Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why Works Doesn't Work

I spent many years with a works mentality, never feeling like I'd done enough for God.  Always searching out the next advice on how to "live right", "pray right", "read the Bible right" so that God would be pleased with me and have real relationship with me.  I always thought if I just did more that I'd have the kind of relationship with God that I wanted.  I'd start to see people healed when I prayed, and God would heal my kids, and make my life feel like it's worth something.

So I worked - I led book study groups, I discipled people, I ran a prayer meeting, and I was actively involved in our church leadership committee.  I was on the prayer team at church.  I read my Bible, prayed, fasted, and did everything that I was told I needed to do to get God to be pleased with me, and to earn His blessings.  I went to schools and conferences, hoping that this time will be the time that makes a difference in me, in my life.  Maybe if this prophet speaks over me, or that person lays hands on me, I'll get something that I was sure I did not have.  I was told to chase after God, to pursue Him, to hunger and thirst for Him, and I did - running here and there thinking this time my thirst will be quenched.  This time I'll walk away changed, different than I was before, more pleasing to God, able to be a "super-Christian" like the people who were running the conferences and schools I was attending.  I thought for sure if I just "ran the race well" and "pursued God" then certainly He'd eventually have to give me what I wanted, which was more of Him, more power, more authority.

Then my world was shattered.  I watched someone who I knew wasn't doing everything I was doing, wasn't reading their Bible, wasn't praying on a regular basis, wasn't even trying to chase God beyond attending a few services here and there get wrecked by God at an altar.  Never expecting anything beyond a simple prayer to make them feel better, God met them with His love, and they came out of that service different than they went in.  They got what I had worked so hard to earn, and in my mind they did not deserve it.  Or, at least, didn't I also deserve it?  I mean, I had been a "good" girl and done everything I knew to please God.  This is what I was told to do to get more of God, and yet, going to the same altar, at the same time, I left feeling exactly the same, and they left radically changed.

To be honest, there were a lot of months where this just didn't seem fair.  I wanted more of God so badly!  I had done everything every pastor and every book had told me to do to get more of Him!  I was angry, and my sense of justice was violated.  In my mind, I was the one who deserved more of God!  I had earned it!

After that came thoughts that maybe I'm just not important to God.  Maybe He really doesn't love me as much as other people, or maybe I'm supposed to just raise my family and take care of my husband.  Maybe I don't need more of God because I am going to live an average, dull, boring life.  Maybe all the thoughts in my head of being important to God, having a ministry, being "important" to Him were just pipe dreams.

Depression set in.  Maybe I really am not important.  Maybe I just need to try to be happy cleaning the house, taking care of the kids and husband, and stop pushing to be or have something more.  Maybe this is it for my life until I die.  No one cares what I think, what I know...especially not God.  It was a horrible time in my life, because I was watching my friend who had what I thought I wanted, and knowing that I didn't have it, and couldn't seem to make God give it to me, no matter how many classes or conferences I attended.

For a while I honestly gave up.  I doubted whether God really existed, at least for me, or whether everything I ever thought I'd experienced of Him was all in my mind.  I stopped reading, stopped praying, just lived in depression and hopelessness. I decided that if God did exist, He'd clearly shown me He didn't really care about me, because I'd done what everyone told me to do and was still waiting for something from Him.  Anything, really - any answered prayer to show that He did hear me would have sufficed.

But, instead of encouraging me to think that God had given me anything based on my performance, He led me to read a book on grace.  I had looked at this book on Amazon before, but I was so down, so burned out that I just could not pick up another Christian book.  But Holy Spirit kept highlighting it, kept pushing me to get it and read it, so I did.  And it changed my life.

I realized that all the time I was working to get "more" of God I had unbelief that I actually had Him.  I still thought God was somewhere "out there", and I needed to beg and plead to get Him to show up.  My efforts to get more of Him were worthless, because He'd given me all of Himself when I first believed.  And, in fact, my works were not pleasing to Him, because I was doing them out of unbelief.  Instead of believing what Jesus accomplished for me, I was relying on myself to be able to earn right-standing with God.

This is why I fight so hard that His scandalous grace is so much better than our good behavior and law-keeping.  I almost walked away from God because counting on works doesn't work.  It either leaves you feeling like you have never done enough, or it makes you feel superior to other people because in your mind you have done more.  But it's totally based on what I do, and never considers what Christ did.  The focus is totally on ME.  And, bottom line, I can not be good enough to earn God's love and blessings, either before or after salvation.  But, thank God is have a Savior who was good enough, who gave His perfect life for my imperfect one, who paid the price for ALL our sins (past, present and future) by becoming my sin, so that I could become His Righteousness.

If you are tired of working for God, burned out and feeling like you'll never measure up, never been good enough, and want to learn more about His grace and what Jesus actually accomplished for us, here are some great books that made a huge difference in my life.  Read them and see what God really thinks about you when you are His.

Grace Walk by Steve McVey
Grace On Tap by Eric Dykstra
It's All About Jesus: What They Never Told You In Church by D. R. Silva

Come to know His Grace.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Hard Questions

Things have been difficult lately.  For a while now I've been dissatisfied with my life, but have been living in the idea that because of God there is hope for change, and when things change, then life will be better.  

  • When my husband is saved, then he will spend more time with me and connect with me on a deeper, more intimate level.
  • When the boys with autism are healed, then I'll be able to enjoy my children, then we'll be able to have the life I envisioned we'd have with kids.
  • When I am finally free of food issues which result in being overweight, then I'll be able to do some of the things I miss doing now, like dancing.
  • When all these things are "fixed" by God, then I'll be able to be happy.
But, see, I'd like to actually be happy now.  Having my happiness hinged on whether or not these things change, especially these things which would take a miracle in order to change, sucks.  But the church isn't a help, because I'm supposed to just BE HAPPY, if not because of my life as it is, because someday God will change things.  

I'm tired of just hanging on waiting for things to change.  I'm tired of feeling like my husband doesn't care about my emotions or what I need.  I'm tired of the amount of work it takes to just adequately parent my autistic sons, and I'm tired of hearing other people, other family members, tell me how hard my life is and do NOTHING to help.  I'm tired of just existing through the day, filling my day up with things that mean nothing because they are distracting me from how hard things really are.  And I'm tired of waiting for "someday" to come.

I keep asking God questions, and I keep looking for answers, so maybe I can get that second wind, that enthusiasm that this is all worth it.  And they are hard if I want the boys healed, and God wants the boys healed, why aren't they?  If my husband believing in God hinges on seeing Him intervene with our kids, why isn't that happening?  If God has a great ministry for me after the kids are healed and based on their healing (which has been spoken over me multiple times by well-meaning people), then why are we still waiting?  Why can't I get a breakthrough in any of the areas which are causing the most pain and heartache in my life?  And why, when I give of myself to everyone around me constantly, do they never give back?  

The church would tell me things aren't happening because I don't have enough faith, aren't good enough, aren't doing enough, etc., etc., etc.  If I would just believe more, pray more, do more, then I'd get the "breakthrough" in these areas.  But the problem with that is that there is always more you can do, no matter how much you do.  There have been times when I've bough into this, and was trying to earn God's goodness and blessings, and was actually afraid to have doubts, or fear, or sadness, because I was afraid of God snatching His blessings away from me, from my kids.  Because that's the kicker - if my behavior is what makes God bless me, then bad behavior would cause Him to withhold His blessings from me.  So the fear involved in this is that I could be doing well, "earning" healing for my boys, and with one moment of doubt or sadness or fear completely lose their healing, because I'm supposed to "have faith" and "hold fast" to the promised of God.  

But how much faith is "enough" faith?  Usually, when my kids are working toward earning something, they have a set goal in mind.  They know what they need to accomplish in order to earn the reward, and they know what will cause them to lose the reward as well.  Parameters are set so they know what to work toward, and so if they have a minor slip up they can correct for it and still make progress forward.  But with no parameters set on how much faith we need to have, how much good we need to do, how much prayer we need to pray, all failure can be placed squarely on our shoulders, because we didn't have "enough", based on nothing but the lack of breakthrough.  

It makes no sense.  Jesus came because we could not be "good" enough.  He had to come and do if for us if we were ever going to get back into relationship with the God who loves us.  We had an "earning" system in place before Jesus came, which we couldn't do.  He came and fulfilled the system, becoming our "gold star" on our paper as long as we accepted that He did it in our place, for us.  He's already taken the test and got 100%, and we get His grade.  We don't need to take the test again.  We have passed with flying colors, because His 100% is ours.  

God isn't testing us any more.  He's not waiting to see what grade we get in order to see what prize we deserve.  Jesus aced the test, and the reward is ours

I honestly am coming to the conclusion that the reason our breakthrough seems to be held back is because we think we're earning it in the first place.  

What have you been trying to earn from God?  Is there anything that you've been waiting for God to do that hasn't happened yet?  How do you hold on to the promises of God during the time of waiting?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Guest Posting!

Hi everyone!

I'm guest posting over at Sammy Adebiyi's blog today, so come on over and check me out!

SammyA - 3 lies the church taught me

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What is being led by the Spirit? - Part 1

I've been thinking a lot today about what it means to walk in the Spirit, or be led by the Spirit on a day by day, hour by hour basis.  The big question for me, is whether it's a one time process that happens when I receive the Spirit, or is it ongoing?  And do we have a choice in whether we are led by the Spirit, or is it automatic because the Spirit of Christ lives in us?

Here are some things I know are true - we don't get "more" of God because we are doing good works - the fullness of Christ dwells in us at the moment we receive Him.  There isn't anything I can do to get more of God, because He's become one spirit with me.  So I have the fullness of God living and dwelling with me.

But, we also know that God gave us the free will to be able to make choices.  So, is my one choice to receive Christ all it takes?  Or do I need to choose, moment by moment, to allow Him to be the dominant force instead of ruling out of my own mind, will, and emotions?

If we're talking about getting to Heaven, yes, it's a once and done deal.  I am Heaven bound because at that moment God literally binds His Spirit to my spirit, and God hates divorce.  But as for actually being led by the Spirit, I honestly think that we have a choice.  The choice doesn't effect our end result - we will be in His presence for eternity whether we choose to be Spirit-led or not - but does effect our lives right now.

Now, this is not a works mentality.  It's not a forced behavior, saying I need to act "right" in order to be pleasing to God, or to get God to love me.  I'm not saying that if you want to receive "x" blessing from God, you need to do "y", and if you don't do it well enough then God won't give you "x".  I lived that life for long enough, believing that somehow we were "purchasing" God's blessings by good behavior, and if we didn't get what the Bible said we would get, then we were messing up, somehow.  It turns God into a vending machine, strips away His power, and puts all the power in the hands of the person.

But, obviously, there are a lot of people walking around this world who know God but are walking around living the same life they always did.  The only evidence of God in their lives is that they go to church on Sunday.  And most of them are hurting - pain from years before, pain from their lives now, hurts and betrayals and anger and frustration.  Fear and depression still reign in their lives
What is the answer?  How do we help people walk out of sadness and into joy?  A lot of us have though that if we just pretend to be joyful, to have the "joy of the Lord" around other Christians, God will see our attempts and decide that we actually deserve to experience what we are play-acting.  We put on masks and talk "faith" in God for health, joy, peace, love, and all the other things the Bible says we should have because we are Christians.  We say all the right things, we do all the right things, and eventually we burn out, because saying and doing doesn't actually create what we ultimately desire.  I don't want to act loving - I want to experience love.  I don't want to seem joyful to other people - I want to actually feel joy.  I don't want to say I forgive - I want to have the hurts healed internally so that I can mean what I say.

And that's really what we all want - we just don't seem to know how to get it.

So, I've been posing this question to God - how do we access the reality of being led by the Spirit? How do we experience the exchange our ashes for His beauty, our mourning for His joy?  I don't have a fully-formed answer right now - but stick with me for the next few days and we'll see what He reveals.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Counseled By The Spirit

Today I wanted to share an experience I had yesterday during my time writing in my journal.  For me, my journal is the place where I meet with God, my "secret place", if you will.  It's where I both pour out my heart to Him and hear what He has to say, and it's where I pray whatever is on my heart.

For quite a while now I have been trapped in a cycle of resentment and unforgiveness toward someone from my past.  I've blamed them for things that both happened in the past and for things that effect me now, and I have repeatedly forgiven them, (or at least said I forgave them) because the unforgiveness was eating me up inside, and keeping me in bondage to things I just didn't want in my life.  But no matter how many times I tried to forgive them and move forward, I could not rid myself of the resentment I felt.  And every time I would sit down to write the hurt and anger would pour out of me onto the paper, a constant reminder that I hadn't actually successfully forgiven them.

Yesterday, I sat at my computer and wrote, and again, the hurt poured out from my fingers onto the page.  And in the midst of the pain, I cried out to God.  "Lord, please, I can't seem to really forgive this person!  Please help me - I don't want to hold on to this any more!"  And He answered, and His response surprised me - He told me to break an unhealthy soul tie with that person.

Now, if you are anything like me, you've heard a lot about soul ties in relation to sex outside of marriage.  Breaking soul ties, to me, seemed kind of silly, actually.  It had always seemed like something that was a "formula" created by man to give us something we could do to feel like we were free.  It never seemed like it actually did anything.  But by inspiration of Holy Spirit, I did just what He asked - I renounced the soul tie that had formed and thanked Jesus that it was completely broken.

Literally, in an instant, the hurt and anger and resentment that I had held against this person for years was gone.  Just, GONE.  I again forgave this person for the past, and instead of just saying I forgave them, I actually felt forgiveness rise up in me.  I started the prayer one way, feeling like I was never going to be able to let the hurt and anger go, and at the end, was completely free of it all.  Not only was I not holding things from the past against them, I was able to examine the things that had happened and see them with new eyes.  See that those thing which were hurtful had nothing to do with me, or my value.  My worth in God's eyes had nothing to do with this person's treatment of me in the past.

But the funny thing is that I would never have prayed to break a soul tie on my own - it was only though surrendering my own efforts in fixing this situation that I was able to hear what God needed to tell me.  He knew what was needed for me to be free - I did not.  And that makes me wonder, how many situations are we in that Holy Spirit wants to help us out of, but we're too busy trying to fix it ourselves to listen?  I had done what books, pastors and friends had told me to do.  I had forgiven this person, multiple times.  But I did not have the capacity to forgive because of the unnatural bond that had been created years ago, and Holy Spirit knew that once that was dealt with, everything else would fall into place.  But I had to get to the point where I stopped doing what other people told me would fix the situation and instead hear what God was saying.

So, what if we all stop trying to follow the "method" for a moment and really pay attention to what God is telling us to do?  Instead of reading a book that tells me how someone else got their breakthrough, maybe I should ask Holy Spirit to show me what I need to do to get MY breakthrough.  I am really starting to believe that He does know what is best for us, after all. 

Father, I pray today that we have open ears to hear what You are speaking.  I ask that everyone reading be able to hear and respond to what You are telling them to do about every situation in their lives.  I thank you Father, that we can find exactly what we need when we hear Your voice and stop listening to the many voices around us vying for our attention.  I pray for open ears and open hearts for Your people, God.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Individual Gifts and Talents

Today I've been thinking about the charismatic church experience, which is what I'm most familiar with, and something has been highlighted to me by Holy Spirit which I never quite saw this way before.  Here's the scripture that got me started down this road:

"Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly." -Romans 12:4-8

We are each part of the body of Christ.  We each have special gifts and talents, and we each need to be equipped to fulfill our particular role.  We are not supposed to fulfill the same role many times over, we are each called to be something different from anyone else around us.  We say we understand this, and yet how much of the time are we comparing ourselves to each other?  We see someone touched at the altar and think that they have something that we don't have because they fell down under the anointing of the Spirit and we didn't.  Or they gave a word in tongues and interpreted during a church service and we've never done that, so we think they are some how better than we are, more loved by God, more anointed, etc.  We think that in order to be more valuable in the Kingdom of God we need to do what someone we look up to is doing.

And yet, in this passage of scripture, some of the gifts listed don't seem that impressive.  Prophesy, yes, that's something we all want and go after.  But serving others?  Like, offering to clean the church, or working in the kitchen, or watching the babies while their parents are in the main church service?  Encouraging others?  Giving? Showing kindness?  How are these important gifts? We don't see them as having value in the Kingdom of God because they seem too easy.  Out of the list of 7, we only think there is true honor in 3 of them: prophesy, teaching, and leadership, and somehow we think we have to fit ourselves into one of these 3 or we're not being effective for the Kingdom of God.  We all think in order to really do something for God we need to be a leader in some way.  We need to fall into one of the 5-fold ministry positions.  Usually the first thing someone who's on fire for God wants to do is go into full-time ministry.

Where did this idea come from?  Certainly not from God, because here equal value is placed on all the gifts, even those gifts that we think are easy, like encouraging others, or giving.  We have equated being effective for God as standing up in front of people.  You've "made it" if you've got a pulpit from which to speak.  But I don't need a pulpit to be a giver.  I don't need to pulpit to encourage others.  I don't need a pulpit to be kind to the people around me.  And apparently, to God, those gifts are just as vitally important as being a leader or a prophet.

So the question then is, when are we going to start valuing each other for what gifts and talents we are bringing to the Body of Christ?  And when are we going to see the value in ourselves?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

*Not a Real Post

This isn't a real blog post.  Today has been fairly busy - I had mentoring class this morning and then when I got home this afternoon my kids have been at each other (summer boredom comes around fast!), so I haven't had much time to gather my thoughts.  I figured I'd just get on and tell you about what I'm pondering about with God today, because that is as organized as it's going to get.

  1. What does it really look like to stand in faith?
  2. What does spiritual maturity really look like?
  3. How do we maintain our connection with God even when things get chaotic in our lives?
  4. How do we continue to support one another when prayers go unanswered?
I'm hoping that perhaps tomorrow I'll have something to say about at least one of these topics, because right now my thoughts are too muddled!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

God Isn't Repelled By Sin

I spend time pondering things, and one thing that has been on my heart is this: how we teach that God could have nothing to do with sin, so He sent Jesus for His sake, so He could accept us again.  Jesus, God in flesh, came into a depraved, sinful world.  He did not sin, but sin was all around Him, and He loved those who were still lost in their sin.  But if God could have nothing to do with sin, then why could He come in flesh into a world full of it?  And love those people?  Because if Jesus really was the express image of the Father, He is showing us that the Father loved us when we were full of the sinful nature and committing sin. Which of course it says in John 3:16.

Therefore, I don't think it was the Father that could have nothing to do with sinful people - it was sinful people who could have nothing to do with the Father, because His goodness in the midst of our depravity highlighted to us just how depraved we really were, and with that understanding came much shame, judgement, and condemnation of ourselves.  We saw just how filthy we were when we were in the midst of that kind of love and goodness.  No matter how much God loved us and desired to forgive us, He knew that we would always see ourselves filthy and ugly and naked and ashamed unless He gave us the right to see ourselves as fully forgiven, fully redeemed, fully holy, fully righteous.  We would not be able to forgive ourselves even if He forgave us - we would not be able to receive His forgiveness without a sacrifice.  And so He came - God on earth, as a man, the only one able to completely fulfill all the Law and redeem man from his own guilt and shame.  I think the price that Jesus paid wasn't to satisfy God - I think it was to satisfy us.  And how loving is that?  That God would do something for us that He didn't require for Himself.  He did this all for us.  And that, that right there, is what His Love is all about.

He came and gave of Himself not for His own benefit, but for ours, so that we could see ourselves as children of God instead of children of wrath.  So that when the enemy came and told us how awful and filthy and no-good we were, we could look at the point of the Cross and say with confidence "You are wrong - I am not those things because of what Jesus did for me.".  Jesus hanging on the cross is a picture of the love of God in action.

Father, thank you for loving us so much.  Thank you for the Jesus coming and giving us the right to see ourselves as You see us.  Open up our eyes to see just how loved we really are by You.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Monday, July 15, 2013

God Didn't Screw Up

Here's something I just wrote in my journal:

"Trying to make yourself into someone you are not is like telling God He screwed up when He created you."

Over the last week or so Holy Spirit has really been focusing on the fact that Christians are not meant to be a homogeneous group of people.  We are not meant to fit into a mold of the "mature Christian" and all act, talk, walk, and look alike.  And yet the church has been trying to get us to all "fit the mold" for ages.  We look at the pastor, or elders, or someone held in high esteem in our local assembly, and think that we should just be more like them.  They say they matured in God because they got up early at 4 am and read their Bible and prayed for 3 hours before work, and we have one of two reactions.

Reaction #1 - "I want to be like elder so-and-so, so if they grew to maturity by doing this, then I'm going to do it too!"  

Reaction #2 - "I can't get up and spend 3 hours reading the Bible and praying.  I'll NEVER be able to have as close a relationship with God as elder so-and so!"

In both reactions we see maturity in God reduced to a formula - elder so-and-so did "x" and got "y" result.  Therefore, if I do exactly what they did, I will get exactly what they got, and if I do not, I will not.  We also see limited, worldly thinking, in that we are limiting God to doing things only one way, because that's the way that worked for someone else.  

The other thing that I see in this type of reasoning is that we tend to take someone else's experience and allow it to carry more weight than what God is speaking to us.  We take something someone else did under inspiration of Holy Spirit, and make it into a formula that will work for anyone.  Then if the formula doesn't work for us, we wonder what we did wrong, instead of understanding that we are all created to be different.

I have done this for years.  Literally.  I limited my relationship with God because I thought that to really get close to Him and and walk in unity with Him I needed to do x,y, and z, and if I couldn't make those things happen, then I was out of luck.  I thought I needed to do all these things in a certain way, whether those things worked in my life or not, or God would withhold part of Himself from me because I wasn't doing it "right".

The other thing I've fallen prey to is thinking that the people of God are all supposed to be outgoing, friendly, talkative, bold extroverts who are happy all the time and want to be going and doing for God all the time.  Are there some people who absolutely are this way?  Sure!  But when you are a shy, quiet, smart introvert and your only example of people on fire for God are bold extroverts, it's really easy to think that you are broken, or that you just need to pretend in order to be effective for God.  It's really easy to hate who you are because you are not able to make yourself into someone different.  It's also really easy to be jealous and envious of those people for whom being extroverted is natural.  Especially since there is such a push to go out and evangelize the world, which to most of us means going out and doing things that most introverts are VERY uncomfortable doing.  

But I'm coming to realize that if we are called to be parts of the Body of Christ, we each have an individual part to fill.  We each have our part to play, and we each have something that we contribute, whether we are a people-person or a book nerd, whatever our personality or home life, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.  God is with us, and willing to reveal to us where we fit, if we just stop looking to others for answers and look to Him.  Holy Spirit will teach us not only who we are in Christ, but what we need to do to grow in Him, and what Christ looks like in US.

Father, I just ask for everyone reading today to get a fresh revelation of who You created them to be, and how You will use their gifts, talents, and abilities to transform the world around them.  I thank you Father that there is no one way, there are no limitations on You, and that You will work in our lives as we seek You.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

*I apologize if this seems scattered today - I was having a difficult time getting the thoughts from my mind to the page, probably because I mostly likely could write a book on this subject!

Friday, July 12, 2013

"Greasy Grace" - Why I Don't Agree

Greasy grace - boy, do I hate that term.  It's most often heard from the people in the church who are most afraid that giving extravagant grace will allow people to just do whatever they want.  My question is, if it's the love of Christ that constrains us (2 Corinthians 5:14), then if someone is actually walking in relationship with God they won't want to do the things that we consider "sin".  Plus, we can't crucify sin without Christ - we don't have the ability or the power to do it for ourselves.  I can know that I shouldn't do something, and actually not want to do it, but trying to change in my own power and ability is virtually useless.  People don't like to preach that type of grace - that nothing is being held against you any longer and Christ has paid ALL THE PRICE needed for you to come into relationship with God - because of fear.  It's totally and completely fear based - if we tell people that they don't have to pay a price through their behavior then they won't change their behavior, and we'll have drunks and druggies and gays and all manner of sinner in our church!  Then we'll have to deal with these people in love!  And we'll need to explain their behavior to our kids!  It's fear of those different than us, and it's why we've tried to homogenize the church.  We've put forward the idea that we all need to look the same, act the same, follow the same rules, and then we can be unified in love.  But we aren't all the same.  We don't all have the same struggles, but we do all have struggles.  We all have areas of sin in our lives that we can not overcome unless Jesus helps us.  Things that we have tried to conquer on our own over and over and over again and failed miserably each time.  

The thing is that each failure actually tends to push us away from God instead of toward Him, because we feel like it's our responsibility to clean ourselves up to make us worthy of His attention and love.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  The Father wants us to come with Him with a clear understanding that we can not fix ourselves, and submit ourselves to His love and mercy so that He, as the Master Potter, can.

Father, I ask today that you give us a more complete understanding of Your grace for us.  I ask for each reader that You come in and do the work in them that they can not do themselves.  We ask together that Your hands be on us, molding and shaping us into the people You created us to be.  And we thank you that there is NOTHING that can separate us from Your love and mercy.  Nothing stands in the way of our relationship with You in Christ.  Thank you for your love.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Holy Temple of the Lord

Today I feel like I need to do something a little different.  A couple of days ago, the Lord illuminated some scriptures in Ephesians and dropped some tidbits of revelation from them on me, and I'd like to share what He showed me with you.  First off, here are the scriptures for reference:

"God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself." - Ephesians 1:22-23 NLT

"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." -Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT

"Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord." - Ephesians 2:20-21 NLT

So I've underlined the points in the scriptures that had jumped off the page at me, and here's the revelation as I wrote it in my journal:

We are God's masterpiece - we are made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things with himself.  We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.  

We are each individual bricks in the building of the Lord - God is creating and forming and putting us together in such a way that we make a holy temple for the Lord.  We are held together by Christ, who comes in and fills up our cracks and binds us together - He is the mortar which holds all of us (His church) together.  We are made a complete temple for God through Christ.  Without the mortar of Christ we would not be able to stand together, and in fact would not fit together, because he comes in and fills all the spaces and gaps between us.  Where we may not meet eye to eye with each other, Christ comes in and fills that gap so that we can be bound together in love.  He who is Love fills our gaps, so we need not be bound only with those who are similar to us, but those who are different can be built into the same structure, because He fills in all the areas where we don't meet.

A brick wall is built out of items of similar shape and size.  A stone wall is built out of separate pieces of stone which may not all be uniform, but are of the same type.  You would not mix bricks and stone, let alone bricks, stone, gravel, cinder block, etc. in the same wall.  But Christ fills our gaps and differences with Himself, and we who are varied and different can become a single structure, strong and bound together in love, without having to be similar.  God Himself knows where we fit in His masterpiece called the Body of Christ.  

The biggest thing I got out of this revelation is that we really don't need to be the same.  We are not called to be like anyone other than Christ, and in fact, the only requirement to do that is to be Love.  It doesn't mean conforming ourselves into carbon copies of each other, but to be fully ourselves, the person who God created.  We are each individual, unique, and yet, in Christ, we are bound together into something amazing.  Let's learn to be ourselves instead of trying to "fit" into a mold where we don't belong.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Jesus Paid the Highest Price

I don't have a lot to say today.  My kids are all wound up and I've not had more than 5 minutes to myself since I got home from my class this morning, so hopefully I can quiet things down and focus enough to hear what Holy Spirit is speaking for everyone out there who's reading.  I know that Holy Spirit can work through me even in these types of situations, so I'm going to have to trust in faith that He'll give me what needs to be said.

Father, thank you for your presence.  I thank you that you have something to say to those who read this blog today, and I ask you to move in me and speak through me what you desire to say.  

"I love my children.  I am not angry with them, nor am I disgusted with the sin that plagues their lives over and over again.  Jesus came for them.  I sent Jesus to the cross because it was My good pleasure to do so for my kids.  I just desire that they come to Me, knowing I love them.  Jesus paid the price, He paved the way for you to run into My lap and for Me to be your Father.  He took all the blame, He paid every price necessary, so that you can walk into my presence clean, spotless, and holy.  Accept His sacrifice as payment for not just your sin, but your life.  Your life is not your own, but it is Jesus in you who lives.  Let Me live in you and through you in My power.  I hold nothing against you - I am for you."

I pray that this blesses you and accomplished what the Father intends.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hearing God's Voice

Since launching this out yesterday I have to say that God has been showing me and teaching me so much it's almost more than I can handle!  I feel like I've finally really found where I "fit" in the Body of Christ, and figuring out where I am gifted and anointed is amazing.

I wanted to share a little about how I get the word from God for the blog, because some of you may be wondering.  For me, I tend to "hear" Holy Spirit speaking to me, not as an audible voice, but inwardly, sort of out of the deep places in my thoughts.  I asked Holy Spirit to explain it to me so I could explain it to anyone reading here, and this is the example He gave me:

"I dwell in unity with your spirit.  I speak to your spirit, which in turn communicates these thoughts to the point where you spirit and soul (mind/will/emotions) meet, which is the subconscious.  The subconscious then communicates them to your conscious mind, so your "hear" them sounding like you.  This is why many people are hearing My voice, but think it's their own thoughts, or question whether it's Me speaking to them. The more you practice hearing me, the more you recognize my voice, and the more you can tell the difference between your own mind speaking and Me."

So that is how I hear God's voice primarily, although there are times when I get impressions, feelings, or even whole packets of information that do not come through that way.  I will say I have never audibly heard God's voice before, although I don't doubt that He could speak to me that way if needed.

Because I trust that what Holy Spirit is saying to me is from Him, being practiced in hearing Him, when I write out whatever He has to say for the day I will most likely not edit it (except for spelling and punctuation) unless He tells me to clarify something as I'm reading through.  I trust that He's saying what needs to be said.

So, Father, I ask you now what you have to say for each person who reads this today.

"Love is the word for today.  Love - learn to love yourselves, for I have created you.  Learn to love those around you, for they are also Mine.  Love does not compare one to another - do not compare yourselves against each other, for out of this is all manner of jealousy and envy.  You only envy that which you think you can not have, you are only jealous of another when you feel that what you have is lacking.  See that I have given you everything you need.  See that the gifts, talents, and anointing on your life are perfect for your personality, your location, and the season of life you find yourself in.  I am growing you up into the fullness of who you are in Christ - do not despise the things I have given you.  Love yourself, and see yourself as I see you.  I desire to pour my Love into you today to illuminate your worth in Me.  Receive it, and be glad."

Father, I thank you so much for your words for today.  I ask that everyone who reads this receives it, and that it accomplishes everything you intended. In Jesus' name, Amen!

Monday, July 8, 2013

New Format, same Mina

Today begins a new chapter in the life of this "unable to fly" blog.  God has really been speaking to me about writing in general, and about having a gifting and anointing as a prophetic scribe able to write down the things He's talking to me about.  He encouraging me both in my writing for personal use (my journal) and for the benefit of other people.  In the past I always felt like what I was writing here had to be about me - I had to somehow make my life meaningful to other people, or be able to teach through the stories of my life, or be at least entertaining in what I was writing.  But now I really feel like this blog, in all the years I've had it, has been building up to this.  Building up to a point where this vague urge to blog made sense.

So, I'm going to try to get on and write what God has for me to write once every day.  I feel that it's something He's urging me to do, both for my own benefit, and for the benefit of others.  It's not that I think that I have the only voice; obviously that's not the case.  Or that I'm looking for a title "Prophetic Scribe Mina".  But, if I've been gifted in this area, I desire to use it, instead of telling God that I'm not worthy of the gifts He's given me.  I've done that for too long.

I'll put the prophetic word for the day in italics, only so you can tell where my rambling breaks off and the voice of Holy Spirit begins.  I pray that whatever He has to say to those of you reading this edifies, exhorts, and comforts you.

July 8, 2013: 

"Today is the day for the new - new beginnings, new adventures, new relationships.  Today I have new things for my people - a new word if you take the time to hear it.  It's a day of refreshing those things which are old and bringing them into a newness of life.  Taking what seems to be falling apart and making  it shine with My glory.  Taking what seems hopeless and shining the light of hope upon it.  All those things which you thought were dead are now coming alive in My power.  Coming to life, from the brink of death.  Becoming exactly what I have planned for them.  It's a day for My breath to come in and breathe on those things which are dark and crumbling in your life.  Can I not do this?  Can I not bring life where there is death?  Can I not make right what is wrong?  Can I not make things switch in an instant?  My power raised Christ from the dead, and my Spirit, full of power, rests in you.  Let me make those dry things lush with new greenery.  Allow me to grow your garden into fresh, green sprigs.  Let me tend the dry places, the arid places, and make them lush and fertile again.  Today is the day for new rain to fall.  Today is the day for life to come.  Today is the day I have good things for you, if you dare to only believe."

Father, I thank you for these words.  And I pray, agreeing with everyone who will read this, that this is their day for the new in You.  I pray that the people that read this grab hold and run with it, knowing that these promises are for them, because they read it and received it with joy.  I thank you that they need only believe in your goodness to receive it.  I ask that everyone who reads this word would experience this newness and refreshing in their lives today.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

This is going to be the general format for the future, unless Holy Spirit instructs me otherwise.  I look forward to seeing where God is going to take me, as well as everyone who reads this word, directly from the Heart of the Father to his children.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dead Or Alive?

One of the hardest things I tend to deal with in my Christian walk is the highs and the lows.  One day, I'm doing God-related stuff, hanging out with Christian friends, talking about what God is showing me and discussing the scriptures, and I'm on a high.  This is who I am, this is what I'm supposed to be doing, and I have hope and joy and fun.  I feel connected to God, feel like I'm hearing His voice, and am sure that this time, THIS TIME, I'm not going to lose it.  I'm going to be able to hold on to it forever.

And a day passes, and I wake up and have a conversation with God that goes something like this: "Father, thank you for being with me, thank you that today I will stay in constant communication with You, and that I'll walk out the path You have set before me, in Jesus' name.  Amen.".  But, that day I have no classes planned, no Christian friends to hang out with, and by lunchtime I'm sitting at my computer, thinking that I've run out of things to do with God.  Thinking that Jesus feels a little more distant, a little more quiet, a little, I don't know, LESS in my life than He did yesterday, or even earlier in the day.  He doesn't seem to mesh with this life, the life of spending time on the computer by myself while my husband works upstairs.  The life where there is no one else within earshot to talk to about Jesus, or at least no one who wants to hear it or would understand what I am saying.  The life that is spent taking care of the house and the children virtually by myself.  It's not that Jesus isn't still here with me - no, it's that somehow I often feel like two different people.  There is the home-version of Mina, the one who spends most of her time alone, who doesn't really talk much about God because she doesn't want her husband to feel like she's trying to force Jesus down his throat; and then there is the Mina who shows up when she is safe and free to be everything she really is.  Who speaks to her Christian friends without fear, even when what she is saying is challenging to their faith.  Even when what she is saying isn't the popular way of looking at things.  The Mina who is able to hear God's voice and able to walk in communion with Him, and through whom God speaks.

The hardest thing is that it's this Mina, the one who shows up when I'm with other Christians, that I really am.  The one who is excited to talk about the things that God is showing her, the one who is willing to challenge the status quo in the Church, the one who loves to be around other people and talk about what God is doing.  That's who I am, and yet I spend most of my time in my life being the other Mina - the one with the husband who doesn't really even understand relationships, let alone understand that who he is seeing isn't really who I am.  Most of my time is spent waiting until that one or two days a week where I get a chance to get with other people who actually understand what is coming out of my mouth when I speak about relationship with God through Christ.

It's a crappy way to live, but it's not my husbands fault.  It's partially my fault, and partially just the circumstances I find myself in.  I've stopped myself from being who I really am because my husband doesn't understand it.  I'm not sure if it's fear of rejection if he really knew who I was (no, that's not true - it totally started out because of fear of rejection), or if it's now just because I want him to feel comfortable talking to me about God and faith and so I don't want to make him feel like I'm trying to convert him, but it's really uncomfortable to live as two different people.

The most interesting thing to me is that I don't feel masked at all when I'm with my inner circle of friends who know Christ.  I don't feel false at all.  Everything I say, everything I do, everything I feel is genuinely me.  It's who I am at this moment in Christ.  What I say now, or my understanding of truth now may change 10 days from now, but I'm always honestly me.

At home, even when I speak to my Christian friends, I feel the need to tread lightly in what I say.  Don't go too overboard in praying for someone who really needs prayer.  Don't say too loudly that you know that God's will is always to heal, especially since your husband knows your two boys are not healed yet.  Don't talk too much as if you actually think that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, or that Jesus actually was God in flesh.  Read the Bible, that's fine. Pray and talk to God in your head, because then you can't be heard.  Type in your journal.  Don't be too fanatical.  Stay the wife he thought he was getting when he married you, rather than the wife you truly are right now.  Keep your mask in place - he won't know the difference.  And quietly lose your connection to God over that time, not because God left, but because you did.  By keeping this mask on my face for my husband, I raise the dead and walk her around, and then wonder why I feel dead inside.  Wonder why I feel alive in fellowship and dead at home.  When I'm in fellowship with other believers I'm the new creation - fully alive, fully free, fully connected with God.  At home I'm trying to be that dead woman - the one who died with Christ.  I was her, but I'm not any longer, so it's no wonder it's uncomfortable trying to be her.

See, I don't want to be her - I really don't.  I want to be who God has created me to be.  But I've seen what has happened in friends' marriages when one has caught onto God and run with Him, and the other hasn't, even if both spouses were born again.  Even if both spouses were professing Christ as Savior and were attending church together.  I've seen the strife it's caused, and wondered how much worse will it be in mine, seeing as my husband doesn't even believe at all?  How much harder will it be to live my life as I want to with a spouse who hasn't even made it into spiritual Kindergarten?

And honestly, there is fear that he won't know how to handle me and he'll walk away if I'm not the woman he expects me to be.  I know that the reality is that if he did leave, it would be hard, but I would survive.  I would live through it, and come out stronger on the other side.  But, I don't want him to leave.  I don't want to try to single-parent my children.  I don't want to be alone.  And more than that, I do want him to come to Christ.  I do love him, and I do see the treasures God created in him.  I see the man he truly is, the man who will be expressed in Christ, and I desperately want to see that man, to know that man, to love that man.  I want him to not only tolerate my faith - I want him to understand it.  The passionate discussions I have with friends I want to have with my husband.  I want to be able to start my conversations with "I feel like God's teaching me..." and have that completely understood.  I want to pray with him instead of just for him.  I want him to understand me and know me.  I want him to be able to see me through God's eyes.

My faith says my husband will believe if I just hang in here.  But I honestly don't know if I can continue to be two different people any longer - and I don't know if I should.