Let’s Be Free

Today, it seems like being offended is the new trend. Don’t get me wrong, we all feel and experience hurt but I’m referring to the voluntary action of remaining offended, just because you feel as if you have “right” to. It seems as if people are preparing themselves to be offended. Think about it this way….

How many times have you convinced yourself that you have a “right” live in offense? How many times have you made a decision based on your offense? Now think about how many minutes, hours, days, or even years you’ve spent living in offense…crazy, huh?! As “right” as you may think you are, the truth is, you’re only creating a 6×8 frame for someone to live in. And guess who the prisoner is? Its YOU!

Living in offense keeps you captivated. Your decision making is not as stable as it should be. Your moods and emotions shift with the wind. Your drive and stride is fueled by irrelevant matters, such as haters and revenge. You lose focus of your goals. And the things that should really matter begins to fade into the backgrounds of insignificant time wasters.

Life is too precious to not live free. It’s time to free yourself. Go on and forgive that person. Let go of the guilt. Accept the apology that you may never hear. Set up the meeting to talk it out. Reconcile. Do what ever you have to do. But what you CAN NOT afford to do is live another day in offense. It doesn’t matter what kind of “right” you feel entitled to, stop hurting yourself because you have a “right” to. Is it really worth holding up your own progress? Is it really worth wasting more minutes, hours, days, or even years?

Lets decide to be free!

The Fear of Judgement

I had a conversation with someone recently and we discussed the reason why this person felt insecure and scared to take the next step in life. This person shared how excited they were about the path that God was taking them on and how they’ve long awaited to have the relationship with God that they have now. But there was one issue. This person stated that they sometimes resented talking to some people about the “great change” that has taken place in their life. The reason why was because they felt as if people would over shadow their new found life with the past mistakes and decisions they had made. This person even shared with me their passion for reaching out to younger women and men about the street life and ministering to those who have been involved in drugs and gang activities. But once again, the fear of being judged was determined to be the factor in holding them back. At first this didn’t make sense to me. I was thinking, if God had done such a tremendous thing with me and had blessed me with another chance at this thing called life, why would I even care about the opinions and judgements of others.

Then I asked myself….how many times have I backed out of an assignment or not showed up to an event because of the fear of the judgement of others? How many times have I started typing a Facebook post about something that God had given me but deleted it because I felt like someone wouldn’t receive it because they know who I once were?

Maybe it’s the thought of that one person or even that one group of people that won’t see the good in you but will magnify your “used to.” You know, those people that love to say “he used to steal” or “she used to lie all the time” or “he used to curse everybody out.” Those people. Yeah, they make change and decision making difficult but the reality is this, they’re not going anywhere! You’ll always have those people who point to your “used to’s” because that’s all they have on you, is the person you used to be! Which is a good thing for you because that’s not who you are anymore. So their judgement can only be based on who you once were, not who you are now! And if you know that all things have become new, the “used to’s” don’t bother you as much.

So I say, go for the gold! Chase your dreams. Activate your faith and step out on it! Speak to those people. Start the organization! Start the ministry! Follow the voice of God! Eventually, the “she used to be something serious” will turn into “I used to go to school with her” or “we used to live in the same neighborhood”…because now their proud to even know you! Even if it’s only based on a “used to.”

No one is saying they’re ashamed of the Gospel but simply not wanting to be reminded of their short comings. It can be quite embarrassing. And let’s not mention the unspoken pressure of trying to explain the transition. This can definitely make a person feel not qualified for a task. Especially if you’re young in Faith. But however……

It’s time to get passed the fear of judgement. After all, we’ll all be judged one day, anyway. Right? The main difference is, on that day, we’ll actually face the judgement that really matters.

It’s time to be the person that used to be afraid but is now going for it all!!!!

Relief Valve

Question: Are you experiencing failure in an area in your life? Do you find yourself lashing out or exploding on people? How is your temper? How is your attitude? Last question, how is your character? Now ask yourself could my lashing out or exploding or bad attitude be an expression of my built up pressure?

According to Wikipedia, yes I said Wikipedia because I love this definition, a relief valve or pressure relief valve is a type of safety valve used to control or limit the pressure in a system; pressure might otherwise build up and create a process upset, instrument or equipment failure, or fire. Pretty much self explanatory so we can cut straight to the point.

We all know what happens when pressure builds up and has no way of releasing. It eventually turns into some sort of disaster. Okay, as a person, we may not have pipes that will burst or body parts that will pop off but we do have actions that will express our pressure! We also have organs and fluid levels that will be affected by our pressure. Based on the definition, pressure could cause a process upset, failures, or fire! In short, WE CAN NOT AFFORD TO HAVE A PROCESS UPSET. Look, the process is already tough enough by itself. Don’t add unnecessary stress to it. You must find a valve and quick! You were not meant to carry that level of pressure and you do not have o subject yourself to it. Don’t upset your process by holding on to the unnecessary!

Find a relief valve and utilize it! You do not have time for the upset or the malfunction. There has already been too much time wasted and moving forward is our only option at this point. Have you ever slammed your finger in the door? As time goes on, that finger builds up pressure and my grandmother told me to take a needle and put a small pinhole in my finger. Once I did, some of the pressure was released and my finger felt better. Sticking my finger with the needle was uncomfortable but in the end I could tell the difference. So by any means necessary, you have to keep moving. Push the button, pull the lever, unscrew the top, puncture the surface, do whatever it takes! But you MUST release the pressure before you explode. At this point, exploding would cause you to lose time, cause regrets, and damage relationships. This can not happen. Think about it. Would you rather cause a delay or simply release it and keep moving? Everybody’s valve is different. Some people use prayer, some use music, some people may write, and some people may express theirs verbally. No matter what, find you a relief valve before you cause a process upset! Pair your valve with prayer and release it!

No More Excuses

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There should be a point where you say enough is enough and I’ve run out of excuses! There is absolutely no reason to still be in the same position you were in last year! There is absolutely no reason why you’re still contemplating the same decisions based on the exact same situation from years ago! Seeking God for guidance and direction is one thing but being lazy and making excuses is another!

When will we realize that our excuses and laziness only holds us back from the future? We tend to blame others or our circumstances when we feel like our life isn’t moving fast enough. However, this is not the reality of the situation. The reality is this, it sounds good to pray for an open door or a golden opportunity but it’s hard to back up the prayer for the impossible with action! It’s easy to make excuses and say “I’m waiting on God or my time is coming” and all the time, we just sit back and let blessing after blessing pass us by. Why? Because we are lazy and we make excuses just to make us feel better about still being stuck in the same place! It’s almost like going to a restaurant and the waiter takes your order at your request. The waiter delivers the food to your table and places your silverware directly beside your order. He verifies that your order is correct and it is exactly what you asked for. You check your plate and confirm that it is correct. The waiter then walks away from your table and leaves you to eat your food. While you’re starving, you sit there and look at the food, as if you’re waiting for the waiter to return and feed it to you. Even though it’s as simple as picking up the fork and eating what’s placed directly in front of you, you find every excuse to not pick up your fork and feed yourself. When will it become a reality that if you don’t pick up the fork, you won’t eat? You asked for food and it was provided. You were even given utensils to make it easier but you decide to not eat because no one is sitting at the table cheering you own while you pick up the fork on YOUR plate to feed YOUR OWN SELF! Maybe you didn’t pick up the fork because you felt like someone should fix your plate and feed it to you too. Either way is unacceptable! No one has to feed you! No one has to boost you up! Does it feel good to have that type of encouragement? Of course it does! People that push you are a blessing! But the reality is, it’s not going to happen everyday. Some days you will have to encourage and push yourself! Does that mean you should stop or slow down? Certainly not! It just means you have to hold up your own sign, wave your own pom poms, yell out your own name, and still go up to bat all at the same time!

You have to make a personal choice to eat regardless! Meaning, your self-will must outweigh your excuses! It’s a great thing to be talented but it’s even greater to use it! It’s awesome to have a dream but it’s even more awesome to act on it! It’s good to have faith- we are not pleasing to God without it- but our faith is void without works to back it up! I’m just saying, we spend countless hours, years and decades asking and praying. We seem to have that part down packed. But we tend to fail when it’s time to move our own feet and walk towards our request! Stop waiting for something to fall in your lap when all you have to do is reach up above your head and grab it!

Privacy Settings

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How many people have you deprived because of your privacy settings? How many times have you selected the audience to help and left out certain ones for unacceptable reasons? I understand discretion fully and I realize that we have to be careful. However, that is not what I am referring to. For my literal thinkers, this goes beyond a Facebook setting, think deeper. If the objective is to minister and witness to the loss or the broken or the whole world, why do we only stay within our circle? Why don’t we expand? I used to have a private fb page because I didn’t want certain people to see what I posted. Even though there were still ways that people could see, I felt better knowing that they had to send me a request in order to see my page or go through someone else to see it. But I started thinking, if I know that God has called me to give hope, I can not be selective as to who I chose to help or give hope to. It makes no since for me to distribute hope to the same people everyday and they’re getting stronger and stronger but there is someone out there that actually needs a word of hope but they can’t run across it because of my privacy settings! I challenge you to check your privacy settings. Are you limiting your reach because of personal issues with a hand full of people instead of giving hope to the masses? We can’t choose who we want to minister to, we can’t choose the people that we think deserve help. We form circles that are so strong and encouraged but we won’t share it with others.

Think about your bible classes, your prayer groups, your encouragement sessions, or even your testimonies. We have to stop thinking about the hand full of people and remember the masses that are thirsty for your word of hope! Just this week, I was messaged and contacted by several people that are NOT my friends on Facebook. They all had similar stories, they were inspired and encouraged by the hope they found on my page. All though I was not connected to these people personally, their words warmed my heart and through their words, my decision was confirmed to leave my page public. I realized that if my privacy settings had still been set to private, they may not have ever seen my posts or read my word of hope.

My goal is to inspire others to inspire others. And I feel that if someone was inspired by me, they will inspire another and so on! As children are using their blocks to build something, they don’t just pick the blue blocks, they use them all! We should do the same. Let’s not just pick those who fit our liking but reach all! Expand to the masses! They need to hear from you!

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Perfectly Imperfect!

img_2167-editSo many times we think that because we made some bad choices or since we made some horrible mistakes, we can’t be used in certain areas. Sometimes we think that our past is so horrible until we have disqualified ourselves from speaking out against certain things and helping others. We have to remember that we’ve faced challenges and overcome obstacles just to be used! That means, YOU ARE NOT DISQUALIFIED BECAUSE OF YOUR SHORTCOMINGS! Your past failures and hang-ups actually makes it even better! Why? Because you can identify now! You understand better and you can relate to the issues of people. Never feel like you’re too much because of your past mistakes and failures or never feel like you’re not enough because of what you didn’t live up to. You’re perfectly imperfect, which makes you the perfect person for the job! We don’t get it right all the time. We don’t always say or do the right things at the right moments. We don’t even think the right thoughts sometimes, whether its admitted or not! But those imperfections qualify you to reach another imperfectly striving individual. I used to think that I couldn’t talk to people about God because I hadn’t reached perfection yet. Not knowing that I never would! But just as I was, God wanted to use me- to inspire others, to give hope, to spread love, to give the Gospel. Why? Because I was useable, I was willing to grow because I knew I didn’t know it all- or maybe it was because I was imperfect and He knew I would stumble across another imperfect person and I didn’t mind sharing my testimony- or maybe it was because I was willing to be used. Your imperfections can be used to tell a story of hope! Someone needs to hear about you!

If we are to be the hands and feet of God in this realm, we have to be able to reach and walk not only in the clean places, but in the most grimy and even desolate places of the earth. Which means that while we are walking in the coolness and the enjoyment of our destiny, we also have a mandate to visit and heal the dirty places. And what better person for the job than one who has first hand experience! You’re still useable!

Being a Barrier Breaker

Barrier: a fence or other obstacle that prevents movement or access; a circumstance or obstacle that keeps people or things apart or prevents communication or progress; a starting point for a racecourse
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IMG_0209What if you knew you had the ability to go 10 miles but there was a fence in the middle of the road at 8 miles? What if you could actually see something that you’ve been chasing for so long and the only thing standing in between you and the object is a 3 foot wall? What if you desired so badly to cross from one side of the yard to the other side but there were bushes and hedges in the way? Would you let those things stop you? Would you get to the point of being that close and turn around because of a fence or a wall that’s shorter than you or some bushes? What type of barrier would have to be put into place for you to stop and turn around? How do you identify which barriers to penetrate and which ones are guardrails?

Ask yourself a question, am I being held back by barriers? What will it take for me to break out of my barriers? Do I even know what my barriers are? We can’t break out of what we don’t know. In order to be a barrier breaker, we must be able to identify the barriers. We have to recognize what’s holding us back and what’s limiting us. Take a minute to think about your barriers. Not the effects or the emotions that are attached to it but the actual barrier itself. Often times we address the wrong issue.

For example, I had a friend who went to school and graduated with the dream of being a daycare owner. She found a building to start the daycare and she even got a grant to open it. One day, someone mentioned something to her about her dream being to big for a beginner and they told my friend that she should start off in someone else’s daycare as a helper before she opens her own. My friend has yet to open her own daycare because she thinks that she is ill-equipped to own her own so she settles for helping at someone else’s daycare. My friend mentioned that if that person hadn’t ever said that to her, she would be a daycare owner. Now, she’s held back by the opinion of someone else. Even if that were true, the fact still remains that the barrier is not the person that came and shared their opinion with my friend. The barrier itself is fear! If we can directly address the barrier itself, we can then conquer the opinions and insecurities that are brought to us by others. Because we are so afraid to recognize and address the real barrier, we prolong valuable time and we live within the standard.

Think about what’s limiting you. When you decide to become a barrier breaker, standards are changed, bars are raised and limits expand further than the sky! Be the one that breaks out…you’re to great to be restricted!

Now that we’ve identified our barriers, ask yourself one last question. In reference to the above definition, is my barrier a restriction or a starting point?

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Prime Before You Paint

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As I was preparing to paint my patio furniture, I went to Home Depot. I went directly to the paint section. In my mind, I could just get the paint and start painting. When I was picking up the can of paint, which was the wrong one anyway, the associate stopped me and asked if I needed help. I said “no, I got it.” He wanted to know why I was buying paint so I told him. He said, “So you’ve already primed it?” I responded, “Uh…no. I figured I would just skip that step and start painting it.” He told me, “Ok, well that’s fine if that’s what you want to do but can I explain something to you?” I told him that he could. He went on to say, “Your primer is your base, it prepares the surface for the paint. You can paint the surface without the primer and it’ll still look good but when the rain comes, you’ll notice that your paint will fade and start looking old. That happens because you didn’t properly prepare for the paint.” He went on to say, “Ma’am, you cant just make the outside look good without the preparation. When you prime before you paint, you secure the outer layer. The rain and outside conditions wont strip or fade the paint.”

So I began to think, its just like life. When we properly prepare, we won’t be stripped of our blessing or our outer coat. Sometimes we jump straight to paint level without priming- so we don’t have anything holding our paint together. I wanted to skip the priming stage because it was tedious and I felt like it was a waste of time! I was just ready to see the finished product. I know the process seems tedious sometimes and we are so ready to see the results until we tend to skip some VERY IMPORTANT steps. But if I could just encourage you for one minute…When you’ve had to work hard and toil to get something that you’ve wanted so bad, you’ll appreciate it more and not only that, you will do whatever you have to do to protect it. That’s because you’ve been through the preparation stage, you’ve been primed, and now you’re equipped to keep what you’ve been blessed with. Even though the primer can’t be seen in the end result, it still serves as the gravity for the blessing.

We are all called to be great but we must prepare for greatness! The priming is necessary! Don’t skip it!

Get Finished!

IMG_0143Ask yourself this, what am I waiting on to finish? Why am I not pursuing? When I have an idea, I am so vigorous until i can’t sleep. I’m constantly planning and writing in pursuit of my idea! The idea becomes my topic in every conversation and it becomes a major focus for me. I chase it hard! I educate myself about it! I even communicate with people that may be able to help me bring the idea to life! But somewhere down the line, I would always veer in a different direction. My drive would be short lived and I would eventually stop pursuing.

My mentor, Pastor Deona Benson, has written a book entitled, “Get Finished.” -GO ORDER IT!- Thinking about the title of the book, I’ve asked myself how many tasks have I left undone…how many projects have I picked up but placed them back down, UNFINISHED? I’ve learned that the problem is not getting started, its getting finished. We have so much motivation in the beginning but as time goes on, we find ourselves slowing down more and more. Ultimately, we just stop all together. Our motivation fades, discouragement kicks in, and our big idea becomes a distant memory. We have a bad habit of starting but never finishing. I need you to keep pursuing. It’s not too late for that idea. What do you want to do? What’s your goal? What’s your dream? Have you stopped pursuing? Pick it back up and run with it!! Stay motivated. Stay confident. Stay in motion. Get finished!

To order your copy of “Get Finished,” visit : www.deonabenson.com

Majoring In The Minors

IMG_0141Growing up, many times I got it backwards. I put my social life before my family. I put fun before responsibility. I put appearance before actual substance. I even put church before God! Now, before someone calls me, I’m not saying church isn’t important- I’m simply saying that I thought it was more important to be at church on Sunday than to actually have a relationship with God outside of church. I was majoring in the minors and didn’t even know it! I was more concerned about looking like someone important than actually being important. I majored in the minors for a loooong time and truth be told, I still find myself doing it. How many times have we made a big deal about being betrayed by so called friends but we forget to love and appreciate the family members that are there? How many times have we overspent to buy a certain brand of something but we neglect to make sure we have gas money? How many times have we wasted valuable time and energy trying to make a point to someone who shouldn’t even have a voice in our decision making? We spend time trying to prove, trying to impress, and trying to be- and we end up missing the big picture! We start looking at who don’t like us and what someone thinks about us. When we make these things major, we find ourselves altering our mindset and our daily habits according to their opinions of us. Or, we find ourselves getting caught up in shallow stuff like the latest trends and the hot topics of society, when in reality, those things change with the wind! Don’t major in the minors and lose focus on what really matters! In my photo, both jars are full but one contains all of the elemens and the other appears to have the bigger objects on top because they wouldn’t fit in the jar! Your life is the jar, once you place the bigger objects inside first, the smaller elements will fit around the bigger and everything will fit! But because the smaller elements were put in the jar first, that left little to no room for the bigger elements which in this case, represents the major!

Minors are only meant to be backdrops for the bigger picture, the Majors!