#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.

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Final Leap of Faith Prayer Call 

  Last night marked the fifth and final installment in my five-week, Leap of Faith Prayer Call for women. It has been an absolute honor and privilege to be able to pray for and with women as they believe God for more in their lives. I can only hope that this prayer line was a blessing and/or encouragement to those who dialed in or listened to the recordings. I know I definitely saw God move in my life in this time with you all. 

I shared an excerpt from Pastor Rick Warren’s “God’s Dream For Your Life,” 19-day devotional as the devotion last night. You may read it in its entirety below, or listen to it and our prayer by using the credentials below:

Playback Number: (641) 715-3589
Access Code: 859-866
Reference Number: 5

Here is the transcript of the devotional I shared:

From Dream to Deliverance

If you want your faith to grow so you can claim God’s promise in Mark 9:23 — “Everything is possible for the person who has faith” (GNT) — then you must first understand that God takes you through six phases of faith.

Phase 1: Dream What is the dream God has given you? If you don’t have a dream you’re working toward, you just exist. You need to start praying, “God, give me your dream.” You’re here on Earth for a purpose. When you discover that purpose, you’ll discover the dream God wants you to go after.

“God … is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes” (Ephesians 3:20b TLB).

Phase 2: Decision Maybe you have a dream from God, but you’ve not yet made a decision to go after it. God’s word for you in phase 2 is, “Go for it!” You may need to make the decision to give your life to Christ or be baptized or join a church or get involved in ministry.

“If you are like that, unable to make up your mind and undecided in all you do, you must not think that you will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:7-8 GNT).

Phase 3: Delay When things don’t happen on our timetable, we tend to run ahead of God and create detours to make it happen. Do not detour! You may end up making the wrong decision. You’re in God’s waiting room. Wait for God to work his hand.

God says in Habakkuk 2:3, “But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled” (TLB).

Phase 4: Difficulty What difficulties have you faced waiting for your dream to be fulfilled? You’ll go through many tests in life, but God knows what you’re going through. He’s watching, and he hasn’t forgotten you.

“Even though you are temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials and temptations. This is no accident — it happens to prove your faith, which is infinitely more valuable than gold” (1 Peter 1:6-7 Phillips).

Phase 5: Dead End Some of you are at your dead end, and you’re ready to give up. But you’re right where God wants you! He is preparing you for deliverance. God’s word for you is, “Hang on! Don’t give up!”

“At that time we were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more than we could bear, in fact we told ourselves that this was the end. Yet we now believe that we had this experience of coming to the end of our tether that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God who can raise the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).

Phase 6: Deliverance Do you expect and trust God to deliver you? He will. But it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to go through all six stages before God brings you to deliverance.

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.

June 16 Leap of Faith Prayer Call

To hear the recording of last night’s prayer call use the credentials below:
Playback Number: (641) 715-3589
Access Code: 859-866
Reference Number: 3

Below is an excerpt of the devotional I shared during the call.
For our topic tonight, I’d like to reference a hymn that actually predates me.  It came about in 1979 and was — and remains — quite popular.  The hymn is, “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough,” sang by that anointed psalmist, Michael Jackson.
Ok, ok.  I’ll admit that “Don’t stop til you get enough” and Michael Jackson aren’t where most folks would find Christ-inspiration, but his song – specifically the hook of “don’t stop til you get enough” – is in fact reminiscent for me of a basic principle in the kingdom: don’t settle.
So tonight, for a few minutes, I want to encourage you to don’t stop til you get enough. Or in other words, to not settle for less than God’s best in your life.
The word of God says that we are to be in this world but not of it, transformed by a renewing our minds (Romans 12:2). Likewise, it says in Jeremiah 29 that God has a plan for us to give us hope and a future, to prosper us not harm us. And then, in Psa 37:4, we’re told that God will give us the desires of our hearts. He’ll literally tell us what we should want so that His plan for our lives can be achieved.
So, for me, adding all of that up, nothing in that says to simply accept what’s offered to you. To go along to get along. Nothing in those promises says we should have low or no expectations in life.
So why then do we, especially women, continue to accept cookie-cutter lives when we serve a radical God who delights in blessing us and Whom the word declares gives us every good and perfect gift?
Why accept the world’s leftovers when God has prepared a table for you? Why accept anything less than God’s best when, as the daughter of the King, His best is in fact your birthright and inheritance?
 Why accept following someone else’s career path when you deserve – and were created to accomplish – so much more?  Why accept simply living, when you’re called to live life more abundantly?  Why accept simply having your “ends meet” from month to month when your God wants you to live in abundance?
Why?  Because sometimes we tell ourselves we aren’t good enough or we don’t deserve it.  We allow the enemy to tell us that we have to earn our stripes, pay our dues, like everyone else.  But I’m here to tell you that Jesus paid it all with HIS stripes so you and I could inherit the Kingdom and all that God has for us.  You’ve just got to be committed to not stopping until you get enough.  And you’ve gotta be patient until your breakthrough is delivered.
See, when we’re patient, the word tells us in James 1:12, that God will bless us. So if the key to getting God’s best is to be steadfast, patient, in waiting for what God wills, why not wait with expectation for His best instead of settling for what’s quickest or easiest?
See, we’re already told in 2 Cor 1:20 that all of God’s promises are yes in Christ. That means they’re already a done deal, ours to take hold of. If only we’d be patient and not settle. If only we’d make up in our minds to not stop til we get enough.
Don’t stop believing. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop hoping. Don’t stop expecting. Don’t stop planning.  Don’t stop working like it depends on you. Don’t stop praying like it depends on God.  Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t stop.
You know, there’s an Internet image going around of two cartoon men, both seemThree-feet-from-goldingly digging in the same diamond mine. It appears they’ve been swinging their pickaxes for some time; they appear disheveled, sweaty, and tired.  And they also both appear right at the edge of breaking though to an innumerable amount of diamonds right on the other side of a dirt wall ahead of them. Literally, we see them both only a few swings away.
But one of the men has given up; tired from all the digging and plugging away, he’s turned away from the inches of dirt that stand between him and a financial windfall. He walks away disappointed with his pickaxe over his shoulder, defeated. Above him the other man, who’s been digging just as long and as hard, continues to swing his axe. And that’s the motivation for you tonight.  Because there’s no way he can be sure of WHEN he’ll break through, but he knows he will eventually and he’s committed to swinging until that breakthrough comes.
If you’re feeling like that first man tonight – beat down, defeated, tired, second-guessing whether what you’re chasing will ever really come to pass – I want to say to you tonight you’re one more swing away from your breakthrough. You’re one more swing away from landing that new client or earning that promotion. You’re one swing away from getting that ring or opening the doors on your new business. Your breakthrough is an arm’s length away. And your pickaxe is your faith in God.  Your prayers and your confessions.  You are one more prayer away, one more swing away, from God’s breakthrough for you.
Don’t let this world and the people who are of it talk you out of your blessing because their faith is too small or their fear is too big. You must not settle for anything less than the God’s best that you’re pursuing.
You must not give up or give in. Even if you journey on alone.  Even if they can’t understand your passion or why it’s so important to you.  Even if you are starting to wonder if you’ll ever get it, if it worth it anyway, I say to you tonight…
Whatever you do: don’t stop, til you get enough.

Leap of Faith Prayer Call June 2

Many thanks all of the women who joined the inaugural Leap of Faith Prayer Call for women last night.  I pray it was an encouraging, empowering, and inspiring time, and that everyone who called in got what they needed from God.

If you missed the call yesterday, want to hear it again, or want to share it with folks you know, you can listen to the recording by using the number and codes below:

Playback Number: (641) 715-3589
Access Code: 859-866
Reference Number: 1

Here’s an excerpt of the devotional I shared:

How often have we heard in our lifetimes Psalm 118:24? “This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

I would venture to guess that we’ve heard it countless times, and probably recited it as well.

But what God really wants me to impress on each of you, my Sisters in Christ, is that we’re thinking too small when it comes to what God has predestined for us and what He wants to do for us.

In fact, if we really want to give God space to move, we have to know and confess that this is the YEAR that the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.

I believe with everything in me that this is the year for women to to take Leaps of Faith in their lives, careers, ministries, relationships, and even in their dreams.

It’s why the Holy Spirit led me to establish a luncheon series to cultivate networking and empowerment for women.  And it’s why I’ve prayed that you’d all join me on this call this evening.  Just so I can agree with, intercede for, and pray with each of you for the breakthroughs you’re expecting God to deliver for you this year.

As I prayed about what God would have me to say to you all tonight to encourage you, He told me to tell you that you, women, we are strong.  We are not weak.  We aren’t shrinking violets.  No we were made from strength.  And as we prepare to go and possess all that God has for us this year, we need to know that we know that we know that we are strong in and because of Christ.

The evidence of our strength can be found right in the first book of the Bible.  In the first chapters of Genesis, God walks us through the creation of, well, everything.  Light and dark.  Day and night.  Earth and heavens.  Water and land.  Animals.  Everything.  Then He creates man and woman in His image to rule over His creation.

And that’s where it got interesting.

The Bible says in Genesis 2:7 that God formed Adam, the first man, from the dust of the earth and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils.  But when we get down to verse 22 of the same chapter we see that God then forms woman, Adam’s helper, from his rib.  So we’re actually made in God’s likeness from bone.

So I did a little research on bones.  And here are the two most compelling facts I found:

– Our bones, inch-for-inch, are stronger than the steel used in the construction of skyscrapers; and

– Our strongest and longest bone is our femur, or thigh bone.

These two points alone underscore the fact that we, women, are literally made to withstand.  We were created from the stuff that supports, protects and strengthens others.  And literally what we are made of makes it possible for us to take on, shoulder, carry, and face every weight life attempts to heap on us.

Women were made from bone.  Not men.  Women.  We were made to be strong.

Now, I certainly am not saying that women are stronger or higher or better than men.  We were created to be their helpers and we are called, once married, to submit to our husbands who are submitted to the guidance of our Lord.  That hierarchy is not debatable.  It is the right order of things.

But you need to know that you’re made of stuff that doesn’t break easily.  It doesn’t back back down from a challenge nor does it yield in the face adversity.  You need to know that you’re made from some of the toughest stuff in the entire human body and that’s not by accident.

It’s not by accident because you and I are also created to do something that men are physically incapable of: give birth. To deliver new life.  And I declare that it is time for you and me to give birth to the ideas and desires God’s planted in us, according to the Word of God.

That idea for a new business or nonprofit?  God wants to deliver it and deliver you to the larger territory it holds.

That dream of a promotion or new job?  God wants to deliver it.

That heart for service and love?  It’s time to deliver.

Those prayers for guidance and wisdom?  It’s time to deliver.

Those prayers for loved ones?  God’s about to deliver.

Prayers for relationships? Delivered.

Prayers for finances?  Delivered!

I confess according to Matt 6:33 that all these things are added to you in the name of Jesus.  All God asks is that you shift your focus from your problems, and even from His promise, to seek Him first.  And then, He will deliver you!

And I pray you’re ready to give birth!

Leap of Faith Prayer Call for Women

Please forgive me for the radio silence!  I’ve been super busy turning my passion for encouraging and equipping others into a luncheon series designed to do just that for women.  I launched the Leap Luncheon Series™ at the prompting of the Holy Spirit in January of this year to help connect women with other successful women thought leaders, business owners/runners, and game changers.

As God continues to bless this initiative with even greater speakers and more women in attendance each time, I feel compelled to agree with women all over that the desires and dreams that God’s give them will come to pass; that they will take LEAPs of Faith this year into the new territories God has claimed just for them.

So tomorrow I’m going to start a 5-week prayer call for women looking to make LEAPs this year.  I want to encourage, intercede for, and agree with women who are seeking and praying for breakthroughs in their lives.
The LEAP of Faith Prayer Call™ will be every Tuesday evening at 7pm for 45 minutes for the entire month of June (June 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30).  I’ll do a brief devotional at the beginning of the call, ask if there are any new prayer requests, and will then pray for everyone and the requests I receive. The line will be muted during the actual prayer.
I invite you to join us!  You may send in your prayer requests – either with your name or anonymously – via email to expectmore@radicalnewu.com or via my web form here.   Requests will need to be in to me by 8pm ET the day before the call (so tonight).
Here are the call-in details:

Dial-in Number: (641) 715-3580
Access Code: 859866

Whether you feel led to join us or not, I ask for your prayers for me in this endeavor.  Not for MY success, but for my complete erasure so that God speaks and moves for everyone who calls in.
I also invite you to invite women in your network whom you believe would appreciate some encouragement and prayer.  My prayer is that by getting support and encouragement, women as a whole will feel empowered to go after and live the lives they desire, the one’s God’s ordained for them, instead of just accepting the circumstances and situations they face.
And for those curious, the scriptural foundation (and purpose of my Leap Luncheons) – Hebrew 10:24 – is also my goal and compass for these calls.
I believe so strongly that God has more for women – for each of you and those who will join the call – and I’m committed to doing what I can to see that you all get the MORE God’s already named as yours!
Thanks in advance for your support!  I’m praying God’s blessing over the LEAPs you’re going to take this year as well!

Keep Hope Alive

Hope is a dangerous thing.

I remember my favorite actor, Morgan Freeman, saying that in one of my favorite movies, “The Shawshank Redemption.”

In the movie, all of the lead stars were prisoners, in prison with long sentences ahead of them. Most had been in there their entire adult lives.

Freeman’s character, “Red”, was telling a new inmate that for those imprisoned with no end or liberty in sight, hope can be a dangerous thing. It can cause you to go crazy – waiting on and anxiously anticipating the unseen.

But the “new fish” in the cell block, “Andy”, rebuffed that analysis. He countered that in fact, in times of imprisonment, hope is the strongest tool one has to not just make it, to survive, but to do so with some peace and even confidence.

There are so many imprisoned today. Not just in the literal sense of serving time, but in the figurative as well.

There are those who feel trapped in dead-end jobs, relationships, circumstances, and storms.

Some feel like they’ll never crawl from beneath the boulder of debt (raises both hands), fear, guilt, or shame crushing them.

There are those who’ve been fighting for liberty from injustices and past wrongs; addictions and disappointments; pain and sadness.

If that’s you, and you’re reading this desperate for some sign that God has not forgotten you in your struggle, I say to you, KEEP HOPE ALIVE.

Hope is what keeps you open and aware during your struggle so that when your breakthrough comes you’ll know it, you’ll be expecting it, and you won’t prolong your stay going through hell.

Hope is what drives you to pray harder, work smarter, and zero in on what lies ahead with expectation and faith-filled promise that tomorrow will be better than your today.

I’d agree with Red, too, and say that hope is indeed a dangerous thing. It sets you apart from others, giving you a divine confidence. Hope will make you creative and bold. It’ll give you wisdom and reveal new levels of faith.

Hope was how Peter, Paul, Silas, Daniel, and 3 Hebrew Boys not only made it out of their trials, their prisons, but remained standing throughout their ordeals.

And it’s how you are and will, too.

Allow yourself to hope in the Lord. That hope, that belief in your gut that God didn’t bring you all the way here to leave you, to let this one situation take you out, is where you’ll draw the strength you need to stand.

Hope in the Lord. Hope for better days in your finances, your health, your relationships, your jobs, and your prayers. Hope because you know His promises and because His word is still true: He will never leave you, never forsake you.

Hope even when the people behind you and around you say you’re crazy and look at you funny.

Hope when the devil tries to make things even worse.

Hope when you’ve done all that you know how to.

Hope when your last dollar was gone days ago and it feels like you’ve got nowhere to turn.

Hope because it gives God a clear path to show up and show off on your behalf, in your situation.

Hope because when you’re cornered God stands before you to fight your battle and lead you clear out.

Hope.

Because hope, you see, holds the key to your breakthrough.

Hope makes you dangerous because when you’ve decided to not accept what you see as the end then there’s nothing around you that can hurt you or hold you back anymore.

I HOPE that something I’ve written here confirms for you that God has heard your prayers and seen your tears.

He knows the bills are due.

He knows what the doctors have said.

He knows you don’t want to be alone, that you want to have a child.

He knows you’re tired and lonely and sad.

He knows.

He sees you.

He cares.

And all He needs to turn it all around for you is your hope.

So, as the Bible says in Romans‬ ‭15‬:‭13‬ AMP, may the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.

Live dangerously today. Keep your hope alive.

Measuring Up

I love the Amplified version of James 1:17, the first half in particular. It reads:

“Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above…”

The expounding upon perfect is the part that really gets me: free, large, and full.

How many times do we pray for a thing and, in our excitement and haste to see/get/have it now, we begin trying to make it happen?

We pray for a mate, so the next time a young man or lady catches our attention and gives us the time of day, we are already thinking forever…even though the signs are there that s/he isn’t the one.

We ask God to get us a new job with more pay, so we begin applying to jobs based on the salaries we want…even though something inside tells us we won’t enjoy the job or the people or the mission of the organization.

Or we ask God to grow our own business with more income, so we start chasing every person or organization with a bank book…even though none of what they do aligns with our gifts or interests or talents or capacities.

But what we find in the first half James 1:17 are some good parameters by which to measure our “blessings” to determine if they are from God, or just an attempt to distract us from God. Are they something we want to further our own plans, or are they a part of God’s plan advancing for us?

Let’s take a few minutes to unpack the parameters laid out for us in this passage of James.

Perfect (verb) – I love this word used here. God is perfect. Jesus is perfect. And God made us perfect in His image to fulfill His purposes for our lives, and then sent his only Son to shed His blood so we could be reconciled back to Him and His perfect will. That means that in Christ every messy, uncomfortable detail of our lives is perfected, because only that which is perfect (the Son) can make perfection out of flawed materials (us).

So no matter how jacked up we think we are or our lives are, they — and we — are made perfect by Christ. This act, this action, of making the flawed as good as it possibly can be is the definition of the VERB perfect. So, literally, God is always WORKING for and through and on us. It’s the nature of who He is and what He does through his Son.

Perfect (noun) – When we look at the definition of “perfect” as a noun, it says: “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.”

This is what God gives us. When He blesses us, His blessings, His gifts, have everything we need (and likely much of what we want!) and there is nothing better that exists. That’s why His will and plan for our lives is perfect: there is no better way. His love for us is perfect: it never changes, covers all of our faults, and is unconditional. Glory to God!

So if the “blessing” you are claiming isn’t in alignment with God’s perfect will or His perfect plan for your life, it doesn’t measure up.

Free – As cliché as it is, Jesus really did pay it all. So when God blesses, the cost has already been paid. There’s nothing you can do to earn it because God blesses us out of the character of who He is not out of what we can do. If this new “blessing” you are claiming requires you to pay in ways that aren’t in alignment with God’s character or His plan for your life, or asks you to do or say things that just plain don’t feel right in your gut, then it isn’t free and it ain’t measuring up.

Large – We serve a big God. He’s bigger than the vastness of space and time that He created. His word tells us in the latter half of Matthew 6 that He guarantees us the necessities of life – food, shelter, clothes, and their trappings. And the Word also tells us that He knows what we need (utility bills, maintenance on the car, tuition for the kids, down payments, etc) in Matthew 6:8 and will in fact supply all those needs as well (Philippians 4:19). So knowing this, and that His plan is to draw everyone unto Himself, if the “blessing” you’re claiming isn’t big enough to give God glory and credit and show Him to others (or just plain show him mighty in your own life), something there ain’t measuring up.

Full – Does this “blessing” you’re claiming require you to add to it, fix it, adjust for it, or otherwise do something to make it complete or to make it fit your need/prayer? If you answer yes, hold on — something isn’t measuring up. Full
means to capacity, no extra room, no free space. God-blessings leave no room (or need!) for us to add to it. Period.

The reality is that yes, it is necessary, that we make sure the “blessings” we claim measure up because we are called to a higher calling, a higher purpose.  If folks of the world are created to, expected to, conform and just take what the world sends their way, how much more do we, the children of the Most High God, have to be diligent to ensure that all that we allow into our lives meets the standards of the God whose delight it is to bless us?

The patience and faith it takes to let something that ain’t for you go can be tremendous.  But the energy it takes – the spiritual, physical, and mental energies – to deal with the consequences of trying to rush or force the Hand of God is far greater.

Let’s decide now this year we will take the time to ensure that every new person and opportunity that crosses our path measures up to what God has promised us.  And then let’s endeavor to support one another in letting some “blessings” keep right on going, because if we err on the side of caution and let something go that God did intended for us, it’s still ours and His word says that as long as we’re acting out of what we believe to be His will, He’ll bless us all the same.

 

Unbowed

As time does, today finds us acknowledging that time has swiftly passed.

It seems as though it was just summer…just autumn…just Christmas. And now, we’re embarking on a brand new year.

For a lot of folks, the New Year is filled with the hope of what’s to come. There’s so much possibility in the coming days, weeks and months. I’m excited, too.

But what I feel in addition to excitement is a renewed confidence. A belief that no matter what comes or what the future holds, God brought me this far. I know He won’t leave me.

Much like the line from “Invictus,” we’ve made it “bloodied but unbowed.”

Last year was hard for so many. Folks lost loved ones and jobs. They fought physical, spiritual and mental illnesses. They sacrificed, nearly succumbing to hell all around them.

So while many are facing this new year with excitement and optimism, there are a great many still who are simply relieved. Those who are glad to be done with a year that tested and tried us — our patience, our faith, our fortitude.

We were bent to near breaking last year. We often felt as though we cried more than we smiled. Worried more than we hoped. Fought more than we simply lived.

We struggled and scratched and clawed through layoffs and loss, debt and depression, sadness and sacrifice. We prayed and pursued. We protested and proclaimed. We worked and waited.

Many of us made it to 2015 only by the grace of God. And we’re relieved just to have made it.

If this is you. If all you feel about 2015 so far is relief that 2014 is over, know this: you made it.

The storms that the enemy thought would take you out only made you stronger. The traps the devil meant to harm you only catapulted you forward with more focus and greater determination. What would have literally caused someone else to lose their mind motivated you to keep going, to not give up.

And you’re here, standing at the dawn of a new year. Bloodied, but unbowed. Bent, but unbroken. A little weary, but still a battle-ready warrior.

To you I say own your stripes. There’s a courage, a confidence, and a determination that comes with overcoming. Yours is a testimony no one else can give because they haven’t walked in your shoes, haven’t fought the battles you’ve won.

To you I say stand tall and proud. Because while others were too busy wishing away their todays hoping for tomorrows, you lived and breathed every moment — the good, the bad and the unbearable.

To you I say don’t shrink back. Don’t be so overcome with relief that you forget the strength, the faith, and the resilience your trials earned you. Yes, you may be bloodied, but you remain unbowed.

To you I say this is a new day. A day ordained for your victory; predestined for your triumph.

This day. This week. This year is a year of restoration for you.

God saw every test, every trial, and every tear. He heard every prayer and every plea. And for you He has worked in the background to bless you in the open.

Time will not slow down. It won’t ease because we’re tired or overwhelmed or overcome. But it is the knowledge of what we’ve already been through – and beat! – that spurs us on in our weakest moments.

My prayer for you is that even as you make resolutions, that you’ll also make it a point to count your blessings and your wins. In all of your forward thinking, look back long enough to claim your hard-earned strength and faith and fight.

Own your stripes, your bruises. And honor the important parts of the “old” you in this new year.

Bloodied, but unbowed. Bruised, but unbroken. And blessed in spite of it all.

*A version of this post appeared on The Huffington Post yesterday.  You can check it out here.