Category Archives: De-stressing LIfe through Prayer

Still Here? Stand Still

Foreclosure, cancer, divorce, unemployment, and natural disasters happen.  On this earth, in our time, bad things happen to all people. We raise our kids in the Word but they rebel.  We pour our hearts into ministry with no fruit.  We confess all known sin and battle the enemy yet the crisis is still there. What do we do when the pains of life don’t go away?  We stand still.

Standing still is not weakness.  It shows the greatest possible strength.  Any fool can plow ahead and do something.  But a wise man can trust the Lord enough to do nothing.  A fool cries out for worldly fixes.  But a wise man will quietly trust in the Lord–no matter how long He tarries.

Jesus said, “I’m coming back.”  We believe Him.  It’s been 2000 years since He spoke the words yet we all know it will happen someday soon.  Why then don’t we have enough faith that He will fulfill His other promises, in less time?

Would it be farfetched to state that if you are not daily living in the expectancy of His return, that you are also not living each day in the peace of His faithfulness?

 For me the most difficult challenge is standing still.  I pray with fervency and often see miracles.  I teach with authority and lives are changed.  I endure heartaches and grow stronger.  But when God just doesn’t move as quickly as I imagined, when the trials last longer than I desire, or when I am sick-and-tired of being sick and tired, I want to do anything but stand still.

Through years of wrestling with God, I stand convinced of one vital truth.  There are just some things we will never understand but we can know for sure that they are for God’s greater glory.  When we’ve confessed all known sin and are living in His holiness, when we’ve battled the enemy and know he is defeated in our lives, and we still have the trial, it’s simply God’s will.

Sometimes the loved one dies.  Some days we don’t win.  Some children will rebel for years.  Some hard hearts will not soften. Some ministries need to die.  Weaknesses show greater strength.  God uses crippled people.  The Bible is full of paradoxes.  His ways are not our ways.  It’s best to learn to stand still and trust when nothing makes sense.

We can use 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 as a prayer guide for standing still. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Be joyful always:  immerse yourself in worship and praise.  Read Psalms aloud, listen to praise music, recite the miracles of God from Genesis to Revelation, live each day in expectancy of the beloved Bridegroom’s return.

Pray continually:  live in His Presence.  Allow Him to bring His Word alive to your heart and mind.  Listen for His voice, share your heart with Him, walk and talk with Him every minute of the day, practice seeing His Presence in everything you do and journal all these divine moments.

Give thanks in all circumstances:  be filled with a grateful heart.  Henry Blackaby teaches that we should view everything in our lives against the backdrop of the cross.  If we practiced that simple truth, our hearts would overflow with gratitude for His amazing love.

 At Bible study yesterday, our teacher challenged us to create a worksheet with a picture of the cross as the backdrop.  I printed the words, “God is love” across the top of mine.  The assignment is then to record all the trials, struggles, pains and frustrations of our lives.  Somehow when viewed upon the cross, these things grow strangely dim.

If you really believe God is love and He is faithful, then you will also accept the fact that His will is always best.  Stand still.

Rehab, I say, “No, No, NO” (Part 2)

My God had me in a refiner’s fire to burn away paranoia.  For the first time in my life, I saw how adept I was at creating a fix to get what I wanted.  I wanted an answer.  He wanted to end my nightmarish mental struggles.

I took the easy way out.  I stopped His healing refinement.

I manipulated the circumstances.  I controlled the situation.  I fixed the problem.  I have used flattery, charm, anger, withdrawal, guilt trips, silent treatment, crying, deceit, counselors, friends, work, busyness and even servanthood (I’ll do this for you if…) to get a fix.  Others use drugs, alcohol, food, and even sex.  Sadly, except for illegal substances, I too have used these.

Often times, the struggles in life ARE His rehab.  We stop the healing when we go for the fix INSTEAD of hanging on until we hear Him say, “It is finished!”

Being correct about one thing, I knew in only a matter of time, I would be healed.  I just didn’t see this angle coming.  But oh, how blessed He is.  He opened my eyes to see not only did I have a lifetime of paranoia but I also had adapted a lifetime arsenal of quick fixes.

When He opens your eyes to the truth, He is about to set you free.

Can anyone out there relate?  Have you found yourself time and time again fighting the same battles over and over?  Could it be you have stopped Him just before the final chisel stroke produced the finished masterpiece?

For the first time in my life, I feel ready for the next battle.  I’m armed with new weapons.  Here is my battle plan.

Starting now in the good and quiet times I will prepare for the storm to come.

I will daily recite the verses He has given me to strengthen my mind.

I will daily renew my mind with His promises of victory, strength, and freedom.

I will record all the lies that I have believed and combat them with truths from His Word.

I will daily pray that He will open my eyes to recognize the lies and the next attack at the first sign of its approach.

I will ask Him to reveal the ‘fixes’ I am tempted to use.

I will trust His strength NOT to use another fix.

I will learn to trust ONLY in grace during His rehab.

I will stand firm no matter how long or painful the rehab takes.

I will rejoice with Him when I hear Him shout, “It is finished!”

Rehab…I said, “No, no, no.”

Rehab is a way of life these days.  Celebrities move in and out of rehab centers as if they are vacation resorts.

There is also big money in offering rehab with the promise that ‘you enter addicted, you leave free’.  I would love to be a fly on the wall when the sales rep is explaining why the 2nd, 3rd, and multiple return visits are necessary.  Freedom is never attainable for them.  Why?

I recently learned an answer to this question.  I learned the hard way.  God has put me in rehab time and time again and I didn’t even recognize where I was or what He was doing.  I will bet He’s done the same for you.

We all have our addictions and our fixes.  No one is immune.  I would have argued against what I just said a week ago.  But now I know better.  Hear me out before you determine I have lost my mind completely.

My dad suffered from severe paranoia and chronic depression.  It was not uncommon for him to create in his mind a horrific crisis about to befall him or one of us.  He would become obsessed with the approaching disaster to the point of hysterical outbursts and debilitating panic attacks.  I learned from his model.

Fortunately for my family, I have controlled the outbursts.  Unfortunately for me, I suffer internally.  So God send me to rehab.  I failed miserably.  Here how it happened…

I found myself steeped deep into a pit of paranoia.  A lack of a phone call sent my mind into such despair I don’t even want to repeat the ridiculousness of it.  For a few days I fought hard.  I recorded promises on notecards and read them aloud.  I spent sleepless nights reading entire books of the Bible and found some peace.  I shouted threats at the enemy of my soul to silence his voices.  Victory would be short.  Rest was sporadic.

I knew without doubt that I had the proper weapons and God was going to free me.  I knew it was only a matter of time and not only would I be free from this one battle but that I would finally win the war against my own lifetime of paranoia.

Day four was the turning point.  I was at wits end.  The call had never come.  I sought ways to make it happen to silence my agony. I texted.  Silence and more agony. I left yet another voice message. Silence and agony.  I cried out in prayer.  I shouted aloud my sincere determination to trust Jesus even in the silence and agony.

My mind continued to create disastrous scenarios.  I called them lies.

I committed myself to still love and worship God even if the worse of these lies came true.  I knew then the end was near and I was going to win.  It was a glorious moment.

In that moment, I reasoned it was ‘okay’ for Mike to make the phone call and get the answer.  Moments later, he called with a positive report.  All was well.  None of the disastrous imaginations had transpired.  God had blessed yet again.  I was filled with peace.

The euphoric peace propelled me outside on a praise walk.  I sang to His glory with each step.  He had once again delivered me.  I was free.  Free indeed; He said, “No, no, no.

God interrupted my worship of His goodness to say, “That wasn’t Me.  You got a fix.  Just like a drug addict or alcoholic.  You are not healed.  There will be a next time.”

I stood paralyzed.  Never had I imagined such a word.  But I knew it was true.  I know His voice.  I know He never lies to me.

The fear of the next time kept my feet from moving forward.  Frozen on that road, I realized He had put me in rehab.  Yet I was no better than all the others who checked themselves out and returned to their addictions.

Tomorrow I will share what I learned in that Divine encounter.

God or Satan, How Can You Know?

“How do I know if this is God or Satan?”  I should laugh at such a question because of how ludicrous it is to, in any way, conceive that we could confuse these two vastly different beings.  But I cannot laugh because I too have often asked this question when I have been spinning out of control.

When we are facing stressful situations our emotions are heightened and raw.  Exposed emotions are often trampled and crushed.  Damaged emotions are horrible motivators.  Taut rubber-banded emotions misguide us.  Stressed emotions are all of these and more.   Jesus was a man of many emotions.  His emotions never caused Him to lose control or to sin.  Therefore proper emotions at proper times are a tool God can use to His glory.

I spent this week re-reading the Gospels.  The books contain thrilling miracles, chilling drama, and passionate teaching.  I was searching for one thing: emotions.  As I read I listed every record of an expressed emotion.   I found far more than I anticipated.

One of the greatest treasures of the Bible is how human and personal it is.  I found myself in every story, every character, and on nearly every page; I found emotions I knew well.

The Pharisees exhibited indignation, anger, hatred, humiliation, pride, fear, astonishment, and a wicked delight for murder.  The disciples had such an array of emotions I wonder how they held themselves together.  On any given day they experienced: fear, amazement, confusion, anger, exhilaration, worry, upset, sadness, joy, worship, exhaustion, bitterness, fright, downcast spirits, alarm, fright, surprise, terror, and dissatisfaction.  Take for instance John 20:19-20, in a matter of minutes they went from a paralyzing fear to the heights of joy at seeing the resurrected Jesus.

Talk about an emotional roller coaster ride.

But what truly blessed my soul, were all the emotions Jesus exhibited.

John 2:17 Jesus was zealous or jealous for His Father’s house.

John 4:6 Jesus was tired from the journey.

Mark 3:5 He was angry and deeply distressed at their hardened hearts.

Luke 22:15 He eagerly desired to share with them.

Luke 8:23 He was peacefully asleep in the storm.

Luke 7:13 His heart went out to showing deep emotions for the mourning mother.

Luke 22:44 He was in agony and His soul overwhelmed with sorrow.

John 12:27 His heart was troubled or exhibited an acute emotional distress.

John 13:21 He was greatly troubled in spirit.

John 11:2,5,36.  He loved His friends.

John 11:34 He was greatly moved in spirit and troubled.

John 11:38 He was deeply moved.

John 11:35 He wept at the sorrow of others.

Matthew 8:10 He was filled with wonder or astonishment at the faith of centurion.

Mark 6:6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Mark 6:34 He had compassion on the multitudes.

Luke 19:41 Wept (very external expression of grief) over Jerusalem.

Luke 10:21 He was full of joy through the Holy Spirit and worshiped.  This is my favorite picture of Him.  He was leaping with joy as He worshiped His Abba.

Now we must take note of what emotions were not recorded.  I noticed in situations where I would have had the greatest emotional response, Jesus showed none.  For instance:

  • When He was laughed at for saying the girl was not dead.
  • When He was betrayed by Judas.
  • When He was rebuked by Peter.
  • When no one understood His teachings.
  • When He was left alone by the fleeing disciples.
  • When the multitudes deserted Him.
  • When mobs wanted to kill Him.
  • When He was arrested, beaten, scourged, and crucified.
  • When He told the healed people not to tell who He was and they did anyway.
  • When He was accused of being Beelzebub.
  • When He was the victim of gossip and wicked thoughts.
  • When the healed people did not even say thanks.
  • When His own family and cousin questioned who He was.

I started to think of how I would have reacted and listed some very negative emotions.  I bet you would have a similar list of frustrations, bitterness, self-pity, despair, doubts, and fear.  All of these would be harmful to my spirit and soul.

So then I decided it was time to seek the root of these negative emotions.  I found them in Satan.  Try this experiment.  List the names of Satan given in scripture.  Beside each name list how you feel when treated in such a way.

Here is what I discovered.  When the accuser accuses me, I feel guilt, shame and humiliation.  When he lies to me, I feel betrayed and hurt.  I feel used and tricked when he deceives me.  I am fearful when hunted by the roaring lion.  When this lion roars I am left confused.  I feel burned by the dragon and violated by the evil one.

See what I mean.  When Satan is in the picture, our emotions are destructive. These are NOT from God.  God will never make us feel such emotions.  When God moves, He brings repentance, redemption, and restoration.

How do you know if it is Satan or God, use Mike’s discerning self-evaluation:

“If I feel I want to hide in shame or fear then it is Satan.  If I feel I want to stand in the Light and let everyone see me, then it is God.”

 

God came to heal and give abundant life.  Satan came to kill and steal.  They are as different as darkness and Light.  I pray you will never again question but are able to live your life fully exposed in the Light.

 

 

The Raging War

“Satan is alive and well on planet earth!”

True or false?

I say false.  Before you rebuke me too harshly, hear me out on this. Yes, I believe Satan is alive and his domain is planet earth.  But as for him being well, well no, I don’t think so. 😉

There is a story told of a large boa constrictor finding his way into a home in a remote village.  The residents escape from the hut unharmed.  Yet they know that if they do not kill the snake, it will evidently kill them.

One man with one gun loaded with one bullet is selected to enter the house and shoot the snake.  The survival of the village rests upon his accuracy.

All wait anxiously.  Kaboom!  The man flees from the hut shouting as he ran, “The bullet exploded into the snake’s head!”  Success!

But the snake did not die an instant death.  No, for hours the villagers stood terrified as that snake thrashed about the hut destroying everything inside.  He had received the fatal wound but death would come much later.

The snake was not well, he was just raging mad.

The same can be said of Satan.  Jesus delivered the fatal wound to Satan in Gethsemane and Calvary’s cross.  He is defeated.  But he is not yet dead.

No, he’s just raging mad.

And the target of his anger is you and I, the children of God.

Terrified?  You shouldn’t be.  God has given us victory.

Not everything that happens to us is a result of sin in our lives.

Not everything that happens to us can be blamed on Satan.

Not everything that happens to us is God’s perfect will for us.

Stress is often caused when believers don’t know why things are happening to them.

The secret to the victory is in understanding the why.  The Gospels give us clues to some whys in difficult times.  Here are a few examples:

The storms in life can so terrify us that we lose sight of who Jesus is and all faith in Him.  (Luke 8:22-25)

A lifetime of bad choices can lead to devastating broken relationships caused by hardened hearts.  (Matthew 19:8)

Sin can so totally control our bodies that we are paralyzed.  (Mark 5:1-5)

Prayerlessness can blind us to His will causing us to react outside His plan.  (Matthew 26:36-54)

Despair in the lowest points of our lives cause us to question, “Where is God?  (Luke 7:18-23)

We live in a fallen world therefore there will be various diseases including leprosy and cancers.  (Matthew 4:23-24)

Demon possession, evil spirits, and bondages were the root of seizures, crippled, maimed, deaf, mute, and tortured souls.   (Multiple references)

Some ‘bad’ things happened to ‘good’ people for the glory of God.  (John 9:1-3; John 11:15, 40)

This list proves to me that my sin, faithlessness, doubt, hard heart, bad choices, prayerlessness, and despair cause much of my stress.  If you can relate with me and agree that sin often times is the root of your problems, then return to my last week blog and work your way through the heart cleansing steps.  Repentance can bring healing and a stress free life.

You will also see from my examples that we suffer various trials due to the condition of this fallen world or for the sole purpose of God’s glory.  We will dive deeper into these topics next week.

But today, we will focus on what to do when Satan or his demons are terrorizing us.  It is inevitable that he will attack.  Pretending he doesn’t exist won’t protect you.  To be honest that state of pretending means you are already bound by one of his strongholds.

Those on the front lines know all too well the forces of darkness.  Missionaries have shared first hand encounters that leave my bones chilled.  But let’s face it; the darkness is closing in all around us.  It is time we face the truth and stand firm in the battle.

Here are the steps I use to walk in His victory when an unexplained, strange, or traumatic crisis hits my life.

  1. I pray and fast.  Fasting is like putting turbo busters on my prayers.  (I’m planning a series on fasting next.)
  2. I repent.  I must make sure that no sin is hindering His power in me.  I have to ensure that I did not open the door to the demonic.  Repentance will close any gaping holes in my divine coat of protection.
  3. I clothe myself in His armor.  Ephesians 6:10-18.  I spend hours in His Word until my mind, heart and soul are saturated with His truth.
  4. I listen.  I wait until I hear His voice telling me the demon that is the troublemaker.
  5. I stand bold and firmly planted on His Word and declare aloud, “Get behind me in the name of Jesus.”  This step may take a one time encounter but it may also need to repeated as often as the attacks come.
  6. I believe!  I believe Jesus will do what He promised to do because I am His child who He will always protect.

I want Satan and his demons to look at me and say, “I know Jesus and I know who you are.  I see that seal on your forehead and you’re wearing the royal robes of His Kingdom.  That sword in your hand tells me I don’t have a chance.  So I’m out of here!”

Repentance is a Gift

I decided before moving on to the next step in this series of dealing with stress,  I would share this page from my book, In the Garden. 

 

I am passionate for His holiness.  I see a breakdown in our churches in the area of teaching true repentance for the believer.  Maybe this will help as the Spirit of God convicts our hearts as we read His Word.

Steps to true repentance:

1 John 1:8  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

Father, I admit to you that ____________ is a sin in Your sight.  I will no longer make excuses.

Psalm 51:4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

I see now that this is a vile, rebellious act against Your holiness.

2 Corinthians 7:10  Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

Father, open my heart to see this sin from Your perspective, help me to see the pain Jesus endured with this sin on the cross, let me know the ugliness of it so that I will want to vomit it out and never return to it.

 

Matthew 5:30  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Show me those things in my life that have led me into this sin.  Show me the thought processes, habits, friends, media, addictions, whatever it may be that I have to cut from my life.

 

Revelation 2:5a  Remember the height from which you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first.

            Father, I renounce all these things in my life and with Your strength and guidance I choose this day to start anew.  Keep me in Your Word and on my knees in prayer.  Open my ears to hear Your voice and give me a heart to obey immediately.  Pick me up when I stumble and put me on the path again.

 

Matthew 5:23-24  “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

            Show me all relationships and persons that this sin has harmed.  Guide me to ask forgiveness from them and to make restitution and reconciliation that will bring healing and glory to Your name.

 

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

            Thank you, Precious Lord for Your grace that frees me from the guilt and shame of this sin.  Thank You for Your blood that washes me white as snow.  Thank You…

Because God said So!

Think Pink! is the name of a game I used to play with my students when I taught gifted education.  It was designed to even the conversation field.  In every group there are always those who monopolize the conversation and those who say nothing.

The game is played by each student receiving three pink cards, three blue cards, and three brown cards. The students had to use every card within the class session.  The cards secured two minutes of uninterrupted floor time which allowed everyone equal opportunity to share insights on the given discussion topic.

If they used a pink card, they began their sentence with “I think…”  Blue was for statements beginning with, “I know…” and brown was for those times when they wanted to say, “I feel…”

Are you one of those people who love to talk?  They visit my front porch often.  I have noticed that when they are sharing their problems, their sentences mostly start with ‘I think’ and ‘I feel’.  These are the pink and brown people.

But many of my visitors don’t even know what they think or feel.  They are overwhelmed to silence.  While others are totally pink people or draining brown people.

One thing is true when we are in a crisis; most of us aren’t blue people.  We could never use our blue cards because we haven’t an ounce of truth to share.  You see, Jesus is the Truth and He sets us free.  So the goal of our conversation is to find the truth and speak it so that we will be free from the crisis.

With this in mind, let’s move on to Part 3 of our Checklist.  In Part 1, we stated the problem and put it into perspective.  Part 2 had us reaffirm our salvation and who we are in Christ so that we could enter into His Presence.

When you stand before His Holiness, that is the place of complete honesty.  So take your time in answering the following questions.

Do you really want to be healed, restored, rescued or whatever fulfills your need?  In other words, are you asking for deliverance but purposely holding on to the offense?

Are you willing for Him to do this His way no matter what the cost?

Could you want to hold onto this thing because it is your comfort zone?

Because you like the attention you receive?

Or because you are terrified of life without it?

What if God said no and that you must continue to suffer?

How would you feel toward God?

What is your motive for wanting God to heal or release you?

This question is very important.  Why do you do what you do and want what you want?

I challenge you for one day to search for your motive behind every thought, word, or action.  Record these and you will most likely discover some hidden strongholds. (Example: I want to regularly call my children because I’m fearful something horrible has happened to them.  Motive: fear and lack of trust in God’s protection.)

There is only one right motivation for a believer.  Most motivations are rooted in sin.

Some examples:

I want healed because I hate pain.

I want free because I have plans for my life.

I want rescued because I don’t want others to see me like this.

Is there sin in your life that has caused this crisis?

Unfortunately for most when we are in a crisis, we can’t see our own sin.  We can’t see past our emotions and pain.  So let me help you out here.

Commit to spend time alone in the Word.  This will take more than a few minutes each day.  So block out some time and turn off your phone.

Begin by praying something like this,

 

Holy Spirit of God, open my eyes, mind, and heart so that I can see the sin in my life.  Search me, O Lord and show me any vile and blasphemous thing.  Do not leave any wicked word, thought, action, or deed hidden.  Create in me a clean heart.

 

Then begin to read His Word allowing the Spirit to convict you of anything that is sin before His Holiness.  These passages are helpful to cleansing.

Matthew 5-7

Ephesians 4:17-6:18

Colossians 3:1-4:6

James

1 John

This step in healing is to get to the truth of the situation.  It is imperative that we uncover all lies and deceits.

So play Think Pink! with me but throw away the pink and brown cards.  Take as many blue cards as you need.  Record all the ‘I know…’ statements that come to your mind.

Now match each statement with a scripture passage that confirms it.

If there is no direct match then consider the fact that you have believed a lie.

Use His Word (and a godly mentor if needed) to find a truth that will counteract each lie.

Daily pray that truth until you can say with assurance,

I know this is true because my God said so.”

Enter in, Child

Our family has been through many struggles.  Some people look at us and say, “How do you stay sane?”  While others offer this response, “That’s nothing to what I face everyday.”  And they are right.

Do you ever wonder why some families just seem to have the most difficult challenges?  Birth defects, cancers, financial failures, and persecutions are the norm for some.  Consider Naomi.  Her family endured near starvation in a famine, lost their livelihood, and fled to a foreign land to live among pagans.

We are not told if they suffered persecution at the hands of the Moabites but we do know her two sons took wives from these forbidden people.   Moms who see their children marrying an unbeliever know this pain all too well.

Before Naomi could know the joy of being a Gramma, she knew the heartache of losing her husband and both sons in death.  Each death would shatter a broken heart into unfixable pieces.  Three is more than I could imagine enduring.

The pagan nation had nothing to offer so she returned to her homeland, widowed and childless.  One bright spot in all her darkness is Ruth, the daughter-in-law that sticks to her side.  Together they are poor but at least they are together.

We know the story ends well for Naomi.  Her void and barren life is filled to overflowing when that Grandson Obed is placed in her arms.  (I now know how she felt.  A baby changes everything.)

But some believers don’t seem to ever get the happy ending on this earth.  Why?

That’s a question only God can answer to each individual heart.  I don’t have the wisdom to give such answers. But I can direct you to the One who not only has the answers but He has everything a hurting soul needs.  These few weeks are designed to guide our thinking through a process that ultimately will lead us to Him.

Last week you were asked to record a struggle that is stealing your joy, peace, and power.  When I first started writing this series, Mike had just been diagnosed with melanoma.  There is something about having the word cancer enter your home that causes a quake of emotions.

I had to settle the issue of how I felt about God in all this.  Had He let us down?  What did we expect from Him and what would we do if He refused our desire for complete healing?

Then like I asked you to do, I plotted our current crisis on the line graph.  I never want to belittle anyone who is suffering with the hideous cancer disease.  But somehow, when I looked at it against the suffering of Jesus, it paled in comparison.

I remembered the time years ago when my doctor spoke the dreaded cancer diagnosis to me.  Tears flowed freely as I thought of not seeing my children marry or holding my future grandbabies.

But then I saw anew His Crucifixion and Resurrection.  I knew then if I were taken off this earth, I would witness their weddings and births from Heaven’s Vantage Point.  This perspective would be free of human sin and deception.  I actually began to long for glory and to experience new life in this ultimate perfection.

I yielded to Him then.  We yielded to Him again with this new season of cancer.  We are now ready to move on.  The next step is to enter His Presence where we can see His glory and know His will.

Go with me there.  Only those with clean hands and pure hearts can enter in.  His children who have been made righteous by the blood can boldly approach the Throne Room.

Write your testimony. 

Who is Jesus to you?

Where do you stand with Him?

How and when did this conversion happen?

It is vitally important to know we are His Children.  Imagine approaching the Queen of England.  You are asked to give your name to be announced.  We Americans would answer something like, “Shelia Jones of Morristown AZ.”  She would respond, “Who?”  I don’t imagine I would get very near to her even if I told her that 32 years ago in Scotland I was given the privilege of wearing Queen Victoria’s robe at Gleneagles Castle.  She would still say, “Who are you?”   She has the right to forbid me entrance for I am not one of her subjects.

I find it is always helpful to regularly review my redemption from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light.  While we are reviewing our past with Jesus, let’s answer a few other questions.  This is going to help you build history with the Lord.  In building history, you build faith for the future.

Who has God been to you in the past?  List names like Storm Calmer, Healer, Best Friend, Comforter, etc.  As you list these names, give a brief description of a time He showed Himself true to that name.

Who are you to God?  List names like His child, co-heir with Jesus, His beloved, etc.

It would be helpful if you could record a scripture passage that proves these promises true to your life.

Use these names and spend time in prayer.  This guide can help…

Father, You are my….

 

You have been faithful in my past to…

 

I am….

 

I stand in awe that I can enter into Your Presence.  It amazes me that when my name is called, You will say, “Enter in, my child.”  I am humbled that You will hear my heart’s cry.  All this is possible by the precious blood of Jesus.  Bless you Lord. 

How to Untangle Spaghetti

I have never been a risk taker but I have been a list maker.

I have been teased countless times for my need for a plan and my desire to see the whole picture in some kind of order.  I need details and I like structure.

“Why don’t you just live in the moment.  Let loose and take a risk!”

I have berated myself for being myself.  I try to imagine what it would be like to be a sanguine, party-loving, risk taker.  Did God make us with these different personality types or did we make ourselves this way?  I don’t have an answer for that but I do have some encouragement for others like me.

Our gift can be used to help others…even the sanguines we sometimes envy.

My lists can be teaching tools!

Yesterday I wrote a four-page list of ways I do not yet reflect the image of Christ in my daily life plus ways to die to these selfish traits to become more Christlike.

After I finished that list, I wrote another one entitled, “How to pray when you can’t pray.”  It consists of reasons why we sometimes just can’t seem to pray plus ways to overcome these struggles.

As I was writing these, it occurred to me that throughout my life I have created multiple lists that could be a help to others.  God gifted me to see things in an orderly detailed outline that can be easily conveyed to others in a structured lesson.

So for those of you who make fun of list makers, I think you should now repent! 😉

Since we have been using these Wednesday posts to discuss dealing with stressful situations in our life struggles, I made yet another list.  These next few weeks, I will take you through this outline that I use and I share with those I mentor.

I would love to have a few volunteers to take this journey with me.  If you are willing to participate, then would you also be willing to send me feedback?  My email is: SJonesAZ@aol.com for those who want to keep your comments confidential.

The reason we often can’t overcome strongholds and struggles is because we can’t seem to get a handle on what the thing really is.  Our lives can become like bowls of spaghetti.  There is a secret to uncurling the mess.  This is where a structured mind operating in a persistent orderly format can straighten those wobbly noodles and make sense of the mess.

Here we go.  If you have some chaos, give this a try.  If you are in a blessed, peaceful season, then save this for a future struggle.   For no doubt, they come to us all.

Start a journal.  This is a great tool to controlling and organizing your mind.  Only you will read it, so be honest.  Remember, God already knows the truth.  You haven’t fooled Him and you never will.

Checklist for dealing with stress:

Part 1

Write a description of your problem answering the following sets of questions:

  • How did it begin?
  • For how long has it been a stressful situation?
  • Who is involved?
  • Why is it so painful?

Now answer these questions about your expectations.

  1. What have you expected God to do and what He has not done?
  2. How does this make you feel toward God and toward the problem?
  3. What do you want God to do for you?  Why?
  4. What do you see as the end result if God does what you expect?
  5. What do you see as the end result if God does NOT do what you expect?

Make a perspective graph.

1—————————————————————————————————–10

1 being “all is well” and 10 represents “the suffering of Jesus when He took all our sin on His body, endured the physical pain of scourging and crucifixion PLUS the separation from His Father.”  (I have never been able to imagine any suffering greater than His.)

Plot the following on this line graph:  Consider in each situation the physical pain, mental strain, and emotional stress.  You may want to use a few other examples from scriptures.  Take your time and first imagine yourself in each scenario before selecting a number on the graph.

David’s injustice by King Saul                                 Stephen’s stoning

David’s betrayal by son Absalom                            Paul’s beatings

Esther’s night with King (rape)                              John at Patmos (isolation)

Jacob tricked by Laban (unwanted marriage)      Job’s diseases

Job’s children dying                                                  Job’s wealth destroyed

Abraham at Sarah’s death                                       Joseph sold by brothers

Joseph in prison (injustice)                                     Naomi at death of husband/sons

Hosea at wife’s unfaithfulness                                3 men thrown in fiery furnace

Hannah enduring verbal abuse                              Jeremiah hated for his message

Daniel in lions den                                                    Job when friends accused him

Elijah threatened by Jezebel                                   Jonah thrown overboard

Malcah upon David’s return with wives and children (broken hearted)

David and men when all they had was stolen including their families

I would love to be sitting next to you as you do this activity.  I would also love to see your final answers.  Maybe you could send me your list. (Example…Joseph sold into slavery—4; Elijah threatened by Jezebel—6.)  Don’t ignore this.  It is helpful to take our focus off ourselves and consider the trials of others.  We are never the only ones to suffer.

The final step is for you to plot your problem on the line graph considering your own strain, pain and stress.   Remember, this is your perspective, so there is NO wrong answer.

That’s it for this week.

Father, use our honesty to help us see clearly.  Right now, we feel great pain.  The pain is real and we are drained.  We have fear and dread for what is to come.  We seek Your healing.  Help us to trust You to guide us along this path.  Help us, please.  Amen.

Splashing Overflow

Let’s continue where we left off on Monday.

I hope I don’t over simplify your situation.  My prayer is not to belittle your struggles.

My intent is to give you a starting place: something that may get you out of the pit and on the right path to complete healing.

Step one:  Get out of isolationism.  Seek help.

Help comes from two sources:  Godly prayer support AND reading the Word in the Presence of His Spirit.

Pick up the phone right now and call a friend who is willing to meet together for prayer.  Prayer is the only source of power to victory.  Talking about the devils empowers them.  Praying against them with the Word of God and the power of united prayer chokes the life right out of them.

I also suggest you name them.  In other words, get specific.  You need to know the driving force of the devil before you can know the verse that defeats it.

Ask the Spirit to give you a verse to counteract each of the devils.  Write them down, post them around your house, memorize them, and then use them spoken ALOUD to pull the plug each time the devils raise their ugly heads.

(If you are desperate and can’t remember a verse, just shout the name of Jesus a few times and I promise you, those devils will flee!)

Help comes from the Word of God.  Read it.  Not just a few minutes but for hours each day.  Yes, that will mean turning off the TV, The truth is TV and the things of this world are a great source of fuel for the devils.  Therefore, you have to stop feeding them.

Your heart, soul, and mind needs replenished with the food of Christ.  The more you take in, the fuller you become.   Then when the attacks of life come, they never leave you drained and feeling empty.  A life continuously filling up on the Word is always full to the brim with power and grace.  The result being a joy filled life splashing the overflow to everyone in every situation.

I recommend you study and know all the truths in the book of Ephesians.  Watchman Nee summarizes the book in three words:  Sit, Walk, Stand.  (That is also the title of his commentary on Ephesians.  I highly recommend it.)

Is someone asking, “Why Ephesians?”  I sure hope so because I really want to tell you.  Acts 19 tells us about Paul’s visit to Ephesus which was a pagan capital for all sorts of idolatry.

A great revival erupted after Paul preached faithfully for years and God move mightily through miracles.   Fear seized the people when a battle with evil spirits caused a few men to retreat naked and bleeding.  You see they didn’t know God or His truth therefore they had no power.

Paul wrote the book of Ephesians to the people of Ephesus who had to daily battle the evil influences all around them.  They were immersed in warfare.  Ephesians is the perfect handbook for Spiritual Warfare.  Once a person becomes a believer and burns his past life, it’s then the battle begins.

Paul gave them all they needed to know in this short book.  His prayer in 1:17-21 sums it up beautifully.  I suggest you pray this prayer daily until it is fulfilled in your life.

  • Ask God to give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know HIM better.
  • Pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the:
    • Hope to which He has called you
    • The riches of His glorious inheritance
    • His incomparably great power for us who believe.

That’s it:  Know God more AND know all you are and have been given in Christ.

 

Step two:  Live it.

James 1:22-25 tells us that it isn’t enough to read the Word.  We must do what it says.  We must believe it will do what it says.

This is also evident in Ephesians.  Paul writes the first three chapters encouraging the readers about who we are in Christ.  He then writes chapters 4-6:9 about how to live like we believe it.  He ends chapter six with the Armor of God.  This armor encapsulates all the previous teaching and then commands that we Stand Firm in it.

Sit in high places with Jesus

Walk in His holiness

Stand firm in His truth.

This is the only strategy to victory over the devils of your mind and living a life of overflow.  I choose overflow, how about you?