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.

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.

#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?!

Face it, We’re Hypocrites

For everyone with a case of the Mondays today. God gave me this this morning to put the J-O-B in perspective — and to call me out for my hypocrisy.

(And as I write this, knowing there are many other ways that Christians are hypocrites, I reserve the right for this to be the first in a series. Anyway…)

HYPOCRITE, STOP WORRYING!

Oh, God’s your source? Then why is it that every time you need something, or it looks like your bank account is getting thin, you start thinking of ways to make ends meet IN YOUR OWN STRENGTH and using YOUR OWN LOGIC?

The Bible says in Prov 10:22 ESV: “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.” And, in the footnotes and some other translations it goes further to say of 10:22b, “And no toil/work adds to it.”

See, your job is an assignment, it isn’t your Source. You can’t work your way wealthy. So do what you were sent to do, get what you were sent to get, and give what you were sent to give.

Tithers, we’ve gotta stop panicking every time our money gets a little funny — or looks like it will be. Considering second jobs, taking on unnecessary side hustles, pursuing the wrong clients, and all kinds of things just to get what God has already promised to provide.

As tithers, Malachi tells us we’re covered, and God’s our Source anyway! It’s our birthright. 

Right?

  

Tense Matters

blessed
Photo from: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-uZkd0giwfTE/UZHJ7PNVq0I/AAAAAAAAGaM/ujxEWmkQPrc/s1600/blessed.jpg

Psalms 13:5 NLT reads:

But I trust in your unfailing love.  I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

As I read and re-read this passage this morning, the thing that really stuck in my Spirit was the tense of the words the author chose.

Preceding verse five, the author was crying out to God, asking Him how long will he endure struggle, imploring our Savior to answer him, to show up.

But then we get to verse five and something amazing happens.  The sense of woe ends sharply and, if we look closely enough, we see a change — not in the author’s circumstances, but in his perspective.

Verse five begins with the word “but.”  The word “but” can play a number of roles in English grammar.  It can be a preposition, an adverb.  However, in this use I believe it’s most important as a conjunction, a word to add together groups of words.  That’s what’s important to note: even though a change is occurring in the author, nothing has changed in his circumstances.  Rather, he’s chosen to use what he’s going through as a part of what’s to come.

Further, any good grammarian will also point out that the use of “but” also signifies that everything before it is now inconsequential in reference to what will follow.

My bills are due and I don’t know how I’m going to pay them, BUT

My body is ill and the doctors say they don’t know what more they can do, BUT

The vision You gave me is too big/expensive/scary and I don’t know if I can accomplish it BUT

They said they’d always be there for me, and they’re gone now that I need them, BUT

It feels like I’m going through this all alone, BUT

The verse goes on, after signaling a change in the author’s perspective to say, “But I trust in your unfailing love.”

“I trust.”  That’s current.  That’s present.  That’s now.  And, following the author’s please for response, and then his decision to shift his focus, “I trust” being present tense tells us that even though all hell was breaking out in this man’s life, the hell didn’t negate his faith.  In essence he’s showing us that even as he’s going through it and doesn’t know how much more he can or even when God will will show up, he still trusts in God’s unfailing love.

The author knows that no matter how badly it hurts, or how uncomfortable what he’s going through is, his circumstances do not affect or reflect the fact that God loves him and that God’s love never fails.  It never falters.  It never doesn’t reach us.  It never judges us.  It never decides to show up today and not tomorrow.  It never abandons us because we’ve sinned or doubted.  God’s love just is.

You need to know that trials and trust are not and should not be mutually exclusive in your life.  They will not be exclusive.  In fact, this scripture shows us that trust in the Lord is ever more important when we’re going through our trials.  That trust is a reminder that we aren’t in it alone, that God still cares, and that He isn’t oblivious to what we’re going through.  Trials and trust in God go hand in hand.

The verse then goes on to say, “I will rejoice because you have rescued me.”

Now this is where it gets really good, where the “but” has shown us that the author’s perspective is changing, and the “I trust” show us what the author’s two conflicting states of mind are, “I will rejoice” shows us a decision.

“Will” is future tense.  It also reflects a decision.  The author, even though he’s going through hell, even though it doesn’t appear that God has reached out to save him, he knows that in spite of his uncomfortable circumstances that God still loves him unfailing. And, as a result of that knowledge, the author decides that he will rejoice.

Right there in the midst of his hell.  

Right there in the midst of his storm, his trial, his going through.  

Right there with the overdrawn bank account.  

Right there with the 100th no call back after applying for a job.  

Right there with the raggedy car that won’t start.  

Right there with the daycare closed and no way for you to watch the kids and go to work.  

Right there with the rent/mortgage being due and no money to pay it.  

Right there with that unreliable friend/partner.

Right there in the midst of those silent cries alone at night.

Right there.

Right.  

There.

Right in the thick of it, the author decides, no matter what it looks like or feels like, I am going to rejoice.  And that’s an important decision because the Bible tells us that when we choose to celebrate in the midst of our adversity it confuses the enemy.

In fact, when I looked at the word “rejoice” in my concordance, I learned this:

  • the original word used here is a Hebrew verb
  • in the Bible it’s used to mean to exult and to be glad
  • Strong’s Concordance goes on to define it as “to spin around (under the influence of any violent emotion)…be glad, joy, be joyful…”

Whoa.  “To spin around under the influence of any violent emotion.” To me, that means that all of the anger, the fear, the frustration, the helplessness, the pain, and every other intense emotion the author was feeling as he cried out to God in the beginning of the chapter was still there.

Even as he decided to change his perspective, he then decided he would force himself to be glad, pouring out all of the negative emotions the enemy wanted to use to oppress and depress him as positive praise for a God that never fails — even, and especially, when hell is breaking out all around us.

Then the verse continues with, “because you have rescued me.”

“Because” is a preposition here.  It’s setting us up to understand why.  Everything that comes after because tells us why the author’s perspective changed and why he forced himself to praise God in the middle of his turmoil.

And why did he, you ask?  “Because you [God] has rescued me.”

Don’t miss that: “rescued” is past tense.

It’s already done.

Before this storm erupted.  Before all hell broke loose.  Before I lost all my money.  Before he or she walked out.  Before the doctor gave me the diagnosis.  Before the bills became due.  Before I lost my job.  Before I cried myself to sleep.

Before it all even happened, God had already rescued you.  He’d already saved you.  He’d already provided.  He’d already blessed you.  He’d already made a way.

Already.  Before.

And get this, once a person or a thing has been rescued, that which threatened them can no longer harm them.

So before you started “going through” God had already seen to it that what you would go through wouldn’t hurt you, couldn’t hurt you.

That means that before the storm even erupted in your life, God had already made you victorious over it.

Already.  Before.

Look, tense matters.  Tense matters in this scripture because it reminds us that everything that happened before we were saved, before we prayed, before we rejoiced, before we decided to worship God is no longer important and never could touch us.

And tense matters because if you’re still overcome with the emotion your circumstances have you feeling, then this scripture is a roadmap to peace.

Tense matters because where you are has no bearing on WHOSE you are or where you WILL be.

Tense matters because if He did it back then.  If He did it before.  He’s the same God, with the same unfailing love.  He WILL show up and show out on your behalf this time, too.

Tense matters because how we choose our thoughts and words dictates whether we remain stuck in a place where we’re telling our God — Who’s already saved us — about our problems, or whether we’ll choose to move to a place where we tell our problems about our God.

Tense matters because we have the God-given authority to change our circumstances, to speak life and death to situations in our lives based solely on the words we speak.

So tense matters.  Because you can be going through forever, or you can choose to celebrate the victory you already had now.

It matters.  It matters to God.  It matters to your storm.  It matters for you.

 

 

 

June 23 Leap of Faith Prayer Call

Many thanks to everyone who joined our next to last prayer call.  They’re going by so quickly! Next week is our last week already.  I pray this series has been a blessing to you Ladies.  It’s certainly been a blessing to me.

To hear the recording from last night’s call, use the call-in credentials below:

Playback Number: (641) 715-3589
Access Code: 859-866
Reference Number: 4

Below is a transcript of the devotional I shared:

I didn’t prepare a traditional devotional tonight because I really just want to talk to you; to encourage you.

Sometimes, when we stop to think about the enormity of our God, how good He is and how undeserving we are, we can become frozen in our own tracks.  The enemy will begin to lie to us, telling us we have nothing to offer.  Or trying to convince us that we’ll never be able to get our lives together enough to be of service to such a good God.

But my prayer tonight is that in sharing a little bit of my testimony that you’ll be encouraged — not just to tell the devil to go to hell (literally!), but to also keep pursuing God on your walk with him.

I won’t bore you with the details of my birth story or anything quite that long ago.  But what I will tell you is that in late February/early March of this year I felt like God was so far away.  I felt like for all the good I thought I was doing, I wasn’t sure where God was and I wasn’t sure that He was pleased.

In January, I’d done a stint of praying everyday at the same time.  And from that time with God the idea — and the guest — for my first Leap Luncheon Series™ was revealed to me.  But, like I always had, I soon found myself “too tired” to stay up later or to get up earlier.  And, the “habit” quickly became past-tense.

The following month, when I tried to recreate the magic of the first luncheon, I found that I was a day late and a dollar short.  An advisor told me that invites to really notable folks had to go out a month in advance, if not sooner.  And just like that, what was supposed to be a monthly luncheon was on its first hiatus.

I sulked for a little while over why my event seemed so short-lived and what the Holy Spirit revealed to me was that I’d stopped seeking the Source.  I’d become so enamored with the gift, that I’d turned my eyes from the gift giver.

The revelation convicted me and I immediately committed to returning to my 4:45am prayer and meditation times.

Since then, I’ve had five more successful Leap events.  I’ve been blessed to bless others — giving gifts of money and resources to other folks who cross my path.  I’ve been invited to be a guest speaker at a few different events as well.  And the future looks…exciting.

I look back now, seven months into my decision to give God the first hour of my day, and I realize that it wasn’t until I chose to physically and literally seek God first, as we’re admonished in Matthew 6:33 that things started to turn around for me.

I decided to live out the truth that God was and is my Source.  That means not worrying when bank accounts run low – or overdrawn – but choosing to trust God instead.  And He’s proven that He is indeed an on-time God.

I decided to live out the truth to lean not to my own understanding and to commit my ways to Him.  That meant asking God simple things like, What should I put on my to-do list today?, and then prioritizing the things He gave me.  And He’s proven that every detail of my life is important to Him.

What I’ve found was that at that time  when I started this daily prayer time, I felt like I didn’t have anything to give God.  I literally felt like, I have nothing to offer you, God.  But I know you’ve been good enough to warrant me missing a few winks, so here I am.

There have been mornings when I’ve hit snooze one too many times and had to make up my prayer time at the end of the day.  There have been mornings that I’ve been so tired that I’ve fallen asleep intermittently throughout.  And times when I literally wrote in my prayer journal, God, I’ve got nothing to say this morning.  I’ve gone to Him angry and disappointed.  Sad and confused.  I’ve prayed in tongues some mornings, sobbed uncontrollably others, and simply sat in silence for some others.

But in the six or so months since I’ve been really trying to commit to this thing, God’s moved in a mighty way in my life.  He’s grown this luncheon idea to a multi-city brand that one day may make me a little money and give me a national platform.  On May 19th He told me write down some declarations.  One of them described a house in great detail that I, at the time, never thought I could have or afford.  Today, I’m excited to say we’ve placed an offer on the very house He described to me and we’re just waiting for the confirmation that its ours.

I’ve often in the past few months made it a priority to give big gifts, to give when it hurts, or to give when I’m down to my very last dollars as a means to show God I trust Him and/or to sow seeds for the desires He’s placed in my heart.  Just last week a couple gave my husband and I a substantial sum of money to help us get our down payment together for the house God told me was ours.  Just like that.  Out of the blue.

Look, I’m not perfect.  And I don’t share these testimonies with you to brag or to somehow say I’m better than anyone.  I’m a sinner of the worst kind perhaps.

But I share these bits of my story with you to say this:

1.  God sees you.  He knows how you’re sacrificing and sowing in tears and labor.  He sees all that you’re doing and going through and He is faithful to reward your efforts.  I’m a witness to that.

2.  You are all the gift God needs.  Don’t ever think that you have nothing to give God.  If all you give HIm is your time and attention – and it doesn’t have to be all at once or for some long period of time, it can be throughout the day, while you’re sitting in traffic, or even in the shower.  But if you give HIm you, if you choose to seek Him first literally, He’ll bless you for your efforts.

And 3.  You are not alone.  I struggle all the time with figuring out how to get it all done in a day.  Whether you’re juggling a business, a husband, and kids like me, or you’re just trying to figure out where to live, what to do, or who to date, you aren’t alone.  God loves you and He cares about every detail of your life.  If you’d ask His opinion, tell Him, Lord, I’ll do whatever you want me to today, He’s faithful to direct your path.  I’m a witness.

I don’t always get up in the morning.  And I jack up on my walk many times every hour of the day.  But I can say that since I’ve decided to prioritize time with God, my faith has grown, my expectation has grown, and the room that I leave in my life for God to do miracles has grown, too.

The sellers of our new house haven’t accepted our offer yet, but they will.  I don’t yet have all of the money I need for a down payment either.  I don’t know how we’re going to afford the renovations and I’m not sure when we’ll move in.

But of this one thing I am certain: Philippians 4:19 NIV.  God will meet all of my needs.

And He will meet yours too.  Just have faith, have expectation, and trust Him enough to take the LEAP He’s planted in your heart.

…all He really wants in return is you.