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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Part Two: I named you

  I haven't always been the best person and I am certain I am not the best now, but praise to God I am not the Carmen I once use to be. 
   I didn't always know how to love (still working on that area) and I definitely didn't know how to forgive or let go.Throughout my college years I unknowingly walked around with a bitter heart. I would do things and not even recognize that it was because of hurt, anger and flat out bitterness. Like many girls I had loved without FIRST consulting Christ and it ended in heart break and a lot of anger towards people who were not at all to blame. I, Carmen, had allowed satan to creep up in my life and taint one of the greatest things ever given to me -- MY NAME.
   I don't credit satan at all, because unfortunately for his sake he was not at all succesful in his attempt and now I am a force to be reckoned with -- ready for war, because now more than ever I know that Christ named me. My past does not determine me, but they give layers to my testimony. A true testament to Christ and his miraclous healing power. By his stripes I am healed and by his mercy I am forgiven. 
I know my name!
Do you know your name?

You are a masterpiece. God's Creation.
"So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27 (Application Study Bible)"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 (Application Study Bible)
   Now that I know Christ saved me (I saved You) and named me, I boast with great joy when I read scriptures like the ones above. I am God's handiwork, meaning I was created by His own hands. I am God's masterpiece, His workmanship, a work of art, and let me not fail to mention I was created in His image. For this very reason I can feel positive about who I am in Christ.  
   When you know your name you want to do all you can to live a life that is pleasing to God. Earlier this summer, while I was studying Proverbs I came across a scripture that totally convicted me. "Wine and beer make people lose control; they get loud stumble and fall. And that is foolish." Prov. 20:1 (ERV) I remember sitting in room thinking this is it, I will not drink ever again, and I told God that I didn't want to do anything to taint my name. Of course, we as humans, try to reason with ourselves, and give excuses as to why we can have just one drink, or that Jesus turned water to wine. Well for me,  I determined that none of that mattered, what mattered was my name, and I no longer wanted to taint my name, and be led astray. God is faithful, and now I just no longer have a taste for alcohol, period. I choose Christ, even if that means going against the grain. I have a name to uphold. 
   I don't want anyone to think I am judging them, because more than anything I seek to be transparent with all who read my post, and show them that God can free us from things that draw us away from Him. I want to show you that you are precious in God's sight and you have a name to uphold. You have an image to protect, and if we desire to be a positive influence it begins with our own life. As a follower of Christ Your life is your greatest ministry. People may not immediately be receptive of what you "preach" but they will be moved by your life. 

Don't Give Up On Your Name
I say this because I know the plans that I have for you." This message is from the Lord. "I have good plans for you. I don't plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future." Jeremiah 29:11
Don't lose hope. Don't give up on your name. You haven't received the call you've been praying for. You haven't seen your name in the credit. Your name hasn't been written on the contract. It's okay! Don't give up on God. He saved you for this moment. He named you. I have been guilty of rushing my seasons, just ready to fulfill God's promises, and live out my name.  Yet, we have to appreciate every season. God is working things out for you. He's given you so many promises in His word, cling to those promises. 

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ.  
And so through Him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God."                      
 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV)

Peace, Love, and Christ
Carmen :) 
Instagram | carmenellis_

**Remember the Financial Fast is currently going on and invite you all to participate. Click on Financial Fast for more details**

As always we are on this journey together. :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

30 Day Financial Fast

This month my Pastor introduced a "30 Day Financial Fast" for our church family. I have shared the fast with a few of my friends and close family members. However, I think we can all benefit from this fast. 
I hope you enjoy.

Remember commitment is key!

Details for Financial Fast
Through financial fasting we are exercising discipline in our spending and changing our mindset toward the way we handle our money. Get a journal and write down all the instructions for your financial fast and organize a plan and schedule before you begin. This is important because once the fast begins, you might try to convince yourself to quit. The schedule can then act as a contract you have made with the fast that you must keep. Remind yourself why you are doing the fast and remember that it is important.

• PRAY: daily for God to give you direction in managing your finances
• READ: books, blogs, & websites on financial empowerment
• SET FINANCIAL GOALS: Work toward paying down your highest bill first
• MAKE A COMMITMENT: Open up a savings account or deposit money into your existing savings account at every pay period
• SAVE: $5.00 a day if (you make a little more you can change this accordingly)
• PREPARE: a weekly budget for your household (only spend what you plan for)
• TRACK YOUR SPENDING: Write down all expenses (include everything i.e. gas, coffee, lunch, etc) – you will be surprised as to how much you spend in a week on these items.
• COOK: meals at home (as much as possible) – Limit dining out
• AVOID: using Credit Cards
• STAY AWAY: from Payday Loans & Check-Cashing stores
DO NOT: Go to the Mall
• NO: online shopping
• INVEST: in your children’s future… research ways to help your children understand fiscal responsibility and put them on a financial plan
• EXPECT: your “net worth” to grow, your “faith” to be stretched, and your “financial seeds” to reap a harvest!

Day 1 Joel 2:25-26
Prayer: Today don’t let people discount my experiences. Refund my wasted time, and send a rebate for the broken areas!
Day 2 Proverbs 3:9-10
Prayer: Today let me honor you with my first fruits, make a deposit into my spirit, and give me a fresh start!
Day 3 Probers 22:7
Prayer: Today redistribute wealth, revise plans, reassign
opponents, rejuvenate laborers and restore America!
Day 4 Ephesians 3:20
Prayer: Today, make outcomes better than I expected, my destiny bigger than I imagined and debt smaller than I thought.
Day 5 II Corinthians 4:7
Prayer: Today, fight my battles, negotiate all deals, protect ideals, meet all bills, and make all bodies healed!
Day 6 Psalm 77:14
Prayer: Today all I have is two fish and five loaves. Break me but not my faith. Multiply needs not lack. Make a miracle!
Day 7 Psalm 90:17
Prayer: Today, save me from a lot, give me early access, lower my price but not my value, shorten the line, and extend credit!
Day 8 II Corinth 4:16-18
Prayer: Today, drown my debts, float my ideas, don’t let me go under, let me swim through struggle and dive into destiny.
Day 9 Deuteronomy 11:14
Prayer: Today, impact the weather, Clear the sky so there’s no thunder and sent the heat to increase my harvest!
Day 10 Luke 6:28
Prayer: Today let every deception be uncovered, undo every curse, settle unpaid bills and close unfinished business.
Day 11 Ephesians 6:12
Prayer: Today pull apart pressures, apply peace, pay off my payments, push up my possibilities, and pull down principalities.
Day 12 II Corinthians 5:7
Prayer: Today remove all my economic reservations, give me clear confirmation, send fresh revelation, and prepare me for financial elevation.
Day 13 James 1:17
Prayer: Today let something good happen in my finances, send the greatest opportunity of my life and make my fiscal future better than it was
Day 14 Matthew 7:7
Prayer: Today help me make an impact, reverse the effects of my poor budgetary decisions, heighten my intuition and find investors for my ideas!
Day 15 Psalm 37:23
Prayer: Today keep my mind focused, my eyes on the prize, my hand out of the cookie jar and my feet on the right path!
Day 16 I Timothy 6:18
Prayer: Today command my finances to increase, let me be rich in good deeds, and be generous to those in need.
Day 17 Proverbs 30:8-9
Prayer: Today give me my daily bread, keep poverty far from me, and don’t put more on me than I can bear.
Day 18 Psalms 37:21
Prayer: Today let me receive my full inheritance so I won’t have to borrow from anyone, and bless the work of my hands to prosper!
Day 19 Luke 14:28
Prayer: Today give me strength to build greater reinforcements, position me to excel in business, and put my gift in demand.
Day 20 I Thess. 5:18
Prayer: Today all I want to say is Thank You!
Day 21 II Kings 4:7
Prayer: Today don’t let my debt consume me, give me another level of your anointing, and let my seed live off of my blessings!
Day 22 Proverbs 21:20
Prayer: Today help me discover my treasure, bury my doubts, keep me from losing my value, and cover me with your blessed assurance.
Day 23 Philippians 4:12
Prayer: Today unload unnecessary weights, put on me the weight of glory, and help me to wait on you.
Day 24 Luke 21:1-4
Prayer: Today Lord I surrender All, I freely give you my offering so that I may receive the richness of your grace.
Day 25 Matthew 23:19
Prayer: Today take the blinders off my eyes, allow me to see the wealth of your glory, and put me at the altar of mercy.
Day 26 Proverbs 3:27-28
Prayer: Today make me my brother’s keeper, give me a heart of gold, and compel others to give into my hands!
Day 27 Isaiah 45:6
Prayer: Today flood me with opportunities, shower down blessings, shift the dark overcast and have complete reign!
Day 28 Daniel 11:32
Prayer: Today make me an avenger, break all records, unleash my gifts, help me make a difference, make me strong!
Day 29 Number 12:6
Prayer: Today put wealth in my hands, poverty under my feet, a dream in my heart, and great vision in my eyes!
Day 30 Deuteronomy 28:4
Prayer: Today bless everyone who has my last name and shares my DNA, bless my friends who fight for me and have faith in me

Part One: I saved you

I saved you. I named you. You are mine. 
Isaiah 43:2

I saved you.
How sweet is that? Christ saved you.
Superman, Lois Lane.
Tarzan, Jane.
Spiderman, Mary Jane.
Mighty Joe Young, Jill.
Jesus Christ, You.
   He greatly exceeds any of Marvel's comic-strip characters or any other fictional character by a gazillion to a negative gazillion and then some, but you get my failed attempted at a comparison, right? Jesus Christ laid down his life for you, bearing the sins of the world. 
Your lustful desires -- on the cross. 
Your lies -- on the cross. 
Your unforgiving heart -- on the cross. 
Your gossip -- on the cross. 
Your bitterness -- on the cross. 
Idolizing other things over Christ -- on the cross. 
He died for you, SAVED you, and promised you eternal life if you only submit your life to Him -- and He did it in approximately three days. What superhero can compare? Jesus is your superhero! Just like a knight in shining armor he rescued you from sin, and gave you a new life. "Therefore, if anyone is Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here." 2 Corinthians 5:17 Just like that he saves you and makes you new! Even if you don't "technically" feel new and things haven't visibly changed in your life, you are not the same, you are new in Christ. 
   We go through phases as new Christians where we "think" its going to be an overnight transformation, and all of our fleshly desires and sinful nature will, "poof, be gone"! Even those who have been saved for years upon years still experience temptation, but the great thing is that Christ will show us a way out of the temptation. "But remember that the temptations that comes into your life are no different from what others experience, and God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it." 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT) Just so we're clear -- the temptation will come -- and to make it even more clear He loves us enough to give us the strength to stand against it. I think that’s better than superman. See superman nor spiderman can pass on his powers to his "damsel in distress", but Christ enables you to be strong enough to stand. He equips us for the challenge.
How He Equips: 
1. Discipleship: When we are babes in Christ it's so vital to have someone mature in Christ as a leader and mentor. We don't know everything about the word, and having someone as spiritual covering helps to ensure that we stay committed in our walk. We need a church home. Often people make the statement that "I can worship at home," or "It's so many hypocrites in the church" and I look at them like seriously? You're right you can worship at home, but do you? Do you commit to waking up and spending time in the word? More than often the answer is "No, but I can." Which is true you can but you haven't and you're still learning how, so in the process of learning how to  -- why not spend your time learning from someone who has been placed to be the disciple over you. And, yes there are hypocrites everywhere, but those hypocrites will be judged by and held accountable by the same God. Don't let your response to Him be "Hypocrites kept me from getting to know you." Hebrew 10:25 "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching (NIV) 
2. Reading: One of the easiest ways to grow in Christ is by making the word a priority! Find a bible reading plan something you can commit to daily. In addition, to reading the bible, pickup a Christian novel. Three books that have been great additions to my spiritual growth: Crazy Love By: Francis Chan, PinkLips Empty Hearts By: Heather Lindsey, The God Catchers By: Tommy Tenney. Great literature is good for you just as the word. You can't spend thirty minutes reading the bible, and then pickup "50 Shades of Grey" and feed your flesh for the next few hours! 
3. Praying: I like to wake up and go to an empty room in my house! Just me and Jesus. Before when I worked 45 minutes from my home I would use my entire drive time praying. Not listening to music but just talking to The Lord. This was one of the most difficult seasons in my life, but I grew closer to The Lord.
Are you equipped? Have you confessed Christ to be your savior? Have you given Him the opportunity to save you?

Romans 10:9: If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (NLT)

Take the time to confess and pour out your heart to Him, and then ask Him to lead you to a church home that will feed you spiritually, and show you, through teaching, how to live for Christ.

Put your faith into practice. Live for Christ.

Peace, Love, Christ!
Carmen | Instagram

Remember to post comments and share with others! I'm just a girl who wants to spread Jesus throughout the world. 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Just A Little Bit of Faith

I listen to this every morning as I walk through the hallways of my elementary school. I feel so happy just singing and humming this little number. The beat gets me going. :) Enjoy
Twitter | Jason Castro
Peace, Love, Christ :) Carmen

Monday, August 19, 2013

He Said It First

I'm almost sure we are all familiar with that awkward phase in the relationship when you're head over hills for someone and you just want to blurt out, "I love you." 
You plan out the perfect moment to pour out your heart. You daydream about what their response will be, and then doubt and fear creeps up. What if they don't respond the way you want them too? What if pouring out your heart makes things even more awkward? So then you come up with the perfect solution -- Just wait until they say it first. Then you play the waiting game trying desperately to not utter the words until the PERFECT moment.

Well, with Christ it doesn't quite work that way. We don't have to wait for the awkward moment to past. We don't have to play the waiting game. We don't have to hope He says it first, because He already has. 

1 John 4:19: We love because God first loved us.

God loved you before you even knew Him.
Even when your life didn't align with the things of God -- He loved you.
Even when we neglect Him and stray away from Him -- He loves us.
Even now when you're debating giving your all to Him -- He loves you.

Pour out to Him. Tell Him you love Him! His response will be greater than you can imagine. 

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
One Thing Remains (Radio Version) [feat. Kristian Stanfill] by Passion on Grooveshark
Steffany Frizzell | Closer
Closer by Bethel Music & Steffany Frizzell Gretzinger on Grooveshark
Grooveshark music links NOT compatible for mobile devices :) 
I'm on this journey with you. I just want to see Jesus!
Peace, Love, Christ
Carm :)
Instagram | carmenellis_
Twitter | carmenellis_

Monday, August 12, 2013

What are you going to do in this season?

Lately, I have been truly blessed and inspired by those around me. Whether by looking within my own family, witnessing the growth of some of my close friends, or even if it’s just by catching a small glimpse into the lives of others through social media. It’s important to be surrounded by those who constantly and consisitently pour into us with positivity. I count it all joy to be able to look at someone else’s light, and not be threatened or intimidated but instead inspired and empowered to also begin or even complete a good work.
Positivity is key.
“For as he thinketh in his heart; so is he:” Proverbs 23:7
            After talking with a close guy friend about his quest to fulfill some of his life long dreams, I asked him, “What was stopping him?” He was able to give me every possible answer as to why he would not be able to accomplish his dreams. He had over analyzed every step, proposed the “what if” question, and given every other imaginable reason as to why he would probably be “safer” in the position he’s in now. I asked him if he had ever read the scripture, “As a man think, so is he”. Of course, he had, but he then replied with the “but…if I” statement. It became clear that his thoughts were keeping him from moving forward.
            Our thoughts are powerful, and can either enable us to move forward or hinder us from beginning a good work. Our thoughts can confine us to being in this same place next year – the starting line. So how do we progress from the starting line? How do we get the ball rolling? It is as easy as changing our mindset. You’re one thought away from your big idea – starting your movement – accomplishing your goals. It all starts here.
1. Your new mindset begins with Christ. I have mentioned before that I love reading Paul's works, because of his raw and radical approach. Paul today would be classified as "keepin' it one-hunnet". In Ephesians 6, a very familiar chapter, Paul closes out the book by instructing us to put on the full armor of God. Although I have read this passage several times before, and heard it preached numerous times, I  never focused on verse 17: "and take on the helmet of a salvation." A helmet in its physical sense, is worn as gear to protect your head from injuries. Yet, in the spiritual sense, the helmet of salvation crowns us with wisdom knowledge and understanding. Protecting us mentally from the things of the world, and to be more like Christ. By protecting the "head", we ensure that we have the mindset of Christ. A Christ-like mindset results in great thoughts. Great thoughts develop into greater ideas. Greater ideas birth even greater opportunities to be all that Christ has designed us to be! What are you going to do in this season?
2. Draw Closer to Him. Christ thoughts of us are great, and He wants His children to live out their goals and dreams. What if I told you that drawing closer to Him would be the first step in accomplishing your goals? Well it's true. As stated in my previous post, Matthew 6:33 gives us the guidelines to success. Seeking God first. If we choose to have more of Him, He's going to supply our every need. 
Think about it.
By drawing closer to the creator -- your God -- the creator of the heavens and the earth and all that dwells within, you are accessing a world of limitless possibilities! You are creative because you serve the creator! You can do what your heart desires. You can accomplish every goal imaginable. You have access to greater. All you have to do is desire more of Him! What are you going to do in this season?
3. Change Your Thoughts.  We can not get in the way of our own blessings! As Christians we have to know who we belong to -- We Are Children of the Most High King! Romans 8:17, tells us that we are joint heirs through Christ Jesus. Heirs, by definition, are those chosen and entitled to reap an inheritance by the terms and conditions of a will. In our case, the Will of God. God's Will for us is good. He loves you and wants the best for you, but you have to believe that in your heart. Your thoughts toward yourself have to be good. "As a man thinketh, so is He."(Proverbs 23:7) Begin speaking into existence those things you desire and align your ways with the Lord. His word declares He WILL give you the desires of your heart. What are you going to do in this season.
Jesus answered, "Have faith in God. The truth is, you can say to this mountain, 'Go mountain, fall into the sea.' And if you have NO doubts in your mind and believe that what you say will happen, then God will do it for you. So I tell you to ask for what you want in prayer. And if you believe that you have received those things, then they will be yours. Mark 11:22-24
4. Its never to late to start anew! "..being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion." (Philippians 1:6). God has placed that thing -- that movement -- that business plan -- that job -- that ministry on your heart for a reason. You are equipped and ready you just have to know that He will help you to carry out His promises.You may have started and stopped a business or idea, but it is never to late to pick it back up. God's timing is perfect. So there was reason for your delay but now you have the go to get up and move forward. Do it! Begin to exercise your faith. Spend time talking with God. Pray and mediate, and get to work. Faith with out work is dead. So put some action behind those prayers, and leave the results up to God. What are you going to do in this season?
"Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Romans 10:17"
5. Always treat others with respect. Exhibit the fruit of the spirit. We can not expect a harvest from God if we aren't daily living for Him. His word instructs us to love one another. To treat others with kindness, to be gentle, to show love, and exude joy, to bring forth peace, and to act with self control. This means controlling our tongue when we would like to "go off on someone", bringing joy and love to an environment and not give off negative energy. We have to demonstrate these things if we desire access into all the He has promised us. There will always be a great reward when we are obedient.

What are you going to do in this season?

Today lets commit to changing our thoughts. Grab a pen and paper and note those things that you desire to begin or complete. Then take it to the Lord in prayer. Pour out to Him, believe, and start working!

As always I am in this journey with you!

Peace, Love, and Christ!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I didn't want God. I wanted a Genie.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. - Matthew 6:33
   For the longest time I would read this scripture and mentally fast forwarded to the last clause, "and all these things shall be added to you." I loved the sound of "all these things". My mind would go wild thinking of all the things I desired from God. I wanted a high paying job, a nice condo, a cute foreign whip, and a closet full of stuff. There were so many earthly things that I desired. I mean that was only a snippet of what I wanted, the list went on. I would even make vision boards of those things I desired. Using inspirational quotes on my board and centering my thoughts around those things. I even made scripture like these apply: 
My God will use his glorious riches to give you everything you need. He will do this through Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:19
For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. "I have good plans for you. I don't plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future. - Jeremiah 29:11
Delight yourself also in the Lord, & He shall give you the desires of your heart. -Psalm 37:4
   Now while all of these verses are true -- my attitude and heart did not properly align with the meaning behind the verses. I saw my needs being fulfilled, but not once did I consider the first clause in Matthew 6:33 -- "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.How did I know? Simple, my prayers would go a little something like this: "God, I am praying, God I read your word, and God I have even fasted for you. Why don't I have all that I desire?" Followed by quite a few more grunts and moans about the things I wanted from God. What I was saying to God (my creator, the one who gives me life, the one who blesses me with new mercies daily, the one who loves me more than I love myself) was I don't really want you God, I just want your stuff. I didn't want God. I wanted a genie. I wanted to be part-time and be rewarded with full-time benefits. My thirst wasn't after God, and my heart wasn't right. I would give him half of me and expect a reward for it. As though I was diligently seeking Him. Who was I fooling? It certainly wasn't Jesus!
   Its heart breaking now to think that I truly wanted more of earthly things and less of God. However, I am grateful that God has revealed those things to me. As a babe in Christ, its so important that we pour our heart out to the Lord daily and ask Him to reveal those things to us that are not of Him and remove them (Psalm 139). If this is our hearts desire God will remove those things that hinder us from wanting more of Him. It sounds absolutely absurd that we have to pray to want more of Christ, but we do. As humans -- sin feels good. Which explains why we do what we do, but sin has a cost. Thankfully, Christ paid the cost so we wouldn't have too! By knowing this, and this alone should make us want more of Him.
   However, we always need more convincing. As if dying for our sins wasn't enough. For me it took me being broken down completely, and having no where else to run to but to Christ. If you read my first blog entry titled, "When Thursday Came" you're aware of what I'm talking about.
   So now when I read, Matthew 6:33, I process it a little something like this, "What you should want most is God's kingdom and doing what he wants you to do. Then he will give you all these other things you need."
Seek God's kingdom.
Do what He wants you to Do.
Wait for the Rain.

Now I don't want you to read this and think, man, I need to do better, or beat yourself down for not truly wanting Him. Instead, thank Him that you now know better and can see things more clearly. Pray that he continues to search your heart and fill you with His goodness. When you naturally love Him, its not hard to want more of Him, and that's where we should ALL want to be. 

As always, I am on this journey with you!

peace, love, and Christ

Music for your day, good ol' Tashaaaa!

Tasha Cobb | Smile

"...When I'm going in and when I'm coming out be pleased with my life...I wanna make you smile"

Smile (Live) by Tasha Cobbs on Grooveshark
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