When Grace Breaks Me

Recently, I was a monster.

For the first time in an eternity, I started a Saturday in prayer. Kneeling. This itself is like miracle stuff. Saturday is for kids in our bed and big breakfast meals and cleanup and spilled juice and cartoon marathon and adventures at the park way too early.

I woke up heavy-minded. You know, all the stuff. I knew I needed Him today. I did not know, just yet, how much. And somehow, after the commitment of my day and the choice to honor Him, I came out of that prayer closet swinging at the world.

It started with a splinter. Or, at least, the thought of one. My boy was limping. Walking on his heal. No matter how many times I tried to persuade him to let me look, he pulled farther and harder away. Protective Mom was getting irritated because of all those times someone told me “it can hurt your foot if you walk like that!”

Obviously threatening was necessary.

“You cannot go to the store with Dad until we look at that foot!”

You cannot leave this room until you let me look!”

Anger rising. Volume raising.

And in the middle of all of this very positive affirmation, she came out. Mrs. Hyde.

The morning became like Anger Management with Adam Sandler. Minus the counselor. It’s worse than you think. Don’t be thinking I’m nice Mom being hard on myself. I’m pretty sure I then yelled at my daughter about applesauce. APPLESAUCE.

I’m pretty sure I also stubbed my toe, hit my elbow and ran into something all in the span of an hour. Mmmmmk.

It was honestly like one of those moments you can look down from the sky and see yourself, and you are absolutely baffled.

What is wrong with you, Ginger?

I knew I needed a shower. A time-out for Mom. And the moment the water started, I said, “Where, God, did that come from?”

I knew I needed to apologize to the kids quickly. And I did. I told them I make mistakes. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have yelled. They were gracious to forgive me.

But I was still baffled.

I could blame female hormones. But, alas, copout.

I know spiritual warfare is sharp. Yet, it had been quite some time since my flesh had come into the ring with my spirit and punched the tar out of it like that.

I started over after that apology, and we had a great family day. When the kids were down to sleep, I treated myself to a hot bath. I pulled out my current read, Grace in the Workplace. (I’m obviously very qualified to teach grown adults about living in grace.)

And of all the verses I would come upon in the middle of a chapter about evangelism….yeah – you guessed it, BAM! ——->Right to the heart.

It was only my VERSE FOR THE YEAR. Smack in the middle of my random book. On THIS day.

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19

 

You guys. For real.

Here is the thing about God as a Dad. He is always good in His discipline. Perfect, really. Perfect timing. Perfect words. Perfect way about it.

He throws it out there – the truth we know we need to hear. Then He lets it sit and do its work.

The verses actually goes on to say, “for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

That part – that was God’s encouragement to me. Like when I discipline Josh and then give him reasoning for the character I want him to have.

God knows I want that righteous life in Christ. He knows – deep down – what I really want. He was saying to me……in my spirit, “Ginger, anger itself may not be sin, but it opens a gate you don’t want to walk through. And you’re standing at the gate.”

When grace comes in the form of discipline, we are the better for it. Every time. When the discipline happens in the exact area of your ministry, it can break you. It’s the best kind of humble. Because on our best days we are only as good as the lessons we apply from our worst. We do not teach well what we have not struggled through.

Aren’t we most useful after we have been broken? And how many times does God warn us before the breaking is at its worst? And how grateful should we be – all of us – that He does indeed discipline us as a good Father does a son He loves.

His goodness is humbling and His grace breaks me in every kind of good way.

How Little Children Lead Us & What Laughter Has to Do With It

My children love to giggle. They find the smallest reasons to laugh. If they can find someone to join in, all the better.

I mean head back heavy laughter.

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In the movie, Finding Neverland, the playwright is quite nervous about the crowd’s response to his silly play. Meant to bring laughter and written from experience with real children, the play is not as proper as the audience might expect. So the playwright has an idea. He buys about fifty tickets throughout the theater and invites the local orphanage. They fill the seats dispersed throughout the theater.

As the play begins, silly giggles erupt. First the adults, dressed to the nines, chins high in the air, are quite taken back. Slowly though, they begin to chuckle.

You can’t help but feel the laughter of a child.

For even the most tired of souls, a grin sneaks upon the face in the hearing of a babe’s laugh. We were born to laugh.

My own babe was less than four months old when he taught me about joy. I can remember the smell of his skin. It was midday, and I was rocking him. My husband was in the room, and without any reason or sound or provocation, my son began to laugh. Long deep belly laughs. And from the surprise of it all, we joined him. It sounded so beautiful it was contagious.

In the midst of my depression, the long days of motherhood wrapping round my soul, something broke. I could not stop laughing.

“Even in laughter, the heart may ache…” Prov. 14:13

Even in aching, something can break. Perhaps, sometimes, it is only in the aching that we find the need for a laughter that heals. When chuckles turn into that deep internal shaking we cannot withhold. When we actually feel what internal joy is meant to live within us.

Michelle DeRusha wrote about laughter in the midst of grief recently. My favorite two lines read: “I see now that God’s presence is often experienced more vividly and palpably in these moments when heaven and earth meld. I believe when we feel joy, even as the weight of grief hangs heavy, we experience the nearness of a God who is with us wherever we go.”

Laughter is the internal healing balm. We were pre-wired to heal.

Just as our bodies were given antibodies, our spirits were given laughter. Something about life just tries to steal it. Bind it up. And silence the music of our souls.

Perhaps a child can help us find it again.

“From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.” Matt 21:16

To ordain: to officially establish or order.

What did God know about life stealing our joy as we moved along in years? Everything. So he planted joy upon the babes – to lead us in praise.

They are leading us – even now. If only we can stop long enough, breathe deep enough to follow.

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 Linking up today with Meredith, #TellHisStory, Holley, and Kelly. Join us!

Make it a great Wednesday!

People Really Do Believe in Captain America: The Hope of Living Forever

My boy still doesn’t get how Captain America flew the plane into the ice and then showed up in the next movie. It doesn’t stop him from wearing the costume to the declaration, “Captain America saves the day!”

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Recently I read about cryonics. This is good mostly because I need to expand my vocabulary.

People (precious believing people) are investing $200,000 for the possibility of returning to planet earth and doing this whole thing all over again. Pretty good deal when you consider coming back to life. Cheaper than some pro football tickets.

Note – some are choosing the cheaper option of $50,000 just to preserve their head.

{CRICKETS}

The premise of membership in the Alcor Life Extension Foundation is to use “ultrasound cold temperature to preserve human life with the intent of restoring good health when technology becomes available to do so.”

When it’s available. That’s a lot of money for a hope. They estimate this technology needed to bring frozen people back to life will be available in the next 1,000 years.

People really want hope, and their willing to pay for it with some serious pocket change.

A couple advertises on the website with the quote, “When you love life like we do, Alcor’s Cryonics Preservation Services were a natural choice for us.”

And I’ve just been thinking about how much people really love life. The hard and good of it. The ups and downs and struggles and questions. Because no matter how much I enjoy people and creation and relationships – who can really say anything in this life completely satisfies us?

There is a searching deep in the soul of man to find it’s true home. And I can’t get away from the idea that we would only try to extend some kind of life – even our frozen head on a new body – because we fear the other side of life just can’t be a good thing.

To many, many people, it is a far stretch to believe God came down in flesh through a virgin birth, died and rose again. To them, our faith is like the idea of freezing a head. I get that, and it’s why I am SO thankful for a faith I can’t explain that took me over and removed my need for all of the answers. You can’t pay for this kind of hope. It is other-worldly.

What differs between my “odd” beliefs and those who choose a frozen future is a seal of proof. An indwelling Spirit that proves Himself to the believer over and over again. I’m okay with not proving it to others. He proves it to me.

I don’t believe because someone sold me on it. I believe because He is alive inside of me. My hope starts now. I don’t have to wait 1,000 years too see with my own eyes. I get to live and breathe and know the ONE who is my hope right now.

I was trying to find an article last night and ended up searching for the tag “faith.” The search brought up post after post of people struggling out loud to believe in God. I felt their struggles in the words and the spaces between them. There is a hunger, a need to voice this search – even for (maybe especially) those who have not fallen into the arms of Christ. There is something deep within us longing for connection to our Creator.

Some agnostics spend quite a bit of energy trying to disprove the existence of God. For those who have decided not to believe, they sure do spend a lot of time thinking about it. It’s our job – as believers – to love them, encourage them and go into their spaces with grace and love. No amount of knowledge or argument can do what His Spirit wants to.

Sometimes the best thing we can say is “Me too.”

“I’ve doubted. I understand. I hear you. May I tell you how I got over my mountain of doubt?”

Because I have this hope, it’s my responsibility to share it with grace and love. I didn’t earn it; and I’m not better than those who don’t have it.

In what ways are we reaching out to love the world into the hope we have today?

That Time I Cheated on a Test & Why I Will Tell My Kids About It

We were about sixty seconds from the bell and the teacher walked into the hallway. The boys behind us asked if we wanted to look at the paper. I remember one of my friends shrugging and taking it. She passed it forward. Myself and another friend glanced a quick look before the teacher returned. Our first mistake: LOOKING.

Of course because we only had seconds and the same page, my two friends and I happened to memorize the same three answers. We must have done poorly on the rest of the test, because the teacher noticed our identical answers on those questions.

I grew up walking the straight line. Oh, I messed up. But I was wired for obedience. Yeah, I have legalist probs.

If my curfew was midnight, I was home at eleven. I was the girl who pre-read the entire chapter for 5th grade science. Nerd. My husband once said I was the kid that drove all the other kids crazy. My senior year of college, the girls in my sorority asked me to pull the alarm just so I could have one great adventure. Couldn’t. Do. It.

My Dad even told me once to loosen up and have more fun.

So the day arrives when we will get the test back. I had no idea what was about to happen.

Our teacher said we would be having a different kind of class that day. One chair sat in the front of the room. He called up one of my friends. The questions began. None of us were still quite sure what was going on.

We were on trial.

“Did you see any answers to this test prior to test day?” My palms start to sweat.

“Did you see any friends with copies of this test?”

“Did you know you answered some questions exactly the same way as your close friends?”

——–> I’m about to tell you why this was probably the best teacher I ever had. See, he knew me. He knew my character. And he knew, more than any failed test or report to the principal, what would BREAK me most was the loss of that character witness.

The entire class of my peers were listening and watching. The ones who knew I was the church girl. The Bible-study leader.

My turn came. He asked the questions.

I don’t remember exactly how we all answered. It didn’t really matter. Everyone knew.

Of course the others kids thought it was really funny. They didn’t really care if I cheated once.

I did.

My teacher didn’t call out the students who may have cheated regularly. He called out the leaders. And he said more in that choice than he could have said by talking to me personally. He applied discipline according to the student, and that is a teacher who changes a life.

He asked me that day in his own words and his own way how important my witness for Christ really was.

I could justify the fact that it wasn’t premeditated. I only glanced. I don’t even know where they got that old test. But then…I acted. I chose. It doesn’t matter how much or how little I cheated. I was as guilty as anyone.

I didn’t need that test. I could have stayed home that day and gotten my A. Amazing how we often succumb to temptation for that which will not pay the most dividends.

They say life is the total sum of your choices. This was only one of mine, and I’ve made many since. I can tell you they never again included even considering to cheat. In some schools you would be kicked out immediately.

After my trial, that teacher never said another word about it. He gave us back our test and life went on. I don’t know that I ever told him how that decision called me to account and changed the way I saw the power of every little decision.

I’ve just begun to teach my kids about choices. How every choice has a consequence. How you don’t get that choice back. The choice to take the drink. To get behind the wheel. To text while driving. To repeat the gossip…and be overheard. To show up late and lose that job. To give away what you can only give away once. Or to glance – just quickly enough to act on it.

I will tell my kids about my mistakes, mostly because I think GRACE is the best message of all. They need to see that as much as we want to do good, we can’t always BE good. I’m introducing the need for a Savior.

But also because kids today may need more than anything to understand and face real life consequences. They need to see from me that if they don’t do that thing I ask, I will follow through on discipline. Because in this world – you don’t often get the teacher I had. Mistakes can be the hardest teachers of all.

I’ll tell them I cheated and how I wanted to take it back, but I couldn’t. And then I get to tell them about a loving God who loves us just as we are, mistakes and all. He sees our potential – our call – our purpose…..just like that teacher did.

God sees the very best in us even when we cannot. This is one prior student who is thankful for a teacher who did the very same thing.

On Mama Bears…and the Call of Every Prayer Warrior to Keep Watch

To be a Mom is to enter protective mode. From the first time they hand you that little fragile person, you think through every possible scenario to protect them from. Note the massive child safety industry with cabinet locks, baby gates and door handle covers. O bless you, non-removable cabinet lock.

A friend a I laughed over the phone recently about our “plans” should an intruder challenge our home. Golf clubs may have been involved.

I noticed something in the well-known “virtuous woman” text of Proverbs 31 the other day. She “watches” over the affairs of her household.

In the beginning, it’s believed men did spend most of their time hunting and gathering, while the women stayed by the place they had settled. (Yeah, housework started way back then) Just like a Mama Bear, we watch over the littles and make claim to our territory. I have no idea what women did back then without “20 Easy Crockpot Meals” from Pinterest. These are the great mysteries of life.

In the gospel of Mark, chapter 13, Jesus gave the disciples a specific exhortation to direct their lives after he left.

“No ones knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away. He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back-whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch'”

Christ is talking about His own return. Did you notice that everyone is given an assigned task, and one person is chosen to STAY at the door just to keep watch? So – we all have a task at hand. And who will keep watch?

The four different times mentioned in the second paragraph are not random. The Romans used four times of the night to watch for the enemy, and they were called night watches. We see mention of this in the Psalms when David refers to the “watches of the night.” Jesus is connecting to his listeners while also suggesting this type of vigilance in regards to watching for Him.

The prophet Habakkuk proclaimed to Lord in his book, chapter 2, that he would stand at his watch, and station himself on the rampart. The rampart was the tall thick wall built around a castle for protection. Watchtowers were very common, and men took turns covering every shift.

The job of a watchmen was extremely important and very dangerous. Their job was to alert the people if an enemy was seen approaching. But they were also very vulnerable, and the enemy knew to target the watchman. To take on the role of protector is a great responsibility.

The enemies most often attacked at night to hide their approach. Even the shepherds kept watch over their flocks at night, when the larger animals would come after the sheep. Night time was watch time.

It still can be. And for the ardent prayer warrior – some of the most powerful spiritual warfare will take place on the battlefield in the night hours.

Habakkuk takes this role and uses it in regards to watching for the Lord. Watchmen had the greatest advantage being so high. They not only saw the enemy, but they could see a messenger from a great distance.

Watch is my word for 2015, and for good reason. Other than the word LISTEN, it’s been about all the Spirit has been nudging me with.

To intentionally watch for Him is an act of faith. We are looking, expectant, believing. For that answered prayer….but mostly for Him. We wait for the day He will return to make all things right. We wait for Him to show up in our schools and court houses and places of worship. To activate our faith, we say expectantly,

“My soul waits for you, Lord…..more than watchmen wait for the morning…” Psalm 130:6

We take up our responsibility and privilege of keeping watch in prayer for His kingdom to come. To pray when we doubt and when we tire and when all around looks hopeless. We still pray, because it is our task…….and He is coming.

 

One of the Hardest and Best Things a Christian Can Do

The hardest things are the best things. What great thing really does come easy?

A basketball coach used to tell me, “if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.” Didn’t really inspire me as I sweat through the next set of suicide runs. But it did push me. I kept running. I kept practicing free throws after everyone else left.

Being the last one in the pool really does pay off. But it’s hard.

We’ve got a really hard thing with being human. Somehow we are either really hard on ourselves or just that way with most everyone else.

And it’s funny really how we still get surprised when someone offends us. Like sometimes it just plain knocks our socks off.

We have better days than others. For good/different reasons. But does it amaze anyone else how quick we are to forget how moody we were yesterday when that guy is rude to us today?

Grace is hard for us to just plain live out. Especially when it comes to being offended.

Let’s be real- offenses happen everywhere. And if you are in ANY kind of leadership role, it’s like your weekly Mode of Operation. Add social media or public speaking, and just monitoring people’s feelings might be your full time job.

At times, it’s been mine. Mostly by my own choosing. Paranoia befriends the leader quite nicely. But it does help when people share their “thoughts” about your “style.”

I once spoke to a group of women about ministry and mentioned that at some point I might offend them. (The context was in regard to the years we would know each other and work together) I was sharing my heart regarding how we could be easier on one another. A woman came up to me after the talk and said, “Ginger, I want you to know nothing in that talk offended me.” (Score one for the speaker.)

I laughed recently about something that could have offended, because- really- it doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things. And not one iota of angst we carry about another soul is going to make our day/month/ year better.

I’ve seen people forgive drunk drivers for taking the life of their child, when I’ve also known women to carry bitterness for YEARS about that one small disagreement/conversation they had in church.

Bitterness really is the heaviest purse to carry.

Women are extremely prone to rehash the entire conversation one million and five times because if ONLY the other person really got it. And then we get all “she just doesn’t understand my personality!”

Thus we run to (read text or call) the one buddy we know will have our back and gripe just as loud about what that other person said because – hello, of course we were right.

On our extra Spirit-led days (thank you Jesus) we are less defensive – until it returns to our mind later because it’s then fully legal to rehash in eyebrow-raising attitude diva form- since we are just talking to ourself. Ahem.

Christianity isn’t easy. How many of us know someone who was offended recently and actually followed the biblical example for handling an offense? (i.e. they went directly to the person to address it IN LOVE instead of talking to others about it) **Matthew 18:15..

Jesus said this kind of thing will win someone over. Why? Because it’s in stark contrast to the world and every FEELING we have.

You wanna talk brave: show me that. Because you can’t go half-way. Doing the right thing first and THEN talking to others about it. That makes you look and sound good, but your spirit sinks about 12 levels later. You always know your own motives. And they follow you.

To take your vulnerability into the ring of honest discussion with someone you’ve chosen not to like will test every bit of your pride.

Who decided we “may have to love everyone but that doesn’t mean we have to like them?”

Doesn’t that reek of someone who chose not to like someone and then justify it?

I get it. We’re all different. We aren’t going to be besties with all the peeps. Lord knows I lean towards certain personality types. Of course we do. I’m not pretending I like the whole world. It just seems like an easy out.

But I think this little saying has gone far enough in defining our boundaries. Because let’s be real: when you choose not to like someone —– you aren’t going to go out of your way to love them.

I don’t remember a parable about Jesus and the “unlikeable dude” that He had to make himself love.

Glennon Doyle Melton wrote a piece recently for Storyline where she said, “maybe the surest way to be liked by people is simply to like people.”

The thing is people really do WANT to be liked. So we’ve been steered in the opposite direction of what people want. Sure – people NEED to be loved. But they want to be liked. Read any evangelism book and you’ll hear about meeting “felt needs” before sharing the gospel. Yeah, empty stomachs have no ears. Maybe the love comes easier after we choose to be interested and meet a need.

Not everyone is going to like me. And I’m going to offend. My job there is to apologize as quickly as I can and move on. We cannot (IN NO SHAPE OR FORM) control how the other person responds. What we can do – is overlook offenses against us. Because when they carry over to bitterness, we decide that person is unlikable and we get that “feeling” every time we see them. How – I say HOW does this help us? Notta. As a  matter of sad fact – it’s uprooting our harvest. The Spirit does not thrive when unforgiveness takes root.

What kind of crazy good things could happen in the Spirit if the churches shook off all the STUFF. If we said today – TODAY – all the things people have said or done to me – IT”S DONE. OVER. As of today, no one, and I mean NO ONE owes me anything.

I will let no debt remain outstanding except the debt to love one another. (Romans 13:8) Yeah – THAT.

I once heard this statement: When you are offended, don’t nurse it or rehearse it; curse it…and God will reverse it!

To overlook an offense might be the bravest of all.

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Linking up today with the beautiful Meredith, kind Holly and word wonder, Jennifer.

Why the Term “Fallen Pastor” Really Bothers Me

Side note/small print/Full Disclosure: I’m married to the preacher man.

I’ve only been thinking about this post for a year now. Just the title though – don’t get your expectations up. So let’s just get on with this one so I can sleep already.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH (That about sums it up)

The first thing God EVER said about sin is that SIN is crouching, waiting – even coming after us. We will be tempted. When did going to seminary qualify you to be less sensitive to what God said is crouching near us?

If we think temptations lessen in the ministry – we are about as wrong as a cat is curious. If anything – they double. Satan doesn’t waste his time on the benchwarmers. He’s after the first string.

So let’s assume people understand pastors are tempted. Then why are we so surprised when they sin? Do we really (does anyone still really) place them in the status of holy superhero? Are we still mixing up healthy respect with idol worship?

Here is some BREAKING NEWS: Your pastor probably sinned yesterday.

(I’m sorry. And you’re welcome)

Because when we expect ANYONE to be CHRIST other than the MAIN MAN – we are the ones set up to fall – into major disappointment and our own faith crises.

Your pastor cannot determine WHO GOD IS TO YOU. If we put all the cards of our faith into the pastor deck, we will seriously misinterpret the gospel and what PERFECT LOVE really looks like.

One problem here is that we seem to call the big stuff sin, and misunderstand our sin nature. The news hits when a leader commits a sin we consider major. Really, one of the most common sins in the Christian family is NOT doing what we know to do. We are all works in progress.

I understand articles that address HOW to heal in the midst of issues surrounding a leader. We all need help in conflict resolution and healing from hurts. What is sad is that the leader becomes this object of discussion. Everyone has their thought on what that leader should do. How they should confess. What their website should look like now.

Beth Moore opened her heart recently about a hunt going on in the Christian family. How we are quick to label people heretics. I fully agree. We are quick to label EVERYONE. When did we ever think putting “FALLEN” in front of a title or name is in anyway helpful? Because really, we all start out on that same fallen plane. But can I just…….HELLO, the fall was in G-E-N-E-S-I-S. Can we move on from this already?

If anyone – ANYONE – is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. Purchased, bought, DONE. They are REDEEMED SINNERS. To move them back over to “fallen” because they sinned is contrary to the grace we preach – I guess unless we want to write an article about every Christian when they sin and call them fallen too. Which seems kind of repetitious and quite time consuming.

There is either a clear misunderstanding of sanctification or we just plain want the opportunity to pounce on a leader and give our two cents. The title REVERAND does not graduate you from the need for the same daily grace we all get offered from a loving God.

Pastors are accountable to the system of authority set around them in their particular church. Just like we are all accountable to authority. Mostly – and above all – they answer to God. Well – us too there. Here is the kicker – they will be held to a higher standard with regard to the way they lead souls – but that’s God’s deal. I’m pretty sure He can handle that.

I expect all the people in robes or otherwise comfy preaching attire to sin. (Don’t get all – you should expect the best from people here) Of course I hope, I spur on….and above all I pray for pastors. But I do not expect them to be perfect. I’ve got enough on my plate confessing my own sin. I’m not signing up for the sin management record keeper position any time soon.

I’m concerned when I see headlines soaring because they have all the JUICE on someone’s mistakes. What does it say about us that we keep those conversations going?

Can we drop the term “fallen” from our labeling repertoire? Or maybe just throw out the label-maker. It’s pretty 20th century anyway.

Three Simple Ways to Increase Your Faith Today: Look, Listen, Speak

“I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved. Then the Lord answered me and said, ‘Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run.'” – Hab. 2:1-2

Look; Listen; Speak

We are told often in scripture to “keep watch.” It’s possible we do not see God many times because we are not really looking for Him. This attitude of expectation is itself a step of faith. We choose to look actively for Him and for signs of His presence. Can we find reasons to thank him? The open parking spot right next to the door; the check in the mail, the call from a friend. Can we see Him in creation, holding all things together?

The prophet Elijah had a servant who could not see the divine, though it was right in front of him. Elijah asked the Lord to “open” his eyes. Often, we see only the static of the world. Various obstacles block our vision, from misperceptions of God to pain and suffering.

When I felt most distant from God, I remember telling a counselor that God was no where to be seen or heard. He replied that maybe I was not looking in the right places, or simply – I could not see Him.

A friend once told me that God is always at work around us – Not always visibly, but always absolutely. Looking with the eyes of faith can make a sunset become much more than a daily routine.

LOOK for Him in the everyday. It’s an act of faith.

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Listening seems to be the missing wonder of the world. Is it just me? Who really listens today? We are hard pressed to put our phones down for the spouse, let alone a God we cannot see. This is precisely why God will reward the listener: hardly anyone is doing it.

Just like the married couple who can communicate buckets without a word, our relationship with God boasts an increase in maturity when prayer is less talk, more listening.

When was the last time you asked God a question and remained silent long enough to let Him answer? Do you believe He really will?

We need moments of stillness and quiet to tune into the work of the Spirit. You can increase your faith today by giving him five minutes of uninterrupted silence. Hear Him or not, your radar is higher. Try it!

He is always speaking, if only we would LISTEN.

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This one we learned in kindergarten, though maybe we didn’t know it. Some things are just best internalized when we speak them out loud.

You may have been the kid who had the photographic memory. Or maybe you learned rhymes better while singing. Either way, teachers know that the more sensory techniques they can use the better. And there is just something about speaking out loud that ignites our brain to remember and attach.

The Word of God is our truth. When doubts arise, we need to soak it up. Yet reading alone will not work to increase our faith to it’s maximum potential.

A sword does very little in battle when it is stayed in it’s belt. We hear often of the Word of God being the Sword of the Spirit – our offensive weapon in spiritual warfare.

The Sword is meant to be yielded. We do so by speaking it with our tongue. This is why scriptural prayers are so powerful.

If you want to increase your faith today, claim a scripture out loud! Activate your faith with voice, and watch your faith rise to the occasion. It’s as simple as saying, “I believe!”

SPEAK your faith even when you don’t feel it.

We all want to FEEL a certain thing, but often our feelings are waiting on the other side of our actions. Take the first step – LOOK, LISTEN, & SPEAK. Let faith follow.

Blessings today!

8 Words to Use in Spiritual Warfare Prayer

CLAIM

Lord of Heaven and Earth, I claim your promises over ________, that nothing can separate him from your love and no weapon formed against him shall prosper. Surely goodness and mercy will follow ______ all the days of his life, and he will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Ps. 23, Rom. 8, Isaiah 54:17)

REBUKE

Lord, I rebuke a spirit of competition in our city and speak UNITY over all believers, because your Word proclaims how good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity. (Titus 2:15, Ps. 133)

BIND

Father, in the authority of Jesus, I bind all spirits of fear, gloom and negativity attacking my friend _______ today and pray her joy would be unspeakable and full of glory. May you loose all assistance in heaven to aid her and her family today. Thank you Jesus! (Matthew 16:19)

EXPOSE

Gracious God, I pray that you would expose the deeds of darkness within our community – and the sins deep within my own heart, that all truth will come into the light for your glory and our sanctification. May a spirit of repentance fall upon us all, and may it start with me, O God. (Eph. 5:11)

GRANT

Faithful God, grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me in trials and suffering, that I may not shrink back in proclaiming Jesus Christ as the Son of the living God. May you grant me also, Gracious God, the courage I need to walk in the way that leads to life – even if it means death. (Ps. 51:12)

SHIELD

Eternal God, I thank you that you are a shield around your servant, _________. I ask today that you shield him from all schemes and wiles of the devil that _________ may continue to proclaim your great name, hidden within the shadow of your wings. (Ps. 3:3,17:8, Eph. 6:11)

CONFESS

Jesus, I confess you are the Son of the Living God, and there is no other. May you protect me from falsehood and the lies of the enemy, that this confession will find it’s full effect in me. Keep me always sensitive to your Spirit, O God, that I will be ready at all times to confess my iniquity and follow after you. (2 Chron.6:24-27, Rom 10:9)

COVER

Lord, you cover your faithful within the feathers of your wings, and underneath us are Your everlasting arms. May you cover now, your servant, ________ in protection and the blood of the Lamb, that no arrows of the enemy would befall her. Thank you for being her everlasting shield. (Ps. 91:4, Dt. 33:27)

Can’t Talk to God? —-> When’s the Last Time You Took a Long Walk?

I’d throw on my shoes and run up my rocky drive-way, past the basketball goal I’d worn out from free-throw practice over the years. She met me just past the pond at the bottom of the hill and we walked to the highway and back. We did this almost daily in the long summers of childhood…..weekly at least during school.

It didn’t matter if we’d seen each other at school that day. And over the years, our “groups” of friends changed. Kids would be surprised to know we were like sisters – but we didn’t care. We just kept walking.

It was our consistent thing. A place we could go and just be ourselves. It didn’t matter what we said. Some days, it was like dropping the weight of the world in a bucket, readying my spirit for the next day.

There’s something about the sole of your shoe hitting the road and your mind finding this open space to talk. There’s a freeing wind, really, pushing you forward. Anybody who can get me in these moments knows I can be really quiet until I get really passionate.

It was years ago when I first heard of prayer walking. Just like opening up with a friend, it can take time to sprout. But when it does, something happens – or should I say breaks open.

There seems to be this tension sometimes in prayer. This emptiness – this over-trying. I compare it to getting stuck in writing. They say those with writer’s block need to get moving – physically.

What if that’s what we all need to break the block of prayer?

Have you taken a walk lately? Might you try it today and find the courage to take some deep breaths….before whispering, “Hello, God. I’m here.”