Love Thy Neighbor

neighbors

The other morning while I was just waking up – you know, that sweet place between being fully awake and fully asleep, I was thinking about love. I was thinking about loving my neighbor and how sometimes it’s easier said than done. Yes, I do know the scripture actually says, Love your neighbor as you love yourself. But, we’ll save that “Yourself” part for another time.

I was pondering this and praying that God would give me a love for those who I seem to have a hard time loving on my own. Help me love even those who irritate me and make me twitch at the mere mention of their name. Help me love the (seemingly) unlovable ones.

After praying and pondering this, I had a sudden thought of actually falling in love with these people – my neighbors and others. Seriously, falling in love? But, the more I thought about it, the more it made perfect sense.

What better way to serve someone and demonstrate the kingdom at the same time. That is, without an agenda whatsoever.  People see agendas coming a mile away and there isn’t any real love in them when it comes to relationships like this. The end “game” is love, not another notch on your evangelistic belt. (I don’t have a belt, btw.)

For me, the Gospel is and should be preached by demonstrations of love and practical things that people need and can understand in their lives, more than by words preached at them. I find that when words are being used to preach the Gospel, it is for the Believing body. Not always, but this is what I see most often. It’s always pointless to point out what we think is wrong with someone, especially if we haven’t even taken the time to love well first. There is no fruit in that.

We throw the word “love” around all the time. Often when we use the word, it’s for things, to people. For instance:
I love coffee

I love bacon

I love these jeans

I love Sunday mornings

I love Christmas

We also use this word love when we think and talk about our friends and relationships – which is what I’m talking about here.

Can we take a moment and think about this thing called love? What is it really about?

When I met my husband on a blind date, oh so many years ago, I fell head over heels in love with him. My thoughts were always on him. What was he doing? Was he thinking about me? When would we get to be together again?

Things have changed only slightly these days. Instead of me being in a state of head over heels, – I am able to take my eyes and thoughts off of him so I can accomplish some things. (That is sometimes necessary for functionality!) But that is what love is all about. Falling in love with Paul is something that I choose to do every morning when I wake up. It’s like the “Groundhog Day” of love. I get to do it all over again but the difference is, I am full of love when I begin the day, not emptied out only to start from scratch.

I used the illustration of me and Paul about falling in love because it’s a perfect picture of what we are capable of as people: We can fall in love with those around us and we can do it every day.

This thing called love is really about choosing a place of humility. If we do that there will be no room for judgment or accusation for those who believe differently than us or act differently than we would in a given situation. We can love them because we give them honor from exactly where they are not someplace we think they should be.

 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never ends. . .(1 Cor. 13:4-8)

Falling in love with our neighbors is where the rubber hits the road. Love is a fruit of the spirit and if you know anything about fruit, it doesn’t suddenly appear. Fruit is grown from seeds planted and tended over time. Like fruit we won’t excel in love always, but we can develop love, deep love over time.

We need to treat people like our most beloved and cherished friend. We need to take the time to listen because they have a story that will rock our world and it needs to be told. If we treat them like beloved friends, that is what they will become. Can we love well enough to listen and actually show that we love?

I believe it’s time to fall in love with those around us. I believe it’s time for us to go out as an army of love and conquer the neighbors around us. Then let’s go take the world!

I’m falling in love, all over again.

G

Advertisements

I AM the Righteousness of God

 

Righteousness

Paul and I were talking and praying through some things this morning. He had a prayer sheet with a list of things to declare and start your day with – lots of I am statements that he copied from Al Mack’s timeline. Some of these statements got me thinking.

We all have learned that praying the Word back is a great thing to do. Our words have power and when we declare these things out loud, things happen and heaven moves. Paul likes to say, “The Kingdom is voice-activated” and he’s right. Our words do activate the spirit realm around us.

While going through the prayer points and declarations I kept thinking about how much every one of these requires faith and trust if we are to believe them. For example, how can I know I’m a new creation in Christ if I don’t have faith in that if I don’t trust that the Word is true?

Even though I was praying along while Paul was reading these out loud, I kept having more and more thoughts along the lines of how much faith it took to really believe what I was saying. Was it true, did I really believe what I was saying and praying; or was this just a mantra of ritualistic words that I was familiar with? Did I really believe this in my entire being or was this simply head knowledge?

After a few minutes we got to the statement, I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:21) and my thoughts suddenly stopped. I realized that this was true – not just in my head but down in my very being, through and through. I believed it because I have faith in the other things He has said and it takes faith in every step and every statement to come to a place where I could emphatically state these things as truth. They weren’t empty statement or just words on a page.

I began to repeat some of the “I am” statements with the knowledge, with the faith of the truth that they revealed.

I am righteous because I am a doer of the word.

I am a joint-heir with Christ because I am righteous

I am holy because I’m a new creation in Christ. . .

I was realizing, deep inside and not just in my head, that I am these things and whether I’m feeling it or not, I am complete in Him. I lack nothing and I am far from oppression. Fear is simply a lie that I cannot afford to entertain.

Knowing this makes me able to walk in peace and joy no matter what the world throws at me. And, no matter what tragedies and difficulties that are around me I can remain in my identity and be of some use when needed. How in the world can I influence or help anyone if I don’t even know who I am?  I can’t, at least not for the good. And who needs influence if it’s bad? No one!

It comes down to identity. Reading these statements again this morning made me realize that I actually believe them all. My faith has grown and it encompasses all the vastness He says about who I am.

A few years ago, that wasn’t the case. I used to read things like this all the time but, I only read them believing they were wonderful but not actually about me. Today the epiphany was, I am all of these things and the peace I can enter into and not have to ever leave is the fruit of that. Today the truth that has been in my heart finally reached my head! Understanding has arrived.

Time to exhale.

Photo credit ~ Aaron Burden (https://stocksnap.io/photo/MCC6WG6ZN5)

 

Revealing of the Sons of God?

Drawn to the light

Do you ever think about those scriptures that say, For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:14) and this one, For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God? (Romans 8:19)

I do, I often wonder what it will look like when the wait is over. I often wonder if I will ever be seen or known as a Son of God.

Last night I (eventually) got a glimpse of one possibility of how it might look. . .

I can’t say it was totally unexpected but when the attack came, I was shocked at how utterly ridiculous it was. Even though I halfway expected something, I didn’t expect what did come.

**********

When you find yourself being attacked you might want to take a step back and see what is really going on. Yes, it hurts when this happens. Yes, emotions rise up, you will want to defend yourself and refute the accusations. Believe me, I know all about it. Actually, I’m standing in this exact spot right now.

In order to see what might really be going on, we have to go deeper. Attacks are often reactionary as opposed to being responsive. The first is emotionally driven and the second is thought driven in their simplest forms. In this case of an attack, we are looking at the emotionally driven reaction.

In order to distance myself from an attack, I have to step back and look deeper to see what might be motivation or cause. (Even if it’s only perceived by them) Often it has more to do with the person that is attacking than the one who is being attacked. And often it has to do with wounds and hurt that have not been properly dealt with or healed.

Unhealed wounds can cause bitterness and negative feelings.

Resentment over things that have happened to us can make us feel like victims and that in turn sometimes causes us to make inner vows that we think will protect us from further hurts.

They won’t.

Well, they will but it will only be for a very short time. Eventually, those vows will become a prison that not only keeps things from hurting us again, they also keep anything good from getting in – like healing! Those wounds will begin to fester and become toxic. This is when seeming unreasonable attacks take place. Unreasonable to the person on the receiving end, that is.

When I was attacked last night, I’ll be honest with you – I wanted to attack right back! I vented, said a few (or several) things that weren’t very lady-like and even started writing out a reply to the person. Thankfully I have a husband who hears from God who advised me to wait, not respond until tomorrow. And also thankfully, I’m wise enough to listen to him!

Before falling asleep I repented for my behavior and outburst of wrath towards this person and asked God to soften my heart towards them because I certainly couldn’t do it all by myself. I didn’t sleep well. The enemy was having a heyday with my thoughts. It was difficult to rein them in but for the most part, I recognized his tactics and told him to stop. Mostly they did.

While drinking coffee this morning, Paul and I talked about the incident more. It was occurring to me that this person was very unhappy and had a very negative outlook on life. I gleaned this not from a place of judgment but from previous conversations I had with this person. Looking at the larger picture, I realized there had been signs that I didn’t recognize at the time.

This person was wounded and expected everything would be a problem, everything would go wrong. They were bitter because they hadn’t been healed. It broke my heart, but in a good way. (Not like when they attacked me. That one hurt, this one hurt differently) We were able to pray blessings and healing over them in a very sincere way. I was able to forgive them and let any resentment or need for punishment fall to the ground.

Yes, I was attacked but at the end of the day, it wasn’t about me. It was about them and their dissatisfaction with themselves. I am still praying for them, prayers of healing and prayers of discovery. I continue to pray they will discover what love is and Who Love is. I pray they will encounter joy and peace and kindness in the most unexpected places.

It’s not always easy to pray for those who hurt us but who said it would be? The easy path is not always the right path to take. The path that pushes us past our comfort zones causes us to take our eyes off our own selves and makes us love stronger, is the one that will bear much fruit. It is the path that will identify us as Sons of God.

The whole world is waiting, you know. The world is waiting for a light in the world to be drawn to – that Light is in you!

(Photo credit ~ https://stocksnap.io/photo/3E6O5228GU)

 

Changing the Atmosphere

Atmosphere changers

We are Atmosphere changers!

We affect the atmosphere we inhabit. Atmosphere changers do just that – they change the atmosphere, for good or bad.

The last couple of days I’ve been thinking about how my attitudes and stances affect those around me. (In the world we live in, “around me” can mean physically or even social media – basically any place I have influence whether positive or negative.)

What am I bringing to the conversation when I comment on someone’s post or reply to someone’s question? Do I come into agreement with negativity and join in the pity party? Or do I consciously turn the conversation to seeing the goodness in things and maybe bringing hope where none was perceived before? Do I encourage them to see things from another perspective, or do I simply agree with all the despair?

If someone is experiencing goodness and joy already, do I want to bring them down to my level because I’m having a bad day? Both of these instances will change the atmosphere. So, am I problem focused or am I seeing blessings all around me?

Sometimes I think we (I) need to stop and think about how our attitudes affect those around us.

We are not an island – our attitudes and stances touch others and can have more of an effect than we realize. If I have a bad attitude, my stance will be rigid and I will not be moved to any sort of compassion. My words will be few and maybe even harsh – and sadly history shows that I won’t even care, at least in that moment. Is this what I want to bring into a room? Is this how I encourage others?

Hardly

I encourage others to do better and be a better person by managing myself first. I will never forget the Danny Silk quote, I can’t control anyone; I can only control myself, and then only on a good day! The “control” he’s referring to has to do with influence. If I’m under control, self-control, and my attitudes love and peaceful, I will have a tremendous effect on those I encounter.

You know if you’ve ever flown in an airplane, the flight attendant always tells you that if the plane loses cabin pressure, put your own mask on first. That way you will still be breathing and be able to help others around you. This is managing us first.

I have to be conscious of what change I will bring to the atmosphere. If I’m not in a place to bring a good shift, I need to walk away and go deal with myself; maybe even a time-out if necessary. (smile)

If I am focused on blessings and the goodness all around me, I can affect someone else’s attitude and perspective simply by allowing what’s in me to pour out on them. How cool is that? This is what I desire and I pray will be more and more prominent in my life.

From this place of contemplation, I would like to encourage us all to give thought to our words; to proactively bring hope and encouragement when we walk into a room, (physically or cyberly.) I would also encourage us to check our attitudes in how we deal with people and issues we may not agree with at the moment. (There’s always room for us ALL to grow and learn more.)

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God. This is the atmosphere we are bringing to bear.

Try talking about your blessings more than your problems ~ Toby Mac #speaklife ~ It makes the atmosphere around you much more pleasant. No, seriously….

Photo credit ~ https://stocksnap.io/photo/4KMRMHQIJD

 

My Eyes Were Healed!

2014-11-29 13.22.01

 

The blind can see…

 On December 2, 2006, my eyes were healed. Although it took me a day or so to realize it, they were healed on that date.

Every year Bill Johnson came to Nashville for the weekend and spoke at a conference that was hosted by two different churches here in town. One night he spoke at Grace Center (church) and the other night he spoke at Belmont Church. In December of ’06, he spoke at Belmont Church on Saturday. We had been looking forward to the occasion for a long while.

To back up a bit, I got “saved” in late February of 2006. It was a crazy year, at least compared to any previous years of my life! I immediately began reading all of Dutch Sheets’ books so I could learn how to pray and maybe even figure out what this “intercession” business was all about. No, that didn’t teach me to pray. I learned a lot but what I really was wanting was to learn how to pray like Paul and some others from the Healing rooms – and that just didn’t happen. (God didn’t want another Paul or anyone else! He wanted me, and I am very different from them.)

After getting frustrated by not learning what I thought I wanted to learn, I started reading everything Rick Joyner had written. I started with the Final Quest, The Call and Torch and the Sword. Then I moved on to all his other books. This was all so fascinating! Where had all this stuff been my whole life??

A couple of months later, I ran out of Rick Joyner books to read and discovered Bill Johnson when I saw someone reading his book, Dreaming with God. I thought, wait, we can do that?? I had to go buy that book…and eventually all the rest of them, too.

Do you see why I was excited about him coming to speak?

We went with a group of people we prayed with each week in the healing rooms. We all sat up front, about two rows back from the stage. As he usually does, Bill brought along some students from the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. They all came up on the stage and lined up. One by one, they called out words of knowledge for the people in the audience. Each time they called out a word, the people it applied to stood up. (It was always more than one person each time.) They called out things like pain in certain areas of the body; they called out bulging discs and even breast cancer. There were so many different infirmities called and so many people standing up. Everyone remained standing until they were finished with the words of knowledge. Then, we would all pray.

I sat in my seat watching in amazement. I had never been in a conference where they did this. This went on for more than 15 minutes when suddenly they called out astigmatisms. The girl sitting beside me stood up and when I didn’t, Paul nudged me to stand up too. I was a little shocked, lol. I wasn’t expecting anything for me – I wasn’t sick and I didn’t have any crazy pain! I stood up and joined everyone else that was standing. Okay, now the students had finished giving out their words. Bill Johnson came back up and took the microphone to instruct us on praying.

“If you are still sitting, stand up. You are the ministry team,” he said. “Lay hands on those around you. Ask them why they are standing and begin to pray; begin to contend for their healing.”

Those that were sitting, stood up and gathered around those who were already standing. A young man who was sitting behind me came over to me and placed his hands on my shoulder and after asking me why I was standing, began to pray. I have no recollection what he prayed but I do remember it wasn’t a long-drawn-out prayer. It was short and over very quickly. I had removed my glasses before he prayed. When he was finished, I didn’t notice anything different about my eyes but I thanked him anyway and put my glasses back on. I think I was a bit disappointed about not being healed but I let it go and began to pray for some others who were still standing.

Kyana is the girl who stood up just before me with the same word about astigmatism was now looking around, without her glasses, covering one eye after another. The look on her face was priceless! She was healed and she was amazed that she could see. Jealousy tried to speak to me but I said no! I was so happy for her. We both did a little happy dance in celebration.

It was an amazing night – with so many healings and miracles. I was blown away.

On the way home, wearing my glasses, I told Paul that it was crazy but I had a headache. I guessed it must have been all the excitement and didn’t give it much thought after that. We tried to stay up and talk about all the cool things that happened at the meeting but my head was getting pretty bad so we turned out the lights and went to sleep.

The next morning I put my glasses back on when I got out of bed because that is what you do when you wear glasses – especially after 30+ years! My head wasn’t any better; instead, it was actually getting worse. I was also noticing how this headache was affecting my vision; it was so bad that I was having trouble seeing with my glasses on. I kept thinking something serious must be wrong with my eyes!

When my eyes got so bad, I went and lay down on the sofa. The vision thing was making me nauseated and I was hoping that lying down would help. Paul came in and was a bit concerned. Then he got a puzzled look on his face, and said, “Why don’t you take your glasses off and see what happens?”

Well because I didn’t want to!

In the past when I went without my glasses very long, I would get dizzy and nauseated. And since I was already feeling sick, I didn’t want to make it worse. He asked me again so in order to make him stop asking me, I took them off… My head immediately stopped hurting! My vision was clear!

I was shocked! You mean to tell me I was healed and didn’t know it so I wore my glasses for a couple more days?  The answer was YES – I was healed and it never occurred to me that my glasses were now the problem!

My glasses, yeah.

I had just paid something like $600+ for my new progressive lenses but guess what? I didn’t even care! I was healed and was doing my very own happy dance.

Maybe God wants to heal your eyes? This is my testimony and you know, the testimony is the spirit of prophecy. I prophesy you shall be healed! You shall be made whole!

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, 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!