Jesus and Lazarus

On Good Friday, I went to a worship night where the worship leader mentioned that we were celebrating the grave being opened by resurrection life!  Before he could say the name of Jesus however, to my surprise, the first person I thought of was Lazarus.

 

You see, Lazarus (whose story can be found in John 11) is a man in the Bible that God has used time and time again to speak to me personally about dead dreams and desires that will one day be resurrected.  It is truly a beautiful story that I cling to, but in that moment, I was so disappointed in myself for thinking about what He can do for me instead of giving Him praise for Who He is.  Though I know this isn’t His heart, for a split second, I had the thought that God was looking down at me thinking, “Did you forget that today is Good Friday?  Get your priorities straight and worship!”

 

…but then He spoke to me.

 

“I raised Lazarus from the dead, but I wasn’t content to just have Lazarus.  I died and was resurrected from the dead because I wanted to resurrect YOU.”

 

Wow.

 

Though we could offer Him nothing but our neediness and selfish desire to survive, Jesus was still willing to be crucified for THAT.  Though our acceptance of Him was first based on what He could do for us, He spoke to me in that moment that He truly cared about my life, my dreams, and my desires so much that He gave His life in my place so that I could live them out for Him.  He gave Lazarus life when He raised him from the grave, but He chose to come and give me life through His own death and resurrectionI was THAT worth it to Him, and He cares about my life THAT much.

 

How good is the love of God?

 

He knew that I could never give Him the glory He deserves, however, it was still in His heart to love me, bless me, and give His life for me.  He reminded me that He does not disdain our praise that is based on what He does for us, or on what we can get from Him.  He does not disdain our weak love.  He is not upset by our little understanding of Who He is and the glory He deserves.  He just wants our hearts.  He will show us Who He is as we simply seek more of Him.

 

The Resurrected King is resurrecting me…

Though I am so unworthy.

But the beautiful thing is, the more I begin to understand what He’s done for me, the more I fall down at His feet in worship.

The more I am transformed by Who He is.

The more He becomes my ONE desire, and I am able to worship Him fully, because I see Him so much more clearly.

He is not ashamed of my praise simply based on what He can do for me.

He loves me.  He loves me.

He loves me.

 

So, hear Him speak to you, too:

“I raised Lazarus from the dead, but I wasn’t content with just raising Lazarus.  I wanted to raise YOU.  I did not have to die, but I chose to because I wanted YOU…

Yes, I am worthy of all of your praise, but even if you never praised Me, I would have still given My life for you because I love you.”

 

Blog Pic: A beautiful sunset at Dallas Baptist University when I was a student there  🙂

Following His Footsteps

Get ready for a whole entire blog filled with spiritual metaphors that came out of a vision God gave me!  Before you read it however, I just want to share this disclaimer that while getting a vision from God can definitely be a very spiritual experience, one does not have to be super spiritual, or in some super spiritual state to hear from God in this way.  He is always speaking to our heads, hearts, and all around us!  The vision I describe here was just as simple as me focusing on the Lord, seeing this picture in my mind, thinking it was weird, and then realizing because of all the symbolism that it was probably God.  If you’re interested in learning how God speaks to you personally, I would highly recommend the workbook Empower Yourself in the Holy Spirit by Sally Hanan which taught me how to engage with God in the primary way He speaks to me (visually!).  Educate yourself!  🙂

A couple weekends ago, I went to a conference in Hurst called Encounter, and as I was closing my eyes and simply focusing on Jesus during worship, He gave me this vision:

I was crawling on extremely dusty ground behind Jesus Who was in a white robe with bare feet.  He was walking full speed ahead and I was so close to Him that the dust of His feet was kicking up in my face, and I was being engulfed in clouds of it!  My eyes were locked on His feet, and every time He took a step, I was somehow able to pick up His footprints and EAT them.  Yeah, you heard me – His footsteps were my food.  And if that wasn’t weird enough, every time I would eat one, I would start glowing!

 

Yeah, this is definitely something I could not make up on my own.  🙂  However, as I began to ask God about it, He revealed way too much for me to keep it to myself, and I don’t believe it was just for me.  Here is the interpretation, and let me know if it speaks to you like it does me!

 

He is teaching us how to be humble

At first, I was a little bit hurt that I was not only behind Jesus and not face to face, but that I was actually crawling on the ground, and His feet were kicking clouds of dust in my face!  However, my sweet brother who is currently in an Internship at our church (Church Eleven32) showed me something that he learned recently about ancient rabbinical leadership.  In Jewish tradition, when speaking to disciples, they would use the adage: “May you be covered in the dust of your Rabbi,” which basically means:

May you follow your Teacher’s footsteps so closely that you are overtaken by the clouds of dust kicked up by their feet.

 

To crawl behind the dust of Jesus’ feet is not dishonorable.  It is, in fact, the highest honor because it means that you are not concerned with yourself – how you look, or what people think of you – but you are humbly laying your life down and moving forward in step with Him.  The King of the Universe deserves a posture of praise and humility!  We can praise Him all day long, but what does true honor and praise look like to God but to take even the most humbling of steps He asks of us?

A month before I had this vision, I had a little internal battle with the Lord when He asked me to do something I have always said I would never do.  I actually told the Lord, “You know I don’t want this to be a part of my story!” to which He replied, “You will do everything I tell you, but you don’t want to right now because you’ve made an idol of your story.”  Ouch.  If that’s not a hit to my pride and a call to repentance, I don’t know what is.  He showed me that obedience to God kills pride and births humility.  After all, obedience wouldn’t be true obedience if it was only ever what we wanted to do in the first place.  It is humbling!  So, I told the Lord I loved Him more than my story, and I would obey Him, to which He didn’t have to say anything, but out of His abundant kindness He whispered, “You’re going to love the story I give you.”  🙂

I believe that sometimes God just wants to remind us that we’re not too good for ANYTHING He asks us to do.  Even still, He doesn’t ask us to do things in vain.  There is purpose in every step He asks of us so He is therefore deserving of the steps we don’t understand yet.

 

He is calling us to eat His Word

Now to get to the weird part of the vision.  The footsteps of Jesus were edible to me!  So what does this mean?  I believe this is a beautiful picture of what it looks like to be one with Jesus: not only following His every step, but actually devouring His footsteps, a.k.a. His Word, and wanting to be just like Him!  Every step I ate then caused me to glow from the inside-out.

Track with me for a second…

If Psalm 119:105 says His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, and Jesus is the Light of the world…as we consume and follow His Word (His every step laid out for us), we become His light too!

Let that sink in.  What an honor it is to have everything I ever need to know to live a life that’s pleasing to Him already laid out for me in His Word.  He makes it so easy!

 

He is leading us through the wilderness

Finally, I believe Jesus was leading me on dry and dusty ground because He wanted to encourage me, and you, that He is showing us the way through whatever season we find ourselves in, one step at a time.  Even though I couldn’t see His face, I inherently knew in my vision that He was smiling, and considering me as He took His steps.  When I stay low, keep in step with His pace, and keep my eyes on His feet: where He walks, I will walk, what He does, I will do, and what He says, I will say.  It’s a given, because my eyes are fixed on Him.  I won’t be distracted by the things to my right or to my left, things in front or things behind.  When I look at the Lord, my eyes are on the Prize, my perspective is adjusted, and I won’t have to be in the wilderness any longer than necessary, contrasted by the Israelites who took their eyes off of God and prolonged their wilderness season 40 years.  In fact, I think the Lord sometimes kicks up extra dust in our faces on purpose so He can keep our eyes from looking around at anyone but Him.

Even if I can’t see much, as long as my eyes are on Him still in front of me, I can see enough.

 

I hope this vision blessed you as much as it blessed me.  Jesus is looking for laid down lovers who are willing to be prostrate before Him, and who aren’t afraid of what it looks like to get into the dirt of obedience to His Word and be covered completely by the dust of His feet.  When you humble yourself by following His footsteps, face-down with your eyes fixed on Him, you can be assured that He is going before you to prepare the way, and that He is leading you right where He wants you to be.

 

Blog Pic: At New Smyrna Beach, Florida in Summer of 2016 (where God did a ton of healing in my heart and I’m still so thankful)

27 Things God Spoke to Me in 2017

Back in 2016, I received multiple prophetic words about writing from different people all year, but I really didn’t know I had a passion for it until my Pastor, Dustin Bates, called me out during one of Church Eleven32’s Deeper services about not only being a worshiper, but a writer who writes what the Lord has spoken to her.  I used to think that writers had to be scholarly, or write about things that made them sound smart, but I now realize that God was showing me that I have something to say simply because He has spoken to me.

Flash forward to January of 2017 I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to write out my testimony, and though I never intended on starting a blog, it was the only place I could think to post it.  It seemed like no big deal at the time, but now, after an entire year of posting every month (27 blogs in total!), and remembering the words that were spoken over me, I realize that this was God’s will and His perfect timing in 2017.

This may not be for anybody but me, but I have really enjoyed looking back on all that He has spoken to me this year through my writing.  Every blog contains a word that the Lord spoke to me Himself.  I have discovered how much His words keep me alive.  They shape my seasons and accelerate my growth.  When He speaks to me, it shows me that He is with me, and I can get through anything.  Reading over the words He has spoken to me personally makes me realize how much He loves me and that I live to hear His voice.

So, with all of that being said, here are 27 things that God spoke to me that gave me life in 2017.  Feel free to click on any blog that speaks to you!

 

  1. Why I’m a Christian

God led me to write out my testimony of when I started completely living for Jesus, and I didn’t even realize that it had been ten years!

  1. My Journey into the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

God taught me that I used to be afraid of the Holy Spirit, but He loved me so much that He simply waited for me to desire more of Him to bring me deeper.

  1. Here’s to the Ones who Dream (Inspired by La La Land)

God spoke to me that I was created to dream, not regret, and I don’t have to be afraid of not being in the center of His will for my future if I am being obedient to His promptings.

  1. When the Lord Gives and Takes Away

God taught me through a breakup that I cannot accuse Him of wrongdoing because He is incapable of doing wrong, and that He is not afraid of my temporary disillusionment if it leads me into my eternal reward.

  1. Surrender the Building Plans

God gave me a dream and taught me that when I truly surrender the building plans of my life, He will give me more than I even asked for.

  1. Hiddenness

God spoke to me that I was made to live hidden in Him, and when I feel the most hidden, I am actually seen.

  1. The Flip-Side to Hiddenness

He also showed me that I am called to see those who don’t feel seen.

  1. The Mourning of a Great Adventure (+ a song)

After my trip to Scotland, God spoke to me that when things don’t happen in my life the way I expect them to, I have to let go of my expectations and cling to what He IS doing.

  1. Field of Dreams

God showed me that I am His field, building, and fellow worker and He is the One Who is building me, but He has entrusted me with the responsibility of partnering with Him to experience the most growth (to forgive, change my attitudes and perspectives, etc.).

  1. Rejection is a Lie

God told me in the most loving of ways that because Jesus was rejected, I have been accepted, and I can no longer believe the lie that I have been rejected by anyone.

  1. The Humility of Preparation: Esther’s Story

God showed me in the book of Esther how preparation seasons humble us, grow us in favor with God and man and in love for them, and teach us how to lay down our desires and pick up our King’s.

  1. You Were Made to Fly Higher

God taught me that we were never intended to be in control of where God takes us and how He takes us there, but we were always intended to surrender to wherever His Holy Spirit leads.

  1. For the Love of Redemption

God spoke to me that if He allowed something to happen, even if it happened according to my own faulty enacting of the free will He gave me, if He redeemed my very life with His blood, He can and will redeem anything if I surrender it to Him.

  1. Hope Deferred (+ a song)

God told me that He loves me too much to allow me to: settle for a halfway relationship with Him, make what I’m praying for an idol, and miss out on the fruit and blessing of my current ministry while waiting for my prayers to be answered.

  1. You Split the Sea

God taught me through a spontaneous trip to New Jersey and New York and through Exodus 14 that it is not unwise to walk by faith, and it is not unfaithful to walk wisely – I simply must make plans and keep walking until I either get a split sea, or am redirected.

  1. You are a Lighthouse

God told me that I am hit with the most insecurities where I am the most gifted, anointed, and powerful, and showed me how to shine His light confidently.

  1. Fruitful

God taught me that we will all experience pain at some point, but if we allow Him to have His completed work in us through surrendering to His will, it is pain that is purifying us, protecting us, and actually making us more fruitful and able to grow.

  1. Connection over Clarity

God taught me that I would rather have a close connection with Him than perfect clarity of my future.

  1. His Promises are Still Coming to Pass for You

God showed me that to come into the inheritance He so willingly wants to give me in His timing, I must see what I have right now as a part of it.

  1. The Authority to Bless

Over my weekend in L.A. at Bethel’s Heaven Come Conference, God taught me that because I am planted by streams of living water – planted in Him by staying true to His Word and in tune with His Spirit, I have the authority to bless people in His Name!

  1. Exposing the tactics of the enemy

God taught me that the enemy’s two tactics are to steal the encouragement God has already given me, or to prevent me from receiving the encouragement God wants to give me so I must always think on His encouragement, test every spirit, and take time to rest, not stress.

  1. Looking back from 25

In 2016, God showed me the most beautiful prophetic picture of how He was going to work in my life through a lake in Wylie, TX, and I didn’t know that I would be leading worship by it every Sunday over a year later.

  1. Confidence and Contentment

God showed me that if I can believe that He has the absolute BEST for me, and I’m not seeing it all play out yet, then whatever I’m envisioning and expecting must not be good yet!

  1. Talking to God

God taught me that the power of time with Him comes from simply believing that it is worth it, and from His Spirit guiding and teaching me – so no matter my personality or communication style, He accepts me the way I am and wants to hear my voice.

  1. Receiving from Heaven

Some encouragement I got from a BSSM student at Heaven Come Conference: Receiving from God looks like killing comparison, not settling for less or putting a cap on what He is doing, and allowing myself to completely let go of my expectations and opinions to receive what God has for me.

  1. The Cross

God spoke to me that I live to be healed by Him, and no matter what pain I will ever go through, the cross is the proof of my full healing.

  1. The Joy of Thanksgiving

God taught me that as I thank Him in advance for what I know He’s going to do, I will experience His joy because His joy doesn’t just come from a promise fulfilled, but throughout the process of fulfillment in Jesus.

 

These words from God gave me life in 2017, and I am so excited to see what He’s going to speak to me in 2018.  I love living my life with the knowledge that God is on my side, and that He loves me and will always speak to me, no matter what happens.  I know that He is going to bless me and exceed my expectations.  🙂

I encourage you to look over what God has spoken to you personally this year!  No one knows you or can speak to you the way He does…and He will!

 

Here’s to 2018!

 

Blog Pic: Me having the privilege and honor of leading worship at my church’s youth group that I actually used to attend in high school called The Mvmnt.  I didn’t know that I would be leading worship there every other week this year!  🙂

The Cross

A few weekends ago, I had the absolute honor of leading worship at a women’s conference called Wildfire, all about encountering God and realizing that you can’t be too on fire for Him.  The leaders weren’t messing around because during the first session we dove headfirst into watching the scene in the movie The Passion of the Christ when Jesus was being nailed to the cross, and they encouraged us to not shield our eyes from looking at any part of what He went through.  My honest first thought was: “I know what Jesus did for me, and I’ve seen this movie before,” but my heart was open and I wanted to hear Him speak.  Sure enough, as I watched this representation of His crucifixion, He began speaking to me so clearly…

 

  • As I watched the nails being hammered into His hands, He reminded me that He restrained Himself for me.  He did not have to stay on the cross.  He is the King of the Universe and no one and nothing can restrain Him – especially inanimate objects as simple and powerless as wood and nails.  Yet, the One Who created the world was held and restrained by two wooden beams and three nails for me.  With all the power in and outside of the world at His disposal, with all of heaven and hell waiting to see what He would do, with all those to whom He showed Himself to, and who saw the miracles He could perform, waiting to see how and why He would allow Himself to be brutally murdered in this way though innocent, He allowed Himself to be restrained out of love for me.

 

  • As I watched the centurions curse Him, mock Him, and look on Him with disdain, I became angry towards the ones who historically did this to the King of the Universe.  However, He spoke to me that He formed them and knit them in their mother’s womb just like me.  He loved them just as much as He loves me.  And the hardest word of all?  I am as bad as they are.  The Lord spoke kindly and gently to me: “You are as bad as they are, and you need a Savior as much as they do.”  My sins are just as horrible and dark as physically nailing Jesus to a cross – as spitting on, flogging Him, mocking Him, piercing Him.  He chose to die a horrible and brutal death for MY sins just as much as anyone else’s.  I was as bad as the worst sinner in history due to the blackness of my heart and my inability to purify myself to come near Him Who is Pure.  I needed a Savior, and He came for me.  If I was the only person who ever lived on this earth, He still would have chosen to give His life for me because that still would have been the only way I could be saved.  I am that bad.  I am that sinful.  I am that in need of a Savior, and I am truly that loved by Him.

 

  • As I watched (and imagined) the horrific shame of my King hanging weak, beaten, and bleeding on a cross with my eyes wide open, Jesus spoke to me that there is a reason why I would have shielded my eyes if the leaders of the conference hadn’t encouraged me not to.  Violence is hideously ugly and it is not a part of what God said was “very good” when He made man.  I was not made to enjoy it or to take part in it.  However, because of the severe violence of my sin, the violence of a perfect sacrifice was necessary.  Because of the gruesome, evil, dark, and detestable things that happen in this world, and that originate from our hearts, He Who is the Light chose to take the darkness on Himself in order to eradicate it once and for all.  We were incapable of doing this on our own, and we can’t do anything to earn it because it is already done.  If we believe He did this for us and receive His salvation, we don’t have to rack up good deeds in order to be saved, although we will want to do good for Him and others.  We also don’t have to fear losing our salvation, although we will not want to do anything that displeases Him because we love Him.  We can know we are saved because He has purchased us with His love by a violent sacrifice that cannot be taken back.  It is His perfection that makes us holy, not our own; otherwise, this violent sacrifice would not have been necessary.  He chose to come and die for us in our imperfection, before we believed Him, chose Him, loved Him, or even heard of Him.  We were – I was – full of sin, and yet He believed in us, chose us, and loved us at our worst.

 

After watching this part of the movie, we then each went outside one at a time to pray and confess our sins to Jesus, as well as to place our hands on a wooden cross wet with red paint, and reflect on the personal nature of His sacrifice.

 

As I went out on this cold night, I placed my hands on the face of the cross now wet and red with paint, and stood there praying and praising Him until out of nowhere, I began to hear the song Pieces by Amanda Cook quietly playing in the background.  The second I heard this song, my mind was instantly flooded with memories of the fall that it came out, and how God taught me through it that He doesn’t give His heart in pieces when I didn’t know I was worthy of a love like that.  He put back together the pieces of my broken heart and healed me in my past, but as I listened to the song with gratitude, He then began to reveal to me the greater significance of the moment. I was standing and worshiping Him at the foot of a cross that symbolized the love sacrifice He made for me 2,000 years ago…and He was with me singing this song and declaring His love to me at that very moment!  He was showing me that His love didn’t stop short for me back then.  He is still passionately and personally pursuing me today!  He has never given His heart in pieces!

 

Jesus doesn’t want the cross to become commonplace to us.  He wants us to know that His sacrifice was and still is personal for Him.  He is the One who died on the cross for my salvation 2,000 years ago, and yet He is still full of love and willing to show His intimate kindness to me DAILY in hundreds of ways.  He longs to give us endless, personal encounters with Him, and I for one, can’t get enough…

 

The Lord showed me the week after this in Exodus 15:26 that His Name is Jehovah Rapha – the Lord Who heals you.  This is what makes the cross personal.  Jesus loves YOU so much that He would stop at nothing for YOU to be healed by Him.  He never intended for darkness, or pain, or suffering to enter into your life, but when we inherited sin and chose it ourselves, there was nothing He could do except choose to take the required punishment on the cross for us.  That alone was enough, but His sacrifice didn’t just take our punishment…it gave us healing.

 

“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5

 

If you have been through pain, no matter how large or small, believing in His act on the cross for you not only guarantees your salvation, but it also guarantees your healing.  God spoke to me through this verse and experience: You live to be healed by Me.  That’s what His death on the cross means.  It is not just a spiritual symbol that Christians carry, or a cliché thing that we talk about in church.  The cross is truly the proof of His love, and the proof of our healing.  Because of His death on the cross and His resurrection, we never have to give into despair.  We are promised resurrection from death, and full and total healing, no matter what happens to us in this life.

 

We live to be healed by Him.

 

Do you have a memory of encountering the Lord like this?  Do you recall when His sacrifice became personal to you?  If you don’t know Him in this way yet but desire to, as long as you’re alive, it’s not too late.  Stir up your heart to ask questions and seek Him.  You will find Him because He did not die to not be found by you!  And for those of you who have experienced Him in this way, don’t minimize or forget what He’s done.  His sacrifice on the cross means everything.  To think that we are chosen by Him…that we are special enough that the God of the Universe would come down to claim us, and continue to prove His love for us in the most personal of ways every day.  May we never get over it.  🙂

 

Blog Pic: A cross at sunset at Dallas Baptist University

Receiving from Heaven

When I was in L.A. for Bethel’s Heaven Come Conference, I received some encouragement during an afternoon session from someone on the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry Team.  She said many things to me, but part of it was about receiving from God in the season that I’m in.  Now, almost every time I get into a corporate time of worship, it still rings at the forefront of my mind!

 

Sometimes as Christians, we can fall prey to mindsets that prevent us from receiving more that God wants to say and do in our lives without even realizing it.  They may be sinful, or simply distractions from the enemy, but either way, they are never God’s will!  Being aware of these mindsets and doing what we can to change them makes us so much more sensitive to receive from Him, and to hear what He wants to say to us.  All it takes is being open.  🙂

 

So, with that being said, I would love to share some ways that my BSSM friend encouraged me on how to stay in the mode of receiving from Heaven:

 

  1. First, you must kill comparison:

God wants a relationship with YOU – not the person you look up to, and not the person you’re trying to be.  If you can believe that God loves you the way you are right now, you’ll be able to lay everything down to become who He wants you to be, and receive what He wants to give you.  It’s that easy!  Don’t look around during worship thinking, “Oh, that person seems so close to God” or, “I wonder what they think of me right now.”  Focus on God.  You CAN be close to Him, and what He thinks of you is more important.

The enemy wants to keep you distracted focusing on others’ lives, all the while missing out on what God is doing in yours!  It may be sly, but don’t take the bait.  🙂  As you become more aware of what God is doing in YOUR life, you will become more joyful, confident, effective in ministry, and actually available to celebrate what God is doing in their lives as well!

Encouragement from my BSSM friend:

 “It is for YOUR freedom that Jesus went to the cross.  For you, not for anyone else, because only you fulfill His dreams for you…Comparison is evil.  It’s wicked.  God didn’t create you to be someone else.  He wants you the way you are.  He loves you the way you are.  Steward the identity of who you are, just be you.

 

  1. Second, you must never settle:

I used to try so hard to wrap my brain around what God was JUST previously doing and saying, so much so that I sometimes missed what fresh thing He was trying to do and say IN THE MOMENT!  Instead, I believe God wants our posture to be that of a people who are always searching for new things and don’t put a cap on what He wants to say or do.  If it is His will to enable us to discover more about Him, His Word, and ourselves, then He is the One who will give us the capacity to understand and actually retain it all.  I don’t have to strive to get there on my own, but if He intends to take me from glory to glory, I also don’t intend to stay where I am!  May we live like children who are constantly curious and who simply seek Him and let Him teach us.  May we always be excited for new adventures with God.

Encouragement from my BSSM friend:

 “It’s like we’re traveling and we see a mountain.  The more our spirits bond, the more we connect, and the more we see new things together.  God is saying, come on, let’s go further, let’s see more, and you’re saying, ‘But what about this morning?’  God is doing something new.  Don’t try to capture what God did this morning only and miss what He’s doing right now.  That’s boring to God and a very human attitude.  Always go for new things.  No matter what happens, even if it’s not what you want or what you prayed for; it’s an opportunity for a new level.  Flip it like a coin and you will see amazing things, even if it’s not what you expect.

 

  1. Third, you must give yourself permission to be wild and free:

Open your heart so wide that you can’t even see the walls and receive whatever He has for you.  It’s not just a nice metaphor, but an honest, open posture before God that is unconcerned with the things of this world, and concerned with Him.  He encourages us to think and feel, but also wants to expand the ways in which we think and feel because it is only a part of the picture!  When we read His Word, we must lay down our previous opinions, thoughts, feelings, and expectations, and pick up His.  He will challenge our mindsets in love, but it takes us giving up control for Him to change us for the better!  Being open and free to whatever the God of the Universe may say is the best possible way of living.  It is my job to stop analyzing everything and to trust Him.  It is His Spirit’s job to guide me into all truth and to lead me into what is best for me!

Encouragement from my BSSM friend:

 “Open your heart so wide that you can’t even see the walls of your heart, and receive whatever He has new for youGive your heart permission to be free.  Give your spirit permission to go wild.  Be set free beyond all paradigms and all human thinking according to His Word.”

 

I believe that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), but we also need to make sure we do not hinder our growth in any way due to faulty mindsets.  Receiving from heaven looks like killing comparison so you don’t miss what God is doing in YOUR life by focusing on someone else’s, not settling or putting a cap on how much God can speak to you, and giving full control to God in whatever He has for you, even if it challenges you and doesn’t look like what you expected.  🙂

 

Blog Pic: Standing with arms wide open (obviously, like Creed) at the top of McCullough Gulch Trail in Breckenridge, CO

Talking to God

I am learning that nothing is too small to talk to God about.  If I ever have the conscious thought that, “Oh, that’s not that big of a deal – I don’t have to ask Him about that,” then I must ask myself whose voice I’m actually listening to; that of the enemy or the Lord.

 

That may seem really intense, but I believe that God has shown me a few times recently I could have easily moved forward with things that were not His will for me…if I hadn’t asked Him about it in advance!  You see, God desires us to know His will, but we have to ask to know it.  He won’t force us to make the best decisions as much as He knows they are best for us, but He also won’t hide them from us if we ask.  He wants us to seek Him first and listen to His voice so much so that we are able to discern and choose the best out of obedience and love for Him, even if we don’t see the full picture yet.  This is why it is so important to open ourselves up to constant dialogue and communion with Him so that we don’t convince ourselves of things without consulting with Him and through His Word first.

 

This has really been on my mind recently because just a few weeks ago, my best friend of ten years and I had a beautiful sit down chat in which we discovered something absolutely hilarious about our friendship.  Like I said, we’ve been friends for ten years, but it was only a few weeks ago that we both finally realized that when it comes to our friendship, she has always been the one to call me, and I have always been the one to text her!  It’s not actually that I don’t like talking on the phone – I absolutely love it, but if I’m really busy throughout my day, it helps me to stop and quietly think through things I want to say through a text instead of a phone call (internally processing instead of externally processing).  She however, feels it is way easier to talk on the phone instead of having to stop and type everything out as she goes about her day (externally processing instead of internally processing).  What is so funny about this is, I always thought she was more in favor of texting like me, and she always thought I was more in favor of calling like her!  That is why, in the last few weeks since we discovered this, we have both made a point to text AND talk on the phone – communicating her way and mine!  Both are continual; it’s just a different method of communication.  🙂

 

Why do I share this?

 

I feel that God has been showing me through this that many people, whether it’s through comparing themselves to others’ way of communicating with God, or simply not having enough time in their day to stop for as long as they want to, they have neglected talking to Him altogether.  You see, whether you need to talk out loud with God, or whether you feel you need to stop and process things in a quiet place with Him – both are valid.  God birthed you with the personality you have for a reason.  You do not have to feel that you are less of a Christian for not following someone else’s method of spending time with God each day.  If you want to talk to God, just talk.  Don’t be concerned with what others are doing or how they are doing it – how long they get in the Word, or how long they pray; begin to grow in those ways yourself and believe that truly as much as you want from the Lord is available to you.  God is concerned with His relationship with YOU, so you can likewise be concerned about your relationship with Him – not someone else’s.

 

Confession: God did not make me to necessarily enjoy lists, but I used to feel that I needed to be more organized and list-oriented in order to pray over something fully.  If you are a list person and that is how you enjoy keeping track of your prayers with the Lord, be free and make those lists!  Enjoy fully the way that God has made your personality to communicate with Him.  If not however, do not feel condemnation that you are not as spiritual because you do not follow a certain method that may come easily to others.  There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus and as Christians we do not live under religion, but in relationship with Him!  Grow in your relationship with God the way that you would with a friend.  If you feel led to write your prayers down, write them down.  If you are a “phone” person who needs to externally process with God, do that.  And if you are a “text” person, who needs to internally pray in the quiet, do that.

 

The way you communicate and process things is a part of how God made you.  That being said, we ALWAYS have room to grow in our communication (hence, my story with my best friend and I), but the Lord accepts you the way you are, and wants to hear your voice no matter the method.  Don’t hold back from talking to God or from a deeper relationship with Him because you are thinking that you need to somehow grow some sort of “spiritual personality” or way of praying or reading the Word that is like someone else’s or somehow more powerful.  The power of your time with God comes from you simply believing that it is worth it, and from His Spirit guiding and teaching you.  🙂  So, let Him increase your faith to constantly communicate with Him in the way you were born to.  Your seasons and methods may change, but the Lord stays the same.

 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Blog Pic: Glasgow Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland

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