Wednesday, August 28, 2019

#WednesdayWisdom: I'm Finished.

#WednesdayWisdom is back! This week, let’s talk about a troubling phenomenon that’s making the rounds on social media: the idea of “manifesting”. This term is typically used by that one friend who says “I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual,” you know, the friend who swears that burning sage cleanses and protects their household against evil spirits. Listen fam, I don’t know about you, but as for me and MY house, sage goes in spaghetti! 😂 All jokes aside, this word just rubs me the wrong way in a “spiritual” (non-Christian) context. 

I’m a firm believer in, “Speak what you seek until you see what you’ve said”, but I don’t call it manifesting because MAN-ifesting is man-made. My declarations are based on Jeremiah 29:11. God knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future! I speak things over myself according to what the Bible says, and when I ask in His name, His plans unfold in my life according to HIS will, not mine. He knows more than I do. Even if what I think I want now doesn’t “manifest,” all things that happen in my life happen for my good, meaning it’ll all make sense eventually.

MAN-I-FESTation is something that I MANually cause to FESTer—“fester” meaning “to aggravate”. In other words, if I’ve gotta stir it up to make it happen with “MAN” power, I’m living life according to my own will and desires and not what God wants for me. If I’ve gotta stick my hand in it and make it work for me, it’s not for me. If it’s for me, it won’t be manual, it’ll be automatic. That doesn’t negate the work I’ll have to do to maintain it, that just means it’ll happen when and how it’s supposed to as I follow God’s instruction MAN-ual. 

I looked up the biblical meaning of “manifest,” and “manifestation,” and according to Bible Study Tools, it means "to make apparent" (Mark 4:22; John 17:6; Romans 3:21; 1 Timothy 3:16) “very evident" (2 Timothy 3:9), and “prove.”

Image source: Crosswalk

What I’d like to focus on here is “to make apparent,” a definition explained in 1 Timothy 3:16, “Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.”

Jesus was the earthly manifestation of God. He was evidence in the flesh that proved that God exists. Jesus is often referred to as the “Son of Man,” and “man” is the root word of “manifestation.” Jesus has already been manifested. He’s already come down to earth and vindicated us of our sins by dying on the cross and rising again on the third day—and just before He died, He declared, “It is finished.” Did y’all catch it yet? If the MAN-ifestation of God said, “It is finished,” then there’s nothing left for you or I to do except to believe that it’s finished. According to Google, the word “finished” means “(of an action, activity, or piece of work) having been completed or ended.” Isaiah 64:8 says, “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Jesus didn’t say, ‘It was finished,’ or ‘It will be finished’, He said “It IS finished.” That means that we, God’s “pieces of work” are already COMPLETED—we don’t have to wait until tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year to be whole. We can claim wholeness right now.  

I’m about to let you in on a little secret: You don’t need to be anything more than what you are in order to be great. Use what’s already in you! Your purpose is concrete. If you desire to be married, that’s already set in stone, even if you’re currently single. Your career? Solidified. How? Why? Because Jesus said so. Everything you’ve prayed for that aligns with God’s will is ready for you. It’s waiting on the other side of your obedience. I don’t know about you, but I’M FINISHED!

Monday, August 19, 2019

God Never Left Me...And Neither Did My Gifts

I’m still getting back into the swing of this blogging thing. It’s like trying to use muscles that have atrophied, almost like learning how to walk again. The same thing applies when we try to pick up where we left off in our relationship with God. Depending on how long we’ve strayed away from Him, our walk can feel totally new. Whether it’s your first time or 15th time coming to Christ, building and maintaining relationship with Him is not a walk in the park.

Walking with God begins by crawling. Crawling to (or back to) Him, just as we did with our parents when we were babies, and trusting Him to teach us how to stand and walk, knowing that He’ll catch us when we fall. Falling is inevitable, because we’re human, but God will always be there to brace it. Hebrews 13:5 tells us that He will never leave or forsake us.

Image source: Executive Forum

This made me think of one of my favorite songs, “You’ll Never Leave Me,” from gospel artist Will McMillan’s 2018 project, My Story (check out my review of the album here). The song speaks about God as a constant vs. the fickleness of human nature. It’s one of those songs that makes you stop and reflect on where you are in Him.

[Verse 1]:

You’re so consistent at being consistent in Your ways
Your ways
And I’m so consistent at being inconsistent each day
My ways
I’ve made the choice to fall many times
To get up and fall again and again
While Your love shows me how to reach for Your hand every time

There’s SO much to unpack here! First of all, God specializes in consistency. He is the only constant in this ever-changing world. And we were made in His image, but we are not Him. We start things in earnest—setting aside time to read our bibles, to pray, to do what it is He’s called us to do—and then we become overwhelmed, preoccupied, distracted, discouraged make excuses as to why we CHOSE not to finish what we started. The only thing we’re consistent in is inconsistency. God knows this, of course, because He created us—and still, in spite of our lack of follow-through, being the gracious Father that He is, God extends His hand and teaches us how to commune with Him again—and the best part is, each embrace feels like the first time—only deeper.


For when I fall
You’re there to catch me
And if I fall again
You’re there to do the same
Lord, You keep Your grace around me
You’ll never leave me

The keyword here is “never.” Webster’s dictionary blessed me on this one! The word “never” means “not ever : at no time; not in any degree; not under any condition.” That means no matter how many times I fall short, no matter how many times I drop the ball, no matter how many times I tell Him I want to quit the thing(s) that He called me to, He. NEVER. Leaves. ME! And His gifts never leave me either. 

The song says:

Even when I’m wrong
Even when I fall
You’re always with me
You’ll never leave me alone

God literally wouldn’t leave me alone about this blog. Every few days during my hiatus, He’d nudge me and ask, “Why aren’t you writing?” I’d come up with some lame excuse, and each time He’d say, “Do as you’re told.” And then He let me sit there and think about what He said and what I was doing. Still, He was gracious enough to wait until I was ready, and now, He’s giving me fresh oil to write again. 

A word of encouragement for those who are having trouble picking up where they left off: If God called you to it, DO IT! Just because you haven’t used your gift in a while doesn’t mean you’ve lost it. It just needs a good stir!

Watch a live performance of "You'll Never Leave Me" below:

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Is This The End? Finding The River in the Desert

"See, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not be aware of it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." - Isaiah 43:19, Modern English Version (MEV)

Hey guys! Long time, no see, yet again. I know, at this point I sound like a broken record, but I’m back to blogging. Full disclosure: I’m currently attempting to write my way through the worst case of writer’s block I’ve ever had. I really thought about closing this blog, because I didn’t feel like I had anything else to say. I got tired of being the encourager, especially during a season where I felt like God was doing nothing. The season I’m in is not good or bad, it’s just...neutral, a season of in-between. Now that I feel like I’m nearing the end of this limbo and change is finally on the horizon, I’m in a place where I can write about it.

For the first half of this year, I felt purposeless. I lost focus and felt like I wasn’t getting anything accomplished. Life overwhelmed me and I felt lost and overlooked. I didn’t know where I was going, so I just stopped and sat on my gifts. In the middle of all this, I was taking membership classes to join my church, First Baptist Church of Glenarden. I was going to church every Sunday and being stirred by every message, but as soon as I walked out of the sanctuary, I felt empty again (and I had stopped reading my Bible). I started to think that all the endeavors I’d devoted myself to would amount to nothing. I felt frustrated and stuck and angry at God—like I was in a desert—and then I got re-planted.

The last week of July was very transformative for me. On July 23rd, I got (re)baptized. This was very important to me because unlike the baptism I received as a baby during christening, this one symbolized a conscious rededication to Christ after 19 years of salvation. I was dipped in the water, and those who watched told me I came up fighting. I think this was partly due to the fact that I can’t swim, so I was trying not to drown 🙃, but as I was immersed, I felt something break. The breakthrough that took place in the water was evident later that week, when I attended the YouthFest: Planted conference at City of Praise Family Ministries in Landover, MD. The conference spanned three nights, and each night I felt more and more free. Night one set the tone for the rest of the conference. A fire word was brought forth by the renowned Apostle Dr. Matthew L. Stevenson III, prefaced by worship from psalmist Chandler Moore. Chandler’s been on my list of must-see artists for a while now, so I was excited to see him live. He set the worship atmosphere with a melodic declaration of “You’re here right now,” and seamlessly segued into one of my favorites, Jesus Culture’s “Holy Spirit”. I captured the opening moments in the video below:

After that, I was unable to record any more, because God wanted my full attention on the next song Chandler sang, “The Isaiah Song.” I had heard this song when it was first released in June of last year as an EP. Honestly, I listened to it once or twice on YouTube and forgot about it, but we all know certain songs hit differently depending on the season we’re in—and this particular night, it hit me HARD.

If you know me, you know that I can usually memorize lyrics to a song very quickly—and by “quickly”, I mean, I can hear a song once, and the second time I hear it, I can sing along to almost every word. I’ve been doing it since I was old enough to sing—actually, since I was old enough to hum. Before I could memorize lyrics, I memorized melodies, and I was humming long before I could talk. With “The Isaiah Song,” it was different. The melody sounded familiar, but I couldn’t remember the lyrics at all. It was like I was hearing the song for the first time.

I wanted to sing along with Chandler, so I relied on the IMAX projector inside the church and read the lyrics as I sang. At some point in the song, the lyrics began to lag. They flashed on the screen about 10 seconds after Chandler had moved on to the next line...but somehow, I was still singing along. as I belted out the chorus, something in my spirit leaped, and my body followed suit. 


Sing, sing
O barren Land! 
Water is coming to the thirsty!
Though you are empty
I am the well
Draw from Me, I will provide

Those lyrics permeated my soul and spoke DIRECTLY to the creative drought I’ve been experiencing. I just completely lost control of my body and started leaping in time with the music. This had me shook, because I am a black woman with NO rhythm whatsoever. Like, that gene completely skipped me. I stick out like a sore thumb at every family reunion because I can’t line dance to save my life. I can barely even wave my hand on beat. And I don’t shout. Ever. It was a total out-of-body experience and I was being moved by the Holy Spirit, but the whole time, I was thinking, “I know I look real crazy right about now...” Ultimately, I didn’t care. God knew I needed that. I felt so free!

The next day, I bought the EP on iTunes and listened to it nonstop. The Planted conference rerooted me, and that Sunday, the last Sunday in July, I got the right hand of fellowship at FBCG.

I’ve been meditating on “The Isaiah Song” for two weeks now, as a companion to the book of Isaiah, and I feel myself recharging. Each time I hear, “Yes, you will write again!/ Yes, you will create again!”I am wrecked to the core. The song says, “You’re making ways in the wilderness!/ You’re making rivers in the desert!”And He is. Somebody somewhere needs what I’ve got, so I will write again. I AM writing again. I’m writing my way through the wilderness right now—even when I don’t feel like it, because our faith says we don’t live according to how we feel. We live according to what we know, and I know that this is what God has called me to do. I’m not fully charged yet, and I’ll be honest, it feels weird getting back out there—but we all have to (re)start somewhere. What I’m learning in this season is that I don’t have to keep my testimony to myself just because I’m still being tested. Sometimes, people need to see it unfold as you work your way through it. It’s more relatable that way. So, even though writing is uncomfortable right now, I rest in knowing that the more I do it, the more smoothly it will flow. In time, it will come naturally again. God will give me the words to say. He will tell me what to write, because He is the source that I draw from. He is the well that never runs dry, and He will continue to provide. And to think, this whole time, He’s just been waiting on me to show Him that I’m thirsty.
                                                                                          Until next time,

Check out the official video for “The Isaiah Song” below: