Are the Waves Rocking Your Boat?

I just spent the last two weekends at youth conferences. The Holy Spirit moved mightily in spaces he created and in full power when invited openly. There were mountaintop moments. More of these are to come for people. Yet, in the middle of that, there were afflictions trying to steal joy and attention. Afflictions cause us to examine what we believe. They cause us to have to choose what we will choose to believe.

Afflictions often attack our area of strength or joy. For example, my knee started hurting a few months ago after just sitting on the floor DURING prayer and worship time. It just felt out of whack. When I was to go with the students to a conference where there would be dancing and joy, it acted up the week before to the point where I could barely walk! So I did the opposite of what seemed logical. I chose to exercise. It got better that night for a while. I got prayer. One woman saw me dancing and new knee parts coming. I praised God for that, but it wasn’t going to come at that moment. Yet, I danced at the youth conference. It got more sore at the next one. AND, the Holy Spirit moved in powerful ways through each of these things. I got more prayer. A student was overcome with a spirit of intercession and saw the battle raging against me. It was intense. This battle is over more than a knee, or your health. In Mark 4, we read of Jesus and the disciples on a boat in a storm. During the storm, Jesus was able to sleep in the boat. Waves are crashing in to them, yet he is sleeping. What kind of mindset is that?!

Jesus knew that when he rose, when he chose to stand up, he would be able to speak and calm the storm, yet he felt no urgency to do it right away. He wasn’t worried the storm would kill him.

I think I need to say that again. Jesus wasn’t worried that the storm would kill him. Yet, The disciples faith was challenged as the boat rocked. They saw what was happening in the natural realm and forgot that nothing could touch them because they were with Jesus. It was not HIS time to die. We get so caught up in the swirl of the moment that we forget the big picture! Look at the big picture of your life. Look at your purposes and promises. Nothing has changed. You may be frustrated or disappointed but God’s not worried.

One of my son’s, Jack, was at the last conference and last night we had a powerful move of the Holy Spirit in our midst, mountain moving. When he got back last night he fell off of his friend’s hover board and hurt his wrist badly. I believe God tried to warn me, but I forgot the word for him I had “choose wisely”. Jack has a strange habit of laughing when he’s in pain. He belly laughs. This gift of JOY is Jack’s strength. Last night he said, “When I get hurt, I usually laugh. This time, I only let out a chuckle,” he said with concern. There is temptation to worry! That is the scheme of the enemy, but God says, “Trust me and have joy in the midst of this.” He is still our healer. He still carries our infirmities and diseases. He is still on the throne. But we must face our fears. Will you let your life situations rock your boat?

The disciples were not new to storms at the sea. They were fisherman, AND they were with Jesus. Maybe this storm was BIGGER than all the rest because Jesus WAS so close. Yet, what did they look at? Did they look at Jesus with peace? No, they were overcome by the tossing of the boat and the water in it. Jesus said, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Matthew 4:40)

I believe that Jesus is SO close to us. I’ve seen him fully present in power in the last two weeks, yet I’ve also seen storms hitting people to draw their attention to the enemy’s work. He’s desperate to get a little worship because God is getting SO MUCH! Our king is on the throne and he’s not getting off!

When the area we take the most joy in is removed, or threatened, how will we react?

One of my greatest joys is dancing in worship and the other is kneeling to pray. When I do each of those lately, I feel the affliction. Where will my attention be? Will I continue to fix my eyes on what God is doing in the moment, or will I be consumed with thoughts of lack, or even a thought about the affliction. I know God will heal it, he always has. He’s faithful to the end, but how will I react in the waiting?

Will I trust him and go forward with the things I need to do? Yes.

God, our Father, is for us. He is FOR us. He’s not waiting on the sidelines, watching us be destroyed. He’s active in the midst of us saying, look at what I AM doing. Celebrate it! Don’t let your troubles keep you in a bubble. I’m your DADDY. Do you think I’ll fail you? Trust me in EVERY circumstance. Submit where you need to submit and let me lead.

I believe control is being challenged in this season. There are remnants of control we still have to surrender. We want things to happen a certain way, but we have to believe we are in the hands of God no matter what our circumstance.

One thing this knee affliction has just reminded me of is that I cannot kneel right now, I am forced to STAND UP. Have faith that when you stand up and exercise your faith, the storm will cease. When many of us stand up and exercise our faith, the devil will find out that we really do believe he is defeated. It’s time to rule and reign as the children of God. Children are meant to play and enjoy the works of their Father. He delights over his children! Realize today, that God is delighting over you and set your mind to delight in him and in those around you.

Remember the disciples in the boat? They could have reacted differently. They could have seen the storm and said, “Praise God, Jesus is in the boat. Nothing can touch us. But, they let their minds and emotions get tossed by the wind and they looked away from Jesus. He was still in the boat, SO NEAR.

Scripture reading suggestions: Mark 4:35-41, Acts 3:1-10

Pray with me:

Thank you Jesus for your abiding love. It goes where we go and stays where we stay. Help us to remain in it and not let our hearts wander into the camp of fear and distraction. I will not fear death. I will not focus on the storm. I will speak to it and stay calm. I will not worry about what I think I might miss out on. I will not lament over what I didn’t get. I will live fully present in the moment so I can see where you are hovering and working around me. I will not be overcome. I will be calm in the boat and rest until I need to stand up and speak.

I believe you God, that you will fulfill all you have spoken. I will stand in faith. I will trust you to heal my every affliction and I will not let it become my identity.

I thank you Father that Your joy is our strength! We can have it no matter what the circumstance! No matter where we are! We can rest in storms and have faith when waves hit us. Wherever we have to go, your light will shine through us. Nothing is impossible with you. Thank you that you are with us in our every destination. Keep our eyes on the opportunities that can happen in every moment of the day. We praise you for your enduring love and steadfast connection to your children. Thank you Daddy! You’re the best! In Jesus’s name. Amen!

Living Above the Muck in Life

This week so many anxious thoughts tried to keep me occupied in busyness. My son is graduating this weekend, I have a large party with an unknown number of people coming and family coming to stay the weekend. On top of that, my husband is the preacher of the weekend at church. On those weeks, it usually becomes apparent what the theme of the message is. This week it is “God is my Defense”. The accuser was busy this week! Whether there are old lies pelting your mind, or human beings rising up in accusation against you, God is there as our defense.

I didn’t think I was really “actively” worrying, but I was constantly thinking about the details and could not rest in the moment. My son called it out when he said, “Mom, you need to take a bath.” I used to take a bath when I needed to have some alone time with God to relax. So I asked him why he said that. He said, “I see the word STRESS on your forehead.” I asked God, “Ok, I’m obviously not managing this as well as I think I am so what is the strategy you need me to adopt to keep myself in the moment and in a state of joy?

This is how I moved past it and into a state of productivity and joyful accomplishment again. I thought it may be helpful to share for others.

1) I recognized that sinking was not an option. My neck and shoulders were tight with stress and that would lead to a headache, so it had to stop. I had to let that heavy yoke go somehow. I could not afford a day of rest so I ran to God and prayed,

Lord, take this heavy yoke off of me and give me your yoke. Your yoke is easy and your burden light, so I release myself of every other yoke that is on my shoulders. Take the weight off! In Jesus’s name.

2) When I have no strength of my own, and feel weary, the joy of the Lord is my strength, so I listened to preachers who preached out of pure joy in the Lord and HAD joy. (Georgian Banov) I could choose joy and believe that God was the same today as he was yesterday. He was not worried. I was filled with the Holy Spirit yesterday, the week before and today and tomorrow will be the same. He is constantly with me. The devil was defeated at the cross and so he’s old news. He lives to get attention and that’s his primary weapon. I realized that again. The devil has been given a sentence of destruction and he’s only living out his time here. I saw Jesus bring a big foot down to the earth and crush all the things that opposed Him. Yes, everyone is under his feet.

3) I met with a friend who was thinking in a forward direction, even though she was having accusation come against her. She knew it was temporary and realized that the good that had just happened in her life often invited the enemy to try to steal that joy away. So we focused on the things God was doing and wanted to do! We left excited. Remembering the testimonies and focusing on what God is doing in our midst already is powerful and redirects our mind to the truth that God is answering our prayers even when we don’t remember.

4) When the voice of the accuser or the worry wart came at me, I just stopped and declared how worthy and good God was. I focused on adoration and prayed in tongues. I let God pray for me before any words of my own filled my lips. If you don’t have that gift of the Holy Spirit yet, ask him!

Luke 11:13 “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Ask God to fill you with his Holy Spirit. In Acts we see examples of the apostles gathering together, being filled afresh and going out again. This is what we do to survive in this world. Come to God. Submit to his presence. Tongues is a way to let God pray for you as he knows best. We don’t have to know all the details of the problem at hand, or the reasons for the accusations. Isn’t that freeing! We don’t have to figure it all out ourselves.
As I prayed in tongues, my mind cleared and wisdom and knowledge came to me.

5) Avoid comparison – It’s graduation party season and I could easily be tempted to compare how well I celebrated as I went to everyone else’s party. Did I decorate enough? Was the food ok? No. I am to celebrate out of who I am, to love my son with the gifts I have, not the gifts others have. There is not a right way to have a graduation party. There is not a right way to have a wedding, a family reunion or any get together. Don’t let comparison steal your joy. Live and be thankful for how God has moved in your own heart to bless. Be content with that. Focus on loving and doing good. Your own troubles will find their way to the door. Keep loving others in the midst of your own “mess”. Whether its a medical situation, work or tasks, it can be done as a offering to the Lord.

6) Avoid guilt – Do what God gives you permission to do. Be at peace about that. Many crises will rise up in the midst of busyness. Watch for distractions that will derail the things that you need to really accomplish. Know your place to accomplish the greatest good and what has to be put in God’s hands. He is a good manager of people, so let him. Don’t react and pridefully think you are the answer to everyone’s problems. Sometimes we are to be help, and at times, we help to much. Don’t think you need to help God too much. He’s the Savior, you are not.

6) Keep your PERSPECTIVE! Be content in all circumstances. Look at what there is to be thankful for and praise God for it as a PATTERN of defense against all the stresses of the world.

You are loved and God is fighting for you. He’s not worried. He gives you permission not to be. Go love and know you are loved. In Jesus’s name, Amen