Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.
By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable[e] sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death, and “he was not found, because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would approach God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance, and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith, with Sarah’s involvement, he received power of procreation, even though he was too old, because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”
All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better homeland, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.
By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead—and, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked blessings for the future on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, “bowing in worship over the top of his staff.” By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions about his burial.
By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered abuse suffered for the Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger, for he persevered as though[k] he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.
And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death; they were sawn in two; they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented — of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains and in caves and holes in the ground.
Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
Reference: New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition
11.1 Or reality
11.1 Or evidence
11.2 Gk by this
11.3 Or was not made out of visible things
11.4 Gk greater
11.4 Gk through it
11.11 Other ancient authorities read By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered
11.22 Gk his bones
11.23 Other ancient authorities add By faith Moses, when he was grown up, killed the Egyptian, because he observed the humiliation of his brothers and sisters
11.26 Or the Messiah
11.27 Or because
11.28 Gk would not touch them
11.31 Or unbelieving
11.37 Other ancient authorities add they were tempted
If someone is tearing you down or making you feel less-than, they are not coaching you. They are attempting to deconstruct you to better acclimate you to their nature and tolerances.
Criticism is not coaching
Last week, I was pulled into an impromptu meeting at 8:30am by my manager. He called it a “coaching” session, yet began by telling me I had gotten into a full-on argument with a client on the phone and was condescending, combative, and argumentative. I interjected with, “I did not argue with anyone.” He then told me I was being defensive and he wasn’t going to battle back and forth with me.
I’m rarely in the mood to be called names, but nonsense at 8:30am before coffee by someone who had none of my respect due to their lack of management skills made for a very succinct and direct rebuttal.
I didn’t appreciate having my character, personality and tone mischaracterized. Most definitely not in words commonly used to stereotype, demonize and dismiss Black Women. And absolutely not by the only Black Male manager on the open floor he was dressing me down on.
He didn’t appreciate me speaking up for myself. He actually said he was stunned at my response. Meaning he was stunned that I didn’t quietly accept what he called “criticism.”
He claimed that the caller had called back to complain. He said he had listened to the call and heard me sounding argumentative, condescending, combative and defensive. Because he seemed so surprised that my voice was calm throughout the call when he played it back for us both, I concluded that one of the white women sitting near to me flagged the call time because they took offense at my confidence (the caller had hung up while I was transferring her to a colleague). I did make comments about the call with the person I was transferring to after I realized the caller had hung up.
While the manager listened to the call for what seemed to be his first time, he said with surprise, “I agree with everything you’re saying. It’s clear she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” However, he eventually clung to my drawling the word, “Yes.” As a very condescending inflection.
He kept asking me, “You don’t think you’re being condescending?”
I kept replying adamantly, “No, I don’t.”
I’ve been in customer service for 30 years. Birthed and bred in McDonald’s customer care where the customer is always right and when they’re not, we refer back to rule #1, smiles are free and listed as such on the menu. I matured on executive floors with extremely entitled personalities and received compliments on my professionalism, discretion and diplomacy throughout every level of service.
The only people in all these years to ever call me “defensive” are who were set on diminishing and silencing me. Managers and teachers who didn’t want to be questioned or corrected. Those who didn’t want any standouts or freethinkers in their ranks.
The 8:30am critical “coaching” session is now viewed as a marker in my life.
One of my favorite self-esteem boosting quotes in high school and college was, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” by Eleanor Roosevelt.
One of my favorite affirmations when I began Bible Study years ago was, “This is my Bible. I am who it says I am.”
There have been many times where I have simply bit my tongue to allow a conversation to end with no fuel from me. Most of those times I would ruminate on what was being said and come back the next day with a calm measured rebuttal or follow-up questions. The time I took to think was also a cool down period. For most of the last twenty years, I’ve had managers I’ve highly respected… with a job I loved at a company I wanted to stay with. It may go without saying, but I’ll say it: my former managers did not call me names. If they needed to correct behavior, they spoke their mind plainly – told me what the issue was, what my actions were and what they should have been for their desired outcome.
If I go further back in life, there were very few points during my formative years when I spoke up for myself. I looked to my parents and elders hoping they would speak on my behalf. At an early adolescent age, I realized my parents were not interested in defending me with their words. They didn’t really value words as defense or guidance. Mostly because they stayed in scrappy survival mode.
In my early teens, I began to actively reject words people tried to forced into me. My way of rejecting at the time was telling myself I was not what they were calling me. I would then tell myself who and what I was. It was an internal process.
Back to now. Here I am in my late forties, finally speaking up in the moment, telling someone they can keep their negative words about me. All while he’s basically begging me to agree with him that I’m a difficult and unpleasant person.
Honestly, as unpleasant as the experience was, it is an absolutely amazing illustration of how the enemy cannot destroy us without our complicity. What is someone trying to get you to agree to that is counter to who you are?
He pseudo-manager fired me. Of course, he didn’t tell me directly. I got a call from my agency thirty minutes before the end of my shift. He told them the reason was because I couldn’t handle criticism. I told the rep, “That’s a lie. I literally just finished an hour of coaching with another manager who knows how to speak to people and got a good amount of guidance from him.”
That being said, I don’t think there’s been anywhere God has allowed me to stay that did not benefit my spirit. If a place is turning me dark, He cuts the cord. I always think I can hold on for my material goals, but my goals have never held any weight with His will and plan.
Good coaching makes all-stars out of novices
I ran track and trained in field sports throughout my youth. I played basketball throughout high school and into college. I understand teams and individual performance. I appreciate coaching and training.
I started playing basketball at the age of fourteen. Prior to trying out for the freshmen squad, I had never held a basketball. I was made to feel very awkward in my skin. I was tall, skinny and often tripped over my long limbs. My family called me clumsy and uncoordinated. I believed them.
During the first two years of high school I lived with an aunt. During freshmen year, shortly after I joined the basketball team, she attended one practice game. Afterwards she told me she wasn’t going to bother coming again since I couldn’t play anyway. She never saw me improve. She never witnessed the athlete I developed into. She wasn’t a coach.
My coach didn’t believe what my aunt said I was.
My three coaches turned me into an all-star by junior year. Senior year I was co-captain of the Girls Varsity Basketball Team.
I know what good coaching will produce. Good coaching creates results previously unimaginable.
Praise God always. We don’t have to know or see anything as long as He is in charge of our lives. Give thanks and be blessed as you go.
The ability to commit violence (by word or deed) is not a strength. True strength is exhibited in our self-control. How we maintain discipline over our own tongue and actions. Not how we curtail other people.
Avoid becoming stuck as your worse self by:
Reimagining who you are
– Who have you always been?
– Who do you want to be?
– Who do you want to be nothing like?
Reimagining your environment
– How did your surroundings impact your character and personality grieving up?
– What aspects do you want to cultivate in your space moving forward?
Reflect on your actions and reactions – good, bad, ugly, & embarrassing.
Thought experiment: Project the idea of your best self into the idea of your best environment. What’s the first step in getting you there in reality?
If you are striving to be the best version of yourself but you keep surrounding yourself with people who bring out the worse in you, you will find your strength when you walk away from the people and environments that keep you at your worse.
You have a choice in how you live. Are you going to grow consciously in the direction of the person you want to be? Are you consciously releasing the person you don’t want to be?
evidence: the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid
Every time Evidence comes on in the car I want to pull over and praise God. Today, I came to home to write.
All throughout my history Your faithfulness has walked beside me.
There is not one period of my life that I cannot identify the presence of God and His work in me. I remember being baptized around the age of six. Though I had no understanding of what that meant at the time, I can literally look back on my life to that moment and see how God has held on to me through every devastation, betrayal, abuse, disillusionment and every step of rebuilding and healing.
I remember my one-dollar lock and key diaries from Walgreens that were full of my seven-year-old pleadings for God to save me from the near daily sexual abuse I was subjected to. “Dear God, he did it again. Please make him stop!” Years of one or two line prayers. Silent screams. One day, four years later, God called me out of my house (I didn’t recognize His hand then, but I certainly do now) and guided me on a walk to a nearby police station outpost. I knocked on the door and said to the officer who answered, “I’m being molested.”
From that moment forward, I was never again forced to share space with my violators.
The winter storms made way for spring. In every season, from where I’m standing I see the evidence of Your goodness all over my life. I see Your promises in fulfillment all over my life.
I grew up in families – both sides – that didn’t acknowledge abuse or trauma. Everyone is either a victim or a perpetrator. If anyone could claim to be on the sidelines, they would act deaf, dumb, blind and incapable for standing against any wrongdoing.
A few years after I had forgiven my dad, and a few years before he died, he asked me why I act better than I am. “You’re from the ghetto, you’ll always be ghetto.” This was during the “healing and repair” of our relationship, mind you. It was also one of our last conversations.
Imagine being told by someone who should have molded you for greatness, that you were never expected to rise above his level of filth, disease, psychological, sexual and spiritual bondage. Imagine being looked upon with disgust by a man who, for all intent and purpose, murdered you as a child and then being told as an adult woman that you were expected to remain dead.
At that time, I hadn’t yet started my dedicated faith walk. I was still journaling – writing prayers to God – but the Bible remained a mystery to me. Nothing was catching or keeping. However, I can look back on that time now and see it as the beginning of release in my life. I tried so hard to reconcile that relationship, but when I stopped holding on – when I stopped trying – it was easy to see that I had been on my own the whole time.
I believe firmly that God desires willing hearts most – a desire to conform to His Word in practice and deed. However, He has never allowed me to remain open to those who intentionally harm me repeatedly. I view this as God’s judgement on the other person’s heart condition, rather than my inability to be faithful and obedient to Grace and Mercy.
Imagine telling your sire: I’m more than my beginnings. I’m more than the seed you contributed to my being. I’ve become more than a little girl from the ghetto.
Help me remember when I’m weak, fear may come but fear will leave.
It’s said that we can do anything we can imagine. Yet our imagination is limited by what we’re exposed to. What if we’re exposed to people who can’t see beyond their own dark pits?
I went into a deep depression in my late thirties. My mom died at the age of thirty-six and when I reached that age, my future dimmed to darkness. It was difficult to climb out of my second grave by letting go of the woman I thought I would have become by then. My mother began life as a sharecropper’s granddaughter in rural Mississippi, but I only ever saw her as the best of all created beings. As difficult as her life had been, she had at least accomplished the Holy Grail of Womanhood (according to society) – marriage and children. No matter that she tied herself to a rotten man and worked multiple minimum wage jobs to house and feed her children, she remained the epitome of everything to me. It was difficult to see myself as worthy of more time in this world than she had. Harder still to face the length of her lifespan without even a taste of the Holy Grail of Womanhood.
The end of beginnings is the beginning of letting go.
You lead my heart to victory. You are my strength and You always will be.
My birthday this year will put me at ten years beyond the lifespan of my mother – and still not even a lick of the traditional Holy Grail of Womanhood. Today, I can say I am completely fine with that. In recent years I’ve not only learned to embrace my solitude, I’ve come to appreciate it, honor it and protect it. There’s something being forged in me that I can’t articulate. That glimpse of greatness that repelled my dad fifteen years ago, is unfurling in a wondrous way. I’ve grown from hiding my light under a bushel to Clarkeshia Kent exposing her S with a declarative chest thrust. Yet my light is still gaining strength. I foresee beaming across the Universe.
Why settle for tradition when the Universe is already mine?
I’m becoming a Woman I never imagined I would be. Nothing about my life today was part of the dream, fantasy or hope. Everything about my life is better than all my mind and heart conjured for me. There’s something to be said about what we’re exposed to. Exposure sounds expansive, but it’s actually limiting. If we only trust what our eyes see, we will be satisfied with that view for our life. However, when we begin to let go of all the dead things – relationships, hopes, dreams, ideals, culture, tradition – we will have room to invite the previously unimaginable in. We will be able to develop into beings of light with experiences beyond the confinement of the world. Living beyond the construct breaks the paradigm. At which point, you’ll actually be able to imagine what previously seemed impossible. Thus, within your reality all things are then possible.
A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth.
But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.
So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued[d] the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.
Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.
I’ve mined the depths of my blog to give you easy access to material related to Marriage & Relationship: Modern Concepts vs. Biblical Practices! This list was pulled from eleven years of content to aid, boost or guide study. Read through at your leisure.
God I give you what I can today….” These scattered ashes that I hid away…. I lay it all at Your feet.
to the refrain…
Oh, let this be Where I die
My Lord with Thee
Be lifted high
As my kingdoms fall
Once and for all
Once and for all
…this song enraptures me and puts my spirit into a state of instant praise and prayer. Father, let me die in You. Pour over me. Don’t let me go. Don’t leave me to my own devices… my habits of self-destruction. Continue to cleanse me. Purify my heart, My Dear Dear Father. Let this be where I die – with You, crucified and lifted high. Survivor of the world; glorified by Your refining fires.
Pour over me….
Let this be where I die…let this moment be the end of me. Help me to release every thought and hope I’ve held tightly to. Cleanse me of every idea of righteousness and right living. Scrub me of the compromises made from my understanding of who I am in this world. Lead me to my full surrender into your embrace and everything I am becoming.
God I give you what I can today…You know I don’t have much – only my hopes, dreams and visions – but I do believe if I give them all back to you they will not remain fruitless dead things. With me, they’ve turned to ashes without ever taking flight… but You said Your Word does not return to You void. You will flesh out everything I’ve given back to you. This I do believe.
From the corners of my deepest shame, the empty places where I’ve worn your name…I tried to be everything I thought I was meant to be only to become no one of value in this world. No one of value to anyone anywhere. What keeps me is my knowledge of You. I’m not so down that I neglect to value who I am in You. I honor who You are in me.
Breathe Your Life into me. Let this be where I come alive.
Once & For All by Lauren Daigle
God I give You all I can today The scattered ashes That are hid away I lay’em all, at Your feet
From the corners Of my deepest shame The empty places Where I’ve worn Your name Show me the Love I say I believe
Oh, help me to lay it down Oh, Lord I’ll lay it down
Oh let this be Where I die My Lord with thee, crucified And be lifted high Till my kingdoms fall Once and for all Once and for all
There is victory In my saviors loss And the crimson Flowing from the cross Pour over me, Pour over me, yes
Oh let this be Where I die My Lord with Thee, Crucified| Be lifted high As my kingdoms fall Once and for all Once and for all
Oh, Lord I’ll lay it down Oh, Lord I’ll lay it down Help me to lay it down Oh, Lord I lay it down
Oh let this be where I die My Lord with Thee, crucified And be lifted high As my kingdoms fall Once and for all Once and for all Once and for all Once and for all
Give thanks for what you have been delivered from because none of us know the depth of our capacity for depravity. This is good because the burden of knowing would be too great. I’ve been seasoned and scorched by touches of evil within my own family. So much so, that even before I began my walk with God, I petitioned Him constantly to release me from the generational bondage, sins, oppressions, chains, curses – whatever you want to call it. I prayed and begged to be released. I prayed for the children He would allow me to bare – that they would never be touched by what degenerated generations of relatives before them.
My prayers weren’t elaborate. They weren’t long and scripture based. After all, I began praying before I began reading and understanding the Bible. I prayed for deliverance from what I knew. I was a product of a family steeped in sexual violence – rape and child molestation, physical and emotional abuse of partners and children. I knew poverty and homelessness. I knew hopelessness, carelessness, hatefulness, neglect and misery. And I knew how this was all hidden from as many as possible behind charm, smiles, laughter, nice clothes and clean homes. I knew that silence – not talking about any of the horrible abuses – protected the abusers. But I also knew enough to pray for protection from God, whom I instinctively believed to be larger than my troubles and circumstances.
I knew I wanted to be delivered from it all. I wanted to be saved. I wanted to live free from fear.
My continual prayer is one of thanksgiving for being delivered from what I knew and everything I had (and have) no knowledge of. I am eternally grateful for the care and provision my life has been blessed with. I am extremely grateful for my awareness of God’s glory, grace and mercy – and so amazed that He saw fit to not just hear me, but to answer me and take me beyond my request.