Lending vs. Giving

One thing I learned in life is to never “lend” something to a person that you aren’t willing to count as a lost IF that item is never returned to you by the borrower… That goes for money, video games, clothing items, novels, Tupperware, office supplies, power/gardening tools, etc.
I learned this the hard way. I have lent out so many valuable and priceless possessions that I have never gotten back. But I’m getting to the place now where if someone asks me to borrow something (especially money), I know how to say NO, you may not borrow. I do not have it to lend.
And even in the case where I am able and willing, I would rather just let them have it (if I can afford to sacrifice it) as opposed to only letting them borrow it. Reason being, when I lend something out, I expect to get a full return, but if I don’t get it back (especially in a reasonable and timely manner), my heart becomes susceptible to being offended, unforgiving, easily angered, impatient, regretful, distrusting, etc. And I don’t like feeling that way toward a person.
But when I decide to just let the person have the item, I don’t have to worry or stress about anything and my heart is free. Now if they choose to return it back on their own accord, then cool, but if not, I’m not tripping over it because I released them from that expectation. I’m learning how to appreciate and protect my belongings, but at the same time, learning not to be materialistic, idolatrous or too attached to anything in this world. For my true treasure is in heaven.
As I was having devotion one day, I came across these two scriptures, which was like a confirmation to everything I’ve been experiencing.
Matthew 6:19‭-‬21 NLT
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
Luke 6:34‭-‬36 NLT
“And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”

How I Found My “Good Thing”

In 2010, I ended a significant relationship of two years with someone whom I thought would be my wife. After coping through the devastating heartbreak, I made a prayer to God: “Lord, here is my heart and the key that goes to it. I give it to you locked. Please don’t allow my love to be awakened again before it is time.” I told God that if it was his will for me to get married, that I didn’t even want to choose my wife. (I tried to choose on my own, and it was an epic fail.) So I left it completely up to Him to add on to me whomever He saw fit, whenever He saw fit. I didn’t tell God what my ideal wife was—I didn’t give Him a list of preferences.

That same year is when I met Deborah. I found out we went to the same church: One Body In Christ In Love Ministries, in Miami Gardens, Florida. I never really noticed her before. We were only acquaintances and may have spoken here and there after service. Eventually, after getting her associates degree at Miami Dade College, she transferred to my school, Florida International University, to pursue her bachelors. During this transition is when we started to see each other more often.

Deborah and I became avid members of our church’s college outreach ministry called “Go Get Cain.” Consequently, we spent a lot of our free time evangelizing with each other on campus. It was only then that she began to stick out to me. Seeing her serving God was a big attention grabber for me, because I loved girls who loved Jesus. I would notice how she labored for the Kingdom through prayer, fasting and evangelism. I admired her because she had a humble spirit and a heart of worship. But even then, I never developed any desire to pursue her as a wife. I only saw her as a sister in Christ who was becoming a close friend.

Fast Forward: Over 2 ½ years later, on May 1, 2012, I had a dream that revealed Deborah and I would be getting married, and when I woke up from my dream, I heard God audibly speak to me and he said, “THIS IS YOUR WIFE. FOR I HAVE GIVEN HER UNTO YOU.” I jumped up out the bed and in disbelief, I decided to just ‘hang the dream up in the closet’. I didn’t want to reveal the dream to Deborah prematurely or out of season, in fear of scaring her off or causing her to think I was crazy. (Heck, I thought I was going crazy.) So I kept it to myself until I felt led to talk to her about it. Meanwhile, every time I would see her at church, I would hear the Spirit of God confirm to me, “This is your wife.” “I have given her to you.” “You are going to marry her.” “She’s the one.”

No matter how many times I tried to ignore it, rebuke it, reject it or suppress it, the voice kept getting louder and louder in my head. The Bible teaches that faith comes by hearing, and by hearing the word of God. I eventually decided to receive the word that I believe God was giving to me. I knew by faith that Deborah was going to be my wife.

However, I didn’t want to pursue her only based off of a dream I had, though, because I knew that according to Ecclesiastes 5:3, dreams and imaginations can sometimes conjure themselves up based on the many cares in our lives. So I asked God that if it was indeed his will for us to be together, to give me more confirmations, which I received several of. (I’d rather take my time and be sure, than to rush into it and make a mistake.) So for the second confirmation, I told God, “If this is the wife whom you have chosen for me, then open a door of opportunity for us to discuss the topic of marriage.

So one day, on June 12, 2012, about a month after I had the dream, Deborah and I were texting, and we innocently sidetracked from our conversation and somehow got on the subject of marriage, and it freaked me out because it happened so randomly. Then, in the middle of us texting, I felt the unction of God to follow up and pursue her. Nervous, I backed out and told God, “No. This can’t be happening! I’m afraid to pursue her. What if she rejects me?” Then I heard the Spirit of God speak to me and say, “PURSUE AFTER HER. IF I HAVE GIVEN HER TO YOU, SHE WILL NOT REJECT YOU, FOR MY BLESSINGS CANNOT BE REVOKED.”

Then I told God that before I pursue her, I needed just one more confirmation. So, a few hours later, my mom picked me up from work and when I got in the car, she randomly asked me, “Hey son. How is your future wife doing?” Mind you, I have never had a conversation with my mom about what was going on. So I asked her what prompted her to ask such a question, because I was actually pondering about the idea of marriage right before I got in the car. Then she responded, “I have no idea what led me to ask that question. But if you were thinking about marriage before I asked you, then just take it as a confirmation.” After that third confirmation, I knew that God was leading me to get married to Deborah.

When I got home from work that evening, God released me to call Deborah on the phone and share my revelation with her. To my surprise, God had already dealt with her about me being her future husband. He revealed it to her 2 ½ years earlier when we first met. Her confession became the final confirmation I needed. 2 Corinthians 13:1 says, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” Within those 2 ½ years that she knew, she waited patiently for me to pursue her. She never enticed me, seduced me, or gave me any hints or clues. When I inquired of her as to why she never told me that she already knew, she answered, “It was not my job to tell you. The Bible says, “When a man finds a wife, he finds a good thing–not when a woman finds a husband.”” To read her side of the story on how she knew I would be her husband, visit her blog post here.

After praying to God together, seeking counsel from our spiritual leaders, and then getting permission from our parents, we received all of their blessings. Then, after receiving specific instruction from God in another dream, we got engaged at our church on July 21, 2012. Our two-year engagement process was quite the experience and I learned as much about myself as I did about her during that season of our lives. Our wedding day on June 28th, 2014 was simply incredible. To watch our wedding video, click here. Having been married for three years today, I am truly learning what it means to love my wife as Christ loves the Church. I know that God has a great purpose for our lives, and that our marriage will be used for the purpose of ministry and to build up the Kingdom.

Having been in several failed relationships in my past, God had to teach me how to build my relationship upon the rock, which is His Word, and not on the sand, which is my emotions and my flesh. When we allow God to choose our spouse for us, He gives us someone whom He knows has a heart that reflect His own; someone who is mature in the Spirit and who has the love and the anointing to handle marriage. God also taught me that it is possible to be unequally yoked with another believer. Just because you are both Christian doesn’t mean you should marry each other. God wants to make sure that our spouse is compatible with the assignment He placed on our lives.

Lastly, I learned that storms (or trials) are going to arise in everyone’s relationship—whether we do it God’s way or our own way. However, when we build our relationship God’s way, a storm may beat up against our home, but because it’s built on a strong foundation, it will not be destroyed. Only what God joins together, will no one or nothing be able to separate. I’m blessed because I know my marriage is ordained by God.

Inviting Jesus to the Family Reunion

TESTIMONY!

Earlier this month, on Sunday, June 18th, I attended the 3rd day of my family reunion. It was held at C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines, FL. This year’s reunion was different. It wasn’t just for my family (on my mom’s side), but for family and friends. So there were many people there whom I have never met and did not know personally.

Half way through the evening, it was time to eat and everyone gathered underneath the huge pavilion. My aunt, who hosted the reunion, singled me out, of the hundreds in attendance, (knowing that I am a minister) to come pray over the food. So as she gave me the microphone, I stood in front of everyone and said a quick prayer over the reunion, those in attendance, and over the food, then sealed the prayer in Jesus name.

After I stood in line for my food, I sat at one of the picnic tables to eat. Then a woman  walked over to my table and asked me if I was a pastor. I told her no, I’m not a pastor but I am a minister. Then I inquired of her to know why she asked. I figured she assumed I was a Christian because I prayed over the food. Lol. But she told me no. It wasn’t only because of my prayer that she discerned I was a believer, but primarily because of the presence I carried with me. She told me that as soon as I arrived to the reunion and stepped on the scene, there was a shift in the atmosphere. She felt an anointing coming from me. She said that out of all the people in attendance, she felt a spirit of humility and peace coming from me. I was like wow. Then she proceeded to tell me her whole life story, and asked me what church I go to, etc. We talked for a min.

After our conversation was over and she walked away, I went back to eating. But then someone else approached me. It was a young man. He walked up to the table and whispered in my ear that my prayer really touched him. He said he was posted up in the back of the pavilion during the prayer, and when I opened my mouth to pray, and mentioned the name of Jesus, he felt something prick him in his heart and he grew convicted. He told me that although I was only praying over the food, he felt power come from me as I prayed, and he said he wished I would have made the prayer a little longer, because he was really in need of prayer.

Wanting to capitalize on an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ to him, I asked him if he would like for me to pray with him individually and he said he would like that a lot. So, not wanting to cause a scene or draw attention to myself, I began to look around the park for a place I could pray with him in private. And he said why do we have to go somewhere in private. He was not ashamed to pray in front of everyone. Then he said we can pray right here, right now. So I was like ok then. Let’s get it!

So I began to lay my hand on him in the middle of the park, and pray over him and speak life over him. Then I asked him if he wanted to accept Jesus as his Lord and savior. He seemed hesitant to answer because he didn’t know if he was ready to get saved. He was afraid of possibly messing up and disappointing God. But I explained to him the grace of God, the mercy of God and the love of God. And how walking in sanctification is a process that God would patiently walk with him through and that the Holy Spirit would work in him to get him to the place in God he needs to be. After breaking down the gospel of Jesus Christ to him, all he kept saying was “Wow.” “I never knew that.” “That’s powerful.” “That makes sense.” After he appeared to understand what he was getting himself into, I led him to confess the Lord Jesus with his mouth and to pray to accept Jesus into his heart. Then I prayed for him to be filled with the Holy Ghost.

After I prayed for him, his aunt, who also claimed to be saved (a deaconess at her church) walked over to us in amazement. “WHAT?” she said. “You managed to get HIM saved? He’s been in and out of church for the longest. Lukewarm. My nephew has some real mental issues, and even receives a check for it. Because of his condition, everyone in our family pretty much gave up on him. But to see him willingly give his life to Christ today is amazing!”

I was so ecstatic to be used by God so unexpectedly. I am glad I was ready in and out of season to give an answer for the hope I have in Christ Jesus. And I was also amazed to know that someone was able to randomly see my light and humble countenance and attribute it back to God.

To God be all the glory for the lost soul that was drawn back to his Heavenly Father and received salvation! May he be kept, and may God be faithful to complete the good work that was started in him!

Cocaine Confession

TESTIMONY!

Today, after noticing a nail that had gotten stuck in my tire, I went to this tire shop by my house to get it plugged. As I stood to the side and allowed one of the men at the shop to service my car, suddenly, this older woman who was standing nearby walks up to me and makes a surprising and random confession.

“I battle with cocaine addiction,” she confessed. “And it’s hard for me to give up the drugs because my old man is a drug dealer.”

I stared her in the face. Her countenance was down and she seemed very ashamed.

Without hesitation, I began to minister to her. “You don’t have to be addicted to drugs,” I assured her. “You can be free in Jesus name.”

As soon as I mentioned the words “free” and “Jesus”, she stared at me with eyes wide open. I could tell that the words I spoke had given her hope.

“Thank you!” she replied. “I needed to hear that.”

“Amen,” I said. “Do you want to be free, though?It’s one think to know that you can be free. But it’s another thing to want to be free and to actually put in the sacrifices needed to be free. You’re going to have to separate yourself from familiar people, places and things that pose as a stumbling block for you.”

“Yes. I understand,” she said. “And I want to be free.”

“Freedom is found only in Jesus.” I began to take her through the prayer for salvation. “Do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe he’s the son of God? Do you believe he died on the cross for your sins–To save and deliver you from your sins? Do you believe he was buried and rose again on the third day, and is now sitting in heaven making intercession daily for you? Do you accept this Jesus into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior?”

“Yes, I do,” she replied to every statement, nodding her head with each answer.

“Ok, because you believe in your heart and have confessed the Lord Jesus with your mouth, I’m going to pray for your deliverance and for you to be filled with, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.”

As I laid my hands on her head, and prayed for her, I began to rebuke every addiction and generational curse off of her life, loosen every demonic stronghold, shackle and chain that had her bound, and bind up every spirit of guilt, shame, self-condemnation, heaviness, hopelessness, etc. I commanded any unclean spirit(s) to leave her and for the Holy Spirit to take residence inside of her vessel.

As I prayed for her, she began to scream and cry and shake. So I hugged her tight to me and continued to pray. When I finished praying, and let her go, her face was soaked with tears. No matter how much she wiped her face, the tears continued to flow.

“I feel free,” she expressed. “I feel so light! I never felt this light before. I sit on the corner of this tire shop every single day, and I drink my alcohol and smoke my cocaine. Everyone sees me as being hard and tough. No one has ever been able to make me cry or has ever seen me cry before. But as I cry, I feel a release. I know that I have to release what is inside of me in order to receive what God has for me.”

Taking money out of her back pocket, she continued, “I was just about to take this money and go buy me some drugs, but God sent you to me as a messenger to speak to me!!! I have never seen you before in my life. But I know that God brought you here just for me! I don’t need to buy any drugs. I need to use this money to get my son something to eat. My God-mother is a minister and she’s been telling me about Jesus and has been telling me that I need to stop using drugs for a long time now, but I never listened to her. When I bring my other drug addicted friends to her, they all get delivered and never go back. But she hasn’t been able to get me to stop. But God used you to speak to me and help free me.” Then, praising God, she reached out and wrapped her arms around me and gave me another hug.

After I finished ministering to her, I looked around and there were people circled all around us. The owner of the tire shop, several of her employees and even some other customers. Then the owner of the tire shop approached me.

“I don’t know who you are, but that was powerful. Whatever it is that you just did, it’s needed around here. You should come up here to my shop more often. There’s a lot of people who hang out on this corner who needs you to come help them and talk to them.”

“Praise God,” I responded. “What you just witnessed was the love of God delivering someone who was ready to be free.”

Who Comes First: the Wife or the Mother?

I was just having a conversation with some friends about this infamous question: “Who comes first: the Wife or the Mother?”

Let’s go to the word of God to see what it has to say about this.

Genesis 2:24

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and the two shall become one flesh.

Well, there you have it. When a man gets married, he can no longer be a momma’s boy. He has to let go of his mother’s skirt and become the head of his new family.

Men, show honor and respect to your mother, for this pleases the Lord. If you can learn how to honor and respect your mother, then when you get married, you should be able to demonstrate that same honor and respect to your wife as well. But you definitely don’t want to be a man who’s going to put your mother before your wife. That’s out of order, according to the Scriptures.

A lot of men who get married have problems in their relationship because they either forget to LEAVE their mother and father or they haven’t learned how to CLEAVE to their wife. You have to do BOTH in order to have a successful marriage.

I had to learn that in my own marriage. I’ve been married for only one year now, and in the early stages, like the first few months, it was hard for me to “leave” my mom because she’s a single parent mother and I felt obligated to step up and be the man of the house in the absence of my father. My mother and I have also been by each other’s side for the past 24 years of my life, so we have a history with a lot of experience together. I couldn’t imagine life without my Momma. We were like best friends, have gone through many storms together, have confided in each other, laughed with each other, cried in each other’s arms. We have always been there for each other emotionally and financially. We have always referred to ourselves as being “two peas in a pod”.

When I got married, it felt like I was being forced to forsake a woman I had been in a relationship with for two decades for another woman, whom I had only been in a relationship with for nearly two years. Like Latoya Luckett would say, “I’m torn inbetween the two!” But as hard as it was, once I got married, I had to learn how to place my mom second to my wife. When I took my vows, I vowed to be faithful to my wife and to forsake all others. That means I had to forsake all women, including my own mom, the closest woman to me in my entire life! I had to learn the hard way how to leave, or forsake my mom when it came to emotional and financial stability. Not saying that I could never seek for her help in rough seasons of my life. But rather, I had to learn how not to vitally depend on her in these areas, as if she’s my main life support. I even had a vision one day earlier in my marriage of me as a baby attached to my mother via the umbilical cord, but then the cord got cut. That vision confirmed to me that it was time to cut the support I was receiving from my mom off. I could no longer commit [emotional] adultery against my wife with my mom. I cannot have two wives!

I had to learn how to politely keep my mom out of my most intimate marital affairs and how not to vent to her about what’s going on with me and my wife. That should be for me and my wife to work out between ourselves only. I had to learn how to fulfill my wife’s requests first before I would go run to help my mom every time she would call me for help. I had to learn how to make sure my marriage was in order. My mother will always be my mother, dearly beloved. We still have a good relationship. And if I can do anything for her, I will. But at the end of the day, I have to go home and sleep with my wife, not my mom. So I have to make sure that there’s peace in my home between me and my wife, for a house that’s divided against itself cannot stand. Plus, I’m going to be held accountable to God for my wife, not my mother.

Some married men haven’t learned this leaving and cleaving concept yet. But it’s vital for him to learn this if he wants his relationship to work. If not, then he oughta just stay single and under momma’s skirt. No wife  has time to fight another woman over her own husband. She especially don’t  have the time to fight her own mother-in-law over him. No husband should make his wife feel like she had to fight for his love, affection and attention. He should assure and affirm his wife that she’s first in his life  (second only to God).

Mothers, you have to learn to let your son go. He’s not your baby boy any more. He’s a grown man. A family man! Stop cleaving to him. Let him cleave to his wife!

Halloween: Masking the Pain

#TBT Before I got saved, when I was in college, I was so caught up in worldly things. I remember this one time when I went out with four of my girl friends to this club in downtown Miami for Halloween. We almost got into a car accident on the expressway on our way to the club because we were speeding, trying to get to the club before midnight so the girls could get in for free. We didn’t make it before midnight, and they didn’t have any money on them, so I ended up paying for all of them as well as myself to get in. But it was cool. I had money like that.

Because it was Halloween, we all dressed up in costumes. Two of the girls were dressed up as sexy pussy cats, one dressed up as a female Harry Potter, one dressed up as a playboy bunny, and I dressed up as a male stripper in army fatigue. I had on my speedos, hand cuffs, and everything. In the picture, you can see me bumping and grinding in the club, drinking, and I had women coming up to me stuffing money in my underwear and in my pockets. I was so carnally minded, full of lust and perversion.

On the outside, I was having fun, but I was empty on the inside. I was lost. I was a victim of peer pressure. I was trying to cover up my hurts and struggles. I was  looking for love, acceptance, validation, attention, identity and purpose. But I was looking for it in all the wrong places. I couldn’t find fulfillment in women, in money, in the alcohol, in the club or any of that.

But when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior he filled every void in my life. Now my joy is complete in Him! I am in this world, but no longer of this world. I am an EX-Conformist.