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Spirituality

FREEBIE: Biblical Character Study Guide Printable

The Bible is one of the most fascinating, inspiring and thought provoking books you could ever read. Since I started reading it daily for my 100 In A Year project, I’ve been able to learn more about the characters I hear about during sermons and I’ve grown closer to Christ and stronger as a believer.

One of the best benefits of reading the Bible is being able to make connections with the characters and seeing just how similar they are to you. In realizing that, you also come to understand that even though you aren’t perfect God can (and will) still use you to build up His Kingdom and draw others to Him.

I created this study guide printable to make it easier to keep up with the characters and have a reference page whenever you want to jot down notes or thoughts about anything you read about them or their role in scripture. You can print them off as you go and tuck them away in a spiral notebook to keep up with them all.

Download the free printable by clicking here. Here’s a photo of how I use the printable.

bible-character-study-solomon

 

I’m currently studying Solomon. I chose him randomly and man oh man…Solomon was a player! I wonder if it was a generational curse passed on to him because of his mother and father’s sin of adultery?? Either way, it goes to show that no matter how you start, God can still use you. Also, even though he was the wisest man in the Bible, he still made a very bad (and costly) decision as and when it came to women.

I’m so excited to keep reading!

Your turn to talk…

Do you study biblical characters? Do you have a favorite character? If so, who is it? How do you plan to use your printable? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Don’t forget to tweet me or tag me on social media to let me know how you liked it!

Spirituality

An Open Letter To Church Folks

Dear Church Folks,

I’ve been wanting to write you for a very long time now but somehow I never got around to it. I guess it was The Lord wanting me to wait until I could reach your entire community. With all that’s going on in the world, I’m positive He kept me busy with other things until the timing was right. What better time than now? You all are on one of your quarterly religious kicks and you’re not going to pass up this post because you’re trolling the internet for anything that involves religion. So if an article uses church in the title…win! I should explain a few things before I get too deep.

Church folks are people who profess Christianity and go to great lengths to prove to the world that they are Christians, instead of focusing on people experiencing the love of God as and when they encounter them. Church folks are typically black but do come in white, especially in the southern part of the United States. Church folks like religion but lack spirituality. Church folks have a tendency to quote scriptures on their Facebook profile page to justify their hatred of certain ungodly things (while skipping other scriptures that make them hypocrites) but you never see them acknowledge any faults in their own lives. In fact, if you ask them, they don’t have any faults since they accepted Christ and became saved. They have a perfect Christian score…or have only committed sins that aren’t as serious as yours.

Church folks think that what you wear can send you to hell and they would rather go to church than practice the principles of the Bible. They think that reserving a pew in the sanctuary every Sunday will earn them a ticket to heaven and as soon as service is over, they speed dial their fellow church folks to criticize the pastor’s sermon because he didn’t cover same-sex marriage with a fiery speech to deliver the homosexuals. Church folks often have the same hang-ups that they criticize others for having and they have family members that they have ostracized because of their sins. Church folks don’t own the metaphorical mirror because, well, that would force them to take a look at themselves.

Are you a member of the church folk community? Wait…you aren’t going to be real with yourself so let me phrase it this way instead. If your toes got stepped on by the above paragraph, keep reading.

Church folks, if you don’t get anything else out of this letter, please understand this. You are doing the exact opposite of what God wants you to do for His Kingdom. I know you think that fear tactics work, and they can, but the results are usually only temporary. Once the person has conquered the fear, the tactic is no longer effective. You are turning people away from Christ instead of toward Him.

God is love and anything that is the opposite of love is hate, there are no grey areas or caveats. You can disapprove something without hating it. For example, I don’t approve of someone’s constant need to tell lies but I don’t hate them. I pray that they will understand how important telling the truth is and that God will touch their hearts and spark a desire to change. I also pray that I can be an example so that they see Christ in me and will want to be like Christ. I don’t throw it in their face and I don’t give up on them. I love them the way Christ loves me – unconditionally.

I’ll use a personal example. I was informed that I am not the nicest person by a few people that are closest to me. They said I do nice things and I have a good heart and truly mean well, but my attitude needs work. I got defensive because I disagree but I have to be open and understand that their opinions came from a place of love. They love me so much that they want me to be better and I could tell by the way that they brought it to my attention. They chose their words carefully, acknowledged my good qualities and offered some suggestions on how I can start having a better attitude. This is how change can take place. It’s all about the delivery, which is why I’m selecting my words with caution to deliver this message to you.

I’m not judging you for your ways because we all fall short of who God wants us to be all day everyday. No one walking this earth is perfect. I love you, believe me I do. Some of you are my family, my friends/associates and my business contacts. I feel a deep sadness because you don’t appear (again, an observation) to see the ways that the Devil has infiltrated your life. You may spend a lot of your time studying Jesus but have you ever studied Satan? He has some pretty slick tricks and will catch you up without you even realizing it if you aren’t aware of his ways. One of Satan’s favorite mechanisms of destruction is division. He starts with dividing people and from there, we are like putty in his hands.

Since you know the Bible pretty well, you should know that God uses all people for His glory. David was a murderer, Noah was a drunk, Jonah was a racist, Solomon was a player, Jacob was a schemer and the list goes on. God shows favor to us all and he uses everyone – the liar, the thief, the lesbian, the prostitute, the potty mouthed person, the gambler – and he also uses me and you (if none of the aforementioned traits covered us).

As Christians we are representatives of the Father. We are his customer service associates, a point of contact when there is trouble or a lack of understanding. Don’t rude, conclusion-jumping, demeaning customer service reps make you cringe? That’s how a person feels every time Church Folks grab the mic to speak on behalf of God. They cringe and their hearts become closed to His Word.

Church Folks, I have a challenge for you this week.

Every time you log onto Facebook to post a status or comment, think about someone exposing your deepest and darkest secrets, your imperfections or attacking you for something you are very sensitive about or something that you are trying to shake but need extra help and motivation to make a change. By doing that, you’re putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and showing empathy (compassion) toward them. That’s what it takes to build a relationship with someone that can lead to them giving their life to Christ and trusting Him to fill every void and carry them in the times that they are weak.

I pray that if we don’t agree on anything, we can agree to be the change that we want to see in the world. Deal?

With Love,

jessica-simien-heart-signature-pink

Spirituality

100 In A Year, Task 89: Document At Least 1 Answered Prayer Per Month (6/12)

Task 89: Document at least one answered prayer per month (6/12)
Month: April 2015 (four total answered prayers)

April was the most stressful month I’ve had in a very long time. The school semester came to an end, I had two major events to host, my money was realllllyyyy funny and I made a tough decision to rid myself of a one-way relationship.

I think I prayed more than I ever have this month because it truly was all I could do. As a result, God didn’t answer just one prayer, he answered four that I can remember distinctly.

Success of Kinks & Curls on Campus

I set out on a very ambitious mission to host a tour of natural hair meet-ups on college campuses in April, not even considering the fact that April was going to be an extremely busy month. I faced all kinds of obstacles in putting this event together. Schools cancelled, I had to reschedule some schools, vendors wanted their money back and I was trying to write three papers at the same time. I honestly did not believe the event would be successful but it was! Even though our number of stops were cut in half, we were still able to visit two college campuses and meet new people.

Bills Paid

If you asked my mom about my spending habits, she’ll tell you that I’m just like my dad – cheap! LOL! I prefer to call it frugal, but I’m not frugal just because I inherited that trait. I have to be frugal because I’m a full-time entrepreneur (in the very early stages of my entrepreneurship, might I add) and my income doesn’t come on a set schedule every week. Sometimes I make all my money in one day, sometimes it takes a week and sometimes it comes across the entire month.

I made a decent amount of income in April but boy did it come at the last minute! I prayed and prayed all month that I could get all my bills paid and The Lord came through!

Finish the Semester Without Quitting

School was hard. Very hard. It wasn’t that the subject matter was difficult to understand, adjusting to being a student after a two year break was hard for me. I struggled with time management a lot, my hustle was suffering so I was making less money and I was overwhelmed. I had to really pray for God to give me the strength to finish the semester because there were nights as and when I wanted to quit. No lie. Needless to say, I was able to get through the semester. My grades may not be what I’d hoped for them to be but I finished and for me, that was the most important part.

Peace of Mind

More than anything during April, I prayed for peace. I was coming to a point with an old friend where I wanted to end the friendship. I just knew in my mind that our time was over and as much as my mind was made up, my heart wasn’t completely ready. I had to pray for God’s peace with my decision and I was able to end it after getting the best confirmation I could get. You have to really listen to your inner voice because I truly believe that’s the Holy Spirit speaking to you. I haven’t looked back and I feel so free and like a huge weight was lifted from me.

I hope my prayers inspire you as you wait for your answers. Can’t wait to see what God does in May! :)

What prayers did God answer for you in April?

Inspiration, Spirituality

Focus On The Problem Solver, Not The Problem + 7 Songs To Help You

Life is full of problems. Whether you’re young or old, rich or poor, educated or a high school dropout, you will experience your fair share of trials and tests. For the last three years God has really been working on me and I finally stopped running from Him during the summer of 2014.

That summer I developed a hunger and thirst for God because I was tired. Tired of doing things my way, tired of being disappointed, tired of going in circles and tired of living a mediocre life. Sure I had lots of things going on for me but there’s nothing like the inner peace you gain from giving God a real chance.

I started going back to church every week but not just being a spectator. I started participating. I joined a ministry, I started writing about God and I even started a morning and evening ritual that involved reading scriptures and devotions.

One thing that I’ve learned is that praise makes everything better.

Praise and worship is like food for the soul. My church is the best at it but I don’t look at how they praise and worship as entertainment. I look at it as an invitation to do the same and fully feel the presence of God. Not only that, praise is powerful for your mind. It shifts your focus from your problems to the problem solver.

Praise is about thanking God for all that He has done and it’s critical for putting your problems into perspective. When you look back on all the blessings you have, the illnesses you’ve come out of or how God has spared your life or the life of a family member or friend, how you have food to eat and how you have breath in your body to keep pressing on to the next day. Your spirit can be eased and know that if He did all those things, surely He can fix whatever is going on now.

It’s all about perspective and being humble enough to know that you are not owed anything. Humility and thankfulness with take you a long way and it makes your problems very small compared to the problems of others.

Here are some of my favorite songs to listen to as and when I need help with shifting my own focus (because I’m not perfect and I have to practice at this everyday too):

“Sovereign God” – Maurette Brown Clark

“For Every Mountain” – Kurt Carr & The Kurt Carr Singers

“A Chance” – Malcolm Williams & Great Faith

“I Smile” – Kirk Franklin

“Could’ve Been Me” – Kirk Franklin feat. Tye Tribbett and J. Moss

“Trouble Don’t Last Always” – Timothy Wright

“Every Praise” – Hezekiah Walker

What songs do you like to listen to? Share them in the comments section and remember that no problem is too big for God to solve!

Spirituality

Sunday Inspiration: Check Your Gratefulness

To be grateful means that you are full of appreciation and thankfulness.

You understand that so much good has happened to you that you should be mindful of making complaints.

You know that even though things may be tough at the moment, they could be worse.

You put your problems into perspective and realize that all the good in your life outweighs the bad.

I’m not going to lie to you…I didn’t fully grasp the importance of being grateful until I started maturing in Christ and as a woman. It often took me to be without something I had or seeing the alternative of how I’d been living to appreciate my life.

For example, me and my mom don’t always get along. My mouth has a tendency to “get smart” and she is a little more pessimistic than I care for. When I was living at her home while in transition from being unemployed to deciding to go full-time with my freelance work and then eventually getting my own place again, I focused so much on the qualities about her that I didn’t necessarily like. After being without her for a few weeks while staying with friends, I realizing that she was responsible for my attributes that people take well to – my cleanliness, attention to detail, being a great housekeeper, etc.

I suddenly became more grateful than ever for her. I’m even more grateful that I was able to snap out of it before I lost her and had to experience being without a parent.

Now I thank God constantly for all that he’s done for me. I’ve taken on that old school attitude:

“Even if He doesn’t do anything else, He’s already done enough.”

Think about it…No one owes you anything, especially not God. I bet if you just looked at all the good things that have happened to you in 2015 you’d have a long list of things to be grateful for. Not even just good things – small things, bad things (because sometimes we should be grateful for what God saves us from), things you forgot about it.

You have lots to be grateful for.

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God wants us to have grateful hearts no matter how things look. Everything we have from the clothes on our backs to the food in our refrigerator is a gift from him and you can be sure that someone else wishes they had what you have.

What are you grateful for? Share with me in the comments section.