Revival Starts With Me

I started out writing a journal entry today at lunch. However, I feel like the Holy Spirit was moving, and the following is what happened:

Today begins our month-long focus on corporate prayer at Gateway Assembly of God.  As I enter into a new season of my walk with Christ, I am determined to pray more, with more focus and with more faith.

My God has been completely faithful to me, even though I haven’t always been faithful to Him.  I am determined to change that.  I am determined to worship Him with my life–reflecting the life of Christ within me…worship in spirit and in truth!

Much like the handful of expectant mothers at our church, I am going into this month full of expectancy. I expect God to shift things, work miracles, bring great provision, answer prayers and breakout in complete revival across this land. However, I also know that revival begins with me.

If there is no change within me, how can I expect to see change any place else?

So…there we are–it begins with me…and it begins with you…and you…and even you.

To see revival spread beyond the four walls of our churches, it must first start within ourselves. How? Here’s a list of what I am currently working on…maybe it will work for you too.

  1. Introspection:  The Word says for us to examine ourselves. In 2nd Corinthians 12:5 it reads, ” Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”  Psalm 26:2 says, “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.”  If we do this with an open heart, the Lord will show us areas where we need correction and cleansing.
  2. Repent:  yes…repent and turn away from those things that the Lord reveals to you during the time of introspection.  Matthew 3:2 reads, “And saying, “repent ye; for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
  3. Be Obedient:  When the Lord speaks to you, do it…right then. You’ll be amazed at how He moves on your behalf when you are obedient.  “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 15:22)
  4. Pray:  Here’s where some of us get bogged down. Some don’t know how to pray. Some think prayer is only a list of requests. Some feel unworthy to come before the Lord.  Man, it is amazing the lies we believe from the enemy.   Prayer is simply communing with our Lord.  Its should be praise and an outpouring of our love for the Father. It should be baring our hearts and souls to Him (He already knows it all anyway). And yes, it is presenting our requests to Him in prayer…but they should be according to His Will. Prayer is interceding for others. It doesn’t have to be flowery or perfect. Simple speech and praying His Word over things is an excellent plan.  Matthew 21:22 says that “and all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing (emphasis mine), ye shall receive.  Phillipians 4:6 tells us to “be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving (again…my emphasis), let your requests be made known to God.”
  5. Worship: Ah….here’s the one that the Lord has been emphasizing to me the past few days. He has been telling me that my worship was not complete. My very life needed to be expressing my worship of Him…not just the songs we sing in church on Sunday morning or while I’m driving down the road. It isn’t to be just posting a scripture on some social media site.  Everything in my life should be in worship to Him. My thoughts?  They should be grounded in the truth of the Bible.  My words?  They better be the loving, grace-filled statements that Jesus would speak. My actions?  They better reflect the life of Christ living in me.  You see…I’ve said many times to myself and others, our worship has to be a way of life.  However,  I didn’t really have a grasp on what that meant, until the Holy Spirit showed me how I was NOT doing these things. (This points back to #1.) So…its time to update the way we worship.  John 4:24 says, “God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”  Psalm 29:2 states, “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”  Phillippians 3:3 says, “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”  We see in Revelation 15:4 the following: “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name?  for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”    Our worship should be all about Him, and our lives are to be lived in worship by reflecting the life of Christ within us.

I have put these words to paper, to finish with this:  These suggestions are what the Lord spoke to me for me.  Do I think they were only for me?  No…if I did I wouldn’t be posting them here.  I do not claim that they will spark a world-wide revival if put into action (but it could happen…our God can do anything). I can only say, without a shadow of a doubt, that…as I have already begun to take these steps in my own life, I’ve already experienced change. I am experiencing a revival of the Holy Spirit welling up in me that has not happened in a while.  When revival of the Holy Spirit wells up in me, then the fruit of the spirit will pour forth and start to feed some other starving soul…and so on, and so on…and that is how I see revival starting with me.  I pray it starts with you too.

Let’s pray:

Father God…we thank You that You love us so much to not leave us in the mire into which we get ourselves stuck. Thank you, Lord for your Word and the instructions contained within it that show us how live and how to worship You. Father, help us in those moments where we are stuck or our sight is covered by a dark cloud, to see Your Holy Truth, examine ourselves and make sure we are reflecting You in our lives. I pray that You bless each person reading this with the anointing of the Holy Spirit and a mighty move of revival within their lives, their churches and their communities.  We love you Lord and we praise and honor Your Holy Name. Its in the Precious Name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

 

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Wrecked by Worship

One word…that’s all it took to wreck me this morning.

We had a wonderful worship service this morning. Everyone was singing, dancing, people were praying in tongues/their prayer language. Many times, though I love singing, I get distracted. But this morning, I was determined to stay focused on God…because its all about Him anyway.  We were on the last song. It was almost finished (or so I thought), and I dropped to my knees, once again in prayer.  Crying out to God in my heart, in my spirit…almost instantly, I heard one word.

WORSHIP.

Instantly I knew that my worship has not been what it should be. My Lord revealed to me that my worship, though it was okay, has not been fully realized, nor has it been what He desires.

We must worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24)…but in order to do that, we must also know, live and breathe the Word. We must have the Holy Spirit.   Worship isn’t just about a sweet song or hymn to sing. Its not just about a casual prayer just because that’s the thing to do.

Our worship is a life that reflects the life of Jesus Christ!  Our worship is an outward expression of the Holy Spirit living in us.   Our worship should be that we reflect Christ in all that we think, all that we say and all that we do.  Anything that keeps us from doing this diminishes the life of Christ in us and therefore, we do not worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Today, Father God showed me that my actions, words and even my unspoken thoughts lately have not reflected His life in me. We are to take our very thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and daily renew our minds (Romans 12:2). Why? Because if we do not, then wrong thoughts take hold in our minds. Those thoughts become habits, and habits become character.  And if His character is not reflected in mine, how is the world going to see Him?  How is the world going to see that there IS something different and special waiting for them?  How is the world going to see Jesus?   How are they going to know, without a shadow of a doubt that I worship the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

Beloveds, the Father shook me to the core on this one today….so much so…I had to share it with you. Not to judge…but to try to help. Maybe you are struggling the same way I was. Maybe God is already speaking this to you, and this blog is your confirmation. I don’t know. I just knew it wasn’t just for me.  Won’t you join me in a new, old way to worship?  Not just by singing and praying, but by living a life that truly reflects Jesus Christ…and gives us the ability to worship as the Father desires…in spirit and in truth!

Let’s pray:

Father God:  I thank You Lord for your gentle discipline and instruction. Thank You for reminding me that our worship should be our whole lives…not just a song or a prayer.  You are faithful to reveal yourself to us right when we need You most. Your Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Help us, Father, to dig deeper into your Word, open our hearts wider to receive even more of You, and to have the faith to step out deeper into the water of your unfailing and never-ending love.  Your Word says that You will be with us through deep waters and difficult rivers and we will not drown. You will not allow the flames of oppression to consume us for You are the Lord our God, the Holy One of Israel…our SAVIOR (Is 43:2-3), and we stand on those promises Lord, as we step out to make our very lives our worship to You, Oh God! You get all the glory and praise and honor.  We pray in the Holy and Precious, Powerful Name of Jesus.  Amen.

Are you Love?

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“Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast; it is not proud. It does not dishonor others; it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a (NIV).

This is one of the most popular passages from the Bible.  Why?  It talks about love, so it is widely used in sermons, weddings, etc.  I’ve seen people use it as a tribute to loved ones by replacing the word “love” with the person’s name, to show they carry the attributes of love.

I’ve also seen it used to explain God’s character, to explain how God is love–also simply by replacing “love” with “God”.  I think that is wonderful because God IS love, and this example does help us see many aspects of God’s character. Some of the same characteristics in the passage above are also outlined as fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.

But here is what God has impressed upon me this week:  What if I inserted my own name instead of the word “love”?  How would I measure up against the characteristics of God and love?

So many times we compare ourselves to other people. When, in reality, we should only be comparing ourselves to Jesus and His traits.

So, with God being love itself–how do we stand when we look at ourselves in this mirror?  I must say, I don’t like the reflection that stares back at me.  The outcome and the reality of my character opened my eyes when I replace the word “love” with “Chrissy”.

“Chrissy is patient.” No…not so much….but I’m trying. I’m better about it than I used to be, but not nearly as patient as I should be.

“Chrissy is kind.”  I would love to think this is true all the time. However, I have to be brutally honest with myself and with you readers. I have too many moments where kindness is the last thought or action my list. This is sobering.

“Chrissy does not envy.”  Ha!!  (I really have to work on that one!)  I think we are all guilty of this, whether we realize it or not.  We might compliment someone’s new car, while in the back of our minds we’re thinking, “I wish I could afford a car like that”….just as an example.

“Chrissy does not boast.”  I try not to, but let’s be real here…I’m human. We all are. We like to hear “Way to go!” or “You’re awesome!” so we boast about things we’ve done, when we should really be giving God the glory for giving us the ability, power, strength, etc. to accomplish whatever task, feat or event that He placed in our paths.  Yes, I’ve done my share of boasting on myself, rather than the Lord.

“Chrissy is not proud.”  Another big HA!  I’m not proud…of myself when I realize how much pride plays into my everyday life. Another one to work on.

“Chrissy does not dishonor others”.  This one really hit me hard as I realized that I have dishonored others in my complaining, idle talk and only God knows how many other ways. I think if we are all really honest with ourselves, we would all find that that we are all guilty of this at some point. Speech is not the only way we dishonor others…its just what God placed in my spirit.  May God forgive us for dishonoring ourselves and His other children! Proverbs 18:21..The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.   James 3:5..Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. “

“Chrissy is not self-seeking.” oh no….I have been so guilty of this. That’s all I’m going to say on that. I’m guilty and I am working on changing that. Help me, Lord!

“Chrissy is not easily angered.”  This is the biggest HA! of them all.  Though I am very conscious of having a short fuse, I slip up. I do try to control my anger…I just don’t always succeed. Ephesians 4:26…In your anger, do not sin: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.  Proverbs 15:1…A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

“Chrissy keeps no record of wrongs.”  I wish I could say that this is true, but most of my issues today are from “keeping record of wrongs” from DECADES ago. My prayer for this is that the Lord will help me let go!  Proverbs 19:11…A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

“Chrissy does not delight in evil, but rejoices in truth.”  With this one, I’m not as distraught as the others. I don’t delight in evil. Though as we’ve seen from the previous statements, I have not always stayed away from it. I think most of us fall into the traps without even realizing it at the time.  I do rejoice in the Truth of God and His Word.  However, I obviously need to live it more in my daily life.  We can all benefit from doing that!

“Chrissy always protects.” Take out the word “always” and I might be okay.  I could do more to protect others. We all could.

“Chrissy always trusts.”  I try, but again, that word “always” is the stumbler.

“Chrissy always hopes.” Most of the time I hope, but lots of times I get weary and down. Sometimes I fall into the trap of allowing my hope to be dashed by my circumstances. However, this is not from God. It is an attack of the enemy on our spirits. 2 Timothy 1:7…for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  Jeremiah 29:11…For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

“Chrissy always perseveres.”  I do try to keep going when the going gets tough. I might stumble for a bit, but God is faithful to light my way. He helps me to get back on my feet and keep moving forward.

“Chrissy never fails.” Well….we know by now that this just is not true. However, we have a loving, forgiving God. He sent Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins and our failures, so that we could be forgiven and live in victory. He sent the Holy Spirit to comfort, teach and guide us so that we don’t get lost in our failures. Our God always sees the best in us and will show us how to achieve it if we just allow Him to do that.

Wow! Reading this, it could seem quite negative and dismal or depressing, right?  I mean…look at all the ways I mess up daily. However, Praise God that His mercy is new each morning and endures forever!  The hopeful, persevering Chrissy is deciding to be positive about it and learn from these realizations! Even though I’ve messed up plenty, I (and we) can overcome!

How?

We can stand on the promise of God’s forgiveness. Psalm 32:1…Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Psalm 86:5…For thou, Lord art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. I John 1:9…If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

He gives us new mercy every day.  Lamentations 3:22-23…It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. 

We can stand on the promise of His great love for us.  John 3:16-17…For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world, through him, might be saved. 

We can know that the Lord has plans for us.  Jeremiah 29:11…”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Philippians 1:6…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 

He gives us the power to be strong and to think clearly.  2 Timothy 1:7…For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind. 

We can love others.  Philippians 4:13…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Matthew 22:37-39…Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all they mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. John 13:34-35…A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one to another. 

We can use this exercise to remind us of the things love does and does not do…and we, also, can be love to others. We just have to allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us to make us more like Jesus.

One day…1st Corinthians 13:4-8 will be perfected in each of us by the power of God…if we allow it and submit to it.

I pray that you are blessed by God today.

Let’s pray.

“Father God, help us to remember the traits of your love as outlined in 1st Corinthians 3.  Fill us Lord, with that love, patience, kindness, forgiveness, temperance and more…so much so that it overflows to others…giving hope and changing lives by Your Power and for Your Kingdom. And Father, when we mess up, forget or inadvertently do not act in a loving way, we ask that You forgive us. Show us our missteps and get us back on Your path. We love you Lord and give you all praise and glory for you are the Great I Am. YOU are Love.  We pray in the Holy name of Jesus…Amen.

Have a blessed day everyone. Please remember to join us for 31 Days of Trusting in God during the month of August, hosted by www.StarlaJimenez.com. 31days

Press On

I got schooled today.

Yep…just by walking. I got schooled in the art of pressing on. Mind you…this was during a 3-mile walk with my friend. But I was tired, and my knee hurt. And she wanted me to climb a hill. And I was hot…and thirsty. Did I mention she wanted me to climb a hill…twice…or was it three times?? I don’t remember.  I think the sweat dripping off me salt-cured my brain.

But the awesome thing is, she didn’t allow me to give up. She didn’t let me be or do “less than”. My Christ-sister encouraged me, told me to keep going…told me to keep pressing on just one more time.

What a lesson in our spiritual lives as well! How often do we get bogged down in the struggles of this world, and just want to give up?  Or maybe we get lazy in our worship or prayer time because the devil starts whispering it’s not worth it. However, the Holy Spirit whispers, “Press on.”  For me, I’ve been another step, maybe, beyond that. So…the Lord sent a sweet sister to shout to me, “Press on!”

Now granted, at the time, she didn’t realize her encouragement to keep climbing that hill was speaking to my soul as well as my physical body. I didn’t even know it at the time. However, the Lord is faithful to reveal things to us when we least expect them.

So I say to you:  Take one more step. Climb that small hill in front of you. All the while, lean on the encouragement of the Holy Spirit whispering (or sometimes shouting), “Press on!”

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Let’s pray:
Father God, I thank  You for each person reading this right now. I pray that You would bless them in this moment. Keep sending Your Holy Spirit to remind us to keep pressing on and for strengthening us to do just that. May we nevermore fear anything that would try to keep us from pressing on. May we always remember that You, Father, uphold us with Your righteous right Hand! For Your Glory, Amen.

Brokeness (It can be a good thing)

Brokeness. I can tell you a thing or two about being broken. Of course, there are countless others whose “breaking” comes from, arguably, worse sources and situations than mine. However, the end results are the same: pain, mistrust, the devaluing of self, never seeing the world in the same way again.  Of course, there is also the fact that satan will use these broken areas over & over again in attempts to keep us broken. But those are the bad sides of being broken.

“Wait,” you say?  “Sounds like there’s a good side to being broken?” you question.

“Yes,” I say, “and its necessary.”

My prayer is that when you finish reading this, you will be encouraged and will find renewed hope and blessing out of being broken.

A few weeks ago, my pastor delivered a message on this very subject.  It is something that I’ve been dealing with, working on and through, and experiencing for the past few months.   The thing is…I asked for it, and I had no idea what I was asking!  I just knew I wanted a change…God’s way.

You see, I heard someone speak about how her life had been turned upside down. However, she prayed that God would break her own image of what her life should be, and remake or remold it into His image, His plan.  It hit me that was what I wanted, and…in that moment…started praying that God would do just that. Let me tell you…God WILL do what we ask if it is in His will for our lives.  He had evidently just been waiting for me to surrender.

Surrender is key.  Without it, the things that break us do just that–break us–without any kind of resolution, repair, reconciliation or restoration.  But, if we surrender to the Lord’s plan for us and allow Him to do what He will, WOW!   Our lives can be so much more than we ever expected or imagined.

For so long I wandered through life wanting and expecting God to change things for me, but never surrendering to allow Him to change ME! When I finally did that, I was–and am–amazed at how I see things–the world–differently.  I still have a long way to go in my brokeness, which is what brings me to writing this.  I’ve gone through many changes and realizations over the past 6 or 8 months. I got to a point of stagnancy (if that’s not a word, I just created it. LOL!). I told my friend that I thought it was because I wasn’t inspired about anything. I wasn’t inspired to write or create, or even read much.  I wasn’t being hit with any magnificent revelations…just a few nuggets here and there.

But then Pastor preached this message on brokeness.

At some point during that message, I realized what my problem has been.  It wasn’t a lack of inspiration–not directly anyway.  It was realizing that I was not finished in being broken, but I had been acting as though God was finished with me!  No wonder things were becoming so frustrating to me!  I had left behind the surrender of letting God do whatever He was going to do.

I was listening to K-Love the other night, driving home from work. A little vignette played and the person was talking about the woman at the well. She spoke of how Jesus asked the woman for water, but He told her of the Living Water He could offer to her. He was asking her for something that He completely wanted to give back to her…only His was infinitely better! Oh friends…if we could just grasp and hold onto this in those moments of brokeness!

It occurred to me that this was exactly what the Lord has been doing with me.  In this time of being broken and re-molded (or re-modeled), He has been asking me to give Him some things. All the while, He was telling me that it would be okay, that what I got back would be better. Then, when I let go of some of those things, He urged me to ask for them back…but only by HIS Power and HIS will.  Surrender.

So…here I am, three weeks after writing the previous paragraphs. (I really must finish my posts in a more timely fashion.) As I re-read those first paragraphs, I am currently living what I’ve written. He asked for something back. I had to surrender. I had to give it back, and give in to whatever He has planned for me in this season. Do I believe it’s gone for good? No. But I do believe that I still have some growing and learning to do. In His due time, He will position me to be used according to His will. I say, “Lead on, Lord. I will follow!”

Me: “You want me to let go of that? But I love that!” God: “Exactly.” (Breaking Chains Pt. 2)

So, in my journal the other day, I started writing my next blog entry…this one. Except I didn’t write it exactly like this. In fact, I’ve started a couple of times to write “Breaking Chains, Pt.2” but God has been doing so much in me, that I’ve just not sat down and sorted it all out into a blog.  So…here’s what I started writing on 10/28:

One of these days, I’m going to write the second part of my blog entry, “Breaking Chains”. I know I need to do it, but God keeps working and moving and things are happening so fast that can scarcely keep up, it feels like.  What I’m learning though is that this “breaking of the chains” is an on-going process. Just when ya think God is finished with you, He reveals something else that needs to go. Its called sanctification–the process of dying to ourselves and becoming more like Him.   At some point, I’ll take the time to write a longer blog about what the Lord is doing in my life–because I know He will use it to minister to someone else, but for now & until then:  “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20. 

And…here I am, writing this “longer blog” with this weird headline: Me: “You want me to let go of that? But I love that!” God: “Exactly”.  I titled it that because that was a conversation God and I had a few weeks ago, and it has been an ever-present theme in the what the Lord is doing in my life.  He wants me to die to myself, crucify the flesh and walk as one with Him.  I can’t do that if I’m holding on to the things  love. If those things are taking my focus from Him, even if they are things FOR Him or TO Him, then they shouldn’t be done. This is a thick, difficult chain to be broken…at least it has been for me. However, I know that He is chipping away at the iron link that has been binding me. Sure, He could break it instantly, but would I learn & grow the way He wants if He did that? This season that I’ve been seeing as waiting and listening, is exactly that…absolutely. But it is also a time for allowing him to make that chain weaker and weaker, until it breaks into full obedience and submission to His wonderful will.

This may just be rambling to some of you, but someone reading this (because I believe that’s how God works), will be going through the exact same thing and understand completely. Maybe someone reading this will realize they too have been stubborn about doing what God wants, and finally give in and be obedient. Maybe someone else will also realize that there are things in their lives that are taking the place of God, and then release those things focus on Jesus.  I pray that is the case. I pray that you will know that a life lived in obedience is much better than one that is not. Blessing, peace and strengthened faith are some of the fruits from a life lived in obedience.

mindsetColossians 3:2-3: Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Let’s pray:

Abba Father, we love you Lord and we want our lives to honor and to be living worship of you. Help us Lord, to recgonize when we are outside of Your Will, and draw us back in.  Help us to trust you more so that our obedience is automatic. Holy Spirit, well up inside us and go before us when the enemy attacks using disobedience and wrong thoughts. With You, Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ….may our Christ-mind always be in the forefront so that the enemy has no way in to try to deter us. Jesus, You gave everything on the cross so that we can have eternal life in Heaven…thank you for that. Help us to keep our life in Eternal Heaven as our focus, rather than the things of this world. We love you Lord. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

Breaking Chains…Part 1

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I don’t even know where to begin with this one, except to say that God is good–ALL the time.

I have been struggling for such a very long time with my thought processes.  In other word, I see myself the way I think others see me. I criticize myself in the way that I think others are doing. Its rather like this: “I know you’re going to hurt me or tell me I’m doing this wrong, so I’ll just say it for you, before you do.”

I started this self-examination a couple of months ago.  Our pastor started a series on “triggers”…things that have stuck in our minds from the past that, when we experience (or perceive to experience) them or something similar again, it triggers some emotion or reaction, which tends to control our next move.

Wow! what an eye-opener! I realized that I had so many of these “triggers”, I really didn’t kow what my true thoughts & feelings even were about certain things.  I only knew that I had to pray and ask God to reveal them to me and to help me process through this wrong thinking.

I have to tell you—even with the Lord at my side, the past couple of months have been a struggle and probably some of the most depressing times of my life.  Its been hard to realize that I’m more messed up than I thought. (ha!)

It was at the end of one of these depressing days that I just became overwhelmed. I lay in bed, crying my eyes out, not knowing why.  So I asked God.  “Why, why do I feel like this?  How did I get to the point where I constantly think I’m not good enough and that I need–no crave–everyone else’s approval? How did this start, Lord?”

In an instant, He took me back in time, straight to the point where I now feel like it all started.  It was so clear & vivid to me, that my heart broke all over again as I watched those moments replay in my mind’s eye.

It was my third grade classroom.  I could see my classmates on either side of me.  I could see my teacher, with her bleached-blonde, bouffant hair (it was the 70s, okay? 😉 ). I could see her big eyelashes, caked with mascara (that always bothered me for some reason).  There she was in one of the pantsuits she always wore, with that big ole flower pin she always had on her lapel. Even her perfume wafted through my mind.

We were learning to write our cursive letters, which I was so excited about. I thought using cursive writing was so much prettier and grown-up that printing.  To this day, I’ll write more than I’ll print.  Anyway, we were practicing capital letters that looked similar like the cursive F, T and Q. Remember, a cursive Q looks rather like the numeral 2. That must have been the letter we were on because, even now, I never write a cursive, capital Q.

My peers on either side of me were nice kids. We went all through school together, graduating in 1987. I was friendly to both, but never really close to either of them.  The teacher always seemed to favor them over me.  I just figured it was because they were cuter, better dressed, more popular than I. Or maybe it was because they cheered or their families possibly had more financially than mine did. Maybe they were smarter than me?  I really didn’t know the answer. Maybe my teacher just didn’t like me…but I digress.

So, we are practicing our letters. The teacher is walking around checking our work. I believe she sent me and one of the other girls to the chalkboard to demonstrate, in front of the class, whatever the letter was that were practicing. I remember, very clearly, wanting it to be pretty and perfect. However, instead of hearing “well done” from my teacher, I heard, “No! That is wrong! Why can’t you make your letters like SHE did???”  (ack!  in front of the whole class!) I was mortified, heart-broken and confused in one fell swoop!

To this day, the mention of her name makes me cringe…though I suppose its time to move past that.   As I realized the Lord had taken me to this specific moment in time for a reason, I fell the grip of that bondage loosen just a little.  I suppose it might completely break and fall away when I let go and forgive her.  In fact, I’m going to work toward that right now.

Here’s where I pray:  Lord, as I recognize where this 37-year journey of feeling “less than” began, help me to release forgiveness over this person and pray blessing into her life. Forgive me, Father, for the negativity and unforgiveness toward this person that I’ve held for so long.  With your help, Lord, I know I can move forward and this “less-than” chain WILL be broken…in Jesus’ name! Amen!

What Am I Going To Do?

I’ve been challenged by a dear sister in Christ to get back on the wagon and begin to blog again. So, I agreed to try to get one written by then end of the week (this was last Monday or Tuesday…LOL). However, I told her that she had to keep me accountable. She agreed and sure enough…she texted me on Friday afternoon to see how it was coming along. I have to say that I was rather disappointed in myself for not having even started anything. But, this sister (& you know who you are) is such an encourager! She reminded me that I still had time, and, as we “talked”…a few ideas even came to me.  I thought about writing about experiencing early empty-nest syndrome–even though my nest isn’t empty.  That blog is in the works. I thought about blogging some recipes. I’ll work on that one too.  I considered writing bout my new Sunday School class, teaching teenagers. That one will happen when we finish this lesson series–I’m learning so much from it too! But, as I started drafting this out, the real meaning of this entry started to form. With every sentence, it has become more & more clear. “What is it” you ask? I’ll tell you. I’m realizing, as I write, how important it is to have people (family, friends, co-workers, etc) that will help you reach your goals and dreams.  People who will remind you of what you once said you wanted to do or be. It’s important to have people who can see and share your dreams and goals, but also keep you accountable.  These people should be able to encourage you, listen when you need an ear, give you Godly, constructive advice and pray with & for you.  I am so blessed that God has surrounded me with lots of people who do just that!  Some engage in all of these…some only one or two. Some are placed in my life to remind me that it’s not all about me. Some teach me. Some pray with and for me…but most of all, there is love.  God pours out His Love through His Holy Spirit working in His children.  Sometimes I am so wrapped up in my own stuff, that I don’t do a very good job of allowing God to pour out His Love through me.be I’m going to work on that–a lot! I am going to remind myself not to take on too much.  I am going to love more and doubt less. I am going to explore my dreams more and wait less.  God will empower me, give me strength, light my path, love me through the struggles and make my dreams and passions one with HIS plan for me…as long as I step out of His way.  Thank you for being there on the journey. By the way, check out Pressing In and Pressing On at http://starlajimenez.blogspot.com/ . I think you’ll enjoy it! God bless and keep you always.

Love this!

The Anvil of Grace

Driving along the plains right outside of Amarillo, TX, the vastness of God is made evident through the enormity of the sky pressing down on flatness that trails into the distance. The sensation that you can see the curve of the earth is strong, along with the feeling that you are no more insignificant than an ant. This sight always reminds me that God doesn’t fit into anyone’s box.

On a road that looks like it will go on flat forever, there is a single tree I always recognize and remember. As a child, I was told an object lesson any time we passed it. This was a tree you normally saw growing straight and tall – but it didn’t. There was a huge crook in it where it began turning in a totally different direction, finally making its way back up toward the sunlight. It looked like it…

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God Invests in Encounters With You (or “For God so loved the world, He gave His ONLY begotten SON…”

note: I wrote this a week ago, but am just now getting it posted.

I was reading this morning in a book called “The God Catchers” by Tommy Tenney.  It’s a great book about true worship.  Not the worship that is just singing songs and getting all worked up emotionally.  Its about living a life of worship.

Mr. Tenney refers to the story of Zaccheus, a small-statured man, who climbed a sycamore tree to get a glimpse of Jesus as He passed by.  However, something amazing happened.  Jesus stopped, looked up into the tree and told Zaccheus to come down, the He (Jesus) needed to stay at his (Zaccheus’) house.

Tenney then goes on to talk about how God intentionally planted that sycamore tree so that Zaccheus could have the opportunity to encounter Jesus.  He talked about how he (Tenney) could just see God planting angels there to guard that tree as it grew, creating an opportunity for Zaccheus to engage and partake in the presence of Jesus Christ. (I’m paraphrasing, of course).

Fast-forward a few minutes to my shower. (Get your mind out of the gutter.) I tend to let my mind wander while in the shower. A lot of times, God uses that time to reveal things to me: things I need to work on; people or things I need to pray about, etc.  This morning, I used that time to pray and just talk to God.  Here’s how my conversation with Him, this morning, went:

Me:  “God, I know you love me.  I know you love my husband and my son. After all, you give us daily provision and protection. I know you love my family and my friends–and each person on this earth—whether they know YOU or not.  But God, I’m tired.  I’m weary.  I’ve been–my family has been in this valley for alongtime. Isn’t it time for a blessing yet?

God:  My child, I bless you every day.  You just said yourself that I give you daily provision and protection.

Me:  Yes, I did–and You do.  But I feel like I’m praying and praying and getting nowhere. I feel neglected.

God: Now you know how I feel.

Me:  oh. (deep sigh)

The realization hit me that I neglect my God–until I need something from Him.  Or I neglect my tithe because I’m almost broke, but I don’t trust Him enough to make a way, even though He has proven to me, time and again, that He will.

Why should God do anything for me, when I neglect Him and His Word so much?  Sure, I read my Bible every day. However, do I really take time to study it, pray about it and ask God to give me revelation for my life while I’m reading?  I am sad to admit that too many times, I don’t.

But after reading that passage about Zaccheus from “The God Catchers”; and then my conversation with God, I realized He is very intentional about setting up ways for me to meet with Him.

This valley that my family and I are in?  That’s an opportunity for me to meet with God.  That article I read about a popular news anchor developing another disease after beating breast cancer?  That’s an open invitation to get into His Presence and intercede on her behalf.  That moment whe my twelve-year-old said he was putting more than “10%” into the offering plate? That’s a welcome mat for me to go to the Father and praise Him for the wonderful gift of my child.

These opportunities…I noticed them and acted on them. However, how many of these planned, intentional encounters from God and with God, do I miss throughout the day–just because I’m so self-absorbed?  How many times do I miss out on loving on God?  Because that’s what He wants…our active love.

If you’re a parent, think about that.  Don’t we do things for our children so they will know we love them?  So they will show us love in return?  How disappointed are we when they barely acknowledge our outpouring? Or worse yet, when we get that “Stop, you’re embarassing me”…?? Ugh!  That one is like a punch in the heart.

Oh how our Lord must feel when we do the same to Him!  Especially when He has done so much to orchestrate an encounter with us.  His ultimate action, to have interaction, with us came in the form of His son, Jesus.

John 3:16 says that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son; that whosoever would believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  Now THAT’s an intentional encounter!

Yes, God does hide Himself from us at times. But its so that we will seek Him and be found!  He wants us to want to be with Him!  Living a full life of worship in Him…for He is in us, with us and works through us!  Be on the lookout for your God-encounter today.

Where have I been?

Where have I been?   That’s a good question. I’m not sure where I’ve been the past few weeks.  I’ve been lolling around in trying to lose weight, keep my bills paid, keep my child from getting lazy in school and just day-to-day STUFF.  In case you haven’t noticed, it can be mentally (and physically) exhausting.

Well, I’m trying to break out of the doldrum conundrum and start moving again. I feel like I’ve been surrounded by this dark storm cloud and I couldn’t see where I needed to be.  To my dismay, the cloud isn’t moving on its own so….I’ve decided I’m just going to turn on the fan and blow it out of the way!

Let’s start with some positives:  My child has brought his math grade up from a low “C” to a middle “B”. Whew! (Now if we can just get him to pass his final exam!)  The Hubs is rocking on his mailbox designs (awesome! They are custom to look like hot rods.).  As of this morning,  I have reached 25% of my weight loss goal!  Yay!  I’ve been on a roller-coaster ride this past week with, what my friend Kelle calls, the Metal Monster. I WILL beat that monster down!

I think my biggest stumbling block the past couple of weeks, though, has been spiritually.  I haven’t been able to get to my home church as much as I’d like (its an hour from my house), and it feels like something is missing.  I thought it was being away from there. Today I realize its being away from God.  Even though I read a Bible passage every day, I haven’t been really “with it”. I recognize this today, and today, I’m going to do something about it.  Just because I’m not at my home church building, doesn’t take me away from being  part of the Church body.  I’ve been grafted into that Body by the blood, sacrifice and salvation of Jesus Christ. However, if I’m the part of the Body that stops working…then it hinders the whole Body.  I don’t want to do that…so today…I start working again.

Lord, I thank you for Your Goodness, Your Love, Your Salvation and just Who You Are.  Without You, I am nothing. But with Your Strength, I can do anything through You!  Let this be my mantra everyday…to trust in Your Strength and Wisdom, not mine. In Jesus’ Holy Name I pray…Amen.

Truly Blessed

Spring, and especially the Easter season, alway get me thinking about how blessed I am. I think it’s the newness of life that each represents.

A lot of people might look at parts (notice I said PARTS) of  my life and wonder how in the world I think I’m blessed. Well…I’m going to tell you.

I was born to wonderful, God-fearing parents who raised me right.  I had (and have) beautiful grandparents who taught me so much about how life and love should be. (My parents did this too. 🙂 ) I have a wonderful brother, and his family, who God has done amazing things in their lives, especially over the past few years.

I was able to get a good education and be the first in my family (as far as I know) to go to college. I’m also not still paying off student loans. 🙂  I married a wonderful man who loves me just as I am, tolerates my faults and encourages me in so many ways. In June, we’ll celebrate 21 years of marriage.  God blessed me with a beautiful son who is so smart, funny, creative and challenges me in so many ways.

I am blessed with more wonderful friends than any one girl deserves. Yeah, we get on each other’s nerves sometimes, but we stick with each other and that is true friendship.

I am blessed because Jesus Christ saved me when I was just 8 years old…and He never left my side, even when I left His. He has always brought me back into His light, forgiven me when I screw up and then He forgets my mistakes. Praise God! With each forgiveness, He gives me new life!  He has brought me through so many trials in this life. He has always provided, always loved, always had a plan for me and my family. He continues to carry us through the storms and He’s there rejoicing with us on the mountain-tops!    He gave me a tool to re-take control of my health, and I feel physically better today than I have in a long time.   He keeps a roof over our heads and transportation to get to and from work.  He keeps food on our table, and provides a way for us to have what WE consider essentials. He would probably consider them luxuries, not necessities.  But as His Word says, He is able and does give good gifts! Hallelujah! The best gift of all was His life for our sin!  He bore so much…ridicule, beating, mocking, scorn, betrayal and death…more than we can ever imagine. He did all so that the veil would be torn, another sacrifice would never have to be made…all so that we would be reconciled with the Father.

Do you know him today?   I do.  And I am truly blessed!

(If you want to know Him too, just ask. I’ll be praying for you.)

Dis”banding” the idol

I haven’t written in a while.  Nothing major has been happening. I’m doing well with the LAP-band. This Wednesday, March 21st will be exactly 8 weeks post-op.  I’ve lost 36 pounds!

It’s hard to believe that its only been 8 weeks.  It seems like I’ve been living with this thing forever.  I’m so used to the way I have to eat now, that sometimes I find myself thinking that I’ve eaten too much…and I’m not even full.  Exercise has become a “must-do”. I feel bad on days that I don’t exercise.  I’ve even signed up for a 5k fundraiser for my son’s school and a 2-mile walk for March of Dimes–in the same weekend! (I think I’ll take a vacation day that Monday to recuperate! LOL).

It’s all good.  However, I’m realizing that this has really been a bit of a spiritual journey as well as a “get healthy” one.  God has really shown me some areas where I’ve been more focused on this weight loss thing than I have been on Him.  I’ve been more apt to log into my food journal or read a WLS (weight loss surgery) blog, than I have been to read His Word.  The thing is, THAT is really where I gain my strength because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).

I realize though that I have not been giving my Lord the Praise and Worship that He deserves.  Not just for making a way for me to have this procedure..No no!  That’s not what He is to me. He is not a prayer vending machine where I can drop a quarter in and get a prayer answered for what I want. Nope.  This is a relationship between me and Jesus…and I’ve been ignoring Him a bit.  You know, if I treated my husband the way I’ve treated Jesus lately, we probably wouldn’t have a marriage..and the thing is…Jesus has given me more than my spouse ever could.  However, Jesus loves me unconditionally, and He’s been patiently waiting for me to return.  Softly and tenderly, He’s been calling me back to His side, back to His purpose.  He’s been reminding me not to worry so much about the weight loss (or anything else for that matter), because He’s already worked it out on my behalf! Praise God! What a promise!

So, I’m going back to focusing on what’s really important–Jesus!  Because when THAT relationship is right, everything else will fall into place.  Can I get an Amen?