In HIM…You ARE

Have you ever been asked to do something you weren’t sure you were capable of? Or been in a situation where you felt completely over your head? 

Have you ever felt unqualified? Unworthy? Unlovable? Unbeautiful?

I know I have. In fact, when I was asked to speak to the youth at our summer camp – I was excited! At first, that is. Then that small little voice of fear crept in. 

You see, Satan doesn’t take a sick day. He doesn’t sit back and think, nah I’m just going to let that one slide. No, he’s always there, waiting for the opportune moment to sink his claws in and destroy anything good God has for us!

Lisa Bevere once said, ‘Satan doesn’t attack us based on our past, he attacks us based on our future!’

He attacks us based on what he KNOWS we are capable of because he knows what Christ, who lives in us, is capable of! 

So when that little voice started saying to me: you aren’t ready for this. You’ve never stood in front of people talking (as I started having horrible flashbacks to college speech classes) – You aren’t qualified to do this. I quickly felt deflated and defeated. 

Sure I’ve done the small group thing before – where you have the instant feedback and gratification from your participants – but to actually get up and speak to an audience – to preach – mark that one on my ‘Never Have I Ever’ list. 

But what does the Word say about who Satan is? Does he come to remind us of the obvious truths we may believe in? No. The Word says in John 8:44 that Satan is a thief and the father of all lies – that there is no truth in him. And in John 10:10 NLT – “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Satan takes the truth and twists it until it becomes a lie you believe. As a prime example, just last night – through a series of crazy events – we saw bugs on the beds we were preparing to sleep in. The truth of the matter – it was an actual bug on the bed. The lie – they weren’t bedbugs. Satan took that truth, and through fear, twisted it into a lie until we were so overcome by it that no one wanted to sleep on the beds. 

Satan comes to STEAL the TRUTH from you, to KILL your FAITH and FUTURE, and DESTROY EVERY GOOD THING GOD HAS FOR YOU. 

So the Lord really began to minister to me about who I am and who lives IN me. 

Because of Him – My past and sins were crucified with Him 

Because of Him – I was raised up and I am alive

Because of Him – it isn’t me who lives, but Christ who lives 

He LIVES in ME! He LIVES in YOU! 

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Because of Him, because He lives in me…when I believe the lies of the devil and I say I’M not qualified, I’M not capable, I’M not beautiful, I’M not ENOUGH…we are saying that Christ IN US isn’t qualified, isn’t capable, isn’t exactly who He created you to be – we are saying Christ ISN’T ENOUGH!

I don’t know about y’all. But that revelation hit me like a ton of bricks. Christ IS enough. His death and resurrection ARE my LIFE! When the greater one resides in you…who can be against you? What dare be against you?

But even more so as I was praying over this Wednesday on my drive to church…the Lord began to minister to me about not just Christ in me, but Christ in others. 

One of the nasty lies of Satan I’ve believed all of my life is that I wasn’t pretty, wasn’t beautiful. How much more so if I didn’t believe it and didn’t love myself, then how could anyone else find me pretty, or beautiful, or love me?! 

That’s when the Lord began to minister to me that if He’s in me and He is everything, then isn’t He the same in other believers too? I have to believe that Him in me, Him in you, and Him in my future spouse are enough too! 

With Christ in you, because of the sacrifice He made…you are equipped and capable and beautiful and EVERYTHING HE DESIGNED YOU TO BE!!

Fearless


When did fear take over our lives?

Turn the tv on. Open up a newspaper (do they still make those?). Listen to the radio. Scroll through social media. Talk to a friend. 

No matter your means of information, it’s hard nowadays to not be inundated with headlines that spark fear in even the most fearless of people out there. 

Don’t go outside! Zika virus is everywhere and if you get bit by a mosquito, you’ll end up sick. 

Don’t go anywhere! ISIS is everywhere. You can’t travel now without the fear of a terrorist attack. 

Don’t say anything! If you do, you’ll offend someone or end up in a social media word war because no one is allowed to have a differing opinion anymore. 

Don’t write that. Don’t say that. Don’t do that. Don’t post that. Don’t confront that. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t. 

This could all read as – fear, fear, fear, fear. 

The more soul searching I do of myself, the more I recognize how much of my past experiences were dictated by fear. How many things I didn’t do or missed out on because I was fearful. 

Almost 9 years ago, I had this brief moment in my life of fearlessness. I was on the cusp of my 25th birthday – next to nearly no responsibilities, I had just graduated from the university, I actually had money in my bank account, and I was confident the world was truly my oyster. 

So I grabbed a friend and set out on a two-week vacation through five countries in Europe. I didn’t care about the cost – I had enough money and no worries about the future. I didn’t care about safety – two young, single girls traveling alone through unchartered territories (what the heck were our parents thinking?!) and predominantly Muslim places in the middle of Ramadan. I didn’t worry about what I could come back to on my desk at work. I truly didn’t have a care in the world I couldn’t conquer on my own. And on that trip, I had the time of my life! I saw some of the wonders of the world. I met some amazing people. I brought back memories I’ll cherish forever. I even climbed a volcano! I climbed a freaking volcano!! 

For those two weeks, FEARLESS was my middle name. 

But as the years went on, adult responsibilities increased, and my child-like-faith decreased, the fear-less part of me was taken over by the fear-more part. 

Fear can absolutely cripple a person if you allow it to take root in your life. And all it takes is to open yourself up to the voices of the world: the voices telling you to fear, to doubt, to hate – that you aren’t safe enough, good enough. But that is never God’s best for us. 

II Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 

He’s given us power to overcome fear, love to conquer it all, and a peaceful mind so the cares can’t get us down. 

I’m not sure the Word could be any clearer than that. Once you identify that fear is not from God, it is not good, and it most definitely doesn’t belong in your life, you can begin to uproot it! 

Now this isn’t your pass to go and act like an idiot. Most of us do enough of that as teenagers to fulfill a lifetime quota. But it is your pass to look at things with God on your side – if He is on your side, who can be against you? (Romans 8:1)

Quit being fearful about tomorrow. Quit fearing the elections (yup I said it). Quit worrying about your future – or even your past. Quit worrying about school, what to wear, your boyfriend/girlfriend, the popular clique or the unpopular clique. Quit worrying about college. Quit worrying about that trip you want to take. Quit worrying about your job. 

Take a Holy Ghost chill pill, rest in your Father’s arms, remembering “hey, He’s got this!” and start living life fearlessly again. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get back to where I was at 25yrs old and be FEARLESS! 

In a world that fears more, we should fear less because greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world!! (I John 4:4 NLT) 

No Free Passes


Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives you assurance about things we cannot see.

Christian Misconception No. 1:
When you follow God’s plan, everything will fall in to place and nothing will be difficult.

It’s an absolute misconception nowadays, that most Christians have, that if you are in God’s will and doing what He wants you to do, then you won’t have to work at it or you won’t have any trials along the way. Absolutely untrue. Sometimes I think it takes even more faith to walk out God’s plan for you. God will provide you with just what you need, but at the same time He’ll tell you, “I’ve brought you here, now it’s time for you to exercise your faith for the rest.”

After the wreck that totaled my lovely, paid-off car, I had this plan of my own that I was going to take the settlement from the accident and pay cash for another car. I did NOT want a car payment again. But I also wanted a reliable car that would last me the next 5 years.

So off I went, every night, scouring the used car lots because, let’s face it, you aren’t going to find a new car for $10,000. But what I soon began to realize was I wasn’t going to find a good used car for only $10,000 either.

I had started out on this faith venture gung ho and ready to believe for the right used vehicle. But each night that I would go out looking, I would come back even more discouraged than before. After three weeks of car searching, I was no closer to finding a replacement vehicle than I was the day my car was totaled.

I found myself really having to guard against being flat-out angry at God. I knew His will for me wasn’t to go into debt. But why did it seem that every door was closing when I was looking for a used car?

As I began nearing the end of the month, 3.5wks after the accident, I was at the end of my rope. I no longer had a rental car and was relying on the kindness of others for transportation. The settlement check had come in…but still no car. My sweet father was looking just as hard as I was for something every single day. But every time he’d find something, I wouldn’t have peace about it, or every time I would find something, he wouldn’t have peace about it. I remember one night, lying in bed, crying out to God “It’s not supposed to be THIS HARD!!”. Then, three days before the end of the month, my father suggested “Why not a new car?”.

His argument wasn’t only strong, it was rather convincing. Why sink $10k into a used car that you’re just going to have turn around and replace again in 2 years or make major repairs on? Why not put that money towards a new car, that won’t have problems, that will have a warranty, and you can get just what you want?

I wasn’t completely convinced until I heard my mother say, “Which do you have the faith for? To believe that the used car will have no problems and you won’t have to put any money in to it? Or believe that a brand new, problem-free, car can be paid off?”

That’s when I felt the Holy Spirit rise up inside, reminding me that I was limiting God, once again, by making a decision based on current circumstances instead of basing it on God and His Word – instead of basing it in faith. And with that, I made the decision based on peace.

Within 24hrs of that small revelation, I was sitting inside a dealership, signing the paperwork on my brand new 2015 car. A car, that just as I had prayed almost 4wks earlier, had sought me out…the dealership had just driven the car in from across the state the day before on a trade – it was the exact one I wanted, and the only one like it anywhere. On top of that, I began to see God’s hand at work with the deal – I not only ended up with a negotiated price that was thousands below MSRP, but I also received 0% financing so it would not cost me anything to borrow the remainder of the money. I had instant equity in the car when I drove it off of the lot and I had enough from the settlement to pay for more than half of the car.

So today, I am driving around in my brand new blessing and every day I call her “paid off”! I believe by faith that this was the direction God led me and if this is His plan, then I believe just as strongly that He will provide the way for me to pay this car off. On the same day I signed the papers on the car, I received an unexpected raise – now if that’s not God, I don’t know what is.

Sitting around with a dear friend recently, discussing the recent leap of faith she and her family have taken, I heard the same faith theme as I had just learned myself. Just because you are walking out God’s plan for you, doesn’t mean that everything is going to fall in to place and you aren’t going to have to work for it. It doesn’t mean you aren’t still going to have to believe by faith every single day while you are walking out that plan.

It was absolutely God’s plan for the children of Israel to be led out of slavery in Egypt and in to the promised land.  BUT – even though they were walking out God’s plan for them, they still had to believe daily for God to provide for them. They had to believe for food each day. Shelter and protection each night. Even for their clothes and shoes to keep those 40 years. And 40 years! I know many times they wanted to give up their faith – and many did – but those who didn’t, those who continued to believe and push forward, no matter how hard it got, saw the promised land – they saw God’s promise to them fulfilled!

Remember walking out God’s plan for your life doesn’t give you a pass to sit back and kick your feet up. Walking God’s plan out is going to require more faith than you ever expected – but the reward will be greater than anything you could ever imagine.

The “What-If” Quicksand

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The past three weeks have been perhaps the most stressful and yet biggest opportunity for growth I’ve ever had in my life.

On Easter Sunday, I was t-boned.

It was one of those moments in life where everything slows down, as if watching a movie in slow motion, and yet at the same time, it all happened so fast, I don’t even remember the airbags going off. After the car spun and finally came to a stop, I knew two things: 1. My car was totaled (I knew it even without seeing the damage) and 2. I knew this was absolutely not my fault and I was accepting nothing less than that.

After I managed to crawl out the passenger side of my car (in a short dress and heels no less – it was Easter after all) shock set in as anger, panic, and fear began to try and take root.

Then, the ‘what-ifs” started.

What if I had gone to church that Sunday with my parents instead of attending my church first?

What if I hadn’t gone back inside my church to talk to someone afterwards, delaying me just a few moments more?

What if I had taken a different route?

What if, what if, what if………

I was drowning fast in the quicksand of ‘what-ifs’.

I’m sure my mother saw the panic setting in as I began to slowly meltdown sitting in the speaker’s room at church. But her kind words brought me back (even if it was just a little bit back) – “Forgive him. Walk in forgiveness. Walk in love.”  (Although she admitted later she was having just as hard of a time doing the exact same thing – and she wasn’t even in the car with me).

I can not even count how many times I have repeated this to myself over the past three weeks. Sometimes just in my head. Sometimes under my breath. Sometimes nearly screaming it at myself. But none-the-less, I have confessed it nearly every day.

Within an hour of the accident, I could already see God working on me. Some of those “what-ifs” turned to “thank you Lord!”s. Like – “what if my front airbag had gone off where my hand was on the horn?” became “Thank you Lord that there are NO BROKEN BONES! Thank you Lord that I walked away!” “What if he had hit my door instead of the back door?” became “Thank you Lord that Your guardian angels kept him from hitting my door.”

But, just because God is working on you, doesn’t mean satan still doesn’t try to take that joy away. It wasn’t too many more minutes after that when the worry began to creep in.

What am I going to do? How am I going to afford another car? How am I even going to get to work tomorrow? (Yup, that’s me – the practical one).

Over the next few days I began to have a new revelation of worry, regret, and resting in God.

You see – the more “what-if” thoughts I entertained, the more I began to see regret and worry try to take over. “What-ifs” over decisions already made, is nothing but REGRET. And “what-ifs” about future decision,  not yet made, is nothing but WORRY.

But what does the Word say about this all?

Cast your cares over on to God for He cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7).

And if God cares so much for the smallest of creatures in His creation, how much more so does He care for you?! He will provide for you so don’t let worry take over! (Matthew 6).

I began to realize that not only was I drowning in the “what-if” quicksand of regrets, but I was already putting stock in “what-if” worry that hadn’t even happened yet. “What if I meet someone tomorrow, get married, and have a baby – I’d need a bigger, more practical vehicle?”, “What if my finances don’t continue to improve and I’m stuck with a car payment?”, “What if the insurance company offers me pennies on the dollar value for my car?”….what if, what if, what if.

And that’s when it really hit me…I wasn’t just living this moment in the “what-ifs”, I had been living the last 12yrs of my life based on “what-ifs”!  I’ve been living my life putting more faith in fear of the unknown than putting faith in God, the known!

There’s only one thing that can pull you out of this downward spiral of drowning in what-if quicksand – God. This is where you have to cast those cares over on to Him. You have to trust that He loves you so much, He will take care of you and won’t let you want for anything. This is where you have to say enough is enough – I won’t put faith in worry anymore. I won’t live a life paralyzed by “what-ifs”.

Things don’t always go according to plan. Heck, let’s face it…things very rarely go according to OUR plan. But God…God’s always got a plan that is bigger and better than ours, and He’s standing at attention, ready to take over the moment we say “not I Lord, but You!”  “Not my care Lord – I give it all over to you!”

We’re now 3 weeks out from the accident. Praise God I’m getting better every day, less sore, and I’m learning to put faith in Him instead of in the “what-ifs”. Praise God for His over and above blessings and a great testimony and lesson from this all.

Do I have it all figured out yet? Of course not. But God does and His plan is far superior to mine! I’m ready to use His word as a bridge over this quicksand of “what-if”, worry and regret, and move forward in to the blessing He has waiting for me!

Love Goggles

 

  
Love is blind.”

I’m sure that’s a quote you’ve heard more than once in your lifetime. You might not believe it to be true, but take a quick stroll through your local Walmart and I’m sure you’ll find at least one couple that makes you scratch your head and go “What did they ever see in that person to fall in love?!”

They had love goggles on!

What are they, you ask? I’d like to think they are a better (and Christian approved) version of beer goggles…you know, the eyes a drunk person sees someone through after one too many drinks, when they think everyone is just amazing. Now take that, but minus the feeling/need to distort reality, via alcohol – and you’ve got love goggles my dear readers.

But how does this pertain to love? Do we have to be drunk to fall in love with, dare I say, the unlovable? No, of course not!

1. I’m a firm believer that there is someone for everyone.
2. Love isn’t blind – it’s just got “love goggles” on.

On one of those fun outings to Walmart, I saw a very unconventional couple. A tall, skinny, well dressed, and good looking guy with a wife who weighed easily 350lbs, tattoos galore, clothes that were wrinkled and stained, and hair that was more unkempt than a rat’s nest. Does that paint a picture for you of how odd a couple this was to see?

As I walked passed them, I found that I was comparing myself to this woman I didn’t even know, and asking God the whys:

Me: Ok, if SHE can find someone, then what the heck is wrong with me? I guess love really is blind if HE can love someone like THAT.
God: Love isn’t blind. It simply allows you to see the beauty in everything. When you see people through MY love, you’ll see them the way I do – you’ll see the unique beauty that each person holds because I created them!

I’m going to let that sink in for a minute. It took me a few minutes to fully grasp what I had just heard, what I had just received a rhema on.

“Love isn’t blind. It simply allows us to see the beauty (God’s beauty) in everything!” This might be one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard from God. Definitely in my top five.

The inmate in prison. The soldier that returns from war without his limbs. The woman who was disfigured in an accident. The sinner on the sidewalk. Get off of your high horse! Not one of us is more righteous than the other. We are all sinners saved by grace and transformed by His love. The easiest thing to do in life is judge a book by its cover – or a person by their outward appearance. But when we do that, not only are we not showing God’s love, but we aren’t seeing with His love either.

God created each of us in His image. We might, along the path of our life and free will, make decisions that may alter our appearances in negative ways (I type this as I’m munching on salt & vinegar chips, even though I’m supposed to be low-carbing it right now). But no matter the changes our body and outter appearance go through, God will always see us as He created us – He’ll always see our heart and our true beauty.

I challenge you all, this week, to put this to work in your own lives. Stop seeing only the outward appearance. Stop looking at the circumstances – past and present. Stop seeing people with your worldly eyes. See people through God’s eyes this week. See them through His eyes of love. I’m not talking about passionate Eros love; I’m talking about compassionate Philia and Agape love. Determine now to see the beauty in all of God’s creations. I promise, if you set in your heart and mind to do this, not only will your view of people change and your heart expand, but it will rock your world in a way only God can!

 
  

In the Blink of an Eye

This has been an interesting week here in Texas to say the least. And quite possibly one of the longest weeks I can remember. Sunday brought freezing rain that we were driving home in. Monday was more ice and a crazy, hectic day at work. Tuesday was mostly the remnants of Monday. But, oh, Wednesday brought some hope! Wednesday morning started off with a snow covered car and gray, gloomy skies. But by lunch time, just four short hours later, there wasn’t a single sign of snow left and beautiful blue skies had emerged!

As I was sitting there on my lunch break, I started thinking about what I had written the week before about staying focused on the future that’s ahead of you and not getting side tracked on what’s currently happening around you. But God took this one step further with me, when I started thinking of how quickly our circumstances can change for the better.

In a matter of just four hours, or 240 minutes, the weather here in “bi-polar Texas” changed from freezing, gloomy, with snow to cool, sunny, and clear blue skies. If the weather can change that quickly, how quickly can our circumstances change when God is involved?

Given God’s track record, I’d say quicker than the speed of light.

When God was creating the world, and the world was without light, God spoke change into the void and light was. God didn’t speak it and then several days later, after a bunch of other things happened and fell in to place, light finally happened. God didn’t speak it and light only showed up in one place, but not another. No. God spoke “let there be light and light was!” (Genesis 1).

I started thinking about this in my own life and my own circumstances. I’ve seen it happen personally before. I can think back to last summer, when I had been told I was at the top of my pay grade for my position and there was no hope for a raise if I wasn’t willing to change departments. But God’s will was for me to stay right where I was and to be obedient to Him (staying forward focused and not being distracted by the present facts).

One afternoon, while in a drive-thru for lunch, I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me to pay for lunch for the car behind me. I did so out of obedience and keeping my focus straight ahead instead of thinking, how tight my finances already were and what the current facts around me were screaming. Not ten minutes after I made it back to work from lunch, I was called in and given a raise that I had been told before was impossible! Not only impossible, but RETROACTIVE! And God’s change didn’t stop there…just three months later, I received another promotion that could only come at the hand of God!!

And as I am writing this, I am listening to a testimony at a church service, where a congregation member lost consciousness and a pulse, but as they began to pray over him and speak God’s life changing power over him, that situation changed and he was brought back from death!

Even now, as my hearts deepest desire is for a spouse at this time in my life, God quickly reminded me of Adam. Adam saw all of God’s creation around him, and it was good, but none were a match for him. God took from Adam and created his helpmate, Eve. And you know how quickly that change occurred? It didn’t take months of searching through online dating – no, Adam’s change took place in the course of an afternoon nap!

I know it might not be logical to think when you wake up from your Sunday afternoon nap, your helpmate will be right there waiting for you. Of course not. That would actually be a bit weird and perhaps worth calling the police over (I mean how would they get in to your house if you’re sleeping?). But it is logical to believe and EXPECT God to move that quickly to change your current circumstances!

When you are obedient to God, and in the right place where He wants you at that time, the circumstances around you won’t matter because you know how quickly they are going to change – In the blink of an eye! In the time it takes to speak them in to existence! In the time it takes to activate your faith and put it to work, God’s change is going to be right there waiting for you!!

So be encouraged. No matter what you are facing. If God can speak and light is… If a man can be dead, yet risen again by faith… If Adam can take a nap and wake up with a wife… What issue can you possibly think is too big for God to change instantly when you believe and put your faith and obedience in to it?! The answer – NONE!!!

Forward Focused

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Proverbs 4:25
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.

One morning, this past week, I got in my car to go to work looking through a windshield of frozen dew droplets. I didn’t know at first that they were frozen. No, I figured that out when I went to wipe them away, halfway down the road, and they didn’t move. No big deal though; I just had to focus ahead of me, seeing past what was directly in front of me on the windshield.

This got me thinking. What a great metaphor for our own lives. How often do we get so focused on what is directly in front of us that we forget to continue looking forward?

It’s easy to do. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible not to give place to what we see right at that moment. What is important is that we don’t give place to what’s right there when we know our promise in God, our blessings, are still ahead of us.

Think back (I know you might have to think a LONG way back) to when you were learning to drive. How many of us had a hard time learning to watch the road out in front of us instead of the road just 10ft in front? I know when I was learning I did this. I’d literally keep my focus on the road right at the end of my hood. Then I’d find myself constantly correcting the wheel trying to stay straight in the lane. My movements were sporadic and jerky, with a vehicle moving back and forth in the lane, and a parent in the passenger seat just about as stressed out as I was.

When things happen in life, with circumstances you weren’t expecting, we can easily lose focus of the goal ahead of us. Our attention quickly goes to the here and now. We begin correcting and over correcting every little thing going on. We begin stressing over things we are focusing on, to the right and left, instead of focusing on the goal out ahead of us. And we lose our peace in the process of it.

Colossians 3:2
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Isaiah 26:3
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Don’t stress over the small things. Don’t stress over the things you see happening now; they aren’t part of your future God has for you. You’re just passing through this valley and moving around the mountain you see. None of it is worth losing your peace over. Set your sights on things above…set your focus on the blessing God has for you. Look out and ahead to His plan, not your own. Don’t be swayed by what’s around you – be swayed only by what the Word says. Keep pushing on, friends. The scenery ahead is a lot better than the scenery around you at the moment!