Matthew 13:37-4337 Jesus replied, “The Son of Man[a] is the farmer who plants the good seed. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. 39 The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world,[b] and the harvesters are the angels.
40 “Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!
Matthew 23:13 13 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.
Key One: Obedience 21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.
Key Two: Humility 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.
Key Three: Love 34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
1 Corinthians 4:20 20 For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.
Kingdom Promised Land
Message originally shared at Victory Christian Fellowship during the Ladies of Victory monthly Well-Spring gathering.
Foundational text: Romans 14:17-19 & Numbers 13:23, 27-33
Just over three weeks ago while on a walk, I noticed myself praying for righteousness, peace and joy, the Kingdom of God in the Holy Spirit – AGAIN. Perhaps because God had given me a message to establish His Unshakable Kingdom in our lives – Hebrews 12. Perhaps because He had reminded me in this message, seeking first His Kingdom and praying His Kingdom come His will be done, is a part of every believers calling. Perhaps because a group of women I minister with every week have read the term “Kingdom” 138 times since the beginning of the year, the bulk of which are in Matthew and Luke, 55 and 46 respectively. Perhaps because REVIVAL can only come from the Kingdom of God; when TRUE joy and peace and righteousness in Holy Spirit yields repentance, reconciliation, healing, deliverance, divine order and a life evident of redemption, wholeness, thriving, and freedom – others will take notice, be amazed and ask Jesus into their lives.
The message now known as Beyond: Living Unshakable first pointed to the Promised Land. The thought was to prioritize our lives in such a way we were so nestled into Christ, the Promise, we radiate and reflect Him and His Kingdom to all around. I asked the Lord, "Kingdom or Promise land?"
HIS KINGDOM of righteousness, peace and joy in HOLY SPIRIT WILL do many things, but we will focus on three:
Where are we fixing our gaze? What are we beholding? What is our reality?
There’s a phrase: We become what we behold. Finding the author is a bit elusive. Thankfully there’s Scripture! 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. When we DAILY fix our gaze on the Lord and His glory and HIS KINGDOM in His presence, we will be transformed to reflect His glory, love, righteousness, peace and joy!
Have a listen to receive the fullness of revelation from the Lord.
Keep Your Hope & Endure
You know that new thing I mentioned in my last post? And the breakthrough that accompanies settling into it? It's all hogwash! Well, this is what my flesh (or perhaps the enemy) would like me to think.
As we near the end of the fourth full week of 2021 all I can think is, "This sure has not been a walk in a field of sunshine and posies!" I pray this first month is not an indication of what the year will look like, but if it is guess what? Everything will be alright, as long as we continue to keep our eyes on the Lord.
Here is a bit of a rundown of how I have been "hit" as I resolved to forge full steam ahead into the promise of God...
We are not perfect, but we rest in a perfect God, unphased by our flesh and mishaps. He actually DOES transform anything intended for evil and turns it for good. If we will allow Him to.
Allow Him to.
Matthew 24:13-14 (TPT)13 But keep your hope to the end and you will experience life and deliverance. 14 “Yet through it all, this joyful assurance of the realm of heaven’s kingdom will be proclaimed all over the world, providing every nation with a demonstration of the reality of God. And after this the end of this age will arrive.”
Peace & Joy, Now!
If you’re feeling anxious, like the enemy is on every side, and/or you simply cannot muster up joy in the Lord, this word may be for you.
My dreams can be random, or nightmares (although I believe this has come to an end). Last night I had what I felt were random dreams. I continued to toss and turn with each vivid dream. I recall dreaming about…
My grandmother who passed away NINE years ago. After her passing is when the nightmares began.
A school “market”. Many people I knew and didn’t know were there; my daughters were there as well.
So much was going on all around. Then, I honed in on a gal holding a receipt. The receipt was for “butcher school” and the total was $996.
An old friend of my daughter’s was there, upset, but freed once he was able to get out into fresh air.
Then I woke up at 5:42am.
Most of the time my dreams fade away without additional thought or concern. But this morning 996 stood out to me; I sensed Holy Spirit wanted me to read Psalm 9 and Psalm 96.
Psalm 9:1 – 2 1 I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. 2 I will be filled with JOY because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.
I will praise and love with ALL MY HEART – the crux of Beyond: Living Unshakable!
I will tell of ALL the marvelous things God has done!
I will be filled with JOY because of God!
I will sing PRAISES to His Holy Name!
I read on…
Psalm 9:8 He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness.
In my Bible there is a cross-reference: Psalm 96:13. Ha! God does need me to read Psalm 96. I read on to the end of the Psalm, underlining: Those who know Your Name trust in You, for You, O Lord, do not abandon THOSE WHO SEARCH FOR YOU; For He who avenges murder cares for the helpless. He does not ignore the cries of those who suffer (thoughts of unborn babies flooded my mind and brought tears to my eyes); the Lord is known for His justice. The wicked are trapped by their own deeds. The wicked will go down to the grave. This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God. Arise, O Lord! Do not let mere mortals defy you! Judge the nations! I noted the cross-reference to 2 Chronicles 14:11.
Given the current global climate, many things came to mind and I sensed “changes, this week”. After the confirmation to visit Psalm 96, I thumbed over several pages.
Psalm 96:2 Each day proclaim the good news that He saves. 3 Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does. 4 Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods.
THIS! This is why I am always sharing the goodness of God. Not to boast in myself, but to boast in my amazingly faithful God!
Psalm 96:9 Worship the Lord in all His holy splendor. Let all the earth tremble before Him. 10 Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!” The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. He will judge all peoples fairly.
An alternate translations for “the world stands firm and cannot be shaken” is “the world is established; it shall not be moved”. Beyond: Living Unshakable points souls to becoming unshakable in their personal walk with Jesus while establishing His unshakable Kingdom in the earth. My heart was filled with gratitude for His confirmation. Then, then I read…
Psalm 96:12 Let the fields and their crops burst out with JOY! Let the trees of the forest sing for JOY 13 before the Lord, FOR HE IS COMING!
I was quickened at the thought of His return! I was excited reading the reference to JOY a second time! I have repeatedly been reminded of a word shared earlier in the year. On June 3 a brother in the faith shared this, regarding December 31, 2020 (just a few days away):
“Expect to receive repayment for the attacks of the enemy. God is now breaking the clouds of darkness and bringing people out of the wilderness. We will enter into a new season of joy, and God’s light is going to shine on you in a new way.”
EXPECT JOY. These are the words I have held onto since reading Doug Addison’s word. Much transpired following Addison’s word in June, but not one word God spoke regarding 2020 for my life was stolen. And while some days my joy waned, Holy Spirit caused it to wax when it especially did not make a lick of sense for it to!
I flipped the pages back in time to 2 Chronicles 14:11 (the cross reference in Psalm 9):
11 Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “O Lord, no one but You can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You alone. It is in Your name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against You!”
Again, given the current global climate, many thoughts flooded my mind regarding entities who appear to be prevailing over God’s sovereignty. But when you read on, you will see God OVERCAME the enemy of Asa. Moving on into chapter fifteen, we read the Spirit of God comes upon a fella named Azariah who is moved to share:
2 Chronicles 15:2 The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with Him! Whenever you seek Him, you will find Him. But if you abandon Him, He will abandon you.
5 “During those dark times, it was not safe to travel. Problems troubled the people of every land. 6 Nation fought against nation, and city against city, for God was troubling them with every kind of problem. 7 But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.”
Thoughts AGAIN flooded my mind…
“Holy Spirit, cause me to stay with Jesus and not abandon my walk with Him! Times are dark, travel is restricted, people are fighting in cities and nations – cause us to wake up, open our eyes, and see Jesus rather than all the problems we see in the earth. Cause us to be strong and courageous! Thank You for causing me to continue to teach, encouraged and facilitate healing through this ministry, regardless of the darkness, fighting, and problems. Holy Spirit, thank You for empowering me to be faithful to God’s call. Thank you!”
As I read on in chapter fifteen, several actions stood out to me we should be encouraged to practice ourselves. For months now, in various circles like the Rise Up Community, my church home, our county’s monthly prayer group, folks related to our state’s intercession group, and groups called to intercede on a national level have been pointing to 2 Chronicles 7:14:
Then if my people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
MANY have been doing their best to humble themselves and pray, seeking His healing of a virus, civil unrest, and apparent wickedness in the fabric of the United States’ democracy. The Lord seems to be pointing to “next steps”. The word in 2 Chronicles 15 goes on to say:
2 Chronicles 15: 8 And when Asa heard these words of the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he was encouraged and removed the detestable idols…
…he [Asa] repaired the altar of the Lord that was before the vestibule of the Lord.
9 And he gathered together all of Judah… and those from Israel who saw that the Lord his God was with him [Asa]
11 They sacrificed to the Lord
12 …they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and soul; anyone who did not seek with their whole lives would perish and Asa’s grandmother was ousted as queen because of an idol
14 They shouted out their oath of loyalty to the Lord
17 … Asa’s heart remained completely faithful throughout his life.
What followed the steps Asa and the kingdoms of Judah and Israel took? God was found by them. The people were happy. God gave them rest from their enemies on every side. God provided for them. There was peace. (Read the remainder of 2 Chronicles 15).
Happiness and joy! Rest! Peace! Provision! Are these not blessings many are seeking in this season? Perhaps you are as well? Perhaps you have found joy, rest, peace and provision to be elusive amidst this darkened hour and turmoil? I believe Holy Spirit is proposing an antidote. Follow humble prayers before the Lord with…
Can we not trust and move in faith, happiness, peace, rest and provision will follow in our lives as well. I believe the Lord is calling us to receive the same, by gleaning from the life of Asa and walking in obedience. This is Old Testament, you may counter. Each of these instructions are found for New Testament believers as well.
I cannot help but sense this is where God would have us, or at least myself and those within the reach God has place my life and ministry, take next steps of obedience. I could see clearly, groups of people joining together to seek and love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul – individually and collectively. When I revisited other random dreams from the night, I zoomed in on the dream about my grandmother.
As I shared, following her passing nine years ago, nightmares were stirred up in my life. I asked the Lord if there was a significance to my Mammaw being in my dreams much of the night. Anyone of you who have listened to this podcast for the past several years may bear to mind the relationship with my grandmother and how the Lord moved through me to bring her to salvation the morning of her death – after years of hurt and heartache. God was reminding me of His faithfulness to move in response to my faithfulness to move when He shares His heart with me. This is my eager expectation for this message:
We are equipped with the next steps of faith and then walk and watch and see His vision come to pass in our lives, as He extends His hand of mercy prior to His judgment.
It is interesting the number NINE is coined as representing bearing fruit, which was the emphasis of our last study. You can listen to the study in its entirety, here. On the other side of the coin, NINE also represents judgment.
Psalm 9:8 shares: He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness.
Psalm 96:13 shares: He is coming! He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with his truth.
Friends, allow this to be a call to respond to the Lord with humility and love and trust Him for change and the turnaround many have been holding out for. We must first start in our own lives and then allow Holy Spirit to inspire through our lives in the circles of influence He has strategically positioned us in.
I am praying for YOU and trust as you respond to the word of the Lord, allow your mind to be renewed, and cast down any vain thought lifting itself above the will of God – the Lord, in His mercy, will pour out the blessing of peace, joy, rest and the provision of His presence in your life. I trust you will receive this seed and cultivate it in order for His gifts to come to fruition in your life! I trust as you love and seek Him with all your heart and soul, immunity from any pending judgment will cover your life. Blessings!
No Killjoys Here
This past week was intensely good. Sure, there were some attempts to ruin the good God things going, but the Lord has taught me how to be keenly aware and able to recognize circumstances for what they are. Thank You Jesus! This week’s celebrations consisted of finishing a six week commitment, maintaining 80% on point with nutrition and fitness, and being more intentional with nourishing the nine pound tent known as my skin ;)
The Rise & Shine, Click wrapped up our six week commitment to meet for a devotional, workout and prayer three times each week. WE set out to meet at 5am Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for six whole weeks. Yes, it was early!
I’m not sure I can claim 100% on point in the nutrition department, either. According to Whole30 protocol, SWYPO items are not allowed. And well, I made and enjoyed some modified recipes. The non-dairy cheesecake bites were yummy! I couldn’t choose between strawberry cheesecake bites or chocolate, so I topped a few pieces with BOTH. Yumm-o! And I decided to create healthier versions of the peanut butter cups. I’m going for lifestyle changes that are sustainable and I don’t “quit” after a certain period of time. Plus, it feels much more successful than reporting I gave into more peanut butter cups ;) This week, I’m also going to experiment with juicing by adding kale to the mix. Do you have any suggestions or juice concoctions you would like to share? I’m open to recipes!!
Last week my daughters and I took bold steps in nourishing our skin in a new way. My oldest daughter ditched the four skin care products she utilizes every single day, for one. My youngest wasn’t ready to take the plunge in ditching her entire regimen, but she substituted one item in trade for a couple others. I ditched the product I have used for close to twenty years now. With our oily and acne prone skin, we were nervous. But holy smokes, has it been a great week in this department as well! My oldest daughter’s skin was actually smoother and clearer – DESPITE the onset of her period.
I hope we are all looking forward to the upcoming week! Community, God appointments, commissions, and maybe even closing a couple chapters we’ve been in. How do we keep it all together and maintain peace and joy amidst it all? Plan out the week ahead, prepare meals, resolve to get into the gym, and then let Jesus do His thang! I am praying you have an amazing week this week. And I mean it, if you want to meet for a workout, share your juice recipes or learn more about the royal beauty skin treatment I am experimenting with – PLEASE REACH OUT. Seriously! Life is so much richer, joyous and vibrant when we are walking this walk TOGETHER with like-minded souls.
Plans to Succeed
Well folks, we’ve all heard the saying, “Fail to plan, plan to fail”. Haven’t we? Last week was a success in the fact that I spent time researching and planning, maintained my commitment to work out and only had a peanut butter cup every other day ;)
In my last post I shared my “Weekly action steps to get there include: lifting heavy weights three times per week, Whole30 and intermittent fasting, and being intentional with nourishing my skin with high quality skin products.”
I made my way to the gym three times last week (woot woot!) – I am SO THANKFUL for the gals I meet with bright and early on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (you’re welcome to join us)! The past five weeks they have helped me to establish a healthy active regimen. It’s now time to graduate from the circuit room and get back into the weights, but next week. I’m going to mentally prepare one last week before going to the “big girl” weights. Oh how I have missed them!
Waiting to be “ALL IN” to Whole30 wasn’t the plan, but something I did. If 100% whole foods was my nutrition target, I met it about 70% of the way (darn you peanut butter cups!). But I will say, finally summiting the scale and having the pinnacle of that moment on the forefront of my mind, helped deter me from consuming too much outside of my goal. Thank goodness! My hormones seem to be bolstering a stronghold when it comes to the sweets.
exercise, nix dairy, poop one to two times per day (helps eliminate excess hormones and reabsorbing “bad” ones), drink water, supplement and remove/reduce exposure to environmental estrogens. Whole30 aligns perfectly with all this. Yay! With the addition of a few other elements, I should have a great protocol taking me into the new year.
Supplementing a healthy fat, leafy green, juicing and intermittent fasting nutrition plan with D3, B12, magnesium, probiotics, and thyroid support, will establish a healthy, vibrant and transformative-fostering environment on the inside of my body. Happy Dance! The exposure to the outside? This is where the skin care comes in. Again, having had skin cancer in the past and living with a couple questionable spots at the moment, along with the understanding everything I place on my body is absorbed into my blood stream (skin products can carry extra estrogens), carries the conviction to be intentional in this area. Not surprisingly, what appears to be the right regimen came along last week. It is a little too early to share (you know me, I only endorse after I have read, encounter, taste or experience myself), but I love the fact what I am experimenting with was birthed from a God vision and dream. Plus, the comprehensive solution seems to align with a vision I had earlier in the year. The fact that I could turn the products into dinner should I get stranded on an island with only my makeup bag and no food, is pretty cool too!
Thank you for stopping by and checking in! No earth shattering updates just yet, but I tell you what, I have a strong sense things they are a changing…
It is TIME
I did it! I summited two inches to the top of my scale and overcame! Thank you, thank you, thank you… If you’re just stopping in for a quick read, I shared yesterday, stepping on the scale was perhaps the biggest step of faith I’m being asked to take right now. Really, Shanon? Yes. Really.
But I did it. Was I happy with the numbers? No. Can I do something about them? Absolutely! And I will because it is time to build muscle, lose fat and nurture my skin (the largest organ of my body).
During a four month post lumpectomy follow-up in January of this year, I hopped on the scale and was not happy then, either – 167 – ouch! At least I have lost 4.6 pounds since the beginning of the year, which is shocking.
It is time to lose body fat with a laser focused nutrition program. Whole30 coupled with intermittent fasting will help lose the visceral (deep fat around my organs) and the fat closer to the surface. Both of these numbers came in too high on the scale this morning. Both carry risk for disease. Carrying too much visceral fat is a serious health problem. Studies have shown that excess visceral fat is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease and even certain cancers.
The higher your BMI (related to increased body fat percentage), the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.
It is time to take care of my skin – also the largest organ I have. Sure I would like to reduce wrinkles and not get “droopy” in places, but it is bigger than that. Adults carry some 8 pounds (hey this is how much both my girls weighed when they were born!) and 22 square feet of it (about the size of your favorite snuggie in the winter time).
I want to keep on keepin’ on for the Lord as long a He will allow me. Sure I look forward to dancing in the streets of gold one day, but there are so many lives here who still need to know Jesus! AND – Holy Spirit deserves to live in a healthy vessel, the place He now resides.
I’m ready to do this. I’m ready to share the journey. I mean, who doesn’t like a good transformation story? I’m a sucker. Plus, hopefully you will be inspired to take a step of faith wherever God is calling you to in this season.
vi·va·cious lively in temper, conduct, or spirit: SPRIGHTLY; ZESTY I want zesty!!!
My goal is to settle into a healthy lifestyle, it is not about a size, number or date to “get skinny”. I’m in this for the long haul baby. Weekly action steps to get there include: lifting heavy weights three times per week, Whole30 and intermittent fasting, and being intentional with nourishing my skin with high quality skin products. One faithful step at a time, and I know I will be right where God needs me to be, to truly live vivaciously in the calling He needs me to press in and press on towards. See you next week, blessings!
Lay Aside Stones, Let Him Lead
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!
A Perfect Work in Progress
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!
Glory Be to God!
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.