Unthaw

Such a profound poetic word from my friend Tommy Teoli…

Awe & Wonder

Unthaw

In the cobwebs of cold comfort
my restless soul wrestles
paralysis. Caught between the tension
of shame and the desire—
but seeming inability—
to change.

Winter’s cold clings, no,
seeps into the unseen deep,
stills the dance into a dull dirge,
and I march against the beat,
wearing only a frozen smile
that mocks the very memory
of heat.

Stop. But if I freeze in disbelief,
then I am wasted winter’s bones,
I am death’s gaunt grin
shivering on the cold steps
of regret, and the hope that my failures
have twisted into torment.

Wait. But if I hide beneath
the grim pall, will I become
the dust pallored wraith,
haunted by the mirror
of the man I might have been?

Arise. Awake. I will prevail.
Put on the clothes of Christ
and stoke the effervescent
fire grown pale. Stir the stale
water till—bubbling up—
it overflows the fallow…

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Honor Your Voice

 

We are often told not to trust our thoughts, not to listen to our feelings because both of them can be liars.  And that’s true – they can be liars.  But they can also be accurate.  Simply put, so many of us have completely shut down our ability to hear, sense, see and give a voice to the still, small voice within, out of fear of being false.  We see it as coming from an unreliable source, we see ourselves as that unreliable source. So we ignore, divert and cut off the prophetic flow from our lives.

Stop it!

It’s time to start putting some trust in what God trusts.  He trusts YOU. He gives you the insight into lives and situations, now you need to trust yourself to minister the answer.  Will you get it wrong at times? Yes.  But you will touch more lives by stepping out and trying than you ever would by staying silent.  I’ve been training people in prophetic ministry for many years and the most important, number one thing you need in prophetic ministry isn’t an accurate word – I know it sounds like I’m embarking on heresy, but hang on…

The single most important thing needed in prophetic ministry is love.

 

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 The Message

 

 

Did you catch that?  If you give a word with power and reveal mysteries – many see success in the prophetic as bringing words that are powerful, confirming, and revealing mysteries.    But without love those incredible prophetic words equal nothing.

 

I feel we’ve been fascinated with the wrong thing.  We’re impressed when someone brings a prophetic word full of details and information that is accurate – and that IS amazing. But are we as impressed with simply sensing God’s heart of compassion for someone hurting and then going and ministering His love to them?  Without a trace of human eloquence or angelic ecstasy, just us pouring out His love on another.  I can tell you the times my ministry has had the most impact weren’t the times I called out a name or gave words of knowledge, or said things that only the recipient would know.  The moments I had the greatest impact were the moments that love was front and center.  If love is the biggest thing you carry, you could say “fiddlesticks” and people would be drawn in to the Father – it’s not really about what we say, it’s about carrying something bigger than a word.

If we were honest, most times that we have a sense about someone we tend to ignore it, why?  Because “it’s probably just me”.  But let’s not ignore our thoughts, feelings, and senses anymore.  Let’s trust that He can use them for good.  So go ahead and speak that word of encouragement to your grocery cashier, do look that busy, sleep deprived, stay-home mom in the eyes and tell her how important she is in shaping a generation of world changers—she’s not forgotten, cry with the friend whose marriage just ended and remind her, with God this isn’t how her story ends.

Entertain the thoughts He brings, lean into the feelings He gives, press into the sense He imparts and remember, He trusts you.

 

How to Kick Fear of Letting Go

The whole day seemed rushed, so much to do and not enough hours to do it all.  It was Molly’s graduation day.  I had an unfamiliar excitement; happy but nervous.  Have you been there?  At the crossroads of a brand new adventure but not really wanting to end the adventure you’ve been on?  That was totally me.  Feeling a sense of accomplishment for all the years spent home schooling, to now be at the end and not sure I was ready to be at the end.  Mom’s you know what I’m talking about.  The statement is true…The days are [really] long but the years are short.

I will never forget Dan and I standing side-stage, waiting for the announcer to call our graduates name.  In that moment I caught a glance of Molly standing on the opposite side of the stage in her cap & gown.  Suddenly it was like a movie reel in my mind; flashbacks of her as a baby, birthdays, dance recitals, Christmas Eve excitement, learning to ride a bike, seeing her immediately triggered eighteen years of moments that contained enormous emotion.  I wasn’t ready to let go of this season, it was an amazing season.  And suddenly, I felt frozen.  What I was really feeling was fear.

Have you been frozen in life before?  I had the past by the hand and the future by the other hand.  And for that brief time, I didn’t want to let go of either.  That’s the trademark of fear, it keeps you trapped and stuck in time.

That is the cruel and beautiful thing about life, it’s constant.  The future is moving rapidly forward and the past is moving just as fast in the opposite direction.  Holding hands with both at the same time will rip you a part.  Life requires we choose one; stay in the past trying to revive days gone by or release it in exchange for the unknown.  Neither offers a fear-free choice.  We have a hard time trusting anything, unless we can see it first.

 

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

 

But it’s only when we decide to stop holding hands with yesterday that we show up, completely and wholly in our future.  It’s okay to feel sadness that a season has ended.  Its proof that you were present, you were grateful and you loved.  That is something to celebrate.  But do celebrate, recall the goodness of God, and testify of His faithfulness. In doing so, you are building your faith for the future.  What He has done, He will do again.  The landscape of our lives won’t look like it does today, we may be older, our children may be older, life will be different but life will be beautifully new – He WILL do it again.

 

 

Free & Empowered is the Truest “You”

At a young age I knew I wanted to give my life to expanding the kingdom.  But what that would look like as a female?  I grew up in church and only recall seeing women work the nursery, teach the children, play the piano and lead women’s ministry.  Don’t misunderstand me here, there was nothing “little” about any of those things.  Each one of those places gave unique opportunity to minister and give life.  I served in many of those areas and was content to do it.  But there was always this gnawing deep inside for more, but what?

 

One Sunday night when I was 12 years old, tucked away in a tiny country church in North Carolina, I had an encounter with God that forever marked my life.  You see, I was painfully shy.  I wanted so desperately to break out of my own personality but didn’t know how or if it was even possible.  The pastor gave an invitation to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And even though I felt like I would have a panic attack if I stepped out in front of the handful of people present to walk down the aisle to the front of the church – I knew I just had to do it.

 

I remember it like it was yesterday. Standing there with my hands out in front of me, the pastor walked over to me and told me to stay in worship and ready to receive the Holy Spirit.  I began to thank God for the gift He had for me, and in that place of surrender I began to pray in my heavenly language.  I was undone.  I couldn’t wait to get home, shut my bedroom door and pray in the spirit.

 

When I prayed in the spirit I could literally feel this tremendous sense of empowerment come over me.

 

  Of course, at twelve years old, I had no idea what empowerment was.  All I knew was that after I began to pray, I felt anything was possible in my life.  That encounter sparked something within me.  I knew my life wasn’t going to be ordinary.  Even though I had spent a great deal of my short life trying to avoid people and at the same time, I held their opinions of me higher than my own.  I knew that wasn’t the real me.

 

Have you ever felt there is someone much bigger within you just waiting to emerge? 

 

Well there is.  A life that stays hungry for the “more” of God is a life in constant forward motion.  I see it like a bubbling, rushing river.  There is constant flow and life within the desire for more of Him.  The opposite would be that still, swampy, standing water.  You know what I’m talking about, the kind that usually forms that nasty overlay of algae?  Because of the lack of life, the lack of motion, it gives permission for other things to grow and eventually take over.

When we stay empowered, we stay aware and focused on the bigger thing God wants to do in us and through us.  When did you last feel empowered?  Go back to the moment and pick up where you left off because I assure you, God hasn’t changed His mind about  you.

Forgetting Yesterday For the Sake of Tomorrow

Can we really release expectations and outcomes to the Lord?  Is it possible to walk into new experiences totally trusting He has the best in store for us?  Can we allow God to work in ways we have not seen yet?  The increase that is waiting for us depends on it.

“He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’” Luke 5:36-39

Here, Jesus was teaching that you cannot take an old shirt and try to repair it with new fabric because after a while, it will tear again because it’s not designed to hold the new fabric to the old.  Both fabrics have different textures, they’ve had different experiences.

We cannot allow our experience yesterday to hold us back from what He wants to do today.

Jesus is saying, when you get ready for something new, you have to be careful that you don’t try to attach it to something old, resulting in ruining the integrity of both.

You are at an incredible time in your journey. To advance beyond where you are, letting go of the “old” is vital to your growth. For each of us, our “old” represents something relevant to us.  An old mindset of lack, unbelief, or perhaps an old expectation cycle of disappointment or deferred hope. To receive the more of God will require transition on our part to capture and hold the new wine, His living presence in our lives. He has storehouses for you but without a new wineskin in your life, a container to hold the increase, it would all fall to the ground and be lost.

In 2005 we moved back to Greensboro, NC to plant Center City Church. It didn’t take me long to realize I had an old wineskin that wasn’t serving the dream He had given us for this church. The spirit of God was stirring within us to experience more but my container (mindset) couldn’t comprehend or adapt. I had an old wineskin (structure) that wasn’t able to expand as His presence (new wine) invaded.  I had a decision to make; keep the wineskin and waste the new wine or trust God for a new wineskin that would hold the new. The latter seems like a much scarier place to be in the moment.

In the passage from Luke, Jesus taught that you wouldn’t take new wine and put it in something that was inflexible knowing of the changes it had to go through.  The old wineskins lack the flexibility to make the adjustments and adapt to the growth process of the wine.

At times we put our trust in the wrong things. We put our trust in history and the mentality that if it hasn’t happened yet it probably won’t. We have more faith in history repeating itself rather than a God that says He makes all things NEW.  We’ve developed a level of comfort inside the old, growth inhibiting wineskin, but He has an upgrade for you today.  It’s time we ask Him for a new picture of our future without attaching it to an old mindset that constricts possibility.

Ask yourself: What must I let go of in order to receive the new wine, the new thing God will pour out in my life?  Is it self-protection, is it fear of rejection, pride, shame? Ask Him to show you.

Let’s give God permission to give us a whole new experience with Him, as we learn to honor the wine He’s releasing into our lives, His glorious presence.  We acknowledge our need to make room in our lives for His increase.  God, we welcome the new things being placed in our hands.  Give us hearts that embrace the new and feet that don’t run from it.

Am I Overpowered by Strength?

The gateway to supernatural strength requires a degree of human weakness. I know that might not sound exciting but stick with me for a few minutes!  I feel like a lot of us see any kind of weakness as something negative and uncomfortable.  Especially in our particular stream of church culture; when weakness is mentioned it can carry negative vibes with it.  After all, we are the “power people” we are those that believe all things are possible through a powerful God who empowers us to bring His Kingdom here.

 

And all things are possible; He does empower us.  I’m not talking about powerlessness.

 

 What if I told you that it was impossible to bring His Kingdom in power, lacking nothing without passing through the gateway of human weakness?  Paul writes

“ but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (AMP)

“…“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness…” .2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV)

“Perfect” means fulfilled, accomplished, completed, and finished. It’s the same term Jesus spoke as His final word on the cross; tetelestai which means, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

The strength of God comes to us via the gateway of human weakness.  We hate to appear weak, right?  We are uncomfortable with weakness and will do whatever it takes to avoid it.  After my sister had her first baby she signed up for a cardio class and asked me to attend it with her.  To be honest, I felt this cardio class was going to be a piece of cake for me (see my humility hereJ) seeing that I was already working out on a consistent basis.  But to offer my support, I told her I would go with her.  It was the first class and not ten minutes into the work out I thought I was going to die!  I couldn’t breathe, my heart was pounding at a speed at which I had never experienced.  As I glanced over the room and saw ladies in there twice my age along with my post-partum sister all having no trouble keeping up with the pace; I became embarrassed over my obvious inability to do the work out.  I quickly ran out of the room in a mad dash to the ladies room, stumbled inside and leaned up against the wall as I slid onto the floor trying to not pass out!  After several minutes my sister came in the bathroom looking for me.  I told her I couldn’t do it but gave her specific instructions to TELL NO ONE.  I made plans to sneak out to my car, telling my sister to let everyone know that something came up and I had to leave; but to NOT tell them I couldn’t do the work-out! And I never went back again 🙂

 

We set our lives up to AVOID weakness.  We do everything we can to escape it, control it, whatever we must do to keep it from happening to us.  Why? Because we hate appearing weak.  In order for us to operate in the “it is finished” and “lacking nothing” realm, we must move into releasing our weakness to Him.  Because it’s in that place where He will perfect it.  What does that look like? Paul had the revelation of being able to delight in His weakness. Be happy about weakness?

I see it as delighting that our weakness, once it’s placed in God’s hands, becomes supernatural strength for us.

But why do we even have to experience weakness at all?

In Mark 4:17 it says:

“and they have no real root in themselves, so they endure only for a little while; then, when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately they [are offended and displeased at being associated with Me and] stumble and fall away.” (AMP)

The word spoken over our lives will actually attract trials – because of the word. If there is no root system or real anchor within us, troubles and trials will only serve to trip us up and cause offense to fester within us. Offense left unchecked leads to a stronghold of bitterness. But we are given the privilege of choosing to place weakness and trials in His hands, knowing those things released to Him are transformed into strength within us.  God always gives upgrade!  So how do we start?

Here are five steps to hop on the fast track to living a life of supernatural strength and empowerment:

  • Stand still! Stop avoiding and trying to escape weakness.
  • Humble yourself and release weakness to Him.
  • Practice accountability.
  • Confide in someone you trust, a person that sees the gold within you and is dedicated to seeing God’s best unfold in your life.
  • Do something (even if it’s a small thing) that challenges you; do something that doesn’t always come easy for you.

In the middle of our mess, if we hand over our place of weakness and setback to Him, He will turn it into our greatest strength. Let it be the thing that He receives the most glory for in our lives. Wherever we have experienced weakness, it’s an invitation for our future testimony.

Declare:  When I embrace what God has said in His WORD, I respond to weakness as a son or daughter who walks in great authority. I believe that as I allow my heart to be influenced by breakthrough, disappointment stays far from me.  He is turning my weakness into strength and my disappointment into opportunity.

 

 

 

What Happened to My Promise?

Have you ever received prophetic words or promises over your life and it feels like the opposite begins to take place?

Then Jesus was led by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After He had gone without food for forty days and forty nights, He became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:1-4 (AMP)

When Satan presents Him with this statement “If you are the son of God command this stone to become bread”.  Those words are in direct opposition to the word spoken over His life.  What were the very last words that Jesus heard from the Father before this opposition?   

and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased and delighted!” Matthew 3:17 (AMP)

His promise was “You are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” but His opposition was “IF you are the Son of God” the questioning and harassment regarding His identity.

In Matthew 13 of the parable of the seed and sower, Jesus says “when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word”.  The word of the Lord spoken over you must be tested.  It’s not that you’ve done something wrong, but you don’t know the power of the word until it has come under opposition and it’s then you see the strength of the word arise.

I love receiving words, but staying in the mode of only receiving and never stepping into actually engaging with the truth of the word spoken over us will mean it remains only just a word.  It’s inside the opposition to the word that the strength and power of that word arises within us.  

It’s only then that it goes from a good promise spoken over us, to truth within us.

A few weeks ago my two youngest children both had an incredible week of school, they applied themselves, worked really hard and kept great attitudes.  They didn’t know they were “working” for a prize because I didn’t promise one to them.  But at the end of the week I took them both to Target and let them pick out a small toy as a reward.  They didn’t know I was going to reward them until they had already made the choice to apply themselves in school.  Can God just give us something? Sure He can. But a reward is given when a choice has been made.

When we walk through opposition to a word spoken over our life and choose to believe in the faithfulness of God even if our lives are falling apart; that is when the strength of the word is revealed.  

For years, I was given word after word about breaking chains of hopelessness over regions and bringing life to dead things.  But then I find myself in a deep depression unable to even get out of the bed?  Did all those people “miss it”?  Was I just not strong enough to arise as the warrior that had been prophesied?

My promise: I would be one that breaks hopelessness

My opposition: I’m depressed

The word must override the opposition. If you cannot navigate through the opposition, through the discouragement and disappointment, you cannot come into what He has promised you.

The words we are given are meant to call us INTO our potential

The word itself creates a choice for us.  Just like with my two children, they had a choice and because of the choice they made, a reward was given.  He desires to build something strong in you that will be able to carry the blessing He has for you.  He works within you so you can live out His blessing.

So if you are at a place in your life where you’re feeling the opposite happen to what you know the word of Lord is over your life, it’s because He is preparing you to shoulder the heavy blessing that is coming.  

Stay the course.  Review the word, meditate on the promises you’ve been given.  I declare that the truth of the Lord is stronger than any opposition and you WILL SEE His promises fulfilled in your life.

What Time Is It?

As you read the following scripture, think about it in the context of your life…

 

“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;

 A time to cast away stones,
    And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;
 A time to love,
    And a time to hate;
A time of war,
    And a time of peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NKJV)

 

This scripture has become reality to me over the past four months.  There really IS a season for every single thing. Before the Thanksgiving holiday we moved out of our home of eleven years.   It was the house we brought our youngest two babies home from the hospital to.  At the time we moved in we had just two children; our two oldest girls, Molly and Sydney were three and six years old. What a rollercoaster of emotion it was to sell and move! The day we said goodbye to our house I felt as though my heart was being ripped out of my chest, I wasn’t prepared for the raw emotion that came. I wasn’t ready to let that season become a memory.  But yet there was a season, a time set a part for me to walk through that transition.  Then the holidays were upon us and everything felt so strange and out of sorts for me. I was in a different house and things were just…well, different.  I was adjusting to a new season and it was uncomfortable and new.

 

Last night I placed an order for Molly’s (our firstborn) cap & gown for her high school graduation.  Yet again, my heart ached. I mean, I’m so proud of her and seeing her become the incredible young woman that she is has been one of the most humbling joys of my motherhood journey.  I guess I just don’t want to think of this season as coming to a close. But things ARE changing, the season of yesterday is over and I’m not so sure I want the new season.

 

Did I do everything I could have done in the last season?  Did I miss opportunities?  

Do I have regrets? Sure I do.  

But did I grow?  Sure I did.  

Am I transformed from where I began?  Sure I am.

 

Sometimes I’m convinced we aren’t sure what we want.  We yearn for the new season, the hope of new beginnings and the beautiful surrender of the unknown but still desire the comfortable ease of what is familiar.  But thing is, to enter that new place we must exit the current season.  We can set ourselves up to believe a lie that has circulated in our Christian circles for decades and that being when a season is sent from the Lord it’s seamless and something that flows without pain or apprehension.  But actually, speaking as someone that has walked many final curtain calls of previous seasons, I think a more accurate description of “season” would be growth.  

 

Growth can be exhilarating. Standing on the edge of what could be.  But let’s be honest, growth is mostly a whole lot of hard work. And the reward for that hard work?  Another new season. The Lord takes us into a place where we have another opportunity to partner with Him for upgrade in our lives.  That upgrade doesn’t come without lessons, pain and breakthrough. But our new wineskin must expand and be stretched to house the new wine. And once again, there we are, a brand new trail of growth being pioneered in our life.  

I’ve been challenged these past few days to change my outlook on His seasons.  I’m choosing to see the exiting season as one I’m full of gratitude for, even the places where the growth felt as though it was killing me. Even the areas where I fell short.  When the difficult seasons end, what if we didn’t have the ‘I can’t get out of this season fast enough’ attitude, but instead we recalled the lessons learned, battles won, and ground taken?  

Let’s remember, all of what happened back there was a prerequisite to our new season.

My prayer is that you will embrace your current season and respond to it in freedom and love.  Because you are His, you don’t have to fear the unfamiliar, your life overflows with courage and thankfulness for what has been and for what is to come.  Lean in and respond.

What Is It All For?

“I hate life. As far as I can see, what happens on earth is a bad business. It’s smoke—and spitting into the wind.

And I hated everything I’d accomplished and accumulated on this earth. I can’t take it with me—no, I have to leave it to whoever comes after me. Whether they’re worthy or worthless—and who’s to tell?—they’ll take over the earthly results of my intense thinking and hard work. Smoke.

That’s when I called it quits, gave up on anything that could be hoped for on this earth. What’s the point of working your fingers to the bone if you hand over what you worked for to someone who never lifted a finger for it? Smoke, that’s what it is. A bad business from start to finish. So what do you get from a life of hard labor? Pain and grief from dawn to dusk. Never a decent night’s rest. Nothing but smoke” Ecclesiastes 2:17-23 (The Message)

Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes near the end of his life. There is something really saddening and bitter about his perspective. You can hear this wise, wealthy man searching for the meaning of life.

How did this happen?

How did this man that did so much for God end up like this?  He wrote Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes. He built the temple. He had wisdom that astonished a generation and wealth that surpassed that.

As I studied Solomon’s life today, I saw a man that had no real connection to the presence of God.  Yes, he did a lot for God. He knew a lot about God. But he wasn’t connected to the heart of God.  The evidence of a man immersed in the presence was lacking in his life.  As I read, I was arrested by the sense I have lived portions of this story out in my own life. Have you ever asked yourself, “What’s it all for?” I sure haveI have been in some of the most fulfilling weeks of ministry and have asked myself that question. I’ve also been in some of the hardest weeks I’ve ever experienced in ministry and asked myself the same question.

What Is It All For?

David was Solomon’s dad. In 1 Kings 2:3-4 David’s words of wisdom to his son weren’t to just “obey God” – He told him to walk with God. He told him to not only seek after obedience, just merely learning the right things to do and then doing it like a robot. But rather, he told Solomon to seek His presence, seek His heart, to seek connection with the Lord. David had a heart for God, an intimate connection to the Father. David was the standard by which all other kings were measured. Even with all of David’s flaws, he knew how to keep the main thing, the main thing.  I can see why David was so intentional on imparting this to his son.

I can identify with both David and Solomon.  I identify with David because I know that place of being connected to the Father, that place of security and endless hope.  In that place, I don’t have to be reminded of the vision or why I’m doing what I’m doing, I don’t have to be reminded of the main thing.  In the presence, everything is made clearer and if I stay connected to His heart, I have no doubts or hesitations of what He’s called me to do.  On the other hand, I can identify with Solomon because I’ve been in those seasons with the Lord where I felt as though my connection to Him was distant. I have described it to feel like an “intellectual relationship”. Those times when I’m not seeking the presence as much as I’m seeking answers, or a message, or biblical understanding. Without fail, when I find myself in this place, my thoughts and words are confused about the future and lacking hope for the present.

Pursuing truth should never be in exchange of an intimate connection with Father God, truth flows out of connection.

I heard Kris Vallotton say “vision gives pain a purpose” meaning, I can go through whatever trial, disappointment or setback because I know what is ultimately at stake.  In other words, I can put up with pain in the present moment because I can see the purpose beyond the here and now.  What if I told you that God’s one desire, His one vision, the main thing for your life was for you to be intimately connected to Him? That your life should be more familiar with His presence than any other thing.  And, if that connection isn’t there, no matter what comes your way, your life will be off-kilter.

I see Solomon’s life, the wisest, wealthiest man – and at the end of his life he doesn’t see what it was all for.  What a tragedy.

I’m sensing we’re in a season of invitation to His presence like never before.

I so feel the Father’s heart pulling us into a place of deeper connection with Him.  There is too much ahead of you, don’t give up because it may be hard right now. Instead, sink lower into His arms of embrace and listen for His heart.  What is it all for?  It’s for connection that only comes in His presence.

Not Today, Depression

“You were created for whatever storm you face because you are bigger than the storm, therefore the storm ceases. It’s time to ask God “what is the promise in this storm?” And take that revelation of who you are and walk over the very thing that tried to sink you”

Those were the words I closed my message with that summer Sunday morning. The moment I released that prophetic word, I felt the life-giving presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. I love the presence of Jesus and I’m amazed and humbled I get to spend my life inviting others to experience His presence.  That day people responded to the invitation at the close of the service and the teams ministered.  I prayed for a few people then quickly headed to my office, shut the door and laid down on the couch.  I had just come out of a room where the spirit of God was so real, so transforming, and so alive…but something was wrong inside of me.

Let me pause for just a moment to say, over time, I’ve talked quite openly about my journey through depression. I’ve experienced the affirming love of God that washes over, wave after wave.  Inside the waves I found healing, strength, joy, and grace – lots of grace.  I have total freedom in sharing my story because I believe my breakthrough is your breakthrough. My testimony releases the Holy Spirit to bring freedom over and over in the lives of others.

So, back to the couch that Sunday afternoon…

I wasn’t naïve to what was going on. I had experienced those same feelings before, three years before. I didn’t want to believe it.  Maybe I’m just a little overwhelmed, right?  Wife, Home school mom of four, full-time pastor, overseer of a ministry school. We had just moved our church into a new building after 14 months in a temporary setting. There were expectations from people; if I failed to meet the expectations, I beat myself up and couldn’t sleep for days. Maybe I’m just feeling the weight of it all?  Maybe my boundary lines had become invisible and I was overworked?  This happened to be the re-opening year for the ministry school and my first time leading it by myself, I could just be anxious?  As I lay there trying to convince myself of what I knew wasn’t correct, all I could do was cry uncontrollably.  I felt like an impostor. I had just told our congregation they were bigger than their storm and I actually believed every word I told them as truth, but why does this feel so overwhelming? Why do I feel so much pain?  I just wanted the pain gone.

 

I went home that day and got in bed, I barely left my bed for days. I’ve heard how some people descend into depression like an airplane making a smooth landing, others drop from a 10,000 foot altitude and crash land – that was me.  The thought of dealing with the depression was exhausting; it felt like I was being asked to swim around the world, it felt impossible.

I’ve been in church my whole life, I love the church. Even though she’s incredibly flawed, she’s still God’s best solution for world transformation. But being depressed AND being a pastor?  Depression has a stigma in church among Christians.  I had learned through observation that there are only certain people that have depression in church; those that don’t know how to take thoughts captive, have sin issues, allow their feelings to dictate their life or they just don’t know how to receive healing.  The feeling of the deep agony was so tangible.  If you’ve ever suffered with depression, you know what I mean

I so desperately wanted God to “zap” me, heal me, set me free and please do it by Sunday!  Can He do it?  Yes, absolutely yes.

I had witnessed someone firsthand set free from years of depression instantly.  Just like he can heal cancer or any disease in just a moment, I had the faith He could do the same for depression. But that wasn’t my experience.

During those days, I read the Psalms over and over. They were life to me. You might be amused to hear that!  After all, logically the Psalms probably wouldn’t be a “go to” book of the Bible for relief from depression, am I right?  Sounds crazy, but truly, it was feeding something deep within me.  David’s worship leader, Asaph, was the director of worship and held that position for about 40 years. During that time he saw and experienced all the seasons of David’s life, the tragedies, the highs and the lows. He was very close to David and saw firsthand, the good, bad, and ugly.   In one season, he’s grieving over David’s death and then in the next he’s rejoicing with Israel over the temple being constructed by Solomon, David’s son.  He celebrated Solomon’s reign but then went through the devastation of Solomon walking away from God.  He witnessed Israel being torn apart and the temple invaded by the Egyptians. It was pretty obvious Asaph had many opportunities to wrestle with some demons of despair.  Asaph was a man that had seen the best and worst aspects of life and he was a “feeler” he allowed himself to stop and feel the enormity of the pain.  That is confirmed in his writing.  Asaph is described as a “seer” he was prophetic

I think it’s important to note that many “seers” are deeply connected and moved by what they sense and if not kept in check, we can carry concerns that aren’t ours to shoulder. Those concerns can easily turn into feelings of hopelessness.

In Psalm 77 Asaph pours out his heart to God, giving us a glimpse into what the rawness of disappointment and agony look like when they are REDEEMED. Remember, God always redeems.  Here in this passage he’s so very real and isn’t trying to hide.

Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah

10 And I said, “This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.” Psalm 77:7-11

 

I can relate to Asaph, I’m sure a lot of us can.  He lived life, he loved the people in his life and couldn’t control life or the situations that arose.  As prophetic people, it’s crucial that we come back to the place of realizing that ultimately, WE ARE responsible for our own heart health. The Word says that repeated disappointment will make our heart sick.  You’ve heard it said, the enemy battles us most in the area of our greatest calling. He battled with Asaph over disappointment. After so much despair, it’s hard to keep seeing and speaking hope.

I have to imagine that after all that, Asaph was probably burnt out.  I didn’t realize that “burn out” was an actual medical condition.  Through my doctor, I learned it was the instigator behind my own depression. My expectations and others’ expectations of me had created an insurmountable bar set so high I would die trying to meet.  I’m skipping over a lot of my story but I will write more on this again soon.  I drew a great deal of strength from this passage during my season of trial. Here is the gold I came away with that I still practice today:

  • I stood still.

 

  • I allowed myself to feel the agony and didn’t run from it.

 

  • I remembered His goodness, recalled His miracles and rehearsed His ways.

I laid down my resentment toward God (being real here) for even struggling with depression in the first place, and my healing began.

When I have a day where I feel those feelings creeping in, I start at #1 and go through #3, then repeat.  Because, I’m not giving you a foot in the door today, depression – not today.