Unstoppable

Unstoppable

All of us have been through those middle school years. For some the transition may have been smooth. Then there was the other half, whose transition came with many obstacles. Either way your life was changed. You entered as a little kid out of elementary school and left as a teenager ready to meet the high school years. Not only was your body going through transformation, but so was your mind and emotions.

If you are a parent of middle school children, or should I say tweens who end up as teenagers, it can be like a riding a carnival ride. You want to have fun, but you also realize that the ride was put together in only a couple days. It can be a little unstable and perhaps a little scary.

During one of those tumultuous rides I have had the privilege of experiencing, I was having a very serious talk with the Lord. I was asking for wisdom and felt the Lord gave me three areas that I could spend time praying over.

  1. Revelation of God’s love.
  2. Loving Oneself.
  3. Understanding the power of honoring (or respecting) one’s mother and father.

That sounded simple enough. But as I was thinking about those concepts, I needed to make sure they were stable in my life. First, I needed to adjust my oxygen mask, so to speak, then through prayer I could help adjust my middle schooler’s.

REVELATION OF GOD’S LOVE-

That is simple enough. We know the Sunday School song, “Jesus Loves Me”. We’ve read the bumper stickers, “Smile God Loves You” that is inclusive of a smiley face. I know how cliché these words can sound without the leading of the Holy Spirit. I have been told that God loves me since I was a child. But it took me a LONG time to get the revelation.

In my youth I worked hard for that love so I could have a pat on the back. And as an adult I resolved to have a godly home. But it wasn’t always the case and when I would make unwise choices for my life, I would beat myself up. If I let someone down, especially my heavenly Father, I would be angry at myself.

But if I REALLY had the revelation of God’s love, it wouldn’t have been such a strenuous walk. There was a time while I was beaten down emotionally and spiritually when the Lord spoke to my spirit to trust him. My reply: but I don’t trust myself! I knew that I was imperfect and would make mistakes.

Then I heard him say, “I never told you to trust yourself, I said to trust ME.” It is hard for those of us who want to have control to let go and allow the Lord to work in our lives and in those around us. But it is necessary to allow him to display his love towards us. So, I chose to take the step to trust God’s love.

It was that same love that David experienced. Though he had made unwise choices at times, his heart was humble, and he was devoted to the Lord. God said about him, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my heart, who will do all my will.” (Acts 13:22)

It was because of the revelation of God’s love that John could write, “the disciple that Jesus loved” about himself in the Gospel of John. He understood the deep love that the Lord had for him. It allowed him to stand with his Lord at the cross. It allowed him to endure suffering, as well. It also allowed him the honor to receive the visions to write the book of Revelation.

LOVE YOURSELF-

When I say to love yourself, I do not mean it to be a self-centered statement. It means to take genuine care of oneself. It’s concept: “I am worthy.” It gives a person the ability to make wise choices for themselves whether it is mentally, physically or even spiritually. It gives the individual the power to put up boundaries and surround themselves with positive input.

It loves the body you are in. It even makes it easier to consume the proper food, view clean content and make wise friendships and life influences. Believe me, this concept will keep you from much heartache.

Once you can love yourself, it will be easier to love those around you.

HONOR YOUR MOTHER AND FATHER –

Well, that is a nice statement and a great Bible verse. As parents is easy to want to share this one with our kids. But as I was meditating on it, the reality of its power became more evident.

“Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise; so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:1-3 (NIV)

If you think about it, respecting authority creates peace. Respect for our elders, teachers, bosses, police officers, judges and our highest office –presidency, begins with honoring our parents. Those you see fighting police officers, destroying property in the name of protest, making rude jesters and comments towards those in authority probably never learned to respect their own parents when they were young. (Of course, perhaps no one took the time to teach them.) Regardless, honor brings peace, peace brings blessings. Blessings create the ability to enjoy your life with longevity.

Be Unstoppable-

Though there are many views and suggestions to help raise our children, tweens and teens, these three concepts are some of the tools they will need to face the giants that will try to defeat them. This isn’t just for the young. It’s for all of us.

There is transforming power in God’s love. We can only love him because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19).

How can we share his love without the revelation of his love towards us? How we can love others if we do not first love ourselves.? How can we bring peace to our families and our societies if we do not first show them respect?

I pray that the youth today experience a God-encounter inclusive of the powerful revelation of HIS eternal love for them. I pray that they will take that revelation to their peers. I am believing and praying that the Holy Spirit will transform our children, tweens, teens, their parents and grandparents so that our land can rise up with the knowledge of God’s love.

Then we will be unstoppable and can spread his Gospel .

God bless

Winds of adversity.

Winds of adversity.

Someone once asked me if I followed the first commandment before I followed the second commandment.

“It is the greatest commandment and the only one to live by,” she reminded me. “People sometimes think that the second one is the greatest and skip the first. But the second cannot be completed without the first.”

Then she quoted Mark 12:30:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Matthew 22:38 continues to say, “This is the first and the greatest commandment.” (NIV)

That word of wisdom stayed on my mind. I thought about it quit a lot. It boils down to loving the Lord with ALL that I am and in EVERY situation.

Wow, that is intense! It makes sense that it should be the first commandment. How can a person fulfill the second commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” if they cannot understand the first. It is only through HIS love that we can come near to accomplishing loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Several days later I heard the Lord whisper the same words into my heart again, except this time he added, “I CHALLENGE you: love me with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Again, this resonated with my soul, especially in this hour.

Those who went before us surely understood this concept of complete and total abandonment of love for their Lord or they would not have been able to endure the tragedies, heartaches and persecutions that they faced then and some still do.

This leads me to share something that is on my heart. I believe the Lord is warning each of us that “a wind is coming”. It will be wind that is so powerful and mighty that if I (we) do not hold onto this verse I (we) may be blown away by that wind’s power.

You already see the wind in the American government. It is blowing away dross. And it will continue to blow. Innocent people have to hold on with all they are worth. They must hold onto their faith, while others keep them steadfast through prayer support and encouragement. But I strongly believe that if those who are dealing in lies and deceit do not change they will be blown away by the power of that wind.

As I was contemplating these things in my heart I heard the natural wind blow outside. I looked outside my front door and noticed our flag (yes, we have a flag in the front of our house) whipping violently in the wind. It was so powerful that it wrapped itself tightly around the flagpole. Then the wind changed its direction which caused the flag to unwrap, only to wrap around the pole again in the opposite direction.

A thought crossed my mind: “This is what we will have to do, as believers. We will need to cling to the cross, just as the flag is clinging onto the flagpole. We cannot stay rigid or we will break. We must be pliable, so that we can move with the wind and cling to the cross.”

Adversities may come and go but the cross of Christ is solid and strong and will never be moved. Jesus is solid and strong and will never be moved. He is every believer’s foundation. He is our rock. If we want to stand strong in the wind of adversity we must be rooted in him; we must be embedded in the rock of our salvation.

“The Lord is my protector; he is my strong fortress. My God is my protection, and with him I am safe. He protects me like a shield; he defends me and keeps me safe.” Ps 18:2 (GNT)

As these strong winds continue to blow we must realize that our good works will not get us through, nor our monetary values, nor our prestigious place in life, not even our friends and family (although faithful friends are of great worth). What will get us through the wind of conflict or adversity that is blowing into our lives, our communities and even our nation will be our unshakeable faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

God promises that he will shake what needs to be shaken. He is coming for a spotless bride. If gold is refined in fire, wouldn’t we be, as well?

Yet we don’t need to live in fear. In fact we should live in the joy of the Lord. That is where we will find our strength. Even Jesus saw the joy that was set before him. That joy helped him endure the cross. And he endured opposition (which we see right now in our nation.)  Each of us need to look to Jesus as our example, so that we do not grow weary. (Hebrews 12)

Ultimately, we can rest in him because these battles are his. We need to continue to pray and praise him, in spite of the opposition. It is our praises that usher in His glory.

For me, in the midst the powerful wind, it comes down this:

Do I love him with all my heart?
Do I love him with all my soul?
Do I love him with all my mind?
Do I love him with all my strength?

Do YOU?

 

 

 

 

 

 

THIS IS JUST A PRETEST

THIS IS JUST A PRETEST

Do you like to take tests?

Many moons ago when I attended school our teachers would often give us pretests. Their purpose was to embed the knowledge needed for the final exam. When we sat down to take the final, the answers came quickly to our minds because we had been prepared.

I had a friend who was going through intense trials in her life. She was sharing about the difficult events that seem to be taking place in her life, one right after another. While she was speaking a thought penetrated into my mind or maybe it was my heart. Anyway it was so loud that I knew it was something the Lord wanted me to share with her.

These were the words: “THIS IS JUST A PRETEST.”

She half-heartedly laughed and responded with, “You mean it is going to get harder? I thought this was the test — not the pretest!”

I understood her reasoning because what she was going through wasn’t easy. Yet it was conditioning and equipping her with the knowledge and wisdom she would need to pass a test in her future. It was preparing her to be able to take the next step. One day she will be able to fight giants that are bigger than her pretesting days. She will have the tools she needs to live victoriously. But it won’t stop there. She will become strong enough in her faith to help those around her.

This happened with David, as well. While he tended sheep he killed a bear and a lion. This was the pretest for the next stage of his life. He took time during these events to write songs to his Lord in his quiet hours and to grow in his relationship with God. It prepared him to have the faith to defeat the giant, Goliath. That prepared him for his next steps God had opened for him as he became more victorious in battle after battle. Those battles together with those quiet moments kept him humble, yet unafraid, as King Saul sought to kill him. This prepared him to take the next step –eventually being King of a united Israel.  He was ready for the tests that followed each pretest. He had learned the answers.

A trial or pretest is not easy. Sometimes it feels like we are suffering unnecessarily. But  I have heard it said that we should embrace suffering. When a woman is going through child-birth, she has two choices. Either embrace the pain and flow with it or fight it with all she has. Either way the baby is going to be born. The first way, though still difficult, brings joy in the process of pain. The second way, causes the pain to become unbearable. You see fighting the process of birthing new life is incredibly hard. ( I can say these things from experience. Of course women have more options today.)

But I am talking about fighting life in the spiritual sense. If we learn through suffering, Jesus can birth new life in us. Otherwise our suffering is just that, suffering without a reward.

Paul learned the art of embracing pain and suffering. He writes about his trials in Corinthians Chapter 11. The things he suffered seemed almost impossible to bear –being beaten, flogged, whipped, imprisoned, shipwrecked, deserted and misunderstood among other things. It was incredible what he went through to spread the gospel of Christ. And I am sure there were times he may have felt discouraged.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.   2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (NIV)

He went on to say:

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)

He learned something that we often do not learn. He learned the art of contentment because he overcame in the pretest. He completed the more difficult tests of life because he knew the answer from his pretesting days. The answer was and is Jesus. He spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout many regions and wrote most of the New Testament. Apparently he did it in spite of strenuous circumstances because he discovered a greater purpose and chose to fulfill it.

If we learn through an open book pretest prior to the test, we will have an advantage. Why? Because we will know the answers.  That book is the Word of God. Learning the scriptures and reading them over and over will prepare us when any trial comes our way. I have used the Word of God many times in my life through personal trials as I am sure you each have, as well.

Preparation is the key.

*The winning team of the Super Bowel didn’t win without practice and winning several previous games.

*Many tiresome hours are taken in preparation for any onstage performance, and rehearsal night proceeds opening night.

*First responders do not respond to epic events if they first do not go through hours of training. Then they practice a crisis, learning how to respond in case of a real emergency.

*The military trains in boot camp to become prepared physically and mentally before actually going onto the battle field.

The pretest may seem grueling; but it makes it so much easier for the finals.

How much more should we be prepared as we fight the battles that face our lives. Satan is not sleeping. He is like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8) He and his forces take any opportunity to conquer and divide, even the best of friends.

The pretests or trials that we face in life, about life — whether it is emotional heartache, anxiety, relationship problems, forgiveness issues, attack on our health, financial woes, or deep loss of any kind can be used for our benefit. I know that sounds odd and but if we learn through these situations they can be the very thing that will catapult us into the ultimate calling in our lives. Perhaps your heartache is what can help someone else overcome.

Think about what Queen Esther had been prepared to do in her lifetime. She was the one person who was able to save her people. Mordecai states, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such as time as this?” Esther 4:14 (NIV)

Even Jesus had many trials in his life. Being tempted by the enemy of darkness in the desert after a 40 day fast was one such experience. (Mark 4:1-11) But he also learned the answers while taking  pretests in life. He would face the greatest final exam known to all mankind when he went to the cross. And he would pass with flying colors, not because he was the son of God, but because he surrendered to his heavenly Father.

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42 (NLT)

If you have not faced a hardship, a trial or a test that seems to have no answer, you will. It is a guarantee! But there is more in store for you than just passing a fiery trial. You can can have peace in the midst of it because you know the answers to the final exam.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

The answers are in the Word of God.
The answer is the Word of God. 
Jesus is the Word of God.
Jesus is the answer.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1 (NIV)

Amen and God bless.

 

 

 

This is a new day.

This is a new day.

I haven’t been blogging for some time. So much change is happening in my life that I have not had a moment to sit down and write. Our family has made a major move and we are still in the realm of this transition — and might be for a while.

I have often written about trust, about faith, about remembering the hand of God in our lives, to bring encouragement. We all need hope.

Recently I have had that trust and faith tested as I walk out my hope of the promises of God. We cannot always see with our eyes all the promises that he has made to each of us. It seems the enemy is always trying to distract us with something else, whether it is poor health, poor decisions or just simple daily chaos.

Do you remember the movie, “Patriot“? In one of the clips it appears that the regiment of Carolina patriots are being defeated by the British military. The regiment feels defeated and is about to retreat when Benjamin Martin, played by Mel Gibson, picks up the flag and screams, “Do not retreat.”  He carries the flag as he runs with the last bit of energy he has left. Instead of retreat, the regiment is revived with hope and strength.

When a person feels defeated sometimes they want to retreat. That is when it is important to remember our position in Christ and that we are ALREADY the victor. When Jesus said, it is finished, he meant it. He defeated the enemy. Like a flag flying in the sky, he was lifted on a cross. How much greater of an encouragement is it to serve our Lord who died for our sins and rose from the dead with the keys of death and hell in his hands. We aren’t suppose to retreat- but run as a victor with trust and faith as our guides.

We are soldiers cloaked in the armor of God with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the word of God.(Ephesians 6:14-17) We are marching in victory with the captain of the hosts by our side. And he isn’t a weak defeated captain.

This warrior that fights with us and for us is found in Revelation:

“He was wearing a robe that reached his feet. He wore a gold belt around his waist. His head and his hair were white as wool — like snow. His eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like glowing bronze refined in a furnace. His voice was like the sound of raging water. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun when it shines in all its brightness.

When I saw him, I feel down like a dead man!  Then he laid his right hand on me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the first and the last, the living one. I was dead, but now I am alive forever. I have the keys of death and hell’.” Revelation 1: 13b-17 (GWT)

Sometimes I think we forget who our Lord is. Instead we look at circumstances or the way we use to do things or the way the world would expect us to react and we plan our future with that knowledge, instead of with his wisdom.

I heard an interesting testimony from someone lately which stuck with me. Apparently this individual had a vision. They saw themselves riding on a horse, but instead of facing forward they were sitting on their horse backward. And the Lord asked them why they were riding their horse backward and looking so intently on things in the past?

God does not encourage us to look at our past. He wants us to remember HIS faithfulness in our past but to let go of OUR past, whether it was past mistakes or simply the way things use to be done. Instead he encourages us to look into our future. Though he is the same, yesterday, today and forever, we should not remain the same since he has been working in our lives and taking us from glory to glory.

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it (perfection in the Lord) but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God , through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

So though I have some great memories and it is fun to reminisce about them and share stories of victory, I do not want to dwell in my yesterdays — good or bad. This is a new day. Instead I want to be as Paul and press on to what lies ahead. I trust that my God will walk me through transition. As a caterpillar is hidden in a cocoon before it has changed into a butterfly that soars in beauty and freedom, so I rest in his goodness and grace as He opens these doors of transition.

Then I will fly a bit higher in HIM. Amen

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)

The Warrior

The Warrior

The battle blazes and the fight continues. The warrior looks up and sees another flaming arrow flying towards her and her comrades. Without hesitation she maneuvers her shield high into the air, stopping the arrow from piercing her or those she has grown to love and admire. It almost knocks her off her feet. She is not wounded, but exhausted.

This particular battle has been raging for some time. She has been using all her training techniques but lately she has been distracted by other cares. Her mind is on things that take her thoughts to places that her commanding officer has warned is a distraction. Lately it seems she cannot focus.

She knows she has to learn to think about things that bring hope and not allow thoughts of despair to paralyze her. The commander has warned her to think about things that bring peace, especially while in battle. She must stay sharp.

Whoosh…another burning arrow flies right towards her. Suddenly a shield swoops in front of her and she hears the thud of the arrow bouncing off of it. This time the shield belongs to her friend. She turns towards her friend. They lock eyes. A smile crosses her friend’s face.

“Don’t worry,” she says. “I got this one.”  They nod at each other as they turn to continue the fight.

The warrior thinks to herself, “My commander is right, my thoughts are distracting me. That arrow could have hit me.”

“Charge!” demands the commander.

The orders produce a power that shakes her from within. With no more distracting thoughts filling her mind, the warrior and those with her charge the enemy with all of their strength. The battle turns from defense to offense. The warrior does what is second nature to her and begins the hand to hand combat with her sword. Strength infuses her weary body.

Suddenly the enemy runs in terror. The hooves of horses can be heard pounding away from the battle ground. The warriors holler in unison as they chase the enemy away. The slaughtered enemy that lay at their feet begin to disintegrate into black smoke, then disappear. They are not of human form but come from devilish soil. At that moment a shout of victory echoes throughout the camp. Another battle has been won. 

Joy fills the air where despair once resided.

Tonight there will be a celebration, a celebration of victory and hope. The tired soldiers can rest for a time. The grateful warrior turns to thank the commanding officer for the training and the tenacity he has taught her. As she reaches out her hand, he pulls her close for a huge papa bear style hug.

“Well, done my child,” he says patting her on the back. “Well done. You didn’t give up when you wanted to. You didn’t quit.”

“But I was distracted by despair. An arrow could have hit me when I lowered my shield,” the warrior says embarrassed by her actions.  The commander simply laughs a hearty laugh as if it isn’t a big deal. “But you weren’t hit. Your friend shielded you. That is why you need one another. Besides, I already won this battle. Did you notice how fast the enemy ran?” he said in triumph between deep chuckles.

She did.

“They always run when they see me pull out my sword. They know that I will only allow my children to go through just so many trials. Once I pull out my sword they screech in their tracks, abruptly turn around and run in fear.”

She knows that his sword is extremely sharp and destructive. As he swings it  in demonstration a brilliant light radiates off the metal causing the entire land to flood with the light.

No wonder the enemy runs away with such speed. There is nowhere to hide. They understand they can be annihilated by the commander at any time so they cower at his greatness. 

A thought rushes through the warriors mind. “If  the commander is for me, then who can stand against me?”

As she lets that sink in, peace floods her mind and her heart.

The battle was his all along.

_________________________________________________

That is a synopsis of a moment in the spiritual realm of a warring believer in prayer.

As believers we will always be in some sort of battle. Here are a few things we must remember as we fight in the battle of prayer.

  1. Ultimately every battle belongs to the Lord.
    Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15 (NIV)
  2. We do not fight people.
    “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)
  3. We need one another.
    “As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.”
    I Corinthians 12: 20-21 (ESV)
    “Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (GNT)
  4. There is a time for rest.
    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

God is merciful but also fierce. He will defend his own. We have to trust him. We may be warriors but we are also his children.  Be strong, fight diligently and rest in his grace.
God bless

What then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31  (NIV)

 

“The Warrior is a Child”
Twila Paris

Lately I’ve been winning
Battles left and right 
But even winners can get
Wounded in the fight
People say that I’m amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don’t see inside of me
I’m hiding all the tears

They don’t know that
I go running home when I fall down
They don’t know Who picks me
Up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
“Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child

Unafraid because his armor is the best
But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I’m amazing
Never face retreat
But they don’t see the enemies
That lay me at his feet.

They don’t know that I go
Running home when I fall down
They don’t know Who picks me
Up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
‘Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child.