Rev Fave

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?

Faith Speaks

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In a season where I’m “learning how to speak,” God is speaking to my faith. He’s spoken prophetically through strangers – saying things about me they wouldn’t know in the natural. He’s confirmed instructions through the colleagues I speak with the least (but connected to Him deeply).

God sent new people as catalysts towards my new future and purpose. They speak confirmations and share The Word of God in a way that has convicted, encouraged, uplifted, inspired and just tore me up on several levels.

What’s incredible is how each instance – from the prophetic strangers and coworkers to the devotionals and seemingly random conversations – “sounds the same” as it is the same voice (of God) speaking through various channels. I know it’s Him because I’ve spent so much time in His Word and prayer that His voice is crystal clear and someone said that level of hearing was coming to me (I just didn’t know how soon).

I’m in awe. I woke up this morning spiritually overwhelmed by the realness of His Word and the clarity of His intentions for my life. As I continue my faith fight, I encourage us to continue speaking as we absorb His Word; but let’s be reminded that Our God is speaking to us as well. The life changing rhetoric from heaven is just as real and mind blowing for you as it has been for me the past several weeks.

Nobody Cares

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Nobody cares. That’s the thought I fertilized in my mind over time. It’s not that I thought people were being malicious, but I wasn’t on the hearts and minds of folks in the first place, Nobody care. Two words I used to neutralize the hues of my blues, so I don’t float to high high nor sink to low. But if God called me to move forward, how do I begin to go?

Past highlight reels evoke emotions I don’t want to feel. The myriad of wrongs done to me and by me — still try to torment me as I pray, study and grow as a child of God.

Nobody cares. That’s the lie I told myself until today. The mind of God took the same two words and gave them BRAND NEW meaning. Nobody cares. All the past I’m holding on to; nobody care. All the guilt of not being where I think I should be; nobody cares. The pain of my past revisited; No. Body. Cares.

I let it go today. For real. The freedoms in knowing God loves me and has forgiven me…wow. Nobody cares how broke I was or how depression use to have me. I had to let it go because who I was can’t go with me to where God sees. Me.

Getting Out of My Feelings

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I had to get out of my feelings. Everything about that place was erratic, fleeting and leaving me with consequences of longevity as a result of brevity in miscalculated decisions. That place had me all kinds of twisted; my feelings are not supposed to engulf me nor guide me towards any life decision of substance.

Although I feel these feelings, my faith polices them in a way where I MUST deny my feelings the power to govern my beliefs, what I speak, how I do and in what way I respond. Some days I do a better job than others. I tend to shut down when I’m in my feelings because the feelings usually leads to anger — followed by a cascade of defensive emotions.

In contrast, when I’m out of my feelings, I’m way out there to where I can seem to be the most desensitized, coldest person on earth. But I believe the most recurring feeling I feel is where I feel disposable to people who supposedly care about me. It has impacted how I interact and leaves me with a void of intimacy on any level, along with why I don’t smile.

There’s so much I need to change…or is it just that I need to revert?

The Moment When Everything Changed

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I have never seen him like this. Since the 5th grade, he has always been the epitome of cool. He has never raised his voice, behaved erratically or emotionally. Through decades of euphoric highs and dungeon level lows, he has maintained a neutrality in his demeanor that always reflected peace, but not excitement. We’ve laughed, joked and encouraged each other over the years as we navigated through middle school, high school, college, career changes, marriage, fatherhood, divorce and re-invention. Like most guys, we didn’t talk about our emotions, but our connection remained strong. He is not just my best friend, he is my brother.

And everything about him changed the moment he met her.

His modest, reserved personality began sprouting sudden outbursts of joy on Facebook. He started posting date night photos and making frequent trips to where she lived. Our conversations on the phone went from sports and music to relationship lessons and thoughts of the future. He wasn’t just in love, he had made a decision to love. This would be the first of many decisions that would impact their lives forever.

He proposed. She accepted. Planning began. He began expressing his emotions more as we grew closer to the big day. They picked colors together, decided on wedding favors and asked me to lead their ceremony. Despite my substantial counseling and prayer, nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed on their wedding day.

My best friend was beaming with joy unlike anything I’d ever seen. It was so vibrant that it made him look younger. He smiled incessantly. There was a diamond-like sparkle in his eyes. No cold feet; just high anticipation. He cried tears of joy – several times. Their vows were endearing. His confidence in his decision to love his bride until death was undeniable. The way he held her during their first dance, it was clear that he was never letting her go.

In 30+ years, I have never seen my best friend smile beyond his classic “smirk.” I have never seen him cry one tear; let alone a steady stream down his face. We’ve been at school dances and formal events; but I’d never seen my brother slow dance. I have never seen him so submerged in joy and happiness – and it looked good on him. Challenges and triumphs are on the horizon for these newlyweds, but I believe God will keep them through it all.

I realize that God is the originator of all the joy I witnessed. Everything about me changed the moment I accepted Him into my life. This milestone in my brother’s life was a strong reminder that I need to reflect the joy and happiness God continues to give me with life, health, strength and opportunities to help others. My smiling is a rarity and I’m working hard to increase my frequency.

I don’t want someone to be in search of God and cannot get a glimpse of Him in me.

Lack of Prayer Changes

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Sinners say goodbye. Saints will see you later. The finality of mortal death forces you to bid farewell. The reality of imperative departures forces you to walk away from the smell of a decaying connection that no longer benefits your life; an extraordinary human experiences enhanced by the Holy Spirit, underwritten by Jesus and secured by an Almighty God.

I’ve watched nostalgia smudge the lenses by which I view familiar mediocrity. The moist haze almost skewed my vision towards the benefit of the doubt. My retro eyes tried to convince my spirit that things have changed. People have changed. Prayer has changed them. Prayer has changed me. Because that’s what prayer is supposed to do, right?

Right?

I don’t believe prayer changes things. I believe the phrase, “prayer changes people” is not entirely accurate. Prayer has a tendency to amplify the original factory settings of the spirit God created. Lack of prayer (aka lack of communication with God) is what truly changes us for the worse as our connection erodes our character, dramatize our circumstances and distorts our inner-voice that should be encouraging instead of churning thoughts of discourse from overly critical to suicidal.

I pray for God to navigate my life with the authenticity of His purpose. That’s not a change, that’s acknowledging who He destined me to be. Prayer didn’t change me, I changed me. Sin changed me. Fear changed me. Indecision changed me. Pain changed me. Betrayal changed me. My bad choices changed me. Lust changed me. Distance from God changed me.

My lack of prayer is what changed me.

Prayer is what continues to keep me closest to how God made me. Prayer exposes me to an inkling of His thoughts and reveals more of who I truly am. No one can tell me who I am. Nostalgia can’t define me. My external perception can’t define me. My insecurities, concerns and false humility cannot paint a better picture than the one by My Divine Artist.

So I pray that the strokes of life’s hues, slathered by the brush of my God’s intentions will make me a masterpiece in a world decorated by hotel landscape paintings and dirty drapes.

The Sound of My Father’s Voice

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I never liked the sound of my father’s voice.

Let me clarify. 

I never liked the sound of my father’s voice when he yelled. As someone who grew up in a two-parent household, I was exposed to my dad’s rustling baritone throughout my childhood. He was generally a quiet guy — which amplified his outbursts in contrast to his normal tone. My father is 5’10” and possibly 180 at his heaviest; but those moments when his voice roared, you thought he was ferocious enough to tear down brick walls with his bare hands.

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And You Call Yourself A Man of God

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It’s been 861 days since my first sermon. In the midst of those days are moments of triumphs that amplify the closeness of God; plus disappointments that gave the false perception that God was nowhere to be found. I’m thankful for His ability to cover my imperfections with His perfect love. Buried within those 861 days are several sleepless nights of studying His Word and writing His messages to share with His people. Those days capture a substantial number of attempts to enhance my intellect and wisdom, with the power of the Holy Spirit, in order to share something that would help someone… even if that someone was me.

Layered into those 861 days are periods of frustration, doubt, self-pity, challenging self-esteem and a myriad of mistakes. Those layers cradle unpleasant memories crafted by unwise and unpopular decisions; thus, reaffirming my fallible state of being. When my missteps reveal my carnal nature to periodically fail or disappoint someone — it is the same carnal nature that arises in those who witness my fall and immediately say:

And you call yourself a man of God.

This phrase suggests that my calling elevates me to a standard by which I am not meeting. Being a man of God is the sinners’ favorite catch phrase when the called take a fall and I am not above their reproach. Heavy circumstances such as adultery, substance abuse and domestic violence are major fallacies – but I’ve witnessed this sarcastic-laden tagline hurled towards my character because I forgot to call back, didn’t have the time to listen in that moment or I didn’t have the resources to meet the need of the hour. In those 861 days, I let someone down; whether intentional or unintentional, the pain is the same and so is the phrase:

And you call yourself a man of God.

My calling invites me to improve my character; however, God’s plan for my life does not deviate due to my shortcomings.

He doesn’t change the course of my destiny because of who doesn’t like what I said and/or did. God doesn’t shift the trajectory of my transformation because I hurt someone and now they want to hurt me. I seek forgiveness and attempt to learn from my mistakes.

Yet there are those who have their perception of what a “man of God” should be and perfection is definitely not a prerequisite. In fact, if (perfection) was on the man of God job description, I’d (still) be unemployed. Being a man of God was not my choice, but God’s design. Every gift He gave, that enables me to share the Word of God in a unique way, was given to me by Him. I absorb His Word, I seek His understanding, I pray for his grace and mercy and yes, I still find time to be human and make mistakes while working in full-time ministry.

Man of God ≠ Man is God.

Forgive Me

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Forgiveness is a healing agent; repairing the spiritual wounds caused by others as well as myself. The internal process of forgiveness remains the most difficult as I continue to navigate through life as an imperfect person – destined to make mistakes. I’m always trying to “fix” things, so when I break something (e.g., hurt someone unintentionally), I wouldn’t initially forgive; I’d beat myself up more than anyone else ever could.

When I think of the situations I should have avoided or the people I shouldn’t have trusted – I found it hard to forgive myself for placing my life in harm’s way.

Through God’s Word and continuous prayer, He reminds me that He has forgiven me; therefore, it’s okay to forgive myself.

I refer to forgiveness as “healing and repairing” because it is something that lives in the present with me. In order for forgiveness to work in my life, I must keep it in the NOW; I cannot leave it in the past nor anticipate it in the future.

As it relates to others, I need forgiveness to release the pain caused by others. It has nothing to do with their remorse or apology. As we hold on to their actions, it erodes us from within. The anger, bitterness, resentfulness, etc. spills over into other areas of our lives. I’m called to lead in a world predestined to work against me. If I hold on to what others have done to me, I threaten the destruction of my purpose and weaken my effectiveness to live in that purpose.

Forgiveness is not an option, it’s a mandate from God that keeps my adversaries from winning. Despite it’s non-negotiable status, it is one of the most excruciating actions to employ; but thank God it gets better with time.

My spiritual, physical, professional and personal goals are directly linked to my being a man. Forgiveness is an invisible action with highly visible results. In the natural, I thought it would make me appear weak. In the spiritual, I’ve learned how forgiveness is like strength training for my soul. It keeps my sins from being remembered by God. It is the sledgehammer that breaks the lock of guilt, depression, anger, envy, anxiety and bitterness. The caveat is that the sledgehammer is heavy at times. Thank God I’m a man with upper-body strength!

Thankfully and prayerfully, God grants us the strength to wield that sledgehammer of forgiveness, regardless of our size. The process starts with Him. It continues with Him. I didn’t truly understand what it meant to be a man until I embraced the potency of forgiveness. It has healed  decades of self-hate, bitterness against those who probably don’t remember my name and blockage between me and the Almighty God who has forgiven me countless times.

The process of forgiveness has saved my life… eternally.

 

 

 

Mind Renewal

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It started when she said “yes” and posted their picture on Facebook. I saw where he used to be and where he stands today. He used to look like me; but now he resembles where I’d like to be: tall, brown, fit and focused. His renewal compelled me to reach out to him via email and discover his habits and lifestyle. The brother was empathetic, enthusiastic, encouraging and most of all – informative. We agreed to stay in connect so I can power through the same journey of transformation he experienced.

I’ve taken steps without moving my feet. Before making a grocery list or buying new workout T-clothes, I started the journey in my mind. Now I’m in the midst of my body following the leadership of my mind instead of the other way around. Our destination is an oasis of better eating habits, increased physical activity and proper rest. We must get there together.

Following God’s divine order is guaranteed to be met with persecution. There’s only so much I can do and I’ve chosen my work, talents and time to be given to the glory of Him who saved me. This requires prioritization that will often leave those around me, in their feelings. As much as I dislike hearing it, the truth is that I don’t have time.

I don’t have time to binge watch reality TV for 8-10 hours. I don’t have time to stare at 3429856324985734 games on my phone (unless its for 5-10 minutes while I’m in the checkout lane). I don’t want to be complacent where I am, with no desire to move forward. I don’t have time to divest the precious commodity of my lifespan, into activities that aren’t beneficial to God, the kingdom and those He specifically directed me to help.

There’s a huge majority of people who could care less about me beyond my capability to do something for them. I am the sum total of my talents… that’s what I used to think.

When you tap into God’s purpose, you must re-prioritize people, goals, etc. and someone is going to be pissed. It shouldn’t be you.

God has been the only consistent source of peace and my mind needs it above all else. My mind needs peace.

I’ve had to close the IMAX theatre of my brain that played continuous, 3-D renditions of every mistake, bad decision and sadness that has darkened my doorstep. First, I had to kick out the people sitting in there, chilling with popcorn. Heh. Forgiving others was doable, because God told me it was something I must do. The hard part was getting my mind to forgive myself and that’s still an ongoing process.

In order to enter into a new dimension of ministry, health, family and creativity, my mind must be renewed with the promises of God, fruit of my labor and stewardship of resources placed in my care. Some days are easier than others, but I’m believing my mind will renew, those meant to stay in my life will be happier having being in my life and my lifestyle will reflect peace, vitality and boldness in the name of Jesus.