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Video: Becoming What You Hate

Notes from the video

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?

Video, Parts 1+2

#self-control #discipline #growth #life #family #abuse #childhoodabuse #childabuse #elderabuse #eldercare #counseling #listen #findpeace #selfcare #selfimprovement #selfreflection #growth #betterthanyoushouldbe

 

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Womanhood: Evidence of God’s Goodness

A Song & Verse Post: Evidence by Josh Baldwin

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.

~ Revelation 12:1-2, 5-6, 13-14, 17

 

[NOTE: More of my story is shared in Clichés: A Life in Verse, My God and Me, and Desert of Solitude. Some poems from Clichés will be reprinted in I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America. All books are available on Harvest-Life.org/shop and Amazon.com]

 

Evidence

by Josh Baldwin w/Dante Bowe

All throughout my history
Your faithfulness has walked beside me
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
All over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life
All over my life

Help me remember when I’m weak
Fear may come but fear will leave
You lead my heart to victory
You are my strength and You always will be

See the cross, the empty grave
The evidence is endless
All my sin rolled away
Because of You, oh Jesus

Why should I fear
The evidence is here

 

See a Victory

by Elevation Worship w/Brandon Lake

The weapon may be formed but it won’t prosper
When the darkness falls it won’t prevail
Cause the God I serve knows only how to triumph
My God will never fail
My God will never fail

I’m gonna see a victory
I’m gonna see a victory
For the battle belongs to You Lord
I’m gonna see a victory
I’m gonna see a victory
For the battle belongs to You Lord

There’s power in the mighty name of Jesus
Every war He wages He will win
I’m not backing down from any giant
I know how this story ends
I know how this story ends

You take what the enemy meant for evil
And You turn it for good
You turn it for good


Sources:

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Marriage & Relationship Study Primer

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.

Studies

Study: Courage to Trust God’s Plan
Study: Courage to Build, Maintain and Restore Relationships
Study: Courage to Hear, See, Believe and Obey God
Faith Study, Part 1: The One in Whom We Believe (Hebrews)
Women in the Bible: RUTH

Bible Chapters

A Chapter a Day: Ruth 1
A Chapter a Day: Ruth 2
A Chapter a Day: Ruth 3
A Chapter a Day: Ruth 4
ACAD – Nations: Genesis 17
ACAD – Nations: Genesis 18
ACAD – Praise: Genesis 29
ACAD – Blessings: Genesis 48
ACAD – Praise: Genesis 49
Romans 8: Life in the Spirit…, God’s Everlasting Love
ACAD – Helper: Hebrews 13

Pop Culture vs. The Bible

Pop Culture vs. The Bible: Intro
Pop Culture vs. The Bible: For the Sake of His Praise

Relationship

A Personal Relationship with God is Paramount
Khalil Gibran on Joy and Sorrow
My Greatest Enemy
Proving Ground
People who hide themselves are impossible to know.
Devotional: Not My Will, But Yours
When Truth Destroys
Face-to-Face: Sharing God’s Glory With One Another
Kahlil Gibran on Reason and Passion

Women

Who do you want to be like?
Trust no man… 
No hero is coming to save me.
Minister to me.
A Foolish Woman vs. A Wise Woman
Wife… do you respect me?
Women in the Bible: WOMEN of FAITH

Men

A Faithless Man vs. A Faithful Man
Who will speak for this woman?
An Open Letter: Woman to Man
Husband… do you love me?

Marriage

Man & Wife = Leadership & Management
25 Things to Think Twice About Before You Marry
My hopes for my marriage
Our Nakedness
Awareness of Nakedness
Sacrifice, Submission, Surrender
Interview: Matt & Sarah Hammitt on Their Marriage & Song (Lead Me)
Testimony: Charlie & Dorothy Duke: The Greatest Walk Ever
Samson’s Purpose was Greater than Marriage
Singleness is not the prize.
My husband is not my soul mate. Shawnda’s response to “My Husband is Not My Soul Mate”
I AM HE
He Is My Husband…
A Lesson in 1 Kings 13 – Man of God from Judah Meets the Old Prophet from Bethel
The Importance of Communication
Separation from the Unequally Yoked

Family

Sermon: Family Matters – Present
Family Matters – Past
Sermon: Family Matters – Future
What are you teaching your children?

Faith & Obedience

Think on these things…
Are You Saying “NO” to God?
Pleasing God While in the World
Happy Thoughts in the Morning
Healed to the best of your understanding.

Love

Meister Eckhart on love…
About Love
Show Me the Love
Can I Love You?
I asked to be a lover…
…and the people said “HELL NO!”
I Love You, But God Loves You More
Love Anyway: Things I Learned During My Harvest
Devotional: Love and Justice

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Love Anyway: Things I Learned During My Harvest

Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace is available in print, Kindle and Nook formats. Purchase your copy at BN.com or Amazon.com today.

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Song & Verse: Once & For All

Song & Verse: Once & For All by Lauren Daigle

From the opening verse…

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
Crucified
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

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Give thanks for what you’ve been delivered from

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.

To God be the glory, honor and power forever.

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Sermon: THE LORD IS IN HIS HOLY TEMPLE

by Nik Godshall

Listen here: The Lord is in His Holy Temple

Notes:

Gen 1:26-27 …man and woman He created them…

Dominion: unique purpose in creation
Gender identity: male and female

1. The human body is as important as the human soul. You were not born to the wrong body.

Gender confusion is the devils assault on God’s self-expression

2. Biblically, sexual purity only exists in 2 settings
– married couples by being faithful to God and each other
Sexual purity is emotional and physically
-Singles are pure by not engaging in sexual activity before marriage with themselves or others

Philippians 4:8 fantasies are not pure

1 Cor 6:9-20
3. Every Christian must live out the cleansing they’ve received

4. Sexual sin always overpowers the person indulging in it
– since we united with God, our sexual encounter should also be holy

5. Victory over sexual sin comes knowing your body’s purpose
– v. 19-20
– God fights for our body even when it cannot fight for itself.
Human suffering does not entitle us to sin. It doesn’t change who God is.

Our bodies are for the Lord. They are His temple and He is in His temple.

Songs:

Sanctuary by John Thompson
Jesus, Jesus precious Jesus

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Thank You, Lord.

Thank You, Lord
For bringing me to this point today.
Thank You for not leaving me where You last placed me.
Thank You for keeping me and loving me.
Thank You for peace.
Thank You for the storms.
Thank You for the fire and cleansing.
Thank You for pain and healing.
Thank You for my assignment.
Thank You for the many battles in this warring world.
Thank You for rest.
Thank You for victory.
Amen.

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To everything there is a season. | For Heaven’s Sake, Hurry Up and Die.

To everything there is a season.

I’ve been buried deep in a season of discontent with what passes for fellowship at congregation gatherings and ministry activities for some time now. For a while I stopped attending services altogether and just withdrew into myself. Though I didn’t miss the people, I did miss being enveloped in song when the congregation joined its combined voice with the choir’s. I, also sorely missed hearing the sermons from the varied staff of pastors over my congregation. Over the pass year and a half, I occasionally slipped into service and ducked out immediately after. Burn out. I was completely over striking up conversations with people after service who later avoid me like the plague. So I stopped speaking. I stopped sharing. I tried to stop caring. Eventually, I started streaming service instead of attending in person.

For a while, streaming service was just what I needed. I didn’t want to be around people. But that period lasted much longer than I thought possible for me.

In August I got away from my life for a couple of weeks and spent a good amount of time thinking, praying and communing with my Lord and Savior. A reawakening happened during that time. Since I returned home, I’ve been trying to drag myself out of the pit I allowed myself to sink into. I’ve been slowly weaning myself off of streaming the church service in lieu of attending. I actually want to be back with the congregation now. But to my surprise the desire to return isn’t enough. Even with the best intentions to get up and go, I’ve been getting distracted. There’s always something to do. Or more rest to take. However, suddenly, over the last three weeks, there’s been and urgency to get to the church building. To be present during the songs and the sermons. To open myself up again. To return. To remember. To be enveloped by the healing songs of praise reverberating off the walls and ceiling of the sanctuary. To sing my hallelujahs and participate earnestly in corporate prayer.

Today was a very rich day. I got up with the intention to go to the morning service, but also had energy to clean. That energy has been very rare in recent years. The first thing I did after getting out of bed was rotate my mattress…and I kept moving from there. before I knew it, it was time for service and I was still cleaning. So I streamed. Again.

This post was supposed to be a short intro to this morning’s service; apologies for over-sharing. The service and the message were so on point, I listened to the full service again immediately after. And after that I got up and went to the afternoon service where I received another very much-needed message (I will share that one in another post).

All this to say: God is good and He knows us better than we know ourselves. Whatever we think we need, He will allow us to pursue – for a time. Then He will call us back to Himself. The blessing in this, aside from God’s overwhelming grace and mercy, is the opportunity to learn more about ourselves in a protected state – to embrace the ugliness and despair buried beneath our praise and thanksgiving. There’s no fear or shame in coming to terms with everything in you that needs to die when you’re wrestling with it all in the shelter of the Most High.

Now for the sermon. Be blessed.

For Heaven’s Sake, Hurry Up and Die by Pastor Carter Conlon

Click here to listen to sermon: For Heaven’s Sake, Hurry Up and Die