God Fortifies Your Faith Instead of Stopping the Sifting

wheat-harvest“I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail…” -Jesus (to Peter, and to you)

Jesus tells Simon Peter that the enemy of his soul desires to have him, desires to sift Peter as wheat (a grueling, grating process), but that He’s prayed, not for the sifting to stop, but that Peters faith will not fail.

Declare this (ALOUD): My faith will not fail: JESUS is praying for me.

Always remember that whatever attack your enemy sends your way had to first seek permission from divine providence. In the midst of whatever sifting that’s come your way, God is still in control. Just as God allowed Peter to be sifted, He allowed the Israelites to be “sifted” by the Midianites (Judges 6). But, even in the midst of absolutely terrorizing circumstances, the God of the universe still had Gideon’s fate and faith in His hands. The beautiful truth is that no matter WHO does the sifting, the end result is that the wheat berry, your fruitfulness, is preserved, and everything else is driven away. Even Satan’s sifting serves God’s purposes.

Stay tuned for the next message in this Fearful But Faithful series, and do share with others and share your thoughts on the posts as we study together.

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Gideon Was Fearful, But He Was Faithful!

 

Declare This (ALOUD): Fear will NOT overtake me; it will NOT keep me from doing great things.

Gideon’s story is marked by monumental fear — hiding from the Midianites while gathering food, sneaking under the cover of night to destroy the idol in God’s temple. But fearful or not, Gideon was a man of ACTION, to the point that the author of Hebrews (in 11:32) had to marvel that there isn’t enough time to even talk about how much Gideon accomplished by faith. I wonder if Gideon could’ve lived with slightly less fear, though, if he only knew Hebrews ch. 11, vs. 32 was coming. How would you live differently if you knew that EVEN in the midst of your fears, you can put our faith into action in such a way that the “Hebrews 11” chapter of your life will boast of the great exploits God did through you?

Declare This (ALOUD): I WILL be all I’m called to be and do ALL I am purposed to do, even if I have to do it afraid! I can be faithful, even if fearful.

Register for Conference Here: http://10thousandstanding.eventbrite.com/

Your Tears Are Not Lost on God

Y O U R  TEARS didn’t get lost in your pillowcase. The God of all comfort still salvages every sorrow. With each successive year I celebrate the mending of my heart, my capacity for openly receiving, deeply experiencing, and passionately expressing God’s love has multiplied. After decades of overwhelming grief and anger that threatened to eclipse all joy, God’s peace relentlessly pursued me and has repeatedly brought me to my knees in adoration of Him. May this same peace & love chase and catch your overburdened soul.

As you release your fears and tears to God, I want to share that I’ve been leading the leaders of the 10 Thousand Standing Conference in a bible study where we’re challenging our fears, overcoming failures, and fueling our faith in God. I’ll be sharing the bible study portions here, as well.

JOIN the FEARFUL but FAITHFUL bible study and SHARE today! I’m so excited to grow along with each of you!

When I Don’t Want God to Be God

1. fear is misplaced faith

Likewise, anxiety is misplaced divinity – something else is God.

4 a.m. – I still hadn’t gotten any good sleep, a daunting reality when I reminded myself the day’s alarm would be blaring in less than 2 hours.

5 a.m. – I jolted awake, somewhat confused because it’d been more than a year since a wave of panic had washed over me like it did in that one sweeping moment. Yet, also somewhat aware of where those overwhelming anxieties were stemming from.

I realized I didn’t want God to be God in HIS way, I wanted Him to be God in MY way.

Having survived years of abuse and working with a number of trauma survivors, I’m well aware of the brokenness life can bring. What heightened my awareness this week was sending all four of our children off to school where they’re no longer under my watchful care. I whispered, “God, please help me to trust You’ll protect my children.” Then, it hit me: what if God protects them the way He protected me? Tears spilled down my face as I realized I didn’t want God to be God in HIS way, I wanted Him to be God in MY way. I don’t want God to allow a fraction of the pain in their lives that He allowed in mine. I want His protection to look like mine would. I want Him to prevent our pain, but He’s determined to purpose our pain.

When I’m honest with myself, I have to admit there are times that I don’t want God to be God. That’s what the heavy dose of panic coursing through my veins was really about. It was really about whether or not I am willing to embrace God’s allowance of affliction over my preference of protection. Do I desire my Savior to also be sovereign? Quite often, at the root of our anxiety is a difficulty in trusting the sovereignty of God, a difficulty in relinquishing all illusions of control to an all-consuming God who won’t reveal all of His plans to us. Notice I mentioned we seek to retain “illusions of control” because our striving with God says nothing of His enduring omnipotence. He’s still in control. He’s still God.

At the root of our anxiety is a difficulty in trusting the sovereignty of God.

Our enemy uses the truth about our experiences to speak lies about our God. His native language is deceitfulness; he’s the father of lies (John 8:44). And, he is still feeding us the same lie he fed Adam and Eve all those years ago: we’d be better gods than God himself.

I’d have to agree with the saying that “fear is misplaced faith,” and I’ll add that much of our anxiety is misplaced divinity. We’ve made something or someone else God – usually ourselves. When we allow our emotions to escalate unchecked, when we listen to the lies about God’s goodness, lies about His character, about His steadfast mercy and love somehow not being what’s best for us, we’re choosing to exalt potential problems over the Prince of Peace. God foresaw that we would experience anxiety, but He calls us to submit those worries to Him because if we don’t we are essentially making a God of whatever or whomever we trust more (1 Peter 5:7). If I trust myself to handle my situation, protect my children, etcetera, more than I trust God, then I’m essentially saying I don’t want God to be God; I want to be God. If God isn’t God, then someone else will be. Quite often, that someone else is self, evidenced when we would rather be the person in control than let God be God. But even the most terrific person will make a terrible God.

If God isn’t God, then someone else will be.

If you are struggling with anxiety, first, know that you are not alone. Know that the God of the universe looked ahead in time, knew you would be burdened with this struggle, and specifically called you to cast all of those anxieties on Him because He cares for you. Second, know that help is available through Christ-centered counseling and medical interventions. You weren’t meant to bear this cross alone. I’ve already prayed for those reading and wanting more help; I believe God for you. Below is a list of resources for anxiety management and finding a skilled therapist in your area.

Click HERE: Anxiety Relaxation Techniques

Click HERE: Find a Psychotherapist (U.S.A. or Canada)

Click HERE: Therapist Locator (outside U.S. or Canada)

 

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Choosing Regrets

leap in the dark

Image credit to MyRon Edmonds

  “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”                                                        ~Ecclesiastes 11:4 (TLB)

The 2-minute video below addresses the difference between day-to-day regrets and life regrets. In summary, people tend to regret ACTIONS in their day-to-day experiences, like maybe traveling for a vacation when they may have wanted the money used for something else, but when reflecting over their lives, the biggest regrets tend to be INACTION. In fact, the number one life regret is not traveling more. Hopefully you enjoy the brief video; you can click subscribe for more. You won’t know every possible outcome, but you really can choose your regrets. Take the leap, go all in, your future self will thank you!

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Life Soundtrack

Find Me:life soundtrack

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Many of our most powerful life experiences are inextricably tied to healing melodies that have both stirred our souls and lifted our spirits, music that will forever have an emotional impact on us and be indelibly etched into the fabric of our lives. Here’s a compilation of what was shared with me along with my own #lifesoundtrack. I thank each of you for sharing and blessing my life!

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat when I wanted to give up on any hopes of healing…but God…TUH #butGod

“When [my sister] Lystra died. “I’m going to be ready” by Yolanda Adams was on Serious REPEAT!”

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat for much of my senior year of high school when the pain of my past threatened to eclipse God’s plan for my life.”

[FOR THE SAME SONG, DIFFERENT TESTIMONY BELOW:]

“I sang this song outside the office of the professor that took my full scholarship away because I couldn’t sign up for a class she wanted me to take. I was sitting in a desk in the hallway outside her office, singing, when SWAT showed up. She called them because I “intimidated” her. Well, maybe but, I got my scholarship back. #goodtimes

“After my abortion. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.”

“When I was pregnant and terribly anxious because of my heart condition I would listen to “He Has His Hands On You”. I also continually return to Keeping My Mind, Promise Keeper, Draw Nigh, and Breathe Into Me O Lord, from the Spirit of David album.”

 

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat for a number of days my freshman year in college. Some days I couldn’t even muster a prayer. What. a. GOD!”

“Speechless by Israel. Mannnnn”

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat when my water broke after just 25 weeks of pregnancy with the twins and the neonatologist came by to tell me what I can expect for them (bleeding on the brain, seizures, death, nothing good!) [they’re 4, now, btw, alive and completely healthy].”

“When I was tied up and gang raped, not supported, feeling worthless.”

“When reflecting on the miscarriage of my first child…”

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat for the four days between my doctor finding a lump and the negative mammogram results.”

“…this was on repeat when my life was completely broken…spiritually, mentally and emotionally and I just couldn’t turn anywhere else.” [1/3]

“But…AFTER THIS….” [2/3]

“And my favorite Andrae Crouch” [3/3]

This I’ve been meditating on for the last month. It’s completely repetitive (lol) but it was exactly what I needed.” [below is the version sent to me and a shorter version; both are great!]

“When I started to fight back against depression on a spiritual&practical aspect when the enemy tried to convince me it was too dark to pray Already Getting Better by William Murphy got me through those rough counseling sessions”

“When God gave me the strength to let go of the guilt of my past Daryl Coley “He’s Preparing Me” helped me understand that the assignment never changed ! God was preparing me the entire time”

“When I thought that because of my depression God finally gave up on me and stop speaking to me Marvin Sapp’s Speak to my heart and his rendition of “I Come to the Garden Alone” became my daily prayers”

“Reflecting on my last suicide attempt, i look back and remember the pain that had brought me to that point. now diminished greatly on most days, that pain almost rendered me unavailable, incapable, feeling unworthy to worship my creator. i truly could see no other way, no hope, no love, rejection , scorn, contempt, guilt……..i just simply could not have morning come one more day. And as my body fell to the ground, i looked into my husband’s eyes. he was afraid. i’ve never seen that look on his face again and i pray i never will. the vomiting, the ambulance ride, the hospital band that read my name but reminded me that i failed yet again. the anger for having to pick myself up and try to live one more time. i didn’t have a song then. didn’t have much of anything come to think of it. But i did have God’s love. Today, i am still amazed by just how much he loves ME.”

“‘Withholding nothing Melody’ more recently has been blessing me EARLY in the morning”

[FOR THE SAME SONG, DIFFERENT TESTIMONY BELOW:]

“The day before I was to share a very personal testimony, I had the thought, ‘I feel that urge to withhold some things,’ and within a few seconds, I saw a friend tweet, ‘Withholding Nothing.’ I felt God’s peace as I honored Him by speaking truth.”

“Can this be on the life soundtrack list? It’s just… so…relevant. to like, everything.”

I was truly, truly honored to share this day reflecting and worshiping with those who shared. I heard familiar echoes of overwhelming Love telling of a God who reaches into impossibly bleak situations and makes all things new. I hope you’re blessed by this playlist! All of the songs are compiled into a single Youtube playlist HERE.

Find Me:

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Amazing Jesus

Amazing Jesus

Amazing Jesus

This isn’t about what you may think. Of course Jesus is amazing, but this is about what amazed Jesus. I’m thoroughly amazed by Jesus, amazed by His grace, amazed by His love, but this is about us amazing Him. As I reread the story of the centurion soldier this week, I was absolutely blown away when I got to verse 9 of Luke chapter 7. The same account is given in Matthew 8, that when Jesus saw the faith of the centurion soldier asking for His servant to be healed, Jesus was amazed! I adore what the soldier says in the preceding verse. He essentially told Jesus that if he, being a roman soldier with just some authority, could give commands and have them followed, then surely all Jesus had to do was give a command and sickness would flee. He was saying: I don’t need You present before I believe Your power, Jesus! I have enough faith in the power of Your words, faith that if You would just speak from there, Jesus, Your word will not return to you void but will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent (Isaiah 55:11). This reminds me of the following Robert Murray McCheyne quote we have on our living room wall:

If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room,

I would not fear a million enemies.

Yet, distance makes no difference.

He is praying for me.

We need to get to this place of trusting God’s Word ~ over our fears, over our “facts,” over our five senses, even. We have an amazing Jesus doing amazing things, like ever-living to intercede for us (despite the distance), and yet, this same Jesus is amazed at OUR faith. I studied further and only found two instances wherein the bible states Jesus was amazed, both in reference to our faith. Once was depth of faith, shown by the centurion soldier, the other was lack of faith, specifically, unbelief demonstrated by people of His hometown to the point that He was unable to perform miracles (yet, He still healed). A friend also had me shouting that their unbelief couldn’t even override His healing hands, but I’ll leave that where it is for now.

All I know is that I’m no longer satisfied with my faith until it amazes an amazing God. I have no interest in my words or actions amazing anyone; I want my faith to amaze Jesus. You have an amazing Jesus and you’re capable of amazing Jesus with your faith. Amaze Him, not with your lack of faith, but with your depth of faith. If our faith can amaze Jesus, let’s start amazing Jesus!

Amazing Faith Amazes Jesus

Amazing Faith Amazes Jesus