Encountering God’s Power

Years ago, I used to believe that encountering the power of God was limited to a financial breakthrough or witnessing someone walk out of a wheelchair or being moved so deeply in His presence while worshiping Him in song that I was moved to tears and fell to my knees or danced for joy before my King…

…yes, those were powerful moments in my life that impacted my faith in God in a very real way, but the more I have walked with the Lord and spent time in His Word getting to know who He is, I have come to realize the power of God extends far beyond those moments; God reveals His mighty power when He takes a rebellious sinner and purifies his wicked heart and conforms his life to look more and more like Christ day by day. Talk about witnessing the miraculous!

In last chapter of his first letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul, prays for the believers’ walk with the Lord to be strengthened and experience this kind of life-changing power from the God of peace.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass”

(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, NASB).

This passage of scripture is speaking of sanctification, which is the process of being made holy only through the merits and justification of Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit that are then reflected in man. Sanctification cannot be attained by any works-based process, but only through the works and power God Almighty.  It is the Lord who will bring your sanctification to completion, as we learn to yield our lives over to His grace and strength to walk in obedience to His Holy Word. The same grace that saves us is the same grace that empowers us to live holy and set apart as a witness to this fallen world. 

To be sure, as far as a powerful encounter with the Lord, I still sense His nearness when I weep on my knees in prayer and sing of His goodness and faithfulness on Sunday mornings with my church family, but there is nothing quite like knowing the Holy Spirit is with me every day sanctifying this selfish heart to look more like Jesus. I look back on how much He has changed my sinful life and strengthened me to learn how to choose obedience when my flesh wants to reign…that, my friends, is powerful. What a mighty God we serve!

Father, many of us cry out for an encounter with You. Perhaps that is some tangible experience where we sense Your nearness or witness a miracle, but what if that powerful encounter with You is not something we see or feel, but it is the very work that You are doing in our heart? Lord, I pray that I would experience that kind of powerful encounter with You where you take this hard heart, soften it, and mold it to look like Jesus. I pray that You would give me a deeper hunger for Your Word that would help me renew my mind. Holy Spirit give me the strength to not only walk in wisdom from what I learn in the Bible, but that You would empower me to continue to obey what I am learning so that my life would be a reflection of Your glorious Kingdom. May my life bring You glory, Jesus. I thank You for the grace that has saved this rebellious sinner and the grace that continues to keep me and guide me in truth and in obedience, learning to walk in Your perfect ways. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tagged : / / / /

What God Has Taught Me Through the Seasons Where I Felt Stuck

“Hi, my name is Emily, and I am recovering from an addiction to do-ing.”

It took me many years to finally admit that. If there was a goal or task to accomplish, I would throw all of myself into successfully completing it. I still have great work ethic, but the problem was the fact that I was too concerned with what people thought of me based upon my accomplishments. I loved the high from “the hustle” and having my schedule full to the brim. I spent years upon year upon years crowding the margins of my existence with:

Dance class, gymnastics, cheerleading, running track, Student Council, Marching Band, Pep Band, Concert Band, Art Club, Peers Group, musicals & plays (“I can’t. I have rehearsal.”), auditions, performances, church choir practice, tutoring, youth ministry, college and career ministry, worship team rehearsals, Bible studies, prayer meetings, church leadership meetings, drama practices, event planning committees, speaking engagements…

…just to name a few.

Entering a New Season

Being successful and driven became the meaning behind every breath I took; I found purpose in my performance and productivity. This was all I knew for well over 20 years of my life.

Then came the day, four years ago, when my husband and I decided it was best that I leave my job and become a stay-at-home mom. Even though there was always a daily task-list before me:

Laundry, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, vacuuming, mopping, dishes, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, lunch, emails, phone-calls, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, dinner, feeding, burping, diaper-changing…

…I didn’t feel accomplished at all.

Feeling Stuck

I felt robotic.

I felt completely overwhelmed and frazzled, drained and exhausted.

My excellent productivity skills had always proven to be such an asset to my daily routine, but not anymore. I couldn’t focus on the here and now, let alone enjoy it, because I was always looking to the next thing that had to be finished.

What did I even do today? I would ask myself constantly because I never felt like my to-do list was completed. There was always more to do the next day too.

Using this Season of Life

Although I would have told you straight to your face that my identity and purpose was not in what I do, I don’t know if I whole-heartedly believed that. In this new season of my life as a stay-at-home mom, I felt absolutely stuck and quite frankly, like a failure. Surely, God wouldn’t call me to leave my job just to abandon me here, drowning in dirty laundry and a sink full of dirty dishes, feeling like it was piling up all around me. Surely, there had to be more purpose to my life than all of this!

This lack of productivity and accomplishment felt totally foreign to me, but little did I know, God was going to use this new season to teach me some of the greatest lessons of trusting Him even when everything in my life seems to be at a stand-still.

Learning How to Just Be

Within the first few months into this new role as a mom, I finally realized that if I didn’t slow down and carve out alone time with God, I would sink even deeper in this place where I felt utterly stuck. I needed to learn how to just be.

I need to learn how to be present. God didn’t need me to DO anything for Him because Jesus had done so much for me already so that I could simply spend time with the Father- now and forever in eternity.

Why would I rush through this life frantically trying to cross things off my task list for the sake of productivity if I allow it all to steal my peace and joy?

Becoming Intentional

Slowly, I learned how to stop going through the motions just for the sake of accomplishment and became intentional about staying mentally present. I made sure that quiet time spent with the Lord was a top priority. He was the only One who could restore my soul from the stresses of the daily demands of being at stay-at-home mom and wife. I chose to breathe it all in and enjoy every moment with my son and my husband, no matter how big or small it seemed, knowing that it would pass so quickly. It was then that I began to experience genuine peace and joy.

An Issue of Mis-Identification

I thought I was getting the hang of this whole “being” business, until God took it to the next level when He convicted my husband and I’s hearts that we needed to search for a sound, Biblical church (you can read about that initial experience of coming out of deception here), thus, removing whatever titles or ministry roles I still attempted to find my identity in and busy myself with. No more worship team, no more prayer meetings, no more church leadership conference calls, no more preparing messages for the youth group, no more drama team rehearsals.

Once again, I felt stuck. I felt so out of sorts. I felt so void of purpose because I no longer had all of these extra responsibilities to fill my plate. Clearly, I still had this huge issue of mis-identification, asking God why, when, how, wondering what this sense of void really was all about and if it would ever go away. Why couldn’t I find contentment in the waiting, in the process, in the stand-still? Why was it so hard to “just be” and trust God was at work in and through my life even when it looked like nothing was happening?

Yielding to the Hands of the Potter

In this season, God stripped me of all of those wrong labels that I was trying to identify myself with by completely removing me from activities and ministry positions. He even removed certain desires and passions, like my writing, which was starting to pick up speed since my book had just released several months prior to this big life change.

It took me two years to finally yield to the hands of the Potter and give him every label and title I have ever held onto and see Him smash them to smithereens with is mallet, y’all. That’s a long time to wrestle with God, but thankfully, as He always does, He won that match! I finally surrendered it all over to God.

Learning Whose I Am

Sure, there were times that I felt like I had lost myself.

But through the process of losing myself, just like Jesus tells us, I found the life God created for me to live.

“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Matthew 10:39, NKJV

In the season of “barrenness” and stillness, I discovered my true purpose and identity, a daughter of the Most High God.

It’s so incredibly simple, but it is at the core of the gospel—The Father gave His only Son for the whole world so that those who would believe on Him would never spiritually die but have everlasting life, experiencing restored fellowship with their Heavenly Father (John 3:16).

Those who embrace Jesus and put their trust in Him are given the right to be called children of God! There is absolutely NOTHING we can do to earn that position. We can’t work for it. It isn’t based upon our accomplishments or performance; it’s based on Jesus’ performance on the Cross! All that is required of us is faith in Jesus Christ…and we don’t even have to work for that either! God freely gives us that faith as a gift! When we embrace Jesus, the Father embraces us!

Children of God

In Christ, we are God’s children and our purpose is to stand in that identity and tell others the good news that they can have that right, too, through Jesus Christ (John 1:12).

It’s from that place as children of God, in Christ, that we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28a).

Did you catch that: have our BEING, not that we now can have our doing!

Finding Peace and Rest

Although it is so easy to get caught up in fully understanding our individual purpose, I don’t believe what we do while here on this earth is God’s main concern. I believe His main concern for us is that we know whose we are!

You may feel “stuck” right now and feel like you aren’t doing much of anything of value for God, but I am here to tell you that being a child of God is the greatest position you will ever stand in! Today, find peace and rest in believing you have purpose just by being that!

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / / /

Created for Greatness

One of the hardest things about living in this world as a Christian is not letting your mind conform to the earthly/carnal/temporal surroundings. The longer you are separated from Kingdom ways, which can be found in the Word of God, the easier it is to begin to think and act like the rest of the world who know so little of God’s ways. We become less and less heavenly-minded and begin to lose our focus on the eternal life that awaits us.

Paul urges us in Romans 12:2:

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

NKJV

The Word of God will transform our carnal way of thinking that we are naturally born with, and once we are born again by receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we must continue in our transformation process because we aren’t “home” yet. Although we are citizens of heaven, we still have a temporary residence here on earth and because of that we are subject to its environment. We have to renew our mind daily with God’s Word.

I’ve personally experienced instances where I have been pulled into following society’s timeline or approval process, measuring the way I lived my life with the world’s standards and regulations.

One instance, in particular, is measuring success or accomplishment by popularity and quantity when using the finances, time, talent, or drive that the Lord has so graciously given us to use on this earth. Often, we use them to make sure we advance in this life for ourselves, but God’s perfect will is to use them to bring Him glory and reach people for His Kingdom. To the world, the more people hearing about the accomplishment, the greater the success and the more difference your life just made by contributing your gifts, time, or finances. The world is all about outward appearance, how something looks on the outside. But the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

If the world saw a story in the newspaper about a shepherd that left 99 sheep to go after 1 that had gone astray, they would consider it absolutely foolish! “You could have lost even more! Think of all of that business you could potentially lose!” I hear. Or what about King David (who was anointed the next King of Israel and awaiting his throne) who faithfully served King Saul even when he sought to kill him? “Honor his authority?! That throne is rightfully yours! Tell King Saul to take a hike!”

Or how about a man from Nazareth who changed the entire world forever with just twelve people who gave up their entire lives to follow Him? “You have HOW many followers on Twitter…TWELVE?! I have 6 MILLION…I’m WAY more influential than you!”

Now, I’m not saying that the Lord can’t use someone to advance the Kingdom who has 6 million followers of Twitter, but why do we think that He chooses to use that person over the one who only has twelve Twitter followers (in the context of influence, of course)? 

My point is that we must break ourselves free from the mindset that your life only matters when people hear about your accomplishments or contributions to society. God is looking at the motive behind our drive to do great things and this change in mindset requires us to not be conformed to the way the world thinks. We must seek His truth so that we may find His perfect will.

But we must ask ourselves:

As Christians, is our drive to do great things becoming about us, or are we pointing others to Jesus? Are we content with being an “unknown” to the world, but known by God Almighty?

John the Baptist began to lose disciples when Jesus came on the scene, but John knew His purpose on this earth: to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming; to point others straight to the King of Kings so that they can enter the gate of salvation. “More of Him and less of me,” John declared in John 3:30. This should be our mindset too as we live our life for God’s glory alone.

It is our nature to be self-centered, to long for recognition, to be applauded for our efforts, etc. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting credit for a job well-done, but we should always remember that “we are not our own. We’ve been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). 

Anything we do, we should always give the credit and the glory to the One who gave us the ability to accomplish it and want nothing more than for others to grow and mature into a strong, healthy relationship with their Heavenly Father and Creator.

He sees each life as precious and doesn’t weigh one life more important than another.

So to the stay-at-home mom raising those little ones in the admonition of the Lord, you are doing great things for God! 

To the CEO of that multi-million-dollar company who gives all the glory to God, you are doing great things for God! To that youth pastor with a group of ten kids who you minister to week in and week out, you are doing great things for God! 

Just remember that success is to advance the Kingdom by sharing the gospel to one person at time! Give God the glory He deserves, not only with your words but with your heart…He created you to do great things for Him!

Tagged : / / / / / / / / /