Is fear causing us to be problem focused instead of God focused?

Focus

I was sitting here thinking about some things in my life and I had this thought – does God wonder if we will ever quit looking at our problems and start looking at Him? I also wonder if we don’t sometimes make idols of our problems and difficulties. They are so often at the very center of everything we do and that makes me wonder sometimes about God’s thought on it.

If I spend most of my time worrying about problems and focusing on what might go wrong if this happens, or that happens, I would never accomplish anything. I just might have placed all my trust in the wrong kingdom. That’s fear, my friend. Fear wants us to have so much trust that bad things are going to happen that we completely forget who we are. We forget that our trust is in God – and that’s not good at all.

Fear is the number one thing we are warned against in the Bible and I think for a very good reason. Could it be that fear is so prevalent and such a great adversary that we need to constantly be reminded that it’s a lie? And not only that it’s a lie, but that it’s something we need to guard against? Fear not, indeed!

I am also reminded of the scripture that perfect love casts out all fear. How does that work in a practical sense? (I’m all about the practical)

As far as perfect love pertains to problem focus, I think the answer lies in the ability to turn my focus back to God. I need to remember the things He’s promised me, i.e. what are the prophetic words over my life? Once I remind myself of all those things, I can remember His goodness and realize that my trust has been on the wrong things and turn back to Him. Trusting in God is the way to peace and the way to freedom.

If I told my husband I trusted him and yet every time he said or did something, it made me fearful and anxious, I wouldn’t be showing very much trust. No, that’s not me trusting him at all. Instead, that’s me trusting in the bad things more than all the good things that he could do. We need to realize this fear is from the enemy and whenever we engage it, we empower it. Fear that is empowered will stop you and any good you want to do in its tracks.

The enemy isn’t at war with God; he’s at war with us! He wants our eyes looking at our circumstances and our problems so we won’t be looking at God. He wants us looking at all the terrible things going on around us so we can’t see the beauty of what really is. When our eyes only see bad things or potentially bad things, we will never see a solution. We will never go out and BE the solution.

It’s true that so much is going on in our world lately. But when we have wrong focus, this is all we will see. We will operate out of fear and there won’t be any peace around us. Fear is a self-perpetuating thing; the more you operate in fear, the more it grows. The more it grows, the more anxious we become. It will keep growing until the cycle is broken and that can only be broken by putting our focus back on God.

He is our Hope. He is our Prince of Peace.

Let’s remember Love, perfect love does cast out fear. And as long as fear has a foothold in our lives, love is very difficult to achieve – if not impossible.

I have enough things in my life that seem impossible. They aren’t with God, but in my own strength, they answers might as well be on the moon.

With all these thoughts and ponderings, I’m more determined than ever to keep my eyes like flint on Him. When my eyes begin to wander I have to pull them back. I have to give them something to focus on and look to Jesus who has all the answers.

Speak the word only…

Speak the word only

Romans 4:17

‘…even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.”

Words have impact and power in our lives…

We all confess this to be true, but do we really believe it, do our lives reflect it? What about our prayers; are they prayers filled with item after item of what is wrong with a situation, begging God to hear our prayers and fix everything?

What about those words we choose when we speak to God, do they not have impact and power? (Positively or negatively)

Let me tell you a story that pertains to all of these questions.

Several years ago, our daughter left for college to start the next journey in her life. She wasn’t saved, she was fairly rebellious and as typical of many her age (18), she was into the usual things – drinking and drugs. While she was engaging in the things of college life, Paul and I were having house parties and house church here at home.

One evening during one of these meetings we were going around the room praying for each other’s needs. When it came time for Paul, someone asked about our daughter; how was she? Was she any “better”, had the prayers had an effect? Paul said no and began to remind everyone about Chelsea and how she was such a prodigal – smoking, drinking and doing drugs. Then he began to pray that these things would stop and that she would come to know Jesus when God suddenly interrupted him and said, “When are you going to quit telling me what the problem is and start telling me what the solution is?” Paul was a little bit startled at that, to say the least. He asked God, “You want me to lie?”

Needless to say, our prayers did change to something more like a declaration than a plea. We began to speak the solution over our daughter every day, multiple times a day.

When someone asked how she was doing, we would say, “She’s saved, healed, drug-free and serving the Lord!” (At first, we would then say, “In Jesus name” lol, you know…to make it legal.) 😉

In exactly 2 months after changing our prayers and confessions, this is exactly what happened. She did get saved and all the addictions went away at the same time with God’s “one-step” program.

So it really is true like the Centurion said, “Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” And we, like this Centurion who was attributed with greater faith than anyone in all of Israel, are called to speak those things into being that is the Truth.

The truth is, our daughter was a righteous woman, she was addiction free and she was serving the Lord – in the future. All we did was bring the future into the now with our words. We are co-creators with our Father in heaven. Our life and our words should reflect that. He gave us all power and all authority to do the things He did and more! Didn’t Jesus heal the Centurion’s servant? And since He obviously did heal him, isn’t that something we are able to do? His words healed the servant and the officer knew that was all it would take.

Who are our words healing?

Whose destiny are we bringing into today with our words and declarations?

Our inheritance is riding on it. We are to be calling out destinies and futures to our loved ones and guess what? They don’t even have to know about it. We never told our daughter we were calling out her destiny. It wasn’t against her free will, it was about her future and her hope – she just didn’t know it yet.

Let’s make our prayers effectual and powerful. Let’s speak those things that are not (yet) as though they were! Let’s begin to speak of our “situations” as if they were already resolved!

Stay ~ Influence ~ Occupy

jeremie-cremer-4419

 

My question is this: Are you having a bad day? Are you feeling insecure, angry, threatened?  If so, don’t withdraw! Stay engaged and fight for your space and your place… Sometimes life IS just hard. Sometimes things are coming at you all at once – you feel attacked maybe, things seem to go wrong and things start to pile up all around you. It can be very overwhelming!

It’s times like this that I want to exit out of life sometimes. I want to withdraw and quit participating with those around me. (But I don’t.)

Does that ever happen to you?

First of all, I’m not really talking about suicide here although I suppose it could apply. I’m talking about the feeling we sometimes have of being hurt and maybe overwhelmed by everything that is going on around us and the desire to withdraw from the game – pick up your marbles and go home where it’s “safe” and no one can hurt you anymore.

The problem with that is, we can’t really afford to bow out. Why? Because we each occupy a specific space, uniquely our own and it’s important that we stick around and fill it. If we leave, we will be missed and not only that, there are things we do that will not get done.

Don’t believe me?

 It’s like this…

God is so big that He knows each and every encounter we have. He knows who we will meet, who we will interact with and even who had the potential to offend us. He has given us influence from this space, our own flavor or sorts, and a certain scent that no one else has. There are things we do and say that no one else can do.

Don’t leave your space
None of us is an island; at least we’re not supposed to be! We have a connection, physically and spiritually to each other.  The space we occupy touches other spaces. Who we are and what we do affects those around us – for good or bad. Those we “touch” can be either blessed or hurt by our actions, whether we choose to stand or to flee, encourage or discourage. Other people occupying their own space will affect us too. Of course, this is who we get hurt or how we get blessed. The connections are not just in the physical realm, there are spiritual connections too.

Back to don’t leave your space…

It’s true when we’re hurt and try to back away from everyone, escape in order to avoid any more pain, that it feels like the right thing to do. The problem is, we don’t always realize what a void we leave behind. Our lives are not our own – what we do affects those around us in ways we may not have considered.

When we withdraw and stop participating, we leave a void, a vacuum in the space we once occupied. The emptiness if felt. Sometimes that feeling may be one of relief for a time to those we leave, or it may be one overwhelming grief.

Don’t be alarmed that some may feel relief when we depart – insecurity and anxiety are not always very comfortable to be around. But that relief is only short lived because we are supposed to occupy and thrive in that space and whether we are told or not, we are missed. The void/emptiness that’s felt by our absence can create a longing in others that is not unlike grief. It stirs up an ache in their souls that can’t be explained away.

We need to realize who we are and be aware of the space we occupy. We need to know we matter and are important to the people around us. Maybe we haven’t been told how much we matter and maybe that should change; but whether we are told or not, it doesn’t change the fact that the space we fill is ours to occupy and influence from.

If we don’t occupy and tend our spaces, we can become an island and that is NOT good. We will become isolated and alone because that is the effect of withdrawing. Departure believes the lie that we don’t matter. Know it for what it is – a lie! We matter more than we know.

You do matter! We matter!

I believe it’s time to stand in the place we’ve been given. It’s time to grow up in the things of God and begin to work from our places (spaces) of influence and boldly be who we are meant to be! And if for some reason you don’t know who that is, take a look around you – who are your friends, who are your companions, who influences you? This is who you are.

Now go be you and influence those around you!

Photo by Jérémie Crémer on Unsplash

Focus – Love or Injustices

Today's Goals
I’ve discovered that if you spend all your time focusing on what is unfair, what hasn’t been accomplished, or even what someone did to you, there’s a big chance bitterness will take over your conversations, which would have started in your thoughts.
 
I do realize there are lots of things in our world that need justice but I’m also aware of the beauty that surrounds me. Every place I see something negative or “out of place”, I can also see things that are simply beautiful or even astounding.
 
What do you see when you see a homeless person on the side of the road? Do you see someone who is most precious to our Papa, or do you see all the disadvantages the person has? Both are true. Both are important. But only one has life and only one can bring solutions and answers.
 
Yes, there are injustices in our world and there are plenty of things that need changing but for me, I think it’s more important to dwell on the one thing I can bring to the game – right here, right now. That “thing” is love. I can bring love into any situation I encounter.
 
If I only see negative things, all the problems, then I will never get around to loving anyone or anything. No, I will only become bitter and hard and that is the way I will see everything. My lens will be clouded by the cares of this world.
 
Speak life.
 
Choose love
 
I challenge you today to bring love, forcibly if necessary, to every single situation you find yourself in today. Sometimes that looks like smiling and walking away. Other times it may look like hugging a homeless person and letting them know that have value and are loved and then perhaps you give them something that will cost you something. Who knows, that hug could have cost you everything. That cup of coffee might be the big sacrifice. Only you and Papa know.
 
Love those impatient drivers. (You might be the most impatient one!) Love those coworkers, love those neighbors.
 
You get the picture – wherever you find yourself today, love big. Love strong.
 
And by evening time, may we all say, “This was a good day, Lord!!”
Rinse and repeat…

Rest – A Dwelling Place

Micah tuckered out
I was thinking about rest and how it’s the place of my true identity. It’s the place I was created to live in.
When I strive to be something or to prove something, I tend to get my identity from that. That’s not really a conscious thing, but true, nevertheless. If I am constantly condemning myself as not good enough, not there yet or not deserving of the love that God gives me, I will never have peace. Nor will I have true rest.
While I was washing the breakfast dishes the other day, I was thinking about the verse in Hebrews 4:11 about striving to enter into rest. I was thinking that we often miss this, getting caught up in the aspect of “not striving” because it’s a works mentality. Striving to enter into rest is not the same thing as that. Entering into rest is not about approval – works are.
Striving to enter into rest is one of those things that are absolutely worth the fight. If I can keep distractions and other things at bay, the place of rest will allow me to do and accomplish more than I ever could by striving in my own strength.
When in rest, I have peace but I also have a co-laboring partnership with the force of heaven to help me accomplish things. Of course, I don’t even have to accomplish anything if that is my desire.
My identity is that I am who God says I am and what I do or don’t do has no bearing on that. I am already approved by God so I might as well quit all the striving and simply be who I am, resting in the realization that this process is not always easy but is ALWAYS worth it.

A Follow-up to,“When I was a boy”…

follow-up-to-being-a-boy

As a disclaimer, my blog wasn’t about gender questions or anything like that…

To be clear, I never really wanted to be a boy – I simply wanted to have the same adventures as the boys I knew. And thankfully, I got to do exactly that; my entire childhood. (Well except on Sunday’s that is. Then I had to clean up, put a dress on and go to Church. Sigh…it was terrible!)

I have always loved being a girl but that also meant being a girl on my terms – which is:

I have never had any desire to be like other girls. Trying to figure out me was enough! I didn’t need to be someone else. I love experimenting with makeup and such but always in a fairly distracted way. I never got the knack of it and it really doesn’t even bother me.

I never get my nails done because I use my hands too much and the nail polish would be ruined almost immediately. Besides, I work with food a lot and nail polish is a no-no.

I don’t like dresses but will wear skirts if I have to. Jackets are my favorite, especially men’s jackets. Why is it that they get all the cool inside pockets? Why?

I’m more at ease being outside hiking in the woods than in the boardroom. Yeah, I can do that stuff but I might just get caught daydreaming! Boring!!!

My life aspirations weren’t to go to the moon or be president. Nope, what I wanted to be when I grew up was to be a mother and a wife. Those were my ambitions and actually, it’s what I do best. And in case you were wondering, I DID play with dolls, I did play house and I baked every chance I got!

I also loved making trails in the woods, building tree houses and arguing with the best of them whether someone was safe or not when they ran home from third base!

My being an adventure-seeker has nothing to do with also being an A-type personality. Clearly, I am not that type.

All my life, I’ve had more male friends than female friends. I preferred to engage in the activities my male friends were doing because I didn’t have much interest in what most of the girls were doing. I was never “boy crazy” like a lot of girls were. They were just friends! LOL

To this day, I have more male friends than I do female. Don’t get me wrong, I love my women friends but I do have less of them.

Most of my friends have been guys. I have not chosen jobs/work that is traditional “women’s” jobs. I’ve worked in shipping and receiving and have loved it. I once even worked construction, starting out as a laborer and then advanced to a pipefitter. And you know what? I got called out by many of the men that worked there because I did happen to wear nail polish in those days! They said I couldn’t do that. ..I guess I proved them wrong! I even had makeup on, lol.
I am not a fan of shopping, especially in a mall or with a group. I want to walk into a store, get what I came in for and leave as fast as I can!

I still love to get my hands dirty while gardening or even cooking. Either is fine, I always make a mess on my clothes or my apron. And that’s fine too.

Bottom line: I’m still very much an adventurer, very much a woman and very much Paul’s favorite tomboy. And Jesus thinks I’m awesome.

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

outdoor-christmas-tree-1

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

Bear with me a moment while I get to the point of this blog….

In some Christian circles, it’s popular to be offended at people who don’t say Merry Christmas but instead say Happy Holidays to them. They seem to feel this is an affront to Jesus and His Holy birth and also themselves personally – which makes them stand up in “holy vigor” and rage about it in defense of Jesus. (Because Jesus is sitting up there on His itty bitty throne, helpless while He waits on us.  NOT)

And yes it’s true that when political correctness was adopted by corporate America, there were many people who were told they could no longer tell everyone Merry Christmas anymore because, “not everyone was Christian, and we wouldn’t want to offend anyone.” Some of those people who were told not to say Merry Christmas anymore just happened to BE Christians and rebellion began to stir against their company’s policies, albeit mostly covertly. There was smugness at secretly saying, “Merry Christmas”, as if to say, “take that, corporate America!”

Why? Why do we fall for these things?

Political correctness was and is simply a ploy to level the playing field and make everyone the same – no one special, no one celebrated and no one left out. Political Correctness wasn’t dreamed up by politics or corporate America. No, there is only one who kills, steals and destroys. He’s the force behind this and yes, he uses people to do his work. Don’t be one of them.

Back to Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays …

I must be honest here. I have to fight not to be offended when people get upset at someone when they say Happy Holidays as opposed to Merry Christmas. Yes, that the opposite spirit of those Christians listed above – but let me tell you why.

Religion! That’s why.

And ignorance, that’s also why.

Holiday is simply a word derived from the word Holy. Yes, it’s true.

So when someone comes along and tells you Happy Holidays, they are simply telling you Happy Holy days – whether they know it or not. See how cool that really is? There’s nothing to be offended about at all. Something the enemy chose to offend has really backfired if we will be educated and get over ourselves. Can’t we have the discernment to SEE that this is exactly the thing that is used to divide us?

I’m not so naïve to think this is the only thing being skewed by political correctness – it’s not. But this particular “thing” is directly aimed at us as Believing Christians. Can we not let it have its way with us this year?

You know, and I know you do, when we look at or focus on what is wrong and not what is right we WILL get offended. Let’s look at the Answer and see what He would have us do. I’m pretty sure it will have nothing to do with rebellion (offense) or wrath.

So, with all that being said – I’ll be the first to breakthrough this lie and tell you all, I hope you have the Merriest and Happiest Holidays ever!

…Because no matter how you say it, it’s all about Jesus! He is the one I celebrate and no one or their choice of words will ever change that – Period. I honestly think it’s a better way of representing Him. We know who this “Holy Day” is all about. Others may come to find out if we can simply be kind, thankful and full of blessings and grace throughout this season and beyond. Maybe…

Let’s represent well.

And I also want to say: Merry Christmas to you!

christmas-bells

Thankfulness

thanksgiving-table-settings

As I was reading Jonathan Welton’s blog on Thanksgiving the other day, I came to the end of it and saw his suggestion to write out 50 things or people I was thankful for. It sounded like a wonderful idea!

I thought about what I would put on the list, and who I was thankful for all day long, but never put pen to paper. Instead, I waited until yesterday morning to sit down and start compiling.

It wasn’t as easy as I supposed.

Sure, Paul was first on my list and next came my relationship with Papa and His mighty abundance in my life – soon to be followed by children and family members.

Next I wrote down how thankful I was for my kitchen and all the equipment I am blessed to have – it is my place of solace after all, (smile).I was sure to include all the material blessings I have; my kitties and my neighbor’s kitty too!

…Speaking of neighbors, they were included also.

As I kept adding things to my list, I realized that I needed to stop and begin adding names of the people who I am so overwhelmingly blessed to have speak into my life

I began writing.

Name after name was added to the list. As soon as someone was added another name would come up in my heart and I added them to the list.

On and on it went.

Before I knew it, I had well exceeded the suggested 50 items or people.

And I wasn’t finished!

More names and faces appeared before me and a smile would blossom on my face at the remembrance of their love, their kind and encouraging words.

Once I began being thankful for what I have and for the people I surround myself with, I realized there was no room for complaining anymore. And even though I hadn’t been complaining really, I hadn’t been actively conscious of how much I have to be thankful for.

I find it interesting how simply reading a blog post of someone I have never even met can set me on a course of remembering how much I am loved and blessed! And the really great thing is, it happens almost every time I read something that YOU have written from your heart. It speaks loudly in my life.

When I left Facebook for a season, I deleted everything. That means, when I returned I started completely over with my friends and contacts. It also means most of you have been hand-picked to speak into my life and can I say: You rock!! You are amazing! Many of you I have not had the chance to meet face to face yet. But that doesn’t even matter really – I get love you and appreciate you every time we connect. It’s one of the most wonderful things in the world.

Oh, I just thought of one more name! I can’t forget to add you to the list!

Jesus said that, “from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (Mt 12:34)”

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May your heart be overflowing this day. May the words of your mouth only speak life!

Encountering Jesus

pictures-face-jesus-lars-justinen

I have had one vision of Jesus. It is a treasure I hold dearly because I realize that many people haven’t even had that. For many years, I was the same. When I had my experience, I was receiving prayer in a healing room setting.

Paul and I had been teaching and training some staff for this new ministry in our church. The lessons were all complete, homework finished and now it was time to let the rubber meet the road. I decided we needed to do a mock-up of praying for someone so they could see how a typical session flowed. (Sort of, Holy Spirit likes to mix things up all the time). We were all standing in our places, setting order in the room, praying about who would lead and who would be the intercessors, etc. when I decided we needed a patient – someone who actually needed prayer – that someone was me. The funny thing was, God doesn’t do mock ups! Jehovah sneaky walked right in and it and before I knew it, this mock-up became a full on deliverance session for ME! (I Love Him so much,…Sneaky Guy).

When all the issues were taken care of, and after I finished repenting and forgiving, etc., I saw myself standing in a blind canyon that had a waterfall cascading down with a shallow pool collecting at the base. Mist was rising up from the pool of water, making it hard to make out any surrounding details. As I was trying to see what was around me, suddenly Jesus appeared. Out of the mist, he rode, riding on a white horse. Yes, He did have blue eyes and His hair was long and dark. His beard was fairly long but well kept.  He extended His hand to me, reaching down to give me an arm up so I could climb up behind Him. I’m so glad He did, my knees were about to buckle. I was a little overwhelmed.

Do you know how awesome it is to ride a horse with Jesus with your arms wrapped around his waist? I can’t even describe in words what that meant to me.  He came to tell me that He would always be there for me, anytime I needed Him. He would rescue me every time – and He has.

This was my only* face to face with Jesus; but when I close my eyes now I can see Him right before me sitting on His white horse, waiting on me to call upon His Name.

 

*I have since had another encounter with Jesus. Back in July of this year, I went to The Courts of Heaven on behalf of a family member. He met me there.

(photo credit ~ Lars Justinen)

 

Experiencing God

experiencing-god

Want to experience or hear God more?

It starts by seeking Him and expecting that He wants this as much as you do. He is already pursuing you more than you even know. His thoughts are ever for you. So, if you want to crash into Him…

Narrow your focus on Him. Take all those cares and worries and set them aside for now and just breathe. See all the things that are good and lovely in your life. Set your heart toward those things.

If you have trouble being still, put on some worship music. It doesn’t even have to be slow; it’s whatever will cause you peace and the ability to relax. You might even want to sing or hum along just to settle your thoughts and still you soul.

Once you are in a place of rest, consider:

What do you see or imagine that you are both doing together?

Peer into that a little more.

Let that vision expand – dwell there for a while.
Catch those almost fleeting thoughts and images…blow on them.

Once you do, they will grow and become real conversations and experiences with God; He’s the one sending them after all.

Once you and He have spent some time together doing whatever it is you both want to do, go give it away to someone else – they need Him as much as you do.

(Note: inspired in part by some notes I took while listening to David Joseph and Jeremy Mangerchine doing a podcast a while back.)