Rev Fave

I’m New Here

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When I began capturing this journey, I nearly collapsed from the exhaustion of running from God for nearly 18 years. My enthusiasm was overwhelming as I began writing sermons, learning church operations, studying more and truly growing in grace. I’ve eulogized family members and led congregations through worship service from beginning to end. Now I’m teaching the youth while learning about discipleship. I feel myself growing and, while I haven’t done it all, I’ve done a lot under the guidance of a great pastor.

So why do I still feel as though I’m new here?

As soon as I felt myself getting into a flow, things change again. People change. Support system changed. Priorities changed. I’m called to help people; yet it’s people who seem to gleefully bring me challenges on a dingy, silver platter of passive aggressiveness and co-dependency. And God instructs me not to “get weary in well doing,” so I press despite how I feel.

I’m tired, though.

Upon the Confession of Your Faith

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I recently baptized someone for the first time. He was a young man in his 20s, with shoulder-length dreadlocks and dark brown skin. We shared a lot of similarities and now we were about to share a new one, as he made a public declaration that Jesus Christ was the Lord of his life. Upon the confession of his faith, he was turning his life around.

We were both nervous. I hadn’t been in a baptismal pool since I was baptized in the early 80’s. My pastor gave me simple instructions: raise your right hand, place your other hand behind his lower back and be ready to cover his nose and mouth when lowering him into the water. The water was warm (Thank God). There must have been a hole in my borrowed hip boots as I could feel the water dampening my legs. This was nothing compared to this young brother standing chest deep in water wearing a white shirt, shorts and tightly fitted durag over a shower cap.

I promised him it would only take three seconds. It was actually 1.5 seconds. His life changed forever and his journey to glory begins. I will never forget his face underneath the water and the pressure on my arms to lift him back into the world. There was nothing special about the water, his outfit, the screaming congregation or those hip boots. The change happened inside of him before he came to church and before I was assigned to baptize him. His new direction is my eternal reminder that the obedience of water baptism is the byproduct of spiritual renewal that no one initially sees or sometimes feel…it’s just who you are.

It’s who I am.

Feelings Are No Match For Faith

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In my feelings…

I felt a little anxious. Waking up at 5am with a sharp pain in my sternum that lasted until I got in the car to drive towards my office. By the time it dissapated, I realized it was my lactose intolerant stomach trying to digest the milk I had the night before. I also felt defeated about a friendship that went left overnight. My feelings told me that I didn’t need friends and life is less complicated without the issues of others. I felt angry about not getting enough sleep and not working out — despite the plethora of resources at my disposal.

In my FAITH…

The Word of God said not to worry about anything, but pray about EVERYTHING (Philippians 4:6). I shouldn’t feel worried when I know God has a plan for my life; thereby, I must have the health to see it through. The Word tells me that a wise man wins friends (Proverbs 11:30) and in my quest for his wisdom, I”m supposed to have friends and not always be alone. I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13) and the Word reminds me that I need to seek God more diligently in order to receive the discipline needed to rest and exercise.

It’s Time to Change Our Cry

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At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post about Bartimeus and how he changed his cry from tangible desires to a need for deliverance. This stayed with me for several weeks until the Lord gave me a sermon to write on the same subject.

If you change your cry, Jesus will change your life. The truth is that we got it all wrong. We are crying out for these things because we believe it will greatly improve our quality of life. Things only last for period of time. Even if it lasts a lifetime, when you die it won’t go with you. A true life changing experience that lasts a lifetime on this earth and beyond, only comes form a relationship with Jesus Christ.

After Bartimeus gained his vision by his faith in the Messiah, he got rid of his cloak, his uniform and began following Jesus. He didn’t have to beg anymore because he had a relationship with Christ.

Three Years a Preacher

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Today I celebrate three years of sharing the Gospel.

I’ve learned that, when you run from God, the road of life is paved with challenges, disappointments, heartaches, anger, pain, victories, betrayal, increase, friends turned enemies, enemies turned friends, attacks, inner-battles, happiness and sadness. You must run swiftly with no real breaks, polluted water to drink and worn out shoes.

But “twistedeth not unto thine self.”

The irony is that, when you decide to run towards God, the road is STILL paved with all those things; with some parts of the road having MORE challenging elements. It’s the same road (life) but thank God He gives you rest [Matthew 11:29], He empowers you to be at peace regardless of the road conditions [Philippians 4:7], His living water is the best you’ll ever drink [John 7:38] and your shoe game is on point [Ephesians 6:15].

The road doesn’t change yet your journey is so much better. And you don’t have to be a preacher to experience this pivotal moment. You just have to believe.

Smoke Free Blessing

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The aim of “Smoke Free Blessing” is to encourage believers in that, as we endure the fires of life circumstances, God is with us and He is why we do not and should not carry the residue of what we’ve been through.

We know fire is dangerous; but the greatest risk to our minds, our bodies and our possessions — is smoke.

Crying Times

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Someone once told me, “You don’t have a money problem, you have a faith problem.”

This was hard to receive, considering every challenge in front of me came has a price tag dangling in the shadow of my limited resources. I’m a consistent tither. I’m a good steward over my finances. I’m spirit-led to sow into the causes and needs of others. I strive to show joy regardless of what’s in my bank account. I praise God for being my source. I know I won’t always be where I am; but I find myself crying at times, for not being where I think I should be.

Yet I’m struggling with being able to see the spout from where my blessings were promised to flow. I fight to prevent my logic, skills and personal creativity to get in the way of God’s work in my life. I trust that He’s working things out for my good because I love Him, but I rarely have a clear view of what He’s doing. I can’t see the inner workings of my victory; yet my problems broadcast on a vivid, 60-inch, 1080p HD screen with more clarity than I’ll ever need or want.

But it’s a faith problem.

In the New Testament, Bartimaeus wondered the streets, blindly and aimlessly, crying for money. When he heard Jesus was on the scene, he changed his cry from a plea for money to a plea for mercy. Bartimaeus’ surroundings could only respond with money; but he knew that Jesus would respond with a deliverance money couldn’t acquire.

I’ve got to change my cry.

I’m blind. I’m having issues seeing my way through the negativity. I’ve been crying for resources, when I should have been crying for revelation. I don’t have a money problem, I have a faith problem. I don’t have a family problem, I have a faith problem. I don’t have a health problem, I have a faith problem.

My faith needs to flow through my tears and cascade down my heart, where my trust is renewed. We can’t see always see how things are going to work out, but we must find peace in the surety that God already has it worked out.

 

Life in HD (Holiday Depression)

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It struck me during Finals Week of my senior year in college. The end of exams meant driving back to my parents’ house in Northwest Indiana. My girlfriend was five months pregnant with twins and we had just lost one of them. It had been several weeks since I spoke with my mom; I suppose the disappointment of becoming an unwed father was too much. It was going to be the first Christmas without my grandfather. They were cutting hours at work; despite having a car, I was slushing through dirty snow to the bus stop because it was cheaper. It was the first time Christmas didn’t feel like Christmas anymore.

Family tension, financial challenges, academic pressure, adapting to life without my (very large) family’s patriarch… sent me spiraling into holiday depression (HD).

The next 10 years were spent wearing the smile for the sake of the kids. Money came and went. More family members passed away. I pacified my wounds with relocations, pseudo-serious relationships (while sabotaging real ones) and career aspirations. I had kept HD at bay until I my first year of marriage. My decision to wed was so abhorred that my parents declined our invitation to attend. I went from company cars and expense accounts as a corporate executive to unemployment and sporadic freelance work. Money got smaller while the kids’ Christmas list grew bigger. It was going to be the first Christmas without my grandmother. I locked myself in a room and stared into the darkness.

Family estrangement, financial turmoil, blending a dysfunctional family… sent me further down the gravely road of holiday depression. This time, I didn’t care.

It got worse before it got better: separation came, divorce followed, losing lucrative contracts and more relocations continued to wear on my body and spirit. But I thank God for rescuing me from a mental breakdown and spiritual catastrophe.

I endured the symptoms that many share during the holidays (and beyond): grieving dead loved ones, dealing with money problems, the isolation of family conflict and other life events seem amplified during the holidays… driving some precious people to question the validity of their existence and others to attempt to end theirs.

It’s hard to hear their yells in the midst of “jingle bells.”

God’s grace is the only reason holiday depression did not swallow me. This is a magical time of year; yet, my heart remains tuned towards those whose spirits are low during the holidays. While others enjoy the holiday feasts, laughter, classic films and time off… I’m compelled to pray for those who can’t wait until the first week of January, when all this will be over. I’m praying for those who are skipping through the store with the false satisfaction of knowing that they have their suicide planned out and the pain will be over soon.

I’m praying for grown orphans. I’m interceding for those who thinks no one cares (like I once did). If it’s nothing but a silent prayer, quick tweet, engaging Facebook message, clever Instagram post, sincere text or unexpected phone call… I want us all to make it to 2017 while leaving HD empty handed from an unsuccessful grasp at our souls.

In the interim, we can implement our own anti-HD strategy through increased exercise, adequate sleep, sun exposure, abstaining from alcohol and gluttony (IKR!), avoiding family conflict and getting help. Getting Help. GETTING HELP.

The PrayerLine is 1-800-365-3732.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

You can also talk to God 24/7. No phone required.

Get Righteous

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“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16 NLT)

Being righteous doesn’t mean you’re a mega-holy, Bible-thumbing, “Super Christian” – looking down on the heathens around you.

It just means that your relationship with God is on point. It means when you text Him with your needs, He doesn’t text back, “New phone. Who dis?” You’re not perfect, but you ARE connected beyond your distress signals to Him.

When the righteous pray, incredible things jump off and the end result is so superb that only God could (and should) get the glory.

Recent events challenged me not to beg for healing, but to thank Him for the healing He promised. What I asked for was information that would counteract anxiety of the unknown. What I asked for was for rest, alertness and kindness, amongst those that would come in contact with the challenge, to be abundant. What I asked for was supernatural recovery, not just for restored quality of life but so others can be encouraged by the testimony.

It is in the midst of prayer, praise and worship that God does His thing in our lives. Casting our cares on Him. Trusting Him. Speaking His Word is always better than anything we could say on our own. In doing so, speaking His Word hides our ignorance behind His excellence.

Speaking His WORD hides our IGNORANCE behind His EXCELLENCE.

Speaking GOD’S WORD (instead of words from our limited, logical thinking) hides our ignorance (of not knowing) behind His excellence (that’s all-knowing).

It’s better to pray to God than to say something ignorant. No, seriously. If you don’t know what to say to the point you’re talking negatively or against what you’re believing God to work on…I believe you should have not several…but ALL the seats.

Shut up.

Let’s shut our minds and mouths off to the rhetoric that is not of God (or in private supplication to God) in order to open up our hearts and spirits to the promises and awesomeness of God.

All this is so much easier to do when you have a relationship with Him; hence, righteousness, love and trust.

At that point, your prayers become powerful and produce results so wonderful that, even the things/people/words/attacks begin to work for YOU (Romans 8:28).

No person on earth, no imp from hell, no circumstance of life, no physio- or psychological battle will be able to withstand your faith.

 

The Knew You

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The Knew You — Our self esteem is also improperly connected to our abilities. I don’t care how empowering and encouraging it sounds, when you tell your baby, “You can be whatever you choose to be,” you are not telling her the truth. When the reality hits them, they’re disappointed AND they’re still in search of the truth — that you can’t be “anything you want to be.” Your only bet is to be everything God wants you to be, which is better than anything you could ever be!

Your worth to GOD was calculated before you were even conceived. You were birthed in the mind of GOD before you were birthed from your mother’s womb. You were a pre-meditated masterpiece before the world began. You are a product of GOD’s creativity and a reflection of His love.

And while our situation on earth may change, our looks my change, our jobs may change, our abilities may change — GOD is our Daddy and that is something that cannot change and, more importantly, we cannot lose.

GOD knew Jeremiah and GOD knew you, too. Translation: He CHOSE you and that is where our worth can be and should be found. Brothers and sisters, it’s time to live in the KNEW you. In order to do that effectively, we need to have an ACCURATE VIEW OF THE KNEW YOU.

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