God Loves Ugly

Young woman in heart shape cave towards the beautiful sky

Do you ever feel that you were not good enough, smart, strong or beautiful enough? Do you think you are too much of a mess, and your “stuff” is just too much for God? Maybe you believe you’ve done too much in your life that God won’t forgive, so why bother? Have you ever felt God didn’t love you?

So many of us are walking around thinking that we are not worthy of God’s love, He takes those disgusting parts of our lives and creates new opportunities for His glory to shine. It’s like taking lemons and turning them into the sweetest lemonade. God takes all our deception, the guilt-ridden, shameful places that none of us wants to talk about into wondrous testimonies for us to be able to help others.

I learned this truth so many years ago, as I was once bound up by the shame of having multiple marriages. Even as writing I am thinking, “Do I want to tell the world my dirty laundry?” The purpose in telling you this is to expose the enemy’s grip and put God’s glory in its place!

I was attending a prophetic training where a women said, “You are the woman at the well.” My first thought was questioning how did she know my shameful past? Even though I knew that the Bible teaches that prophetic words are meant to lift us up, and yet all I felt was shame. She went on to say “You drank the Lord’s living water and have felt His unconditional love. You will share this love with many to glorify God.” This word has been instrumental in my sanctification. I am guided with the Spirit of God and completely feel the unconditional love of the Lord.

The Biblical woman at the well was very instrumental in sharing the Gospel. There are similarities between our two stories. Scripture doesn’t tell us how she might have felt but the Lord brought beauty, hope, acceptance and restoration to her even though she felt so much shame for her transgressions. Let’s see how Jesus interacted with her in John 4:10-26.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

At that moment, Jesus reveals the truth about Himself to this woman. He was just as vulnerable as she was, and I want to believe that Jesus didn’t want her to feel alone in her transparency. The Son of God knew she was a lovely woman who deserved the truth to know God loved her, and that she wasn’t just the woman with five husbands. He chose her to go and tell the people about His goodness by sharing their encounter, and she went down in Biblical history as an evangelist. The prophetic word I received revealed that our stories don’t end in the test, but live on in the testimonies of God’s goodness we get to share with those in our path.

I can remember broken pieces of my childhood. I suffered from a lot of painful heartache and trauma that left me wide open to find relationships with incompatible people. It was like the song “Looking for love in all the wrong places” was written after my experience. It goes something like this:

“Well, I’ve spent a lifetime lookin’ for you; singles bars and good time lovers were never true. Playin’ a fools game hopin’ to win; I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, Lookin’ for love in too many faces, searchin’ their eyes and lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreamin’ of.”

I was destroyed from this grief, trauma and damage from things in my past. I desperately wanted to be filled up with wholeness again, to have the shattered pieces of my life go back together, but I didn’t know how. I felt defective, fractured, injured and crippled. I believed a man’s love could repair my dismembered self. If only I could be loved, be married and have that “Ward and June Cleaver” relationship with 2.5 kids, everything would be normal, and the pain of the past would cease.

My warped thinking took me many years to work through, and I endured the pain of suffering through several failed marriages. I believed the lie that I was suffering the consequences of my actions. Divorce, more hurt, more pain and, of course, the shame of this echo blemish called multiple marriages. I suffered along with my children and family from my choices. I cannot take back the fact that I chose to marry several different men and the baggage that came with them; however, with God’s help, I could learn some valuable lessons and restore my hope for a bright future. God says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts I think toward you and they are not to harm but to give you a hope and a future.”

God didn’t stop loving me and wanted me to know it. Even in my darkest moments, He kept on pursuing me and still does to this day. God worked all of my messes into valuable tools used for His purposes, and if you let Him, He will do the same for you.

You might think of your mess as the end, but God sees it as merely a detour. When you have veered off track, the Holy Spirit guides us right back to righteousness in Christ Jesus. When at first we don’t succeed try, try again, as the old saying goes. God works all things for good according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

God is always waiting at your front door desiring to have an intimate relationship with you. It’s your choice to open the door. God loves you and is smitten by you. He is wooing you this very second because of who you are not what you’ve done.

God loves you like good parents love their children. Even though children are not perfect and often break the rules, parents love them unconditionally. The same is true for God. He simply loves us unconditionally. This is beautifully illustrated in the Bible when Jesus loved the woman at the well.

God’s love for each one of us is unstoppable and unshakable; His love penetrates tribulation, distress, persecution, pain, difficulty or any crises that we might face. Our job is to invite God into every area of our lives. Sometimes is easy to compartmentalize our lives. For example, we can invite God into areas of our lives that are all neat and tidy, but when we haven’t dealt with a painful area, we are not ready for Him (God) to be involved because it looks a little messy. But God loves us no matter what, and the reality is that He sees and knows all anyway. You actually have nothing to lose by asking Him into a bad situation; however, you have amazing things to gain if you will trust Him with your mess.

Psalm 36:7 says, “How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.” Can you imagine what it would be like to find shelter in the midst of your storm? What about letting Him guide out of your wilderness? Or what would it be like to be released from the prison of our mess?

The truth is that I am not the guilt and shame from my past. I have been sanctified by the love of God and was created in His image. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus, and the great news is that you can be too.

God loves me when I’m beautiful or ugly, happy or sad and in spite of anything I ever could do or say. I am His beloved daughter. I am His royal princess, and you, my friend are also a cherished member of God’s extended family. Beloved, It is my prayer that you will let this blog take root in the hurt places in your heart. May you come to truly know that God’s love is unconditional.

Beloved one, if it is time for you to truly receive God’s unconditional love 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 any way.

Prayer:
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:
Have you felt that God couldn’t possibly love you because of past mistakes? If yes, ask the Lord to lead you to some Scriptures that you can memorize to understand God’s immense love for you.

Has guilt and shame caused you to feel unwanted, unworthy unlovable? Remind yourself of God’s sacrifice. Meditate on all that Jesus did for you when He went to the cross. Let this example of unconditional love you fill all your heart wounds.

What are some ways God has shown me that He loves me?

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From Chaos to Refuge

Man hand with lifebuoy ring over blue sea water

Have you ever asked God where He is in the midst of a storm? In a crisis situation, have you ever had trouble discerning the voice of God with the enemy’s lies of deception? Have you ever heard a voice prompting you, almost desperately harassing you, to do something irrevocable that does not line up with God’s Word? Do you believe in principalities?

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world,” 1 John 4:1-3

It was a beautiful sunny day at the lake, and little did I know I was about to test the spirits. I was there with my daughters and one of my daughter’s friends. The day started out pleasant enough just like every other day at the lake. We borrowed a blow-up air raft to relax on the cool water. Remember this is a blow-up raft.

After unpacking the car, carrying a heavy load down the long hill, we noticed the anchor and two life jackets were missing. It was a hot day, and the water looked inviting. Nicole quickly chimed in, “We do not need the anchor and the life vests. We are only going to be in the shallow end of the lake.” Famous last words!

There was a lovely breeze blowing across the lake with the sun glistening like diamonds. The sky was so blue and clear. We were all excited with anticipation to relax and float on the water. We put the raft into the water and took turns taking the rope and walking the raft around the shallow end of the lake.

When it was Nicole and her friend’s turn, they decided to go out just a bit, then a little further, and the next thing I see is the water is now up to their necks. The waves came rushing. I yelled for the girls to get on the raft. There was to be no more playing around, but both girls ignored my command. Within seconds, the raft drifted out where they couldn’t touch, and we were now approximately 30 feet from shore. The waves were raging as I pleaded with the girls to get onto the raft. They had other plans and decided instead to swim to shore.

I was very worried and filled with fear! The waves were strong. We were very far from shore and getting further away with every passing second. My other daughter, Heather, quickly grabbed the two life vests and decided to swim toward the girls to give them a life vest to hold onto.

One question kept badgering me. Are you going to let your children drown or are you going to try to rescue them? The voice was taunting me as the waves got stronger and I drifted further into the abyss of the lake. The taunting in my mind felt like I was being bullied. Are you going to let something happen to your children or are you going to do something about this?

Just as soon as panic began to set in, I heard another voice. This one was calm – a still small voice, peacefully telling me to stay put on the raft. I sensed that I was to stay put because I was older and not in any shape to fight the lake. I felt like the best thing I could do for my children was to call 911.

I was hearing conflicting voices at the same time. One was filling me with peace by speaking life over this terrible situation, while the other was cunning, full of chaos, and confusion spouting probable death.

I was not strong enough to swim against the turbulent waves of this lake because I wasn’t well. I was drifting further away with every passing second. I had a choice to make. I decided to listen to the still small voice and help my girls the most effective way I could.

The girls had their cell phones in a compartment on the raft. I grabbed one and immediately dialed 911. A nice gentleman answered the call and asked for my location. I pleaded to please help my children, and I began to explain landmarks of where I was.

This was extremely dangerous as this was a blow-up raft. I am now in the middle of the lake with no life vest. Normally, I would have panicked, but there was a peace, a shalom peace, that came upon me. It says in Philippians 4:7, “…the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I believe that was what was happening to me.

By the time the fire department arrived on the scene, they found the girls on the shore, but I had drifted so far they couldn’t locate me. (I’m glad I didn’t realize this at the time.) I focused on the truth that God was with me through the Holy Spirit that dwells in me. I was taking comfort in what 1 John 4:4 says, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

I had a choice to make in the midst of this storm. Would I trust that still small voice telling me I’d be okay or the one that was desperately seeking to steal, kill and destroy? My emotions were all over the place but I knew the turmoil I was feeling was not from God. I could feel the Holy Spirit guiding me, gently pursuing me with peace and love to make the best decision for all involved, but more than that, this voice kept soothing my wearing soul so that I would break down in panic. It would be roughly an hour later, I was rescued, Glory to God!

Looking back now, I am convinced God was keeping all of us in His secret place. Psalm 91:1-3 says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.”

I learned that day that the spiritual realm is not a fairy tale like Cinderella or Snow White. There are principalities in this world. There are forces of good and evil. The evil of the world tries to fill and cloud our judgment with deception and lies, while God’s voice tries to fill us with peace and joy even in the midst of scary circumstances.

John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome.” It says right in the Bible we are going to have trouble, but we are to trust Jesus. Can you say that you trust Him in the middle of your struggles?

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” That verse is so encouraging and inspires me to listen to God and to see the future He has planned for me.

I will be honest. I faced fear, but I also had enough faith to see me through all the dread. Faith is key to combating the lies of the enemy and to seeing victory in your life. It only takes a mustard seed of faith to believe what the Word says.

He takes that seed, waters and nurtures it, and faith begins to bloom. I learned that day that it’s vital to have confidence in God and His promises. The lies were trying to lure me to attempt to swim when I wasn’t physically able. But God was peacefully pursuing me, encouraging me to stay put.

No matter what you are facing in your life right now, know that God is a stronghold in times of trouble. God alone is your mighty deliverer and champion. God was my anchor, my life vest, and my refuge that chaotic day on the lake. He alone delivered me from the evil one’s trap, and friends, I am certain through my story, He wants to encourage you. You too can hear His voice in the middle of chaos. Instead of tuning into fear, zero in on that quiet voice… the one telling you no matter how bad your circumstances seem, you will be okay.

Beloved one, if it is time for you to truly trust God’s love to find your place of refuge, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith in God’s truth and believe that God’s Word will never condemn or harm you in any way.

Father God, I thank you that you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize that I have come to an 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. Has there been a time in your life that things were going along smoothly then suddenly something unexpected happened that caused you to feel out of control but you weren’t sure what direction to take? What voice did you listen too?
  2. Recall a time that you felt bombarded with accusations and condemnation stealing your peace. What are some verses that you can lean on next time so that the enemy doesn’t rob you?
  3. What are some steps can you take to nurture and water your mustard seed of faith so that you can start discerning God’s voice while drowning out the enemy?

Tug of War

school children playing tug of war with rope in park

I was twelve years old the first time I can recall being introduced to God. It was one summer when I was visiting my grandparents. It was one of those times in your life when your whole world would change, and that was just the beginning of something new, but was I ready for this change? You see my grandfather was an Assembly of God minister. This was my first encounter with God with the church.

It was a Sunday night service when my grandpa asked me if I was ready to accept Jesus as my personal savior. I wasn’t really sure what this meant, but out of respect, I told him yes. I began to recite after my grandpa – I repented for my sins and asked Jesus to take over my life. At twelve, I really didn’t understand what I was doing. I remember the whole church rejoiced in this decision I had just made and made publically. Why was everyone so happy? Who exactly was Jesus in my life? How was I supposed to navigate from this place?

I didn’t feel any different at that moment. Honestly, I had no understanding of what I was truly doing. I had been in church, but who was Jesus and Father God?

In John 14:6 Jesus tells us, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Truthfully those were just words – the Gospel would not come alive for me until much later.

Summer faded, and we returned home and started school that fall. I began to realize I felt different. Something was missing…where did my relationship with the Lord go? I had gotten saved, but as we were settling into our classes, the enemy began to put doubt and unbelief into my mind.

Sadly, my family didn’t attend church, however; there was a church at the end of our street. Confused, lost and feeling alone, I would go to that church and look around. I was definitely searching for something… or someone. I liked being in the sanctuary because I always felt peaceful while there. Sometimes I’d bring my sister and we’d hang out in that empty church.

A few short years later, my little sister got terribly sick. When she died, I felt justified in being angry with God. Through my mind ran so many questions that couldn’t be answered. How could He take my precious Lisa and gobble her up in a grave? God, where were you? Are you even real? Why did Lisa have to die?

I blamed God, and when I wasn’t blaming, I would doubt His existence. The enemy used my precious sister’s death to deceive and distort my view of God. A part of my longing to believe in God and the things I learned from my grandparents so much, but I just couldn’t make sense of this terrible tragedy.

1 Peter 5:8-9 gives us a firm warning. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”

As a young girl, I didn’t know this verse nor did I know I was under attack by an enemy trying to steal, kill and destroy me. I was ripe for the picking because I was just a baby Christian without a support system. I tried to stay strong, but I was a wounded soldier out on the battlefield.

I wanted to believe in God, but doubt and unbelief plagued my mind. I was a baby Christian soldier trying to believe, but the whispers by the prince of the darkness as well as the non-believers in my world spoke so much negativity and confusion set in. I was disoriented, wandering in the wilderness. My thoughts were consumed with insecurity and instability.

The next several years were extremely difficult for me. I was lost – migrating from one bad relationship to another. I was looking for answers and love in all the wrong places. I wanted immediate gratification and would seek out God when things would get hard. As soon as things took a turn for the better I would go about my merry way.

I didn’t understand that I needed God – every moment of every day. I thought I could do things on my own, but my life was spiraling out of control.

The worse my life got, the more I began to question if there really was a God. A part of me wanted to believe, but how do I believe something I cannot see? Back and forth I went. I believed, and then I was deceived and lacked the faith – only to swing back to believing. I felt exactly like it says it would in James 1:6, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

Over the years I would have amazing even miraculous encounters from time to time with God. Through these experiences, I know God has to be real and tangible. The Love I felt from God was warm and comforting in the depths of my soul. I felt God tugging at my heart to come back to Him. Could I just let go of my life, give it to the Lord once and for all and let Him reign and rule in my life?

Matthew 16:24-26 says, “Then Jesus told His disciples, ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?'”

Wow, was I trying to gain the world by doing things myself?

One night I had enough of the world; I dropped to my knees and never looked back. I thanked Jesus for carrying the weight and torture of the cross for me. I could not continue on the path of confusion and chaos of the world. I wanted to be in God’s presence a place of all-consuming love and shalom peace. It was one of those pivotal moments that would change my life forevermore. I finally took that mustard seed of faith that Jesus promises us to use to grow our faith. I was going to take that seed water it and make it grow. In Luke 17:6, He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

I decided to give my life to God and stop listening to the accuser of doubt and unbelief. I was going to start listening to God’s voice. I started reading the scriptures and began seeing the living Word. The Bible became alive as I saw scripture differently than I did in the past. I would read and ask the Holy Spirit what He wanted me to know about the scripture. I wrote down what I thought I heard. It was beautiful what the Lord was speaking to my heart.

As a result, I fell in love with the Lord. A deep love because I understood finally God is my heavenly Father, Jesus is my Lord, and the Holy Spirit lives and dwells within me. I finally got the revelation of who I was in Christ. I was sold out! I believed, and my mustard seed was growing! I made a choice to reject the doubt and unbelief that had plagued me for years. When the whisper of darkness would start to creep in I would cry out to God and ask Him to help me.

He did help me because the truth is that even though we are not ­–­ God is faithful. I was consistently reminded He is in charge. Think about it… if He created the heavens and the earth – He had this!

Are you a believer who loves the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul, body and spirit? Or are you struggling because, like me, you believed a lie that God wasn’t real? The truth is that God is real and tangible! God loves each of his children and is wooing us right this very minute.

If you are struggling in this area, may we kindly encourage you to every day get in front of a mirror and declare out loud in your own words, “God loves me? I am a child of the Most High God. I have inherited a rich legacy and am co-heirs with Jesus. I am enough. God is pleased with me.”

In time, those declarations will become the extinguisher needed to snuff out your doubt and unbelief.

Courageous one, if it time for you to stop playing tug of war with God completely give your life to Him and receive His love, to be assured that you will be His forever, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith in God’s truth and trust that God’s word will never condemn or harm you in any way.

Prayer:
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). 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:
Can you remember and describe a time in your life when you decided to turn your life over to God and then couldn’t completely commit?

Are there any lies you can think of about God that you might be believing that could be causing distance between you and the Father? What Bible verse could replace the lie with God’s truth?

What can you do to stay devoted to God and not follow the ways of the world? 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.

 

 Never 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.

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?

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

he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not-source

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?

You Are a Force to Reckon With!

bodybuilding-quote-19416

My sister Lisa was a 13-year-old blonde beauty with big blue eyes. With a heart of gold, she was so full of love and was one of the most caring, compassionate and courageous people I’ve ever met. While I was out blowing my allowance, Lisa saved hers all year to buy Christmas presents. She never thought of herself – she was always thinking of others.

I always felt it was my role to take care of my baby sister. And when the worst happened, I was riddled with guilt as I was supposed to be strong enough to save her. While her sickness and death were totally out of my control, the enemy heaped lie after lie upon me, and I believed everyone.

After all, I was her older sister. At the age of 17, how could I let this happen? Even though I was just a young woman excited about the future, my shame would ultimately convince me I shouldn’t look to my future when she didn’t have a future. My world was changed forever with the loss of my precious sister.

The world lost one of the most amazing little girls God had ever created, and I just knew it was my fault. While the angels were rejoicing the day Lisa went to heaven I was drowning in tears. I didn’t understand God’s ways. I accused Him. Why God? Why?

Lisa’s death was one of the hardest things I’ve had to endure in my life. From the moment she drew her last breath, sadly I was never the same.

Has there been a time in your life you ever felt powerless or weak? Have you experienced a time when you didn’t know how you would make it one more minute, never the less one more day? I have, and it was only through God’s strength in me that I was able to endure and move past the mourning season. It wasn’t an easy time for me, but God was there every moment comforting me as only He could.

This was a season I learned the true meaning of Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I needed a refuge, and it was Elohim, the Father, Spirit and Son, that carried me through this most difficult time. I’ve heard it said time heals all wounds, but I have come to understand that time didn’t heal anything… it was Jesus Christ who brought me back to life!

Before this tragedy, I was a carefree, STRONG woman. Full of courage and vigor, I wasn’t afraid of anything. However, after her death, I went from being fearless to fearful. The enemy used my sister’s death to make me afraid and weak. I felt shame for having to go on without her.

Her death left a hole in my heart the enemy filled with lies. I felt lack, defeated and scared. Instability had set in, and I wondered if my life and my family member’s lives would be normal again.

In John 10:10 we are warned the enemy comes to steal, and to kill and to destroy. The enemy killed my sister, destroyed the family I’d known and stole my truth.

But the good news is God made a way for me to be victorious over the enemy when I was able to stand up and fight. Jesus encourages us in the scripture “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

My story didn’t end in demise after I found hope in Jesus Christ and bolstered my faith in His promises.

I’m so thankful for God’s grace. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

This means because of His grace, there is nothing we have to work for. We can rely on His strength in our weakness. It took me a little while to grasp this scripture as I was used to relying on my own strength. When I finally came to the place that I could accept His grace and received it as a gift I grew strong again.

Gaining that strength required me to dig into the deep places in my heart to see the strongholds and lies I had been bought into. The Lord was faithful to protect me and help me every step of the way!

It happened just as 2 Timothy 4:17 described: …the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…

Years later, my daughter went through a traumatic time in her life. She needed a mom who could listen with no judgment, keep an open mind, and would love her no matter what she had to say and no matter how difficult it was to hear.

While I will not share the details of that time, what I can say is that it was the hardest conversation I ever had to hear and the greatest challenge of my life. It was such a blessing that I had learned how to lean on the strength of the Lord during the season of my sister’s death. It was only in His strength that I was able to support, prop up and comfort my daughter! I would be a force to reckon with. I would be strong for her. I would fight the enemy when she couldn’t.

She needed to know irrevocably that I believed in her and in the truth! We stood together, and with many prayers and God’s help we preserved through this time! I not only had to have strength for myself but also was able to pour into my daughter the love that Jesus Christ had poured into me. It was beautiful, and today I can look at how she now pours that strength and love out to others as well.

2 Corinthians 12:10 says “for when I am weak, then I am strong” It was in weakness I was able to access the strength that Jesus Christ provides. He is our strength if we will reach out and receive all He has for us.

I was never weak or powerless just as I was not responsible for the death of my sister. The truth then, the truth when my daughter needed me and the truth now is simple: I am courageous, a tower of strength and a child of the highest God. I am all He says I am!

The good news is that no matter what the enemy whispers in your ear, the truth is you are also strong, courageous and a child of the Most High. You are a force to reckon with!

Courageous one, if you have grown weary in a difficult season of your life, it’s time to receive God’s grace to strengthen you. It’s easy. Simply repeat the prayer below, have faith and trust God’s word will never condemn or harm you in any way. Say out loud the following:

Father God, I thank you that you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize I have come to agreement with lies. 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 over:

  1. Have you ever felt powerless or responsible for something that was not in your control? Repent and ask God to remove all spirits of accusation, false burden bearing, guilt and shame. And then give Him thanks and praise for setting you free.
  2. What are some things you can do to get the strength needed to get through a difficult time?
  3. Do you feel defeated in a situation right now?  How can you replace the lie that the enemy hoisted upon you with God’s truth and find strength in Him?

Pray out loud and ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to find a scripture then start meditating on it and let God’s truth take root in your heart. This is a good first step to start living free and victoriously!

If you want to learn more about finding strength through weakness, visit http://sonrisechurchandministries.sermon.net/main/main/20679990 to listen to a great teaching by John Aldridge, Senior Pastor of Son Rise Church and Ministries.