I Am, really!

I am

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 a friend’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 the truth – 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 an 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.

Honor – Because we’re honorable

 

Love april 17

When I commented on a post earlier today it made me realize a few things about what I said and it also made me see how much I had changed over the last few years.

I honor people not because they deserve it; I honor people because I’m honorable.

I got to thinking about this statement and what it was really saying. It said, I’m honorable, and can now extend honor because of it. Hmmm

I also thought of loving my neighbors as I love myself. We all know this is one of the major commands of Jesus – Love God and love your neighbor, as you love yourself. But what if I don’t love my neighbor? What if I don’t even like my neighbor? If I find it this command impossible to do, the lack is mine, not theirs.

If I take the honor principle above and apply it to loving my neighbors it must mean that if I don’t love them it’s because I don’t love me – and I can’t give what I don’t have. That being the case, I should back up and find out why I can’t love them. Obviously, there is something that feels unworthy of love in me. This is what needs dealing with before I can love them.

Love is a Fruit of the Spirit and is something that takes a time to grow. If there is no love growing, I need to find out why and get healed.

Walking in the Fruit of the Spirit is healing and allows the (Holy) Spirit to do a work in me. It usually doesn’t happen overnight, it’s often a process. The Spirit will send in others to walk alongside to help you with getting healed. Sometimes it’s a full-on healing session but other times it’s more talking about and processing things to see them in a new light over a conversation, in the midst of a relationship/friendship.

Fruit takes time; it doesn’t simply appear on the branches. Flowers have to come forth and they have to be pollinated before any fruit will set. After that, the fruit will begin to grow but will still have to weather storms and hang on to that branch for what may seem like a long time before the fruit is ready to harvest.  Once the fruit is harvested I now have something I can give away – I can now extend love or peace, for example.

Then I get to grow more fruit.

It works this way with all the Fruit of the Spirit. When I find that I’m being impatient and letting situations frustrate me, I’ve prematurely gotten knocked off that tree branch! The fruit of patience wasn’t fully developed in me.

The more I get healed, the more I learn about my identity – my true identity. When I feel unworthy of love because of something in my past that either I did or someone did to me I really can’t love anyone else because I don’t have any to give. But when I get all that stuff healed and dealt with, I have room in my heart to love others the way they deserve to be loved.

I’m not fruitful in all areas of my life but I have come a long way. You too can measure your own progress simply looking at how you love people who are not like you or how you honor people. This was a little eye-opening to me. I realized the places I couldn’t “do” something were the places I needed to improve on in myself. (Or get healed)

As I begin to walk more and more in my true identity I can become an honorable person, full of love and happiness. It’s a process but progress is good!

 

We honor because we are honorable

We extend love because we are loved

We cry because we now can see the broken ones

We laugh because we have joy

We are kind because we know what mean-spiritedness is

We treat people and situations with gentleness because we have peace

We sing because He sings over us

We give hope to the hopeless because He gave it to us first

We are patient because we trust in Him

We are peacemakers because we have the Prince of Peace living in us  

We are alive because He lives

 

The Fruit of the Spirit is – unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

 

Returning to Your First Love

first love - take the risk

When Paul and I first met, the only thing we wanted to do was spend time together. Of course that wasn’t really possible, but we took every opportunity we could find to make it happen. When we couldn’t, I spent all the time we were apart thinking about him.

It’s amazing how consumed we were with each other – it was our first love. It was a time where everything else slid to the background and we became the forefront of everything we did or thought about.

When I was in the kitchen cooking, Paul joined me so we could still be together. I had an arm chair in the dining area that fit him perfectly. We would talk about our day but mostly we would simply share about our lives – our hopes and dreams, our disappointments, our victories and even our defeats. All the places in our hearts that hadn’t been shared came out into the open and were celebrated with love.

What was happening was, I was cooking and preparing a meal but my attention or my focus was on Paul. Spending time with him and being interested in his day and really, his whole life. The actual act of cooking was simply one of those things I did without all that much thought, and I wasn’t all that great of a cook back then either. That wasn’t the point. The time in the kitchen was about us spending time together while I multi-tasked and cooked meals but, the main thing going on was the soul or emotion connection; relationship.

We fit together like two clasped hands. I adored the ground he walked on. I was his biggest encourager and his was the same for me.

It was the best of times.

These kitchen conversations continued on after we were married. I began to take a huge interest in learning how to cook. I had no idea how people knew what spice or herb went with what. The only way I could figure it out was to try it. So I started growing and studying herbs. I began devouring cookbooks and trying every recipe that intrigued me.

But that was many years ago.

These days when I’m baking, I’m often somewhere else in my mind. I am physically there in my kitchen but my thoughts are miles away thinking about friends and conversations we’ve had or often, I am thinking about the person who will receive what I am currently baking.

Occasionally, I even have conversations with people who aren’t even in the room. More often than not if no one is physically in the room with me, I’m having conversations with God. We talk about many things. Sometimes it’s me praying and other times it’s not. When I interact with God like this, I am at complete rest; there is no anxiety or worry, I multi-task with ease. With my physical hands I am baking something but in my heart and mind or in my imagination, I am having a conversation with someone I can’t see with  my natural eyes – yet my conversation and communication is as if I can.

When I am in this place, I am at rest. I am comfortable knowing that what is transpiring is real and affects my relationship with God. It is just as real as when Paul is in the kitchen conversing with me – I’m enjoying first love with God.

While in this place of rest, everything that tries to remind me how bad some circumstance is or how dire a problem seems – falls to the wayside. I am in a bubble of protection and love. I am instead consumed with the One who has all of my attention and I believe it all comes down to this:

When Pau and I first loved, there was so much rest when we were together, even though in reality it was one of the toughest times of our lives. When we were together we were strengthened so that when we needed to be strong we would be because there was a history or testimony of a love that could not be shaken. There was a safe place to dwell in the midst of storms.

How do you find rest? You return to your first love, of course. That is where the testimony lies. My first love with Paul is like my walk with Jesus – even more so because in Him I find rest. They are both my safe place.

When I’m going about my day to day endeavors and find myself getting frustrated because the car stalled or the recipe isn’t working out like I thought it would and yet those muffins have to get in the mail, I have to stop for a moment and breathe. I have to listen to my heart reminding me that it will work out – I need to return to my first love and let my focus be there, not on what isn’t going right.

When I was thinking about these things the other day, I realized this was a key I needed to engage more often. I’ve heard the phrase, “Return to your first love” many times but mostly swept it aside as one of those “spiritual” things that I didn’t understand. I would shrug it off and move on because I couldn’t figure out what it meant in context of my life or even in the context of things I was going through at a particular time.

“Return to your first love” I know it’s talking about that time when all of my focus was on Him and this new amazing love we shared; those giddy days of adoration and almost being oblivious to anything else – at least for me. But that was all I knew.

What I didn’t realize until just a few weeks ago was that “first love” was also the seat of my resting place. It’s a safe place to come and let worries and stress fall away. It’s the place where I can labor and not grow weary. It’s the place where I can walk out my calling and not fear the judgments of man. It’s also my lampstand and it’s my great reward.

”He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ (Rev. 2:7)

When I find myself in situations that aren’t in my control, read most of the time, I need to remember that I have the key to rest and the key to peace. I simply have to enter in and have a seat.

Picture credit: https://unsplash.com/@roy23

Seated in Heavenly Places

 

stone throne

I’ve been thinking about the verse in Ephesians 2:6 lately, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus“; so I went and read it again…

When I’ve read this scripture in the past, I always difficulty seeing myself seated in heaven; it always felt like a cold harsh place of judgment, a place to be avoided at all cost. Sometimes, if I tried really hard I could see myself seated there. I would be sitting on a dark limestone throne that was so cold I could feel it seeping into my bones. The room itself was really dark and bare. So dim in fact that most of the room was undistinguishable. There was no comfort or peace there, only a sense that I didn’t belong and if I got caught there, I would be punished.

This cold harsh heaven became a place to avoid. And because of that, I never imagined sitting up in heaven, which in turn made it difficult to get a heavenly perspective on my life.

Perspective is what changes when you get further away from something and generally is what’s meant by the phrase ‘get above it’, that and an understanding of our authority and power in Jesus. If I didn’t have a perspective change, there would be no sense of authority, power or particular wisdom to effect change in my life. All I basically had was head knowledge, of this scripture, knowing where I’m seated and declaring it all the time. What I lacked was a true vision or sense of what it afforded me, what it really meant.

This time, after I finished reading that verse again, I began to see an image from my childhood.

The image was one of freedom and joy, where a little girl was free to run and run and run, and dream big dreams until the sun went down and she had to go home. You see, as a child I practically lived outside. I climbed trees, made trails in the woods, built forts, picked flowers and played baseball whenever we could get enough people together. One of my favorite things to do was daydream. Boy could I get lost! I would often be found lying on my back under a tree staring up into the clouds and getting lost in my imagination. I wasn’t always seeing anything with my natural eyes. My “sight” was elsewhere. I daydreamed of my future family and what I would be doing with my life someday. Sometimes I was off on great adventures where I had the starring role and was greatly celebrated for my bravery and wisdom. It makes me smile just thinking back to some of those carefree times.

The image brought a smile to my face but at the same time it kind of made me sad. It seemed so different than where or how I was currently living.  Some days, where I lived was more like the sun had gone down and the adventures had stopped.  Wow! Why was that? I wasn’t using my imagination to see things differently. I wasn’t dreaming up answers to questions in my life. I was too close to everything. I needed a new perspective!

 

wallup.net

The other day, as I was reading a post on Facebook, I saw something new; I saw this scripture in an entirely new light. Instead of sitting on a cold hard throne, I saw myself sitting atop a grassy knoll. Sitting beside me was my best friend. We were looking down toward the valley without a care in the world. Then we lay down on our backs and started looking at the clouds. They were big fluffy cumulus clouds, sailing high above our warm sunny place. I began to describe what I saw in the shapes of the clouds; a castle, a horse, a dog and yes, even a pirate ship!

Wherever I looked, I saw a new perspective; I saw things in a new light and I wasn’t feeling powerless to effect change any longer. The difference, I think was in the rest I was experiencing; I was at ease and was able to let my imagination run free. I was that little girl again!

You see, we were created to freely imagine things, be creative like our Father and to actually create the solutions to the situations going on around us in our lives, and the lives of others. We have the answer, if we will have eyes to see and ears to hear a new perspective that is available to us all.

Nothing had actually changed in my physical life when I was sitting on that hill. All the previous “issues” of life were still down in that valley but being at rest gave me new eyes to see. Patterns began to emerge that I had never seen before, and really isn’t that a great reason to live next to Jesus in the heavenly realms? I learned some things the other day. Here are a few of them:

While sitting in heavenly places (Eph 2:6) I discovered:

New perspectives – leave the mouse in the box vision behind and begin to soar like an eagle.

Things that are far away look smaller – stop glorifying how big the issues of life are and begin to see the true size they really are. For instance: if you hold a piece of paper the size of a credit card up close, all you see is the paper. Once you place that piece of paper further away, you begin to see all kinds of things around it and even beyond it. That’s because if we only focus on that one ‘problem’ thing, that is all we see. It becomes too big to see anything else.

The heavenly realm is a place of peace – When you allow yourself to be seated in heaven, peace will infiltrate your entire being. Those things that cause worry and distress fall to the wayside, thus allowing you to see from a new perspective, which brings me to the next thing I learned.

The heavenly realm is a place of rest – When I’m at rest, worry ceases to exist. I’m free to not only see solutions to issues in my life; I’m free to create them! I was made to create, just like my Father.

When I’m at rest, much is accomplished – Rest is not a taskmaster. No, rest is the fuel that empowers me to accomplish all the things I need to do within a given day. It empowers me to be at peace and walk in joy, even while doing mundane things. This rest comes from above.

When I’m at rest, time ceases to exist – I don’t know the physics about it but I do know this: When I’m at rest, I leave the constraints that time has on me and I can do things that would otherwise be impossible. Yes, there are still 24 hours in a day here on earth…….but who said I had to be constrained to one realm??

This is a place where my imagination and creativity can soar because God raised me up with Jesus and seated me with him in the heavenly realms!

Take Time for JOY

Be sure to take time for joy today. You know, those little moments that make you smile in the midst of mundane things. Seek joy out; it’s the cherry on top of your day.

I came into my office to check my email and yes, my Facebook notifications when suddenly Micah jumped up on my desk to join me. He was fairly damp from being outside in the rain so I began to give him a little rub down to get some of the excess moisture off his coat. He immediately began to purr and my heart melted. I scooped him up in my arms like a little baby, which is one of his favorite things, and he began to purr even louder. Within less than a minute, he was sound asleep. Seeing this, I felt joy rising up in me. My computer could wait!

Micah joy

The picture of this little baby kitty trusting me so much that he could completely abandon himself in rest, without a care in the world is a big deal.  It speaks of his relationship with me and how our experiences together have taught him that he can trust me to keep him safe. It’s also taught him that he’s loved unconditionally.

Even as much as this picture illustrates how he sees and responds to me, I think it also speaks of my relationship towards him. He knows I will stop what I’m doing to give him attention, even if it’s to let him take a little nap in my arms. When he comes to me, with all the trust of a child, it melts my heart and always brings a smile to my face and joy rises up. It’s a great feeling. I know that he trusts me and not only that, he expects me to stop what I’m doing and turn my attention to him and his needs. I always know what he wants and do my best to give it to him. The saying in our house is this: It’s not spoiling unless you keep it up! We love to spoil each other and even our pets. Spoiling as is commonly known is not considered a good thing. I happen to disagree; spoiling is about loving extravagantly and loving often. Micah is spoiled and of course I will keep spoiling him because it’s one of my favorite things to do.

My little 5 minute respite with Micah earlier brought me a great measure of joy and knowing that there is more to come, makes this day one of great expectation; the possibilities are huge!

I believe this is a picture of our relationship with God. He loves to stop what He’s doing and scoop us up in his arms and let us rest there, for as long as we are willing to stay. He wants our trust in Him to be complete.

So once again I would admonish you to take time for joy today. When we allow Joy to come, rest arrives too. Our eyes look to the beauty all around us and the cares of the day fall away; even for a moment!

Be in Joy!