In The Making: Embracing the Process Part Two

Imagine, you’re about to go a long journey. You’ve known about the trip for months, maybe even years now and you’ve been preparing ever since.You have the finances for the trip and your bags packed. You’ve told all the people you need to tell goodbye, so you’re off. You begin your journey and a couple days in, you realize that though it looks like you got everything checked off on your list, down at the bottom one thing is left unchecked; you failed to prepare spiritually. Last week, we published an article about the deep desire we have to go out and do the Lord’s work. Whether it be missions, becoming a pastor in a church or a leader in ministry, we have such an eager heart to go that we never rest in the reality that God wanted to prepare not only the resources, but our spiritual life in order to be ready for the journey ahead.

In the Christian life, about 80% of our walk is about the preparation and growing stages in our life, while the other 20% is the application of what we’ve learned (don’t quote me on this). However, we love to run and be “ready” for the 20% while we’ve only cultivated about 30% of the process. God calls us to embrace the process so much more because it’s during this time that we’ll learn, growth, be challenged, and become what we need to be when it’s time to pursue our purpose.

So cheers to the process.


Is Your Heart Prepared?

Before we can even be ready for the journey ahead of us, we have to make sure that our hearts are prepared for what God is going to do. Jesus dropped one of his famous parables, which of course no one understood at the time, but said:

Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

While God is preparing and ripening us for the harvest, He plants little seeds of faith along the journey in efforts to grow and strengthen our spiritual life to grow and to learn His heart. Although when we are in the process, things aren’t always easy. We face trials of many kind. If we’re not careful, our hearts can become hardened to what God wants to do. As Jesus mentions, the soil in which He is sowing into is our hearts, and often times when we are not careful, and we let the things we face during the process distract us, the Word that God is trying to get into our hearts are choked up or tossed away in the wind.

How is your heart? Are you focused on ensuring it is “good soil?” Making sure that you are taking heed to the Word and allowing it to flourish in your life? In other words, when a trial comes, do you run to God to seek peace or do you go to complaining about life? When a circumstance doesn’t look like how YOU wanted it do, do you run and hide in our own coping mechanisms, or do you chose to trust in God. In the process, your heart is the most important part of the process because that is where God’s Words for encouragement, peace, faith, and wisdom are all stored, but if you are constantly being tossed to and fro by the circumstances of life, your heart will never truly be ready to be “good soil.” Just as a farmer cultivates his land for the sowing season, you must also cultivate and prepare your heart for what God is going to bring to you.

Which leads me to my next point….


Are You Ready to Be Challenged?

Have you ever prayed an OC prayer and thought, “Dang, it’s about to get real?

We so often pray things like “God use me for your glory,” “My life is not my own, I will do anything and everything for your kingdom” or “God, I’m ready; mold me into the person you’ve called me to be.” You know God is faithful to answer our prayers right? And that you just literally asked the most realest, challenging prayers of all.

I just want to say one thing: GET READY.


Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4


Oh wait….I’m not done..


And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:2b-5


Wait, one more….


Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

1 Peter 4:12-14


I promise I’m not trying to scare you, but what I want you to do is look back at these verses. We’ve all seen them before, but we do not really grasp what it actually means. Paul and Peter were writing these letters in chains in jail about to be killed for the name of Christ. In this process of God cultivating and preparing us for our purpose, God is ensuring that our faith to be made strong because contrary to what the world and some bible teachers tell us, there is no question that we will go through trials of various kinds. Whether you are rejected by your family members, fired from your job, or persecuted for the sake of Christ, this is no small thing. God wants to prepare us for the reckless, boundless faith that comes in serving Him so He takes His time to prepare us because, as mentioned, things will get hard. But the beautiful thing about these verses is that in the same breathe, each of them speak of the glory that is to come. No, our trials will not last forever because on the other side, we will reap eternal rewards, like peace, joy, strength, character, and perseverance. Those are the rewards and fruit that we need in order to be prepared for the journey ahead and no one knew this more than Christ. He spent His whole life preparing for the cross and He still asked God to take away His own purpose, so how much more will we need ensure we are ready for what is to come?

Do not get me wrong, God loves when we pray those powerful prayers because it means that we are completely willing to forsake ourselves and live for Him, but He also does not want to sell you a dream. You will be rejected by others, you will face spiritual hardships, and you will feel the pressure from others. Jesus says:


Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

John 15:20


The life we are called to live is not an easy one, but  the surpassing joy that comes in following the will of God is irreplaceable. So yes, it will be hard, but it will be completely worth it.


Are You Connected?


I am the true vine…..Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that bear fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot  bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

John 15: 1-4


As we live in the process of growing, being prepared for our destiny and more, Jesus practically calls us ineffective without him. Sometimes in the making, we become so wrapped up in the different things that are happening, especially the trials, that we begin to think it’s by our own works and deeds that we will reach the end. As seen in John 15, it says we cannot bear any fruit unless we abide in Him. The fruits that we bear in the process, the small moments, the moments that we encounter victories it is only possible if and when we stay connected to Christ’s calling for our lives. You already know what it looks like when we try to do things on our own, and the bible tells us stories all the. Sarai was impatient and had her husband sleep with a whole other woman (ladies how many of you would even think “oh heck no,”), the Israelites spent forty years in the wilderness when they were only meant to spend two weeks, and Peter took his eyes off of Christ during the storm and almost drowned.

What do all these stories have in common? They all left the presence of God and began to rely on their own works and they ended up failing and completely deterring their destiny because they did not abide in the vision that God set before them. In verse 5, Jesus says:


“For apart from me you can do nothing”


You thought He was kidding? Think back to all the times when you tried to do things apart from God. How did that go?......exactly. God is the one who creates the vision for us and leads us to the blessing, but when we take the process into our own hands, we’re saying, “God thanks for the vision, but I got it from here.” Then we go, mess up, and then run back to Him. Let me save you the trouble by saying, trust Him because He’s a trustworthy God and He’s proven Himself to be before. Remember when He saved you? That’s a big one, but remember,


“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8


When people hear the word “process,” we never really think about all that is about to come or what it entails and often we flee from being in that season. We just know that it takes a long time and that at the end of it, something is produced, but I want to encourage you to embrace the process. Feel every moment of excitement, triumph in your victories, and the things you learn as well as the hard trials, the moments of doubt, and the times you could do nothing but lean on God. Those moments, the good and the bad, is the “stuff” we rarely think about but are the things we actually need in order to fulfill the purpose, calling, or next season that God has called you to. Wherever you are in the process, I want to encourage you that God sees you, is with you, and is working all things your for your good. Remember this:


And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4


 

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:6-9


MannaDeborah 3Comment
In the Making: The Process, Part One

A couple weeks ago, we dropped an article that talked about the importance of being ready to go before we enter into a season of reaping. This can be anything. It can be where God is calling you into ministry, calling you into your purpose, or whatever, but wherever that place is that we want to "go,” the reality of life is that we are always going through a process and at every step. God's purpose for us is to thrive in that process, wherever we are. But as we live in this generation, we hear the word "process" and cringe because it means that something takes time. We’re so used to things happening quickly; God forbid my Instagram feed doesn’t load all the pictures that I want in less than 10 seconds, and don’t even get me started if my messages don’t send in .5 seconds on wifi and then it has to send like a regular text message like the rest of the world (aka Androids).

In this time we live in, everything around us is completely opposed to anything that takes time; we want things and we want it now, but that’s just not the way God works. Believe it or not, no matter where you are in life, God is cultivating and growing you into another season so I have some bad news for you: the process is inevitable. We can't avoid it. We can't run from it or stop it; it's coming. Now it's not as scary as it sounds. The greatest victories come out of the process, but it can also be a time where a lot of pruning, trials, and mistakes happen, but if we fix our gaze on the right thing while we are in the process, it can be one of the most life changing times of your life. So, at the end of the day, we have a choice to make when that process begins: you can either sink or swim. I'm going to give you some points so you can swim and live to tell people about it.


Develop Your Roots

Want to hear a somewhat useless fact? Throughout out the bible, Jesus used a lot of agricultural metaphors because they lived in the agricultural age, and it was what people identified with the most. Why does this matter? Well after farmers planted seeds for their crops, they had to wait months, even years before they saw any fruit. They had to tend to their crops, toiling, watering it, pulling out weeds, and hoping that at the proper time, they will reap the fruits of their crops. Isn’t this just like our lives though? God plants a seed, a vision, a dream in our hearts but we don’t immediately see that vision come to fruition immediately. We have to wait weeks, months, even years before it comes to pass.

In the time from when we receive our vision to the time we see it coming to pass, growth happens in our lives and often times, this growing that we have to do happens internally. Just the way that a seed has to build and develop a root system, we have to develop different qualities or characteristics in our own lives so that we have a strong foundation. The roots are the strongest part of a tree. If a tree doesn’t establish roots first, there’s no way a seed will be able to make it above the soil. The roots are the sustainable, necessary parts in order to thrive. So things like your prayer life? It’s building your faith. Being in the word? It’s building your knowledge and wisdom. Spending time in His presence? It’s establishing your intimacy. Serving at church? It’s teaching you humility and serving like Christ did. These are just some of the ways that God builds us internally. When these things are established and solidified, more can be built upon it. There’s no way you could be in a situation and withstand your faith being tested if you never had the understanding of faith to begin with.


Don’t Rush The Process

A process is called a process for the reason. These things take time and that means there’s no way we can rush it and get the same results. Think about when you try to defrost a chicken the day you want to eat it, or when you try to put something on broil in the oven but then you forget about it and it’s all burnt, even better...imagine over-watering a plant. Is the outcome ever good? I don’t need to answer that question because you know. When we try to rush things that actually need time to develop, we end up ruining everything!

Things always need time to develop and when we try to rush things, we end up skipping steps that are crucial to our growth. If God gave you a vision to become a missionary but you felt like serving at your church was too much of a “commitment,” how can you be an effective minister of the Gospel? In the same breath, how can you want to be in a relationship when you barely have functioning friendships? And you run from conflict? How can you want to be rich but you don’t even titheeeeeeee. Moral of the story: you cannot skip the important parts of the process. Each circumstance, each mistake, each trial is meant to push you to thrive, not to cower back in fear. If you try to avoid those parts, you’ll never be able to see that vision God gave you come to life. The process reveals the thing he's trying to release to you, and we skip over that, we don’t get what we need to thrive...which brings me to my next point.


Thrive, Brilliantly

God knew that a process was going to happen for each and everyone of us, but He never meant for the process to kill and defeat us. He is not in heaven eating popcorn, watching to see if we made it through all the hoops in front of us, like we’re in a movie. That is not the God we serve. On the contrary, He is completely rooting for us and wants us to thrive as we move through the process.


“By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.”

2 Peter 1:3


We serve a loving, wonderful, powerful God who delights to see us move closer to our dreams. It’s the reason why He gave us that vision, dream, or passion in the first place. He wants you to know that not only is He on your side, but He has also given you all that you need in order to be fruitful and to be successful. It is important to remember that whatever He’s calling you to, the fruit that will bear is meant to be eternal. He’s not giving you a vision for temporary things, no! He wants you to walk in the fullness of His calling. He gives us the strength necessary to walk out the vision long term, and when we release everything to Him and allow Him to be the one who waters, grows, and tends to our weeds, we come out bearing fruit, and fruit that lasts.

This blog was deeply and directly inspired by Banning Liebscher, who wrote the book “Rooted,” which directly speaks on thriving in the process and podcasts from his church, Jesus Culture in Sacramento!

Feed Your Spirit

These past couple of months for me as a believer have been great for me, but there have also been hard moments guys. I think I have learned a lot, but one important thing I’ve learned is that it is utterly important to feed your spirit. I know, it’s only the first paragraph and I am already jumping to the point. This is what I want you to understand though:

YOU CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT EDIFICATION

You can’t really live without being “edified.” To edify yourself as a believer means to feed your spirit. Engaging in fellowship with different believers, whether that be in corporate worship sessions with friends or just talking about the Word of God together or even evangelizing together are ways to edify yourself. Simply reading the word of God yourself is the primary form of edification.


“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”

John 6:51


In John 1 you see that the Word of God came and became Jesus (Look in verses 14-18), and in this verse above it says that anyone who consumes the Word of God is consuming living bread. Here is a major example of edification. Listening to sermons are great and a form of edifying yourself and your spirit, but nothing can satisfy you in the ways that the direct Word of God can. So even upon listening to sermons, read your word. The word of God is portrayed and characterized as Water (Ephesians 5:26) and Bread for a reason, because food is important for your flesh but this word of God is important for our spirit. You spirit will not be satisfied in any way if you are not tapping into the word of God or drawing from it. Some of us think that Sunday service is good enough but I ask how would you feel if you only ate once a week?

WITHOUT EDIFICATION YOU WON’T KNOW GOD

I know a lot of folks speak about “quiet time” with the Lord but what does that look like? What does it mean? I believe it is a time set apart in your day that you dedicate to prayer or communication with God, worship, reading the word of any other form of edification but doing it with Him, with God. Just you and Him. I believe these times are like dates with God, just getting to know Him better and more.


“”Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Matthew 7:21-23


Quiet time with God brings you closer to Him. Seeing the verse above would let you know that knowing God is highly important. This is the reason why you hear so many people saying “Relationship, not religion” because religion is just the acts, it is just the works, but the verse in Matthew shows us that we must know Him. Edification brings you closer to God, reading the Word of God, the bible, is reading not only about God but reading His thoughts, getting to know what He is like and how He has been even.

Prayer is important in this way. Prayer is communication with God, whether it be with requests, conversations, or adoration. It is talking to Him. Let me ask you a question, if your mother or father was to call you from a random number, Would you recognize their voice? If not then……I’m not sure what to say but if yes, how? Is it not because for years you have heard them, spoken to them, and been with them? God is our Father, when we speak to Him through prayer and be with Him via quiet times, we will know His voice when He speaks to us about the things we seek answers for.

EDIFICATION MAKES YOU STRONGER

When weightlifters want to bulk up, what do they do? Eat more. Those same bodybuilders and toned guys are usually able to protect against their opponents because of their strength. I believe the same goes for your spirit, think about how Jesus fended of the devil when he was trying to tempt him during his fast in the desert in Matthew 4. Jesus used scripture in order to drive away and refuse the devil. Edification equips you so that you may do the same thing. Reading the bible is a form of edification that can help you prevent sin just by simply knowing scripture and not believing the lies you are told by the enemy that cause you to fall into sin.


“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17


As a soldier being equipped makes you stronger and puts you at an advantage, especially when you know how to use that equipment. The same goes for the Word of God, it serves as your tools and even weapons against the enemy. The bible is called a “two-edged sword”. Sermons heard in your personal time or even at church are you being taught how to use what you are given in the word of God and worship can be seen even as a form of conditioning. Being edified is important and puts you at a big advantage, take these practices this article and put them to use, see what life looks like after.

Class of 2016 Testimony: Victoria A.

Victorian Ajayi

Morgan State University
B.S Business Administration & Hospitality Management

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
— Ecc. 3:11

Leaving Morgan has been a journey worth testifying and giving God glory for. The many people I started with unfortunately did not finish with me.  For that, I am internally grateful.  God surely supplied all my needs; He never left me nor forsook me and He was faithful until the END!!!! 


 

My Supplier
God blessed me with more grants and scholarships than I was deserving of. How he worked these wonders I will never know. With a nurse for a mother, many people assumed I had money and that wasn’t always the case. I vowed to my mom that paying for my education was on me.  From that moment on, I worked hard and in no time refund checks were my close friends. Not to mention, landing a job with the director of financial aid!!! Man won’t He do it. 

 

My Deliverer
November 6,2011 was the day I gave my life to Jesus Christ. Before coming to the Lord, my outlook on how my college experiences were to play out was nothing compared to the life I found in Christ. I came in with a very self-centered, broken and lost mindset. Glory be to God who says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). My identity was found, chains were broken, my heart healed and I received my freedom by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. I celebrated each birthday in college as a child of God. My 21st was more than I could have dreamed and the whispers of Jeremiah 29:11 only foretold that the best was yet to come. 
My GOOD, GOOD Father
What can I really say now that I graduated???

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 4:6-7

Know that God is in total control. I didn’t graduate in my anticipated year due to my spirit lead major change; however, I found that in that extra year, God revealed Himself to me in more ways than ever before. I found favor from unexpected places with a job from Marriott International, traveling to different states as a student ambassador for my school’s program and more.  Most importantly along the way, God blessed me with family and lifelong friends to aid my steps. When you put your all in HIM, all will be taken care of. Getting to this point took blood, sweat and tears, but through it all my eyes were on Him. And today I can confidently say:


It Is Well………

Class of 2016 Testimony: Sola A.

Ṣọlá

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Visual Arts (Graphic Design)

Department: Visual Arts

Wow, where do I begin? College has been an interesting journey for me, to say the least. But I can testify that, during my pilgrimage, God has continuously proved His faithfulness to me. Let’s backtrack a bit…

In the 10th grade of high school, after witnessing a great transformation go on in my cousin’s life, I decided that I wanted to skip a grade in order to attend a one-year internship and experience this amazing transformation firsthand. By the end of the following school year, I graduated, and six months later, I was in the middle of nowhere in East Texas, encountering God through life-changing events on a daily basis. That one year impacted my life in an indescribable way, so much so, that when the time came to transition into college, I had no desire to do so.

So coming back home to start school was like pulling teeth, let alone starting in “community” college. I didn’t quite have a community to plug into. All my friends from high school had either become wayward friends or gone off to college in various locations. I had no one, and as a result, I lost a grip on the goals and standards I had set for myself while in Texas. I can reflect on countless times in which my grades didn’t look too hot. Other times I’d miss an exam and have an empathetic professor who would allow me to make it up. I lost focus, in school and on God in general. So many situations happened in my life and in my schooling that could have had dreadful consequences. But even in the midst of becoming faithless, God remained faithful.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself
— 2 Timothy 2:13

Fast forward a little further, community found me! Through a friend, God placed me in a community. A place where I could grow and be encouraged by like-minded brothers, sisters, and leaders. I realized my errors and began to really seek God about where He wanted me to be, what He wanted me to do, and what major I should pursue. He began to remind me of the gifts He granted me and as I continued to commit school to Him, I learned that I would use my creative talents to glorify Him perpetually.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago
— Ephesians 2:10

After 2.5 years in community college, I finished strong, graduating with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Graphic Design. I prepared to move on to University, which was another challenge in itself. Chai, school got hard! You would think that art would be easy and effortless, right? Yeah, no, not at all. Even moreso, so many other things weighed in on my education; so much pressure. It’s as if life began to pick up and throw its curve balls directly at me.

My first semester was hard, but it only became more difficult from there. Once again, I was placed in situations where I literally had to rely on God’s strength and not my own. From praying through assignments to crying through others. From being scared to check my grades or lose a scholarship, though I gave my all. Dealing with the stress of only having 2 years to graduate when I felt as though I may have needed more time, having challenges with my health and going in and out of the hospital while trying to stay on track with assignments, struggling with my grandmother’s unexpected passing, juggling multiple internships, fellowship, school, and jobs, having seriously petty professors (it’s art *rolls eyes*)... man the weight was heavy. But wow, I can’t even find the exact words to describe how faithful and merciful God has been.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

I have l i t e r a l l y seen the mighty hand of God move in my life. He has seen me through sleepless nights, weeks, months. He blessed me with classmates that supported me through school. He’s been merciful, granting me multiple grade changes and excused assessments. He’s supplied me with friends and family to be strong for me and pray for me, consistently present by my bedside when I was weak. He’s granted me unique opportunities to develop and advance as a designer. He’s caused my professors to sacrifice their time to see me prosper and even vouch for me… And I am only mentioning the least.

When I was down, He encouraged me. When I doubted, He restored my confidence and faith. When I felt defeated, He reminded me that I am victorious through Him. And now I can declare that I am a graduate! I made it through those 2 years and it was only possible with God! So for that, I am beyond grateful and excited to continue my creative journey. I am ready to dream a new dream with Him!

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness”
— Psalm 115:1