Are You Farther Away From God Than You Think You Are?

I was confronted with that question recently (as in last night).  The reality is that I am.

If anyone had asked me before last night I would have honestly responded that I have a very close relationship with God, that I speak to Him several times daily and he directs my path.  While it is true, I can do more…a LOT more.

I was on Twitter (when am I NOT on Twitter is the question smh) and around 2 AM one of my followers, @bcrease tweeted something that spoke to me.

“It’s one thing to believe in God, and another to serve Him; It’s an even greater thing to please Him.”

Of course after reading that I analyzed where I fit in that sentence as it relates to my own relationship.  While I’d love to say that I please God, I know that is not truthful.  Nor is it honest to say that I fully serve him.  Ouch.  I do believe in God however and I find myself striving every day to serve Him more than I did the day before.

Sometimes this Christian walk seems so trying and difficult, does it not?  There is no question that God requires much of us if we are to identify ourselves as Christians, to be Christ-like.  Of course he gives of Himself exceedingly in return and the sacrifice is more than worth it.  God’s demands aren’t unjustified.

My primary role on Earth is to promote this Christian lifestyle and it gets so frustrating that I can become so easily distracted.  It’s no wonder why other faiths don’t always take Christianity as seriously as it deserves.  We seem so fickle.  As I have been known to say, I would definitely feel some kind of way about a Muslim who didn’t stop what they were doing to pray several times a day and ate pulled pork sandwiches drenched in barbeque sauce.  As a result I understand why one would want to give me the side-eye when I’m engaged in less-than-desirable behavior and want to follow it up with, “Oh well, God knows my heart…”

While I do desire to please Him and have “good intentions,” I’ve got to be real with myself…the road to Hell is paved with all mine, and everyone else’s, good intentions.  Intentions are rarely good enough among my peers…they surely don’t fly when it comes to God.

I’m embarking on a new chapter of my life and I can’t go forward in it all while I’m making the same mistakes from yesteryear.  Tomorrow is not promised.  I’ve got to do better by Christ, and be a better Christian, today.

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Do You Keep Your Most IMPORTANT Appointment?

I begin most of my days by reading my devotional.  It’s a time for me to get my mind and heart ready for all that I will encounter that day and remind me to always keep my Christianity in check.

Today’s devotional, an exerpt from Joyce Meyer’s Hearing From God Each Morning: 365 Daily Devotions, is one that I have decided to share with you all.

Keep Your Appointment

“You will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

We may have to deal sternly with our flesh to resist the spirit of passivity that tries to keep us from growing in the knowledge of God.  A commitment to spend time with God is as serious a commitment as any we will ever make.

If I needed dialysis because of kidney disease and had to be at the hospital twice a week for treatment at 8:00AM, I certainly would not accept an invitation to do anything else during those times, no matter how appealing it seemed or how much I wanted to do it.  I would know my life depended on keeping my dialysis appointment.  We should be that serious about our time with God.  The quality of our lives is greatly affected by the time we spend with Him, so that time should have priority in our schedules. 

Sometimes we become slack in keeping our appointments with God because we know He is always available.  We know He will always be there for us, so we may skip or reschedule our time with Him so we can do something that seems more urgent.  If we spent more “priority time” with God, we might not have so many “urgent” situations that tend to rob us of our time.

When we spend time with God, even if we don’t feel His presence or think we are learning anything, we are still sowing good seeds that will produce good harvests in our lives.  With persistence, you will reach the point where you understand more of God’s Word, where you are enjoying fellowship with Him, and where you are talking to God and hearing His voice.

GOD’S WORD FOR YOU TODAY: Keep your appointments with God.

My (Most Recent) Testimony

I have found great peace within my decision to step out on faith...

                So I’ve been sitting here all day today throwing myself into this writing thing (I’m working on my first novel) and as I’m finishing up the last few paragraphs of chapter 3 it’s hitting me.

Wow, I’m really writing a book.

                This is something that I’ve always toyed around with in the back of my head but nothing I’ve ever taken too seriously.  I know I have a knack for dramatic storytelling and for manipulating my audience (lol it’s the Yancey way) but writing a book has always seemed to be a tremendous undertaking that I’m not disciplined enough, or creative enough, to strike out and successfully attempt on my own.

                I now look back on the old Ashley Yancey and am embarrassed that she thought so little of her passion that she refused to pursue it.  She instead stuck it into a smelly bag and crammed it into the back of her junky, disorganized closet better known as the deepest, darkest place she could find in her mind. 

            I am now so thankful that God has chosen now to reveal to myself that I can do this, that I am able to do this and that I need to do this.  He’s been speaking to me for quite some time regarding this journey that I am currently embarking on and how thankful I am that I trusted the Holy Spirit and stepped out on faith regarding a task (book writing) that I know so little about….let me explain.

My testimony.

            Last fall God told me that I needed to start preparing myself to spend a significant amount of time in NYC.  I shared this with one of my best friends, Ash A., and she helped me draft a plan of enrolling into some publishing courses for the following summer.  I had no idea what else I would be doing in Summer 2011, only that God had spoken to me and I knew I needed to be there.  As a result, while I didn’t shy from mentioning my plan on heading to NYC, I definitely told no one about the publishing courses.

             Next up, God told me that I needed to hone in on my writing skill in preparation for what was to come.  From there I began my blog in November 2010 and as a result of a personal goal to myself, began to start submitting my work to larger publications.  Soon after, God told me that while my blog was okay, I needed to go even bigger-He said I needed to write a book. 

            I immediately felt incredibly overwhelmed.  A book!?  At times, I can barely get a simple 500-word article typed out for my blog because of lack of inspiration and now I’m supposed to write a 200+ page novel?!  It all seemed so impossible to me, yet I didn’t say no (how do you say no to God?).  I have an AMAZING, inspirational network that I am surrounded by and knew that I already had the support-I just needed to get out of my own self’s way in order to make these things happen for myself.

            So while I felt deep down in my spirit that I needed to write a book, I had zero inspiration for it.  Zero.  I had tons of ideas for short stories, but no one idea was strong enough to support an entire book.  After struggling with this for about a month or so, my idea for the book struck.  In January I became aware and knowledgeable of a few things in my personal life that I had never encountered before.  The entire experience was so unsettling, so nerve-wracking and so life-changing that I had an epiphany of sorts.  I was struggling on finding a way to cope when God told me that I was to write about it. 

            Wow!  Writing about it would be perfect.  Writing has ALWAYS been the avenue I’ve turned too when nothing else seems to work.  Some people decide to go workout, others eat, some listen to music and I, write.  So here I am, two months later, with 3 chapters down, and 9 more to go.  As for this summer, God has already mentally prepared me for NYC, and I now know and understand that it is His will for me to go there to find a publisher.

I am a writer.

I have faith.

God revealed it to me.

This is my testimony!

P.S. There are other amazing things that are a part of this testimony…such as how I recently met a NYT bestselling author and she gave me publishing tips…or how I bumped into an Essence magazine model and through he and I getting acquainted I discovered he knows publishers in NYC, etc.  I may chose to share some of those details with you all at a later time.

We All Know Who DIDN’T Keep The Faith *cough Peter cough*…But Why?

            From the time I learned how to talk, I’ve always questioned everything. Over the years many have wrongfully diagnosed me as “nosey” but no, I’m just inquisitive. I’m always asking some form of “why” and “how does that make you feel?” People laugh and poke fun but I’m also one of the first people they turn too when they want the 411 on a bevy of topics.

            As a result of this outlook, it’s only natural that when reading the Bible, my investigative nature takes over at times and I find myself researching to curb my curiosity. Recently the person to pique my interest has been Peter, one of Jesus’ most valuable disciples.

We all know who DIDN'T keep the faith

            When reading the Bible, you’ll notice that Peter is heavily mentioned in all four of the Gospels. While Matthew, Mark, Luke and John focused on Jesus, they ALWAYS had something to say about Peter. Whether they were hating on him for not keeping the faith to walk on water with Jesus or elaborating on how Peter didn’t have the Big Homie’s back by denying that he knew him, they STAYED having Peter’s name in their mouths.

It got me wondering, “How did Peter feel about this?”

            It’s obvious when reading that Peter left a bit to be desired in matters of loyalty-he wasn’t “ride or die” initially. After Judas, Peter would have been next on my list of friendships to severe-he couldn’t be trusted. Because of his popularity, I was eager to read about Peter from Peter’s perspective.

            As I thirstily headed over to 1 Peter and 2 Peter my mind was going in a million different directions of what I would find there. Would Peter have a “I don’t care” attitude regarding his initial ties to Christianity (because we all know he ultimately became one of the most dedicated disciples)? Was his disdain intentional? Was he actually more caring and just internally extremely conflicted? I needed some answers.

Well I didn’t get any.

            All 1 Peter and 2 Peter covered were 2 letters (one to each book respectively) encouraging Christian’s to keep on pushing despite their adversity. Peter never discussed his own personal tests nor did he discuss his testimony. (God forgive me but…) I’m disappointed.

I want to know more.

            Perhaps it is me being nosy, digging for a juicy perspective on a piece of gossip (although this is obviously so much more than a piece of petty gossip), but I’m now left with only contextual clues and my imagination to get the answers that I want.

Do you all ever get curious about things, people or situations in the Bible and get salty that it doesn’t go into more detail? I pray it’s not just me.