Turn Worry into Worship

All my life, I have heard the phrase, “Be kind. You never know what someone might be going through.” I believe people think of a particular type when they use this statement. They do not think of people like me. They do not think that a confident, educated person, and what some see as successful, is going through anything; they don’t think someone like me needs others to be kind. But I do! I do because I, just like you, face attacks.

Confident people try hard to hold life together for themselves and others. Early in life, we are taught that we can handle anything. We have somehow bought into the narrative, “What does not kill you makes you stronger.” We are taught to stand up in the face of controversy and not allow others to get to us. The truth is, I think people like me get tired of standing and fighting our battles in quiet only to be attacked in public. That’s no fun at all.

Lately, I have had to face the cruel reality that sometimes, when people seem to be okay, they are not. I am not a naive person, and I have lived long enough to know that everything and everyone may not be what they present to others, but it is still shocking to the system when you come face-to-face with this reality. To go head-to-head with people you respect is no fun. I found myself in the middle of a war. The situation was so irrational that I honestly did not know how to navigate erratic behavior, disruption, and personal attacks. I wanted to lash out but had to think about professional comportment and spiritual responsibility. Aren’t I suppose to turn the other cheek, am I supposed to fight back?

Jesus told us to turn the other cheek. Matthew 5:38-42 says, “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Oh wow, that’s pretty clear.

There are so many Bible passages that tell me not to worry because God’s got me covered. He has told me many times not to be a coward but to be courageous and not lose heart. However, when I have to face evil, my spirit faints. I shake at the core, and my anxiety level goes through the roof!
Yet, I have also noticed that those moments when I am scared only last a little while. As soon as I get my footing, I run to the Word for support. The Word of God fuels my faith, and I am ready for the next thing. I tell myself, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I remind myself of Joshua 1:9, which says, ” Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Or Deuteronomy 31:6,8, which says, “Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them because the Lord your God goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.”

You see, there are many scriptures of support in the Word of God. The more I repeat them to myself, the more I can feel my strength rising. I can see my countenance change from anxiety, defeat, and cowardice to one of courage, confidence, and calm, trusting that He is with me whatever I face, and He will defend me.

What battles are you fighting today? What person or situation has you up at night wondering what you will do or how you will handle your next attack? Instead of worrying about the person or thing, turn your worry into worship. Join me as I stop worrying about what someone might say or do to try and hurt me, to thank God for protecting me where He placed me for the time He has called me.

Focus on the Positive

It is springtime! I always love it when we get to this time of the year, especially this year, as we come out of the restrictions imposed in 2020. Like me, I am sure you never thought we would experience a pandemic in our lifetime. However, here we are. Not only is the world dealing with the ramifications of the pandemic, but we have also watched a stabilized nation become destabilized and people who were living everyday lives, all of a sudden, displaced.

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I don’t know about you, but if I wasn’t so focused on being optimistic about the future, I could find myself in a place of despair. From 2020 until now, I can count the various things that could cause people to want to give up. I want to encourage you to hold on, have faith, trust God, and believe times will change for the better. Is that pie-in-the-sky? Maybe. I intend always to offer hope because my faith demands it.

One of my favorite scriptures encourages just that; to have faith. I know times have been hard. We have been challenged repeatedly over the last two years, but we cannot give up if we want to live full lives again. Do you? I do. As long as I live here on this earth, I intend to live life to the fullest. When there has been a window to travel, I did. When I had the opportunity to go out and eat dinner with friends, I have, and when I could go to a store, spa, or office, I was thrilled to do so. Because we need each other and isolation helps no one. I believe isolation sets up the environment for emotional and mental harm. I love my solitude, but I also recognize the dangers of too much isolation. It is easy to fall into dark spaces when no outside voice is there to remind you of your goodness. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the possibilities and look forward to a better and brighter tomorrow.

Oprah said, “The future is so bright that it hurts my eyes?” That is what we have had to remember during days of chaos. And we must remind ourselves of the happy days ahead, whether we see them or not, believe they are there. Never forget that we are what we think and what we think begins with what we allow our minds to consume. To ensure our minds are optimistic, we must be selective and intentional. How can we ensure we have the correct thinking? Look to the scriptures. Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.”

I don’t know about you, but I believe the future is so bright, it hurts my eyes!

Be Still & Wait…

Here we are again. Blessed to see another March, and hopefully, springtime will show up shortly. As I readied myself for my morning run, I checked the temperature outside to find it was supposed to be a pleasant 51 degrees—that’s warm weather when you are a runner! So, instead of putting on layers of long-sleeved shirts, I put on what I thought would be suitable for my run— a tank top, thin cotton shirt, and a little jacket. The minute the garage opened, and I was on the other side, I could feel the chilly air. Boy, I thought it would be warmer, I said to myself. However cold I felt, I refused to go back inside to change and just kept to my scheduled run.

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While my feet hit the pavement, I ran up the hill and immediately noticed the flashing lights. The closer I got, I could see a truck was on top of the median facing me, and a tow truck was on the opposite side, blocking the departing traffic and trying to get adjusted in a position to tow the vehicle. 

As I ran down the hill, away from the vehicles, I tried not to look but found myself locking eyes with the distressed vehicle driver and the tow truck driver. I looked away and kept running, yet I noticed only one or two cars waiting for the tow truck to clear the path. When I got down the hill and began my trek back up, as I approached the spot of the truck and tow truck, I noticed that many backed-up cars were waiting and probably trying to get to work.

I wonder what happened? Several times I have seen folks lose control and crash in that median. I have seen people speed on that hill as if they were on a motor speedway. I wonder what was so urgent this particular morning for this man. I would not be honest if I said that I hadn’t done my share of speeding up and down that mountain. But when I see the flashing slow-down sign, I am jolted into realizing just how fast I am going, and I slow down to the posted 45 miles per hour sign.

To see this guy made me think about me and others who are so fast to get where we are going. Today’s society, especially in the western world, is all about getting it done and not wasting time. We say, “Time is money,” or “Don’t waste my time,” or “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!”  We have no time for those who waste it. And yet I think we are correct when we rush to get something done when maybe that’s the opposite of what God wants from us.

Suppose God wants us to stop, listen, and then move once we are sure that what we are rushing to accomplish is aligned with His will for our lives? Just what if we are running in a direction that is opposite from where He wants us to be?

Perhaps, the answer lies in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Spiritual Disciplines

Spiritual disciplines have always been a massive part of my life. I do not do all of them all the time, but I do most of them all the time. Spiritual disciplines include Church attendance, Bible reading, Prayer, and Fasting. Many Believers participate in the first three but not so much concerning Fasting.Spiritual-disc-fasting

Every year, hundreds, if not thousands of people worldwide participate in the spiritual discipline of Fasting. Fasting is designed to deny yourself and become introspective as you read the Bible and pray. Some think of it as something special, while others think it is weird and outdated. Let’s face it, today, people would say, “Why are you denying yourself? Don’t do that.” However, I recall the generation of my grandparents saying and believing that you move the hand of God when you shove the plate away and pray.

I have participated in Fasting for many years. Each time I would enter that time with the hope that God would show me what He wanted me to do in the new year. This year was no different; I entered the year being excited, focused, and intense about seeking the Lord. I will be the first to admit that I sometimes approach spiritual disciplines expecting God to show up in a loud and active way, but that’s not been His practice with me over the years. This year was no different.

What did happen was something very practical for my life and done in the most subtle and gentle way. God showed me that I need to relax and not be so high-strung. I need to pull back when I feel my anxiety rising, and I need to watch how I work with others so that I do not drive them so hard that they feel fearful or exhausted. I honestly think that is the purpose of Fasting—getting quiet and allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal our areas of deficiencies so that we can be better. These revelations are not designed for us to feel condemnation, guilt, or self-loathing. Instead, revelations help us face who we are and understand our need for Jesus.

My grandparents taught me that Fasting was not public and showy; it is a private matter, a commitment to spend time in God’s presence. I mention Fasting because I think it has become more of a fad or ritual for some, rather than the act of really seeking God’s face. I noticed this year I repeatedly said to others that I was Fasting and immediately felt condemned because I did not want them to think I was boasting. As a result, I found myself evaluating my thoughts and motives. See, self-evaluating is always a good thing. That’s why I love the scriptures. It tells us that God loves us, but He also knows our hearts and tests our anxious thoughts.

Embrace Today…

If you are like me and can look back over the last two years and say you are still happy & peaceful, I do not think we should only say we are grateful, but we must live our lives like we are. I have always been a hopeful person, but more than ever, I feel the need to live today because God has blessed me with it.

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The older I get, the more aware I am of how much time I might have left on this earth. However, the last two years brought it home. Not only did we live in isolation the first year, thinking by the end of the year we would emerge happy and healthy, but we also entered a second year with the same challenges that kept us guarded and somewhat isolated as the year before. Then, just when we thought we were coming out of a pandemic, variations of a virus, we all came to know as COVID-19 began to show up in the form of Delta and Omicron. Our lives started to unravel again as we had to go back to measures that had already exhausted us.


In addition to the pandemic, we had to deal with other issues of life that could have quickly taken away our hope. For me, the last year brought about traumatic matters to my life. Friends who I loved and cared about deeply, without any warning, were no longer here. How could that be? Angel was only 28; Melanie was not even 50! Mike was still playing music and maybe 60! The loss of these precious friends and unique relationships caused the realness of how uncertain our time here is to set in. I still don’t think I have recovered yet. Anytime I experience a series of losses, I start to reflect on my mortality. I wonder if you also do. Mortality is hard to face, yet we all must meet it someday.

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As we enter this New Year, I do not want to do so with a sad and depressing message. Instead, I want to offer hope. I want to remind you that today is yours if you are blessed to see it. Tomorrow is not promised, and we never know when it may be our last. And no matter what tomorrow holds, just be assured that God has tomorrow. He also offers hope. Despite all that happened during the previous two years, what I remember most are the beautiful things that happened in my life. I got a new job, another degree, a new home, and new friends. See? Even when we go through stuff that makes us feel helpless, we have to look for the other things God sends along the way. I bet you will find that you experienced as many beautiful things as you did of the other.


Whenever you need to lift yourself out of a funk in the new year, turn to the one source that offers hope to the hopeless, peace to the unsettled, and joy amid sadness. Do not look to your surroundings to be joyful; you will be lost. Look to God. Psalm 42:5-6 reads, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” The Psalmist is saying, “I don’t care what state I find myself in, and right now it is in total despair; God is still my hope.”


For any challenges you face in the New Year, hold on to scripture that gives you hope. Tell yourself today is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad. Be intentional in the way you embrace the day. Someone may need you to lift them. May our God of peace fill your heart with love, joy, peace, and confidence that today is a day you choose to bless Him and others.

Reflect Lately?

I was out running one morning recently, and as my feet pounded the pavement in the early morningsunset hours, I noticed the sky was a beautiful red and blue color. I didn’t stop; I kept running, trying to get my workout done. However, I felt as though the red was getting redder and the blues bluer as I ran. I still would not stop (I needed to get done). At some point, though, I felt God had been trying to get my attention gently, but because I didn’t listen, it felt as though He yelled, “Stop and look!” So, I did. I stopped and looked at the sky with amazement. I then took out my iPhone and began taking pictures. I posted those pictures to social media, and apparently, more than 100 people felt the same about how beautiful they were. As I viewed those pictures, I was able to reflect on God’s goodness. What a wonderful life I have lived. I thank God every day for blessing my life as He has done, and I want to be and do all that God has called me to be and do.

Like many of you, the last year has caused me to reflect a lot. Not just because of the pandemic, but as you grow older, I think one tends to look at life and wonder if you left the earth today, would you have made a difference. I am not saying that we must make some vast world-changing impact, but I wonder who will miss me when I am not here anymore. I realize initially, people are sad that we are no longer around, but after a while, even they settle into their own lives, and those they have lost may slowly fade into the background. Anyway, as I reflect on my life, I quickly recognize that I have more years behind me than in front.

What about you? Have you reflected lately? Have you thought about how each day you make a ripple effect into the lives of others? I have. Recently a person told me that I made a significant difference in her life years ago. She said that although college was accessible to her, it was just not something she had thought of pursuing until she met me. Today, she holds advanced degrees. As such, I began to think about several people I had encouraged to go to school so that they would have opportunities that may have evaded them otherwise. They did, and those doors opened. They don’t have to give me any credit; that’s not what I am looking for at all. But I will say it makes me feel good that this one person didn’t wait until it was time for my eulogy to let me see that I made a difference.

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Today, think about how you can impact others in significant ways. As much as people can frustrate, disappoint, and anger us, God calls us to think of others. I know it is hard, but God will make sure to reward you for your acts of selflessness. Remember, we don’t need recognition here on earth; although it is nice, we need to do what God has called us to do and let Him handle the rest. I am confident in saying that I guarantee He will.

Why Gratitude?

It should come as no surprise that during this time of year, I would focus on Gratitude. So, before I sat down to write my column this month, I stopped and reflected on the word. I don’t want to go through the same old sentiments you hear year after year. Because quite frankly, Gratitude is something I believe we take for granted. Do you know what I mean

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What I mean is that it feels kind of superficial to say this is the season to be thankful, when to me, every single day that we are alive is a day to be grateful. I mean, look at the last several years, not only in the United States but throughout the world. Racial tensions, divisiveness, increased anger and violence, and a pandemic. If we survived getting some fatal disease, we should be grateful. If we could overcome the loud voices spewing violence and hatred without losing our true north, be thankful. If we still have our homes, jobs, family members, and even relationships with old friends, that’s reason to be grateful.

What is Gratitude, and why do we need to have it? I think there are two kinds of Gratitude —both important, but I want to focus on biblical Gratitude. One author wrote that biblical Gratitude means to give goodness and grace to others, as we have received from God. It means to extend the joy of receiving to others and God through gestures of kindness and goodness. It is what Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

I trust when we extend these gifts to others, we get them in return. I also believe that the only way we can genuinely exercise these fruits is to start by recognizing that all of these are extended to us by the grace of God. As such, we should be thankful that He thought enough of us to extend them. Some might ask, “How did He do that?” Through His Son, Jesus. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son. Whoever will believe in Him will not perish but have life.” You might not be able to wrap your mind around these scriptures, and I can understand that. People have asked me how I can believe them. Well, I tell you how, through faith. Faith that when I give, I will receive. When I forgive, others will forgive me, and when I show grace to others, people will extend that same grace to me. For that, I am grateful.

I honestly believe that. Gratitude tends to eliminate cynicism, sarcasm, and mistrust. A thankful heart creates optimism rather than pessimism. And, it causes us to give others the benefit of the doubt. You know, the same we ask others to do for us.

Born to Thrive!

Most days, I feel as though I can conquer the world, and then, there are days when I think the world is defeating me. That feeling doesn’t last too long, however. I was born to thrive! At least that’s what I tell myself. The feeling of not just surviving but thriving has been with me since I was very young.

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I recognize to hear someone claim that they thrive sounds self-assured and assertive. But, as much as I’d like to think I can face anything and overcome any obstacle, there is always anxiety behind the face of that courage.

The truth is, the fiercest of us experience our share of anxiety. Whether it is dealing with the loss of a job, an end of a marriage or relationship, or a betrayal of any kind, life can get the best of us. When I face struggles, I generally turn to scripture to ease my stress and I pray for guidance as to my next steps. Being a person who tries to control my destiny, I get frustrated when I feel I am not in control. Being a woman of faith, I caution myself to stop trying to control everything. To leave it, only to find myself going back trying to handle the situation again. If you are a control freak and feel you are not in control, anxiety comes. If you are a laid-back and carefree person and deal with those who are not, you probably feel that situation bringing about pressure.

Just remember, for anything that seems to overwhelm us, there is an answer. The answer to me can always be found in scripture. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in all things with prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” This scripture puts things into their proper perspective. Stop worrying, focus on what is essential, and thrive mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

What do I thrive? I know it’s because I have the assurance through faith that God has my back. As Tauren Wells sings, “If I am on the mountain, He is there. When I am in the valley, He sees me there.

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Anxiety is as much a part of life as breathing but thriving takes intention. Someone said, “An intention is more than a thought or a theory about how you want to live; it is the thought and determination to make that change.” That change starts with our heart, and our attitudes will follow. How can you thrive? Think free like a child. Find an exercise that you will learn to enjoy and do it. Take risks. Take walks. Laugh a lot. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Now, these are easier said than done, but that’s why I say intention is key to thriving.

Valuing Tradition

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Many days I sit back and consider my life. I am generally overwhelmed with emotion when I think about how blessed my life has been. I think about the woman I am today and how who I am was so heavily influenced by my maternal grandparents.


When I was very young, I used to be embarrassed by the religious practices of my grandparents. They were Pentecostals, and if you know anything about this tradition, they (We) are very expressive and somewhat emotional in our faith, especially in worship. I remember how my grandmother would worship unrestrainedly while my grandfather was calm, relaxed, and collective. They were the best people on the planet, and I did not know just how much they meant to me until they were gone. I could be anywhere in the world, and I would call my grandmother just to say hi. I can still hear their distinctive voices encouraging me to run on!


My grandfather would sometimes sit in his chair in the front yard, and you would hear him singing to himself, “I’m gonna trust in the Lord. I’m gonna trust in the Lord. I’m gonna trust in the Lord until I die….” I can still hear those words, and some days I find myself singing them to myself.


Today, many years after they have gone, I find myself sitting and reflecting on them and their influence on me. Longromans 1-16 before they left this earth, I was no longer embarrassed by them and the way they praised the Savior. Instead, I turned into them. My mind goes to the scripture today that reads, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation. To all who believe…” Romans 1:16. They were never ashamed. They served and praised God with all they had. They demonstrated true, deep-hearted worship to their King, and that, I believe, kept them from falling for anything.


Maybe that’s what the world needs today; people of faith committed to praise and worship rather than buying into the importance of popularity and worldly accolades. We have come a long way, but that may not always be the best. It may be time to stop laughing at old practices and reconnect to them. Maybe we will find our true selves again. That’s what I find myself doing these days. It may be because I am older. Whatever the reason, I know how important faith has been in my life, and I am thankful my faith-filled, expressive grandparents modeled it before me. I continue to do the same. Anything less would dishonor them.

What are you pushing back, ignoring, and refusing to enter your life? Maybe it’s time to stop and ask yourself will those aged practices help you? Perhaps they will or maybe not, but don’t dismiss something because it is aged; it might be the one thing that can bring you encouragement in discouraging times and value in times when the world may be making you feel worthless.

~LaSharnda

Fan the Flames?

Recently, I have thought seriously about just disconnecting. Some time ago, a person said to me that they could not keep a gratitude journal I had suggested because they did not see themselves writing the same things day after day in that journal. They were thankful, but they would get bored doing the same exercise each day. I remember thinking that I had done it for years and I could do it. But, I also felt that I would never stop doing it.

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For years, I have gotten up in the early morning hours to read the Bible and pray. However, over the last year, I have noticed my early morning prayers getting shorter. I can remember saying to God to stir in me the passion for worship, His Word, and fellowship with others, just as I had when I was younger. I prayed that my prayer process did not become mechanical and mundane. Now, I feel that is exactly what it has become.

What do I do when I feel the very thing that has kept me is somehow losing its appeal? What happens when I don’t feel like reading, praying, or even interacting with others? Then it came to me. The reason I read, prayed, and took part in routine fellowship was for moments just like these. When I reflected on the “why” of my emotional state, I found that to be a good process. To ask myself questions that force me to look inward and evaluate my life is what many people go through. Those who have strong faith recognize what’s happening immediately. Do you know why? It’s because we have exercised specific disciplines throughout the years.

What do you do when you feel distant & disconnected from God or the people of God? How do you handle the feeling of ineptness, routine, boredom, or downright “I don’t feel like it anymore?” I will share what I have done. I have stepped back and asked the Holy Spirit to show me what to do. I have also asked the Holy Spirit to stir up a fire in me. I don’t believe that I would know to do that had I not read that in the Bible repeatedly over the years. In 2 Timothy 1:6-14, we are told the following: “That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands.” This scripture speaks to me. Even more is what comes after in verse 7,  “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and love and calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. 

These scriptures are reminders of a couple of things to me. First, I have to know without a doubt that regardless of what I am feeling, God is with me. He said He would not leave me or forsake me. As such, I have to trust that if I would pursue Him, I will find Him. Stirring up the fire to me means to press through despite the so-called boredom. It means to think of the things of God or the enemy will have me thinking, “why bother?” Also, I realize that I have a responsibility to fan the flames and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest. Second, I have to be bold enough to say to myself or my distractions that there is power in the disciplines. I don’t have to feel an emotional high; instead, I have to trust God. If I go boldly to the Throne of Grace, He will be there waiting.

So, what do you do when you “feel” you have lost your fire? Fan the flame! We’re not as hot and burning as when we first received the Lord. But Romans 12:11 encourages us not to be “slothful in zeal, but be burning in spirit, serving the Lord.” So, remember, when you go through the season of slothfulness, God wants us on fire for Him. It may not be in your human spirit, but your born-again spirit will be willing.

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These scriptures are reminders of a couple of things to me. First, I have to know without a doubt that regardless of what I am feeling, God is with me. He said He would not leave me or forsake me. As such, I have to trust that if I would pursue Him, I will find Him. Stirring up the fire to me means to press through despite of the so-called boredom. It means to think of the things of God or the enemy will have me thinking “why bother?” Also, I realize that I have a responsibility to fan the flames and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest. Second, I have to be bold enough to say to myself or to my distractions that there is power in the disciplines. I don’t have to feel an emotional high, rather, I have to trust God. If I go boldly to the Throne of Grace, He will be there waiting.

So, what do you do when you “feel” you have lost your fire? Fan the flame! We’re not as hot and burning as when we first received the Lord. But Romans 12:11 exhorts us not to be “slothful in zeal, but be burning in spirit, serving the Lord.” So, when you go through the season of slothfulness, remember, God wants us on fire for Him. It may not be in your human spirit, but your born again spirit, is willing