Always the Heart

book-2115176_640

Isaiah 55:11 ‘so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.’

This is a call to Christians. A call to please God, not man. ‘Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.’ A call for you to evaluate where your hearts are at. A call to draw close to the One who made you and called you according to His purposes. A call to really know Him and what He is calling you to. A call to be grounded in the Word. A call to know what is required of you. Micah 6:8 ‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’

I feel like I need to write a caveat before I send this blog forth. It is possible I may offend people but before you choose to take an offense up, can I challenge you to ask your heart why? And forgive me please as my intention is not to cause offense. I write about this subject because God is burning it in my heart these days and I feel broken because of it. I write about this because I have been in the middle of these situations all the way back to when I first found Jesus. I have been a part of these situations. Because guess what, people are people. Even if we don’t purposely set out to let the enemy use us, when we don’t know God’s voice, we can become the accusers of our brothers and sisters. One word timely whispered and an offense can be set off. Revelation 12:10

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:pointing-1991215_640

“Now have come the salvation and the power
    and the kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
    who accuses them before our God day and night,
    has been hurled down.”

My heart is burdened because we cannot do His will here on earth well as a fractured body. And we can do so much more together. I mean, He is God and His purposes will be accomplished as the Word says above but will we fall by the wayside and will He have to raise others up to accomplish the purpose He had for you?

How well do you know God? Like really know Him and His Word? Would you say that His heart is for you? Would you say you know you are loved, forgiven, saved, righteous, His child? Would you say that you are following Him and not people?  Are you sold out to His commission for us as believers? Matthew 28:18-20 ‘Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

My heart has been breaking for all of the stories I have been hearing lately about how people are hurt by Christian people and that becomes generalized to the church and then projected on who they think God is. Offence is picked up and if not dealt with this can turn to resentment. If they are Christian, their faith may suffer, reconciliation might never happen,  then they possibly fall away or in some cases plan never to attend church again. In the meantime a fracture happens within the church by the loss of these people and that particular body goes on but with a noticeable limp. I realize sometimes there is a grand purpose in God removing some people from a particular body of believers but it may not always be the case. It may be the enemy working his steal, kill and destroy program through his bait of offense.

I understand when someone is a Christian we naturally give them a higher standard to hit and that should be the case but I think it should be higher, not impossible. This also means if you are a Christian, you also are called to this higher, not impossible standard. It is not impossible with His spirit and strength, it will be in our own strength. They are not God, neither are we, we are all human and we hurt each other, often not on purpose. I also realize that church is not the only platform to display His glory but it needs to be a place where we grow together to be strengthened to go out into the world, in all the places He calls us. The local church is the hope of the world but a fractured one doesn’t always paint a beautiful picture of hope. Please don’t take this to the extreme because I know we are all broken in some way and the beauty of God doing what He does through broken vessels is often what it is about. I am just saying if we are loudly broken without Christ on display in our behaviour, hope doesn’t always shine through. What is your part in the restoration?

So what is getting in the way of your witness? Is it you? Can I gently suggest we get over ourselves? I love how Revelation 12 gives us the answer with verse 11 in the Message translation,

‘They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb
    and the bold word of their witness.
They weren’t in love with themselves;
    they were willing to die for Christ.’ 

Most of all I think God’s heart in all of this is not to equate who He is with who we are as humans. Remember the part, my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways? God said that. He sees us through the filter of what Jesus did, dying on the cross for our sins. Christ’s blood and His love cover a multitude of sins.

As I was praying through this blog, a few things came to mind that may get in the way of us not fulfilling the commission.  Pride, unforgiveness, inability to work through conflict, missing God’s heart, lack of identity, disobedience, blindness from our own wounds. This doesn’t just apply to issues within the church but  within our own hearts. Working through these things is not easy and I think we forget that we have the power of the resurrected Christ within us to help us get through these places.

Joyce Meyer said,‘ The gap between desire and doing is determined by how much pain one is willing to endure to do God’s will.’ . It is always a heart issue. How sold out is yours for our Saviour that you will do whatever it takes to live at peace with others and be obedient to His purposes?  Please read the following out Romans 12 out loud, stop on each verse and challenge your heart to see if you are living these words, if not, repent, ask His forgiveness and move forward knowing He is for you, and Holy Spirit will empower you to live this out. Be blessed brothers and sisters.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.’

los-cabos-68861_640

 

 

Advertisements

Shameless Belief

Please read Mark 9:14-29bible-1238612_640

Belief is defined as acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; trust, faith or confidence in someone of something. Pistevo is Greek, it is a verb meaning persuasion, especially reliance upon Christ for salvation. I love that it is an action word in the Greek language meaning it is not passive but something that is chosen. It is a great reminder that even if something doesn’t feel like it is true, when we know it is, we can push past our flesh and choose to believe. Growing in faith is a daily process of renewing our trust in Jesus.

I know sometimes we read the stories in the bible and pass quick judgment about someone’s struggles or wonder what they were thinking,  forgetting that we have insight because these things have occurred. Hindsight is 20/20 and even so the Word of God is active and alive (Hebrews 4:12)so fresh revelation can happen all the time. I have to say I am quite encouraged by the fact that these chosen people had struggles and we can learn from them.

I preach to myself often as I am writing, I am quite aware I am far from perfect. Even this week as I write about how we believe, being shameless as God’s child, in His righteousness, in surrender, in trust and yet there are areas of my life that I struggleto fully give to Him. My 10 lbs that needs to be 30, that seems to want to be my friend and stay. My eating habits that so quickly cave to unhealthy, my discipline, or lack of it with spending money and in time writing. Do I believe that God can help me to fully engage with the self-discipline fruit of the Spirit that He has implanted in me? Obviously not completely! These are areas that I continually need to surrender and trust that I am redeemed in these places and choose to believe that, going forward, one painful but necessary step at a time.

My heart is for these things but as Joyce Meyer so lovingly says, ‘We don’t need a wishbone, we need a backbone.’ So I cry out, Lord I do believe, help me in my unbelief and step toward Him and my goals. And yes it takes our co-operation to ignite the gifts He has given us, we need to be willing. This is why the story that is told in 3 of the gospels about Jesus healing a demon possessed boy encourages me. We can want something with our hearts but can be aware there are parts that aren’t fully believing it.

Mark is the only gospel writer that tells the part of the story of the boy’s father. The anguish he was experiencing watching his son possessed must have been unimaginable. With great desperation, he cried out for Jesus to do something, adding ‘if you can’. “If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Aware of his own doubt –“Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed,” I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” Mark 9:23,24

Imagine the grace Jesus extended in this situation, not only did He heal this boy and bring a new level of trust and surrender to this man, but He encouraged and taught his disciples. They had been unable to drive this demon out and Jesus had called them an unbelieving generation, the very ones who had been experiencing the life of Jesus, walking with Him.

These are the stories that encourage my heart, that my condition of unbelief is common to man but that Jesus does great and amazing things in people’s hearts. And we don’t have to stay there. We can engage in the daily process of renewing, being faithful and obedient and desiring more. I have heard often that Jesus loves us the way we are but He loves us too much to leave us there.

In Elijah House ministry training , co-founder John Sandford says the inner healing they teach is to ‘evangelize the unbelieving areas of the believers’ heart.’ I learned in this training that there are many ways that we protect our hearts from hurt and sometimes those things close us off from fully engaging in relationships and life. But as Jesus said, ‘Everything is possible for him who believes.’

I can trust Him in my areas of discipline, you can trust Him to come and meet you in whatever area you are having trouble believing for. Sit with Him and seek out what parts need persuasion. Be honest in surrendering your struggles (He knows them anyway)

Pray with me please;

Lord, you know us better than anyone. Please come Father and highlight these areas that we are not fully believing you. Please help us to surrender the things that keep us stuck in our unbelief. Lord we cannot do this without you and you say that everything is possible for those who believe. To the best of our abilities we believe but we need you to evangelize those unbelieving parts with your truth Lord. Please come Lord Jesus and meet with us. Thank you that you are for us and not against us and your heart is to make us more like you. So take these molds of clay and form us Lord, heal us, let us be displays of your glory. In Jesus’ name. AMEN

god-1772560_640

 

Free to Believe

A couple of weeks ago I awoke with a  prompting from God to post a blog a day in November. I am trying to discipline myself to actually sit and write so I was obedient and wrote out a plan. As I sat with all those numbers of November in front of me and one idea about living in shameless freedom, I just asked Him for ideas for each day. It seemed overwhelming as the blank spots stared at me, taunting me to give up. Then I began, one date at a time to fill in those white spaces with God inspired ideas. 10 minutes, that is all it took and I had no idea what to expect but to just be obedient one step at a time.

So today is day 8 by no coincidence I am sure that it is November 8th and the idea given to me weeks ago was Free to Believe. Also by no coincidence, it is the day of the U.S. election. flag-1294654_640Now before you quit reading, I am not informed enough to give any kind of opinion about any candidate here. If I did, it is just that, my opinion. As far as I am concerned it is only God’s truth that matters in any area of life when it comes right down to it. May we all get to the place where an Audience of One is all that is needed.

Do you feel like the freedom of speech has had a little too much license during this process? Like ahhh make it stop but we can’t stop reading or listening to it. But somehow by engaging, we are contributing to the outrageous cost of campaign rampages. Freedom of speech literally means the right to express any opinions without any censorship or restraint. Can I have an Amen that is going on?

But God…

My friend Helena pointed me to Psalm 33 today. We have been given a responsibility through God with the freedom to believe. He has kept our free will in tact knowing that His gospel of good news is the only thing that changes hearts. We can choose, just as many can choose today, a government for the people by the people. As believers we need to stand up, stand for Him, believe and preach the gospel to all nations because those nations whose God is the Lord will be blessed. God is still on the throne. He has worked through broken kings and rulers before. Read through the Old Testament.

People are dying without repentance and turning from their sin. Jesus came to reconcile our hearts to God. Period. Jesus is not an addendum. Joyce Meyer says, “Don’t just tack Jesus onto your mess and keep living the same.” We need to die to Him.

I can’t speak better than God’s word, so meditate on this Psalm, speak it out loud and make it a prayer for the nations today. The writer was anonymous but this writer knew God as Creator, Lord, Saviour and Deliverer. My prayer is for us all to live in these truths. God Bless us all and have mercy Lord!

Psalm 33

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
    it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
    make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song;
    play skillfully, and shout for joy.

For the word of the Lord is right and true;
    he is faithful in all he does.
The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
    their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars[a];
    he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
    he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the Lord looks down
    and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
    all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
    who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
    no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
    despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
    and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.

 

 

 

 

Highly Favoured

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:28

Recently as an exercise to hone my writing skills, I was to ask a handful of close friends a few questions about how they see me and what kind of influence I could have. The purpose of receiving this kind of feedback was to make the message I have more clear. To help me see how I can best inspire people with the tools I already have. And perhaps shed some light on areas that I may think are obvious but are amazing to others.

First of all, the fact that they were so willing to respond blew my mind. I am blessed by so many incredible women in my life, it was actually hard to pick just 5.  Second, their responses brought some tears. Third, this is a very humbling exercise to perform. Owning the truths that were spoken from their perspectives would have been very difficult to do even a year ago.

God has been teaching me this last year to receive. Receive His truths and let those reconstruct what my identity is in Him. Not in what others tried to tell me, not in the lies I believed, not in the performing so hard for love it almost destroyed me kind of way. But in renewing my mind and believing regardless of what I feel to standing in the promises of God.

Lysa Terkeurst said, “In between progress and perfection is the sweet spot of authenticity.” This statement makes me want to pause and say ahhhhhhh, releasing the places that have been wound tight in me trying to become someone I was not. butterflies-843298_640You see my heart is to be authentic, in all I speak, say, write and do. I am unique, my story has been woven in such a way as to distinctively influence those that God has placed in my path. There are some things I can speak because of my experiences that will resonate with the hearts of those I encounter. This truth is the same for you.

The space between progress and perfection can only be accomplished with supernatural favour. Joyce Meyer once said, ‘Natural favour has to be earned and once it is you need to maintain or keep working for that favour. Supernatural favour is a gift from God. You receive this just by being His child.’

Natural favour is very difficult to sustain. Performance is a vicious cycle. The only antidote to this is knowing in your heart of hearts that you are deeply loved and favoured by God and Nothing you do or don’t do will change that.heart-1213481_640

One way I have been renewing my mind with God’s truth is by speaking that I am highly favoured by the Lord. My travelling companions to St. Louis as of late probably thought I was a little silly proclaiming this phrase everywhere I went. Little did they know I was renewing the way I thought of myself in relationship to how God sees me.

You see,  I know that the only one in the Bible that was given this title was Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was chosen by God to carry the Messiah, His precious Son because she was highly favoured by Him. And this favour carried over into Jesus as we see further down in Luke 2:52, ‘And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.’

As a believer though, one who has chosen Christ as Saviour, I also have the incredible privilege of carrying Jesus. Not in the physical, pregnant sense as Mary did, but in my spirit. He is with me everywhere I go and because of this I am highly favoured by the Lord. Because of this I get to extend His Favour to others.

Choose an area where you have not been believing God’s truth about you. Now find the truth and start to declare it. Is it in the area of not believing you are worthy and have to perform for or earn God’s love? Say it with me now, I am highly favoured by the Lord. I am the apple of His eye. I am His beloved child. Start there. Don’t stop until your heart believes it. Your freedom depends on it. woman-591576_640

Sounds of Grace

I have probably told this story before but I used to sing Amazing Grace all the time when I was young. I had no idea what it meant. I had no reference from a church perspective as the only time I darkened the steps of a church was for weddings and funerals. I don’t even know how I knew it, other than organ lessons perhaps. And no,  I don’t still play. What was I – a grandma even then?

This famed hymn written by John Newton in the 1700’s still resonates with people today, especially if Jesus has opened their eyes to see the truth of God’s love for them. Newton was a slave trader who had a radical conversion to Jesus after praying for a ship he was in not to sink. He later became an abolitionist to set slaves free. Often that which enslaved us, God redeems and it becomes a part of our story to help set others free.

Recently, I was reminded of how much redemption and amazing grace God has brought to my life. I was blessed to travel with 3 great friends to St. Louis, Missouri for the Joyce Meyer women’s conference. Incredible time away on all levels, empowering teaching, ministry opportunities, friendship growth and building times, much, much laughter and enjoying the beauty God has created in that city, in buildings, in people and nature.

In the midst of this goodness one of our friends starting asking the questions of earlier times in our lives before we knew Jesus. It was really humbling and encouraging to watch as she wept for some of the pain we had walked through in our lives and how emptiness had led to bad choices and sin. In the same token it built my faith to see how much God truly is my Redeemer, that I know Him best as that. He has changed my life so radically that I hardly recognize nor believe that my life, thoughts and actions were the way they were back then, in my other life as I call it. It is through the process of my other life and coming to the end of myself though that shows the glory of God, that makes me who I am now, that gives me a hunger to share the One who brought the redemption and made me new.

Grace means to get something you don’t deserve, unmerited favour.

Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The sound of grace is tangible! It is music in the ears of those who feel lost and hopeless and broken and unworthy. It comes in and saves a wretch like us. We do not have to feel lost forever.  It really is quite unbelievable in our own thoughts that God would come in the midst of our stuff and redeem it, heal it, deliver us. But it is His heart and I have experienced it first hand.

Invite Him in to your brokenness, call out to Him in your hopelessness, seek Him where you are lost and even in your insecurity and feelings of worthlessness cry out to Him to show you His Worthiness. Aren’t you tired? “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

amazing-grace-875860_640

 

Riding the Pine

This is an old post I did for a guest blog which for some reason didn’t get published. So I am trusting in God’s hand for that and thought I would share it now.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5,6

Trust – firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something

Submit – accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another

I laughed at a cartoon about tough love that showed a Mama bird literally kicking the baby bird out of the nest with the caption, Fly! Sometimes trusting feels like that doesn’t it? This reminded me of how a Mother Eagle prepares her eaglets to leave the nest and fly by slowly taking the soft down out of the nest and leaving thorns. Eventually they become too uncomfortable to stay.

Our son Owen made his high school basketball team and part of that dream for him was to actually play the game. Initially he knew the possibility of him playing a lot was slim because he wasn’t the best or the strongest player but he eventually submitted to that. He put in the same 3 hour practices as everyone else, showed up for every game and still ‘rode the pine’ as they say for most of the games.

chair-843178_640

THIS IS LIFE!

God allowed Owen to make the team and he still was very much a part of the team but how he participated wasn’t necessarily how he imagined it to be. There was definitely disappointment along the way for him but by the end of the season he was defending the reasons he often warmed the bench. I am learning so much lately that things are often not as they appear. The picture is far bigger and the purposes much greater than our ideas or our expectations.

‘God doesn’t want to change everything around you. He just wants to change you.’ Joyce Meyer

So what does this have to do with trusting God and the verse above? Often our circumstances are orchestrated to develop something in our character and our only job is to trust and submit. Submission is our heart position once we make the decision to trust.

Our son learned the art of discipline and perseverance and to find joy even in the midst of doing the opposite of what he expected. As we submit in All our ways to Him, He will make our paths straight. This is a promise from God  that can stand alone and if we all learned to do just these things to trust and submit, imagine what God could do in and through us.

Like the Mother Eagle, sometimes God allows things to become uncomfortable in order for us to move. His heart is always for us and we allow our flesh to become too complacent but His goal is for us to be like Jesus. These processes can sometimes be painful if we fight against them as life in real time can be messy. I understand that most circumstances are far weightier than sitting on the bench for a season, our struggles are real.

Submission doesn’t have to be painful.

Have you considered that before? Have you thought about the fact that if we just believed God and agreed with what He was saying, without struggling to see the end, that submitting to His ways wouldn’t have to hurt so much. Have you thought about how much more difficult you are making things by leaning on your own understanding?  Spread your wings my friend, this is the time to fly.

freedom-945300_640

In what ways is God calling you to trust and submit? Don’t wait until all the cushion is gone. Agree with His plans for you.