Quick Read, The Cross, video

Sola Gratia: will you testify?

 

 

Tonight I shared this message at my work place during a monthly celebration of the guests in our recovery program. Last month, after the celebration I typed up this message and had the idea to play this music video in the background to illustrate my main points. I know that God has messages in me, I just have to step up and out to share them. The following is my message I shared.

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****I thought I had a unique way of thinking about God and Jesus for some time, then Justus came out with this video and it brought it to a whole other level.

I have a vision of the court room. I’m/we’re the defendant sitting on the right side. The county attorney is on the left. The judge is in front of us on his bench.

Many of you know this scene and what it feels like. Your life is in someone else’s hands. You’re not sure what the outcome will be. Hoping you got a “good” judge. Hoping your attorney has done the best for you. A lot is on the line.

Maybe it was a very public high profile case. Maybe it was your first time facing a judge. Your family might have your back or they deserted you already. No one can bail you out and your friends are nowhere to be found. You’re having to stand on your own and face the consequences.

Many people know of God the Father as a Judge. He will judge us all on Judgement Day. But most leave it as that. God is a judge. God judges me. It doesn’t matter what I do, we’re all doomed. So what’s the point?

In my career, I’ve been an unofficial and official advocate. I’ve gone to court with people to offer support and encouragement. That’s what an advocate does. The Holy Spirit is our advocate. The bible calls him our Advocate in John 14:26. The Holy Spirit is on your right side holding you up when you’re not strong enough.

But on your left, you have the greatest attorney ever, Jesus.

In fact, if you see it the way I’ve come to see it – its that God tipped the scales of justice in favor of us by sending us Jesus. We’ve sinned against God so we can’t go to Heaven but He gave us Jesus so that we can go to Heaven to be with Him.

Can you imagine going to court tomorrow, and your attorney is the judge’s son? Wouldn’t you feel pretty good? I know that God the Father has the same heart for you that Jesus his son does. God the Judge has the same heart for you that Jesus the attorney does.

Jesus approaches the Judge in the court of heaven, as Satan the Accuser (that’s in the bible too) approaches the Judge and accuses you of all the things you’ve done. He tells God you’re a liar, an adultery, fornicator, thief, idolater, murderer etc. He hates you. Jesus stands before the
Father,
I know this man. I know this woman. This is my Friend
my brother
This is my sister
She loves me. He loves me. I can vouch for him. I know her heart. She’s clean. He’s repented. I’ve cleansed them.

Knowing that your attorney is the judge’ son, do you see how the Accuser has nothing on you? At best all he can do is accuse. If you give your life to Christ, and follow Christ and let the Holy Spirit dwell on the inside of you— you will be washed CLEAN. The Accuser will have no case against you. He will not have any evidence. God the Father didn’t have to send someone to take our charge, to take our punishment. But HE LOVED US SO MUCH HE STILL WANTED US EVEN AFTER ALL WE”VE DONE TO GRIEVE HIM. DESPITE THE SORROW HE FEELS TIME AFTER TIME BECAUSE WE BECOME HIS FOES. HE STILL WANTS US. HE DOESN’T WANT TO LISTEN TO THE ACCUSER. SO WHY DO WE LISTEN TO HIM? When Christ let out, “It is finished.” That’s what he meant. The accuser is finished. Shame is finished. Self Harm is finished. Self hate is finished. He took all of that. He took our sins to the Cross but also the pain, the infliction, the wounds of the heart and mind.

All of this stuff already happened. These are facts and truth. All we have to do is RECEIVE this Truth. Do you now why Jesus came? Most will say to save us, that’s part of it. But in his own words to Pilate, the regional leader of the Roman empire, just before Jesus was sentenced to a crucifixion, Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king. Jesus tells him, “ …in FACT, the reason I was born and came into this world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37

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He came to testify ( def: give evidence as a witness in a court of law, serve as proof of something existing, something being the case) to the truth.
Will you stand with Jesus and testify to the Truth? Will you stop listening to the lies of the Accuser?

–Prayer:

Jesus, I want to receive you as Truth, please show me how. I want to reject the Accuser’s lies, please show me how. Your will not mine. In Jesus name, Amen.

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book review, Men, Women

Be Brave

I’ve been reading 100 Days to Brave: Unlocking Your Most Courageous Self by Annie F. Downs. Little did I know that this was the devotional I needed to be reading. I had searched through many devotionals on a website looking for the one with the “x” factor. Maybe it was the word Brave that stood out to me or the gold accent on the cover? Either way I instinctively knew courage was what I was after. Not that I’m a scaredy cat or live in fear of everything – because I don’t. My whole life is out of my comfort zone and I can look back on my life and see many times I have been brave. I can also look back on my life and see the many times I was not brave. I let insecurity and doubt shut me down. I can also look at my day to day, week to week life and see where I am not stepping up and out. I know God has many things planned for me on the other side of insecurity and doubt.

In the 100 Days to Brave, Annie challenges us to discover what our calling is and narrow it down into one sentence. I had been entertaining an idea like this but it’s been called a personal mission statement. It’s a statement that will give you purpose and direction for your life. Of course, I have over analyzed any idea I’ve had of what the statement would be. So when I read this challenge my brain went to work. For days it was in my peripheral but nothing came to the fore front. I’m called to… I’m called to….? On that Sunday right after worship at church, it came to me.

I’m called to… fortify the weak.

Fortify means to strengthen a place with defensive works so as to protect it against attack, strengthen or invigorate someone mentally or physically.

I reflected on this and could see how over the course of life (so far) I’ve done this in the positions I’ve held in and out of the workplace and within friendships. With a recipe of truth, compassion, and sass I’ve validated and challenged others in the most sensitive times in their life. Whether advocating for others in a court room or meeting, certifying that someone is not crazy for the how they’ve mismanaged their childhood trauma, offering effective solutions for other’s dilemmas, helping someone discern between the truth and a lie, not welcoming the status quo. I’ve heard many times from friends “you make me feel like I’m not crazy.” I used to think – people frequently feel crazy?

This doesn’t mean that I am perfect. I’m far from it. Hearing from the Holy Spirit what my calling is opens up my mind.

The other day I was also thinking of my assignment. I’ve decided there is a difference between your calling and your assignment. Your calling is your purpose. Your assignment is how you are to carry it out.

About a year or more ago, I felt this impression on me that I’m not assigned to minister to those in the church building. I’m not saying this absolves me from any serving that I am to do in my home church. I do serve in a couple of ways. However, there was a distinction I made regarding those already attending church and those lost in the world that don’t even believe they are worthy of salvation, even entering a church building any day of the week. Those so far gone they won’t attend a service or even dare ask God for anything. Those are the people I am assigned to.
I am to be the one that goes into the cave with a flashlight of the Gospel to meet people where they are in their deepest pit. I am to be a light that shines on them while we speak. A light that intrigues them. And when I walk freely out of the cave they’ll want to follow.

I’m drawn to the darkness, not to live but to rescue.

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For the past 10 years, my resume is filled with a variety of jobs. Topics of trauma, philosophies of care, emotional intelligence, trafficking, disorders & diagnoses, physical restraints, juvenile justice, criminology, addiction, self-harm, stages of change, abuse & neglect, sexual assault, domestic violence, CPS, probation, homelessness, and more – all saturate my mind every day. I see the world through these lenses.

I didn’t actually ask for this.

I’ve always been obsessed with the WHY.

Why do people do what they do?
What makes a criminal a criminal?
Why do people choose to do wrong?
How are they different from anyone else?

The Why is often a hard red pill to swallow. We are broken. We are fumbling in the dark with a blindfold on and ear plugs in. As Christians we are to introduce people to the spiritual realm. Ephesians 6:12 tells us there are two frequencies – flesh and blood, dark world –AND- rulers, authorities, spiritual forces in the heavenly realms.

Most people function in the flesh and blood. Everything changes when you tune into Heaven. You become acutely aware of the over developed disease of evil. You should be able to see and hear the enemy roaring, strangling and killing souls.

There are many theories out there, you can spend a lot of money hearing about them, taking exams and writing dissertations on them.

The ills of society, the brokenness of people won’t be answered by theories or a national organization or by a federal program. Those systems can bring awareness to the symptoms but they have no concrete solution.

The solution is Jesus Christ. When Jesus became my Lord, His ministry was put before me.

Love them and lead them back to me.

Loving like Jesus isn’t hard, loving like a human is hard because no one will meet our conditions 100/100.

God has given us special people to love.
-the homeless
-the unborn
-the military
-the developmentally disabled
-the sick
-those trapped in modern day slavery
-pedophiles, rapists
-pimps and johns
-children
-addicts, dealers
-parolees, probationers, felons, death rowers
-those in hospice
-post-abortive mothers and fathers
-the suicidal, the homicidal
-the abused, the raped
-the unseen and unheard
-the invisible

They are everywhere at all times. Your assignment is who God told you to love intimately and fiercely.

Ask Him right now. Who do you want me to love? Show me how to love them well. If you have yet to identify who God wants you to love, you are living in rebellion.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
-Matthew 22:36-40

You don’t want to face God and tell him that you spent your lifetime unburdened for the souls of others. You had an extra ticket to Heaven but you threw it in the trash. Be brave and send out invites on behalf of the Bridegroom.

 

Related Reading:

100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs.

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Journaling

28 Days of Single

0001-53629160“Until you get comfortable with being alone, you’ll never know if you’re choosing someone out of love or loneliness.”

Saturday, February 28:

I love decorating my apartment and I found this gem at one of my favorite stores! I love mirrored things and have a couple pieces of mirrored furniture.
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Friday, February 27:

Found this movie at the Christian bookstore while I was getting the book for the small group/young adults group that I’m involved in.
image(I guess Gretchen Wieners was right, Brutus is just as cute as Caesar.) LOL!

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Thursday, February 26:

Another 7a-3p day, hard core nap too. Starting a new book tonight, branching out from the usual topics I read about.
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Wednesday, February 25:
This evening I contributed to a fundraiser for my sorority by eating at a particular restaurant. Here we are and some members of two fraternities.
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I also reconnected with an old friend as we ate together. We haven’t seen each other in about 5 years! Praise God for new beginnings!
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Tuesday, February 24:

Regular day at work.
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After work I killed some time with…. [guess what]…. a Snickerdoodle latte! I went to church for a leadership team meeting for our Young Adults group. We generated ideas for events like retreats, community service projects, and other fun things.
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Monday, February 23:

During the late afternoon, coworkers, youth and I participated in a walk for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. We walked from our city courthouse to a coffee shop about a mile away. We carried signs, mine read – Love is Respect. My face and legs were freezing! It was for a great cause and organized by a youth that has been helped by our agency.
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Its frozen pizza Monday!
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Watching The Voice, waiting for a sneak peak of the series A.D.! Gona bake chocolate chip cookies in a bit! Happy Monday everyone!
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Sunday, February 22:
Children’s ministry and then regular service this morning! While I was waiting for yet another Snickerdoodle latte I saw the Life Church sign! I never saw it before and I don’t know how many times I have been in that drive-thru.

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Another day with the family. We went to see a funny family movie called The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day.
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I blame the cold and cloudy weather for my lack of energy. Or perhaps not enough caffeine, or going to bed too late last night and waking up extra early. Either way, I can barely keep my eyes open. Just waiting for Downton Abbey to get over and maybe I’ll go to bed early.
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Saturday, February 21:

I’m about to start the process for a possible blog post or multiple posts. I’m using the article, 50 Ways to be a Woman by Caitlin Leggett. I’ll be jotting down notes or anything that comes to mind in this pretty journal that a cousin gave me because of the peacock theme in my living room.
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A little Mean Girls on just to keep the creative juices flowing.
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Ate dinner with my family earlier. This fella is my favorite person.
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Friday, February 20:

Watching This Means War and pretending I’m Reese Witherspoon minus Chris Pine. It’s just me and my babe Tom Hardy.
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Thursday, February 19:

Today I worked my other job, another 7a-3p day. There was an unexpected meeting between current employees and some newer leadership that will work together to revitalize our program.  I allowed my business side to come out, I can be very bold when I need to be.

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Some people submit to leadership that doesn’t exist just because it’s perceived. I can see bull crap a mile away. I’ve never needed a title, when I speak others listen and that’s all that matters.

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Wednesday, February 18:

I struggled a bit today, as I continue to trust God regarding my finances. However, just when I had given up, I got a phone call from my dad. He said he had some money for me. It’s not a lot but it will be enough to get me through the next week. I attended the last night of the revival at my church. It was truly special. It was the kind of time where you know nothing will ever be the same after such a moment. Allen Griffin is “so *Annointed.” Lol but he really opened us up to more of what God has for us.

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Tuesday, February 17:

Today I ate at one of my favorite restaurants, Noodles & Co. with a friend. I always order Penne Rosa. It’s my favorite. I swung by and grabbed another Snickerdoodle latte before church. I think I’m addicted. Tonight’s service was amazing and reminded me of the Onething Conference in Kansas City! Most importantly Jesus is saying YES to my dream! Stopped at the store before coming home and found this! Every voluptuous Latina’s dream! image _______________________________________

Monday, February 16:

Dying my hair. My preferred shade is Soft Black. Gota get rid of all these gray hairs! Not really though, there’s like two. I’m not lyin! image __________________________________________

Sunday, February 15:

Today was one of the two church services that I volunteer in the children’s ministry service. Actual service was great as it was a guest speaker. He will be preaching until Wednesday as part of an awakening revival. I got a very late Christmas present from my mom, lol. image (an ornament with Bible verses and charms inside and a gift card to my favorite coffee spot) My family and I ate out at a restaurant and I thoroughly enjoyed sweet potato fries with my burger . My dad decided to buy my nephew a Captain America shield at a store we went to. My nephew grabbed my hand and led me through the store whispering as if we were on an adventure! It was so funny!

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Saturday, February 14:

Today is Valentines Day and will be a great one. I devoured a quaint breakfast a Smart One egg scramble thingy, while wheat toast, coconut flavored coffee, and Trop50 orange juice (which is real good). I’m watching Diary of a Mad Black Woman waiting for my favorite scene; when Orlando proposes to Helen. “I know you don’t believe in fairy tales. But if you did…I’d want to be your knight in shining armor. You’ve been through so much. I don’t want to see you hurt anymore. Now, i may not be able to give you all that you’re used to. But i do know i can love you past your pain. I don’t want you to worry about anything. You just wake up in the morning. That’s all you have to do, and I’ll take it from there. There’s one condition. You have to be my wife.” Later, I had another Snickerdoodle latte with my Little of my sorority. After that I met up with friends for a girls’ night. We had a great time! image image

Radiating Joy!

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Friday, February 13:

I’ve been so tired all day because I haven’t had any coffee all day. However, it was a productive day. Paid my bills today: tithe, phone and utilities! Made valentine’s for some teens at my local library on behalf of the program I run. image Prepared a Valentine’s present for tomorrow’s evening with friends. Can’t post any pictures of it because its a white elephant gift exchange.

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Thursday, February 12:

Another home work-out, but 10s are so heavy though! image __________________________________________

Wednesday, February 11:

Had a job interview for a wonderful job at a wonderful agency. I did a presentation/training for another agency for the program I run. And just to keep it real, I’ll leave you with this gem. image _________________________________________

Tuesday, February 10:

I went to bed early last night, a little after 10pm. I slept so well. I am feeling a whole lot better. Working my other job 7a-3p. Found a pretty mug at work for coffee. image Today was a home-workout day (the first in a Super long time). The last time I did any of these videos I still lived at home with my parents! image __________________________________________

Monday, February 9:

Today I was sick and stayed home from work. I had zero energy and could barely eat. All I could do was lay around and try to be awake. Painting my nails was the high point of today. image image __________________________________________

Sunday, February 8:

Here is a poem I wrote recently.

A Single Girl’s Prayer
Thank you for not letting me keep the guys I asked you for. The first, the last, and the ones in between. All I loved or thought I loved.

Thank you for saving me from more trouble. Thank you for loving me enough to sever ties from those guys, no matter how dramatic, because sometimes that’s all I can understand. Thank you for ruining my relationships.

Thank you for teaching me not to wait to have fun. To enjoy these times that are fleeting. Thank you for protecting my heart. Thank you for being my heavenly Father that says, Don’t mess with my daughter.

Thank you for sending me guys that didn’t love me enough or at all- to remind me of who You are and you don’t want anything between us. Thank you for being my friend and sharing your wisdom with me. Thank you for telling me “go and sin no more.”

Thank you for giving me time to get to know myself as your daughter. Thank you for time to get to know my other brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you for allowing my collection of stories to be a testimony- one that glorifies you. Most of all thank you for loving me enough to keep me to yourself a little longer… image _____________________________________________________

Saturday, February 7:

I’m beyond tired. I was so busy and didn’t have much time to myself. I started my at Panera discussing the Misty Edwards book I told you about before. A friend of mine and I meet every other Saturday morning to talk about what we read. We end up talking for hours about the book and all kinds of other stuff. I left there to meet my family for a dinner I was not expecting. From there i left to meet up for a work social at an upscale bowling alley for another dinner. It seemed like a really cool place but the service was horrible. I left there to attend a meeting at church for those of that serve in some way (I serve in the children’s ministry twice a month). After that I still had to run to the store for a few items. This was a little too much for me, no down time, no time to recharge. I. am. drained. image image __________________________________________

Friday, February 6:

Upcycling! Get’n wax out of used store bought candles. image

And listening to my girl Mariah. image

Me and Bestie LOL! image

After… image __________________________________________

Thursday, February 5:

Worked my other job 7a-3p, on 5 hours of sleep. Now it’s time to party. image _________________________________________

Wednesday February 4:

NASHVILLE! Team Deacon! image

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Couldn’t forget to drop rent off….. at the last minute! image

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Tuesday, February 3:

Today I made some fun valentine’s that I will attach to individual kool-aid packs for teens at my local library (on behalf of the program I run. image I had an amazing Snickerdoodle latte at Scooters with a friend on our way to the young adults group at our church. It was great preaching and fun conversation with friends!

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Monday, February 2:

It is a bookworm night. I’m reading two books and getting caught up tonight. image I read 40+ pages at a time of this one, it’s that good. I highly recommend this, especially if you think you are a Feminist. image Book two is What’s the Point by Misty Edwards. In the words of Misty, You have to know that you know that you know. __________________________________________

Sunday, February 1:

Today was a snowy day and even church was cancelled! image It put me in a bit of a funk. I took some time to get my attitude in check. I read a devotional for today and listened to my 2015 anthem multiple times.image

Sundays are designated family days so I’ve been with my parents, sister and nephew for hours now. I’m catching up on a episode of Downton Abbey that I missed, patiently waiting the new episode at 8pm. I wait all week to see the Grantham family. imageThey’re always after Mr.Bates! and Edith is a hot mess!

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