Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Igniting Your Relationships with God and Mankind

Nearly every day after leaving my corporate America assignment, I sit in the room with my husband, and for hours, he and I spend time writing entries for the new book that we're releasing this fall. One thing for sure that I can say about Cross-Fire: Igniting Passionate, Purposeful, and Powerful Relationships is that it's truly a labor of love.

Just the thought of the release of this relationship devotional excites me. The feeling of partnering in a literary work alongside the love of my life is beyond amazing. I'm no newbie at this. Cross-Fire will be my 23rd published work, but it will be my husband's very first, and of course, our first book together. People often tease us, saying that we're connected at the hip; always doing things together. It's true! We live together in the same home, work together for the same employer, and pastor together at the same church. I suppose writing together was the natural next step. We're guilty as charged. Our marriage seems to take oneness to a new level, but all of it is God-ordained, so I'm grateful!

Michael and I are very open with our love and affection for one another, and judging from the kissing couple on the front cover of the book, most would probably assume that it's a devotional about romance. That's true to a degree, but Cross-Fire is much, much more. Every human relationship needs God as its foundation. This devotional will cover subject matters on passionate relationships between man and woman, but also passionate relationships between mankind and God. Our relationship with our spouse should be the most passionate, purposeful, and powerful one that we have in the flesh, but our spirit's relationship with the Heavenly Father should be even more so. We should be in love with and on fire for God; seeking to please Him in every way! And we'll find that when our vertical relationship (the one that reaches from us upward to God) is solid, our horizontal relationships (those reaching laterally to connect us with other human beings) will be solid as well. That vertical and horizontal piece come together to form the shape of a cross.

Thus the name... Cross-Fire!

God has truly called and anointed Michael and me to write this ministry tool. When I look at the thought-provoking submissions that my husband turns over to me to include in the layout of the book, and I think of how just a few short months ago, he didn't view himself as a writer, it wows me. His writing is quite amazing. As readers will soon find out, Pastor Michael Holmes is truly a Word scholar and biblical teacher to his heart. Our creative writing styles are vastly different, yet they complement each other perfectly to make Cross-Fire an encouraging page-turner that will be both educational and entertaining.

Stay tuned for soon coming information on how to place advance orders. This book will make its initial debut (a pre-release, of sorts) on September 23rd in Atlanta, Georgia at a couples brunch sponsored by Dope Wives. It is scheduled to officially release, however, at the Christian Book Lovers Retreat in Charlotte, NC on October 28th. For more details about this eye-opening, life-changing "relationship bible" ... click HERE!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Have you ever become overwhelmed at just the thought of God's goodness? I have. And I know I'm not the only one.

It helps tremendously when we redirect our focus. To stop honing in on all of the challenging things that we face on a daily basis (or that we've faced in the past), and instead override those negative thoughts by recounting the innumerable times that we've encountered trials that could and should have destroyed us, but didn't because of the grace of Almighty God.

I had one of those moments this morning. As I took the drive from home to work, a sudden rush of thoughts entered my mind. And I mean the not-so-distant memories seemed to bombard me out of nowhere. There I was... just driving along minding my own business, and all at once, I began recounting all of the people in my life that I thought were my friends whose true colors showed over the past four or five years. Some had been in my life since childhood and others since I was a teen or my earliest adult years. Some were even family. And when one of the greatest storms in my life brewed and the enemy came in like a flood to try and destroy me, those people walked away. Literally. And they not only walked away, but I watched in utter disbelief as they walked away from me and toward the main culprit who was being used of the devil to lie, scheme, betray, and manipulate in an attempt to destroy my family and distort my character.

It was mind-boggling! If they had been close friends all the while, then it wouldn't have been such a shock, but that wasn't the case. In fact, some had sat with me at the inception of the storm and expressed to me how lowdown and devious that foe was being; how they'd always known the dastardly deeds the enemy was capable of. They told me they had my back and would be praying with and for me, but their declaration of support turned out to be counterfeit. They'd never been close to my rivals before; yet in the midst and in the aftermath of the destruction that was attempted toward me, those who once walked, talked, and laughed with me began embracing and supporting my attackers. 

The initial sight of it all took me by complete surprise. It was totally unexpected and the impact it made on me (spiritually, physically, and emotionally) was tremendous. I spent weeks and even months being heartbroken. Sometimes I felt as though I was in mourning; like a physical death had taken place. Even as I recalled it all this morning, water welled in my eyes, and by the time I came to a stop in the parking lot of my job, the tears I had been fighting were beginning to fall. For a brief while, it was like I was reliving the pain all over again.

Oh... but when I think of the goodness of Jesus!!!

In the middle of the devil's attempt to bring misery upon me, I came to myself. In doing so, I began to realign my thinking and fast-forward past the thoughts of the test and began to replay the testimony that resulted.  I remembered how God stepped in and threw every arsenal the enemy used right back in his dirty, deceitful, disgusting face. What was meant for evil, God worked it all for my good. He allowed me to weather the storm with my faithfulness, dignity, and testimony in tact. Everything I thought I'd lost, God restored, and what He restored made my now far, far, far greater than my then. In the end, it was all worth it. I wouldn't take nothing for my journey!!! As I sat in my car, the waterworks of my wounds turned into a fountain of praise. Tears of joy overshadowed those initial tears of sadness. My weeping turned into worship. My pity party turned into a praise party, and I began to hear myself verbally saying, "Lord, I thank you! Lord, I thank you!"

When I finally got myself together, exited my car, and walked into my office space, I'm sure my red, puffy eyes made it look like I was weary or sleep-deprived, but truly my body, soul, mind, and spirit felt refreshed and renewed. Good thing I was the first in my department to arrive. I was able to use eye drops to erase the evidence of my earlier crying, but before I did that or anything else, I sat at my desk, bowed my head, and prayed a prayer of forgiveness and thanksgiving. Why the prayer of forgiveness? Because I felt the need to beg God's pardon for allowing my thoughts to stray so far away from Him and all that He's done for me that the devil was able to sneak in and have a takeover moment. It happens to the best of us. I realize that. But what I know for sure is that the Lord has been way too good to me for me to have given the enemy even an ounce of my time.

God has given all believers authority over the enemy. In Ephesians 6 and beginning at verse 11, we are instructed to put on the whole armor of God so that in those times when the wicked one tries to rile up and present us with adversity, we're fully quipped (from head to toe) to immediately fight the battle and win. Somehow, I was ill-prepared this morning, but thankfully, I was able to identify it as a plot of satan before he could fully overtake me... and in the end I won.

Regardless of where we are in our walk with God--whether we've been saved for thirty minutes or thirty years--the devil isn't going to give up. He's going to try us every chance he gets in hopes of destroying us. He knows the places where we're most vulnerable, and those are the areas toward which he'll aim. If we've been hurt by family and friends, and he knows that the bonds of family and friendship are of the utmost importance to us; then he'll try and magnify the incidents in those areas that have caused us the greatest pain. It's up to us to stay prayed up, armored up, and on guard.

And thanks be to God who always, always, ALWAYS gives us the victory! #POW... take that black-eye devil. You lost again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!