There is a scene in the movie Footloose, the 1984 version with Kevin Bacon (does the newer version even really count?!), where the character Ariel attempts to speak with her father and he is too busy. Ariel seems to be used to not having her father pay attention, other than attempt to control her through religion, while he seems to be everything to everyone else in the church he leads and the community he is a part of. The story line seemingly points out this behavior of her father as being part of the reason Ariel becomes a rebellious, promiscuous teen – one who is slapped in the church of all places by her father, after sharing she is no longer a virgin.
Of all the scenes, why is this one coming to mind? Trust me, I enjoy the scene where Kevin Bacon is dancing solo in the barn, or where Willard is learning to dance to “Let’s Hear It for the Boys”, much more!
As God led me into ministry over the years, I have often thought of this scene. I would pray the Lord would keep me aware of what was going on in my home, and with my children. I’ve prayed He would help me not grow more concerned with the needs of others, MORE than that of those just down the hall from me. I have prayed He would help me always operate from a place of love, rather than religion.
I have seen one too many pastor’s kids slip away, unbeknownst to the shepherd God entrusted them to. I have heard too many folks judge the behavior of a child, or parent, or both, simply because the parent chose to live a life for others, rather than self, and their kiddos appeared to be experiencing growing pains and learning things the “hard way”. I have seen people who have professed the love of Jesus too often be the harshest and most judgmental when folks they held to an unknown (and often unrealistic) standard, failed or made mistakes, withdrawing or becoming overbearing. I have seen those same folks be happy to expose the faults of others and even propagate them in their circles of influence – defaming the child and the parent. After all, if the parent were paying more attention…or if the parent was so “right”… Little Johnny wouldn’t be making such blatant mistakes while appearing so white-washed-perfect, right?
You and I both know we don’t look to movies to guide us in life, we look to the Word of God – both written and spoken to us in the prayer closet. Recently, I’ve had to do just that. My kiddo messed up – BIG TIME. The details aren’t important, but sharing a few things the Lord has led me to via the circumstances, is.
Jesus was twelve when He began to operate in His free will and listening to His heavenly Father (Luke 2:42, 48-49 MEV). If at this age He believed He should be free to follow after the Lord, then at this age one can conclude kiddos begin to exercise their own free will and ability to make their own decisions – we hope they are good choices, but sometimes they aren’t. My husband and I chose to not be controlling with our kiddos. We had experienced this and it was no bueno. We had also witnessed friends who were controlling, even wielding religion over their children – again, no bueno. I trusted the Lord would lead and guide through me by His Spirit, and He has.
In fact, when the situation with my kiddo came up, I knew the truth right away. I wasn’t consumed by the ministry or helping others to the point of oblivion in my own home. No, He provided revelation. But He wouldn’t trump the free will of my soon to be adult child and force her to be honest. He did however pursue her to the point where the conviction He was spurring moved her to being honest and then repentance. He is good like that.
Onlookers are often dismayed at how good God can be towards those who follow after Him with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. Because their pursuit may be lukewarm (or nonexistent) at best when compared to others on fire, they often “chomp at the bit” to discover something that reaffirms the thought “no one can live life like (fill in the blank)”. When the scrutinized does make a mistake (and they will as long as they are a human being walking this earth) the thought is somehow affirmed and folks chatter, “See, I knew so-and-so wasn’t what they portray themselves to be”.
In our scenario, my daughter was concerned about the impact her decision would have on me. This wasn’t about me, it was about her. I knew the Scripture in Ezekiel, her sins are not mine, and mine are not hers. We are individually accountable. ‘Doesn’t the child pay for the parent’s sins?’ No! For if the child does what is just and right and keeps my decrees, that child will surely live. 20 The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. God doesn’t hold the parent accountable for the child’s sin, nor vice versa. It is often human beings who like to project this type of mindset. It is also human nature to want to punish, or make sure someone “learns their lesson”. Again, God is not wired this way.
Ezekiel 18:21 shares: But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. 22 All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done. 23 “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. 1 John 1:9 states it this way: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
But shouldn’t someone be held accountable? Shouldn’t they have to PAY for their actions? There needs to be some punishment! Again, when I look to Scripture, I see Jesus interact with a guy named Peter in a completely different manner. Peter did not want Jesus to obey God, by going to the cross. Sin is essentially disobedience to what God is instructing us to do through His Holy Spirit leading, at any given moment. Peter’s desire to have Jesus disobey was called out by Jesus and this is what He had to say in Mark 8: “Get behind Me, satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Satan? Really? But did Jesus withdraw from Peter? Did he communicate to everyone in ear shot his weak and sophomoric mindset, warning all He could about Peter’s “issues”? No.
SIX DAYS LATER PETER SEES JESUS IN GLORY. After six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain, alone by themselves. And He was transfigured before them. His garments became shiny, extremely white as snow, such as no launderer on earth could whiten them. Mark 9:2-3 MEV. One day Jesus is calling Peter out and paralleling him to satan, six days later He is lavishing Him with revelation and glory. I wonder how God feels when we seek to punish others rather than pursue reconciliation and His passionate purpose for them.
But what about repeat offenders? They must be taught a lesson. They must be stopped. You’re right, they should be taught. But the Lord is the One to do the teaching. He is the one to bring the justice. He is the one to bring the conviction. Any correction outside of consulting Him in prayer first, is futile and more damaging. Peter was a repeat offender. After denying Jesus three times and then going fishing, Jesus again blessed Peter rather than withhold from him or give him the cold shoulder. Luke 22:61-62, John 21:3, 6 Holy Spirit also gave Peter a boldness to preach a convicting message that then added 3,000 souls to the Kingdom of God in ONE DAY. Perhaps herein lies the issue, Jesus truly LOVED the way God needed Him to, and humans (even professing Christian ones) have a hard time with this command. Yes, this is a command.
Jesus was more concerned about covering Peter in love (1 Peter 4:8) in order for Him to reach and live out his call and destiny. I believe Jesus could see past the sins, denial, zeal and fleshly fervor of Peter and into all God had for Peter.
There is a lesson to be learned in every scenario. We learn things about ourselves, we learn about others, and we learn what God needs us to see when we look to Him FIRST and all other opinions second or third – if entertained at all. With each lesson we can choose to build up, learn and grow, and implement boundaries, or we can tear down, remain small in our limited understanding, and attempt to invoke vindication not ours to impose. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18
In the end all Ariel was looking for was her father to love her and guide her through her confusion, hurt and sorrow – she happened to be looking in the wrong places, while giving into the influences of the peers around her. Ren (Kevin Bacon) did not see her as her past mistakes or a girl he could take advantage of, but as a girl worthy of only a kiss, a beautiful dance and a tender heart. Her father? He was able to truly see his daughter, abandon religion and pursue relationship with her. Then everyone was able to dance!
I pray as we continue this dance of life, we are able to allow the Lord to lead, and joyfully follow, while dropping the stones in our hands in order to take His and be merciful, kind, forgiving and most importantly – love – to one another. I pray we are just as eager to see the plank in our own eye, as we are the splinter in others. I pray we are positioned to learn from one another and build one another up, rather than point fingers and do our best to tear one another down. Blessings!
In the past several weeks, maybe even months, I have been learning quite a bit about prophecy, process, pain and patience. Prophecy, while instructed to especially desire this spiritual gift in the Bible, seems to be misunderstood, stifled by skeptics, or altogether dismissed (1Corinthians 14:1). Process, while often slower than snails on a summer night for many, is right where the Lord needs us to cooperate and be intentional; moving from glory to glory in the Lord is a process (2 Corinthians 3:18). Pain, while a part of any growth process, also gets a bad rap. The Word says in this world we WILL have trouble (John 16:33), yet only an admitted peculiar person will free-willingly press in to the pain of breaking and pressing for the purest of the Lord’s oil to be poured out through their life. Patience, a fruit of the Spirit and so very hard to come by in this “gimme now era”, is a virtue truly only God can help us maintain in any given situation – be it our own transformation, the hope for loved ones in our lives, or a vision or painting He places on our hearts.
Holy Spirit planted the seed of this piece in my mind and heart over eight years ago. Honestly, I had forgotten about it, until I was reminded this week. Too many things in life had attempted to derail the vision with more painful circumstances than a porcupine has needles (okay, maybe not that bad ;) ). I won’t go into the pains of the past. If you’re interested, perhaps you’d enjoy my recent podcast series? It wasn’t until this past summer, the vision began to formulate in my mind. As I pondered the “glory of God” and then began a study on it (feel free to find this on YouTube), each piece continued to come together.
First the sketch created with my Bic and graph paper. Then a watercolor painting with my inexpensive paints and ink on paper. After joining a group of Christian Artists, Holy Spirit began to bring a slew of thoughts and ideas for a third iteration. I quilted photographs together to create the digital rendition of the vision seen in the center. Each component selection led by the Spirit.
The background was a photograph taken a couple years ago of the most beautiful rainbow, the golden colors and hues mesmerized me, speaking to me of the promises and faithfulness of God. The foreground colors came from a photo I had taken after having hiked the highest point I’ve ever summited, all while hearing the Lord speaking and calling to me, “Come up higher”. The stairs are from the Lincoln monument in Washington D.C., representing freedom and liberty. The bride in white symbolic of the Bride of Christ – acquitted, no longer guilty, in Christ. ALL extend and focus on the Glory of God.
This week, as I was taking notes for a new adventure, I opened a notepad and began to peruse the pages. I found the image seen with highlights, written sometime March of 2011: Glory to Glory, Walking barefoot up a glorious stream, from one stone to the next. ~ Transformed
My eyes teared up. Transformation, moving from glory to glory, and encouraging other women to connect with the Word of God and Holy Spirit to be intentional about their unique transformation journey, is where God has led me since this note jotted down so long ago. Oh how faithful He is! Not just to me, but to the nearly thirty-five other women with an array of backgrounds and challenges He ministered to through the Rise Up Commitment. Oh what a Good Lord we love and loves us!
Regardless of the speed of the process, the depth of pain experienced, and many times feeling left empty of patience, when the Lord declares a thing through a prophetic word or vision – He WILL bring it to pass! We have to add another “P”… PERSISTENCE! We must hold on, press in, press on, be okay with growing increasingly peculiar and remain passionate about our First Love, above all!
We are co-laborers with God and you are God’s cultivated garden, the house he is building.
During yesterday morning’s service at Times Square Church, Pastor Carter Conlon shared,
“Get ready for a journey!
Your life is going to change.
Your future is not going to be like your past.
You’re going to live a life that brings GLORY to God!
You're going to have a breakthrough.
And you're not just going to sing about it, you're going to live it.”
His whole sermon leading up to this statement, I was “Amen-ing and hallelujah-ing!” Everything he spoke of is exactly the journey the Lord has had me on for the past five years. Interestingly enough, it has been five years since this blog journey began and the Lord REALLY began to have His way in my life.
I was already in reflective mode, pondering the post I might write and share as a glorifying synopsis to the One responsible for every ounce of transformation radiating from this life. He set the stage. I am a living testament to every instruction Pastor Carter Conlon provided yesterday, is true.
1.Read the word yourself
2.Connect with others
3.Set yourself apart
4.Consume the WHOLE word of God - no hypocrisy – no picking and choosing palatable
5.Get ready and Go on the journey!
Reading the word for myself is exactly what Holy Spirit led me to do five years ago. It is His encouragement through me as well. Devotions are nice and easy, but Holy Spirit taking you on a journey is where it is at!
Connecting with others – others with a heart for following fully after God – did come next. The Lord brought women into my life ready to grow and transform. We could turn to one another for prayer and support and encouragement. We were, and still are, iron sharpening iron, doing life together – across multiple denominations.
At multiple points I had to agree with the Lord and say, “This (fill in the blank) cannot go where YOU are taking me. I choose JESUS over (fill in the blank)!” This was and is a hard one. “Fill in the blank” can be a relationship, habit, behavior, addiction, mindset, fear, or concern. Many times, it will be related to the thoughts of wondering what others will think. When we set ourselves apart for God, pruning and purging takes place, but oh how good is His grace!
Reading all of the Word of God, and allowing it to change me, rather than me attempt to change the word to my liking – has always been my desire. It takes courage to humbly say, “Lord, You know best. I don’t. Help me understand, embrace and follow after You.”
The journey is remaining consistent with these four keys. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. It is easy to fall out of the word. There will be attempts to disconnect us from others and keep us distanced. Temptations will come attempting to (sometimes succeeding even) have us fall back and away from being set apart. Not all of God’s Word is pleasing to read and embrace. Have you ever read Isaiah 20? After the prophet said, “Here I am Lord, send me!” God asked Isaiah to walk around naked – for three years – just to prove a point! Hard to embrace? Just a little.
But we FREE WILLINGLY choose to continue to respond to Holy Spirit – our Comforter, Counselor and Teacher. We continue to repent and keep going when we do fall down. We get back into His Word and presence. We choose to reconnect when we realize we’ve chosen the pain of isolation far too long. We choose to press on towards the mark and high calling – WHATEVER THE COST!
This is my encouragement for YOU today. I pray you declare, “I am getting up and I'm going with God! I want to see what God will do!!”
God has been speaking the RISE UP message to my heart for over four years, and He spoke it again through the words of my Pastor at Times Square Church, "We are being called by God, as the Church of Jesus Christ, in this Nation, to RISE UP and take a God appointed journey. We are. Get ready for a journey! Your life is going to change. Your future is not going to be like your past. You’re going to live a life that brings GLORY to God! You're going to have a breakthrough. And you're not just going to sing about it, you're going to live it."
This is 100% true – for the vessel willing to search God’s word, connect to the body, set yourself apart, and accept the whole word of God. Godspeed my friends!
Praise and GLORY be to God for the past five years!!! The journey will undoubtedly lead to vision, compassion, a sense of authority, the will to fight for others and TRANSFORMING more into the likeness of Jesus Christ!
September 3, 2014 - Began the LiveEatSweat Blog (link)
May 16, 2015 - Completed Spartan Sprint (image, link)
August 16, 2015 - Completed Spartan Super (image, link)
Aug/Sept 2015 - Strong Magazine Highlight (image)
October 11, 2015 - FIRST LES45 Group Challenge (link)
November 2015 - Shepherdess Rise Up Study (link)
March 1, 2016 - SECOND LES45 Group Challenge (link)
June 2016 - Mission Trip to Dominican Republic (link)
God began to move me from behind the keyboard and blogging, to going LIVE - completely outside my comfort zone!
September 12, 2016 - THIRD LES45 Group Challenge (link)
September 27, 2016 - Rise Up! Is Back (link)
November 21, 2016 - It's Time to RISE (link)
April 13, 2017 - Rise Up! Devotions Book Launch (link)
June 2017 - Rise Up! in Dominican Republic (image)
October 9, 2017 - Rise & Pray (link, YouTube)
October 17, 2017 - Rise Up Commitment Seed Planted (link)
God was calling me to move from behind the camera, to meet with women in-person - again, outside my comfort zone...
Jan-March 2018 - The FIRST Rise Up Commitment (testimonials)
February 2018 - Embraced my call to teach, encourage through the prophetic and facilitate healing as
the Lord leads
April 15, 2018 - Launched Podcast (link)
Sep-Nov 2018 - The SECOND Rise Up Commitment
December 13, 2018 - Beyond at BrewHa (YouTube)
God was calling me to move from a select group to a public forum where all were invited
May 2, 2019 - National Day of Prayer
May 23, 2019 - Launched "My Voice His Story" Memoir
June 23, 2019 - Launched the THIRD Rise Up Commitment in local homeless shelter with five women
August 10, 2019 - Reach Out! With roughly 200 folks (image)
God has been moving me from inside the public platform, to outside declaring His Love and Word!
Wherever you are HE is faithful to accept what little we believe we have to offer and multiply in ways BEYOND our imagination!!
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.