I am going to upfront and honest right now, not all of the content you are about to consume is NOT my original composition. It is, however, in the vein of what Holy Spirit seemed to be speaking to my heart and this message confirmed for me what God was speaking.
Let’s go back a few days into last week…
Wednesday, October 24th the Rise Up Commitment gals were having a very rich and deep conversation during our weekly gathering. The inception of vision was described. Testimonies of God’s love for us by speaking in unique ways through shell messages on a beach for one and provision of transportation for another. One gal shared she sees a theme of the church being UNIFIED and another felt freedom and safety to share her heart’s deepest hurts in a painful two year season.
My heart was full and praising God for what He is doing among His daughters.
Thursday, October 25th Holy Spirit moves me to share a post stating, “He cannot heal our wounds if we are busy hiding them.” I continued to think of the gal who has grown stronger and stronger throughout the course of this year, regardless of the pain she described the night before. This gal’s willingness to be vulnerable and open, without worrying about where her thoughts would go, has continuously brought healing in her life. Her ability to be real, open, authentic, and raw is allowing Him to do a deep work.
ROAR. Holy Spirit briefly reminded me of the Lion of Judah, Jesus, being able to speak to our hurt and dark places and then through those places to help others.
Friday, October 26th I spent my day mainly alone. My husband was gone on business, our kiddos had school and a volunteer event that evening. The majority of my time was spent composing, recording and producing a podcast episode for a project at work. PAUSE. Yes, God has been opening doors in my career as a result of the ministry He began in my life, years ago. Go God! The episode wasn’t dry and what one would think would be created in corporate America, but one attached to giving, faith and the Lord giving voice and song even in the most destitute of places. Destitute according to America’s standards.
The books arrived. Holy Spirit: An Introduction by John Bevere and Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala came. Oh goodie! It felt like Christmas, which is my FAVORITE!
Holy Spirit will be our study material for the weeks following the conclusion of the second session of Rise Up Commitment. A topic He Himself laid on my heart weeks ago! Gals are HUNGRY to not only learn more about Him, but live more abundantly with Him and His leading.
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire I began to devour after our girls headed out for their event. What a great reminder to always, always, ALWAYS be led by the Holy Spirit and to be real and be YOU. The YOU God made YOU to be, because He KNEW your life would serve a very important purpose for His glory. This book, is nearly as captivating and inspirational as Rees Howells Intercessor. Both document the faith journey and necessity to depend on Holy Spirit every step of the way!
Saturday, October 27th, I had an amazing conversation with a close sister in Christ and the Spirit filled ideas were a firing! The atmosphere was charged with His presence, which is super cool considering we were in our favorite coffee shop and the place was a hopping that morning. So many were walking smack into the presence of God unbeknownst to them. I can’t help but imagine there day was amazing after. I know mine was, God had confirmed so many thoughts dancing around in my mind. After leaving, ROAR continued to come to mind. An image and Scripture.
The Book of Revelation, EEK, scary – to some – not all. But there He is, Jesus, Lion of the tribe of Judah, worthy to open the seven seals! Blessing, honor, glory, power, wisdom, strength, and riches stood out.
Sunday, October 28th, oh wow, God couldn’t be more clear! My Pastor from Times Square Church breaks down into detail a conversation regarding enemies in high places and their schemes to get us to fall, convinced we have no victory. Remember Ephesians 6:12? By the way, this is where the content is no longer mine…
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
He then took the congregation to Numbers 22 where Balak and Balaam are conversing. Balaam is scheming to devour and destroy the people of Israel, in mountainous, or high, places. But he can’t. The Lord will not allow Balak to speak ill of or curse His people. Even though!
Even though in the ten or better chapters leading up to that moment, the people of Israel had seemingly failed miserably. They were given to complaining, gluttony, jealousy, fear, temptation to return to Egypt, forgetfulness of God’s goodness, disobedience, unable to do as the Lord instructed and again, complainers. This was all AFTER deliverance from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea!
But are these the accounts the Lord recalled, when their enemies, Balak and Balaam were conniving? No.
The Lord says, “You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed!” in Numbers 22:12.
Balam then says in Numbers 23:8, “But how can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I condemn those whom the Lord has not condemned?”
And later in verses 19 thru 21:
“God is not a man, so he does not lie.
He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
20 Listen, I received a command to bless;
God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it!
21 No misfortune is in his plan for Jacob;
no trouble is in store for Israel.
For the Lord their God is with them;
he has been proclaimed their king.
This, this is the part that got me, verse 24 “These people rise up like a lioness, like a majestic lion rousing itself. They refuse to rest until they have feasted on prey, drinking the blood of the slaughtered!”
Holy smokes! The two coming together just like it had in my mind the day before. God is SPEAKING.
The moral of the story? We, as the people of God, have got to see ourselves the way God sees us! Are there ramifications for disobedience, lack of faith and murmuring? Yes. Simply read the chapters eleven through twenty-one of Numbers. There will always be consequences for actions not aligned with the Lord.
But because we do not align with what He sees in us, does not change His mind about the way He sees us. It won’t change. He would have us be victorious! And the enemy knows this! The enemy knows once a believer SEES themselves as God sees them, hell is going to shake.
The Israelites believed in chapter thirteen they would be devoured by the enemy, which is what kept them from entering the Promised Land. God did not want the future they chose in unbelief. He had something better. Just nine chapters later, the enemy is convinced it will be devoured by God’ people because HE KNOWS HOW EMPHATIC GOD is in His mercy, love and everlasting love for His people!
Does the enemy know that about us? That God in US will devour all its schemes and attempts? Does the enemy see victory in and through OUR lives? Or is the high talk in high places going uncontested and even agreed with, keeping us from victoriously standing firm in who WE ARE?
Be encouraged today to read these chapters and allow God to speak to your heart. He sees us as so much more than we see ourselves, regardless of our previous failures. For the sincere heart seeking to be transformed and love others, the victory is already had. Let’s live as such! Let’s live as a lioness, like a majestic lion rousing itself, refusing to rest!
I almost went LIVE with this thought, but decided not. Fresh thoughts can sometimes be so emotionally charged, and Spirit void, the intent may not always be conveyed. But I want to share something, trusting my time processing via writing will allow Holy Spirit to put into Word, once and for all – a very real truth we all need to EMBRACE rather than giving a head nod to.
I could see the tears welling up in her eyes, but she was fighting their flow.
How was your day?
How’d the test go? Quivering of the lip. And then it came. The dam couldn’t hold back the trickle bound back longer than this moment.
I failed. I am failing at everything. I just want to crawl in a hole and cover up…
Woah. Slow your roll.
It was time to sit down, look her straight in the eye, and bring Holy Spirit wisdom into the situation, speak life, and help her see she is more.
That’s not true, I looked at your grades. You have all A’s and a B+. You are not failing at EVERYTHING.
You may have failed at this test, but it is not EVERYTHING. The lip quivered more and then it came…
I know you struggle with not feeling as smart as other people. I know it bothers you your sister seems to get academia while it eludes you. I know you feel stupid and it makes you feel horrible. A tear comes to my eye and she asks why I am going to cry, as if I am disappointed that their aptitudes are as different as their personalities.
Far from it! My tears come from a place of knowing how long you’ve carried this burden and pain of never feeling as though you measure up in this area. Like you’re not good enough. You’re stupid. Lies, lies and more LIES.
And then the floodgates came pouring.
I was shocked, but not. Regardless of the fact our refrigerator has had on its whiteboard “Christ-Loved Ones-Academics-Talents” for over eight years and we do our best to echo and live out the very same values, performance and getting everything “right” has been a very real encumbrance for our children. Even though I said from the time they were in elementary to their now high school years, their character would always be the most important part of who they are, not their athletic talent or academic achievements, performance still seemed to influence their thoughts of worth.
I poignantly asked her…
Do you care about people?
Do you notice when others are hurting?
Do you listen when someone needs a shoulder to cry on?
Do you have advice when people are struggling?
Do you build people up?
Yes, for the most part. Of course for the most part. You’re human. There will be days when you may not appear to care, or notice, or listen, or have something helpful to say, or be able to build up. There may be days when you need to have someone care, listen, be helpful and build YOU up. You’re human, as we all are.
I went back to a moment in first or second grade. She had the wind completely knocked out of her by a young boy unimpressed with her ability to make moves on him. She hit the ground grabbing her abdomen and crying. I was that mom. I stood there waiting for her to get back up. When she didn’t, I walked. I walked towards her while all the parents sat in their lawn chairs alongside the dew kissed grass on a Saturday morning. I didn’t run, I walked with a steady yet persistent pace.
Are you alright?
Can you breathe?
Can you get up?
I don’t know.
You have two choices. I can carry you off this field and you can stop playing. Or, you can get up, dust yourself off, and get back in the game and show them (the feisty boys) you will not be kept down.
She got back up. We exchanged reassuring head nods. I walked off the field. She resumed the game.
Drawing from the memory of her demonstrable strength, I spoke life.
You are more than a number. You are more than the results of some test designed by someone somewhere to provide some metric of what they think is some “smart”. The world may value intellect and place pressure on youth and adults alike to be more and do more, but you are not of this world. You are of the heavenly world. A world where you, while not perfectly so (who can say they do?) genuinely care for people.
If you were to die tonight, people will not care about the tests you did or did not pass or the GPA you held. They will only care about how you made them feel and if you were kind, loving and encouraging. Right?
What did your counselor say about the outcome?
I spoke with the principal because he could see I was upset and stressed.
What did he say?
Everything you just said.
He asked me if I was going to let a number or test define me and my future.
Praise the Lord!!! Yes, thank you Jesus for surrounding our children with adults who DO get it and are not afraid to speak the words I was led to speak. Thank you Holy Spirit. Thank you!
As we buttoned up our conversation, determined the best steps for moving forward, my heart was wrenched.
How many times in just the past week alone had I witnessed and had conversations with gals caught in the temptation of comparing to others. The comparison leaving truth and reality distorted and forward movement paralyzed.
How many times had I observed one disengaging, or avoiding altogether, eye contact, because of the sense of inferiority? On more than once occasion conversations passively indicated the hustle and accomplishment of one was likely unnecessary and must be exhausting, but deep down revealed the lackluster energy of the one sharing the words.
What about the conversations that weren’t had due to fear of not being enough or creating disappointment? What about all the side conversations with others that place folks in our minds either too much or not enough, according to what is comfortable for us, and then there is follow through with reflective actions?
Comparison accompanied by negative judgment of self and others will never be an edifying activity.
Comparison where we positively aspire to challenge our status quo and go a level higher, literally builds up – us, and if done according to Holy Spirit leading, those around us.
We have to be able to graduate from one to the other. We have to ask and trust Holy Spirit to show us how. We have to not assume the Cain role towards our community, because they appear more Able and acceptable.
Family, we have to accept who were are, where we are, and allow God’s wisdom to flow through us as we choose community and compassion, over apparent intellect, achievement and comparison.
God’s values are not the world’s values. He values your heart, mind and love towards Him and others. He will show you how to love and minister in the unique way only you have been called to since before you were formed in your madre’s womb.
Will that look different among each of us. Yes! But it’s supposed to! We are called to reflect Him through our own lives, not through mimicking the lives of others. That’s our offering to Him.
I’m praying this spirit of comparison will fall once and for all among God’s people. There are people craving to see continuity and community are more important than the same weights tying them down and keeping them bound.
Please let me know if I can pray for you. Blessings!
It’s October 2nd. Three months left of 2018. I truly cannot believe how fast time has gone.
As I sit and reflect on the past year, God once again amazes me. Simply amazes me.
A little trip back to January and I recall the Lord speaking to my heart, “This is the year to flourish”. I remember asking myself, “Flourish or flounder?” I felt like I had been struggling. I felt like I was so far from where God needed me to be in order to move through me in the ways I sensed He was calling me to, flourish was the last word that came to my mind. Thank God we don’t move based on feelings. Thank God we move based on His Word, both written and spoken.
I wanted to flourish. I wanted to flourish in my relationship with God, my marriage, as a mother, as an encourager, and in my career. Because I wanted to, regardless of how I felt, I chose to lay hold of that word, like words I had laid hold of in years prior. But more important than my grip on the word, I knew I had to lay hold of the One who spoke the Word.
Early on He shared I needed to keep my gaze fixed on Him. Like Peter stepping out of the boat, I would be tempted to look at the waves around me. But I couldn’t! If I did, also like Peter, I would begin to feel as though it were all too much and begin to “sink”. Early on He also blessed me with a heads up. He spoke to my heart that it was going to get REALLY challenging and rough because the enemy was seeking to sift and devour what God wanted to do, and me. Again, I needed to keep my eyes on Him.
Like the GOOD Father He is, what He spoke began to take shape. Every single time my gaze began to meander from Him, I did feel as if it was all too much. Lovingly He would bring me back – through His Word and meeting me in prayer. The prayer He would woo and call me too. The heads up, it began to take shape as well…
The scrutiny and gnashing began first with my marriage, then moved on to my relationships with my kiddos, and culminated with my career. In one month it seemed as though all hell was coming at me and coming at me HARD.
You see, when we position ourselves to love and obey the Lord with everything we have, hell begins to shake in its boots, and twists and contorts in ways we may think we will be shaken too. But. God. God honors our obedience. He honored my obedience to minister to ten women from five different churches in our community. Because He blessed them with new vision, new hearts, community, contentment, trust, connection, hope and restoration – the enemy thought He would attempt to steal those very gifts from me. Not on God’s watch. Not. On. His. Watch.
While many of the tactics were straight from darkness, God was able to speak to my heart the truth buried in the rubble of lies seemingly compounding discomfort and creating pain. First, we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but with powers and principalities of this world. This is truth. Second, those powers and principalities will do what they can to manipulate situations to manipulate thoughts, to evoke a non-Spirit-led response – and then wreak havoc. Third, God can, will and does allow those attacks and missteps to become lessons in our lives that point us back to repentance, deliverance and healing.
The attack on my marriage led to new conversations and a deeper connection with more support from my husband. The assault on my relationship with our daughters, led to understanding and a realization the time is approaching where they will need to fly on their own. A new dynamic in our relationship is not bad, it’s just different. Different can be good. The battering in my career led to my complete and total reliance on God to surrender and submit in an unfair situation and ultimately did a 180 in a matter of three months, with potential opportunities on the horizon. Opportunities I’m open to, but praying for God’s will to prevail.
God’ will to prevail is the heart of everything I hope for. As the battles raged, gatherings with gals continued. I arrived broken more than I wanted to. Confirmations were received to host a fall Rise Up Commitment session. Deep down? I didn’t want to. I wanted to rest. I wanted to take a break. My flesh was tempting me to focus on me.
Similar to my Gideon moment with the first commitment, I needed confirmation for the second. I needed to know He needed me to do this. After all, soccer season would be in full swing and there’s a whole host of activities to support the team. The first week registration opened, eleven women signed up. Eleven! In my mind there were three I knew were interested and one possibly repeating. But the seven other women? I had no idea they were even watching. I had no idea God was even speaking to their hearts. Four more gals joined over the course of a month. Again, gals I had not interacted with, but who were watching, totaling fifteen. Confirmation made clear.
Then suddenly, something happened. Around the same time things began to turn amidst the career bombardment, God opened doors to discuss matters of His heart with two co-workers. Those discussions led to twelve more ladies joining, in a new community. And then another hopped on board and another. Before I knew it, He had nearly doubled the number of gals choosing to Rise Up, from earlier in the year. He NEEDED this commitment to happen.
How? How does one keep from sinking deep beneath the shoreline and swept into an undertow? How do you keep going when it gets so hard? When you're so tired?
I sit and write this and think of God’s goodness. I think of everything He calls us to and how He equips to make it so. I love how He can increase time and call us to pay more attention. I love how He can take what is an already busy season, and somehow make it all not only “work”, but allow blessings to flow. I love how the same God Who calls us to trust Him with the intensity of one season, is the same God who calls us to step back and rest with Him in another. Which is where I sense things are headed.
There are just under five weeks left of the current commitment. I am trusting God to provide vision, tools to build, and inspiration to press in and press on to our race before us. God has so much in store for these gals. The remainder of the year, God will continue to pour out and into the connections made with all the sister connections established throughout the past year. My hope? They sense they too are flourishing and thriving at the revelation of God’s goodness.
When contemplating and praying about a subsequent Rise Up Commitment, my sense is to learn from the past two and continue to invest in the lives connected with. I honestly don’t know how Pastors shepherd more thirty people at a time. Shoot! I don’t know how they shepherd more than twelve or fifteen! My heart gets so intertwined, my prayers arrested for the needs of the gals I’ve grown to love, more often throughout the day than not. And “celebrity” Christians? Oh my! I would feel the need to reply to and connect with every single message, email and comment made. That’s why I’m grateful God is calling me to a season of cultivating continued connection, encouragement, and support to continue to transform – here in our community.
As He sets my sites on other areas, I know He also needs to do some pruning and stretching in order to allow new life to grow. He desires every area of our lives be submitted fully to Him. This – this is when we truly flourish, when we are fully given to all that He has for us, including His Name being honored through our lives.
I pray you are flourishing and I trust God to move you to continue on in your race and the vision He has set before you.
Where do you find yourself at this point in the 2018 journey? What are you believing God to do with the remaining three months? Do you have hopes and prayers? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment or send me a message.