Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Words Nailed to My Heart

Shortly after my salvation, I will never forget my first encounter with spiritual warfare.  Although I wasn’t familiar with the strategies of Satan or his battlefield, Jesus opened my eyes to the truth.  The setting of the encounter wasn’t unfamiliar; it was my grandmother’s kitchen.  Sadly, this event was repeated three or four times a week.  As my father pounded the table with his fist; I sat complete frozen.  Anger, rejection, and confusion surrounded the complete atmosphere to capture my innocence, self-esteem, and my life.  Usually a six-pack of beer or scotch on the rocks brought the most damming words out of my father’s mouth.  With wounds of abuse, divorce, and past regrets my father’s anger erupted to shout his pain.  As he pounded his fist on the kitchen table, his words were nailed to my heart.    

With no escape, I would silently endure his rage until sunrise.  Yet, Jesus spoke to my heart, “Tina, look into your father’s eyes.”  I admit I didn’t want to obey Jesus.   As I slowly lifted my head to stare into my father’s eyes; I trembled with fear.  When our eyes met I couldn’t understand how his eyes were so evil, dark, and angry.  Jesus spoke to me, “Tina, the voice speaking isn’t your father’s it is the enemy-Satan.”  So, I started praying against him.

     As a new Christian what was difficult for me to comprehend, it was my father.  My father wasn’t a stranger or unfamiliar with my ways but he spoke lies about me.  “I was a whore” or “I was stupid!”  Yet, these were the “mild” words my father spoke to me.  After arriving home very late from the bar, my father would wake me up and scream at me until about an hour before school.  As the sun arose, it brought relief.  Yet, my spirit was deeply deprived of love and affection.  It was only through the love of Christ, I was able to overcome the destruction of Satan’s lies.  As the Word of God washed away the filth, I started to see my reflection- a child of God.  (Ephesians 5:26)   

     As I worked around the house, the Lord prompted me to write about this.  At first, I was very hesitant to obey until I understood the purpose.  Words either empower or entrap a person’s life.  Doubt, unbelief, and faith are built upon words we believe.  Our faith is only built through hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)  It’s the only weapon to demolish every stronghold, thought, or damming lie. 

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. ~2 Corinthians 10:5

What dwells in the heart of man; it will be revealed through the mouth of man.  Our misconceptions of ourselves, hurtful experiences, lies spoken from loved ones or friends can disfigure our image.  So, it’s very important to daily nourish our hearts with God’s Word through meditation, study, and spiritual songs.  It’s our weapon of defense, combat, and shield.  (Ephesians 6:10-18)

God speaks. Satan speaks. The one who you listen to is the one you give the power to. As children of God, we don't have to listen to Satan's voice, resist him.   Yet, we need to recognize our enemy, realize he will speak, and the message of bondage he brings.  Eve, Moses, Samson, Nehemiah, and Jesus either encountered Satan through personal contact or those influenced by him.  So, we must be prepared for his schemes to defeat them.  We overcome the enemy by the blood of Christ, the Word, standing firm in faith, and prayer.  (Revelation 12:11; Ephesians 6:10-18)

     As Christian’s we need to be careful with the words we speak to the world.  We must speak the truth with love, full of grace, and without condemnation.  Satan entraps people through words of destruction; we need to speak God's word to bring freedom. Choose careful the words you speak, they could direct someone for eternity.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Remember the Lord

Whenever we take a step of faith, we will get a lump in our throat.  Faith is the unshakeable confidence; God will do what He says.  Although I admit it, my faith was shaken for my focus wasn’t secure on God.  As the ideas came on paper, I was very excited until I looked at my bank account.  Within my heart I prayed, “Lord, how do I do this?” His answer has been the same the last few days, “Tina, see it done.”  “Receive the promise I have spoken to you.” 

     “How do I receive something I can’t see?”  “How do I plan without the monies?”  Yet, I have the promises of God written in my heart spoken so many years ago.  Daily I re-play the Sunday night at the altar pouring my heart out to God about His calling.  I was seeking confirmation, direction, and surrendering to His desires.  A man of God prophesied over me as I was saught the Lord.  As I listen to the word spoken it not only confirmed my calling but God reassured me of His promises.  As the years have passed, I have held very tightly to this word.  Besides this precious night, I have written every scripture, dream, or prophecy spoke to build my faith during those dark times.  Yet, I admit it, my heart allowed discouragement to speak.  As I drove to work instead of listening to worship music or the Bible, I sat in silence.  Discouragement divided my affections, truth of God’s Word, and caused me to focus on the enormous mountain, the finances.

 As I drove into the parking lot, it was completely empty.  While driving to a parking spot, a woman walked right passed me.  She was just getting off work; she was on the phone talking to someone.  As I parked my car, I was surprised to see money on the ground.  So, I got out of my car and picked it up. I looked around the area but didn’t see anyone who may have lost it.  Quickly, I jumped back in the car to find the woman who passed me in the parking lot.  As I approached the woman I could tell it was her money, she was carrying a small purse with money sticking out.  I asked, “Miss, did you lose something?”  She said, “No, I have everything.” I responded, “Well, I don’t believe you do.” I handed her the monies I found.  She was very shocked by my response and said “Thank you!”  She wanted to give me a dollar but I advised to give it to her church.  I drove back to my parking spot and starting reading my Bible. 

Nehemiah was completely burdened about the destruction of his homeland and his people.  After praying for several months, God provides the means for Nehemiah to assist his people.  Keep in mind, Nehemiah wasn’t spiritual attacked during the months of praying or planning but when he stepped out in faith.  After advising the officials and leaders of his plans, Nehemiah testifies of God’s miraculous provisions.  So, the people quickly join Nehemiah in the efforts to restore the walls.  As the walls are half-way complete the people are starting to get weary through their labor.  So, the enemy attacks them during their weakest moment to stop their efforts. (Nehemiah 4:6-15)  As the enemies of Nehemiah became enraged, they plotted against the people to fight against them.  So, Nehemiah and the people pray with guards posted day and night.
     When we step out in faith to follow God’s direction with complete devotion, we must be prepared for battle.  Satan does get enraged towards us, plans an attack, and will fight against us.  Yet, we must pray to God without rest so it guards the work of God.  As the walls are half-way built, the people became weary and fearful of the enemies words.  So, Nehemiah places families with swords, spears, and bows on different locations.  In other words, Nehemiah calls for the body to fight the battle with him.  It’s time to stand against the enemies tactics. 

      Nehemiah said, “Don’t be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”  Nehemiah 4:15 says, “When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.”
     We can’t walk successful in fear; it’s only in faith we overcome the mountains.  We must remember the Lord who is great and awesome, so we gain the confidence to fight for ourselves and the body of Christ.  When we recognized the enemies plot, God will frustrate Satan’s plan so we can continue the work.  
Right after reading this passage of scripture, I felt uplifted.  Not only was my heart lifted, I recognized Satan’s scheme to discourage my heart to end God’s work.  Also, the woman who I saw earlier was parked beside me.  She forgot something, so she returned to her office.  As I walked up, she approached me again.  She inquired about my job, so I shared with her.  As the conversation continued, I shared my calling and dreams.  Before I left, she handed me a small blessing of ten dollars.  Honestly, I was stunned but it was a small token to remind me, God will take care of everything.  Discouragement opens the door to doubt, it floods are heart with fear and questions. People will mock, laugh, or try to destroy God's dream within your heart, ignore them. Resist their voice with God's truth. Believe God's Word, the promise is coming. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Love Said Enough

As I started to reflect on what I am thankful today, love is true.  God is love.  As a child of God, I am thankful to be loved unconditionally.  Without God’s love, I wouldn’t be whole or forgiven.  It hasn’t been an easy journey but I can’t escape the depth of gratitude as I reflect on the cross.  Sometimes, during my weakest moments, I am still amazed how far it reached me, changed me, and uplifted me.  As an abused child who constantly feared rejection, I wouldn’t allow anyone to be close.  If I allowed someone to be close, an opportunity arose to hurt again.  Hurt again!  No, thanks!  I would rather walk alone instead of giving love a chance, although I desperately wanted it.  Love was only possible for the beautiful, smart, or kind people.  Sadly, abuse children will have a of disfigured image of love and truth.  It’s one of Satan’s greatest weapons to destroy who we are or who we can become.  Was Love possible to receive?

In the darkness of my bedroom tears poured down my face, the hurt so deep within.  Could anyone hear my cries?  As I curled in the corner of my room it seemed no comfort could be found.  Deep within my soul, I wondered, “Does anyone really care about me?”  “What’s wrong with me, why can’t anyone just love me?”  Honestly, I wanted to hear it, “I was loved.”  As I shook in my room, God spoke to me, “I LOVE YOU.”  What was so amazing, God didn’t speak in a still small voice, He spoke to me audibly.  As the words hit my heart, it awakens my soul.  Yet, at the moment, I didn’t know who spoke it, so I was just still.  Who was that?  During this time, my father was passed out drunk on his bed sleeping.  So, I knew it wasn’t him.  Who could love me?

      As I started reading the Bible I started to understand my worth, my reason for being, and the love I craved was apparent.    What’s so powerful, love breaks all the barriers if we allow it in.  Yet, I understand the pain for those who “fear” the thought of it.  Fear will always bring chains of punishment, love brings power of deliverance.  Deliverance is needed from the bondage of Satan’s slavery of sin, his lies, and fear.  What’s so amazing, God said, “Enough!”  Although my people run from me, insult me, curse my name, “I LOVE THEM!” So, my Son would will be anointed to bring healing the broken hearted and bind up their wounds.  (Psalm 147:3)  As Jesus ministered, He healed all those who were oppressed by the enemy.  (Acts 10:38)

     Recently, I was on a thread on Facebook with several classmates or alumni’s from college, we were discussing marriage/divorce.  Sadly, some of these precious people have experienced the pain of divorce within ministry, some even shunned from the church.  As I read the conversation, my heart broke for those feeling neglected, especially during painful times.  So, I posted a comment, “Do you remember the woman at the well, she was divorced five times but Jesus went to her.  Also, He used her to bring salvation to her city.”  As the conversation continued, I was brought to tears as a woman said she hated to enter a new church, she had to explain her story again.  So, I posted there is no longer a need to share it, it’s forgiven.  Later, another college student attacked me, “Are you divorced?  How do you know our feelings?  “How dare I tell her not to share, that’s not encouraging?”  So, I remarked back, politely, you have misunderstood my comment.  “Why does she need to share it?”  If she is washed in the blood, she is forgiven.”  She can walk in confidence; God is with her regardless of her past or mistakes.  God has a bright future, her life isn’t over.” “Whatever her past, God will still use her.”
     The woman who attacked me turned her back on the church and God, what heartbreak.  As one of my professors use to say, “Hurting people will hurt others.”  Obviously, this woman was still in pain from an abusive marriage.  She wanted to attack me because she hurt.  So, we spoke privately but she still wanted to attack me.  So, I advised her, “God loves you, He never stopped loving you.”  “He longs to be near you, so I will remind you.”  She responded back, “Have I ever experienced the pain of divorce?”  “No, I haven’t but I have experience a love of God that’s changed my life.”  “As a child, I witnessed two of my father’s wife’s be physically abused, also a sibling.”  “So, I have experienced deep pain but I have experienced a great love.”  As a Christian I will reach out to the hurting, regardless of what it costs.  Our Savior reached out to us and paid the cost, so I must do the same.

     Right after this conversation, I felt I must stay on my pages for ministry to be “safe.”  Sometimes, we don’t want to witness because of the backlash of the hurting but we must.  LOVE IS CALLING OUT, ENOUGH!  Maybe it’s time for the church to quit wanting to be “safe” and reach those who are oppressed of the enemy.  If Jesus was willing, so should we.  My heart is still broken for this young woman, she is being prayed for whether she realizes it or not.  Somehow, I believe God will anoint my words to catch her attention or heal her heart.  So, keep in mind whether we know Christ or not, we all hurt.  We need to be lead to the cross, it’s only through the death of Christ, and we receive life.

     On this earth, we will have hardships, trials, and tests.  However, I am whole, re-born, and my face is uplifted because I belong.  I AM LOVED!  As I allowed Christ to heal the past, my future is so bright.  There is nothing hindering me, God is with me.  So, I close with a thought: We all have sinned or sinned against someone. We all have hurt, we experience. It’s difficult. It's heartbreaking to all involved.  Christ is our example, He minister to the hurting with compassion.  He didn't commit any sins but He was tempted in all ways.  Nevertheless, He didn't leave the hurting behind because He couldn't relate to their sinful deeds.  Jesus showed the love of the Father, so they could find relief, forgiveness, and hope.  As Christians we must encourage others to see their worth, ability to overcome their scars, and reliaze life's potential-God has a brighter future.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's Just Not Fair

     “It’s not fair!”  As I could hear the heartache in my friend’s voice, I prayed for guidance.  “Tina, I am a good person!”  “I don’t deserve this!”  As we drove down the road, she continued to pour out her heart to me.  Life was pouring adversity upon her with a vengeance; most of it due to someone else’s choices.  It wasn’t fair, it simply wasn’t.  Yet, as my friend continued to pour her heart to me, I continued to drive. 
       “Tina, I am telling you these things because you have a connection with God."  "So, I am asking you to help me, God doesn’t talk to me as He talks to you!"  I said, "Yes, God does speak to you but your heart isn’t quite enough to hear Him."  "He speaks in a still small voice, it’s heard through prayer."  "As you develop a prayer time with God, His voice becomes familiar."  According to the Word, “His sheep know His voice.”  "God will always speak through His Word, with the gentleness of His Spirit, and His children to speak to you."  "At this moment, God is using me to speak to you."  "Yet, what God can speak to your life can change everything."  She cried, “How do I talk to Him?” “Or hear Him?”  I said, “When you get home go into your bedroom with no television, radio, and sit in silence.”  “As you sit quietly in the room, “Just seek Him.”  “He will never turn away anyone who truly desires Him.”  “Don’t you understand why Jesus died?”  “It was to draw you to Himself.”  "When the curtain was ripped in the temple, it opened access for all mankind to enter the most Holy Sacred place, His presence."
We are able to come boldly to the throne to receive grace and help in time of need.  He provided the access, we just have to come.  (Hebrews 4:16)  Draw near to God, He will draw near to you.  (James 4:8)
     As we continued our ride to the church, I could tell God was drawing her to Himself.  Yet, the Lord prompted a Bible character upon my mind.  So, I asked my friend, “Have you ever heard of Hagar?”  “No, who is that?”  It wasn’t long before I realized I hit the target inside her heart with this story.

 Abraham was promised to be the Father of many nations, a promise spoke by God.  Instead of waiting upon God, Abraham’s wife Sarah became impatient.  Sarah had an Egyptian handmaid whose name was Hagar.  Sarah told Abraham to sleep with her, he obeyed.  Hagar conceived a child who she name Ishmael.  As time passes, Sarah does give birth to the promised child, Isaac who would be the one to be used to fulfill the promise.  A great feast was made for Isaac but his brother mocked him.  So, he was kicked out of the house with his mother.  With only a small portion of food and water, Hagar is placed in a terrible mess, one not of her choosing.  She has no protection, only daily nourishment, no husband, and a small child to care for.  Did Hagar ask for all of this?  No, she only did what was asked from her master.  As the water runs out, so does her hope.  Yet, God saw her and heard the boy crying.

     As I told my friend this story tears rushed down upon her cheeks.  God sees the truth, He knows the whole situation.  As God heard the child and saw the fear of a single mother, He came to them.  God spoke peace to comfort the fear, gave promises to her, and provided for her.  (Genesis 21:8-21)  It wasn’t fair what happened to Hagar.  Yet, God didn’t allow those circumstances to hold her down, He walked with her.
     Life isn’t fair at times, it can be hard.  Yet, God is in our midst, He is mighty to save.  We don’t have to be afraid of the circumstances, God will walk with us.  He will open our eyes to see His provisions, protect our steps, and allow us to grow in His care.  Hope glistens in the light, God is light.  Until we listen to the voice of God, we have no direction.  God desires to speak, we just have to listen.  We just have to be still and know He is God.  (Psalm 46:10)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Love Encounter

        As a parent, I am truly amazed how much time has passed.  It’s passing so fast; I really wish sometimes life had a pause button.  Yet, sometimes the lessons we encounter in life do cause us to pause for what matters.  At the dinner table, I am grateful for a heartfelt conversation with my son.  Although he was afraid to discuss what happened, I am so grateful he did.  Of my three children, he is the most sensitive to the needs of others, he is filled with compassion.  As a child, he would see the hurting and do what he could to help.  I recall a story of my son’s kindness that brings me to tears.  My best friend came over with her son to have a play date.  As we enjoyed adult conversation, the children were playing nicely in the room.  It was a peaceful play date until Jacob, my best friend’s son got hurt.  It wasn’t anything serious, a scrapped knee.  Yet, my son walked over to comfort him with a simple token of love.  Alex, my son, walked over to sit beside him.  As he sat beside Jacob, he shared his most sacred possession, his blanket.  Although the boys were best friends, they were just learning how to talk.  Yet, the love shown between two friends spoke greater than any words.

      As my son has grown, he has never lost his heart of compassion.  It’s not only something I cherish; it’s challenged me with my walk with God.  Compassion demonstrates love; it speaks without words spoken.  Yet, it doesn’t just move the heart of those receiving it; it moves the heart of God.  If we are to walk with Christ, we are to walk in love.  It’s not only proof of who we belong too, its evidence we have been changed from it. 

                2 John 6: “And this is love that we walk in obedience to his commands.  As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”

     If our hearts our cold to the hurting, maybe we need to remember our first encounter of God’s love.  Anyone who is saint was once a sinner who was found in a horrible pit of sin and despair.  It wasn’t until a love encounter with God changed everything.  Until a person encounters the depth of God’s love personally, he will not change.  Sadly, so many people hear God loves them but don’t encounter Him.  Sin separates us from a relationship with God but it doesn’t separate us from His love. 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~Romans 5:8

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Why?  Our Father had compassion upon us; He saw the brokenness of sin.  As a child has a scrapped knee cries for their mother, Our Father saw the cries of the affliction of sin, so He acted.  He couldn’t turn away from those He created with tenderness.  As the psalmist says, “He has compassion towards all He made.”  It doesn’t matter what timeframe of history we lived, God has compassion towards all. 

“The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving towards all he has made.  The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.” ~Psalm 145:13b-14

     No matter what your circumstances of life, life may not be fair at the moment.  It’s dark, unsure, and lonely until a love encounter with God occurs.  Although life may be dark; God is light.  He desires to lead you to peaceful pastures for your soul.  (Psalm 23)  Life can bring has some uncertainties, He is constant.  He doesn’t change.  If loneliness surrounds your heart; call upon Him.  His presence will come; He has never ignored those who call.  Maybe you have never prayed to God, so you are unsure what to say.  It doesn’t have to be great words to get His attention; it just has to come from the heart.  A heart completely honest, sincere, and if it’s broken that’s alright.  He is in the business of restoration; it’s what the love encounter is all about.