Fully Alive in Christ

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This has been an intense season of introspection for many as they are called to navigate through things they would never have chosen for themselves. It’s been a time of going deeper into the things of God and allowing Him to highlight areas of our hearts that need His healing touch. As I was in prayer over the past two weeks I sensed Him showing me a glimpse into what He is doing in this season. He wants His kids to shine brightly and He is going after the things that dim that Light.

We get really good at compensating when an area is injured or not in a fully functioning state. I hear His heart desiring His kids to be fully healed, fully functioning, and fully alive to be and do all He’s called us into. I see Him with defibrillator paddles headed toward the lifeless places deep within our hearts. He is restoring those places back to His original design, back to life in Him!

Defensiveness

I realized in my own life that I had become really good at not being offensive to God, but I never pondered whether I was being defensive with Him. We associate being offensive with behavior or words coming out of us, it’s active. We associate being defensive with keeping ourselves safe which many times means not putting yourself into unknown situations. That is an inactive state. It’s a guarded state. We can be just as offensive in our inactivity as in our activities. We can be offensive in our defensiveness when we are unwilling or put off something God is calling us to do or say.

I realized that I was supposed to be fully dead to sin and alive to Christ and that meant all my protecting myself from the unknown had to die once and for all. Truth is I was already free but my soul needed completely shifted into that truth.  Isn’t it funny when we think we are dead and then He pushes on a spot and we feel it??? So when it says we are to be dead to sin that means even insecurity and fear of all kinds too! Sometimes we get so focused  on the death to sin that we don’t step into the alive in Christ! Have you ever seen a butterfly who wouldn’t fly because he had maintained the thoughts of a caterpillar and can’t imagine that he could ever fly? Jesus died to make us more than conquerors and if we are to be dead to self and alive in Christ than we need to take on ALL He is in ALL it’s glory!

Love Conquers Fear

He is dealing with fear in all forms. I’ve shared in videos before about how I was in professional ballet for eight years and by the end my heart just wasn’t in it anymore. I learned that if I do something well then it will be taken out of my hands and I will be in a situation that I don’t want to be in and end up feeling controlled. I had to break an inner vow about not doing anything I don’t feel like doing.  I learned to walk the fine line between not failing but not excelling either. I had perfected mediocrity because I thought that was the safest place to be. Now keep in mind this was all internal. Nobody but God knew this was in effect. He wanted me to completely dismantle this thought process as it was not in alignment with who I was in Christ.

Romans 6, 7, and 8 are my favorite chapters of the whole bible. The revelation of our co-crucifixion and co-resurrection with Christ is life changing. Paul had divine revelation I’m telling you. In 6:11 we are told that since we are joined with Him we must continually view ourselves as dead and unresponsive to sin’s appeal while living daily for God’s pleasure in union with Jesus, the Anointed One (passion translation). 

I started to see that sin’s appeal for me was in my comfort level of what I would and wouldn’t say yes to. I had to be more in love with Him than I was fearful of people’s opinion of me. I had to learn to do because He asked me to do it, not because He guaranteed a desired outcome. If I fail then it’s for His glory, if I succeed then it’s for His glory. Not about me at all.

God started speaking to me that He was a good Father and there is nowhere I go that He isn’t with me. If He is with me…I’m never alone. I had to learn to speak truth to my emotions whenever I felt alone. I had to learn not only that He was with me, but He is in me. From the moment I made Jesus Lord of my life, I died. I became a new creation in that moment.  We walk out that truth by renewing our minds in the Word. We are called to put on Christ and that isn’t only to keep you from doing wrong things, but also to propel you forward as a force to be reckoned with into this world. He isn’t only my love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control. He is my passion, zeal, perseverance, courage, boldness, persistence, confidence, and my excellence.

He is making our defenses offensive FOR HIM and FOR HIS GLORY! He is bringing truth into who we are in Him in it’s fullness! He is turning insecurity into security, timidity into courageousness, procrastination into motivation, invisibility into a willingness to be seen, fear of the unknown into reckless abandoned faith in Him and His goodness!

Love Him whole heartedly with a fierce obedience, lay down your defenses before Him and allow Him to build those weak places into the places where His glory shines through brilliantly!! Instead of desiring to be invisible out of fear, He desires to make us disappear on the stage of this world so He can be clearly seen!

 

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Let Freedom be Your Testimony

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We went to the beach last week with friends and two of them had acquired a fear of the ocean at different points of their lives. One had not been in the ocean since the time they were seven. I could have talked about how silly it was to have this fear, but I didn’t.  I would never want someone to do that with a fear of mine.  What I chose to do without even thinking about it was to fully enjoy the ocean myself. We were jumping, floating, and diving into the waves and having a blast.

This is when the MOST AMAZING THING HAPPENED!

One of my friends was watching how much fun we were having and said they wanted to try it and out they went full of a determined boldness that wasn’t there before. They looked like a young child jumping and dancing in the rain!  The cool thing is this inspired another one of our friends to venture into the water also. Same thing happened! They were laughing and there was a childlike joy coupled with the sense of accomplishment over not allowing  fear to hinder fun any longer! There was quite a victory that day!

When we love people in our lives, we long to see them free in all areas. That’s part of love. We sometimes use really ineffective ways of bringing that freedom.

Sometimes we point out their areas of bondage as if they aren’t aware of them which doesn’t usually work and instead brings more guilt and condemnation instead of freedom.  Sometimes we make fun of the bondage to try to help them see how silly it is. The thing is, it’s not silly to them and you will end up insulting them along the way.   Sometimes we try to cater to their areas of bondage thinking we are being compassionate and loving, that just reinforces the strongholds.

We all have blind spots, or strongholds, that others can see quite clearly.  Our blind spots are just in different areas than theirs. Sometimes we can actually bond over common blind spots (fears) which can be quite strong but isn’t healthy at all.  We must be compassionate in our relating without enabling the blind spot.We don’t want the glue that holds a relationship together to be a mutual fear. We must have freedom be the ultimate goal for everyone we love.

Sometimes the most powerful way of bringing freedom is by simply being an example of what that freedom looks like in that area. People will desire the freedom you have when they see it in it’s full glory. They see what it looks, sounds, and feels like and it’s captivating for them.

2 Corinth 3:17- Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Don’t underestimate the moments of play, fun, and laughter. He is in the middle of it and if His spirit if there then more freedom is the byproduct. I believe in the days to come many battles for healing and freedom will be won through laughter and the joy of the Lord.

2 Tim 1:7- For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.

I love this scripture! So if what you are thinking or believing is not bringing more power, love, or a sound mind in your life…..lose it! Get together with people you love and draw on the Holy Spirit to increase these qualities in the areas needed. You don’t need to strive for this, it will just happen by being around others who are walking in power, love, and a sound mind. There is a cross pollination that naturally happens and we become more and more like Jesus! We need each other!

When you live free you will inspire others to live free in the areas you have freedom in and they will inspire you too! Let’s make freedom from fear contagious!! Spread it to everyone you meet!

Power in the Stay

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I was a classic runner when I was a teen. Now before you think that means sports…stop. What I mean is that I was a runaway. If things got intense at home, I ran. It was never for long but it was definitely my initial reaction to stress. Now you can only imagine what that turned into as I went through high school. I ran to relationships, drinking, drugs, entertainment, adventure, etc. Thank God at twenty I ran into God!

I have found that runner in me still has a small voice in my thoughts at times.  Thoughts of being harmed by others if I don’t get out of intense situations….right now.  Thoughts of being overwhelmed or caught in a situation that I won’t be able to handle (rooted in childhood). I also battle thoughts that bad things will happen to me if I’m alone (also rooted in childhood).  I know as a new creation that these are not kingdom thoughts so I take them captive every time they rise. I replace them with God’s truth.  I don’t think I’m alone in battling this and it’s not even what I set out to write about, but these are the thoughts that have caused me to run.

My point in writing is that even though I don’t physically run away anymore, I have tended to run to other things. Friends, adventures, shopping, Facebook, conferences, worship services, etc. all the while God is saying “please stay here with Me.” It is so natural for me to run so it takes the supernatural to make me want to STAY.  I don’t think I’m alone. However,  I have learned to love the STAY.

I’ve learned in this season how to stay. How to stay in uncomfortable situations, how to stay in relationships when they are challenging. I was always one to drop friends if they betray me without thinking twice. I’ve learned how to navigate communication through disagreements and misunderstandings to see a resolve.  I’ve learned how to forgive. I’ve learned the great reward that comes from staying.

Christian ministry and missions are always asking who will go.  Send me…everyone chants! Answering the question of who will stay is equally as important.

What if what God dreams for you is for you to stay? Stay in that job that drives you crazy. Stay married to someone who is not the same person you married. Stay invested in your kids who disobey, disrespect, and dishonor. Stay in that church where there is no life. Stay in that region that is incredibly dry.

 Not staying to die, but staying to bring LIFE into those situations! 

Do we truly believe in a God who can do the impossible not just in other countries but right here in our country? in our state? region? family? Do we believe that we carry an atmosphere changing Holy Spirit in us everywhere we go? Do we carry a light that invades darkness? even if that darkness has been in every generation before us? Are we prepared to be the ones who draw the line in the sand and say NO MORE, take a stand, and watch God turn it all around in those areas…all for His glory?

What happens if everyone goes and nobody STAYS? There is a special reward for those who feel led to and choose to STAY.

Sometimes staying is the stepping out of that comfort zone that we are challenged to do instead of taking a missions trip to another country. Sometimes THERE IS POWER IN THE STAY.

I’m not saying everyone who is in these situations are meant to stay in them. Some are most definitely meant to GO, but make sure when you GO it’s NOT because you are running away from something you don’t want to face. The enemy loves to distract us from the things that are on God’s heart. Don’t let him.

The most important STAY is to STAY in His presence. Lock eyes on Jesus, spend time with Him and in the Word. Then you will know if you are meant to STAY or GO.

Jesus Never Intended to be Your Secret Friend

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Jesus came to show us the “more than” way of life, but many times we settle for the “less than” of being politically correct and being a “good person”. We want so badly to show the world that we aren’t so different from them that we end up compromising our true testimony in the process.

We settle for politeness instead of true love, happiness instead of true joy, entertainment instead of true contentment, sex instead of true intimacy, indifference instead of true forgiveness, addictions and numbing our pain instead of true peace.

In our attempt to be unoffending with our faith many have started to leave out the name of Jesus and with that we settle for “less than” what we were created to have.

We must return to the WHO? and WHY? behind the WHAT that we do.

Through Jesus and only through Jesus do we have the “more than” that He died to give us. Let’s put Jesus back on our lips and back on the throne of our hearts.

Let’s be ok being “set apart.” Trust me, the world is looking for what the world can’t offer them. I speak from experience. They want a love that is rare and costly. They want Jesus, they just don’t know His name yet.

Go love, Go spread peace, Go do random acts of kindness, but PLEASE, PLEASE, let it flow out of the genuine “more than” in your life that comes from having an unashamed love for Jesus! Give Him the credit and glory that He deserves in your life!

He never intended for you to be His secret lover.

A Life Unfiltered

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Filters. We all use them. I use them. Apps have made it very easy for us to show a perfected image of ourselves to the world. Now I’m not opposed to filters on pictures to enhance and smooth one bit, but the problem comes when we try to use them in real life to make our lives look perfect in our interaction with others. I have NO desire to give the illusion of perfection in my real life.  I have always been a truth seeker and I prefer what is real to a facade any day.  It’s hard for me to relate to a facade and I can’t keep one up in myself.  I’ve also come to realize most people are not like me.

We all have those rooms we toss clutter into when company is expected (ok I do tidy up people…I live unfiltered, not unclean). We try to clean up the areas that will be seen by others. The question is why? I believe the answer is found in us believing we will somehow be unacceptable if our flaws are seen by others. Nobody wants to open themselves up to criticism or judgement. I can honestly say that I love when my tried and true friends come over and I don’t feel I have to thoroughly clean before they come. I know that my house and whether or not I’m wearing make up will NOT effect their love for me.

Whose love are we afraid of losing if we are seen, truly seen… strangers? friends? family? the church? God?

First of all God loves you no matter what so you don’t have to worry about losing His love….ever. You can make decisions that cause a distance on your end but it’s as simple as an “I’m sorry” and resuming relationship with Him. It is only through His unconditional love for you that you will be able to love yourself and others.

Friends, if they are true friends shouldn’t mind seeing the real you. In fact, they should celebrate you in your transparency and vulnerability. My closest friends are the people who have seen me at my worst and I’ve seen them at their worst and we have loved each other through it. I have had people tell me that they were jealous of my friendships because I take friendship very seriously. Honesty, transparency and vulnerability are all hallmarks of my forever friends. They could not care less whether my house is clean or I’m wearing sweats when they come over because they care more about my heart. We have been through wars together and survived and we celebrate our victories with joyful celebration.

Family, now sometimes this one is the hardest. Family see you at your worst but sometimes don’t have the grace that your friends have for you. Unfortunately these are where some of the deepest wounds are acquired, within the walls of your own home. This is why knowing where you stand with God is vitally important. Knowing that He sees you and loves you unfiltered gives you the ability to reflect His grace back at the ungraceful in your family. The beauty that is you does not cease to exist just because some people can’t see it.

Stangers, really? Now these are the people who will many times prefer the filtered version of you. It doesn’t require any investment on their part. It’s as easy as liking your pic on Facebook. Strangers don’t know how to handle flaws because many times they are scared to death of people seeing their own. The interesting thing is that when you dare to expose what you think are flaws, you become more accessible and relatable to many others. Look at what happened with the “Me Too” movement. Being real is so much more attractive than being perfect.

Church….another place which likes the christian filtered version of you. As long as you play the part and answer with the right answers you can slide by most of the time. Shouldn’t this be one of the safest places to be real? We can’t handle the truth of the pain that truly resides in peoples lives so we are more comfortable not asking and not sharing.

Maybe it’s more about making a good impression on people when you first meet them. I understand this, but you must have those people in your life that you can move past first impression relating with and move into doing life with them. That’s when it’s time to stop being polite and start getting real (anyone else remember Real World on MTV in the 90’s?). Only really real, not fake real. The stuff that comes from heartbreak and loss as well as hopes and dreams. Maybe it’s time for us to stop being religious and start getting real.

Now just because I live unfiltered does that mean I share the contents of my heart with just anyone? of course not.  Wisdom will tell you to what degree of detail you can share with whoever you encounter. It is vital that we all find those super safe people and places where we can be 100% honest about what’s really going on in our world.

We had a group that would meet at our house a couple years back and it was church for many who would come. This was a group in age from 17-35 and we would make meals together, worship together and share our struggles with each other in all honesty….it was beautiful.  This was a group that loved Jesus passionately. Many times prophecy would break out that dropped people on their faces in His presence. It gave me a glimpse of what the church is missing in their desire to maintain their religious comfort zones. My hearts desire is for church to truly become a safe place to come, be unfiltered, and still be accepted and loved.

So do what you want with your pics on social media but please don’t filter your real life. Find people and places where it’s ok to be real…the real you…unfiltered and still totally loved and accepted. They exist, I promise. It’s worth seeking to find your home. When you crack the facade of perfection you invite the light of love to come flooding into the darkness. Your heart will feel a hug that melts the ice that the illusion of perfection brought with it.

You are beautiful and worthy of love. You are seen, heard, and have great value. That is the truth of the matter. Don’t let anyone convince you to silence truth with a filtered response of ….I’m ok. Ask God to lead you to people who will be true friends for you so your heart can begin to blossom and come alive to who you were created to be all along.

You cannot have deep meaningful relationships living a filtered life so dare to remove the filter and let love in.

The Rising Resistance

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The things coming against you are making you stronger whether you realize it or not. Much like David had no clue that killing the lion and bear were part of his training and was building his strength and confidence in who God was to him and through him.

God is raising a people who are resistant to the enemy’s taunts and very aware of the snares laid in their path. They have been trained in the wilderness and much like David it has brought much confidence in the faithfulness of God and in His mighty power in their lives. They will not be flattered, distracted, or enticed by what is shiny. They know without a doubt that not all that glitters is gold. They have had much exposure to “fools gold” through their lifetime. They will not be enticed by the spotlight or fame, in fact, they will resist that too.

They have found the power in intimacy and when they flow and move it is straight out of the Fathers heart. This empowers them to not fall for a counterfeit. They are entwined with the Genuine.

These resisters have been exposed to much on their journey and they have fought many battles that they wish they could have avoided. It has all been strategic. We needed training as to what deserves our attention and what is merely an illusion and meant to distract us. They have learned to fight with the weapon of the Word as a sword and wield it skillfully. They have learned kingdom ways and developed kingdom character.

When a drill instructor is screaming horrible things in the military recruits face the recruit eventually learn to not react at all …no matter what. They are taught to handle stressful situations with a complete calm assurance. They are being taught resistance and endurance. We are being taught the same thing in this season. When the enemy is shouting in our faces we need to know when to address it and when to simply rest in the truth of Who we carry on the inside of us.

When people like nurses and doctors work in germ filled environments they end up resistant to the germs after awhile. When we get immunizations we are exposed to the very thing we are wanting to avoid. We end up resistant to the disease.

God is using it ALL. What you believe is evil and most definitely not of Him might just be your lion or bear building your strength and resistance.

**Remember…. Romans 8:28- He works ALL things together for our good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Genesis 50:20- What the enemy meant for evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people.

The Fire in You

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Some people will keep themselves away from getting too close to you solely due to the Fire you carry. They are both intrigued and terrified by it at the same time. They want to be close enough to stay warm and comfortable, but not too close to be challenged and changed.

Those reasons they stay away are rooted in wounds from the past. Truth is that if they allowed themselves to be honest and vulnerable, and to draw near…if they dared to wholeheartedly jump into that Fire themselves… they would NOT get burned…they would IGNITE!

Stay in the fire until it accomplishes what it’s meant to. Abiding is key. You in Him, Him in you. Then you take the Fire with you everywhere you go to IGNITE others who dare to draw near!!!