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)

 

Image

#DearHubby: A Love Letter to My Future Spouse 

On October 24, 2014, following an inspiring bible study on the topic of “The Unloved Woman”, I decided to write a letter to my unknown husband-to-be. I’ve gone back and forth on my decision to share it for the simple fact that it’s his letter and was originally intended for his eyes only. But, I gotta.  I guess this is what happens when your wife-to-be is a writer. Lord, bless him! Here’s what I wrote to my boo thang (giggles). I hope there’s another woman or man out there like myself who can relate to this post and finds it timely and refreshing.

Hey Dear,

I went to bible study tonight and returned home feeling both blessed and a mess! The speaker brought a word to us on “The Unloved Woman” and broke it down, identifying the why and this unloved woman’s characteristics. She said an unloved woman is dangerous because she is likely to cause harm. There are 6 types of this woman, and I identified with “the single woman never loved properly”. This woman says they don’t want or need things as a cover up. She doesn’t believe it’s genuine. Dang, that was me.

I received the word that FAITH HAS A VOICE. I realized that all of my “waiting” was due to a lack of faith. I’ve been saying I don’t want, what I do want. I’ve been nonchalant and complacent. The speaker has this ministry for single women. They (we) made baskets full of goodies for our husbands-to-be. Mine of course, is for you dear ☺. Before I let you dive in, I want you to know that I’m doing what’s necessary to get right, and tonight’s exposure was a great first step. God’s going to heal me for you. You’re worth my time and I am too.

So, I got a basket. Initially I got it because even though I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this whole marriage thing again, something in me knew it was right. So by faith, I will feel so right by the time it is full. I’m praying for you and me individually and collectively. I love you so much and truly want the best for you, so…I gotta do my part.

I don’t want you to have a broken woman. We will not awaken our love until it is time. I feel it won’t be long…so I’m working hard by submitting to God, being honest, and allowing him to make me whole.

Dear God, Please do not let my husband suffer on account of me. May I never blaspheme your word! Finding me as his wife WILL be good for eternity. 

I don’t want to be easy to love for just a while, I want to be easy to love for life. I bind the spirit of complacency. I submit to the Holy Spirit and say, “have your way, God.”

Any who…love you.

xoxo,
yo ☺

Image

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

Darn, Mammon! #Money #God

I feel an urgency to write this before I go on any further with my life. That sounds dramatic, I know (lol), but it’s true. I just have to get it out and I have to let you or whoever else that needs to know, know.  It’s about mammon again.

I say again because the Holy Spirit has stirred me to write and discuss this topic before. I’ve been talking about this darn, mammon (money) for a while! The message has been shut up in my bones and maybe this post, just maybe, it will put it all to rest. My most recent post about it can be found here. God used that post as a confirmation to me that He speaks through my writing, and not only to others, but to me! At the moment I needed it most, my own post, God’s own post, encouraged me. Allow me to explain…

30 pcs of silverLast week, the Lord humbled me with the truth that I had been serving a spirit of mammon. Me? Really?  Yea, really. The truth was a hard pill to swallow. I had to crucify my pride before I could ask for it, and I had to truly desire to know it. Knowing it isn’t enough. I then had to accept it and choose who I was going to serve. I was heart-broken and I chose God, and was humbled again by the truth that He had already chosen me. I’m sharing this because I know there has to be someone else out there who was like me. There has to be someone else out there who needs to crucify their pride, ask God the hard questions and turn after learning the truth. That’s what real Christians do. Real Christians are about Christ, not about themselves.

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. – 1 John 3:9 (NIV)

After I asked God for forgiveness and then deliverance from that darn spirit of mammon, He did it! Yaaaaay! Let freedom ring! Granted, I still have a lot of mess and consequences I still need to deal with, but He’s with me and goes before me as I cross the Red Sea on dry ground. You can’t have me, Pharaoh! What blows my mind is His love for me. He stuck by my side through it all; married to the backslider. His grace and His favor never left me; not once while I wasn’t serving Him! What love is this?! It’s unconditional. It’s agape.

11 Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.
– 2 Timothy 2:11-13 (NIV)

garden-of-eden

When you ask for forgiveness, you restore yourself back to the Father. You walk in the garden of Eden again like the good ‘ol days; naked and unashamed. You become one again. Know that God is not upset with you about the sins you aren’t aware of. He has always been and will always be for us, even while we are still sinners (See Romans 5:8). He’s already factored in all of our mistakes and all of Satan’s snares. He knows how heavy His cross is, and knows we have the free will to choose to carry it or not. He is pleased when we pick it up from wherever we are. He’s pleased by our attention to things that matter much to Him. Let’s face it: Satan is good at what he does, but God is greater, bigger, stronger, higher than any other. Our God is the Lord of ALL hosts!

My experience convinces me that there are many other Christians out there ignorantly serving a god and requiring salvation again. I share this with you not to incite nosy questions or concerns, but because I love you and I know that what God did for me He can do for you. If you’re serving God wholeheartedly, great! But I thought I was too. I dare you to ask Him. And if you find that it’s not Him that you’re serving, I dare you to turn and restore your relationship with Him. It may be man, it may be fear, or it could be that darn mammon! Eck!

 

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?!