Saturday, February 28, 2009

You Lead, I'll Follow

As I put my son to bed last night he said "Mommy, how come everyone doesn't love God?" "Well, not everyone wants to give up there own way and follow God. Some people don't want to let God be in charge so they reject Him" I said. "So they'll go to hell then won't they?" He said with a tear in the corner of his eye.

What a soft and pliable heart. The heart of a child that follows Jesus so easily. The kind of heart we should all have. Once again, I am taught a lesson by my eight year old son.

From a small child we are taught to be independent, able to take care of things on our own. We learn how to deal with things on our own so we can move away and handle our life apart from our parents. Often, in that equation, we learn to be independent so well that we forget how God hard wired us. He hard wired us to be dependant on Him.

Being dependent and just following God where He leads is difficult. Seems so odd that following should be difficult, but it is. We were designed by our creator to walk with Him, and allow Him to give us what we need. When Adam chose to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil it changed everything. We now fight against our hard wiring. We now have a sin nature that wants to be in control, to be independent. So what is best for us is the very thing we fight against.

I was told this story the other day by a friend. "In seminary a professor of mine took our class through an exercise. He took us on a tour where we all lined up behind him and followed him all over the campus. He said nothing and ended up back in the classroom. What we had done was reminiscent of the game follow the leader. He ended the exercise by telling us 'This is our job with God, we are to follow. Where He says to go, we go. That’s all, we follow'. "

Seems easy enough. Right?

Not always so when your sin nature is fighting against it. Our biggest enemy in this battle is our self. Satan fights against us yes, but we often get in our own way. God says to go one way and we would rather go another.

Sometimes its fear that pushes us in our own direction. We know He is calling us to do something but the thought of it is way too scary. What would people think? They might think I am crazy. Or what if I fail? You say to yourself. What if I really didn't hear Him right? I probably didn't, so you stay right where you are or go a different direction. Going in a different direction didn't work for Jonah and it probably won't work for you either.

Maybe it could be pride that keeps us from following. Thinking we know enough to take care of it ourselves. Why bother Him, I can get this one. "You just relax God, I got you covered" my pride seems to say at times. How ridiculous is that!? Me thinking I know better than God?

Suffice it to say what ever the hindrance, we would be much better off if we just let go and let God. Then just follow Him when he tells us, "Let’s go".

The disciples followed Jesus. Day in and day out for three years, they followed and learned as they went. This is what we are called to do. Not to walk beside and decide together. Not to get in front and lead Him. Not to lag behind and catch up later. We are to follow Him. So closely on His heals that we get the dust from His sandals kicked up on us.

Matthew 16:24 - Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."

If we desire to go with Jesus, He is clear. We must deny our own sin nature, take up our cross and follow Him.

Help us humbly follow behind you Lord. For You do know best.

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Wait On The Lord

As I approached the keyboard today, I was under the notion I would impart to you my impression on how tough it is to wait on the Lord. In my mind I had likened "wait" to a dirty four letter word. I have to wait..... Ugh.... How loooonnnnggggg?

Waiting in my childhood was anxiety driven. When is the other shoe doing to drop?!?? Usually when it did, let’s just say it was not a good experience. Needless to say, resting in the Lord and waiting for Him to take me to the next place makes me anxious.

As I have been waiting for my bus to arrive.... To take me to the next place of service, so to say. I have been experiencing much anxiety about the unknown in my future. I like to have a plan you see, and just waiting for the next thing I am called to do is not my way. But it’s His way.

I began a search in the bible on waiting on the Lord. Then I looked up verses with the word wait and was lead to Psalm 104. It put my heart in a different place and gave me the assurance I was looking for. So I wrote my personal Psalm 104 and I'd like to share it with you.

I encourage you if you haven't personalized the Psalms, and sung them back to God, you should. They become a beautiful very personal prayer.

Psalm 104

From my soul, I cry out bless you!
O Lord my God, You are so very great:
As we would put on clothing, your clothing is honor and majesty
You cover Yourself with light as if it were a garment,
You stretch out the heavens like a curtain,
And lay the beams of Your upper chambers in the waters,
You walk on the wings of the wind,
You make Your angels spirits,
And ministers like a flame of fire.

You laid the foundation of the earth,
So that it would be unmovable.
You covered it with the deep as with a garment,
The waters stood above the mountains.
At Your rebuke they fled;
At the voice of Your thunder they hurried away.
They went up over the mountains;
Then went down into the valleys,
To the place which You founded for them.
You have set a boundary that they may not pass over,
That they may not return to cover the earth.
You send the springs into the valleys;
They flow among the hills,
They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
By the waters the birds have their home;
They sing among the watered tree branches.
You water the hills from Your upper chambers of heaven;
And all earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.

You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation to thrive for man,
That we can grow and live from food of the earth,
And wine that makes the heart of man glad,
Oil to make our faces shine,
And bread which strengthens man heart.
The trees the Lord grows are full of sweet sap,
You planted the cedars of Lebanon that grow so tall,
Where the birds make their nests;
The stork has her home in the fir trees,
The high hills are for the goats;
The cliffs are a refuge for the rock badger.

You appointed the moon for seasons;
When the sun knows it is going down.
You make darkness, and it is night,
In which all the beasts of the forest creep about.
The young lions roar after their prey,
And seek their food from God.
When the sun rises, they gather together
And lie down in their dens.
Man goes out to his work
And to his labor until evening.

O Lord, How many and various forms are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
The earth is full of Your possessions:
This great and wide sea,
In which are innumerable teeming things,
Living things both small and great,
On it the ships sail about;
There in it is the sea creature
Which You have made to play there

All these creations wait for You,
That You may give them their food in due season,
What You give them they gather in;
You open Your hand, they are filled with good.
You hide Your face, they are troubled;
You take away their breath, they die
And return to their dust.

You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the earth.
May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
May the Lord rejoice in His works,
He looks on the earth and it trembles;
He touches the hills, and they smoke.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
May my meditation be sweet to Him;
I will be glad in the Lord.
May one day sin be consumed from the earth,
And wicked be no more.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!

With that, how can I consider waiting on my Lord a burden? I can not....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Standing Strong Against Warfare - Part 4

Today we reach the final part of the Armor of God that Paul refers to in Ephesians.

Ephesians 6:17-18 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

We are to take the helmet of salvation. This is not something that we put on each day; it is something we receive once from the acceptance of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made. Salvation is a free gift offered to us by Christ. We can not earn it, we did not deserve it but we are offered it any way.

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, believing that we are full of sin and have no way of entering into heaven on our own merit. We take His free gift of salvation, repenting and turning from our sin. We then become a new creation. We are born into the kingdom of God and given the gift of eternal life.

When we take that step and accept His salvation, we then put on the helmet of salvation. The helmet, once put on our head, does not come off. It is not removable. No one can snatch us out of Gods hand.

John 10:28 - And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

There are some that say we put on our salvation everyday. I do not believe this to be true. We take our salvation, the gift of God and put it on only once. After that, each day we are working out our salvation. Meaning we are changing each day and moving closer to righteousness. Not all on our own effort but by the God that continually changes us from the inside out.

The helmet, in Roman time was meant to protect the head, as so our salvation does. Putting on the helmet protects and begins the process of renewing our mind to think and operate like Christ does.

We are immediately indwelled with the Holy Spirit who now guides our way and protects our mind. This brings us to the next part of the armor, the sword of the Spirit.

Because of the Spirit that lives within us, our eyes are now opened to the word of God as a living and breathing instrument given by God himself. It is through the living water that flows through His word that we are transformed into the likeness of Christ. As we drench ourselves in the word of God (bible) we are changed. Our mind begins to be renewed, cleansed of old ways of thinking and filled with new ways of living.

As we fill our mind with scripture, we are given tools to defeat the devil when He appears. Satan knows our weaknesses and uses them skillfully against us. When a thought whispered in our ear works, he will use it over and over to defeat us.

In comes the word of God. A scripture memorized just for that moment when Satan begins to whisper. You immediately recognize the lie Satan is whispering, the Spirit within you brings to mind the truth that you now know from the bible. The whispering voice of Satan is gone!

The word of God is as powerful as a two edged sword. So we strap on our sword by absorbing the word of God. We study, read, meditate and memorize scripture from the bible. We take it in; let it change our mind and the way we think.

Lastly, in Ephesians 16 we are told to be praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit and to watch out for and send up our humble requests for all saints.

We are to abide in the Spirit, living in the state of constant communion with the Spirit living within us. In doing that, we are to continually with the Spirit inside us, be sending up our prayers and humble requests to the Father. As we do that, we are to care for and pray for one another also.

Once again we are reminded we are not alone. We as saints are to be support for one another. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are one more weapon against the enemy.

But fear not, there is rest coming for the weary. We may need our armor now, but in a short time donning your armor and going to battle will be but a faint memory. Then only the sweet view of paradise will fill your thoughts for an eternity.

Until then.... Be battle ready my friend, with your full armor on.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fight the Fear to Share

When I accepted Christ as my savior, He lit a fire in my soul. It was as if I couldn't keep the words of truth in my mouth. They spewed on anyone that would listen. I wanted everyone to know the pure joy of Christ's love that I had found. What I had been given was so incredible I just couldn't stop myself. I was consumed with a fire that went down to my toes.

Then the words of persecution came. And if I listen closely now, I can still recall the sounds of laughter. My words of excitement and enthusiasm meet with reproach from those I loved. They were cruel and hateful. How could family, those I loved dearly, treat me with such ugliness? They had trampled all over my feelings without a second thought. I may as well of laid my body on the ground and let them walk over the top of me, for the way that it felt.

As I was met with such opposition to sharing my faith with others, I began to recoil. Little by little, as the persecution persisted, I backed away, closed my mouth and the burning fire turned to embers. Fear had gripped me. It was a fear that eventually extinguished the roaring fire within me. All that was left was a sputtering flame and a whole lot of smoke.

At times, fear still grips me. The fire in me starts up, I feel the push to share, and then there’s a terror that begins inside. I recall the tongue lashings I received from those I loved. They are words that left scars behind.

The fear of rejection has been so overwhelming at times that I have felt myself trembling. I get all nervous and shaky inside. Then I trip all over my words as I try to share Christ.

What I do know though, is it should not be this hard to share. I have big faith and I LOVE Him just as big. So I often have to take my fears to God in prayer. I keep stepping out in faith and as I do, the fear is beginning to lose its grip. I take one step of faith at a time. And I remind myself, “How will they know if no one tells them.”

Today, as once again I battled the fear, I had to take my frailty to God in prayer. I began to soak myself in His word and this is what He gave me.

Isaiah 51:22-23 - Thus says your Lord, The Lord and your God, Who pleads the cause of His people: "See, I have taken out of your hand the cup of trembling, the dregs of the cup of My fury; you shall no longer drink it. But I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you. Who have said to you, 'Lie down, that we may walk over you.' And you have laid your body like the ground, and as the street, for those who walk over.

Those that laugh can continue to laugh if they like but they will not laugh forever. Jesus pleads the cause of those that love Him. Those of us that are covered by His blood will not see wrath because of His sacrifice. But whoa to those that are not covered, for the wrath of a mighty God is to be greatly feared.

He has taken the cup of trembling from me. I have nothing more to fear. I may have laid down before for those to mock and ridicule but no more. I only pray those that continue to refuse Him turn to him before it’s too late. I need only to read this verse to begin to plead for their mercy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Time Even for Play

"Get to work! No time to play, there is work at hand to be done!!! " My taskmaster God says to me. "Children play not adults"

These seem to be the words that have played through my mind. As I realized my perception of my Heavenly Father in this context, my heart first cringed and then it sobbed. My heart began to cry and the tears poured from my eyes. I cried because the picture of God I had created was one of a taskmaster that valued work way above enjoyment. In my mind God was always more pleased with us when we were hard at work.

Don't get me wrong, God values work. But He also values our play.

On Sunday nights I am leading a group of women through the study "Making Peace with Your Past" by Tim Sledge. In this book he talks about children who lose their childhood. As I prepared my lesson, I realized that I myself had significantly lost a large part of my childhood. Through this, I lost the ability to enjoy just playing.

The belief (lie) working in my life from my core values was "life is not about having fun, it serious, no playing allowed". As I realized this, my heart was so sad. I have always struggled with this. Letting go and enjoying myself comes few and far between for me. Even enjoying play times with my children has been difficult. It makes sense to me now; I didn't allow myself to enjoy it because in my mind it was wrong and definitely not something that God valued.

As I took this new revelation to God in prayer, I asked him "Tell me your truth Lord. I want to know what your truth is about this." Here's what He told me.

"How then, Sherri, can I not be a God of play when I am a God of love?" "I am love, do you not remember?" "Who am I then?" He asked me.

This was my reply. "You are love. The God, who created me, breathed life into me and loved me enough to save me. The God that waited patiently for me as I ran from you. The God that gently took me in your arms when I returned after much rebellion and many years on my own. The God that has such tender mercy, even when I fail so often to do as you ask. You are gentle, kind and loving. The God that created joy, laughter and singing. The one that sings over me."

"Would it then be safe to say that if I am all these things to you, I would also want you to enjoy the laughter and joy I put in your life?" God asked me.

God spoke this truth into my soul. “I am all the things you spoke of and more. I created you for my pleasure. I take much pleasure in your joy, in your laughter and yes even in your play. I am not the hard taskmaster of your thoughts. I want much for you and that includes happiness in your heart.”

My response could be none other than this.

Oh My Lord,
I want to remember to smile a little brighter. I want to play a little harder and enjoy every minute. I want to breathe a little easier and let myself be. I want to love a whole lot more and give of myself better. Help me play with pure joy in my heart so that those in my life see you a little clearer. I so love you Lord.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Who Do You Want to Be?

Today, I have decided to change directions and write about what I see. To write from the heart, openly and honestly.

My journey in adulthood has been a road of fighting my way out of dysfunction. I believe if we were all honest with one another and even ourselves, the truth would be that we all come from dysfunction. I say this because; if we aren't everything God intended us to be then we are inherently dysfunctional. It came with the fall. We live in a sin nature that was not what we were created for.

We were created to be dependent but our sin nature pulls at us to be independent. In all this, we have become dysfunctional people in a dysfunctional world. The degree to which our lives become broken are up to the family and surroundings we lived in. So since we are all broken, guess what, we are all dysfunctional.

What I have found is that the way out of dysfunction is through knowing God and becoming more like Christ. In other words, when I began to learn who God was and who He intended me to be, the dysfunction began to fall away. Some with no effort of my own, other parts with much effort and prayer.

Many people, as I did, go through horrible circumstances in this life. Some things I have seen and heard about that are done to people are unthinkable. These things cause us to decide that God is not trust worthy. We get a picture of God that is distorted and skewed. So of course He isn't trust worthy to us. That is why it is vital to spend as much time as possible getting to know who God really is. As we do this, He begins to straighten out our warped perceptions and fill us with the truth.

It has not been an easy journey for me, nor is it over. I have battled many things in my life but each time, God has been there holding me through it. We want it to be easy. Its not. We want to be comfortable and this nation has let us believe that we can. I am sorry, I would rather take everyone’s pain away and tell you all that the road to restoration is an easy one but it is not. It takes bravery and courage. It takes trust in God when you think you just have none left. It takes a heart that wants it. So if you don't have that heart, you better start praying for it.

We were chosen by the creator of this earth to be His people, His bride. But it comes with a price. We don't get to be laid back and comfortable. Now more than ever. If we are going to combat the world of sin and dysfunction around us, we must become stronger. We must begin to step out, even in fear, and walk on the water as Peter did.

Before Christ left this world, He gave a commission to the disciples. Matthew 28:19, go therefore and make disciples of all nations... It was more than a commission, it was a command. And that command applies to us also.

We are to be a miraculous light in a dark world for others to see. How can we be this if we do not really believe that God has any power? How can we show others the way to Christ if we are too comfortable in our own lives.

I don't know about you but I want to walk on water! I want to obey when God calls and see His miraculous hand at work. I want to conquer my fears, overcome my unbelief and be who He called me to be.

Do you?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Standing Strong Against Warfare - Part 3

Moving right along in the Armor of God, the next two pieces we will talk about today is the sandals of the gospel of peace and the shield of faith.

Ephesians 6:15 and having shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace

We are to shod our feet. The Greek word for shod is "hupodeo" meaning to bind under one's feet, put on or bind on shoes or sandals. So we are to bind, strap on tight shoes so we have a good footing. We are not to just strap on any shoes but the ones that are completely prepared with the gospel of peace.

Chip Ingram describes the Roman Sandals in his book "The Invisible War" like this:

Roman sandals were strapped up to the knee and tightly fastened to the soldier's leg. The soles had knobs and sometimes nails protruding from them - an ancient version of athletic cleats. Alexander the Great is said to have invented these or at least championed them. He gave credit for many of the Greek army's impressive victories to the firm footing of its forces. When soldiers have a solid foundation, they can stand unmoved against their opposition. They don't slip or lose their balance very often if their feet are gripping the ground.

What Paul is trying to convey to us is this, we are to be firmly footed in the gospel. We must know what we believe and why. We are to be established in the faith by knowing and studying the truth of the gospel that the word of God gives us. Our roots must be planted deep, knowing what we believe so we can do what we are called to do, share the gospel with others.

Just like the soldier, when we plant ourselves firmly in the gospel, we won't slip or lose our balance. Our firm foundation will keep us standing when the winds of adversity come against us. If you have not already; begin a quest to know deep inside what the gospel of Jesus Christ is and what it means to you. There is great power and strength to be able to weather the storms of life when you have a clear understanding and trust in the gospel.

Ephesians 6:16 says above all taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

Chip Ingram writes this about the shield of faith.

The Roman shield Paul is referring to in this scripture was about four feet high and two and a half feet wide. It had hooks on the sides to link it to other shields in a line so that in an entire row of soldiers could advance without exposing themselves to incoming arrows. It was common for enemies to dip their arrow in pitch, light them, and then pelt the opposing soldiers with thousands of destructive, flaming missiles. So the Romans made their shields with iron and two layers of wood, wrapped them in linen, and covered it all with leather. But they would leave a gap between layers so flaming arrows could penetrate far enough into the shield to be quickly extinguished. One soldier is said to have come in from the battle line with two hundred once-fiery arrow still stuck in his shield.

Paul refers to our faith as a shield to able to quench the fiery darts of the evil one. Sometimes the enemy sends fiery darts our way and we need to be prepared, shielded by our faith to keep the darts from penetrating or starting a devastating fire.

Sometimes those darts are just a thought or a circumstance that comes along. Other times they may come in the form of trials or tragedy. Any way they come, we must be prepared with our shield up and ready.

So how do we build our faith? By trusting in Gods character, His promises and His timing. We must learn who God is, what He promises and believe His timing is better than ours. As we learn Gods character, begin to see that He really is good and has our best interest at heart, we can trust in Him. As we trust, we must step out in faith believing in who His is and that His way is best even when we do not understand. Every time we step out in faith and God shows up our faith is made stronger.

If your shield of faith is lacking and needs to be built up, go to God and ask for it. He is faithful to give us what we need.

Lastly, I would add that just like the Roman soldiers, there is strength in numbers. When we as brothers and sisters in Christ hook our shields together we stand stronger against the enemy. It is together that we can make the greatest advance forward in the battle against the evil that is in and through our world. This is one of the reasons we are called to a community of believers. When there are two or more together in prayer, God says He is in our midst. We must band together in times of trial, hook our shields together and send our joint prayer up to God.

Our battle is not flesh and blood. The battle we must fight is better fought with other soldiers by your side.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

House of Hope Romania

Today I would like to tell you about a ministry that has knitted its way into many hearts at the church I consider my family. In 2005 Summit Woods Baptist Church of Lees Summit Missouri joined in partnership with a small Baptist Church in Baile Olanesti Romania. For the last three years our Pastor, Ryan Bowman has lead several mission trips each year to Romania to help grow the gospel in Baile Olanesti Romania and the surrounding areas.

For many years Romania was considered a closed nation to the gospel but is now open to missionaries bringing the truth of Gods word to the Romanian people. Through the last three years the people at Summit Woods have given their time, money, prayers and heart to do the work of God in a place that has much need.

On the second mission trip God provided incredible circumstances by which the people from Summit Woods meet Rebecca Graham. She shared her vision for the Orphan Center and a partnership was soon formed.

Rebecca Graham was called by God to Romania ten years ago to work with orphans. God has used her in mighty ways to help the children of Romania. And God is just getting started....

Recently God began to call our church back to Romania to help finish the construction of the Center. We believe it can be done in a relatively short time if we have the funds to get there and purchase the materials necessary. But we need help to do it. Thats where you come in.

Here is what I would ask from you, Christ's church. Pray, ask God if he would have you help in some way. Can you join in the mission some way, can your church join in. After you have given it time in prayer, then I would ask that you do as God leads.

Below is a video about the House of Hope Romania Orphan Ministry

If you would like to you can send any donations to:
(please note on your check that it is to be used for construction)

House of Hope
PO Box 211
Harford, KY 42347

You can email Rebecca at or Ryan Bowman at

To see more about her ministry you can go to

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More about truth...

Instead of moving forward to the next two parts of the armor of God, I would like to expound a bit on living in truth. Their were several comments concerning this subject on Standing Strong Against Warfare Part 2 that needed further explanation given. I will be moving on to Part 3 later this week. Today I will address more about standing in truth and tomorrow I will be giving you the opportunity to "be" the body of Christ. Can't tell you about it yet. You'll have to check it out tomorrow....

Coming from a childhood of dysfunction myself, I know a fair bit about keeping secrets. I know what its like to live a life behind a mask. I also know what it is like to have things you are ashamed of that you want no one to know about. I carried so much shame with me it made my shoulders hunch over. The problem was, a large majority of the shame I carried was not my own. It belonged to those that did things to hurt me. As a child, I learned how to take on everyone elses shame. Dad left, my fault. Step Dad abused me, my fault. Mom to busy with her own life to love me, my fault. Marriage failed, my fault. Then on top, I added my own stuff that was worthy of feeling ashamed of.

I wore a mask that looked like I was ok but inside I was a mess. Each time I would move forward in my walk with Christ, Satan would whisper in my ear, "remember all those things that happened to you, they were all your fault." "God would never accept a person like you, give it up Sherri." Those thoughts would plague me, until I finally took some bold steps. I first went to God with my baggage and laid it at his feet. He didn't shun me. There was no big gasp from his mouth. He simply cleaned me up, washed me off, told me the truth about my past and I would never be condemned. I was redeemed by His blood. In His eyes, the past is over, gone, no looking back.

Then I found a safe place to begin to tell my story to others. James 5:16 says confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

I do believe we should be able to tell any Christian our secrets, whether they are hurts from the past or sin in the present. But that can not always be. We live in a fallen world and humans are not perfect. At times, when you share with someone, they may have sin in their life in the area of judgment or gossip. It is good to use discernment on who to share with and when God would have you share. I only say this because being vulnerable is difficult and others can make it worse if they are not in the right place with God. Sadly, in the church, at times people are even more critical and judgmental than in the world. Eventually as you get stronger and God wipes away the shame, you will begin to use the healing you find to help others.

What I have found is there is great freedom that comes from sharing the truth of my past. Hidden in the dark, things look ominous, scary and to big to overcome. In the light, there power is diminished and healing can come. When we bring things out in the open, we often find that they weren't quite as scary as we thought they were. We get so filled with lies in childhood, that when we bring them out in the light as adults and examine them we can replace them with the truth. Jesus has told me and he tells you this too.... there is no more condemnation, the past is the past and has no more hold on you.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

At this point in my journey, I can say this. To those that say "Some things are better kept just between you and God", I disagree. It some point all truth must be brought to the light.

There is nothing in my life, no hurt from the past or sin I have committed that is left in the darkness. My life and my past are an open book. I have nothing left to be ashamed of, for I have been cleansed by the blood of Christ. If someone hears my past and feels uncomfortable or begins to judge, that is not mine to take on. It is there sin that they must deal with. I no longer take on the shame or sin of others, I deal only with my own. I deal with it openly and honestly so the devil has no chance to gain a foothold.

I no longer identify who I am by my past, what I do or may not do. My identity is firmly placed in who God intended me to be from the beginning of time. God and his word never change and I find my identity in Him. Therefore, I have nothing to fear nor to be ashamed of. I am proudly my Fathers child.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Standing Strong Against Warfare - Part 2

In Ephesians 6:11-18 we are told to put on the full armor of God to stand against the wiles of the devil. We are to stand strong even though it is not flesh and blood we are fighting.

So what exactly does it mean to put on the full armor of God?

Let look today at the first two pieces of the armor in Ephesians 6, the belt of truth and breastplate of righteousness.

The first thing Paul tells us to do is stand having girded our waist with the truth. The picture he is painting is a warrior girding his loins. In Roman times this phrase “girding your loins” meant to draw up and tie your lower garments between your legs to increase mobility. This prevented the loose ends of the tunic from getting tangled up and causing the soldier to stumble or fall. Girding your loins was a common practice done during the Roman era to protect the private area of a man (an area very vulnerable).

So how does girding our loins in the truth apply to us today?

We start by having spiritual agility. Preventing ourselves from stumbling and falling by having truth in our lives. We tie up all the loose things in our lives that cause us to stumble.

When we hide behind a mask or have hidden things in our lives we are not living in truth. By living in truth we are truly set free. Living in truth means that we are honest with God, ourselves and others. If we are not transparent in our lives, it gives Satan things to needle us about. When we are hiding things, past or present, that we are afraid to tell others, rest assured Satan will use it to tell us we are not good enough. When we are completely truthful, there is nothing left for the devil to throw at us and create condemnation.

Are there hidden things in your life that you’re scared to tell anyone? Things you would prefer no one ever knew about? If so, I would urge you to find someone safe to tell them to. As you begin to reveal things, the power of Satan to use them against you is taken away.

The next thing Paul tells us to do is put on the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate of the Roman soldier was made of chain-mail. A metal chain knitted together which made it easier to have full range of movement but still be protected. It protected the soldier’s heart and other vital organs, which were necessary to sustain life.

Righteousness is our breastplate, knitted together for us through the blood of Jesus Christ. It gives us full range of motion to serve and care for others while protecting us from attack to our heart. With the breastplate of righteousness given to us at salvation by grace, we can fight boldly knowing our vital organs are protected. Christ is continually working his righteousness in us. Through this righteousness we are justified and can stand before God.

We are to continue in righteousness by not walking in sin or compromising our faith. When we walk in the righteousness of Christ each day, we are assured that we will be protected just as a breastplate of chain-mail protected the Roman soldier.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Standing Strong Against Warfare Part 1

Standing strong, walking forward in the Lord, then BAM, your smacked right between the eyes with spiritual warfare. Maybe it’s an illness. It could be discouraging thoughts that creep in. Sometimes it comes in the form of a trial or tragedy. What ever it is, there you are, going along fine, feeling great and getting stronger in the Lord. The next moment, spiritually speaking, you've been knocked down; you’re lying on your back and can't catch your breath.

That’s the way Satan plays! And we must remember that this earth is his playground. If we are going to play on his home turf, we need to be strong enough for anything he throws at us. The stronger we get, when were making great strides, he will attack. What we must learn to do is recognize it for what it is and use the tools God has given us to fight the battle. And not just fight the battle but win the war.

I have noticed recently, a huge amount of warfare in the body of Christ. Satan is trying hard to stop Christians from taking a stand. I believe Satan sees what many of us see. He sees that things are progressing in the sense of prophecy. Time is running out. He knows the end is near and he is trying to stop a movement of God and revival of the church from breaking forth. His agenda is to stop the truth from spreading at all costs. We must recognize his tactics and build ourselves up to fight against it.

In Ephesians 6:11 Paul tells us to put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 6:12 tells us, for we do no wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Paul doesn't tell us to put on part of the armor, but put on ALL of it. It's necessary to stand up to the devil. We are not fighting human things here on earth; we are up against the rulers of the darkness. We must be prepared and use the armor God has available in order to be victorious.

So what is the armor of God?

Paul uses a metaphor, the armor of a roman soldier, to show us a parallel of what we need to do battle with the devil. It is not something that you pray and put on daily like a soldier does and then take off at night. Unlike the roman soldier, we are to wear our armor at all times. We are to know our weapons by heart so we are able to defend ourselves at any time day or night.

Ephesians 6:14-18 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with the truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

We are to:

gird our waist with the truth
put on the breastplate of righteousness
shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace
take the shield of faith with which to quench fiery darts of the wicked one
take the helmet of salvation
take the sword of the spirit, the word of God
praying always in the Spirit

Tomorrow, in Part 2 of this series, I will talk further about each part of the armor and how we are to apply it to our lives.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Beauty of Music

Can you hear the music? Can you hear the sound of the angels singing? Or the swooshing of their wings and praises of worship? Music, such a sweet sound that your heart nearly comes out of your chest. Makes you feel like you can almost reach heaven doesn't it?

Words set to music can make a heart soar. They can express so many emotions: sadness, desperation, hurt, pain, joy, happiness, laughter. Your heart can be in turmoil or great joy, have no words to express it, then a song comes on and your heart cries out. I know in these times God hears our heart and the spirit begins to pray for us. Music just seems to release the things of the heart that our lips can't seem to speak.

Hurting moments of deep despair have no words, a song comes on and the tears flow. The grief washes over us and we cry. Relief finally comes.

Recently God has been showing me the importance of music in our lives. He has shown me also, the importance He places on it. Not just because of its ability to move us but many other reasons. Heaven, I believe, is full of music. Music full of worship that praises God and creates a beauty like nothing we have ever heard. We often talk about the beauty of heaven in the sense of what our eyes will see but not the other four senses. I believe when we arrive in heaven it will take all five of our senses to a place we could never imagine. We will taste unfathomable flavor, smell unbelievable aromas, touch softness that’s better than velvet, see beauty unimaginable and hear sound that will go right through us.

In Don Piper's book "90 Minutes in Heaven" he talks about his experience in heaven. After a car accident he is declared dead for 90 minutes. During that time he recounts his journey to heaven. His most vivid memory of heaven is what he heard. Here's how he describes the music of heaven.

I often surprised a covey of birds and flushed them out of their nests on the ground. A whooshing sound accompanied their wings as they flew away. My most vivid memory of heaven is what I heard. I can only describe it as a holy swoosh of wings. But I'd have to magnify that thousands of times to explain the effect of the sound in heaven. It was the most beautiful and pleasant sound I've ever heard, and it didn't stop. It was like a song that goes on forever. I felt awestruck, wanting only to listen. I didn't just hear music. It seemed as if I were part of the music-and it played in and through my body. I stood still, and yet I felt embraced by the sounds. As aware as I became of the joyous sounds and melodies that filled the air, I wasn't distracted. I felt as if the heavenly concert permeated every part of my being, and at the same time I focused on everything else around me.

Myriads of sounds so filled my mind and heart that it's difficult to explain them. The most amazing one, however, was the angel’s wings. I didn't see them, but the sound was a beautiful, holy melody with a cadence that seemed never to stop. The swishing resounded as if it was a form of never-ending praise. As I listened I simply knew what it was.

A second sound remains, even today, the single, most vivid memory I have of my entire heavenly experience. I call it music, but it differed from anything I had ever heard or ever expect to hear on the earth. The melodies of praise filled the atmosphere. The nonstop intensity and endless variety overwhelmed me.

All through the bible scripture speaks of music, singing and the playing of instruments. There are whole books of the bible written as songs like the Psalms and Song of Solomon. In Zephaniah 3:17 even the Lord sings, "He rejoices over us with singing".

I believe music is more than just a beautiful thing in our life; it plays a big role here on earth as well as in heaven. It is a tool to open the soul, draw people to their knees and soften the heart for hearing the word of God. It makes us cry out, let go of our pain and rejoice in praise. It can take us to heaven right here on earth. Our spirit within us cries out to God on our behalf as we sing from our heart. And when a song of praise reaches Satan's ear he flees.

Music is also an effective tool to use against spiritual attack. As you can see in the description of heaven by Don Piper, music runs all through heaven. Satan hates God, hates heaven and can not stand the sound of praise. He flees when we break out in worship. The sounds of praise are like screeching in his ears.

When Satan is whispering lies, doubt and discouragement in your ear, break out in praise and the oppression will lift. He will flee so fast that you may feel the wind blow by.

Songs also combat spiritual warfare by protecting your mind. Have you ever had a song that got stuck in your head? There is something about a melody that plays over and over in your mind. If the song is a praise song, your mind is consumed with Godly things and there is no room for evil thoughts to enter. So sing a praise song and let it continually play through your mind. It will protect you and keep you focused on the things of God.

Music can add so many wonderful things to your life. If you take a little time to see what music can do for you, I believe you will see it become as important to you as it is to God. As you embrace all it has to offer. You will begin to see what an amazing gift you have waiting when you arrive in heaven.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Freedom From Dysfunction

When born, a baby has an inherent nature to bond with its parents. It is completely dependant on the parents for love, nurture and care. As the baby grows into a child there are things that are supposed to be natural for the parents to extend to their child. When the love, nurture and care aren't given because of abuse or neglect things get twisted and out of whack. It is only through God that what should have been given can be restored.

I see all around me the outcome of dysfunction. Our society seems to breed it. Which shouldn't be a shock considering the move we have taken away from the moral code of the bible. Without the bible as a starting point to gauge right from wrong there is no marker. At that point, anything can go. Man was not created to make the rules in which to live by, but to live by the rules given by the creator.

When we do decide to go it on our own and make our own rules, that’s when we get broken. In turn we break others.

Lets go back up to the baby I spoke about. When a child is born, God intends for the parents, guided by Him, to care for that baby as He would Himself. When guided by Christ, the parents are to oversee the care, nurture and growth of the child. Knowing the entire time that they are only stewards of the child. In truth that child does not belong to them, it belongs to God. We are all Gods children. Then after molding and guiding the child at the appropriate time the parents release him or her back to God.

Deciding to make our own rules and live apart from God takes the story in a different direction. We get broken by doing things our own way. We are created to be dependant, so if we are not putting our dependency on God, it goes elsewhere. Often times, its alcohol, drugs, work, eating, sex, gambling, anger, control and money. We turn to compulsive behaviors that give us some kind of outlet or some kind of feeling of control. When we take the reins in our hands, we eventually take the horse in the wrong direction. We might rage at our children because we feel the need to control them. Maybe we neglect them because the focus of our lives is on ourselves. What ever the case, our children pay a price for our choice to disobey God.

When we are away from God, we become self consumed and to varying degrees the ones that suffer are our children. They become what are so evident today in society, a product of dysfunction.

So how does a product of dysfunction come out of it and begin to change?

Only by the blood of Christ. Dysfunction and compulsive behavior can only be changed by God. Hurt, anger and distrust can all be removed by the one that made us. There is freedom available for each of us in Christ. Whatever the dysfunction is in your life that was created by your past, God desires freedom from it for you.

John 8:36 - Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

We were never meant to endure such things as abuse and neglect. We were never meant to be hurt and wounded by our parents. We were never meant to cause deep wounds to our children, but we do when we are broken ourselves.

There is freedom available but it takes a step of faith to get it. First you must put your faith in Jesus as your Savior. Then trust Him to begin the process of taking it from you. When we exercise our faith and make a determined choice to trust Him, He is faithful to give us the freedom we need. We then become free indeed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Word for Megan

As I rose to meet the day this morning my heart seemed flat. I had no joy inside me, no smile for the world to see. My heart was burdened, full of condemnation and self depreciation. "How can I ever fulfill the walk set before me?" "I am not enough" I told myself. "The journey you have set before me Lord is much too great for me." "I am only a small woman with no real talents" "I have nothing to offer, why would you want to use me?" And He said "Because I choose to" "Because I choose to use you"

I knew at that moment that my thoughts of condemnation were not from my Father in heaven. They were words thrown at me by the ruler of darkness. Words to stop the work of God around me and through me.

I then picked up a book I was reading only to be reminded in times of doubt and self condemnation my best defense was to begin to Praise God. As I walked out the door going to the car I grabbed a praise CD. Started on my way, I popped it in and hit play. As I began to sing praise to my God my spirit lightened and once again the joy returned.

Feeling thirsty and running ahead of schedule, I decided to stop real quickly for something to drink. As I paid for my water, I felt a tug on heart and a whisper in my ear. "Give her a card" the small voice in my heart said. I know that voice. It's the voice of the spirit that lives within me. God was saying for me to give her one of the cards I carry with me. I carry greeting cards with me that I enclose a letter written from God to them. (you can read the letter here ). On the way out of the store I handed her the card and told her "I want to give you this" Her response was "What for?" "I want you to have it" was what I told her as I left. In the card is a simple statement that says "I care where you spend eternity" and my blog address.

So Megan from the Spirit gas station, if you read this today I want you to know this. God ask me to give you that card. He is calling you. I don't know you, I don't know what your life is like but He does. He wanted you to know that He loves you and He'll meet you where ever you are. You don't have to clean up your life before you go to Him. Just go. He is calling you.

Today God used me to reach out to Megan even when I didn't feel I was enough. He takes us where we are and changes us to be worthy of His sacrifice. I thank Him for that.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The God of Miracles

There are times in a person’s life when they are in need of a miracle. Are you that person today?

In a world like we live in today we all need a little bit of the miraculous at times. Sometimes it’s a big miracle we need and other times just a small one. What ever your need is, God hears and He answers.

We are not to live a defeated life. Too often we spend time beating ourselves up when what God really wants from us is to just confess, repent and let go. Sounds easy right. Not always so.

If you are in need of a miracle today, I have a word for you from God. Let me share with you the miracle God did for the apostle Peter.

Acts 12:3-4- and because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also, Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.

The Church had already lost one leader, James the brother of John who had been executed. Since the Jews were so pleased with the death of James, King Herod decides to seize Peter and throws him in jail. This happens during the feast of Unleavened Bread. A feast done in memory of the miracles God performed bringing them out of captivity in Egypt. Passover began the feast with remembering the covering of blood that saved the first born from death. For seven days following Passover, they would observe the feast. Leaven (yeast) made bread rise and represented sin. During this feast was a time to kill the sin in your life.

Peter was taken by four squads of soldiers. I imagine he was to be watched round the clock until after Passover so he could then be brought before the King and executed as James was.

Recognize the small miracles here. First, its Passover, a time that Peter is observing the feast. Assuredly, he is contemplating any sin in his life and bringing it before God. Passover was a time of contemplation, repentance and drawing near to God for Peter. Secondly, since it was during Passover, Herod waited as not to create an uprising within the Jewish community, giving God the perfect opportunity to do a great miracle.

Acts 12:5 - Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.

Constant prayer was going up to God by his brothers and sister in Christ. We must remember the power of our prayers for one another. We also must remember that without our transparency to share our burdens with one another our brothers and sisters can not intercede on our behalf.

Acts 12:6-8 - And when Herod was about to bring him out that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up saying "Arise quickly!" and his chains fell off his hands. Then the angels said to him, "Gird yourself and tie on your sandals"; and so he did. And he said to him, "Put on your garment and follow me."

Herod was about to bring Peter out for execution. Notice that Peter was not in panic mode, he was not pacing the floor. What was he doing? Sleeping. Bound by two chains between two soldiers with guards outside the cell door. Peter is in an impossible position, with no where to turn. So what does he do? Rests his weary head and sleeps in the care of the great God he serves.

Out of nowhere an angel of the Lord appears and pokes Peter in the side. A light shines in the prison, and the angel tells Peter to arise quickly. The chains fall from his hands, he quickly dresses and follows the angel.

In the midst of God performing a big miracle, small ones are also occurring. The guards all stay asleep; there is a light that shines in the darkness to show the way and the chains that are around his hands come off with no key.

Acts 12:9-11 - So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord: and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. And when Peter had come to himself, he said, "Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people."

Peter follows the angel not knowing if the whole things real, thinking it’s a vision. They pass the first and second guard posts, arriving at the iron gate only to have it open on its own. Once they are down the street the angel disappears. Peter realizes that the Lord has sent his angel and delivered him straight out of Herod's hands.

More small miracles! Two guard posts are gone through with no alert and the gate opens on its own. Presto! Peter is down the street and out of the clutches of Herod.

All through this experience, Peter thinks he is seeing a vision. Only to realize that instead, he has been completely delivered. This is often us, thinking we are not going anywhere only to get down the road, look back and see God's deliverance was there.

God is full of miracles. If we look we will see them in our own lives everyday. Peter had one great miracle made up of many small miracles. That is what God wants for us to have, one big miracle of transformation made up of many small miracles.

Sometimes when we cry out to God he delivers in a big way. Other times big miracles come wrapped up in many small ones. What ever your need is, you can rest assured he hears your prayers. Look around, maybe your miracle is right before you.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Words from Charles Spurgeon

To try to win a soul to Christ by keeping that soul in ignorance of any truth, is contrary to the mind of the Spirit; and to endeavor to save men by mere claptrap, or excitement, or oratorical display, is a foolish as to hope to hold an angel with bird-line, or to lure a star with music. The best attraction is the gospel in its purity. The weapon with which the Lord conquers men is the truth as it is in Jesus. The gospel will be found equal to every emergency; an arrow can pierce the hardest heart, a balm which will heal the deadliest wound. Preach it, and preach nothing else. Rely implicitly upon the old, old gospel. You need no other nets when you fish for men; those your Master has given you are strong enough for the great fishes, and the meshes fine enough to hold the little ones. Spread those nets and no others, and you need not fear the fulfillment of His Word, "I will make you fishers of men".

Friday, February 6, 2009

Clothed with Light in the Darkness

He raised both hands in the air in a grand gesture and spoke "Let there be light!" His voice boomed across the galaxy as the light appeared. A slight echo, 2000 years later, can still be heard by the angels if they bend their ear to hear it. It was the master at work beginning His greatest creation.

Genesis 1:3-5 Then God said, "Let there be light", and there was light, and God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

As Genesis 1:2 says, there was a vastness of nothing, void; darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. The three parts of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were there from the beginning of creation. It was the Fathers will, the Sons word and the Spirits igniting power working as one to create.

Then the first day began and light was spoken into dark earth. God spoke and it was. Amazing! The Father willed it, the Son spoke it and the Spirit ignited it. There it was. Light! Made from nothing!

It doesn't stop there though. He then takes the light and divides it. Our great God standing over the universe hovers over the expanse of darkness. He is clothed in light himself. With His massive hands He reaches out, cups the light and divides it so there is light and darkness on the earth. Appropriately, He names them, Day for light and Night for darkness.

Stand in awe. This great creator, who put the light in the sky for day and took the light away for night, is your God. This creator is not only just you’re God; I have to whisper here, "he loves you personally".

God, who speaks things and they happen is personally concerned for you. He can also do the same for you He did to the light. Speak something into your heart that you can't get on your own. God will speak into your soul if you seek Him. He is the God that speaks and causes action. All power is in His hands. He can speak what you need and the power of the spirit will ignite it to action.

Holy Spirit power ignited the light and God divided it. The light and the dark. Light used for day and darkness used for night. Also the symbols often used when referring to good and evil. Darkness used to represent the evil in the world and light the goodness of God.

Have you ever wondered why we sleep in the darkness and not in the light? Why would God make it that way?

Darkness, I believe, is the time of day when most evil lurks and God has us sleep to avoid its impact. We can sleep and rest in God while evil is all around us. We do this knowing that His light covers us until the day breaks and light comes again. With the blood of Christ, we are covered by His light at all times. We can rest, because His blood covers all sin. Accepting Jesus Christ as our savior covers us in light even in the midst of darkness.

I can still hear my mother saying "you don't need to stay out after dark, nothing good happens after dark" I would beg and plead "please Mom! nothing bad will happen!" As I got older and had children of my own I found myself repeating those words "No, you can't go out after dark, nothing good happens after dark."

Mother's words rang true in the end. Evil is referred to as darkness for a reason and not all, but much evil does occurs after dark. Until my children knew enough to protect themselves in the darkness I wanted them safe at home with me.

Our Father feels the same way. He clothes us in light with the blood of His son and gives us the sword of truth to do battle with. We rest in Him in the midst of darkness and He gives us what we need to withstand the enemy. We are clothed with the light of Christ even in the midst of darkness around us.

Resting our head to sleep when darkness falls is just one more way our God chooses to care for and protect us while we walk here on the earth.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Come Be Transfigured on the Mount

Be transformed, be changed, no I say, be transfigured! Jesus went to what we now call the mount of transfiguration. Go with me now to that mount and be transfigured as Jesus was.

Are you struggling with pet sin? Wanting so much to go to the next level in your walk with Jesus? Does your faith seem to fail you in the pursuit of obedience?

Come with me and be transfigured. Let's climb the mountain and be changed to His image.

You may be saying "That’s blasphemy!” I say it's not. We can not be God, we can not physically transfigure as Jesus did but we can draw closer to His image by resting in His provision to change.

Here is the definition of transfigure: to transform so as to exalt or glorify. In other words, we are to transform more into the image of Christ Jesus so we exalt and glorify Him. We can set things up in our lives so that God is glorified to those around us. We do this by drawing near to Christ and becoming more in His image.

Matthew 17:1-2 - Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.

Jesus spends six days in Caesarea Philippi teaching the disciples, telling them that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things. Then he takes Peter, James and John up high on the mountain. Right before there eyes Jesus is transfigured and reveals His true glory. It says His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light.

So how is it that we can be transfigured?

Although our outer body can not be transformed in this way, our inner self can. We can climb the mountain of self denial and obedience to the mount of transfiguration. Through the power of the spirit we have been given we can overcome the sin that stands between us and the transfiguration we desire. Through seeking God with our whole heart, by abandoning the worry of "what will people do or say" and loosing ourselves from the self seeking, other seeking demeanor we can shake off the chains we are bound by. We must shed our pride and humbly posture ourselves as pliable to the transforming power of God. We are not changed over night and it may not be easy. Some things we stubbornly hold on to because even though they are sin we still enjoy them.

If we really want to be conformed to the image of Christ, we can not, did you hear me, can not, hold on to pet sins. You know the kind, that one in the back of your mind that causes you to say, "It’s not that bad" "it could be much worse". We can not put it on the back burner and expect to move up in our spiritual walk. I am not trying to preach condemnation to you. I am just here to tell you that it will hinder you from ever reaching your true spiritual calling in the dominion of God. Pet sin is still sin and according to the scripture, if you want to move up in your spiritual walk, it must be dealt with.

Imagine victory at the top of that mount. It shines through your face like the son that it comes from and makes your clothing stream the white light of glory. There can be no better place to go. It may be a hard climb up the mountain of self denial and obedience but the victory at the top outweighs the pain.

We can transfigure. We can go to the mount and be transformed so we exalt and glorify the one who gave His life for us.

Let’s start climbing....

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When I Grow Up....

When I grow up, I want to be a princess....... Or maybe a dancer..... No, I want to be a singer...... No wait, I really, really want to be a ballerina.....

When I was a little girl, life was big and dreams were bigger. Life was a fairy tale and I played the main part in the story. When you read about the princess in Cinderella, that was me. In Little Red Riding Hood, I was Little Red, the girl that ran through the forest to her grandmother’s house. When Snow White was poisoned, it was me that laid waiting for the prince to come and kiss me.

I so easily was able to put myself in the place of the story because in my mind, it was all possible. Dreaming was my thing. My grade school teachers didn't like it much that my mind would wonder off to dreamland during class, but it just could not be helped. I lived in the dream world of my mind and it was a great place to be.

As you can see, I did not become a dancer, singer or ballerina. And as I grew up I certainly didn't think of myself as a princess any longer. Life in the beginning that was filled with belief in the impossible was stripped out of me by the world. I was told; fairytales are not real, live in the real world, life is not easy or fun, stop dreaming. So, as the years went by and life took its toll, I did just that. I lived in the reality of a cruel hard world, I didn't believe in princesses or fairy tale endings any longer.

Lately though, I have begun to think about growing up in a different light. I have been born again and I am now a new creation. I am in the process of growing up again, this time though; I'm growing up in Christ. What he has shown me about growing up this time around is this.

I am the princess in the middle of His fairytale. I am the Cinderella that is waiting for my great prince to take me away to the place He has prepared for me. Once again, I live in a world of dreams, dreams so big that my mind can not wrap itself around them. The dream of an eternity with a God so great and so in love with me that he died for me. A place where all the tears will be wiped away and no more sadness will be. Oh, how I love to sit and think on that place. Indeed it will be better than any fair tale castle I once read about.

He also tells me that even though I long for that place in eternity, I still have a dream to live here on earth. Through me He wants his love to be shown, through me He wants His light to radiate. I get to believe in things that most people think are not possible. I get to call His name and see the miraculous happen. I get to dream again, but it’s not my dream this time, it’s His.

I can not sing well, but He loves to hear me anyway. When my songs reach Him, it warms His heart. Ballet may be out because my knees crack when I bend them but I dance for Him at times like David did. I dance because my joy is so great that it just can’t be stopped. As for being a princess, I am His beloved and I wait for Him to ride up on His white horse. And with this prince, I’m assured by the bible, the truth of God, He will one day.

Although dreaming as a child brought me much joy and fun, dreaming as an adult has become an even greater joy to me. As I live in the spirit and walk next to my savior in faith, I imagine what it must have been like to live in the Garden of Eden. Walking and talking with God.... To me, it is the dream.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Balance Between Beauty and Despair

Have you ever looked out at a beautiful sunset and been in complete wonder of God's magnificence? Or watched a small child do something that sent pure joy right through you? Maybe you've stood in awe at the top of a mountain or watch the gracefulness of a gazelle in amazement. For those few moments all seems to right with the world. Watching a thing of pure beauty as it happens is an incredible thing.

There are so many moments in my life, I have had like these. Like watching the sunrise over the horizon, having my breath taken away and feeling like I just got kissed good morning by God.
Times where I held my child cradled in my arms while I listened to them breathe softly. So many moments of beauty I can remember thinking all is well with the world. I can't help but wonder if these glimpses we get are what Adam and Eve enjoyed before the fall happened.

Then there are other times where I see such pain and despair around me. Children that are hurt by calloused parents. Homes ravaged and left smoldering by fire, leaving those residing there homeless. The casualties of flood and starvation in the world. Disease that cuts through someone’s body and leaves them broken or helpless.

I am astounded by the reality that there is beauty and despair all around us. Everywhere I look, I see both. How ironic it is that something looked at from one angle can look so beautiful but can also reap such ugliness. Take snow when it covers the landscape around us. When you look out your picture window to see white covering everything, there is a beauty that you see. That same snow that comes down in abundance can bring power lines down and cause accidents on the road. Power lines down which cause lack of heat and people to be put out of there homes.

Same can be said about fire and water. To see a fire burning or look out over the ocean brings a beautiful picture. But both can cause much despair when they rage out of control.

The point here is balance. Our world around us has a balance between the beauty in it and despair that runs through it. We too must have balance in all we do and how we look at things. If we only look at the beauty of things we will neglect those in need and become too focused on ourselves. On the other hand, we can not spend all our time looking at the despair around us or we will have no beauty in our lives. It is the beauty in life that brings us a little bit of heaven here on earth. Life would become too sad to live if all we focused on was the despair we see.

So we must find a balance. A balance between focusing our life on those things that bring true beauty into our life and the things that help those in the throws of despair. Although we do not like to look at or deal with the despair of others, I believe we must. We must because it keeps us humble and balanced. It is when we help another out of the pit of despair that we are boosted up a notch to see God.

Yes we can see God in the beauty around us but when we lend our hands to Him and help the hurt and needy, we get to see God in action.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A life Uncompromised

Everyone can be bought..... It’s just a matter of at what price....

I remember hearing this statement repeated years back. Especially after the movie "Indecent Proposal" came out. Do you remember the movie? Robert Redford played a very rich man that desires to sleep with Demi Moore. Demi Moore was married to Woody Harrelson; they were very much in love but struggled financially. Robert Redford offers Demi one million dollars to spend the night with him. His comment in the movie is "everyone can be bought; it’s just a matter at what price". I remember wondering how true that statement was with most people.

Regrettably, it is probably true for most of the world. Society puts such a premium on wealth that a large percentage of people will compromise their morals at some price. Most everyone has a price at which they will compromise, even if it’s not a monetary thing.

So what's your price? Is it a monetary figure? Is it to feel safe? Is it to save yourself from rejection? At what point are you willing to compromise what Gods word says?

We all say, "No way, I would never do that!" but in reality we do it all the time. When we fail to follow through with what we promise, we compromise. When we sell ourselves short, we compromise. When we set out to do Gods work but don't do it, we compromise. When we stop short of being bold for Christ, we compromise. When we fail to be all that God intended us to be, we compromise. We have the best of intentions but in the end, we fall short of what we intended. In those times, we had a price.

In Luke 22 we read the story of Simon Peter. Jesus is telling Peter that Satan has asked to sift him like wheat. Meaning that Satan wants to test his dedication to Christ. Then Jesus tells Peter that He has prayed for him, that his faith would not fail and when he returned to Him, Peter would strengthen his brethren. Right here, Jesus reveals that even though he knows that Peter's faith will fail, he prays for him anyway. He also prays that after his faith has failed he would return back to Him and then strengthen his brothers in Christ.

In verse 33 Peter says this to Jesus "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death." He's telling Jesus "No way Lord, I won't compromise, I would die for you!" In verse 34 Jesus tells him "I tell you Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me." In other words, you know who I am and have walked with Me for three years but you will fail and compromise what you believe and deny Me not once but three times. Later in verses 54-62 we see these words come true. Peter follows at a distance while they arrest Jesus and take Him away. As Peter denies Jesus the third time the rooster crows. Peter remembers the words Jesus spoke to him, goes out and weeps bitterly.

So often we think we are much stronger than we really are. We are fooled into thinking that we have the power to withstand the sifting by Satan on our own. Invariably, what happens when we try to stand up to testing alone is failure. It is in this attempt to stand alone that we end up compromising the things we believe and the things we stand for. Even at times causing us to deny Christ, the thing we hold most dear to us. It doesn't have to be an outright denial to be considered denying Christ. Sometimes it’s a fear of rejection that keeps us from speaking up. Or maybe it’s just keeping our mouth shut when we ought to speak the truth.

After the resurrection of Christ, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to the disciples. We see later in Peter’s journey that he becomes bold in his witness, even to the point of death. He preaches the gospel with no compromise, professing the truth to all. The difference in his change of nature had to do with the spirit within him. He relied on the Holy Spirit within him to keep him steadfast and strong in conviction. It was not by his strength that he stood strong to the testing of Satan and pressure of the world but by the spirit within him.

If we too are going to withstand testing and live an uncompromised life we must do as Peter did. We must live in and rely on the Holy Spirit that lives within us. We must know that the small voice in us that says "No way Lord, I would never do that" is our own pride talking. The truth, if we choose to admit it, is we do not have the strength to stand on our own and this too He must do for us.

Lord, let us live a life uncompromised. Let us realize that this too must be done by you. Give us the humility to rely on you to keep us standing strong in the faith.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Finding Freedom Through Fasting and Prayer - Part 2

Do you have something in your life that is stuck to you? What I mean is, something in your life that you have tried to gain freedom from but just can't seem to do it. Maybe it’s eating habits that you do well for a while only to go back to your old ways. Could it be anger issues that just won't go away or a hurt of some kind you can’t seem to overcome? What about forgiving someone you know you are suppose to but can't seem to let go? Or a change of attitude that needs to come but is a struggle to make happen?

What ever it is that you need freedom from, God wants it for you also. When we truly want freedom from the issues in our life we must seek God with our whole heart. At times it is our unbelief that keeps us from finding that freedom we seek.

God wants us to achieve freedom from the issues that bind us. He wants us to see higher, deeper and broader than our physical realities. To do that we must fix our gaze upwards, looking nowhere else, like someone on their knees at the feet of the master waiting with baited breath for him to speak. In Ephesians 1:18 Paul tells us the Lord wants the eyes of our understanding to be enlightened that we may know what the hope of our calling is. He wants us to obtain freedom from these issues so we can fulfill the calling He has for our lives.

So how do we find that freedom?

Often, it can be found by humbling ourselves in prayer and fasting. In Matt 17:14-21 we see the story of the father that came to Jesus about his son. In this story the disciples could not heal him. Even though the disciples were given the spirit to go out and heal, this one they could not do. In verse 20 Jesus tells them it is because of there unbelief, then in verse 21 he says "however this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting".

There are sometimes things that get stuck in our lives that can only be removed by fasting and prayer. There is a special power that is released when we deny ourselves the physical satisfaction in order to seek spiritual satisfaction. In denying ourselves the physical bread of life for the spiritual bread of life we show God that we are seeking with our whole heart.

The prophet Nehemiah was so distraught over the plight of Gods people that he fasted for many days. Nehemiah 1:4 says -so it was, when I heard these words that I sat down and wept and mourned for many days. I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. He was seeking God to change the situation for Israel through fasting and prayer to show God how broken hearted he was.

In Joel 2:12 God calls his people to repentance and tells them to "turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning". This scripture shows us that part of turning our heart to God in repentance includes fasting. We are to turn our whole heart to God, fasting helps us do that. Denying ourselves physically shows God we are serious and not just half hearted.

Even Jesus had to fast to overcome His flesh and withstand the temptation of Satan. Matthew 4:1-2 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil and when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. He knows what its like to be tempted, He faced it also. He shows us here that when the temptation is severe it takes fasting to overcome.

In Isaiah 58, God shows us that we are not to use fasting as a sign to show off but to use it to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke. We are to share our bread with the hungry, cover those we see naked. In other words it is not to be a self seeking event. We are to keep our fasting to ourselves as it shows in Matthew 6:17-18 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, "so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly".

In our true attempt to fast for the freedom we need, our Father sees in secret what we are doing and He says He will reward us openly. We will receive the help we need to stand strong and overcome. It is in our obedience to the disiplines that our faith is increased and our resolve is made stronger.

When we step out in faith and show God that we are willing to put our own physical desires aside we are rewarded with the help we seek. Often with fasting and prayer the power of God is shown and Gods glory is revealed.