Shake Off Shame and Walk Free

Shake Off Shame

Whenever we experience failure, shame and pride attempt to cover. God offers the only sure way to shake off shame, allowing us to walk free.

Three times in the last few weeks, I have been confronted by hidden shame. We may attempt to hide areas of shame in a thousand different ways, but it will insistently peak through cracks in our facade. Often we don’t even recognized the root, but the desire to conceal any area of our lives reveals shame as the underlying source — a source resulting either from my failures or the failures of others.

Whenever I am asked to share my testimony, feelings of shame inevitably rise. The root may spring from my foolish or even sinful decisions. Other shame originated in the violations others perpretrated. After intentionaly seeking repentance, and receiving, as well as extending forgiveness, I live relatively free. Yet, faint shrouds of shame still haunts, causing frustration. Why?

Fear not, for you will not be put to shame, And do not feel humilated, for you will not be disgraced, But you will forget the shame of your youth, And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.”
Isaiah 54:4

This verse offers hope! In it Isaiah connects four integral components: fear, shame, humiliation, and disgrace.

Fear

King David faultered and fell in a huge way. First through committing adultery and then, out of fear of being discovered, he murdered an innocent man. Shame will lead anyone, even a righteous king, down a path they otherwise would never have gone. Afterward, shame always seeks a place to hide.

Jon Bloom describes the deadly combination of pride and shame well. As if shame didn’t carry enough of a burden, it frequently partners with pride. Rather than expose ourselves to shame, pride convinces us to bury it in all the wrong places.

Paul beautifully wrote,

“But we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
2 Corinthians 4:2

David eventually renounced his hidden sin, which wasn’t as hidden as he hoped. When he openly confessed it all to God and others, he received the ability to shake off shame and walk free of his past.

Shame

Dictionaries define shame as a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. It carries strong regret and reproach.

King David’s shame resulted from his own sin. Often the most intense shame we feel comes by the misconduct of others, through disrespect or violation through words and deed. Shame-filled people often shame those around them as a means of covering their own condition.

“Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, And instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land. Everlasting joy will be theirs.”
Isaiah 61:7

What a beautiful promise! Those who have experienced abuse or misuse will receive a double portion. Get ready! God is about to give double for the trouble others have caused. He will bring honor, praise, respect, and esteem to you in double the measure for wrongs inflicted upon you. As we resist proud coverups and walk humbly, God will bring you blessing.

Because sin resides both in and around us, shame may subtly come to cloak us. Either consciously or subconsciously, we begin to align ourselves with the accuser in self-condemnation.

“Behold, I am going to deal at that time with all your oppressors. I will save the lame and gather the outcast. And I will turn their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.”
Zehaniah 3:19

The woman who suffered from bleeding for twelve long years, secretly attempted to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. Cultural humiliation of her condition drove her low. Jesus healed her, reversing the shame unjustly placed on her.

I honestly believe the weak and broken will maintain a higher position in heaven, receiving eternal rewards to compensate for the misplaced humiliation and shame they endured here on earth.

Disgrace

Disgrace refers to a loss of reputation and respect. God reverses the plight through His unprecedented and unmerited grace. Any degradation, discredit, or dishonor experienced, He removes, replacing it by with His grace.

Instead of hiding behind pride, expensive clothes, educational titles, successful businesses, lofty positions, or glass pulpits, God invites us to the only sufficient hiding place, Jesus Christ. As long as we choose to cower behind bitterness, resentment, sarcasim, or insecurity, we will remain prisoners of shame. To shake off shame and walk free, we follow the humble road to Christ.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
1 John 1:9

Here is the catch! We may have memorized hundreds of Bible verses, sought God’s forgiveness, and liberally forgiven others without finding freedom from shame. The residue of shame may continue to limit our ability to move forward.

A Spiritual Issue

As much as shame roots itself in human behavior, it contains a spiritual dimension. When we choose to take a stand and say, “No more!” shame must go.

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Submit yoursleves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
James 4:6-7

Here’s the real deal! We may have humbly approached God, honestly confessing our sins and the violations of others. If so, we have received His beautiful grace, and submitted to a new way of thinking and living. One last, most crucial step remains — resist the devil.

In my instance, to shake off shame and walk free, I had to verbally declare,

“Devil, you no longer have the right or authority to hold shame over me. Jesus Christ has taken care of it all. His double-portion promise of honor, praise, respect and esteem now belongs to me. So get lost! Get out! In the mighty name of Jesus, I command all shame to leave. You are no longer welcome in my heart, mind, or soul.”

Honestly, with the verbal renouncing of shame, I “felt” a new sense of freedom, and God enabled me to finally shake off shame. Praise His Name!

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Power of Networking With People

The Power of Networking

Although connection and community have always been important, the power of networking with people is becoming increasingly significant.

We all seem to arrive upon the life’s landscape with an independent chromozone. Every parent has heard their little one unequivocally announce, “I do it myself!” Every parent has also watched the ensuing struggle to learn — often through scraped knees and bruised shins.

Hopefully, we all eventually realize life was never meant to be a solo journey. We overcome as we form strategic partnerships. We need others!

My natural introverted nature resists reaching out and developing the communities that God knows I need to successfully press beyond personal incapabilities.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”
Ecclesiates 4:9-10

Networking in the Workplace

As an author and communicator without formal training, I lean heavily upon pioneers who have paved the way. Old in years never guarantees wisdom or maturity. Those much younger may carry a wealth of knowledge and creative insight all would benefit from.

Pride might be the greatest inhibitor to developing strong workplace networks. Humility elevates and promotes each other for mutual benefit.

I have reaped the rewards from these workplace networks:

  • Enroll in courses and training modules.
  • Seek the critique of others.
  • Create support groups for mutual development and encouragement.
  • Openly and freely share knowledge.
  • Strive for team excellency.

Though it might seem counter cultural, our greatest success comes by advancing others. Let us develop a culture of promoting and applauding those around us.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
1 Corinthians 12:27

Jesus’ workplace revolved around ministry — ministry He could have easily accomplished alone. Yet, he chose to train and advance others, launching them into similar areas of ministry. The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, could easily be viewed as a manual for elevating and promoting others in the workplace. In everything He did, Jesus demonstrated the power of networking with people, even messed up people.

I would be amiss to not mention the faithful group of women who sacrifically promoted Jesus’ work. They supported Him financially and practically.

Networking in Community

Jesus maintained several layers of community, refusing to function in isolation. His circles included:

  • His three closest friends and collegues (Mark 9:2)
  • A slightly larger group of twelve shared ministry and life — eating and travelling together, even seeing Jesus exhausted, hungry, and pressured (Luke 6:12-16)
  • Seventy-two sat under His teaching and entered into ministry (Luke 10:1)
  • Finally, the crowds who followed were released from demonic possession, healed of diseases, and restored to relationships (Luke 14:25)

What are your community circles? Do you have a small group of close friends who walk beside you through ups and downs? Do you have a larger network of comfort and support among your family or church? Are you connected where you live, impacting the lives of others for the advancement of the Kingdom of God?

I recently read that the greatest human need is for connection. Without personal networks, we feel deprived and empty. Only in and through interconnected relationships will we achieve all God desires for us. The power of networking with people comes alive in integrated healthy community circles.

” . . . I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
John 17:20-21

Networking presents risks. As much as we need these networks, we have all been wounded or taken advantage of by communities that meant to assist and support. Within the context off community healing also effectively flows.

Networking in Prayer

I have vividly seen the value of many network communities. However, the greatest aspect of united agreement flows out of joint networking within prayer circles. Here again, we look to Jesus and those who followed Him.

  • Jesus took His eleven disciples with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32)
  • Eight stayed prayed from distance (Mark 14:32)
  • Three followed closer, overhearing His prayers and seeing His travail (Mark 14:33)
  • About one hundred and twenty of His followers waited in the upper room, continuously in prayer after his ascension (Acts 1:12-15)
  • The early church devoted themselves to corporate prayer (Acts 4:42)

Prayer networks require committment. I have learned to purposefully create prayer teams of support for the projects I work on. I also commit to network in prayer with women who mentor me as I mentor others. Our foundation is prayer. Christian churches and organizes also maintain local, national, and international prayer initiatives.

These prayer circles support while being supported. Nothing significant for God ever occurs apart from the power of networking in prayer.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Never too Busy to Network

One of the biggest excuses standing in the way of healthy networking is over-activity. To receive the full benefits of the power of networking, adjustments and prioritizing our schedules becomes essential.

The second hindrance to strong community networks might possibly be personal insecuity. One of the reasons I hesitated so long to begin a women’s group was the feelings of intimidation and insecurity. Gulp!!! By pushing aside our fears, past failures, and pride we will reap the benefits of amazing networks waiting for us.

Finally, everything Jesus taught ran countercultural. Networking is a prime example.

As application points, let’s look honestly (and without condemnation) at how we are personally interacting within networks.

  • Do I carry wounds from network communities that I need healing from?
  • What networks should I prioritize in work, community, and prayer?
  • Do I need to relinquish independence or insecurity to move into healthy communities?

“Lord Jesus, I ask You to knit us together into vibrant, healthy, thriving communities. Move us forward together so we all reach our ultimate potential and efficacy. I ask You to clearly demonstrate the power of networking Your way. Amen.”

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Christianity — The Greatest Movement in History

Christianity - The Greatest Movement in History

Time has proven the greatest movement in history has undeniably been the sustained growth and expansion of Christian faith, despite extreme persecution of its followers by oppressive regimes to eradicate it.

The ministry of Jesus spanned three short years. Yet today, roughly one third of the world’s population profess some form of Christianity — about 2.38 billion people according to the last count. Rather than a diminishing belief, people are coming to faith in Jesus Christ in greater numbers now than ever before.

Shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion, women approached his tomb to mourn and give Him a proper burial. How shocked they must have been at the angel’s announcement,

” . . . Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”
Matthew 28:5

Many people still believe Jesus to be dead, buried, and gone. Oh, how wrong their perception! Both He and His church are alive and well!

Just As He Said

On multiple occasions, Jesus forewarned His disciples about His death and ressurrection. He prepared them for the future, telling of many things yet to occur. Rather than the church weakening or becoming just-another-religious organization in His absence, He said Christianity would become a powerful, unflinching force that would neither cower nor bow.

“And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.”
Matthew 11:12 NLT

All the original apostles, except for Judas, Jesus’ betrayer, gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Faith in Jesus, rather than fear of political or religious leaders, drove them to ferociously defend and advance the Kingdom of God.

“We are certainly not those who are held back by fear and perish; we are among those who have faith and experience true life.”
Hebrews 11:39 TPT

The same attitude embodies Christians around the world today. Christianity remains the greatest movement throughout history.

Greater Works

It is difficult to comprehend Jesus’ promise that His followers would continue and exceed the ministry He began.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
John 14:12

Greater works than Jesus? Since Jesus said it, we can confidently believe.

Jesus didn’t leave us powerless. The indwelling Holy Spirit continues to flow through those who follow Him. Holy Spirit working within believers accomplishes the same things Jesus did when He walked among humanity. Now, with Jesus’ followers numbering in the billions, greater works are being done. Billions of Spirit-filled believers actively carry out His mandate around the world.

Much Fruit

The greatest movement in history continues to flourish and dominate social cultures and political landscapes, not apart from Jesus, but through Him, by Him, and for His glory.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5

In a recent dream, I saw a large, open field. I knew the land was once rolling terrain, dotted with sandy hills in some areas and wasted swamp in others. Yet, now the flat field produced an extremely thick crop of plump wheat. The ripe heads of wheat were thicker and fuller than any natural wheat heads. It was a supernatural crop. As the legal owner of the land, I knew it was my responsibility to bring in the harvest — an impossible task to accomplish on my own. This supernatural harvest would require a supernatural team, including Jesus and others.

Together

John records Jesus’ prayer — first for Himself, then for His followers, and finally for future believers (like you and me).

” . . . I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
John 17:20-23

This unity between believers from diverse denominations, complex cultures, and numerable nations creates a synergy, adding momentum to the greatest movement in history and bringing in the supernatural harvest. Christian unity offers people everywhere a visual demonstration that Jesus is alive.

Jesus continues to visit people through dreams and vision, supernatural healings, signs, and wonders. Borders cannot stop His entrance. Governments cannot stop His movement. His is alive! His church is growing exponentially in numbers and maturity. He compared it to yeast working through dough,

” . . . The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
Matthew 13:33

Do Not Be Afraid

Sixty pounds of flour is a whole lot of flour! Once blended in, yeast can never be separated from the dough

The first words the angels spoke continue to resonate, “Do not be afraid!” Jesus continues to lead His church to victory! Rather than standing off in obscurity, He actively moves among us, drawing the prodigals home, opening the ears and eyes of the spiritually deaf and blind, while softening even the hardest of hearts.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

Oh, precious reader, take courage! You are not alone! Wherever you live, God is with you. If you have declared Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you belong to His amazing powerful Church, the greatest movement in history.

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

He is Risen!

Download Now! 1. Infographic 2. Easter Maze 3. Wordsearch 4. Coloring Page #1 5. Coloring Page #2

Happy Easter everyone! He is Risen! To celebrate, I have prepared a small Easter bundle just for you and your family. As I look out my window today, the snow is swirling and the wind is blowing. I know elsewhere the flowers are blooming and the grass is green. Wherever you are may your focus be on tremendous blessing that is our through Jesus Christ.

In this month’s resource package, I have included a prayer as well as other fun activities.

Infographic

To get you started, this infographic contains keys thoughts and verses emphasizing the power of the Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Easter Infographic

There are lots more activities right here!

Sincere blessings to each of you.

**********

Easter Part 2— Cleansing, Healing, And Restoration

At Easter, we celebrate the power of the blood of Jesus to align humanity with God’s intentions, bringing cleansing, healing and restoration. Since the original rebellion and turning away from God, all of us are bent in a similar direction. The corruption of our nature ebbs deep.

If ever we question God’s love for us, we need only look to the cross for the answer. The Father provided everything for our cleansing, healing and restoration through Jesus. Jesus gave everything for us through His blood.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

To restore humanity’s brokenness and renew their relationship with the Father, Jesus only needed to die — the innocent for the guilty. But Jesus went all the way, to the very last drop, to redeem us and purchase back everything the enemy had stolen.

Healing

People misunderstand Jesus as much today as they misunderstood Him over 2000 years ago. Isaiah hundreds of years before that wrote these compelling lines:

“Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought
us peace was on him
and by his wounds we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:4-5

He suffered a brutal beating, standing in the gap for our pain, suffering, transgressions, iniquities, sickness, and diseases. Transgressions define the outward sins we commit, both knowingly and unknowingly. Iniquities form the under currents — the twisted and evil thoughts, attitudes, and intentions of our hearts.

After the resurrection of Jesus, Peter quotes Isaiah, changing the wording slightly to declare,

“‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.'”
1 Peter 2:24

It is finished! Sins forgiven. The guilty made righteous. Healing imparted to souls and body. Complete!

Cleansing

As the hammer descended, violently driving the nails through Jesus’ hands and feet, cleansing blood flowed and seeped into the dusty ground.

From the time of the first deadly assault between Cain and his brother, Abel, the blood of violence has been crying from the earth, appealing to heaven for justice and reconciliation.

“No, in your heart you devise injustice,
and your hands mete our violence on the earth.”
Psalm 58:2

Bloodshed shadows every nation and all peoples. No race or tribe rightly claims exemption. We all need the cleansing that only Jesus blood provides. His blood heals the earth contaminated by cruel assaults, one against another.

Ana Mendez Ferrell articulates it well:

“From this blood we obtain triumph over iniquity, over sin, over the twisted, crocked way of our footsteps. This blood opens the way of righteousness, restoring the paths of our destiny. It opens roads to carry the Gospel where there is no path or any way to get there.”

Through Jesus, we all receive cleansing from past agression (by us and against us), allowing hands to embrace others in love and feet to walk faithfully in God’s ways.

Restoration

Even after Jesus’ death, one last affliction caused a life-giving flow to be released on our behalf.

” . . . one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.”
John 19:34

“Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, this is the one who came by water and blood — Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood . . .” 1 John 5:5-6

The Israelites, on their wilderness journey, felt their lives ebbing away as their water supply disappeared. They cried out to Moses for help. Then he cried out to God. God commanded Moses to strike a rock, and when he did, water gushed out. Water enough to sustain millions of people and their livestock.

The smitten rock in the wilderness was Jesus.

“They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”
1 Corinthians 10:3-4

Later, when the people were in a similar situation, Moses struck the rock again instead of speaking to it as God instructed. God gave them water, but it cost Moses His destiny. In the same way, Jesus only had to die once for all! No other sacrifices are needed.

It may have been a soldier’s spear that pierced Jesus, but God released through Jesus’ body the blood and water that brings life — true life, daily life, eternal life — to us all! That life still flows, following us through our desert situations.

Celebrate

This Easter as we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, may we thank Him again for His blood. May we appreciate, with renewed understanding, the cleansing, healing, and restoration found in Him alone.

No other ingredient or action removes the dreadful stain. No other Name heals our dis-ease and twisted motivations. Human decrees and laws prove powerless and feeble to unite and restore. As the old hymn writer, Robert Lowry, penned, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

But God! God, through Jesus Christ, secured it all! Praise be His Name forever!

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Easter — Why the Blood? Part 1— Surrender

Surrender

Easter, the greatest celebration of the Christian Church, correctly emphasises the resurrection. Though once dead, Jesus Christ lives! His resurrection signed the guarantee for each of us to now have the hope of eternal life.

Easter celebrates His life.

As we approach this Easter season, I again consider the significance of the shed blood of Jesus. Many believers today, hesitate to discuss this often controversial subject. In so doing, we perhaps miss key truths and essential realities of our faith.

So pardon me while I briefly share a few thoughts. Each one only skims the surface, but hopefully it will help us to consider why the blood is so significant, both to us as individuals and also to the larger church “body.”

“For the life of the body is in the its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the LORD. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.”
Leviticus 17:11

Baby Bird

Surrender of Will

Redemption began, not on the cross, but in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus travailed in prayer, calling to His Father and seeking another, even easier, way to accomplish His mission.

“‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will , but what you will.'”
Mark 14:36

Jesus knew every detail within the impending hours. Being fully God, Jesus was also fully man. As a man, He felt, as intensely as you or I, the sting of betrayal, the isolation of abandonment, and the pain of physical suffering. Yet in great angst, He surrendered His will.

Baby bunny

“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
Luke 22:44

Our redemption began in the Garden. Because of the blood of Jesus, now our wills, too, may be fully surrendered to the authority of Lord.

Surrender of the Mind

“They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said.”
Matthew 27:28-29

The full cruelty of these soldiers is difficult to imagine. They wove a crown of thorns, pressings it into Jesus’ head, piercing his flesh, and releasing a flow of blood. But as they mocked, Jesus won for us the victory over the devil’s influence over our thoughts, shattering the negative strongholds over our minds.

Baby Kitten

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
2 Corinthians10:4-5

Why the blood? Easter reminds us that through the blood, Jesus gave us the ability to surrender our minds completely to the authority and truth of God.

Surrender of Pride

The soldier continued to vent their full agression upon Jesus.

“Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him.”
Mark 15:19

We scarcely want to believe the brutality Jesus experienced. They beat His face and head again and again with fists and rods. The prophet Isaiah spoke about the event hundreds of years prior,

“Just as there were many who were
appalled at him —
his appearance was so disfigured
beyond that of any human being
and his form marred beyond
human likeness —”
Isaian 52:14

Baby Chick

Why the blood? Jesus submitted to the soldiers beating as a symbol of surrendered pride and vanity. Through His blood, we now have the power to endure humiliation, reproach, and the loss of reputation. The blood of Jesus strengthens us to withstand persecution as His divine beauty shines through us.

Surrender of Position

Isaiah adds another detail to the soldiers treatment of Jesus.

“I offered my back to those
who beat me,
my cheeks to those
who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.”
Isaiah 50:6

The beard represents priesthood, dignity, distinction, maturity, and position.

Baby Duckling

Why the blood? As the soldiers ripped the beard from Jesus’ face, His blood paved the way surrendering earthly position and prestige. Now, He brings us into a higher place of serving the Him as His priests.

” . . . To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”
Revelation 1:5-6

Easter

We celebrate Easter, rejoicing in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. No one and nothing could hinder Him from completing our redemption to the fullest. Through the power of His blood, we gain the victory to surrender our wills, minds, pride, and position to Him completely.

Why the blood? Through Jesus shed blood, we join Him in overcoming, conquering, and triumphing.

“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
Revelation 12:11

As we prepare for family gatherings and celebrate Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, may we appreciate every way Jesus’ blood was shed.

“Thank You again, Jesus, for Your precious blood. Amen.”

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Spring is Here Signalling a New Generation of Growth

Spring is Here!

Everyone from the far north announces when spring is here. Snow melts; puddles appear. Even the muddy messiness is a welcome reprieve. Preparation by gardeners and farmers began months ago. Proud growers splatter social media with images of seedlings flourishing under growlights lights and in greenhouses.

Most people look forward to spring. Maybe not the muddy part, but certainly the clean, fresh, green part! We watch and listen for the return of waterfowl and songbirds, building nests and laying eggs. We google over sprigs of green bravely emerging from the cold, once barren, earth. Spring brings promise.

Spring comes slowly only to leave quickly, followed by the steady rhythm of other seasons.

See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.”
Song of Songs 2:11-13

Solomon never endured the lengthy, frigid winters we do. Yet, he welcomed spring with a song, “Winter is over! Spring is here!” He relished the sights, sounds, and aromas of the season of awakening and fresh starts.

Fresh Start

God often refers to autumn and spring rains as refreshing and rejuvenating the earth. The spring rain carried a promise of future harvest.

Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.”
Joel 2:23-24

Spring symbolizes new beginnings. Those fresh sprouts of green will eventually produce a harvest. In the Bible, an overflow of grain, new wine, and oil speaks of abundance flowing from fresh starts and new beginnings. Each symbolic, not just of earth and soil, but people with soul coming into spiritual overflow.

So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today — to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul — then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.”
Deuteronomy 11:13-14

Can you feel it? God’s promise of abundance and blessing?

The Patience of Spring

All us dirt-between-the-fingers gardeners know that to plant a seed or see a fresh sprout rising from the dust doesn’t mean harvest has arrived. Spring may be here, but harvest follows much later.

The sower plants with patient expectation. The patience of spring represents another more important waiting.

“Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea 6:3

Just as the spring rains cause the dead sprigs to burst into life, spring announces the promised return of Jesus Christ. When He comes, death will forever be cast aside as He breathes fullness of life into His own.

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”
James 5:7

Farmers know we need more than just a few spring showers to produce a harvest. Timely summer rains bring the crops through to completion. But, no rain carries as much significance and promise as the early spring rain.

Ask for Rain

The patience of waiting partners with fully trusting in the Lord’s provision. The sower plants, waits, and seeks God for the increase. Within patience flows asking — asking God to provide His rain at strategic times.

Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone.”
Zechariah 10:1

Spring follows winter as surely as day follows night. But God encourages us to ask for His showers of blessings. Zechariah reminds us to be bold in our asking God for the full provision of spring.

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry gournd; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.”
Isaiah 44:3-4

God remembers we are made from dust. We forget what a dry thirsty people we become apart from the constant “showers” of the Spirit. The spring rain points us to Holy Spirit being poured out on humanity — on us and our children — saturating and reviving all that has grown cold and barren.

Faithfulness

More than anything else, spring reminds us of God’s faithfulness. We might easily forget in the cold, dark night of winter, but as the sun rises higher and higher warming the land and restoring life, we remember again that God is faithful.

“Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The LORD will indeed give what is good and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.”
Psalm 85:11-13

As wars and corruption flood the earth, throwing nations and peoples into uproar, God’s reminder that spring is here brings hope. As we lift our gaze to Him, we remember His faithfulness, seeking a greater outpouring of His Spirit. Even when justice and righteousness seem distant, God is faithful!

The muck and mud always gives way to beauty. God’s righteousness will always prevail, preparing the way for intervention in our lives and in our world, until His ultimate return to gather the real harvest.

Spring signals a new generation of growth. Look down enough to avoid the muck and mud, but keep looking up to God who is forever faithful!

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Beauty of Boundaries: Fences of Protection

As a teenager, I failed to see the beauty of boundaries, repeatedly pushing against any restriction my parents or teachers established. I bear the scars to prove it!

Every outstanding leader honors and recognizes the indisputable importance of parameters on their leadership and with those they lead. Loving parents establish appropriate lines of protection around their children. These fences — sometimes visible, often invisible — keep what is harmful at bay while provided the greatest liberty.

Jesus trained world-changing leaders to follow behind Him. We witness His boundary-establishing techniques at the beginning of their ministry experiences.

Authority

“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”
Matthew 10:1

I may have been born in the wrong generation, on the wrong continent, of the wrong gender to take part in the exploits of this group, but my heart cries, “My too!” I long to see a day when hospital wards completely empty, with every disease and sickness brought down. I’m not alone in praying for God to remove the deceptive and deadly claws of the enemy from those we deeply love and care.

“Yes, Lord! Grant us the same authority!”

The Greek word exesti, translated here as authority, means “privilege, force, capacity, competency, freedom, mastery, or delegated influence.” We consider authority to mean the power to give orders, make decisions, or enforce obedience in others. Biblical authority contains a broader meaning within the beauty of boundaries — boundaries, Jesus clearly articulated.

Do Not Go

“These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.”
Matthew 10:5

Do you see it? Immediately, Jesus set the parameter of their movement. Jesus never conferred authority upon His disciples as a blank cheque to be executed wherever or however they desired.

Power and authority, like intoxicating wine, changes people. Usually to their detriment! But with proper boundaries, that same power and authority becomes mighty in the hands of ordinary men and women.

Multitudes in need awaited the disciples throughout the vast territory before them. The magnitude of the mission, without the beauty of boundaries Jesus established, might otherwise have overwhelmed them. If they or we over-extend ourselves, the immensity of the task incapacitates us, rendering us ineffective.

Jesus scaled back their focus to one people group in one specific area. Within that parameter, they possessed the authority of Christ to function liberally, bringing healing and freedom to those they encountered.

Go

When they clearly understood the “Don’t go!” Jesus then released them to “Go!”

Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.”
Matthew 10:6

Galilee embodied as much multiculturalism as any nation today. God loves each one completely and uniquely.

As a former farmer/rancher, I understand only a fragment of the heart of the Good Shepherd here. If I noticed an animal from a neighbor’s herd in need, I quickly contacted the neighbor and offered help. But if one of my own animals fell into danger, became ill, or went missing, I immediately amped all efforts. The care and concern for my herd far exceeded that for my neighbor’s.

Jesus, the Great Shepherd, desired to minister first to His sheep, “the lost sheep of Israel.” Lost sheep encounter many deadly dangers. Time is of the essence!

As You Go

Jesus gave not only a “do not go” and a “go” instruction, but He also added important details to an “as you do” directive.

“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”
Matthew 10:7-8

First, He called them to present the message and purpose of their authority clearly! God desires that everything we say and do points others to the “kingdom of heaven.” Jesus gave the disciples authority to point the lost sheep homeward to the waiting arms of the loving Father.

Second, supernatural signs and wonders emphasized and validated the message. God had been calling His sheep home for decades. They had grown deaf to His voice. Jesus knew meeting human need through miracles would have dramatic effect, awakening them to their deeper spiritual needs.

Beauty of Boundaries

When we stop resisting the fences of protection and provision God establishes, we discover the true beauty of boundaries. It has taken me far too long, but I’m realizing that the more I respect and honor the boundaries God has placed around my life, the more empowered I become to declare His grace.

God’s impartation of authority continues through all generations. God still moves with divine power, healing the sick, casting out demons, and even raising the dead through the submitted hearts and hands of those who intentionally walk within His boundaries.

Freely, they live among us, declaring God’s love and grace. Liberally, they move with supernatural power and authority. Those who hunger and thirst for the things of God are being filled, empowered, and sent out.

Weekly, I hear people witness to God’s healing and deliverance in their lives.

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
Psalm 16:6

“Lord, forgive us for resisting your parameters of influence. Turn our hearts in surrender to your ways. Release in and through your faithful followers divine authority and power to speak and move within the beauty of boundaries, as Your instruments of healing, redemption, and deliverance. Let it be!
Amen.”

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Let Us Pray!

February 14, 2022! No better day than today to unite in prayer for love, life, and liberty. Bless you all. Today, the Prime Minister of Government of Canada invoked the Emergencies Act, against middle-class Canadians peacefully protesting the loss of their constitutional freedoms.

Across the globe, Russia builds military might over Ukraine — a true pending invasion.

I discarded a well-drafted blog in favor of raw prayer. Let us join together, praying for our nation of Canada, and the nations around the world facing serious infringement of rights and liberties. Let us pray for Christians imprisoned for their confession in the Name of Jesus. Let us pray for God to intervene nationally and globally, no matter your nationality or origin.

**********

“Father, in Heaven, we come . . .
We come humbly and earnestly, seeking your will and your way.
The enemies that rise against Your people are too strong for us.
LORD of Angel Armies come to the rescue of Your children.
Throw the enemy forces into confusion.

Create wide divisions in the ranks of those who oppose You and Your ways.
May waves of repentance and revival sweep across the nations.

A global turning of hearts to You, Lord.
O God, our eyes are turned, not to the hand of man to save us,
but to You alone.

Remove the spirit of fear that has woven its dark net over the peoples.
Break the power of manipulation, intimidation, and control.
Fill Your people with courage and peace.
May Your flame of love be ignited within us —
Love for You. Love for Your ways.
Love for Your Word of Truth.
May the hope that has been birthed grow strong.
May faith too long diminished bloom in the night.

Unite Your church as one voice, one people, under One God.

Lord of the Harvest, send out laborers into Your harvest field.
May hunger and thirst for the things of God take root
in every nation, province, territory, tribe, and people.

Establish what You want to establish.
Tear down what You want to tear down.
Demolish what You want to demolish.
We ask for righteous and justice to come forth.
Continue to expose hidden and perverse agendas.

“Be still! Be still! God is upon His throne.”

Silence the voice of the accusers, Lord.
In a day, in a single day, turn nations back to You.
In a day, in a single day, glorify Your Holy Name.

May the things that enemy contrived for evil
be turned for good.
Grant the godly in leadership divine wisdom,
discernment, knowledge, and understanding.

God with ask for your great grace and mercy to cover
the persecuted church around the world.
Give them courage to stand strong in the faith.
Supernaturally supply for their families.
May the trial of their faith not be in vain.
Give them bold voice and witness of Your goodness.
Hide Your children in plain sight.
May they walk with freedom even in the midst
of their persecutors.

Mend the deep erosion of faith caused by complacency
and indifference.
Forgive us, O Lord!
Come, Lord, and heal our land!

Turn us back to You, our God.
May we not be ashamed of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Righteousness exalts a nation,
So God, may we stand strong and unwavering.
Raise up righteous leaders, courageous followers of Christ.

We thrust a stake of faith into the ground and declare,
“Thus far has the Lord helped us.
We declare the Lord God, to be God of the nations.

We declare Your grace and mercy over the peoples.
. . . ”

May this little prayer be only the beginning. May you be mobilized to pray for your nations and the nations around the world. Eternity hangs in the balance for so many.

Identify and Overcome Any Roadblock or Obstacle to Success

I’m working to identify and overcome any roadblock or obstacle to success. Why? I feel stuck or unproductive in a critical area of my work.

Do you stall out? Or have you hit an invisible wall impeding your progress? We all face these situations and seasons. I’ve been working through my own recently. Fortunately, we also possess the ability to overcome.

Jesus met with serious opposition at the beginning of His ministry. His baptism by John created the launch point. What occurred immediately afterward, however, determined His trajectory.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well please.'”
Matthew 3:16-17

God affirmed Jesus as “my Son,” declaring His love and pleasure with Him. Yet, immediately the Spirit led Jesus into a difficult place, a wilderness, where again and again the devil questioned Jesus’ identity and value.

This may well have created a serious obstacle for anyone of us. If Jesus would have listened to the enemy, His ministry would have been terminated instead of propelled into motion.

What internal “voices” or external pressures are you facing?

I will share a few of mine!

Self-Doubt

We resist the same enemy Jesus did. The devil attempted Jesus to doubt His identity and value — to question His worth.

Every forward movement encounters opposition. “Who do you think you are?” “You can’t do that!” “No one will listen to you.” “You have nothing to offer.” It is familiar rhetoric that haunts many of us.

Most of the time, I’m pretty good at recognizing this ploy. But sometimes, I take the bait and become paralyzed by my insufficiency.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
2 Corinthians 4:7

Honestly, acknowledging my inability releases me to do and be all I am meant to be, without the pressure of attempting to measure some preconceived standard. If I believe I am the next great thing the world needs, pride dooms me to failure. Every success I achieve, I achieve through Christ in me.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
2 Corinthians 9:8

When self-doubt blocks you, admit your weaknesses and move on. Step over any feelings of unworthiness and draw from God’s power and ability at work in and through you. Don’t allow self-doubt to become an obstacle to success.

Fear

Fear takes on many forms. Though people perceive me as being bold and perhaps even fearless, I encounter this roadblock more than I would like to admit. Often, it creeps in so subtlely I fail to recognize fear as being the root of my stagnation.

Though it sounds foolish, I may fear both success and failure simultaneously. In school, other students criticized me as much for my successes as for my blunders. Those voices of childhood, even though they occurred decades ago, sometimes still derail me from reaching peak potential.

Fear intimidates. Fear paralyzes.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7

If we ask God, He will expose the root of our fear. Whether He points to the fear of not measuring up to the opinions of others or the fear of being vulnerable, identifying the source helps us to move beyond it.

Perfectionism

God knows we are imperfect. We know we are imperfect. So why is perfectionism such a big deal? Or at least, why is perfectionism such a big deal for me?

“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.”
Ecclesiastes 11:7

When I make perfection even remotely my goal, I may begin the work, but never complete it or boldly present it to others. Perfectionism focuses on flaws. It holds us to impossible standards, clouding everything we do with disappointment and discouragement.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15

Timothy’s mentor and “father” in the faith encouraged him, “Do your best!” Our consistent best will keep the momentum going. It will elevate us above obstacles.

We could all glean from these words, applying it to whatever we are working at. “Do your best!” Let’s put perfectionism behind us and simply attempt to do our best.

So many times, I look at my work, knowing it is far from perfect. But I also recognize that at this point in my life, this is the best I have to offer. When I resolve to accept my imperfection, I step past perfectionism as the obstacle to success.

Discouragement

When things don’t turn out like I hope, discouragement creeps in. Often shame or regret ride the same wave with discouragement.

Don’t be afraid for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

“Don’t be discouraged!” God says to each of us. “Don’t give it room or entertain it in your mind!”

Whatever we do that is good and upright, let’s remember God is with us. He never calls us to something He will not equip us to do. He strengthens and helps us to carry it out.

Whatever door of opportunity God opens for us, He empowers us to confidently walk through it. Let us not allow discouragement to become an obstacle to success.

Busyness

Ineffective management of my time often creates the greatest roadblock to accomplishing my goals. Usually, this results from an over-booked, over-extended, and over-loaded schedule.

Distractions continually bombard — some avoidable, others unavoidable.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:33

Jesus encourages us to establish godly priorities and set healthy boundaries over our time. I find these tips helpful:

  • Say “no” to some things to give the option to say “yes” to the most important things
  • Recognize and avoid time wasting distractions
  • Tackle the most difficult work during peak performance periods
  • Minimize where I can so I can maximize for the greatest effect
  • Rest before work, eat before effort, exercise before assignments

We cannot regain time once it passes. Time is precious to God.

Obstacle to Success

My list includes only a few of the roadblocks that create obstacles to success. We each will face our own recurring roadblocks to impede progress.

Your list might read differently from mine. Procrastination, insecurity, or past shame may rank high on a few lists. Through Jesus Christ, we all can be victorious no matter how long or short our lists appear.

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:57-58

Whatever God has set before us, wherever He has positioned us, let us thank God. He gives us the ability to identify and overcome any roadblock or obstacle to success.

Your labor is not in vain! God is with you.

**********

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.