Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Set Apart for a Purpose (Part 1)

"What's my purpose?" "Why was I put on this planet?" "Will I ever know what I was put here to do?" Questions like these are normal for most people, particularly if they feel like a lonely asteroid floating in space. With so many distractions, voices, and messages swirling around us, it can become difficult to actually get any sense of clarity about purpose in life. Add to the mix a barrage of images and messages imprinted on our minds through popular culture and it can become even more difficult to wade through the mire of confusion. Getting back to a foundational principle of life is essential to even attempting to locate your purpose and it starts with a simple message from God found in the Word of God, specifically Jeremiah 1:5, "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you..." The author of this prophetic book in the Bible was recording God's words to him about his destiny, but the same applies to all of us. Before we were even formed in our mothers' wombs, we were known and loved by God. Not only that, but He set us apart and appointed each of us to fulfill a particular destiny and purpose on this earth. If you're not sure what that particular purpose is, the starting point is knowing this: you were known and you were appointed. Get that in your consciousness.

The other profoundly telling scripture that speaks volumes to the detail, intricacy, and thought that was put into your existence and future is found in Psalm 139:13-16:

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed."

I love this passage for so many reasons. Not only the detail that clearly was involved with the formation of the human body and the creative genius behind that, but also the last two verses of the passage, "Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." As if the making of all the "delicate inner parts," being "knit together in my mother's womb" and growing under the watchful eye of God in the utter seclusion and darkness of an amniotic environment wasn't enough, but my future, my life, my destiny, every moment of that journey, was recorded before I even came into existence. Mind blowing? Yes. If this doesn't speak of divine purpose, I don't know what does.

If you ever had any doubt about whether you have a purpose, the answer to your question is a resounding YES! You do! There's no one like you, no one that has your exact gifts, talents, and personality. There may be others that have similarities, but you are a limited edition creation of God that was formed and fashioned with a specific purpose in mind. You were known before the womb, in the womb, and at this very present moment. Kill the doubts and accept that you were not randomly or arbitrarily put on this planet. Everything about you was specifically designed for a reason and God is committed to assisting you on your journey to discovering it. More to come in Part 2 of this blog series....

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Peace: An Anchoring Spiritual Force

Peace. Everyone wants it, but it’s a force that eludes so many people. Worry, fear, envy, anxiety, aggravation, depression, double-mindedness, and inner conflict all have one thing in common: they are peace robbers that describe a mind that is in turmoil and dis-eased. It’s the picture of the mind that can never seem to get to a place of rest. It’s the mind that keeps a person up at night, unable to sleep; the mind that is tormented by the cares of today and tomorrow; the mind that is attracting more turmoil like a magnet. This is the picture of the unspiritual mind.
When I use the term “spiritual” I’m talking about that which proceeds from the realm of God, Who is love and light. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Romans 8:6 which says, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”  A spiritual mind is a mind that is controlled, dictated, and submitted to the Spirit of God--the Holy Spirit. It is the mind that is dictated by the fruit of the Spirit, or manifestations of the character of God – love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control.
The peace of God is so essential in so many areas of our lives. The peace of God keeps our hearts and minds in a place of undisturbed rest, and it surpasses our own natural understanding. When the peace of God rules your life, you can proceed through traumatic situations like the death of a loved one or the loss of a job, knowing that God is with you in the midst of those situations. Others may look at you in surprise that you are able to handle certain things with a grace and ease that is not the norm. This ability comes from being anchored in the peace of God.
Peace essentially means “having nothing missing or broken.” It is a state of wholeness and soundness. A mind that is at peace is one that is not fragmented by tormenting negative emotions and thoughts. It is not distracted by intrusions and suggestions that are designed to take you down the wrong path. A peaceful mind is calm and undisturbed; it is the picture of mental health. Peace isn’t just a vague concept, it is a force that can anchor you in the midst of life’s challenges, no matter what those challenges may be. When peace rules over your heart and mind, and when you recognize how valuable it is to your mental and emotional well being, you’ll look for ways to obtain it and also preserve it.
Peace is also an indicator of the leading of the Lord in your life. When He is leading you, you can proceed with a sense of calm that is unsurpassed. On the other hand, when you have no peace, it’s an indication that something is wrong, and that you need to stop going in the direction you’re currently going in, and make a course correction.
I made a decision long ago that regardless of what is going on, I would not allow anything to rob me of my peace, the reason being that if I allow negative emotions and thoughts to take precedence in my mind, or if I allow circumstances and situations to determine my state of mind and emotions, it will get me to lose focus on everything God has called me to do and it will make my life miserable. For that reason, I make it a point to maintain peace in my life no matter what. I do this by meditating on the Word and allowing that Word to sink into my consciousness. It then becomes a living organism of peace that permeates my mind, will, and emotions. I remind myself that Jesus promised to leave me His peace, and it is a peace that cannot be found anywhere in this world system because it is a supernatural peace. I speak peace over my mind, my family, my household, and life. Words of peace, combined with continual meditation on the Prince of Peace Himself – Jesus – gives me the ability to maintain that calm, undisturbed state of mind.
We encounter so many things daily that have the potential to rob us of this vital spiritual force. Circumstances and situations arise that are designed to challenge our faith and trust in God, and move us from that place of wholeness in our minds and hearts. Claiming and, in some cases, reclaiming peace is the key to staying spiritually focused. This may mean releasing people, relationships, and situations that are toxic and are stealing your peace. Whatever you have to do, do it. Trust God to give you the wisdom you need to make the necessary adjustments and allow Him to give you a deeper revelation of who He is—ultimate peace.  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dear Mama...

Inhale, exhale as they lifted me from your womb - Birth
Welcome to my new life on planet Earth
It was worth it all, painful labor, to bring forth this new life
And so I stand here to say Thank You Mommy,
Hands full of strength, to love, give, cook hot meals,
Give me hot lemon honey tea when I was sick,
Bandaids on knees, combed and brushed my hair, taught me how to wash and brush my teeth.
Loved me through the years, watching me grow, letting go
Standing tall and on God's Word in the face of a rebellious me, a willful teen
Stepping out about to fall, falling headlong into your canopy of prayers
Seeing me go through stages and phases
Us changing together, growing together but in different ways
Many days you cried for me I'm sure,
Seeming to misunderstand each other, but still loving me as I journeyed my journey
Loving me through all my mess,
Letting me learn on my own some hard lessons, but waiting with open arms for when I had to come back to you and admit that you were right all along
But never judging me or making my decisions for me,
Respecting my wishes, when I was the one being rude
Still loving me, like only you do.
And on this day of celebration, to mothers of all creeds, colors, and denominations
I must salute you, and say Thank You for being the best and the greatest
With your home cooked meals and generous heart, I love you from my heart
And in case I hadn't said it lately, THANK YOU for being the best Mommy a daughter could have..Love, Suz

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Breaking Soul Ties

Mr. Wrong – Mary J. Blige

Me and Mr Wrong get along so good (so good)
Even though he breaks my heart so bad (so bad)
We got a special thing going on
Me and Mr Wrong (mister wrong)
Even if I try, no, I never could
Give him up cause his loves like that
Aint no way that I’m moving on
I love my Mr Wrong

Hung up off your good
You call and I run
My family's screaming at me don’t do it
Don't do it Mary.
I guess they never had none

When he put that loving on me, I can’t think of nothing
That’ll make me walk out
I’m holding on
I love my Mr Wrong
He be kissing and touching on me
I can’t help but love him
I must be out my mind
For going so strong
I love my Mr Wrong

Sound familiar? Interesting lyrics and, for most people who have been in a relationship like this, a very relatable situation. Dealing with someone you know is bad for you, but you can’t leave because of “when he put that loving on me” is like being in a prison cell while being in love with your captor. The lyrics to this song demonstrate all the signs of a classic dysfunctional, sex-driven relationship in which a person feels they can’t leave, even though they are getting their heart broken again and again. Most songs out today that are about “love” are really just about the emotional roller coaster that comes with sexual relationships. It has nothing to do with love. “When he put that lovin on me, I can’t think of nothing that’ll make me walk out.” Really? Even if he/she is physically, emotionally, and mentally abusive? Sad. We often look at situations like this, maybe in our friends and loved ones, maybe in our own lives, and wonder why we just can’t let the person go. The reason is because of the soul ties that came out of the sexual relationship, that are mistakenly being interpreted as love. Love, however, doesn’t leave you feeling like a captive, addicted, distressed, and mentally and emotionally conflicted.

What is a soul tie? On a most basic level, it is a “tie” or “bond” that is formed between people, linking their souls together, which can bring fourth both beneficial results or negative results. The soul of a person encompasses their mind, will, and emotions; their personality, their subconscious, the place where memories and feelings reside. It is the place from which decisions are made, and where connections are forged. Soul ties are those invisible strings that connect us to people and keep us connected. I look at them as spiritual “funnels” that transfer things between individuals. They can be good or bad, depending on the way in which they were formed, and who they were formed with.

Not all soul ties are bad. Healthy friendships and godly marriages and relationships can form positive soul ties that can be a source of encouragement, upliftment, and mutual spiritual growth. Parents have soul ties with their children, and of course family members obviously have soul ties with one another as well.

I want to deal with soul ties in relationships, specifically as it relates to sexual intimacy. Any time sexual intimacy takes place, soul ties are formed, and as a result, both participants become “glued” to each other in their soulish realm (mind, will, and emotions). This is a profound spiritual phenomenon that can’t be avoided if sexual activity has taken place. The above song lyric and many others proves it; her attachment to this man is directly related to the sexual relationship they’re having and what he’s carrying spiritually has now been transferred to her because there is a link connecting them. When you understand soul ties, you understand why people can remain attached to ex-lovers and ex-partners, seemingly unable to let go of the person. All the sexual experiences a person has are stored in their soul similar to a rolodex, which is why many times a person is never satisfied in a relationship. It’s because of what is logged into the catalogue of their soul, unbeknownst to them.

Many people bring exes into their marriages and future relationships, even if the person is no longer in their life because the soul tie with that individual has never been broken. Still others can’t even stick to one person in a relationship because they have “stuck” themselves to so many people over the course of their lives. Like a piece of tape that has been stuck to multiple surfaces and eventually loses it’s stickiness, people can have multiple soul ties with multiple people, making it virtually impossible to commit to someone because of all the spiritual and soul baggage they are carrying.

When it comes to solutions, we can’t deal with spiritual problems with unspiritual tools. Spiritual things go with spiritual things, and because of the spiritual nature of soul ties, there is no way to break them without employing something that is powerful enough to deal with them. Will power will not work when a person’s will is under the influence of a sexually-forged soul tie! When a stronghold has been formed in a person’s mind, they cannot just “get out” or “forget” about the person. Those feelings will linger and attempt to gain control mentally and emotionally (Remember, the will is a part of the soul). I can testify in my own life because I went through this years ago. The only thing that is powerful enough to break a soul tie is the Word of God, combined with the practical things a person has to do to disconnect from the person/people they are in a relationship with. Second Corinthians 10:4 says, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” A soul tie is a mental and emotional stronghold that must be demolished in order for complete deliverance to take place. Here’s what worked in my own life:

1. I acknowledged the relationship was outside the will of God i.e. I was having sex with someone I was not married to and therefore inviting emotional and spiritual problems into my life through the realm of soul ties.

2. I made a decision to stop doing the thing that was causing me to get soul tied to people i.e. gluing myself to people I wasn’t married to through sex. This is the step that is the most basic but also the one that will be the deciding factor of whether a person even progresses to the deliverance process.

3. I began renewing my mind with the Word by making the meditation of certain scriptures a part of my life until my thinking began to change. If you change your thinking, everything in your life will change. This is what it means to renew your mind. I stayed on Romans 12:1-2:
a. “Therefore I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is.”

4. I made a commitment to allow my relationship with God to be the center of my life because that relationship is a place of protection from the detriments that come from going our own way. Psalm 91:1:
a. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty Whose power no foe can withstand.” Instability and emotional torment are spiritual foes, or enemies to your peace, but allowing the wisdom of God to be your guide will protect you from the unnecessary drama that comes from soul ties.

5. I cut off contact with people I was involved with sexually. Trying to be “friends” with a person like the one Mary J. Blige is describing in this song is foolishness, especially when you are JUST starting the process of cutting it off. You just have to make those hard decisions, if you’re serious about your emotional freedom that is. Again, this is another area that most people aren’t willing to do. When you really want to be delivered you do what you have to do. You change phone numbers, you throw pictures and memorabilia away and most importantly, you cut off contact. If the person is the father or mother of your child, then you only allow contact where it pertains to the child.

6. I used the Word of God to deal with thoughts that attempted to keep me connected to those situations. This goes back to step 3 i.e. renewing your mind.

7. Understanding the power of words as spiritually creative tools, I broke soul ties with my own mouth i.e. “I break the soul tie I have with so and so in the name of Jesus.” I released my faith in the supernatural ability of God to get involved with my situation and why not? I know I am loved by God and that it is not God’s will for me to be in ANY type of emotional turmoil.

8. I asked the Lord to send new people and relationships into my life. This is called replacement. If you cut something off but don’t replace it with something else, those old things will just find a way to come back into your life sooner or later. I’m not talking about cutting off a relationship only to get into another one and creating a new soul tie in an attempt to get rid of the old one, but a complete change where my circle of associates was concerned. When you start getting emotionally healthy and surrounding yourself with wise people who are emotionally healthy themselves, you start making different and better choices.

9. I prayed. Prayer for deliverance from certain relationships was probably one of the most powerful things I did. Not only does it give you strength to endure the weak moments and rough spots in the process, but when you have confidence that God hears your prayers, you know the answer is on the way.

If you’ve never been through the binding effects of soul ties and the turmoil that comes with them, then you may not be able to relate to this. But most people have been through it or are currently in it right now on some level. Soul ties can be broken, no matter how strong they may be. With God all things are possible and you can walk away from those relationships and receive a restored soul that is whole and able to make sound decisions. If there are people who you still have soul ties with from the past, who may not even be in your life anymore, begin to pray for deliverance. You are the prophet of your own life so start breaking soul ties with your own words and declare your freedom from any emotional bondage from the past. Be willing to go through your process, as difficult as it may be. I assure you, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Observing and Discerning: Pay Attention!

Why is it that we tend not to see the reality of a situation until after the fact? People who’ve come out of bad relationships or situations that totally threw them for a loop can relate. Particularly where relationships are concerned, we tend to find ourselves in the midst of drama once we’ve already invested time and emotion into someone who turns out to be a complete disappointment. After enough failed relationships, some people become jaded about the possibility of ever finding the right one. Others continue on with the same patterns and attract more of the same. Still others learn from their mistakes and avoid the same pitfalls. The answer to the original question comes down to two simple actions that can prevent us from ending up with the short end of the stick, not only in romantic relationships, but in business endeavors, friendships, and really any other situation that could potentially require an investment on our part. Becoming proficient at observing and discerning will save you time, money, and energy. The issue is are we willing to accept the truth of what we see and govern ourselves accordingly?

I’m a firm believer in living a simplified life and the older you get, the more important simplicity becomes. We don’t have time to waste on people, situations, and endeavors that are leading nowhere and draining our precious energy and resources in any way. The problem is that we tend to make emotional decisions rather than taking a wise approach to what we’re doing. The wisdom of Proverbs 3:5-6 rings true and ensures that we avoid the drama of detrimental relationships, friendships, business endeavors, career paths, and other situations that end up being a waste of our time. Really anything that requires a decision that could impact our lives in a major way should be submitted to these verses: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

The concept is really very simple. First, we should trust God and not lean to our own understanding. We may have our own thoughts about how to go about doing something, or even be stuck in the ways we’ve always done it. Even when it comes to getting to know someone in a relationship, we may have our own understanding of how to do things. But instead of relying on our own ability to make things happen, we should trust God for wisdom, guidance and direction BEFORE we invest. It also says to acknowledge Him in ALL our ways, not just some of our ways. That means everything. Someone new comes into our life that seems like the perfect person? “Lord, what do You say have to say about them?” A new job opportunity that may involve relocating? “Lord, what’s your will for my life in this situation?” And if you aren’t at a point where your spiritual hearing is crystal clear yet, simply ask God to reveal to you everything you need to know about the situation before you do anything, in a way that makes it tangible for you. He will always do it.

Now this is where observing and discerning comes into play. The first step to avoiding dead-end situations is to ask God for wisdom, guidance and direction as soon as the proposition is before you. The second step is to ask Him to reveal to you what you need to know. The third step is to observe and discern what is being revealed. Pay attention to what you see before you! To discern something is to show insight, judgment, and perception. It also means “to detect.” Observation involves paying special attention to something or to notice it in detail. How much time do we really give ourselves to observe the people we’re dealing with before investing? We aim to give attention to detail on our jobs and careers, but how much attention to detail do we give to the people we are considering making an investment into BEFORE handing our hearts to them? If we would simply pay attention and be honest with ourselves about what we see, we could avoid a lot of situations.

Speaking from experience, when I reflect on past failed relationships, there
were always red flags long before things went bad. When it comes to people, we have to pay attention to the little things that set an alarm off within us. Don’t ignore those things! And also consider things like the circumstances under which the person came into your life, where you are emotionally at the time of the decision, and other factors that could be influencing your decision-making. You will know a tree by its fruit, not by what the tree tells you about itself. If you see apples, please believe it’s an apple tree, even if it tries to convince you it’s an orange tree. Character issues in a person that you ignore will be major points of conflict later on. The same is true for investments of time and money into different endeavors. Don’t do ANYTHING without seeking the wisdom of God. Don’t move ahead into something without taking time to observe what you’re dealing with and getting in a place of quiet prayer prior to decision making. When it comes to relationships, take your time and don’t lay everything on the line when there are obvious red flags present. Moving full speed ahead out of emotions or unresolved personal issues such as loneliness or anxiousness will only backfire on you.

I read once that wisdom is knowing and perceiving God’s perspective on a person, thing, or issue, and choosing to agree with His purposes. Are you willing to seek direction before getting involved? More importantly, are you willing to agree with whatever He tells you? Ultimately your agreement with godly guidance is going to be the difference between your success and failure in whatever you’re doing. That guidance may come through friends and loved ones who can see your situation from the outside and/or the sense of peace or a lack of peace you feel inside about the person or situation you’re dealing with. Don’t tell yourself you have peace when you really don’t, or try to convince yourself that what you’re observing isn’t really happening. Observe, discern, and love yourself enough to be honest about what you see.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Discipline, Diligence, and Consistency: Your Success Formula for 2012

Another year has come and gone and, hopefully, 2011 was a year of fulfillment, accomplished goals, and forward progress. I’m pleased to say that as I survey the past year and evaluate it as I always do at the close of another twelve months, I accomplished the goals I set for myself on January 1, 2011. As we press into a brand new span of 365, the theme of discipline, diligence, and consistency came up in my mind during the last few days of 2011 and I decided that it would be my theme for 2012. If there could be a formula for success, these three words are it.

Whether you have one goal that you’re focusing on this year, or ten, discipline is going to be the key to seeing some things happen over the next twelve months. You may have some health and fitness goals, financial objectives, or just a desire to be a more loving person, but regardless of the goals, discipline is going to be a major factor in whether those things materialize. One definition of discipline is “activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training.” I can think of at least 3 areas of my life where I need to tighten up my discipline and I’ve already started. Discipline requires a commitment to follow through on what you say you’re going to do in your personal life. Only you know the areas in which you need more discipline, and if you commit to creating a repetitive regimen that is designed to help you become more disciplined, you will be that much closer to seeing your goal become a reality.

Diligence is another success key that will take your life to another level. One of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 10:4 which says, “He becomes poor that deals with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” We see that diligence (or slackness i.e. laziness) activates a process of “becoming” meaning that you will be moving in a direction, either positive or negative, based on your choice of action. I definitely want to move in the direction of increase, prosperity, and success in every aspect of my life and I want everything I touch to be successful so diligence has to be a part of my lifestyle. To be diligent is to be constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything. WHATEVER you’re trying to do, be diligent. Don’t stop giving it attention. Make a point to do something EVERY day, that pertains to what you’re trying to accomplish. The momentum you create from that one action of diligence will cause an inflow of opportunities for success.

Finally the issue of consistency is so important. It’s kind of along the same lines of diligence. Consistency is the key to the breakthrough you’re waiting for. It’s the attitude that refuses to get tired and quit when things get difficult. It’s the mindset that continues to do what needs to be done to reach the goal. It’s remaining the same in your actions and the quality of your actions, day in and day out, as it pertains to the accomplishment of your goals. It’s the people who are consistent who achieve lasting success.

I’m all about setting realistic goals that can be achieved in a measurable amount of time. To me, that’s the best way to get things done. Decide what you want to make happen this year, come up with a plan and be disciplined, diligent, and consistent. By doing so you’ll be able to look back on 2012 with ultimate satisfaction. And you’ll have something to show for your efforts!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Familiar Territory: A Hindrance to Your Destiny

When it comes to moving into God’s plan and purpose for your life, there is absolutely no question that you are going to have to move out of familiar territory. The comfort of what’s familiar to us, whether it’s a way of doing things, established thought patterns, an activity that has become a permanent part of our lives, our friends, or even family members, can sometimes become the very things that hold us back from going to another level in life. Our fear of what we think could happen if we move beyond familiar territory often paralyzes us and, consequently, we remain stuck in the same place, year after year—the same mindsets, the same negative emotions, the same struggles, the same problems, the same spiritual state that we’ve been in for the past decade of our lives! If you want change, you’re going to have to step out of what’s familiar.

I remember one of the biggest stepping out of familiar territory actions that I took was my decision to move across the country to attend college in Atlanta, Georgia at 18 years old. It was a pretty bold move for a young teenager from California, who didn’t know anyone in Atlanta and had never been that far from my family in any capacity. But my adventurous and headstrong personality embraced the prospect of conquering new territory and, with my family’s support, I took the leap. Little did I know that Atlanta would be the place where I would experience and grow through some of my most significant life lessons, develop lasting life-long friendships, meet my future husband, discover my ministry calling, and the will of God for my life. I wasn’t a person of faith back then at 18 years old, but I did have a willing heart that wanted to explore new things. God used that aspect of my personality to move me into exactly the place He needed me to be.

Over the years there have been many more instances of times where I had to move beyond what was familiar in order to embrace something new that would take my life to another level. The process of letting go of what is comfortable is ongoing. Sometimes it meant following a direction from God that other people didn’t fully understand, or making a decision to change a mindset that I had held on to for a long time. At other times it meant letting go of things that had become familiar idols in my life in order to experience a greater intensity of God’s power and presence. Regardless of the situation, it always involved moving out of some kind of comfort zone in order to see what was on the other side of what was familiar. I can honestly say that I haven’t been disappointed yet.

There’s definitely an element of fear involved in moving out of familiar territory but press past it. Sometimes the things that are familiar to us are like security blankets that we hold on to in order to preserve a sense of comfort, especially when we don’t feel secure or at peace within ourselves. Sometimes we just enjoy what we are currently involved in and the thought of giving it up makes us cringe. The truth is that we were all created to expand, take new territory, and continually go from level to level. Change is an inevitable part of life, and when we fight it, we end up stagnating, sometimes for years. We have to be willing to let go in order to let God do more in our lives. Consider what’s familiar to you and how moving beyond it could revolutionize your life in ways you can’t even fathom. Don’t let familiar territory hinder you from the greater purpose God has for your life!