Tag Archives: faith

Drain The Swamp

Have you ever found yourself in a hopeless situation? A dark and lonely place? Where everything around you lacks color and is grey.

Haunted by memories, hounding you like a hungry wolf. Lost in a swamp, walking aimlessly, looking for a way out.

Courtesy of SJ Carey | Creative Commons

No matter what you do, or how much you walk, you are trapped with no escape. Lost and desperate, you look up and all you see are dead branches.

You look down at the murky water, with the hopes of finding life, only to be met with a distorted reflection of someone you once knew, looking back at you.

* * * * * * * * *

Our hearts are preoccupied with self, and our minds are polluted with the cares of this world.

The swamp is our souls.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2

How do we drain the swamp?

It’s simple, but requires a commitment. That is, reading the Bible every day without fail. Not only reading it, but praying, studying, journaling and meditating on it.

This is how the excavation begins. The draining, digging, cleaning out of the old and replacing it with the new.

When negative thoughts flood your mind, like a tsunami, and you feel hopeless, think of Jesus.

When the pain suffocates you, and you feel like giving up, cry out to Jesus.

When nothing makes sense, and there are no answers, pray to Jesus.

When you feel lost, alone, and no help can be found, call on the name of Jesus.

Only Jesus can save us from ourselves. He is our only hope in the midst of whatever we are going through.

“Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.” John 14:6

“But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Luke 12:31

We must seek Him like hidden treasure.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” Matthew 13:44

Jesus is the answer. He possesses the keys to any problem or situation we face. He alone can drain our swamps and set us free.

***May this song encourage you today: https://youtu.be/ADuWzd7x25c***

 

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Author Interview: Antoine ‘Inch’ Thomas

Me with 848 Web Series Team

I have been following Antoine ‘Inch’ Thomas for quite some time now and I think he is an exceptional man. I had the pleasure of meeting him for the first time last month. It was a real treat, because I got to spend time with him and the rest of the 848 Web Series team. Inch is one of the most down to earth and humblest men I know. Besides being incredibly talented as a writer, actor and filmmaker. If you haven’t read any his books, or watched the 848 Web Series, I highly recommend it.

1) Where did you grow up? How was your childhood?

I grew up in the Northeast Bronx, New York City, a housing development called Edenwald Houses. My childhood was fair…my mother was a single mom raising six children on her own. My older siblings were dipping and dabbing in drugs. Mom was on welfare, no real male role model around…just my mother, mostly.

2) What was your dream or aspiration?

My dream was always to own my own business. Nothing in particular..a store perhaps, but something that I could call my own and run it how I wanted to run it.

3) Who did you look up to or admire? Who was your greatest influence?

I had no one that I wanted to be like except the neighborhood drug dealer. There were a few, but one or two stood out to me for various reasons. For those reasons, primarily materialistic reasons, and me growing up poor, I wanted what they had. I wanted to be them.

4) What has gotten you through hard times in life?

My faith in the almighty Creator has gotten me through the times when most people were expected to crack or break. I am a practicing Muslim and I have been so for 23 years. Islam the religion, is perfect. People ruin it!

5) What kind of music do you like or listen to?

I listen to hip hop and R&B music.

6) What is your favorite movie and why?

One of my favorite movies of all time has to be “Scarface”. The story of a Cuban immigrant who made something out of nothing. According to him, all he had was his balls (courage) and his word (honor). Sometimes that’s all that we need.

7) Who are your favorite authors and books?

My favorite authors are different from my favorite books because an author can write an awesome story, but once you get big headed and appear as if your shit doesn’t stink, Fuck You! But a few of my favorite stories are: The Coldest Winter Ever, True To The Game, Dutch, B More Careful, Block Party, Do or Die, Standing At The Scratch Line (My all time favorite), Gangsta, Kiss The Girls, and Flower’s Bed.

Some of my favorite authors are: Treasure Blue, Al-Saadiq Banks, James Patterson, John Grisham, Thomas Long, T. Benson Glover, and Michael Whitby.

8) Tell us a little bit about the books you’ve written? How did you come up with the ideas for them?

No Regrets, the first book that I’ve ever written was inspired by my own childhood. Flower’s Bed, the novel that set off my company is a story about a young lady and domestic molestation. I wrote that book to grab the attention of the readers. Unwilling To Suffer is a hood love story inspired by a personal experience and That Gangsta Shit, an anthology was created to introduce my authors on a level smaller than debuting a full length novel.

9) How long does it take you to write a book?

I wrote my first book in eight days, it’s first draft. Flower’s Bed took me three weeks. Black Rose’s took sixteen days and Unwilling To Suffer took me six months to complete.

10) What are some of the things you learned from writing books?

From writing stories, I’ve learned how to read and write better, I’ve enhanced my vocabulary and I’ve also learned how to improve on story line.

11) What inspires or motivates you?

My will to succeed and win motivates me to reach for the stars. I feel like I have so much potential that I almost wasted running around in those streets that now I try to be an example for the ones headed down that same route.

12) What would you do differently if you had a second chance?

If I had a second chance, I wouldn’t do anything different because everything today for me is the way it is because life was the way that it was.

13) How did you come up with the concept for the 848 web series?

I am a huge fan of “The Wire”. I enjoy the tv show “Power”. I was intrigued by how so many people were so excited about, the following week’s episode of “Empire”. I absolutely admired the show, “Money & Violence”. So I grouped all of those elements together along with incorporating my preparation for writing a novel and boom, 848 was born. I always say, nothing too ratchet, something easy on the tongue, something familiar, easy to remember and something unordinary.

14) What do you want people to take from your books and 848?

I want people to know that the man behind my books and 848 had one time given up on society and life. There was a time when I thought that I would never be shit, so why even try. And here I am today, with maybe not much financially but I am so happy that I made it this far and how other people can see me as a source of encouragement. Hope, for lack of a better term.

15) Do you enjoy acting or writing more?

I enjoy acting and writing equally. I really enjoy coming up with the ideas of how a scene should be played out, camera angles etc.

16) What are you most grateful for?

I am most grateful for a loving family. I love my children with all of my dear heart.

17) Where do you see yourself five or ten years from now?

In five or ten years, with enough hard work, determination, sacrifice and consistency, I see myself on the big screen.

18) What advice would you give the youth today?

To the youth of 2015, although it may sound cliché, never give up. Never give up hope because God is real. We cannot enjoy the rainbow without first enduring the storm. We must experience hardship in order to truly appreciate success.

19) Are you currently working on a new book or project?

Right now, I am still in the production stages of rounding out the end of Season 1 of 848.

20) Lastly, what advice would you give a novice writer?

When it comes to being an author, the READERS, MAKE you, or they break you, figuratively, of course. NEVER, release material that you aren’t 100 with, from its title, the cover, down to every page, every chapter, every paragraph & every sentence. Begin EVERY story with some action, or over the top drama. Be descriptive in your sex scenes, & graphic when there’s action or violence. Exaggerate, but make everything believable & imaginable. Be unpredictable with your story & lead folks to believe one thing, then give them something they wouldn’t expect. Make your readers sympathize with your characters, show compassion… many will empathize automatically with them (when one actually went through it as well). Make them connect with your character, the best way that you can, then bring your character to a low point. Once you’re there, your readers will begin to have hope of a rise. Once YOU feel that way, drop your character into some deeper shit, where the only way out, IS, up…then you give him or her a triumphant rise.

Give your character issues (health, education, family, financial & morals), within the story itself. Make folks LOVE your character and write your narration, and most of your dialogue in correct English. Proper English. Everyone speaks different, but we understand what we read, and interpret it, the way that we talk. So a country nigga and a bitch from Boston can read the same story, & identify exactly the same understanding as the writer, from their experiences, but will actually be hearing it, in their own lingo.

Most importantly, appear to be tangible. Many authors are arrogant and seem surreal so readers look at them as fake & don’t want anything personally to do with them. That creates a barrier, a gap, or a form of distance, between reader & writer, yet the idea is to be on one accord, so the overall understanding of a story and the author behind it, is fundamental and very simple to connect. Be as friendly & sociable, literary wise, as possible. You never know what a simple smile, a wave, handshake or response to an email or inbox, can accomplish.

Be available & WILLING, to do signings. Every signing may not be advantageous, financially, but it can be filed as a learning experience, it can be deemed a rehearsal for future events, and it’s also a form of promotion. Folks may not have the money at that time but they’ll remember your presence and when they return and you aren’t there, they’ll purchase your material because you were kind. Be open minded and patient. Stay hopeful. Believe in yourself and your work. Forget anything negative that anyone has to say, be thankful for the compliments you receive, and be appreciative for any constructive criticism. Without it, we’ll never know where to improve!

Wow! What an incredible and generous interview. Thank you so much, Antoine ‘Inch’ Thomas.

Antoine ‘Inch’ Thomas was born and raised in the Bronx. He’s talented, impulsive, and a passionate writer who thrives on being creative. You can fallow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Precipice Of The Impossible

I am standing on a precipice of the impossible.

by Rafaelll90 in Manipulations

On the edge, ready to free fall into the unknown.

If you have been following my posts recently, you will know that I’ve been involved in advocating for someone who has been wrongfully convicted. I’m trying to help as best I can, but I am continually reminded of my own limitations.

This is probably the biggest test of faith I have ever experienced. This situation is like climbing the Mt. Everest. It seems impossible!

Having faith and believing God has taken on a whole other meaning.

As doubt invades my consciousness like a cancer and a war wages in my heart, I feel impotent to make a difference.

I don’t have money, I don’t have connections, I don’t have prestige.

However, I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to help bring awareness or attention to a gross injustice.

Patience is not one of my virtues. I want everything yesterday. This type of thinking comes with living and working in a fast paced city. A city where everything is dependent upon results.

Day in and day out, I’m not seeing any results. It’s beyond discouraging.

I’ll be honest, sometimes I want to throw in the towel and give up. But then I think, what if tomorrow is the day things change?

I am an ordinary servant dependent upon an extraordinary God, who has the ability to change the impossible to possible in an instant.

I would love nothing more than to see God move on this man’s behalf.

But, what I’m learning the hard way is that it’s not going to happen when I want it to. It will happen in His timing, not mine.

I am not in control, He is. I don’t call the shots, He does.

I am a co-laborer with God. (I Corinthians 3:9)  I just need to do my part and leave the rest to Him.

I’m desperate to prove this man’s innocence and have other’s see what I see. However, only God has the power to move on man’s hearts, open blind eyes and deaf ears.

It is “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6)

As I stand on a precipice of the impossible, I may not see the results, but God sees everything. He knows this man is innocent better than I do and in His perfect timing, justice will prevail.

It’s just a matter of time. When it does happen, may the Lord receive all the glory, honor and praise.

Have you ever faced something that was bigger than you? A situation that seemed impossible? Did God come through for you?

 

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He Loves To Hear Our Hearts

Life is busy. We are constantly running and trying keep up with the clock.

At end of the day, we are exhausted. We head to sleep, only to wake up and do it all over again the next day.

When do we stop and spend time with God?

Courtesy of Creative Commons

The other day I was speaking to a close friend of mine. I asked her this question, “How do we develop intimacy with God?”

My friend is in full time ministry and has been following the Lord consistently for many years.

She responded, “By spending time with Him. It’s in having a relationship with Him, that intimacy grows.”

It’s the same as any earthly relationship. If we don’t spend time with a friend or spouse, we won’t get to know them.

The same applies to our Heavenly Father. If we don’t stop and spend time with Him, we won’t get to know Him.

There was a time I tried to build my faith by reading books, attending every church service, going to conferences and serving in ministry.

I thought by “doing” all these things, my faith and intimacy would somehow grow.

I was wrong.

It is not by our might or power, it is by His Spirit. It is God who changes us from the inside out by spending time and getting to know Him.

It’s by setting aside time every day to read His Word, pray and wait on Him.

When we develop this discipline, we begin to grow in intimacy with Him.

It isn’t by our doing, works or ministry that changes us or develops our faith. It is God who does the work in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

He doesn’t want us doing anything for Him, He wants us and our time.

He loves to hear our hearts.

Has He been hearing from yours lately?

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When Jesus Isn’t Enough

What is this constant gnawing of discontent and dissatisfaction? What is it that propels me to search and chase after other gods? Why do I continue with cheap substitutes to fill the void? Why isn’t Jesus enough?

Courtesy of Creative Commons

The internal battle wages. Desperate for Jesus one minute, like Judas the next.

Why can’t I serve the One who gave His very life?

Sometimes I think I’m ever learning, and never coming to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:7)

I tremble at the thought of having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:5)

Those are scary verses and so is this blog post written by a wise, young woman, the daughter of missionary friends in Guatemala.

*****

I have been wrestling, after a difficult discussion with a black Hebrew Israelite the other day.

I realized where I’m at and how ill-equipped I am.

I examined myself and came to the conclusion, Jesus isn’t enough.

For if He was enough, I wouldn’t have other affections competing with Him.

These subtle or obvious distractions taking me away from my first love.

Why does this happen?

Am I being deceived or believing a lie?

Why isn’t Jesus enough?

When I say I love Him, what does that mean?

I seem to read the Bible out of rote.

When I read, it’s like a science fiction movie.

The Bible seems outlandish and unreal.

I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, I don’t doubt this.

However, if I’m honest, I have trouble believing everything I read. I guess because it seems so out there.

I make myself read every day. I pray and ask the Lord to open my spiritual eyes of understanding. To make it real and personal, but it hasn’t happened yet.

So when I encountered that man the other day, I wasn’t prepared or able to do what the Jehovah Witnesses did.

It even goes deeper than this, there are times I have a crisis of faith, and don’t know what I believe anymore.

No, I won’t walk away from Jesus again, I’ve done that too many times, by exploring other religions which got me nowhere.

Sadly though, I live as if Jesus isn’t enough. For I am still trying to fill the void, with everything else but Him.

It comes down to this, I force myself to read the Bible every day, but I don’t get it, neither do I enjoy it.

Yes, on occasion, I will come across a verse that speaks to me, but there isn’t some profound revelation that changes my life.

I still have the same habits, the same fears, the same distrust, the same lack of faith; nothing’s changed. I’ve just learned to hide it or mask it better.

The Word does not become alive to me, which is why I’ve chased after other gods.

My story is a long one.

I’ve been in this struggle for years now which is probably why I’ve walked away so many times.

If I don’t love the Word, then how can I call myself a Christian?

I love Jesus, I guess to the capacity I am able.

But, you can’t manufacture something you don’t have. Just like you can’t make yourself fall in love.

Love is more than a four letter word we say. I can say I love Jesus, but at the end of the day, what does that really mean?

How is my love for Him showing up in my every day life? When something unfair or unjust happens? When someone wrongs me? How I treat others?

The reason why I find the bible dull is due to my own lack of understanding resulting from a hard heart.

The Bible says God shall not be mocked. (Galatians 6:7)

He will not unravel, unlock or unleash His mysteries to just anyone.

Only those who seek Him like hidden treasure and put Him first above all else. (Matthew 13:44 and Matthew 6:33)

Do you struggle reading and understanding the Bible? Do you enjoy reading the Bible? What did you do to begin to enjoy it? How has reading the Bible changed your life?

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He said He wanted to Kill Me

Last night I decided to go to church for prayer service. Before I was married and had kids, I lived at Times Square Church. I was there every Tuesday and Friday night and all day Sunday. I even served on the choir before someone told me they wanted to kill me.

I never told a soul. I just stepped down quietly from the choir. I mean, who in their right mind was going to stay in the choir after that? Maybe I should have stayed, but deep down, I was disillusioned.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Early one Sunday morning, I was praying alone in the choir section when I sensed a presence. I opened my eyes to find a tall male standing before me. I recognized him, he was in his choir robe like me. He said he needed to ask my forgiveness. I asked him for what (since I never had any dealings with him). He said for wanting to kill me.

I think I was traumatized at that moment because all I said was, I forgive you. I can’t believe that’s all I said.

Why couldn’t I have told him, “Hey dude, what did I ever do to you to warrant your wanting to kill me?” I mean, wouldn’t that have been more normal?

Eighteen years later, I think back and wish I would have had enough courage to ask him why.

I went through a whole gamut of emotions and questions. All I was doing was praying. Aren’t you suppose to feel safe in church? I did not feel safe at all. I actually never looked at church the same way again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Times Square Church greatly. It is where God brought me, put me, planted me and where I grew up in the faith. It is where I first experienced the presence of God. The preaching is phenomenal and I’ve made great friends there. Many who are now leaders or serving overseas as full time missionaries.

It’s not the church’s fault, it’s not anyone’s fault. However, last night, memories began to flood my mind and emotions began to well up. Yes, I forgive this man, wherever he is. The irony of it all is that I didn’t even know his name. But his face will be forever etched in my memory.

Conceptually, I understood at twenty-seven that evil was using this man as a host. But it’s still hard to grasp something like this magnitude, especially since it happened in church by a supposed brother in Christ. I couldn’t understand it, still don’t and perhaps I never will.

However, since then, I no longer close my eyes when I pray in church. I do for second or two, but then I open them again. I only pray with abandon when I’m alone and in the confines of my home.

I wonder if anyone else has had a similar experience in church?  If so, please share. I would love to know I’m not alone.

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Book Review: Fully Alive by Ken Davis

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 10, 2012
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0849948428
ISBN-13: 978-0849948428
List Price: $19.99
Purchase: Amazon | BN | CBD

Sample Chapter

 

 

 

Description

Food labels, advertisements, politicians, self-help books–they all promise the same thing: a better life . . . or–as Jesus might put it–life to the fullest.

For millions this pursuit of happiness has captivated , ensnared, and, most disappointingly, it has alluded.  Which begs the question, what is the missing link?  Fully Alive explores the idea that God is glorified when man is “fully and eternally alive,” illustrated by best-selling author and motivational speaker Ken Davis’s most honest and intimate stories.

Ken invites us to walk with him on a journey, along a road of heartache and adventure to a place he calls “the land of the living,” and discover what may be missing in our lives.

A poignant and entertaining storyteller, Davis points out the practical steps necessary to live this way–everything from lightening up to taking a quality of life assessment, to overcoming trials–while also revealing the power of Christ’s resurrection available for each of us.

Get a taste of the beautiful urgency of today and begin moving toward a change in your life that draws from the joy and power that can be found only in Christ.

Review

I admit, I didn’t know who Ken Davis was before reading Fully Alive.  So, it was especially sweet getting to know him by reading his story.

Ken Davis shares his struggles and triumphs in his life’s journey. He doesn’t hide anything.  He is candid and open in relaying details of his life.

Have you felt depressed or unmotivated lately? Have you been thinking about getting back in shape, but think it’s impossible?  Do you feel old and listless? Are you just going through the motions in life?  Have you thought, is this all there is?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, I strongly urge you to get this book.  Fully Alive will challenge, convict, inspire and invigorate you to make positive changes your life.

After reading this book, I realize I seriously have no excuse. Ken Davis shows you how its done. You get the sense that if he can do it, you can do it.

Ken Davis touches on various subjects, such as exercise, diet and faith.  He writes from a holistic standpoint and leaves nothing out.

This is my favorite quote:

“The glory of God is man fully alive: Striving in the midst of all odds.  Never satisfied with the status quo.  Seeking excellence in every area of life.  Because Jesus can raise the dead and because He Himself was raised from the dead, then no matter what my situation, I can know the power of His resurrection to live my life fully alive.” (Page 209)

I don’t know about you, but I definitely want to live fully alive.

Fully Alive will inspire, encourage and enrich your life. I highly recommend this motivating book to everyone.

In conclusion, I want to thank Daniel Decker and Thomas Nelson for allowing me the opportunity to read and review a complimentary copy of this wonderful book.

Ken Davis is one of the most sought-after speakers in North America. He has appeared on television and stage around the world, addressing groups as diverse as the Gaither Praise Gathering, The Kellogg Corporation, Focus on the Family, and Pentax Corporation. Ken provides a unique mixture of side-splitting humor and inspiration that never fails to delight and enrich a wide variety of audiences. Each presentation is carefully designed to fit the diverse needs of his clients. Davis’ daily radio program, LIGHTEN UP!, is broadcast on over 1,800 stations worldwide and spotlights his gift as a storyteller and comedian.  http://www.kendavis.com/

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When He Plans The Next Step…

I’d like to introduce Heidi Kreider. She is a dear friend and my first guest to post on my new blog. I am so grateful to God to have crossed paths with her on the Michael Hyatt Platform Team and become friends. She is a gifted writer and godly woman. She authored a wonderful book called The Secret of Counting Gifts which she will be talking more about below.

Abruptly my life course changed direction. Though it wasn’t an earth shattering change, I felt like I had lost my purpose. For a decade I homeschooled. I thought I would graduate all three of my children. Instead, our home school whittled down to one. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. My life didn’t look like the picture I carried around in my head.

A wise one once said, “the years reveal what the days cannot see.” In my insecurity, God was already at work. He had the next step of my life planned. He brought to fruition a life long dream of mine, to be an author. There was never enough time in a day to pursue any serious writing… until my life course changed direction. My God works that way, often in ways that I only recognize in hindsight.

I am now an author. More importantly, I am a Jesus lover, wife of 18 years, and mom to 3. I’ve spent the past fifteen years at home. My days are full taxing my children to their various events, adventuring on field trips, and laughing uproariously with my friends. I count gifts daily and seek grace and forgiveness hourly. I have been blessed with deep friendships and have prayed many friends through the horrific battle of breast cancer.

While homeschooling just one, I wrote my first novel, The Secret of Counting Gifts and the accompanying  journal The Secret of Counting Gifts Gratitude Journal. Both are now available in eBook and paperback through Amazon.com.

The Secret of Counting Gifts is a story about life, friendship, hardship, and gratitude. It is the story of Kris McClintock and Liz Bower and their friendship that spans twenty-eight years.

Through marriage, babies, and infidelity they stand by each other and hold one another up… until breast cancer delivers the final blow. As she sits by Liz, Kris recounts the trials and blessings that made them who they are. She tells their story and recalls the many “gifts” they have been blessed with throughout the years. She shares of how Liz taught her to notice the gifts in each day and to live with a grateful heart. It is through the telling of their story that the secret of counting gifts is discovered….

I look forward to seeing how God will use this next step in my life. Throughout this month, I am on a virtual book tour. You can see the stops along the way at www.heidikreider.com.

Come on over and say “Hey!” and register for my giveaway… autographed copies of  The Secret of Counting Gifts and The Secret of Counting Gifts Gratitude Journal in a hand-made basket.

I’d love to chat. How has your life direction changed? What is your next step?

**Heidi Kreider is a wife, mother, author, and friend. She blogs about life, grace, and gratitude at www.heidikreider.com.

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