The Cavities in Life Are Not God’s Fault

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When I was young, I got a cavity. I wasn’t nervous sitting in the chair with all the silver tools around me. After a few deep breaths of nitrous the nurse swabbed some numbing cream on my gums. A flash of anxiety washed over me as I glanced at the large needle heading towards my mouth. There was the stick, the sting, and boom – the worst was supposed to be done.

Moments later I noticed a look of concern on my dentist’s face. The room filled with tension as he began to shake my right cheek.

My face went numb, my tongue was double its normal size and my right eye was now closed. My cheek, now swollen to the size of a large softball, was sadly turning black and blue.

Apologetically, the dentist explained to my dad that I had a tiny mouth, and for the first time in this seasoned dentist’s career, he accidentally shot the Novocain into a vein.

The result was I couldn’t enjoy solid food for a couple weeks. From my forehead to my neck, it looked like I had been beaten up and the relentless teasing at school took its toll on me. This trauma took about a month to heal physically, but the emotional hit would affect my life for decades.

Dr. Bettis didn’t mean to cause such trauma as he only wanted to care for my teeth. This was an oddity, not a planned attack, but I blamed him and now feared every dentist in the world. They couldn’t be trusted and wouldn’t protect me. I would battle irrational anxiety that, by my 20s, kept me from being able to walk in an office for a routine cleaning for nearly a decade.

I finally went to the dentist, and much later I realized I saw God how I viewed the dentist. It’s easy to point the finger and blame God for the bumps and bruises, the hard times and the things that happen to us that just are not fair. It’s easy because the voice of the enemy is relentless in his pursuit to get us to doubt God’s goodness.

Accusation is a nasty evil that if not careful, can warp the way we view God. It can be very subtle often using an element of truth to set us up to believe a counterfeit truth. These lies hinder your relationship with God, work to tear down your identity in Christ, and open the door to other strongholds like bitterness, anger and fear.

I fell victim to the enemy because I was not cemented in the Word. I didn’t truly know God’s character or my identity in Christ. I saw Him as a punisher and accused Him of making me pay for mistakes.

I thought of God as I thought of the dentist ­– unsafe and not to be trusted. Why? Because I believed God was responsible for all the good and bad that happened in life. This lie absolved me of owning the poor choices I made, but worse, it took the blame right off Satan. It was God who looked like the bad guy. By all appearances, He was against me, but nothing could be further from the truth.

These accusations would nearly destroy me by the time I hit 40. Satan blamed God for all he was doing to wreck my life. And I ate up every bit of it and grew disappoint in God. This also kept me in denial because I couldn’t see where I bore any responsibility for the mess.

I stewed over all the unmet expectations I placed on God. I wanted what I wanted and when I didn’t get it in my timing, accusations against God surfaced, such as:

  1. He did not hear my prayers
  2. He was not for me
  3. He wasn’t a good father
  4. He was a punisher

So many lies swirled in my mine because I didn’t understand it was my job o take the destructive thoughts captive and defend the Father. The negative thoughts fueled my pain and kept me from forming a solid relationship with God. I was convinced He was responsible for all that was wrong in my marriage, my job, my health, etc.

We had just lost our fourth child, and accusation led me to develop a fear of the Lord that was ungodly. I also felt abandoned by the One who said He’d never leave or forsake me.

I held God responsible for killing my babies as I had come into agreement with the accuser’s grandest lie: God is responsible for all that happens in life. I felt like He didn’t protect them to punish me, and I thought I must not be worthy to be a parent. This destroyer was killing my dream of raising a child, crushing my spirit, attacking my relationship with God and slowly tearing up my marriage.

As a result I rebuked God. I was so angry at Him that I no longer saw a good Daddy, but only saw perceived abuse. Accusation was stealing my peace and joy, making me an explosive mess in my home and robbing me of enjoying the pleasures that come from a man and wife creating life. Accusation was opening door to many other strongmen to come and wreck me. Envy, bitterness, rejection, complaining, control and manipulation… Those were just a few.

One day I found myself on the floor of our church crying to God to take my pain away. I had heard our pastor declare, “What grieves God most was bitterness and iniquity of sin.” He made an alter call, and I flew out of my chair. I was dying inside and wanted a way out. As I walked to the front I felt like a voice was telling me my iniquity was bitterness, and it needed to be ripped out of me. Then I was smacked with the reality I was guilty of accusing God because I didn’t trust His timing.

I repented and renounced all the agreements I had made with the devil. Bitterness with God stemmed from the lie that He killed my babies, but the Word says the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Envy was the result of the accusation that God was blessing everyone but me because I was a bad person. Anger was the by-product of placing expectations on God when Satan twisted the verse that says, “Ask and it will be given to you.”

It was wonderful getting set free. The Lord showed up in a mighty way and filled me with peace. He plucked that envy right out of me, and I was no longer afraid of Him.

This was the beginning of a journey that culminated in the holding my daughter in my arms a year later. It was the full expression of Phillipians 4:4-7.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

If you think you are being attacked by an accusing spirit but are not sure, take a look at the following checklist and if these characteristics apply:

  1. You are suspicious.
  2. You project fear and analyze others motives, including God’s.
  3. You are bitter.
  4. You do not trust others.
  5. You consistently believe the worst.
  6. You are easily offended and/or can create an offense.
  7. You make rash judgments based on limited knowledge and misunderstandings.
  8. You turn away from relationships and fellowship even after there has been repentance.
  9. You zero in on the flaws, weaknesses and evil in others while tending to exclude the good.
  10. You live in denial and always find someone to blame.

If you feel like you have been participating with accusing spirits after reading the list above, simply repeat the following prayer out loud:

Father God, I thank you that there is no condemnation to those who are in Jesus Christ. And it is in His mighty name that I recognize and take responsibility in my life and in my generations for all accusation. I repent for and renounce participating with all spirits of accusation against God, self and others. I release all my guilt, shame, fear, mistrust, judgments and offenses and ask God that you fill me with your peace, love and truth. I ask for forgiveness and receive my forgiveness for participating in and serving accusation. I thank you Father for your mercy and grace. Give me the wisdom to discern your voice and the ability to recognize accusing thoughts so that I can take them captive. In Jesus name, amen.

Next steps:
If you’d like to learn more about Satan and how he can use spirits of accusation to cripple you in your life, click here and listen to the teaching on accusation.

Your Grace Is Enough

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There’s nothing sweeter than listening to your child rocking a car seat concert as she’s belting out “Your grace is enough,” along with the Veggie Tales. It’s a precious moment to absorb her unconditional love of God as she’s squealing through the verses. I am consumed with her child-like faith, and I’m pondering what grace really means.

As the song draws to an end… Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber are talking when Bob announces “grace means unmerited favor.”

No offense to Bob the Tomato as I do believe God’s grace is enough, but his declaration seems off. A check in my spirit tells me that definition was not right, but sadly I didn’t understand why.

It wasn’t long after this drive I sat in some healing training from a well-known west coast pastor. I was taking in every word, and he blew my mind when he declared, “When we are born again, we are made brand new.” Yes! That lit me up!

He continued comparing believers to top-of-the-line Mclaren bikes proclaiming “we are not re-furbished models when born again.” It made sense to me – everything from the past, present and future was wiped clean. We are now spotless and righteous. Perfect in God’s eyes. Yes! I was now out of my seat!

But then he continued. He said there were no generational iniquity, no curses and no strongholds affecting our lives because we were born again. He said all of this had been taken care of on the cross. And I thought to myself… this is clearly unmerited favor. This must be grace.

A month or so later, I was teaching a group of women about healing when I literally felt a punch to my gut. One question went through my mind… If what that man said is true, then why are we in need of healing?

I’ve been a sold out, hard core follower of Jesus Christ for nearly the last decade. But this “new model” battled with high blood pressure, infertility, recurrent miscarriage, massive female problems including PMDD. I also dealt with bouts of insomnia, a blood clotting disorder, acid reflux, serious stomach problems, chronic sinus infections as well as bone issues that had led to two major surgeries in five years.

How was this possible if I was a “new model” when I gave my life to Jesus?

September 2014 was a real low for me. Instead of traveling to Japan on my first mission trip, I ended up in surgery to repair a badly damaged left foot and ankle. My arch fell, tendons shredded and my ankle was nearly out of its socket. I had spent the better part of a year praying for a miracle – living with chronic pain – determined that this “Mclaren bike” would be healed. I would see that unmerited favor and have my healing miracle.

Instead I sat on my couch for the next six months mad as a hornet. Where was my unmerited favor? Where was my new foot? Why did I now have metal screws and a fake arch in my body?

It became a mathematical equation I just couldn’t solve. A plus B just never added up to C. I was no longer buying what Bob the Tomato (or that pastor) was selling.

Unmerited favor. That’s a great concept in theory, but Satan, the father of lies, has done an excellent job penetrating into the church body at large a misconception that is leading many to perish to due a lack of knowledge.

Here’s why: If grace is automatically given to me when I accepted Christ, and if God showers me with favor no matter what I do, then it stands to reason that I do not have to do anything to receive it. I do not have to read the Word. I do not have to pray. I do not have to follow God’s laws. I do not have to rid the sinful patterns in my life. I do not have to do anything more than raise my hand in church and declare Jesus is my savior to be guaranteed a one-way ticket to eternal life.

I realized sitting on my couch that I expected a lot from God. This idea of grace being unmerited favor had warped my understanding to the point that I was pulling a Janet Jackson with God… constantly asking him “what have you done for me lately?” Not literally… but deep down… that’s exactly what I was doing. I wanted His portion of the Covenant, but I had no real idea of what my part of the equation was supposed to be.

By the end of 2014, my life was spinning out of control. My health, my marriage and my finances were all a mess. I was struggling in my church chasing after emotional experiences. I felt like my world was collapsing around me. I knew something had to change and so did God.

A family friend suggested my husband and I visit Son Rise Church and Ministries. There we met a pastor who would begin to open my eyes to the true Gospel and what was missing in my life.

I was gently shown how Satan had me convinced I was not bound by Jesus’ teaching (repent and sin no more). It was okay to fudge the rules – because God was full of grace! This lie was undermining all that Jesus did for me on the cross. I, without knowing, was belittling the sacrifice God made because I assumed we are not guilty no matter what. I tried to be a good person, but I was in no way living a life of repentance.

See, this hyper-grace message, being taught all over the world, emphasizes the grace of God with the exclusion of vital components such as confession of and turning away from sin. Because we have been forgiven, there is no need for a believer to ever confess sin. This warped concept says, “When God looks at us, He sees only as a holy and righteous people.” It completely leave out the truth that our choice to sin opens the door to the enemy and places us under his law.

This hyper-grace lie blinds many just like me to the damage of generational iniquities and curses in their lives. This lie tells believers they are not responsible for sin, and sets up what we are dealing with today – A world full of supposed legalism. Even worse, a day and age when to stand up for your religious beliefs turns you into a hater. It is causing a generation of God’s children to say, “If I live my life how I want but am a good person, surely I will go to Heaven.”

Sadly, this unmerited favor idea of grace is nothing more than the fulfillment of the prophecy in Jude 1:4 that said, For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

The Bible also warns us against this messed up idea of grace. Romans 6:23 says, the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Dont you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6)

But if grace is not unmerited favor, then what is it?
The Word does teach us that it is by grace we are saved. But Paul also said that it was by faith that we were saved. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Grace, as un-deserved favor of God, rests in the truth of Colossians 1:27 which says “Christ in us. The hope of glory.”

True New Testament grace is not unmerited favor. It is someone (Jesus Christ) or something (Holy Spirit) that provides help – That someone or something that gives you a reason for hoping. It is through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit living in us that we can do that which, in our own strength, we would not be able to do.

Merrium-Webster defines grace as unmerited divine assistance given humans for their sanctification – a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace.

Grace is the power of God working in us giving us the ability to turn from sin, to defeat iniquity and strongholds and to courageously defeat the enemy. In our own strength, our flesh has no ability to overcome sin. But the grace of God, that is His Son Jesus Christ, found us not guilty, paved a way for us to be with the Father, provided an inheritance for us full of riches and fruit and restored the ability for us to live a Garden of Eden life.

Paul explains this gift of grace, as the ultimate sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, which reconciled us to God. Jesus did not cancel the laws His Father wrote. He did not say go and live an immoral, wretched life while tasting and eating my good fruit. Rather He gave us the Holy Spirit, by way of His Son, so that we could keep His Commandments – ultimately defeating the sin that is destroying so many of our lives.

Grace is the vehicle by which God strengthens the church. Our job is to seek at all times to become like Christ, having faith that while our works can produce nothing, the Power of God working in us will help us attain the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. On a daily basis grace conforms us more and more to the image of Jesus.

This sanctification requires Christians, as Paul commands, to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). And Romans 6 tells us how. We are not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies or to be tempted to evil desires.

“Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:12-14).

God is the one who does the work of making us more like Christ. We participate in that work by continually turning away from sin and demonstrating faith by obeying God’s commands. The Holy Spirit plays a vital role because as we walk in the power of the Spirit we “will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16).

Having my eyes opened to this truth made the Bible and especially the Gospel come alive in my life. For the first time, the equation had an answer that added up to something amazing – summarized in Galatians 2:20.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

The more faith I had in dealing with my mess and the deeper I delved into daily practice of repentance, the more I was able to rid the bitterness, anger, accusation and fear from my life. For the first time in my life, I found true freedom. When I got out of my own way, took up my cross and began to follow Jesus rather than chase an emotional experience, miracles sprang forth in every area of my life.

I’ve been healed of everything I listed earlier in this blog. I lost 40 pounds as I shed the weight of carrying around the shame in my life. My relationships with my daughter and key family members improved drastically and my marriage… well let’s just say that a couple on the brink of divorce, both of whom would admit that there was no love left, are acting like newly weds. The fighting in my home is gone and in its place is joy and peace.

I am honestly blown away at the work the Lord has done in my life. Both my spouse and I have seen major increase in provision. I’ve grown in ministry and seen some incredible miracles spring forth in the lives of those around me.

The more I repent, rebuke and resist sin, the more I am willing to stand up to the enemy and say, “No, you have no claim on me or my family,” the more I am seeing the blessing of Abraham manifest in my life and in my family’s lives. This is the true product of grace.

If you are struggling in any area of your life – in your spirit, soul and body, in the work of your hands or in your relationships – I urge you to ask yourself one important question. Are you seeking repentance on a regular basis? If not, I invite you to seek God and give it a try. If what you are currently doing is not working, step aside and allow grace to finally come in and work on your behalf. I promise you won’t be sorry.

Pray and Ponder:

  1. What are some areas you are currently struggling with? Ask God for forgiveness and watch Him go to work on your behalf. If you are not sure what true repentance looks like, click and listen to Pastor John Aldridge’s Eight R’s to Freedom teaching.
  1. Have you been operating under the idea of hyper-grace? If so, ask God what true grace is and let Him speak to you.
  1. Do you need healing or freedom in any area of your life?  Click and listen to parts 1 and 2 of Biblical Foundations for Healing.

 

 

 

 

When Drivenness is Destructive

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From a very young age, critical voices influenced how I viewed myself. I was drowning in a river of negativity with thoughts that began with “You’re not (fill in the blank)”.

Good enough. Smart enough. Talented enough. Pretty enough. Qualified enough. Creative enough. Innocent enough. Skinny enough.

Enough. Enough. Enough.

I recall hearing this voice for the first time when my family moved. My parents were proud to call themselves homeowners while I felt forced to leave the life I enjoyed to start the last year of elementary in a new school filled with strange faces.

Fifth grade was a hard year for me. This school was night and day different from my old one, and I felt like a fish out of water. While I did make friends, this was a lonely year.

I think this is where I began to strive for perfection, as I believed I would be liked if I was the best in class, a great Girl Scout and a stand out on safety patrol. I was driven to make the best Valentine’s Day box, get straight A’s and excel at skating. I worked hard at being perfect, but in the quiet of night, the voices in my head seemed to get louder. “No one will like you.” “You are boring.” “You will never fit in.”

Sadly the very next year, I started junior high, and the cycle repeated – a new school across town, kids that could reject me, and a new set of fears to deal with. These thoughts devalued myself until one day I believed the negativity. “I’m a hag.” “I’ll never be popular.” So many lies filled the pages of my diary. I began to feel tortured inside.

 

My way of dealing with the lies in high school was to prove them wrong. I was driven to be the best in everything – newspaper, drill team and honors classes. No matter what I did, I excelled at it. I fought to silence my mind, trying to convince myself of my worth, but I felt the only way anyone would notice me, like me, and/or love me was if I exceeded expectations in every area of my life.

Sadly college was more of the same. No matter what I did, I’d hear the nagging voice devaluing me even though I was a sorority officer and yearbook editor, making good grades and sustaining great friendships.

My third year in college, I experienced love at first sight. We began dating, and I twisted myself into knots to be exactly what I thought he wanted me to be. I was frustrated because I was becoming someone I didn’t like as I devalued myself – crossing many boundaries I didn’t really want to. Eventually my heart was broken when this man cheated on me. Rejected and heart broken, I shut down emotionally. While I was cool on the outside, I was a raging mess on the inside.

The worse the thoughts got, the more driven I became. I graduated and began a job working for a magazine. I twisted my stomach in knots, stressing over the pressure to write that perfect feature. Not only that… I excelled at graphic design even thought I had no formal training.

I quickly rose in my career, but despite the success, I only saw what I lacked. I defined myself by my job title, but wasn’t satisfied until I was promoted. The pressure I put on myself to exceed expectations led me to have stomach problems and insomnia.

My personal life was worse. I had no concept of value, which set me up for heartache and pain as I tried to be someone I wasn’t. My self-esteem and confidence dove to an all time low as the next man I loved told me I was fat, alienated me from his friends and often took his bad moods out on me. The more I tried to please him, the more I got hurt. This was a toxic relationship – a cocktail of mental and physical abuse.

For several years I endured the highs and lows of this affair. It tragically ended when he slammed his head through my car windshield, but you’d think I was the one cracked as I was destroyed. I should have been happy to see him gone, but I believed no one would ever love me.

My shattered heart and desolated self-image could not handle another trauma. But sadly, I was date raped by the very next guy who came into my life. I was in such bad shape that I actually thought this was my fault as I had put myself into a bad situation that I should have known better.

Shame consumed me. I was plummeting into a deep depression – trapped in a cycle of people pleasing and performance anxiety as well as unhealthy attempts to meet the expectations of another. I was making co-dependent decisions based on my need to be needed, to be validated and feel worthy. But all I was getting out of it was destroyed.

Eventually I spent time in counseling and found a measure of healing. My life would ebb and flow between the peace that came with being alone and the chaos that came with dating someone that was no good for me.

It would be another 15 years before I would summon the strength and courage to silence the accuser for good when I began to sit in a Bible church pew instead of sitting in another’s expectations of me and began to let God’s Word permeate through my heart and soul.

I meditated on the reality that I was saved by God’s grace and not on the basis of works. Romans 11:6 began to open the door to freedom as I realized the truth –God loves, accepts and values me… just the way I am.

My Heavenly Father desires relationship with me and has great plans for me based on His heart and His view of me. I could not be perfect enough or good enough to ever deserve such a gift.

This was revelation! My value was no longer dependent upon other people’s opinions. My worth would no longer be defined by men or by job title. What I thought about myself was not based on how skinny I was, how long my hair was or by the expensive purses I carried.

Worthy by definition means having merit, or value; good and deserving of respect, praise, or attention; having enough good qualities to be considered important and/or useful.

It’s sad all the years I was tormented. The more I strived for anyone to define me as worthy the worse my life got. Sadly I failed to realize God’s Word had plenty to say about my worth.

Once I knew that His view of me was the only one that mattered, I began to flourish and grow comfortable in my own skin.

 

I was made in the image of God who said I was more precious than silver and gold. God wrote about the days of my life before I was born. God chose me as His child before the foundations of the earth were formed to serve an important purpose in His Kingdom.

 

Coming into this reality changed my life in profound ways as some health issues and high blood pressure disappeared. My marriage improved as I stopped the co-dependency and the need to be “right”.

 

I discovered a piece of wisdom that has transformed my life: while it is okay to pursue excellence, any drivenness or perfectionism bread out fears, low self-worth and other negative reasons should instantly be recognized and dealt with.

 

Are you looking for love in all the wrong places?

Just like I did, there are many determining their self-worth based on what other people say. This results in us developing unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drivenness, perfectionism and people pleasing.

 

Here are signs you might be struggling in this area:

  • You believe if you excel at home, at work or in life, others will accept and love you. This belief causes self-doubt and frustration when expectations are not met.
  • You are careful not to hurt someone’s feelings and place everyone’s feelings above yours.
  • You tend to look around and compare yourself to others. You can be super critical of yourself and typically believe you are less than, not good enough or will never measure up.
  • You have a difficult time opening up, being vulnerable and sharing your feelings to others due to an intense fear of perceived failure and rejection.
  • The word no is not in your vocabulary, and as a result you resent and harbor bitterness when others say no or you engage in things you didn’t want to.
  • You have a lot of one-sided relationships and can tend to feel used.
  • While extremely critical of yourself and others, you often take criticism poorly by getting offended, defensive and angry.
  • You often feel like nothing you do is good enough, feeling continually dissatisfied, depressed and stressed.

 

You can be set free!
Healing begins when you can recognize these destructive patterns in your life and begin to allow God’s truth to replace the lie that you are not valuable enough to be loved. When you can accept God’s love based on grace and let go of the destructive “works” mentality, God can begin to heal the tender places in your heart.

 

Accept the truth that your value and worth were determined by God when He sacrificed His Son. It was this price (Jesus on the cross) that makes you worthy. In fact, it’s this ultimate price that makes you (and me) priceless.

 

When you know your worth through the eyes of the One who loves you completely, no one in the natural or the spiritual can make you feel unworthy.

Unfortunately, the enemy will continue to chip away at your value. When you begin to hear the negative whispers again, speak the truth of Galatians 2:20 out loud.

 

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

 

If you are ready to silence the accuser by tuning into the loving whisper of God, simply repeat this prayer. After, be encouraged to dive into the Bible and ask God to highlight verses that define you!

 

Pray loudly:
Father God, I thank you that you are the Lord of All. I thank you that you gave me my identity. Daddy, I only care about hearing all that you say I am. I ask you would silence the negative, condemning voice in my mind and change my frequency to hear your voice clearly. Father I desire to seek approval from only you… not from my friends or family. Keep my eyes focused on your plan for my life. Help trigger me to stop when I begin to fall into my old patterns of drivenness and perfectionism. I ask Father for you to forgive me for engaging in codependent behaviors that have been destructive in my life. Father I thank you that you sacrificed your Son. Thank you for showing me just how valuable I am. I thank you for healing my heart, my soul and my spirit as I come into more of your loving truth. Father I declare – You are my source… the only One I need. My life is yours to have your will. May my life bring you honor and glory, in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

 

Questions to pray and ponder:

  1. What do you think about yourself – honestly? Would these thoughts line up with God’s view of you?

 

  1. Are you able to discern when Satan is invading your thought life trying to convince you that you are not worth?

 

  1. Do you struggle with perfectionism and drivenness? What are some ways you can stop this destructive pattern?

 

  1. What are three Bible verses confirming your value that you can declare loudly every day?

Father Against Father

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“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 KJV)

As a father, I see this as my duty to our daughter. It is my responsibility to give her the knowledge, discipline and advice she needs to have a good life as well as a healthy, whole life.

In reflecting on how I was raised, I believe this is how my own father felt. Life was often hard in our house. As the child that was a “surprise” and much younger than my other siblings, I often felt alone. It didn’t help that my father would face medical issues when I was young that would change the dynamics of his world forever. With the challenges and woundings my father dealt with, I suffered much, and I don’t think he in any way rose to the challenge above.

There was no open communication in my house. I was struggling in many ways to understand who I was and who I was created to be. I sat in church, but didn’t understand God or what His plan for my life was to be. I was expected to be what my parents wanted me to be. I wanted to make my parents happy and not create waves, but I was confused about many things.

There was very little nurturing in my home. I don’t remember hugs or being told that I was loved. I am not saying it never happened, it just happened so sparingly that I was desperate for affection. I began at some point in my teens to look for some kind of emotional connection, but often found nothing but sadness and despair as it always seemed like I was not enough or couldn’t measure up to the expectations placed on me.

Sadly, during my high school years, I excelled at many things but couldn’t feel any sense of accomplishment. I wasn’t happy even though I was in the top of my class academically. I was the starting tight end of the varsity football team and pursued many other extra-curricular activities but still felt such a void inside.

I had rarely dated or pursued girls at my school. My dad had made it firmly clear that girls were not my priority. However, during the summer days leading into my senior year that all changed.

I met a girl, and tried to do and be everything the way I thought she wanted me to be. Against my father’s objections, we began to date.

I remember one night we went to the beach for a night out. It was a cool summer’s night, yet we heated up the car in lust-filled passion. On my 17th birthday, we had sex for the first time. It was not safe to talk about sex in my home. As messed up as this sounds, I thought sex was something I had to do as a man – like it was expected. This was a subject that was not safe to discuss with my dad. So sadly, I cared about having sex, not the girl it was with.

Whether she was “the one” or not was not relevant… I was enjoying my manhood. That was until one day, she confessed she was pregnant. Instantly, waves of fear washed over me. What was I going to do? What would my father do to me? What was going to happen to my future and her future? I was feeling alone and desired to simply cover up the problem.

This was a problem no teenager should have to deal with. Here I was trapped in one tense moment in life where people have two choices – rely on our own judgements or ask for help.

Unfortunately, I had a father that I did not trust for many reasons. He did not condone me dating, much less the sex he did not know I was having. Riddled in fear and shame, I decided I had to rely on my own decision, which was to cover up my mess. I didn’t talk about this with anyone.

I felt trapped because I didn’t want the baby, but I didn’t necessarily believe in abortion either. But I had no one to confide in. No one was there to help advise me. Therefore when she announced that she wanted to have an abortion, I didn’t fight her choice. I didn’t stand up for what I believed, nor did I support her at all. I left her alone to make this enormous decision, and I left her to deal with this all on her own.

Although I gave her the money, I had other priorities during the football season. On a Friday afternoon, my baby died while I played a high school football game. See I couldn’t miss practice or a game for fear of dad finding out. So I dumped all of this on her and felt relief that she took care of the problem. I only wanted to save my own skin as I was riddled in fear.

I have spent a large portion of my life filled with guilt and shame. When my wife and I struggled to have a baby and suffered through a bunch of miscarriages, I truly believed that this was my punishment for the dirty secret hidden in my past.

There’s lots of freedom that has had to come from this painful time in my life, but one lie that I believed was that because of the relationship I had with my dad, I had no authority to turn to in my distress. I felt lost and alone.

I had been in church all my life, but I will admit that I had let the relationship with my earthly dad define how I saw God the Father. I didn’t see him as loving, but I saw him as the same unloving distant, punishing dad. But sadly that was just not true.

I would hit the age of 40 before I would finally discover the truth… the truth explained in 2 Corinthians 1:3. God, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also my Father… is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.

I am still to this day wrapping my head around the unconditional love God the Father has for me. As I grew up thinking that my dad’s love was conditional on so many things.

But honestly, I’ve had a rough time even accepting that I have two fathers. I have an earthly father, whose job it was to guide me and point the way for me to accept and get to know who I am in Christ as well as a heavenly Father who comforts me, consoles me, protects me, provides for me and loves me no matter what.

I wish I had understood at 17 years old, that if my earthly father was not going to or able to guide me, my heavenly Father could and would do it. For Jesus said, “… If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him,” (John 14:23 KJV).

I wasn’t getting what I needed at home. I didn’t receive what I needed from God sitting in the pews of my Catholic church, nor did I get the emotional fulfillment I desired from the girl I was sleeping with. But I was getting filled with a lot of lies… lies I believed because there was no one else showing me a better way. Sadly Satan devoured my relationship with my father, my virginity, my child and me. Why? Because the devil “…was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not the truth, because there is no truth in him…He is a liar, and the father of it,” (John 8:44 KJV).

See Satan is the father of lies, and even though I felt I followed no father at all, I listened to, believed and sadly followed the father of lies. I was convinced in my sin that it was easier not to deal with the pain in my home, to make my own poor choices, to lie, cover it up and deflect when those choices bit me. I learned at a young age that I didn’t have to take responsibility for my life or my choices. It would be costly to tell the truth and deal with an issue, so I grew to be passive aggressive and manipulative. This way of living would have devastating effects – costing me one marriage and nearly costing me my second. Luckily, I was able to seek help and get some much-needed freedom to save the family I now hold so dear.

As I dedicated time to build a stronger relationship with God, Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I am thankful to have such a forgiving, loving Father who has given me the grace and mercy necessary to lay down my past and reshape my future.

I didn’t start out being a good father to the one child I have. I used to wonder what will my daughter think of me when she reflects on Proverbs 22:6 and compare it to the way I loved her. I knew I cared for my child but wasn’t sure I really loved her or not those first several years. I wasted time scared I was doing everything wrong or living in the anxiety that I’d end up like my dad.

God is so faithful and mighty to save. I’ve moved past the past. I’ve forgiven my dad, myself and released my guilt and shame. I am still working on letting go of the passivity by actively seeking to be present and involved with my daughter. I’ve learned to love unconditionally using God as my model as well as to be the kind of parent that will allow my daughter to thrive in who God created her to be. I imagine this to be the way my dad had wanted to parent me.

I can’t look backward as God encourages us to move forward. The past is gone. I’ve done all I can to repent and let go of the painful parts of my past that set me up for failure. But, t9here’s still one desire that remains for me: I look forward to the day I hold the hand of the child I loved, yet never met.

 

Next steps
Did you struggle in your childhood in a dysfunctional relationship with one or both of your parents? Difficult relationships with parents can cause emotional wounds that can hinder our ability to develop a healthy identity and cause us to view God in ways that conflict with His true nature and character. If you struggle to feel a sense of belonging, have difficulty in making decisions or taking initiative, have a rough time receiving love or even compliments from others, or feel rejected often, maybe its time for you to pray and consider doing the following:

  • Recognize and repent of any bitterness, grudges, resentments, anger or hatred towards one or both of your parents.
  • Ask God for his forgiveness and accept His forgiveness.
  • Invite Him to heal the hurts and wounds of your past and be open to receiving the unconditional love your Father has for you.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to begin to speak to you about your identity in Christ.
  • Give thanks and praise for the work God is doing and will continue to do in your heart.
  • Begin learning how to take the destructive thoughts captive and form new thoughts about God in order to replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth.
  • Enjoy the freedom that comes from soaking in your true Father’s love.

Want to learn more about the Father’s love? Click here to listen to a powerful message from Senior Pastor John Aldridge of Son Rise Church and ministries.

 

About the guest author
Scott Slater grew up as the last of five children in a military family. Scott spent most of his formative years trying to understand his identity in God. Twice, he almost joined the priesthood, both from high school and college, but could not reconcile his deep desire for a family.

After 10 years of wandering through a failed marriage and broken relationships, Scott met his wife, Kimberly. With God by their side, they built a family despite many attacks on their marriage and the devastating loss of many unborn children. Through faith in Christ and the healing of his broken heart, Scott delights in the Word of God and enjoys delivering that message to those who open their hearts.

Scott has spent time as a men’s mentor and member of the alter team at Gateway Church. Scott resides in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, with his beautiful wife, 6-year-old daughter and three rescued shelter dogs.

 

 LNever Alone!

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Has there ever been a time in your life where you felt alone, abandoned or simply forsaken? Has anyone ever let you down you thought you may never recover? Have you ever trusted in someone so much yet the person couldn’t live up to your expectations? Have you ever been so devastated by someone’s selfish actions?

I have experienced all of the above during a painful time in my life. I had just given birth to my fourth child…a precious baby girl. My life was turned inside out and backwards when my husband; the person I thought would be there for me and for our family would leave the state for another woman. Not only that, but he would take my car fifty miles away and leave it at the airport while stealing the last few dollars I literally had out of my wallet.

The pain in the pit of my stomach was more than I could stand. This was devastating. Alone and feeling desperate, I couldn’t process what was happening. I had just given birth to this man’s child. How in the world does a person leave another during such a vulnerable time? Where were the compassion, the love and the sense of duty to stick through the good and bad times?

The painful memories still haunt me. I didn’t have enough diapers for my baby girl. I recall thinking “what in this world am I going to do?” This was truly one of the lowest points in my entire life. He wasn’t a good man and had many times hoped I’d be free of him, but the way this unfolded was just tragic.

Before I was left abandoned, this man verbally attacked me. Over and over he devalued me, telling me no one would ever want me. He degraded me, and I was convinced I was not someone worthy of anyone else. I was no good. The messages of not being enough and I would be alone forever echoed throughout my mind on constant repeat.

So now he’s gone, and instead of feeling relieved, I’m wondering if I would now be alone the rest of my life. Would I now be one of those spinster cat women you see on TV? I was blessed with four beautiful children, but I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d be known as the five musketeers from now on. So many questions ran through my mind, and the enemy was right there throwing so much chaos at me I didn’t know which way to turn.

I had felt abandoned and isolated as we had just moved out to the country. I was now away from the city and in a town of 600 people and cow pastures everywhere. I felt like I was on a Green Acres episode, and my name was Lisa. “New York is where I’d rather stay, I get allergic smelling hay.”

Ironically the town we moved to was called Godly. Hmmm… maybe this wasn’t a coincidence in my life. But at the time, all I knew is I had no husband, and I had no idea where God was.

Jesus tells us to call upon Him in Psalm 91:15. The promise is God will not only answer us, He will free and honor us! However, I cried out and could not hear or feel His presence. His Word instructs us to call on Him, yet all I heard was deafening silence. This only confirmed the ugly lies my husband spoke over me as I now believed I wasn’t worth of God’s love either.

But it would not be long before I would have an encounter that would show me the truth that nothing can separate us from God’s love. After husband left and I cried out to God, He showed up in a powerful way. His healing restoration started working in my life when a co-worker called and heard the loss in my voice. I guess it was too difficult for me to hide the feelings of devastation and betrayal. I didn’t have to hash out my feeling as this co-worker simply asked me if there was anything he could do to help.

I didn’t want to ask for anything, but my newborn baby girl only had a few diapers left and wouldn’t make it through the night. Reluctantly I asked if he would mind bringing me a couple of diapers. He came quickly with a big box and just comforted me. No expectations… just kindness.

Isn’t that just like the Lord? In Psalm 34:18 it says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” God was right there, and He sent me someone to comfort me and freely provide the compassion and resources I desperately needed.

This experience taught me several key lessons:

  • God is always listening
  • He will always answer our prayers, even when we don’t think He is
  • He is always for us
  • I am His daughter, the daughter of the King
  • I am loved by God

People are all human although some don’t always act in the most humane ways. We will make mistakes. Some will fail us, disappoint us and hurt us. There is only one who will never abandon, and that is Jesus Christ. In fact Hebrews 13:5 tells us that Christ said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” We are never alone.

And to make sure I knew I’d never be alone, God brought the co-worker to my door. That man, who showed me such sincere kindness, ultimately became my husband. And we have been happily married now for 16 years. I was never left to be the cat woman, and I was never left alone to single parent my four kids. I was given the desire of my heart.

John, my spouse, is the most kindhearted, compassionate, loving, responsible man that calls my children his own. He even adopted them and gave them his name… a reflection of how God adopts us when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior.

Even in my darkest moments, when I thought I was rejected and abandoned… I was never alone. The truth was then and is now simple: my God is always with me, and He is also always with you.

You might be going through a devastating experience right now, I can tell you from experience that our God is there with you in the midst. You might not be able to see Him, but let me assure you, He is there.

Even if you feel far from Him, He is there. Believe the scripture and believe me when I say, He will never leave you or forsake you. You can count on God when everything else might be chaos. Don’t listen to the chatter of the enemy, but instead listen for God’s still small voice and be comforted in His presence.

Courageous one, if it is time for you to receive God’s love, assured that He will never leave you or forsake you to strengthen you, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith in God’s truth and trust that God’s word will never condemn or harm you in anyway.

Father God, I thank you that you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize that I have come into agreement with the lie, I take responsibility for believing that ______________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _______________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. Amen!

Questions to pray and ponder:

  1. Can you remember and describe a time in your life when you tried to hear God’s voice but couldn’t hear Him? What is one verse you can find that could help you in the future so that you never feel alone again?
  2. What are some lies about God that you might be believing that could be causing distance between you and the Father? What verses of the Bible could replace the lies with God’s truth?
  3. How can you usher in the presence of God to hear his voice clearly? Challenge yourself to ask God a question, sit quietly and wait for Him to answer. Make this a regular practice and watch Him draw near to you as you pursue Him.
  4. Do you know in your heart that God is a perfect Father? If you are not sure, reflect on His goodness and recall times He has shown you He is always with you.

It’s All His Fault

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“There’s no hope for my marriage, he’s never going to change.”

I’ve uttered that sentence a thousand times believing one massive lie… If he would change our marriage would be better, and I would be happy.

See I was a type A, want-what-I-want woman, who married at 35. I had many years of living alone to get set in my ways. Simple things like how he folded the hand towels drove me crazy. Why couldn’t he just do it the way I like it?

The man I dated was romantic, catered to me and cared about what I wanted. He swept me off my feet, and I fell deeply in love. But once married, things quickly changed.

A month into our marriage, Scott sunk into a depression and became a man I didn’t recognize. His wounds and dysfunctional coping patterns reared up, and the selfless man I dated was now a stranger – self-centered, withdrawn and cruel.

We started therapy, and life got better for a while. But several miscarriages, fertility issues and added pressure took our marriage from bad to worse.

Miserable, I felt abandoned. Scott declared regularly, “I don’t care about you.” I was certain he didn’t love me. I adored the man I dated but didn’t care for the stranger sleeping beside me. Deep down I knew my marriage was a mistake.

Many lies filtered through my mind. “I’d be better off alone.” “He’s never going to meet my needs.” These caused me to stop seeing the man God created Scott to be. I zeroed in on ways he didn’t measure up. All I saw was how he let me down. It was all his fault.

As a result I grew volatile. In righteous anger I’d sucker punch him verbally. I tore him to shreds with cruel words, but believed I was not the problem. He needed to change – not me!

In 2009, I sternly announced, “I want a separation.” I couldn’t take another second of Scott’s issues and his unwillingness to change. I had a growing baby in my belly and was convinced we’d be better off without Scott.

At the same time a friend raved about the book Love and Respect. I read it and implemented the principles the author suggested.

For months, I affirmed Scott. I never raised my voice. I sought forgiveness for what he said I did wrong. I truly gave this 100% effort, but Scott was blind to my effort. I wasn’t safe. He didn’t trust me. He held grudges and disconnected even though I was doing my best to connect.

As a result, anger turned to rage. Respect went out with the trash, and I flew off the handle. I wanted him to suffer the way I was suffering. I was belligerent and full of malice. I hated him.

In therapy, a counselor steered me in the wrong direction. “Get over your judgment about divorce and stop seeing marriage as a covenant,” she explained. “Scott broke the marriage contract, and you have every reason to leave.”

She said, “God would not want you to be this unhappy.” And with that, I planned my exit strategy, but God had other plans.

Tensions were thick, and we walked around on eggshells. I was miserable, but when I prayed asking if I could leave, I’d hear, “not yet.” That obviously made me mad. He wasn’t fixing my marriage!

There was no intimacy. We talked of superficial things like “what’s for dinner?”

The disconnection kept things peaceful, but also kept us broken. We no longer hugged or kissed, and I swore the lack of intimacy was his fault. Our marriage would ebb and flow between disconnected peace and world war. We were both battered, but neither had the strength to leave.

But shortly after our fifth anniversary, Scott changed. He confessed admitting he didn’t care the first years of our marriage, but now he did. He’d attempt to hold my hand, and I’d pull away. I deemed him a liar, and knew we’d never make it our sixth anniversary, so why bother?

However, with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26), and six became seven. Seven became eight. We had serious problems, but Scott was trying

In 2013, God got a hold of me after I was consumed by unloving spirits. I hated my life and my marriage… filled with bitterness and accusation. I only saw what was wrong when God commanded, “I want you to affirm your husband 10 times a day.”

My first thought was “never gonna happen!” Convinced he didn’t love me – I wasn’t willing to put myself out there, but God armed me with strength and power (2 Sam. 22:33). I obeyed.

I struggled to think of two positives. “Thank you for going to work and paying bills.” But slowly, the effort paid off, and my perspective shifted. He’s funny, smart and witty. He’s an incredible dad. Kind. Sensitive. He’s a servant. He desired me to be happy.

The problem was my critical nature, need to have my way and anger were out of control. I felt I had a right to be mad and wore the victim hat proudly, until one day I took a good look in the mirror and realized:

• I was angry with myself – not Scott or God.
• I didn’t hate Scott. I hated myself.
• I needed help.
• I had to change. I realized for the first time – it wasn’t all his fault.

In 2014, I walked into Son Rise Church and Ministries, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ came alive in my life. I focused on ridding the matriarchal spirit and dealing with my junk through repentance and deliverance. Strongholds were replaced with truth. My happiness no longer depended on what Scott did or didn’t do. The major revelation was God is my helper, and Lord Jehovah sustains my soul (Psalm 54:4), not Scott.

I fixed my eyes on God and nothing else. I separated myself from sin and laid the worst parts of myself before Jesus Christ. I took responsibility for what I had done in the marriage. I began to take my thought captive. I sought forgiveness and let the Holy Spirit fill my wounded soul.

My life looked like Psalm 37:40 – the LORD shall help me, and deliver me: He shall deliver me from the wicked, and save me, because I trust in him.

I did trust God, and in May 2015, I experienced a radical encounter while attending healing training. As I felt horrible chest pain I heard, “I’ve fixed your heart. It’s no longer broken.” The pain faded into an unspeakable joy and peace I had never known before. I was touched by God and radically changed.

I forgave Scott, God and myself. I left the past behind and desired to start fresh. I knew I only had control over how I reacted to my spouse. I could pray for him but had no power change him. But even more I ditched all expectations of change, as they were the result of assumptions, judgments and accusations that were nothing more than sin.

The truth was simple: I can’t depend on Scott to meet my needs because that job belonged to God. I can be happy in my circumstances no matter what Scott brought to the table.

I gave Scott space to adjust to his new wife. This wasn’t an easy process. My past behaviors were thrown in my face, as I had not been forgiven. He wasn’t buying that I had been radically transformed. But as days turned to weeks, weeks turned into months, it became clear I was different.

Peace washed through our home for the first time. While I’m not perfect and can fall into old patterns, I quickly recognize what’s happening and shift my behavior. I changed and as a result, my marriage improved.

No matter what Scott was or wasn’t doing, I refused to make a laundry list of shortcomings. I refused to engage when he picked a fight, and I prayed my marriage would continue to improve.

And God was faithful as Scott realized he needed help and started his own ministry. I was now safe, and Scott the room to focus on him. I stopped trying to be the priest of the home and allowed him to rise. I submitted.

Together we are on guard for the spirit of offense. We think before reacting out of our emotions. We give each other the benefit of doubt. We talk, laugh and enjoy life more. What’s disappeared? All outbursts and the need to punish were gone. We became partners – we were finally becoming one flesh (Genesis 2:24).

Six months after my miraculous encounter I heard myself say three words I thought I’d never say again, “I love you.” And the thing is… I meant it.

What a testimony to God – we happily celebrated our 10th anniversary back in April. I never thought we’d make it, but with God all things are possible.

In Genesis 12:1 we learn God, who desires to lead us by the Holy Spirit, would like to lead us in to many things… one of them being a happy covenant relationship with our spouse.

I hate the fact that the enemy convinces Christians that divorce is the only option. We have a marriage crisis in our country because too many believe the enemy’s lies instead of adhering to God’s truth.

Marriage is a divine snapshot of the relationship between Christ and his Bride, the Church. As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one,” (Mark 10:7-8).

I feel like we finally ditched the contract mentality and understood for the first time the marriage covenant is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.

My marriage is a testimony to the power of the Word of God being applied. Scott is learning to lay down his life in sacrificial love and protection. And I am learning to shed the type A personality – willing to submit to his leadership. I also have seen the fruit that comes from building up a man rather than tearing him down with critical words and unrealistic expectations.

Today I love Scott for the man he is and the man God made him to be. I no longer long for the man that courted me but enjoy the one that walks through the door at night. Divorce is no longer a word in my vocabulary.

A friend, we have known for years, recently came to the house. As we were leaving, I said “Bye babe” to Scott. Stunned she exclaimed, “That’s the first time I’ve heard you speak endearingly to him and about him. You were always so cold in the past.”

And with that, God whispered, “Good job, faithful servant. I’m proud of you.” Now I look in the mirror and like whom I see and that fills my heart with so much joy.

Prayer:
If you are struggling in your marriage, I urge you to pray this out loud:

Father God, I thank you that you have only good things planned for my marriage. I pray all of Satan’s strongholds will be broken, and my marriage will be saved. Help me Father speak life and not death over my spouse. I pray for restoration and not separation. I pray you draw us to connect and not withdraw. Father, I thank you for reminding me to fix my eyes on you and not on my current circumstances. I thank Jesus Christ for restoring the blessing of Abraham in our lives, and I am grateful this blessing included covenant relationships. Father please help both of us have faith that this blessing is a gift… ready to receive right now I pray the accuser be silenced, all expectations town down, and all bitterness disappears now in might name of Jesus. Renew my love and help me to see all the amazing qualities my spouse has. I lift up my marriage so it can flourish and not flounder in Jesus’ name. Amen and Amen.

Questions to ponder:
1.
Are you harboring resentment, bitterness and refuse to forgive your spouse? If so, repent and ask the Holy Spirit help you in this area.

2. What negativity is the enemy speaking over your marriage? Are you convinced things would improve if your spouse changed? If so, get with God and let him lead you into the truth.

3. What areas of weakness do you need to work on that could help improve your marriage?

4. Are speaking life or death into your marriage? Your words matter! Start praising your partner and speaking life into your marriage by focusing on the good instead of the bad.

Additional resources:
For further information on the Matriarchal and Patriarchal Passive/Control profiles, visit http://sonrisechurchandministries.sermon.net/main/main/8360324 and listen to the great teaching by Pastor John Aldridge of Son Rise Church and Ministries.

You Are Truly Beautiful!

Shirley Temple c.1935

When I was six years old, we moved to Berlin, Germany, to where my dad, who was in the Airforce, was stationed. We were a long way from all that I held dear and called home – my friends, family, familiar surroundings and the comforts of American life.

Not long after settling in, my mom took me to get a haircut. I was so excited to have a new style ­– a short Pixie cut. It looked really pretty on the beautiful model in the picture we saw, and I just knew it would look that good on me.

After the blow dry, I whirled around the chair. My new look was revealed. What I saw staring back at me in the mirror was definitely not the model. I instantly burst into tears. I was devastated and cried out “I look like a boy.”

Gone were my beautiful blonde curly locks, and that initial reaction played over and over in my mind. “I look like a boy.” Instantly I began to believe I looked ugly. After all, I had gone from Shirley Temple to Jerry Mathers on Leave it to Beaver in the blink of an eye. This was a traumatic event for this six-year-old beauty, and as a result, the door was opened to the enemy.

The lie went from bad to worse – from looking ugly to being ugly. Soon the lies became “I am ugly.” This one lie haunted me throughout most of my life. When I came into agreement that I was not pretty, my heart was wounded. The scars from that day would impact my life for decades.

The truth was then and is not still the truth – I wasn’t ugly at all. I had been marked and labeled by the father of lies, and I unknowingly created a core image of myself that was in direct opposition to the Word of God. I believed I wasn’t beautiful.

What I didn’t understand at that young age was in God’s eyes we are all beautiful. We are all stunning pieces of artwork designed masterfully by the Creator of the Universe. In fact, it says in Psalm 139:14 that you and I are uniquely and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:13-16 of the Message translation so eloquently says:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something… Before I’d even lived one day.

God’s Word says we are marvelously made! It’s really hard to wrap our minds around this concept, but isn’t it amazing that He stood in “awe” as He made each one of us? To be blown away by His creations means He must think we are His works of art – beautiful masterpieces.

Ephesians 2 confirms this for it is it written in verse 10, “For we are God’s masterpiece.”

A masterpiece by definition is a person’s greatest piece of work and anything done with masterly skill. So the Lord’s created piece of work is each one of us. How amazing is that?

I’ve often heard the phrase, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This means each of us has our own opinion about beauty. But wouldn’t it be great if our only measure of beauty came solely from the One who created it?

In Ecclesiastes 3:11 we learn God made every thing beautiful in His time. But what exactly does the word beautiful mean? It is defined as possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction. To see, hear, think about that which delights the senses or mind. Excellent of it’s kind; wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying.

Sadly it would take half my life before I realized the whisper of negativity in my mind was from the enemy. I had been listening to a liar and degrading my self worth – all while grieving the One who loved me most.

Earlier this year, I experienced a pivotal moment that tore down a major stronghold in my life. It was as if God spoke to me exactly like was spoken in Song of Solomon. “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone.” (2:10-11)

One morning I was looking in the mirror putting on make-up and styling my hair. My daughter Heather had placed several sticky notes on the glass with some of God’s truths. One of them said, “You are beautiful.”

As I finished reading the last word a negative thought ran through my mind. “Remember that time when you didn’t put any make up on and didn’t style your hair very well? Did you feel beautiful that day?”

I suddenly had a sinking feeling in my stomach. That was not my thought, but rather it was a lying spirit. Was I going to continue on believing as that little six-year-old child did, or would I finally stand up and silence the accuser once and for all?

I stared at that paper and felt like God wanted me to arise! I finally allowed the truth to sink into my heart. I am God’s beautiful masterpiece. In an instant, I was free to accept my true identity. I am beautiful.

Do you recognize any areas in your life where the enemy speaks death? If so, what is the lie you have come into agreement with? What Bible verse could silence the negativity by replacing truth with the lie?

If it is time for you to arise, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith in God’s truth and know God’s Word will never condemn or harm you in any way.

Father God, I thank you that you the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize that I have come into agreement with a lie. I take responsibility for believing that ___________________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _________________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. Amen.

Questions to pray and ponder:

1. Where are your vulnerable places that you have felt pounded by the enemy?

2. What lies are you listening to from the enemy that steals your peace and joy?

3. What can you do to replace and cover those lies with God’s truth and love when the enemy comes at you?

Don’t Count Out the Holy Spirit

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I had just moved into a town house in a new city. It was not a good time in my life – just my dog Mickey and I starting over after a long relationship suddenly ended. Four days into unpacking boxes and adjusting to this new reality, I parked in my drive to find landscapers left my back gate open.

I instantly knew Mickey was gone. He was a runner and couldn’t resist wandering off. I drove around for hours along with a friend – each in opposite directions until the sun set. There was nothing more we could do. I was devastated.

All sorts of horrible thoughts drifted through my mind. Thoughts like:

  • He’s lost in a new city.
  • He couldn’t know his way back as we’d been there less than a week.
  • He’s been run over, hurt, stolen.
  • I’ll never see Mickey again.

Many tears were shed. I had all ready lost so much – I couldn’t bear to lose my dog too.

Around 10 pm, I headed upstairs and climbed into bed. I was exhausted, but I knew I wouldn’t sleep. I believed in God, was saved, but wasn’t really living my life as a born again Christian. But something inside prompted me to begin to speak out loud what I wanted to happen. I asked the Lord to bring my dog home, and then I began to declare how.

“God, please bring Mickey home. Let him walk through the open gate and burst through the dog door. Let me hear the jingle of the nametag against his collar. Let Mickey come flying upstairs safe. He will jump on my bed. I will hug him and hold him tight. He will be covered in red mud, but I will not care. Thank you God for bringing Mickey home.”

I said this loudly between wiping tears and blowing my nose. I was praying without ceasing for the first time in my life. I was heartbroken and needed a miracle.

About 11:30 pm, I was barely awake but still mumbling my prayer when I heard a man whistling (the way you would to get a dog to come to you). Faint at first, the sound got louder and louder. I sat up confused why I was hearing a man outside my second story window. But just as soon as I did, Mickey burst through the dog door, flew up the stairs with the tag jingling and jumped into my arms covered head to toe in mud! It was the manifestation of my prayer!

But who was whistling? I ran downstairs out the front door. No one. There had to be a man. I opened the back door to find nothing but the open gate. I knew the whistling was not my imagination – I heard it, but no one was there to be found.

I gave Mickey a bath when it dawned on me I had a supernatural encounter. I had not heard a man, but for the first time heard the Holy Spirit. It was by His power my prayer was answered.

Interestingly enough His whistle comforted me and gave me hope. In that moment I felt I wasn’t alone and like someone was listening and responding to my fear and pain.

Right there on the floor of my bathroom, I began to thank God for what had happened. I was moved and desired to know more. The Holy Spirit had met me where I was at and blessed me abundantly.

I knew things about Jesus and God. I had sat in Bible Church long enough to grasp them as two very distinct parts of the Godhead; however, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the Holy Spirit. Just the words “Spirit” or “Ghost” caused confusion for me – I had the “Casper the friendly ghost” view of Him rather than understanding His place as the third person in the Godhead.

I think many can identify with me as the enemy has done a great job of perverting our perceptions of the Holy Spirit reducing Him to merely a “symbol” and not a living entity. In fact, the Christian Post* reported

58% of all U.S. Christians believe the Holy Spirit is nothing more than a symbolic reference to God’s power or presence.

The Barna Research Group** conducted a study of 1,871 people from across the 48 continental states and found most Christians don’t think the Holy Sprit is a living force. George Barna, Barna Group founder and book author commented, “Most Americans, even those who say they are Christians, have doubts about the intrusion of the supernatural into the natural world.”

Even more disturbing is that 47% of those who agreed the Holy Ghost is only a symbol also agreed the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles, even though the Word clearly describes the Holy Spirit in great detail.

Do you see the problem here? Satan has successful discredited the Word of God to the point deceived Christians are picking and choosing parts of the Bible to fit nicely into their idea of life. If it doesn’t feel good or make sense… throw it out.

It’s actually pretty ridiculous when you stop and think about it. We love it when our pastors preach about how much God loves us, but when they dive into anything that goes beyond our comfort zone, we shut down, stop listening and judge them harshly. We’ve become a feel good society and will reject anything that threatens it.

The Holy Spirit has gotten a bad rap, and it is time that we as Christians realize that He is an important and vital part of the trinity… of the Godhead.

The Holy Spirit is alive! When we give our lives to Christ and are born again, the Holy Ghost breathes life into us. He dwells in us and works through us. He is the way we can be conformed into the image of Christ, because apart from His power, we are able to accomplish nothing good. His work is to bring each of us into a deeply personal relationship with Jesus so we can have access to our Heavenly Father.

It time to wake up! If we believe the Bible is true, then we must see the Holy Spirit as more than a symbol. He is the power by which we are healed, delivered and set free. He is the voice guiding us, protecting us and comforting us. The Holy Spirit tends to all our pains, brokenness and sorrows.

Jesus was led by the Spirit to face 40 days of temptation. The Spirit empowered Jesus to be the sinless man, as Jesus Christ did nothing apart from what He was told to do. The Heavenly Father was able to speak with His Son through the Spirit with in Him after He was baptized. If the Holy Spirit can do all that for Jesus, consider what the Spirit can do for you?

Jesus understood the power of the Holy Ghost and promised to send the Holy Spirit in His place. “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever.” (John 14:15-16) That helper is the Spirit of Truth.

Jesus goes on to say that the Holy Spirit will live with us and will be in us. Is this not irrefutable proof the Holy Spirit is more than a symbol?

Jesus relied on the Spirit when He walked this earth, and we must follow His example. We must continually welcome and embrace the Holy Spirit into our lives, be thankful for His presence and surrender control over to Him.

If you invite Him into your heart on a daily basis, here are some of the amazing things the Holy Spirit will do in your life:

  • Speaks to you (Acts 8:29, 11:12, 13:12)
  • Imparts eternal life (Rom 8:10, 14)
  • Sanctifies you (1 Peter 1:2)
  • Comforts you (John 14:15, 2 Corinthians 1:4)
  • Bring you peace (John 14:27)
  • Empowers you with gifts (Acts 20:28)
  • Guides and leads you in your everyday life (John 16, Rom 8:14)
  • Convicts you of sin (John16:8)
  • Shapes and molds you into the image of Christ (Roman 8:1-17)
  • Helps you pray to the Father (Romans 8:26)
  • Assists you in understanding the Word of God (Hebrews 4:2)
  • Testifies about who Jesus is (John 15:26)
  • Prevents you from going somewhere or doing something (Acts 16:5-7)

If you are sick, hurting, financially strapped or struggling in significant relationships, it is time to realize you are in a spiritual battle, and it must be fought by spiritual means. You cannot defeat Satan on your own.

The good news is you’ve got a champion living inside you – the Helper. Jesus said we would be enabled to do even greater works than He did (John 14:12-14). If you are waiting for a miracle, desperate for a prayer to be answered, consider God may be waiting on you to trust that Heaven comes to earth by our union with the Father and Son through the Holy Spirit.

For all the skeptics and close-minded folks out there, the Holy Spirit occupies a lot of space in the Word. In fact, there are 38 unique names for the Holy Spirit in scripture. Be encouraged to go through the Bible and get to know the person that is the Holy Spirit. This revelation will change your life and help you access your God-given gifts.

Who couldn’t use a little more joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, happiness and love in their life? God’s ultimate goal is for us to be so filled with the Holy Spirit’s fruit we continually pour the goodness onto others.

Refuse to let Satan keep you and others from tasting and seeing that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of enjoying a fulfilling relationship with the Holy Spirit. If you are ready, repeat loudly the following prayer:

Father God, I love you. You are worthy of all thanks and praise. Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice and victory over all evil. Father I ask forgiveness for believing lies about the Holy Spirit and ask to receive the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit may your presence in my life be like air I breath. I need you to guide me, comfort me, lead me, protect me and teach me so that my life would reflect the glory of God. Thank you for the good fruit that you give me as a free gift. Assist me to stay keenly aware of your presence every second of the day. May my life be filled with your power to combat evil and overcome sin so that I may be conformed into the image of Christ. I desire more of your goodness, seek the abundant blessings you’ve planned for me and want to feel more of your love. I thank you I have not been given spirits of fear, but I have been given spirits of power, love and a sound mind. It is only through you Holy Spirit that I can know Jesus Christ and access the Father. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for your baptism and the gentle way you work in me to transform me so that I may live out God’s plan for my life. I pray for more – May Heaven invade earth and miracles abound. In Jesus might name, Amen and Amen.

Questions to take you further:

  1. Have you believed the lie that the Holy Spirit has no place in today’s Christian life? If so, repent, seek forgiveness and ask to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.
  1. What ways do you see the Holy Spirit is or could be working in your life?
  1. How different would your life look if you allowed the Holy Spirit to flow through you and out of you?
  1. What are your spiritual gifts and how are you using them in your life?

 

* Most U.S. Christians Don’t Believe Satan, Holy Spirit Exist by Jennifer Riley, Christian Post Reporter, April 13, 2009
* Research Study Conclusions found at barna.org

He Loves Me. He Loves Me Not. He Loves Me!

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Never was there a princess so loved in the world! The day I was born it was as if you could hear the angels singing and rejoicing with my family! I was like royalty or from Hollywood the way everyone fussed over me with so much love.

Grandpa Keeney especially hung on my every word; he thought I was the cutest little girl ever. I recall him telling me, “You would say, “calk grandpa” when you wanted to take a walk or refer to my movie star sunglasses as ‘sasses’.” I was lavished with attention, and I liked it.

I was 12 years old when my parents divorced, and it was very traumatic. I was the oldest, and maybe because I had my parents all to myself, this hit me the hardest of all. As a result I started acting out behaviorally. I went from feeling like a princess to hearing the crickets in the darkness.

We went for a visit to my Grandparent’s home. One day I was called downstairs into Grandpa’s dimly lit office. My sister had made some long distance phone calls, and Grandpa thought I did it. I can still recall the accusations and harsh words. His voice was cold and stern. Scared, I told Grandpa I didn’t do it, but he didn’t believe me. I was crushed. Where was my doting Grandpa? The one that recited every sentence I spoke and made me feel so special. I didn’t know this man.

I was devastated for I was innocent! I proclaimed my innocence again, this time asking him to question others. He questioned my sister, “Suzie, honey did you make those phone calls?” She responded, “No Grandpa.” What? Were my ears deceiving me?

I was in disbelief. I wondered where was my grace? I was stunned at how sweet he was to her and how, he was so harshly accusing me.

To top it all off, my sister wasn’t telling the truth. Like all kids, I’m sure she was scared to come clean. And with the lie, Grandpa proceeds to have the same conversation with my sister Lisa who also denied making the calls. In the end, I was found guilty even though I was innocent, and a piece of my heart broke.

The truth regarding who made the phone calls came out, but the damage to me was done. I believed the lie Grandpa didn’t love me. I was unworthy of love due to my acting out. These lies would scar me and impact me for years to come.

Maybe a month later we journeyed on to Grandma Roberts’s house. I wasn’t sure what to expect during this visit, but God knew what I needed. My Grandma restored my tired soul and refreshed me.

She greeted us with warmth and displayed love, honor, dignity and respect. She respected the stage I was at in life – she even let me shave me legs for the first time, and I felt like I was inducted in to the hall of womanhood.

On the way to Grandmother’s house I was riddled in fear and reluctant to trust. My Grandpa’s harsh accusation and judgment had wounded my soul; my heart had been penetrated by the fiery darts of the enemy, and I wasn’t sure anyone would love me now.

Years later I reflected on those summer trips and how very different they were. First I learned how it felt to be wrongly accused and convicted because of preconceived perceptions. Then my Grandmother showed me a snippet of how God showers us with grace even when we don’t deserve it. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5

I can imagine that God’s amazing love is so much greater than how it was when I was a baby. Lamentations 3:22-25 clearly spells it out:

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.”

It’s just so sweet the way God used my Grandmother to help undo some of the damage done by my Grandpa. I was so grieved, yet the Lord brought me some redemption even when I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t do anything wrong at Grandpa’s, but remember I told you that I had been acting out. I felt shame for the way I had been acting. Did I deserve to be treated poorly? God says no, but I believed the lie that yes… I deserved punishment.

I should have been given the benefit of doubt. I should have been innocent until proven guilty. But I was deceived into believing I was loved based on condition and feeling. I longed to feel wholly loved and accepted for who I was.

As a result, I searched for unconditional love for years. I believed I wasn’t good enough, therefore love was always based on how I acted, whether I said the right things, wore the right clothes or behaved the way people wanted me to. I had to be perfect in someone’s eyes and meet all of their needs in order to be loved by them. This sadly set up a lot of co-dependent, unhealthy relationships.

I went through massive trauma and suffered though divorce because I was so wounded.

Freedom came when I realized the truth was I didn’t need the love of any person or man. What I had been longing for was God’s love. It was freeing to learn that He alone satisfies the desire of my heart. It says in, Psalm 21:2 “You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips.” It’s God’s desire for us to love Him, and Him to love us.

Many of us struggle in our walk with God because we view Him as having the same traits as an authority figure. I was caught in a web of lies the enemy spun from my relationship with my Grandpa. I believed God could only love me conditionally just like Grandpa did. It was an easy lie to believe since it was Grandpa introduced me to God. He was a pastor – wouldn’t he be like God?

Do you believe God is distant? Do you see Him as a punisher? Cold? Distant? If you believe anything contrary to what the Bible teaches, it’s time that stronghold be broken! The truth is the God of the universe does not offer conditions to the love He has toward each one of us. He loves us more than we can ever comprehend.

In 1 John 4:8, the author proclaims, “God is love.” He chose us. He loves everything about us. His word says He created us with awe, thought about us and made each one of us unique and wonderful.

The truth is I am loved, and it is not based on condition. God loves me in my weakness and worst moments. And He loves you like that too!

Pressing into God’s love taught me that my identity was not associated with others perceptions of me. Only God’s opinion matters, and He says I am the apple of His eye.

I also discovered I really am a princess. I am His princess! I have been adopted into royalty. The good news is when you accept the love of God by way of His Son Jesus Christ you can be adopted into His vast royal Kingdom too.

Beloved one, are you sick of believing you don’t matter, don’t measure up and will never be worthy of love? It’s time to silence the accuser once and for all. To receive God’s love, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith and believe His Word will never condemn or harm you.

Father God, I thank you that your love is unfailing and not based on conditions. I recognize I have come into agreement with a lie that I am not worthy of love. I take responsibility for believing ______________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _______________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie in the might name of Jesus. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. I thank you and give you all praise. Amen!

A next step:
If you are ready to feel the love of God in a deeper way, put some worship music on, start praising and worshiping God with all of your heart. God always shows up when we worship Him. When we praise God it is a labor of love that honors God, and honor begets honor. Spending time in a position of praise allows the Lord to fill you with His unfailing love until you are overflowing. If you are struggling, ask God to show any lies you believe about Him and sit quietly and listen for Him to respond. Clear your mind and just focus on quieting your mind from all the usual chatter. Allow yourself to be filled with His all consuming love, and I promise you’ll be glad you did. His presence will change your life.

Questions to pray and ponder:

  1. What is the condition of your relationship with God?
  2. In what ways have you experienced God’s love?
  3. How can you strengthen your faith and be assured of God’s love?

My timeline to the truth – Christians will face hard times

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It was pleasant surprise. After suffering two miscarriages and then battling infertility, I found out I was expecting.

2007. The year I looked forward to with anticipation. But the excitement would fade into sadness by March 2008 as I lost twins – one in the first trimester, the other in the second. I went through the first few stages of grief, but got stuck in anger. I was furious with God and blamed Him for killing my babies. I screamed and placed unreal expectations on my husband to the point our marriage suffered. My controlling nature kicked into overdrive, and I refused to stop and grieve.

2008. The year I went from fertile to sterile. As summer faded into the colors of fall, I lost another child. I developed an infection that destroyed my tubes, and they needed to be removed. It was like a bullet piercing my chest when the doctor said, “You are now sterile and will never have a natural child.”

An ugly voice began to rattle around in my head. It was a quiet murmur – only loud in my mind. “God’s to blame.” “You are not worthy to be a mom.” “It is your fault you lost all the children because of your bad past.” “Your husband is going to leave you for a younger woman.”

I stewed on these and other lies until I believed them. Over time I grew bitter and felt all kinds of shame. I was overflowing with envy and swimming in a planet of regret for all of the bad choices I made in my past.

I hated life and everyone who had a child or who was pregnant as well as the Lord and myself. Honestly, I don’t think nothing could have been worse unless I lost my lift, but many times I thought dying would be easier than living in this hell.

2008. The year I came to the end of me. I had no idea how to manage this wilderness season. Charting my own path was leading me to lowly places. I needed a way out of my pain, and began searching for someone… anyone that would help. I had no idea the one who would reach down and pull me out of my pit would be Jesus Christ.

I handed over the reigns and surrendered my life to Him. I was saved. Accepting Jesus was the best decision I made, but it also gave the enemy an opportunity to trap me into another lie. “Now that I am a Christian, my life will be perfect.”

I was convinced the “prosperity gospel” was true! After all, 2Peter 2:9 said the Lord knew how to rescue the godly from trials. I knew for sure I was godly… I sat in a pew on Sunday, waved my hands in the air at worship and began to pray (which was giving God a laundry list of all the things I wanted Him to do for me).

Looking back now, I know my decision to follow Jesus was based on the lie that everything would be great. After being saved, surely He would fix all my problems. I was convinced He would make my life perfect.

2009. The year I learned Satan is a liar and finally accepted my life would never be perfect. It wasn’t long before the truth knocked me off my pedestal, and it dawned on me I was anything but godly. When I opened my eyes and looked at Christians around me, I realized that they weren’t perfect either. After all, everyone had problems. Some were battling cancer. Many had divorces under their belts. No one could escape having a little drama in life, and I was not going to be the exception.

It makes me angry that Satan has convinced the world that to be a Christian means we can’t have blemishes. The world looks at our mistakes mockingly and judges us based on our weaknesses.

His Word gently guided me to the truth. I am a God-loving, Jesus freak who has issues. I am not perfect. My life will always have ups and downs, highs and lows. I will face trials in triumph and in defeat. I will be tempted, and I will sin.

Through Romans 8:28 God taught me all things work together for good when I love my Father and works toward His purpose in my life. I occurred to me every time the enemy attacks me and I fall, God redeems it by drawing me closer to Him. He teaches me many lessons that take me to a better place spiritually.

2009. The year I harnessed the power of scripture. I had been given a prophetic word – I would have a natural child. And even when my reality told me a different truth, I chose to declare Luke 1:45 loudly and sternly. “Blessed is she who believes what is spoken will be accomplished.”

I believed, and I did indeed receive. I held my precious baby girl and thanked God for His promises are true.

2010. The year I knew I would never stay in a bad place. This year was rough. I was postpartum depressed and hanging by a thread for most of the year. I also suffered a miscarriage and dealt with a very sick baby. But God was faithful and helped me get through.

1 Peter 5:10 is such a comforting verse because it taught me that even in my worst moments God would be there for me. “But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.”

I learned through the next several years that while I will stumble through the wilderness from time to time, God will always equip me with what I need to come through.

2011. Two miscarriages while my daughter battled with a deadly abscess and endured her first surgery. I had also had major neck surgery that kept me flat on my back for nearly three weeks.

2012. Daughter faced another surgery after nine months of strep.

2013. My amazing Aunt died. I battled for eight months through painful tendonitis in my right foot and ankle.

2014. Left ankle tendon shredded and resulted in major surgery that kept me from walking for nearly six months.

Clearly Satan’s done his best to keep me wandering in the wilderness. But the good news is God takes every thing… the good, the bad and the ugly and fashions it for good. I’ve learned how to use my worst moments to testify to the goodness and glory of God. The more transparent I am the more I can help others battle through their traumas.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”  (Revelation 12:11)

It was in my worst years… my worst moments… I found my true voice. It wasn’t the one rattling around in my mind. It was the voice speaking from my heart.

2015. The year I put Satan on notice, sought repentance and deliverance and saw major healing in my life.

I stepped into ministry as associate pastor at Son Rise Church and Ministries. I understand so much more than I did back in 2008. While my life will never be perfect, the closer I get to Jesus the more I get to experience the perfect love of my Father. And that’s perfect to me!

 

Questions to pray and ponder:

Are you struggling in your walk with Christ because life has not turned out the way you thought? Maybe it’s time to repent for placing God in a box and surrender all of your expectations over to Him.

What is your testimony and how can you share it with other to bring glory to God?

Who do you blame when things are going wrong in your life? If it is God, maybe it’s time to stop accusing and start trusting.