#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

One lie “good” Christians tell

Just a thought I had:

Stop telling people “God won’t put more on you than you can bear.”

That’s not Bible.

The truth is that He WILL put more on us than we can bear. It’s how He grows our faith and trust in Him. If He didn’t strategically and purposefully allow adversity in our lives, we wouldn’t come to know His power for ourselves and then trust Him more and more. And if He didn’t allow situations where we were forced to trust Him, how could we ever come to a place where we could have faith for the “exceedingly abundantly” He’s already promised us?

I mean, how could you trust God for that bill being paid, that job, that car, that house, or that healing if you hadn’t already learned through experiencing Him yourself in your challenges that He’s able?

If He didn’t put more on us than we could bear, we wouldn’t need Him and we certainly wouldn’t need Jesus. Heck, we’d be our own saviors every time.

This is why the Bible says we should rejoice in our weaknesses because it gives God a chance to show Himself strong, to show up and show off on our behalf.

With the things I’m fighting, the things I’ve been through, the things you’re up against and been through, you would have lost your natural mind, maybe even taken your own life BUT for God.

I absolutely believe that God puts more on me than I can bear — not overcome, but bear — because otherwise how will He prepare me for what’s to come? What testimony would I have if I never had to cry out to Him in my dark places? And what kind of faith would I have if I didn’t have to believe — while I sat in those dark places, even as tears streamed — that He’d purposed that moment to bless me only AFTER He guaranteed that the weapon wouldn’t prosper and that I would win, it would all work to my good?

I don’t know who else I’m talking to right now, but know this: you ain’t always gotta be strong. He wants you to let Him be your strength. To grow you, to grow your faith, and to increase your expectation in Him.

God’s got more for you on the other side of this — no matter what your “this” is.

I love you. More importantly, God loves you!

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!

Obsessed

appleofmyeyeFor the past day or so, I’ve been listening to The Walls Group album “Fast Forward” almost non-stop. (if you haven’t heard it, you should!  It’s awesome!)  And one song has been on repeat in my Spirit — I woke up singing it: “God on My Mind (feat. Brandy).”

Now, I’ll admit, a minuscule part of the reason why the song resonates for me is because it samples Brandy’s “Always on My Mind,” and hers was the first CD I ever owned back in middle school.

But this morning, when I woke up singing the song’s chorus, God gave me a revelation about its lyrics.  They go:

From the mountains to the seas, from the day that we believed to the beginning of time.
I can’t get you off my mind.
From the stars in space, to that empty grave, no matter how hard I try I can’t get God off my mind.
Always on my mind, your always on my mind. Thoughts of you all the time, your always on my mind.

I’ve listened to the song so many times and found myself inspired by the aspirational quality of these words.  I aspire to have God on my mind ALL the time.  In fact, the Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV to “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  And what more is prayer than thinking of and talking to God?

But this morning, the Holy Spirit gave me this epiphany: “You’re always on God’s mind.  He never stops thinking of you.  He’s obsessed.”

And suddenly, the lyrics had even greater meaning.

“From the mountains to the seas…”– No matter where we are or end up physically, nothing can separate us from the love of God.  He loves us so big and so wide and so deeply, that even when we stray from Him – physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, whatever – He’s still thinking of us.

“…from the day that we believed to the beginning of time..” — The Bible tells us in Jeremiah that before we were even in our mothers’ wombs, God knew us.  Even then, He was thinking of us.  And as we grew up, even before we chose Him, He was thinking about us enough to send his Son to die in our place.  From before our lives started and every moment since, we’ve been on God’s mind.

I can’t get you off my mind.” — The Psalmist tells us in chapter 139 that God’s thoughts on us are so numerous that they outnumber the grains of sand.

From the stars in space, to that empty grave…” — Everything that God has ever done for us, from stringing the stars in the sky to sending His only son to die, has been for us as an act of love because He was thinking about us.

“…no matter how hard I try…” — He keeps track of our sorrows.  He captures our tears in a bottle.  Our names are written on His hand.  He couldn’t get away from thinking of us if He tried or wanted to (don’t worry, He doesn’t try and doesn’t want to!).

Always on my mind, your always on my mind. Thoughts of you all the time, your always on my mind.” — And His obsession with us is consistent.  It’s constant.  He is always thinking about us.  It, like Him, is unchanging.

Isn’t that overwhelming?  To consider that God is always thinking about me.  About you.  Your situation.  Your hardships and trials.  Your joys and successes.  What’s important to you.  What you’re worried about.  What you fear.  What you need.

Every moment of your life, God is thinking of you.  Nothing surprises Him.  No circumstance sneaks up on Him.  He knew.  He knows.  He’s thinking of you.

I don’t know what you’re facing today, but I hope you’ll know this: God is absolutely obsessed with you.  You’re the apple of His eye and, because you’re so important to Him, He’s made you more than a conqueror; He’s defeated your every foe; and He is always working things out to benefit you.  He’s thought about all you’ll ever need and want, and has created a plan to give you hope and a future.  To bless you.

God can’t get you off His mind.

So walk through today in godly confidence that the Creator of the world, the King of all nations, the Alpha and Omega is thinking about you.  Right.  Now.


*YouTube courtesy of Stênio Nóbrega

Sufficiency

Last year, God gave me an idea. It was a way for me to use what I have to bless others.

Well, tomorrow that GOD idea (way better than good) comes to fruition, but not without some work on my part in the days leading up.

Last Wednesday was my big go day to make this thing happen. I was working on my event, managing my employees’ progress on separate accounts, and doing research for two clients. All while trying to be present with my husband as we worked out at the gym, and with my children as I took them to and from swim lessons.

It was a lot. To say the least. And there were moments throughout the day when I clearly remembered thinking, “I’m doing too much.” I combatted those thoughts and fought back feelings of being overwhelmed by making myself acknowledge how blessed I was to have such freedom, and by reciting that my God is not a God of confusion.

But as I pondered how crazy the day felt later in the evening, I was led to 2 Corinthians 12:

Of course, I am now referring to the wonderful things I saw. One of Satan’s angels was sent to make me suffer terribly, so that I would not feel too proud. Three times I begged the Lord to make this suffering go away. But he replied, “My gift of undeserved grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So if Christ keeps giving me his power, I will gladly brag about how weak I am. Yes, I am glad to be weak or insulted or mistreated or to have troubles and sufferings, if it is for Christ. Because when I am weak, I am strong. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12‬:‭7-10‬ CEV)

The passage immediately made me smile and say “Yessss!” It was an instantaneous response to my unspoken query of how I’d managed to get everything done.

I know you’ve been there. Ripping and running with a to-do list as long as your arm. And at random times along the trajectory of your day you think or say or feel like you’re one new email notification from losing it all.

But this passage is an encouragement to each of us every time we experience one of those chaotic days. God’s grace is sufficient.

There is one very well-know definition of grace that we likely all know: God’s unmerited favor. It’s receiving blessings and favor from God that you and I could never earn, don’t deserve, and can never repay.

But in my quiet time I stumbled upon this new definition that is so aptly described here in 2 Corinthians: the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.

Yessss!

It is when it seems all hell is breaking loose around us that God’s grace is sufficient. Not only is the knowledge of a love so deep that it gives without ceasing enough to put things in perspective and give one peace, but then the inner dwelling of God’s divine strength pushing us through the chaos when our own ability is long gone also gives us peace.

It’s like, no matter which definition you use, God’s grace is enough to get you through your hard time.

No matter what you’re feeling, His grace is enough.

No matter what you’ve done, His grace is enough.

No matter where you’ve been or who you are, God’s grace is enough and all you need.

I reflect now on how crazy last Wednesday felt for me and am grateful not just that I made it, but more specifically for God’s grace that pulled me through.

When the children were alternately bickering, crying, and whining…

When my wi-if failed just after I hit send on a critical email…

When I was 15 minutes late leaving the house…

When our car began to act a fool mid-commute…

Each time, having the knowledge of God’s unmerited favor and love in my life kept things in perspective and kept me from losing it.

And each time, His spirit operating in me gave me just a little patience more…a little faith more…a little strength more to accomplish everything He needed me to that day.

And now I’m on the eve of my big GOD event. No, every ticket isn’t sold. And no, I’m not certain that everything will go as I’ve planned. But I know that I’m operating in His will, and as long as I work as in service to Him, His will will be done and His grace will be enough to make it the success HE needs it to be — not me.

I’m so grateful for His grace. I’m so grateful for Jesus. I’m so in awe of God. And truly, His grace is sufficient for every situation I face in life.

What are you facing right now? Have you told yourself that His grace is sufficient?

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.

Huffington Post Blog: On Bedside Baptist

I can’t remember how many times I’ve learned – and relearned! – the lesson about the pitfalls of busyness. (Check out one of those times here.)

But a few days ago I found myself in that space again: suddenly realizing the toll overcommitting was having; this time not just on me, but my family as well.

Head on over to the Huffington Post to check out my latest post on my membership-in-good-standing at Bedside Baptist and, most importantly, the liberty I found there.

Huffington Post Blog: On Being Radical

I’m pretty sure my latest piece for the HuffPost is going to piss some folks off. I’m almost certain of that.

But, it had to be done.

I get so tired of Christians crying victim, living and walking a “woe is me,” “I’m just getting by lifestyle.” The reality is that God has more for us, gave us the power to get more, and wants us to expect more. Period.

The simple truth is: believing and asking God for small things isn’t noble or humble. That doesn’t honor the God who created everything. So do you really want to insult Him in the name of humility?

So, check out my latest post, “On Being Radical,” and share your thoughts with me. (And while you’re there, read all of my HuffPost pieces here).

You can also take a look below.

Huffington Post: On Being Radical

Timidity doesn’t honor God.

There, I said it.

I’ve given a lot of thought to how often followers of Christ find themselves – or more accurately, place themselves – in the role of victim.

Text messages change our moods. What someone said about us ruins our day. We pray fervently the same prayers, pleading with God to bless us in some area of our lives. Or, we allow ourselves only the most modest of dreams in a misguided attempt to be humble.

Yes, the Bible talks frequently of the blessings of humility. And Jesus Himself extols the virtue as one of the most desired traits of those seeking to live like Him. But nowhere have I seen a verse that says, “Think small, dream small and pray small. These things make God happy.”

In fact, I would venture to say that the opposite is accurate: big, bold prayers and dreams honor God.

On the basest of levels, followers of Christ, those seeking to model their lives after His example, must admit that our Savior was radical.

He flipped tables. He preached and healed on “forbidden” days. He hung out with the outcasts. I mean, come on: Jesus was our first maverick.

Yet somehow, centuries later, many of us have accepted a role of inferiority. We’ve come to accept mediocrity and “just getting by” as the life we should lead, and happily.

I disagree.

The Bible clearly states that the riches of the wicked are stored up for the righteous. In Psalms 35:27, we’re told that the Lord delights in blessing His children. And Mark 11:24 explicitly says that if the children of God pray, believing that they have received, God is faithful to do anything they ask in Jesus’ name.

Where in those scriptures does it say “accept whatever the world gives you”? To the contrary, we’re encouraged to command our day in Job 38:12, and we’re told that have authority over all the power that the enemy possesses in Luke 10:19.

Time after time, God reiterates through scripture His desire for his children to be bold, to have divine confidence, and to walk open to and expecting abundance in every area of our lives.

So, it’s far time those of us who aspire to be like Christ accept this simple fact: to be radical is to be like Christ.

Yes, be humble. Seek God’s will for your life, and walk that path with love and temperance. But don’t make yourself, your dreams or your abilities smaller than they are to make others comfortable; out of fear; or because you think that pleases God.

God knew what you’d be capable of when He made you. He knows your personality and the dreams He’s placed in you. He formed you with the express intent of fulfilling the purpose and dreams He placed in you.

So do it. Do you.

Be confident in your uniqueness. Embrace the big dreams God’s given you, and the great ministry He’s placed in you.

Accept that you’re different (Heck, we all are. We were made that way: to stand out, to be a remnant). Love you for you, and then live your God-given life out loud.

It’s what God wants. It’s honoring God by being and doing and dreaming all that He wants you to, the way He wants you to.

Last year for the Lenten season, I read “Draw The Circle,” a prayer challenge authored by Pastor Mark Batterson. I still remember the entry for day 31, “What Do You Want Me to Do For You?,” which talked all about praying and believing God for big, explicit prayers as an act of honoring how great and powerful He truly is.

That very day I decided I would seek God and write down (just like they tell us in Habakkuk) all of the visions He’d given me. And man, they were bigger than anything I’d allow myself to think of.

Almost a year later, I remain determined and passionate about living each day as radically as my Savior did: confident in who I am and what I’m gifted and called to do. It has given me a peace beyond my understanding and freedom previously unattainable.

The season of mundane Christian life is over. Be bold and be radical in whatever God’s called you to do. Evangelize with passion. Work with divine confidence. And live with Christ-like love and humility. Expect good things in your life daily, and decide right now that yesterday was the last day you’d take whatever this life gives to you.

You are an heir to the King. Walk in that power. It pleases God for you to do so.