October 13, 2015

Beware of Band-aid relationships

By Tatianah Green

Ouch! Remember when you were little and got a scratch, scrape or "boo boo?" Mom or your caregiver came through with that peroxide or the stinging alcohol to clean your wounded area. Then most likely they put a fresh bandaid (adhesive bandage) on the affected area so that you could go back outside and play. 

How many of us thought growing up that the bandaid was the part that did the healing? That under this magic beige strap our hurt would disappear. Even if you simply bumped something on your body you'd ask for a bandaid to "feel better" when all it was at that point was really a placebo. Today I want to highlight bandaid relationships; not be confused with bandaid conversations, which is a whole other post.

Bandaid relationships are what you get into to cover a void, hurt or lacking in your life. Generally bandaid relationships can be good and make you happy, and some relationships can bring a healing aspect to your life. However if you don't resolve to make your voids, hurts and pains known to God, the bandaid can only do so much.

A bandage covers a wound and keeps it from infection. However a bandage or bandaid can get dirty, wet, lose its adhesive, etc. leaving you at risk for infection. And we thought that the bandaid was to do all the healing when it had the potential to make things worse? Having a relationship to avoid being hurt when you haven’t addressed the hurt within you can infect your relationship. Matter fact, depending on your wound and how deep it is you may have to keep switching bandaids. Do you know anyone like this? They're serial daters, or always in a relationship looking for love or to get over the last one with something new or fresh. But here's the thing: the wounds haven't properly healed in their heart yet.

You eventually need to go without just any “bandage” to start healing in better time. With the right cleansing agents and care you can prevent an infection. This means that you will need to take the proper steps to care for your internal wounds (emotionally, mentally, and spiritually). Cleansing with prayer, soothing by speaking life over yourself and your situation, and letting time pass. This includes letting the Lord be the mender of your broken heart, His love is the perfect bandage. In Christ do we have wholeness (Colossians 2:9-10) so it's just a matter of taking all the feelings and thoughts you have about yourself and love and lay it at His feet.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” –Psalm 147:3, Hallelujah!
Now for the folks who want a bandaid with no wound per say, take a moment to ask yourself why do you want a relationship. Are you bored? Are you lonely? Does everyone else around you have a boo or a spouse? A relationship does not necessarily relieve those symptoms of dissatisfaction. You can pick anyone just to be in a relationship and go on dates but you can still get bored, feel lonely, and compare your status to others. It's all a matter of where your mindset is and what's in your heart, both in which our Holy Father is more than able to address.

Many have said that if you're not happy now being single then you won't be happy in a relationship or married. Happiness is a fleeting emotion anyway, we want to be pursuing God because in His presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Also one of the Fruits of the Spirit is joy, so you get it from God and then give it to others. 

Having a mature understanding of the purpose of dating, courting and marriage may alert you that you may not be ready for all of that after all. And that’s okay to not be ready. It’s better that you work on yourself with God’s instruction instead of learning the hard way through decisions made based on your feelings.

October 9, 2015

Pep Post: Discipline’s key role in delayed gratification

By Tatianah Green

I remember I was fasting from food for a certain period of time (several hours each day) up to my church’s event. We were instructed to then fast the entire day until after the fast. I am a foodie by nature, so it was challenging especially during the service when my flesh was being challenged and my spirit man was being filled. 

When we were done with service, two of my sisters and brother in Christ found a diner late at night in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago and when I tell you the Holy Spirit was in that kitchen making the food…! It was the best meal we’ve had in a long time.

Don’t get me wrong—when you’re hungry, food tends to be more acceptable even if it’s not all that. But there was something different about our encounter at that restaurant. We were still high off of being in the Presence of God that it just blessed our entire dining experience at a simple diner. Me and my friends can still recall that to this day and I believe we’d do it all again in a heartbeat because God was at the center. All that time putting off food to be obedient to God gave us a memorable experience naturally and spiritually.

I say all this as a testimony that delayed gratification is a beautiful blessing that we have not accepted as a gift in society. In general, the concept of delayed gratification is that you’re willing to hold out on something immediately with expectation that you will be fulfilled with greater at a designated time; a delay in something that you feel will please you. There can be many elements to delayed gratification, but I’ll focus on one of them today:

Discipline is one of the keys needed to be successful in delayed gratification.  Our generation and the society today as a whole are so fixed on getting what's instant that we get beside ourselves when we have to wait. We were once trained up as kids to know how to wait, but now that we're grown and technology has made things more convenient and instant, the thought of being delayed takes us back to the tantrum days. I'm one of those folks too because I get impatient at times. 

Discipline is needed because we have to put our flesh in its place. Your flesh doesn't rule anything on a child of God so don't let it try to rule you. You belong to Christ therefore the flesh has to be killed daily. We read that in the Word but what does it mean? In part it means to deny feeding what pleases your flesh especially if it doesn't help your spirit man.

Having discipline keeps you steady and living with integrity. There are some of us who think we are being patient in delayed gratification, but we may be filling that time and need with something not of God. Can I go there with yall? For example, if you're saving yourself for marriage to have sexual intimacy, then understand that masturbation is not on the table either. With that you're essentially replacing the need for intimacy with a person for self gratification, all under the guise that you have “needs that need to be met.” Be not deceived, my brothers and sisters, this is not of God. His Word says that there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, impurity or greed agreed among us, God’s holy people (Ephesians 5:3). He will give you a way out of any temptation, even in that. 

Discipline means saying “no” to fulfilling a gratification for yourself when God has purpose for those feelings and desires. He will keep you and remind you of your worth in His Word so don't neglect the scriptures in the delay season. Don't cheat yourself and your future spouse with any secret sin. A little compromise here with no remorse can easily grow into a full-blown problem later, which is why the Word is specific in using the term “hint." Confess unto the Lord and repent of it today. I have and I'm doing better in my walk in waiting for God's best for me, not for what I think is best for me at the time of my temptation. It takes discipline. It’s going to be hard, but the present suffering cannot compare to the glory that will come. Don’t faint in this, no matter what you’re waiting on. Being disciplined in this walk builds your character and gives glory to God.

Now what is your delayed gratification? Remember that delay is not denial. No matter what keep disciplined and cling to doing this thing God’s way. Be encouraged!
“And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."
"Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Romans 13:11-14 NIV

October 6, 2015

America’s Idols: Why the Kardashian Cosmo cover had to happen

By Tatianah Green

So I tried to do a Periscope video on this topic but I got a phone call and it messed up my
flow, so here’s a blog post instead:

Many people are mad about the Kardashians being named by Cosmopolitan Magazine (Cosmo) as “America’s First Family.” With the amount of followers, fans, viewers, customers, etc. that they have, how can we truly be upset? The American public either loves them or hates them. I for one used to like watching their show because of the family shenanigans they’d get into. But what this cover and its headline show us is the manifestation of what many have been waking up to for some time now: blatant. Idol. worship.

Read: When Love is in the wrong direction

I’m bothered to an extent but not really by their cover the Cosmo’s choice of words. They are the most popular TV family in our culture right now. Their foundation? Less than virtuous to say the least. I won’t go there in this post because that’s judging them…or is it only judging when it’s something/someone people actually want to defend, like Beyonce?
The Cosmo cover needed to happen. It’s a reality check for our generation and society as a whole. We are giving the wrong things too much of our attention.
Regardless of the person, idol worship has become blindly yet widely accepted in our society. BuzzFeed for example consistently uses terms in their posts that encourage worshiping people: “Goddess, worship, Queen, Flawless.” Some of these terms are used out of their holy context and it’s all become something totally ungodly. Be mindful of words because they get into your conscious and then you begin to say and do those exact things. 

Prime example, many people worship the Kardashians. But for some reason, it’s a problem that they are the “First Family.” Who made them like that? People who chose to celebrate what they stand for over what actual positive role models stand for. We've emulated their style, poses and lust for fame. It's similar to the images and creation that man made in the Old Testament and worshiped. They soon became like what they worshiped (Psalm 115:8).

We got so tired of the Kardashians that most are in this phase of having disdain for them and they've been easy targets for that hate. In reality they really don’t care because they have the ability to turn even negative energy into positive for them. We’re still going to like their photos, comment on what they say and wear, and do other things like them. I’m low-key bothered that this post is so long talking about this.

Anyways, I see the racial angle here but that’s obvious. LOOK HARDER. Saints, we have to look beyond the race issue because that tends to be a distraction from what else is going on. It’s not a racial issue to me at all; it’s a morality and spiritual thing. The family of attention-seeking women, who emphasize false beauty, hyper-sexuality and vanity over substance and upright character, represent what this society has come to. It’s time to wake up for real. I’m actually surprised that Bruce-Caitlyn was not up there with them further promoting the LGBT agenda trend that we’ve been exposed to lately.

If we could all for one day, one glorious day, not pay any lick of attention (positive or negative) to the Kardashians, Jenners and them, I think we could change the world. 

You have to starve your flesh in order for your spirit to thrive, so starve that attention-seeking, immoral character by tuning out regarding it. Don’t like, don’t comment, don’t post. This goes for anyone famous or not who is an idol in society or in your personal life. We as believers don’t have to take it or entertain it. Posting about it gives them the attention.

I learned this in church over the weekend that we have to stop blaming the enemy all the time. It’s not their fault that we the people, the followers, the bloggers, the pundits, made them that way. We’ve been conditioned for years that their behavior is exciting and admirable, but in light of all of these movements, we really have to take a stand and not go back to doing the same things. So unfollow them on social media. Unfollow outlets that keep talking about them for the sake of their numbers. Do what you have to do to detox yourself. Pray for their salvation—they very well may have sold their souls (even “precious Beyonce”) for fame and fortune.

You wouldn’t be willing to worship satan, so why would you bow down to these people who made themselves gods in their own image? Who represent the things that displease God our Father? It’s literally what Paul told Timothy (2 Timothy 3) about these last days, that people would be lovers of themselves and money, and much more. These public figures and politicians are representations of that in this day and we know this.

Read more: More than a crush: when #MCM and #WCW goes too far

As my dad said to me before, these folks don’t do anything for me. Jesus gave me everything. Who am I to give great amounts of energy and adoration to another human creation because they sound good, look good or have more money than me? 

"The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He trusts something that can’t help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, 'Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?'" -Isaiah 44: 20 (Read the chapter for context)

There were judges and prophets in the Old Testament whom God trusted to carry out the assignments to tear down the idols in their land. The idols were not of God and they disgusted Him. It may take a minute for society to change, but we as individuals have the choice and ability through the power of God to tear down the idols in our lives. Your identity is rooted in Jesus Christ! Knowing that will make it easier to turn away from the nonsense. 

There’s moderation in entertainment, and then there’s what we have today, the saturation and glamorization of sin that tries to take over our lives. If it applies to you please repent to the Lord and cut the connection to your idols today. Be encouraged!

October 2, 2015

When your perfect guy isn't perfect

By Tatianah Green

From the web series, First
A friend of mine admitted something to me recently--a wrongdoing if you will. He gave into temptation and admitted his fallen moment to me. After hearing that I had two options: I could be calm and empathize with him or go in on him because it would have been justified. 

I remembered my own sin and admitted a recent flaw I had to him and we were able to talk things out about the whys. Had I chosen to rebuke him at this time I would have felt like a hypocrite. Though we are only friends it made me think about how women and men have options in their response to one another's confessed sins in committed relationships. 

In romantic relationships, the lovey dovey honeymoon stage eventually ends and then things get real. There are times when rebuke is necessary and there are times when you need to hear the man in your life out as he admits that he's not perfect. This is one reason why marriage is a ministry: you are in it to serve your spouse and they serve you. So what happens when your "perfect guy" has a not so perfect moment?
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." -James 5:16 NIV
It takes a real man to admit when he's wrong, even more so when he admits that he's weak. Ladies, we have the opportunity to speak life and build up our men even when the only things we may have seen or done in the past were to bring a man down with accusations of weakness or worse. This doesn't help your man be open to you in the future. I mean, if you reward honest confession with belittling, why would they voluntarily be honest with you again?

We as humans tend to avoid conflict or just want to keep the peace. So if that means your man would hold something back to avoid your "wrath" then they just might do that. Again this speaks to the fragile state of humankind because we do this with God. Remember when Adam and Eve took of the forbidden fruit their eyes opened to the knowledge of good and evil? God was looking for them as they were hiding from Him, they knew they were in the wrong. 

It was hard for them to be honest and unashamed then because they knew they had messed up. Then what happens? Adam blames his rib, his wife Eve for bringing them both down (Genesis 3). Thanks boo, I mean really. Just one of many examples of the fact that even in the Bible men are not perfect. "Waiting for your Boaz" is an interesting concept, but most likely his name and story will not be like Boaz. Pray that your future husband's character is more like Christ than anyone in the Bible (Ephesians 5:25-31).

But when you say “yes” to your future spouse, you make a choice and when you get married remember you're making a commitment to love this man, with all his strengths and weaknesses, and loving him with an unconditional love. The realities of this love is not often talked about in a Pop or R&B song because it's juicier to identify the fun, drama and entertainment factors of love. It's more interesting to look into something and not solve it as a woman of peace and virtue. 

We are called to do more than what the flesh wants to do and tear our men down, we have a duty as helpmeets to help them, support them, pray for them, and do so with a quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4). Depending on the sin that may be very hard to do! But I write this to prepare you for the inevitable and to respond appropriately. Often times it's not even your man, it's the spirit of the matter that you'll have to fight against with God's word and fervent prayer. 

Some men are avoiding commitment with women, even Black women, because they want to avoid conflict. That's immature reason to avoid marriage or committed relationships but we deal with this from time to time due to portrayed stereotypes in society. When your man admits his wrong to you, this is not the time to bring him down but to restore him gently with wisdom and the truth of God. Some of us ladies don't always respond like that but that's why you need the power of God to take over your response instead of your flesh because the first reaction may be to act in offense, confusion, anger and more. Taking the issue to God before taking it in your own hands can help resolve the issue much sooner. Let's seek to respond in love and meet him where he's located.

If you haven’t heard the song “Broken Together” by Casting Crowns, take a listen here, it’s a vulnerable song about the valley moments in marriage and the hope in remaining in God’s love and will for your life:

September 30, 2015

How the movie "War Room" inspired me to pray for my future husband

By Lynnette Easter

My prayer life took a dramatic turn three weeks ago. What caused this change? The movie "War Room." It was Labor Day weekend; my parents asked me if I would like to join them for a Saturday matinee showing of this Christian film. My interest had been awakened by both the online and radio reviews, so I complied. Anticipation set in as everyone awaited to enter the theater; smiles were on our faces as the doors opened and everyone filed in to find great seats. After settling in our seats and watching movie previews, the movie finally began.

Throughout the movie I found that my expectations were being stomped on and finally overtaken by the infamous feeling of disappointment. When the movie ended, I was bewildered and had unanswered questions. What in the world were people crying for? What was it about this movie that had people so fired up and what were they fired up about? 

In my opinion, this movie did not meet my approval because it did not speak volumes on anything new. After all, the Christian life consists of: trials, prayer, faith, forgiveness, favor of God, and miracles. These are things that we experience at some point in our lives—it’s just The Christian Way!

The answer as to why I was so disappointed with the movie: the film is geared primarily for married couples, couples in a serious relationship, or engaged. My relationship status is single therefore I could not relate to the storyline. In the past, my prayers to God consisted of a listing of what my ideal husband should look like, how he should treat both myself and my son, his financial status had to be on point and my list of “ideal husband requirements” seemed to always increase. Before I knew it years passed and I was not one bit closer to marriage than when I began praying for a husband. So, my prayers of marriage ceased…eventually my desire was buried in the depths of my soul.

Due to my many years of unanswered prayers, I completely ended my prayers for a husband. I accepted the fact that I was just too set in my ways and had no patience for foolishness. In my eyes, I was fine with not being married and I may not be marriage material. It was not until some years ago that my prayers and desires to live my life as a woman after God’s own heart completely demolished any marriage idea that popped up sporadically.

But the movie stirred something within me that I did not like: it tapped into my buried and hidden desire for marriage.

A few days passed and I was having my early morning devotions when all of a sudden, the Spirit of God said “Pray for your husband.” I became unsettled and a bit irritated at the thought of praying for someone I do not know and something I do not have. I am not in a relationship and if I were, it would most definitely make things a bit easier when praying for this “husband.” 

I began to feel foolish for even considering the request that was placed upon my heart. Then it happened again, this time the Spirit of God said “Pray for your husband; Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Immediately I began to pray; my prayer began with what I want in a husband. The Spirit of God said “No, do not pray about yourself, pray for your ‘husband.’” 

My eyes were opened. I began to pray for my husband’s spiritual life, well-being, health, struggles, job, finances; every area of his life that the Spirit of God would lay on my heart—I prayed. My prayers that were laid before God were both Spirit and faith led. I prayed as if I was currently married, even though I am not. 

It has been three weeks now, and I am still praying on a daily basis my faith prayer. Also incorporated in the prayer is whatever the Spirit places on my heart in addition to: my heart’s desire for my marriage, my husband and son’s bond, and God leading my mate to me. Once God brings my mate to me, then I will begin to pray for him by name all the way up to God uniting us in marriage and until death do us part. 

So many times I find myself living the Christian customs: Pray, Praise God, Trials, Pray, Praise God, Miracles and then the cycle begins all over again. My disappointment with "War Room" was due to my disappointment with my own relationship status. I was so stuck on myself that I did not see the real message, but God. He stepped in and turned it around. Once I allowed God to enter into the closed area of my life that He placed right in my lap, I began a journey into my destiny. No, Mister-sent-from-God has not arrived yet, but my prayers for him are covering and keeping him. When God says so, it will be and I will be just fine.

Lynnette Easter is a new contributor for B.L.I.S.S.! She uses the gifts of writing and editing for her church’s newsletter and has been doing so for the past three years. Also, she desires to use her talents outside of her church’s ministry she intends to continue to write for the B.L.I.S.S. as long as they desire to use her. Lynnette resides in Washington, D.C. and is the mother of a college-aged son. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @Lynnette_Easter.

September 28, 2015

Poets in Autumn Tour comes to Chicago!

By Tatianah Green

I was blessed to attend the Poets in Autumn Tour over the weekend in Chicago with poets and artists who I've only seen on YouTube, just hoping to attend something like P4CM events and the like. Years ago I saw Preston Perry perform spoken word in small venues to now sharing the stage with his wife Jackie Hill Perry, artist and poet. Their baby girl Eden was in the audience with family from Chicago and St. Louis.

Preston and Jackie Perry at #thepiatour
A lot of us singles may have seen the video by Janette..ikz, who stirred souls worldwide with "I will wait for You." Now married, the newlywed shared with the audience some key pieces of wisdom. 

Dubbing herself as our big sister, she told the single ladies to enjoy being single and not looking in simple things that your brothers in Christ do for you as signs of a relationship. He should be clear and intent about pursuing you otherwise you all are not in a relationship. She advised the men to pick the Proverbs 31 type over the Beyoncé types out here, stating that men should go for character that the woman has on the inside rather than just outside.

Regarding her poem mentioned earlier? It's about God more than a man—don't get it twisted, lol! Janette…ikz is a breath of fresh air sharing the wisdom from her experiences and the breakthroughs from her past pain. Also congrats to her and her hubby on their one year anniversary!

She wasn't the only one. Each of the poets presented a piece that reflected a struggle they went through where God interrupted. These were heavy topics (homosexuality, masturbation, lust, sexual abuse, etc.) but they were necessary to address in the church in a setting where God's presence was welcome. So many of us single or not have lingering residue on our hearts from sins past, from not truly giving it all to God because it was too comfortable to hold onto or we truly didn't want to let it go. But in that place last night my heart was pricked as well as many others. It's time to seek God and address our root issues. It's been time to walk free and help others become free.

One of the most powerful pieces was a duet by Ezekiel and Janette…ikz representing God and the church, us, His bride. Saints we really gotta get it together. As Jackie mentioned the time is coming when believers in America will be prosecuted more so than we are now. Be vigilant and prayed up because the days are evil. In the midst of that we have hope that our Lord Jesus Christ has overcome the world and though we may suffer in this current place if we be steadfast and faithful we shall also reign with Him for eternity (2 Timothy 2).

Ezekiel at #thepiatour
What a privilege to belong to the Creator. He reminded us through the beautiful gifts in these poets and artists that we are human but we have a mission on earth to fulfill for the glory of God. Ezekiel did a piece in the perspective of satan to remind us that he is truly defeated so we can stop entertaining his lies and schemes to keep us from worshiping God. Janette…ikz addressed selfish pride, Jackie addressed the current state of America, Preston recalled his interaction with police officers. We live in a broken world but we serve a whole God, living and almighty, who desires us to be in His image more than the world. 

Thank You Jesus for using your people to help so many others break free and live in their purpose. For more information on dates for the Poets In Autumn Tour, visit here. Shout out to Chicagoan and America’s Got Talent finalist Sharon Irving for her gift of music and vocals. Other poets including Chicago's Jamaica West helped open the show. During the Texas tour dates Jonathan McReynolds will be an opener.

Have you heard any of their work, and if so, what did you think?

Some of the Pinky Promise Chicago ladies!

September 25, 2015

No more Scandal: when your tastes change

By Tatianah Green

Happy autumn everyone! As we get into a new season, you may start to notice the change in weather and nature. Like our environment we too go through changes and let things go likes the leaves in fall. As I've gotten older (approaching 29 in about a month), I’ve noticed God answering my prayers to remove certain tastes from my life that don't bring Him glory.

Are you willing to pray that prayer? It's a conscious effort towards maturing and being more like what God called us to be. Don't get me wrong it's a challenge, but it's worth it if you're doing it for God and not for self-righteous reasons. Case in point: I'm done with the show Scandal. Gasp! I knooooow. Last season’s finale pretty much wrapped up enough for me to not have to look forward to what's next. Plus the obvious was that the overall themes and messages in this hit show (adultery, lust, lying, etc) were slowly but surely alerting my spirit that this just isn't going to fly anymore.

Same with a few other shows including Empire. There's something about popular shows starring Black people that don't exactly portray us in the best light. Opening myself to that program became too heavy so I let it go. I don’t miss it. And if I stay off of Facebook on Wednesdays/Thursdays, I really don’t miss it, lol. But if you do watch these shows, pay attention to the messages that they promote. Most of this stuff out here is not uplifting, even if the actors are talented or the staff is bomb. You’ve got to weigh those pros and cons.

When God changes your tastes you start to see what something is truly made of. If it doesn't line up with God's way you tend to look at it differently. Let the Holy Spirit deal with you and your personal convictions on this, as some are able to handle things better than others. The word says to not cause any of your brothers to sin because of what you do, which included eating (1 Corinthians 8:13, but whole chapter for context). This concept can be applied to what you feed yourself in form of entertainment.

So what will I do #insteadofScandal? I attended an event yesterday and made new contacts, getting out of my comfort zone. I'll use the Scandal hour to do something more productive towards my personal goals or give more time to reading God's word.

There comes a time when you change your mind about things you used to do and just want what God wants. For instance instead of gossip, clubbing and drama in your earlier years you desire peace and holiness now. Peace and holiness can be fun and not boring, which is what people in the world would think. As I continue in this journey there will be more of my behavior, thoughts, and what I take in will change for the better. Whether you notice it or not, God's doing that same work in you.

You don't have to live for anyone else but God, something we remember as our tastes change. If we "thirst for righteousness" (Matthew 5:6 and Psalm 63) more than what we used to crave and just had to have, we will surely be filled with good things. Our Spirit dwelling within us wants more of God and as you continue to mature in Him it will be easier to see the changes you need to make and let things go.

What are you letting go this season?
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” –Romans 14:17-19 ESV