Book Review: Lost & Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life by Sarah Jakes

Lost & Found: Finding HOPE in the Detours of Life

Book Review: Lost & Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life by Sarah Jakes
Written by Felicia McKnight
10/31/2014

Sarah Jakes, daughter of Bishop T.D. Jakes, has written the memoirs of her young life. She tells her journey of how she wanted a life of love and happiness. She struggled to connect with the church and with God by allowing Him to lead her to her destiny. Sarah Jakes set out on a self-directed journey. Instead of finding her way to a fairy tale lifestyle she found her way to several dark places.

As a teenager Sarah wanted love and a sense of belonging. She wanted someone to talk to but couldn’t find anyone she could relate to at the age thirteen with the issues she was dealing with. As she set off on her journey of finding hope she ended up in the wrong places. She found herself pregnant at thirteen, a mother at fourteen, didn’t complete college, rejected, settling for less than God’s best, and a marriage full of infidelity which ended in divorce.

As I read this book I was engaged in every page and encouraged, because it is a very transparent story that we don’t often see enough of in the church. As I read her story and her mishaps I was able to see some of my own mistakes that I’ve made along life’s journey. It’s amazing how things look when you are on the outside looking in yet you can totally relate. I found myself thinking at some of her story lines “I did the same thing or I’ve been in the same situation”, but thank God for a God of grace who can steer us to the right path.

As I reflect on Sarah’s story I think of so many of God’s children who look for love and acceptance everywhere except to God himself. We tend to look to people, relationships, drugs, alcohol, lifestyles, and poor choices all for love, acceptance, and validation when these are all things God has promised us through salvation. When we stray from God He gives us plenty of warnings and open doors to get on to the right path. We often can get so caught up that we miss God in his multiple attempts of deliverance. We continue to make mistake after mistake and wrong choice after wrong choice. I’ve learned in my own life and in the observation of others that we cannot receive complete deliverance until we want it for ourselves. People can fast, pray, encourage, and lecture us until they are blue in the face, but nothing will happen until your own mind is made up that you want change. The first step to God’s grace is realizing when you’ve had enough of things going wrong and enough rock bottoms. It’s when you realize that you can’t live a life of self-sufficiency, but you need the guidance and power of an all sufficient God. Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom or stripping us to nothing for God to get our complete and total attention so that He can lead us back on the path He has in store.

This is where grace comes in. Before we can receive God’s grace we first have to admit that we’ve messed up and that we are in such a low place that God is the only one who can bring us out. We have to acknowledge our faults to God. The wonderful thing about God is He was there all along patiently waiting for us to return to Him. God is a God of restoration and He can restore the souls and the lives of His children. Sarah Jakes who found herself in several places of darkness is now sharing her redemptive story not only in this book, but in various speaking engagements and platforms across this nation.

• If you have ever been so lost that you tried to find your way instead of relying on God….
• If you ever allowed yourself to be mistreated by someone and mistook it for love….
• If you have ever reflected on the mistakes you have made and wondered if life could ever be better…
• If you ever wondered who you would have been if you would have made better lifestyle choices or career choices…
• If you have ever wondered if your destiny was blocked by your poor choices….

Then this book is for you. Sarah Jakes experienced all of these but now she is a living testimony that if you will yield yourself and surrender to God and allow Him to perform His perfect will in your life, then you can receive all the wonderful things He has in store. Your mistakes are not in vain. God can turn your mess into a miracle. He can turn your mishaps into a testimony that can help others overcome and lead them to a place of hope, restoration, and destiny. We have all had places in life where we have been lost, but there is a redemptive place to be found. God is just waiting for us to turn and surrender ALL to Him.

Thank you Sarah Jakes for being transparent and sharing your story! Be Blessed and Encouraged on today.

Gift of Wisdom

FeeDay37

Gift of Wisdom
Written by Felicia McKnight
10/23/14

Ecclesiastes 8:1 MSG
There’s nothing better than being wise, Knowing how to interpret the meaning of life. Wisdom puts light in the eyes, And gives gentleness to words and manners.

This is the day The Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it! Thank you Lord for not only allowing me to see another day, but allowing me to see a new age! Every year I consider my new age a new chapter in my book of life! As I start this new chapter one of the only things I can think about is I am at an age where I want to limit the amount of mistakes, wrong decisions, and poor choices I make. Over the past year I found myself in multiple situations of not knowing what to do. I was clueless. On some things I sought God and got it right and others I just did my own thing and well….you know how that goes sometimes. The older I get the less I want to mess up. I don’t want to be in situations, places, and relationships that God does not desire for me. I know I will never be perfect and will make some mistakes from time to time. With all errors I learn and grow from them and I recover. I have learned and come to realize that in order to have all that God desires for my life I need God given wisdom. I want to be in a position to have God’s best and all that He has planned for my life. Operating wiser leaves less room for operating outside of the will of God.

There is nothing better than being wise. Knowing how to interpret the meaning of life.
The facts and challenges we face each day is knowledge, but knowing what to do with them is wisdom. I can only imagine what a much better life we can live if we make smarter and wiser choices going forward. Wisdom tells you how to spend money. Wisdom tells you how to react and respond to situations. Wisdom tells you who your real friends are versus the acquaintances, haters, and spectators. Wisdom tells you who to be in romantic relationships with. Wisdom shows you if that person is your spouse or not. Wisdom shows you which route to take on life’s journey. Wisdom tells you which information to share with others and what to keep to yourself. Wisdom is God’s direction in all areas of life.

Wisdom puts light in the eyes.
I love Tony Evans definition of wisdom, “Wisdom is the God given ability to perceive a thing and then implement a little of God regarding it.” We know that where there is God, there is light. Scripture tells us that if we lack wisdom we can ask God for it and He will give it to us. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5 NKJV) Wisdom can be obtained by seeking God in His word and in prayer. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, And if you scoff, you will bear it alone.” (Proverbs 9:10-12 NKJV)

And gives gentleness to words and manners.
Wisdom causes us to be more Christ-like in what we do and say. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” (James 3:13, 17 NKJV)

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path. When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you.” (Proverbs 2:1-11 NKJV)

As we each grow older I pray that we all become wiser because God has given us the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16). Be blessed and encouraged on today!

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing me to see another birthday. Lord I thank you for the gift of this devotional blog and for every person reading the message on today. I lift up every person that you would grant us more spiritual wisdom. Guide our steps to delight in you more through reading and studying your word and in prayer. Father give us the wisdom to make better decisions that follow the path you would have us go and help us to conform to ways that keeps us in the center of your perfect will. In Jesus Name.

God Provides In Miraculous Ways

DrillTeam Collage 10.13.14

2 Kings 4:3-4
Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

In 2 Kings 4 we find the story of a widow woman who found herself in a predicament after her husband passed away. She was left to pay his debts. If she didn’t pay them, then she risked losing her two sons to slavery. From the widows perspective she didn’t have many assets to pay off this debt. All she had was a little bit of olive oil (verse 2). Prophet Elisha advised her on what to do which for some of us might sound like a strange solution. He told her to go ask all of her neighbors for empty jars, as many as she could get. Some miraculous way her little bit of oil would be able to fill up enough jars to sell for a profit and pay for her debts. After doing as the prophet advised the widow was able to fill enough jars for a profit and paid off her husband’s debt.

As I was reflecting on this passage of scripture I thought about my own personal testimony during a time I found myself not having enough. The widow risked losing her children and I was risking killing my daughter’s dream. All the widow had was a little oil. All I had was the gift to write and a little faith.

Back in April of this year my daughter was winding down her last month of junior high school. She wanted to try out for the high school drill team as this has always been a dream of hers. As she went through the week long try out process I was torn. I knew that if she made the drill team it was going to be an expensive journey and a financial burden to me. I had no clue how I would be able to afford this extra-curricular activity. I’ve heard and know the drill team to be expensive, but I just didn’t know how pricey it would be. I was secretly thinking maybe she would not make the team and I was stressing for nothing.

The week long try-outs took place. It was an exciting time for my daughter and a nonchalant experience for me. Friday of try out week arrived. At 10pm the results would be posted. She looked online and she made the team. On one hand I was excited, but deep down inside my worry began as I started wondering how I would fund this. Little did I know that when my daughter made this team on a Friday at 10pm that our journey would begin immediately. The Monday immediately following try outs was a parent meeting. At this meeting we found out the total cost of the uniforms and the exciting news that the drill team was taking their “Big Trip” which happens every four years. That means there is only one opportunity for the girls to take a trip like this and it just so happen to fall during my daughter’s freshman year of high school. All exciting news until I looked at the paper with the cost of uniforms and the cost of the trip. That was enough to have me wanting to pass out in the school cafeteria. The bigger shocker was that uniform money and the trip deposit were all due by the beginning of June. After looking at the totals of everything and the time frame for when it was all due it’s safe to say my anxiety kicked in even more. As with any parent we want the best for our children. I did not want to deny my daughter this opportunity to live out her dream of being on the drill team or to miss out on a fabulous trip and a once in a life time experience. I was torn, I was stressed, and this was one of those rare times I felt helpless as a parent.

I looked at my budget and my bank account and there was no possible way I would be able to have this much money in the short period of time. Do I just tell my child she can’t be on the drill team after letting her go through try outs and making it or do I step out on faith? I certainly didn’t have the heart to tell her no, so I went with option B, the Faith option. I didn’t have much faith at the time, but I was quickly reminded all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed. I remember that night in the prayer closet I cried so hard. I had no plan or clue how to make this happen. Who could I ask for the money? Who had that much money to give? Should I borrow it even though I was not in the position to pay it back? Could I work a 2nd job in a short period of time? I had all of these questions with no answer or a plan.

I opened up to one of my friends. She shared her testimony of how she raised the money to pledge a sorority in college. She gave me the idea of writing letters to family and friends. It was tough for me because I have never enjoyed fundraising or asking people for this type of money. I am the parent who puts the wrapping paper fundraisers in the recycle bin. This letter would require me and my daughter to step out of our comfort zone. I prayed about it and after much prayer and clearly hearing from God I proceeded with the fundraising letter. When I started the process I can honestly say I had wavering faith. Although I prayed I was still hesitant. I drafted my letter and spelled out everything as to why I needed the money, how much and when everything was due. I sent the letters out by mail. I made a list thinking that if each person gave X amount of dollars I would have enough for the uniforms and the trip deposit. I remember thinking if I could raise just what I needed by the beginning of June I could buy some time and figure out how I would be able to pay the trip installments due throughout the summer months and the Fall.

When I sent the letters out I was only expecting a certain amount from people in hopes that if everyone on my list gave it would be enough to meet our needs by June. Little did I know God was about to do exceedingly and abundantly. By the June deadline not even half of the people on my list replied or sent anything yet I had just what we needed with a little to spare! I was able to pay for the full cost of the uniforms and the deposit for the trip. I was blown away by the love and generosity of the people who graciously sowed into my daughter’s life! To God be the Glory!

After the June payments I still had trip installments due in July, August, and September. There was an October installment, but that payment was eliminated. The directors found cheaper air fare which reduced the cost of the trip and eliminated that installment. Nobody but God! There were fundraising opportunities as well, but some of the fundraisers did not bring in enough money to cover the different installments due, however every little bit helped. I remember thinking after June (since that was the deadline I put on the letter) that people would stop giving. My plan was just to figure out how to pay the installment as I went and save what I could along the way. While it probably wasn’t the smartest thought I remember thinking if I had to miss a bill payment on something I was going to pay for this trip. God decided to once again show me that He is Jehovah Jireh. Every month just as another installment was due another blessing would show up. People still gave after the June deadline. To my surprise each time the money was received it was right on time for the next installment and the next and the next. Every tear I cried and the prayers I prayed reaped the harvest we needed for my daughter to be on the drill team and to go on a weeklong out of state trip. When I made the final payment about 2 weeks ago all I could do was cry. God is so faithful! In the midst of my tears and my wavering faith God provided in a miraculous way!

When this journey began in April I had an unfavorable outcome in another area of my life dealing with my finances. As I look back over these last 6 months I know that God took me on this journey to remind me that He is the source. Every method money comes my way are God’s resources. Sometimes when we expect blessings from one place we can be let down and disappointed, but when we expect the blessing from God He never lets us down. I am grateful for every heart and every generous giver that God used to be a blessing to me and my daughter. God has a way of doing exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can ask or imagine.

GOD, Jehovah Jireh, continuously provides through the generous hearts of others. I could sit here and type out so many scriptures that I stood on and prayed not knowing how the answers would come. I will be brief in saying that God’s word is true and if we just believe in it, then He will cause it to come to pass.

My church has a creed that we say every Sunday during the offering:

“Where there is a temple, there is a need.
Where there is a need, there is provision.
Where there is provision, there is God.
Where there is God, He supplies in miraculous ways.”

After I paid the last installment and sat in church that following Sunday I almost leaped out of my seat during the offering. God had certainly provided in a miraculous way for me. I was very hesitant about sharing my testimony as finances are a personal matter that you just don’t share with everyone. However, the testimony and the miracle I personally experienced is so great to me that I just can’t keep it to myself.

I know there are some people reading this who may have a great need or who may have lost hope in God’s provision, but be reminded today that He is Jehovah Jireh and He is faithful to provide. I’ve seen someone go over a year without employment. The employment check ran out but that individual still managed to eat and have a roof over their family’s head. I’ve seen someone face foreclosure and on the very day they were supposed to pack up and move God showed up with a letter or a phone call saying “Not Today”. I’ve seen someone not pay a mortgage for over a year and God blocked foreclosure and short sells several times. As of today that person is still in their home and back on track all because God provided in a miraculous way.

In April I was like the widow woman in 2 Kings, ye of little faith, but in October I find myself with increased faith. I am grateful at what the Lord has done not only in my daughter’s life, but in mine. I am truly having one of the best and funnest times of my life as a mom traveling to football games and band competitions watching my baby shine and living out her dreams. God is so awesome and faithful! Be blessed and encouraged on today!

Prayer
Heavenly Father, today I am grateful to share my testimony that you are Jehovah Jireh my provider. Lord I lift up others who stand in need of a financial miracle. I pray that you will meet their needs as only you know how. I pray that they receive the miracle they need on today exceedingly, abundantly, above all they could ask you for or imagine. In Jesus Name. Amen