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.

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.

 

For Real For Real

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What happens when you believe in limitations? I’m not talking about speaking negativity; but what about speaking faith over dreams that are beneath the factory settings God placed in you before you were born? I was given dreams as a child. I pulled them out of the shrink wrap and exposed them to the elements of peers who laughed, family who belittled, media who distorted and life experiences that diminished the fresh, new plastic smell of my dreams over time.

Keeping it 100 begins with myself. This summer has been an intentional focus on fighting the good fight of faith in various areas. Ironically, it wasn’t until I began fighting that the enemy began accelerating towards me. Challenges in my career, business endeavors, creativity, health, finances, relationships, family and self-image — all required an increased activation of my faith. I believe this happened because all of the aforementioned are influenced by God’s purpose for my life.

In response to the exposure, I subconsciously made my dreams smaller and palatable to the tastebuds of mediocrity.

By the grace of God and the potency of His Word, this faith fight has awakened me to the reality that my original dreams are bigger than the ones I’ve been speaking in faith to manifest. There is an initial greatness that God wants to make even greater in my life for His Glory.

So, now what?

Dream for real. Not the dwarfed dreams of outside perceptions. Not the reluctant dreams of internal insecurities. It’s time to trust God to put your dreams back to factory settings. Those dreams are huge. Those dreams are fearless. Those dreams awaken the child who sees nothing standing in the way. Those dreams ascend to the tangent of your soul sphere of imagination and orbit your mind as you sleep.

And God wants to take you even further.

In my faith fight, I shouldn’t be fighting myself. I was fighting my conviction to embrace the enormity of my dreams. My real dreams. Speaking faith on 75% of what I truly wanted, wasn’t faith at all. It was only when I spoke God’s Word, prayed and asked Him for the grandiose blessings — that I felt my faith getting stronger. I’m not talking about solely material things, but relationship restoration, emotional intelligence, spiritual maturity, wisdom and healthy, edifying connections with people.

I want it all and I thank God for revealing to me, through His Word and people in my life, that He wants me to have it all, too.

And I’ll always give Him the glory.

Shift Happens

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Wearing Versace shirts, silk slacks and gold chains – Biggie Smalls and Puff Daddy raced through the streets of the Florida Keys driving a Mercedes convertible…in reverse. This is my favorite scene from one of my favorite hip-hop music videos. It defied the norm and was simply cool to watch. There are times I’ve had to move my vehicle in reverse for just a short distance (i.e., parking lots) and I would fantasize how it would feel to go down the road in reverse like my hip hop heroes.

It’s not that simple. 

If you’ve ever had to drive your car in reverse, for more than 100 feet, you understand that maneuvering in reverse is extremely difficult. This is primarily due to the fact that your vehicle is engineered to place you in a position to move forward. The seats are configured to where you have to twist your body to see behind you. The wheels are designed so that only the front tires can change turn and change your direction. The windshield gives a panoramic view of what’s ahead while providing only a small mirror to reveal what’s behind.

Our lives are designed to move us forward. Our bodies were constructed to move towards what’s in front of us. We can’t see behind our backs. Our arms and legs bend and stretch forward. Our mouths project our voices in front of us. Like the car, it is very difficult to see and navigate in the direction of what’s behind us.

So why are so many of us driving our lives in reverse?

Fixated on our past experiences. Chained to unhealthy habits. Enslaved to negative perceptions that cause us to drive backwards; therefore impairing our ability to navigate safely and preventing us to accelerate towards a life that is new.

The only way to get out of reverse and change direction is to shift.

Shift your thinking. Shift your vision to God’s view. Shift your body towards the actions that reflect your destiny and not relive your history.

We can’t solely pray for the shift, but we must put our hands on the gears that are in the wrong position and shift into the place where we need to be physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It takes courage and strength; with God, we have infinite access to both.

You can’t just shift once. That will only place you in Neutral and being still, with your future waiting for you down the road, is just as bad as going backwards. Shifting twice moves you out of being still and places you in Drive. Shifting is the key to moving forward. Shifting takes effort, mechanical redirection and body repositioning. Shifting means moving further away from what’s comfortable. Shifting means focusing on what’s ahead through the windshield of your life, while merely glancing at the images of your past through a small rear-view mirror.

How you manage your time changes when you shift. The dynamics of your relationships evolve or dissolve when you shift. Your body may revolt when you shift. Your emotions may rebel against the unfamiliar when you shift. If you stay in Drive, move forward, seeking God and acknowledging Him as the source of your strength to shift out of reverse — He will direct your path. You just hold the road.

When shift happens, you are immediately closer to where God wants you to be.

“Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭42:9‬ ‭KJV‬‬)

Do You Know The Way?

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“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

My maternal grandfather was a truck driver in Mississippi. He once spoke of how he used the painted white line, on the right side of the highway, to stay on the road in hazardous conditions.

This line led him through bad weather while serving  as a focal point in the midst of his own fatigue and sleep deprivation. Transportation was how he made a living, so the painted white line on the right side of the highway not only kept him safe, but it was a critical, constant component of his livelihood. The painted white line on the right side of the road was my grandfather’s consistency as he drove on inconsistent terrain through inconsistent environments with inconsistent thoughts in an inconsistent body.

I never met my grandfather. He died at the age of 39, when my mother was still a child. It was in her childhood that she heard him talk about the painted white line to one of her uncles.

My mother later shared his story with me at a time when I was driving on the highway frequently for my job. It wasn’t uncommon for me to drive along unfamiliar interstates and county roads;  winding through pouring rain and dark, unfamiliar territory. I often drove in pitch black darkness with little or no sleep.

These were the times I relied on the words of my grandfather and I found myself focusing  on the painted white line on the right side of the road. When I couldn’t see clearly or my eyes got weary, it guided me safely through dangerous conditions, both externally and internally.

Keeping my eyes on the painted white line on the right side of the road was more than a helpful driving technique. It was a connection to a man I never met, but whose blood ran through my veins. I received guidance from one whose face I’d never seen but his method kept me, literally, on the road safely to this day.

Life, much like our highways, is often filled with darkness and difficult weather; making it hard to navigate safely to our destinations. Sometimes the obstacles aren’t fallen tree branches or icy bridges, but the  barriers are within: insecurities, negative voices, past disappointments, current feelings of anger, work-related stress, family-oriented drama and ongoing church mess — it can hinder our ability to stay on the road safely. It’s draining. Exhausting. It can blur your vision, cloud your judgement and – if you’re not careful – it can cause you to wreck your life before you reach your final destination.

So what do you do?

Jesus Christ says He is “the way, the truth and the life.” He sits on the right hand of the Father, shining as a beacon leading us towards eternal peace. Jesus has shown us how we should love each other and more importantly, He has commanded and equipped us with the ability to love. Jesus is the painted white line on the right side of the road that leads us through life’s challenges and triumphs. He even gave us 24-hour roadside assistance, better known as the Holy Spirit. He knew our road would be often be covered  darkness, temptation and attacks. Jesus knew the rain of health problems, marriage complications, scandalous lies and financial struggle would splash against our windshield. He knew it would be hard for us to see the road, especially when there are countless other paths seeking to lead us towards destruction.

But thank God. He is the way.

Following Christ brings focus to your journey. He is the one and only way to God, the Father. With Jesus as the way, you are guaranteed to travel in God given destiny, no matter what and who comes in your path. Find confidence in knowing that focusing on Jesus will keep you on the road and in your purpose. .

Praise God. He is the truth.

The painted white line on the right side of the highway are  constant. No matter what blows through the road or tumbles across our minds, the love of Jesus is consistent and consistency is truth. The enemy loves to create noise to distract us while we’re driving down the road of life for God. The more you depend on Jesus to guide you through life, the more sensitive you become to the counterfeits designed to throw you off-course.

Glory to God. He is the life.

We all want our journey to be prosperous. True  prosperity is not rooted in financial gain, but rather in spiritual assurance. The painted white line on the right side of the road helped my grandfather make a living by keeping his truck on the road and when you focus on Jesus, above anything else, He will help you to live a life that goes beyond your wildest imagination.

He came, lived, died and rose – not for you to simply exist, but so you can live a life in abundance in every area of your life:

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b) NKJV

I cherish that memory of my grandfather. He didn’t know that his little girl would retain that one conversation, and one day pass it onto to her son decades later. It may seem a bit odd to have a connection to someone who died long before I came on the scene.

But God.

“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” (Ephesians 1:4) NKJV

He knew us before He brought the world into existence. He knew she was going to hurt you. He knew they were going to lie on you. He knew how many lives you were going to touch. He knows your future is shaping up to be more than you can even hold in your brain right now.

He also knew you would mess up. He knew you would turn away from Him, then run back when you needed something. He knew sin was going to eat you up if you kept heading down the path you were on.

So He sent His son to be an example; to be the way. He knew confusion and traumatic events, you never got to process, would attempt to take your mind and make it hard to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not. Jesus is the truth. God knew your life would be tragically beautiful and the enemy hungers for your guaranteed victory. Christ rose from the dead; showing the world that He is the life.

Like my grandfather, we have never seen His face, yet we still find guidance through God’s Word. Keeping our lives focused on the “painted white line on the right side of the road” of Jesus’ perfect love and example for living…we WILL  see His face and live in the eternal awe of His presence.

What an amazing promise! But we must first go through this journey of life. It gets dark. It appears lonely. We get tired. Rain. Snow. Ice. Mud. Blinding sun. Sadness. Depression. Fatigue. Weariness. Low Self-esteem.  How do we stay on course? How do we stay in the road and out of the ditch?

Follow Jesus. Follow Jesus. Follow Jesus.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. He not only knows the way…He is the Way.

The Replacements (You Know What I’m Saying?)

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As the cream-filled donut introduces artery-clogging cholesterol, glucose-spiking refined sugar and unwanted trans fat — the fear-filled words introduce satan’s word system to steal your motivation, kill your joy and destroy your destiny…or so he thought.

I’m thinking about what what I’m thinking about and placed a proverbial magnifying glass on my everyday speech. How do you sound in response to the world around you? What thoughts are you embracing and for how long? Are those thoughts promoting fear or strengthening your faith?

I’m replacing it all. Every negative thought, every horrible re-enactment, every highlight reel of disappointment. Each fearful scene comes with a script and the enemy is burning up (pun intended) waiting on me to “read my lines” so that I speak fear, degradation and destruction into my world.

Not today, satan.

Pray like God is sitting in your living room (because he is), speak life into the dead areas of your life. My prayer is that we seek God for the strength to continue our fight of faith. I pray our fear-filled words are replaced with the faith-filled words in our rhetoric. Our lives are a reflection of the words we’ve spoken from the time we learned our native language until now.

So what are you saying?

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