The Power of Authenticity

As I was in prayer this morning, The Lord begin to speak to me about the mindset that says “fake it til’ you make it.” In a culture that believes and identifies more with its’ humanity than its’ divinity, it makes no sense why many hold to this ideology. In a culture that wants to experience authenticity and realness, it doesn’t make sense why so many buy into the idea of faking it until you make it. I think it’s because people don’t actually think about what they think about. We have lost sight of the art of critical thinking. We don’t like being challenged because sometimes, there is a certain pride we can have when someone brings a word of enlightenment. It boils down to the fact that some people really don’t want to hear truth. There is a level of accountability that comes with understanding. If we begin to think about what we think about and actually process and vet some of the ideologies we hold, we’ll discover that we’ve been aligning ourselves with falsehood. I think one of the biggest issues in society is that we aren’t real about who we are and where we are. We want others to think we have arrived when the reality is we haven’t even left. Some of us aren’t even on our way but because we are insecure about our situation and the grace we have been given, we pretend to be who we are not. One thing I always encourage is realness. I know, I know. This isn’t some DEEP revelation but it’s something that needs to be said. Be real about who you are and what God has called YOU to do. Your assignment may not look like someone else’s but that doesn’t make it any less significant. When it comes to the kingdom of God, all that matters in the end is did you do what the Lord called YOU to do. Don’t get caught up in the “celebrity” of someone else’s success that you miss the significance of your own. God has given you a grace to be YOU. The good news is there can NEVER be another you. So get in tune with the ways that God has graced you to flow and grow in those assets. Break free from the ministry of comparison. Don’t look at where others are and feel bad about where you’re not. I’m not saying we can’t be inspired by the success of others because you absolutely can and you should. But I’m saying don’t allow other’s successes to cause you to move into a cycle of guilt, shame, condemnation, and regret. God has anointed YOU to be YOU. He has need of your originality in His kingdom. The sooner you’re able to be content with your lot in life, the sooner you’ll begin to walk worthy in the thing the Lord has called you to. Your effectiveness is rooted in your realness. Your effectiveness is rooted in your authenticity. It’s rooted in your ability to be YOU, and by you, I mean the YOU God has purposed and created you to be. The regenerated and redeemed you.

Father, thank your for your dealings in our lives. Thank you for the process of pruning, the process of character development, that causes our spirit-man to grow. Help us to embrace your correction in our lives and help us to see that it comes from a place of deep love. I ask that you continue to surround your people with those who authentically love you and want your best for their lives. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Divine Acceleration

 

 Increase comes at the point of maximized pressure. I’ll say it again. Increase comes at the point where the pressure in your life is maximized. It’s not until you fight through that pressure and resistance, and push back against that thing that you’ll begin to see increase in your life. You know, the thing in your life that sometimes takes you to a place of perpetual frustration. The Lord was speaking to me while I was taking a leisure run this morning. Well, the pace I was going would be leisure for many but it was actually a stretch for me. As I was running, I began to feel tired and there was something in me that wanted to quit. There was something in me that wanted to take a break and I heard these words in my spirit. “Your increase and strength comes at the point where you begin to push. That’s how you level up in the spirit. You push back against that which is opposing you.” God loves you and when you walk with or run with God, He says you will find NEW strength. You will soar high on wings like eagles. You will run and not grow weary. You will walk and not faint (Isa 40:31). Soaring high on wings like eagles speaks to the Lord providing to you the strength and courage needed to overcome life’s obstacles.

Often times we say we trust the Lord with our mouth, but our actions, attitude, and language deny the trust we proclaim we have. We speak the language of worry, doubt, and unbelief while at the same time telling others that we trust Him. Trust is not a matter of empty confession. It’s a heart belief that overflows and overtakes your soul to the extent that regardless of what something seems to be on the outside, we stand confidently on the word of the Lord…because we are people of faith and we are not moved by what a situation appears to be. I hear the Lord saying for many of you “divine acceleration.” The hand of the Lord is upon you to do great exploits and as you put your hand to the plow, he’s going to super exceed the rate at which you think it will take to accomplish a thing. Just as the hand of the Lord was upon Elijah and he, through the power of God, was able to outrun Ahab’s chariot, the Lord will in like manner do it for you in the sphere He has called you to. You’re going to outshine and outperform the rest because when you involve the Spirit of God into your affairs or better yet, when you participate and cooperate with the affairs of God for your life, He multiplies and increases you in ways that causes others to marvel.

Father in Jesus name, I thank you for the divine acceleration that’s upon body of Christ. Thank you for your dealings in our lives and thank you for causing everything to work together for our benefit. Thank you for your faithfulness to perform that which you have promised. Help us to be patient and not rush the process. Help us to accept and get in alignment with your timing. Thank you for the creative ideas and witty inventions you are placing within your people and I ask that you cause Your kingdom to manifest right here and right now. Help us to see in and walk in the Spirit and we thank you that it’s done, because you lead and guide us into all truth. Thank you for the leadership of Holy Spirit in our lives and the authority that you have given us as children of God. I break the cycles of complacency and compromise off of your people and loose the fire of your Spirit to be ever so active and effective in the lives of your children. In Jesus name, Amen.

Broken Cisterns

Jeremiah 2:13 “For my people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And dug for themselves cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

The Lord had given Jeremiah a prophetic word for house of Judah. Not only did the people of God forsake God, but they attempted to replace God. They began to look for spiritual nourishment in places and things that could not nourish. God likens Himself to a fountain of living water. He is the Living Water that quenches the thirsty soul. The people of God were looking for fulfillment in all of the wrong places. Imagine being in the middle of a desert, it’s over 100 degrees, you’re thirsty and there is one source available that you could drink from. Instead of drinking from the source, you attempt to create your own source. You dig in places that aren’t built for digging, thus you partake in activities that aren’t conducive to satisfying your need. Most would agree that it would be foolish to reject the perfectly good water that’s already available to you. This is what the Israelites were doing spiritually. They had turned their backs on God and began to look for sustenance apart from God.

I think that we can have the tendency to do the same thing. When we find ourselves in the heat of a stressful situation, we look to natural means, we begin to dig the well of self-help and self-effort, in hopes that our natural efforts can comfort and give rest to our weary soul. We tend to neglect going to the only one who is capable of nurturing, feeding, and tending to a hungry and thirsty soul. Often times we look to relationships to satisfy areas within us that only God can satisfy. We fill our time with activities, friendships, and hobbies that ultimately starve our identity and thwart our destiny. I believe we all have a part of us that ONLY God can satisfy. No matter how much we try to look to the world to quench this desire, we will always come up empty because it’s a place that is specifically designed for God to fill. The Lord knows the motives and intent of our heart. He knows if we have been neglecting Him and while we may try to convince others that everything is ok, the Lord knows all, sees all, and hears all. Like my brother David says, “We are under constant surveillance.”

It’s time that we begin to get real about our relationship with the Lord and stop trying to convince others that it’s one way when in reality, it’s not. Church people are good at hiding the truth about their life. They’re good at putting masks on. This is something that has to be dealt with in the privacy of your prayer life. Only the Lord can build within you the hunger and desire to pursue Him with your entire being. Only the Lord can fulfill that void of loneliness. Regardless of the things you fill your life with apart from God, we will forever be cursed with the void of loneliness until we get with the ONE who fills empty spaces. Reverse the curse and draw from the ONE that promises to never leave you or forsake you. Draw from the One that promises to still your soul. Drink from the fountain of Living Water and trash the cisterns of postmodern thinking and empty philosophy.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ. This message is not designed to condemn anyone or to stir up feelings of guilt and shame. The purpose of this post is to cause us to examine the cisterns and areas within our lives where we may have attempted to replace God, renounce those things, and begin again to draw from the fountain of Living Water. God bless.

Life as a Chaplain Candidate

I enlisted into the Army October 2013 as a SPC. While in Basic Training, I was told by the Army that I was unqualified to do the job that I initially chose and they offered to make me a nurse. I’m in the heat of Basic Training and I have 5 minutes to make a life changing decision. Never in a million years have I desired to be a nurse. They allowed me to call my wife, we talked about it for a couple minutes and I ultimately decided to take the job as a nurse, because it was something that could transfer to the civilian world. I completed nursing school and got assigned to a Combat Support Hospital. I had the privilege of having amazing leadership who allowed me to pursue my calling to become an Army Chaplain. I applied for the Chaplain Candidate program, got accepted, commissioned as a 2LT into the Army Reserve, and had to experience yet again the pressures of civilian life. As a civilian/reservist, there are things that I have to think about now that I didn’t have to think about as an active duty soldier. The Chaplain Candidate requires me to be enrolled in school full time and I drill monthly with my unit. As a Chaplain Candidate, you do get paid drill pay. I moved my family to Columbia, SC because I chose to attend Seminary at CIU (Columbia International University). I transferred my nursing license to the state of South Carolina and was able to get a job in a matter of days. Thanks Army! I think it’s interesting how God sovereignly set that situation up (in basic training) because He knew that I would one day need a gig to provide for my family as I work my way through seminary.

I would have attended CHBOLC (Chaplains Basic Officer Leadership Course) this summer but my wife is pregnant, she’s due any day now, and I did not want to be stuck in CHBOLC and miss the birth of my son. So I’ll be attending CHBOLC next summer. As a Chaplain Candidate, I have plenty of opportunities to connect with and minister to soldiers. I have done a few services, which have made for some interesting experiences and awesome testimonies. I am in a grind season of my life where I’m in seminary full-time, I work full time, and I’m active in ministry. My pastor tells me to stay ready because at any given time, he may call on me to speak. I love pastors like that because they stretch you, process you, vet you, and expose you. By expose, I mean if you aren’t ready and haven’t been cultivating that relationship with the Lord, it will show when you stand before God’s people. It took me a while to find a church home but I’m in a good place where my family and I can get the spiritual nourishment we need to be effective for the Kingdom. Alignment is everything.

The Chaplaincy is interesting because many people do not understand it. Some pastors actually think you’re leaving the ministry when you decide to go into the Chaplaincy when in reality, you’re going into the ministry. Some people think that you’re required to perform services of different faith groups. The devil is a lie. If that was the case, you would NOT catch me doing this. How in the world can someone be trusted if they can’t remain true to the tenets of their faith. I just want to expose the myth that a Chaplain is a Christian, muslim, and buddhists all at the same time. So no, you will NOT catch me serving two masters!

A Chaplain is a minister within the workplace. I have my personal theology on Chaplaincy and the point of this post is not to dive into the depths of it but I’ll share briefly some of my thoughts. I believe that Chaplains should not only be pastoral, but they should also be apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, and didactical. Much of the Chaplain’s work will be pastoral but there is a need for Chaplains to have a prophetic voice. In a climate that is filled with compromise, wickedness, a lack of demarcation between good and evil, and the pressures that Christians face as it relates to what we can and cannot do, what we should and should not say; we need to be that prophetic voice that contends for the faith and fight for our right to freely express and represent our God. We hear about religious freedom but some of the most intolerant people are non-Christians who try to dictate how the Christian should live out his faith. There is a war and it’s going to take a Spirit-filled Chaplain to navigate these waters and serve the people with a clear conscience, while manifesting the presence of the Living God. We have to be as wise as serpents, but as harmless as doves. This takes discernment in knowing what battles to choose. You have to use discernment in choosing which mountain you’re willing to die on. Every battle is not a battle worth fighting. As my mentor says, we must learn how to flow in the political as well as the prophetic.

I got off on a tangent but the point of this post was to give a little insight into my world and how the Lord is leading me. Keep me in your prayers as I perform the world’s greatest juggling act of being husband, father, seminarian, minister, author, etc. The good news is His grace is sufficient in each and everyone of our lives and His power is made perfect in our weakness.

These are all my personal thoughts. These are not the thoughts of the Army or my ecclesiastical endorser.

The Art of the Yield

The Lord has been dealing with me lately about the subject of arrest. We’re living in a time where everyone is committed to doing their own thing. Everyone is out for themselves and there is little to no acknowledgement of God in the equation. The Lord is calling His people to a place of arrest, a place of submission. Those who are hungry for the things of God will be conduits of the revival that will and is already sweeping this nation. Many of us go through so many things in life that we find it difficult to discover God’s plan for our life. But one of the most dangerous things an individual can do is operate outside of purpose. When you operate outside of purpose, not only are you a liability to your own life but you become a liability to the life of others. Many times we see unjust killings at the hands of men and women who operate outside of purpose. Whether you are a businessman, have a high paying executive job, work in the legal or medical field, law enforcement, etc; the most important thing you can do is be in tune with God’s purpose for your life. The word is clear in that if you seek God, you WILL find Him. And if you acknowledge Him, He will direct your path.

I was meditating on a few scriptures and shared this message on Facebook: “You’ll know you’re at a powerless church when they are concerned with how you look on the outside instead of who you are on the inside. They’ll be more concerned with you conforming to external religious traditions that have ZERO power in and of itself. While man looks at the outside, God is looking at the inside. Paul said the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love. He told the Galatians that it’s not about conforming to the Jewish custom of circumcision. It’s about allowing God to circumcise your heart and transform you on the inside (Gal 5:6; 6:15). This is why many take issue with the church. Because ppl give great lip service and honor God with their lips but their heart is far from Him (Matt 15:8).”

The Lord wants us to draw near to him and and He wants to give us an intimacy and nearness that we have yet to experience. He doesn’t want us to be filled with vain philosophical ideas. He wants us to be filled with His Spirit. When you are filled with the Spirit, there will be no room for the storms of life to overcome you because you will have such an internal peace that it will cause you to command authority over the forces of darkness that come against your life. I’ll never forget the analogy my pops (O’Shay Smith) gave me. He talked about a beach ball. Have you ever tried to hold a beach ball under water? What happens when you let the beach ball go? It rises to the top. Why does it rise to the top? It’s because there is something on the inside that continually causes it to rise. Likewise, we have this treasure in earthen vessels, Holy Spirit within, that causes us to rise above every storm or circumstance in life. All we have to do is yield to the Spirit, slow down, take a break, take a step back, and allow the Lord to manifest His plans, intents, and purposes through us.

Prayer: Father, thank you for every reader. Thank you for the love that you have shown each and everyone of us through the God-man, Jesus Christ. I pray and ask that you would strengthen my brother and sister as they read this. Give them clarity in their assignments and alignments. I cancel every word curse that has been spoken over their lives and I call forth the will of God, Your perfect will to be done in their lives. Thank you that Your purposes will prevail and I praise you for the working of your MIGHTY hand in their lives. You said that if they draw near to you that you would draw near to them. So as they begin to yield their lives to the intensity of Your love and cultivate intimacy with you, I ask that you strengthen them in their innerman, that they may overcome every temptation that comes their way and walk in total victory. Amen

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him…so that you may overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13).

My Journey To Chaplain Candidacy

You may be asking yourself, what exactly is a Chaplain Candidate. In the Army, all Chaplain Candidates are commissioned officers assigned to the Army Reserve in the Chaplain Branch where they receive training & mentorship in the Chaplaincy while completing seminary school. I’ve known for several years that the Lord was calling me into ministry but how I would arrive there was unknown to me. Six months ago, I didn’t even know the Army had a Chaplain Candidate program that gives you an opportunity to get hands on experience and train to become a Chaplain. As someone who is currently Enlisted and on Active Duty, I didn’t know what the process would look like for me. [Read more…]

False Dichotomies In Christianity

There is no doubt about the existence of false dichotomies. Kapic does an excellent job in articulating and constructing false dichotomies seen in contemporary Christianity. As someone who was raised in a Christian environment, I have seen and experienced the effects when individuals wrongly make one idea the antithesis to another. [Read more…]

Moving Your Mountain

mountain

This is a powerful verse to commit to memory.

Mark 11:23

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. [Read more…]

Intimacy and Spiritual Breakthrough

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

trust in lord

Two words in this passage are especially significant – the words “ways” and “acknowledge.”

The word ‘ways’ means a road, a course or a mode of action. It suggests specific opportunities a person may encounter on a recurring basis. The most common segment of opportunity we experience regularly is each new day. It is as if this passage suggest that in all our ‘days’ we should acknowledge God, and in so doing, he will direct our paths.

The word acknowledge comes from the Hebrew word yada and when translated, it means to know by observation, investigation, reflection or firsthand experience. But the highest level of yada is in direct, intimate contact. This refers to life giving intimacy, as in marriage. Applied to a spiritual context, it suggests an intimacy with God in prayer that conceives and gives birth to blessings and victories. So what the text reveals on the deepest level is this: If in all our ‘days’ we maintain yada (direct intimate contact with God), He promises to direct our paths toward fruitful and successful endeavors. [Read more…]

When God Gives You A Dream

im-a-dreamer

Gen 37:5 Now Joseph had a dream and he told it to his brothers, and they hated him still more.

Joseph had a dream in which he and his brothers were doing some field work, binding sheaves in the field. In his dream, Joseph’s sheaf rose up and stood upright. Everyone else’s sheaf stood around and bowed to Joseph’s sheaf. Now Joseph had several dreams and a proven track record of providing the correct interpretation to dreams. [Read more…]