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Thursday, December 5, 2013

White Space


When I was a marketing major, I learned how the careful arrangement of each element on an advertisement contributed to its overall design appeal and visual effectiveness. One of the most vital, yet perhaps overlooked, elements to good design is simply white space.
There are actually two types of white space: undefined white space—which is simply a blank sheet of paper or opened document with no ascribed purpose, and active white space, which occurs when an object is strategically placed in an undefined white space.
Spaces between images and words are crucial for creating harmony and achieving balance. If too many elements are crammed onto a page, essentially the overall message will be lost in the clutter. Itishardertodecipherthemeaningofmessageswithoutspaces. Similarly, I believe many marriages are unable to breathe because they are unknowingly suffocating under a big pile of distractions. Life becomes one big run-on sentence, with no pauses for breathing, or borders for definition and meaning.
Just like a room in a house needs habitual cleaning, a marriage does not exist in a vacuum, but rather an active environment that requires regular attention. Sometimes a couple’s schedule can get so over-crowded, and valuable quality time begins to shrink until it is almost non-existent. Regular date nights are important to protect each week, so the territory of your marriage is not unintentionally occupied. Sometimes your schedule can be crowded by seemingly “good things,” but the simple truth is, there are only twenty-four hours in a day. If your priorities are not protected, others will schedule your life for you.
So many unforeseen sacred moments float inside the active white space of our marriage. Laughter. Unexpected kisses. The unspoken excitement of hopes and dreams begging to take shape. Moments longing to be memories.
Remember the elevated sense of expectancy you felt on your honeymoon? Two souls forged together in spirit with the burning belief that anything was possible. Sometimes we must intentionally erase the corners of our soul that are cluttered with negative impressions and images from the past. Perhaps you still have to forgive your spouse for a disappointment, or maybe you have to forgive yourself for not meeting an unattainable self-imposed expectation.
Whatever it is, determine to travel to the destination in your heart where you feel free once again. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 31:8, “You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place” (NIV).
My husband and I spent our honeymoon on a Paradise-like island called Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. It was a surprise honeymoon—I packed my bags with no idea where I was going, but I knew in my heart it would be incredible. I recently learned that the literal interpretation of “Punta Cana” means “white point.” :)
 


 

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Sans-Serif Marriage


In my prayer time today, I heard the words, “sans-serif.” I knew this was a type of font, but I thought it was unusual to enter my thoughts so abruptly and clearly. I felt in my Spirit that there must be some sort of hidden message God wanted to speak to me. I started researching about this style of font online. Sans-serif fonts have become the most prevalent for display of texts on computer screens. The French Word “sans” means “without.” The term “serifs” refers to small projecting features at the end of strokes. If you look at the picture, you can see that in sans serif fonts, the ends are smooth and rounded. Serif fonts have line width variation, whereas sans-serif fonts are consistent without much line variation.
God wants our marriages to be read by others in the sans-serif font. If we want the message of Christ to be easily understood by others, our marriages must boldly stand apart from those of the world. Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes did see my substance, being yet unformed; and in Your book they were all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” (KJV, 2000). God wants each marriage to tell a story. Our marriages have the capacity to serve as a divine expression of His heart seamlessly knitted to His bride. God wants each marriage to be an earthly type and shadow of a glorious heavenly relationship. He wants us to love consistently, without variation from day to day.
When we purpose in our hearts to impart grace (unmerited, undeserved favor) to our spouse, it is as if all our “serifs” or prominent shortcomings, weaknesses, and mistakes have been effortlessly erased. As we show grace more consistently, the message will become clear and bold to everyone around you. Interestingly, sans serifs are sometimes used as a device for emphasis due to their typically darker, bolder color. When we emphasize grace rather than offense in our marriage, the message of the Gospel is retraced in our own hearts and visible to others. Romans 5:20 says, “Moreover the law entered that offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” When we become rigid and unforgiving toward our spouse, we are in essence, typing out the message of the law.  
One of the tactics the enemy uses to distort the pure message of Christianity is confusion. I believe the world is confused about Christianity because of the conflicting messages that are daily encountered. A good marriage is not characterized by the absence of offense, but rather the presence of grace. Walking in unity is walking in grace. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” God wants the profession of our beliefs to match the demonstration of our lives. If Jesus did not condemn you, then you have no right to condemn your spouse or yourself for that matter.
Revelation 12:11 says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” As our marriage unfolds, it becomes a testimony to others, reflecting the resurrection power of Christ in your relationship. Each word, each kind gesture, each hug, each kiss, each sacrifice takes on such a greater meaning than you can naturally comprehend.
I pray that God will pen each ordained marriage into living epistles that will bring glory to His name. II Corinthians 3:2-3 says, 2Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men: 3Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tablets of the heart.” One day the earth and all its contents will be destroyed, but the books that God writes will last forever. How will your marriage read?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Look at the Moon!

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and the Lord showed me a vision of a waxing crescent moon. He told me when believers face night seasons in their Christian walk, they need to ask Him for a “waxing crescent moon” along their journey until day breaks.

One of the most frustrating experiences is when a seemingly bleak reality sharply contrasts the glowing promises arising from His Word. When we are believing God for a very specific promise, the enemy will inevitably lurk in the shadows of the night, spawning confusion to trouble our minds. It is during these night seasons that we must strategically engage in spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (KJV)

I have learned instead of rebuking the enemy, a much more effective strategy is to meditate on the unchanging promises found in God’s Word. Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” As His Word is illuminated in our hearts, the revelation begins to bulge in our beings like a waxing crescent moon.

As soft moonlight scatters across the water’s surface to create a glistening pearly path, God wants us to walk in expectant hope that is sealed by His tremendous love for us. Romans 5:5 says, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (NKJV) The Holy Spirit, like the moonlight, has the beautiful capacity to soften wrinkles of worry and hush our fussy hearts with a gently lullaby. God wants to lead our darkened souls like steady ships that sail triumphantly into the morning hours. God has an appointed time for breakthrough; He is the One who changes the times and the seasons. When we rest in the assurance that the Author and Perfector of our faith is our First Love, Jesus Christ, even the night season can become glorious.


As we meditate on these illuminated promises, we find our faith growing from glory to glory. We may not see the fullness of their manifestation, but we take heart in spiritual progression and begin to embrace the journey.  We must remember to simply receive His love every time we open the Bible. God does not want us to analyze His promises, but rather metabolize them…digesting them entirely through the capsule of love. Think about studying the moon from a distance, dissecting it scientifically versus gazing the moon through a romantic lens. Although we are commanded to love one another, we must receive His love continually for we cannot give what we do not receive. I John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” (NAS). It is His perfect love that plucks us from the midnight and plants us in the morning of new beginnings. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Are You Running Today's Race on Yesterday's Faith

God gave you both the desire and the faith for what you are believing for. The desire often manifests as a strong feeling that seems to grow stronger. It is visceral, palpable, and deeply knitted into the very fabric of your soul. Psalm 34:7 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” The problem is, we very much remember the desires of our heart, but we often forget how to delight ourselves in the LORD. It is innately human and natural to let disappointments distort the perception of our faith. Too often we stop at, “I just don’t have the faith for that.”

My husband and I went to an estate sale a couple of weeks ago. On the way, Adam pointed out the street name on the opposite side—Whit’s End.  He couldn’t help but notice the play on words. He asked me jokingly, “How would you like to live on ‘Whit’s End?’
 
The truth is, many couples feel like they are stuck in this precise spiritual location. A lot of junk mail has piled up with their names on it. They have come to a dead-end in one or more areas of their lives and feel that this must just be their permanent address. You may even feel like you have somehow let God down because of an apparent lack of faith. I have learned that we are often harder on ourselves than God is. Jesus does not condemn you for not having faith, He meets you just where you are so He can give you new faith.
One of my favorite passages is in Mark 9, where the father of a son who was possessed by a spirit since childhood approached Jesus. In verse 22, the father speaks, “It has often thrown him both in the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” In verse 23, Jesus responds to him, “‘If You can?‘ All things are possible to him who believes.” Keep in mind, earlier the father had brought him to the disciples, but they could not cast the spirit out. For years the father had experienced the emotional and spiritual turmoil of raising a child with such an extreme infirmity. The father was completely exhausted and exasperated. You could say, for all intents and purposes, he had been living at his “wit’s end” for quite some time.
This Scriptural account gives us insight into the enemy’s tactics in our lives. One of his favorite schemes is to wear us down to such a point that doubt and unbelief become a residual part of our spiritual makeup. The enemy knows that Jesus has all authority—that is something he can never change. Therefore, his tactic is to try to skew our perception of Jesus. Notice the father’s words, “if You can…” When the word “if” enters through your mind in a negative package, you can be sure the author of that thought is Satan himself. Remember in Matthew 4:6 when Satan tempted Jesus: “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
This is why in Mark 9 Jesus had to address the father’s unbelief first. Satan had utilized the passage of time, marked by disappointments and delay, to plant seeds of doubt in the father. Jesus had the power to heal his son and the desire to heal him. Jesus wanted the father to first know Him personally in His true identity—as the Son of God.
When the father received this revelation, his response is powerful. In verse 24, the father said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” At first read, you may think this is a contradictory statement. If he believes, how can he have unbelief? But, if we were to be honest with ourselves, we all know this is exactly how we have felt at different points in our lives. Through the father’s statement, we glean a better understanding about faith.
·         Faith is not something that originates in ourselves- The father’s statement showed the spiritual dichotomy of human nature versus God’s nature. He effectively was saying, I don’t have anything left in me that even resembles faith, but You are God. He met Jesus as the Author and the Finisher of his faith.

·         Faith given by God is multiplied in His love- He believed that God was the source of all faith and that through His infinite compassion, He could touch and heal His spirit of unbelief and resurrect new faith in Him. As the father was seeking a physical miracle for his son, the father received a parallel miracle in the Spirit. The son was suffering from a physical condition that had “...often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him.” Similarly, I would imagine the father must have oscillated from the fiery anger of confusion to the drowning waters of his emotional turmoil—both seeking to destroy the health of his soul. After Jesus commanded the deaf and mute spirit to come out of the boy, verse 26 says, “After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” Is that not exactly the scheme of the enemy? He wants to get into your soul so that you will not hear (deaf spirit) and not speak (mute spirit) God’s Word in faith. You may even feel spiritually dead instead. Oh, how I love verse 27, “But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up.” No matter what you feel, or how it seems…BUT JESUS….

·         Jesus does not run out on us when our faith runs out- God knows that we cannot run today’s race with yesterday’s faith. He designed it this way so that we would have fresh encounters with the Living God. Imagine if you told your spouse, “Remember, I talked to you a month ago.” Many times, we think, we have already prayed, so why bother to talk to God about it again. More than anything, the Lord wants to draw us into intimacy with Him. He longs to hear the voice that He created speak His Name. He wants to give us the desires of our hearts, but we must first delight ourselves in Him.

                                                                                                                                                                   




Friday, May 17, 2013

Sorting It All Out


I obtained a personal accomplishment this week—it may not sound miniscule in the grand scheme of things, but I assure you, it borderlined on the miraculous for my personality. Here it is…drumroll…the precarious avalanche of papers that teetered next to my shredder has now vanished. POOF! Gone.

 I stared at the familiar spot for months, watching it grow into a colorful life of its own. Some days I simply got used to it, as if it were a dusty piece of home d├ęcor. Other days, I ignored it altogether, choosing to clip it out of my line of sight. And then, there were other days of course, that it bothered me to the point of annoyance and spilled into other areas of my life, tainting my mood and triggering a vocal or tacit complaint.

Yesterday, however, I faced it head on. Sitting Indian-style on the floor, I sorted through what seemed to be an infinite supply of papers that seemed to multiply rather than diminish. As much as I was tempted to just toss the whole pile in the trash and be done with it, I knew that there were important papers that need to be filed. So, one by one, I scanned each item, and carefully executed their fate. I know I save some things that I should probably throw away, but just don’t have the heart to do so. If you have ever given me a card, I have a gigantic shoe box where they all live crammed in together under one roof---er---I mean lid. It is starting to overflow, actually. Isn’t this a perfectly good excuse to buy another pair of shoes?! Also mixed in the hodge podge were old receipts from 2012, junk mail, and more papers demanding a destination. When I finally got to the glorious end of it all, I had to pull out the vacuum to clean up the confetti of paper that the shredder had vomited all over my carpet.

I started to ponder, isn’t this exactly what we do in our relationships, especially marriage? Because we don’t want to deal with them, we allow issues to pile up until they seem to take on a life of their own. Some days we avoid them, other days we choose to ignore them altogether. When we choose to look in their direction without addressing them, we naturally feel overwhelmed, annoyed, or even defeated in some way. Isn’t this the plan of the enemy? To confuse us, overwhelm us, and litter our lives in the space where peace, joy, and intimacy should reside?

I am starting to understand in a deeper way, that both in the natural and supernatural, our God is a God of perfect order. For every item that concerns us, He has a divine destination. What may not be an issue for one partner, could greatly distress the other. It is important to be intentionally specific in conversations in which issues need to be addressed. Too often, marital malaise can be traced back to complaints about the other in general. Just like the mound of papers, there is a method that will eventually allow you to reclaim this occupied space in your marriage. Pick a mutually agreed upon time to discuss (not late at night when your husband is sleepy—trust me, for some reason, this doesn’t work at all). Incidentally, one thing you want to NOT do, is talk about every problem--ad nauseum--all at once. I know females, including myself, are especially guilty of this. I think we have a psychological file cabinet for just about everything. When a certain topic is addressed, others seem to spill out uncontrollably as well. When you do pick an issue, decide whether this is this something that can be discarded. Is it still relevant to the season that you are in now? Or can it be tossed for sake of current peace and happiness. Could it be something that may be treasured to one because of the deeper meaning, but may have no sentimental or relevant value to the other. Listen with your heart, forgive (both your spouse and yourself), bend, and most importantly move on--together.
If the goal of unity is in mind, understanding will begin to flow with increased and purposeful communication.  Things may even appear messier as you endure the drudgery of the sorting process, but as you do, one day you will look at that space where the enemy tried to take up residence, and by your cooperation with the power of the Holy Spirit, something miraculous will happen—he will vanish. POOF! Gone.

-Isaiah 41:12, “You will search for your enemies, but you will not find them. Those who are at war with you will be reduced to nothing and no longer exist.”


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spreading Like Kudzu

Recently, my husband and I completed our first fasting experience in unity. I have fasted at different times in my life, but this is the very first one that we committed to do as a couple. The Lord revealed to me that we were to pray and meditate on the Lord’s Prayer during this period of fasting. He told me that anything I could possibly need or desire was contained in this prayer. The words are second nature to most of us, but how often do we really reflect and absorb the implication of these powerful words:

 “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses , As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For  ever and ever. Amen.”  (Matthew 6:9-13)

Provision, forgiveness, deliverance, protection from evil, peace, and spreading God’s kingdom—it is all packed in these powerful lines. I heard God speak to my heart, “I want my kingdom to spread like kudzu.” I researched “kudzu” online and discovered some interesting details about this type of plant.

·         It is invasive in nature- It is a climbing, coiling, and trailing vine that climbs over trees and shrubs rapidly. Kudzu spreads by vegetative reproduction and by seeds which are contained in pods. The hard coated seeds may not germinate for several years, but can result in the reappearance of the species years after it was thought to be eradicated from the site.  I am reminded to never be discouraged when ministering for the Lord. Just because we can’t see immediate results doesn’t mean we have not made an eternal impact for the kingdom. James 5:7 says, “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.” God is raining down on the seeds that have been planted in hearts that have been hardened, and his kingdom is spreading in even the most unlikely places.


·         It is a noxious weed-  It climbs over trees and shrubs and kills them by heavy shading. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3;8). We must unite and “shade” or protect one another with so much love and prayer that the devil can no longer take residence in human lives.  God’s kingdom is not some weak or fragile force. The resurrection power that operates in believers is dangerous to the devil’s territory. It comes from knowing that our identity is no longer the old man, but Christ who lives in us. Romans 6:4 says, "Therefore, we are buried with Him in baptism into death: that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."


·         It is used as a medicine- The Harvard medical school is studying kudzu as a possible way to treat alcoholic cravings, by turning an extracted compound into a medical drug. Kudzu contains isoflavones including puerarin, and daidzein (an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agent). It has shown value in treating migraine and cluster headaches. It is used to treat tinnitus, vertigo, and Wei Syndrome. It has shown potential in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease. It may help diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The leaves of kudzu show antioxidant activity that suggests food uses. God’s kingdom is the panacea for every type of sickness and disease. Every spirit of infirmity must bow to Jesus. We are given authority to activate the healing that has already been given to each and every one of us over 2,000 years ago at the cross. Mark 16:17-18 says, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues . They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.” We are to bring healing to those that are suffering. Ezekiel 47:12 says, “And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit to his months, because their waters issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.” As living trees of righteousness, we carry the fruit of the spirit and the power to bring life through the activation of the Word and the power of His name.


·         Food and beverage- The roots contain starch, which has traditionally been used as a food ingredient in East Asia. In Vietnam the starch is flavored with pomelo oil and uses as a drink in the summer. As Christians we each carry a different “flavor” of oil or unique anointing that we are given to give a drink to all those who are thirsty. Isaiah 55:1 says, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”


·         Basketry- Kudzu fibers have long been used for fiber art and basketry. The long runners which propagate the kudzu fields and the larger vines which cover trees make excellent weaving material. Some basketmakers use the material green. The Word of God can stir up creativity and release prosperity in the body of Christ. Haggai 1:6 says, “You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but you have not enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earns wages to put it in a bag with holes. As ministers of the Gospel, we can spititually locate the holes in people’s lives where they have sown into a mindset of poverty. God desires us to walk in covenant blessing and to prosper us. 3 John 1:2 says, “Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers.”


·         Soil improvement and preservation- Kudzu has been used as a form of erosion control and also to enhance the soil. As a legume, it increases the nitrogen in the soil via a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. A symbiotic relationship occurs when one organism lives on another and is entirely dependent upon the other for survival. We must understand that we are completely dependent upon our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ for survival and to communicate this through demonstration to a lost world. So many people are experiencing erosion in different areas of their lives, and they have no idea why. Jabez prayed that his territory may be enlarged. God desires to bless us and improve every aspect of our lives. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming done from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
May God's kingdom spread like kudzu.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Word for 2013



While jogging yesterday, I spotted a dime on the gravel trail. I heard God say that He was using that dime to give me prophetic revelation for marriages this year. Here is what He showed me:

The significance of ten- A dime is worth ten cents. Ten signifies the perfection of Divine order and completeness. When husband and wife are hand in hand in unity, their five fingers intertwine to make ten.  Although God can bless each individual, there is another tier of blessings that cannot be released until husband and wife are operating in unity and align to God’s order for their marriage.

Redemption in the rubble- The silver dime was surrounded by grey gravel, and could have easily been camouflaged if I hadn’t spotted it. God showed me the gravel symbolizes the clutter and distractions that the enemy tries to consume us with each day, and the dime represents our spiritual life. If we look for meaning and fulfillment though our circumstances, we will feel insignificant—lost in a sea of gravel.  The dime is silver, which represents redemption. Even when we don’t feel valuable in relation to this world, we must remember that our eternal value lies in Christ alone. I Peter 1:18-19, “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition by your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (NKJV)

The importance of perspective- I spotted the dime from a distance on my first lap, but when I searched for it the second lap, I didn’t see it. God showed me that when we start walking with Him, He will show us precious promises that belong to us. However, when we don’t see those promises fulfilled in the moment of our journey we believe they should have been, it confuses us. God wants us to keep our eyes on Him and walk straight on the path that He has called us to. When we start to desire the promise above the Keeper of Promises, God will lead us on another lap to show us a heavenly perspective and keep us close to Him. II Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (NKJV)

A resurrection of the dead- On the third lap, I found the dime I thought I would not see again. It just jumped out at me.  I believe that three years ago in 2010 many couples had faith for some situations, and that which they believed for appeared to die in the natural. 2010 was just the completion of a cycle. Every ending marks a new beginning. These past three years have been filled with trials and tribulation for much of the body of Christ. However, I believe that 2013 marks the third trimester for many this year and the promises that they have believed for will be birthed out this year. God will receive all the glory for He is the Living God who is resurrected and seated on the throne. In heaven nothing is lost and nothing is impossible. Ezekiel 37:4, “Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, “O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 Thus says the LORD GOD to these bones, “Surely I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.” Luke 13:32, “Jesus replied, “Go tell that fox that I will keep on casting out demons and healing people today and tomorrow; and on the third day I will accomplish my purpose.” (NLT)

Watch for “suddenlies”- God is going to cause many situations to “turn on a dime.” Rapid changes will occur when we give God complete control and allow Him to steer our lives. No matter how things look initially, trust God completely and you will see miraculous suddenlies in your marriage, finances, and ministry. Suddenly means one second it is one way and the next second it is another. God has been working behind the scenes and many miracles will manifest this year. Acts 16:26, “Suddenly, there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.”

Pocketing the “change”- The dime is commonly known as “change.” Many couples will experience change in the natural that may seem small at first, but is valuable because it is part of a greater heavenly bank that cannot yet be seen but is nevertheless real and present. In 2013 there will be an opportunity to “pocket the change” or embrace seemingly small changes because they will lead to something greater. Also, 13 is a number that symbolizes rebellion. God is wanting to deal with the stubborn and rebellious parts of us this year so he can bless us and give us the desires of our hearts. Begin to value small changes in your routines, habits, speech, and how you treat each other.  Every race is just a series of footsteps. Proverbs 4:20-27, 4 “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; 22 For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. 23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it springs the issues of life. 24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you. 25 Let your eyes looks straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you. 26 Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil.”

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cheers to the new wineskin


As we look forward to the coming year, “striving for a better marriage” is likely to appear on your resolution list. We must keep in mind that any resolution without revelation will result in delusion and frustration.  If we try to “do better” at anything in the flesh, we will fizzle out and fail.
The secret to achieving any goal that we desire is found in Luke 5:37-39:                        
37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. 39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says the old is better.”
Understanding the revelation of the new covenant- In Luke 5:33, the Pharisees had questioned Jesus about fasting. “Then they said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?” In verse 34, Jesus responded, “And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?
Jesus wanted to differentiate between the old and the new covenant. Instead of responding to this isolated thought, He addressed the source of their thinking. The Pharisees were still operating under the old covenant, observing the law for the sake of the law. His illustration invited them to experience a paradigm shift. If we seek the face of our bridegroom, the law will be overshadowed by the presence of love.  
We must not view our marriage as a “to do” or “not to do” list for we will fall into the snare of legalism. We will inevitably hurt each other through the magnification of our flaws and shortcomings. However, if we seek the heart of our spouse, we will naturally want to do the things that please him or her. Change your perspective to loving your spouse and the little things will automatically fall into place.
Embracing an attitude of change through humility- Luke 5:39 illuminates the source of strongholds: “And no one having drunk the old wine, immediately desires new; for he says the old is better.” In order for meaningful change to take place there has to be a recognition that the old way of thinking is no longer working. Examine your heart for areas of stubbornness, old habits, and stale routines. In doing so, you must be careful to not to criticize your spouse, but rather ask God to examine your own heart. Pray Psalms 23-24 over your soul, “23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”
Unfortunately, some of the happiest memories couples have are contained in the honeymoon period. Although on the surface, this does not appear enigmatic, but it actually reflects the truth of Luke 5:39.  If we believe that the happiest days are behind us, we believe the “old wine” is better. We must desire the “new wine” that God has for our marriage. The desire will come when we believe the truth of God’s promise. Isaiah 43:19 says, “Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Ask God to “Catch the Foxes”- Song of Solomon 2:15 says, “Catch us the foxes, The little foxes that spoil the vines, For our vines have tender grapes.” The enemy knows your areas of weakness and will try to ruin the fruit that is blossoming in your marriage. Ask the LORD to catch the foxes that are designed to nibble at the fruit of the Spirit that is growing in you—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. It is often the “little” things—worry, aggravation, and annoyances that try to eat away at our soul. Let God catch them for you this year.

 

           
 


 

 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Marriage is Alive


In order for marriage to rise to the place which God has ordained, we must experience a dynamic paradigm shift in how we view marriage. Instead of approaching it as a sterile structure or an invisible institution, we must embrace its intrinsic value as a living organism. Marriage is alive. To recognize this is an important prerequisite because of the undeniable implications that follow:


1)      Marriage has inalienable rights- We must search for its pulse, and witness its right to exist. Marriage was not created by man, but established by God. Consequently, marriage cannot be redefined. Man simply does not have the power to redefine an absolute created by the Creator. The DNA of marriage is uniquely designed and cannot be altered.


2)      Marriage is filled with the Breath of God- God spoke marriage into existence. It does not merely consist of the breath of man joined to the breath of woman, but it is the very breath of God that sustains the life of a marriage. Just as a flute is nothing more than a hollow reed without the breath of the flutist, our marriage is devoid of meaning without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Job 33:4 says, “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” Just as the flute produces a sound as the air stream travels down the piping, the interplay of two souls led by the Spirit will determine the unique sound your marriage makes. Each marriage has a creative expression. Throughout the song of your marriage, you will inevitably have major and minor keys, but when God is the Instrumentalist, you can expect a triumphant resolution.

 
3)       Marriage has a voice- The degree to which our marriage is open to the will of God determines the message conveyed to others. Isaiah 40:3 says. “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” When we submit to the divine order of marriage and fulfill our roles as God intended, we point others to God by representing Him in the earth.


4)      Marriage requires continual nourishment to survive- Just as our physical bodies require daily nutrients, we must be cognizant of the areas our marriage is lacking. Leg cramps can be brought on by potassium deficiencies. Too often, we try to treat the symptoms of pain in our marriage without tracing back to the source. Is there pain or distance in your marriage? What spiritual or emotional nutrients are you missing?


5)      Marriage has eyesight - Although each individual brings visions and dreams into the marriage, there must be an overarching vision that includes both. God is the one who gives visions and dreams and only He can see the whole picture. As we press into His vision for our lives, He restores our sight so we can have direction for the path ahead.  I have always been intrigued by the passage of Mark 8:22-25, “And He cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto Him, and besought Him to touch him. And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when He had spit on his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that He put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.” I was talking to my husband about this passage the other day, and he had an interesting interpretation. Although many interpret this passage as a progressive miracle where the blind man’s sight was partially restored with the first act and completely restored with the second, could there be another explanation? Adam mentioned perhaps instead of one miracle, there were two—where Jesus first restored the man’s spiritual sight and then restored his natural sight. Perhaps this man was seeing into the spirit realm—viewing men as God views them, as trees of righteousness. In marriage, our spiritual vision must first be restored. Jesus has to take us by the hand and lead us out of the town of our small thinking. He desires to heal us both spiritually and physically. We must see ourselves as God sees us to reclaim our identity. Once we know who we are, we will understand our purpose and our destiny.
 

 

 

 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Change Manifests through Thankfulness

Whenever we desire something more than what we have, I have noticed this prevailing dualistic truth to be evident. Change is brewing and God's plan and the enemy's plan seem more pronouced and diametrically opposed than ever. These crossroads of life can make you feel confined, and if you choose to stay there, you will feel claustrophobic in the Spirit, as if in an airless place, because God's wind of the Spirit is blowing down another path.

During these strategic junctures in the Spirit, Adam and I will experience a tangible welling sensation of frustration and dissatisfaction. I begin to list out my grievances, ad nauseum, in a cacaphony of complaints. Adam starts to feel disheartened, as if his dreams, hopes and desires are just beyond is reach. Inevitably, when we both feel like this, we end up hurting each other's feelings in one way or another.

Then, like an insurance adjuster surveying the damage, we are faced with the deleterious effects on our faith and unity. God showed me the moment we identify the feeling of frustration originating in our hearts, we are presented with a critical decision that can easily be overlooked if we are not on guard. If we choose to voice the enemy's plan of anger and hopelessness, we are the ones that have created that negative reality with our own breath. On the other hand, if we channel that frustration through united prayer and intercession, we can birth forth a positive change.

God quickened our hearts that we must first express thanksgiving to Him for what He has already provided for us before He can give us more. Philippians 4:6 says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." This verse gives us insight into receiving the petitions of our heart. Anything we ask, we must present to God with thanksgiving.

This is an important truth because when we are thankful it accentuates the true nature of God, strong in power and might. Psalm 95:2 says, "Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms." In order for God's presence to manifest, we must come to Him with thanksgiving. When we are complaining and frustrated that God is not moving, we should not be confused. Just like oil and water, God's holiness cannot mix with our complaining and unbelief. II Corinthians 6:14 says, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what comunion has light with darkness?" Human nature wants God to respond to our complaints rather than us respond to His grace and Word. Our ways are simply not His ways.

The moment we choose to open our mouths in thanksgiving, God's presence can rush in to help us in our time of need and grant us the happiness we desire. He is more than able to do that which concerns us and wants to shower us with magnificent gifts that we know not of.

I am starting a journal of thanksgiving to both boost my faith in God's faithful provision, and to give His most excellent Name praise. I think it will be encouraging to read the entries at the end of each month to see God's hand over our lives.

I Chronicles 16:8-12, " 8 Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! 9 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! 10 Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD! 11 Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face evermore! 12 Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,"



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Don't Look Back

There will be times in your marriage when the enemy will tempt you to look at your past situations. The enemy doesn't want you to move on when you find yourself in hard circumstances, but rather wallow in shame, self-pity, and regret.

I have always been intrigued by the Bible passage about Lot and his wife in Genesis 19. Verse 15 says, "When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city." It is significant that the angels appeared to Lot in the morning. Morning symbolizes a new beginning.

God never desired for us to be weighed down by the confusion of the night, but to rise in the new mercy of the morning. God's judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah was the "punishment of the city." As Christians, we must live in the grace of the new covenant. If we dwell in the city of condemnation, we have chosen to suffer a punishment that has already been paid. II Corinthians 5:21 says, "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (NIV).

Genesis 19:16, "And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought and set him outside the city." In this passage it tells us that they "lingered" after being instructed of the LORD to go. When we get discouraging news, our flesh wants to linger in the pit of disappointment. Despite our disobedience, God is still so merciful, He takes our hand and rescues us. Psalm 40:2 says, "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." God sets us outside of the path of destruction.

Genesis 19:17 says, "So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed." God is again giving an additional warning, giving this family an opportunity to obey His voice through free will. Notice it says, "do not look behind." When we look behind at a past circumstance, we give the enemy open access to our minds. Satan has always wanted to make us doubt God's Word for us. When we look behind, we try to take the position of God. We start to question God. "Why did you allow this to happen?" If we are not trusting God, then we are judging God. Disappointment arises when your time table is different than God's time table.

The last sentence of verse 17 says, "Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed." On top of a mountain, you have an ariel view. That which looked so big, suddenly appears small. God wants to take you to a place of faith that is higher than what we view with our natural eyes. Our human thoughts about a situation are simply not God's thoughts. Isaiah 55:8 says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways."Without trusting God, we are helpless and hopeless. But opening our hearts to trust God's plan brings us hope. Psalm 121:1-2 says, "I lift my eyes to the mountains--where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth."

Genesis 19:18-22 says, 18 "Then Lot said to them, 'Please, no, my lords!" 19 Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die. 20 See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live." 21 And he said to him, "See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. 22 Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there." Therefore, the name of the city was called Zoar.

"Zoar" means "small" or "insignificance." Lot called on God's mercy, which He granted. However, Lot did not want God's best for his life, but rather chose to live in the smallness and insignificance of his own plan.

Genesis 19:23-26 says, 23 "The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. 24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground."
26 But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt."

Let's look at the applications of Lot's wife becoming a "pillar of salt." A pillar is immovable. When we choose to stubbornly look back at the disappointment of a situation, it paralyzes us from moving forward. We become stuck and cannot move forward with the life that God has for us. A pillar carries the heaviness of a building. When we choose to think about a regret, we invite the spirit of heaviness to descend upon us. If we continue to dwell on the past we will be like "salt" when the flood waters come, we will dissolve under the pressures of life.

There may be things we don't understand, but we still have to trust and obey! Oswald Chambers said, "Beware of reasoning about God's Word--Obey It." God has already looked down the road of your future. It is bright, glorious, victorious, and joyful, but you have to obey Him to find it.

~Luke 11:28, "But He said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!"





Thursday, July 26, 2012

He's No Chicken: Honoring Dan Cathy's Courageous Stand

The wording of the title for an article in the New York Times, Chick-fil-A Thrust Back into the Spotlight on Gay Rights, reveals the covert roots of confusion that have expertly hidden the truth of this volatile issue for decades. Christians do not seek to exclude or suppress gays, but rather liberate all to the knowledge that the Word of God is the only absolute truth. For years, Christians have been labeled as “bigots” accused of being intolerant, anti-gay, and prejudiced. We, as Christians do not have a hate agenda against gays, we have a love agenda for God. Although Christians are facing aggressive persecution for upholding our beliefs, all you will hear from the media is how outrageous it is that we are oppressing the gays.
When we uphold our beliefs, it is not from a stance of pride, but from a place of humility for what the Word of God says. As we take a stand for Christ, we bow before His throne. Do not be deceived. The battle is not between gays and Christians, the battle is between you and God. We do not have to defend ourselves. Jesus did not defend Himself when hurled with mockery and false accusations. He simply said, “It is written…” If you choose to deny the Word of God, you deny Jesus, Himself. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Either you believe the Word of God is divinely inspired and that we are accountable or you don’t. I Corinthians 6:9-10 says, “Do you not know what the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Dan Cathy, President of Chick-fil-A knows the power of the Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” In a recent radio interview, Mr. Cathy said, “As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, “We know better than You as to what constitutes marriage.” It is interesting and apparent that the author of this New York Times article does not share the same fear of the LORD by the intentional usage of lower-case pronouns when referencing God in Cathy’s quote. The New York Times quote reads, “….when we shake our fist at him, We know better than you.” Whether realized or not, the attempt to redefine marriage is a form of idolatry. Idolatry is making anything other than God absolute. To protest against God’s definition of marriage is to protest against God Himself.
Many individuals that practice the homosexual lifestyle embrace their identity as “gay.” In other words, there is no delineation in their minds between what they do and who they are. This deeply entrenched lie has caused them to believe that they, as a people are suppressed and oppressed. However, Christians believe that all men are created in the image of God, and that our identity is in Christ alone. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Christians do not label individuals as “gay,” but rather separate the lifestyle from the person. We do not see ourselves as better than any other, nor do we condemn, for we are all sinners in need of a Savior. The passage in I Corinthians 6 that speaks against homosexuality goes on to say in verse 11,“And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus by the Spirit of our God.” How can one vehemently defend homosexuality if it is clearly a sin that requires one to be washed and sanctified? If you sincerely believe that gays have the right to marry, and yet you profess to believe in God, I implore you to do one thing. Simply ask God to reveal the truth to you by His Spirit. Ask the LORD,“Show me if I am wrong.”
Mr. Cathy’s courageous act of obedience should be honored and celebrated. I am confident that he knew that his faith-filled declarations would inevitably spark fiery persecutions against his name, his family, and his business, but he was willing to take up his cross and follow Jesus at any cost. He chose the narrow road. Thank-you, Mr. Cathy. May God richly bless and reward you for pleasing God rather than man.
Please show your support to Mr. Cathy by eating at Chick-fil-A regularly, and write him a letter of appreciation. You can mail it to the corporate headquarters at:
5200 Buffington Rd
Atlanta, GA 30349

Monday, July 16, 2012

Divine Multiplication

John 6:12 says, "When they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost."

One practical application for this verse is to be good financial stewards of whatever God has graciously entrusted you. In my marriage, Adam is the primary financial provider, and I try to make what he brings in stretch as far as possible.

One of my hobbies that I have acquired is couponing! When you strategically and creatively match up sales with coupons, the savings can be exponential! I love my local CVS. It is only a mile from our house and always has amazing deal scenarios. I thought I would update you guys from time to time to show you just how much you can really save.

Today, I found myself in the epicenter of an awesome convergence when everything seemed to line up exquisitely in my favor!

I went into the store with a $5 CVS gift card I earned using SwagBucks. When I entered the store, I scanned my CVS card at the big red machine in the front of the store, and a CVS coupon printed off for a $5 off any $15 beauty purchase. Here's what I did:

First Transaction:

(1) CoverGirl blush @ $4.49
(1) CoverGirl eyeliner @ $5.49
(1) CoverGirl eyeliner @ $5.99

The total for these items would have been $15.97 before tax. I used my $5 off $15 beauty purchase store coupon which broughtthe total down to $10.97.

Then I used a $3 off 2 CoveGirl products coupon and a $1 off any CoverGirl product coupon found in the 7/1 Procter and Gamble insert of the newspaper. This brought my total down to $6.97. Then, I used my $5 CVS gift card I earned using SwagBucks. This lowered my total to only $1.97! With tax, I paid only $2.45! Then $5 in ECB's (extra care bucks) printed off since I purchased a minimum of $15 in CoverGirl cosmetics (a promotion running from July 15-July 21 at CVS). A coupon for extra care bucks acts like a CVS coupon that you can use on any CVS purchase with some limited exclusions. The great thing about ECB's is you can turn around and use them immediately on your next transaction!

Second Transaction:

(6) Bumble Bee Tuna Fish Cans (retail $1.87) SALE @ $0.88 a can
(1) Zest Bar Soap, 8-pack @ $3.99
(1) Wet & Wild lip liner (retail $0.99) SALE @ $0.69

The total for these items would have been $9.96. I used my $5 extra care buck coupon that printed in the previous transaction, that $4.96. I had a $0.50 off zest bar soap coupon 7/8 smartsource which I stacked with a $1 CVS coupon that I had for any bar soap/body wash. I had three $1/2 Bumble Bee product coupons that brought my total down to $0.46. With tax, I paid only $1.26!

So basically, without the sale, the retail value for both transactions would have cost $32.17. With sale prices only, the total lowers to $25.93. When you pair manufacturer coupons, store coupons, and gift cards, the total for all items before tax comes to only $2.43! Or with tax, out of pocket, $3.71!!! This is a retail savings of 92%! It definitely pays to plan ahead 15 minutes before you go shop :)


Monday, July 9, 2012

Degrees of Surrender

During my jog today, my spirit rose up and I heard the words, "You cannot be weighed down by that which you have laid down."

Over the past couple of weeks, God has been really working on my heart in the area of surrender. Oftentimes, I believe I have surrendered something, only to find my mind recirculate the very thing I had laid down, presenting it to me as a brand new concern. It begs the question, "What am I still holding on to?"

A few days ago, Adam woke up and told me about an interesting dream he had. He said there was a young child, a brunette girl, that appeared to him in a dream and told us, "You both have to baptized at the same time in water that is the same temperature."

I knew this dream contained some sort of spiritual revelation about marriage, and I believe I understand the interpretation. When we marry our spouse, there is not just a commitment, there is a baptism that must take place if we want to experience the fullness of unity. Many of us are asking God for manifold blessings to rise up in our marriage when we have not fully died to our own selfish desires. Perhaps one spouse has surrendered in an area partially, and the other has surrendered fully. This differential in surrender will result in some sort of division or wall in the marriage.

One definition of surrender is "to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another." To surrender by force is slavery; to surrender by free will is freedom. The difference between the two, of course, is slavery exists in the absence of love while freedom exists in the presence of love. When you love deeply, surrender comes naturally. Surrender is a direct response that results from a fusion of love and trust. If trust is not present, a wall of separation will erect.

This week, evaluate which areas in your marrriage that you have been "baptized together" and which areas you still need to surrender. When you wake up in the morning, do you think, "How can I make a difference in my spouse's life?" Or do you think, "How can he/she make a difference in mine?" I confess there have been many times in my marriage that I sought what Adam could give me rather than what I could give him. If one partner is only giving and the other partner is only receiving, there is inevitable lack and frustration that settles in. We have all heard the saying, "It is better to give than to receive." If you look up the word "better" in the dictionary, one meaning reads "greater than half." If you are only receiving, one partner's needs are being met at the expense of the other. However, when both partners freely give their all, there is an overflow and overabundance that gushes forth without measure.

When we concurrently lay down our dreams, our agendas, and our desires in favor of our spouse's, we will experience the blessings of a resurrected union. If you have heavy burdens in your marriage, you have not fully surrendered them to God. Because the areas that you have given Jesus full access to, there is freedom and victory. Matthew 11:30 says, "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." If you feel something weighing you down, it is begging to be baptized. And do not worry. It is not lost. What is given to God will surely be resurrected.