It’s About Time…Literally!

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I know tomorrow isn’t promised yet I still fall into the “I will get to it tomorrow” syndrome. Time is a precious commodity that I seem to take for granted all too often.

There is one area that I cannot put off until tomorrow. I face this area on a daily basis and it has a huge impact on my life. Left unchecked, my joy nearly disappears and my home lacks much needed peace.

That area is… What comforts me emotionally?

We all have emotional comforts. They can vary from person to person but the question is the same…

What or Who do we run to when we feel emotional or stressed out?

Do we run to God or something unhealthy? I seem to fall into the latter. I battle allowing God to be my comfort. I usually try to find false comforts in other things outside of Him. Oh, how I try to avoid this question. I even try to make excuses for why I don’t always choose God. I blame it on past hurts or even other people. I say, “If they didn’t do this to me I wouldn’t need to be comforted. It’s their fault!”

Truly, this is a very important question for me to answer. To have a life full of God’s joy and peace I must face the truth.

The First Step:

Identification.

I need to know what I am drawn to in times of crisis.

Honestly, I have ran to several different things over the years for comfort YET I have certain things I run to consistently. For example, my main comfort is food. Food just makes me feel at ease. It is something I can control when my life is out of control. I think a few cookies or some fried chicken can take away pain that is too deep to express. I lie to myself every time!

Other emotional comforts I may run to is: relationships, sex, exercise, and my kids… just to name a few. All of these things I think will bring me peace and for a moment they do; but it is only temporary!

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that I can’t have things in my life that bring a sense of calm or retreat. Something like exercise may be a beautiful oasis on a stressful day for me. God may even lead me to things that bring me solace. What I am saying is that these things should never take God’s place. He should be the first place I go to receive comfort in turbulent times.

In times when I am unsure of what my personal “go to” is, I pray about it. I ask God to reveal it to me. He is faithful and desires that I be set free. He has revealed many things to me during my prayer times.

The Next Step:

If I find that I have any unhealthy emotional comforts, I have to stop telling myself that I will start dealing with them tomorrow!

I won’t.

You won’t.

Tomorrow will just generate a new excuse.

Today is the day.

Today.

“Never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today.” 
― Thomas Jefferson

It is about time…literally. Time.  Time is not promised to me and each day that I let unhealthy habits linger I lose a level of freedom that I was born to have. My destiny is waiting for me to decide.

The Final Step:

I have to be honest with God and myself. I have to STOP HIDING!

What provides me with emotional comfort?

Is it food, an addiction, busyness, relationships, money?

Is it something other than God? If so, I must admit it! I can’t deny it any longer.

Truth is healing. Truth is the only way I can finally be set free to form new and healthy habits. Denial kills!

The Bible says,

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” 

Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

There is a time for everything…even healing. It is time to walk in the healing that God desires for me to have.

I discovered an old but beautiful truth recently. In my desire to go to God first for comfort, I don’t have to go very far. You see, I am a believer. I am redeemed by God’s blood. I gave my life to Christ and that means I am sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit.

 

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever”  John 14:16 KJV

 

He lives in me and He is my Comforter. I just have to believe it and receive it. What a great thing to discover. I don’t have to run to anything or anyone else. My Comforter will give me all the emotional comfort I need. He can make a stressful day into a blessing!

Make the choice with me TODAY! Let’s make God our first comfort and say goodbye to anything unhealthy.

It is about time, isn’t it? YES it is!

I leave you with a quote from Michael Landon, Jr. This quote really speaks to me.

“Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.” 
― Michael Landon Jr.

 

God bless you and if you need prayer hit this tab. You are not alone!

 

Your Sister in Christ,

Tinika Nicole James

 

 

A Spiritual Tornado

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A spiritual tornado is when the “rainbow” of God’s promises collide with the “tornado” issues of everyday life.

Have you ever been in a season that is full of blessings and struggles all at the same time? A time when you are so thankful and sorrowful? A time when you are on top of the world and the next tears are flowing? I call this being in a spiritual tornado.

During these times we are confused and conflicted. We may have some guilt because we feel that we aren’t being grateful for the blessings when we are experiencing a sad moment.

I have been in a spiritual tornado for a few months now. It has really been taking a toll on me. I have too many blessings to count. This has been a season of spiritual renewal. I lost a lot in my past and God has restored back to me many things this past year.

You would think I would be singing from the mountain tops and in a worshipful mode every day. I do have those moments. I love to worship yet I am distracted frequently by the strong winds of opposition. During this season I have walked through struggles with my mind and emotions along with many other things including a death.

Let me clarify…this is NOT a venting session. I know that others are going through things I can’t even fathom having to go through. My goal is to share my struggle. I am not focusing too much on “what” I am experiencing. I am expressing the “amount” and extremes that have weighed me down recently.

The Starlit Life is a place where I desire to be transparent and show that we all go through times of darkness but we can find the light in the midst of it. We can be a light in darkness and that has been my journey.

I have been trying to find out how to remain in the Light; be a light. It is not an easy task. Not at all! I have had many days I wanted to give up but something in me just keeps me going. The person of the Holy Spirit is real and active. It is He who keeps encouraging my spirit to press on despite what my flesh may want to do.

I am still spinning in this tornado. It is dark at times. It is light at times. I want to smile and explode with gratefulness one minute and the next I am crying over a beyond stressful day.

My foundation and my anchor is Jesus. He never changes even when I am caught in the spiritual tornado. When the wind blows I can be still and know that He is God. (Ps 46:10) I can praise God in the good and in the bad knowing that it all will work out for my good. (Romans 8:28)

We can all live The Starlit Life when we surrender daily to God and leave every care and worry in His hands. He loves us and gives us strength when we are weak. We can be the light in darkness. Just trust and believe!

Here is a song to encourage you!

Let’s Pray…

Lord, we know that You are with us even when we are tossed around by the winds that come against us. You still bless us in the midst and we are so thankful! What would we do without Your love, grace, mercy and strength? We surrender to You. Your will be done in our lives. We want You to get all the glory in our story.

In Jesus’ name,

AMEN.

Peace: Delighting in Obedience

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“The body God has given me is good. It’s not perfect nor will it ever be. But it is a gift for which I am thankful.” Lysa Terkeurst, Made to Crave

I have struggled with my body image for most of my life. I have always felt that the struggle was so deep that even God couldn’t heal me. Past relationships led me to believe I didn’t or couldn’t measure up to other women. Certain things about myself I have actually despised. When I would see other women on TV, in the grocery store or on magazine covers it made my disgust for myself even deeper. Until now…

A few weeks ago I decided to join an online Bible study that is going through the book, “Made to Crave” by Lysa Terkeurst. I must say that things in my life are drastically changing. I am beginning to see a difference in my thinking and in my eating habits. This is nothing short of a miracle. But first, let me back up. I will share how my struggle began.

I was born a fun and active little girl without much fear. I was bubbly and laughed all the time. I didn’t even think about my body or what I liked or didn’t like about it. When I was 7 years old things changed for me. A young female family member would always put me down in various ways. I began to believe that I wasn’t beautiful and that something was wrong with me.

When I became a teenager my insecurities grew even deeper. I was liked by some boys in High School but there always seemed to be a prettier girl. There was always someone that took away the attention I desired. I was cheated on by my boyfriend and this just fed my personal doubts about myself.

As an adult my insecurities grew to be crippling and addictive. I was a slave to my doubts and personal disgust. No one could tell me I was OK on the outside. I would always believe I just couldn’t measure up. Even if someone did think I was attractive, that would only last until another woman walked by or came into the picture. After that I was sure that I would be thrown away. I truly believed I wasn’t worth staying for.

This led to me not taking care of my body. Well, “Why should I?” I would tell myself. “It won’t make a difference; I won’t ever look like “that!” Why should I spend time and energy to be healthy and/or lose weight if it won’t make me look any better? I was all messed up. My thinking was just as unhealthy as my body was.

I would go to the doctor and she would tell me my blood pressure and cholesterol was too high yet still I resisted change. I knew I should be healthy but I didn’t know where or how to start. Honestly, it was more about my lack of motivation.

I am not done with this book or bible study yet but from what I have learned so far I have been amazingly blessed. Two particular areas are really making an internal impact on me too large for words. God is revealing to me that before I can change my outer man I have to change the inner man. I have to change the way I think about my health and food before I can even think about changing any of my behavior.

The first area that impacted me was learning that “I can” have peace with my body. I can begin to love the body that God blessed me with. God created me. He didn’t make a mistake. I was fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14) When I carry self-loathing around I am actually saying what God made wasn’t good. I have to embrace who I am on the inside and on the outside.

To see how bad my thinking was I decided to write out everything I didn’t like about my body and why. Most of the things I didn’t like traced back to either something someone said or my comparison with someone else. I had to lay these things before God and tell Him thank you for making me. I thanked Him for the body I was given and committed to being a better steward of it.

Secondly, I learned that “we need to define ourselves by our obedience, not a number on a scale.” (Lysa Terkeurst) THIS WAS HUGE for me! The times I did attempt to lose weight in the past I always got discouraged on the weeks I didn’t see the numbers fall. I based my value on what weight I did or didn’t lose. I had it all wrong. The truth is liberating!

I can now be obedient to God in taking care of my body (Romans 12:1) without any added pressure. If I step on the scale and the weight hasn’t changed I can be OK with that. I just ask myself how I did that week. Did I do the best I could to honor God with my body? Did I stick to my plans? If I answer YES, then I can be at peace with the fact that I am still OK. I did my part and that is all that matters; I took care of my body and made healthy choices. Yet, even if I had a bad week and blew it in the area of self control; I can still have peace because I can recognize where I fell and begin again. NO CONDEMNATION! (Romans 8:1)

I notice that in this past week I am making changes I never thought I could. For example, I went grocery shopping and bought healthier items. I even passed up the candy bars sitting right in my face at the checkout line.

WHAT?!

I couldn’t even believe it myself. I think I am able to make healthier choices now because I am no longer under pressure to look as good as a super model. I am no longer defined by the number on the scale. I just need to be the best ME I can be and that is all.

With this new mindset I can now begin to look at other women without having an insecurity attack or a jealous seizure. 🙂

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I have definitely been enlightened but this is all new to me. I am forming new habits from this new way of thinking and this will all take time. I am sure I will struggle some days but I now have hope. I can change. I am changing. I have peace with my body now and I am delighting in being obedient to God with my choices.

I will have a lot more to share in the weeks to follow about what God is sharing with me through this book. I hope you come along for the ride.

I will leave with this…

Be the best YOU that YOU can be. Be thankful for the body you were given. Appreciate others for the way God made them. Leave the rest to God!

As always, SHINE your light. Be StarLit like the sky. The stars shine the brightest when it is the darkest.

A Raging Battle

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I want to be loyal to Christ. I want to desire Him more than anything else yet I crave something other than Christ most days. It sounds terrible but when I am totally honest with myself I am made free.

My Confession

It took a long time to admit the fact that there is something that I crave more than God. Just saying that makes me cringe. But truly there is something that I turn to first. Now, of course, that is not always the case. I am a believer, I love the Lord and I surrendered my life to Him many years ago. I attempt to keep Christ first like Matthew 6:33 directs me yet I fail more often than not.

For years I thought my craving for affirmation or the security of money was my downfall. To some degree it was yet I had to dig deeper than that. I recently joined an online bible study through the Proverbs 31 Ministry based upon the book “Made to Crave.” I am only a few chapters in and I am realizing how my craving for food is a real issue. I am an emotional eater and when I am feeling certain emotions I will eat food that isn’t too healthy. My “go to” foods are mostly salty but I do not discriminate! 🙂

Let’s Go Deeper

Food is definitely an issue but after praying about it I realized something even deeper; I crave control more than Christ. Yes, control! Many times I desire to be in control more than being in the presence of God. How do I know this? I know because when things are out of my personal control I run to food, a thing or a person for comfort.

For example, when things are out of my control in my life I will head to the kitchen to find a snack to comfort me and not the loving arms of Christ. Once again, that isn’t always the case but a lot of the time it is.

What is My Response?

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

One word encapsulated this one verse for me, TRUST! God is telling me to trust Him and let go of my control. I must pry my fingers off of the situation and allow Him to handle it. I need only to be still and know.

Oh, how hard this is!!

It is very hard to let go when your whole life has been about trying to stay a step ahead of everything. I try to be on guard and protect myself from potential hurt by putting up thick walls of protection. I attempt to investigate to see if there is anything I need to be on the offense about. There is nothing worse than having to be on the defensive end and getting the rug pulled out from underneath you.

Truthfully, I have spent many years trying to run everything and everyone. Now God tells me to be still. He is telling me to trust Him and this I can only do through the power of the Holy Spirit. I must allow the power of the Holy Spirit to invade me and then I will follow His lead. I will surrender my will for His will and let go!

The Future

I have now made Psalm 46:10 my life verse. My prayer is that God’s word would grow so deep within me that it will spring forth in my daily actions. I know this will take time but I am convinced that through Christ I will conquer this raging battle for control.

Freedom’s Voice – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Freedom’s Voice (Poem)

A powerful, innovative, historical man

His voice was heard, the civil rights movement began

He wanted change, pressed through his fear

His passion for equality, he held so dear

A man that had strong religious convictions

He looked at the world and saw something missing

It took one person that decided to make a difference

He made the choice to step above every hindrance

Some loved and some hated this man of the hour

Yet all could see he wasn’t a coward

Could we imagine a world without his imprint?

Would our culture be lost without his influence?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. brought freedom for captives

Let’s take a day to be thoughtful and reflective

© Tinika Nicole James

When My Judgment Speaks

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At times I can be so judgmental. When I have a judgmental spirit I miss important things that God wants to show me.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eyewhen you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5

I had an interesting night a few weeks ago. I received a message from God through an unlikely source.

Before I reveal the details of that night here is a little background…

I am pretty protective when it comes to my eye and ear gates. (Things I see and hear.) Sometimes I think I may be too legalistic and strict on myself. Many years ago I used to only watch movies rated PG-13 and below. Then the movie, “The Passion,” was released and I watched it. It was rated R. That movie had a great impact on me so I began a new practice of looking up questionable movies on Pluggedin.com (a great resource). After reading about the movie I could then choose whether or not I wanted to watch it. If I did choose a movie rated R I could just view it with caution.

You see, I am a recovering legalistic. Meaning, I used to live my life based on charts and measures of how to live. I would have a standard of holiness that I clung to for dear life and God forbid if I failed to live up to it! This is what the Bible calls “living by the LAW.”

I guess it wouldn’t be so bad but I held other Christians up to the same standard. If they fell from my standard of holiness I condemned them and judged pretty harshly. I always came from the judgmental and negative viewpoint. I rarely expressed a heart of love and compassion. How soon I forgot where I came from.

When God saved me I was in this world pretty deep. I loved everything about this world. The pain didn’t feel too good but that was just life. It had its up and downs and I went through all the motions. It was a life of survival and living day to day. No future in mind. It was just about trying to be happy in the way I thought was best. A new outfit, a new relationship, a little extra money; those gave me high moments that I could live with. So I thought…

Then came Jesus. Wow! My eyes were opened and I saw that life didn’t have to be a life of survival. I could actually have a new life with hopes and dreams. I was captured by His GRACE and my life was changed in so many ways. I went from LAW living to GRACE living. It was time to renew my mind and let some things go. I began to drop things like music, certain clothes and even friends.

Now don’t get me wrong. We all have times that we have to evaluate our surroundings and cancel out some things but mine was different. It was my motive. I was getting rid of things as an effort in myself to be holy. I thought if I could just get rid of my past I would be acceptable. I didn’t know then what I know now; I am accepted just as I am. It took years and good bible teaching to help me realize I had it all wrong. I took off the chains from one bondage and put on others. I was still bound.

Now that I have set the stage, come with me to a few weeks ago…

I rented a movie from the Redbox. It didn’t say too much in the description but it looked like a good movie. When my husband and I put it in that evening I immediately I could tell that the content was not OK with me. There was a lot of cursing and dialog that I normally wouldn’t sit through. Yet, this night was different for some reason. Something in me just didn’t turn it off. Eventually my husband fell asleep and here I was watching this movie alone.

Little did I know what was about to happen. Something shifted. The message in the movie was speaking louder than the cursing, louder than the dialog. I sat dumbfounded at what I sensed God was saying to me. The message was clear. God was using this movie to heal an area in me that I had been dealing with since I was a child. It spoke to the core of who I was and I began to cry. After the movie ended I took out a pen and my journal and wrote key points I needed to meditate on.

My judgement spoke to me that day and I am walking in a new freedom!

Now when it comes to my eye and ear gates I am cautious but not legalistic. There are still movies and music I may not be free to entertain yet I won’t limit God anymore. I am open to any way He decides to speak to me. I also can’t put my convictions on someone else. I believe the Lord sets the individual standard of what He has freed us to do or don’t do. We are all created differently. We all have different struggles. What is OK for me, may be or may not be OK for you. And that is alright 🙂

Here are some scriptures verses that speak to this issue of judgment:

“Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. 

And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died.” Romans 14:12-15

In a nutshell these verses say…

Don’t do anything that your conscience convicts you of. If it feels wrong to you, don’t do it. If you do, it is wrong or a sin to you. Even if others are able to do it freely, do not entertain it.

Also, if you are free to do something that someone else may not be free to do, be mindful of that and don’t do it. Don’t allow your freedom to cause someone else to stumble.

In conclusion, be who God created you to be. Live by your God given convictions. Be mindful and open to the possibility that God may speak to you in ways that you may not think of. His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). We have to make sure that we hold more to His ways for us than OUR ways for ourselves. Your own judgment may speak to you one day. You have to be open to the unlikely and unique ways God may speak.

Let’s Pray…

Lord, You do things in ways that get my attention. Your ways don’t always line up to my expectations. Forgive me for my judgmental spirit and open my ears to hear You clearly. Speak in the unlikely ways. Show me things in the ways I would never think of and I will be attentive to your direction. As I lay down my judgment may I free others up to live their lives the way You called them to. I no longer impose my standards on others and I will attempt to walk in a way that doesn’t cause them to stumble. I am Yours completely.

In Jesus mighty name,

AMEN!

God bless you and Be StarLit! Shine your light in darkness…

Tinika Nicole