Have you ever seen the movies with the guy boxing the air, throwing jabs at an invisible opponent? That’s exactly how it looks when someone is Shadowboxing. To me, it’s a natural reaction to laugh because it’s funny; getting tired and worn out from a fight with yourself…really?

I recently experienced a situation where a person just began speaking all kinds of negative things and lies about me behind my back, to anyone who would listen. Now, I know that I did nothing to warrant this behavior, so my initial reaction was anger. I didn’t say anything (I just had wrong thoughts). After I calmed down and prayed, I knew what I needed to do: Pray for this individual. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but I did it. I was reminded of Saul before he became Paul. He was on a mission persecuting and killing Christians until that Damascus Road collision with God. That encounter altered the direction of his life. He went on to become one of the greatest Apostles in the Christian Faith (Acts 9). The truth of the matter is: There are some people who will have to persecute us, so they can have a Divine Encounter with God; but we must remain mindful that their fight is really not with us…

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. Exodus 14:14 ESV

When you don’t fight back, your enemies are left with no other choice, except to resort to Shadowboxing. Now, they are fighting an imaginary opponent. They want to pick a fight with you, but you refuse to entertain them. We all know people like this. Shadowboxers exert all of their energy trying to make you look bad, but ultimately, it is they who look bad (mature people see right through their futile attempts). They have no real proof of anything you did to make them dislike you (because you did nothing).

“What should I do,” you ask? Pray for them because it’s obvious they need it. Keep your head up. Don’t come down. Don’t retaliate. You set and maintain the standard, regardless of what they do. Let them see Christ through YOU.

So, That Settles It. Their issue is not really with you, but they don’t know it. The darkness inside of them is trying to fight against the Light inside of you, but we all know it is the Light that extinguishes the darkness. Let them continue Shadowboxing. This battle belongs to the Lord! The great part about it is: If they surrender, then they too will win.

You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you. Deuteronomy 3:22 ESV

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“Friendship Goals”

During our book discussion this past weekend, the group discussed the importance of having the right friends. We talked about how sometimes we have to leave some people behind and the reasons why.

Think about when you were younger: You had friends at school, in the neighborhood, and in your family. Your only requirements of those friends were probably to share their toys and to play fairly. In High School, your friends were likely those who were popular, or who looked like you, or who kept your secrets.

Now, fast forward to the present: What are your Friendship Goals?

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 ESV

What does a “Healthy” friendship look like?

Let’s take a look:

~These friends are the people who support you, no matter how “impossible” your goals may seem to the rest of the world. These people will support you until the very end.

~These are the people who will tell you the truth, even if it hurts, even if you don’t like it. These people genuinely care about you, and are willing to risk you being angry (for a little while), if it prevents you from making a huge mistake.

~These friends celebrate you, they don’t just tolerate you. They accept the good and the bad. These friends have resolved that the good outweighs the bad and they see their relationship with you as an asset, not a liability.

~These friends are mature enough to understand that even though you may not always agree, you can agree to disagree and still live peaceably (no love lost).

~These are the people you trust, who respect your vulnerability, and they won’t do anything to betray that trust.

~This type of friendship exudes reciprocity because everyone is always willing to give; therefore, everyone always feels appreciated and loved, and no one feels slighted or taken advantage of.

~These friends WILL NOT allow you to quit. Even if you stumble or fall, they will sit and weep with you for a while, but they will not allow you to stay there! They will lift, pull, and prop you up. These friends believe in you, even when you find it hard to believe in yourself.

Now, let’s look at “Unhealthy” Friendships.

If your current friendships consist of any of the following, Throw it Away!

~People who are only there when it’s convenient for them.

~No reciprocity; you are always giving, but receive very little in return.

~These people drain you emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially; they are known as “Takers.”

~They criticize your ideas and offer no real support for your dreams and goals.

~They try to compete with you and very rarely cheer you on.

~These people lack zeal and exhibit no real desire to grow and build; they are usually full of excuses. They aren’t going anywhere, and they don’t want you to go either.

~These people have been found guilty of betraying your trust (sometimes on more than one occasion).

So, That Settles It. It’s time to check your crew and see who’s really with you and good for you. If your friendship circle isn’t Healthy, then it’s time to reevaluate and “Friend Up.” On the other hand, I challenge you to do a self-assessment and ask yourself if YOU are that friend. If not, add this to YOUR Friendship Goals; and endeavor to offer the same kind of friendship you desire from others.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 ESV

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“Stay in the Box”

While everyone is working so hard to step out of the box I am learning to Stay in the Box.

Follow me on this one…

There have been multiple times in my life where it seemed every way that I turned there was a roadblock. If I turned right there was nowhere to go. If I turned left there was nowhere to go. If I tried to go sideways I was yet blocked again. I became frustrated and I questioned God; I wanted to know why He would allow it.

I recently experienced this turmoil (once again), and while I was questioning God and asking Him how He expects me to fulfill all of these promises if He keeps allowing roadblocks, He reminded me of a prayer that I prayed a while ago: I prayed and asked Him to close every door that had not been opened by Him. So He did, I was boxed in.
It requires a certain level of trust in God to say a prayer like that. I’m going to be transparent and acknowledge that I probably prayed that prayer when I was at a high point and everything was going well. Obviously, I had forgotten it because otherwise, why would I question Him when He was only doing what I asked Him to do?

We know God wants to protect us and wants only the best for us, but He will not, He cannot override our will. There are times that He can only step in when we invite Him. We have to make the decision whether we want to wander and remain frustrated for years and years, or if we want to move forward and accomplish the things God has promised us. The only way we can do this is if we Stay in the Box. It is not the popular way and it may seem lonely at times, but it is promising.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14 ESV 

The danger of stepping outside of the box is that you can become distracted and get off course (looking to the left and the right, trying to compete or be like everyone else). In the Box is safety and God’s Protection. The enemy knows this, and that’s why he tries to lure us out of our Hedge of protection. He comes to kill (your joy), steal (your hope), and destroy (your future and destiny). When we Stay in the Box we invite God to block out everything that is not of Him; which will in turn, eliminate or drastically minimize the risk of being defeated, or even worse, devoured.

Think about a box that’s being shipped: If it has been packaged and labeled properly, it will pass all the screenings, and no matter what perils it endures along the way, this box will eventually reach its destination. However, if a box looks like it has been tampered with or may contain unacceptable or dangerous materials, or if the destination isn’t clearly identified, it is returned to the sender. God isn’t going to send us if we are not ready, so don’t despise the times that it feels like nothing is working; trust me it is. It’s preparation.

So, That Settles It. Staying in God’s Will is how we Stay in the Box. We allow Him to properly prepare us to pass every test and ultimately reach our Destiny! 

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;

My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers,

And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day,

Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side,

And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;

For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.

With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.” Psalm 91 NKJV

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“It’s Not Just What You Know, But It’s Who You Know”

I am starting off this week’s blog post with a heartfelt Thank You to all of my faithful supporters. Thank You for your continued support!

Second, I want to say, if it seems like the past few posts have been similar in nature, it’s because they are. I have really been flabbergasted by the number of people, regardless of looks, education, financial or social status, who don’t know their true identity. So, I feel obligated to continue with this series until we finally get it.

With that being said; we all have probably heard the phrase “It’s Not Just What You Know, But It’s Who You Know.” I believe there is some truth to this statement. Sometimes who you know may get you a little further than just what you know, and that’s not a bad thing. For example: I believe there are times that God gives us favor with certain individuals who otherwise may not have even given us a second thought. My goal is to make sure we are ready to receive all He has for us. Let’s Prepare…

One of the most important things we can do for ourselves is to truly learn the essence of who we are, our true self (not the one we put on display for the world to see). But, let’s not stop there. Let’s learn our likes and dislikes, what motivates us, or what frightens us. When you know yourself, you know what you want or need and you can effectively communicate your wishes to others.

Knowing yourself is reflected in the following ways:

~Your Relationships

~Your Salary

~Your Job

~Your Belief in what God Will (or will not) Do for You

Be honest with yourself, how many times have you settled for less than you really deserved simply because you didn’t believe you deserved it? Have you ever missed an opportunity to apply for a better position because you didn’t think you were good enough? Have you ever settled for a salary significantly lower than you desired because you didn’t have the confidence to negotiate? You didn’t believe that others would see your worth. How many times have you prayed, but didn’t really believe God would answer because you didn’t feel worthy?

One thing I learned when I started my business, was that I had no idea of who I was, my true worth, or even the value of the work that I had to offer; and my prices reflected that. But, as I continue to grow and learn and come into the full knowledge of who I am and the quality of the work that I put into every project, my prices are now indicative of such. When you know your worth, you can name your price, you won’t feel guilty about it, and more importantly, you won’t cheat yourself.

Yes, education, experience and skills, and even knowing the right people are all important; but the most important aspect is you knowing YOURSELF! Until you truly know yourself, you won’t be able to tell others what you need because you don’t really know. And whatever you do, please don’t try to be like someone else because it won’t work.

This week do a self-assessment, take a deep look inside yourself. Make a list of things that you like, that you dislike, things that motivate you, or things that frighten you. Embrace the uniqueness that is You. Many of us know ourselves based on what we’ve been told, based on others’ perceptions, stereotypes, or statistics. Throw it all away!

So, That Settles It. I challenge you to learn about yourself and by doing so, you will undoubtedly gain the confidence to tell others what you require (what you will or will not accept). It’s Not Just What You Know, But It’s Who You Know, and that who is YOU. Your opinion of yourself is of the utmost importance. You are in charge of your future and your destiny. Own it!

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14 ESV 

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