I’m 29 weeks pregnant and to say time is flying is an understatement. Each day is a blur of toddler demands, runny noses, and baby kicks.
It’s been difficult in all the madness to even process what awaits us in 10 weeks. Will I still be able to hold my first child close and watch Blippi? Will I be able to read him books and tuck him into bed?
I’ve had to face the undisciplined way we live as an article so pointed out my flaws by saying; “at least before baby 2 comes, your toddler is going to bed at 8 regularly.” I love how they assumed that. 😑
Despite all my best efforts, my child goes to bed at 11 and stays up talking and singing in bed til 12:30-1am. And as for potty training? It’s been hit or miss…
Can I even hope for normalcy with two kids? I honestly don’t know. But despite my flaws as a parent, I’ve done something right.
James is a loving boy, gentle, and excited for his new brother. He loves to help and lately, he loves superhero’s, namely Spider-Man (or rather, Spidey and His Amazing Friends). Watching Spidey, Spin, and Ghost Spider protect the city by stopping the villains has led to my son wondering what makes a good guy “good” and a bad guy “bad.”
At first, he asked me, “is Spidey a bad guy?” “How about Rhino?” “The Green Goblin?” It was easy to answer those questions because their actions spoke for themselves. Do they hurt people? Then they are bad. Do they help people? Then they are good.
But those questions soon involved a lot more. Am I a good guy? He asked. And so went his questions about who in his life is good and bad, not leaving out a single person, animal, or thing.
Do we beat up bad guys? My little boy once wanted to be a doctor, now he wants to beat up bad guys 😂 watch out Spider-Man. His questions though led me to think about people and things in a deeper way. In real life, bad guys aren’t always so transparent. Good guys can be bad, bad guys can be good. It’s all rather difficult. Even I am capable of making mistakes that would make my son think I was bad. Yikes!
With all his questions I try to be honest and I don’t diss the effort to explain things that are too complex. Because I know, having worked with kids, that they are capable of understanding more than we realize. And more importantly, that if we don’t give them an answer, they will find the answer through some other way or some other person.
I’m sure you can see the potential harm in that.
And so, as my son nears his 3rd birthday, I will continue to explain and demonstrate what good is. The only way I can do that without fail is to turn him to God and His definition of good. Before the world teaches him their definition. I will instill the truth in his good heart. A heart that longs to be a hero needs first to have their own heroine. I hope that in time…Spider-Man won’t have all the answers, won’t be the ultimate hero in his life…in time, I hope he sees that Jesus is his hero. He doesn’t fail. He doesn’t show up too late but is always on time. And He is truly good.
“Am I a good guy?” He asks me innocently. “Yes, honey…you are good and you’re on the side of the good guys.”
When we think of “fearing” the Lord, we usually conjure up images from the Old Testament.
The flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the sacredness of the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant, the many times in which people dropped dead because of their sin…
Every nation learned to “fear” the Lord and His people. And many times, when His people turned from Him, He brought them back through punishment (correction) and fear.
He was, and is, a jealous God. Passionate to His lovers, and just as zealous toward His foes. He is all powerful, all knowing, all holy, and yet—all love.
And that is what we have sought under our new covenant. His love. Forgetting that love is also submission, sacrifice, and reverent awe toward the being that bends low for our sake, and for our redemption.
Jesus was the only way we could truly enter His presence again. The sacrifice of lambs was never enough, no matter how spotless and innocent they were, they could not cover the cost of our sin. And likewise, God could not deny Himself and His Holiness to be with us. As we read, most could not survive it.
-The rope tied to the priest who entered the Holy of Holies in case he died. The time Uzzah, one of the Ark bearers, carelessly slipped and touched the Ark and died as well.
God was there, but had to remain distant. Unlike how He walked (beside) Adam and Eve in the Garden.
Today of course, we are symbolically in that Garden again. With God’s own Holy Spirit “in” us! We’re now His dwelling place!
But like the Jews, we have forgotten the fear of the Lord in our time of peace.
Churches will preach of God’s mercy and love until they are blue in the face, but will kindly skip over our proper response toward Him.
Praise and worship isn’t merely thanksgiving for all He has done, but an open acknowledgment of all that He is. A submissive awe, a reverence for His greatness and goodness. It is through our fear that we truly understand how blessed we really are.
Think of it! The God of the universe created us because He wanted us to exist. He made us in His image and gave us authority (dominion) to reign with Him. He created the stars and earth for us to enjoy and marvel at.
He then lowered Himself to be with us and to know us intimately! He wants to be involved in every fabric of your life, as both our Father (we call Him father!) and friend. And He has promised us an eternal inheritance with Him.
Despite all our sin and rebellion, despite killing His heavenly Son, He still loves us, and could never bring Himself to destroy us. He gave us His Son to save us. Our very God, romanced His creation and gave all that He could give to save it. He became a man and dwelt with us in order to serve and to know what it’s like to be us.
And now we carry His heart within us—the new temples of His dwelling place. All He ever wanted (our hearts and love) is now His throne seat.
How can we look at this and not marvel? How can we not fall to our knees in reverent praise? How could we ever dare sin against Him and His Son? How can we be a part of the greatest story ever told and it not transform every fabric of our lives?
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” (Job 28:28, Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10…)
It is this fear that should propel us into action when the Holy Spirit calls us to it. Why? Because if we truly fear the Lord we wouldn’t have room in our hearts for fear of man.
In our understanding of God and His character we wouldn’t hesitate or doubt Him. But would instead fear missing out on His goodness!
It is the church that has hidden all verses containing the word fear and the Lord together. And that is because of today’s culture and it’s definition ascribed to “fear.”
Clearly, the Hebrew/Greek meaning differs to our current one. There are many types of fear and not all of them are bad. In this instance fear equates to reverence/respect/awe. Not punishment/abuse/harm etc.
God doesn’t want us to cower before Him as we have even seen displayed in the Bible, when angels appeared before the Jews they said, “do not fear!” God doesn’t want servants who follow out of fear but friends who follow out of genuine love. However, we cannot dismiss this reverence that is so called, “the beginning of wisdom”, and much more in the Bible.
I suppose a more relevant example of this healthy fear, is our respect for authority; police officers, judges, etc. Or even our respect and submission to our husbands (in healthy relationships—the husband is the head who requires respect, while the wife is the helper who requires love).
God is not a dictator or a bully. Just like in marriage, there is sacrificial giving on both ends. We (the church/bride of Christ) are to respect Him, while as He (the groom) loves us unconditionally (Ephesians 5:25).
Today, I witnessed the fear of man play out before me and immediately laughed at the insanity of it. I fear the Lord more.
He is love. And in His love He will let us choose whether to remain in that love or not. And such is where the very real fear of Hell exists. Hell is…in all honestly, the only place where God’s presence doesn’t exist.
Even in the darkest corners of the earth, God’s presence can still be found or felt by His people. We have taken this for granted and can’t even begin to understand what it would be like to not have access to Him. It is through Him we have any hope/peace/joy/purpose/security—you name it! Without Him there is only darkness.
And sadly, many will choose that darkness.
I must say that I am still discovering what it means to fear the Lord my God. But I believe that it is vital to know and understand fully what this means, for our sake and for the effectiveness of the church.
Too often I have witnessed either a church that has removed the “God-ness” from God (the laws, and the punishment of sin) or a church that has completely removed the love and mercy of God, His “Human-ness” as you will—in the form of Jesus Christ (our new Adam).
Both are toxic places to be as neither truly understood who God is and who we are in relation to Him. We are neither worms nor equals. (The true worth and value of humanity has already been determined by God/Jesus Himself!)
We will go deeper into the subject of our worth/value next time. For now let us merely reflect on our heart posture toward God. Do you fear Him? Do you find it hard to grasp the majesty of God and His great love for us? Or do you struggle to view Him as God at all?
God directed me to this verse after I, again, began to grow tired and angry toward something that was promised to us. Authority over illness.
Don’t worry! No one is dying! God was just wanting me to understand that there are factors I can’t understand. He is God and I’m not.
I can’t solely blame my lack of faith, or lack of relationship, or commitment to reading His Word for a healing that wasn’t immediate. Perhaps, our response should be simple, even when the answer isn’t.
But regardless of what happens, whether I see healing or not in this life. God is still good. And my love for Him shouldn’t depend on what I go through or what I feel in the moment, or even by what He does for me.
At the end of the day, we must all evaluate why we follow Jesus and why we love God. Let me put it this way…if God never did another thing for you—would you still love Him?
I’ve learned a lot recently about my own contribution to answered prayer. That my faith is key to allowing the Holy Spirit to move through me in authority.
A friend of mine said it best by quoting someone (comment below if you know!) during a sermon on faith:
He said, “Don’t tell God about your circumstances, tell your circumstances about God!”
This isn’t saying we shouldn’t pray, but that a lot of our prayers would find their resolution through us. If we were to discover what Christ paid for and to take up that authority—we could essentially become the answer to many prayers (through the release of the Holy Spirit power within us).
Or have we forgotten that Christ (God) is in us? That we are now His temple and dwelling place?
Healing is ours… and even the raising of the dead! But there is a reason that such miracles aren’t common place and aren’t always successful.
Perhaps, aside from our lack of faith…the verse at the top is one other answer as to why?
When I read it, I instantly thought of another verse:
“To live is Christ, to die is gain.” -Philippians 1:21
I began to think about what that means in a deeper way. In order to understand the verse we have to understand who Christ was. He was the Son of God yes, but He was also a servant who came to sacrifice.
To live is to sacrifice (lay down our life) like Christ, to die is to (pick up our life or gain it).
Give vs. Receive.
We aren’t here to just take, take, take. This life isn’t about me or you or even your kids. It’s about living as Christ. It’s about sacrifice and service. Fulfilling God’s call and purpose for your life…until He calls you home and gives you the mantel (crown) equivalent to your life’s surrendered-ness to Him.
If we are to take, it is to take back the territory satan has held captive. Healing and other miracles aren’t something we take but something we already have. Gifts. Just as salvation is a gift we can either receive or cast aside.
I’m not sure if this is a word for you today, but if it is, I pray that you too will realize that you have power, that your job isn’t to have all the answers or to get it right every time when it comes to miracles and works. It’s all about Him and living in the moment with Him. Offering our lives as a sacrifice just as Jesus laid down His life daily for us.
Press in, let go, and perhaps, more miracles will happen on accident than they ever did on purpose.
And should life breath it’s last…God’s hand of protection is on those who are asleep, and they have been given their promised inheritance and crowned with victory.
Anyone else have difficulty holding their tongue these days?
To the morally and biblically bound, it seems as if the world has lost its mind. And what better place to air our frustrations than the media.
I find it exceedingly difficult at times to hold my tongue when I’m scrolling Facebook and come across posts that press me in all the wrong ways. But is it really worth saying my piece?
Should I stir the pot?
“You’re never going to win an argument on social media,” a pastor once told me. How true his words were. No matter how kind, persuasive, and understanding I try to be, my words always seem to pass unheard over the screaming rage of those in spiritual denial.
I’m not saying that we should never speak. But, perhaps the social media isn’t the pulpit in which we are to wage this war. A war that is purely spiritual won’t be won by emotionalism and eloquent speech. It is only won through relationships.
Prove to the world that what we believe is right by how you live and love. Stand strong and unmoving in your peace and faith, and always be the first to surprise your enemies with an act of mercy and compassion.
Let go of the hatred, the malice toward the person (our battle is not against flesh and blood, remember?) and just mirror the heart of Jesus.
He maintained truth even while He ate with sinners, they never once felt unloved or judged by Him. In fact, it was the religious Pharisees that were offended by His love!
This world may seem crazy, but if you only knew the truth behind the crazy…the brokenness, pain, shame, fatherlessness, and more that fuels the flames of this new age thinking, maybe then we can start to understand and love a little deeper.
Our words are void without works to prove their legitimacy. Walk what you preach. Raise families, have children, read the Bible in your home, pray, go to church…change the world.
And instead of stirring the pot—you will have stirred a revival instead.
God bless you all as you face opposition and persecution for your beliefs. God wants to use you and likewise, transform your own heart into His likeness.
This Christmas, do not shrink from the traditions, do not cover up your light, sing to Jesus, attend Christmas Eve services, celebrate our Lord’s birth just as before. Spread the love to those who need it most. Give! Bless a family in Jesus name with money, gifts, or food. Pray for those who are hurting and surround them so that they aren’t alone.
Be the church again! And fear not…fear not for your possessions, your finances, your very life. The Lord will bless you for your passionate faith.
They fight to take hold of my mind daily. It’s nothing new, I’ve faced off against fear my entire life. Many times the feeling of fear was justified—my reaction too it, maybe not so much.
Fear can be harnessed and used properly. It can motivate us instead of cripple us in a crisis if we keep it in its proper place. Far, far away from the throne seat of our heart and actions.
However, the moment we partner with it and allow it a place of honor and power is the moment we begin to hand over our authority to the devil.
Fear, in truth, is misplaced worship. Is more faith in something that isn’t God. And the thing about God is He will allow you to choose who you will empower. Will you empower His Holy Spirit within you? Or will you empower the devil and his demons to move against you?
I’m constantly teetering on the edge of both. One moment I am won over by truth, the next I am swayed by what I’ve seen. Death to those close to me, loss, disaster…if it happened to them, what makes me any more immune?
But there is something I cannot see. So much more…maybe fear took the throne seat of their hearts? Maybe power was given over without realizing it and the devil made his move? Maybe, things just happen. And God isn’t any less good because of it.
I see their stories and forget my own in the mess. God has always protected me, healed me, watched over my family, saved my life from sheer disaster, I can name all the stories as if they happened yesterday…
God saved my life when I nearly fell out of an amusement park ride.
He saved my dad’s life when his heart stopped one evening as he was watching tv.
He turned the wheel just in time when my mom and I were in a car accident (avoiding a head on collision).
He protected my unborn child as I was struck in the passenger side by a speeding vehicle.
Notice that the catastrophes still happened, but the outcome was victory. All these moments can be viewed in two ways, depending on my mindset at any given time.
I can either look at all the mess and think, “man, I was in a lot of horrible situations that God could have kept from happening.” Or I can think, “man, God has been so good to me, that when then devil tried to take me out—he failed every time.”
What am I really afraid of? Death? Even that thought sounds ridiculous if I truly believe in the Word. “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”
Am I afraid of pain? Of loss? Unfortunately, being a Christian doesn’t mean a life free of pain or loss. We aren’t immune to this broken world and we essentially have targets painted on our backs for carrying Christ. We are enemy #1 to the devil and are far from safe. But we shouldn’t be the ones shaking…our enemy is already defeated and he is scared witless by us.
And to the Christians who truly come alive and utilize the Holy Spirit within them…there’s nothing the devil can do even onto death.
My fear is in my weakness apart from God. My fear is in my inability to not fear. To use the faith He paid for. It isn’t a fear that He won’t come through, but that I won’t.
God has limited Himself to working through us. But we have to allow Him to move in and through us or in our hesitancy, in our fear, we will lose.
How do I keep my fear under check?
1. Read the Word constantly. Remind yourself of truth, dwell on it and it will transform you and your mind. The voice of truth must be greater than the other voices you indulge in. TV news, Shows, your friends, your family, your own inner voice…
2. When you fear a swell of fear, breathe. Step back and ask the Holy Spirit to highlight what’s really going on in the Spirit realm. If you can recognize the devil’s schemes for what they are, it gives you an edge. You can then pray specifically against it and divert your actions into a more spiritual warfare stance instead of physical.
3. Laugh. They say that when you dog is scared, to laugh out loud. This reassures them that there is nothing to be afraid of. Likewise, when we laugh, we exhibit an outward action of faith (regardless of how we inwardly feel this is important).
4. Do the opposite of your fear. Like I said above. Do what you are afraid of doing, physically force yourself to move, to keep living like nothing is wrong. Make plans, laugh, go for a walk, smile, put fear in its proper place and don’t let it dictate your next move.
5. Speak against it. Say positive declarations or verses over yourself (words carry incredible power). Likewise, you must rebuke your negative words spoken in fear that they wouldn’t give the devil a foothold. And lastly, this includes sharing your fear. Speak about it to those you trust spiritually, and cling to their advice and encouragement. You’re never alone.
This pregnancy has me feeling more afraid. But I can see the devil’s schemes and know that they are powerless so long as I don’t pay them any heed. For my moments of weakness, I repent to God and move on.
God, forgive me, and help my unbelief! I’m still learning and willing to grow. Please, help me to trust and to keep fear in check. You are my God, my protector, and my reason for breathing. I know I didn’t choose the easy path, but I also know that you promised to be with us always and by your Son, we have authority (the very same He has!). Guide me, oh Lord, and help me in my moments of weakness. And may yours be the Glory in all circumstances, Amen.
I was given a convicting message Sunday about our (the church’s) duty as the light of the world. How we have no problem cursing darkness but take little responsibility for our own actions, or rather, inaction.
For example, when you walk into a basement and the light doesn’t work, do you get angry at the darkness? The darkness is merely the absence of light. It is doing what it always does, and the very term “darkness” is an artificial construct for sake of speech. No, you get angry at the light and try to fix the bulb.
The church and its light, therefore, hasn’t been shining brightly—that is why there is so much darkness in the world.
We must face it, our inaction led to this. We allowed our children to rebel, we spared the rod of discipline, and we failed to love them truly as we sought their friendship and acceptance instead.
Some churches did not spare the rod, but their correction was without the love of Christ. They chased their children away with whips and made them feel like they could never return or be forgiven, unlike the parable of the prodigal son.
We avoided truth. Watering it down with half truths. The world came asking for direction and answers and since we were silent they turned to the governing powers of this world for their “truth.”
Without the Bible (Spoken Word of God) as the lens in which we perceive truth—the world has twisted good and evil and has done so, not caring about those who come hungrily knocking. They care only about power and money, and in fact, make their living off of our lost children’s desperation.
The government is like an abusive foster parent. Manipulative and outwardly noble in that they praise and pour out gifts upon their children, spoiling them with things that bring temporary joy but ultimately rot the soul.
They let them loose to their own wants and desires. Ask any child who was allowed to roam free in a candy store and they will tell you that they love the one who opened that door and let them do it—even as they moan from the resulting stomach ache.
Under this foster system, you must reject everything that your birth parents taught you. Girls can’t be girls, boys can’t be boys, you can’t be wrong, though your parents must be. Your body is not sacred, your desires are. The feasts of your flesh should govern your life and you should find identity in those lusts. Anything that causes you discomfort or hurts your feelings (makes you face the fact that you have a stomach ache in your soul) is bad! And doesn’t deserve any rights.
Sex and love are interchangeable. The ensuing results—depression/mental issues which are then worn like a badge of honor that make you even more special. (As if you weren’t special at the moment of conception)
Seriously, these foster parents smile fondly upon those who have completely destroyed the image of God upon them. Why?
Because the true foster parent they all share is the devil. He doesn’t care if you’re momentarily happy, so long as your ignorant of the fact that you are destroying yourself fully, mutilating yourself both physically and spiritually, then he is quite pleased.
It is purely evil what is happening in the dark. And where is the light that dispels the darkness?? The light that puts the devil in his place because he is already defeated??
Our job is to constantly enforce Christ’s victory on the Earth. To remind our children that they too can reign and live empowered. That the devil only has power if we give it to him.
We must affirm their identities in Christ Jesus. That they are loved fully and known fully by their creator. They lack nothing and are beautifully made. They have so much value, too much to be left as they are, given over to their own wants and wills. They aren’t mindless cattle, emotion without thought—no, in God, they have a sound mind that is wise and sees through the devil’s futile schemes to destroy their self worth.
Wake up church! Stop seeking the world’s embrace when Christ set us apart. He said the world would hate us! As it should, since it is the kingdom of satan. We are ambassadors here—belonging to another place (the kingdom of God).
Uncover your light and let it shine. You are victors and all darkness must flee before your blinding light.
For the sake of our children. His children. Shine brightly.
We see it on the news, hear it on the radio, read it in the newspaper or on the web…
It’s in our schools, in our day-to-day discussions at work or at home…
And even in our churches…
“It” is, in essence, our moral compass. How we perceive the world, justice, good and evil. How we judge others and hate. How we love or what we deem worthy of our love.
As we talk or vent on social media we do so through a lens. We either filter all that we see through the Word of God and His Holy Spirit or we filter it through our own heart and emotions (self righteousness).
The fact is, that many believe that our world is gray when really it still remains black and white. Good is still Good, Evil is still Evil. And most importantly—God is STILL God.
When we sit on the throne seat, the image above ensues. Why? Because we can’t define Good or Evil apart from the Word of God or His discerning Spirit. This is why they have come up with the nonsensical term “relative truth.” As if truth only existed in our minds and not in reality.
Under a relativistic world, we can ‘rightly’ say:
“2+2=4…or 3, or 7, or 5….they’re all the right answer! So long as it’s true to you and what you feel in the moment or want, it doesn’t matter!”
To translate this simply, what they’re really saying is: “WE are all gods! WE define what is good and evil and you know what? That definition is liquid and changing and different for everyone—so coexist or suffer the wrath of us gods!”
That is why the world is in chaos and divided in nearly every way. And those who still have their wits about them are reaping the financial benefits of our collective insanity.
We can’t universally determine truth apart from God! We can’t handle a god-complex without becoming prideful and arrogant. And of course, completely deranged (self deceived). The devil is having a field day in the hearts and minds of such people. They really are his to manipulate and carry out his bidding.
They are wild, rebellious, wicked, and blindly foolish. They are deeply discontented and depressed, angry and broken, and they are by definition the very things they hatefully accuse us of being.
God’s Word must be the line in the sand. The undeniable truth we all stand on again!
Otherwise, we will never be united or truly free. The pursuit of happiness isn’t what we should be after! Happiness is a choice, not something you find or have to chase down. Women are aborting their babies in pursuit of happiness, married couples are divorcing because they no longer “feel” happy, and this creates a cycle of infatuation—marriage—loss of happiness—divorce.
People are hooked on drugs because it makes them happy. Pornography, loose sex, sex changes, self abuse, instant gratification, believing in absurd ideas like relativism…they all might get you some happy endorphins, but at the end of the day it’s never enough and you feel more broken/depressed as ever.
Selfishness is the god they are ultimately serving and the selfish person always loses everything they held on to so dearly in the end…
Truth is vital. It is a sign of maturity in a world ran by children who can’t even handle their emotions or pain/suffering/sacrifice…which is simply a part of life.
Truth hurts! It sometimes seems insensitive and harsh but that is real love.
When I tell my son that he can’t play near the road because he could be hit by a car. He isn’t too happy about that. It makes him sad and he thinks I’m trying to steal his joy. He might even be a bit offended and hurt by my tone and firmness…but that little dose of truth or (tough love) is important! Vital! Because I love him and don’t want him hurt.
He doesn’t have to like it now, but someday he will know the truth and realize that it exists to keep him safe.
We’ve glorified our emotions and desires over our inner souls and salvation. Our goodness and holiness. The eternal aspects of our being!!
I know this has all been a rant of sorts, and so I want to end on the hope of this message. And that is that God isn’t done yet.
Keep praying for the world, a universal awakening, a coming to terms with the path to destruction many have chosen. That eyes would be opened as time reveals no lasting peace, no ceasing of violence or unity as they trust in their self fashioned morality.
The truth comes out eventually. And evil is exposed, sooner or later. It is at these crossroads that people will either dive deeper into their delusions or finally face the hard truth and bow to it.
Our job as the church is to stand firm, not to conform. And to love as a parent loves their children. Believing and hoping for the best in them to finally win out and shine forth.
It’s time to draw the line again, for gray to become black and white, and for God to reign in the hearts of all mankind. ❤️
Watching this radical video about healing without prior knowledge of this extraordinary couple would be easy to dismiss as fantasy.
But I can attest to their character and testimony, having attended their church, served there, and even having undergone their school of ministry program.
This church is special to me. These pastors are special. They fear no man and love Jesus wholeheartedly.
They changed our lives, or rather, God moved through them to awaken us sleepers to the truth. And the thing I love about these people of God is that they aren’t afraid to say, “I don’t know.” This is because they have such a faith that someday they will know. And are so in love with Jesus that whether they receive the answer or not, it doesn’t change their decision to press in and give Him all the glory.
I must say that we did see the miraculous at their church, Zion. We saw things in the Spirit that cannot be explained and would appear truly magical to anyone else. We witnessed people healed and were able to be a part of it in some way.
It was an honor and a privilege (a wellspring) of peace and healing during our time here. But God didn’t want us to remain there in paradise and we were deployed back to our hometown. We left on good graces and were even anointed with oil to do work here in Marion.
And today I find myself wondering what happened?…we were taken from the nursery with all the tools we would ever need, but doubt was still rampant in our hearts. And the devil fed our disbelief through horrific tragedies and constant attacks since our blissful time at Zion.
The very first day at Hope we still had that flame. And God even used us that day to pray over a woman having a miscarriage in the bathroom. That baby survived and is healthy and well! Many members of my family began attending church and I was seeing God move in their lives.
But the longer we were removed from the wellspring, the more we forgot what power we carried and our doubts, which had been kept locked away within us began to resurface from those dark depths.
We lost Rachel in a car accident.
The world was thrown into a pandemic.
My son and I suffered constant illnesses (2-3) a month since he was a baby. Even today, I still keep getting it wrong, and have dealt with a severe viral infection and other issues (but thank God, James has only had a runny nose for two weeks and no other symptoms!!)
I must say that amidst all of this I pulled away and that led to picking up my fallen self and pulling from church to the point that I only served in kids ministry (I am director of PreK).
For the first time in my life, I just didn’t want to sing in the worship band. And I struggled with anger towards God and His people (the two go hand-in-hand).
Now, to make the story short, I’m finally healing and seeking God again. Having realized that there is nothing in this world that will fix me or make me whole. Jesus is the only way—and we must all choose to suffer for Him. I say suffer, because Christianity had always been easy until now.
Now, my walk is real. And I need a real faith.
I just read in James that Faith requires works to not only exist but to grow. In other words, we must step out more (even if it’s baby steps) in order to grow our faith. You need to take steps of faith in your own life and healing.
My pastor and his family were very sick one time, and they just said “ no more!” In their spirit and got off the couch and went for a walk. It was the last thing they felt like doing but it was a leap of faith to do so. They were putting their bodies back under their authority and also they were believing they were well before they felt like it.
I wish I had all the answers and all the faith when it came to healing and why sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. But I do believe it’s something worth pursuing the answer to, but not worth the expense of your trust and peace in God and His Will.
I fell down a rabbit hole of lies believing God didn’t care that I was sick when in reality it isn’t about pleading to Him for healing but about opening up the gift of healing He has already given us.
Someday, I too will understand and know. But until then, I trust God, make declarations, take leaps of faith regardless of what I see and feel, and give Him praise.
Most of us know the verse above by heart, or at least have heard it recited at church or on social media. It seems so simple, so cut and dry. If I ask God for ____ I’ll receive it?! That’s all I have to do?!
Throughout my life I have prayed in different ways and for different things. Typically, what I was taught at each church I attended built upon the next. Just as our maturity in Christ should be ever-growing and expanding upward, so my knowledge and experience about prayer equally grew.
That being said, I’m still just a babe in my understanding of it! And my recent spiritual setback hasn’t exactly helped. But I feel it in my heart to share the things that I have learned in the hopes that you would avoid some of my frustrations and misunderstanding concerning how to pray, how to hear, and how to receive.
So here it goes! Let’s take a look at some more verses on the matter:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14)
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6)
…The list goes on, following a theme of thankfulness and faith with the promise that God hears and desires that we live a prayerful life.
But then we find verses like this:
“…But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:6-8)
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3)
There are more verses supporting that prayers made by a wicked heart (unrepentant) and intent are not heard by God. But also that those who do not listen to God are in turn ignored during their time of desperation.
“…And just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and I would not listen…” (Zechariah 7:13)
This of course supports the notion that prayer and its success is dependent upon our relationship with God. Certainly at the very least, we cannot expect to hear God if we can’t even recognize His inner voice. This only comes through relationship and if you want to know Him and His voice—that first comes from reading His Word.
So let’s review our list so far of what we have learned about prayer:
1. It requires relationship. Obviously there are circumstances God has heard and responded to the prayers of those who have yet to truly walk with God. Such as children, or those who just began their Christian walk. God is merciful after all.
2. It requires humility and a truly repentant heart. In other words, someone who is saved and whose motives are pure-minded. God isn’t a magical wish granter, but Almighty and worthy of our respect and reverence. You can’t fool Him with dishonesty (He sees the heart behind your words).
3. It requires trust (Faith). Surprise! Not. You have to stand on His truth and His promises. To doubt in His ability, goodness, or willingness is to place more faith in the devil and his schemes. It is to fear (misplaced worship) the devil more so than God. Be honest about this with God and pray for more faith and belief. Read God’s word to grow your faith!
4. It requires the Spirit. The Spirit is God with us. Oftentimes your prayer’s answer and even someone else’s! will come through the Spirit in that He is the bridge or conduit between God and man. Prayer isn’t usually a disembodied letter we speak out, seal up, and send to the stars. In fact, it’s a conversation, a back and forth banter between friends. To pray without ceasing it literally to talk/listen to the Spirit and for Him to respond through his inner voice or through His leadings. Deeper but not unlike how you would speak to your spouse or close friend. The Spirit also prays on our behalf when we don’t have the words.
5. It requires thankfulness/praise. Many verses tie the two together. And even Jesus demonstrated this to His disciples when He taught them the Lord’s Prayer. Begin every prayer with praise, not just because it gives glory where it’s due, but because it re-centers your heart on peace and joy (the blessings you have already been given). A life of thankfulness leads to a joy that is not dependent on prayer’s response.
So in summary, to know God is to share His Heart and Will. Prayers that are non-selfish and pure are heard by the Lord.
A born again believer carries the Holy Spirit within them which means that they carry salvation (when God looks at you He doesn’t see your sin or old self, but Jesus). As well as the ability to not only hear God, and feel His leadings, but to even be the answer to prayer in one another’s lives. We have authority paid for by Jesus to do many things. Among which include (cast out demons and heal the body).
The believer who studies and reads God’s Word, the Bible, grows in relationship and recognition of His voice (discernment). The Word also has power when spoken aloud and memorized (stored in the mind to be used later as fiery weapons against the enemy).
The prayerful believer is one who is always aware of God (Holy Spirit within) and talking/listening to Him as if He were beside you. Just as with a best friend, you aren’t always speaking but you’re always aware of each other’s presence.
And lastly, the prayerful believer lives a life of faith and trust in their best friend, and putting to work their faith, and recognizing all that God has done for them, both seen and unseen—this proves He is all that He says He is.
I want to finish with a thought that struck me today. And that is:
God doesn’t respond to our need. He responds to our Faith.
I believe that my problem as well as many of you reading, is that we ask God out of desperation and want and speak to Him very little the rest of the time. We come trembling before Him, not over our reverence for Him but over the crushing weight of our trials. We doubt. We disbelieve, we pray as a last resort and not our first go to.
We set expectations on God in how He will answer us when really our only expectation should be that He will answer. Faith is simply expecting God to move and trusting that He will provide at just the right time (which usually isn’t on our timing) and in His own way (for He knows what’s best for us).
It’s like taking a leap off of a cliff knowing He will catch us. Or like, in the Bible, Abraham, knife poised ready to kill his son because he believed God would fulfill His promise and save him in time.
Our trust and faith should be just as unwavering and sure. And let me tell you, it will look like insanity to the world who craves assurance, tangible, and scientific fact.
My prayer to all of you is that you will prioritize prayer and Bible reading again in your lives. The world craves it even though they do not know what they want and need. Times are darkening before us and we must choose to either fade into the black or shine brighter still with the truth of Jesus and the works of His Holy Spirit within us.
Reflect on the prayers you have uttered. What was your heart posture behind them? Did you have expectations or doubts? Did you thank God first? Did you come to Him as a first or last resort? Did you listen to His response or leading in your spirit? Did you fail to see His response because you had preconceived ideas of how He would answer you and by which method that answer would come?
Keep and open mind, journal your prayers, and make it a conversation again instead of a formal long distance affair.
This verse is listed twice in both Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 which only adds to its significance.
On the surface, we find that it is a reference to David’s Psalm 22. Here he is lamenting over his enemies mocking him and even dividing/casting lots for his clothing (sound familiar?).
The Jews who were there as Jesus cried out would have caught the reference and its meaning; our human dependency or desperation for God and the acknowledgment of that dependency. This inner longing for our Abba (father) to rescue us.
Of course there is a lot more that can be said about this scripture. But one thing stood out above the rest for me. And that is that Jesus knows what it means to be fully man.
He took on the full weight of our sin in that moment, and in doing so this cut him off from God (His source). In that moment, I believe the Holy Spirit within him grew quiet and Jesus felt what sin had severed; our relationship with God.
How far we have come from the Garden. That we no longer remembered what it was our soul craves. Walking with our Father in the cool of the day…complete and blameless before Him.
Jesus felt that separation for our sake. That he could destroy sin’s death grip on us, abridging the gap between mankind and God, and so that he could speak on our behalf. He became our intercessor, the one who knows what it’s like to be human, and to face our weaknesses.
He was killed as a criminal, the scapegoat for our sin, even though he had never sinned…
He faced hell (as in essence—the core attribute of hell is separation from God’s presence), and set the captives free.
Now, we may not be in the garden. But it exists within us. The Holy Spirit. The most misunderstood of the trinity, resides within us. And we don’t know exactly what that means or what to do with it. Jesus was our example of what a spirit-led life looks like.
“(Jesus speaking) Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” —John 16:7
I pray that this Easter, you would read the story or watch an accurate depiction of the story of Christ, His death, and resurrection. That you would rediscover what it means to carry His Spirit within us and to release it to move through us in the Earth.
For now, I leave you with this:
If you were the only one on Earth, Jesus would still have died for you. He was a conduit of the Father’s great love for us and there is nothing so great a sin that His love didn’t cover.