“Our combat with the devil always should be with the consciousness that we have authority over him because he is a defeated foe – the Lord Jesus Christ defeated him for us.” Kenneth E. Hagin
Do you wrestle with the reality that as a born again Christian, you have been given the authority to “trample on serpents and scorpions?”
When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.
This is one of those topics I’ve studied enough to know that I really need to study it more. I guess it is rather obvious that Satan would fight us on this subject more than most!
“But the devil doesn’t want Christians to learn about the authority of the believer. He wants to continue to defeat us anytime he wants. That’s why he will do everything he can to keep Christians from learning the truth about authority; he will fight us more on this subject than anything else.”
Kenneth Hagin, The Believer’s Authority
So, I’m joining several of my favorite Bible teaching friends to host an online Summer Bible Study on the Authority of the Believer. And you are invited! Here are the details:
When: June 5 – July 31
June 5 – Introduction June 12 – Chapter 1 – Prayers of Paul June 19 – Chapter 2 – What is Authority June 26 – Chapter 3 – Seated with Christ July 3 – Chapter 4 – Breaking the Power of the Devil July 10 – Chapter 5 – Exercising Authority July 17 – Chapter 6 – Risen with Christ July 24 – Chapter 7 – Weapons of our Warfare July 31 – Chapter 8 – Authority Over Demon Spirits, Not Human Wills.
How it Works: As a group, we will read The Believer’s Authority by Kenneth Hagin. Participants will receive Bible study questions and prayer prompts to go along with the chapter we are reading via email.
Every Wednesday we will provide a Live Stream Bible teaching in the Fresh Strength Facebook Group on the chapter we have studied the week before. The videos will remain in the group archives for those who can’t watch it live.
Time Commitment: You can put as much into this and get as much out of it as you want. Plan for time to read one chapter a week, complete the Bible study notes and prayer prompts (20 minutes), and watch the video (30 minutes). If you fall behind, you will have plenty of time to catch up. The videos will remain in the Facebook group.
Ready to join us? Click here to register. If you are not already in the Fresh Strength Facebook group, you will receive instructions how to join after you register. Thanks!
Last week Louisiana was hit with a major storm. I woke up at 5 am to a very persistent alarm on my security system warning me of a possible tornado.
There were a few minutes when I chose to take cover on the bathroom floor. My pets, Skeeter and Rosie, joined me and thankfully offered no snide remarks about my need to sweet and mop. The storm howled for over an hour and I wondered off and on … “maybe this the tornado…”
After the storm, I was inspired to write what may be considered a poem. I’m sharing it with you here today because it illustrates a spiritual concept I’ve been learning over the last nine months. The idea is … my renewed spirit (the part of me that was born again) is alive and well. My spirit is one with Christ and shares His triumphant nature. My soul (mind, will, and emotions) should act as a servant to my renewed spirit. My flesh (my carnal nature) is to function as a slave in submission to my renewed spirit.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [that is, separate you from profane and vulgar things, make you pure and whole and undamaged—consecrated to Him—set apart for His purpose]; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete and [be found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Each of us is a whole person with these three parts. With God’s help, we will allow our spirit to rule and train our soul and our flesh to take their appointed place of service. Sanctification is a process involving each part of our being.
The storms of life usher in new opportunities for sanctification. Whether your storm is literal or figurative, I pray your spirit intertwined with God’s will lay ahold to the peace, courage, and fresh strength God secured for us in Jesus.
Heaven opened. The earth is soaked.
At first, it seemed such a threat! The noise, wind, and rain came in violent torrents. Is there real danger here for me?
You are here. Immanuel. God is with me.
I sit listening to the weather. Brave, yet wondering if I am truly safe. Is it wise to be brave right now? Or is this a time for hiding in enclosed places?
I put on my priest’s robe to sprinkle the Blood. My spirit sits up straighter.
I have a safe place. I belong to the very present, Most High God. The God who answered Elijah’s words with fire lives here with me. I am not alone.
The arms that wrap around this created world are raised over me with triumphant fists. So I worship.
In a few seconds with just a few words, I magnify His power and protection. The fumes of fear that were seeping in under the door are blown back.
My soul settles. My spirit has ruled, and my soul knows its place.
It’s time to serve. Mind, will, & emotions … ready for service! All three lean in with our Yes to the words of Truth. We recognize the Spirit’s Words of strength.
God is here. Power is here. Peace is here
Let the winds blow. Let the storm finish its work.
The Holy Spirit and my spirit have set the tone.
My soul raised its glass to celebrate peace. Now my flesh will exhale its captured breath. My body will release its grip. The “what ifs” fall to the ground of this day.
With a little nudge, maybe two, my body inhales and my soul smells hope. It’s a welcomed aroma. The body slows its pace so the lungs can take it in again and again.
I savor hope.
While my ears hear the storm and my mind anticipates mud and
messes, my spirit chooses to soar.
This soaking is blessing.
This storm had purpose. If only to invite me to a brave posture of faith, this early morning storm is now my friend.
With rain boots and hooded jacket, I walk into the water and debris … Braver Bolder Safer Smiling
Have you wrestled with bitterness toward someone who hurt you deeply? How do we walk in love toward someone who robbed us of something precious or even sacred? Living free from bitterness can seem like a choice to climb Mount Everest when you are too out of shape to go three minutes on the Elliptical machine at the gym.
How did Jesus do it? How did He carry ALL my sins to the cross without stopping to tell every detail to anyone who would listen? He endured mockery, unimaginable beatings, and the death sentence earned by the worst criminal. He didn’t blame me. He didn’t write my name in the sand or carve it into the cross for everyone to read while He hung there dying. There isn’t a book of my sins in the Bible for everyone to read. His perfect love carried my sins quietly and His perfect blood redeemed me from the countless sins I would commit.
Seriously! How did He do it?
I see Him keeping His eyes on God instead of the sinners. His heart was beating in rhythm with the One whose love for us created this rescue mission that required Jesus to endure so much.
Living for Christ means sharing in His sufferings (1 Peter 4:13). But HOW can we share in His freedom from bitterness? I am hungry for more and more truth that sets me free in this area of my life.
I found the passage below very helpful and wanted to share it with you. May it be used of God to bring revelation and lead you (and me) to act on it. It is a direct quote from Francis Frangipane found on his Facebook page. (I highly recommend his book, The Three Battlegrounds.)
There are two conditions of the heart no one can hide: one is when the heart is filled with love and the other when we are infected with bitterness. Either condition can take over our thoughts and both can filter our entire view of life. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must make our highest quest to possess hearts full of God’s love. Indeed, how successful we are at revealing Christ’s love is the true measure of our spirituality.
Thus, love cannot long exist as an unexpressed or hidden secret. If love is real, it will be seen in a thousand manifestations reaching to the heart of its beloved. Love, which is in truth passion for oneness, is too powerful to be contained by mere discipline or self-control. Indeed, is not love boldly displayed in its unrequited gifts, and is it not heard in its many encouragements and expressions of concern? Is it not tangible in its unabashed enjoyment of time spent with its beloved?
Bitterness, too, cannot be hidden. A bitter soul is not seeking oneness, but justice. It is driven by the unresolved theft of its peace, personhood or possessions. Bitterness is not just a wound seeking healing; it is a prosecuting attorney building a case against the guilty. Because a bitter soul is conjoined to the injustice committed against it, it perpetually is listening to the voice of its heartache and, thus, perpetually wounded by the unforgiven offense.
Dear friends, Jesus said He came to give us life in abundance (John 10:10). He said He was anointed and sent to proclaim release to prisoners and freedom to captives (Luke 4:18). If we feel we have been spiritually incarcerated by a bitter experience or an injustice, God is not seeking to condemn us for it but to save us from it. Even now, His Spirit is reaching to release us from this unbearable burden of the past.
How Do We Become Free?
In almost 50 years of walking with the Lord, there have been times that I have been slandered, defrauded or unfairly attacked. I have had plenty of opportunities to be embittered by injustice. Not every wound was healed instantly nor each injustice swiftly remedied. Jesus said, “By your endurance you will gain your lives” (Luke 21:19). In the final analysis, being wounded or suffering loss is not the issue – Paul said he “suffered the loss of all things.” The real issue is that we “may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).
Let me also say that often the Lord will simply remedy the offending situation itself, thus bringing healing. Let us make room for the vastness of God’s grace. Hebrews 2:18 reveals that “[Christ] is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” For no other reason except that He loves us, He will help us. Let us always make room for such grace.
At the same time, I have also recognized that God’s highest goal for me is my conformity to Christ. (See Rom. 8:28-29). God heals me so He can conform me to Christ, and sometimes He reverses that process: He conforms me to Christ so He can heal me. In other words, my deliverance came as I appropriated Christ’s love and learned to entrust myself to God even when I was wounded by injustice.
Consider this issue of trusting God. Peter tells us, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;” (1 Pet. 2:21-23).
Sometimes my healing from wounding and possible bitterness came not because restitution was made to me by the person who hurt me, but because I learned to entrust myself to God who judges righteously. To trust that God will vindicate me in His time and in His way is a sign of spiritual maturity. To entrust our case to God is the only way we can avoid countering reviling with reviling or allowing a wound to degrade into bitterness.
There are other times when a lingering conflict would become an oppression upon my soul. Again, as an antidote to becoming bitter, Jesus taught, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad (Luke adds, “and leap for joy”), for your reward in heaven is great” (Matt. 5:11-12).
If you have been unfairly treated, if some injustice has soiled your name or threatens your future because of your faith in Christ, one antidote is to rejoice. Before you defend your right to remain miserable, let me ask this: Have you obeyed Jesus by leaping for joy?
My Prayer for Us:
In Jesus’ name, I pray that His Light would shine brilliantly in our pain and continually dispel the darkness. May He deliver us from every scheme where the enemy is trying to rob us of the experience of His love. May our sufferings draw our attention to His love and freedom from bitterness on display as He endured the cross.
I would love to hear how this biblical encouragement resonates with you. Feel free to share in the comments on my website. God bless you friend!
I hope your Thanksgiving celebration was a refreshing time for your soul. Was your table loaded with your favorite foods? Did you feel like the disciples picking up after the loaves and fishes meal with their twelve baskets of leftovers?
For the last several years, our family has prepared the Thanksgiving meal and transported it to the assisted living facility where my grandmother lives. She can no longer come to us, so we bring Thanksgiving to her.
Nana is ninety-five years young and she has plenty of life left in her. She’s a sweetheart of a southern woman and she would never ask the family to do what we do for her. She’s really not aware of all that goes into bringing the feast to her. She doesn’t have the capacity to ask people to bring her favorite food or arrive at a certain time. Even so, the wonder of our family Thanksgiving celebration is a well-coordinated effort to ensure she lacks nothing on this special day.
A few days after our feast, I felt the Holy Spirit awaken me to this truth: If our family knows how to honor my grandmother and meet her unspoken needs, how much more is God willing and able to supply what I need. Here are the verses that began to flood my heart:
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing. Psalm 34:10
So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. Matthew 7:11
If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:31b-32.
The members of our family love my grandmother by. However, our love for her can’t compare to God’s love for her … and for you … and for me.
God’s generous love far exceeds what even the most sanctified Christian is capable of offering. He is perfect love. He is the God who sees what we need. With His unlimited resources, He can supply all our needs. With His unlimited power, He can move heaven and earth to deliver encouragement, words of wisdom, protection, fellowship, wealth, and every other good thing.
In the Bible, we find God intervening in amazing ways to supply His people with the good things they need and in some cases want. Here are just a few examples:
Daniel was endowed with the supernatural wisdom needed to fast and also to interpret the king’s dream. He was also protected from sure death while in the lion’s den. (Daniel 1, 2, 6, 10)
Gideon was clothed with strength like glove in order to succeed in battle. (Judges 6)
Miriam had the courage to protect Moses and knowledge how to do it. (Exodus 1-2)
Elijah was fed by ravens and later was fed by a poverty-stricken widow. (1 Kings 17)
The destitute widow’s sons were saved from slavery and her debts were paid when Elisha intervened. (2 Kings 4)
Jehoshaphat was given a specific battle plan to win the battle against three fierce enemies. (2 Chronicles 20)
Joshua was endowed with the power and authority to make the sun stand still in order to accomplish his God-given mission on the battle field. (Joshua 10)
During a severe famine, four men with leprosy plundered the camp of the enemy and shared the wealth with the Israelites. (2 Kings 7)
Jarius’ daughter was resurrected from the dead. (Mark 5)
The Israelites’ shoes never wore out. Instead of starving, they ate the food of angels (manna) in the wilderness. (Exodus 16; Deuteronomy 29; Psalm 78)
The prodigal son asked His dad for a job, but instead he received complete restoration as his son. (Luke 15)
The barren Shunammite woman honored Elijah, the man of God, by building an addition to their home so he would have a place to stay when he visited. Elijah looked for a way to bless her for her kindness to him. He asked her what she wanted and she never mentioned her desire for a baby. Elijah inquired of his servant who revealed her need of a child. Elijah prophesied she would have a baby by the next year and she did. (2 Kings 4)
This list could be so much longer. I hope your mind is flipping through the pages of the Bible looking for more examples of God’s amazing provision to those in need.
Cry Out for His Help
The love of God is generous and so very helpful. He is extravagant. He promises to be there for the needy.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles. Psalm 34:5-6
What part or parts of this verse speak to you right now? I’m captivated by the cause and effect in the first phrase. When we look to Him (seek Him, ask Him) for help, the results will bring joy!
In this season of my life, I have many more opportunities to rely on God than I did before. It is a real stretch of my faith to expect Him to be generous to me and fulfill His promise to provide so I lack nothing. I’ve learned to pray His Word more intentionally and I’ve seen Him perform His Word in my life in incredible ways. I am more confident in His faithfulness today than I ever have been. I’ve asked for more faith — so many times — and He is supplying it. Hallelujah!
He has provided a lifestyle of abundance for His children. The thief certainly shows up to steal, kill, and destroy … but God. He sent Jesus to make sure we could be satisfied in this life. Thankfully He knows what will truly satisfy us. (John 10:10)
Let’s pray about this together. Maybe my prayer below will be the start of a whole new conversation between you and God.
Lord, we ask You to increase our faith in Your generous love and faithfulness to provide what we need. Help us to believe You delight to deposit good gifts in our lives. Open our eyes. Help us to recognize the blessings You’ve delivered to us even though we were unable to ask You for the gift. You are kinder than we imagined.
Let our faith in Your generosity be released through our words. Ignite us, Lord, to ask for what we know we need from You.
Thank You for the body of Christ. Thank You for using them to make sure we know that You see us. Thank You for giving us glimpses of Your goodness as they smile, call, text, hug, serve, sacrifice, and supply even our unspoken needs.
Forgive us, Lord, for worrying about lacking what we need. In Jesus name, we resist the spirit of fear. We declare that in Jesus, we are free indeed from unbelief. We fix our eyes on You. We desire to know Your heart toward us more fully.
In this new season of my life, knowing God more intimately as my provider has been important. While reading and researching, the following verses got my attention. because of the phrase “everything belongs to you.” That phrase is repeated twice which often indicates a special emphasis. Check it out:
“So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you— whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.” 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 NLT (emphasis mine)
Other translations say, “all things” in place of “everything.”
Matthew Henry Commentary on these verses helps us grasp the meaning with these words: “If we belong to Christ, and are true to him, all good belongs to us, and is sure to us … God in Christ, reconciling a sinful world to himself, and pouring the riches of his grace on a reconciled world, is the sum and substance of the gospel.” (emphasis mine)
This is remarkable! The Creator of Life redeemed our lives and has guaranteed our access to His wealth and resources. In John 10:10, Jesus specifically tells us that a thief would come to steal from us, but He came to triumph over that enemy to ensure an abundant life for us. In this declaration of this truth, I hear the Old Testament verse beckoning us to “choose life,” to choose Him and all that would mean for us.
This is a BIG topic and I absolutely DO NOT have all the answers. I really have so many questions. In my research, I discovered the verses below all pointing to the same truth. (emphasis is mine)
Romans 8:32 – Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?
Psalm 84:11 – For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.
1 Timothy 6:17 – Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
Proverbs 10:3 – The LORD will not let the godly go hungry, but he refuses to satisfy the craving of the wicked.
Psalm 34:9-10 – Fear the LORD, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.
Psalm 37:25 – Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.
Did you notice the reoccurring emphasis of godliness repeated throughout these verses? That is obviously a critical factor for us to consider.
I hope the repetition of this promise of provision throughout the Bible encourages you like it does me. It is a challenging idea because the thief bombards our minds with thoughts that lead to the fear of not having what we need. When we react to that fear, we get ourselves into trouble.
What if our faith grew to meet this amazing promise of God? I believe we would experience much more freedom and spend more of our lives in awe of God.
What do you need?
Wisdom, hope, comfort, financial help, courage, a faithful friend, the ability to forgive, more faith, healing, joy, brilliant ideas, humility, peace, success, the desire to obey Him, favor, new strength?
Maybe His plan for our lives requires us to ask Him for more than we are currently asking for. Maybe we should be asking for something different. I am comforted by the reality that we can ask Him for wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him which includes the knowledge of His role as provider and what He wants to provide.
It is very easy to look at someone else’s life and assume that what God has provided for them should also be ours. Each of us has a unique journey with God and a specific purpose in His kingdom. We will have needs others will not have. I am learning that God will help me pray for what He wants to give me. I want to get really good at hearing the Holy Spirit’s prayer prompts and praying them back to God.
What if we ask for something the Lord doesn’t want us to have? I believe He will gladly correct us and redirect us. We need to keep asking God questions – to keep seeking His will for our lives. I believe God can simultaneously grow our faith and challenge any ungodly motives we might be dealing with. I believe He is doing that for me right now.
There are many facets to this topic I am not covering in this one post. One of which is “waiting” for God’s provision. We know Job waited while he experienced more pain and losses than we can imagine. But we surely can relate to his pain and the waiting. He had not failed to live righteously. The thief was allowed to steal. Then God triumphed over all that grief and pain by restoring to him double what he had lost. In this world, we will suffer. We will wait. And He will restore.
Please study this topic out for yourself. I’m not an expert. I am merely a fellow seeker of His best.
Let’s pray about it.
Here’s a prayer we can use to jumpstart our conversation with God:
I stand before You amazed by Your generosity to me. Your Word tells me that You freely give all things to Your family. I am honestly trying to wrap my head around the idea. But, how could it be untrue? You did not spare Your own Son. You gave Him up as a sacrifice, a payment to redeem our unworthiness. You made a way for us to enjoy Your love forever. What wouldn’t You provide for me? Hallelujah!( 1 Corinthians 3:21-23; Romans 8:32)
I have entertained so many fearful thoughts. I have worried about going without ________, _________, and __________. Please forgive me for not comprehending Your goodness towards Your own family. Please forgive me for my lack of faith in Your promise to provide for me when I choose to live for You. (Psalm 34:9-10)
Take me by the hand and teach me to trust You as my Provider. Scrub my heart and soul clean of this fear of living without what is needed. Increase my faith so I will trust in You for my daily bread. I am a willing vessel, humbled by Your generosity towards me. I want to live expecting Your grace and Your glory. (Matthew 6:11; Psalm 84:11)
Lead me by Your Holy Spirit to ask You for what I need. Convict me of wanting things that are not Your best for me. Help me to be more aware of what You have already provided! Expand my comprehension of Your love toward me. Let childlike faith rise up within me as a shield to meet every threat of lack the enemy launches toward me. (Matthew 7:7; Ephesians 3:18-19; Ephesians 6:16)
Thank You for being my Good Shepherd who leads me to greater faith in Your nature. I lift my voice in praise with the psalmist who knew that the righteous would not be forsaken by You and their children would never have to beg. Hallelujah! (Psalm 23:1, Proverbs 10:3)
In Jesus, I pray.
Feel free to share other Scriptures that encourage You that God is our faithful Provider. I would also love to hear how God has fulfilled these promises of provision in Your life. Please share in the comments.
Get ready to have your faith strengthened! Today, I am sharing a powerful testimony of bold prayers and big answers! Warning! This will encourage you.
Several months ago, social media became the engine God used to ignite His people to pray for Pastor Robert Morris (Gateway Church). In what could have been his last moments, Pastor Robert asked his wife to use social media to ask people to pray for him. Hours later, I saw reports of churches around the world holding prayer meetings for this man of God.
CBN reported: More than 290,000 people joined a live prayer for Morris Monday night and now the pastor is in stable condition. “We’ve had prayer going on all through the night and it has made a world of difference as we’ve battled in the spirit realm,” Todd Lane, Lead Executive Senior pastor at Gateway, said. “Many people have been praying for the last 24 to 48 hours.”
What stood out to you in this remarkable testimony of God’s faithfulness and the activation of his earthly army of intercessors?
God keeps impressing this truth into my heart. “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Pastor Morris experienced great trouble. God’s Spirit led him to ask for prayer because God had a plan for him beyond this trouble. God already planned to overcome this situation.
Is God inspiring you to ask for prayer?
My prayer for us:
Almighty God, thank You for strengthening our faith. Thank You for letting us see the reality of Your goodness expressed toward Pastor Robert Morris. Empower us to express this renewed faith in fervent prayer. We resist the heavy burden we often associate with prayer. Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).
Forgive us for when we have been lethargic in prayer. Forgive us for the unbelief that has hindered our prayers.
Let our faith be childlike. Let prayer flow out of us as naturally as our own breath.
We desire to be BOLD and courageous in our asking for what You say is ours.
Let the eyes of our hearts be flooded with light so that we know when and what to pray. We desire to be filled with new levels wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You (Ephesians 1:17).
In Jesus, I pray.
Matthew 11:28-30 The Passion Translation
“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.”
The Lord encouraged me with the testimony of one of my favorite authors, Francis Frangipane and I’m excited to share it with you. When I read his book The Three Battlegrounds or his Facebook posts, all I see is the depth of wisdom he offers. Today, his testimony of learning to love God in the dry and difficult season (quoted below) is helping me to see how crucial the “hard times” were in becoming who He is and what He offers today. This is really strengthening my faith that God is doing something very important in me during this season. Hallelujah!
Maybe you are going through an unexpected season of disappointments and trials. Maybe you love someone who is. Don’t miss how God worked in the life of this man when all seemed lost.
(Except for the headlines and formatting, everything below is a direct quote by Frangipane.)
I have discovered that as we seek the Lord, our most difficult periods can be transformed into wonderful breakthroughs into God’s love. For me, one such season occurred during the years 1979 to1981. The association of churches with which I was aligned had fallen under spiritual deception. Not only were its core doctrines increasingly seeded with New Age influences, but immorality crept in, and key leaders began leaving their wives for other women. I could no longer remain silent. As a result, in 1979 I left my congregation in Detroit, Michigan, where I had served as pastor, and traveled to the organization’s regional headquarters in Iowa. I came to plead for repentance. However, after meeting with the senior leaders, I was asked to leave the group.
So here we were—we had left our church, we had no money, and we had four little children; we couldn’t even afford basic housing. Desperate for anything, we finally found an old farmhouse in rural Washington, Iowa. The home was over a hundred years old, but it actually looked much older. After negotiating with the landlord, we were given a year of free rent provided I did basic repairs to the house, such as cleaning and painting.
Even so, the house needed more than I could provide. The furnace did not work well, so we installed a wood burner stove in the kitchen. That first winter, it turned out, was one of the coldest in Iowa’s history. Frost formed on the inside walls, spreading a foot or two around each window; wind chills dropped to 60 below, and even colder on several occasions.
To keep warm each night, the whole family cuddled tightly on one large mattress on the dining room floor, about 18 feet from the wood burner in the kitchen. A fan behind the stove nudged warm air in our direction. My nightly project, of course, was to build enough heat in the stove to keep us warm until morning.
While I worked the fire, I also would pray and seek God. The wood burner became a kind of altar to me, for each night as I prayed, I offered to God my unfulfilled dreams and the pain of my spiritual isolation. Yes, I knew the Lord was aware of our situation. Though we had virtually nothing, He showed Himself to us in dozens of little ways. I just didn’t know what He wanted of me.
As the seasons came and went, another child was born, and then we fostered a young girl from Vietnam, giving us six children. Still, as the family grew, the little area around the wood burner became a hallowed place to me. Even in the summer, I would sit on the chair next to the stove and pray and worship.
I would like to say I found the joy of the Lord during this time, but in truth, though I gradually adjusted to my situation, I felt an abiding misery in my soul. Our deep poverty was an issue (I barely made $6,000 a year), but more than that, I felt like I had missed the Lord. My continual prayer was, “Lord, what do You want of me?”
Three years of seeking God passed, and I still carried an emptiness inside. What was God’s will for me? I had started a couple Bible studies and spoken a few times in churches, but I so identified with being a pastor that, until I was engaged again in full-time ministry, I feared I had lost touch with God’s call on my life.
Untilled Soil of the Heart
In spite of this inner emptiness concerning ministry, I actually was growing spiritually, especially in areas that were previously untilled. I went through the Gospels, hungry to study and obey the words of Christ. Previously, I had unconsciously defined a successful ministry as something born of my performance. During this time, however, the Lord reduced me to simply being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Indeed, a number of things I thought were biblical I discovered were really just religious traditions. The Lord desired that I take inventory of my heart and examine those few truths for which I would be willing to die. He said the truths for which I would die, for these I should live.
Frankly, things like the timing of the rapture or nuances about worship style or spiritual gifts dropped in their priority, though I still considered them important. Rising to the top of my focus was a passion to be a true follower of Jesus Christ—to obey His teachings and approach life not merely as a critic but more as an encourager. I also found myself increasingly free to enjoy and learn from Christians from other streams and perspectives.
Yet, these changes, though deep and lasting, occurred slowly, almost imperceptibly. They were happening quietly in my heart, and only in hindsight did I see what the Lord had done. Throughout this time, I was preoccupied with feelings of detachment from God’s will. My prayer to know the Lord’s plan for me continued daily.
One day, as I stood in the kitchen pantry, I repeated again my abiding prayer: “Lord, what do You want of me?” In a sudden flash of illumination, the Lord answered. Speaking directly to my heart, He said, “Love Me where you’re at.”
In this time and season, remember, I was not a pastor or minister. I was a television repairman doing odd jobs on the side to provide for my family. I hated what I was doing. In my previous church I taught against TV, and now I was “laying hands” on television sets and raising them from the dead! The Lord’s answer cut straight to my heart. I was awed at its simplicity! I asked, “Love You where I am at? Lord, is that all You want of me?” To this He responded, “This is all I will ever require of you.”
In that eternal moment, peace flooded my soul and I was released from the false expectation of ministry-driven service. God was not looking at what I did for Him, but who I became to Him in love. The issue in His heart was not whether I pastored but whether I loved Him. To love the Lord in whatever station I found myself—even as a television repairman—this I could do!
A deep and remarkable transformation occurred in me. My identity was no longer in being a pastor but rather in becoming a true lover of God. Having settled my priorities, amazingly, just a couple days later I was invited to pastor a church in Marion, Iowa. In spite of all my previous anxiety about returning to ministry, I did not jump at the opportunity. For I had found what the Lord truly desired of me. Though I eventually accepted this call, my focus was not merely on leading a church but on loving God.
What God Seeks
More than one’s ministry, God seeks our love. His great commandment is that we love Him, ultimately, with all our mind, all our heart, and all our soul and strength. If we love Him, we will fulfill all He requires of us (John 14:15). And it is as we love Him that He orchestrates all things to work together for our good (Rom. 8:28).
Beloved, loving God is not hard. We can fulfill any assignment—auto mechanic or housewife, doctor or college student—and still give great pleasure to our heavenly Father. We do not need ministry titles to love the Lord. Indeed, God measures the value of our lives by the depth of our love. This is what He requires of all true God-seekers: to love Him where we are at.
Lord Jesus, the revelation of Your love has swept me off my feet. Lord, You have drawn me and I run after You. Master, even in the mundane things of life, I shall express my love for You. Consume me in Your love.
I’ve missed connecting with you through writing. I’ve missed sharing the beautiful things the Lord is doing in my life. So much of what is happening in my world is too private to share publicly, so I have been quiet.
I feel the winds of change blowing through my life. God is indeed doing something new.
Isaiah 43:19 – For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
The new season God is ushering me into seems to be one of praising Him in advance of the victory, the breakthrough, the appearance of the “new thing.” I’ve known to do this. I’ve even taught it. Now, God is leading me to really practice it.
A week or so ago, I sought the Lord asking what I am to do next. His simple reply was “Shout!” So I’m while I’m learning about all the ways God’s people raised a shout in the Bible, I’m shouting “Hallelujah!” Some moments I can shout “Hallelujah” with a strong voice filled with confidence. Some days, I whisper it out of obedience. Sometimes, I say it through sobs. It is my war cry. It is my praise and my faith-filled prayer. It is keeping my mind on God who fights for me and Jesus who has included me in His victory parade. It is helping me fix my eyes on the Giver of perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3)
As I obey the Lord in this way, I imagine Paul and Silas in their prison cell praying and praising the Lord. They had been harshly beaten and they were able to praise Him. God, who is enthroned on our praises, shook the earth and opened the prison doors offering them freedom (Psalm 22:3; Acts 16). Our God whose Kingdom is unshakeable, shook the earth and radical change happened for those involved (Hebrews 12:28). The jailer and his family became believers in God. Paul and Silas were released to continue their mission and even received an apology from those who imprisoned them.
Think of the wall of Jericho coming down with a shout (Joshua 6)! Think of Jehoshaphat leading God’s people into battle praising Him (2 Chronicles 20).
Would you join me in shouting Hallelujah!?
Would you stand along side of me praising God for all He is, all He has done, and all He will do? When God brings me to your mind, would you lift up a Hallelujah?
He is able to do exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine as He works through us for the glory of His great name (Ephesians 3:20)! May His kingdom come and His glorious will be done.
Thank you friend for fighting alongside of me in this way!
It’s been almost seven months since my last blog post here. Thank you for your patience while I’ve been on this extended break from writing. I’ve missed connecting with you.
How are you? Is your faith in our God growing? Mine has been stretched further than I ever imagined.
I would like to share a little about what led to my writing hiatus.
In the midst of a very busy year of publishing my second book, working part time, and losing my mother-in-law due to a massive stroke, our faithful Father began to answer some very specific prayers.
I had asked Him to help me pray – to put His prayers in my mouth. I began to pray for the fullness of His light to dispel any darkness in my life. I discovered Isaiah 52:1 and began to pray it repeatedly over myself.
Wake up, wake up, O Zion! Clothe yourself with strength. Put on your beautiful clothes, O holy city of Jerusalem, for unclean and godless people will enter your gates no longer.
As I prayed, God moved on my behalf. He revealed that David, my husband of 19 years, was hiding many things from me. The Lord strengthened me to confront him several times and to pray for him and our marriage unceasingly.
Unfortunately, David’s response to my knowledge of the truth has led me to separate from him and file for divorce. I never considered this as an option for us. I cherished David and our marriage. If you had told me a year ago that I would be making this decision, I would have told you how wrong you were about me.
It may appear to you that my choice reveals a weak faith in the God of miracles. I’ve wrestled with that question and the answer is No! My faith has not weakened. My faith is stronger and I am more reliant on God in this than I’ve ever been before. I’ve been prayerfully desperate for His help and He has supplied it. I have purposefully chosen to trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding. The wisdom He provided is not what I expected for my life.
God has not failed me and He has not failed this marriage. I’ve prayed God’s Word over myself, David and our marriage for over a decade. God promises His Word will not return void. I am confident that I did not waste my time praying. While there is so much I do not understand about how this has happened, I am standing firm on the promise that God is working all things together for my good.
This has been the most intense battle I’ve faced in life. God has been so present, so powerful, so generous, and so helpful. I’ve witnessed many miracles in the midst of this life-altering heartache.
I’ve been seeking the Lord’s wisdom on when to share this part of my journey with you. It’s so personal and yet it is so relevant to the reason you’ve subscribed to receive my blog posts – prayer and marriage. I am confident the Lord’s prompting that the time is now.
Would you pray for me as I walk through this very unexpected and shocking time of transition? Would you specifically pray for God’s will to be done and for me to have extra portions of wisdom, strength, courage, and humility before the Lord? Would you pray for David too?
I’d like to pray for you now:
May our God strengthen your faith in Him and strengthen you to resist any schemes of the enemy to use my situation to discourage you. May our God magnify your passionate pursuit of Him and your confidence in His goodness toward you even in the most difficult days. May His Word continue to heal and deliver you. May His love for you become even more obvious to you and fill you with joy and peace.
In Jesus, I pray. Amen
Psalm 29:11 – The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.