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.

 

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Did I hear me or did I hear God?

We’ve all been there, we have a thought out of nowhere about an individual or a situation, a sense that we suddenly become aware of, or maybe even out of the blue, a particular emotion unexpectedly overwhelms us. And immediately we’re stuck asking the question,

Is this me or is this God?

And if it is God what am I to do with it?

I’ve been in this place many times, and some moments still find myself there. In the early days when I was first beginning to understand the prophetic and learning how God speaks to me, I found myself in this place a lot. I remember one of the first times I had a name instantly pop into my head, it wasn’t the name of a friend or relative, as a matter of fact I didn’t even know anyone with that name.

I was in the store picking up some items for dinner, had two of my children in tow, distracted, in a hurry, my mind cluttered with several other things at the same moment the name “Rhonda” came to me.

At first I dismissed it as a fluke but it wouldn’t let up.  I immediately thought I had subconsciously grabbed a hold of this name and it kept replaying in my head but something in my spirit arrested my attention. Fast forward twenty minutes and I’m standing five carts deep in the check-out line of a busy grocery store at 5:15 pm. Suddenly my insides felt like they were going to jump outside my body – but in a good way ☺

I knew that this person was on God’s heart and He was inviting me to partner with Him to bring them hope, but who was it?  I looked down at Annie my toddler and River my infant son, who both happened to be restless and fussy and wondered, “God if this is you, why wouldn’t you give this to someone that isn’t so distracted”? Have you ever asked that?

So I decided the least threatening way to test this out was to just simply state the name “Rhonda” in the midst of all the noisy chaos at the check-out line! If that name wasn’t anyone there, then they would just think I was calling out trying to get someone’s attention and not a crazy person talking to myself!  As my hands started to sweat and with my heart pounding, in my normal volume I said “Rhonda”.  The woman in front of me turns around and says “yes”.

I didn’t know anything beyond her name so I began to panic!  I told this woman that God had given me her name earlier and that she was on His heart. As I began to share this with her, the Lord so faithfully gave me more instantly, He told her that help was on the way for her mother whom she had been caring for all by herself.  That she was coming into a season of rest and personal rejuvenation. When the cashier was ready for her to pull her cart up to the register she was in tears.  She was baffled that God had singled her out and she was hopeful that if He knew her name and her situation, He was present and loved her. So was it me or was it God?

It was a word of life and hope, it brought her to an awareness of God’s love for her, and encouraged her to continue on.

In Mark 4:14-15 (the parable of the sower) Jesus explains why Satan comes immediately and tries to take away the word that was sown. A lot of times this looks like God speaks something to us and then the enemy comes along and tries to convince us that we didn’t hear Him!

Satan wants to keep us silent, when we are silent we aren’t bringing the comfort of heaven to a person or situation.

If He can convince us not to speak the word of the Lord by causing us to become introspective, or feel it was “just us”, then he has succeeded in robbing us of the fruit to come! The increase is coming, you do have ears to hear and eyes to see!

I’m In A Storm, Where’s Jesus?

And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  

Matthew 14:23-32 NKJV

 

Jesus was always teaching the disciple’s. He taught them situationally, just like He does with us. Think about your own life and how often He has taught you without words? How often He’s taught you during adversity, during celebration, within loss, or within the waiting.  He’s teaching us while moving forward and even when we feel far removed from Him —- there’s still teaching in that.  The disciples had received hours of instruction from Jesus and now, as the passage states in Matthew 14, Jesus had stepped away.  

 

It’s kind of like taking the Drivers Ed Course in High School. You have to invest hours into class time, hours into driving with the instructor.  For me, I felt safe as long as the instructor was in the car with me!  I had the assurance of knowing their hand was on that break, ready to pull me out of any situation I might have gotten myself into. But I remember the first time I was in the car alone, with only my own driving knowledge and experience.  It was a completely different feeling.

 

The scripture passage says that at the fourth watch of the night a storm came. Some of our storms are financial, emotional, marriage storms, inward storms, storms of transition….there will BE unexplainable storms in our lives.  But just because a storm comes does not mean you’re not in close relationship with the Lord.  You see,  there’s this thought we need to remove that says a storm is a sign that something is wrong with us or wrong with our faith – NOT TRUE.

 

When you pay attention during class you don’t have to be afraid of the storm.  In the storm, Jesus began to walk toward them. You will notice the disciples couldn’t see Jesus before the storm but inside the storm they could see Him!  Inside the storms we see God in ways we’ve never seen Him before, He shows up and He’s revealed in the storm.  When the presence of God shows up, you know.  When you’ve been in the presence, you know.  When you’re in the presence you see in perspectives you’ve never seen. Some of you are inside of challenges you’ve never been in before, but inside of it, God will show you a different perspective of His revelation, glory and wonder.  You’ve never needed Him in the way you need Him right now.

 

Although the storm didn’t come from Him, His presence is more real than ever and He has promised His goodness in exchange for setbacks

 

While in that Drivers Ed Course, I was learning about what other drivers do wrong and what they do right. But their experience lacked the presence, depth and realness of actually being there for myself.

 

There is a depth of the realness of God to YOU that is sensed inside your storm

 

When Jesus came onto the water and said “do not fear, it’s Me” that would have been enough to deal with the situation. But He goes on to say “be of good cheer”. The Greek meaning for the word cheer is to “take courage”.  He wants you to be IN courage in the middle of crisis, in the middle of pain, be in courage.  It’s absolutely reassuring to me that it doesn’t matter the degree of the crisis, it’s simply because He’s HERE and His presence is enough to change the situation!  His presence is the very thing we draw our courage from.

 

Provision will always come out of the presence

 

Peter said “Lord, if you are here, provide for me to do what you are doing”.  Jesus replied to Peter “Come”. Wherever God’s presence is, His provision will be also.  If you’re in the waterless desert, He will be the spring.  It doesn’t matter how hot the day gets, He will be the cloud shielding the heat from the sun.

It’s time for us to move from being empowered in the presence to walking in the provision of God!  There is not a storm in your life that God has not provided a miracle for. You’re going to walk on top of the same thing you use to sink in.

When you begin walking on top of what you use to sink in, that is the manifestation of our supernatural God.  It makes no sense and goes against everything you know to be true.  So it’s time to change your truth! We live between two worlds, the seen and the unseen. We’re constantly torn between the two, what we see with our eyes and what we see in the spirit.  

 

When we walk in the unseen, we walk in the provision and in the hope of who we truly are.

 

But when we walk in the natural, we don’t see it. Peter was walking on water one moment and sinking the next. When Peter recognized his true identity, he walked on top of what was taking him down. My point? Only in the presence do you learn who He is, it’s also where you learn who you are. Stay in the presence so you know who you are when you’re out there on the water.

The Day I Recognized The Assault On My Future

Remember this, when attacks come it’s because an upgrade is certain.  There are two types of attacks, the general and the personal.  To me, general attacks are the nuisances that come to try to rob our joy and peace. The car breaks down, the job falls through, the tax bill doubles. You know, the things that agitate us to focus on the negative, step out of joy and persuade us out of hope.  Then there are the personal attacks. The tailor-made-to-you assault on your identity.

 

This one isn’t out to only rob your peace, it wants your destiny too.

 

This one is different. We have an enemy that has studied us, our family line, and knows our strengths and our weaknesses.  He knows the generational setbacks and what trips you up. He knows what breaks your heart.  I don’t like to put a whole lot of emphasis on him or what he’s capable of because the truth of the matter is, he’s only capable of what we will allow.  He’s incapable of destroying an identity that is firmly planted in the Father’s love. But even the most secure in the Father’s love aren’t exempt from those giants in the way of their promise.

The enemy is no respecter of persons and will use anyone that will cooperate with him to bring roadblocks to fulfilling your destiny. Remember this, if the thought is encouraging and life-producing, we know it wasn’t from the enemy because he brings doubt, discouragement and death. If thoughts or words spoken to you aren’t encouraging, build you up or bring your gold to the surface, it’s not God.  Satan wants to destroy your dreams, rob your future and kill your hope.

 

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” John 10:10 NKJV

 

I was with friends attending a meeting. The speaker and the message was really good. Even though the speaker had a completely different style and delivery than what I would normally be drawn to and noticeably different than my own speaking style, I loved who God was through them and I valued what they brought. I tried to look beyond the “style” and connect with what the speaker was saying to recognize the gold in it for me.

I will let you in on a secret, as a pastor you can get a LOT of advice, some solicited but mostly just freebies – I interpret it as we’re really loved ☺

So here comes the curve ball out of left field, because let’s be honest, most personal attacks are the smack in the gut you never saw coming.  After the meeting was over, here it comes, someone says “Sherri, I think you should get the recording from today and listen through it again and try and be more like “insert name here” they really held everyone’s attention, it was entertaining, I think you should study and learn their style so you can deliver a message like that”

At first I had to ask this person to repeat what they said because well, huh?

CERTAINLY I misheard them?  No, it was what it was, they repeated it a second time.  You know that big pit in your throat that makes its way to your stomach within 1.5 seconds?  It was happening and my heart just sank.  This person had just told me I needed to become like someone else in order to minister more effectively.  The hard truth was hearing they didn’t think I was enough.  I was hurt, upset, and felt small, all within just a moment.

Then in lightening like reflexes my spirit rose up within me and responded, NO.  All of a sudden as I was feeling the intensity of what was said, the truth started to roar, and I mean ROAR through my mind.  That truth was this:

You be you.  The moment you “try” to fashion yourself into what others think you should be is the moment you cheapen the calling He’s placed on your life individually.

 

You see, only you can bring the fullest expression of what He placed in you to this earth. When you don’t, the planet lacks that which He ordained to come through you.  Your calling isn’t an act that can be learned like a role in a drama play, your calling is a person – Christ in YOU.

 

“So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.”  Rom. 12:5–6 The Message

 

Don’t demean your assignment by trying to be someone else. Instead love the world around you by being authentically you. The same crowd that cried “Hosanna” also screamed “crucify Him”, we have to honor ourselves enough to not be sidelined by the ever changing opinions of the critics.

When you’re closer than ever to your promised land, don’t be surprised at the giants that get in your way.  For me, most every message I share or write is built on identity in the Father.  And there I was feeling very small.  It was a personal attack to influence me to step back.  When we pull back, it’s easy to feel “safe” within the distance we’ve created from our destiny and from there we spiral into totally disconnecting altogether.  Don’t take the bait!

 

When those words were said to me, I admit it stung. It stung until I realized it was an assault from the enemy on my future. Maybe it’s turning forty this year or maybe its twenty years in ministry, but I choose to think it’s my no tolerance policy for anymore stupid stuff!  Wounded people are preyed upon by the enemy and used to launch wounds on others, see it for what it is.

If you are encountering a personal attack, the purpose is to sway you away from your Promised Land that lies just around the corner.  Be like Nehemiah and don’t go down to that level, valuable time is wasted if you do.

 

Recognize the season you’re in, you’re in a season of advancement.

 

It’s time we all let the truth out, the church will never become who she is destined to be if we all try and clone another’s calling. God is creator, there is NO MOLD for you, you were the prototype and don’t believe otherwise! Honor what YOU carry, cherish the destiny on your life.  You’re uniquely fashioned to bring a flavor of His Kingdom to the earth that has never been seen and will never be, if you don’t bring it.  

Where is your biggest struggle right now? Where are you feeling you don’t measure up? Where is your greatest pain?  I guarantee you in that lies your destiny.

 

August Snow Day

On this hot and muggy, North Carolina August day I’m recalling the blizzard of 2016. A storm that managed to disable our city. Life as we knew it froze (literally) for a few days. I hate winter but I love snow days!  Why?  Snow days are those times that Mother Nature gives us all a time-out, escape with no excuse necessary.

We’re all on a fast ride called life, ups and downs, twists and turns and nobody wants to be perceived as the wimp hitting the eject button for a day or two when you need a breather.  We’re known for piling more into today than yesterday, crazy but it’s actually how we rate our sense of accomplishment for a day well spent.  

So when a big storm came into town, the businesses shut down, and the police asked people to stay off the roads; all expectation was removed and we were given a pass to just rest.  To just be.  

In my own life, expectations without boundaries have proven themselves a force begging to be reckoned with.  If I’m not careful, others expectations of me will be driving and I find myself riding shotgun.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been there, allowing my world to place demands on me that I never agreed to. And then, just like that, I feel trapped, joy-less, and powerless.  I thought the solution was running harder, meeting more expectations of others, hustling and wishing the day I was currently living was over because I had exhausted my own strength – only to start another identical to the one before.  

That right there, what I just explained is a cycle many of us find ourselves navigating when our life is out of alignment.  Just like a car will veer to the right or left when it’s out of alignment, we do the same.  We veer towards control, doubt, anxiety, fear.  I know what the safe place of rest in Him feels like, it feels like the absence of fear, striving and worry.  It’s the perfect alignment for my soul, that’s where I want to be.

In Hebrews 4:10-11 Paul writes:

For he that is entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did his. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”

To cease from works doesn’t mean we stop working, it means we stop striving to make it happen on our own strength. Whenever we find ourselves veering to our own strength, when our thinking shifts to how WE can make something happen – we’re trusting our own power and not His.  

God never called us to live the fast, twisting ride of exhaustion and striving. He invited us into a partnership of rest with Him.

A place where rest is our number one priority. A place where the actual evidence of a lifestyle of rest is more fruit in our lives. That’s a crazy thought, huh? When we live with the awareness that the enemy desires to gain ground in our lives by our living a self-powered life void of dependency on the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the next time we’re drawn into self-sufficiency and striving mode we’ll draw from this passage:

For if you live after the flesh, you shall die, but if you live after the Spirit and you mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Romans 8:13-14).

There is a reward for learning to live a life of rest because it’s a life of being led by the Spirit of God.  Through Jesus we have the mind of Christ. The wisdom of God IS the mind of Christ for every situation that arises.  

When my daily priority is falling into rest with the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of heaven responds by producing MORE fruit in my life.

Oh how I get it so backwards at times.

So on this hot August day, I’m inviting you to take a ‘snow day’.   Realign your focus and invite His resolve to your heart.   Let’s hold ourselves to choosing the better thing, resting over striving.  

​Looking Past The Distraction Not Looking Past Your Destiny​

I watch a lot of soccer games. We have four kids and they all play soccer so I’m never out of things to do on Saturday

One thing that stands out on my youngest child’s team are the distractions those kids contend with at each game.

Parents are yelling and telling their kids which direction to run, where to kick the ball. In my case, I’m usually yelling out “stop talking, River”!  The children are running all over the field having to filter all the distractions and know which ones to ignore and which ones to listen to.  Just like in our own lives, we have to know how to filter distractions inside our seasons.  Today, as I’m recognizing my need for supernatural grace to keep my focus on what has been placed in front of me, my thoughts automatically go to Nehemiah.

Nehemiah was the cup-bearer for the King and he was burdened to tears for his city, he asks the King if he can go rebuild the ruins. The king blesses it and not only sends him, but he equips him with supplies, provision, and resources. Rebuilding the wall was Nehemiah’s assignment. This is such a perfect description of what happens when our assignment meets our passion, it results in a release of vision; that vision brings about provision and resources. Nehemiah casts vision and assembles a community of people excited to rebuild the wall.

 

It kind of reminds me of what it’s like to begin something new. You heard God and confirmation after confirmation followed, seems everything was coming together. Landing the job, starting the business, launching the ministry, everything was falling into place and you were alive with hope and passion for what was in front of you.

Have you been there too?

 

But once they began rebuilding, the distractions started.

The thing about distractions, they come with one strategy and that is to keep you far from completing what God placed in front of you.

The goal of the enemy was to get Nehemiah distracted to look away long enough to step away from it.  Before long that thing we were burning with passion for is a tiny flicker and convincing us to step away from it doesn’t take much persuasion.  I remember when we first planted Center City Church, it was fresh, exciting, and we were full of expectation. It wasn’t until the attacks came that the thing we had been so burdened for, the thing we had relocated our family for was the very thing we were questioning.

Had we made a mistake? No.  When you’re positioned to build your wall it’s not a question of IF the distractions will come, it’s a question of WHAT you will do when they arrive.

 

I’ve heard it said “success is defined by wholeheartedly embracing what is in front of you” So what do we do?  We build what’s in front of us. Be faithful to build where you are and God will reward you.  Some assignments are big, life-long assignments like building a great marriage, raising your children, and others are just for a season.  Just like Nehemiah, you are anointed to live in your present. You are anointed to do what is in front of you.  

Today, I’m sensing my need to ask God for a greater love for the wall I’m building, a deeper desire to open my arms wider to the thing I’ve been called to build.  

I do not want to live with my heart disconnected from my current assignment.  

There are no ‘insignificant assignments’ in the Kingdom. Imagine if that wall you’re building today was the support beam for the next decade of your life?  Would it be a stable, strong source to build your future on? This is an area we don’t want to cut corners, but to give our highest and best. Seasons have ways of repeating themselves and structures have ways of collapsing. Let’s get it right the first time.

I declare over your life today, that you are present, positioned and ready to build.  Imagine what God will do through a surrendered life in a short amount of time?  You’re about to find out.

 

A Tale of Two Ways to See

I woke up this morning with the quote from Charles Dickens’ book A Tale of Two Cities running on repeat through my mind.  I knew there was something in this for us, specifically for today. Here is the quote:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way”

Never in my lifetime have I seen such a contradiction between what IS and what SHOULD BE as we have now.  The Lord is urging us to not forget our assignment in this time, we are the ones called to speak the answer over the contradiction.  From our personal lives to globally, we are the Ezekiel 37 answer.

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LordThus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’” (NKJV)

Notice it didn’t happen when The Lord described how He would cause the bones to come to life, but rather the flesh started to form on the bones when he began to speak and prophesy the opposite of what was in front of him.

“7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.” (NKJV)

From this angle, that looked hopeless. How could something so dead live again? The Holy Spirit within us brings answers, hope, reconciliation, and joy to the contradiction in front of us, no matter how bad it is.  What’s the contradiction you’re facing today?  Perhaps you’ve spoken and prophesied hope and you saw some signs of life over the situation.  You saw the bones rattle and come together, you saw the flesh start to cover over and your hope was building but the fullness of what you know to be true hasn’t happened yet? The breath hasn’t fully returned. There is still a contradiction, now what?

Prophesy the answer over the contradiction still. Focus on what God is doing and not on what isn’t happening. Partner with the truth that your words are powerful and living, don’t settle for words that side with the lack. Speak life and destiny, the breath is returning, the pulse is coming back.

“9 Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.”

Don’t give up, don’t allow an exceedingly great army to lie there breathless. Don’t walk away from your greatest miracle.

The worst of times? No, it’s the best of times.

The winter of despair? No, it’s the spring of hope.

Season of darkness? It’s the season of light.

You have nothing before you? Oh but you have everything before you.

Discover Peace That Cracks The Code On Your Circumstances

It’s a lie that we need perfect circumstances in order to have peace, practicing peace changes our circumstances.

The past week has brought about emotional turmoil, loss, and unrest. As a nation we’ve experienced the tragedy of life lost. Families ripped a part, fear escalating, our African American brothers and sisters hurting, the police community hurting, grief and division mounting.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 (NKJV)

Jesus knew that the enemy would try at every turn to steal our peace using all possible inroads to do it. Relationships, family, disappointments, rejection, fear, just to name a few ways the enemy tries to declare open season on our peace.

It’s within the moments of heartbreak, hurt, loss, and confusion our thoughts must build towards the times He healed, that moment He broke through, the days He carried you, sustained you. Those were the moments that truth rang the loudest. That moment our peace is challenged, our thoughts will either surrender to fear or they will override fear and gravitate towards truth, building our faith to see Him breakthrough again.

 

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

 

When you can embrace peace that goes beyond what is logical, that’s when you get it. Reaching beyond the cerebral, beyond the natural realm. That’s where understanding is no longer the focus or even needed.

 

That word “perfect” in Hebrew is the word “shalom”

”He will keep you in perfect peace” both words “perfect” and “peace” are translated “shalom shalom” So why does He say is twice?  The double use indicates the importance, He doesn’t want us to miss this!  When you put the individual meanings together, you gain a greater understanding. Its meaning is “to destroy the authority of chaos”. The Lord is saying – I will destroy the cause of, the origination of the chaos in your life.

How? The chaos is destroyed by truth as we build from what He has done and increase our faith to see Him do it again. The prophetic ministry of Jesus was based around this very thing. When we meditate on what He has already done, the testimonies, we are opening the door wide to see Him do it again.

“…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10 NKJV

You can thrive in the midst of the worst situation because you choose to empower truth.

You don’t have to wait for your situation to change in order for peace to come. We don’t have to wait for the state of affairs in our country to change in order for peace to finally prevail. We are the carriers of peace, the Holy Spirit within us. As you practice leaning into Jesus, things will change, your situation IS changing. Hope is building a stronghold of truth in your life. What chaos in your life needs to be destroyed? Within you lies the power to break free and stand on new ground today.

 

Overcoming My Reaction

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1 (NIV)

In this passage the Greek meaning of ‘don’t be troubled’ is to not be agitated. It means becoming very intentional about refusing to be undone when life tosses me around.  But how can we not be agitated by change, transition, or not be influenced by the storms that arise?  It’s much simpler than we make it out to be.

God didn’t promise us a life of still waters but He did promise us stillness inside the rough waters.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

Life in itself can and WILL create weariness. When we look at Jesus and the disciples, breakthrough came because of how they approached problems and setbacks. Paul sang in prison, breakthrough came in response to the problem and the prison doors were opened as a result!

When we react in the flesh or in fear we actually empower the enemy to steal from us because our fear forms agreement with the enemy.

The way we handle our trouble and conflict determines our breakthrough. Much in the same way, how we handle our blessing determines our increase and favor. Sometimes we’re invited into a storm, that’s life. But when faced with a storm, our attention almost always goes immediately to finding our way out of the storm. Instead, our focus should be on building and sustaining His presence within us while still in the middle of the storm.

Remember, He’s not a God of escape, He is the WAY MAKER. He will make a way for you!  There is a war over your reaction to the storms of life. Will you allow your heart to be influenced by disappointment?  In the middle of our mess, we ask God to take this place of trouble, of setback and turn it into our greatest strength. Let it become the very thing He receives the most glory for in my life. Wherever we’ve had pain, had loss, or disappointment, it’s actually an invitation for the greatest opportunity, the break to gain greater authority in that arena.

Determine to allow breakthrough to influence your heart, rehearse what He has done already and stop the knee jerk reaction. Instead, focus on His face, cultivate His presence and respond.

 

Three Tools To Overcome A Bad Day

Life can be beautiful and brutal.  When it’s being brutal, who hasn’t ever wished for an escape button that immediately took you out of your present reality?  I have, many times.  It’s hard to comprehend that life, something that can be amazing beyond description can also be so devastatingly hard and painful.

This I know: the bad days will still come.  But I can safeguard my life to overcome it and not see it overcome me.  Here are three tools I’ve learned to help overcome:

 

  • Perspective Shift

 

Everything is magnified when it’s right in front of you. Have you ever flown on an airplane?  Once that plane starts to climb into the clouds the landscape changes dramatically. When faced with something that rattles your day, you need to climb into the clouds. I don’t mean check-out in denial, I mean get above the moment, get a higher perspective.  Take a deep breath, take a walk outside, put your phone in a drawer, take a few minutes to soak, whatever works for you to be able to step away from it and ask Holy Spirit for a shift in perspective. Ask the Lord how He sees it.

 

  • Disarm it with Thanksgiving

 

I know what you’re thinking.  You might be asking “How can I to give thanks in the middle of something that just sent my day into the trashcan?” And there is no judgement here because there are days I think it too!  But it’s only going to the trashcan if you let it. The enemy doesn’t expect you to respond to an attack with joy or thanksgiving. Joy is the weapon if you want to defeat the devil.  In a battle, it’s crucial to your victory that a surprise attack is launched on your enemy in order for you to win. It’s no different here. The surprise is your thanksgiving to God in the face of a disappointment. I absolutely love this verse from The Passion Translation:


“My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience all the joy that you can! ³For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. ⁴And then as your endurance grows even
stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.” James 1:2-4

 

  • Resist the Urge to Speak Negative

 

You’re hit with an unexpected tax bill, you didn’t meet your monthly sales quota for the third time, your child brings home a terrible report card, you just found out you need a root canal…whatever sent your day south, resist the urge to speak negative.  I know it’s human for our thoughts to automatically go negative when we’re met with disappointing news, but there’s a higher response. It’s  actually an opportunity to halt a momentary setback from prophesying more setback over us. Every word that comes out of our mouth is another brick in the foundation of our future. What kind of future are you building?  Are we cooperating with heaven to see the hope and future we’ve been promised come about or are we cooperating with a negative cycle of hopelessness that is prophesying lack, fear, rejection, and pain over ourselves?  

I have found that time and time again, these three tools are extremely powerful when I’m faced with a bad day.  The next time you’re met with a day you don’t like, test out these tools and see what happens. Give yourself grace and remember, you might be experiencing a bad day but that doesn’t mean your entire life is bad.  Face the moment and remember, His mercies are brand new tomorrow.