Shelter

Psalm 91:1-2 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Once in a while you hear something that absolutes pierces and changes your life. That happened to me.

I prayed that God would speak to me. And He did…later that same day.

Why was I surprised? God speaks. We just need to listen.

A friend recently said Psalm 91 was in their spirit for me. But not in the traditional application. They sensed it was about God wanting me to get my shelter from Him.

Ok. I trust in Him and hope in Him already. I’ve learned not to hope in people. Painfully so from a young age. I grew up as an independent, self-preserving and self-reliant person. Some who didn’t understand trauma saw my struggle as putting faith in people. I was the opposite. I never fully trusted and never fully opened up. And when I did, out of fear I backed away. The times I did pour out my heart to others were me trying to find something to mop up my need.

God was about to show up in a powerful way. I was ready.

I was hearing this woman speak about how their mother would share ultra personal and inappropriate things with them growing up. How this lady’s mother used her young daughter as a confidant and emotional crutch. It caused her to make false vows for self protection as an adult. My mother was almost identical to hers in that sense. She directly said…

“I was taught that other people’s issues are my issues.”

When she uttered that God whispered to me.

“That is it Laurel. You weren’t taught where you stop and others begin. Other people’s issues aren’t yours. Pray for them, yes, but don’t internalize it. You need to repent of the unholy vows and make right ones.”

Because I was wounded so early in life, I didn’t hope or trust in others. Once someone who didn’t know me well told me to stop hoping in people. That’s funny to me because I don’t even know how I’d do something like that. Honestly I just lived…expecting the worst. They were right that God is my hope and I needed the full revelation of it.

And I’m a daughter of the King. I am more than a conqueror.

A quote from Irene Rollins that I love is….”Be authentic with the many, but vulnerable with the few.”

I am pretty authentic. But being vulnerable is hard. I have shared my failings in the past to minister to others. But mostly on my terms. And sometimes the flesh was mixed with the spirit.

God reminded me of when I told Him in prayer, “I’ll never trust them again. I’ll never try again.”

Have you ever done that?

“I’ll never forgive them. I’ll never speak to them again. I’ll never trust men/women again. I’ll never try this….or do that again. I will never go there. I will never let this go.”

All because we got wounded and entertained lies. And those lies became beliefs. The beliefs became thoughts. Feelings attached to those thoughts and our behavior resulted from it.

God revealed to me that taking on issues I am not meant to will, and has, held me back from all He wants of and for me.

Those that have wronged me, and the same for those that wronged you, are God’s responsibility. Leave it in His hands.

A couple of people have used social media and my blogs to connect with space, support me from a distance, “help” me by liking certain posts to be the Holy Spirit in my life based on misjudgments. My family has been subjected to hearing painful gossip several times. We have heard God’s voice clearly. My boundaries feel very crossed and it’s been incredibly…challenging to forgive through. Making things right is incredibly important to God. Our heartbeat should be in tune with the Father’s.

What God is directing me to do is: get off of social media for a long sabbatical, do not mention any longer the past or current failings of those who hurt me and my family, focus on God and God alone, ask for wisdom on all those God wants me to give a healthy measure of trust to for godly fellowship.

And one more thing.

Take Jesus back into the hurts, starting with its inception, and ask Him to heal and redeem my life. My mother passed away 8 years ago. I can’t go to her. For others, it’s up to God at this point. All I can do is invite the Savior into those places of the soul.

We don’t have to convince God to give someone a judgment day. Same for you. You don’t need to convince God to give you a judgement day. You will get one. We all will. And none of us can be anything but naked and humble before a holy God in that moment.

I’m going to be quiet in my blogging for a season. But what I want to leave you with is hope. He reveals to heal. God has shown me what it means for Him to be my emotional and spiritual shelter. We serve a God that can do anything. Often when we surrender, we finally see breakthroughs. Get before God and ask Him to reveal to you any lies and unbiblical beliefs you have. Repent of any unholy and unhealthy vows. God desires us to live in community, walking in love and sharing our giftings with others.

“Father, I pray for every person reading this. May each person, myself included, get their shelter in You. May you reveal to us the lies we believe and replace them with the truths of Your Word. Help us to be obedient to your leading. May we be humble, broken, and selfless, loving others as Christ loved us. Remove any hardness and harshness and give us gentle, tender, compassionate hearts. May your perfect love cast out our fears.”

It’s not about us. May we all live in love and freedom so God’s purposes are done. Psalm 91 has a promise. When we abide in God’s shelter He will answer us, rescue us, honor us, and satisfy us with His love. What could be more amazing than having the Creator of everything loving us and giving to us?

Embrace the truth so you can share the transforming love of God with others. The time is short. The need is great. God can do anything through a broken person who knows their Creator intimately.

Thank you Lord.

Psalm 91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge — no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

The Things of God

Mark 8:32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

My husband and I have been very hurt by some things that have happened which stems from people we were once close to. God spoke to us earlier this year very clearly. I had been praying, asking God how to pray. We’re supposed to pray for those that hurt us. But it’s not easy, and sometimes we miss what is actually happening.

“Lord, what is going on. I know I heard you. So…what’s happening?”

I did not get an immediate answer. But one day God reminded me after prayer of Mark 8:32.

Peter rebuked Jesus.

Actually Jesus called Peter Satan in the beginning of His response. And why did He respond that way?

Mark 8:33b…For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

After meditating on that for a moment something became crystal clear to me.

When we walk in the flesh, Satan is given an open door to possibly use us to hinder God’s plan and harm others.

Imagine what would have happened if Jesus didn’t recognize the root of Peter’s rebuke! What if Jesus said, “You know….You are on to something here. After all, I’m the King of Kings! I don’t need to die on a torturous, humiliating cross. I can call legions of angels to protect me.”

Like Paul wrote here…

1 Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

If Christ hadn’t risen from the dead, I wouldn’t be typing this blog post out. My life, and all other believers I know, wouldn’t have any hope.

Hebrews 9:11-12, 22 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

If Jesus didn’t shed His blood, we might as well just live for the passing pleasures of this world because life is short and once it’s gone, that’s it. But if the resurrection is true, we have eternal hope.

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Truth bomb here: when we get in the flesh and our own minds vs the mind of the Spirit (we call the mind of Christ), we are unknowingly putting ourselves in a position to oppose God’s will and purposes.

In short, those people are in the flesh. Peter was in the flesh. And as in Galatians 5:17 the flesh and the Spirit are opposed to each other.

I’ve matured to the point that, rather than get bitter, upset, or look down on those that are being carnal…I am taking this as a very sobering lesson.

Satan can use us to attack others when we truly believe we’re doing what’s right.

That is incredibly scary. I’ve wondered how often I have been in the flesh for whatever reason and sowed destruction?! Actually, regarding those people I mentioned, I have many years ago done exactly that. I was in a weakened state and I reasoned in my mind vs obeyed the Holy Spirit. Or…at times I’m not even sure I reasoned anything at all. I was being led by emotions or hormones.

Today, my challenge for you is to walk in the Spirit so you don’t satisfy the lusts of the flesh. Ask God what HE desires of you. In every situation be willing to pray, “God show me what I’m supposed to say and do. Give me strength to be faithful in obedience.”

Don’t be Satan. Just don’t. Don’t open the door so the enemy can use you. Keep it shut and locked. Stay in God’s word, prayer, and godly fellowship. Be accountable.

Lord, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done. Always.

Mark 8:31-33 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The Accordian Lesson

1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

My middle son, who’s almost 10, gets accordian lessons each weekend. The lessons are from a man my children have adopted as their grandfather. And both the man and his wife are full-on grandparents to my boys. They bring food and shower them with gifts. When the elderly gentleman asked my son if he wanted to learn to play the accordian, he said an enthusiastic, “sure!” But after a lesson one day my son asked me a question.

“Mom, am I going to play the accordian when I’m an adult?”

“Well, if you want to”, I replied.

His little brain wheels were turning.

It’s not about the accordian.

My son will have some wonderful memories someday. He has been given the greatest gift a person can give….their time.

Do you want to know if someone loves you, or loves whatever they profess to? It’s simple. They give it their time. Love equals sacrifice, humility, and putting someone else above yourself.

The selfish cannot truly love.

I don’t think my son will ever grow to much of an accordian player. But, he is being taught from a young age what love is. Just about everyone is busy. And sadly, we’re not even called to be busy. We’re called to be fruitful.

Don’t be so busy that you miss the entire purpose of you being here. Love God, love others. Let me assure you, what you put your time and money into is where your heart is. Always.

I pray each of us pauses long enough to hear the still, small voice of God. He might even being asking you to get some accordian lessons.

And it’s not about the accordian. It’s about walking in love. Start looking at those around you and ask God to show you their giftings. Ask Him to reveal to you those that can add value to your life. And especially, inquire prayerfully how you can build up someone else. Not because you have to, or because it’s your job. Because it’s just you, them, God…

…and an accordian. And through it someone’s life will change. Maybe even you.

“Father, help us not to miss the opportunities to build your purposes in the lives of others. Remove distractions, and keep us eternity minded. Amen.”

My Husband

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Husband is on the right.

This blog is different than my usual ones. I want to brag about my husband Dustin. He has so often done things quietly, with sacrifice, in excellence and love with no fanfare or credit. Recently I was moved to share it. These are things few know and he will never say.

Dustin is a very private person so I will leave out some details. Just know he grew up in dysfunction and abuse. He has a heart for those less fortunate because of it.

In college, he worked a lot. One of his jobs paid well. Instead of buying fancy, lavish things (for a college student) he anonymously gave from each paycheck to pay the tuition debts of others. It was thousands. Only in the past few months did I find out and we’ve been married 15 years in November. After spending time in YWAM he moved up to Minnesota to help a friend he loves like a brother. He believes someday he is meant to do ministry with him. That has been shelved and surrendered to God’s timing and way.

When we first got married he paid the debt of someone who wronged him. A pastor we both loved challenged him to do “as unto the Lord” and He will reward. Dustin sent a large sum anonymously to a minister in need. He lost his life savings in a shady real estate deal (long story trust me.) He not only forgave them, but helped someone involved in a time of great need. By this point our autistic son’s behaviors were incredibly challenging and draining.

I’ve watched my husband give the last dollar he’s had, volunteer to park cars in the pouring rain after working a long third shift. I can’t tell you how many times he’s mowed someone’s lawn, shoveled someone’s driveway, helped someone move, or build something even when it was a huge sacrifice for us. I have often been the respite for him with the kids so he could serve. And I still joyfully do it.

My husband recently volunteered to do the gross, hard cleaning jobs at church nobody but an elderly man was willing to do. He has given up a lot to give our children better.

Not too long ago I had to really pray through my husband being used, lied to, and manipulated in ministry. I won’t give into my flesh and give details. God knows. We learned a hard lesson in getting close to those who lack boundaries and integrity.

Dustin was in a work situation for years where he was mocked, mistreated, and even passed over for promotions because he is Jewish. I’m serious. Those leaders were finally fired, some charged with embezzling, harassment, and drug trafficking.

That’s the tip of the iceberg. We’ve been through things, respectively, and together in marriage.

We’ve had very rough patches. I told someone at one point our marriage was on life support and even a few then tried to pull the plug.

Praise God He resurrects, restores, and heals.

I get the struggle my husband has wrestled with. He’s taken a lot of hits from the enemy, and it gets discouraging. Both my husband and I have been misquoted, misjudged, and misunderstood painfully at times. We were about 6 months ago (not in our marriage but in our spiritual lives) worn thin. We had doubts. We battled hard with bitterness. I will never forget when God orchestrated us to attend a church. The pastor was preaching on the end times. We talked in the car on the way to church that we lost hope. And didn’t believe God reconciles or restores. It was a low moment for us culled from years of experiences.

During that service the pastor paused his message and said something like, “Some of you are rehearsing the failures of others. This is bitterness and it’s sin. You need to repent. It’s holding you back. And don’t count God out to reconcile a relationship.”

He went on to give a brief but powerful testimony. Then back to his sermon.

We looked at each other, a bit stunned. God was trying to get through to us.

Since then, I’ve watched my husband soften, mature, and forgive and it’s been just beautiful to witness. It has inspired me.

I want to challenge you ladies especially reading this to love your husbands. Pray for them. Submit to them (within biblical and legal guidelines. I don’t advocate abuse. Nor does God. Torah is about preserving life.) For those married to husbands that are backslidden or unbelievers hold to this…

1 Peter 3:1-2 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

Leading is about serving. Matthew 23:11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. Wives, provide an atmosphere your husband can trust. Proverbs 31:11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.

My husband isn’t perfect. I’m not either. But I am truly blessed that I married a man with a heart to help others. He has given so much.

Matthew 6:3-4 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Father, may you reward my husband richly for all he has faithfully given. Build him up so he can build others up, giving You the glory.

Don’t Open the Door

John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.

I got a picture/vision while in prayer this morning. I saw me sitting in a room. It was dark outside, and it appeared to be in winter. There was a fireplace, I was sipping a hot drink (let’s go with hot cocoa my fave), and I was reading a book. It was an abnormally peaceful scene considering it was sans my children or husband. I was alone but content.

Perhaps too content.

All of a sudden I noticed the door was ajar. It was just barely cracked open. But I didn’t seem to care because I was warm and comfortable. But slowly it opened more and more. I ignored it. Eventually the fire burned out and I could see my breath. This cozy space became frozen.

Huh?

I paused. I recalled a conversation I had with someone yesterday.

“We can’t leave any room for the enemy. If we crack open the door to darkness, it will want more.”

Imagine if I told you that I killed my neighbor and hid their body under my porch. Then, I followed that statement up with all of the wonderful things I’m doing for others and God. I’m sure after the initial shock of that statement you’d be thinking, “You are not a good person. You’re a murderer!” What do you think the chances would be that the authorities would say, “Well, it’s just this one person. She’s nice to everyone else. It’s ok.” If they were following the civil (and biblical Torah) law, I would deserve punishment. That could mean death.

The above scenario is obviously absurd. No sane person would do or say something like that. And yet, how often do we use our successes to negate the moral failures of our life?

It is just that one person I’m bitter at. That one juicy piece of gossip. One lustful look. One time I worked on Sabbath. One shady internet search. One angry outburst. One deception. One affair. One fear.

The list could be endless. I typed up some random scenarios. The point is, it starts with one but it doesn’t end there. Once you crack open the door for the kingdom of darkness, Satan will gladly come in. He will never ever ever be content with a crack. Sin will devour anyone that entertains it. Every time we hit the snooze button on a Holy Spirit nudge we crack the door open a little more. Eventually, if not careful, our conscience grows dull. If left in that condition too long, it becomes seared.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Ephesians 5:15-16 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

I believe God was warning me, and giving me a message to share, that we must live obediently, vigilantly…wisely.

God doesn’t really care about the areas you are-or think you are-doing awesome in. Yes, He will reward us one day. But, God loves us too much to leave us as we are. The Father cares about the cracked doors. Those things that invite the enemy in. The sins we don’t want to deal with. We tend to not deal with those sins because it’s disruptive. One minute we’re on the fast track to our goals and plans, and the next God calls us to humble ourselves, prostrate in repentance before God.

Let me tell you, sin disrupts. And once the effects are noticeable, it brings destruction. I promise you.

Recently God personally dealt with me on a particular sin I was sure I didn’t possibly have. Greed. I have been doing some investing and made far more than I thought possible. All of a sudden I felt the temptations that come with it.

Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

I have been reading the book of Judges. What a heavy, somber read. One thing is super duper clear. Our hearts are deceitful. Living in the flesh will never glorify God or bring Christlike behavior.

Today, I want to challenge you. God loves you, and for this reason I’m sharing this. I pray for the souls and spirits that read this. Be free. Don’t be a slave to sin. Don’t crack open the door. This isn’t to shame you. God doesn’t convict to make you look inward to feel bad. God convicts so we look upward to Him so He can deliver us, heal us, strengthen us, and transform us into the image of Messiah.

We’ve got a job to do, and I don’t mean your title. Lost souls abound. The Church needs a clean up. We need to wake up to what’s going on in this world.

Friend, shut the door and leave it shut. I speak victory over you in Yeshua’s name.

Something I pray: Father, help me be more like You. Reveal to me any areas of my life that grieve You. Give me the strength to do what you ask of me. Thank you Lord for loving me and for the cross. I receive your forgiveness. You forgave me when I didn’t deserve it. You loved me at my worst. Help me show that to others. Your word doesn’t return void, so give me wisdom to speak Your word to bring life, hope, healing, salvation, and love to others. Fill me as I hunger and thirst for righteousness. Amen.

True Salvation

Genesis 49:18 I wait for your salvation, O Lord.

The world currently seems to be like a boiling pot on the stove. When you first set the water on the burner, it is still. Quiet. Cold. But as it heats up it starts to bubble. Eventually, if not careful, the pot can end up boiling over and making quite a mess. I’ve learned to use those really big kettles to avoid the spillover. But boiling water is interesting. Like the fable of a frog sitting in the pot, just chilling out in the water. It doesn’t jump out and stays to its death because it doesn’t realize until too late that they are dying. Watching water boil seems to take forever. Then it suddenly boils.

So is this world. Sadly, even some professing believers.

Philippians 3:18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.

For those who have ears to hear and eyes to see, the signs are there.

Everywhere.

The foundation is laid. We must live wisely. Prepare. And tell others of true salvation, not a 30 second uttered sinner’s prayer, but of a life lived in obedience to God’s instructions.

I watched a teaching a couple of months ago by Francis Chan. He said one time while preaching somewhere God gave him a vision. He saw the people in the audience wearing life preservers in a big lake. God spoke to him something along these lines…

“In this church building it’s easy to be propped up. But those who can swim are discovered outside of these walls.”

The mainstream churches in America offer up the bells and whistles. They are often well polished. Neatly and precisely presented. We spend time prioritizing carpet colors, types of chairs, music selection, paint, lighting etc over souls. The hurting and broken. We too often present a false gospel that promises comfort and blessings. But we don’t talk about the prerequisite for biblical blessing (because, sorry to say it but the devil “blesses” too.) All the beautiful promises are quoted, leaving off this part:

Isaiah 58:13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;

If….You call the Sabbath a delight and honor it.

Wow. That’s something to really chew on for another blog.

We don’t tell people the cost. What love actually means. What salvation truly is.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Salvation isn’t a prayer or going to a church building. It’s not a mystical, feelings based experience. It often is uncomfortable to the flesh. It’s sacrificial. Takes humility. Patience. It must allow perfect love to cast out fear. A choice must be made. No such thing as fence walking.

I want to leave you with a challenge. Ask God to reveal to you any areas where you are being “propped up.” We cannot live out our spiritual lives through our pastors, spouses, parents, grandparents, friends etc. If we need a fancy church building, the right midweek group, the right worship songs, a pizza party, someone checking up on us often, telling us what we want to hear to just live like we’re saved we’re in trouble. As soon as trials come, we will fall. We need each other, but if we lean too much on anything it’s idolatry. God commands better for us than that.

The day of adversity will come. I promise you. But you don’t have to faint when it happens. Recognize the signs of the times. Stay grounded in prayer, Bible reading, and godly fellowship. Put God first. First in your time, thoughts, words, spending, habits, business, parenting, relationships etc.

The world needs us to be bold and shine His light. They need to hear the truth of His Word and His ways.

Father, forgive us for leaning too much on other people and things. Lead us to those we need and those who need us. Help us be the part of the Body you created us to be. And help us share who You are with others, in actions and words. In love, humility, and without fear. Amen.

Matthew 9:37-38 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Luke 21:28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

A Good Conscience

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Forsaking a good conscience is prelude to moral disaster- John Piper

Recently my husband and I were wounded by someone. God knows the details. What we are aware of is, this person acknowledged to someone they felt God leading them in something.

But then they didn’t.

Beyond that, they have seemed to go numb. My husband and I decided quickly what our response was going to be.

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

We are praying daily for them. Doing good when we can. As I was telling a counselor this, she said to me just one word: strongholds.

This person has strongholds. The enemy gets in our minds and lies to us. And the most powerful lies are the ones laced with a lot of truth. Remember, something that’s partially true still is a lie.

I had watched a John Paul Jackson teaching on this subject afterwards to learn more about it.

Note: It’s ok to label something sin when it is, but a big trick of the enemy is to keep us focused on others. That way we don’t deal with our own sins. Prayer times need to be about confession of our own issues too.

Back on track, John Paul Jackson said this, “Strongholds keep you from being obedient because you misperceive things.”

I spent some time alone in prayer regarding strongholds for myself and this person. I put my hand over my head and said, “In Jesus/Yeshua’s name I cast down the stronghold of fear, depression, bitterness, envy, rejection etc from my life. My value is in Christ. I have the mind of Christ. Lord, continue to reveal strongholds to me and give me the strength to cast them down when you do.”

Unity is the result of strongholds being pulled down. So is peace, joy, faithfulness, love, goodness etc.

I understood with the greatest clarity to date the why behind things that eluded me before. I “got” me. I “got” them. A new level of comprehension was unlocked. My discernment was fine tuned.

God used this to incredibly turbo charge my prayer life. Prayers for my life and for others.

The enemy wants us staying hurt, getting offended, seething with bitterness and hatred so we are of no earthly or heavenly good. Satan is a defeated foe. But he’s a formidable one. If he can get us attacking each other and viewing our brothers and sisters as the enemy, we are doing the enemy’s work for him.

I’ve seen recently some major heart changes and breakthroughs in people I’ve been praying for. In one case, I was solidly seeking the throne for many years. God is faithful to deliver us when we let him. And I praise God from the top of my lungs for all He’s done and is still doing for me.

Today, if you’re struggling with strongholds you can be free. We all have them at some point. Don’t let the enemy’s lies cause you to harden your heart and forsake your God-given conscience. When we do that, we open the door wide for demonic influence. And the enemy can use us unknowingly to wound others. Let’s be an agent of love and healing instead.

It may feel a bit silly, but put your hand over your head. Ask God to reveal any strongholds in your mind. As He does, faithfully cast them down in Jesus’ name. God wants you free.

John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Ephesians 6:11-13 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Perfect and Complete

James 1:3-4 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Last weekend I travelled to Wisconsin to say goodbye to my father. I made peace and did what God wanted me to.

It was uncomfortable. That’s an understatement.

During the trip, I stood by the shore of Lake Michigan looking out over the vast expanse of water. Feeling small. The last time I was here I was young. I’m not young anymore. Life has been challenging. I’ve experienced much loss. I am not the young, over-zealous, foolish teenager I used to be. In transparency, I felt uglier. Lesser. Somehow less than I was. Standing here produced different snapshots of my life flashing in my mind.

I started a prayer in my head that was full of raw questions.

“I know I hear from you. Why did this happen? Why isn’t my son healed? Why did our friends, who once pursued reconciliation, decide if they don’t want it we are worth nothing? Why are we undervalued? Why was so much taken away? Why aren’t you resurrecting and restoring in my life like I’ve seen you do for those around me? Why have I walked through so much?”

Why?

When will I learn to stop asking why to the Creator who doesn’t have to tell me one iota of anything?! But, guess what? He did respond to me.

“I have given you strong faith. Steadfastness has been produced in your life. You don’t see it, but you are mature.”

Hmm. I thought about it. God showed me something I say with humility. Even the blogs I wrote a few years ago often don’t represent how I see things now. I’ve grown rapidly. God took every painful trial to shape me and develop His character. I used to be petty, judgmental, critical, hypocritical, cold, bitter, and passive. Only now are small glimpses of that seen.

Praise God, though it’s been painful, I’ve learned much. I’ve learned hard lessons on wasting precious thoughts on nonsense. I’ve criticized what I discovered I didn’t understand. I’ve misjudged others and my pride was totally decimated. God has poured so much love in me that I am gentler. Softer. More loving. But I’m still human. I get it wrong. I’ve realized God calls us to be fruitful, not busy. We need to make time to do what’s right. If we’re too busy, then we’re too busy. I have made time through God’s impossible math in my own life.

I walked away from the shore with a knowledge that God sees. He’s working. He isn’t done writing the story. And He is faithful to prune us and mature us. It hurts, but it is so very good.

My family is being built up. We won’t always be in a humble position. God is telling me not to put stock in a title, bank balance, or social status. That can be taken in an instant. True riches are what is stored up in heaven. When blessings come, I need to stay humble.

I am not perfect and complete. But I’m nowhere near where I used to be. For that I’m so thankful. I am not who I was even a year ago. My growth has been swift, mostly because of the trials. This new season is more still and peaceful. I’m standing at the shore, still not understanding much of God, but resting in Him anyway.

I am insignificant in light of eternity and the universe. Just a speck in the face of a vast expanse of water. And yet, I am made in the image of God. I have purpose. The details matter. I matter. That thought is so comforting to me.

Friend, you matter. You have a purpose. God wants us trusting in Him, His Word, and His nudges in our lives. God always wants to bless us, but sometimes, we have to get out of the way to allow it.

I pray steadfastness has its full effect. May you hear the voice of God with greater clarity and be given wisdom and tools needed to spend time soaking in His presence. May you with gratitude humbly offer up what’s in your hand and watch God multiply it. May the 5,000 be fed when needed and may 5,000 meals be fed to the one person when God leads it. I pray against perfectionism. It’s not about you. You be obedient and God will do the rest. May God restore every area of your life. May you receive a greater revelation of the love of the Savior.

Seized With Great Fear

Luke 8:37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.

Someone a while back asked me if fear is ever present when God’s presence or will is clear. I thought of the story in Mark 5 and Luke 8. To give a recap, a man with a legion of demons received deliverance. Mark’s story doesn’t mention this word, but Luke’s account states after the man was delivered “they were seized with great fear.”

Seized with great fear.

Why?

I find this odd really. A man that was such a danger to himself and others is now in his right mind. The threat is gone. He’s not a danger to himself (or anyone or anything else) anymore. That calls for rejoicing, right?!

But the people didn’t seem to care about the miracle.

I have read many commentaries on this story. I’ve tried to reason it from various angles. But the fact is, people were seized with great fear in the very presence of the One who could save them. The very One that brings life, deliverance, healing, hope, resurrection etc the people begged to leave them.

Truth reveals. It disrupts.

I wonder if the people thought that their comfortable way of living and understanding was getting too disrupted. It was shining a light too much on their own sins. Their own needs. Their own demons.

Did the people lovingly receive the delivered man back? We don’t really know. We know he was given a charge by Yeshua to proclaim his testimony. And scripture says he did. What became of it was up to God and each person’s heart.

This story reveals that God showing up a big way doesn’t always garner a great reaction. The very person, the Word, that says “Fear not” had a strong fear reaction to His presence.

Today, I’m challenged that when God does show up in my life that I’m not seized with great fear. I’m not so attached to my comforts that I push away the Author and Finisher of my faith. My Savior. Redeemer. Deliverer. Healer.

God isn’t afraid of himself. Think about that. If our spirit is fearing God’s presence and His working, it’s not from Him. Our spirit inside us, that is redeemed in Christ, will bear witness. It’s our flesh that fights it. The spirit and flesh are at war.

I felt led to share this today. There’s a few that need to read this. Fear not. Let God do the work He needs to. He always works for our good. Remember that.

He Weaves

for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13

I recently deleted my Facebook. It was something God led me to do, and had been nudging me on for a while.

How do you know when God is speaking? What do you do when your spirit and your flesh are so much at war?

Galatians 5:17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

I’ve been seeking answers to those questions for quite a while. I’ve discovered a few things that have helped me win the war. 1) what you feed will be stronger 2) the flesh needs to be crucified 3) perfect love casts out fear 4) we are called to be versions of Messiah in character, not better versions of ourselves 5) the power of prayer with fasting.

Life gets busy and is full of distractions. Before you know it our plates are full. We are not called to be busy, we are called to be fruitful. That is why we must be interruptible, willing to set aside our agenda for His.

At the weakest, busiest, and worst possible moments for my flesh is often when I’ve run into someone or someone reached out. People often joke on the days you look and feel your best you run into no one you know. On your roughest days when you hope to just slip by unnoticed, you run into several people you know. Often the ones where you exclaim to God, “Really?!”

Really.

God is showing me just how precisely and deliberately he weaves the thread of our lives. The tree Zacchaeus needed to climb to see Jesus was planted long before that event. The well needed for the Samaritan Woman to draw from was dug millennia beforehand. That circumstance or person you meet came about after thousands of years of history. Think about that.

Our job is to obey God, loving Him and others. We are not responsible for outcomes or responses. God may lead us to do something a person will not respond to, or not respond well to. Perhaps God is working on them. Maybe they will choose to stay hardened. I’ve shared my faith with those that replied terribly. Truly terribly sad. I’ve apologized to a few people in life over the years that didn’t respond in kind. But God calls us to reply WITH kindness, not in kind.

Trust God. We are all in a battle. We don’t all fight the same exact things and our strengths and weaknesses are different. But one thing is sure, to win the battle we must fight with spiritual weapons. The more we do, the more God will give us an appetite for righteousness. Hunger can be a very good thing. Lord, may we be hungry.

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.