Looking back from 25

Today is my birthday (October 21)!  Some people say they hate birthdays, but I absolutely LOVE them and I always will.  Why?  It’s like my own personal New Year!  I choose to look at it as another year of the Lord walking with me and leading me into new territory, another year of growth and comparison to no one other than my past self, and another year of greater revelation of the love of God for ME.

 

I can truly say that I love the Lord more than I loved Him last year.  Even though last year He blessed me so much and did so much in my life, this year He did more.  🙂  This became extremely clear to me the other day when I was driving on a country road and noticed something that I hadn’t seen in well over a year.  It was a place where I had cried, worshiped, and experienced deep healing from the Lord.  I hadn’t been back since and had actually completely forgotten about it, but when I saw it again, so many memories flooded back to my mind that I simply had to turn around and get out of the car.

 

Doing so caused me to remember what God has done in my life since that moment – how He has healed my heart and truly given me beauty for ashes in every sense of the phrase.  The last time I was here, I had just graduated from college and was unsure about my future.  I was unsure about His plans for me, and how He was going to provide for me and connect me with new friends and the church I was officially becoming a part of.  How was I going to be able to fit in and assimilate to life back in my hometown – a place I hadn’t stayed in for much time since college, and which I felt I had completely moved on from?  How was I going to start over in a new place with people who didn’t know me?  Was I going to be perpetually lonely?  Was it going to feel like I was back in high school all over again?  I was terrified, but knew I was in His will.

 

Looking back, I can see how He has provided for me…

He has blessed me in more ways than I can count, and I have seen His goodness everywhere I have turned gently molding, shaping, and guiding my life.

I have made the most incredible, lifelong friends through my church and through my travels.

The Lord gave me favor at church that was unexpected and almost immediate, and I now have the absolute honor of assisting leading worship at Church Eleven32’s very first satellite campus – a church that has blessed me for years that I now get to serve at and bless!

He has awakened new dreams inside of me – writing being one of them – and has enhanced and brought clarity to old dreams.

He has given me confidence in areas I didn’t even know I lacked confidence in.

He has blessed me with the ability to travel all over the world including Scotland (with layovers in Paris, Dublin, and London), New Jersey, New York, Honduras, Colorado, and Los Angeles, alone and with family and friends.

I have truly had more experiences than I knew I was capable of having in one year!

 

Over a year ago, the last time I was in this place, I saw the clearest lake I had ever seen.  It was glistening in the sun and I was completely awestruck by the beauty of it.  I prayed for clarity and felt the Lord giving me peace that He would give it.  Now, looking back, I can see how that lake was a prophetic indication that He was answering that prayer, and how He is still answering it in ways in which I can’t even understand right now.  I can however, see the uncertainty, confusion, and lack of clarity as a gift because it forces me to rely on Him.  He is truly my God, and in Him I lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10).

 

So, honestly, here’s to 25 and my best birthday thus far.  🙂

 

“He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen.” – Deuteronomy 10:21

 

Blog Pic: The small lake and gazebo at Restoration Church in Wylie, TX, which is the city where Church Eleven32’s first satellite campus is also based.  Coincidence?  I think not.  🙂

Exposing the tactics of the enemy

God put it on my heart to write this blog well over a month ago, but He didn’t give me the ability to complete it until now.  It’s not just about the writing or reading of information, but the retaining of it, so hopefully this blesses you and sets you free as much as it has me in processing through it for myself.  🙂

 

I really believe that most of the tactics of the enemy against God’s people can be brought down to these two categories:

  1. Stealing the encouragement God has already given you.
  2. Preventing you from receiving the encouragement God wants to give you.

 

Stealing encouragement

Here are a couple of personal examples of how the enemy has tried to immediately steal the encouragement God has given me this year:

  • God gave me the sweetest encounter with a friend who cried as they told me how much my blog was blessing them.  I didn’t even know they were reading!  The very next day however, while having a conversation with someone else about it, they kind of minimized the impact of it, which bothered me more than the encouragement blessed me!
  • I had just received a prophetic word about my future marriage.  The very next day, I was walking in a crowd with a friend and a guy began walking in tandem with us and smiling at me.  I smiled back.  Later that day however, he came up to my friend asked her out!  (I will say I now find this hilarious, but in the moment it was truly terrible timing…which I also realize is a great example of alliteration, thank you very much.)

 

Preventing encouragement

Now, here are a couple of personal examples of how the enemy has tried to prevent the encouragement God was wanting to give me this year:

  • I had just processed a ton of emotional stuff with the Lord and was feeling like I was on the verge of breakthrough.  The next thing I know, two things happened in one day that had the potential to spin me right back into even more discouragement than before!
  • On a simpler, but possibly more relatable note, I was in a very busy season and stressing myself out so much about all of the things I had to do that I “couldn’t even think” or pray about it.

 

Why does this happen?

Have you ever been in any of these situations?  Both scenarios cause you to focus on what is happening right now – stealing your encouragement from the faithfulness of God in the past, and preventing the encouragement that would ultimately come in the future if you reached out to Him.  They cause you to ask: “God, why are you allowing me to experience all of this unnecessary stress, sorrow, and heartache?”

 

I want to flip the question however…why WOULDN’T a God who loves us allow us to go through emotional things that force us to get to the root of the real problems we’ve been having?  Roots of insecurity, anxiety, doubting God’s goodness, and fear that things will never change for the better.  If God didn’t allow us to go through these things, we would never realize the sin patterns that are naturally inside of us and would constantly be forced to go through the same cycles over and over.  If we never realize them, we will never truly be free; we will only be in denial!  God wants us to intelligently understand why we feel the things we feel and what we are genuinely struggling with so we can have authority over it!

 

“Know the truth and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

 

I want to propose to you that the enemy’s attacks of stealing or preventing your encouragement/growth in God are not random!  Especially for the believer who is trying to do God’s will and making progress, both of these tactics are straight out of the first page of the enemy’s handbook.  Most of the time, you can actually track the most random attacks of discouragement back to a season or moment where you had just experienced huge freedom and breakthrough in God!  You were reaching new levels that you had never reached before in your spiritual walk and, out of nowhere, the moment that you began to really walk out your faith in a powerful way, the enemy came at you with everything he could to tempt you to give up and take the easy route of disbelief, discouragement, and sin.

 

What do you do in those moments?  How do you cope?

You realize that the Word of the Lord is ALWAYS true.

Circumstances bow to the truth of His Word!

Feelings bow to the truth of His Word!

Lies bow to the truth of His Word!

I bow to the truth of His Word, and even more importantly, no matter what he tries to throw, the devil bows to Jesus – the Truth and the Word!

 

We do not have to consistently be dragged down by the enemy’s tactics when we submit all of our struggles to the Spirit of God for help.  If we can submit and surrender, God will make us aware of the tactics of the enemy so we can recognize their source, and they can therefore have no power over us.  We are not to be aware of the enemy over God, but aware of God enough to be able to immediately dismiss things that don’t come from Him! 

 

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” – Zechariah 4:6

 

Come on somebody!  If you’re struggling with discouragement, why not try to ask the God of Heaven’s Armies what is true instead?

 

Know the Truth

Something my mom says all the time is: “You just have to know it, and then you’re set free from it.”  This comes from John 8:32 which says, “Know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  Knowing what you’re struggling with and being able to name it gives you the ability to be set free from it, because when you realize it is a lie you’ve been believing, you won’t want to believe it anymore!

 

However, even though this may be true, you still have the choice whether you want to be or not.  So, with all of that being said, I wanted to share some practical ways to combat whatever the enemy is trying to throw at you:

  1. Think of the encouragement: What did God say to me right before this?
  • In my first example, I had JUST received a huge amount of encouragement the literal day before this happened, which makes me realize that God gave that to me in advance for a reason!  The moment the atmosphere of your heart begins to change from fear to faith, the enemy will try to throw discouragement your way.  However, nobody can make you feel inferior unless you allow them to.  All you have to do is recognize it, and then you’re set free from it.  🙂  Remember how God has encouraged you.

 

  1. Test the spirit: Is this causing peace or chaos inside of me?
  • When I received those two forms of discouragement on the same day, it was tempting to think that I was being too emotional, and to then feel ashamed.  However, this was only until I realized that this wasn’t random.  I had just come so far in my emotional healing, and this caused chaos in my spirit and tested my faith in the goodness of God.  Therefore, this was none other than an attack from the enemy on my progress in the Lord!  Some of us, when we experience something really hurtful, we accept it as coming from God, and walk right into periods of depression and confusion that are even more hurtful.  However, when you go to the Lord about it, He will give you the insight to recognize it for what it is and where it came from in order to SHUT IT DOWN.  You were created to need Jesus, and He is not angry with you for needing Him!

 

  1. Take a moment: Slow down, think it through, write things down.
  • So many times, if I would just give myself the time and space to get away and receive from the Lord, I would never have gotten so overwhelmed.  He is a merciful and kind Father, and He does not want His children to suffer without His comfort.  You may be going through a hard time, but the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who come to Him humbly, desperate for Him.  Times like those are the best times to rest.  You may not see a light at the end of the tunnel yet, but God sees you struggling and knows that it puts you in the perfect place to be loved by Him.  Pray through your thoughts to God, or if you can’t think to pray, write out your thoughts to Him.  Don’t let the enemy have a heyday with your emotions when the Lord is closer than your breath!  Give yourself the time to think things over in the current season you’re in and what God is doing in it.

 

There will always be a fight against what God is saying in your spirit, but He has ALREADY given you the victory through Christ Jesus!  You can therefore laugh in the face of whatever discouragement the enemy tries to throws at you because you know the encouragement God has already given you.

 

It starts by simply looking up.  Like in a busy city when all of the people and cars and high rises surround you, fight for your attention, and make you feel small, when you look up, you see that the sky hasn’t changed.  It is clear and calm.  So too will looking up and seeking God clear things up and calm you down…no matter what you may be facing.

 

Blog Pic: Looking up at the sky above Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, CA