us.  My goal is to stir your heart and make you think about God’s word in relativity to the way we live (mind, body and spirit).  I’ve included many scripture references for you to do your own study (and I hope you do!).  I encourage you to test the spirit delivering this message (1 John 4:1)!  And If the truth stings, let it sting!  It is a small cost for liberty.

Men vs Women

Briefly about Adam…
Back in Eden, good ol’ Adam was placed there before Eve.  With his God-given glory and dominion, he reigned slightly lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7).  Adam was a man with great responsibilities, and therefore many requirements (Luke 12:48).  He named animals and tended an entire “garden” stretching across the Middle East!  It pleased God to watch Adam do his thang.  He came from God, “looked” like God, and walked with God; like Father, like son.  Gon’ Adam with yo bad self!

Briefly about Eve…
Without coincidence (on purpose, for a purpose), Behold! God had created the lovely Eve from Adam, for the purpose of help and companionship.  The woman’s role then and now is to simply help the man with what he needs.  Side note: This is why it is extremely important for a woman to choose a man who is Christ-centered and truly walking with God.  A wise woman once told me that the real ones are not trying to convince you, they are doing it.

“And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result.”
~ 1 Timothy 2:14 (NLT) ~

Eve’s deception led her to believe that she was missing something.  She sought after this forbidden knowledge and power that seemed harmless and good for her.  She sinned, she tainted her legacy, and she placed her family in a position of struggle for life.  We are descendants of her, and God has a word…

“To the woman he said, ‘…Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.'” ~ Genesis 3:16 ~

God spoke, and the fight of woman for the position of man began.  Now singles, you may think the above scripture is only true for married women, but not so!  You, my single sister, are married to the best of the best, God himself! Your devotion and submission is to the Lord, holy in both body and in spirit! (1 Corinthians 7:34).

We Can Do ItI believe many feminist, “shero”, and anti-male movements are examples of Genesis 3:16; women attempting to change an order that was divinely set in place.  Now I’m not knocking women’s rights; I am for me, and I know that my greatest and highest thoughts of myself cannot compare to God’s thoughts of me (Psalm 139:17).  The concept that God exceeds us in every way must be grasped (Isaiah 55:8-9).  It is extremely important for us to seek God to learn what is right before we cause a mess.  Why cause a mess when you can enjoy rest in His will?  Instead of fighting God and man, we as women need to arise and kill our flesh that attempts to control man and obtain something that does not belong to us.  That my friends, is liberation!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
~ Psalm 51:10 (KJV) ~

If us ladies are honest with ourselves and receptive to the word of God,  then we agree that there are a whole lot of us Evelets running around at fault; both single and married.  It is time to realign.  Awake!  Stop listening to the outside world and getting bound and entangled (See Galatians 5:1).  You can do this!

“Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.”
~ Psalm 17:8 (KJV) ~

The truth of the matter is, whether or not the bible says  go”this way”, we all have the free will to go “that way”, and when we This Way That Waydo, although we become separated by sin, we will never ever ever be separated by the love of our Heavenly Father (See Romans 8:31-39).  I’m not okay with that, though.  I am in no way okay with a one-sided relationship on account of me.  Relationships that only take and do not give are not rooted in love.  Love keeps the commands of The Most High God, and God has spoken (John 14:15).  Protest THAT!

Eve lost horribly and I refuse to lose like that. I may lose, but it will be God’s way, with a humble heart of surrender.  It is time for us as women to position ourselves for the restoration of our proper place of worship in God’s kingdom as He purposed it.  God uses those who are willing to be used.  I believe God’s will looks different for all of us, especially since fewer men are unwillingly rising to their positions, but seeking and discerning His will is key.  We may survive outside of God’s will, but only inside can we thrive. 

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
~ Acts 4:12 (ESV) ~

I Surrender All

“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”
~ Luke 9:24 (NLT) ~

#Richmond, VA #Review #Virginia

Time is flying! I’ve been living in Virginia for a little over 8 months now and I think it’s fair and time to write about my random observations, thoughts, opinions (key word!), loves, likes, dislikes, and all other word vomit. I hope I don’t offend anyone. It is what it is. If you’re moving here, or interested in what I’m experiencing or what may be going through my head…enjoy. I’ll update as life here goes on.

1. The southern hospitality here is so cute and impressive! Yes ma’am, no sir…paper or plastic? yea, I can get used to that. Take notes Cali!

2. It’s a Commonwealth state. There’s a whole lot that has changed elsewhere that needs to change here that people seem to think does not.

3. The weather is schizophrenic. How is it gonna rain, snow, and be sunny all in the same week?! Man o man.

4. I would have to agree with the statement “Virginia is for Lovers” ❤

5. People here LOVE to eat, and well…sadly, it shows. I was like oh no, the man ain’t bringing me down!

6. The restaurants (there are tons!) and malls are great!

7. The beach is about a 2 hour drive 😦

8. DC, Maryland, Jersey, New York are all on the East Coast and are easily accessible via car, train, or cheap flight! Aweshommmmme.

9. Demographics consist of primarily African-Americans & Caucasians. Prepare for sad but true statement: I’ve never been around so many Black people in my life that actually get along. Love it. Education makes a difference.

10. There’s tons of festivals and cultural events (Ironic because I don’t consider Virginia to be a diverse state) which are right up my alley!

11. It’s very traditional. So, nearly everybody & their mom goes to church on Sunday even if everybody and their mom goes to the club on Saturday night. Smh! #dobetter

12. There are so many trees!

13. Strangers wave as they drive by and regularly stop and have convos with each other like nothing.

14. There’s not really any sidewalks, and only buses in the city. You def need a car.

15. People here seem to have super negative views and opinions on those of Latin descent – grrr…hate that.

16. There are so many birds! Woody Woodpecker and all.

17. There aren’t really any street lights so it’s super dark at night. The stars are beautiful.

18. There are so many bugs!

19. I’ve never seen so much road kill and animals cohabiting in my life. I dunno if I would have been a fan of Eden, Lord lol.

20. The Mexican food here smells so good and then whomps. No one can top Cali. NO ONE.

21. You can’t smile in your Driver’s License photo. WHACK! You’ll never see my ID.

22. Produce is expensive and the choices are basic.

23. Carytown is the cutest ever! If or when you come — you’ve got to go!

24. If you are 16 and over, you do not have to be given a break at work. That’s crazy to me! Y’all know I like my breaks…I was hot when I learned that lol. (I’m at work now! smh…)

25. It’s a great place for families.

26. I fancy phrases used like “That thing” when referring to someone and “What in the world?!” when astonished by something.

27. The city is small and shaped like a circle. I’m still learning it, but it’s definitely easier than most.

28. The street names change out of the blue to the weirdest names and the highways usually go by name versus number – or so it seems.

29. Although I’ve finally found a nail shop that doesn’t take all day or make me bleed (through annoying trial and error), they suck. Get your mani/pedi before your trip.

30. Nothing is open on Sunday. That is a slight exaggeration. Slight.

31. When asked if it is calling for rain or snow, “It” refers to the meteorologist who has given a forecast that you should be aware of.

32. People can’t drive in the rain or snow. That is possibly universal.

33. People park illegally in no-parking zones and non-applicable spots (i.e. handicap, mother with children). Yea, I don’t even know why those spots exist.

34. If you love geese…shoot, enjoy!

35. Hospitality here extends beyond words. Maybe it’s favor, but people are always generously lending a helping hand here. The world should take notes.

36. Personalized license plates are like birth certificates. Everyone has one.

37. I didn’t know I owned a “pocketbook” until I came here.

38. Richmond is a great place for job opportunities and an “upgrade” in living, or so it seems.

39. I don’t see myself living here forever…or really anywhere forever. But for now, I appreciate it and I view it as a different kind of beautiful. Like anywhere, the people I’ve been blessed to have met and exchange touches of the heart have definitely made my experience one of a lifetime 🙂

To Pray or Not to Pray #Prayer

Warning: This post is longer than long. READ 🙂

A lot has been going on with me (internally), and if you haven’t noticed, well, I haven’t been writing about it ha. I really don’t know where to begin or if to begin for that matter, so…

This is what I’m going to talk about TODAY — today, I’m talking to Christians. Today, I’m talking to Christians who like me have been brought up in church all of their lives. Christians who rarely missed a Sunday. Christians who have consciously or unconsciously grown accustom to thinking and doing things a certain way, lawfully (religiously) and would dare not do it any other way ’cause that’s just not what you’re supposed to do, right? The Lord don’t like ugly. Now I’m not mocking, ’cause really, I’m talking to us. I’m just grateful to have come to an understanding that all of that extra has nothing to do with me and my relationship with the Lord. That a lot of those practices and ways are not mandatory or even necessary to enter the kingdom of God or get a “Well done my good and faithful servant”. That My God, who knows me better than I know myself and HAS ME, has no problem with me not doing some or any of those things — people do. We have are own preferences (some for great reason) that we sometimes impose on others.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh. -Romans 8:1-3

There is no reason for you, or me to be bound to anything. For whom the son sets free, is free indeed (John 8:36). Now don’t get all crazy, analogically speaking, I’m just saying, gon’ and wear your white after labor day lol.

Let me share this:
We are spirits with souls living in a body, right? So when prayers are prayed that align with the will of God and the Holy Spirit, everything (internally), within are spirit is smooth and in agreement. When prayers go up and others things go on that don’t align with the will of God (or the person — ’cause free will is a gift that God has given us), and are prayed selfishly to control, curses spoken, etc. things get knocked off. Everyday we’re all in spiritual warfare. In heaven, right now, there are wars going on and being fought on your behalf and when we offer up prayers that allign with the will of GOD and not our own or others, it assists those angels in waging these wars leading to victory. Or, at least minimizes the length of said wars (stay with me). Woot! Woot! Team Jesus!

The Holy Spirit dwelling inside often moves me to do or not do certain things but daggonit that condemning stronghold of a religious spirit surrounding me (us!) or just really from our own upbringing attempts to keep us bound to _______________.

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” – Galations 5:1

So based on what I’ve been experiencing and feeling I ask this of you: Will you be mindful of what you pray and why you pray it? Ask, Who is it for? You or them? Is it what you want for them? Is it something they want for themselves? Better yet, ask the Lord. Let’s try not to do things we have no business doing. It doesn’t matter whether they mean well or not. THAT is why I’m ticked off. It’s controlling. When we do that concisously or unconsciously we operate under a spirit of witchcraft. I know that the last thing I wanna do. It’s hard enough striving to stay free without someone praying to keep me bound ha…help a sista out, dag. Just stay on my side. You can never go wrong with simply praying for God’s will to be done.

Ooh I got a lil example. I recently had the opportunity to pray for a friend. In that prayer it was my will to pray specifically for certain things that seemed like they should be prayed and would “fix it”, but as I was praying I felt the resistance of the Holy Spirit to do so. Our obedience and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and how the spirit operates is crucial to our well being and way of life. I trust that the Lord has a plan and knows what He’s doing (or leading me to do) and why. Since I do trust Him, He’s probably the only one I’m ok with not questioning and feeling the need to know why. It hasn’t always been that way, He’s definitely proven himself faithful and does great at making me feel secure. Excellent track record, My God.

To Pray or Not to Pray? That is the question!
My answer would be definitely pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), and definitely pray about prayer. Annd…definitely cease praying what I’m gonna call “witchcraft prayers”.

Remember the scripture, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” – Proverbs 22:6? Well, I love it. What a wonderful guarantee. I’m in. I just hope that I can do this and do this well, and without all of the unnecessary extras, ya know? But, it starts with me…with us. So this is what I ask of you. Pray for my continuous freedom while I pray for yours. Meet ya on your knees 😉