The Lord Directeth My Steps

I really need to update this blog. So much has been going on with my life from school, work, and other personal things. The Lord has placed my experience through “turbulent weather” on my heart to share with y’all, so here it goes. Sorry in advance if this gets a little lengthy. For the last two years or so, it seems like my path towards education has been covered with a blanket of fog. The type of fog you cannot see through. Let’s recap the last two years, shall we? I was supposed to graduate in May of 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Biblical and theological studies. Since I didn’t have enough credit hours, I had to take a few extra classes and my graduation date was pushed back to December of 2015. Graduation day came, and my professor asked me an hour before graduation to submit a paper because there were some issues. The day after, I submitted it and figured everything was okay since she messaged me back that everything looked good. Then I went to Liberty University for my Master’s degree. One week in, I got a letter saying that I did not graduate and still needed more credit hours. I ended up taking Evangelism, Discipleship, a research writing class, and an undergraduate class in multicultural counseling. I jumped through many hoops to get that class to transfer and to dual enroll. By the end of the semester, I transferred the course. Supposedly that was the last class I needed in order to confer my degree. Wrong. Liberty is on the three credit system and the other school in Chicago is four, postponing my graduation date even more. Well, now I am enrolled in yet another psychology class to get my degree. Working closely with my advisor, the academic standing committee, and records, I am determined to graduate this December.
It seems everything just keeps going wrong. A few weeks ago, my advisor sent me an email. Apparently, there was this Christian boarding school in Missouri looking for soon to be graduates specifically majoring in psychology. They were looking for students who would be willing to dedicate their lives working with troubled teens for a yearlong mentorship program. My advisor knew I wanted to go into Christian counseling and thought I might be interested in it. I called the person who sent her the email and he told me about the program and what they were looking for. I then submitted an application. Soon after, I had an interview with them for the position. They were asking some faith based questions, psychology questions, and what discipleship was. Ironically, I took an entire class on discipleship. A week later after the interview, he called me back and said they would love to have me on staff as a mentor.
The other day, I came across Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” It seemed like at that moment, the fog was clearing from my path. Maybe the entire reasoning I was going through these education setbacks was for this position and to further my own personal walk. For those going through stormy weather or walking a path of uncertainty, the Lord has directed your steps and has paved your path. A preacher friend of mine once said “If the Lord has not given you clear direction, keep walking the path you are on until He gives you a clear understanding.” Put your trust in Him (proverbs 3:5-6). Psalm 56:3-4, “ What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”
Keep following the Lord, keep trusting Him. When in doubt, seek counsel from those who you trust. I am superbly blessed with many men of faith I can go to for advice like friends, my pastor, preacher friends, and of course my family and whatnot. Never be afraid to ask for help when you feel like you are drowning in so much uncertainty. Hebrews 6:18-19, 18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.”

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The Lord’s Will, not your will

First semester of seminary is complete! Sometimes life does not always turn out the way we think it will. This year has been a challenge for me to seek the Lord’s Will and not my own. Seminary has been a challenging experience and is forcing me to step out of my comfort zone and to completely surrender to the Lord’s Will. I thought that by the end of the semester, I would have a full time job in Lynchburg, have my own apartment, and completely relocate from the North West suburbs of Chicago. I applied to several jobs and have not heard back. I can’t afford to pay bills on an apartment or other expenses. The Lord was very clear that it was not His timing for me. Over the last few weeks, I have been comforted knowing that going home was the Lord’s will. After meditating in nature on His Word and a sermon preached by Brother Ernie Lucas at Friendship Baptist Church in Appomattox, Va (PS if you are in the area, we would love to have you :)). He preached on seeking the Lord’s will and everything will fall into place. Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” .That night, I slept better than I have in months. The Lord gave me peace about coming home. Whether I am home for the summer or just for a little while, I pray it will be a blessing to those I come in contact with and that it seeks to glorify the Lord. James 1:2-3 has been my verse since January. It says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” During my time in meditation, I was brought to 1 Timothy 6:11, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” The two words that stuck out to me were Godliness and faith. In order for a man of God to be Godly and faithful, he must humbly submit to the Lord’s Will first and foremost, not his own will or agenda. It is a reminder to me to seek the Lord and to flee from sin, to flee from my own self-righteousness and my own will. Ephesians 6:11-18 expresses how to arm yourself to flee from sin and the devil.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
My prayer is that those of you reading this will find this blog helpful in your life. I wrote what the Lord lays on my heart and this is what He has put on it. I pray that you, dear reader, seek the Lord continually, seeking His Will first and foremost. It is not an easy task and the flesh gets in the way, but pray for wisdom and guidance. James 1:15 says that if you lack wisdom and ask for it, the Lord will give it to you liberally. Seek Him first and everything will fall into place for His Glory and Honour.

Meditation part 2 (FINALLY!)

IMG_20160423_122415569The other day, I was reminded how important it is to just sit in silence and to meditate on His word. Looking out into the distance on a mountain top and viewing the entire city of Lynchburg is surreal. Seeing the mountains, the trees, and even the cars and buildings. It reminds me that we, as Christians, need to spend time with the Lord. Meditation was a topic I covered months ago, before my dad’s passing back in September. I write on what the Lord gives me, and he has used the experience of looking over the city of Lynchburg to talk about the second part of meditation. Meditation can be a form of spiritual practice and not just for Buddhism or other Eastern religions. In the King James Version, the term “meditation” is used 2 times and “meditate” is used 13ish. Some may say not to practice yoga because it involves a form of Eastern religion/ mysticism. The Lord does not say anything against yoga specifically, but if you use yoga for relaxation and stretching and can have a clear mind and not use those principles, there is nothing in the bible against it. When Paul talks about eating meat that was sacrificed to idols (1 Corinthians 8), he says it is okay as long as you have a clear conscious. Meditation is a biblical concept. Take Joshua 1:8 for example, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” and Psalms 104:34, “My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.” The word “meditate” comes from the Hebrew word suwach, which means to commune, to speak to the Lord. Meditation can be used in many ways, from listening to hymns and worship, reading your bible, or even going out into nature and putting all of your focus and energy into the Lord. In order to practice meditation, get into a spot where you and the Lord can be without any interruptions from others. This could be on a trail in the woods, or your bedroom. Make sure you are comfortable and just use that time to meditate on God’s word; to commune with him. Psalm 46:10 says, “ Be Still and know that I am God….” In order to truly reach a deep level of meditation, one must quiet themselves, by being in a quiet room, by drowning out background noise, and the hardest of all, to quiet down one’s thoughts and feelings. This is a time for you to commune with the Lord, the Being that saved you and died so that you may be saved. Meditation is a form of spiritual discipline and through it, one will grow deeper in their faith. Take time out of your day to meditate, to get into the Word, to sing hymns and just be with the Lord. Rejoice in the fact that because of Jesus, we are able to go to the Father without an intercessor. We can go to him freely and cast our cares and burdens on Him.

6 months later….

Today, March 8th, marks the 6 month point of my dad’s passing. Tonight, I have been reminded that the Lord’s timing is perfect and that everything happens for a reason. These past 6 months haven’t been the easiest. I am his beneficiary and power of attorney and still working on finishing legal stuff. One of my harder struggles was going through my college graduation ceremony knowing he wasn’t there. He showed up last minute at my high school graduation, but it showed he loved me and cared about me. Yes, graduation was an exiting time, but the fact he wasn’t there was in the back of my mind. Now I am in grad school in Virginia. There are days where I pull out my phone and want to call him, then I realize that he won’t be there to answer. I still have not deleted his number from my contacts. No rhyme or reason, just not one of my top priorities. Looking back on his life, I knew he loved me, he just never always knew how to show it, or he showed it in a different way that I did not understand. I have olfactory and echoic memories of his voice (memories in which you can remember a person’s smell and voice). The olfactory smell is not a pleasant one, one of beer and cigarettes. His death was at the beginning of my last semester, which was an important time for me to graduate, especially with my cumulative exam I needed to take. There was a lot going on, but the Lord gave me strength to get through it, and still is. We weren’t as close as I would have liked, and I feel like I didn’t share the Gospel with him enough, but I know that was the Lord’s will. Tonight, a friend shared with me part of her story, and it made me think of mine in relation to my dad. Sure, the relationship was not the greatest, but the Lord made it that way. I can honestly look back at his life and see how the Lord used his life to benefit mine and how that relates to my own salvation. Don’t dwell on the past, but learn from it. The Lord uses situations and people to teach us lessons. Romans 5:3-5, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” The Lord’s timing is perfect and uses situations to strengthen our faith and relationship with Him. Sometimes those situations play a role in our salvation and sometimes they are to make us stronger. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” If life is affecting you so much, take a step back, pray for wisdom and discernment, and let the Lord show you what needs to be seen.

A Biblical View on Abortion

Something that has been on my mind lately is abortion. Abortion is the murder of a developing baby that the Lord allowed to be conceived. Jeremiah 1: 5 says, “ Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Even though you didn’t know when this baby was going to be conceived, the Lord did! Psalm 147:4, “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.” What a wonderful blessing it is to know that before we were even conceived, the Lord knew his creation! He intimately knew it. Why mess with the Lord’s creation? His Word also says, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). This brings another thing into question. Many people who are pro choice say “My body, my choice.” The truth is, your body is not your own. Your body has been bought with a price and by the perfect blood of Christ! Galatians 1:15, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace.” Job 10:12-13, “Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.” Proverbs 6: 16-19, “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” The baby that has been conceived cannot consent to anything. The growing baby is innocent. Those who perform abortions and those mothers who receive an abortion are shedding innocent blood, which the Lord hates. Whatever the situation, whether it be fornication, adultery, consenting sex between a husband and wife, rape, etc, the Lord allowed this baby to be conceived. Why take it out on the unborn? Psalm 127:3 says “…children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” I cannot advocate any form of abortion in good conscience. This blog post is not meant to spark debate, but to seriously question the ramifications of abortion and to question or reaffirm existing beliefs on the subject. When in doubt, pray for wisdom. James 1:5, ” If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

The Great Commission (Matt 28: 18-20)

It’s been awhile since my last blog post. Life has gotten the best of me. Between medical, being in graduate school, and a whole bunch of other things, I have not been able to post as of lately. But today, I want to blog about The Great Commission.

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20).

     Matthew 28 takes place after the resurrection. The Lord Jesus is speaking to the apostles about what they are to do next. The Lord tells them to peach the Gospel to the very ends of the earth. This verse speaks about not just the mission of modern day church, but the modern day Christian. This is a command from the Lord, not something that is optional. Mark 12:30-31 says

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

    If Christ followers truly love the Lord and others, they will shout it from the rooftops and tell their neighbors.  Why keep it a secret? Some people find this easier than others. Some people are introverted, some extroverted. The fact is, the Lord has made us all unique, and we can use that uniqueness to spread the Gospel. The point of spiritual gifts is to first and foremost, give glory to the Creator, and secondly, to reach the lost. While spreading the Gospel does not save a person, it does plant a seed in their life and to bring light into darkness. Think of it as a flower seed. The Gospel is the seed, and we are the sowers. We are to sow the seed, but the only way for that seed to transform into a flower is by water, sun, and decent temperature. The Lord is in control of all of that. We don’t know who is part of the elect, so we should be sharing the Gospel, our testimony, our personal relationship with the Lord to everyone. My challenge for you is to share your faith with someone you don’t know, like the Starbucks barista, the McDonald’s cashier, the retail clerk in the mall, or even an unsaved family member. It can be a scary thought to go up to some random person you may or may not know and talk about Jesus. Ask the Lord to give you words to speak and for wisdom. James 1:5, ” If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Also to note, it is known as The Great COmission, not The Great Mission. It is not just speaking to preachers, pastors, or certain individuals. It is referring to all Christians.

Trust and purpose

First post of 2016! I know, I am a bit behind in my posts, but this should give you some insight as to why. The past few weeks have been interesting to say the least. I was busy with work working third shift from 9pm to 5am, had a tonsillectomy last week, and oh yea, moved to Virginia! I honestly had my doubts about being able to go to grad school because of my surgery. on the third day, I had to go to the ER because of a fever. They put me on an IV of antibiotics, a steroid, and even did a CT scan. after 6 hours, I felt much better and went home. A theme I have written about a lot is Trusting in the Lord, and that is precisely what I am trying to do. The day after my post op doctor’s appointment, I left for Virginia making an overnight stop near Dayton, Ohio. The trip took about 12 hours total and it gives me a lot of time to think. I was thinking about the new change, missing my mom, and not sure how to live on my own. I felt overwhelmed with sadness and I was terrified. I still am scared, but I know I am not alone in this journey and technology helps with Facebook, cell phones, and whatnot. It’s strange to be on my own because even when I was in undergrad, home was only 45 minutes away, not 12 hours. I came to Virginia not knowing what my next step was. I knew the Lord was leading me to Liberty University, that was it. I am the type of person that likes to see the entire map so I know what to do an how to prepare. This time, the Lord was completely in charge. He knows where He is leading me. I still am a little scared, but I will continue to lean on his everlasting arms.  One of my favorite hymns is Leaning on the Everlasting Arms and one of the refrains goes like this ” What have I to dread, what have I to fear, Leaning on the everlasting arms; I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, Leaning on the everlasting arms. Isaiah 41:10, ” Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. No one ever said life was easy, but the Lord is ALWAYS there and places people in our lives to walk this journey with us, whether they be life long, or just for a season. Every single person in my life has made a difference in some positive way, even if it may not of looked like it at the time. The book of James has been on my mind lately, more specifically James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”These verses reiterate that there is a purpose for everything, even the trials that we face. Ecclesiastes 3:1, ” To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

Update and Following the Lord

I know I haven’t written  blog in a long time, and I apologize for that. My last few weeks of  school were very intense with papers, presentations, and finals. But guess what? I graduated on the 18th of December! With a Bachelor of  Art’s in Psychology and a minor in Biblical Studies. Although the minor doesn’t show up on my diploma, still worth it though. My next step in grad school at the world’s largest Christian university, Liberty University! I will be relocating to Virginia and studying Religion with a concentration in Pastoral Counseling. I am so excited for this new journey and to see what 2016 has in store. Keep trusting the Lord, keep following his commands, because He will direct you. Proverbs 3:5-6,”Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Luke 7:7, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Jeremiah 6:16, Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” Follow the Lord’s guidance, not after (hu)man or your own desires. Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” and Deuteronomy 13:4, “Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. Have a blessed New Yea, readers, and I PROMISE that second meditation post is coming!

Resisting the Devil

Have you ever been in a tug of war battle between what your flesh desires and what the Lord desires for you? I know have, and sometimes I feel like giving up and giving into temptation. The Lord has placed it in my heart to not be complacent with sin. James 4:7 says “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Don’t listen to what your heart or flesh tells you to do. Look unto the Lord.Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Don’t ask the world for answers because the Lord calls us to be separated from it (Romans 8:28). So how do you resist the devil and temptation? By fleeing from it. Romans 16:17, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Pray about it and ask others to pray with and for you. While prayer doesn’t change the Lord’s mind or what he has planned, it changes the one who is doing the praying.  Romans 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”. Romans 5:12 & 22, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.Abstain from all appearance of evil.” 2 Timothy 2:22, “ Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” The Lord always forgives those that call upon His name and will forgive your sins. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).” So much can be said about resisting temptation and lusts of the flesh. Keep praying, keep reading your bible, ask for prayer, and be alert to sinful thoughts and behaviors. Go to your pastor if you need prayer or even to other members. The church is not just a place to go to and worship, but a body of believers who are their for each other, willing to pray for one another, rejoice with each other, and to build each other up in the likeness of Christ. . James 5:16, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Armour of God

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17).

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time where we remember hat we are truly thankful for.Thanksgiving did not start with the Pilgrims, in fact, it is mentioned in the bible. Psalm 50:14, “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High.” Psalm 100:4, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. .“Colossians 2:7, ” Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I am thankful for everything and everyone the Lord has given me. Even though people come and go and situations change, they are in our lives for a reason. I am ultimately thankful for my salvation and eternal life in Christ Jesus. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).  So blessed and so thankful for His undeserving mercy and grace. “I preached on the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith. While I was speaking, several dropped down as dead and among the rest such a cry was heard of sinners groaning for the righteousness of faith that it almost drowned my voice. But many of these soon lifted up their heads with joy and broke out into thanksgiving, being assured they now had the desire of their soul – the forgiveness of their sins.” ~ John Wesley