A Key to Persevering Through a Life Storm

The storms of life come to all of us.  Not one of us escapes the sudden thunder and lightning and torrents of rain as we navigate through a fallen world.

Some storms last longer than others.  Some storms are more violent than others.  Some of them are not our fault - some of them are.

As Believers in Jesus, sometimes we can speak to the storm and it will become calm - but if the storm doesn't cease - then we must persevere through it.

Twenty-four-hour storms can be just as difficult as two-year storms.  Depending on our maturity and our emotional state when the storms hit.

However, no matter where you are on the path of life, no matter how long your storm is - there is one key that is true for all Believers in the midst of life's storms.

We are called to PERSEVERE!  We are called to NOT GIVE UP!

This is exactly the enemy's goal - to get us to quit.

So this is a key I have learned to never quit:

When the FEELING of wanting to give up overwhelms you, instead of giving into it - make yourself a goal to reach.

Say to yourself, "I choose not to quit and trust God.  I can make it until tomorrow morning!"

Then when tomorrow morning comes make another goal.  "I choose not to quit and trust God!  I can make it until lunch time."

Then when you reach lunch time make another goal.  "I choose not to quit and trust God!  I can make it to the weekend!"

When you reach the weekend make another goal.  "I choose not to quit and trust God!  I can make it until next weekend!"

What happens is that the storms of life DO end!  There IS light at the end of the tunnel.  Darkness may last for the night but JOY comes in the morning... IF WE DO NOT GIVE UP!

Persevere - by making small goals for yourself.  Pretty soon the storms of life don't cause as much fear because you have already conquered one.  You have gained knowledge about how to overcome a storm.  They don't seem quite as overwhelming.

We actually become mature as we face the storms and refuse to give up!

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

God will turn everything for your good...only DO NOT QUIT!

Knowing God as Mr. Miyagi

It is incredibly important to know the character of the God we serve.  We can get frustrated really quickly with our Heavenly Father if we do not understand his M.O.  His Mode of Operation is pertinent in understanding our place as His children.

When we don’t understand what the Father is doing or how His character is being played out in our lives, we can make stupid decisions or worse we can become disobedient because we misunderstand Him.

Unfortunately, I speak from a wealth of experiences of poorly made decisions and even disobedience because I have not understood the time or season God was using to build me up to accomplish my purpose.

Sometimes in our seasons of discipline, God is a lot like Mr. Miyagi from the movie “The Karate Kid.”

In the movie, Daniel, a teenager, wants to learn Karate.  He asks Mr. Miyagi to train him, but Mr. Miyagi begins to ask Daniel to do strange things like waxing his car, sanding the floor, painting the fence and painting the house.  This makes Daniel furious because he feels like a free laborer for Mr. Miyagi.  He almost quits and walks away.

If you want a little nostalgic video – CLICK HERE!!

What Daniel doesn’t understand is that Mr. Miyagi wasn’t really using Daniel for his own purposes.  He was using the opportunity to train Daniel in defensive Karate moves.  Daniel became very strong in these moves because he did them over and over and over again.

I have had times in my life when I felt “abused” by God because He was asking me to do something over and over again that seemingly was getting me nowhere.

I worked at a food pantry handing out groceries to the poor for four years.  And while it was satisfying to help the needy, it became monotonous.  Anybody who has spent some time in a nonprofit organization like this can understand that constantly handing out food to a group of people who are somewhat ungrateful can grate on your nerves.  (Not everyone was ungrateful – but those who are can easily make you lose your compassion if you don’t constantly check your heart!  Jesus was kind to the wicked and ungrateful. Luke 6:35)

I didn’t know at the time that I needed to understand this group of people because God wanted me to help them out of poverty.  I didn’t understand that handing out groceries three times a week would help me to empathize with people in poverty and realize the mindset that keeps them in chains to it.  I can now minister to the poor because of the monotonous motion of handing out groceries! 

(Read more by clicking HERE.)

God was being like Mr. Miyagi to me.  He was giving me a skill that I did not know I needed.  I had some self-pity about it while “waxing the car,” but I am really glad that God made me do it and that I did not quit too soon!

God was like Mr. Miyagi to several people in the Word as well.

God made David stay in the palace with King Saul.  Saul wanted to kill David and even threw spears at him.  God was training David in the midst of a very hard season.  David learned not to throw spears back.  And he learned how NOT to be a king.

God did the same thing with Joseph.  Even though Joseph was sold into slavery and then unjustly into prison, God was Mr. Miyagi to him because He taught Joseph how to be an administrator in the seemingly mundane circumstances.  None of Joseph’s trials were wasted – He rose up to save an entire nation from famine…all because God made him “wax the car.”

Maybe God has you in a place right now that seems like you aren’t going anywhere.  Maybe the people around you hate you or you have been placed in a really difficult circumstance where you have to constantly keep your love on.

Perhaps God is using His Mr. Miyagi trick on you?  Perhaps He is training you in all the right places. You may be gaining muscles in the very area needed in order to fulfill your purpose. 

Trust the Lord in the narrow place.  Obey Him if He asks you to wax the car, sand the floor, or paint the house. 

Nothing is wasted in the Kingdom of God.  Ask the Lord to open your eyes to what He might be doing and whatever you do …. DON’T QUIT!!!

Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Are you tired of being misunderstood? This will help.

Being misunderstood is really frustrating.

It can make you feel helpless to be misinterpreted, misread, misjudged, misheard, mistaken, and misconstrued. 

When people misunderstand one another, it creates separation.  It can sometimes instill a fear of rejection.  And worse… it can result in abandonment.

Misunderstanding between married couples can cause divorce.  Misunderstanding between pastors and their flock can cause a church split.  Misunderstanding among friends can result in broken relationships that are sometimes NEVER restored.

Misunderstanding is hard but when people want to use the misunderstanding to take advantage of you - they take what you say and twist it around and then accuse you of having poor intentions.

They did the same thing to Jesus.

The man who walked the earth perfectly.  The man who loved perfectly.  The man who knew the Father perfectly was misunderstood – and crucified for it.

It can be paralyzing to try to get everyone to understand you.  It can render you useless if you are frozen in fear that you will be misunderstood if you speak out on something.  You can spend hours explaining yourself to people who will still never get it.

There are a few reasons that misunderstandings between people occur. 

One of them is because the enemy is literally sending a spirit of confusion against your relationship.  He can use a “deaf and dumb” spirit to keep you from ‘hearing’ each other.  He can use a leviathan spirit to twist what you say – so by the time it gets to someone else’s ears, it doesn’t even sound like how you meant it.

Another reason we struggle with misunderstanding is because of pride.  When we attempt to be heard by a person who is walking in pride, it feels like we are hitting our head against a wall.  Pride makes a person think they are better than others.  Pride makes a person feel like they have everything figured out and don’t need to try to understand your heart.  It can also be an issue with our own heart.  

Pride can keep us encased in a bubble.  Without a speaking in a spirit of humility, we can cause others to misunderstand us because of our own pride.

There is a two-fold answer to help you when you are being misunderstood.  The first is to remain humble in the midst of the misunderstanding.  Humble yourself and know that you might have to look for words that better explain where you are coming from.  But if you’ve done everything you can to explain your heart and you are still being misunderstood, you’ll have to submit yourself to God and put it in His hands.

Jesus didn’t mind to be misunderstood.  He was confident in His calling.  He was sure of what His message was

…even if people misunderstood.

…even if people crucified Him for it.

As we can see from scripture – he DID fully explain Himself.  It was the people who simply couldn’t understand.  Even Jesus’s disciples failed to understand. 

At one point people misunderstood Jesus’s sermon about His calling.  Five thousand people left His ministry because the teaching was too hard and they couldn’t understand it. (John 6:60)

Can you imagine that?  Being so misunderstood that you lose all but twelve of your friends?

I think sometimes we feel like it is our responsibility to MAKE people understand our hearts.  But that’s not completely true.  We do our best to help people understand our hearts, our message, our calling.  But if they cannot receive it – we submit ourselves to God and follow His leading if we are misunderstood.

Humble yourself before God.  Speak the truth in love.  Do not repent from the truth even if people do not understand.  Do not hold onto bitterness for those who misunderstand you.

Forgive…  and persevere!

Do not let misunderstanding steal your purpose in the Lord.  Don’t let it get you off the path!

Proverbs 4:25-27 Amplified Bible (AMP)

25 Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage]

And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity].

26 Consider well and watch carefully the path of your feet,

And all your ways will be steadfast and sure.

27 Do not turn away to the right nor to the left [where evil may lurk];

Turn your foot from [the path of] evil.

Body of Christ – You Are Winning! Don't Stop Now! ADVANCE!

The Body of Christ has come together and we are marching against evil in our nation.  Our prayers have exposed manipulation, lies, and corruption that has permeated our government and the media.

We have set aside distractions, denominational differences, and our own pride to come together under the Lord's headship to see the Spirit of Jezebel defeated in our nation.

The spirit of Jehu has risen up.  The Eunuchs that have been controlled and manipulated by the spirit of Jezebel are tired of being used and they are throwing her down. (2 Kings 9)

The Church has been silenced by the Spirit of Jezebel in our nation.  We have lost our voice and have hidden in our caves afraid of this spirit.  (1 Kings 18)

This is no time to let down.  We must continue to pray that this spirit (not a person) will be trampled until there is nothing left but her hands and head.  (2 Kings 9:35)

Not one person can wholly take credit for what has happened here - it has taken all of us.  It has taken all of the giftings and every level of warfare to bring her down.  From the privates to the generals.  We've begun to understand what the end-time army and the end-time builders will look like.

The Kingdom of God is being revealed.  It will soon be time to transition into a new season of victory.  The Body of Christ has been used to losing battles but now we are going to have to learn to start winning!

No one should touch His glory.  No human should take credit.  But we can honor one another for the part that we have played in the victory.

Continue the intercessory advance against the witchcraft and manipulation spirit until it is trampled completely underfoot. 

Everything will be revealed.  Only let us not stop pressing in until the Spirit tells us we are finished.

The Old Timers used to call this “Praying Through.”

We listen to the Spirit. Not to our flesh. Not to poll numbers. Not to media.  We pray until we hear our Commander say, “It’s finished!”

ADVANCE!

Prayer:

Father God we will no longer tolerate Jezebel.  Forgive us for letting it go on for so long. No matter what it costs us we will no longer stand for manipulation and corruption in Your church, in our communities, and in this nation.  We cry out for justice against every wicked deed done in darkness. Begin with Your church.  Cleanse us from those who claim that Your church belongs to them. Cleanse our government and media from a spirit of corruption and manipulation.  We pray for the eunuchs to step forward and expose the corruption.  We ask You to help us to pray through... until our assignment is completely finished!

In the mighty name of Jesus, AMEN

Feeling Stuck? Could This Be the Reason...

My oldest son Josiah just graduated from High School.  It was a great weekend!  So many friends and family celebrated this milestone with us.  I was asked the question several times “How was I doing?”

And my answer was “I am doing GREAT!  I am so excited to see what God has in store for him.”

It occurred to me that a lot of people go through a time of grieving during these “life transitions.”

Grieving isn’t always just about death.  Grieving is a way of handling the transitions that come with this earthly life.  Grieving is basically a process of coming to grips with the reality that your life isn’t going to be the same anymore.

When a transitional season hits we CAN go through these stages of grief:  denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression (not necessarily in that order)  and then we hit that final stage of acceptance.

In my experience as a mentor, I find that people get stuck in one of these stages during the shifts of life.

When trauma hits our life we can sometimes not completely deal with all of the stages of grief in order to make a healthy transition.

In a more benign circumstance, let us take the example of a child leaving home.  If a parent has not fully come to acceptance of the new season, we may tend to try to hang onto our child longer than necessary, creating a strain in the relationship.  We can get angry that an adult child isn’t calling often enough.  Or we could bargain with them to get them to come home more often. “I’ll do your laundry, give you money, or buy you food if you come home and visit me!”

Possibly we could get stuck in the denial/isolation phase of grief when a child leaves home.  This is where we are offended at the difficulty of transition and we try to protect ourselves from the perceived pain of the transitional season.

In a more serious event, if a person has been traumatized by something like abuse – they still must travel through the grieving stages to become free.  Abuse victims often live in denial, sometimes for years.  The first step to getting free from the pain of abuse is to stop pretending it didn’t happen.  This is a form of isolation. 

Other abuse victims get stuck in anger.  The difficult thing to process is that forgiveness is what will get you out of the anger stage.  It seems counter-intuitive.  Because getting justice or revenge would make more sense.  But the Bible says, when we forgive others – we ourselves will be forgiven.  We can get out of the “anger stage” by asking God to forgive the abuser… not because they deserve forgiveness – but because we ourselves need forgiveness for our own sins.

Depression can also be an easy stage to get stuck in – but depression only steals your life.  It is a rain cloud that doesn’t have to stay!  Depression CAN be overcome by worshiping and praising the Lord for His goodness.  Praise is actually a tool to defeat depression because it ties up the enemy’s hands against you. (Psalm 149) 

READ MORE ABOUT THAT BY CLICKING HERE.

Getting stuck in denial or anger or depression is not the healthy way to process our pain.  We must allow ourselves to completely walk through the stages of grief and not stop walking until we reach acceptance.

Here is the thing that Believers need to understand:

Acceptance doesn’t make us the victim.  It doesn’t make a person weak to come to a place of acceptance where we acknowledge the pain of a trauma or a seasonal transition.  Acceptance is the place where you KNOW that God is just and He has our best interests at heart. He WILL turn it all for your good.

Acceptance is the place that Believers of Jesus Christ say, “I may not understand this transitional season of pain  – but I KNOW that I can trust Your plans for me.”

Getting stuck in the other stages of grief means you are caught in the valley of the shadow of death.  We were never called to stay there… we are called to walk through it.  We are called to fear no evil because His hand is with us. (Psalm 23)

I don’t know what you might be struggling with today.  But no matter what your pain is – whether it is big or small, all of it matters to God!  He is the healer!  He is restorer of lives.  He is our hope!

The way to get unstuck from the grieving of the valley of the shadow of death is to put your hope in the Lord.

We need to make it through the transitional seasons in a healthy way.  The enemy can take us out of commission if we get stuck in one of the grief stages.

Ask the Lord to show you if you are stuck in your pain because you haven’t fully grieved.  Go ahead and grieve.  Take your time.  BUT DON’T STOP IN ONE STAGE.  Keep going!  There is hope!  There is a new season God has planned for you.  Let God renew your strength.  Let Him renew your mind.

It may not look like you thought it was going to look… but I know a Savior who can take the rest of your life and WOW you with His plan!

A Testimony of Victory Over Attention Deficit Disorder!

In two days, my oldest son will graduate from high school.  I’m not really flipping out about it.  I’m actually excited for him to go and fulfill the purpose God has laid out for him.  I’ve done my part, now it is time for him to spread his wings and learn what his destiny in God’s kingdom will be.

I’ve shed a few tears, but not for the reason you might think.  My tears have been tears of joy at what God has done for my son over the past 10 years.

It became apparent in second grade that Josiah was having trouble focusing.   He couldn’t comprehend what he was reading.  When he was called upon to answer a question – he couldn’t give the answers because he was in another world.  The teacher would find him staring out the window when he was supposed to be doing his work.  It was like there were five train tracks of thought in his mind and he could not stay focused on one of them.  His mind just jumped from track to track and he had no control.

The teacher asked if we could have him tested for ADD and we agreed.  It was obvious something was wrong and my heart was broken for him because he was lagging further and further behind his classmates.

He was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.  We prayed and prayed about an answer from the Lord.  We discussed Josiah’s dilemma with many people and finally we felt at peace with having him try medicine for Attention-Deficit.  Not everyone in our circle of friends and family were happy with our decision – but we had a peace that this was the answer for Josiah.

So we started medicine and didn’t tell the teacher.  She contacted me the same day and said she could tell an immediate difference.  She was even surprised at the positive difference that ADD medicine made for him.

It wasn’t a magic pill.  It didn’t automatically fix everything.  In fact, we still had a very long road to go.

Josiah also had trouble taking tests.  He had trouble recalling all that he had learned while studying.  I decided one time when he was in fourth grade that we simply weren’t trying hard enough and we studied one night for three hours for a social studies test.

Later the next day I had to be at his school for another reason and I asked the teacher how he did on the test.  She just shook her head no and showed me that he had gotten a “D.”  I walked out of that room so defeated but I immediately heard a song playing in my head as I stepped into the hallway.  I knew God was speaking these words to me about Josiah and his ADD condition. 

Resting in His promise, I carry no shame.

God was saying to me, “I have a plan and a purpose for your son.  There is no need to be ashamed that he cannot process school the same way as other kids.  Nothing can stand in the way of what I have for him.”  It was at this point that I laid down my expectations of having an A/B Honor Roll student and simply let God be God.

ADD didn’t have to define Josiah if I didn’t let it.  We didn’t let him make excuses.  We insisted that if he had to study longer that he was simply going to have to do it.  He had to read books twice in order pass the computer test.  He had to let go of the shame of having his tests read to him.  He had to learn to ask for extra help if he needed it.  It was very hard.  And there seemed little reward for our efforts.

Josiah did make the honor roll for two quarters his entire elementary career.  That was quite a feat for us!

When our second son began school it was a breeze to him.  Everything came easy. He loved to read. He hardly ever studied for spelling tests.  It was at this point that the perseverance that God was building inside of Josiah became very real to me.

You see, Josiah had to climb a mountain every day just to be on the same level as the other kids.  School came easy to the kids who didn’t have ADD.  But Josiah had to exert twice the effort to just be “average.”

However, one day the Lord spoke to me concerning Josiah’s “average” school journey and He said, “Josiah climbs a mountain every day to be on the same level with the other kids.  There will be a day when he will outgrow his ADD and he will have something the other kids don’t… He will have mountain climbing muscles.”

Cue my tears!

After all of these years of climbing the school mountain every day, Josiah has perseverance, strength, diligence, and he is VERY conscientious and this young man is ALWAYS happy!  He really does have mountain climbing muscles.

As a senior, I can say to you that I see the fog lifting from over my son.  God is revealing my son as the man I always knew he could be right in front of my eyes and I will tell you that it is glorious after all of these years of struggle!

He made it through high school and I could hardly believe it when I pulled his final grades up the other day… in his final quarter as a senior, his grade point average was 3.889 for the quarter!  I cannot tell you how that also makes me want to tear up.  This little boy who could not keep his mind focused on one of the five tracks in his head conquered his senior year with a bang.

All of you moms and dads out there with children who have ADD or ADHD – if you focus on climbing the mountain every day and not let yourself or your child feel sorry for themselves… there is something that Attention Deficit can actually enhance in your child. 

We also glory in our sufferings (Attention-Deficit), because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

  Romans 5:3-5

Use the “suffering” of ADD and ADHD to produce perseverance, character and hope in your child.  They WILL outgrow it or learn to cope and God WILL make a way for them to accomplish His purpose!

Rest in His promise and carry no shame.

Spiritual Warfare: What Is Your Achilles Heel?

What is the one thing that the devil can use against you to make you quit?  What is your Achilles heel?  What is the point of weakness which can actually lead to your downfall?

The devil is looking to trip you up. In fact he's been keeping tabs on you since the day you were born.  He does not want you to fulfill your purpose.  He knows his time is short.  He knows he is destined for hell and he is going to do everything he can do to make God’s people stumble and thwart the glory we were meant to bring God through fulfilling our purpose in this life.

The devil knows what torment you hate the worst. Is it the feeling of powerlessness? Is it the feeling of chaos? Is it depression? Or do financial struggles make you want to give up? How about when you can't hear God?  Does a spiritual famine send you over the edge and make you want to quit?

Personally my Achilles heel is delay. I felt like my difficult season would never end. I had many "delays" in my Dark Night of the Soul. It was all I could do to take another step.  I wanted to quit MANY times.  By God’s grace I somehow found enough strength to get up and keep moving.

My husband's Achilles heel is when his plans don’t turn out like he envisioned in his mind.  He somehow feels like a failure because the actual “plan” didn’t come to pass.  And it makes him want to quit. 

(Read his article about his struggle by clicking HERE.)

One of my friend's Achilles heel was people pleasing. She wanted to be thought of as everyone's friend and have no enemies.  If everyone liked her she was fine to live her life and fulfill her purpose.  But as soon as one friend rejected her she was paralyzed and couldn’t move on until her relationships were repaired.

Another friend had a really hard time when people would falsely accuse her.  It would send her into a downward spiral of powerlessness and it would always end up with her saying to God, “I quit!”

Your Achilles heel comes down to this:  How can the devil offend you enough to make you want to quit?

Eve believed the serpent’s lies and was offended that God didn’t have her best interests at heart.  So she “quit” by eating the forbidden fruit.

Elijah was offended and cowered at the roar of Jezebel, which caused him to believe the lie that “he was the only prophet left in Israel” – he literally did quit and wanted to die until the grace of the Lord came and supernaturally rescued him. (1 Kings 19)

There was a great number of disciples who became “offended” at Jesus when preached the difficult truth that his disciples would have to “eat his flesh” to have eternal life.  He offended their logic.  Many times we quit because we’re not seeing higher and because we don’t understand something with our logical minds – we quit.

Think about how many times the devil tried to get Jesus to quit?

The devil tried to get Jesus to quit in His 40 days in the desert.  He tried to cause Jesus to be offended at the suffering that His Father had called Him to.  The devil tried to sell Jesus the lie that He could own the whole earth without going through all of the suffering – all He had to do was bow down and worship the devil.

At the Garden of Gethsemane, the devil tried to “offend” Jesus by having Judas betray Him and Peter deny Him.  But still Jesus refused to be deterred from His purpose of giving His life on the cross.

I was offended by the lie that God wasn’t big enough to overcome the delay in my life. My husband gets offended that God doesn’t help his day work out in a more orderly fashion.  My friends were offended when people would disapprove or falsely accuse.  All of these offenses made us want to quit! 

The devil knows exactly where your Achilles heel is.  He knows exactly how to push your buttons to try to get you to quit.

This is why the Word of God constantly tells us to persevere.  Because if the devil can get you to quit – he wins.

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  James 1:12

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.  Galatians 6:9

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.  Hebrews 10:36

Jesus persevered because He KNEW that His pain was accomplishing something.  He compared it to giving birth to a baby.  There is pain now – but later the pain will bring you joy. (John 16:21)  If we can understand that pain usually precedes the fulfillment of a promise – it can help you to endure and not quit.  But if you forget that there is a reward after pain or suffering, the enemy will get you to lose focus and you’ll want to quit. 

We must think of suffering differently like Jesus did

“…for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2

No matter what your Achilles heel is the answer is the same:  Be careful to not get offended and persevere no matter what!!

Salvation for Loved Ones: Don't Lose Heart

My mother died when I was four.  I so look forward to being with her again.  I know that she had faith in Jesus and loved Him and served Him while she was on earth.  I’m happy that she is already enjoying her heavenly home and with every passing day I am taking another step closer to her. 

Being with my mother is not the only reason I yearn for heaven…I yearn to be in the home that is being prepared for me.  I long to be with Jesus in His presence forever.

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.  Hebrews 13:14

To be with Jesus forever is our promised land.  Our mansion is being prepared.  He will wipe away every tear from our eyes and we will be together with the Lord.  We get a glimpse of God’s promise to us in Revelation 21:3-5

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"

Oh what a fabulous promise!  Eternally living with God in the midst of His glory and peace.  A new life with no more suffering and pain.  Oh what a Happy Day!

There are many of us who are crying out to the Lord for our loved ones to come to know Him personally. We want them to take the forgiveness of sins and free gift of salvation that Christ offered through His blood.  We are looking forward to the next life and desperately want our family and friends to join us there. 

Sometimes we lose heart.  It feels like it is taking too long.  We let fear slip in and believe the lie that our loved ones will NEVER soften their hearts to the wooing of the Holy Spirit.  But please listen to my plea…

God works in mysterious ways.  He desires that your loved ones make it to heaven MORE than you!  They are His creation and His desire is to bring them home to heaven.  NEVER doubt that God has a greater desire than you do for the salvation of your loved ones.

He is patient.  He is kind.  It may seem like it is taking forever, but He is a master at extending an invitation for a closer relationship.

Believe God!  Remember to look at the BIG Picture!

I want to stir your faith to continue to pray for the salvation of your loved ones.  There is HOPE!  There is enough time!  No matter how far away they are right now from the Lord.

When the Lord spoke to Ezekiel about the dry bones in Ezekiel 37 He asked him… “Can these bones live?”

The answer is YES!  These bones CAN live!  The Lord can take the driest bones and take them step by step through restoration until those bones become a great army.

There may be family members or loved ones who are bitter and angry at the Lord – they are dry bones.  But nothing is impossible with God.

We simply need to not give up praying.  Because to God – our prayer is fuel for His works.  Our prayers enable Him to move mountains and to bring dry bones back to life.  He partners with humans to bring His kingdom to earth.

Pray, Prophesy

and walk in

Faith

for your loved ones.  There is nothing that would tick off the devil more than you being at perfect peace while you pray and believe for our Good Father to bring His will to pass.

Steps to Wholeness:

If you feel powerless and are struggling to believe God will save your loved ones walk through this tool:

Renounce the lie out loud:

  I renounce the lie that my loved ones will never choose to serve the Lord.  Father God what is Your truth?  (Listen quietly for the Lord to speak His truth to you)

Declare out loud the

truth that the Holy Spirit gives you… then hold onto that truth in your heart!

Pray Ephesians 1:3-11 over your loved ones and insert their names.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed ______ in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose _________ in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined ___________ to be adopted as his son through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him _______________has redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to _______________ the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. 11 In him ______________ was also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

Prophesy over your loved ones

that their dry bones WILL live and they will become and exceedingly great army!

You aren't powerless about your loved ones.  Pray and Believe!

Jesus Prophesied the Coming Zombie Apocalypse


Confession:  I watched Ridley Scott’s movie “Noah.”  It was ridiculous, preposterous and not even close to what the Bible says… but even though the plot wasn’t worth a nickel I did have a takeaway.

There was a significant scene that portrayed the wickedness of Noah’s time that made me cringe.  The abject evil portrayed in the scene of the nearby town was one of the most sobering pieces of film I have ever seen – simply because I knew this part of the movie was true.  Drunkenness, violence, unfettered sexuality, selfishness and blatant disregard for the well-being of others was a picture of evil at its best.

In a simple phrase…  Selfless love did not exist.

The Bible says that when Jesus returns it will be just like it was in the days of Noah.
Matthew 24:37-39 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

The image of the City of Cain from the movie “Noah” is burned in my mind. They were mindless savages taking what they wanted with little concern for anyone but themselves. They reminded me of zombies.

Zombies don’t have souls.  They don’t have feelings.  They don’t care if they hurt you.  They simply want to feed.  They are the epitome of the survival of the fittest.  We have already seen herds of zombies in our nation.  They riot in the city streets and pillage and burn anything they want to.  They gather their friends and walk into department stores like Walmart and take whatever they want without fearing any kind of retribution.

These incidences are the beginning of lawlessness and the beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse.  And Jesus warned us about them…
Matthew 24:9-13 …You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

The scene from Noah gave me a whole different perspective on 2 Timothy 3:1-5
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

These verses could not have more perfectly described the City of Cain.

Friends Jesus warned us about these times and specifically pointed to the days of Noah so we would understand the darkness that we would be fighting in the last days.

I don’t want to fill you with fear but I want you to be awakened to what lies ahead.  The Lord says in Hosea 4:6 that His people perish for lack of knowledge because they reject knowledge.  He has provided this knowledge so we can be equipped to deal with the coming Zombie Apocalypse.

Paul gives us instructions in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you,  for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.  So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.

Paul is saying that we, as believers, should be alert and self-controlled.

These are things that we all need to begin to pray about.  How will you protect your family?  What does the Lord require of you in these last days? Praying for wisdom and protection will be imperative.  But what else? We need to be in our prayer closets and ask the Lord to prepare us from the coming Zombie Apocalypse. 

Here is a list of more recent attacks by the spirit of lawlessness:





These previous events are part of what I would call the Zombie Apocalypse.  No one caring or feeling anything for other human beings.  All of these acts were committed by human beings who had no compassion, were without love, and were brutal and hateful.  This kind of wickedness will only increase.

We MUST open our eyes to the “Last Days” verses.  Let us not perish because we rejected knowledge that Jesus Himself spoke to us. 

Let us embrace both sides of the coin of the Last Days.  There will be darkness but there is also going to be great signs and wonders and miracles and REVIVAL!!  These LAST DAYS truths are also valid and filled with hope: 

The Spirit WILL be poured out.  (Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:14-18)

The mountain of the house of the Lord WILL be established. (Isaiah 2:1-2, Micah 4:1)

The fierce anger of the LORD will not turn back, until He has performed and until He has accomplished the intent of His heart.  (Jeremiah 30:24)

Let us embrace the WHOLE counsel of God.  Let us follow Paul’s advice – may we be alert and self-controlled.  Put your armor on and fear not!  Let us advance against evil to spread the gospel to the whole world.


And then let us eagerly look forward to the appearing of Christ. 

Lord Change Me: Preparing for the Glory of the Lord


There are milestones in each believer's life when we come to a place of being changed into the likeness of Christ.  The Bible calls it going from glory to glory.  This happens when our hearts are changed by the Holy Spirit and we are given a new heart.  When we come to the revelation that something within us does not line up with the Kingdom we have a choice:  we can either allow the Lord to change us, or we go around and around the mountain about the issue until we allow the Lord to change us.

I remember a revelation I had once about John the Baptist's purpose here on earth.  I knew he was here to prepare the way for the Lord.  But God gave me further insight as I was reading Luke 3.

"A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.  The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough places smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation. " Luke 3:4-6

The Lord spoke to me after I read these words and He said, "Tisha, what do you think I'm talking about here?"  The understanding I had of this verse was more of a global understanding up to that point.  I felt that it meant that he would take down nations, and raise up nations, and straighten the nations that were crooked, and smooth out the rough places of others.  But I knew that my answer was only a guess.  He said, "I'm referring to people here." 

God meant that He was interested in every person becoming a straight path for Him.  He wanted every valley in a person to be raised up.  That means every place where a person doesn't know the truth or they don't know their worth, He wants the valley filled in with His truth and worth.  He wants the mountains in our lives brought to level ground.  The mountains represent our pride, or even idols in our lives that take precedence over the Lord.  They have to be brought down for us to have level paths. He wanted crooked roads to be made straight.  There are households, businesses, and churches that have some crooked places in them that need to be straightened out.  It may be the financial places that need straightened.  It may be the dysfunctional relationships where there is a spirit of control.  It may be ungodly methods of leadership.  God wants the twists and turns of the path to become straight.  He also wants to make the rough places in our lives, our personalities, our reactions, and our relationships to become smooth.  He wants the places where we rub others the wrong way or others rub us the wrong way to be smoothed out, so that we come to the place of being unoffendable.

A milestone in my life happened when I read a book by Evelyn Christianson entitled "Lord, Change Me." (click here)  I was given a new heart through this book.  I had found a secret that has been priceless in my Christian walk.  I had found the prayer, "Lord, change me."  Yes, I knew that there were people around me that needed to change, but all of that faded away and I focused on becoming a straight path for the Lord.  I didn't need to worry about anybody else's path, only my own.  My eyes were opened to the mountains, valleys, crooked and rough places in my own heart.  Each time I encountered a new mountain or valley I simply got on my knees and asked God to change me.  It wouldn't have worked if I had tried to change myself.  I can pull out my old heart but I can't give myself a new one.

Valleys
"...every valley shall be filled in."  There are low places in my path that need to be lifted up.  There are parts of my soul that are wounded from childhood.  There are parts of my soul that are wounded from previously unresolved relationships.  There are unfounded fears that keep me bound.  There are things I think about myself that are not true.  Until I see myself the way God sees me the valleys will not be filled in.  Until I see others the way God sees them the valleys will not be filled in.

I am also lacking skills that I need to be all that God has called me to be.  I'm lacking leadership skills, or writing skills, or preaching skills.  These are all valleys that God will have to teach me so that the path will become level.  Remember that all we learn in this life will also be used in the next life.  All that He teaches us will be important in our place in heaven as well.

Mountains
“…every mountain and hill made low…” Pride is a mountain that many of us have dealt with.  It is a sneaky little thing "pride." I heard someone say once that pride is like bad breath, you're the last one to know you have it.  Pride keeps us from humility which is the state at which we are a vessel for the Lord.  Several mountains of pride have been toppled in my own life, some of them because I saw my wrong thinking and asked for them to be brought low.  But other mountains were brought down through suffering.  My mountains came tumbling down without any warning.  Although after looking back, I see how the Lord tried to get my attention before He struck down my mountains.  Paul encountered a mountain toppling when he met the Lord on the road to Damascus.  Paul had been so proud of his religious activities that he was sure that God was pleased with him.  But that mountain came down when the Lord blinded Paul and admonished him by showing Paul that he was persecuting Jesus.

We have seen public figures in the secular and Christian world have their mountains toppled.  God does it because He's creating a straight path for His Son's return.  It's because of His mercy that He topples mountains in our lives.  I would rather God deal with my mountains here on earth than showing me the mountains after I get to heaven and have no chance for change. 

Some mountains in my life have been people.  People that I have put before the Lord.  I have cared too much what they think.  I have taken ungodly advice from them to please them. 

Being unwilling to let go of our family can be a mountain in our lives.  Look at what Jesus said in Matthew.

    Matthew 10:37 "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not         worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not             worthy of me;"

I think we could also substitute anything in this verse.  If anyone loves his spouse, job, drugs, alcohol, pornography, church, or food more than Jesus is not worthy of Him. That's quite a thought...that our mountains make us unworthy of Him.  Lord change me and bring down my mountains!
  
Crooked Roads
“…The crooked roads shall become straight…”  I have a dear relative who owns her own financial consulting firm for small businesses.  It's a unique business where her company is hired by small businesses to look into their financial records to straighten them out and then give them projections and goals for the future.  She has shared with me on many occasions how "messed up" some companies are.  They started out using the wrong financial system or never even understood what they should have been keeping track of all along and it has created a mess that the company is completely unaware of.  So my aunt's company will straighten out the books and taxes that have been thus far wrong and then show them how to do it better, guiding them on a straight path ahead.  She makes the crooked roads straight.

This is exactly what has happened in some believers lives.  They got started on a crooked path.  Wrong beliefs or wrong doctrine that come at the beginning of life cause trouble as time goes on.  Eventually the crooked path has caused a "messed up" life.  I believe every believer has some roads that are crooked.  One of my crooked roads was my belief about where women belonged in the church.  When God called me to ministry, I remember thinking how unbiblical He was being!  He had to straighten out my crooked road before He could use me.  Another crooked road I had was a controlling spirit.  In my "control" I thought I was trying to make everything straight.  When actually, the more I tried to control a situation the more crooked the situation got. 

God show us what's crooked and make it straight.

Rough Places
“…the rough places smooth…”  A diamond is not pretty right out of the diamond mine.  It is rough-edged and dirty.  It has to be cut and polished with a trained eye.  Believers are too, diamonds in the rough.  And most times God will use other people to polish our rough edges to a shine.  He uses the impatience, unkindness, lack of gentleness and lack of self-control in others to smooth out the patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control in ourselves.  Sounds like fun!

But this polishing is necessary for His return.  We are intent to make a straight path for His return.  So the polishing is necessary.  The more polished we become the easier it is to rise above offense.  The easier it is to respond in love.  The easier it is to see people as Jesus sees them.  Don't run away from the smoothing process, desire it.  Desire gentleness.  Desire self-control.  And desire patience!  God is pleased when we pray for patience.  It is a fruit of the spirit.  Desire to be made smooth.

The Glory Revealed
…And all people will see God’s salvation…
Luke was quoting Isaiah 40 in Luke 3.  It is translated “all people will see God’s salvation.” 

But Isaiah 40:3-5 says it like this:
A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord
 will be revealed,

    and all people will see it together.

For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

The preparation that we are going through by raising valleys, bringing down mountains, making crooked places straight and rough places smooth is so that God’s glory can be revealed in us!

Whatever step you are on, don’t stop praying “Lord, Change Me!”  Wherever you are at in the process – embrace what God is doing and let the Lord work His glory in you.  People will see the change in you.  You will bring glory to the Lord through your transformation.


Steps to Wholeness:
Prayer, Father in each of our lives and our households – Change us! Raise up the valleys, bring down the mountains, make the crooked roads straight and the rough places smooth in the name of Jesus the one whom we are preparing for!   Then let Your glory be revealed in Your people. A men!


Forming the Habit of Morning Manna



Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.  – Psalm 143:8

In my previous article, we discussed Practicing the Presence of God.  Psalm 143:8 uncovers a detail about Practicing His Presence that is, in my opinion, a piece of gold from God’s word.

There is a place between asleep and awake where your mind and your flesh are not yet coinciding with your spirit.  It is the wonderful place that God drops His morning manna into us. 

It is the living bread that comes down from heaven into our hearts as we awaken each morning.  It may be words that come to you from the Spirit of God. It may be a song from God.  Quite possibly it is a dream or a vision.  But this fresh word from heaven is our daily sustenance.

The Israelites experienced this in a physical sense in their 40 years in the wilderness.  God provided manna, a bread making ingredient, like dew on the ground for them to eat every morning.  They gathered what they needed for the day and it sustained them for 40 years.

In the same way, we eat the “bread” that comes from heaven by being in His Word or listening to the Holy Spirit.  The daily word, whether through the Bible or the Spirit brings us life.

Morning Manna is the word of God that comes from the Spirit of God. It is a revelation that comes directly to our hearts from the Lord each morning.

Some mornings I wake up with the most wonderful words from God.  Sometimes it is a worship song in my spirit.  Sometimes it is a piece of wisdom that I have been asking for.  There are times that Morning Manna saved me from making terrible mistakes.  And there are times that Morning Manna humbled me with its much needed rebuke.

During myDark Night of the Soul (click here) Morning Manna was literally the only thing that kept me going.  (Sometimes I would take naps in the middle of the day simply to have a mid-day manna. J)

The place between asleep and awake feels like only seconds but with God it is an eternity.  It is the place where God can bypass our mind and our flesh and speak to us spirit to spirit.

Morning Manna requires a little work on our part.  I had to begin to train my mind to turn to the Lord upon waking.  I would set my mind every night that when I woke up in the morning I would say, “Good Morning Lord!”  It was like I would pull back the curtain between earth and heaven and say Good Morning – and the Lord would ALWAYS answer back.

If you would like to form the wonderfully fruitful habit of Morning Manna, I suggest these things.
First of all:  Begin to pray Psalm 143:8 “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”
Secondly:  Set your mind to tell God “Good morning!”
Third:  Listen and expect.

A small word of warning: There have been seasons where the enemy has fought to keep God’s Morning Manna word from me.  The famine spirit is what happened to Daniel when he set his mind to get understanding from God in Daniel 10.  It took 21 days for the word to actually get to Daniel but because Daniel did not give up the word DID come.


If it does not come right away - persevere in the practice of Morning Manna!  Once you achieve the habit, you will NEVER let it go!

A Purpose for Every Season



I wrote this poem during a very difficult season in my life.  I know that some of you are in difficult seasons.  Don't waste the suffering.  Learn from it.  Grow from it.  Deepen your roots.  Let faith arise. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

A Purpose for Every Season

Autumn – a time to die.  I lay down my wishes and dreams to pick up Yours. 
For You know better. 
    You know me. 
                   You see me. 
                              You hear me.

I am not hidden from You.  You hold tomorrow in Your very capable hands.  I will trust You that as I lay my life on the altar that You will make something beautiful of my offering.  Come and take all of me. 
Take my fear
Take my worry
Take my doubt

For I am crucified with Christ and yet I live,
not I, but Christ that lives within me. 

Let me understand the sufferings of my Friend, that I may also experience the Power of His resurrection.  Let the winter bring about deeper roots.  Let the loneliness become aloneness with You.  Let the tomb become a sanctuary.  And let every moment of winter be not wasted. 
No despair.  No slothfulness. No famine.

 Just You …..and me. 

And when the spring comes let me understand that to every season there is a purpose. 
A time to die….that brings about re-birth. 

A death that is necessary. A tomb that is necessary.  Both are requirements in Your plan of redemption.  O Lord, My Redeemer, I am Yours.  I belong to You.  The cry of my heart :  Let the winter not be wasted
                                    …for resurrection is sure – but this time is ours.


I KNOW that My Redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.


Maturing in Christ: How to Start Finding Your Own Spiritual Meat



(I wrote a blog post about how Believers need to Shift from Milk to Meat Here is a follow post with how to start finding your own spiritual meat...)

When I was a Senior in High School, I had to traipse through my brother’s bedroom to get to my own bedroom.  (It was a small house with 7 people – so he had a bedroom in our music room/office.)  He is 17 months younger than me.

Every night when I would head to bed he was either reading his Bible or praying.  I would sometimes jump on him as I was walking through and he would say “Stop it!  I’m praying!”

We were a very competitive household…. (still are!)  The Holy Spirit used my spirit of competition to motivate me.  I kept thinking to myself, If Toby keeps reading and praying like this – he’s going to get ahead of me in my spiritual walk.  I had better pick up the pace.

So I began to pray and read the Bible every night as well.  (Sneaky Holy Spirit!)

But the truth is I hated reading.  The Bible was boring.  I didn’t understand it.  Even though I had been in church all of my life… I wanted someone else to chew it up for me and teach me the word.  I wanted other people to make it come alive to me like they did in Sunday School – or when the pastor preached.

It was not an easy transition.  I decided that I would not make myself take BIG bites of the word.  I would simply read one chapter every night and make it my goal to finish the New Testament.  I know you’ll laugh at this but I was a big non-conformist growing up and it made me sick to my stomach to read it from Matthew to Revelation.  So I read it backwards, from Revelation to the Gospels.  I know… I was a silly girl!

I really didn’t like praying either.  Again, it was boring and it was time consuming and seemed ritualistic.  But the Holy Spirit moved on my heart and I began to keep a prayer list every night to pray through.  I had a special note pad that was heart shaped that I kept my list on.  When the list was mostly answered I would write a new list.  I still have those lists somewhere in my attic!

For more than a year, I read one chapter a night.  Even if I didn’t understand it I just kept reading. I didn’t let hard passages trip me up.  My goal was not to completely understand.  My goal was to read through the New Testament.  I did not read on weekends or vacation and I’m sure I wasn’t perfect in reading absolutely EVERY night.  But I did it!

I can STILL remember reading the final chapter.  It was like I had reached the summit of an 18 month climb.  I thought back over everything I had read and was amazed how much I had learned about God...AND I DID IT ALL BY MYSELF!!  I trained myself to find spiritual meat!

By the end of my first time through, I was in love with the Word of God.  I was smitten with being in the word and how it changed me and became alive.  Did you know that?  The Word of God is alive and active.  The Lord can speak to you through it and give you the exact message you need for that day.

This truly was one of the most important journeys I ever took as a young Christian.  The trip to find my own meat.  It made me powerful.  It gave me strength.  It gave me knowledge and understanding.  It gave me a personal intimate relationship with Jesus that I didn’t know I was missing.

If you want to be closer to Christ, if you want to climb the mountain of maturity.  You must learn to find your own meat.

Here is what I suggest to those that I mentor:
1. Read the Word one chapter at a time.  If you don’t understand it, just go on to the next chapter the next night.  Don’t let a lack of understanding keep you from climbing.  The Holy Spirit will bring you understanding eventually.  Don’t expect to be eating steak the first time you find your own meat.  (Hamburger will do just fine! And it is easier to chew.)

2. Ask the Holy Spirit where to start. Don’t feel like you HAVE to start in Matthew – but if the Lord tells you to then trust He knows what He’s doing.

3. If you are not in the habit of praying, begin a prayer list to keep you accountable. Pray through it every night.  When a prayer is answered mark it off your list.  I suggest you keep your list, your faith will grow as you see God answer your prayers.


You will not regret taking this trip.  The mountain of maturity is worth the effort!


Your Story's Not Over Yet...

Last week I found the notes that I had written out for the first sermon I ever preached.  It was during my

“Dark Night of the Soul.” 

The sermon was called “I Trust Him with My Story.”

You see each one of us has a story.  We serve a story-telling God.  This is why He gave us a book full of true stories.  The Bible has recorded the stories of men and women who have succeeded and failed, and more importantly – God has shown us the end of ALL stories… the return of Christ for His bride and everlasting peace in His Kingdom for those who believe.

God is still keeping track of our stories.  Revelation points to the books that will be opened at the end of the age.  One of those is the book of life, those whose names are written in this book will enter the gates of heaven to live there for eternity.  The other books are those who have recorded our story. We will be rewarded according to what is recorded about us in those books. (Rev. 20:12)

I think Naomi had the roughest story of any woman in the Bible.  When famine hit Bethlehem her husband moved them to Moab to escape the famine.  Her husband dies in Moab.  Then her two sons marry and then also die.  She is left with two daughters-in-law in a foreign land with no income and no extended family.

The famine lifts in Bethlehem so Naomi decides to go home.  She tells her daughters-in-law to go back to their families and then she says something that lifts the veil about the anger she feels about her story:   “It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD's hand has gone out against me!"

One of her daughters-in-law Ruth insisted on going with Naomi back to Bethlehem.  When they reached Bethlehem Naomi told her family and friends, "Don't call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me."

How many of us have blamed God in the middle of our story?  I certainly have.  I have told Him that I felt like He was against me.  We often get so discouraged and so bitter at life’s circumstances that we say “God you are a terrible story writer! I quit!”

But do you know the rest of Naomi’s story?  Do you know that even though she had to be on welfare and even though she had no husband or children…  Naomi’s story was far from over.

You see, God was not hidden from her pain.  God did not take offense at being blamed for her empty life.  Though He never gave an explanation for the dire circumstances that Naomi found herself in, God did not leave her story unfinished.

Without Naomi, her daughter-in-law Ruth never would have found Boaz and married him.  Without Naomi, Ruth would have never given birth to a baby boy named Obed, who was the grandfather of King David, who was the great, great, great, great… grandfather of Joseph, the father of Jesus.

Naomi’s story was integral to the coming of the Messiah!

At the end of Naomi’s story, God closes the gap by giving her a baby boy to bounce on her knee. A baby whose name we would speak 4000 years later. 

God uses Naomi’s painful story to bring the most beautiful ending of all – the story of the Kinsman-Redeemer.

Because of Naomi’s perseverance, Ruth met and married Boaz.  The story of Boaz foreshadows Jesus Christ, the ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer who will redeem a bride for himself—the church.

I know some of you are angry with God.  I know some of you are bitter at your circumstances.  But please hear me when I say… No matter where your story is right now – it is NOT the end.  You can trust God with your story because He is sending you the ultimate fairy tale ending.  He is sending Jesus our Kinsman-Redeemer!

Some of your stories are simply in a difficult chapter.  Some of your stories are at the tipping point.  There are always villains in God’s stories.  There are always conquerors in God’s stories.  We must choose to believe God, even in the darkest chapters.  We must choose to persevere even when it looks like all hope is gone.  We must choose to obey even when our bitterness rises up.

Believe that God is a good story writer and that He has plans to write a GREAT one for you!  He has proved it over and over in His Word.  Press on in the midst of your pain like Naomi did.

Lift up your head – the story’s not over yet…

The Dark Night of the Soul

This Article was published in the Courier Times on June 21, 2014

By Tisha Sledd

This past week, my family watched “The Ten Commandments” with Charleton Heston.  It's old school, but I still think some old school culture is relevant for the next generation. We 'forced' our boys to watch it a little at a time.  My youngest exclaims “It's four hours?”

During the part that we watched this

week, Moses lost everything he had in Egypt and was forced into the desert.  Although “The Ten Commandments” does not adhere strictly to scripture, it is truly thought provoking to think about how much Moses lost at age 40 when he left everything behind.  He probably did have a woman that he had imagined his life with but had to let her go.  He left behind his family, his comfort and money and had no direction as to where he was going.  All he had were the clothes on his back and the hand of God on his life.

I was explaining to a friend the other day about the phrase “Dark Night of the Soul.”  It is the season of life where you lose everything except for God.  We don't talk about it much anymore maybe because we focus more on the gentle lamb part of God rather than the lion in today's culture. 

The Dark Night of the Soul is all about the Lion of God.  It's the part of life that He uses to shape us into being His servants.  It's where the flesh is sanded away, we're required to give up everything, and everyone seems to turn against us.  It is in the middle of this night that we truly find what we're made of.  When we come to the conclusion that we are made of nothing and our confidence in ourselves is crucified, it is then that we learn the only place to put our confidence is in God.

There is not a hero in the Word of God that did not have to go through the Dark Night of the Soul.  David spent his Dark Night in caves.  Joseph spent his Dark Night in prison.  Elizabeth spent her Dark Night barren.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, spent her Dark Night in shame and misunderstanding.  In more recent history, you will find that most men and women who do great things for God had a Dark Night of the Soul: George Washington, William Wilberforce, C.S. Lewis, Abraham Lincoln, Corrie Ten Boom.  These are all people who had to pass the test of perseverance through difficulties in order to become the 'heroes' they were called to be.

While reading Daniel in the word one day, I remember thinking that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had gone through a major test at the fiery furnace.  And the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said “No, Tisha, they already had passed the test.  The testing was done in private.  This trial was to glorify Me.” 

You see dead men can't lose anything.  This is precisely why the Dark Night of the Soul is necessary for God's people to go through.  Because it puts to death everything within us.  It puts fear to death. It puts doubt to death. It puts pride to death.  A dead man can't be confused, or offended, or frightened, or lustful, or deceived.  If every fleshly desire is put to death within us we become the devil's worst nightmare.  We become fearless.

Jesus experienced His Dark Night of the Soul during the 40 days in the desert.  The next 3 1/2 years were simply walking out His purpose, even death on a cross. 

I firmly believe that there are heroes that we have never heard of because they did not persevere through the Dark Night.  They quit.  It seemed too hard.  Or possibly they forgot the promise that God gave them before the Dark Night.  Because you must cling to the promise through the difficult night season.

The Dark Night of the Soul is an honor.  It is the call to be Christlike.  As Paul said in Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.