In the last blog I mentioned I had participated in a Christian mindfulness presentation that included some interactive exercises. It was being sponsored and hosted by a well-known national denomination. This gave it some credibility in my mind, so I signed up. I was interested in how it would be approached by the Christian PHD (doctor of philosophy) who taught it. I was hopeful I could learn something and find similarities in what God has called me to do through Into the Waters. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. But God showed up in it, and gave me a message I understood. This is a long post; but an important one. I’ll share some of what I experienced in the session; but first briefly touch on mindfulness as a current cultural trend.
Mindfulness is a buzz word right now, but it is not new. It has deep spiritual roots going back thousands of years. Some roots are from Christianity, others are not. It has gained traction in our current culture because it has been presented as non-religious, useful for all people regardless of spiritual beliefs. Various forms of mindfulness are being encouraged, taught, and implemented in school systems, corporate training programs, healthcare systems, sports training, consulting practices, armed forces drills, etc. This article states it is the fastest growing health trend in America.
Mindfulness practices are intriguing to people because “statistics show” it lowers stress, improves productivity, increases mental focus, betters physical health, strengthens relationships, stokes creativity, lowers employee turnover, etc. Some are even claiming it has the power to obliterate fear! Pretty impressive!
Should I believe the hype? What is mindfulness exactly and as a Christian, how is it to be practiced, if at all? What are its implications? Does it square with Christianity?
According to Oxford dictionary, mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by concentrating on the present moment, while calmly accepting the feelings and thoughts that come to you, used as a technique to help you relax.”
Oxford dictionary also credits mindfulness as a concept from Zen Buddhism. Mindfulness practices typically include exercises of breathing, visualizing, noticing feeling and thoughts within present moment in order to make better choices to respond in calm and self-controlled ways. Those practices are very commonly considered mindfulness meditation techniques.
Prepare to be confused….
In contrast, a mindfulness organization states it is NOT about achieving a state of calm. They state, “it is just about noticing whatever experience we're having, including all the thoughts, feelings or physical sensations that are a part of it… we learn the skill of becoming aware of our thoughts, without necessarily doing anything with them. By just noticing thoughts, we learn how to unhook ourselves from our identification with them. This is different from pushing thoughts away. It’s how we relate to our thoughts, not the absence of them.” So are you confused by that? I am. (If interested, click here to read their entire document. )
It is a frustrating prospect to me that I am to notice my thoughts and feelings and not necessarily do anything with them, except "unhook" myself from them, whatever that means. And if I am to rely on my own power to make better choices in moments, again, losing prospect for me personally. I don't have that power. God has shown me my desperate, urgent every day need for mind renewal on His terms, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
But let’s not throw mindfulness aside yet, because mindfulness is actually God's concept and here is his definition- Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Going further, mindfulness as God intends, involves the biblical practice of meditation.
We can see the importance God places on meditation in Joshua 1:8 when He tells His people that, if done His way, meditation guarantees prosperity and success. If He is taken out of that equation, it is a worldly concept and smoke and mirrors.
Now let me give you a practical example to sort through. Let's go back to the event I mentioned in the beginning… It was marketed as Christian Mindfulness and Spirituality, so I figured it would be presented in a biblical way that aligned with God's definition of mindfulness and meditation. Instead, it was a dangerous mix of truth and lies.
The presenter shared in the first segment that Christian mindfulness practices go back thousands of years to early monastic and nomadic communities. These early Christian believers practiced “constant prayer” in quiet settings in order to contemplate God and His Word and experience His presence. So far so good, until… great emphasis was placed on present moment awareness and how to respond. The presenter referenced John 10:10 to emphasize Jesus’ promise to give life and life in abundance. A great promise! But the scripture was used as backdrop to support present moment awareness. She stated we are to focus on what can be seen in order to recognize the ordinary abundance all around us in order to fill us.
Do you see what is wrong with the presenter’s interpretation?
Focusing on what can be seen to be filled is NOT the context of what Jesus meant at all. He did not mean that we are to focus on life all around us to fill us. He meant that the promised life of abundance came through His life that He would give us. We are to be filled by Him, Romans 15:13. Since she was incorrectly interpreting the meaning of John 10:10, this was where I began to get uncomfortable in the presentation.
She continued by inviting us to have an attitude of curiosity. This meant to practice noticing ordinary abundance and to be present in a moment. She instructed us to close our eyes and imagine ourselves as an alien visiting the earth for the first time. Then, as an alien, we were to reach out our hand and pick something up from earth. Since we were visiting earth, it would be something we had never seen before. We were to look at it, feel it, observe it, engage all of our senses, and manipulate it if possible. We were told this was an exercise to train our brains to be more mindful by focusing intently on a present moment. As she presented this exercise, I suddenly became very mindful of something rising up in me. My feelings and thoughts were't pleasant, nor was I feeling very calm suddenly. Maybe this was to be the point I "unhooked" myself, LOL.
Would you have participated in this exercise?
I did not do the exercise. I was shocked. Jesus’ beautiful promise to give life in abundance was twisted. There was no suggestion to pick up something God designed, like a beautiful rose for example. We could have closed our eyes and noticed the intricacies of God’s handiwork and how it awakened all of our senses, causing us to wonder at the glory of God. Instead, I was to be an alien and pick up “something” I had never seen before. Given the fact that there was no encouragement at all to give God glory for whatever the created thing was, she lost me as a participant at this exercise.
However, I didn’t disconnect from the presentation. I still hoped it would get better, but truly was more curious as to how much worse it could get.
Shortly after the alien exercise, she mentioned Matthew 11:28 which is Jesus’ invitation to all who are weary and burdened to come to Him for rest. She used it to illustrate a mindfulness point that when we are weary and burdened, we can train ourselves to choose our response. Red flag. Her translation was way outside of the boundary of what Jesus was saying. He wants us to come to Him with our weakness and learn from him so he can restore us. He never encourages us to train ourselves to choose our response in our own power.
At this point in the online presentation, something fell to the ground which startled the presenter, causing her to swing around in her chair and grab the item on the ground very quickly. When she came back into view, she looked a bit shocked. But then she quickly closed her eyes and breathed deeply to take a mindfulness moment. She then explained to all of us, that a candle had fallen to the ground suddenly. Since it was lit, she needed to get it immediately, stating she was fearful it would cause a fire. But, she noted she was immediately relieved, because the candle had gone out upon hitting the ground.
At this, I smiled and was mindful of sudden relief. I took it as God’s little wink to me that He was connecting with my upset. This was not a Spirit-filled Christian mindfulness session. It was a session where the light was snuffed out. Bad sign.
The crescendo was a poem she shared from a well-known writer who has recently passed away, and who, by the way, was an atheist. Yes of course, perfect ending, inspire me with an atheist's words of not knowing how to pray. Yes, the poem she shared emphasized not knowing how to pray, but knowing how to fall down into the grass and pay attention. I was seriously in a state of shock.
Could it get any worse? I stuck around to the very end hoping the host or participants might reveal their dismay. But the host praised her. Only 2 participants made comments; and they were also praises! Ugh.
I know this is a long post, but it is so important. Some might think I am overly critical or harsh. But I politely disagree. So many are being led as sheep to the slaughter by the enemy who delights in twisting and perverting God's ways. We should be hyper-vigilant in these times to honor God and meditate on His Word in context. We must be rooted and grounded in God’s word to discern between good and evil, Hebrews 5:13-14. God calls us to exercise our spiritual senses through constant use in order to discern. Are you exercising your spiritual senses?
Into the Waters offers resources to train yourself to exercise your spiritual senses through prayer and meditation in context of His truth. Our classes and online resources emphasize the critical nature of lingering with God, inviting the Holy Spirit, meditating on His Word, talking openly and vulnerably with Him, waiting in His presence, giving Him glory, and surrendering to His leading. Practice those type of exercises with us!
We are holding a session Sunday March 15th at 8pm EST called the Word of God. We will ponder 4 different ways the enemy of our soul attacks us. There is also challenge to ask God to do something new and supernatural. There are exercises to quiet yourself and renew in His presence. Join us! Sign up here. And stay tuned because I will also be announcing an April session related to new life, just prior to Easter. I hope you join one or both! And if you are looking for even more, try this biblically based mindfulness challenge that I posted recently on our Facebook and Instagram page. Try it with a friend! Click on the picture below for instructions.
Since Fall of last year, Into the Waters' prayer and meditation sessions have been held in an online format. They have been going very well, with every survey revealing 100% would recommend the session to others! It is precious time with God.
Here is one comment from a participant in the January 25th session-
"I liked the ability to do this online in my own space. Great job in guiding us through the exercises."
It was an early morning start at 8am EST, with the majority connecting from the East Coast, a couple others connecting from CST, and a couple more from the PST (a 5am start!) This the very cool thing of gathering for a session online. You connect from the comfort of your own space and time zone! God will bless those early birds!
I started the session by sharing a few personal examples of difficult moments of mental battle, confusion, and burden that have happened since the start of the year. For the most part I started the year pretty positive; but it didn't take long until battle ensued. I've learned God leads me in a process, taking me through lessons that are not just for me; but for others. As I share, I see that my experience comforts and encourages others, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. We are in this together! God wants us to know we are not alone in our trials. You will experience that if you participate in a session.
Related to the lessons God took me through, I was able to share how God led me to victory in 3 different ways; the lesson being there is no formula with God. We need to hone our skill set in spiritual terms and tune to the leading of the Spirit. Do you know how to do that? He wants us to be aware of the variety of weapons at our disposal to gain victory in our troubles. Do you know what some spiritual weapons might be?
Most Christians are very limited in knowing how to battle through. So as I got closer to the session, I realized that the WORD of GOD session was to partly be about how we overcome. I shared 4 ways the enemy of our souls attacks us. Participants were led through prayerful reflection time with God to meditate and ponder how the enemy might be tempting them. 50% of participants noted they received revelation from God on an area that needed healing. PRAISE GOD!
"My joy of the Lord was restored in realizing I was allowing it to be stolen." - Jan 25th participant
Also the sessions always include a good portion of time to still ourselves before Him and invite His presence. 70% of participants particularly enjoyed being able to still and quiet themselves in His presence. In the hustle and bustle of our attention deprived lives, it is more critical than ever to make hard stops, to be vigilant in protecting quiet time with the LORD. Many of us need to be hyper-vigilant in an aggressive way, especially if we are exhausted, depleted, burdened, complaining, and anxious. We say we don't have time, but Jesus was very clear with Martha telling her that only one thing was truly necessary. He stood in defense of her sister Mary who chose time at the Lord's feet. He made it clear IT WOULD NOT BE TAKEN AWAY FROM HER, Luke 10:42. God's defense of your time with Him is already there, are you letting Him defend your time with Him?
"I really sense a need to be more mindful of listening better this year. I tend to want to do all the talking. This process was very helpful to me in practicing that." - January 25th participant
That feedback makes me so happy and thankful! It's testimony of one who is being self-reflective and wanting to "practice"! We can talk, talk, talk to God; but do we stop and listen? Each session always includes time to ask God for things, for vision of the unseen, and then wait on what is impressed, to make note of what comes to mind as we meditate on His truths. In the last session, we asked God to do something new! Something supernatural and of the Spirit! ASK.
"God insists that we ask, not because He needs to know our situation, but because we need the spiritual discipline of asking."- Catherine Marshall, author (1914-1983)
To close this post out, I want to point out the word "mindful" that was used in the participant's quote above. It has become a real buzzword in our culture. And Christians are being led astray related to it. I want to share more about mindfulness; but won't be sharing about it in this blog. I will in the next. It will be about a session I attended recently that was hosted by a national Christian denomination. I signed up hopeful to learn from the PHD who lead it. Unfortunately, I came away very disappointed and concerned. It didn't calm me or benefit my spirit. Will share more next week.
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Hello! Have you signed up for our next session yet? It’s approaching! Saturday January 25th at 8am is the date and time! Sign up here! The session is called the “WORD of GOD” and it’s tied to the 2020 WORD “ASCEND” that I shared in the first blog of the year. Read it here.
Over the past several months I have had conversations with 2 different men who both diminished to not just tears, but deep sobbing as I spoke with them. One man was about to put his dog down. He was going alone to do it. He started out stoic in the conversation, until I mentioned God. The other was just betrayed and left by his wife after 25 years of marriage. He started out complaining, until I mentioned God. Neither were believers in God to my knowledge. My conversations with each were different; but a common “WORD” I said to each was, “I will pray that God comforts you, that you know you are not alone.” With those words, emotion broke through. The intensity of their emotion surprised me, but I took it as a holy moment, and prayed for their souls while they released pain. Each were in desperate need of a sustaining WORD from God.
While searching for a picture for this blog I found this one without copyright restrictions. The man who took the photo made this comment about what it means- "...I always keep a wide smile on my mouth, but sometimes I feel that I am lifting mountains of depression on my chest. Wondering why? My keyboard will run out of alphabets if I answered that question! MAY GOD HELP ME!"
That's a big unspoken confession. Mountains of depression! Prayers alone, without the WORD of God, are they enough to sustain us? See below on 4 temptations of Jesus. How did Jesus reply, with prayer or in another way?
Each of us, no matter our circumstances, need a sustaining WORD from God... as regularly as the meals we eat! Jesus was clear that we do not live on bread alone, i.e. on things that sustain our flesh. But we live by every WORD that proceeds from the mouth of God. What is the last sustaining WORD that God has spoken to you? Can and do you quiet yourself to hear it? Do you need to practice sitting quietly with God to receive it? Is the hustle and bustle of life preventing you from taking a good hour to be with God and His WORDS? If so, sign up for January 25th!
The first handful of scriptures in the Gospel of John tell us that the WORD (Jesus) “was” already. In the beginning, Jesus already “was”. Therefore, Jesus is eternal. Jesus is self-existent, just like God the Father. Before the beginning, Jesus was with GOD the Father. And Jesus is God. John tells us that Jesus is the Source and Creator of all things. In Him is life. He alone possesses life. His life is the source of light to all. Therefore, if you do not have his life in you, you do not have light in you. His light overcomes darkness. Darkness cannot lay hold of his light; it cannot overtake his light. Darkness can only be transformed by his light.
Here are the actual scriptures of John 1:1-5:
In the beginning was the WORD and the WORD was with God and the WORD was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through Him, without Him nothing was made that had been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines through the darkness and the darkness does not comprehend it.
John chapter 1 goes on to say that the WORD became flesh and dwelt here on earth among us… If the WORD of God became flesh in Jesus, it is to become flesh in us! You can practice that with the group who is already signed up for January 25th! Sign up!
Why practice? Because you are a target for attack. If you look at the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4 ,and drill it down to Satan’s strategy, what do you see? You see that Satan attacked the identity of Jesus, the Son of God. And what did he tempt Jesus to do? This is not an exclusive list, but there are 4 big things that I saw as I meditated upon it this week:
“If you are the Son of God…”
Jesus when tempted by Satan, responded with the WORD of God that was in Him. He told Satan that man does not live on bread alone but on every WORD that proceeds from the mouth of God. He didn’t need bread to feed his flesh. He himself was the WORD that sustains. He himself is the WORD that sustains you.
For a WORD from God, Jesus wants us to consume His WORD. He wants us to hide it in our hearts so that we do not sin against Him. If Jesus had to battle using the WORD of GOD, we do also! Is His WORD in you to quickly refute and overcome lies, temptations, anxiety, fear, hopelessness, anger, judgment, self-obsession, self-hatred, pride? How do you battle and gain victory over the negative thoughts and temptations that entice your flesh desires? Or are you giving in to temptation?
Jesus has a sustaining word of the Spirit for you. A WORD from God sustains! A WORD from God heals. A WORD from God reaches into the deepest places within to restore, renew, and reframe our mind.
What is the last WORD from him that sustained you? That fed you?
The session on January 25th is about taking our eyes off of what can be seen. Because what can be seen is temporal. Instead we will focus our eyes on what is unseen, because what is unseen is eternal. We are to focus on the invisible. Looking up, reaching up, climbing up, ascending to the realm of God’s WORD. His supernatural WORD descending in us to raise us up in the power of the Spirit. Sign up for January 25th! Tell a friend!
Fear and anxieties prevent rest. God knows all about it because He experienced it before going to His death. He worked through it in prayer. Please reference this post from last Thursday to read in detail what He experienced physically and emotionally in that time of prayer in the garden. Knowing Jesus experienced such trauma on your behalf is meant to soften your heart towards Him. He is not a God of words only; but action. His actions prove His love. We respond to His love by getting to know Him and spending time with Him. May you find 9 minutes to process your fear and anxieties with Him. As the Good Shepherd, He alone has the power to still and quiet you. He made a way for you to have access to Him, honor His sacrifice and respond to His invitation. "Come all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest!" (This meditation is silent and is clearly timed for you to know transitions. Pause anywhere if more time is needed. Find a quiet place without interruption. Blessings!)
(This blog details a bit about intercession, its blessing and power as a divine weapon of warfare to advance God’s will in the world, for ourselves, our loved ones, and the Body of Christ. Also at the end of this week’s blog are 2 ways to receive blessing from intercession through Into the Waters.)
Intercession opens up the door to meeting with the God who never changes. Yet with intercession, our God is willing to and will change his mind. He will destroy works of darkness through your intercession. He will be merciful to those who do not deserve mercy because you cry out.
To intercede is to encounter, meet, reach, entreat, fall upon with force, strike, attack. There is EARNEST persistence in intercession; there is proper application of God’s power and authority in the requests. See Ephesians 1:19-23 as just one example referencing the greatness of power available to Christians because Christ is seated above all other authority.
Christian, you are seated next to Christ, Ephesians 2:6. How do you put to use the authority you’ve been given, 1 Peter 2:9? Are you confident in your prayers? Do you speak in Christ’s authority? Many people sound unsure of themselves and unsure of God when they pray, not truly understanding the authority they’ve been given, unsure of God’s heart in a matter, or how to put their authority into divine play for victory.
Intercession is very powerful. Prayer is a divine weapon of warfare that destroys strongholds and abolishes thoughts contrary to Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
Yet few, very few, seem willing to press in at length, fall upon God with force, calling Heaven down. It is a shame really because a world of adventure and intimate fellowship with God awaits!
Off topic slightly, regarding a world of adventure, I would either want to be a spy given special access to overhear wicked plots so I could help expose and defeat their dastardly plans; or, I would want to be an NFL referee. Both are fanciful and ridiculous requests because as a human spy, I would most certainly be found out immediately. And as a referee, its inevitable I would run the wrong way and be flattened like a pancake, knocked unconscious probably on the first play.
Now back on topic… In the sweetness of God knowing my heart for this type of adventure, He “sort of” makes a way… without all the danger for capture, torture, and possible concussions and girlie screams. How? Intercession! Might sound ridiculous; but to the childlike willing to believe, it is true! Intercession can be a world of adventure!
When the LORD first started teaching me about the power of intercession, He revealed some things to myself and a few others like we were spies on assignment. It was 2003; and the Iraqi war was beginning. A man from my church felt like God was asking him to gather people to intercede once a week at 6am for God’s intervention in the war. God wanted sacrificial commitment, hence meeting at 6am. There were 5 of us who joined him. Within the first month of the war, a deck of cards was released by US armed forces that had names and faces of terrorists assigned to each suit and card rank. Saddam Hussein was the “Ace of Spades”. God highlighted Saddam’s card to me; and I remember telling our group God wanted to capture the “Ace of Spades”. So we prayed for it. I remember specifically praying that he be found in a hole. Just 9 months later, he was found cowering in a hole! It was with this announcement that the rush of intercession as adventure became reality for me! God was allowing me to be a spiritual spy!
Since then, the assignments have continued; but focused within the Body of Christ. In similar fashion, He’s made me aware of threats and dangers and has had me praying protection and blessing and sanctification over certain leaders.
Did you know that Billy Graham had an intercessor named Pearle Goode who followed him to as many of his locations as possible and interceded while he preached? Why do you think Anna is mentioned at the birth of Christ? Why was she allowed to hold him, proclaim him, and recognize him immediately? She was a prophetic intercessor in place for his coming, Luke 2:36-38.
When you pursue God given call, you will face spiritual opposition. Read Exodus 17:8-16. It details spiritual war with the divine weapons of worship and intercession in play. Notice verse 16. The LORD will be at war with the Amalekites from generation to generation. It’s continual. God is at war against evil, until all Christ’s enemies become a footstool underneath his feet, Hebrews 1:13.
In Exodus 17 Moses, Aaron, and Hur lifted up hands to God so Joshua and the Israelite army could win. So too we are to hold up hands for those on the battle field. Divine weapons must be in play for victory. Challenge yourself to offer up a prayer when you are listening to Sunday sermons, insist that dead bones would come alive, that in the name of Jesus sleepy Christians would wake up!
Earnest intercession is effective and powerful. I’ve been able to stand back and observe in many instances what God has done in response to praying according to His will for certain leaders. He has revealed plots against them. He has removed threats. He has brought discipline. He has brought messages of encouragement and hope. He has strengthened and sustained them in seasons of trial and weariness. If you are an intercessor, you have these tales to tell (but will keep the details to yourself).
God’s Word says that YOU (Christian) can be just like Elijah, James 5:17-18. If you want it, it is yours to pursue and claim. You must be earnest as Elijah was. Revisit the spiritual exploits and victories of Elijah in 1 Kings 17 to 1 Kings 21 and 2 Kings 1 and 2. God wants more intercessors! Your family needs intercession! Your neighbor needs intercession! Your church leaders need intercession! Your city needs intercession! The upcoming presidential elections need intercession!
Not only is intercession a divine weapon against evil, it is often a cry for God to be merciful. Our God will change his mind and relent on a decision. God changed his mind with King Hezekiah, extending his life by 15 years and upending His own laws of nature (sending the sun backwards in time) as a sign to Hezekiah that he would be healed (2 Kings 20:1-11). Our heartfelt cries for mercy are simple acts bringing divine intervention and healing, 2 Kings 20:5. God even had mercy on King Ahab, notable as the most evil king of Israel. Ahab cried out for mercy, 1 Kings 21:25-29.
What other nation (God’s people) is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him, Deuteronomy 4:7? Intercede for your nation, 2 Chronicles 7:13-16, Psalm 85.
Finally, regarding intercession, do you want to experience the blessing? Here are 2 ways to be blessed by God’s gift, for greater intimacy and Spirit-empowered life:
Last week I mentioned some ways the Spirit speaks and encourages. Prophetic encouragement is a divine weapon of warfare. It speaks life to spirit, not flesh. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14- The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
Spiritual weapons are mentioned in scripture. They DESTROY strongholds, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. We have our arguments, we have pretensions that are directly opposite of the spirit filled life and thoughts of God. His thoughts are not our thoughts; His ways are not our ways, Isaiah 55:8. Engaging with the promised spiritual weapons is a NECESSITY for the very real battle in our minds and to have minds renewed to his will, Romans 12:2.
People can wrongly assume the armor mentioned in Ephesians 6 are the list of divine weapons. My case would be yes and no. No, because there is a much deeper dive to take within that armor to make it practical. There is ACTION to put it on. Ephesians 6:13 that says "after you have done all"... What is the act of doing all? Those weapons of warfare need to be engaged. I see one clearly offensive weapon (versus defensive fitting) listed in the armor; and it is sword of the Spirit, the WORD of GOD.
How many weapons are dug up from the WORD of GOD? I made a list awhile ago and came up with 42 divine weapons of warfare. Each have clear steps that point to "doing something".
A couple of very powerful ones are singing, fasting, and praying. On Monday night, whoever is willing, even if it is just one person, I will stand with you engaging these weapons. I briefly mentioned it last week and have not done much to announce it otherwise. Please come! See the calendar page! (If you register, I will send you a fasting page, and will fast with you by Sunday, for use if you want to fast the day of the session.)
When the LORD saved me at 28 years old, it was a dramatic experience. But the miracle of that whole situation was not what has sustained me. There is something the Spirit said to me immediately in my point of conversion, something I've seen God continue to transact in me. What He said was, "Yes I still heal, and I will heal you." Notice the "will heal" part. Let me tell you I am NOT even close to who I was and praise God for that! I was not well emotionally, spiritually, mentally, or physically at that time. He has had to put me in my right mind. He has to put you in your right mind. He has had to re-parent me from Heaven. He has to re-parent you. He offers a spirit filled life and mind that you were not born with, nobody is (Romans 8:9-11). And...
Romans 8:5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
During a time in Southern California when He was really pushing me outside of my comfort zone, I remember a friend telling me during prayer something God put on his heart for me. He said something along the lines of, "Worship, sing, and as you sing, what God has for you will be released." That was 13 years ago. If I thought ill of God, I would have given up by now because let me tell you there has been a ton of testing in those years with things stolen and destroyed. Also God has brought many difficult tests and I have to choose, approval of man or God. He has insisted my flesh be crucified. This for Spirit release and promise. It is the same for all. But if we do not give up, our time of release and promise comes! Keep praising! You will experience one obvious outcome. You will have greater intimacy of relationship with God and experience His presence and sustaining life of Christ's Spirit within you. There is nothing better.
Join me on Monday, be encouraged to press in! What was said to me about singing and worshiping also applies to you. It is a spiritual truth and promise He manifests to His people all throughout scripture. Claim that promise! As you worship the King of all and sing at the expense of every other desire, He will release more of Himself to you and lead you on a path you never would have seen. He still opens up the Red Sea when your back is against the wall with the enemy intent on destroying you. He still takes those who believe into promised lands! He still supernaturally delivers! Believe!
This week I had the privilege of doing a small group meditation for a bible fellowship group. We met in the leader's home, doing the prayer session in her living room. It was a great experience doing it in this home setting because it was not rushed; and, since the group already has relationships with one another, they were more open to asking me questions after. Their comments and questions revealed deep levels of internal processing regarding God and prayer.
I created a meditation for them on Psalm 84, which represents a spiritual pilgrimage through valleys of weeping, a cry and longing for more of God. Psalm 84 reveals a longing soul stilled through resting in God's presence, continuing with Him in the journey, and trusting in His divine help.
Before starting the meditation, I set up the context of the scripture and showed them some pictures of what the "court of the Lord", referenced in Psalm 84, may have looked like (either tabernacle or temple). I also brought pictures of the Israeli desert sparrow and of the swallow who attaches her nest to buildings or structures, verse 3. I showed pictures of the Desert Balsam tree that "weeps" sap and grows in the Valley of Baka referenced in verse 6, known as the "valley of weeping". All of these images are doorways into deeper meanings. They are living creatures and places meant to help us express our heart to our living God, verse 2. They put meaning behind longing and a fainting thirst for God, verse 2 . The song writer yearned and fainted for God, knowing God as the only hope for continued strength on a difficult spiritual journey, verses 5-7. There is more that was included; but this gives you a few ideas of the deep richness meant not only to be read; but to be experienced through our imaginations and referenced through personal experience.
By engaging not just our minds; but our 5 senses, God's concrete language comes alive and our hearts are set free to engage easier. God desires this for you in prayer.
When I showed a couple examples of the traveling tabernacle and the temple, I asked if anyone had any comments. One person was surprised by the pictures and always visualized the "court of the Lord" as a place for judgment hearing a serious atmosphere. Yet the Psalm paints a picture where nervous animals like birds are building their nests and laying their eggs close to God's altar. This is not an atmosphere filled with God's angry presence, it is an atmosphere even birds can rest quietly on their eggs and take care of their babies without fear of rebuke. This is God's court we are to see and hear, available through Christ.
At the end one person asked what it meant to ask for prayer in a church setting and what to do. It may seem like people should easily know what to do; but there is a spiritual war happening in sanctuary settings when the Word of God is being preached. We do not always respond to clear instruction and reason because of this very real spiritual war. What is simple becomes clouded and confusing. This person had been wondering about asking for prayer for a long time, but never giving in to the internal prompts to go for prayer. It came out in the discussion and a commitment made to go for prayer. It also allowed everyone to hear why it was very important to follow the internal prompts and get prayer.
Another person shared what she felt the Lord was showing her during services. She needed encouragement and a positive filter to interpret what was burdening her heart. By expressing it and talking it through she felt affirmed and encouraged that the Holy Spirit was talking to her and it was a call to intercede for God's work in the sanctuary.
There was opportunity to pray with a sick family member. I would not have gotten that if I had not been ministering in this home setting. Someone not part of the group needed encouragement and prayer and they got it. God sees and sends tender mercies to those suffering.
Another person shared her connection with the visualization exercises of resting in the nest of the LORD. Recently she discovered a nest in her backyard tree, only able to see the mother bird head popping up from the nest, evidence she was quietly sitting on her eggs, still and abiding. Through her experience she was able to recall the sights, sounds, and memory that the bird was just resting and she needed to do that too! This scripture visualization exercise helped her connect and simply rest in His presence.
Resting, i.e. dwelling (verse 4), in God's court is the call of Psalm 84. To dwell means to abide, sit still, rest, stay, linger. It is a safe haven, a place to be undisturbed and refreshed with living water, verse 6.
God says "ask, seek, knock". I am doing that right now, looking for more opportunities to minister in small group settings. Please click on the buttons above and read more about "Inviting Me In" to your small group setting. I'd be honored to encourage you to linger with God in prayer and to fellowship with you! Take a risk with God, linger longer with him in prayer, draw nearer and know Christ!
Regret. It can be very crippling to spirit and body. It’s a horrible stronghold capable of paralyzing life and spirit. Regret ruthlessly consumes our “now” thoughts, holding us captive. We give regret space in our head. Some give it a “continuous play” mode. Regret deflates spirit, tramples hope, condemnation cursing within. If you are a child of God, regret with soul condemnation is to have no head or heart space.
Heavy burdens creating anxiety are weighing down the Lord’s people. If there is a common thread in prayer need right now, I am seeing this is it. Anxieties are not just weighing down; they are crippling, stealing breath and sleep and livelihood. As God’s people, we know this should not be so and that adds an even greater weight to it all.
Everyone’s situations are different. God’s people have children who are astray; children recklessly risking their lives in various ways, family with long-standing health issues that are paralyzing and overwhelming loved ones. God’s people are weighed down with personal anxieties too. Faith walks are crippled, tossing back and forth due to unbelief. Some are trapped in a debilitating cycle of sin and self, boxed in a stronghold of self-destructive behavior. Some are stuck in mourning feeling blinded by sorrow, loneliness with hopelessness selfishly hoarding all of their thoughts. Some are under intense spiritual attack, the enemy very intent on killing your faith. For God’s people, staying stuck in muck and mire, paralyzed in a state of dread reveals a deep spiritual need not being met. We are not to live in a slimy pit; there is ALWAYS promise God will rescue.
Psalm 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 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.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
Waiting patiently implies expectation of God’s intervention. How do we wait? (Click here to read about waiting.) If your definition of waiting does not include extended times in His presence, you probably have a deep spiritual need not being met and anxiety is getting the better of you.
When I was around 6 years old, my parents took us camping somewhere along Lake Ontario. My brother and I and some cousins were in a shallow part of the lake, maybe waist deep. Suddenly we noticed our feet sank with each step. Someone said it was quick sand; and we had to get out or we would drown. I remember the panic I felt believing this were true; and how suddenly my feet felt cemented in the water, my breath escaping me as I desperately made my way towards tree roots jetting out from the shoreline. Those roots seemed to be my only hope to hold on and not die.
There was no quick sand. But just like envisioning drowning in quick sand, often our reactions are based upon our own skewed perception. And then sometimes our reactions are based upon ugly realities. The diagnosis that comes. The debt that looms. We then project a terrible outcome and our prayer language reflects it. God hears our drama instead of hearing prayers based on His ability to intervene.
In my studies I’ve learned that the Hebrews defined the future as behind and the past as in front. Why? Because what is in front can be seen, it is in plain view. The future cannot be seen; therefore it is hidden behind, unseen. If God is part of our past, His former faithfulness is in front of us. Looking to the past is clear vision towards the unseen future. We are called to see His former help and anticipate His intervention for now circumstances. He has been faithful, merciful, and powerful to rescue. He does not change. Our future is always dependent on the One who does not change. He alone is the place for anxieties to be stilled.
Beyond remembering former acts of God's faithfulness to you, assess your current state of faith and the soil in your heart. The parable of the sower in Matthew 13 is a good place to do so.
It mentions a wide range of circumstances. Off path. Seeds of faith devoured. Rock ground. A tender plant scorched. Withered. Choked by thorns. Troubles. Persecutions. Worries. Deceitfulness of riches. Calloused hearts. Ears not listening. Eyes closed.
Jesus says to his disciples (not everyone) in this parable, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” He goes on to explain that good ground will produce hearts that not only perceive; but understand, to bring forth an inexplicable multiplication of fruit and harvest.
“But I can’t see and I am having trouble hearing!”
How did we get in the place that we stand? What choices have led us to where we are? Some have gotten where they are by faith. Now there is realization that we can’t save ourselves or others. If this is you, you are in good company. You are a disciple. Christ leads his disciples to places that illicit high anxiety simply because they followed Christ. He doesn't leave you there though.
Is it a coincidence that the miracles in Matthew 14 are placed after the parable of the sower in Matthew 13? If you have followed God out into the wilderness and can’t feed yourself or others, if you are standing on water by faith, Jesus is right there with you. Yes, he is challenging and stretching you. But it is His power alone that miraculously multiplies supply, it is His power alone that heals the wound that won't stop bleeding.
Gospel accounts are resolved quickly and this frustrates our prayer life. In Matthew 14, Christ prays over scraps and within hours thousands are miraculously fed. Peter cries out and Jesus quickly reaches out his hand to save him. Momentary cry, immediate rescue. Yet our cries echo in our head, circumstances drag on, situations worsen. “Where is the immediate rescue?” we question. This is the battle of flesh against spirit.
If I only focused on negative, my anxieties would be crippling me right now. I MUST walk on higher ground of God’s promises. All throughout scripture, God always presented supernatural intervention as possible outcome. Supernatural outcome DID NOT happen where flesh choice rejected spirit walk.
Where we cannot see in the physical, He says we can see in the supernatural. He says blessings come in seeing and hearing Him. This supernatural promise is either true or false. My seed and yours doesn’t need to be devoured, scorched, or choked. It can be miraculously multiplied. Do we believe or not? Will we venture forth with eyes of faith and hear promise of rescue?
NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. – Hebrews 11:1
The conviction of their reality… faith perceived as real fact. I love the Amplified version of Hebrews 11:1! I can see if I trust God! You can see outcome too! Quick resolution in the Gospels was allowed for merely a few when Christ walked the earth. They were evidence of His authority and power.
Now He is in Heaven and in all his fullness is in us who believe, His Spirit daily wrestling our flesh, which will win? Flesh or spirit?
He is not a father who holds out arms only to step aside at the last minute, letting us fall, laughing as we struggle in waters too deep for us. He is the father that rescues and delivers. Your current struggle could be about learning to trust in Him alone. He’s called you to this trial of faith, now position by faith. Anticipate His intervention. Daily watch and persist with Him. Anticipate Him entering with a strong hand to deliver and rescue. Waiting is the hardest part; but we must wait so He can get the glory.
Your current struggle could be about spiritual warfare. Are you fitted with armor? What is penetrating your heart, mind, and soul? Stand firm fitted with spiritual armor and persist in prayer (Ephesians 6:10-20). Battle. Linger longer with God and boldly claim promises.
To those whose anxiety weighs down due to poor choices, God is merciful. Return to Him. A humbling and confession is necessary, as is a high-tailed sprint into the Father’s arms. He is looking for you, running towards you at the slightest indication you are turning back to him, Luke 15:20. He will clean you up, celebrate, and provide abundantly in ways you do not deserve.
Claim, "The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing." Psalm 23 is filled with visuals, sounds, promises and supernatural outcomes based on faith. Draw nearer! Come to the meditation tomorrow morning at 9am at Webster Recreation, room 302. Sign up on the calendar page. It’s a unique time with God to perceive His Shepherd heart and rest in His supernatural care. Don't be fooled. Without staying close to our Shepherd, following His voice, the world and all its attacks and cares will destroy us. Our flesh will create our outcomes. Instead may you claim Jesus’ blessing… “Blessed are your eyes for they see; and your ears for they hear!”
Who is your enemy? Do you believe you have enemies? If you do, do you believe you are just supposed to love them more, love them better, that love will win them over? Do you believe that, like Jesus did, you should hand yourself over to the ones seeking your demise? Do you believe you must aggressively defend yourself?
A lot of us get very confused and rattled in spirit because we don’t know what to do with enemies. Our efforts to love them seem to fail. People’s hate can really damage and disillusion our faith walk, harden our hearts. Many walk in fear in their careers because of it. Many leave their fellowship and service in ministry because of offense, because of hurt, because of continuous attack that wears down and wearies the spirit. When attack comes, it is easy to do one or more of the following: stop trusting, cut people off, make inaccurate conclusion about God’s character, vilify our accusers, panic, become depressed, give up.
Added confusion or frustration can come when we share our pain with others. Often Christians can be too quick to say to the one hurting, “We don’t battle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers…” In other words, Christians can be too quick to tell others their enemy is not really another person; their enemy is spiritual only, i.e. the devil and his forces at work. I’ve been guilty of giving this input right off. I need to stop doing it. Why? One, its empty comfort, and two, I’ve realized it is not how God counsels and comforts me. Why then would I counsel someone else differently? I need to model the way He comforts me so I can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
So first, know that going around quoting Ephesians 6:12 and 1 Peter 5:8 is not the best first approach when you are listening to someone under strain from the wicked words and vicious actions of others. Also, know for yourself if you are being wrongly accused, insidiously attacked, if there is a vicious plot in play against you, God will first and repeatedly acknowledge the injustice and validate your feelings to draw you into His arms for comfort, counsel, and wisdom. Spend time there in his arms, a good amount of time.
If you aren’t used to someone acknowledging your pain or validating your feelings, knowing that God will do this with you is surprising. And I personally believe that knowing him this way is critical to hearing God accurately. When you are suffering wrongdoing, before He tells you how to respond, He is first very willing to validate your pain. He will acknowledge the wicked schemes of others set against you. He does not say, “Buck up, get over it, don’t cry, stop being weak.” He will console you by giving you perspective and helping you rest in your innocence and in His ultimate response. Psalm 3, Psalm 5, Psalm 7, Psalm 11, and Psalm 17 are examples that support what I just said.
Think about it. When a good father finds out his child is being bullied, picked on, attacked, betrayed, harassed, what is his response? He consoles his child. He wipes tears. He holds in extended embrace. Then he acts. He counsels his child. He defends. He protects. He uses his influence and authority to seek justice. He makes his upset known. In this way an earthly father will let his child see through his actions that they are loved.
In an even more powerful way, God as Heavenly Father, wants His children to know he sees unjust suffering. He reads the intents of hearts. He wants his people to know that to the pure, he will show himself to be pure, but to the devious, He will show himself shrewd (Psalm 18:26). If you know Him this way, your soul is stilled much more quickly, you rest easier in His love; you wait for His response to your enemies instead of taking action yourself (Romans 12:19). You are able to say as King David said, “I have kept myself from the ways of the violent”- Psalm 17:4. You are increasingly able to be silent under duress (Matthew 27:12, 14), to bless and not curse, to do good and not evil, Romans 12:14.
God the Father was very open with Jesus about the wicked plots, evil schemes, insidious thoughts, and back-stabbing betrayals of others set against him. Jesus was very aware of what was happening to him and why. Not only was He aware, he proclaimed it in the midst of his enemies (John 7:19, John 8:37, John 8:40). Jesus also shared with his closest friends that He (the Son of Man- Daniel 7:13-14) would be crucified (Mark 9:31, Matthew 26:1-2).
As I write this, a prayer request came in from a good friend who is under insidious attack in a high level position. Just this morning he was given an impossible deadline from people intent on seeking his job and livelihood. People are serious about seeing him suffer and getting him fired. It’s an attack that hasn’t just been thrust upon him today; it’s been going on for awhile now. His wife recently received Psalm 7 and Psalm 17 to give to him as a response from the Father’s heart to him. Notice God affirming mortal enemies. Read those Psalms. Who sees his innocence? Who rescues? Who saves? Who vindicates? Who displays his wrath? Notice the one who falls into the pit isn’t the one being attacked; it’s the one who was pregnant with evil intent. Letting these truths transform us is a path towards peace that surpasses understanding with our hearts and minds guarded in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). Jesus knew we’d need acknowledgment that attacks are real. So he told us to expect attack, and be wise as serpents, gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16, 2 Thessalonians 3:2).
If you struggle believing God’s defense of you, your first prayer should be for healing regarding the Father’s heart for you. Ask the LORD to help you process your hurt, your pain, and your confusion with him. Ask for ears to understand his perception of the situation.
Evaluate whether you first take your pain to others and flush it out mainly there. Notice if you tend to suffer in silence, thinking God won’t help. Ask yourself, do I believe God is a good and loving father? (Do make sure you haven't contributed to the chaos, if so, just go to God for mercy. He lovingly forgives and will help you go to people you've hurt.)
For those who through relationship have come to know and experience that God is good, we find rest in His presence. We believe He will act, we proclaim to others that what our enemy meant for evil, God will transform for good. Our path straightens and fills with light and divine power. We can pray for our enemies. Now we respond in God’s power and are not used as an instrument of the evil one. Now we can do good to those who hate us.
Jesus knew his Father loved him, Mark 1:11. He knew God would not abandon him to the grave, Psalm 16:10. He knew who He was and what his purpose was, Luke 10:21-22. He stood strong in the face of opposition. His final words on the cross were of victory, “It is finished.”
Follow Christ on his path, draw nearer to his suffering and look closely at the Lamb of God. As you do so, your suffering can find meaning and purpose. Your heart can become more receptive to the Father’s heart for you. The way to the Father’s heart is through Christ (John 8:19).
Attend the meditation this coming Wednesday, March 23 at either 4pm or 7pm. Go to the calendar page and sign up! Extended time in His presence brings healing! If you want some perspective from past attendees, click here.
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Prayer is Gift!
Into the Waters Ministry is a 501(C)3 public charity. Our mission is to inspire you to linger longer with God, to draw near and know Christ. For those willing, it is a place of supernatural hope and healing. I know this first hand. My name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 20+ year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and receiving His life in greater measure! I've experienced radical healing in mind, body, and spirit and believe God for more! I long for others to position themselves for the same! Into the Waters' resources help you spend quality time with God to enter His rest and receive His divine provision. Let us help you experience more of God! Read the blogs, try the exercises, participate in online sessions! His promises for life and wholeness are offered to all! But you have to say "Yes!"