How to Encourage Yourself in the Lord on Your Worst Day

Life is full of hills and valleys. I remember my grandmother in her late 70s dealing with a prolonged attack by the devil who sought to steal her peace by shutting down her secret place with the Lord. She couldn’t hear him very well for months on end and she had loved the Lord and served Him her entire life. 

The enemy will do his best to cause us to question God’s love for us.

It’s the strategy he used in the garden with Eve... “God doesn’t really have your best interests at heart. He’s actually just keeping you in the dark and controlling you.”

David had one of these deep valleys right before his destiny came to fruition.  (1 Samuel 30) David and his men came back to their homes after a long season of warfare. They found that their town had been ransacked. Their wives and children and all of their belongings had been stolen by the Amalekites. On top of all of that, David’s own men were so distraught that they whispered behind his back that it was time to stone him.

That’s a pretty low valley.

But David, the man after God’s own heart, did not fall apart and become a victim of his circumstances. David “encouraged himself in the Lord.”

David reminded himself of God’s goodness. He reminded himself of all that God had done for him. David worshipped the Lord in the midst of his valley. And even though he didn’t understand, he chose to trust God and he asked for the ephod. In our day this would be the same as opening the Word of God and asking for direction... or inquiring of the Lord and receiving direction from the Holy Spirit.

God gave David direction for recovering everything he had just lost. David didn’t realize it... but on the other side of the Kingdom at the very moment that he was choosing to encourage himself in the Lord, his very destiny was about to be fulfilled. David had been waiting for God to hand the Kingship over to him. At the same time David chose to not become a victim, Saul was being removed from office and David became King just a few days later.

The enemy fights us the hardest the closer we get to our breakthrough.

We must all learn how to encourage ourselves in the Lord like David did. We must learn to force ourselves to praise the Lord even if we don’t “feel” like it. We must remember His goodness even when our lives are seemingly falling apart.

We must always inquire of Him for direction. Even if we think we cannot hear God, He will find a way to get us the answer to our questions.

My grandmother praised God even though He seemed silent. She didn’t change anything about her daily devotions or prayer time. I will never forget the look on her face when she told me the storm had passed. She was so full of joy. She felt closer to the Lord than she ever had. She made it through the valley and won the victory!

You can make it through your valley as well. DECIDE that you are not a victim. DECIDE to praise Him and read His word. DECIDE to remember all of the good things He has day be for you.

DECIDE to encourage yourself in the Lord. Your destiny may be coming to pass on the other side of the Kingdom!

ARE YOU SIDING WITH THE DEVIL WITHOUT KNOWING IT?

I was doing some research the other day on the separating of the Spirit and the Soul when I ran across this quote.

It was so powerful that I had to write it down.

The devil's great purpose, and for which he fights, is to keep the world in ignorance of himself, his ways, and his colleagues, and the Church is taking sides with him when siding with ignorance about him.  - Jessie Penn-Lewis

God, Himself, wrote something similar in Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge…

How many battles have we lost because we don’t have the knowledge to fight the devil and his colleagues? The answer is FAR TOO MANY!

Let us make an effort to know how to fight in Spiritual Warfare. Let's NOT remain ignorant of the devil and his ways that we might not take his side anymore!

Here are a few pieces of wisdom when fighting the good fight.

1. Everything that the devil has complicated and magnified has a very simple answer. Whatever giant you are fighting - there is a simple stone that can take it down. The giant is usually undone by forgiveness, renouncing lies, or closing doors to sin and then STANDING! Ask God to show you behind the curtain of the Wizard of Oz show.  What is powering the giant?  Then proceed accordingly.

2. The forgiveness of your sins and the sins of others has much more power than you can imagine.  Evil is fueled by sin.  Jesus gave you the power to remit (forgive) sins. (John 20:23) When you see that sin is the problem in any given warfare - simply go to God and ask forgiveness on behalf of that person. (No. you cannot repent FOR them but you can ask God to take a layer of heavy sin off of them so that it might be easier for them to turn to God) This is certainly true of generational sins.

3. The devil is attempting to pollute both time and space. The enemy can curse the land you live on. He can also curse a certain time of day - or a certain season of the year. Don't forget to address both Time and Space when you fight him.

4. Resting can be warfare. When we take a day and rest - we are essentially saying that we trust God enough to protect and provide for us. This infuriates the devil! :)

5. Remember that even the toughest giants are not hard for the Lord. He is the Way-Maker. Ask for the blueprint to conquer the giant. Be persistent and be patient - don't get offended. When you ask - the blueprint is on it's way. Sometimes the enemy just fights like hell to keep it from you. (Ask Daniel!)  Keep growing in your wisdom and understanding of the devil! We must increase our knowledge in order to defeat him! God open our eyes to the ways of our enemy.  We ask for knowledge that we might not be destroyed!

Why Every Believer Needs to Know the Difference Between Jesus and Cheez-Its

 I remember a video really tickled me that won the prize on America’s Funniest Home videos in which a little girl told her mother that she had learned about God, the Holy Spirit, and Cheez-Its in church that day.  Her mom replied, “Do you mean Jesus?”  The little girl insisted, “No!  I mean CHEEZ-ITS!” 

CLICK HERE for a link to the Video

😊

In essence, this is exactly how Satan poses as an angel of light.  He presents himself as Jesus except something is just a little bit off.  It’s almost like his name sounds like Cheez-Its.  He’s the Great Almost.

The Word says “…Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”  2 Corinthians 11:14-15

An “angel of light” in very simple terms is Satan posing himself as Jesus. 

We must be careful in these last days to keep ourselves from counterfeit ministries, kingdoms, and people that are built on the Great Almost instead of the Great I AM.

Here are a few things to help keep your eyes open for:

1.  The Great I AM doesn't have any strings attached when welcoming people to His Kingdom.  Salvation is FREE if one believes in his heart and confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord, even for the worst of sinners.

The Great Almost has prerequisites in place.  And once you “give” your life to Christ you must abide by a hundred different rules in order to keep your place in the Kingdom.  But the truth is that your salvation does not rest on how much you obey God.  It rests on the finish work of Christ.  (side note: your eternal reward DOES rest on how much you obey Jesus – 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, but not your salvation.)

2.  The Kingdom of the Great I AM is built on Grace AND Truth.  He gives grace to the humble and truth for the proud.  He gives grace to the repentant and truth for the wicked.

The kingdom of the Great Almost is built on a pendulum that swings back and forth between Religious Rules and Emotional Happiness.  It does not care what the Word of God says – It says “you can’t be saved unless you are good.”  And it swings to “God just wants you to be happy – so do whatever feels right.”

3. The Great I AM invites us to use our giftings to help build His Kingdom.

The Great Almost invites you to build your own “Barbie dream house” kingdom or the kingdom of another human being.

4. The Great I AM always sends an invitation to join Him, but He never forces someone.

The Great Almost and his followers – demand that you follow him and conform to his ways.  They have no problem using force or manipulation if necessary.

5. True light from the Great I AM sets us free.

False light from the Great Almost puts us in bondage.

I am sorry to tell you that there are churches that are built on the Great I AM and there are churches that are built on the Great Almost. 

There are people who serve Jesus, and there are people who serve Cheez-Its.

They look very similar on the outside.  But when you really look at the kind of light they are shining – you have to ask yourself these questions:

1. Is there true liberty?  Am I free to be myself, or must I conform to the cookie cutter pattern?

2. Do they believe the whole Word of God?  Or do they teach the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law?  Or do they conveniently leave out the hard parts of scripture in order to appease their personal doctrine?

3. Do they insist that I help to build “their” church/kingdom?  Or encourage me to focus on the one Jesus is building?

4. If I left the church/person, would they let me go and love me unconditionally?  Or would they insist that if I leave, I am wrong?

5. Does this church/person set me free or put me in bondage?

Sometimes it is really difficult to see the difference between the bright and blinding angel of light and the soft glow of the glory of God.

Telling the difference between the counterfeit and the real is something that we must be equipped to do in these last days!  God’s true Kingdom is one of invitation to experience the unconditional love of Jesus, who is full of grace and truth.  Anything outside of those parameters is an angel of light…or Cheez-Its.

Steps to Wholeness:

Father God, if there are any “angels of light” in my life, I ask for you to open my eyes to them.  I pray that everything in my life would be built on the Kingdom of the Great I AM.  Tear down everything in my life that is built on the Great Almost.  I want You, Jesus!  I want everything in my life to be pure and holy.

Deliver me from false kingdoms.  Set me free that I might praise Your name. 

In the mighty name of Jesus, AMEN

It's Time to Walk Away

ARE YOU WILLING TO WALK AWAY IN ORDER TO GO WITH GOD?

It's time to walk away from toxic relationships.  It's time to value yourself enough to go where God is calling you even if it requires the breaking off of relationships.  

If we stay too long trying to get someone to love us or appreciate us we risk getting off of the "Path of Life."

As Believers, it is not our goal to have peace in all of our relationships. Our goal is to walk with the One who we have pledged our lives to.  This requires that we recognize when a relationship is holding us back... and are willing to go with God, no matter what we lose on the journey.

Today the Lord is asking you, "Will you walk away from trying to get people to love you and go where I am taking you?"

Your journey is the one you will receive a reward for on Judgment Day.  On that day, God will judge you on how well you loved.  But we are called to love Him first.  We are called to walk with Him first.

We cannot love people more than we love Him.  Seek first His Kingdom, His righteous, His opinion, His desires for our lives and everything will fall into place.

Walk away from whatever toxic thing He's asking you to... moving forward in your journey depends on it.

"We must obey God and not men." Acts 5:29

Should Christians Boycott Movies, Stores, and Products? A Different Take

The culture wars have hit Christianity hard.  They have hit us so hard that we seem to be floundering about how to answer the demands of “Babylon.”  The WORLD has come knocking at the door of an immature Church demanding that we bow to the golden idol of their choosing or else be thrown into the fiery furnace.

From Duck Dynasty to Target to Starbucks to Disney Movies and Disney TV shows, from HGTV to the Grammys…  Christianity has been told if they do not compromise and agree with the WORLD’s new morality then they will be targeted with fiery words aimed at making us comply.

Some Believers have nobly called for boycotts of these brands.   Others have rightly argued that we are called to be in the world and influence it – how can we do that if we remove ourselves from the equation.

There has arisen a great divide on this issue among the Church.  Some demand that we are not good followers of Christ if we continue to frequent businesses that serve this Babylonian idol of immorality.  If we would all simply boycott – that we would weaken Babylon’s resolve.

 Others have sharply disagreed that we are not unholy by patronizing businesses of the WORLD.  We are called to be the light in dark places.  If we boycott the WORLD, we are hiding our lights under a bushel.

I have friends on both sides of this issue.  There are Biblical merits for both arguments. As I have been seeking the Lord about His direction for my own life, I’d like to offer a different take on whether or not God requires us to boycott in order to obey Him.

He actually addressed this issue right in His word.

Romans 14

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3

Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats,

for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

5

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord.

So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,

    and every tongue shall confess[b] to God.”

12

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

If we boycott, we boycott to the Lord.  If we do not boycott, we do it unto the Lord.  For we each are responsible to our Master.  We are not the “master” of one another.  We each submit to the Head, which is Christ.

Boycotts sometimes work.

 But not every Believer is called to boycott.  Some are called to work within the system to see it changed.  Others may be called to minister to the people within those organizations by frequenting their establishments.

We are to let each of our consciences submit to the Lord without passing judgment on one another.

Personally, I have joined in some boycotts and I have not joined in others.  I have listened to the leading of the Spirit each time.  I am at peace with my decisions because I am bowing my knee to my God – not to the god of Babylon – nor to the letter of the law.  I am bowing my knee to what God is asking of me, personally.  And I urge you to do the same.

Back to the very heated question:

Should Christians boycott movies, stores, and products?   

Answer:

Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, but do not expect every Christian to get the same answer.

There Are Only Two Kingdoms, Which One Are You In?

I remember my friend telling me a simple, yet amazing revelation that her son stumbled upon. He had been struggling with giving his life completely to Christ.  He was young and had a bit of rebellion in him.  He didn’t want to be a bad kid – he just didn’t want to have to do life God’s way.  He had this thought that if he could just go into outer space and settle on a planet out there, that he could rise above the choice.  In his mind, if he didn’t live on this planet – he wouldn’t be subject to choosing Christ or not.  He could just live his own life in peace.

My friend was very good at homeschooling her boys in the Word.  So as they read the book of Revelation she could tell that he was quite pensive about the things they were reading.  One day he said, “Mom, it looks like there are only two choices doesn’t it?”

You see, this young man wanted there to be a third choice.  He didn’t want to go to hell.  But he didn’t want to choose Christ either.

What an amazing revelation…

There are only two choices.

You and I deal with these choices every single day.  We choose between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light.  There is no third choice.  The devil may try to trick you into thinking there is a third choice… but there isn’t.

Some of the churches I have attended don’t realize it but they have not chosen Christ and His kingdom.  They have chosen their own kingdom.  They have chosen to tolerate sin.  They have chosen to bow down to manipulative people.  They have chosen to be prostitutes with the giftings God has given them.  They make converts through a means of seduction.  They wink at the sin of those who are “elite.”  And they let every wind of teaching blow them about.  They have not chosen the Kingdom of God.  They have chosen their own kingdom. 

Individuals can do exactly the same thing.  They don’t necessarily want to be bad people – but they don’t want to follow Jesus either.  They want to enjoy perceived freedom of the world and all it has to offer.  As Believers, we fool ourselves into thinking that God will overlook our sin because He “loves” us and his “grace” covers us.  We deceive ourselves by believing the lie that we don’t have to lose EVERYTHING to follow Christ… we can just lose a little and keep the rest of it.  Because, you know, God is grace and God is love.  He’ll understand. 

This compromise of a Believers life is actually a deadly one.  It is a fence-straddling decision that leads to death.  The life of a fence-straddler is a lukewarm one.  And God will clearly spit you out of His mouth if you continue to choose “both” kingdoms. (Rev. 3:16)  You may be hot about a few things in God’s kingdom, but you are cold about others. This is how we become lukewarm.  We only choose half of God’s kingdom.  The other half is the kingdom of “self.”

Choosing the kingdom of “self” is the same as choosing the kingdom of darkness.  There are only two kingdoms.  You can’t say, well at least I’m a little warm about this part of the Kingdom of God.  It doesn’t work that way. 

Light and darkness are becoming more distinct.  The two kingdoms are making an obvious dismissal of each other.  The kingdom of darkness revolves around a forced submission, rooted in bullying.  In the kingdom of darkness, you are a slave, either to your flesh or to the world.  The counterfeit kingdom says “Bow to me, or you are worthless.” 

God’s Kingdom says, “You are free to choose.  You are so deeply loved that the price has already been paid for you.  But it is ALL voluntary and of your own free will.”  This is the biggest difference between the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God.  In the Kingdom of God, salvation is free of charge.  Your worthiness is already explained through the price that was paid on the Cross.  In the Kingdom of God, your obedience is considered an act of love.  Obedience is a free will response for the One who laid down His life for us. 

God extends His hand to the whole world.  It’s an invitation, but not a demand.

However, to not accept His invitation… means that you accept the other one: the invitation to the kingdom of darkness.

There isn’t a third choice.

Steps to Wholeness:

Father God please show me any place in my heart that is still sitting in the kingdom of darkness.  I want to choose You.  I want to choose Your Kingdom.  I do not want to be lukewarm.  I do not want to be half-hearted.  I want to be completely Yours.  Reveal the condition of my heart Lord.  Show me any compromise that I have allowed to have a foothold, then renew my mind and cleanse my heart.  

Ruin my selfish plans.  Destroy the idols of my heart.

Refine me in Your cleansing fire until I am completely Yours!

Jesus Modeled How to Create Healthy Friendships

The idea of having a best friend in the modern generation has been largely shaped by television.  A Laverne needs a Shirley.  A Lucy needs an Ethel.  A Buck Rogers needs a Hawk.  Maverick needs a Goose.  A Will needs a Carlton.

Not all the time but sometimes having a “bestie” on earth can create complications.  It can create jealousy.  It can end up being a co-dependent relationship.  It can end up stealing from your relationship with Jesus.

Having ONE best friend is actually a very rare thing.  Some of the people that I’ve mentored over the years think they have failed because they have not truly ever found their “bestie.”  But I would say they have a wrong goal.  Finding a best friend on earth is not what we should be looking for – our best friend is Jesus.  He is always with us. He will never forsake us.  In the darkest of nights, He is with us, comforting us.  In the highest of heights, He rejoices with us.  As Believers, it is important that we pursue Jesus as our best Friend!  Putting our relationship with Him first will help all of the other ones fall into place.

Jesus also left a pattern about how to have true friends.

When Jesus was on earth, he had three closer friends.  Each of them connected to Jesus in a different way.  Peter, James, and John were always with Jesus.  They were always invited to the “intimate” meetings that they savior had.  They ended up each playing a huge part in planting Christianity after His ascension. Jesus took them in to witness a very important miracle when he raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead. (Luke 8:51)  Jesus let the three of them see Him transfigured in all of His glory. (Mark 9:2) And Jesus drew them close to Him as He was in anguish before the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:37)

But Jesus also had nine other friends along with Peter, James, and John who He hung out with.  Jesus did life with twelve friends, His disciples.  They helped Him with His ministry.  They learned from Him.  They laughed together, celebrated together and they sacrificed for each other.  They were integral in spreading His story in their lifetime.

As a sidenote:  One of the twelve DID betray Jesus.  We can expect friendship betrayal as well.  If Jesus didn’t have a perfect group of friends – neither will you.  So no reason to have such lofty expectations.  If/When it happens – your BEST friend, Jesus, will be there to help you through!

Then Jesus had 70 other friends who helped him with the ministry as well. (Luke 10:1)  This would be our group of acquaintances that we do life with.  Maybe they are the group of friends at Bible Study or a service organization.  Maybe they are friends at work or someone you coach little league with.  This is more of your friends who are in your proximity because of where you live your life.

So that pattern for friendship that Jesus left us is three, twelve, seventy.

Jesus is your best friend.  After that, it is healthy to have three (or four) close friends who you can trust with your very intimate moments.  This is your inner circle. 

Your next circle of friends will be somewhere around twelve friends who you do life with.  They will be the people you enjoy, and you will help each other on the path of life. (If one betrays you – simply forgive them and move on.)

The final circle of friends measures about seventy.  Enjoy life with them.  Cheer for them.  Love them.  Help them when you can.  Even Jesus needed a community when He walked on this earth.

My prayer for each of you reading this is that you will find true friends in the pattern that Jesus laid out for us.  Always remembering that your best Friend is with you 24 hours a day 7 days a week!

The Misconception that “God is in Control”

I hate to burst your bubble, but God is NOT in control.

This might offend you… But go with me for a minute.

Let me explain, because in the long run, this is going to help you!

I have used the phrase many times myself.  We use it because it brings us comfort.  The words “God is in control” evoke a peace to our emotions when we remember that a great big God is “in control” of all of the painful and fearful details of our lives.

But the sentiment that God is in control is not exactly true.

God is not in control… He is Sovereign.

He turns everything for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  God takes the tough things in our lives and turns them for our good.

In the Garden of Eden, God gave us free will.  We have the freedom to follow a righteous path or not.  We have a free will – and that will can be used for evil or good.  Jesus said, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.  He also said life and death are in the power of the tongue. That means because we have choices - we are the ones in control.

If God were really in control, the holocaust never would have happened.  If God were really in control, 9/11 would never have happened.  If God were really in control – death would have never been released into the earth.  God is not a heavenly puppeteer.  He is a Father who gave His children free will to choose what kind of world we want to live in.

I have seen people completely set free from an anger at God by untangling this misconception.  Women who have been raped struggle with “God is in control.”  When loved ones are taken from us in death – the answer is not “God is in control.”  When faced with the grief of deep loss – the truth is that God is Sovereign and if we allow Him to – He will turn our loss for our good.

Free will is a really difficult thing to understand.  But the Kingdom which God created is set upon the freedom to love God or to love ourselves.  In the midst of this freedom, innocent people get hurt by those who choose selfishness.  But God wanted volunteer lovers, not robotic lovers.

God is absolutely sovereign.  In the end, He wins.  As we see the last days unfold, it would behoove us to remember that God is not in control… He is Sovereign.

He even said we can “speed” His coming back for us by living holy and Godly lives in 2 Peter 3:11-12.  This puts part of the "control" in our hands.

Remember, our Heavenly Father turned Adam and Eve’s sin for our good when He sent Jesus to die on the cross.  Our Creator took the form of a human – in order to right our mistakes.

Trust in His great love for us.  Trust in His Sovereignty.  

He's not "in control."  But ultimately He wins!

Psalm 33:9-12:

For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.

The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations;

He frustrates the plans of the peoples.

The counsel of the Lord stands forever,

The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,

The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.

Practical Steps for Spiritual Warfare Beginners

Practical Steps for Spiritual Warfare Beginners

Sometimes we make spiritual warfare too hard.  For beginners who feel the call to fight the unseen demonic realm, it may be difficult to know where to start.  I would like to teach you an easy and effective tool about how to use prayer walks and prayer stakes in spiritual warfare.

Spiritual warfare is the acknowledgment that we live in one world but in two realms.  We live our earthly lives in the natural realm but we also live in a spiritual realm.  The power of God and of Satan are at war with each other.  Jesus gave us the authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. (Matthew 10:1)

There are impure spirits around our homes and our communities.  They are occupying our land until we drive them out.  One way to drive out these spirits is to use prayer walking and prayer stakes.

Building Our Faith

All spiritual warfare begins with faith.  We must believe that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.  If you struggle with fear because of the unknown when it comes to spiritual warfare, the first thing you should do is build yourself up in faith.

But you, beloved, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God as you await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jude 1:20-21

Build up your faith by praying in the Holy Spirit.  Believe God’s word that the power in you is greater than the power of the evil one.  Put on the armor of God by praying that each piece is put in place on your spiritual body.  Believe that God has given you the authority to drive out demons.

What Is a Prayer Walk?

A prayer walk is when you walk and pray over an area and claim it for the Lord.  You can pray scriptures over an area.  You can pray in tongues over an area.  You can decree and declare and command the impure spirits to leave an area by the blood of Jesus and in the name of Jesus.  Commanding them to go to the feet of Jesus and never come back.

In this way you sweep clean an area by ridding it of impure spirits.  It is important that you invoke the blood of Jesus and the name of Jesus when doing this.

What Are Prayer Stakes?

Prayer stakes (pictured above) are a prophetic sign that we are claiming an area for the Kingdom of God.   It is a prophetic act of writing a prayer or a scripture on a stake and then pounding into the ground indicating that this land belongs to the Lord.

When using prayer stakes we are proclaiming that the blood of Christ is going into the ground to heal it, cleanse it, as we claim it for Jesus.

You can use cut wood pieces and write scriptures on them. (We normally use precut wooden shims because they are easy to drive into the ground.)  You can also take an ink pen that can be hollowed out, a prayer put inside of the pen and then the cap put on the end.  It can then be driven into the ground.

We usually anoint them with oil and pray over them before we go out to drive them into the ground.

The Assignment of the Lord

Let the Holy Spirit assign you an area to cleanse.

The most obvious assignments are our homes and the neighborhood in which we live.   After that, the Lord may give us other objectives like the place that we work or our children’s school.  Possibly He could ask us to prayer walk/drive different parts of the city.

My husband and I prayer walked our entire property and stopped at each corner to prophesy over it.  We put a prayer stake in the ground and commanded that all impure spirits must leave our property.

I had prayer partners that went with me around the edge of our county and we put a prayer stake along the roadside of each and every opening into the county.  We claimed the verses Isaiah 60, 61 and 62 and wrote them on each stake.  We anointed the stakes and then prayed over them.  It took us three days to drive around the edge of our county and claim it for the Lord.

Words of Caution

It is a given that you should prayer walk your own property.  You can assume that God intends for you to prayer walk your home, your apartment and any land that you own.  In this way, you make the area that you live in safe from demonic attack.

Beyond that, however, never prayer walk or use prayer stakes in presumption.  That is – never presume God wants you to claim an area for Him unless you KNOW that you have His direction.  We do not have authority over property that someone else owns.  We must have permission from the owner to have authority in any given area. 

Remember that as tax payers, we do have authority over everything we pay taxes on.  We have authority over the roads, so driving a prayer stick in the easement is allowed.  We have authority over the courthouses and schools, however, it would be wise to be inconspicuous about driving a prayer stake in the ground of public buildings.

We asked our county sheriff if we could drive a prayer stake in the grounds of the county jail and he agreed for us to do it.

After prayer walking or using prayer stakes it is always advisable to seal up your prayers and command all demons who might have been loosened from their stronghold to go to the feet of Jesus Christ.

We are powerful because of the blood of Jesus.  We have authority over the earth because of the price that Christ paid.  Let us be wise and use this authority to drive impure spirits out of our sphere of influence!

Spiritual Warfare: Learning to Plead the Blood

One of the most powerful verses in the entire Bible is this one:

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.  Revelation 12:11

I would like to expound on how we overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb.  It is an archetype of what happened during Passover at the time of Moses.  The angel of death was “passing over” Egypt as a judgment from the Lord.  The Israelites were instructed to paint their door posts with the blood of a lamb.  Every household that was covered by the blood was “passed over” and the first born was not killed.

When Jesus came to earth and died on the cross, He was the final sacrifice for sins.  John the Baptist announced of Him: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)

It is in this manner that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb.   The final Lamb, Jesus.

The sacrifice on the cross paid for the sins of the whole world, from the beginning of time to the end.  Jesus’ perfect blood was spilled on our behalf.  Not only does it have the power to forgive sins – it has the power to protect us as well.

When we use the phrase “pleading the blood,”  it does not mean we are “desperate.”  It is more like “coming under the blood.”  When we say Lord I “plead the blood over my children.”  We are essentially asking that the doorposts of their lives be covered with the blood of the Lamb.

When I first learned to pray around the outside of my home, I wasn’t quite sure how to do it.  The Holy Spirit spoke to me as I was praying over my front room window, “Use the blood!”  As I prayed I laid my hand on the window and prayed, “Lord I plead the blood of Jesus over this window/door/property in Jesus name.”

The blood of Jesus provides protection and deliverance from Satan.  It is a witness to the enemy that he is defeated.

When you pray over your home, your family members, your job or anything else a powerful addition to your prayers would be to plead the blood over them.

Sample Prayer:

God, I thank You for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  I ask You to be with my family today.  I plead the blood of Jesus over each of my family members. I pray for a pocket of protection over them.  I also plead the blood over my mind, home, family, finances, health, and job!  I give you glory and thank you for the power of the blood of Jesus.  In His name I pray, AMEN!

A Word for Those Who Want to Quit

I know that some of you are carrying your cross and you are very weary.  I know that there is GREAT temptation to lay down your cross and say – “It’s over, I give up!”  But I want to encourage you today that there is a great victory ahead and it is important that you do not quit!

The Via Dolorosa is literally translated “the way of suffering.”  It is the path that Jesus took up through the city to the hill of Golgotha while carrying His cross.

He didn’t complain.  He didn’t whine. He didn’t blame others. He just focused on His assignment.

To die.

The Dark Night of the Soul (Click Here)

kind of feels like this: Maybe we have been beaten up with words by our brothers and sisters, the enemy may be piercing our minds with doubts and lies and accusation.  We feel completely alone, no one is standing with us and we are frustrated that we are STILL required to carry out our burden for the sake of His Kingdom.

Honest moment: In my Dark Night I told the Lord over and over and over and over that “It’s not fair!!!”  I hated it.  I whined.  I complained.  I blamed everyone else.  I had a terrible attitude for several years of my pathway on the Via Dolorosa.  I definitely had some “rebellion” in me that needed to be weeded out.

I remember one Christmas when I complained A LOT – the Lord rebuked me through a Christmas song!  ♫ You’d better watch out!  You’d better not cry!  You’d better not pout!  I’m telling you why… Santa Claus is coming to town. ♫

It reminds me of a verse in Isaiah 1:19-20 “

If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.”

OUCH!

I was obeying the Lord by not quitting and not giving up.  But I had a dreadfully selfish defiance about the cross He had asked me to bear.  Isaiah says that there are two elements to receiving the “prize” or the best from the land:  We must be obedient AND willing!

For a season I was not willing to carry my cross.  Yet, the patience and discipline of God brought me to a place of dying to myself so I could trust Him and say “Not my will but Yours be done.” 

In fact, it was a really good thing that He helped me to overcome my rebellion, for after that I faced even more difficult circumstances that required an even deeper death to self to carry my cross.

This is kind of a difficult truth to absorb – but if we are to carry our crosses daily – it means we must walk the “the way of suffering” every single day.  Even after your season of testing, you will still carry your cross on the Via Dolorosa daily.  One of the purposes of the Dark Night is to acquaint you with this path.  You actually become friends with this path because you realize that the Via Dolorosa actually leads to life.  It becomes less painful because when you are dead to yourself and your emotions, you can embrace suffering because you know God has a plan and your pain has a purpose.

In Mel Gibson’s the

Passion of the Christ

, the scene that impacted my life the most was when Jesus was carrying His cross on the Via Dolorosa and stumbled right in front of His mother.  He looked up at her with blood streaming down His face.  He was unrecognizable.  He was being whipped and people were shouting terrible things against Him.  It was during this most terrible trial of His human life that He looked at His mother and said, “Look mother, I make all things new!”

You see, Jesus knew He was accomplishing His purpose.  He knew the path of suffering He was on would actually bring LIFE to the WHOLE earth!  It is hard for us to believe that a path of such pain and suffering could be God’s will for us.  Everything within us wants to avoid pain.  Every fiber of our being cries out for self-preservation.

This is exactly how the enemy can deceive some into a ditch on the path of life.  He convinces you of this lie:  God is gracious and loving and would never require such suffering of His people. 

And then there’s this half-truth:  Jesus died so I wouldn’t have to. 

I love this piece of wisdom from Bob Sorge.

He says we must remember that there are two elements to the cross.

1) S

ubstitutionary = Christ took your place on the cross.

2) Identificational = Jesus wants you to join Him in His suffering.

When on this very difficult part of the Dark Night you must resist both lies.  The very reason for our “crucifixion” path is because it leads to more life than you can ever imagine. 

Why is the Lord asking you to walk this path?  Is it to set your family free?  Is it to spread the gospel?  Is it to prepare you for ministry?  Is it to bring redemption to His earth?  There IS a reason that you are on the Via Dolorosa and if you are willing AND obedient – you will make all things new within your sphere of influence.

The other ditch on the opposite side of the Via Dolorosa is this lie:  God is requiring too much of me. I cannot handle it.

I admit – it does seem that God gives us more than we can handle.  But His answer is that we’re not doing it alone.  He is carrying the weight of the cross with us.  We must resist the devil’s attempt to make us feel alone.  We must use our faith muscles, which produces perseverance and ultimately leads to maturity.  This is where we apply the verse: 

I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.

  Philippians 4:13

Let me share some practical advice for those of you who are struggling to submit to the “way of suffering.”

As simple as it sounds one of the key ways to overcome this trial of wanting to quit is to “take another step.”

Depending on where you are at on the Via Dolorosa this could mean a variety of different things.  It could be the tiny baby steps.  Like you simply make your mind up to breathe through the pain until noon.  And once you pass that mark you breathe until 5PM.  Then you breathe until bedtime.

There were other times during the Dark Night that I would set my mark out a little further.  For instance, just make it through the weekend, or make it until Christmas, or just make it through the summer.  This really did help me to get through the difficult ‘way of suffering.’

I will never forget the story of Marcus Luttrell, the Navy Seal in

Lone Survivor

.  He tells the story of losing his entire squad in a fire fight in Afghanistan.  He had a broken back, a broken pelvis, broken nose and bit his tongue in half, and he was paralyzed from the waist down.

As He lay dying against a tree looking at the moon, feeling sorry for himself He said, “I kept thinking I was still alive they (his fellow seals) fought and died, but I’m still alive so the mission is still on.  So I reached out and grabbed a rock and I drew a line and I used my elbows and crawled to it.  I decided if I died, I died.  If I made it to the line… I would draw another line. I’d fall down a hill and crawl up another one.  I did that for seven miles…. I am not going to stop. It’s not an option. I’m a Navy Seal.  When you go into training they take away everything that you are or ever were, and then they mold you into what they want you to be.” 

Marcus Luttrell DID make it home.  He was harbored by an Afghan village and then returned home to America.  He was made whole and healed and has inspired the entire country with his bravery.  But he had to lay down his “victimhood” and resolve to keep going despite his circumstances.  I can’t imagine how his body ever healed itself after all of that.  But as David Crowder wrote in his song, ♫ Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal. ♫

This is the perfect example of what the Via Dolorosa is.  It is hard!  It is painful!  You want to quit! But something inside you says it will be worth it.  You are making all things new.  Just keep going.  Don’t quit.  Draw a line in the sand and when you reach it, draw another one to reach for.  Just keep taking another step.

You WILL reach your destination!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest

if we do not give up.”

  Galatians 6:9 (emphasis mine)

Being Powerful Without Making Others Powerless

God created you to be powerful!

There is only one you.

You are a one of a kind.  God created you by knitting you together in your mother’s womb. 

13 For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because

I am fearfully and wonderfully made

;

    your works are wonderful,

    I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you

    when

I was made in the secret place

,

    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

    before one of them came to be.  -- Psalm 139

What an amazing picture of how involved God was in our creation.   Stitch by stitch or cell by cell He created the only you that there would ever be.  God saw you as you were formed and then He wrote down a story of all of your days.  A unique story that climaxes at the point you meet Jesus and then ends in a mansion in heaven.

You are a distinctive mix of personality, gifting, hopes and dreams.  When God created you – He gave you a slice of Himself.  You were created in His image.  But no one else has the part of God that you do. This makes you powerful!

The image of God that dwells in you has never been a part of another person He created.  And He will never use that part of His image to create another person.  The slice of God that is woven into who you are will never be woven into another person.

This is why you cannot compare yourself to anyone else.  Because there has never been someone like you – and there will never be another person like you.

God created a space in history (or HIS-story) to display what a wonderful creation He made you into.

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  Acts 17:26

Think about this verse for a minute.  God determined the set time and the exact place where you should live.  Not only did he create you He put you in the middle of His story in the exact place and time that He wanted.

So no one else has the slice of God that you have – and your Maker put you in the exact place in history He wanted you to live…. You are uniquely you!

Knowing your uniqueness allows you to be powerful. Since there is only one you - there is a part of history that can only be written by you.

So why do we compare yourself to others?

Why are we insecure when someone’s light burns bright?  Why are we envious of those who are powerful?  Why do we believe the lie that there can only be one powerful person at a time?

I definitely remember getting set free from the lie that only my husband should shine bright.  I believed the lie that as a wife, I should be demure and allow him to shine more brightly than me.  That is completely ridiculous! God made both my husband and myself powerful.  We are equally yoked – we need to both pull together like a team of oxen.  It actually works better when we are both powerful. 

Women get particularly jealous of one another when someone’s light shines brightly.  Somehow the enemy has seduced us into the lie that only one woman can be powerful at a time.  What a lie from the pit of hell!  What would happen if women were so secure in who we are in God and we all were ALL powerful together?  What would happen if women understood that there is space enough for every person to shine?  If women would choose to shine powerfully together for God – nothing would be impossible for us.  This is why the enemy keeps us preoccupied with comparing ourselves and competing with one another.

Blowing out someone’s candle doesn’t make ours shine any brighter.  Whether or not the person next to us has a powerful light doesn’t change the fact that we also have a powerful light…. Because no one has the piece of God that you have.  There is no one on earth who can do the job that you were sent here to do.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.  God made plenty of room for everyone.

This world needs your light!  There is plenty of space for you to shine.

Let it go!

Has God Ever Spilled Your Iced Tea?

Did you know that when an airplane is off course by a single degree it will miss its target by 92 feet for every mile it flies?

That would equal one mile off target for every sixty miles flown.  Or if you are flying from New York to Los Angeles that could put you 40 miles out into the Pacific Ocean!

One simple degree off the flight path can keep you from reaching your destination.  The longer you travel one degree off – the further from your intended target you’ll be.

The same is true in life.

If our trajectory is off course by even one degree and we could begin heading in a direction that is detrimental to our overall life purpose.

However God’s grace is so amazing that He always give us a course correction.  We can always trust that He will show us if our flight plan is headed in a wrong direction.  Our Heavenly Father desires for us to fulfill His purpose for our lives.

Sometimes however, we don’t catch the subtle corrections that He brings to us.  Our mind might be closed to the fact that we could possibly be off course.  We could be walking in pride and we are resisting His course correction.  Or we may simply be in deep pain and aren’t able to discern that He is asking us to change direction.

I love how a pastor Keith Moore describes the “iced tea correction” from the Lord.  These subtle little nudges to get back on course are gentle.  Like if we were holding a glass of iced tea in our airplane.  The little corrections wouldn’t even shake our glass of tea as long as we’re paying attention and make the necessary changes.

But if we’re not paying attention, God might send a more forceful nudge to get us back on track.  It would be like God shaking our glass of iced tea to get us to make a course correction. 

But if a shaking of our iced tea doesn’t wake us up and get us to move back on the path God has for us – then God is willing to spill our iced tea with a SHOVE to get us back on course.  God isn’t being mean when He upends our iced tea… It’s because He loves us.  If we’ve travelled SO LONG down a path and are off course by a large degree then to get us back on course it’s going to take a big spill to get our attention.

This is precisely what God did to Saul the Pharisee in Acts 9.  He knocked Saul off of his horse, blinded him for three days, rebuked him in front of his friends and told Saul that all of his entire ministry had been in vain – because Jesus was real and He was calling Saul to come and suffer on His behalf.

God spilled Saul’s iced tea.

He spilled it because He loved Saul and saw that really there was a Paul underneath.  Saul had become prideful and unteachable and was persecuting the God he was trying to serve.  I’m sure that the Lord sent little nudges to Saul to get him to repent… but they didn’t work.  Saul was completely off the path that God had set forth for him…so God sent a giant shove to Saul and spilled his iced tea.  Fortunately for Saul it worked!  Saul repented to the Lord and God miraculously transformed Saul into Paul and he finished his calling on the right path!

God does the same thing with us.  Little nudges to repent, if not heeded, turn into a more forceful prodding and if that still doesn’t get us to repent – God gives us a great big SHOVE to wake us up!  We then have a choice.  We can continue down the wrong path and end up at the wrong destination or we can allow the shaking bring us to repentance.  If we do repent, God will transform us and we will end up right on target!

Try and listen for the little nudges of correction from the Lord.  Try and listen when the tea in our life begins to slosh about.  But if for some reason all of those things don’t get our attention – let us welcome the Lord to spill our iced tea!

Are You Tired of Never Being Good Enough?

Are You Tired of Never Being Good Enough?

It’s Time to Overcome the Accuser of the Brethren

Every single believer has had the experience of being attacked by the Accuser of the Brethren.  This is the name that God gives to the devil before he is cast out of heaven in Revelation 12:10. 

He accuses us of not being good enough.  He accuses us of not measuring up.  He lies to us that we cannot trust God.  He constantly whispers in our ear that we are failures or that we’ll always suffer lack.

There are two different ways that the enemy attacks us:

1. He attacks our minds with lies whispered to us by demonic spirits.

2. He uses people to deliver his lies directly to us or through gossip and slander that people repeat behind our backs.

Either way – whether through the spiritual realm or directly through people – these accusations are meant to hinder our relationship with God or to stop us from completing our purpose on earth.

When we get into accusation (accusing God or others), we’re doing Satan’s dirty work for him. - Bob Sorge

Moses was accused by those he had just delivered out of slavery in Egypt. In Numbers 16, Korah and his followers accused Moses of usurping power from the people.  Moses knew that he had done nothing that Korah was accusing him of.  Moses stepped back and asked for God to judge between them -  which one was holy – was it Korah or Moses and his brother?  God honored that request and Korah and all of his family were swallowed up into the earth.  Moses handled the Accuser of the Brethren correctly.  He trusted God to defend him.

In the book of Job, after Job had lost everything and then was covered with painful boils… his own friends came and began accusing him.  His friends said, “This tribulation has to be because you did something wrong.”  Job kept defending himself to them saying, “I have done nothing to deserve this.”  But his friends hammered him one after the other…

It was as if Job lost everything and then the Accuser of the Brethren (through his friends) took a seat next to him to blame him for all that he had lost. 

Job did not handle the Accuser of the Brethren correctly.  Job defended himself to his brothers and the argument lasted for 34 LONG chapters. In the end after God appeared to Job and humbled him.  Job’s reply was this: “I put my hand over my mouth.”

I have certainly experienced this.  I have had people close to me accuse me of not being good enough.  When delays have happened in my ministry or in my personal life, I’ve heard the accusation that it must be MY fault.

I remember my first lessons in handling the Accuser of the Brethren. I absolutely failed the first time!

When beginning a new ministry several years ago, one of my ministry partners became extremely jealous and began to slander and gossip behind my back to the rest of the team.  The Lord prompted me to be quiet and He would handle it – but I didn’t trust Him enough to defend me – so I began defending myself. 

Because I took it upon myself to handle my accuser, it made the situation much messier and it took longer to sort out.  But my ministry partner did come to repentance and saw that she was accusing me of things I had not done.  I am happy to report that God completely 100% restored our friendship and trust.

While I am glad that God restored our friendship, I failed the test.  When facing the Accuser of the Brethren whether it is a lie that hangs over your head that you aren’t good enough or it’s a person being used to accuse you of not measuring up… the answer is the same.

To overcome the Accuser of the Brethren, we must remain humble and let God’s truth defend us.  This can be difficult because sometimes it can take a little time for God to work out His salvation against the Accuser.

The Accuser of the Brethren came after Jesus through the religious leaders of His day.  Ultimately He ended up being crucified on the cross.  But can you imagine the feeling that Jesus had appearing to people after He was resurrected?  Jesus humbly hung on the cross and He let the Father defend Him.  But after an earthquake and a stone that was rolled away and now 2000 years later the Accuser of the Brethren is losing BIG time!  Soon the whole earth will hear of His resurrection!

The truth of who you are rests in the One who created you.  No one can take that from you if you don’t let them.

The truth of your calling on earth… even if it is in a season of delay cannot be stopped.  Don’t ever let anyone make you quit because they ridicule your calling.

Steps to Wholeness:

When the enemy comes to accuse you of not being good enough here is what you need to overcome it.

If it is a spiritual accusation that is tormenting your mind:

1. Rebuke the lie.  Break it from over your head.  Say outloud:  I renounce the lie that I am not good enough!  What is Your truth Lord?

2. Listen quietly for the Holy Spirit to give you the truth from the Lord.  Then proclaim it outloud!  I AM good enough because I am created by God and He doesn’t create junk!  I am worth as much as the price that was paid for me on the cross!

3. Repeat #1 and #2 until the lie is under your feet!

If it is an accusation from another human being:

1.

Remain humble.  Do not defend yourself unless the Lord gives you permission.

2.

If the accusation has come through a person - Forgive your accuser.

3.

Ask the Lord to judge between your accuser and yourself.

4.

Ask for mercy for both you and the accuser.

5.

Ask the Lord to set the accuser free from mind control of lying spirits.

6.

Command that any spirits that were loosed from the person would go to the feet of Jesus Christ.

Do not let the Accuser of the Brethren steal anymore from you!  He does not get to say who you are and he does not get to say whether you are good enough!  Let God’s truth set you free!

When a Prophetic Word Does Not Come to Pass

The most frustrating thing about prophecy… is free will.

When I was first learning about prophecy and prophetic words, I really struggled to understand the conditional nature of the prophetic.

A prophetic word, sometimes known as a word of knowledge, is a message from God for a person or a congregation.

These words can give us direction for our lives.  Prophetic words can be promises by announcing blessings God wants to bestow on us.  Or the prophetic words can be warnings to change our behavior.

God speaks to His people through the prophetic or He speaks to His people through the written Word of God.  

The promises of God that are written in the Bible are absolute truth and they are never changing.  Promises like “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Or  “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all…”  Or “Come to Me, you who are weary and I’ll give you rest.”  These are not conditional promises.  They are trustworthy and you can have full confidence in these words.  They are written in pen…they are unerasable.

However, when I began to understand prophecy – I started to see that a message given through a person with a gift of prophecy was actually written in pencil.  If someone gives us a word from the Lord, outside of the Bible, it is a conditional promise and many times relies on our obedience to come to pass.

Let’s take the city of Nineveh and Jonah’s prophecy to them.  His word of knowledge was this: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”  This caused a reaction in the people and they repented.  Therefore the prophecy did not come to pass… because of free will.  The people used their free will to turn to the Lord and Nineveh was not overturned.  (Jonah 4)

The opposite of this story is also true.  God can make wonderful promises through a prophetic word but then we never see them come to pass.  It may be because in the midst of our free will – we have turned away from God.

I remember a pastor getting a prophetic word that God was going to change his spiritual season during a specific month.  Three months later the man’s season had not changed yet, he just assumed the person giving the word had “missed God.” 

He inquired of the Lord why the change had not yet happened.  The Lord reminded the pastor that he was supposed to have his book written three months ago and the Lord could not change his season because the man had not obeyed him.

Moses had something similar and yet more severe happen to him.  God had promised Moses that he would take God’s people into Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey.  Yet he sinned against God and the Lord repented of sending him into the promised land.  He died before the people crossed over.  (Numbers 20)

These very sobering verses in Jeremiah can apply to a person or a nation.  They give us a little more insight about prophecy and why it is conditional.

If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.  And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.  Jeremiah 18:7-10

If God has announced that a nation (or a person) shall be destroyed – but that nation (person) turns back to God.  God will relent of sending disaster.  The converse is also true.  If God announces that a nation (or person) shall be exalted – but that nation (person) does evil in God’s sight, then the Lord reserves the right to hold back on His promise.

In very simplistic terms, say God wants to give you a brand new car.  He announces it to you through a prophet.  “God says before the end of the year He is going to bring you a brand new car.” But if you step out of the will of God and move to a different city in the midst of that year – he’s unable to give you the car.  You moved away from God’s will so it will most likely be unfulfilled.

Make sense?

The same is true of God’s timing.  He may have given you a prophetic word that He is going to bring you something during a certain season – but other people have made decisions apart from God’s will and it impacts what He is able to bring you.

Prophetic words are conditional.  They are written in pencil.  And our free will and the free will of others determines whether the prophetic word will come to pass.

This is another reason that Jesus did not give us a specific time that He was coming back for us.  He will be patient until He has the greatest advantage through the free will of His people to return.  Notice in verse 12 that using our free will to live godly lives can speed up His promise!

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  …  You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.  2 Peter 3:8-12

Let us seek to use our free will to walk in righteousness and holiness.  In this way, all of God’s promises and prophetic words to us will be YES and AMEN.

Did Jesus Really Die So We Wouldn’t Have To?

Did Jesus Really Die So We Wouldn’t Have To?

When I came to Christ I was told that Christ died on the cross so I wouldn’t have to.

I believed this half-truth for a long time as a new believer… that is until I hit my “Dark Night of the Soul”

(click HERE to read more)

.

When I hit this fiery season of purging to become more Christlike, I found myself striving with God.  It was a VERY difficult season.  I wanted to quit.  “God this is too hard.  Why does it hurt so much?”  I said to Him, “Didn’t You die so I wouldn’t have to?  If you took my suffering on the cross why am I hurting so much?  Isn’t it Your job to save me?”

God was so gentle yet firm as he brought me a new understanding of the purpose of His cross.

He showed me through His word that He had carried the cross on my behalf.  He showed me the depth of His love by being beaten, spit on, rejected, crucified on the cross and then forgiving those who killed Him.  He fully atoned for the sins of all men.  He FINISHED His part by shedding His blood and rolling back of the curse.

But… He was still in need of His people to carry their own cross and die for others.  In this way, people could see Christ in us and our death to our own flesh would bring others life.  It is the basic principle of His Kingdom. 

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

  John 15:13

He said to me through His Holy Spirit, “I came to earth to show you how to die.”

Paul understood this and wrote extensively about suffering for the sake of the gospel.  Paul laid down his life and endured prison, beatings, shipwreck, rejection, and being stoned.  He suffered much for the sake of the early church.  Paul understood that his suffering was bringing life to God’s people.  His pain was accomplishing something. 

Paul explains this in Colossians 1:24

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of his body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions.”

The Kingdom of God is different than any other “kingdom” because it is built on suffering and sacrifice.  This sacrifice is a symbol of love.  When we overlook offense, or forgive those who hurt us, when we give up time and money to care for the less fortunate, when we wait patiently for loved ones to come to Christ, when we sacrifice by fasting and praying for our nation… it is then that we identify with the sufferings of Christ.

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It is half right to say that Jesus died so that we wouldn’t have to.  He took our sins and nailed them to the cross.  But the other half of the truth of the cross is that Jesus calls us to come and die with Him and give our lives for our fellow man.

There are two elements of the cross.  There is the substitutionary element where Christ paid our debt.  And there is the identificational element where we pick up our cross of suffering and die so that others might truly live.  It is in this way that we identify with the sufferings of Christ.  It is the part that Paul calls sharing the “fellowship of sharing in His sufferings.”

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.

  Phil 3:10-11

If we want to truly know Christ, we must know Him in His sufferings and become like Him in His death.

Are you struggling with saying yes to picking up your cross?  Are you struggling with self-pity?  Do you find yourself living a half-truth when it comes to both elements of the cross? 

It can be a difficult mind shift but as followers of Christ, we are called to suffer for the Kingdom of God. 

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Matthew 16:24-25

What are you laying your life down for? 

"Suffering saints are living seed."

Charles Spurgeon, 19th century theologian

The Very Thin Line Between Discernment and Judgment

I had a wonderful, enlightening conversation with a friend recently that brought me great revelation about the difference between discernment and judgment.

We were speaking about a specific man and we were talking about discernment (truth or understanding) that God had given to each of us about this man.

She was quite irritated at this person, because his outward vibe is pride, arrogance and condescending grace.

She had drawn a wall between them and labeled him “prideful.”  As we processed her irritation with the Holy Spirit, He brought conviction to her that she had judged him.  The Holy Spirit said that He does not see people in black and white – He sees people in colors.

This man is guilty of walking in pride.  But there are giftings within him that are useful to the Body.  He is not out of the Lord’s reach.  He simply needs a recalibration of his place in the Lord.

When we have discernment about a person (i.e. they are in pride, or they are believing lies, or they are walking in disobedience) we are not to assume that this understanding about their current situation is a judgment about the rest of their life.  Nor should it make us feel as though we are better than them.

When God gives us the truth about where a person stands with Him – we are to see that person with the eyes of grace.  We are to use the discernment God gives us to pray for God’s resurrection power to come to them and set them free.

This is how the Lord saw Saul of Tarsus.  He saw Saul for what he really was:  Arrogant, religious and misguided.  But God saw all that Saul could be once the blinders were removed from his eyes.  After a good “humbling” from the Lord which included being thrown off of his horse, blinded for three days and rebuked publicly for actively working against Jesus - the scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he brought great revelation to the Body of Christ that has lasted for 2000 years because Saul became Paul and wrote more than half of the New Testament.  (Acts 9)

We are to believe the Lord for the wholeness of His people.  It is OK to hear the truth about a person from the Lord.  But it cannot come from your own mind or your own spirit… discernment about a person MUST come from the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes God will have you approach that person to speak truth and correction to them...but you cannot do it with His heart if you are only seeing in black and white.  

God can even show you that a person is downright wicked.  This does not mean that you can judge them to hell.  

Jonah spoke to Nineveh in black and white terms.  He had already judged them to hell.  But God saw Nineveh in colors, he cares about His creation.

God is patient and does not want anyone to perish.  (2 Peter 3:9)

I love this wisdom from Jennifer Eivaz about discernment:

When you discern by the Holy Spirit something negative about another, remember that God has just told you a secret. 

Secrets remain in the secret place unless God gives you permission otherwise.

Remember that God loves that person even if they are demonized, struggling, or wicked.

There will be times you are called upon to deal with the situation more openly, but prayer is usually all that is required of you. 

Have the fear of the Lord about the secrets that He tells you about other people.   When you are faithful with little secrets… You can be trusted with much. 

What if the man that my friend saw as prideful earlier is actually called to be a huge blessing to God’s Kingdom?  By taking down her black and white judgment of him, my friend was able to bless this man and see that he had the potential for great value in the Body of Christ.

This is the thin line between discernment and judgment in the Kingdom…

When we know God’s truth about someone, does it make us pray and ask for God's mercy for them? 

Or does it give us an air of superiority and makes us feel that we are better than them?

May God’s grace help His people to do better when it comes to discernment!

The Root of Racism Is the Sin of Mastery

Jesus told us in the last days that nation will rise against nation. (Mt.24:7, Mk 13:8, Lk 21:10)  In the original Greek the actual terminology is “ethnos” will rise against “ethnos”… or race will rise against race.

We are seeing this play out before us in our news.  Unfair and biased police brutality by a few leading to vengeance against white cops by a few.  Most of our country is shocked by the images of violence that we have seen as of late.

But history is full of such images.  One race rising up against race.  Brother rising up against brother.

It began when Cain picked up a rock and threw it at his brother Abel’s head.  It began when Cain considered himself better than Abel and instead of mastering his own sin, he decided to be the Master over his brother.

Cain was full of pride.  He was jealous that the Lord did not receive his offering but DID receive his brother Abel’s offering.  He fell into depression and was pouting when the Lord corrected him with these words: "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Gen. 4:6-7)

Cain did not humble himself.  Instead he lured his brother out into the field and he threw a rock at his head and killed him.  He believed the lie that he was better than his brother and took advantage of him.

Sounds just like racism doesn’t it.  One human being thinking they are better than another.

When human beings become prideful like Cain was and believe that they have more worth than their fellow human beings, they put themselves on a throne and and crown themselves as the Master.  This directly contradicts the nature of Christ:

Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Who, being in very nature God,  did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  rather,

he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!  (Phil 2:6-8)

I was praying one day and asking the Lord about where the root of slavery began in our nation. I wanted to plead the blood of Jesus over that root and war over it to see racism began to be healed…but the Holy Spirit surprised me by showing me that the root of slavery was called “Mastery.”

Mastery – when one person takes the place of Master or King over another. 

Every single war that has ever been fought has begun because one person or group thought they were better than another person or group.

Racism, misogyny, slavery, extreme feminism – all of these began because of the sin of Mastery.

As believers we must begin the process to healing the divide in our nation by humbling ourselves and acknowledging that we are not better than our fellow man.

Whites are not better than blacks.

Blacks are not better than whites.

Men are not better than women.

Women are not better than men.

Democrats are not better than Republicans.

Republicans are not better than Democrats.

The Haves are not better than the Have-Nots

The Have-Nots are not better than the Haves.

Police are not better than the citizens they protect.

The public citizens are not better than police.

Let the Holy Spirit bring to mind someone who you think is the most undesirable person in your community.  You are not better than this person.  You are equal in the sight of God.  The same blood was shed for you on the cross.

Anyone you think you are better than… you have put yourself on a pedestal above them.

Even someone who has sinned the worst sin you can think of:  Pedophiles, rapists, murderers, drunkards, prostitutes, drug addicts and so on and so forth… you are not better than they are.

Your “little” sins require the same blood to pay for it.

Paul talks about stepping down off of his “Mastery” throne becoming a servant to gain Christ in Philippians 3:5-9:

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

…But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

Elitism is a form of pride.  It is this pride that lies to us and says it is OK to call ourselves better than our brother.  If we continue down this path of pride without forgiveness and humility we will find ourselves in another civil war.

The answer to our deep divide in the nation is not to prove which person(s) have committed the most sins against each other…  This leads to an ongoing pendulum of Victim and Bully.

The answer is to acknowledge that we have all committed the sin of Mastery at some point in our lives.  The answer is to humble ourselves before the Lord and acknowledge our complete dependence upon God.  Apart from Him we are but dust.

I urge you today to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any sin of Mastery that you may have in your heart.  Do you think that you are better than your brother?  Do you think your race is better than another’s race?  Do you think that your sins aren’t as bad as another person’s sins?

Remember that we do not have a righteousness of our own by observing the “law” but our righteousness comes from God and is by faith.

STEPS TO WHOLENESS:

Lord we humble ourselves before You and ask You to begin to heal the divide in our nation.  Begin with me by revealing any sin I may have in my heart.  I want to master my sin not my brothers!

(I have written a book that goes more in depth about the sin of Mastery.  It is called The Battle for Peace: Who Is Your Master?  You can read a sample on Amazon by clicking this link.)

Learning From My Parenting Screw-Ups

When my kids were little I used to look for the exact right parenting formula.  I listened to others talk about parenting.  I read books.  I searched the internet.  And what I found was that a bunch of people had a bunch of differing opinions about parenting.  Opinions about discipline, media time, dinner at the table, family devotions… it was all overwhelming.  I soon felt like I must make a list of what our family should be doing in order to follow the right formula.

Truth be told… I was looking for a parenting formula out of fear.  I did not understand that I had the perfect teacher in the Holy Spirit, who could teach me about parenting. (1 John 2:27)

I have two boys ages 18 and almost 14.  They are good kids… in spite of our parenting screw-ups!

Of course, as soon as my husband and I realized the mistakes we were making we would change course and ask the Holy Spirit for correction and direction.

But if I can impart some wisdom from some of our screw-ups to you and help keep you from making the same mistakes… I will gladly share what we did wrong and how God gave us wisdom to follow His path more closely as parents.

Screw-Up #1:  We want to be parents just like Bob and Susie!

Nope.  Won’t work.  You are not Bob and Susie.  You do not have Bob and Susie’s kids.  Your parenting style and the personality of your children are different than anyone else on the planet.  The dynamics of your home should NEVER conform to someone else’s dynamics.

God gave you the responsibility of being a parent and He gives you wisdom to carry out your responsibility. 

Instead of seeking the kingdom of Bob and Susie first… we need to seek God’s kingdom first.  You avoid this screw up by asking God what He wants your family dynamics to look like.  And then rest in the fact that you do not have to look like anyone else.  Please God.  Not people.

Screw Up #2: We want to raise our kids to be good (popular, good looking, talented) so they won’t embarrass us.

Again.  Won’t happen.  Your kids are not meant to bring you any kind of glory in public.  There will always be times that your children will embarrass you.  They’ll throw a fit in public.  They’ll miss a last second soccer goal.  They’ll get acne.  As you know, popularity is fluid and changes by the second in school. 

Your kids might be ‘weird’ or they might be super artistic.  Maybe they have strange OCD tendencies or they are ADHD.  There is no “normal” kid.  

All of them.  And I mean ALL of our children are created uniquely by God.  The word “normal” when referring to our children needs to be defined as

happy and healthy and spiritually growing

… not publicly acceptable.

Instead of needing for your child to “fit in” in order for others to think well of you… lay down your pride and ask the Holy Spirit for His opinion of how your child is doing.  Then stick with pleasing Him and not other people.

Screw Up #3: One size fits all discipline.

We tried several “programs” of discipline taught by our church.  But we could just not see good fruit from what we had been taught.  The same kind of discipline did not work for both kids.  I remember laying all of the rules and regulations we had been taught before the Lord and saying “God these aren’t working for our kids – I need for You to teach me what will work for my children.”

It didn’t take long at all for the Lord to train me about how to discipline my children.  When we ask for wisdom he promises to give it.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.  James 1:5-7

Instead of following rules and regulations given to you by others, we must each follow the Holy Spirit.  He is big enough to give wisdom to each one of us concerning the dynamics of what He intended for our families.

One of the pieces of wisdom that He gave us regarding our own sons is that we needed to “threaten” the discipline that would work on each one.  There was no use in using a consequence that didn’t create change in them.

The wisdom the Lord gave us was to pay attention to which consequence our sons hated the most.  One son HATED to be spanked.  So when he needed discipline we threatened to spank him and he straightened right up.  The other son would be fine to be spanked… didn’t matter to him at all.  But if you threatened to put him in time-out somehow it would affect him like we were sending him to prison and he hated it!  So we threatened him with time-out and he too would straighten up!

Lay down your own opinion and seek God’s wisdom for how to discipline your children.

Lessons Learned

Honestly, I guess you could say… all of our screw-ups come down to this:  we were trying to fit into a man-made box of what we thought parents and their children should look like.

My husband and I have both come to a place that we can say…  We don’t mind if others judge our family dynamics – it works for us and we feel the Lord is pleased.

Your family shouldn’t look like anyone else’s.  God created your family to have its own dynamic.  Your only goal should be to seek His Kingdom first and to please only God.

The Wisdom of Breaking Ungodly Soul Ties With Your Parents

This might seem like a strange idea to some, but I want to show you the wisdom behind breaking ungodly soul ties with your parents.

Each and every person on the planet has soul ties with our parents.  It doesn’t matter if they were birth parents, step parents, adoptive parents or even foster parents.  (You can include parental figures in this as well.)  Our souls are “tied” to those who gave us life and those who raised us.

A soul tie is a spiritual connection with another human being.  A soul tie can be healthy or unhealthy.  There are certainly healthy, Godly soul ties we have with those who gave us life and raised us.  And I am not addressing these good spiritual connections.

However since none of us are perfect, you can be sure that somewhere along the way there have been some unhealthy/ungodly soul ties between parents and children.

I remember a “sermonette” one of my friends gave at her son’s wedding.  She used handcuffs as a prophetic picture.  She said when her son was a baby she was handcuffed to him to meet his needs like keeping him fed and changing his diapers.  When he was a child – he would wander away in the store or he would maybe want to run in a parking lot and she said her relationship with him was like handcuffing him to her to keep him safe.  It was the same way when he became older.  She put handcuffs on him as a teenager to keep him safe, maybe those handcuffs were cell phone monitoring or a curfew on weekends.  But she said, now that he is getting married she was taking off the handcuffs and handing them over to the two of them – to her son and his wife-- because now they were to cleave to each other.

This is a loose picture of what soul ties are.  There are healthy ones that keep us safe.  But the unhealthy ones are intrusive.  The soul ties my friend had with her son would have become unhealthy if she tried to have a say in her son’s marriage.

When praying with adults and having them break ungodly soul ties with their parents, one of the things I find is that men feel freer to be ONE with their wives.  It’s like cutting off the unhealthy soul ties with their parents gives men permission to cleave to their wife.  It edges the parents out of the decision making and allows the proper relationship between husband and wife to flow.

When women break ungodly soul ties with their parents, I have seen them blossom into confident women who don’t feel that they have to measure up to the rules and regulations that the mother has set forth for them.  I am not talking about the godly soul ties.  I am not talking about the Godly wisdom given from their mothers… I am talking about the soul ties where women feel controlled by the previous generation and are expected to “measure up.”

My sons are teenagers and I have had them break off ungodly soul ties with my husband and myself.  After I took my oldest son through the prayer for “Breaking Ungodly Soul Ties” he said that some “fog” in his mind cleared up.  I felt that the result of him breaking these soul ties with us cleared up some “confusion” we had caused him.  As a first child, I am sure we created some confusion in him as we stumbled through those first few years of being parents and communicating where the boundary lines were for him.

My second son said that after he prayed the prayer that he felt lighter.  I would assume too, that we had put some undue pressure on him and breaking off those ungodly soul ties with us allowed him to set aside some of the “expectations” he felt from us.

Try praying through this prayer for yourself.  Remember you are not doing any harm. You are not addressing any healthy soul ties – only the ungodly ones.  By praying this way, you can let the Lord decide which soul ties are healthy and which are not.  See if you don’t feel some relief yourself…

Steps to Wholeness:

1.  Lord I forgive my parents.

2.  I sever ungodly influence and ungodly soul ties from them.

3.  I give back to my parents the things that belong to them.

4.  I take back the things that belong to me.

5.  I wash them in the blood of Jesus.

6.  I pray that You would remove all faulty wiring from my mind.

7.  I ask You to replace it with the wiring of the Holy Spirit according to the Kingdom of Heaven.

8.  I ask You God to give me my soul back in the name of Jesus.

(Further Steps:  You can break ungodly soul ties with anyone in your past.  Here are a few more that might be helpful: 

Girlfriends/Boyfriends

Siblings

Friends

Pastors

Teachers

Ex-spouse

Boss

Anyone you had a sexual relationship with

Since breaking soul ties is essentially doing spiritual warfare – I suggest praying the sealing up prayer afterwards to make sure there is no spiritual backlash. 

You can find that prayer by clicking HERE.