READY FOR BATTLE

3 Things to Remember When Adversity Comes Before the Blessing

Happy New Year, My Chickadees. The start of a new year always brings new hope and the anticipation of breakthroughs and blessings. We go into a new year with optimism that this year will be better than the last. For some of us, last year was so challenging that we shouted when the ball fell at the arrival of a New Year, glad to see the last year leave. 

The reality is, life is filled with uncertainty and we are faced with the challenge of maintaining our attitude when things don’t go as planned. What will be your game plan if – or for many of us, when – adversity hits before the blessing arrives? No one ask for adversity – it just shows up, most times out of nowhere, and rocks our world. We most often feel fear about the outcome and powerless regarding what to do. It is in those times that our true character and what we believe shines brightest. It is in those times of adversity that our relationship with God gets tested and we are faced with the choice of looking up or looking out. Adversity will show us who are true friends are and who we may need to weed out of the garden of our lives.

As painful as adversity can be, I believe God allows it to bring out the best in us… if we can remember a few hard truths. Here are three things to remember when adversity rocks our world:

#1

“God did not bring you this far to leave you.” This first one is something our ancestors used to say to us, and many of us sing it in our churches. I have come to learn firsthand that every Christian will have a wilderness experience. Anyone that God is going to call upon for the purpose of touching others’ lives – and that’s all of us – will have to know that we know what we know. It has been said that experience is the best teacher, and while it doesn’t have to be, it most often is… if we learn the lesson it teaches. Jesus had a wilderness experience – a literal wilderness experience – and the example He gave us all in standing and withstanding the wilderness was to stand on TRUTH. What is truth, you may ask? God’s Word. If God said, “You are more than a conqueror through Christ who strengthens you,” then you are not just a conqueror, you are MORE than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). To me, that means that you will come out on the other side of adversity with wisdom, power, and a deeper walk with God, because you know – in the words of another gospel song – “If it had not been for the Lord on my side, where would I be?”

#2

God IS on your side. A lot of times we don’t think about God as our parent. As with any good parent, He is there with us, advocates for us, and covers us in a love that is steadfast and unmovable. For most parents, it is a given that we love our kids. We might not always like them based on their behavior, but loving them is not a question, and that love will drive us to do anything to help them be and do their best. God is our Daddy and He loves us UNCONDITIONALLY. When trials come – and they will come – we should remember that He promised in Psalm 139:5 that He will go before us, behind us, and hem us in on every side. If we can cling to that truth, we will experience a peace that surpasses understanding and enables us to ride the wave of adversity.

#3

The final weapon of our armor in dealing with adversity is the fact that God places us in a network called family. While each of us are born into one, I am not necessarily talking about your biological family. They can sometimes be the source of your adversity. I am talking about the family of God which is a community of love. The Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction,” (Proverbs 16:18). Don’t allow pride to keep you from reaching out and letting someone know you’re in a storm. You don’t have to let everybody know, but the Holy Spirit will guide you to the family member in Him, to stand with you, and pray with and for you, as you go through the storm of adversity.

I have claimed you all as My Chickadees, my family of love. Let us hold fast to our hope as we go into this new year and remember what the Bible assures us: “We will reap a harvest in due season, if we faint not,” (Galatians 6:9). When adversity hits before the blessing, arm yourself with the armor of truth and stand until your breakthrough comes.

 Happy New Year, My Chickadees. Share this message with a friend.

 Gail

JUST DON’T KEEP THAT TO YOURSELF

There are times in our lives when we know that the Lord brought us through. When Marvin Sapp’s song “Never Would Have Made It” becomes your testimony after your tests, you can’t, nor should you, keep God’s faithfulness to yourself. When the Lord has brought you through something, and you know it was nobody but the Lord who did it, you need to thank Him… and then tell it.

Scripture advises us to tell about His goodness, tell about His grace, tell about your breakthrough, so we can shout about it all over the place. Our testimony not only encourages us and gives God praise, but it also encourages others who may be going through a storm to hold on and not faint, because in due season they, too, will reap a harvest (Galatians 6:9). Our testimonies allow others to have hope that the One who controls the storm is not only able to see them through, but will deliver them in such a way that they’re better than they were before the storm occurred. As inconvenient as storms may be, they present us with an opportunity to either look up or look out. The question for us becomes, will we trust God and take Him at His word, or will we keep trying to do something to make the situation better using our own devices and limited resources? That’s called frustration.

I read a thought-provoking definition of anxiety by Lloyde Ogelvie. He states, ”Anxiety is the result of doing our own thing, in our own timing, with our own resources. Freedom from anxiety comes when we desire to do what God wants, when He wants it, and by His power.” If we truly believe that God is all-powerful, why not consult the one who has the power to do all things? I must admit, that sometimes it may seem as though He’s not listening, but here’s a newsflash for you: He knew every storm that you would encounter before you were born; and He said He will work it out for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

When the storm clouds come, put on your war clothes and begin praying and praising the One who is able to calm the storm. The Bible says the enemy cannot inhabit the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). Praise your way through the press and pray until your change comes. Since life and death are in the power of the tongue, speak your victory before you see it. Stand on the promise that you are victorious because there is no failure in God. God says, “My word will not return to me void, but will accomplish what I decree and achieve the purpose for which I sent it,” (Isaiah 55:11). Therefore, He must deliver.

I have a dear friend who often reminds me that the God we serve is a God of 11:59 and counting. Perhaps you have been waiting for your breakthrough for a while, but trust that He heard you, and if he doesn’t deliver you, He will be right in the midst of it with you. You will come out on the other side, wiser, stronger, and more grounded in your walk and relationship with the Lord because you know that you know what you know.

When the Lord has brought you through, you’ve become a witness to what He can do, and you owe it to your brothers and sisters in the faith to tell it. Make the devil mad, because not only was he defeated, but now, you’re going around telling other believers how to be more than conquerors through Christ who strengthens you (Romans 8:37). You may find yourself feeling like Jeremiah who tried to keep what the Lord said to himself, but found that by doing so it was like fire shut up in his bones (Jeremiah 20:9). God is irrespective of person. What He has done in the past, He is well able to do again. We are told to encourage one another with our testimony.

In closing, I will leave you with the words of Mark Batterson from his book Draw The Circle: “What gets celebrated, gets replicated.” So don’t keep it to yourself. TELL IT.

Peace and blessings, and share this with a friend,

Gail

P.S. Have a Blessed Christmas and remember Jesus is the reason for the season.

 

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD

Matthew 6:11

POWERFUL!!! In this line from the model prayer Jesus taught His disciples, He tells us to ask the Father to give us THIS DAY – what we need to get through THIS day. The wisdom in trusting that God will give us what we need to get through this day allows us to not be anxious about tomorrow. In fact, Jesus said that tomorrow will take care of itself. Our God is a “right now” God. He says His name is I AM. I am everything you need... RIGHT NOW.

God gives us promises and the Bible says He will “supply all of our needs according to his riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19). But as with many of the promises of God, it comes with a condition. The condition is, if you abide in Him. In fact, John 15:7 says, “If you abide in me and my word in you, you shall ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” I don’t know about you, but hearing that promise from a God (who Scripture says cannot lie) gives me comfort.

God already knows what I need; He just wants me to ask Him for it. If it’s in accordance to His will, it’s done; but the fact that He will give me the desires of my heart… that’s extra. The reality is, everything we have and are able to do is a blessing. We are just so accustomed to them, so we take blessings for granted. We are blessed to wake up each morning. Everything we do, say, see, hear, feel, and encounter is a blessing, even if we do not think so at the time. It’s a blessing, even if it seems and feels bad at the time; something better is on the way. In the MEAN-time, God says “I got you, I’m in this moment with you, I will be in the next moment with you, and I will see you through until you get to the other side of it. I will be with you through the hurt and the heartache of the loss you experience, so you can rest in me. Better is on the way. I will see you through the chaos of your job. Trust me, better is on the way. I will see you through whatever the trial you’re going through, and I promise you, better is on the way.”

The Bible says, “We shall reap a harvest in due season if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9), so let’s “not get weary in doing good” because harvest time is coming. Praise God and thank Him today for this day and our daily bread (food, clothing, shelter, health, being clothed in our right mind, etc.) and know that if He blesses us to see tomorrow, He has packed tomorrow with all the blessings will need for that day as well.

God, give us this day, our daily bread – mentally, spiritually, emotionally – and help us to look to you, our ever-present help in times of need. Help us to see You when it’s hard to see You, and remember that no matter how difficult the situation may be, this too will pass. In the meantime, thank you. Thank you for every blessing seen and unseen, and on this day of Thanksgiving, we pause and remember how blessed we are and we say… thank you. Amen.

Peace and Blessings, and share this with a friend,

Gail

GOD IS ABLE

 “The God whom we serve is able to save us. He WILL rescue us from your power, your Majesty.” – Daniel 3:17

Talk about faith. Of all the heroes and she-roes of faith in the Bible, Shadrach Meshach, and Abednego stand out as three of the top 10 on my list. They give me pause to wonder: could I do that? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were facing certain death because they not only stood up to the king who demanded they do what was evil in God’s sight, but they respectfully told him to go ahead and do what he wanted to do to them; they weren’t bowing. That’s pretty bold. I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of faith I want and need to be praying for; a faith that is sold out, resolute, and steadfast. A faith like Esther who said to her king, “If I perish, I perish.”

The one thing Scripture tells us about Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is that they prayed every day, several times a day, to the God they knew delivered. They must’ve pulled out those Stones of Remembrance I talked about last month and recalled other times in which God faithfully delivered. Because Daniel had found favor with the King as a result of his ability to interpret the King’s dreams, his recommendation to the King that he appoint Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be in charge of all of the affairs of the province of Babylon was not only respected, but acted upon (Daniel 3:49).

In the story of the three Hebrew boys is an example of how God will be your vindication (Psalm 17:21) and make your enemies your footstool (Psalm 110:1). Not only will He make them your footstool, but the Bible tells us that when your enemies “Come at you one way, they will flee from you in seven” (Deuteronomy 28:7).

It was a spirit of jealousy that devised the wicked plan to bring the Hebrew boys to the attention of the King. But the God we serve says, “No weapon formed against you will prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment, you shall condemn” (Isaiah 54:17). Evil devices put God in the position of having to act on His Word. This God who is faithful and whose word does not and will not return void (Isaiah 55:11), had to deliver. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego weren’t sure how He would deliver, but they knew He was ABLE; so they prayed and gave praise to the God who is “Able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).

We all have those fiery furnace episodes in our lives and for some of us, these seem like seasons. We find ourselves in situations in which we have done all that we could do, and we have to stand and trust God to do what only He is able to do. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when cast into the furnace, we must remember that prayer and praise become the weapons of our warfare. After giving it to God in prayer, praise takes our mind off our situation and focuses it on God’s goodness, His power, His steadfast love, and His ability to step in and turn things around.

The Hebrew boys knew that if God elected not to save them from the situation, He would be right in it with them, and that was good enough for them. I’m sure they knew about what He did for Daniel and since He is irrespective of person, He could do it for them.

When you face challenges ­– hopefully not ones that are a matter of life and death – remember to shift your focus from your situation to your solution. We serve the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who inhabits the praises of His people and is ABLE to do all things but fail.

Peace and Blessings, and share this with a friend,

Gail

 

THE POWER OF REMEMBERING

“Watch out! Be very careful never to forget what you have seen the Lord do for you. Do not let these things escape from your mind as long as you live; and be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.” ­­­­-Deuteronomy 4:9

Wow! What a powerful message Moses gave to the people of Israel when they were about to possess the Promised Land He told them was theirs. They had witnessed God do the perceivably impossible and win battles for them that they never could have won on their own. They experienced deliverance from the hands of their oppressors and those that enslaved them and had been fed and clothed in a desert by the hand of God for 40 years. How could you not love and serve a God like that? As easy as that seems, the Israelites also showed us that it’s easy to do just that if you get caught up in the appearance of things around you, and get distracted by what you see instead of what you know.

Every time they became overwhelmed by their apparent situation and FORGOT about the fact that their God was the same God who delivered them from Pharaoh, defeated their enemies, and cared for them day and night when they couldn’t care for themselves, they strayed and became ensnared by the very thing that took their attention.

This is a powerful lesson for all of us. The God that we serve is the same God He was yesterday, today, and forever. He is irrespective of person
(Hebrews 13:18 and Romans 2:11). This means, He will do for us what He did for them IF we REmember and obey.

To remember is to recall and reintegrate that which has occurred before, and bring it into our NOW. We serve a right now God. He is always present. Our job is to remember that what He brought us through in the past. He is the same God who can bring you through the situation in your present.

One way in which the Israelites chose to revere God and remember His providence was by building altars of stones to commemorate the site of their deliverance. We, too, will do well to have our own “stones of remembrance”. In my prayer corner, I have my mother’s glass jewelry box, in which I have stones to remind me of situations that God delivered me from. On each of the stones I affix a sticker with the date He answered my prayer, and the incident He delivered me through. I can pick up a stone and see that October 2, 2004, God brought my son safely home from Iraq; and August 6, 2005, I celebrated 10 years of God keeping my business, The Pathfinder Project, open, despite all the obstacles we faced as a new business.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let’s take heed of the warning Moses gave the Israelites, and choose to remember all the Lord has already done. May we stand on the fact that He is able and will do what He’s done before once again, if we ask Him, obey Him, keep our eyes on Him, and take Him at His word.

Let’s not make the mistake the Israelites often made by forgetting who He is and what He’s already done. Let’s take courage and stand on what we know, so as to see the salvation of the Lord; and let’s teach our children and our grandchildren to do the same.

Peace and Blessings,

Gail

Choose Life

“Choose life then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord your God, heeding to His voice, and holding fast to Him.” – Deuteronomy 30:15 – 20

Sounds easy, right? Love God, obey what He says in His word, and believe. But the most challenging word in that scripture is CHOOSE.

We all want the good life. We all want to be successful and to know that prosperity will flow to us and our children. The Bible tells us that is our birthright as children of God to prosper, but then comes life and the temptations which involve choice. We are faced with the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life that has been tripping up mankind since the garden (1 John 2:16).

Sure, we love God. I bet if you asked 99% of believers if they love God, they would say yes without any hesitation; but what does love really mean? When we love someone, we want to please them. If we want to please a parent, we do so by obeying them, even when we don’t like or understand why they’re asking or telling us to do what they want us to do.

The basis of any loving relationship is trust. Do we trust God even when things don’t turn out the way we thought they should? I can’t begin to tell you the number of people I talk to who say, “I prayed and did what I was supposed to do and nothing happened.” They conclude that maybe God didn’t listen to them, or even worse, doesn’t love them. Although we may sometimes feel abandoned by God, let me challenge you with something. Does a good parent gives their kids everything they want when they want it? If we’re honest, we would have to say no. Being older and wiser, we take into consideration what is in the best interest of our children and weighing all factors, we sometimes say “not now,” and sometimes we say no. Our decision has nothing to do with not loving our children. Even if we had the means to do what they want, we may choose not to because we know our child, and perhaps they are not ready for what they are asking for. My mother used to say something that I came to appreciate only after I had my children. As she declined a request of mine, she would say, “I see dangers you don’t see.”

Sometimes love says no, but if we remain obedient and trust the possibility that our parents know best – and we love them even when the answer is no – good things will come. Sometimes there are even better things – things beyond what we asked for or could have even imagined – awaiting us.

Here’s a not-so-new newsflash: God is our parent. He loves us and does not want us to be denied any of the good things that He has prepared for us. But like with our own parents, there are conditions. God’s conditions are that we love Him, obey Him, and trust Him. All of these things involve denying our flesh, which wars against us constantly. It means we have to tune out the attacks that come from the enemy and bombard us in many forms; and we must choose to follow the way that leads to abundant life.

As a friend of mine used to tell me when I chose to give my life to Christ, “It’s tight, but it’s right.”

When we make the decision to choose life, we are choosing the path to abundant life.

Peace and Blessings,

Gail

Small Blessings Really Aren’t Small

Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that small blessings – or what we consider small blessings – really aren’t small at all? They occur like clockwork, so we don’t think about them and we most often neglect being grateful for them until something happens and they change or disappear.

The precision in which our body works is nothing short of miraculous. Reportedly, our heart beats approximately 4,800 times a minute and 115,200 times per day. Our heart is the engine that keeps our body running and orchestrates the symphony that allows us to enjoy a measure of health. But what happens when that beat becomes irregular, or even worse, if it stops completely?

A few years ago, I had a near death experience which resulted in my heart stopping. I had to be defibrillated eight times and on total life support for 13 days. The impact of my heart stopping resulted in my lungs collapsing, my renal system failing, and my kidneys shutting down. Lots of prayer, a diligent medical staff, and most of all, God working a miracle, brought me back with a renewed appreciation of how fleeting and fragile life is. Needless to say, that experience birthed in me an overwhelming sense of gratitude for this gift we call life; and a feeling of humility that God spared my life for what I am sure is a divine purpose.

The fact that we can breathe without an oxygen tank connected to us is a blessing. Have you ever had to breathe with your mouth open instead of through your nose? Not only is it uncomfortable, but it dries out your tongue. God has so intricately designed us that to keep our eyeballs lubricated, we need to blink 28,800 times a day. We do that without thinking, and take what seems to be small a blessing for granted. But what would happen if suddenly you were unable to blink? I’m sure you would find out very quickly how vital blinking is to your ability to see. What if you were suddenly unable to talk or hear, or have movement in your limbs? Those blessings that we take for granted wouldn’t be so small if they were suddenly taken away. You get my point.

I typically start each of my therapy sessions with asking my clients to tell me something good. As they struggle to come up with something good, I help them by mentioning the fact that they are alive and they made it in to the office today. I had one client say to me, “Every day above ground is a good day.” He could not have been more correct. No matter how little you think you have, be mindful of the fact that someone else has less. No matter what your circumstances or situation may be, it could always be worse. The psalmist David was so right when he expressed his awe, humility, and gratitude as he proclaimed, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know them well” (Psalm 139:14).

We have heard it said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” And perhaps in some things, that may be true. But small things can become big things if they suddenly go missing.

Every day is a day of Thanksgiving and the opportunity to think, read, talk, hear, feel, smell, and enjoy this wonderful world God placed in our care. Let us not neglect to say thank you for the apparent small blessings, because when you think about it, they really aren’t small at all.

Peace and Blessings,

Gail

Be Not Discouraged: This Is Not All There Is

We are living in a time and a place and space where we believe “that doesn’t happen” – but it does. Whether it’s school shootings or wrongful deaths at the hands of our officers of the law, or mass murders by those who feel justified to take the lives of others, we are overwhelmed by news that draws us closer to the biblical description and prediction of the end times.

We watch and wonder in horror as we reflect upon that which we couldn’t have imagined happening, but it continues to. Inquiring minds begin to wonder if this is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 24:3 – 12 when He gave His disciples insight into the signs of the end of this system and His return. We know that to be forewarned is to be forearmed, but wisdom is in whether we heed the warning.

Several months ago, I blogged “Maybe God Is Trying to Tell Us Something”, and maybe He is; but are we listening and paying attention? As I watch the volcanic eruption in Hawaii and all of the natural disasters we have witnessed over the last year, it reminds me that nature lets us know who is in control and who has the final say. For those of us who believe that this is not all that there is, we watch, wait, and put our trust in a God who gave us signs, so as not to be discouraged by what we see, hear, and experience.  We place our lives and times in His hands and know that this is not all there is.

On a recent trip to Egypt I visited one of the Pharaoh’s tombs and was struck by pictures of scales and the Pharaoh giving an account of his life to the gods. In order for the Pharaoh to enter into eternal life, his heart had to be as light as a feather. When a Pharaoh came before the gods, a review of their life would determine whether his heart was as light as a feather and he could enter into the eternal kingdom.

We may not be able to change the course of nature, or the hearts and minds of those whose hearts have been waxed cold (Matthew 24:12), but we can change ourselves and align our lives in such a way that our hearts may be as light as a feather. Get ready, there’s more to come.

So when you hear about wars and rumors of wars, and we see and hear about tragedies that we thought were unheard of, don’t be discouraged; Jesus warned us all of such troubled times. Just remember that there is more come. This is not all that there is.

Peace and Blessings,

Gail

Look What God Can Do

From Ordinary to Extraordinary

St. Augustine’s Gospel Choir – the choir I am honored to be an original member of – recorded a song by Leon C. Roberts entitled, “Look What God Can Do”. The next line of the song is, “when you give your life to Him.”

We read all throughout scripture examples of how God uses those “least likely to succeed” to accomplish things seemingly unimaginable by them or anyone else. God uses ordinary people to do the unexpected and unlikely, extraordinary things. I am often struck by, and happy about, how Jesus didn’t select His disciples from the high and mighty Sadducees, or Pharisees, or the respected, learned Who’s Who of the Day. He chose completely ordinary people who were willing and open to do as he commanded. They were not learned, nor had they arrived at any station of success in their craft, but they were people who were open to His calling and left their ways to follow His.

When you’re looking at your situation and you’re measuring yourself with the world’s yardstick of success, it could be a tough decision to drop it all and follow Him. But God, as we know, doesn’t measure success by our yardstick, nor does He ask our advice about whether we think we’re up for a task. He chooses the downtrodden, overlooked, and often the least respected – those who have experienced the trials of life – to change the world.

The one thing that all the men and women of God had in common was that they acted on the call of God, and that act took them from ordinary to extraordinary. It was their propensity not to judge by the appearance (John 7:24) and willingness to step out in faith to respond to His call. They took God at His word, no matter how it looked. It has been said that God does not call the equipped, but He equips those who He calls.

I remember when God called me to open up The Pathfinder Project, Inc. He gave me the vision of a place where kids and families could come for individual therapy, family therapy, psychological and educational evaluation, mentoring, rites of passage, tutoring, anger management, adolescent groups for girls (called Ladies in Transition_, and parent support group (called Parenting, It’s No Joke). Many people thought I was crazy to attempt such a large undertaking, and some naysayers even predicted that it would fail. I had very little money, and the bank turned me down for a loan even though I had saved $10,000 in their bank and I was only requesting $20,000. But when God calls you to do something, He makes a way from what appears to be no way. He parts our Red Seas so that we can walk through on dry land. Man’s “No” can suddenly become God’s “Watch this.”  As a girlfriend of mine used to say, “Where He leads, He feeds.”

For 18 years, God led and fed The Pathfinder Project and all of its activities one day at a time. In that time, we served hundreds of kids, adolescents, families, and troubled individuals who God guided back to the right path through those called to serve there.  Just like He cared for the Israelites in the wilderness, He cared for us, and He will care for you. He is not a respecter of persons.

Is God calling you to do that which seems to be impossible? Guess what? He specializes in seemingly impossible causes and the Bible tells us that “ALL THINGS are possible with God” (Matthew 19:26).

I encourage you to step out in faith and be amazed at what God can do when you give your life to Him.

Peace and Blessings,

Gail

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day and congratulations to the St. Augustine’s Gospel Choir for 40 years of witnessing to what God can do when you have faith and give your life to Him!

THERE ARE NAYSAYERS AND THEYSAYERS, BUT WHAT DO YOU SAY?

Whose Report Will You Believe?

Have you ever had a dream or an idea that you shared with someone, and once you did, you wish you did hadn’t? You were excited! You believed that this person had your best interest at heart and would be excited with you. You shared your idea only to have them shoot it down or ridicule you for having it.

When you’re feeling a little deflated, the choice becomes: do you abandon your idea or do you re-group and continue with what very well could be what Mark Batterson in his book Draw the Circle calls a God-Idea? What if this inspiration is from God and He placed that idea in you to come through you? Maybe He’s calling you to do something or create something – something that may seem ludicrous to others. The choice is whether to trust God or listen to the naysayers and abandon the calling.

Relationships are important, but we must be careful and cautious of the people we allow in our circle of influence. There are some people and relationships which are toxic. They can poison our dreams, crush our spirits, and dim our inner light which God created to shine. These are the naysayers who pronounce death to the dream God is calling you to pursue.

In his book Winning With People, John Maxwell says, “There are really four kinds of people when it comes to relationships. First are Adders: These are people who add value to others intentionally. They give of themselves. Then there are Subtracters. Subtracters take from you. There are Multipliers. These are people who use their resources to build and add more to you. And the fourth category is Dividers. These are people who take you down as low as they can as often as they can. Their negative actions are usually intentional and they try to make themselves feel better by making others look or feel worse.”

People bear the fruit of their character and the Bible cautions us to be observant of those we allow in our lives. Jesus warns us about naysayers and theysayers and tells us that we will know them by their fruit (Matthew 7:16). A stroll through Galatians 5: 22-23 reveals the character of those controlled by the Holy Spirit versus those controlled by the flesh. Those who are Adders and Multipliers usually bear such fruit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, all which are from the Holy Spirit.

We must be mindful of the fact that not everyone has our best interest at heart, nor will everyone understand the person, purpose, or promise God placed in your heart. The most important relationship we can have is a relationship with God. He stands at the door of our heart knocking and bearing much fruit. He has placed a purpose and a passion in you and is waiting for you to act on it. He is the wisest of all counsel and He promises that if you acknowledge Him in all your ways, He WILL direct your path.

So I ask you, with an invitation like that coming from the best friend you could ever have, whose report will you believe?

Peace and Blessings,

Gail 

The God of Second Chances

I have often wondered why Jesus chose Peter to be the one upon which He founded His church. He even referred to Peter as The Rock, when He had to know that Peter would prove to be more like sand instead of a rock in the time Jesus needed him most.

Jesus certainly didn’t choose Peter because he got it right all the time. The Peter that started out with the Jesus was hotheaded, impulsive, and often appeared impetuous. When we compare him to the other disciples, he wasn’t even the most loyal one in the group, as evident in his hiding and denying Jesus in a time when He could have used the support of a friend. Peter had nothing that associated him with the finer things in this life. He was not a person of financial means or astute in business. He wasn’t politically connected, nor was he revered as one of the religious leaders of his time. He wasn’t even the first person to recognize that Jesus was The Christ. Actually, according to John 1:35-42, it was Peter’s brother, Andrew, who proclaimed that revelation to him, and brought Peter to Jesus.

So what was it? My contention is that it was because Peter is most like us. He was an ordinary guy trying to do the right thing. He was the kind of person who sometimes got it wrong. What made Peter attractive to God was that he had a heart that was bent towards being better. Jesus knew his heart and knew that he was open and pliable, wanting to do the right thing. And after all, isn’t that what God is looking for and asking of each of us? One look at who Jesus’ posse was gives us an indication that He wasn’t hung up on how important, powerful, or perfect each person was.

Psalm 51:17 tells us that what God requires is a contrite heart and a broken spirit. He wants us to be open, pliable, and allow Him to teach us how to walk in love. He knows that we’re not always going to get it right, but that’s where forgiveness comes in; and Jesus became the sacrificial lamb that allows us the opportunity to get it right. He is the God of second, third, twenty-third and beyond chances.

Peter was one of Jesus’ closest disciples, right up there with James and John, and yet, he blew it. Just like us, he was human, but with a repentant heart, he confessed his shortcomings to the God of second chances who he had heard preached about. A God who doesn’t just forgive seven times, but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). Jesus becoming the sacrificial lamb reveals to us that we serve a God who is merciful and who waits patiently for us to do as Peter did – come with a repentant heart and a mind bent towards Jesus.

In my opinion, Peter was the prototype for what God desires to do in, with, and through all of us if we are willing, open, and teachable. He does not judge by appearance, but reads the heart and knows our potential. He specializes in taking ordinary things and producing extraordinary outcomes. During this most holy of seasons, let us yield our hearts, minds, and wills to the God of second chances.

Peace and Blessings,

Gail

 

The Power of Words

Have you ever really stopped to think about how powerful your words are?

Our words have the power to bring blessings or curses to our lives (James 3:10), but seldom do we stop to think about what we allow to come out of our mouths. The Bible refers to the tongue as a little member, but the tongue has the power to set a whole house on fire (James 3: 5-8).

What would happen if we used our words to build up ourselves and others instead of speaking condemnation that leaves emotional wounds on the souls of others and negative proclamations that rob us of God’s blessings?

What if instead, we began to speak Jeramiah’s prophesy of God’s plan, “to prosper us and not to harm us; to give us a hope and a future,” (Jeramiah 29:11) upon our lives, and chose to believe God will do what He says?

What if we reminded ourselves daily that we are children of The King and because there is no lack in Him, there’s none is us (Psalm 34:18)?

What if we took God at His word and we spoke those things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17) and held God to His faithfulness to His word?

What changes do you think would happen in your life and the lives of those you influence if you sowed seeds with your words of love, peace, compassion, and respect instead of malicious criticism, minimization, and idol gossip?

The good news is, our words can sow seeds of hope where there is despair. They can bring calm to a troubling situation. They can encourage and uplift those who are discouraged and remind them that God can do what man can’t. Our words even have the power to bring life or death to whatever we pronounce it upon (Proverbs 18:21). That’s a lot of power! And like with any level or degree of power, we must use it wisely.

As children of God, we must be, “Quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to act.” (James 1:19) Controlling our tongue and taking a moment to consider whether what we have to say adds to or subtracts from the worth or value of the person or situation and in turn, builds character and adds value to us.

Let’s make a decision to do what the Bible challenges us to do: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

In addition to February being the month we officially and publically recognize the contributions African Americans have made and continue to make in the world, it is also the month dedicated to love. February 14th is Valentine’s Day. Choose to lift someone’s spirit with the words. I Love You, and mean it.

Peace, Blessings, and I LOVE YOU,

Gail

Have You Talked to God About That?

Ever wonder why despite your planning, things just didn’t work out the way you’d hoped? Your plans look good and seem like a great idea… from your calculations it was a-go; except it didn’t go. I once saw a title of a book by Sherre Hirsch – We Plan and God Laughs. We like to think we know what’s best for our lives, but our vision is limited to what we see and what we know right now.

With technology being what it is, we may be able to calculate a probability of success, but unseen variables can produce results that are disastrous. The Bible states, “There is a way that seems right, but in the end it leads to destruction.” (Proverbs 14:12)

Relationships are a good example of this. So many people have met someone they believed was the person of their dreams. They begin to get involved and make plans, only to find out that their dream was so far off. Heaven forbid they married that person and had to relive their terrible decision for the rest of their lives.

God has the perfect plan for all His children and He knows the end from the beginning. His vision, unlike ours, is 20/20 infinitely. Not only does He know the way, He IS THE WAY. Being the gentleman that He is, He waits patiently for us to ask Him to show us the way that is perfect for us. The Bible advises us that in all our ways if we acknowledge Him (seek His guidance), He will direct our path (Proverbs 3:6). We would probably save ourselves a lot of headaches and heartaches if we learned to follow that advice.

Like any good parent, Daddy God does not want to deny us any good thing. Out of love, He created us and charted an individual path and plan for us that is loaded with blessings if we acknowledge Him and seek His guidance first. Notice the will/if. Often we make a decision based on what we think, feel, or see, and then ask God to bless it because we want it and believe it will make our dreams come true. Unfortunately, that’s the wrong order. Because Daddy loves us and we are hell bent on having what we think we want, He will often grant us our permissive will, but that does not mean it’s His divine will. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve done that and later thanked Him, with every breath in me, for not letting me end up with that person or thing I thought I couldn’t live without.

I urge you to follow Jesus’ example of decision making. Jesus never made any major move or decision without ‘going to a quiet place’ and talking with His Father. If Jesus needed to do that, I KNOW I do, too! Thankfully, we have the privilege to seek and consult the one who knows the way that is best for us. He will never steer us wrong.

Peace and Abundant Blessings,

Gail

WHEN HOLIDAYS ARE HOLLOW: A HOLIDAY MESSAGE

When we think of the holidays, we think of family, food, and friends; we make plans and look forward to re-connecting with loved ones to celebrate the occasion. For most of us, we consider the holidays a happy time, but for many people, it is anything but happy. In my profession, we refer to this as the holiday blues.

People who have experienced losses or struggles such as abuse, separation or divorce, family turmoil, or the death of a loved one, may approach the holidays with the feeling of dread instead of joy. Traumas and tragedies can steal the merry right out of the holidays. Painful memories of lost or failed relationships can make this time of year extremely difficult and conjure up feelings of sadness and dread instead of a joyous time to gather and celebrate. Get-togethers become hollow because of the decision to isolate instead of engage. Feelings of dread can spiral into despair, and the pain and loneliness allows for toxic thoughts which can lead to the unproductive question, “Why me?”

This blog is for anyone who finds themselves in this category. I’m here to tell you that while you can’t change the past, you don’t have to allow the past to be your future. One of my female heroes, Fannie Lou Hamer, who was a voting rights activist and a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, said, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” She realized that she had a choice: stay in the rut she was in, or fight to do something about it. She turned anger into action and her status from victim to victor. That’s my challenge to you.

This year, choose to make the holidays a time you celebrate what you have and recall what God has brought you through, instead of what’s lacking or missing. If you’re ‘sick and tired’ of feeling lonely and alone, choose to celebrate what God can and will do for you (if you ask). For those who grieve or mourn, He promised “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3)

If God said He will do this for you, He will do this for you; but the promises of God are conditional. We have to do something, too. We have to choose to believe Him. We have to choose to trust Him. We have to choose to take Him at His Word and cast the ashes (hurt, anger, sadness, loss, rejection, resentment – whatever they are) away. Choose to replace them with the truth the enemy doesn’t want you to know – you are loved and loveable.

When we surrender our lives to God, our family is not just the one we’re born into; our family becomes all believers in Christ who are waiting for us to realize how much we are loved, needed, and valued.

‘Tis the season for a new outlook and a new you. It’s time to exchange beauty for ashes and happy for hollow.

Peace and Blessings,

Gail

 

WHOSE REPORT WILL YOU BELIEVE?

How many of you remember the childhood saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”? Well, after all these years, I’m here to tell you… it’s NOT TRUE. Words do hurt. Words have the power to uplift or tear down a person, their self-esteem, and confidence. Words can not only hurt, but they can dampen the light of hope and fire that God places in each of us at birth.

The truth is that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of an awesome God (Psalm 139:14). We are destined for greatness because of whose child we are – God’s. There will always be naysayers and critics in the world. The enemy uses who he can to kill, steal, and destroy the lives and the light of the children of God because that’s what he does – kills, steals, and destroys (John 10:10). But there’s no period after that sentence. The rest of the verse tells us what Jesus says: “I have come that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.”

The key to overcoming the critics in your life is to remember who God says you are and whose you are. We are children of the most high God. Since there is no failure in God, there’s none in us. In his book, Resisting Happiness, Matthew Kelly reminds us that we need to “live our lives for an audience of one: God. If you’re doing what you believe God is calling you to do in your soul, walk on.”

We may not be able to stop our critics from spewing poison out of their mouths, be we don’t have to drink it. Know the truth and allow it to do what it always does – set you free.

Peace and Blessings,

Gail 

The God of New Beginnings

God can do great things with small beginnings. But… we must be open and pliable.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is Jeremiah 18:1-6 when God sent Jeremiah down to the potter’s house. He watched as the potter re-shaped something that was marred and made it into something marvelous. The message God gave Jeremiah is that He will do the same with us, if we surrender ourselves to The Potter. God slowly, methodically, and gingerly, smooths out our marred past and imperfections and fashions us into vessels of honor.

I always tell my clients, “It’s not where you’ve been; it’s where you’re going that counts.” God takes these cracked pots and with His grace, He softens us, extracts forgiveness, and floods us with His love, before shaping and sculpting us to reflect His image.

Some of us have had difficult pasts and struggle to see beyond the pain of it. Many people allow that pain to taint their belief in a God who rescues and saves, and choose instead to give up on God because they believe He gave up on them. Many of my clients who have been sexually victimized as children ask the question, “Where was God when I needed Him?” The pain of their experience renders them angry because they feel abandoned by God. Many of them were driven to use and abuse drugs, alcohol, or sex as a means of escaping their pain that often felt unbearable. It is only after some time in therapy that they allow themselves to release the anger and pain and realize that although God didn’t stop the evil done against them – like with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were in the fiery furnace – He was in it with them. And without Him, they probably wouldn’t have survived their trauma at all. 

We have to remember that feelings are not facts. Just because we feel a certain way, doesn’t make it true. The fact is that the God who CANNOT lie says He will “Never leave you or forsake you” no matter what your situation looks like or feels like. (Joshua 1:5)

During difficult times, we must choose to take our mustard seed of faith and plant it in the soil of God’s Word; and like the farmer who plants his seed, we trust that beneath the surface, God is working. Trust and speak that God is doing great things in you, and plans to do great things through you, no matter what it looks like right now. Take confidence in the fact that the same God who kept you through your trials, can and will guide you to a life of peace and prosperity, because that’s HIS plan for all of His children. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Every journey begins with a first step. Take a step and trust that each day He will give you what you need to get through that day; and every day after that, one day at a time. Before you know it, you will find that you are more than a conqueror through Him who strengthens you. (Romans 8:37)

Peace and Blessings,

Gail

God Provides

One of the characteristics of a loving parent is to provide for our children. It’s almost an innate desire to want to provide and give our children the desires of their heart. We want them to be happy and not lack any good thing. Well, guess what? God is a parent. He’s our parent and He wants the same thing for us. He even tells us that in His Word. Just like we want our children to come to us with their wants and desires, so does He. He tells us, “We have not because we ask not.” (James 4:2)

When we were children, we came to our parents believing they could fulfill whatever we asked; the question was, would they? Parents look forward to rewarding their kids when they are obedient and respectful. Our Daddy God promises to do the same. In fact, He says, “If you abide in me and my Word in you, you can ask for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” (John 15:7)

Sometimes as parents, we are limited in what we can do or provide for our children, but Daddy God has no limits! There is no lack in Him. He owns everything. In fact, the Bible tells us, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness there of; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1)

It looks like our Daddy has considerable real estate holdings, and guess what? He wants to share them with His children. He still provides, even when we grumble and complain. When I think about the provisions of God, I am reminded of the Israelites who God delivered from the hands of their enemy and they were upset because they didn’t have meat to eat. Being the loving Daddy who loves us unconditionally, He “Stirred up the east wind in the heavens and combined it with a south wind and rained meat for them. Every evening the shoreline was littered with quall, and in the morning they had bread from heaven which rested on the ground for them to gather; but only enough for that day. The next day, He provided it again.” (Exodus 16:9-15)

Since He is the same God yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), He will do the same for us.

Since God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11), whenever your situation makes you feel like the Israelites in that barren land, just like God provided for them, He’ll do the same for you. Just call on your Daddy who can “Supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory.” (Philippians 4:19)

Peace and Blessings,

Gail

Maybe God is Trying to Tell Us Something

I am struck by the unprecedented natural disasters occurring all around the world right now. But amid my compassion for those who have lost treasured possessions, and some even their lives, I can’t help but wonder, is God trying to tell us something? Tragedy has a way of getting our attention and makes us re-think and re-direct the way our lives are going.

Natural disasters render us powerless and often yield tremendous loss, which makes us re-evaluate what is REALLY important. Facing the threat of death, you ask yourself, are things more important than your life? And how would you assess the worth and value of your life? Whose lives have you touched and made a difference in along the way? What are you holding or harboring that has created or continued breeches in your relationship with former friends and family? What do you think God is saying to you when you are stripped of everything but you?

The Bible verse that continues to ring in my head is, “The Earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” (Psalm 24:1) It’s a powerful message because it reminds us that everything, including us, belongs to God. We are just stewards of what He has given us. We have been allowed to possess it, manage it, and care for it, but it belongs to God. The question becomes, how are we treating that which He has entrusted to us? What value do we place on the lives He has surrounded us with?

Cancer taught me that what is REALLY important in life is relationships; first my relationship with God, who I can’t live without; and then the relationship with those He allowed to cross my path and enrich my life. In the end, it’s all about relationships and those relationships are all about love.

Nature reflects the existence of God, and is subjected to His commands – so should we.

Is God trying to tell us something? I certainly think so.

Peace and Blessings,

Gail

Glitches for Your Good

If you have ever been waiting on God to answer a much-needed prayer, you know that God’s timing is not always in line with our timing. In fact, most of the time, if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering if He even heard you. We have been so conditioned towards instant gratification in our world that waiting for what we want seems like a foreign concept. We plan, plot, barter, and sometimes scheme to get that thing or person we feel we can’t be happy without.

Our desires fill us with an adrenaline rush and a perfect vision of our lives with the thing we want, but we don’t always consider that what looks good to us isn’t always good for us. With our finite vision, we are unable to see the flaws that lie ahead and because we’re blinded by the glitter of what catches our eye, reasoning sometimes escapes us.

As I was writing this, I thought about a story I once heard a minister tell about how he caught his three-year-old daughter playing with one of his straight edge razor blades. She was attracted to it because it was shiny and different, but as her father, he knew that it was dangerous and could hurt her badly. He calmly approached her and lovingly said, “Let daddy see what you have there.” When she opened her little hand, he gently took the blade from her. She kicked and screamed because she couldn’t see the danger in having the thing she wanted, while her father knew what lurked ahead. She was fixed on what she saw and in her finite wisdom, thought it was fun to play with.

We are often like that three-year-old. God, who is our loving protective Daddy, sees us being attracted to “razor blades” and will often allow roadblocks and glitches to bombard our path, because He knows the road that lies ahead. Since He is all-knowing and all-wise, He sees what we don’t see. The Bible instructs us to “…in all our ways acknowledge Him (God) and He will direct our path.” (Proverbs 3:6)

Oftentimes, the glitches and roadblocks we encounter while trying to get to, do, or have something, is God’s loving hand of protection trying to steer us from heartache or danger we don’t see.

The next time you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and nothing seems to be going right, step back from it and consult Daddy regarding what He sees ahead. Is this move right for you? Your glitches may turn out to be for your good; and His glory. (Romans 8:28)

Peace and Blessings,

Gail

THE GOD OF POSSIBILITIES

“Is there anything too hard for God?”  Jeremiah 32:26

What’s your dream? When we were kids, people used to ask us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most of us identified something that we thought would bring us fame and/or fortune. I don’t know anyone who answered “I want to be homeless” or dependent on the government, or struggling to make ends meet. We dreamed big because we were unaware of the curve balls life can throw us that take us down side streets we never anticipated going down.

We grew up, and for many of us, we gave up the dreams we had as children. Life presented us with challenges and choices, and those choices determined our destiny.

Maybe things haven’t gone the way you thought or dreamed they would, but don’t give up dreaming.

As we get older, we begin to realize that we should attach those goals to an action plan. Dreaming alone won’t make it happen and nobody is going to knock on our door and hand it to us. We have to be willing to trust God, take risks, and go after those dreams. You may be confronted with detours. That’s OK – God allows for detours. After all, He knew you would go down that side street before you even knew the street existed; and since you’re there, learn some lessons that will strengthen your character and shape you into what God is calling you to be or do. When we find ourselves on a detour, the choices are to keep straight or make a U-turn.

No matter where we find ourselves on this road of life, we are never out of God’s sight or reach to guide us back to our path towards destiny. It has been said that there is value in the valley, and the Bible tells us that God “steps into our brokenness and gives us beauty for ashes.” (Psalm 51:17 and Isaiah 61:3)

If you find yourself in the middle of one of life’s detours; don’t stop dreaming. In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up.” Maybe the fruition of the dream was for an appointed time and the detour was necessary so that when you arrive, you’ll know that you know what you know.

Make an effort to go back to that childlike faith that allowed you to dream big. Remind yourself that you serve a BIG God and “there is nothing impossible with God if only you believe.” Matthew 19:26

What’s your dream? It’s time to start living it.

Peace and Blessings,

Gail