Wow. I am still unpacking wisdom from beautiful women serving God in mighty ways this side of Heaven! Lysa TerKeurst. Suzie Eller. Nicki Koziarz. Courtney DeFeo. Wendy Blight. Micca Campbell. Glynnis Whitwer. She Speaks 16 Conference delivered on its early promise to “hook you up to a fire hydrant and let go.” In the very best of ways, of course…
You could choose from three tracks: writing, speaking and leadership. The classes you chose depended heavily on the track you picked. I chose the writing track and was able to meet with two book publishers last Saturday. I was completely freaked and cautiously excited! I was so moved by Lysa TerKeurst’s presentation Friday evening, it changed my entire path. While I would love to say both publishers eagerly wanted to snap up my book concepts; that would not be the truth. I got to hear Lysa’s confident voice reassuring me over the rejections of jobs, directions and prayer; the answer won’t always be what I am longing to hear just in time that I wanted it to happen. The very next morning, I would face it for myself. I had a choice on how to process my disappointment and acknowledge the fear I felt or walk away in shame and humiliation, taking it as a personal jab to my so called calling.
Then, I remembered the powerful message that Steven Furtick preached and we worshipped to on a bright and sunny Sunday morning in Ballayntine about how we believed God has moved our mountains and that He can do it again. And I remember what Lysa TerKeurst spoke Friday evening that cut me to the core.
And I remember the purpose of all of this is to carry the torch for our Savior who enables and strengthens us when we call on Him. Remembering to Ask Him to make sure I do my part up to the end of myself and then depending on Him to come through in His perfect timing, answers and will for my life. He’s done it before. And I believe He’s gonna do it again!
I believe this is a new season that requires a lot of reliance on God and a faith sell out from me. I’ve tried other ways and nothing made me happy, so I am finally starting this season out right. Joined the #believeboldly group and dedicated to waking up at 5 am to spend an appointment with Jesus in my prayer closet. I think this will help tremendously and why am I just now realizing this. Better late than never!!
Ending on a song that sums this weekend up perfectly.
This week has been full of fear, anger, loss, shock and grief in America. Social media feeds are filled with pictures and memorials for those who, because of injustice, have fallen at the hand of hatred. News reports are grim and the air seems almost heavy with tension. Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter and all sorts of hashtags are prevalent in much of these talks and reports. Where do we go from here? Where is the justice for those innocent people who died? Where is the line drawn? When is it enough? How do we explain this to our children if we cannot make sense of it ourselves? What do we do?
We are not alone. Look at the world around us. Not just in modern days, but ancient days as well. Understand this not in a way as not to minimize the tragedies we are suffering. Rather, analyze it as fruits of a spiritual nature and recognize the trends.
The true trends behind the veil of an Earthly shadow.
We know the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. Those are all active verbs. Think about it again. Active verbs. Not past tense. Right now. We can identify our enemy by looking at the theft going on in our lives. People robbed of their peace, joy, family, love and freedom. Replaced with loss, fear, anxiety, paranoia, stress, anger, bitterness, and hatred. Look at the deaths of those around the world caused by the hands of another for whatever reason they deem justifiable. Consider the destruction that is being endured by brothers and sisters everywhere across the globe because of wars against other human beings.
One word definition = Separation.
The devil wants us separated from each other and ESPECIALLY from God. If he can turn us against ourselves, we make his job a lot easier.
My pastor preached a strong message today. It challenged us as a church to examine our own hearts and see if there be any wicked ways in us. This prayer is one that King David wrote himself. Change me, Lord.
4. Put on the full armor of God each and every day.
A counselor told us in our Biblical Counseling training program at Vine Life Ministries that she put on her armor in the shower. She imbedded it as part of her morning route of getting ready for the day. This is what we should be doing every day! We know our enemy prowls around looking for folks without their armor. Once again, let’s not make his job easier to destroy us! (Note to self)
5. Take EVERY thought captive and watch what we say.
The enemy wants our hearts. Why? Our hearts are the wellsprings of our lives. King Solomon, the son of the man after God’s own heart, says this:
But why our hearts?
What we say and how we react to things are great ways to do “heart checkups” on issues. We need to examine ourselves from time to time and realize these powerful and true statements:
So no more surrendering territory to the enemy. Not today. Not from me or my family. Not while Jesus is around to do something about it and not while He died and win the battle for us. Satan will receive his justice. God’s got that.We cannot let him fool us into thinking that people need to pay the price. The source of the evil is what demands justice. People are merely tools. The real enemy can always find another person to wreak as much or more havoc in the world. We, as Christians, have the power inside of us that raised Christ from the dead. The One Who won the war against Satan already. His destiny is sealed. Let’s send his friends back where they will soon be bound forever. We have access to this victorious power through His Name.
Let’s love one another and fight the enemy of our souls, a/ka The Real Enemy.
Have you ever had a time in your life that God felt almost tangible to you? I have had many times like that. Unfortunately, in my life, it was often almost immediately followed by spells of perceived distance and the feeling of almost aloofness by the very same God. It is frustrating. Especially when I am aware of issues that I cannot seem to figure out on my own. I know in my head and heart that God is not the one who moved. But what do you do when you don’t even remember moving and don’t recognize where you are?
If you have 30 minutes, this is the BEST message I have ever heard on this subject. Craig Groeschel is one of my favorite pastors of all time and I love the way he illustrates this topic.
David was a man who drifted in and out of nearness with the Lord. The man after God’s own heart struggled with sin and experienced times where he felt so far from God, that he penned some of the most heart wrenching verses in our Bible describing the distance he felt.
I love this particular piece from the aforementioned article:
“The test of your faith is not when God’s presence is real, when you see God at work in your life. The real test of your faith is when God seems distant. Do you seek Him then? If you seek Him, you will find Him, but if you turn to the world or look for a quick fix for your problems without seeking God, you won’t find Him. Seek God especially when He seems distant.”
– Stephen J. Cole
David’s choice must be our choice as well. Lament, repent, seek, and praise. Even when the report is undeniably bad. When the salary is so low, you worry how you will make it. If the path is too steep and the pain is too great, trust the One who can see the entire journey. It is not meant to be easy because we live in a fallen world. Faith is not easy. It is as hard as we make it to be with the thoughts we choose to identify our situation with.
Sometimes, I choose poorly. I mull over things that I cannot control. I confuse myself with my own behavior. Like Pastor Craig mentioned in the sermon above, my life looks like I have been listening to “Bad Advice.” Why? No clue. I know better. Yet, I still fall prey to familiar patterns of thinking. Granted, these patterns never got me anywhere worth being before, but still, I repeat them.
The Message (MSG)
14-16 I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.
17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
Paul illustrates this perfectly. He suffered from similar feelings about his sin and his behavior. Two men of extraordinary faith shared their experiences with us through the Living Word. Why? I believe it is because God wanted us to connect with them and learn from them. So we could understand that God is bigger than our sin and any distance we could ever put between ourselves and Him. David and Paul also were recipients of personal restorations from God Himself. They poured out their frustrations and sought Him even when the what ifs became realities in their lives. And He showed up. How cool that the same God Paul and David knew intimately is the same then, today and tomorrow…
My husband and I get to teach children’s church at our church home once a month. It is amazing at how wonderful these messages are to the adults who watch these children and their curriculum! The kiddos get to play, watch Superbook and have some Q & A time before they go home with their parents. Today, the story was about Peter. I knew Peter was significant and have studied him before in a different way. Peter was the outspoken one. (We can all relate. If you don’t know who that is, then it could be you.) Peter, one of Jesus’ 12 chosen disciples, was told beforehand that God had given permission to Satan to sift him like wheat.
Wouldn’t that be awesome if Jesus told us every time that mean guy had been given permission to come after us? A heads up would be fantastic! (Yes we know, roaring lion roaming, but to get a text saying…”devil is gonna be working your emotions today. Stay alert. I am praying your faith won’t fail you.” would be kind of cool. I mean, this is the 21st century. We have the technology. 👍😈
I love kids’ Bibles and curriculum. It is so much easier and the main morals or principles are highlighted. How much easier than my note taking, over complicating, over analysis papers trying to discover what Jesus meant! You can do all that… or you can just look it up as a kids’ version of the story and get the point much faster. 😀 Peter denied he knew Jesus three times. He failed the sifting.
Boy, can I relate.
I just heard for the first time today that Peter was thought to be Jonah’s son. Jonah. The guy who said no to Ninevah had a son who would say no to knowing Jesus. Interesting. His dad probably let Simon Peter know all about the consequences of not following through when it came to obeying God. (His punishments may have been harsh! It took a whale to make me listen, what am I going to do with you, Simon Peter? Don’t make me sic a whale on you, boy!)
Isn’t it odd that both father and son experienced God in a personal way through their unique professions and make up to challenge their small faiths and demand they develop boldness with their faith. So unshakeable, it is like a rock. Peter brings 3,000 souls to Christ in one preaching. He denied him thrice, was restored thrice, and blessed thrice. Interesting, indeed. Both men were passionate about their causes but each were distracted and discouraged easily. Jesus invested in this family line by using more than one generation to illustrate redemption and forgiveness. It wasn’t until they were each humbled greatly, that they began to truly understand Jesus’ plan for forgiveness, mercy and restoration. Peter was the first recipient in this manner, in a way.
From someone who witnessed our Lord personally. Don’t you want to read these books with a better understanding of who Peter was? How great he became when he finally focused completely on Christ and did not care about anything else more. That is the example we can learn, in my opinion.
I grew up on a farm in Oklahoma and one of my absolute favorite times of the year was harvest. Professional grain harvesters came and stayed in our backyard by the barn in a trailer. They brought their families on their multi -states trips. Our friends had kids that traveled with them and I made some of the best memories playing in the back of the wheat truck and getting a cold Welch’s grape soda for free at the Co-Op. It was awesome. I loved making lunches and suppers for the guys in the field. (They were always so happy to see us!) The best water I have ever tasted came from my dad’s gallon of ice water covered in wheat dust. You can’t find that at Whole Foods. 😉
Harvest meant a culmination of a growing season’s hard work. Farming is extremely difficult and frustrating. Weather has a mind of its own and still isn’t controllable yet. Every farm family has their own opinion of how farming should be done, and if you don’t agree, it’s okay. You’re just wrong. 😄 It requires constant upkeep, maintenance, nutrition, fertilization and irrigation to produce a stellar crop. (If commodity prices are decent)
The Bible is full of stories about the harvest season. I shared this with my daughter and it is amazing what all she understands. I learn from her and my bonus son all of the time. Kids are amazing creations. ☀️
I hope to take the kids out to the farm this year and let them experience it for themselves. Harvest means something different and something much deeper to me now than it did back then. The Harvest Season is what reminds you in a very personal way how VERY good our God really is. He has delivered me from personal issues and healed me and my family, literally. And yet, sometimes I forget. Like the Israelites, I begin to grumble about my circumstances. I try to fix problems and get ahead of God’s timing and try to do His job. Because waiting in the unknown is hard. Emotional. Scary. The Land of the What-Ifs and Strategic Alliances and Planning. And it requires constant upkeep, maintenance, nutrition, fertilization and irrigation to produce a stellar crop. Just like a fruit, tree, vine or grain produced from Earth’s soil, we are vessels with potential for growth, beauty, fulfillment of goals and dreams and good works set ahead of our time for us to do.
There will always be times in our lives where the answer will be wait. It is not often the answer we prefer. However, we have a choice. We can do the easy thing and let it guide us off course. Or. We can choose our Chazown. We can spend the time that is going to pass anyway praising the God of the Harvest. We can trust Him. Even when we really do not see a way. It’s because our eyes are not capable of seeing or understanding God’s plan. Let us seek Jesus everyday. Let us not grow weary in our waiting, for the harvest season is coming. We can trust God to help us grow in Him.
It’s all about the relationship with Jesus. Don’t let the enemy over complicate it for you.If you don’t have a personal relationship with Christ and want it or are just curious; please explore that. It’s important that you do.
If you prayed that prayer, welcome to the family of God. You will need a Bible and I would love to send you one if possible. My favorite app is YouVersion. https://www.youversion.com/ There are live services of worship at places all over the world that teach from the Bible as their base of reference. We can help find you one.
Seeking Sonshine is what it’s all about, after all. ♥️
I worked in oil and gas until the industry began to fold inward earlier this year. Sometimes, when a producer decides that a well is no longer economical for whatever reason, they can suspend production or “shut in” the well. The well is capable of production, but it is intentionally shut in to halt production for the present time. There are lots of reasons for this and they are good ones. Market is down. Too much water and not enough oil in this one. Not enough gas to afford keeping it online. All valid reasons. Same result. No production.
Much like our hearts.
Hear me out. One thing that must be managed during the shut in process is the management of pressure. It is vital that the pressure be contained and dealt with. Ignored, and a much bigger problem will arise in a matter of time and circumstances.
If we harden our hearts with unforgiveness, pride or bitterness that goes unchecked, the pressure will build and have dire consequences if not dealt with correctly.
Our hearts will become shut in wells. Capable of being used by God, but offline by choice. And usually for a valid reason. But Jesus died so we could have a billion plus barrels a day production worth of love and truth from our hearts to both experience and give away.
There was once a Samaritan woman who had a shady past. She had some bad emotional soul ties with her exes and horrible relationships. Trust issues didn’t begin to cover it. And everybody knew, so the women whispered and silently judged her. Did they think she didn’t notice when they pulled their teenage sons and husbands away from her? She was used to shame. She wore it like a hairstyle, and had learned to live with the pain. She had made some choices she wasn’t proud of, but there was nothing she could do about it now. Or so she thought.
Jesus came to her and asked her for a drink. She was taken aback. “How is it that you, a Jew, ask me a Samaritan for a drink?” Basically, we are lower than scum. I wear my sin. Why are you here? What do you want with me? Have you come to shame me as well? But He had not come to shame her. Quite the opposite, actually. He came to offer her Living Water and give her eternal life. She gladly accepted it and it changed her life forever. She chose Living Water and not to remain shut in. People were saved because she chose to live. What a beautiful story.
We are not the sins of our past. We are forgiven. We press on and in to our God seeking Him first and His glory in our lives. We help those who need it. We remain open and flowing with compassion, empathy and generosity and the Holy Spirit’s guidance and discernment in all things. We fall away. Forget. Feel pain. Move back. Find joy. And live our lives. We journey on toward this side of eternity knowing that if God be for us, who wants to be on the other side?? Not it!!!!
Have you ever carried something around so long that you had the thought where you did not think you could physically take one more moment? Like your tendons would snap. (I tend to be dramatic or so they tell me) It could be a dramatic emotional event that is significant to you, or a lingering trust issue due to a failed relationship, or even consequences of bad choices you have made in your life. Whatever it is. It’s heavy. It hurts. And we all carry them in different places.
Sometimes it shows up in our necks. Tight, strained, and painful. Lower backs or middle of the back, or even shoulders can bear the weight of our stress. We fight off pain, daily. We become stress warriors with ibuprofen and yoga as weapons. Temporarily helpful, but not an effective long term strategy. Overall, it is just a weight or a culmination of weights that we weren’t meant to bear.
A yoke is defined as:
Yoke – used of something that is regarded as oppressive or burdensome.
The yoke of perfectionism is exhausting. Followed around by legalism and self righteousness can be fatal to your soul. These burdens were bought and paid for by the best carrying service in the biz. So why do we still choose to struggle? Because we need to stop and listen.
Lay it down at the feet of Jesus and we walk away different people. Changed from the inside out. The Holy Spirit will do a work in us that cannot be explained. You are a world changer for God. He wants to mold you into the person you were meant to be, experiences and all. Your skills, talents, gifts and passions are uniquely scripted in your book.
Chase your dreams down. You can’t run fast enough with that stuff weighing you down! Deal with the unforgiveness, dig up those roots and face the pain. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s worth the effort because of the sacrifice Jesus already made. Claim it. Walk in it. Change the world. It needs you in it, especially at a time such as this.
My daughter’s favorite story in her new Bible App Storybook for Kids right now is about Abraham and Sarah. It’s in her Bible under the picture of beautiful stars, and her favorite character is Sarah. I was surprised and asked her why. (I was thinking, prepare yourself for a thoughtful, Biblical answer, Mama!) “Well, she has a purple dress, Mom.” 4 year olds. 🙂
Sarah is an interesting character for many different reasons, but she is a terrific example of how God can bring beauty from ashes. This woman went through torment. First of all, her husband passed her off as his sister so he wouldn’t be killed by Pharaoh because she was so beautiful. (Thanks, dude.) She goes along with it, and ends up in Pharaoh’s harem. (http://www.womeninthebible.net/Sarah-bible-text.htm). You can imagine what she probably went through during this time. Interestingly enough, Sarai was barren. You have to wonder if this was part of God’s protection to keep her from bearing Pharaoh’s offspring during this horrible time during her life. Eventually, the truth came out and Pharaoh returned Sarai to Abram because Pharaoh believed she was the cause of his punishment due to adultery.
Sarai mourned her infertility and begged God for a child. This is heartbreaking in modern times, and many women undergo fertility treatments and years of living month to month, checking basal temperatures and taking tests in hopes of having a sweet little one to hold in their arms someday. Fertility clinics weren’t exactly prevalent back in those days, however. Genesis 16 tells us that Sarai decides to remedy this problem, which was amplified because Abram was the tribe’s leader and she could not bear children. So, Sarai decided to do what we women do all the time in modern times; she took matters into her own hands. She decided to make it happen for herself since it didn’t seem like God was listening to her plight.
Ouch, that hits home to this mama. How many times have I overreacted in fear because I couldn’t see the big picture? (Too many to count) Especially with my children. Our human minds cannot comprehend and that is not what we want to hear or accept at times. I have found myself on the bathroom floor begging God to do something or intervene in certain situations and finally He did. He made me realize I needed Him to change me. And I needed Him to change me every day, multiple times a day until my ways matched His ways and I gave up the need for an explanation and just obeyed.
I can be stubborn. But God never gives up on us. Never. He never gave up on Sarai, and she gave her servant, Hagar to her husband to get a child. (Fertility clinics 1.0?) Her plan worked in theory, but destroyed her relationship with Hagar and almost destroyed her relationship with her husband, who just did what she told him to do, right? 😉 Things got so turbulent, that in the end Sarah forced Abraham to make Hagar take her son, Ishmael, and get the heck outta dodge.
Now. This story is about Sarai, right? Sure. But what about Hagar? She became defiant to her mistress after she learns she is pregnant, and Sarai begins to mistreat her so she runs away. Then, she has the first encounter with The God Who Sees Her.
Despite this, Hagar very nearly made it to Egypt. But eventually, exhausted, she stopped at a spring of water in the wilderness of Shur. At this moment, an ‘angel’ spoke to her, telling her to return to Sarah and have her baby among the Hebrews. It would be a special child, a child with a great future. So she retraced her steps and returned to the tribe, and to Sarah.
Hagar gritted her teeth, and made her way back to Sarai who treated her horribly. She had Ishmael, and for fourteen years, he was Abram’s heir and future leader. To make matters worse for Hagar and better for Sarai, God promises Abraham and Sarah a son, and once Isaac is born, the bitter feud grows worse and manifests a perfect picture of unforgiveness, jealousy and control. God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, which means Princess. HE GAVE HER THE VERY DESIRE OF HER HEART!!! Yet, she was consumed with hatred for Hagar and her son and it stole her joy.
How many times have I overlooked blessings because the enemy had diverted my gaze to something designed to take my eyes off the Lord?
Finally, Sarah convinces Abraham to get rid of Hagar and Ishmael and he reluctantly does so. Hagar is devastated and is sure of both her and her son’s death because they cannot make it across the desert with so little bread and water. But then, God stepped in. Again. He provided for Hagar and Ishmael. He saw her and He heard her cries. And He has never stopped listening.
When you are in the desert, God sees you. He sees you when you are crying because your heart is hurting from a loss that is out of your control. He sees you when your child is struggling and going further and further away. He sees you when you are late for work again because you are working two jobs and trying to care for your children. He sees you when you are trying to make your bills work and are scared to death. He sees you when you are trying to parent the best you can and feel like you are failing. He sees you when you are trying to work through the hurt in your heart but keep taking one step forward and two steps back. He sees you. You are not alone.
Keep going, even when it is impossible. When the desert becomes a wasteland, cry out. Even if all you can say is “Jesus.” Just say it. There is not place you can ever be where God cannot hear you. Never be afraid to reach out. We are all in this together and we have a God who is alive and sees us where we are. He will never leave you. He may not answer you in the way you think He should. Be prepared for this. Sarah and Hagar probably didn’t get the answers they thought they would get, but God never left them and He answered their prayers and heard their cries. If you are ready, make a list of all the promises God has answered for you. And if you can’t think of any, google “promises in the Bible,” and start looking at all the beautiful promises that are there for you. You are loved and valued and heard. May these words wash over you today and bless you, friend. 🙂
I was on a road trip recently and happened to stumble across a Third Day concert airing on SiriusXM The Message channel. It was late at night, and it was just myself in the car, which is a rarity these days! Not that I am complaining! 😀❤️😇 There came a point in the concert where Mac Powell, the lead singer of Third Day introduced a young singer by the name of Harvest Bashta. I had never heard of her, but she began to tell a story that stung me as I listened. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since and the song is incredibly chilling. Here is a summary of that story in print and the video link beneath it. Please watch, it is beyond incredible.
“The Moravian Slaves, a popular story about Christian Missions concerning Johann Leonhard Dober and David Nitschmann, describes how these two young Moravian Brethren from Herrnhut, Germany were called in 1732 to minister to the African slaves on the Caribbean islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix. Allegedly, when they were told that they would not be allowed to do such a thing, Dober and Nitschmann sold themselves to a slave owner and boarded a ship bound for the West Indies. As the ship pulled away from the docks, it is said that they called out to their loved ones on shore, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!” ”
So… Pretty amazing, isn’t it? Can you imagine singing it yourself with the saints one day? The lyrics she sings are actually based on scripture in Revelations 15.
Revelation 15:3-4 Amplified Bible (AMP)
3 And they [a]sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and wonderful and awe-inspiring are Your works [in judgment],
O Lord God, the Almighty [the Omnipotent, the Ruler of all];
Righteous and true are Your ways,
O King of the [b]nations!4
“Who will not fear [reverently] and glorify Your name, O Lord [giving You honor and praise in worship]?
For You alone are holy;
For all the nations shall come and worship before You,
For Your righteous acts [Your just decrees and judgments] have been revealed and displayed.”
Revelation 15:3 At the end, the old covenant that came through Moses is seen to be in complete unity with the new covenant in Jesus Christ.
It is a song about redemption by and through Jesus. (And I need some redemption!) Moses led the people out of Egypt but he himself wasn’t allowed into the Promised Land. Isn’t it interesting that it is still referenced as the song of Moses in the book of Revelation, even though he did not get to fulfill his ultimate goal while still on Earth? God is all about second chances and grace business. He created it.
Moses wasn’t allowed to lead the people in to the Promised Land because of a mistake he made in Numbers 20. http://www.gotquestions.org/Moses-promised-land.htmlMoses didn’t trust God enough. And he had been with Him before on Mt. Sinai and not to mention a burning bush. I continuously struggle with trusting God consistently, and it is why I can identify with the Israelites. I can take a problem that I know I should surrender to God, and mull on it for 40 years rather than 11 days, figuratively speaking. What-ifs can become my specialty. I can worry about every possible scenario. I know it doesn’t help or do a thing about it. But I still do it. We can criticize those Israelites all we want, but we have no room to say a word.
What’s your island? What is God calling you to do that seems impossible, unfathomable or uncomfortable? He wants your trust. Whether or not we realize it at this moment in time, He’s earned it. But even if it takes us 40 years to understand, that’s okay. He will wait. He is kind of awesome at the patience and love business. After all, He created those, too.