The Importance of Relationships

Today at church service, the teaching pastor, asked us what makes us feel the most vulnerable in life. Instantly, relationships came to my mind. Just typing this I feel my heart shake.

I do believe God is bringing me into having healthy relationships in my life and that is exciting and can be terrifying at the same time because relationships and I haven’t really been best friends for the 28 years I have lived.

Relationships have hurt me greatly in the past, and learning to trust God, self and others is a process. Let me say that again, learning to trust God, self and others is a process!

In a playful way I like to ask God,

Me: “Hey buddy, can we skip over this relationship business with other people? I like you more!”

God: “Sorry buddy, you need relationships with other people to help you grow and for you to help them grow.”

Deep down, I understand that.

The issue with the mentality of not needing other people leads to a life of isolation. There are times for us to be alone with God, but there are times we need another. Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

So where to begin?

Part of the answer is taking baby steps, building friendships and learning to guard our hearts Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.(Proverbs 4:23)

A baby step can be finding a safe community setting to cultivate healthy relationships. Maybe that is going to a function outside of the Sunday service for someone.

Building a friendship means taking the time to get to know someone before to see if the person is someone you want to build a relationship with.

And guarding our heart is recognizing what is going on in our own hearts and not shutting down what we are feeling. Communication is key to guarding your heart. How can I share my heart with someone, if I am not willing to share what is going on the inside? Make sure to find safe, trustworthy people when sharing your heart.

More on relationships later.

Prayer: Father, I praise you for what you are doing in each and everyone of our lives. In Jesus name, I ask for healthy relationships for all of us to help us grow into the strong men and women of God that you designed us to be. Amen.

P.S. Learning to trust God, self and others is a process!

 

 

 

Not Getting Ahead of God

Recently, I felt there were many changes to make in my life. This is true, but seemed so overwhelming. I didn’t know where to begin. I felt the Lord impressed on me to focus 3 things, (Serving at church, Taking medicine and working).

A huge sigh of relief. He wasn’t asking me to do it all at once!

There have been times in the past where I would make many changes at once that I would start off with the best intentions, but fall miserably.

I have noticed so much more peace in my life as I partner with God in doing what He wants and not more. That’s wisdom!“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)

It reminds me of my old running days. I recall a marathon I was running with a 3:10 pace group. We were all having fun and encouraging one another. Around mile 18, I felt like I was doing fantastic. So I ran ahead of the group. A few miles later, I slowed to a walk. Shortly after, I watched the 3:10 pace group whiz by me.  I still finished the race, but stumbled to the finish line about 12 minutes slower.

How often has this been the case in my relationship with God? A lot.

Me: “I am feeling pretty good, let me run ahead of Your timing on things.

God: “There’s grace for that, but it isn’t my best.”

In the past, would I run ahead and fall miserably. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25) 

I sense I am entering a season of relying on grace still, but an emphasis on truth. What would God do in this situation?

For example, I was sitting surfing the web when I saw the dishwasher was done at my parents house. Here is the dialogue that ensued:

Me: “I’ll do it later”

God: “It’s best to do it now.”

Me: “Give me ten minutes”

Holy Spirit/Dr. Charles Stanley sermon: “Partial obedience is still disobedience!”

Laughing and stomping, I got up and just did it! Thanks Dr. Stanley!

As I laid in bed that evening, I felt God molding my heart to be obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Truly amazing! Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. (Jeremiah 18:6)

So my question for you today is, “What is God asking you to do that you are putting off?”

Suffering is not always from the enemy, but also not doing what God is asking us to do.

My encouragement is to take a step of obedience, stay in His Word, and do not procrastinate. It will help to walk in step with God.

Prayer: Father, Thank you for the Grace you continue to give in our lives. I pray that as we make changes in our lives to be more like Jesus, that the Holy Spirit encourages us along the way. In Jesus name. Amen.

 

Jesus and Marc’s Trip to Bethel

*A trip like this requires a longer post!

Back in late January, the idea of going out to Bethel began to surface on an unconscious level.

Then in April, when going through a workshop of “The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind” by Bill Johnson the desire to go began to surface. There were two things that really stood out.

Before the workshop started, I was walking down the streets near where the workshop was being held.  Tucked away in the curb was a fresh $20 bill. It just so happened the books also cost $20 as well!

Also, one week during the workshop, my stomach began to churn in a very unusual way, but didn’t make a connection of what was going on.

I finished the workshop and was very sad when the class ended. I felt fear of backsliding at the time and that seemed to be happening.

Then a few weeks ago, I was meeting with some friends and Bethel got brought up and again things began to churn on the inside. The next day I decided to act somehow, so I began filling out the application for the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Almost immediately, there was such a deep spiritual hunger pain that came up.

And that was the tipping point, I knew I wanted to check out Bethel and see what was up. I made a decision if I was going to go I would be all in. Forget the plans I had and dive in.

The trip itself was full of highs and lows, but overall left very encouraged that God was up to something fantastic in my life.

I purchased a one way train ticket with no intention of coming back until I got the answers I was seeking.

So early Wednesday morning, I left via Megabus from Cincinnati to Chicago for the train ride. Armed with my small red backpack with the Bible, a few books, few sets of clothes and toiletries I was off!

While in Chicago, I began second guessing myself, because I did have a nice weekend getaway planned with friends and missed the first train.

As a sat in the train station, I did not like the idea of coming out and going home. I was hearing “miracles” from God if I went. I sure liked that!

So I got on the next train that left soon after the first train.  This was my first train ride outside of the Kings Island amusement park train ride and this was going across the country! I was so excited!

The trip itself went through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and got into Los Angeles. Later, I took a bus and another train ride up to Redding, CA where Bethel Church is.

And on the train ride the miracles began to flow. I was fascinated by the many different types of people on the trip. The conversations were super encouraging.

Now I really didn’t have a lot of funds when I left so I was curious as to how God would provide. In one day God sent three people to provide food for me without me describing the situation. One a sandwich, another an afternoon snack, but the cream of the crop was a steak dinner!

The train has a dining room cart and I wanted to eat there at least once. I felt God saying go in and order what I wanted so naturally I ordered a steak dinner. There was a mother and son sitting across the booth from me, but then another man that came and sat down. He said he was blessed by God and wanted to pay for everyone’s dinner at our booth! I was amazed at the goodness of God through His people!

I was also amazed at the beauty of the trip. It was amazing to be in New Mexico and the train itself would be in a desert, but to look out and see snow capped mountains! How is that possible?! The beauty of God is amazing.

We got to Los Angeles and had some time to walk around. I was saddened by the amount of homelessness in the area. There was a row where there were tents set up and inside were many homeless people.

On the bus and train ride to Redding, CA, I had an opportunity to sit next to a sweet lady. We struck up a conversation and the rest of the time it felt like a mini-date! But alas, when it came to eating, she offered to pay for the food!

Finally, Saturday morning, the train rolled into Redding, CA.

After arriving to Redding, I began asking people how to get to Bethel. It ended up being  about a 5 mile walk. I went up there and there was an event going on. The presence of God was very thick around me during the trip and this was no exception. I struck up conversations with people and had a nice afternoon. Later I went to stay with a friend of a friend for the night.

When I woke up on Sunday, I decided to go to all four services on Sunday! What a treat! Bethel has an amazing worship team.  The worship by everyone is so contagious.

During the worship, my mind began to race, and I felt God say, “Do not worry”, “Seek Me” “Seek my face”. It helped to center myself and I began to experience “the peace that surpasses all comprehension (Philippians 4:7).

All my worries about how I was getting home, my future and all the cares of the world faded away (Matthew 6:25-34). A truly magnificent time in the Presence of God.

There were many times throughout the trip where the Holy Spirit was comforting me, but this was the time that stood out the most.

The next day, I woke up disappointed not thinking I received the answers I was looking for. But as I write this, I feel like God did answer questions that I was seeking whether it was a relationship question, work or finances.

On Tuesday, I left for Cincinnati and God was teaching me so much during the trip. It was overwhelming at times. There were many delays, almost stranded in Los Angeles, but whenever the temptation to get angry, my mind changed and said, “No, I am going to praise God in the midst of this 3 hour delay, this 4 hour delay and this 5 hour delay!

By the end of the trip, I felt that there were 8 people that offered food to me without saying anything! One couple was in California and God brought us together again later in Dallas on separate busses! Again, Praise God for those people who were obedient to His voice and thank you to all of you! 

After about three in a half days, I made it home and was ready for bed.

As I laid in bed, I felt like I had truly fallen in love with God for the first time in a long time. I was like God, I do not even want that financial blessing, that work breakthrough or that relationship. Have it all.

But deep down inside, I was feeling God saying, “Perfect, I want you to have all these things. I just wanted you first.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

And to add to the humor of God I came back with $3 and change in the bank account. Now this is personal to me because it was this time 2 years ago where my bank account had $3 and change and a large check came in the mail to help out.

God I have seen you move in my life in fascinating ways in my life in relationships, work and financial blessing and I know you will do it again and again and again because it who you are.

You are a Good, Good Father. It’s just who you are!

Glory to God for this amazing roller coaster trip!

My encouragement and prayer to anyone who wants to do something that feels reckless is this. Do not worry about what others think about you. Do not make excuses of why you cannot do it. Focus on the nature of God. Find a few trusted friends that will give you wise counsel.

Be who God created you to be! He wants you free. And there is an incredible of amount His Grace when pursuing God with your whole heart.

After all, He is a rewarder of those who seek after Him (Hebrews 11:6).

God Bless you all!

 

The Marathon Race with God

Any person whoever has ever ran a marathon race (26.2 miles), knows it is not wise to start off training 20 miles.  Why? Because you will probably burn out quickly and not have consistency with your training. You start training off slowly and build endurance (Colossians 1:11)

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,

Our walk with God is no different.

Speaking from personal experience, I have tried many different spiritual disciplines, but without consistency! It leads to a life that is not rooted.

Recently, God has led me to reading 3 chapters of the Word a day and praying 3 times a day in tongues about 3 minutes each.

And it’s been wonderful! It’s like eating three meals a day (And maybe a late afternoon snack as well!). There is a natural hunger for more! (Psalms 119:103)

“How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

Nom! Nom! Nom!

I continue to see the benefits. I am hearing the voice of God better. I am also discerning what is not the voice of God. It is helping me continue in making wise decisions. Often there are decisions in life where there is not a right or wrong choice, but there is a “best” choice.

It is also helping me let go of encumbrances that lead to sin (Hebrews 12:1).

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

For example, I felt like I could was not able to exercise self-control on the smart phone, so I felt God say to switch to a flip phone for now. Do I believe this is permanent? No, but it is helping me realize that even a smart phone can get in the way with our race with God and relationships with others.

I look forward to partnering with the Holy Spirit in adding back the spiritual disciplines I have already practiced in a balanced way.

Prayer: Father, I pray for discipline in all of our lives. And Holy Spirit, I pray you teach us how to use discpline in our everyday lives. Help us to recognize this is a long race we are in and that we are in it for the long haul. No matter the cost. I ask all this in Jesus name. Amen.

The River of God

Yesterday a friend and I went kayaking on the Little Miami River. It was the first time I had been kayaking and it was such an amazing experience, especially with the high water!

There are so many ways to see the character and nature of God on something like a kayaking trip. Here are 4 takeaways from the trip.

Soon after we began the trip there was a branch of the river that split off and then came back to the main part.

So once I got caught in the current the kayak and I got swept right into some brush and I fell into the river.

Now my sandals fell off as well and I saw one floating down the river. About two hundred yards later, both sandals were caught by a log! Even though I slipped, God still had my back (or feet in this case!)

First lesson: (Psalm 37:24)

“Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”

How amazing is it that both sandals ended up right in the same place?!

As the trip continued, my friend and I noticed a large tree whose roots were exposed by the river, but the root system was so deep and wide:

Second Lesson (Jeremiah 17:8)

“For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.”

God wants us to be so rooted in our identity in Christ that when a challenge comes we can co-labor with Him for solutions and not be moved by circumstances.

I mentioned the river was high so the kayaking was pretty effortless outside of guiding the kayak. The current carried us down the river.

God desires for us to abide in Him.  In this case, the river represents God. My friend and I could have hurried through the trip, but then we would have missed out on enjoying the beauty.

Third Lesson (John 15:5)

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Lastly, there was a section where the wind turned on us and the water began choppy. We actually had to paddle through.  This reminds me of how we our co-laborers in Christ. We cannot just expect God to do everything, while at the same time we can’t do it on our own. We were invited to co-labor with God. What an honor!

Fourth Lesson (1 Corinthians 3:9)

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Between the lessons and great conversation with my friend, kayaking was an amazing experience to learn about the goodness of God! Thank you Jesus!

 

The Dangers of Lukewarm Christianity Part 1

As I continue to renew the mind, I have pondered, “God, I wonder where I would be if I did not grow up in a lukewarm Christianity environment.”

I really do not think God cares much if a child is wearing a dress suit to church or shows up wearing a bathing suit with sandals. He is much more interested in their heart posture.

And God is not just interested in His will being done, but our will as well! All He asks is we surrender to His will and then our desires can become His desires.

This is illustrated in Exodus 32:7-14, God wants to show His wrath on His people for worshipping a false idol. Moses reminds God, how He said He would multiply the descendants of Abraham and not destroy.

Notice what Exodus 32:14 says, “So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.”

What does this show? God wants a relationship with us and the best relationships start with friendship! He wants to co-labor with us.

For example, earlier this year I felt a prompting from God that I would be moving from my parents house in the fall time. This was back in the winter though! A lot has changed since then! I claimed (and continue to) my identity in Christ! We are heirs of God, co-laborers with God, friends of God, etc! I began started to live a supernatural lifestyle on a new levels.

I explained to God that I do not feel staying with my parents is healthy for my continued growth or my relationship with my parents.

After explaining to God the situation, I could feel a shift going on me! He was listening to me. I wasn’t just a robot who obeyed every command of God and did not have a say.

Lukewarm Christianity has a tendency to put God in a box that limits Him.  I really feel it would be best for a person to have never known Christ and be saved at age 30 then be saved at an early age, but grow up in a legalistic background.

Why? Because the young kid has to “unlearn” to “learn”, while the new believer can just “learn.”

Let’s all do ourselves a favor and let God out of the box.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you for being our friend. Thank you for not being someone that gives orders and expects us to obey like a robot. I thank you for your kindness and your humor that you have. And Father for anyone reading this with that desires to  free of legalism, in the name of Jesus, I break off legalistic and religious mindsets off of them right now. And in Jesus name, I loose a spirit of revelation of how creative you are and how creative you made us. Amen.

Claiming Your Inheiritance With God

Yesterday, I was meditating on God’s Word about us being a heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).

And on a spirit and heart level, it hit home deep! I was curious to see what this meant.

The definition is, “someone who has been appointed to receive an inheritance.”

What?! How amazing is that?

God owns it all and it all belongs to us because we belong to Him.

So since God owns it all, why do humans have a tendency to want to work extra hard? The secret is to enter into a place of rest in God. It is resting with God, where we can find out the steps God wants us to take (Psalm 4:8). It is in rest where we can surrender to God.

For example, if a person is in $50,000 in debt, natural reasoning is to work overtime/ get a second job to pay it off.

The more I understand my position in Christ, my identity in Christ, and all the spiritual blessings we have in Christ, the more I realize that belief of getting the second job/working overtime to pay off the debt is the result of an unrenewed mind.

The second job/working overtime are options, but they are not the only way.

Using the $50,000 debt as an example, let’s try this as an approach:

“God, I am going to continue to be faithful at work where I am right now, but working extra hours means less time for me to spend alone with You, with family, serving Your Kingdom and enjoying life outside of work. I need balance in life.  

Father, as an heir with God and co-heir with Christ, in Jesus name, I claim an inheritance to pay off this debt so I can continue to partner with you in advancing the Kingdom of God. Thank you Holy Spirit for guiding me to make decisions to advance the Kingdom of God. Amen.”

Now start asking God what already belongs to you through His son Jesus!

Prayer: Father God, I thank you for all you are doing in each of our lives. I pray that each reader who reads this becomes so rooted in thier identity in Christ and can walk out this amazing life out with confidence. In Jesus name, I impart wisdom to each reader for any challenges they are facing and ask you to double that wisdom. Thank you Holy Spirit for always comforting us. I pray all this in Jesus name. Amen.

Building Bridges

I look forward to building bridges with my relationship with God, myself and others.

Since around April I have been going to a “Overcome Bipolar” small group and a “Supernatural Power of Transformed Mind” workshop each week. And they have been a great one two punch!

It’s been fun to see the mind renewed! (Romans 12:2). It is so fun to replace old thoughts with scriptural truth! It goes something like this:

Old Thought: In chains

New thought: I am redeemed by the blood of the lamb! (Ephesians 1:7)

Old Thought: God is angry

New Thought: God is kind and merciful! (Psalm 103) 

Old Thought: sinner

New Thought: I am a saint! (Romans 1:7)

Old Thought: weak

New Thought: Be Strong in the Lord and in His Might (Ephesians 6:10)

Old Thought: bipolar

New Thought:  But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)

I could go on and on, but meditating on His word about what God actuallty says about us continues to be amazing. It is so important for us to know our position in Christ, identity in Christ and all the spiritual blesssings we have in Christ.

Claim your true identity in Christ! It’s yours for the taking!

And let me say the “old self” burnt some bridges with some friendships.

Fear of commitment, not submitting to authority and not being able to trust caused the “old self” to want to run at away when things began to get serious.

I am so grateful and thankful that our God is a God of restoration. I look forward to partnering with God in restoring those relationships.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you so much for being here and Father I pray that people claim  their identity in Christ. Help us to call out the gold that you see in them. When some feels broken, remind them that they are your masterpiece. When someone feels defeated, remind them they are victorious in Christ. When someone doesn’t feel blessed, that they are blessed with all the spiritual blessings in Christ. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

A Thorn in the Flesh

Last week, I met with a therapist that I had worked with in the past. Before walking in, I was getting the word “trust”.  At some point in the session, the therapist mentioned the word, “betrayal”.

I said, “I heard of that word. What does that mean?”

She said, ” It means that something happened that destroyed your trust in them.”

Later that evening, God brought me back to a place when I would cry out to Him as a three-year old to take away the fear of death. Nothing. Silence. At that young age, my view was I could not trust God.

As I sat there, I felt this deep emotional pain, that I have never experienced.  It felt it would have been better to have a knife stabbed in the heart or a gunshot to the head than to feel betrayed by a loving God.

And if I felt I could not trust God, I also did not I feel like I could trust people.

Betrayal is a wound that can run so deep, that will infiltrate into every relationship a person has. But it does have an amazing benefit.

I now can look back and how this has been a blessing.  I can now say like Paul, Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.  And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NASB) 

And this year when I have felt the thorn, I have shouted for joy and said, “Yes! I shall boast of this, so the power of God dwells in me!”  What a blessing!

Prayer: Father God, I pray for everyone that is experiencing a feeling of betrayal by You. Let them know that is a lie.  I pray you come and speak to them in a personal way and to let them know you see everytime that person has been hurt.  I thank you for your faithfulness when we experience hurt.  I pray that the Holy Spirit comes in to comfort you and ask you God to come in and heal broken hearts and to fill us with your love. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

Submitting to Authority

Excited to start blogging again. There has been so much victory in my life that I feel the Lord wanting me to share to inspire others! And it encourages me!

This week has been an amazing week. The Lord has been challenging me to submit to His authority and other people that have roles of authority. In the past, it was a struggle to submit because of trust issues (More on that in next post). Now I am learning the joy of submitting to authority “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17 NASB)

Who knew submitting could be so fun! It is not always easy to, but I am learning to see the benefits of it. What a turn of events! I would like to thank my parents, friends and, Open Heaven Ministries for helping me to begin the joyful process of submitting to authority.

I look forward to sharing more and more stories of victory in Jesus! Be blessed all you sons and daughters of God!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray you partner with me in this blog to advance the Kingdom of God and that it inspires people to step out of their circumstances and to follow you with all that they have. Holy Spirit I ask you drive what is said deep into people’s hearts about what you want them to hear. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.