Expect the Unexpected

I believe following God’s instructions is the wisest yet hardest thing we could ever do. His way of doing things is never ordinary but always yields amazing results. Like building a massive structure in preparation for a storm, all while the term “rain” was foreign to man. Holding a stick over a raging sea to create a way of escape from the enemy. Marching around the walls of a secured city seven times, then playing instruments in order for the walls to collapse. I know I am not the only one who thinks God’s directions are a little…unusual.

I became all too familiar with His unusual instructions as I was planning VISION NOW. From inviting a speaker whom I knew very little about to allowing a young lady to do my hair whom I had never been to before (ladies, we all know this is a no no!), He kept telling me to do things that, to me, were crazy. Even down to the date. When I accepted that He wanted me to have this event, I just knew it would be in January to help women kick off the new year, but He kept saying NOW. So on the first day of the last quarter of the year, I hosted a vision party. I literally asked Him, “Who in the world is going to come to a vision party in October? It’s not close enough to the end of year nor is it at the beginning of a new year.” God told me there is nothing magical about January 1st. It’s just another day on the calendar. VISION NOW!

So I did. I did everything He said. No matter how uncomfortable I was. And no matter how much the enemy confirmed that God’s instructions were a little off-kilter. I did it and I did it just the way He told me to.

And guess what??? The event was amazing!

 

Andrea Snyder, co-founder of the Urban Cookhouse, whom I briefly crossed paths with in Corporate America, shared her story of giving up her $40,000 salary plus benefits, bonuses, and promotions for a job that paid $13 but allowed her to pursue her vision. That transition paid off! In 2010, Andrea and her husband opened their first limited-service restaurant. Today, Urban Cookhouse has seven locations with 2 additional locations opening later this year. Andrea spoke from Matthew 25 and challenged the ladies not to bury their “talents” due to fear, but instead to use what God had given them in a manner that would please the Father and bring them joy.

Andrea’s inspiring message was followed by my dear friend, Pamela Phipps, Executive Director of Grace House Ministries. Pam told us how she sought God to determine His plan for her life. And although she did not understand what He was telling her, in time, she realized that everything in her past was preparation for her present. Pam concluded by challenging the ladies to: 1) write down their vision from God, 2) speak it out of their mouths, 3) surround themselves with like-minded people who would be honest with them and supportive, and 4) look forward to fulfilling the vision.

After the ladies laughed, talked, and work together to find specific items for their boards, they flipped the boards over and to their surprise was a roadmap. I explained that in order for their vision to become reality, intentionality was the key. The roadmap was comprised of 10 blank billboards. Before the evening ended, each lady was to write on the billboards which steps they would take before the end of October. Some wrote they would create a business plan. Others noted spending more time with God was their first priority. A few admitted they need to let go of people in their lives who were headed in a different direction.

But the gentle voice of Karmen Ali brought the evening to a close in a way that only God Himself could have ordained. See…Karmen is the young lady who did my hair for the very first time and yes, she did an amazing job! Friday morning as I sat in Karmen’s salon, I inquired about her availability on Saturday to do my makeup for VISION NOW. She wasn’t sure if she could accommodate me but asked me to tell her more about the event. I told her all about it, even invited her to come. She said yes but I could tell there was bit of hesitation. She then told me she believed God had sent me to her. Karmen shared that a few years ago, she created a vision board. She had many things on her board but specifically remembered adding three letters, G O D. Her vision began to unfold. She did not understand it, but the pictures and words she glued to the poster board were actually happening. As time went on, Karmen drifted away from God and almost instantly, her life became a downward spiral. Everything she had placed on her board was slowly stripped away.

I asked Karmen to share her story because more than anything, I wanted every women to know…The vision is unachievable without the Visionary. Apart for Him we can do nothing. It is only WITH HIM that all things are possible.

I told the women to get ready! Expect the unexpected. God’s instructions would not be ordinary. They most likely would not make sense. I was their example. I invited someone to speak at VISION NOW whom I had never heard speak before and I went to a salon for the first time, one day before the event. Who does that??? Me, when I follow His instructions.

This is what I want you to remember whether you were able to attend VISION NOW or not….Regardless of your ability to comprehend the true purpose behind God’s prompting, it is most important that you trust and obey Him…no matter what!

To see pictures from VISION NOW, click www.facebook.com/tijuana.johnsonwilliams.

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Now That’s The Kind Of God I Serve!

I believe we are in a time where God will do unprecedented things if we simply obey His words. But often when we hear Him, our response is not always what it should be. We shrug off His instructions. We delay in following His directions. We lean to our own understanding. I am convinced that even in the simplest matters, God wants us to heed His voice. Allowing Him to be our guide often simplifies a process which likely could take a tumultuous turn if we went our own way.

Recently my husband and I were discussing leading a small group at our church. Actually I kind of nudged him during a Sunday service and said, “I think God wants you to lead a small group.” After some discussion, he hesitantly agreed. We began looking at our schedules to determine a good time. We settled on Sunday afternoons, but the next question was, “Where?” In an effort to show Dale this was God’s prompting, not just me, I called several locations. Every place I contacted was unable to accommodate for one reason or another. I reminded God that He nudged me before I nudged my husband. That’s the only reason I even made the suggestion. I continued to call, but to no avail, the answer was consistently “no.” I began to get a bit discouraged. If God really wanted him to lead a group, He would open a door….wouldn’t He???

One afternoon, Dale asked if I had secured a location for his group meeting. After all, I told him not to worry about it. I reluctantly said no, but told him I would keep trying because I believed this was something God really wanted him to do. I told him to continue preparing because I knew in my heart God wanted to do something very special through this men’s group. Dale looked at me for a moment, but remained silent. I thought he was about to say, “maybe this is not meant to be,” but instead he said, “I know where I am suppose to host the group.” I was completely caught off guard, but I continued to listen. “The bowling alley.” With a big smile, I said, “Ok,” but all the while I was thinking, “Who in the world is going to allow you to host a video-based small group at the bowling alley?”

A couple of days later, Dale stopped by the bowling alley. The manager was busy, but he told the front desk staff he would wait. So he waited and waited and waited. After almost an hour, the manager came out and  ask how he could help. My husband explained his reason for being there. The manager hesitated. He inquired about the church, the material the men would be discussing, and questioned the topic of study. After further discussion, the manager agreed. He and my husband continued to talk. After about half an hour, the manager asked Dale if he had another minute to spare. Dale nodded and the manager proceeded to take him into a private area. It was the VIP room. This room had multiple private lanes, a dining area, private restrooms, and its own personal chef. The manager explained that very few people were aware that this area existed. It was “pretty exclusive,” but he was willing to allow the men’s group to use it on occasion.

Wow! Now that’s the kind of God I serve! When we follow His voice, He will lead us along the path which opens up the “exceedingly abundantly” type of blessings that can only be attained through obedience to His voice. After so many “no’s,” who would have thought a bowling alley would willing host a Christian men’s small group and make their VIP room available???

My message today is simple. Obey God when He speaks. His instructions may be out of the ordinary. They may be contrary to what we believe to be best. BUT…He always knows and He is always right!

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT VISION NOW!

VISION NOW is now full! Registration is closed. For those who were unable to register for this event, you will get a full recap next week right here! I pray God will give me more opportunities to host events and open doors for more speaking engagements. After all, I only do it to bring Him glory!