instablog: testimony

Can we just talk about the goodness of the Lord for a split second, and celebrate the victories along the way? (PS.. this will be long!)

First, I knew that the Lord was telling me to move to Birmingham a little over a year ago. I moved very quickly and ended up staying with a couple from my church. I can be a little controlling, so I like to know the next steps, but the Lord kept pushing back with “Rest.” I was struggling with “being too old” to not be living by myself, and frustrated because every time I tried to move, something would happen. But He kept pushing back with rest. I finally got to a point where I told the Lord that if His will was for me to stay where I was, then I’d stay. That exact same week, my neighbor/friend (who didn’t know that I’d been praying about that) reached out to me about renting her BEAUTIFUL townhome. Even in the smallest of things, He’s faithful because at that point, I’d already started looking for furniture for a different apartment and decided not to buy, only to find out that the townhome was going to be left completely furnished, and that I was going to pay rent at a RIDICULOUSLY low price.

Second, this past week my power steering went out on my car. It ended up being a much more expensive job that I thought (which the cost is literally more than what the car is worth! 😭😂) For about a day and a half, I felt a little discouraged, & finally got to the point of asking, “God, it’s bigger than the car. What are you wanting to do in me?” Again, He started talking to me about rest and relinquishing control. Let me tell y’all! I am not the greatest at relinquishing control over anything! So, 2 Corinthians 12:9 became real real! He is so faithful because the moment I slowed down, He met me with joy. It wasn’t that He wasn’t there before, it was just that I was running so much that I was barely sitting still long enough to listen. But the moment I stopped, peace and joy literally met me in the midst of the storm, and he taught me to dance through the darkness! I knew who to reach out to concerning next steps with my car, and got that process going, but in the meantime that left me without a car. But, HE’S SO FAITHFUL. I never missed anything: not a day of work, not one small group, not a HC class, not even having to attend one/serve one at church on Sunday NIGHTS! Last night I was in class and a girl (who I wasn’t aware knew that my car was in the shop) asked me if my car was fixed. I told her no, and she told me, “Well! Would you like to drive one in the mean time? I have an extra one just sitting at my house, and I’d be honored if you’d drive it. You can have it as long as you need it. I don’t mind!” 😳😳😳💃🏾💃🏾💃🏾 Y’ALL! I was minding my business, extremely content in what the Lord was doing in my life, and He goes and does THAT?!! Like, breh! Done! 😵

So, from whichever part of the process you’re in, He’s good! Get your eyes off of the circumstance and look to Him because it’s always more that He’s doing. My encouragement to you would be, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” (Psalm 37: 7)

 & because we wait….

 “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!” (Psalm 40: 1-4 ESV)

Idk if the California key ring is prophetic, but that would be legit! 😭😂

Kingdom-focused pt. II: Three Things to Guard Your Heart Against

Pride

We live in a very prideful generation, and I’m not only referring to millennials. We think we know everything. We look to be affirmed that we know everything, and anytime someone else speaks, their credibility with God has to first be proven. We don’t always realize it, but even when someone reprimands out of love, our first thought is, “& how is <insert problem> working out for you? Yeah, please don’t try to advise me. Thanks.” (Clearly, we don’t even want to THINK about someone reprimanding us that isn’t saved!)

I love reading a story in Matthew 16 where Jesus is being tested. “And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.’ So he left them and departed,”(v. 1-4)  

Every time I read this, I’m always amazed that although they were looking in the direction of revelation, they only ever saw the weather. Sadly, this is how we are sometimes. We’re looking towards God, but we’re so busy trying to prove “what we know” that we’re missing the bigger picture, and “what we know” is so irrelevant in comparison to what God wants to show us and do through us. Let us not be a people who look to the hills where our Help comes from, but walk away with limited vision. He desires our hearts to be whole so that we can capture the hearts of those around us.

Distraction.

“A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life.” (Proverbs 13: 7 MSG)

I LOVE this verse. It is my favorite verse lately. Recently, I’ve found myself to be one who moves so fast that I am always doing before I have a chance to process. This past week I had an event that really slowed me down, and in the slowing down, I have found so much of God. I never realized that although the things I was doing were good things, they may not have been God-things for the season I’m in. & what I’ve found is that there are a lot of believers who live from this place, as well. Satan’s greatest weapon for our generation is distraction, and he doesn’t necessarily need to attack our finances or our relationships if he can keep us distracted from God. We’re distracted by our social media ministries and following, our cool titles and positions, and our likes from people we don’t know & who do not know us. We literally thrive off of building a life to impress people who probably pray for us less than they think about us (I’m sorry. That sounded really harsh, but think about it: How many people are you praying for that you follow?) We have based work ethic and self-worth on our levels of exhaustion at the end/beginning of each day, and the truth of the matter is that there is nothing cute about exhaustion when we’re called to live from Matthew 11: 28. 

“If you want your life to have impact, focus it. Stop dabbling and trying to do it all, do less. Prune away even good activities and do only what matters. Never confuse activity with productivity.” -Rick Warren

“I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,” (Philippians 3: 13, NLT).

Fear of Missing Out.

“The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a lie from the pit of hell against the character of God. This lie says the same thing that the serpent told Adam and Eve – ‘God won’t give you all you need and want. You need to take it into your own hands to make sure you don’t miss it.’ It’s fear. Anytime fear is your motivator, your life will be marked with anxiety, worry, self-reliance, and striving. None of these were present before the fall or in God’s plan for your life currently.” –Moral Revolution

A few years ago, I remember hearing a woman speak about having a pioneering spirit and it stuck with me. Can you imagine being the type of person who is willing to tread upon new turf, and do something that no one has ever done? Exciting, right?

But, would you do it if it required you to walk away from the crowd? 

What if (outside of the Holy Spirit) you had to do it alone?

That’s where we find our issue.

So many times we want to go all in with God, but not at the expense of missing out on what’s going on in everyone else’s life. This sounds funny, but how do we measure our growth if other people aren’t around?  We look at the highlights of someone’s life and if our lives don’t measure up, we shift whatever needs to be shifted to stay relevant.

At the sake of our callings, we’re willing to shift our focus so that we don’t miss out on what culture is doing right now.

But God is calling us away from the crowd. He’s calling us away from the noise. Rick Warren says it SO great, “Those who follow the crowd often get lost in it.”

I love how God proves that when we’re willing to come away, He will tell us the secrets of Heaven. “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 16: 15-17, ESV). Peter was walking with Jesus while looking to the Father. Can you imagine how close Peter had to have been with God to have the revelation that His friend was the Son of the living God?

God has awesome secrets to tell, and things that we’ve forgotten that He wants to remind us of.

We just have to humble ourselves. A person on their face can’t stumble.

We have to focus our lives. Again, “A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life.” (Proverbs 13: 7 MSG)

& we have to know that God is good. We’re not missing out on anything, “…God, who richly provides us with everything we need for enjoyment,” (1 Timothy 6:17)

 “Every act of our lives strikes some chord that will vibrate in eternity.” – Edwin Hubble Chaplin

surrendered & attached.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me,” (John 15: 1-4)

Whenever I feel that my world is a little shaky, I tend to lean towards control.

Control over the big things.

Control over the small things.

Trying to control what people think of me.

Trying to control other people’s lives.

Even trying to control my relationship with God.

Over this past week, I’ve realized that (for me) control is a false sense of stability; an illusion of that helps me to cope when I feel like nothing is going “my way.” Truth is, I never wanted to address that small seed of fear from possibly being disappointed by fully going “all-in” with God again. Someone once told me that: Pride is the fear that man, or God, will make a fool out of youBut let me tell you just how merciful, loving, patient, and faithful He is. As I started praying for God to remind me of things forgotten, I slowly (and I do mean SLOWLY. The struggle has been REALLY real!) relinquished control. I found that 1. He exceeded every need I had, and 2. He started healing my heart & restoring my memories. He reminded me of what was real during those seasons, and where I was offended. After a few days, I realized how much I actually missed the adventure of going “all-in”: I missed the adventure of walking with Him, and Him revealing something new to me. I missed “doing vision” with God, and praying about the next step. I even missed the harder times that pulled me closer to Him. He reminded me that  (because sometimes we don’t need another lesson in an area, we just need to be reminded of what’s already been taught) that a man on his face cannot trip and fall.

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)

“One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29: 23) 

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

ALL He requires is that we stay connected. The branch’s only job is to hold the fruit that was labored through the Vine.

We take what would benefit us, and we surrender it to God. We take our motives and what WE need and place them aside for the sake of staying attached.

We learn to live surrendered to the Vine while remaining attached to the Vine.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you,” (1 Peter 5: 10, ESV)

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Two AWESOME teachings I watched this week:
Relinquishing the Myth of Control by Pastor Touré Roberts of One Church LA

What Goes Up Must Come Down by Pastor Dustin Stradley of Elevation Church (SO good! I’ve watched this one a million times!)