May I Be Transparent?…

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May I be transparent?

For years I’ve had “SuccessfullyStandingOut” in my bios on social media however when I inserted that, I was in high school and just put it because it sounded good. Lol. My Twitter handle has been @BornTaLead since 11th grade though I wasn’t necessarily leading anything (besides an occasional small devotional in the hallways in the morning). Other than that, I was just going with the flow of a high school student. It didn’t hit me what my Twitter handle had been speaking over me and into me until last year when someone sent me this message last summer:

sowfull1

Wow. I was humbled.

Growing up I was always told that I had a great calling/anointing on my life but I kept saying that “I don’t want to be a pastor.” (As if that’s the only thing a Christian can be called to do lol). Throughout life from as early as I can remember, I would dabble in and out of my calling- speaking up and sharing things at Bible studies and doing little 7min sermonettes on special Sunday’s- but I was still caught up in wanting to do what was comfortable and what everyone else was doing…because that’s the thing now right?- We are all “original” but want to do what everyone else is doing. Lol.

Fast forward…In college I experienced clubs and parties for the first time. I wouldn’t drink or smoke or anything because those have never been things that interest me, but I’d go to hang with people (even though that wasn’t what God had for me).

old(Freshman year, 2013-excuse the iPhone 4S quality)

Although I seemed to be having a good time, inside I always felt very convicted for being there. Although I had these feelings, I didn’t want to speak on them or speak against clubbing because I didn’t want people to think I felt that I was better than or that I was judging them. But that right there is the problem. Far too often we quiet the Holy Spirit inside of us telling us that something isn’t right because we don’t know what others will think of us if we change. WHO CARES WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK? THE ONLY OPINION THAT MATTERS (and holds any weight) IS GOD’S!

Long story short, I finally decided to stop attending clubs, parties, kickbacks, anywhere where God isn’t present and I try to refrain from anything that doesn’t bring me closer to Him. I’ve gotten serious about my walk with Christ because I’m learning more and more each day that being a Christian is more than a Daily Bread reading every morning and a prayer every night. And it’s definitely more than showing up late to 11am service on Sunday feeling like I’ve pleased God. (I’m not gone get into that this time though- That’s a blog post for a different day. Lol.)

 

The change in my view of what Christianity is really about and what all of us professed Christians are called to do has transformed my lifestyle and definitely brought about a change in my life.

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Against the common misconception that “once you get saved life becomes easy”, not all of the changes brought about feelings and or experiences that felt beneficial at the time. Let’s just say, that for a while things have been really uncomfortable…

Uncomfortable

For the past year and a half, I’ve been pretty uncomfortable in at least one if not multiple areas of my life. I’ve encountered rejection, experienced new levels of stress and become well acquainted with isolation. When I started changing my lifestyle as I allowed Christ to continually transform me, people began to think I was judgmental or thought I was perfect or better than because I no longer desired to go where they went and do what they did. And then once I followed God’s guidance and launched Sowfull, despite the many who supported, many felt that it was just me trying to appear perfect. They didn’t understand that my ministering to others was not me saying that I was perfect. If we had to wait until we were perfect to minister to others, no one would ever hear the Gospel. As NF says, “Christian isn’t the definition of a perfect me”. I’m not going to lie, the comments bothered me greatly at first…I even posted this on IG one day to address it:

Struggle

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6 NIV)

One of the greatest struggles I face, and I feel many Christians wrestle with, is trying to help lead others to Christ while not coming across as judgmental or unaccepting of everyone. I’m a sinner just like the next guy. I’m no better than another because I sin differently. My sins are just as filthy to GOD, Who is perfect, as the sins of another man are. Shoot! Even our best efforts are seen as filthy rags without CHRIST! •Isaiah 64:6•

Transparency

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32 NIV)

I’m on a road to repentance and righteousness and I’m just trying to help encourage others to begin a journey of their own. I don’t like the fact that I hesitate many times posting scripture or inspirational quotes for fear of offending someone on my timeline, or someone thinking that I’m being fake because I’m “not perfect either” (I know that I’m not and I know it very well). Me displaying that I have a relationship with Christ is not me displaying an image of perfection in any way. If I were perfect I wouldn’t need CHRIST. •Luke 5:32•

Vent

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9 NIV)

For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3:16-17 NIV)

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17 NIV)

I also don’t appreciate when people call Christians hypocrites because they spread the Word of GOD but stumble and struggle with sin as well. NO CHRISTIAN IS PERFECT •1 John 1:8-9•. And if Christians waited until they were perfect before they ministered to another, no one would be getting saved. Just because a Christian sins doesn’t mean that the Word of GOD is a lie! Stop letting the image of a Christian dictate how you feel about all Christians and definitely don’t let it dictate your eternity with Christ. •John 3:16-17• We are all on a journey that’s impossible without Christ, we all need Him equally. He didn’t come for those who have it all together, He came for the sick and the sinners Who need Him. 

  • Mark 2:17•

Truth

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” ). (Matthew 27:46 NIV)

I strongly feel that the world is the way it is today because Christians as a whole have become cowards. We are so stuck on being POLITICALLY Correct the we have forgotten to be BIBLICALLY Correct and transparent. We’ve transitioned from accepting sinners and loving them to Christ to accepting the sin so that no one feels uncomfortable. But what about Christ? What about how He feels? Do we think that our sins don’t make GOD feel uncomfortable? GOD can’t even look at sin! When JESUS bore our sins on the Cross, GOD COULDN’T EVEN LOOK AT HIM! •Matthew 27:46•

Returning

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:11 NIV)

Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 97:10 NIV)

We as the body of CHRIST, need to, have to, MUST go back to being the light of the world and stop dulling our light in a world blinded by darkness just so it feels comfortable doing wrong. •Matthew 5:14-16• That’s not what the Word teaches us to do. We must return to hating what GOD hates, that being sin, NOT THE SINNERS, but sin.•1 John 4:11• •Psalm 97:10• The sins of the world, the sins of our country, but most importantly the SINS WE COMMIT OURSELVES.

Confessions

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23 NIV)

Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And You forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:5 NIV)

Now I’m not gonna front up here like I’ve never fallen guilty of judging, but who hasn’t? All humans as a species naturally judge, it’s one of the sins that’s in our fleshly nature. But do I think I’m better than another because of their sin? NO.

  • Romans 3:23• I make a point daily to try to make sure that I don’t judge another because I don’t know the next man’s walk. However, I do recognize sin when I see it whether it be done by another or myself. •Psalm 32:5• I’m focusing on myself and the sins I commit because I’ll be held accountable for my walk with CHRIST.

Assisting in Love

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. (Matthew 18:15 NIV)

So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. (Luke 17:3 NIV)

Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer. (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 NIV)

Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:23 NIV)

But if I see my neighbor stumbling should I just let him fall? Or should I show the love of CHRIST and bring his attention to his wrongs and encourage him in love? •Matthew 18:15• •Luke 17:3• If I’m doing wrong, it may hurt and it may seem like I don’t appreciate it, but I truly love when someone loves me enough to let me know when I’m doing or have done wrong. •2 Thessalonians 3:14-15•

I’d rather a brother or sister in CHRIST help me get it right while here, than to hear GOD say I had it wrong when I get up there•Matthew 7:23•

 

And then I did a blog post in July on what the Bible actually means by “thou shall not judge”.

After a while however, I stopped cowarding out when it came to talking about Christ and the need for man to turn away from sin…I got bold in my belief and desire to share the Gospel (although I am still learning how to always deliver the Truth in grace and in a way that isn’t misinterpreted as judging because I understand that especially since most of my ministry is written, readers can’t hear my tone to know the way in which I am saying things). I finally realized something that we should all realize…When you take the road less traveled you tend to travel alone (with only Jesus by your side which is perfectly fine), and in doing so, you reap what most will never have and/or experience.

 

At first, I resented it. I couldn’t understand why everything started falling apart and/or becoming challenging. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t connecting with friends like I used to and why I no longer had the desire to do what they were doing. I couldn’t understand why certain conversations just didn’t grab and keep my attention or why others were falling off from me. But God told me, “the time for fitting in is over. I’ve called you to stand out.” (Remember what I had in my bio? SuccessfullyStandOut)

I now embrace the discomfort and isolation because it means I’m growing, it means that I’m taking the road less travelled. Everyone loves to say that they are different (and that’s true, we are all uniquely made) yet we don’t act different or stand out…we don’t walk in our uniqueness. We conform to what’s comfortable or popular and alter our originality to be like everyone else. We become confined by imitation and allow ourselves to be defined by the acceptance and validation of man instead of the One Who created man.

When we stop fighting who we were created to be and quit complaining about what God is doing in our lives and decide to learn the lesson He is teaching us through our seasons of discomfort, we begin to grow. Seeds have to be buried and broken before they flourish. Mothers go through months of discomfort and hours of pain before they can birth and hold their child. The level of pain and discomfort you’re feeling is a sign of the greatness God has planted in you. Hold on through the growth/delivery pains.

Perfect Protection

“You are perfect in all of Your ways…

You are perfect in all of Your ways…

You are perfect in all of Your ways…to us.” ~ Christ Tomlin 

 

I, for the most part, have become pretty content with not fitting in. However, like anyone, I’m not perfect, so though I strive to be like Christ I have moments where I fall short and am disobedient. This year for example, there have been a couple occasions where I was invited to do things or go places with friends that God was adamantly telling me not to. A couple of times, for fear of them feeling I always make an excuse to not hang or that I’m over “spiritualizing things” or looking to into things” I attempted to follow along with them…”follow along with them”, that right there is a problem. The only One I should be following is Jesus. But I’m so grateful that even in my flesh, because I invited Jesus into my life to not only be my Savior but my Lord, He has free reign to intervene and block whatever is not like Him or conducive to me growing in Him.

 

When I accepted Him as Lord and Savior, I released control over my life so though my flesh said, “yes”, God said, “nah”. I picture His response like this…(God is in white, my flesh is in black and the basketball is anything that I attempted to do or any place I attempted to go that opposes God)

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On occasions when I would go to shoot my shot and God wasn’t for it, He’d block it!

Let’s just say that I’m learning that although something may not appear harmful in the physical, it can still taint your spirit. This semester, the scripture that has been ringing in my mind is 1 Corinthians 6:12, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.”

As Christians we have to think, “is this going to benefit me spiritually?” If not, it isn’t worth indulging in.

God is so perfect in all of His ways. Every single thing He does and every single word He says, whatever He allows, it all has reasoning and purpose and we must listen, trust and follow.

There’s a purpose behind every “no” that God gives us…let’s not continue in our own desires and have to learn the hard way.

 

The Great Dilemma- Why is it so hard to do right???

 

I really feel like Paul in Romans 7:14-25 sometimes- why is it so hard to do right? We know what is right and we know what’s wrong…we desire to do right and want to refrain from doing wrong YET we often fall short of doing what is right for continuously doing wrong. Why?? Why aren’t we able to not do that which we don’t want to do?

Flesh is such a frustrating thing. It’s weak and conflicting. If we don’t want to touch a hot stove (because we know it will harm us), we don’t do it…yet when we face sin and know that it’s wrong and will harm us (spiritually), for some reason we often fall right into it! WHY?

Because we are human and though we are to strive to be like Christ, Who is perfect, we do encounter times of falling short because we are not. I know lately I’ve been speaking a lot about us building our spirit and growing in Christ that we may refrain from sin but I wanted to do a post this May to address the fact that we even though we are growing in Christ and no longer willingly indulging in sin, there will be times when we fall short…it reminds us of our humanity.

 

If you’re like me, when you fall, you may feel so much guilt and remorse because like King David, we truly have a desire to please God. God loved and favored David even through all of his mess because He said that he was “a man after My own heart”.

That’s how you can tell the difference between a Christian who truly longs to please Christ and one who views Grace as a way to reap the benefits of salvation without having to live out salvation.

This is the point I’ve been trying to make these last few posts…A Christian with a heart after God will strive to refrain from sin because even though they know that Grace covers our faults, they don’t want to do anything to separate them from God and they don’t want to hurt God’s heart…but there are many who will continuously indulge in sin because, “they know that God knows their heart and understands that they just can’t give up sin like that.” God isn’t looking for perfection, He is looking for progress. As we grow in Him, we shouldn’t just be indulging in sin without conviction.

You see, there’s a difference between stumbling into sin and swimming in sin…God knows that as humans, we will stumble and struggle with sin…that’s why He sent Grace. He knew we could never meet the standard so He sent a Stand In(Jesus)…the problem comes when we choose to just give up and swim in sin. The devil will try to convince you when you fall that there is no getting up from this…he’ll tell you that “there is no coming back so you might as well snuggle with sin, get comfortable with it. You’ve already disappointed God and He knows you’re not perfect or good enough so why even try?” That’s a lie! Don’t fall for it! Don’t give into it!

 

The Word tells us in Hebrews 2 that because Jesus came in the flesh and lived and died for our sins, He is able to help guide us out of temptation. “Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.”

Hebrews 2:18 NLT

Though we fall, we can get back up again and go to the Father for grace and mercy and the Son will help show us the way. He is the great Teacher Who can teach us how to overcome these tests in life! We can do it! He has already made us victorious! We just have to walk in it. When He died and rose, He loosed the power that sin had over our lives…any control that sin has over us at this point is because we handed it back over.

 

I like how Lecrae puts it. He says that when you quit a job and start a new on, your old boss doesn’t come to your new job giving you commands and telling you to do things…if they did, you’d look at them like they were crazy. The same goes for our spiritual life. We used to be a slave to sin but sin no longer rules us, we are now under Christ. The devil has no control or power to come to you telling you what to do and what to indulge in…you better tell satan,

 

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But if and when you fall short and give into the tactics of the enemy, just remember that sin has no weight that the Glory can’t handle.

Don’t allow sin and the tricks of the enemy to cause you to sulk in guilt and shame and cause you to turn away from God. My pastor says that satan knows he could never make God leave our side so he gets us to leave the side of God…don’t give in!

“You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.”

Hebrews 3:13 NLT

 

 

PS. Here is a message a friend sent me one time when  I had fallen and was sinking into guilt and shame…Maybe it will help one of you reading today:

Will definitely be praying for you! Always remember sometimes your “human moments” are “needed” to reflect that this isn’t a walk of perfection. A lot of time new, non-, and seasoned believers become so trapped in feeling unworthy because they’re like, “Well I can’t follow as well or be as good of a model for a believer as the ones I see on major platforms so maybe I shouldn’t be loud and proud about my walk .” So yes wrong is wrong but know that’s strengthens your ministry because it reflects that you’re human and that you’re real because when it happens you don’t give in to it. Don’t beat yourself up so much about it. Know that God is still very pleased with your platform love! I will continue to pray for you and don’t let the enemy whisper negative false convictions in your ear.

– Cierra

 

The stretchmarks that we get when we fall short remind us of our need for Christ and they allow us to be able to relate to others that we minister to. If they can see where God brought you from, they are able to trust that He can and will do the same for them.

– Travis Greene

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