The Gift of Boldness Part 1

Hey Darling!

Perhaps you are like me and nothing inspires you more than a story of boldness.

A protagonist who is facing what seems to be an impossible situation, yet is able to overcome and triumph with amazing rewards and results. One of my favorite movies is the Lord of the Rings, the plot line focuses on the unassuming hobbit Frodo and his charming companion Samwise. 

Frodo and Samwise experience a journey unlike any other in a quest to return peace and goodness back to their world by destroying an  evil ring. Unlike the other characters in this story, Frodo  and Samwise lack many of the qualities we would associate with heroism, they are not talented in fighting battles, extraordinarily intelligent or even experienced in overcoming evil. But they have willing hearts and a great deal of courage. These are often the most important qualities for people who achieve amazing results in the face of impossible odds.

So what are the impossible odds in your life, those challenges and struggles that seem insurmountable or impossible to overcome? Those issues that can put a dark cloud over the landscape of your life so much so that you begin to believe the sun will never come out again. There are times where those situations require you to do the opposite of your instincts, to do the unthinkable and the unexplainable by acting in boldness.

Boldness is just in a word unforgettable, it has the potential to leave an indelible impression on the minds and lives of those who experience it. T

he Bible is chock full of testimonies of boldness of people who trust God in the midst of insurmountable obstacles like famine, death, captivity, handicaps and powerful armies.

One of the most lauded examples of boldness and my personal favorite is the story of David and Goliath. When the story begins, the Israelites and Philistines are at war, the Philistines send their best warrior, Goliath, a giant experienced in the art of battle and combat. The Israelites must now send their best warrior to fight Goliath with the winner achieving victory for his whole kingdom. But, there is a problem, every Israelite warrior including King Saul are absolutely terrified by Goliath and refuse to fight him.

Enter David, a naive yet confident young shepherd who by all outward appearances seems to be  the absolute worst person to square off against the feared Goliath. But, unlike the other warriors, David volunteers, he actively seeks an opportunity to fight and beat Goliath. After some discussion and bargaining, David gets his wish and confronts Goliath with his own weapons of choice, a shepherd’s staff, sling and five smooth stones. 

And then the impossible happens, David slings a stone at Goliath, kills him and wins the battle for Israel. I can only imagine the shock and awe that followed not just from Israel but the Philistine nation as well. 

There is an unsettling that takes place when the impossible is achieved, it shakes the very foundation of our consciousness and our way of seeing the world, it bangs out doors where there were previously only steel walls. That is the power of boldness and operating in the power of God to achieve the unimaginable for His glory.

To understand what David was able to accomplish in this pivotal moment in his life, we have to understand the makings of David, the makings of this boldness.

Isolation with God. David’s profession was a shepherd, as a result, he spent a lot of time in isolation away from people with just sheep and God. Alone time with God is so important to creating a spirit of boldness. When alone, God has the time to speak to you, change you and shape you into the person He has called you to be. The person He has called you to be is like Him and yes, God is powerful, loving and giving but He is also a rabble rouser, unconventional and definitely bold. Whoever or whatever you spend time with will pass on their characteristics to you. This is why it is so important that you make the effort to immerse yourself in the word of God, keep company with Godly people and listen to Godly media. When you spend all of your time with worldly people participating in worldly activities,  you will unconsciously adopt worldly beliefs, thoughts and mannerisms. Have you ever had a group of friends and over time you notice you begin to sound like each other. You use the same phrases, talk with the same cadence and even think similarly? Whatever or whomever you are joined to will affect your life and not always in a positive manner. Romans 12:2 says, “ Do not confirm to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so you can prove what is the pleasing and perfect will of God.” David spent oodles of time with God, therefore, it is not a surprise that when faced with the same situation as others he acted differently, he acted in boldness with the spirit of God. 

A Servant’s Heart. Shepherding is a humbling profession, it was not a well respected position in those times in Israel. As a shepherd, you are a servant of the sheep, of all things. It is your responsibility to make sure they are well taken care of, fed, protected, rested and thriving. Sheep are not necessarily the easiest to tend, they have minds of their own, they will wander off, be stubborn or even refuse to obey the commands of the shepherd. David undoubtedly had to deal with all of these frustrations yet he took pride in caring for them. In 1 Samuel 17:34, David says, “ When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death.” When you serve others, it changes your outlook on life, you recognize your life is not for yourself but tied to others and their ability to thrive.

The Forgotten One. Samuel, the most renowned prophet, arrived in Bethlehem to anoint the future king of Israel from the house of Jesse. Jesse and all of his sons were invited to have an audience with Samuel. Can you imagine the excitement and anticipation? It was probably one of the most exciting moments for Jesse and his family. However, they intentionally or unintentionally forgot the most crucial member of their family in this instance, David. But God passed over all seven of Jesse’s older brothers to honor David. 1 Samuel 16:10, “ All seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “ The Lord has not chosen any of these. Then Samuel asked, “ Are these all the sons you have?” There is still the youngest, Jesse replied, But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.” Send for him at once, Samuel said, we will not sit down to eat until he arrives.” 

When you are forgotten by the world, it leaves a gap for God to find you. God loves to take who the world has forgotten and make them significant for His glory. God showcases His glory with the ignored and sidelined. 1 Corinthians 1:27 says, “Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” 

If you have felt forgotten, passed over or otherwise ignored, take heart, this is exactly the position in which God can use you boldly for his glory.

Masterpiece

For most of my life, I have not really liked myself. I just sort of put up with me like an intolerable sibling that you wish you could shake but know there is no way. I secretly wished I was more intelligent, more witty, more pretty, more accomplished and just more. When I experienced rejection, disappointment or heartbreak subconsciously I attributed it to the fact that I was not enough. Yet when things went my way, it must have been dumb luck because I was not really sure how it happened to me. 

I hid my distaste for myself pretty well, you would never know it to interact with me or even as my friend.

It was not something you could easily see and I always said self affirming and confident comments concerning myself but I was hiding. In hindsight, I do not believe I was intentionally dishonest, I just did not know me and I just said what I thought I was supposed to say not what I really, truly felt. The truth of it all was that not only did I not like me, I actually hated myself. 

Can you relate to any of this?

It can be tough to love yourself in this world. This world encourages comparison, materialism and accomplishment. The house of self-worth and self-love is often built on the shaky foundation of image, positions, relationships and possessions. It is conditional tied to outcome and not intrinsic.  So, I love myself based on conditions, because I have this car, this job, this opportunity, this partner, even if my hair looks cute today, it is based on external things, conditions outside of who we truly are, which is dangerous. Oftentimes, the shaky house must come crashing down for us to discover what it truly means to love oneself. We can then see the foundation for what it truly is, weak and flimsy. And then begin to build our house on a foundation that is unshakable. 

A big part of loving yourself is knowing yourself. Well that creates a problem because many of us will not take the time to get to know ourselves, slow down from the rat race, the continuous checklists, appointments, events and need to dos in order to spend some alone time. I know that life all too well, I had no idea who I was, had no interest in getting to know me, I much preferred hearing how others experienced me. Until the day came, where I had no choice but to face myself and get to know who I actually was, the good, the bad and the ugly. One of the most fascinating parts about learning oneself is that it is a lifelong journey, you will evolve, change and progress and learn more about yourself as time goes on. Each lesson learned and opportunity provides an experience to love yourself more.

Why is self love so important?

Simply because it affects everything in your life, the way you see yourself will affect how you see God, the world and others. It will affect your ability to follow God and do His will. It will affect your capacity to serve others. It will determine the presence or absence of joy in your life. It will dictate your friends, your job, your surroundings and even the spouse that you marry. It will affect what type of parent you will be or currently are and how you will raise your kids, it will determine how you show up in situations, what you permit and what you do not allow. It will determine your ability to achieve the purpose God has for you in this world.

The awesome part about this journey is that God does not leave us alone to figure this out, He would much prefer that you see yourself through His eyes with His outlook. As our creator, He can provide detail and context that you cannot possibly understand. The best way to understand and fully optimize anything is to understand the purpose and instructions for use from its creator.

Let’s take a look at how God sees us to see how it measures up to how we think about ourselves.

First God, formed and knitted us in our mother’s wombs, He determined how you would look, the way your eyes would look, your smile and your hands, your temperament and your laugh. He created all of that. In all of his time, God has NEVER made a mistake, never created something that was just OK. Everything he creates is good so by process of elimination that must mean you are good too. 

GOOD.

God also says that we are his masterpiece created to do good works. Mona Lisa is probably one of the most well known masterpieces in the world. Painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, the original is housed in the Louvre in Paris, France with armed guards, under climate controlled LED bulletproof glass. The original is worth nearly a billion dollars, the Mona Lisa has been imitated, reproduced and even spoofed but there is only one. That is how God sees you as His masterpiece, He created only one of you and you are priceless to Him so much so He gave Himself up for you.

MASTERPIECE.

When there is an exchange that takes place, it demonstrates equal value between the two items in question. To God, He believes your life, your worth and value is comparable to His own. What incredible love….

BELOVED.

When you see yourself through the eyes of God, it is no longer about where you measure up, it is all about the inherent value that you have just by being His child, His offspring.

VALUED.

Faith for the Vision

Great speeches are unforgettable not just because of the content but also because of the delivery and presence of the speaker.

Great speeches are like magic, all the elements combine and leave an indelible mark on the listener.

There are many famous speeches that come to mind for me, Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech is one of the most iconic. President Barack Obama’s speech about the American story, his upbringing and hopes for America captivated the hearts of many. John F. Kennedy Jr’s speech of accountability urging Americans search their hearts for opportunities to serve their country has become an idea cherished and respected. What is it about these speeches that make them so iconic? The vision and faith that supported these messages stirred hearts and encouraged people to see a brighter future.

The human heart thirsts for vision, it is a part of our DNA. We were created by our Creator in His own image to also, create. Creating is our purpose and vision is the roadmap to creation.    If vision is the roadmap then faith is the vehicle that will get us to the destination. Faith is an area where many of us struggle and this is where we get stuck, stuck in our insecurities, our fears and the unknown. 

Others get stuck in the area of faith because it seems New Age, too ethereal and way too idealistic, it is not concrete or realistic enough for it to be actionable. Faith sounds like dreaming or lying to oneself, ignoring the realities of the present, which is silly and childish.

I want to disprove that and show you how you exercise faith everyday, all day. On a workday, I leave the house at the regular time, start my car and drive to work, occasionally, I will stop off to grab some coffee and pay with my ATM card, when I get to work, I exchange pleasantries with my co-workers and head to my office and sit down in my chair to get ready for the day and check emails. I have exhibited a lot of faith already by 7:30 am in the morning. I had faith that my car would start so I could get to work that morning, I also had faith that my bank still had my money in my checking account to pay for my coffee and lastly, I believed my chair would support me when I sat down to begin my day at work. 

So the question is not whether you have faith? You  absolutely do. The question is what do you choose to put your faith in? 

When you put your faith in God and the vision He has for your life, it is a game changer. Faith requires changing the way you think. 

The world tells us, we are on the ones that have to make our vision come to pass. It is all up to us. Faith says it is not all up to us, it is all up to God. Faith says believe, believe it will happen, you do not need to know when and how just believe it will happen when it is time.

 When you believe, you talk and act differently. Do not get too caught up in the methods, it may not make sense and most times it will not. God does not work in what makes sense to you, He works at a different level, a different space and time. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my your ways, my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8

I had a vision that I would move to Atlanta, that God’s purpose for me was there. During my time with God, I was told not to apply for any jobs, I am thinking in my head, “How does that work?” 

I was perplexed but I started telling people I was moving to Atlanta, I had no job prospects, no place to live and no implication that it was going to happen, I just knew. 

I started looking at neighborhoods to live in Atlanta, churches to join and thinking through the moving process. It took eight months for it to happen from when I first believed the vision and when it actually happened. God was indeed faithful, I got a job I never applied for. A close friend submitted my resume for the job and I was called by the organization. In the course of just a few weeks, I flew out to Atlanta to interview for the job. Then, once they realized they wanted to hire me, I was asked to apply for the job just as a formality, pretty amazing right? 

That is how God works. 

The awesome part about letting God take control of the vision and make it happen by faith is the knowledge of being in His will, His plan for your life. When you are on plan, it may not all feel good, it may not all make sense but know that the purpose is good and intentional. 

I wish I could say there is a blueprint for faith, the best blueprint for faith is honestly, just to do it, take the first step, get out the boat into the water, start the business, tell the truth and believe even when the situation says otherwise. And then, keep doing it every day and watch and see how God changes everything around you.

Preview of Coming Attractions

Vision, vision, vision… What is the vision that guides your life? What do you spend your time doing ? What do you spend most of your time thinking about? Is it about the daily crisis or the person who got on your nerves today? Perhaps it is what you are lacking and need to purchase or obtain in the next week or month? Or maybe the next vacation or upcoming weekend plans for a chance to relax and unwind?

I enjoy the experience of going to the movies in the theater with the comfy seats, popcorn and giant screen. Before each movie, there are always previews where you get a sneak peek of the new releases coming in the future. It is common to see a preview that looks really good and mark your calendar to see the movie once it is released. 

Vision for our lives is a lot like previews of coming attractions. It provides an overview of what is coming, it may include brief glimpses of the finale and the plot however many of the details are absent. 

When you love someone, you think of them, you prepare for them and ensure they are taken care of. God does the exact same thing for us. Before we were even conceived, He had plans. Everything in your life has been orchestrated for a reason. You were born at a certain time for a reason. You have the parents you do for a reason. You had the experiences you did for a reason. You look the way you do for a reason. 

You are also reading this now for a reason. 

The purpose God has given you is a sign of His love for you. It takes into consideration who God has created you to be, His plans for you and the impact you will have on those around you. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans prosper you not to harm you to give you a future and a hope.” 

God’s plans for you are good, these plans will bring abundance, goodness, peace, love and purpose. 

Many times we are so caught up with distractions or fear, vision does not have an opportunity to grow and manifest in our lives.We get so caught up in our day to day experiences, solving one emergency and moving on to the next, living only for the next weekend or next vacation but not looking beyond to something greater. This life goes by so fast and without direction, it is easy to wander off into dead end paths, U-turns and mindless trails. 

Vision gives light to the darkness of confusion, gives direction to the lost and re-energizes the frustrated. God uses vision over and over in the Bible to share his future plans. He often used vision to communicate his plans before sending out his prophets in the case of Isaiah and Ezekiel. 

So how do we get in position to receive and manifest God’s vision for our life?

  • We have to stay in close communication and proximity to Him by praying, reading the Word and just spending time with Him. I like to go on long walks with the Holy Spirit and just talk, Just like any relationship, yours with God needs nurturing, face time and bonding. The best part is He is always ready and available.
  • Fasting in combination with prayer is another great way to hear from God and cut out distractions. When you fast, you are no longer focusing on your physical needs which leaves room for more spiritual growth and advancement
  • Obedience, this one is so important! Each step of obedience moves you closer to God’s purpose. I remember God telling me to do something in obedience that really scared me and I did not do it. It felt almost like a spiritual block was up in the area of my purpose, I was stagnant. When I prayed about it, God reminded me that I had been disobedient and not done what He asked me to do. I immediately took care of it and felt such a release of love and peace, it was incredible. John 14:15 says, if you love me, you will keep me commands.
  • Wait for it, this one will not be popular but it is necessary and also how God manifests His promises in the lives of those He loves. God’s vision for our life is not a TV dinner that you can pop in the microwave and it is ready in a few minutes. the Bible talks about sowing seeds in preparation for the trees that will grow in time, that is vision. God often gives us His plans in bite sized pieces. He understands that is how we can take it in and digest it in a healthy manner. If He were to show us the full plan from beginning to end, it would be too much to absorb. Waiting is not passive, it is not stagnant or regressing. We are to wait in expectation, still growing in God, growing in mind and body. The work God does inside of us first will then be reflected in the external manifestation of His vision for our lives.

Feeding Time

Every plant I get eventually dies, every single one. Plants seem like a great idea in theory but they just do not work for me. It is something about the feeding, I either do not feed the plants enough or sometimes too much and before I know it, it is wilted, dry and just sad. Another one bites the dust.

Everything around us including ourselves, need regular feeding, it is a necessary part of life to receive sustenance in order to grow and produce. We feed our bodies consistently with all types of food, which allow us to function with energy and vitality throughout the day. We feed our minds with books, vision and challenges. We feed our bodies with food, exercise and rest.

Yet, how do we feed the Spirit?

if you have or currently attended a Christian church, you have likely heard of the trinity, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Yet, who exactly is the Holy Spirit? Why is the Spirit so important?

The Holy Spirit is the most powerful creator, healer, teacher, counselor and transformer you will ever experience. And he is so much more…

Genesis 1:1-3, ” In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The art was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw the light was good. Then he separated light from darkness.”

The Holy Spirit then went on to create water and earth, plants, trees, animals days and nights, man and woman. The Holy Spirit took nothing and made what we know as creation with all of its beauty, complexity and balance.

2 Corinthians, 3:16, “But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit  and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord-who is the Spirit- makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”

The Holy Spirit sets us free and has the power to transform and change us from who we are into who we truly are.

I recently saw the superhero movie Black Panther, which was a wonderful movie. Our society seems to have an obsession with superheroes, those individuals with superhuman powers and gifting that have the ability to free, save and transform. I believe we secretly want to be superheroes in our own lives, to those we love and care about and even society at large.

We want to save the day, we want to be the answer.

Truth is, we already are all of those things through the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is greater than Superman, Spiderman, Iron Man, Black Panther, Wonder Woman and any other superhero past or future. Matter of fact, it is not even a close competition. So if this type of incredible power lies in each one of us, why oh why, don’t we rely upon it?

Ruled by own free will, we consciously make decisions to rely on our own shaky and frail devices, our minds, our strength and intuition, rather than rely on the unmitigated power of the Holy Spirit. It is similar to benching the  best, undefeated professional football players that have never been defeated, the best of the best, the A-team, the quarterback, wide receiver and offensive and defensive players during the Super Bowl and then trotting out an elementary school PeeWee team to play against a formidable opponent.

Sounds crazy right? It is.

Just like with our body and mind, we must intentionally join in relationship with the Holy Spirit. Spending time is key by reading the Bible regularly, praying, applying God’s Word to your life, being thankful for what God has given you. Feed the Holy Spirit with consistency and intentionality to tap into the awesome power.

Think about when you have been intentional about growing a relationship with a significant other, spouse of new friend, you consistently spent time together and learned about each other. In this case, the Holy Spirit knows everything about you but you need to learn about him. The relationship progresses as does the trust and love, you may hit rough spots and have wonderful moments as well but you make it through and the relationship is stronger for it. The same is true for your relationship with God.

After leaning on the Holy Spirit for several years, I had a moment of reflection and gratefulness for everything the Holy Spirit had brought me through.

My life changed in almost every way I lost a lot but what I gained was beyond my wildest dreams, I lost low self-esteem and insecurity, I lost friends that were not headed in the same direction, I lost my addiction to TV. I lost the need to define myself by being in relationships and the clothes I wore. I gained purpose, freedom, peace, joy, love and my best friend in the Holy Spirit. I have never been so fulfilled in my entire life yet I do not have any of the people or things I thought I needed.

The Holy Spirit will make you completely new, change you into who you were created to be.

Ephesians 4:21-24, “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God-truly righteous and holy.”