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Devotional

I celebrated my 44th birthday recently. I use birthdays as a time for reflection with prayer and fasting. I like to look back and see where I am from the last birthday. My goal is to always be further along from the past year. Sometimes I have done more and sometimes I have not.

 

Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride (Ecclesiastes 7:8, NLT). 

 

I celebrated my 44th birthday recently. I use birthdays as a time for reflection with prayer and fasting. I like to look back and see where I am from the last birthday. My goal is to always be further along from the past year. Sometimes I have done more and sometimes I have not.  

If I set goals that I have not accomplished I try to figure out why and how to move forward. After doing this for this birthday I was a little disappointed at my progress or the lack thereof.  

After praying to God to show me myself I found the scripture above, finishing is better than starting and that's when it hit me.  

I have done a whole lot of starting and not much finishing again. I saw myself in Ecclesiastes 7 as Solomon pairs certain concepts together: Finishing and starting and patience and pride have much in common.  

Maybe this is because he discovered that the patience necessary to finish a job well reveals more character than the prideful way required to get started.  

Our society is rushed. We want everything now. We are easily distracted. I have been easily distracted.  

This mentality can lead to a great loss of time. We are finding it hard to stay the course. We get bored, continuously longing for something new.  

Even back in Solomon's time people struggled with patience and character to finish as well.  

So what do we lack? Patience. Patience is really a virtue that can push you further. It can lead us to the finish line and in finishing well we can make God proud and then we can be proud of our ourselves.  

But this is not an easy concept for everyone. Some of us need help with patience. I know that there is a bit of a negative vibe about praying for patience. We fear that God is going to allow something terrible to happen to teach us patience. But do not stress this.  

If you lack patience to finish as I seem to, trust God and pray for help to finish well.  

 

Prayer 

Father, the finish line seems so far away. I am tempted to give up or even worse start over again and again but never finishing anything. Help me to finish whatever you have placed before me to do. Give me the patience that I need. Help me to care more about your pride in me than my own. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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General

YOU ARE A WRITER by JEFF GOINS will help you fall back in love with writing and build an audience who shares your love. It's about living the dream of a life dedicated to words and it all begins with YOU.

 

Becoming a writer begins with a simple but important belief: You are a writer; you just need to write.

This was the sentence in the book, You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins that helped me believe that I could write. It was a confirmation from God so to speak because after writing for so long with little exposure I asked God the question, "Am I a writer"?

Jeff helped me to understand through his words that writing wasn't really about what I thought it was. Being a writer was not what I thought it was. I thought it was about perfection or the authors that I admired had something that I didn't.

It seems that the most important thing that they had that I had lost or forgotten was persistence and a love for writing. This book helped me get back in touch with both of these.

I have been writing since I was very young. But after I started a family and other happenings in life took over I got away from writing. But then I found some old journals that I had written when I was younger.

Some of them were filled with poems that I had written almost 20 years ago. Some of them contained prayers, devotions and just thoughts on how I was feeling about whatever was going on in my life. I believed the Lord used this to show me that I had really been writing all the time.

From this I felt compelled to write more. I started this blog and started reading more on writing. I am not perfect but as Jeff explains in this book, there isn't really good or bad writing.

I do it now for the love of writing. Obviously I am also taking steps to perfect my craft as a musician would practice before playing before people but even with that I am finally able to say that I am a writer.

As the book states, I realized that I can't not write.  

I hope this book will confirm and stir up your gift for writing as it did for me.

In You Are a Writer, Jeff Goins shares his own story of self-doubt and what it took for him to become a professional writer. He gives you practical steps to improve your writing, get published in magazines, and build a platform that puts you in charge.

This book is about what it takes to be a writer in the 21st Century. You will learn the importance of passion and discipline and how to show up every day to do the work.

Here's what else you will learn:

-How to transition from wanting to be a writer to actually being one
-What "good" writing is (and isn't)
-How to stop waiting to be picked and finally choose yourself
-What it takes to build a platform
-Why authors need to brand themselves (and how to do it)
-Tips for freelancing, guest blogging, and getting published in magazines
-Different ways to network with other writers, artists, and influencers
-The importance of blogging and social media and how to use it well to find more readers and fans of your writing

 

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Poetry

I am sharing this poem in honor of Father's Day coming up but the wisdom of it is appropriate for anytime of the year. It also seems to be from a father to a son but I also believe the advice is good for us daughters too. I found it at www.Poetryfoundation.org. I hope you like it. Let me know what you think of it in comments. ) 

 

 If- 

By Rudyard Kipling 1865-1936 

 

If you can keep your head when all about you    

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,    

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,  

    But make allowance for their doubting too;    

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,  

    Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,  

Or being hated, don't give way to hating,  

    And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:  

 
 

If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;    

    If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim;    

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster  

    And treat those two impostors just the same;    

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken  

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,  

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,  

    And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:  

 
 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings  

    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,  

And lose, and start again at your beginnings  

    And never breathe a word about your loss;  

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew  

    To serve your turn long after they are gone,    

And so hold on when there is nothing in you  

    Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'  

 
 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,    

    Or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch,  

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,  

    If all men count with you, but none too much;  

If you can fill the unforgiving minute  

    With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,    

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,    

    And-which is more-you'll be a Man, my son! 

 

Source: A Choice of Kipling's Verse (1943)  

 

 

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Poetry


 

By Ann Gant

 

A few select ones this word could describe

But I am very confident when I use this definition with mine.

I do not choose them but they are chosen for me.

Never limiting ourselves to friendship, 

But moving quickly on to family. 

 

As a child I was an only.

But God has never allowed me to be lonely.

I hold you all as priceless treasures

And would give to you without thought or measure.

 

True friends can call day or night

And I'll try to recognize when things aren't right

Listen when you need an ear 

If you are stressing without a doubt I'm there.

Not fair weather, but constant and till the end,

In my heart is where I will keep you, Friend.

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Devotional


We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.  

( 2 Corinthians 1:8-10, NLT) 

 

Paul does not give specific details about what he went through in Asia, although his accounts of all three missionary journeys record many difficult trials to be faced. He stated that they were crushed and overwhelmed beyond their ability to endure. 

He also writes that as they felt they were going to die they realized that they could do nothing to help themselves-they simply had to rely on God.  

Maybe we don't get to the point of fearing death but we often depend on our own skills and abilities when life seems easy and only turn to God when we feel unable to help ourselves. Haven't you been there? Worn out to the point of exhaustion, running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to control or fix everything.  

We get spoiled with the easy stuff, addicted to solving our own problems and then the hard stuff comes and it hits us that we are not sufficient apart from the Lord. 

Some of us keep banging our heads against invisible walls.  

But its in realizing our own powerlessness without him and our need for his constant help in our lives, that we come to depend on him more and more.  

In my own struggle with letting go of my need to control things (and it's still a struggle sometimes) I am realizing that it is true that nothing is wasted. He allows things to happen as they do for a reason.  

Sometimes I have to force myself to be still and ask the question, "Lord, what are you trying to tell me through this adverse situation? The basis of all the answers are that I need Him. I am not enough by myself and neither are you. 

God is our source of power, and we receive his help by keeping in touch with him. With this attitude of dependence, problems will drive us to God rather than away from him. Whether you feel like you are at the end of your rope or things are better than they have ever been learn to rely on God daily in all that you do.  

You won't make it very long or far without Him.   

 

Question:  

Do you find yourself getting stuck in relying on yourself instead of God? If not how do you remind yourself to keep an attitude of dependence on Him?  

 

Prayer 

Father, we are nothing without you? Keep us reminded through your Holy Spirit to rely on you in sunshine and rain. We don't want to wait until we are at the end of our rope to call on you. You are always faithful.

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Bible Study

Esther 

Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish (Esther 4:16). 

Think of the most beautiful woman's face you have ever seen. Queen Esther looked like that. She easily could have been self-absorbed, pursuing all the benefits of a stunning appearance. But her loveliness would have faded with time, at best forgotten.  

It is Esther's inner beauty that has been immortalized in Scripture and in the history of her people. Because Esther was beautiful inside and out.  

It was a Cinderella story. Esther, orphaned at a young age, had been taken by her cousin, Mordecai.  They were Jews, alien exiles, a distrusted minority in the hands of fierce captors.  

But Esther grew in grace and beauty, encouraged by Mordecai to see her worth in God's eyes.  

When King Xerxes decided to find a new queen to replace the headstrong Vashti, many young women were brought to his harem to be groomed for the position-including Esther. When she appeared before Xerxes, "the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women....So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti" (Est 2:17). 

Then came the dreadful news from Mordecai to Esther. It seemed almost beyond belief. All the Jews in Persia were to be exterminated by edict of the king. Esther was the queen, but what could she do? King Xerxes had absolute power over his people; they existed -or died -at his word. Even the queen.  

Mordecai's wisdom and his love for Esther could not be denied, but the stakes were extremely high. "Go to the king on behalf of  my people. The king does not even know that I am a Jew." Esther's mind must  have searched for an easier solution. But Mordecai's counsel pierced her heart. "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Est 4:14).  

With unestimable courage Esther seized her destiny.  

Esther's beautiful face and form alone could not have kept Xerxes hand. But her courage and wisdom won his compassion, and he granted her request.  

Esther's true beauty had prepared her to be an instrument in God's hand for saving the Jews in a time of great peril.  

Every woman is beautiful. She may not have the classic features of America's top model but she has a unique, God-given beauty and strength.  

There will be times in your life that you will need to exercise character and courage, like Esther did.  

Don't settle for beauty that fades but instead ask the Lord for inner beauty, the "forever" beauty by which we will be known in heaven.  

 

Reflection 

How do you encourage character, courage and inner beauty in your everyday life?  

 

(Partially adapted from Women of Faith Study Bible, NIV, 2001)

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Poetry

 

  

You are who you are for a reason. 

You're part of an intricate plan. 

You're a precious and perfect unique design, 

Called God's special woman or man. 

 

You look like you look for a reason. 

Our God made no mistake. 

He knit you together within the womb, 

You're just what he wanted to make. 

 

The parents you had were the ones he chose, 

And no matter how you may feel, 

They were custom-designed with God's plan in mind, 

And they bear the Master's seal. 

 

No, that trauma you faced was not easy. 

And God wept that it hurt you so; 

But it was allowed to shape your heart. 

So that into his likeness you'd grow. 

 

You are who you are for a reason, 

You've been formed by the Master's rod. 

You are who you are, beloved, 

Because there is a God! 

  

(By Russell Kelfer, Adapted from The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren)

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Bible Study

Then the Lord turned to him and said, " Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites, I am sending you!" (Judges 6:14, NLT)

Most of us want to know God's plan for our lives, but we're not always sure how to find it. One common misunderstanding is the idea that God's guidance will come to us out of the blue, that it has nothing to do with what we're doing now.  

But if we're always looking around for God's next assignment, we run the risk of ruining whatever we're working on right now.  

Fortunately, the Bible points to a kind of guidance that does not put our current projects in jeopardy. In the Bible's description of how God guided many people, we can see that often God's call came while people were completely immersed in the challenge of the moment.  A good example of this kind of guidance is seen in Gideon's life.  

Gideon had a limited vision, but he was committed to it. His challenge was to obtain food for his family even though hostile invaders were making the growing, gathering, and preparation of the food almost impossible.  

Gideon was resourceful. He put a winepress to double duty by turning into a sunken threshing floor. It lacked  ventilation to blow the chaff away, but at least it was hidden from the Midianites. Gideon was working in his threshing floor when God sent him a messenger with a challenge.  

Gideon was surprised by what God told him to do. He did not want to jump into a task for which he was ill prepared. The angel had to overcome three objections before Gideon was convinced : (1) Gideon 's feelings of responsibility for his family's welfare. (2) his doubts about the call itself, and (3) his feelings of inadequacy for the job.  

Once Gideon was convinced, however, he obeyed with zest, resourcefulness, and speed. He dedicated those personality traits to God, with whom he was now personally acquainted.  

Gideon had his weak moments and failures. but he was still God's servant. If you can easily relate to Gideon's weakness, can you also see yourself being willing to serve? Remember Gideon as a man who obeyed God by giving his attention to the task at hand. Then give your full attention to believing God will prepare you for tomorrow when it comes.  

Strengths and Accomplishments 

Israel's fifth judge. A military strategists who was an expert at surprise. 

A member of the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. 

Defeated the Midianite army.  

 Was offered a hereditary kingship by the men of Israel. 

Though slow to be convinced, acted on his convictions. 

Weaknesses and mistakes 

Feared that his own limitations would prevent God from working through him. 

Collected Midianite gold and made a symbol that became an evil object of worship. 

Through a concubine, fathered a son who would bring great grief and tragedy to both Gideon's family and the nation of Israel.  

Failed to establish the nation in God's ways; after he died they all went back to idol worship.  

Lessons from Gideon's life 

 God calls in the middle of our present obedience. As we are faithful, he gives us more responsibility. 

God expands and uses the abilities he has already given us.  

God uses us in spite of our limitations and failures. 

Even those who make great spiritual progress can easily fall into sin if they don't consistently follow God. 

(Adapted from Life Application Study Bible, (2007) NLT)  

 

What does Gideon's life say to you concerning what God has been calling you to do for Him?

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Bible Study

God uses everyday people like you and me for his work. When I realized this I was amazed and liberated. What is required?- belief in Him and a willingness to follow His directions.
See I use to look at other people and think that they were Christian superheroes and I thought that I had to wait to receive these superpowers.

God uses everyday people like you and me for his work. When I realized this I was amazed and liberated. What is required?- belief in Him and a willingness to follow His directions.  

See I use to look at other people and think that they were Christian superheroes and I thought that I had to wait to receive these superpowers. 

 I even thought that maybe it was only meant for a select few and maybe I was one of the ones that could never be used. As I prayed and read the Bible the Lord showed me that he has already placed everything I need inside of me. He has specific tasks that only I can do.  

He can also use you. He has put gifts inside of you to share with the world and these are gifts and talents that only you can do.  

You don't have to be rich or a rocket scientist but if you were that would be okay too.  You  just have to be willing and seek Him for what He wants you to do.  

Spend some time getting to know God and yourself and you will find that there are certain things that you do that is a part of your design. This will give you a clue of what you can give to the world.  

God calls all sorts of people from various backgrounds to be a blessing to the world.  

Here are some examples from the Bible:  

Jacob, known as a deceiver-was called to father the Israelite nation.  Genesis 27-28 

Joseph, A Slave-Saved his family.  Genesis 39 

Moses, Shepherd in exile (and murderer) -lead Israel out of bondage, to the Promised Land. Exodus 3 

Gideon, A farmer-Delivered Israel from Midian. Judges 6:11-14 

Jephthah, Son of a prostitute-Delivered Israel from the Ammonites. Judges 11 

Hannah, a homemaker-the mother of Samuel. 1 Samuel 1 

David, A shepherd boy and last-born of the family-Israel's greatest king. 1 Samuel 16 

Ezra, A scribe-called to lead the return to Judah and to write some of the Bible. Ezra, Nehemiah 

Esther, A slave girl- saved her people from massacre. Esther 

Mary, A peasant girl - called to be the mother of Christ. Luke 1: 27-38 

Matthew, A tax collector- called to be an apostle and Gospel writer. Matthew 9:9 

Luke, A Greek physician- a companion of Paul and a Gospel writer. Colossians 4:14 

Peter, A fisherman- chosen to be an apostle, a leader of the early church, and a writer of two New Testament letters.  

There are many more examples but you see my point. The Lord did not let the past of these individuals stop Him from using them.   

Be the person that seeks God for your purpose and find out how you can be used or if you are already walking in your calling be the person that tells someone that God can use them.   

In what ways do you feel the Lord wants to use you? Leave a comment or share on Facebook or Twitter.

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Music

One of my favorite albums that I listen to is Mail Is.. by Mali Music. Mali has a very unique sound which makes his music even more appealing. The songs on this album speak on real life issues but it encourages you in your faith at the same time.

 

 

I began listening to Mali Music when someone recommended that I listen to the 2econd Coming album and I have been hooked since then. Mali has a very unique sound which makes his music even more appealing.

The songs on Mali Is speak on real life issues but it encourages you in your faith at the same time.  It basically speaks life into its listeners.  

I love the entire album but my favorite songs include:  

Fight for You- This song will remind you that God is fighting for you and at the same time you have to fight for yourself by staying true to who you are. Basically it addresses the fact that people will try to make you who they want you to be.  

Walking Shoes- You will love this one because it talks about that vision or dream that has not fully come to pass yet. The song will encourage you to keep walking toward that dream and not waiting for it to just happen. I have a couple of my own dreams in the works and this song definitely encourages me when I feel like giving up on God's call on my life.  

Royalty- This song will remind you of who you are in Christ, a chosen people, a royal priesthood. As Mali states in this song, "We are called out of the darkness into the marvelous light. Do you know who you are? Royalty.

Please feel free to click on the picture above or the link to preview or purchase Mali's Album. Plus you can get a taste of his sound by clicking on the video at the end of this post. 

Other Mali Music songs that I love aside from Mali Is include the entire 2econd Coming Album, the song "Go" and "Walk on Water." I had a tough time finding Go and Walk on Water but I eventually found them on Mali's Mix Tape from Amazon.

I love many more of his songs but "Mali is" seemed special. Mali personally wrote every song on the record, while ByStorm Entertainment's Mark Pitts and Wayne Barrow serve as executive producers of the project along with Kirk Lightburn as A&R.  

In addition to producing a handful of tracks himself, Mali also enlisted the production talents of the iconic Jerry "Wonda" Duplessis and D'Mile. "No Fun Alone" produced by Duplessis, begins with smoky jazz piano and bluesy guitar licks before giving way to the singer's instantly recognizable croon. Lyrically, he takes the opportunity to remind everyone, "It's no fun alone."  

On the other end of the spectrum, "Heavy Love" skates along on upbeat percussion and tasteful melodic leads punctuated by a bombastic groove of live instrumentation. 
He grabs the mic for truly pensive, passionate, and poetic bars during "Little Lady". A soulful refrain resounds as he solemnly rhymes, "Can't distinguish the laughter from the cries, bags under your eyes, so you use makeup to cover up what you cannot hide." 

 
His raps build into a thought-provoking statement declaring, "You have daughters and they have sons who have daughters and those are the ones who have the opportunity to break the curses that make their mothers buy purses with letters on them to show they're not worthless." This isn't just a cry for a change in music but in culture at large, and he's not afraid to let it out-loud. 

 
Meanwhile, the single "Beautiful" lives up to its name. Written and co-produced by Mali as well as Duplessis and Arden Altino, the track glides from an energetic verse into a heavenly refrain that instantly shines and soars-living up to its title. 

 
"This song is for those people who never stopped believing and always saw me for who I was," he reveals. "It's a letter to the ones in your life who were there when you were nothing, they were there when you became something, and they were there when you lost everything you had again. It's a tribute to everybody who helped me become who I am. They're truly beautiful, and I needed to say it." 

 
On "Ready Aim," Mali states that in the song its like anybody can fire whatever they want at me, but you can't shoot me down. This one is like a fuel injector. It gives you that boost so you know you can accomplish your dreams." 

 
Everything culminates on "I Believe". The track produced by Mali himself serves as the album's final destination, encapsulating his journey up to this point. Musically, a major piano melody entwines with a slick drum beat as Mali opens up yet again, professing "We all need faith."  The track is as unique as it is uplifting.

"I've got something I need to share," he asserts. "There's a deeper message. It's the heart of everything I do, and I want to get that to everyone possible. That's the ultimate goal."  I believe everyone with a beating heart will be able to find themselves in some part of it." "I want to inspire others to inspire," he concludes. I hope I can be the key to unlock that in somebody listening."

What are your favorite Mali Music songs? 

(This biography was partially adapted by the artist or their representative via Amazon.com)

 

 

 You can find more information on Mali and his music at http://www.malimusicofficial.com/

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