On Losing Focus

(This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post on November 11, 2016.)

time-for-god
ericcartier.com

It happens: we’ve started a task, we’re a few moments in, and then another idea flashes across our minds. For me, that other idea is usually something I need to add to my to-do list. And for me, the task I’d started, quite frequently, is my daily devotional journaling with God.

Let’s be honest. First, I use the word “daily” loosely. I have a daily desire, but the actual execution on a day-to-day basis is…well, not so daily. (I do however talk to God — all day, everyday — so there’s that. But I digress…)

God frequently speaks to me through song. I’ll wake up and He will have me singing or humming a song through the Holy Spirit. I always enjoy that, a sweet reminder that He was with me all night and was downloading His truths and will for me and answering my prayers.

One particular morning I awakened to the tune of Lauren Daigle’s “First” emanating from my Spirit.

I meditated on that song for a few minutes. I felt in it an excitement of knowing that it was God telling me He wanted to spend time with me first thing that morning. And it was a little reminder of loving correction: I should seek and desire and want God more than anything, and that want should be of His presence, not his presents.

I was in a peaceful, joyful place. And then it struck. That errant thought that completely draws you out of intimacy with your Father for a fleeting moment.

It was a to-do item. Something I “had” to remember to do today.

I was irritated, bothered. Why’d my brain have to tell me this now?!

Then the Holy Spirit placed John 10:10 NLT into my remembrance: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Almost immediately, the Holy Spirit had me circle “stea”l and then He said, “Your focus.”

Whoa.

So many times I’d read that verse, heard it growing up, and always thought of things being stolen. As I marveled at this revelation, God kept talking.

“The thief can also steal your faith, peace, love, and joy, if you let him. He can kill your dreams, intentions, and hope, if you let him. He can destroy your destiny, your future, and your expectation, if you let him.”

I went on to read that very verse in two more translations, The Message and the Amplified versions. And I began to notice that the “rich and satisfying life” part became “abundance” once I reached the Amplified version. I was led to learn more about the term “abundance”.

According to the Blue Letter Bible, “abundance” is a Greek adjective that reads “perissos” in its original form. But the definitions are what got me:

  • Exceeding some number or measure or rank or need
  • Over and above, more than is necessary, superadded
  • Exceedingly abundantly, supremely
  • Something further, more, much more than all, more plainly
  • Superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon
  • Pre-eminence, superiority, advantage, more eminent, more remarkable, more excellent.

That was cool and all, but I didn’t get it. So I waited for an explanation, for the dots to be connected. And God said to me: You can only see this in terms of things (I really like handbags and cars and gadgets!) because that’s all your mind can handle, He told me. But there’s more, international speaker. Prophet.

See, we often lose sight of the more. We spend so much time fixating on what the thief came to take, that we lose sight of what we still have and what’s waiting for us.

We get so flustered that we’re not yet at a place where our time with God comes completely unaffected by worldly distraction, that we don’t celebrate that we can just return to sweet, quiet time with our Father.

(I literally just got a phone call. Ugh! OK, back on track. Where was I?…Oh!…)

And while we’re trying to protect all of our stuff from the thief, He’s taking the one thing we aren’t looking at: our focus.

We’re trying to protect our peace when a coworker eats our lunch by saying, “Not today satan!” And satan’s already taken our focus off of our gratitude to God for having food.

We’re trying to protect our joy when a friend says something unintentionally hurtful to us, but satan’s already taken our focus off of the blessing of friendship.

We’re trying to protect our hearts so we’re turning down new friendships and potential dates left and right, but satan’s already taken our focus off of giving and directing that love to God.

We’re trying to protect our dreams by not telling anyone about the desire God’s placed in our heart, but satan’s already taken our focus off of the freedom and joy God wanted that dream to give us.

See how it works?

Well, I decided this morning to just get back to my quiet, devotional time. Even when my husband came home 20 minutes later. Even when my sister called a few minutes after that. I just — took my focus back.

See, what we focus on matters. And the enemy knows that. Because one moment of lost focus could cost us all of the abundance God is promising us.

And His abundance, the more He still has for us that is so splendid we can’t even imagine it, is far greater than what the enemy is currently trying to take.

So cut yourself some slack; you’re human. There will be times when you can press in like never before and experience God in new, intimate ways. But there will also be times when you can’t for the life of you cease the torrent of mundane thoughts that race through your mind.

Keep the faith. Keep your focus. God’s got more for you if you’d just focus on Him and not the thief and his wily ways.

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God’s Command: MOVE

img_0322Many of us are waiting.

Waiting on a new job or client.

Waiting for a spouse.

Waiting for a financial blessing.

Waiting for a spiritual breakthrough.

But this is what The Holy Spirit just gave me this:

MOVE!

To MOVE you Must be Open, Visualize and Execute.

God’s command is to MOVE.

MOVE forward in faith. In excellence. In expectation.

Make the decusui

Be open to the leading of His Spirit and Voice.

Visualize your victory/promotion/increase/breakthrough in the Spirit BEFORE it manifests in the natural.

And then Execute the step God gives you toward that blessing. And He’ll only ask you to take it one step at a time; He’ll only reveal one step at a time.

So today, decide to MOVE.

The answer to your prayer is on the other side of your MOVE.

MUST be OPEN, VISUALIZE and EXECUTE.

Breath of Life

There’s a song that’s sung at my church. The refrain says,

It’s your breath in our lungs/So we pour out our praise/We pour out our praise to You only

Another says,

These hearts will cry and these dry bones will sing

That line resonated with me as I thought about all the dry bones in my life. The dreams, the desires, the needs. The relationships, the opportunities. 

What are the dead bones in your life?

The same life-giving breath that flows through your lungs now can resurrect the dead places, the dry places in your life. 

Hear this:

This is just a little reminder: nothing – no thing – is beyond the resurrecting power of Christ. 

That business you want to start. Your marriage. Your kids. That promotion. 

God is able. And you are worthy by virtue of you being God’s kid. 

Cry out to God. Be vulnerable and offer Him your heart. And He will cause your dry bones to live again. 

Just a #TuesdayThought. 

#bepetty for Jesus

Last week I had the privilege of preaching for the first time.

Now, anyone who knows me personally or who has followed this blog for a while may be saying, “You’ve been preaching for years.”  But last week was the first time I’d been invited to speak…in a church…from a pulpit…with the express purpose of bringing the Word.

I was nervous and exhilarated and humbled that God would choose me for such an awesome and important task.  But the word He gave me for this young adult audience was unique and on-time…just as He is and just as our relationship is.

Gratefully, my dear friend Penny videoed the entire 13-minute sermon.  Take a few minutes, check it out,  and commit to #bepetty for Jesus.

And I have to give credit to the amazing Awesomely Luvvie who is the genius behind all the “petty” names at the end. Pick up her petty T-shirt here!  *And no, she didn’t ask me to endorse this and I’m not being compensated.  Just giving a shout out to something/someone who inspired  me.

Blessings to you!  I hope it inspires you and speaks to your situation.

Adjust Your Crown

(I originally wrote this as a Mother’s Day post, but it’s some pretty powerful #MotivationMonday material!)

Stop abdicating your power. 

The word “abdicate” means to renounce one’s throne. To vacate. 

It’s not as simple as giving up one’s power, because anyone can give up power. The dog walker, the custodian, heck, even the President. Because they are of the world and walk in and execute in worldly power. 

But to renounce a throne, one must first be royal and then decide to walk away. Having the status of a king or queen or a member of their family and choosing to leave. 

So, mothers, daughters, sisters, Christians! If we are to stop abdicating our power we first must know who we are, and we are royalty. The Bible tells us that in 1 Pet 2:9 NIV:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

The second key thing that must happen in order for us to stop abdicating our power is we must them make a decision. To decide takes power. 

Ever had to decide to fire someone? Break up with someone? Leave that job? Move to that new place? Start that new company?

The word says that faith without works, without actions, is dead. 

The reality is that not moving, not taking action, IS in fact a decision. 

And I know decisions can be tough. God knows decisions can be tough. But He promises us that when we’re weak His grace is sufficient, His strength is perfected. 

I’ll leave you with two examples of women who made decisions not to abdicate their power – even in their most broken, most vulnerable, most hurt, most empty states – but their decisions changed the trajectories of their lives and of ours. 

The woman with the alabaster box and the woman with the issue of blood. 

Because they decided to push through, to offer their last, to put it all on the line, to use the only power they had, not only were they healed, their demonstrations became examples of how giving God all we have can result in great moves of power on our behalf. 

And get this: they didn’t even know Jesus like we do. They didn’t have a relationship him. They weren’t meeting him and falling down crying every Sunday. They had a chance encounter with the king and they DECIDED not to give up the POWER they FELT in that moment. 
So how much more so should we fight for, walk in, and own our power because we know the Prince of Princes and the King of Kings? The alpha and the omega. The bright and morning star. The lily in the valley. Our beginning and our end. Our shepherd. Our all and all. 

Because He lives, we can face tomorrow. 

Because He lives, all fear is gone. 

I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.

Decide today not to abdicate your power, ladies. 

Your healing is in the power of Christ. Your promotion is the power of Christ. The legacy of the great women of the bible is in that blood and because of that there’s no pain too great, no problem too big that you cannot overcome. 

So adjust your crown and walk fully in the power, authority, and dominion that are your birthright simply because your God’s kid. Monday ain’t got nothing on you!

source: Pinterest

Them Fightin’ Words

The Word of God says:

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

‭‭John‬ ‭10:3-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/jhn.10.3-5.nlt

As children of God, we’re His sheep. He calls us by name and we follow him…and Him only. It’s a critical goal of our walk – to learn and decipher His voice from the “noise” of life – but we so often fall short. 

In life, so many other things beckon for us and our attention. The enemy wants us to follow the money, or the “in-crowd.”  He wants us to follow what feels right or what the world dictates. Chase that promotion. Chase that girl/guy. Follow that high. Walk this way. 

The enemy calls our names…but we shouldn’t answer. We shouldn’t follow him. In fact, Jesus says (and I’m paraphrasing here, “Nah, son, they with me. I betchu they won’t follow you. Mine is the only voice they know.”

So if our lives are the only God some folks see if. If we know there is a group of folks looking for a reason to discredit our Father and our Savior, when we choose to listen to AND FOLLOW voices that aren’t our Shepherd’s, we’re in effect calling Jesus a liar.

Now, fret not. God’s gon’ get ALL His glory, whether it’s from you and me or not. (Remember those rocks?) But I can’t help but to think…

Who you callin’ a liar?!

I for one don’t want to be responsible for calling my Risen Saviour a liar simply because I couldn’t control my flesh, or because I thought I knew better, or I couldn’t get past what I wanted for what He has ordained. 

Nope. I’m good. Because the last I checked it was the devil who was a liar. See how crafty he is?!

Was That The Right Decision?

Life is a series of experiences bookended by decisions. (Credit me when y’all take that!)

Sometimes our decisions are between two choices or about a circumstance we find ourselves in. And still other times the decision is more simply wherher or not to trust God.

So how do we know when we’ve made the right choice?

LET’S BE CLEAR: it’s ALWAYS the right decision to trust God.

But if you need more guidance, you’ll know that you made the right decision when after praying about it, feeling consistently led to move in a certain direction, and then taking that action, you’re overcome with an indescribable peace. And suddenly, that situation that had been costing you sleep doesn’t anymore.

A peace that’s predicated on faith. Faith that’s founded on a decision to trust the Word of God over the world. And a Word that tells us that ALL THINGS work together for our GOOD.

Sure, you may still have questions about how it’s all going to work out. But HOW is none of our business; that’s God’s domain.

Our concern is only the WHO – God, our Lord and Saviour – whom, once we seek first, has promised to take care of everything else.

Leaving the Closed Doors

Here’s some Friday food for thought…

STOP FIGHTING CLOSED DOORS!

You’re so busy kicking that closed door that you (1) can’t see the one God’s opened behind you or (2) you’ve lost sight of God’s plan choosing instead to pursue things the way YOU think they are supposed to go. 

Here’s how I know:

“A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭18:16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
http://bible.com/114/pro.18.16.nkjv

See, the Word of God says your gifts will MAKE ROOM for you; not that you’ll have to fight for them.

So if that door ain’t opening, stop trying, start trusting, and put your focus back on God.