Are we the victims of Psychological warfare?

Recently I started teaching a Bible study with a friend, about learning to hear God’s voice. Unfortunately this is a much neglected topic in the church and many people seldom if ever hear His voice. I have often been asked how I hear Him speak to me so clearly and with that in mind my friend and I decided perhaps it was time we lead a study on this exact subject. We are using a book called 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice by Mark Virkler .

I’ve added the link if you are interested in purchasing the book. Anyway, as I was reading through the first few chapters and doing the homework that Mark was suggesting in the book, namely sitting down and journalling what I felt God was saying to me, I realized that since I like to understand the why before I do, I needed a deeper understanding of why we need to hear God’s voice and why so many people don’t hear it.  That set me on a journey that I think only scratches the surface of this infinite topic and I thought I would share my findings here on this blog.

I realized that in order for me to understand the why, I needed to go back to the very beginning in Genesis 3:1-13 which gives us the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and how they were led astray by the serpent. If you read these verses you will see two time periods, the first which has full communion with God and the second, fear and separation from God. I won’t include the whole story due to length, but I will share some key verses particularly describing what happened after they ate the forbidden fruit:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

Now I have to ask myself, why on earth were they afraid? The only relationship that they had experienced with God was a good one. We can assume that when it says God was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, that this was not a new event, but had been going on for some time. The Bible doesn’t tell us how much time has passed since creation and the fall, but whether it was a week or a year, is not important. The bottom line is that they had spent time each and every day walking and talking with God, and yet this day was different. They had disobeyed a direct order not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and suddenly they were ashamed of their nakedness, covered themselves up with leaves and hid from Him.

I would like to suggest that this response is exactly what God knew would happen and Satan, the serpent, wanted to happen, when they ate that fruit.  Division! Separation from a loving God and Father. Fear and shame had entered into their hearts and minds and they no longer trusted God or wanted to spend time with Him.  Their worldview had changed. God hadn’t changed, the serpent hadn’t changed, their bodies hadn’t changed but their minds had been changed. In an instant, they went from communion with a loving Father who they trusted, to a God who they feared and hid themselves from. Their disobedience is of course called Original Sin but I don’t want to dwell on that aspect. I want to look at what happened from a slightly different perspective.

I believe that what happened that day is the beginning of something that the military calls PSYOP or Psychological warfare. The serpent, also called the Devil, the Accuser of the Brethren, a Liar, Great Deceiver, Angel of Light, etc. twisted their thoughts and changed how they viewed God. That psychological warfare is still happening to this day and is the reason why so many people are afraid of God, don’t trust Him, hide from Him and don’t hear His voice.

So why do we need to hear God’s voice? Why do we need to be able to understand what our Heavenly Father is saying to us? Because without His voice we begin to lean on our own understanding. We sees things through the eyes of logic and fear. We put our faith in things seen and not things unseen. We lose our hope. We lose touch with the supernatural and view our world through the natural. We lose our faith because we don’t know the One who wants us to trust Him.

You might object here and say, but we have the Bible. And yes, you would be correct. We do have the Bible. But read through the eyes of the natural, through the eyes of logic, the Bible doesn’t make a lot of sense. It is only when the Holy Spirit gives us revelation and understanding that we begin to see who God is and what His plan is for our lives. I’ve heard people say, people who were not Christians, that the Old Testament God and the New Testament God are not the same God. One is an angry God and the other is a loving God. Viewed through the eyes of the natural it would be easy to understand this mistake. But through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, it becomes clear that there is only one God in the Bible and He is a loving, faithful Father.

Notice that I bring up the Holy Spirit here. Why? Because when the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts, as we are told in Scripture that He will if we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, then He will also speak to us because He dwells inside of us. In John 10:27 Jesus tells His disciples “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me“. This statement is about as clear as it can be. My sheep hear my voice. He didn’t say “My sheep might hear my voice, or my sheep occasionally hear my voice”, he said “My sheep hear my voice“. So why don’t we?

In Romans 12:2 Paul tells us the following: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”. The word transformed is the word that we get metamorphosis from. Think caterpillar, to cocoon, to butterfly. That picture is quite a transformation or transfiguration, isn’t it? The caterpillar looks absolutely nothing like a butterfly. And if you take it further, the word renewed, means renovation, complete renovation. Think kitchen renovation, down to the studs, new cabinets, beautiful new quartz countertops, gorgeous floors, the whole room, totally transformed. Beautiful, breathtaking, new! Are you beginning to see what Paul is talking about here. He’s talking about your mind. Total metamorphosis, total renovation, total renewal. Your new mind looking nothing like your old mind. New thoughts, new revelation, new understanding. The mind of Christ. Complete paradigm shift. Nothing like the old, nothing even remotely like it used to be. That is the mind that God wants to give you. But you have to ask Him for it and receive it.

So what does having a new, transformed, renovated mind have to do with hearing His voice? Everything! You have to realize that God is not silent. He speaks to you all the time. You are not hearing it because you don’t recognize His voice. You think those great ideas, those amazing thoughts, are your own. Or perhaps the devil’s. It always amuses me that people are so quick to attribute thoughts to the devil, and give him credit, but cannot imagine that God would speak to them. It takes faith to believe that those thoughts could be from God. Try it sometime. Sit down, calm your spirit and your mind and listen. Then write down what you are hearing. You might be surprised at how much God is actually talking to you.




You will find Me when you seek Me with all your heart

This morning as I was writing in my journal I thought about how much I would like to know the Lord. It seems incredible that knowing Him is even possible and yet, in Jeremiah 29:13-14 He tells us to seek Him. He tells us that if we seek Him or search for Him or inquire of Him with all of our heart, He will be found by us. When I read such a scripture, I feel like it is an invitation, that He is in fact, encouraging me to find Him. I will warn you however, be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.

So as I contemplated this idea, I found myself needing a starting point. I find it always helps my mind if I have some starting point that my mind can understand when trying to understand a God who is un understandable. Is that even a word? At any rate, I decided to start with a list of the names of God in the Old Testament. I wrote them down after some research on the web, and I stopped at 13. I won’t go into them in this post, but if you search for the names of God in the Bible, you will be amazed at the list. Anyway, I chose the very first one for today, Yahweh. Yahweh means LORD with capitals, the God who has always existed, the Unchangeable One, the God of Covenant, the Great I AM. Those are daunting titles to say the least. But I forged ahead anyway and I asked Him to reveal Himself to me as Yahweh.

In case you are getting uncomfortable with my question let me direct you to this passage in Jeremiah 9:23-24 where it says the following:

Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” says the LORD.

Yeah. So you see, I’m allowed to boast about this. As a matter of fact He wants me to boast about who He is and that I know Him. So I will share with you the conversation that I had with Him this morning, as I wrote it down in my journal. In order for the conversation to not be confusing I will leave my words in black and change what I believe to be His words in blue. Please do not assume that I am saying His words are Scripture. They are not.

My child, it is My greatest desire for you to know Me, and you will spend eternity doing so because the more you seek Me, the more you will discover about Me. I will show you the secret places of My heart, I will teach you to search out My innermost thoughts in the chambers of My heart. I will guide you on this journey, because I long to make Myself known to you. The hidden riches of My thoughts towards you will bring you the most delight, they will amaze you. 

Oh, Lord. Show me one of your thoughts. Just one. I’m not sure I can deal with more than that. I am thrilled that you think I am worthy of such delights. The word pleasure comes to mind. It is a pleasure getting to know you. That phrase will never mean the same thing again. I feel as though I am being swallowed up by your love and joy. Like I am going into the heavens and discovering the stars. I see the universe before me, and yet You know me! That’s like me getting to personally know one of the ants in my yard. I know his name, his thoughts, his feelings, his heart. There are so many ants and you know all of us. All the ants are known by you. And somehow you think I am special. You love me!

I know every single thing, every creature, every person on this earth. Because every one of them was created by Me.

Eternal One.

Yes, I am the Eternal One. And My desire is towards you. My love for you is beyond words. My desire to protect you is overwhelming. My desire to be with you is overpowering. I can hardly contain myself when I know you are about to wake up and be with Me. I long to be in your presence. I long to talk to you. I love to share My heart with you. I long to make Myself known to you.

Lord, it brings me to tears to know such love exists for me. I always thought that “I long to be in your presence” was my line. And yet, here I am and You are saying it to me. What do you want to reveal to me this morning Lord? I too long to be in Your presence. I love you Lord. In my feeble, finite way, I love You.

Do not ever belittle your love for Me, My child. Love is not a performance. I do not measure your love and see if it’s enough, or compare it to your neighbor’s love. We love each other and as you embrace My love, your love will expand because your heart will grow and expand and soften. You know the expression “My heart will burst with love”? I want your heart to burst with love. Because My heart bursts with love for you. I could spend eternity showing you My love for you and it would not be long enough.

Lord, I feel like my heart is so small that I can only begin to comprehend Your love for me. I give You my whole heart. Take it Lord. Now I understand why You want me to seek You with my whole heart. Anything less is cheating myself. I cannot feel Your love, comprehend Your love with only a section of my heart. It will require all of my heart and even then it will need to grow bigger. What we find when we seek you with all of our hearts is love. Pure, unfiltered, unadulterated love. Amazing, holy, spectacular, incredible love. No words to describe it, kind of love. Overwhelming love. And my heart cannot contain it.

Grow my heart LORD. Invade my heart and take over. Drive out the money changers and  all the idols. Take over and consume my heart. I want to know you Lord.

I find that whenever I come into His presence like this all I can do is worship Him and that is what I did after I was done writing. I hope that I have been able to express even a little bit of what was taking place in my heart and mind this morning as I listened to His voice and heard Him speak to me. Let me encourage you with this. He longs to share His heart with you because He loves you. Take the time to seek Him.

Dealing with Rejection

Rejection is an interesting thing. Often people equate rejection with feelings or emotions, but it is actually not an emotion, it is an action. When people say they struggle with rejection what they are really saying is that they are struggling with their response to being rejected.

That response can be different things for different people. It can cause us to be angry at others, and to become jealous of those who we perceive are getting their needs met. It can cause us to be afraid because of the pain we feel, and it can cause us to feel abandoned because the people who should love us, don’t. It also affects our ability to trust authority and can cause us to withdraw from society and become like a turtle, hiding in our shell, thus causing shyness.

But it is not rejection that we need to deal with, for we will all be rejected at some point in our lives. What causes our problems is usually our response to that rejection. If we have felt rejection from birth or even the womb, we can respond by feeling that we are unlovable and unworthy.

So there are in essence two reactions to being rejected: feelings that harm ourselves and feelings that cause harm to others. Often times they go hand in hand. If I feel unlovable or unworthy I will have a difficult time receiving love because I trust no one. If I feel angry over the rejection I’ve received, then I begin to hate other people or feel jealous of them and therefore will want to hurt others because of the hurt that I have felt and continue to feel. Since this response is emotional and irrational, the hurting of others is often random and not personal. Of course all of these emotions can be found in the same person. The response to rejection is in fact a form of grief. And grief always goes through stages: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and hopefully acceptance.

As a young child, feeling rejection is very confusing because they don’t have the emotional capacity to deal with it and understand it. Depending on where the rejection is coming from, will determine the level of response. If coming from family, the response will be more malignant. If from outsiders, hopefully more benign.

Because rejection is such a confusing feeling the emotions or response to it can also be confusing. We are born to be loved. God says in His Word (1 John 4:19) “We love because He first loved us.”  He gave us parents to show that love when we are very young. But if that love has been denied to us, we cannot become healthy, functional adults. No amount of counseling will heal the wounds of rejection. Counseling might help us to understand it, but it will not heal the pain.

I suffered a great deal of rejection as a young child. My mother told me often that when she accidentally became pregnant with me at 39 years of age, she did not want me. She already had two older sons and she was finished having kids. She tried many different home remedies to cause a miscarriage. Fortunately none of them worked. But when I was a year old, she became pregnant again, and this time she aborted my sibling. I’m not sure what would cause her to so freely discuss such things with me as a child, but she did. I knew from the time I was very young that if I had been the younger sibling, I would have been the dead one.

I struggled for many years with this rejection. It had a great influence on my life and how I perceived both myself and other people. I discovered that there were two things that I had to choose to do to start the process of healing. And it really is a process that takes time.

First and foremost I had to choose to forgive her and repent for my anger towards her. That does not in any way absolve her of what she did. But it set me free. I read somewhere once that “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies”. That is probably the most profound way to truly explain the amount of damage that holding onto anger does to a person. I was very, very angry. And it was hurting me, not her.

I had to choose to forgive her and I also had to choose to repent of my deep, deep anger towards her and everyone else in the world. It was not easy. But it opened the door that allowed God to heal my heart.

Often times being healed from our response to rejection requires us to choose to once again trust. This can be very difficult as well, but we must learn to become wise in our choices of who we trust. Not all are trustworthy.

Because I was so wounded as a child from this rejection, I was a magnet to attracting other people who would in turn reject me. I was comfortable with rejection. It was a very familiar behavior from other people and thus I attracted the very thing that I hated the most. This is quite common, especially if we struggle with feelings of being unlovable or unworthy of being loved. This is where recognizing your own response to rejection is so important. I did not believe that I was worthy of anything better. I did not believe I was worthy of being loved. Somewhere during this season of healing, I had to make the decision that I was indeed worthy of being loved and that I would settle for nothing less. Ever again. I choose to not repeat the past. With wisdom, inner healing from the Lord, and a new mindset I began to choose to allow people into my life who think I am worthy of being loved.

Rejection will come. None of us can change that or control it. But we can choose to control how we respond to it. We can choose to believe that we are worthy of love, and therefore make healthy decisions about who we allow into our inner circle. If you are still reading this, perhaps you  also have struggled with rejection your whole life. There is hope and there is healing. But it has to start with forgiveness and repentance of the anger. I encourage you to come to the Father and ask Him to help you.

I remember many years ago when I was struggling with my anger towards my earthly father, who I felt had never protected me or loved me unconditionally. The Lord spoke to me and told me that if I could not forgive my father here on earth, He, God could not forgive me for my sins. There are many parables that Jesus spoke about this in the gospels. Forgiveness and repentance are paramount in our healing process. But the joy and the peace that I have since received were well worth the difficult task of letting go of my anger. I encourage you to forgive and repent of your anger as well. Come to the Father through His Son Jesus, the Messiah. There is healing in His presence.

The Four Keys

Hello! I know it’s been quite a while since I wrote anything on this blog and the only excuse I really have is that I get lazy when it comes to writing. I have no problem writing in my daily journal, it’s just hard to turn it into something cohesive on here. But I want to share with you some of the things that God has been showing me over the course of the past few weeks.

I recently joined a Bible Study/Small group at my church where we are reading and discussing a book called 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice by Mark Virkler. This book has truly transformed my prayer life. Even though I tried really hard to spend time with the Lord each morning, it was like prayer was on my to do list, something I had to check off each day, so I wouldn’t be left feeling guilty that I hadn’t made time for the Lord. If I managed to spend 30 minutes reading my Bible and praying, I felt like I had accomplished something. But since reading this book, spending anywhere from 1 to 2 hours a day with the Lord has become a delight. I actually look forward to spending time with Him and hearing what He wants to say to me each day. The funny thing is that I thought I had a pretty good relationship with Him, and that my prayer life was better than most. And perhaps it was. But the point is that it was a chore, not really a relationship that I enjoyed! So if you would like to transform your prayer life, I highly recommend this book to you.

Even though I thought I had no trouble hearing God’s voice, I believed that it was an occasional thing, something which He controlled and I had little say in. Reading this book therefore was a real paradigm shift for me. Mark Virkler believes that God wants to talk to us every day. Every single day! And that writing down what we are thinking is one of the keys to hearing His voice. I will not try to paraphrase what Mark says, because I know I wouldn’t do it justice, but I will say this. Mark believes that if we quiet ourselves before God, look for vision as we pray, recognize God’s voice as spontaneous thoughts that light upon our mind and then write down that flow of thoughts and pictures, we are hearing his voice. I was skeptical at first, but what I began to write actually amazed me. I thought it would be fun to share some of the things that the Lord has been showing me through my journaling each day.

Since I wasn’t used to this type of journaling I thought I would start off this new journey by asking the Lord some questions. One of the first ones that came to my mind involved the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Since this fruit is His character, I asked Him to show me how each of these fruit had manifested themselves to me in my life. Using peace, I asked Him to show me how He had shown me peace in my life. Here’s what I wrote in my journal:

My child, my sweet daughter, I have loved you with an everlasting love and have protected you many times from danger. When I would allow the nation of Israel to live in peace from their enemies I would protect them from war and from attack. I would keep their enemies at bay in their lives so they could live life in joy. This is the peace that I have given to you as well. Many times the enemy wanted to attack you, to harm you, but I would not allow him to touch you. Many times when you would walk into a situation that you didn’t know had danger I would send my angels to protect you and cancel the plan that he had for you. I have always done this for your children as well. When I told you that I would always protect what is yours this is what I meant. As much as you have encountered warfare in your life and you see it now in your children, it is only a fraction of what could have been if I had not been there to stop it. I have given you a taste of warfare so you could appreciate the peace you do have. But I will continue to give you this peace as you walk through life. Continue to trust Me and do not be afraid. My peace I leave with you. I have put your enemies under your feet. 

When I reread this to myself, I was surprised. When I think of the word peace, having never experienced war, I did not consider peace to be the absence of war. Peace to me was a feeling, not a verb. I realized at that moment that I cannot ever come to the Lord with preconceived ideas of what He will say to me. His thoughts are not my thoughts! But I decided to take the matter further. I was curious. So I asked Him later that day to show me a situation in my life where He had protected me and it had not been obvious to me.

I suppose I should not have been shocked. After all, if I had know the grave danger I was in, it would have been obvious. It was not. This story that He reminded me of had taken place more than 40 years earlier when I was a teenager. My mother and I had spent the summer in Germany visiting my relatives. During that time period she took me around to various places in Europe. One of those places was Paris. I love Paris, the city of lights. But it is also a very dark place. We were in Paris for a grand total of 15 hours, having taken a tour bus from my Grandma’s house. As we toured the various tourist attractions we used the Metro, the underground subway system to get around town. During the afternoon hours as she and I headed to another Metro train, we were walking through a tunnel of sorts and we managed to get separated from other people. A middle Eastern man came up to me asking me “how much do you want?” He repeated the question several times and wouldn’t leave me alone. My mother who obviously was much more savvy and less naive than me immediately put her arm through mine and began to hustle me faster through the tunnel until we caught up to others. The man followed us asking me the same question. I thought the whole situation bizarre because I thought he presumed me to be a prostitute.  How he could make that assumption never made sense to me however. I was not dressed like one and I was just a young girl. I never fully understood what happened that day until I asked the Lord my question. If you’ve ever seen the movie Taken you will have some understanding of what that man intended for me. I’m sure he was not alone because they work in groups. If he had been able to get me to stop and talk to him or perhaps get me alone in some way, my life would have turned out very different. That day when I asked the Lord my seemingly harmless question about protecting me, He opened my eyes and showed me what that man’s true intentions were. Horrifying to say the least.

I’m hoping to write more of the things that the Lord Jesus has been showing me, teaching me and talking to me about in further blog posts. I hope that this one has given you a deeper sense of the kind of relationship He would love to have with you as well.

What is God telling you about Hurricane Irma?

As I am writing this blog this morning, Hurricane Irma is swirling in the Atlantic, skirting past Cuba and heading for south Florida later today. Earlier this week the forecast, still unsure as they always are so far in advance had this deadly storm potentially making landfall near the Georgia coast. In just a few weeks it will be one year since Hurricane Matthew struck our area and caused widespread devastation to coastal Georgia and the Carolinas. Last year my husband and I packed our bags and the cat, booked a hotel room west of here and headed on out well in advance of the storm. So when we were once again facing a devastating storm in our city, I decided to handle things a little different this year. I prayed and I sought God. Now please don’t assume that I didn’t pray last year, or that I take these storms lightly.  I don’t!   I prayed last year, very earnestly I might add, as I was leaving town and taking shelter inland. But this year I prayed differently! I also want to add here that I am by no means blaming anyone for this storm or suggesting that people brought this disaster on themselves. But I am suggesting that we do have power over the storm, if we have faith to believe it.

I decided to listen to what the Spirit was saying about the situation this time, instead of just begging for help. And what I heard was life changing. I heard Him say to me that I was to ride my bike around the neighborhood and play a particular song. That song is Misty Edwards, Lord of Hosts. Here is the link. 

As I was playing this song, I was told to release a Spirit of Peace into my neighborhood and to rebuke the wind and the waves called Irma. Jesus did this in Mark 4:35-41 when He rebuked the storm. I live on a marsh facing East and South and that is where I stood facing as I did this. The next day I spent more time seeking God and asking Him what to do about leaving. Should we stay or should we go? Our governor was telling us that there would be a mandatory evacuation come Saturday morning; it was Thursday. After much agitation, struggling with fear, seeking His face and listening I heard this: It’s an open book test. The answer was in the Bible.

So I went back to the story of Jesus rebuking the storm and studied what happened on that boat that stormy night. Here’s what I saw. He talked to the wind and the sea. He took authority over them. And He told them to shut up and be muzzled. I know that we translate His words as “Peace, be still” but that’s not what He said. The word peace in this passage is not peace as in calm. It is peace as in be silent, to have an involuntary stillness or inability to speak. Modern English translation: shut up!  The word “still” means to be muzzled like a dog, to be put to silence or become speechless. And after the wind and the waves stopped roaring, He turned to His disciples and said this: “Why are you so fearful?How is it that you have no faith?” I looked up the word fearful and what I saw caused more fear in me than that storm out in the ocean coming to my town. That word fearful is only used three times in the New Testament. It’s used in Mark 4:35-41, in Matthew 8:26 which talks about either this storm or another one where He asks them the same question, and in Revelation 21:6-8, which says the following:

          He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Now that was a mouthful. Would I be a coward, would I be faithless and unbelieving if I tucked tail and ran this time? Yes, I believe that that is what God was telling me. I felt that if we left, I would have to repent for my fear and unbelief. The choice that I felt God was calling me to this year was to stay put. He told me to face my fear and replace it with the conviction of His protection; To stand my ground against the enemy. God did not send this hurricane on the earth. The enemy did. And I was being told to stand firm and say to the storm, “Not this time, not here, not now!” So after much discussion, my husband and I made the choice to stay.

But I struggled because it seemed as though I was the only one who was hearing this message. Everyone I knew was making plans to leave. I was being inundated with messages of fear on Facebook, on the media, on the weather channel, from friends. Fear was pounding at my door. I turned it all off and I decided to saturate my Facebook page with songs of hope, messages of faith and personal testimony of what God had done for us last year. I was releasing faith and peace into my atmosphere and I was standing my ground. You can’t win a battle if you run away!

As of this morning, Saturday, the storm is heading west and then north into Florida. Sadly it will cause great devastation to that state. But if we had left as we were being told to do, we would have headed West and would have driven straight into the path of the storm. We are in fact, safer here at home.

As I ponder on these events and what I was hearing from God, I realized just how important it is to seek the Lord when we are facing a battle. In the Old Testament there are countless stories of Israel going into battle, sometimes they won sometimes they lost. But almost without fail if they inquired of God, took the time to listen to what He was telling them to do, they would have the victory. As a matter of fact in 2 Samuel 5:22 David receives extremely detailed instructions of what to do during a battle with the Philistines. We need to learn to inquire of the Lord and ask for direction.

So what I would like to impart to you this morning is this: Take the time to listen to His voice. Take the time to seek and wait for His guidance. Sometimes what the Spirit is telling you will be very different from what the world is saying. It is easier to become overwhelmed with the voices of fear. They are loud, sometimes so loud they will drown out everything else. We must choose to silence them and listen to only His voice. Often that takes time and it takes faith to trust that you are hearing Him. But in the end, listening for and to His voice can make all the difference in the world. Be at peace my friends and be safe.





Do you have commitment issues (when it comes to prayer)?

Sometimes I have to laugh at myself. I have what I would label commitment issues. No, I don’t have problems committing myself to people. What I have problems with is committing myself to pray for the same thing, over and over again. Especially, when that prayer is not answered. I love it when I pray something and bam, God answers me right away. Like immediately. So cool! But more often than not, that’s not how it happens and I spend years struggling with the same old prayer. Truthfully, I give up. And then I feel bad so I come back to it and pray about it again. Halfheartedly of course. The cycle goes on and on. I come up with reasons to convince myself that I really should keep pursuing this issue, because more often than not, it’s an important one. But it is so very, very hard. I’m sure that I cannot be the only one who struggles with this and with that in mind I want to share with you something the Lord revealed to me several years ago. I remind myself of it when I need that little kick in the pants not to give up on my prayers.

In Matthew 15 there is this cute little story of a woman who did not give up on her prayers and the reason we know about her, is because of something that she said to Jesus that was quite memorable. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase that I’m talking about in Matthew 15:27:

“Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table”.

Now being a dog lover, this verse really sparked my interest so one day I decided to pursue it and examine what really took place during this story. Jesus was in the far north, in the territory of Tyre and Sidon, which was Gentile country. He meets a Canaanite woman who begs that he please heal her demon possessed daughter. His response to the woman was to ignore her. It says “but he answered her not a word”. Been there, done that. Prayed and got nothing! I’m sure we all have. And that’s where most of us stop. This woman did not.

The story goes on to tell us that she cried out so often and for so long, that his disciples grew weary of her and asked Jesus to send her away. I’m guessing that they tried to tell her first, but she was having none of it. Jesus answered His disciples with the following:

“I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”.

He was telling them in effect, I didn’t come to save or heal the Gentiles. Right now I’m here for the house of Israel. She’s the wrong nationality. Wow. No doubt she overheard Him because what she did next is very telling. She fell at His feet and worshipped Him and called Him Lord!  But He turned to her and told her the following:

“It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs”.

Now I don’t know about you, but that sounds vaguely insulting to me. It would have been easy for her to walk away at this point and be offended. But she persisted, because she really wanted her daughter to be healed. Like really badly. Have you ever had a child so sick that nothing would stop you from crying out for help? That’s the kind of persistence we are seeing here. But notice something. Jesus is now talking to her! Yup, that’s right, He is talking to her! And boy does she ever take advantage of that because she answered Him with that famous phrase that I shared above. She impressed Jesus because He says to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire”. She got her answer, her daughter was healed.

When I think about this story I think about the number of times that I have prayed and been ignored by God. Or if I shared my prayer with others, been told that since I haven’t received an answer, it must not be God’s will. Perhaps there were extenuating circumstances in my prayer request, and I knew it probably wasn’t the right time, it was the wrong season, it wasn’t in His will.  You get the drift. It is so easy to give up! Maybe we have heard No! or even worse, silence, so many times, that we have stopped praying altogether. Maybe, just maybe, giving up is exactly the opposite reaction that God wants from us.

Humor me for a moment and ponder on the parable of the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8. Jesus tells the story of a woman who had gone to court and wanted justice for her situation, but the unjust judge didn’t care about her. Yet, because she was persistent and didn’t give up, he gave her what she wanted, just to get rid of her. The Lord then tells His disciples that God, who is a just Judge will avenge his children if they ask him by crying out to him day and night. He then asks them this question:

“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

So what I’m understanding here is that faith requires persistence. It requires me to cry out day and night and never give up until He answers my prayer.

I’ve got another story for you that might help you really embrace this truth. In John 2:1-11 Jesus is attending a wedding with His mother and disciples. This is before He starts His actual ministry. He goes to the wedding and on the third day His Mom comes to Him and tells Him they’ve run out of wine. In those days weddings would go on for about a week, so you can imagine the fiasco of running out of wine on the third day of your party. His response is actually kind of funny because He looks at her and says:

“Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

You know I can’t help but wonder how many times we’ve asked God for something and He thinks to Himself, what on earth does this have to do with me? Hey, I thought it was funny. I mean, shouldn’t the host of this wedding party have planned better? Whose fault was this anyway? Certainly not God’s! But seriously, Mary disregards His answer and tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them. There was no question in her mind that He would help her. Perhaps we could learn from that attitude. Even when we mess up, even when we are at fault, Jesus is willing and able to help us. Mary also got her answer that day and what an answer it was. He turned water into wine and it was such excellent wine, that Scripture tells us it manifested or revealed His glory!

So I want to encourage you with these words. If there is something that you have prayed for, something that you have asked for over and over and over, don’t give up. It doesn’t matter what other’s tell you, it doesn’t matter whether God is silent or says no. Don’t listen to any of it. Keep on asking. Worship Him in the midst of your wait. Nothing moves the heart of our God more than our worship when we are waiting on Him and are struggling to trust Him. Be like these three women of great faith and persevere until you get your answer.























Never let the devil give you his counterfeit of what your life should be.

I love it when I open my Bible and read a Scripture I’ve read a hundred times over the years and this time the Holy Spirit opens it up to me in a completely different way than I’ve ever understood before. That’s what happened to me this morning. I was sitting here reading Luke 4 which is all about Jesus going through His 40 day fast in the wilderness. We are not told what took place during those 40 days, but I can imagine it was pretty intense. He’s fasting for 40 days, which is incredible. He’s in the desert no less, which is even harder I would think given the harshness of a wilderness. Depending on the time of year, this would have been pretty bad.

The story begins at the end of the fast with Jesus heading back into town. I’m sure He was looking forward to some amazing street food in Jerusalem but the devil does not and never quits on his own. So, as Jesus is walking, the devil is walking next to Him. Notice that the devil is very aware of the situation, and he never gives Him a break, not for one moment. Jesus has got to be at His weakest point after not eating for 40 days and mentally looking forward to eating again. If you think the devil plays fair, think again. He didn’t play fair during this story and he won’t play fair with you either.

Now at first glance, satan tells Jesus to do something which doesn’t seem so bad. He says to Him the following:

“If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Luke 4:3

What’s wrong with this you say? I’m sure that if we were to study this, the number of things wrong would be amazing, but let’s start with what I saw this morning. Never, ever let the devil tell you what to do. The only person who you should listen to is God. It doesn’t matter if what the devil suggests is not evil, or bad, never listen to him. Once you open the door he will put his foot through the doorway and things will get worse. Eve’s first problem in the garden, before she was deceived, was that she actually listened to the devil, thought about what he said and then gave it credence. She then shared that with Adam. If she had rebuked him, and turned away from him, things would have turned out different!

What the devil was doing here, was asking Jesus, the Son of God to prove Himself. Prove to me, the devil that you are the Son of God. As if he didn’t already know. We do not ever need to prove ourselves to the devil. He will always question our identity in Christ but we do not need to prove ourselves to him. Rebuke him if he ever asks you to.

The next temptation is the easy way out. It is the wide road. On their way the devil takes Jesus on a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And he says this to Jesus:

All this authority I will give you, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I will give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if you will worship before me, all will be Yours.” Luke 4:6-7

The devil will always try to give you a counterfeit version of what God has put into your heart. The call on your life is from God but the devil will try to give you the easy road. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:13 that there is a narrow gate and a wide gate. The devil’s version of your call is the wide gate. It is the broad road that is easy to travel on but leads to destruction. If Jesus had done what the devil wanted, had traded himself in and worshiped the devil, he would not have had to go to the cross. We know for a fact that this had to have been a temptation for Jesus, because as we see later, when Jesus is facing the impending cross He says this to the Father in Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Never assume that this was not a temptation for Jesus, He was flesh and blood and knew what was coming.

As we continue on in this story, it becomes apparent that the devil is walking Jesus to the very place that He would be crucified, Jerusalem. He walked Jesus to the place of His destiny, His goal, His dream if you will. The devil will walk beside you to the place of your destiny as well. And as you walk, the devil will try to persuade you to take the shortcut, just like he asked Jesus to take the shortcut. He takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple, and said the following to Him:

“If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you, and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Luke 4:9-11

He is in fact asking Jesus to jump off the temple because God’s angels will protect Him. So now he’s quoting prophecy to Jesus about Himself. This prophecy written by King David in the Psalms was indeed written about Jesus. But it was never meant to take the place of the cross because that is what the devil again wants Jesus to do. Notice what the devil says at the beginning of this temptation: If you are the Son of God. He’s using the same phrase that he did in the first temptation.  Prove yourself to me and this time to the world, by jumping off the temple. When you walk away from your jump, everyone will believe that you are the Messiah, and you won’t have to die on the cross. If you fast forward to Matt 27:42 the people standing at the cross, after Jesus is crucified mock Him and say the following:

“He saved others, but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.”

Jesus never came to earth to save himself. He came to die on that cross so you and I could live.

Never let the devil tempt you with your physical destiny. God will never ask you to risk your life to prove who you are in Christ. I’m not saying people won’t kill you! I’m saying God will never ask you to tempt Him to protect you from reckless behavior. Jumping off that temple was reckless behavior. If Jesus had jumped and then walked away, I have no doubt that some of the people would have followed Him and believed He was the Messiah. But the goal was never about proving who He was. The goal was always the cross and that required Him to go through the narrow gate. That required Him to listen to God, not the devil.

The final thing I would like to point out about this story is that the devil will only leave you if you resist Him, as Jesus did, and he will always come back.

“Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13

When does he come back? During an opportune time. During a good opportunity. When you are at your strongest? Probably not. Most likely, he will come back when like Jesus, you are at your weakest. James tells us in James 4:7 the following:

“Submit yourselves then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

It is up to us to resist the devil. Just as Jesus quoted Scripture at the devil, find Scripture that pertains to your situation and when the tempter comes, quote him God’s word. God will help you just as He helped Jesus to overcome.







Is there a storm in your life?

I have spent the last month on a road trip out to Arizona and Texas,  visiting several beautiful grandchildren. As I sit here this morning, drinking my coffee and reflecting on our trip and the number of times that God protected us from disaster, I stand amazed at His power and His faithfulness.  Time and time again we drove a stretch of highway that would have some kind of natural disaster, but we felt none or few of the effects.

After we left our daughter in Tucson, we drove over 300 miles to El Paso through some pretty remote desert area, only to discover that several hours after we had passed through a stretch of I-10 East on the Arizona and New Mexico border, a 25 car pileup had occured because of a sand storm. Yes, a sand storm! Several people were unfortunately killed during this storm, because the visibility was zero.

As we continued on our trek home, we were surprised to see that a tropical storm named Cindy was brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, heading towards the very path we were on. That storm was heading straight for the entire gulf region, a stretch of road over 1000 miles long and we had no way to avoid it. It actually made land fall in the exact area we spent one of our nights at a hotel. But amazingly enough, apart from a little excitement in New Orleans where we met some pretty heavy rain and a tornado warning screeching at us over the phone’s alert system, we remained almost unscathed. It seemed that once again, we were protected from a natural disaster that unfortunately took the life of a little boy on vacation in Alabama.

As I sit and think about the level of protection given to us during this drive home, I can’t help but remember a story in the gospels similar to what we just went through. The story is in Matthew 4:35-41 where Jesus and His disciples are in a boat during a great windstorm and the waves are beating down on them and it feels like a perilous time. But Jesus is sleeping! Finally, after much fear, the disciples wake Him up and ask Him “do You not care that we are perishing?” Ah yes, I can certainly understand the question and why they asked Him that. But His response is not what they expected. I think they were hoping He would help them bail out the water because what He did next, shocked them! He gets up from his place of rest, and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And there was a great calm. But then He turns and says to them “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” I’m not sure they really heard Him, because what they did next is almost comical. They became even more frightened, and looked at each other and said, “Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” They had just seen the mighty hand of God and it terrified them, because yes, even the wind and the waves obey His voice! After all the miracles they had seen Him do, and what frightens them the most about Him? When Jesus makes the weather obey Him!

I remember at the beginning of our journey home when I first heard about the tropical storm brewing in the gulf, heading towards the road we were on, and I felt a twinge of fear. Ok, fine, I was afraid. That’s a long drive through a tropical storm and all its various effects. But as I sought the Lord I heard Him say to me “If I can protect you through Hurricane Matthew, don’t you think I can protect you through this as well?”

Hurricane Matthew. I remember it too well. We live on the coast, between a winding river and our house is in a deep flood zone because that river flows straight into the Atlantic Ocean!  Not cool. That hurricane was coming straight for the area we live in off the coast of Georgia. I remember the terror of having our phone screaming alerts at us to evacuate now. Mandatory evacuation was the term they used. And we listened. We left town just like millions of other folks and huddled in our hotel room, waiting for the horror to pass. We sat there in that hot, dark hotel room with our cat, playing Canasta because we had lost power and internet and cell phone service with the storm. The morning we were finally able to return home, I sat and prayed because I was afraid of what we would find when we got home.

That Saturday morning the Lord spoke words of encouragement to me giving me His peace. He gave me the following words from Job 5:17-24:

Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole. He shall deliver you in six troubles, Yes in seven no evil shall touch you. In famine He shall redeem you from death, and in war from the power of the sword. You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue, And you shall not be afraid of destruction when it comes. You shall laugh at destruction and famine, and you shall not be afraid of the beasts of the earth. For you shall have a covenant with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you. You shall know that your tent is in peace; You shall visit your dwelling and find nothing amiss.

And nothing amiss is exactly what we did find that sunny morning after the hurricane passed through our area. Our house was protected. There was no damage and no flooding. We had seen a couple of Turtle Doves sitting in front of our house a couple of days before we left and it appeared that they were a sign of peace because peace is what we found. I had never seen those doves before and I haven’t seen them since.

The street behind our house did not fare so well, because they had lost a lot of trees and I do mean a lot, during that storm. But our street had nothing. God had protected us.

If you read Psalm 91 you will understand why God protects those that trust in Him. This Psalm goes on and on about God’s protection for those who love Him and trust Him. King David tells us in this Psalm in verse 2 that the Lord “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

So I would say to you, that if you are in the middle of a storm, or perhaps you see one coming on the horizon as we did on Highway I-10, make the Lord your refuge, your strong tower, make Him your hiding place! Talk to Him and tell Him that you are trusting Him. He always protects those that are His!

What are your hopes and dreams?

I remember when I was a young girl, I had so many hopes and dreams for my future! When I look back I realize that although some of them came to pass in some form or fashion, most did not. I didn’t dream about my baby dying or my marriage falling apart. I didn’t think about the time when my then husband was unemployed for almost two years. I never once dreamed about being alone in my fifties, without a husband, a career, an education or the ability to take care of myself. No, those things were not on my agenda or on my radar. I dreamed about falling in love, being a stay at home mom, having children who grew up and growing old with my husband while seeing our grandchildren being born. Happy dreams and a happy life is what I thought about. But unfortunately, for anyone who’s been around on this earth long enough, we realize all too soon that life never happens quite the way we had hoped or dreamed. And when things happen that we don’t understand, it is easy to become angry and frightened and blame someone. Sometimes we blame other people, sometimes we blame ourselves and often we blame God. After all, doesn’t He have the power to fix all things, to prevent all things and the power to stop bad things from happening?

If ever there is a story in Scripture that shows us the devastating effect of a life that didn’t turn out quite the way someone had dreamed or planned, it is the story of John the Baptist.  When life takes a nasty turn, one we didn’t see coming, it can take even the strongest person down to a place of hopeless despair and complete loss of faith.

Now let me give you a little background about John. He was born after his father, a priest, had a supernatural encounter with the angel Gabriel while serving in the temple. His dad is struck mute by the angel because he didn’t believe Gabriel when he told him that he and his wife would have a baby. They were old and Zacharias, John’s father could not believe that they were physically capable of becoming pregnant. (You can read the story of John’s birth in Luke 1.) But sure enough, John was born and things seemed wonderful. Fast forward and John who is now about 30 years old is preaching and baptizing in the wilderness of Israel. He sees Jesus and announces to everyone that Jesus is the coming Messiah, the Savior of the world. At this point, things must have seemed wonderful to John. He has a thriving ministry, thousands of people are being baptized by him, lives are being changed and at one point Jesus calls John the greatest prophet that ever lived. See Matthew 11:11. What could possibly go wrong you might ask?

John manages to offend King Herod and Herod has him thrown into prison (Matthew 14:3). This is where things begin to get tricky for John. We are not told how long John’s ministry lasted, but it clearly did not end the way John had envisioned.  John, now languishing in jail becomes thoroughly depressed and loses his faith. How do I know this? In Matthew 11:2 John is in prison and he hears about the works of Jesus so he sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus the following question: “Are You the coming One, or do we look for another?” Say what? This is the same man who just months before tells people the following when he sees Jesus in John 1:29: “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” This man knew who Jesus was!  How could he possibly have fallen into such despair that he no longer believed?

Jesus Himself tells us the answer. In Matthew 11:5-6 Jesus answers John’s disciples with the following: “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Did you catch it? Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me!! There it is. John is offended with Jesus and in that cloud of despair, anger, blame etc. etc. John loses his faith and doesn’t even know who Jesus is anymore. That’s sad, really sad.

So what can we glean from this story and how can it help us? Let me go back to the beginning of this post. Stuff happens in life, bad stuff, stuff we don’t expect, anticipate, dream about or hope for. Ministries are cut short, jobs end, marriage fall apart, people die or get sick, the list is endless of stuff that can and does go wrong. But just like John, when stuff goes wrong, we have a choice. We can choose to look at our circumstances and the shattered dreams and lose faith and become offended with God or we can choose to look at what Jesus has done in the past in our lives, what he is doing in other people’s lives and the promises that He has given to us, and we can choose to trust Him.  I’ve heard it said that it doesn’t take faith  while we are on the mountain, when things are going great. It takes faith when we are in the valley, when things are falling apart and nothing makes sense.

Trusting God is a choice. I have been in that valley far too many times in my life when all I could see was darkness. I had to choose each and every time to lift up my eyes and trust Him. Sometimes in my darkest hours, I would remind myself like Paul in 2 Timothy 1:2 “I know the One in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to him… I would remind myself that God is good and He is good all the time. Like David I would encourage my soul and choose to trust my Father, my Friend and my Comforter.  If you are reading this and your dreams have been shattered, look up and choose to trust Him. He is a rewarder of those who do.

What is truth?

Jesus uses the word truth several times in the gospels. He tells us that He is the truth (John 14:6), He tells us that we shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32) and then He tells Pilate while waiting to be crucified the following in John 18:37

“…the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Pilate then replies to Jesus in verse 38 “What is truth?” I am certainly no philosopher and I can’t possibly answer that question but I can share with you some things that I have personally learned about truth and how it has set me free.

Perhaps the truth has actually caused more harm than good in your life. Maybe you have found that speaking the truth has caused you to face rejection and loss. So how can it help you? In my own life and just from my own understanding I think that there are two kinds of truth. There is what I will call a general truth, which applies to all mankind and then there is a personal truth, one that is tailored to fit each individual.

The general truth is foundational and very simple. It is the gospel or the good news. God sent His only son Jesus to die for you and me on the cross. If you can accept that he died for your sins, and can receive Him as your Lord and Savior and confess this truth to others then you will be saved from your sins and spend eternity with Him. Although this is very personal I call it a general truth because it applies to all of us. It is His free gift to all mankind.

The personal truth also comes through Jesus Christ, but it is unique for each individual. Often times this kind of truth comes in stages and takes many years. For me it took most of my adult life before I was able to face truth in my life. I had to find inner courage to face some difficult things. For example, I had to face the truth that I had made denial an idol.

There were many painful issues in my life that I didn’t want to face, because facing them would force me to deal with them. It was easier therefore to deny them. So how did denial become an idol for me? I found comfort in it, I found security in it, I found peace with it, I found counsel from it, and I found strength with it. The funny thing with idols is that even though they may make you feel better for a season, they also require a sacrifice. That is the nature of idols. And unbeknownst to me, I was giving that as well. I had sacrificed the truth, my children, my happiness and myself in order to serve this idol. It did not want to let go easily however and I found it incredibly difficult to let go of it. It proved to be a powerful force in my life.

The truth that I had denied was that there were people in my life, people who were family and therefore should have loved and protected me, that did not. I had been neglected both as a child and later in a loveless marriage that I felt trapped in. But by denying the truth of my situation, I was in fact sacrificing both my right to be loved, and my children. That is a tough truth to come to grips with.

The process of finding  truth in my life also required me to come to grips with sin. There were sins  that had become a lifestyle for me and although at first they appeared to be small and insignificant,  they were issues that I needed to deal with so that I could get right with God. I needed to repent for those sins and ask for His help in overcoming them.

As I found courage to face various truths in my life, each one became a stepping stone towards being set free. First I had to accept Him as my Savior. Then I had to go through the inner journey of facing my idols and my sins and making Him Lord of my life. As I faced the painful truth of circumstances beyond my control, I found that each truth brought me closer to freedom. As I let go of my anger and my bitterness, I was able to forgive those who had hurt me. Forgiveness is never about the other person, it is always about setting you free from bitterness and anger which is like a cancer growing inside your soul.

Jesus was the one who gave me the courage and the love to face these painful truths in my life. Without His help I would never have been able to look at them and deal with them. But when I did, the truth did indeed set me free.