When Fear Takes The Throne

Fear Kills

Fear. Doubt. Worry.

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.

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Dispeller of Darkness

“Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others…”
—Matthew 5:15-16

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.

The Moral Dilemma

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. ❤️

God bless you all.

You’ve Already Got It

https://www.facebook.com/zionequip/videos/1018497522426480/?vh=e&d=n

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.

God bless you all!

How to Pray

“Ask, and the gift is yours. Seek, and you’ll discover. Knock, and the door will be opened for you.” —Matthew 7:7 TPT

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.

God hears you…

He is always speaking to you…

And…He loves you.

Forsaken

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying…”my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!”’

Why would the Father forsake His son?

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.

God bless you all.

Moving Forward

After an entire week of stomach bug, my son is finally acting more himself. Even still, he whines for sleep more than usual, and has been particularly grumpy and strong-willed toward literally everything I try to do throughout the day.

I keep declaring, “come on son, it’s time to move forward from this.” Because I know that once he moves, gets some fresh air, tries that first bite of food, gets a bath…that he will ultimately feel better for it.

Granted. It’s not easy to take those steps sometimes. Especially when we feel sick or worn down, or have gotten into a habit of dependency and a schedule of sleeping the day away,

Of course now, I’m speaking of us. My son is not the exception. He is human and therefore reflects our humanity.

We’ve all gotten into a rut before. Or have fallen into a pit and need to gather up the courage and motivation to claw our way out of it, knowing that God is beside us every step of the way.

Perhaps your rut is addiction, idleness, depression, or fear?

The world has been spinning at an alarming rate. Full of drama, exposed sins, historical moments that have a rippling effect on our lives and our futures that are, unknown, to some capacity. We watch the news thinking, “what’s next? Where do we go from here?”

Fear has frozen us. Depression has crippled our capacity to influence this reality, addictions have replaced God in our lives, sapping away the little time we have, idleness or laziness has set in and was even once praised during the pandemic. “Stay home, relax—you’re a hero for this!” The world smiled and saluted us. They promoted laziness and blind submissions which carry on to the present.

Well you know what? That was two years ago! The world is turning again, people are working, masks are off. Life must go on.

It’s time to move forward.

Remember the call God put on your life? Yeah, it’s still there. God didn’t take a vacation or break. He didn’t social distance Himself from you even as we pulled from Him.

If Covid taught us anything—it’s that we should take NOTHING for granted. Our loved ones and the time we share with them, our freedom of choice (which is crumbling in America), our privilege to protect those freedoms, our privilege to work and create with our hands, our gathering together, our voice, our skills and talents, our time, the privilege of helping others, of giving….

The list goes on….

God is doing a new thing, a shaking in the world to prune away the dead branches and rotten fruit. A revival is stirring and awakening the sleeper out of its tomb.

Only those who press in will get to see, taste, and hear what the Holy Spirit is doing in the unseen reality.

If you don’t want to miss this….move forward.

What does that look like?

For me, it looked like not missing church, or missing the meaning of church. We are all in this together as a family. I placed myself on an island in my depression and discovered that I never had to do that to myself. My church family was waiting to rush in and help. I had merely drew back the bridge.

It looks like opening your Bible again, blowing off the dust and just reading and then reflecting on what you read.

It looks like being still. Knowing that God is God and He is speaking. In the quiet moments looking up and saying, “your servant is listening.”

It looks like getting your butt out of bed and going outside. Making plans, working in the garden, painting or crafting, going for a drive….

It looks like inviting someone over.

It looks like journaling, blogging, and worshipping—giving praise amidst the storms and on the other side of them.

It looks like laughter and exercise, eating healthier, playing with your children. Turning off the TV or placing your cell phone on the table and not rushing to it every time it rings.

It’s taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. Enjoying the sweetness of life and the ones we get to share it with. Making memories, going and supporting local businesses and shaking hands with those you meet.

Hugging, kissing, loving, being….

That is what moving forward looks like. And I promise you that if you will take these small steps (whatever they look like), you too will find freedom and, well, feel better!

I smile as my son laughs, the warm sun awakening the sleeper within him, as he plays and learns. The lesson: life doesn’t find us—we must embrace it ourselves.

One step at a time. God has hidden things for us to find in the “moving forward.”

Will you seek it out? Will you take that first step? Will you live, truly live?

The Only Option

I once had a dream in which a tornado was barreling toward our home. I remember thinking—my only option is to speak against it (use my God-given authority paid for by His Son to make it disappear).

Our house isn’t particularly safe. Living in Ohio we hardly ever have tornadoes large enough to level homes. There was no place to run and hide, death was coming, and if I didn’t take a stand we would surely die.

There was a peace that filled me once I realized that my only option was to trust God. I mean either the tornado would have to obey or I would meet Jesus. Either way it was a happy ending and I knew I was acting exactly as I should be. I was who I should be.

I raised my hand and called out firmly (defiantly), “STOP!” And just as the tornado touched my yard line, it dissipated into mere mist.

A visiting speaker during our ministry school once said, “consider it a gift when you hit a point in which God is your only option.”

We are so bent on doing things ourselves, striving and strategizing our own efforts and plans. Even as we face our giants we fight and struggle before relenting to a higher power.

And we go father still when, broken and defeated, we blame God for our state of being and begin to doubt in His Goodness. When all along He was ready and willing to fight our battles for us.

Miracles tend to happen (like tornadoes disappearing) when we don’t allow ourselves to think or feel and we just simply give it all to God. When we recognize that without Him we don’t stand a chance and that He works (desires to!) through us!

In marriage, Aaron and I had formed an agreement, a vow that divorce would never be an option. But we never made those same vows to God! Vows to never let doubt be an option, or fear/worry. That we would have no other option but to trust Him….this new perspective has given me a lot to think about.

We value our marriage so much that we set these vows in order to protect it. How much more should we value and protect our relationship with God??

I believe now is the time in history in which we need more men and women of God who are all out of options. That we would finally break free and become who we were made to be when we’re backed into a corner and have no other way out. That God would move and shine bright in those moments. And that we would never doubt Him again.

If you feel you’re in that place, if you feel your out of options….give in to His. Activate the gifting and authority Christ paid for that you’ve let collect dust. Recognize the Holy Spirit within you groaning to burst forth, and surrender it all to God, win or lose…He has the final say and to Him be the Glory.

A Mighty Wind

Journal entry: July 7th, 2017

A storm is coming. As I write, I can hear the constant stream of thunder. I watch the dark blue clouds roll in from Upper Sandusky and feel the electric excitement and slight tinge of fear, even now.

This storm seems to be, so far, the worst looking this summer. Appearance is always more intimidating…but even the sparrow knows you hold tomorrow God. I’d add something else there—the sparrow knows you hold today, this moment and the next.

It’s almost too dark to write now. The clouds are almost overhead. The wind starts…strong gusts breaking every dying branch off of our oak trees and blowing away every bit of dead debris and discarded trash by the roadside.

I am reminded of the Holy Spirit. When people say He is like wind, I think the image they envision first is that of a gentle breeze on a hot summer day. The Holy Spirit is God in us—He is very much like the windy storm or even a whirlwind. He comes into our hearts and washes us. He blows away our trash and any obstacles between us and God.

He breaks off our dying branches with great and mighty gusts of His power. And yet, through it all, He shelters us in the palm of His hand. He comforts us and sets us back on our feet.

Praise be to God!

I pray that I will always meditate on God’s Word and revelations when I am afraid. The Lord is my refuge! The Word of God is like milk and honey. It sustains me, calms me, and reminds me of God’s everlasting love and goodness.

Thank you, God….for storms.

Marriage or Singleness?

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” -Genesis 2:24

I married Aaron straight out of high school and never looked back. Our choice went against worldly reason and many around us believed we would fall apart—like so many young couples in our society today.

They didn’t view us through the lens of Christ but through that of the world. We knew our vows were being spoken before God and man. We knew that God would be the head of our marriage. And we vowed that the word “divorce” would never reach our lips.

Feb. 22, we celebrated 8 years of marriage, which doesn’t include the years we spent building upon our friendship beforehand. Aaron is the only true God decision I’ve ever made. I know without a doubt that our marriage was destiny and God planned and Aaron would agree.

I suppose the reason for this post is to discuss the importance of singleness and marriage. That we should find completion and joy in both!

There is a push for young people to marry and have children, a romanticism in movies and tv shows surrounding marriage and a melancholy and impatience surrounding singleness. As if “I’m single” = “I’m lonely and desperate!”

The Apostle Paul, a man who was called to singleness, held some differing views on marriage. He talks about marriage almost pitying those who enter into the union. Why? Because he loves the freedom he experiences as a single man to pursue God. Marriage, in his eyes, is a distraction from wholehearted surrender. A concession for those who have no self control and would sin otherwise.

He says these things without commandment from God (1Corinthians 7:6). And so we are at liberty to either take his personal viewpoint or leave it. But I’m not saying that his words aren’t wisdom or Spirit led, only that what he says holds an undertone of emotion due to his experiences which are one-sided and non-objective.

His instructions for both married and single folk are important but his feelings should not make you feel ashamed for choosing marriage or particularly righteous for choosing singleness. The fact is, Paul stands for a small minority of people who do not struggle with passion or desire for physical intimacy. Paul was called to a life of sacrifice, suffering, constant travel, and unwavering focus.

I believe that through both Paul’s commitment and God’s design, he existed apart from this particular need/distraction. Otherwise, his heart would’ve been conflicted and he may not have been so selfless in his ministry.

In other words. Paul was made to be single so that he could do what only a single man could do. Not everyone has that call in which the only ministry focus is reaching the lost and not also ministering to our spouses and rearing children.

The Takeaway:

Pursuing singleness can be as disastrous as pursuing marriage if that is not what God has called you to.

So the core lesson here is what does God want for you and your life? What do you feel called to? What do you struggle with or have passions for? God isn’t looking for copycat Christians who want to be exactly like Paul, or Peter, or John…etc. He wants you to be _______ (insert your own name). No one else can be you!

And ultimately, He wants you to mirror Jesus. Not in every detail (for example, you don’t have to be a carpenter or travel on foot as a missionary), but He wants you to love like Him, obey like Him, and have a relationship like they share (Father and Son).

If you do these things you will please God and fulfill your unique call and destiny whether you are single or not.

In all honesty, I feel like Paul did a disservice to those who were married. No doubt because he had never experienced it for himself. Marriage, in many ways, is our design—from the moment Eve was created from Adam and they were joined because God said: “it’s not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

He created marriage that day and said it was good. The Bible is filled with marriage, the symbolic representation of Christ and the church (His bride). And how else are children born but through the union of man and woman?

I can personally attest that marriage has taught me to love better, has challenged me to grow as a Christian, has destroyed selfishness, and has broadened my spiritual impact because two oftentimes is better than one. (Even in singleness you need strong Christian companions/friends/family).

As for singleness, I’d like to say that I would’ve grown up far faster (worldly speaking) had I learned to be single for awhile before I married (I struggled to be independent on my own). Buying an apartment and facing life alone would have hardened and stretched me—I would have learned to first depend on God instead of meeting those needs in a spouse.

I found Aaron when I stopped searching and just followed after God. So gentleman and ladies—enjoy the single life, make sure your identity is in Christ and not in finding your “soul mate.”

Romance God. Chase after His heart first—because at the end of it all it really is just you and Him.

Earthly marriage is unto death, not eternity. Once we leave this life we are married and one with Christ. And so remember your first love and you will love everyone else all the more wholly. Including your spouse or future Mr./Mrs.

May God bless you wherever you are, and give you the righteous desires of your heart as you journey ever closer to His. Amen.