Where Do You Stand?

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As someone with 25 years of active involvement within the Christian church, I have seen and experienced many joys and disappointments. I am well acquainted with the beauty of fellowship and common union. I am also well acquainted with the ugliness of church politics. Sadly, over the years, I have had front row seats to some scandals and church splits. I’ve seen ministers fall into sinful practices, and I’ve seen congregations fall apart when these issues came to light. I’ve seen leaders abuse the authority that they had been given, and I’ve seen the wounded casualties that they left in their wake. I have seen manipulations, betrayal, envy, strife, divisions, gossip, and dissensions. I have seen the bitterness of an offended few spread like a cancer to infect the body, resulting in rebellious mutiny. I have also seen virtuous, humble leaders, anointed men and women of God, sacrificed at the altar of disenchanted, self-righteous cynicism. I have seen these leaders slandered, defamed and ousted from their own ministries, kicked out of the very places that they sweat and bled to build, by the very people that they spent their lives serving.

I am not a distant observer who has remained untouched by all that I have seen. I have felt the pain and confusion, shed tears of frustration, anger and disillusionment, and have faced the temptation to commiserate with bitter, wounded people who received their scars in “the house of friends.” What has grieved me the most over the years has been the utter lack of loyalty, honor, and integrity that I have witnessed. The church is far from perfect. It is full of people. Anywhere that you have people, you have the potential for conflict, misunderstandings, and drama. It would be great if the moment that someone became a Christian, all of their problems, issues, and emotional baggage would simply disappear, but that’s not the way it works. Growth is a process, and maturity doesn’t just happen overnight. It is formed step by step, day by day, moment to moment, by the challenges we face and the choices we make as we encounter those challenges.

As Christians, we are called, first and foremost, to be loyal to God, but there is also a place for loyalty to the people that God has positioned in places of authority in our lives. If God has called you to be an active part of a ministry, then He has also called you to be in a place of submission to the leadership. Loyalty isn’t something you can manufacture. It springs from a place of love and trust that is born in relationship. So, if you don’t love your leaders, you really can’t be loyal to them – even if you want to. It’s that simple. However, just because you may not necessarily be loyal to a particular leader at this point in your relationship with them, that doesn’t mean that you can’t conduct yourself with honor and integrity where they are concerned.

What if you have a disagreement or grievance with your leaders? Have you discussed it with them? No? Then just keep your mouth shut. If you’re not willing to talk about it with them, then you shouldn’t be talking about it with anyone else. What if you have talked about it with them, but you disagree with the outcome? Then you’ve got to carefully choose your response. First, consider the possibility that you are wrong and that there are factors you were unaware of that were considered in making their decision. Then quietly accept it, trusting that they have sought the Lord’s guidance. Don’t go around complaining and causing problems, rather, give them your support. Don’t go around trying to collect a group of people in an attempt to gang up on your leaders and force their hand. If you don’t think you’re capable of this, perhaps it’s time for you to move on to another church or ministry. Pray about it. If God releases you to leave, then go; but conduct yourself honorably as you go. That means you leave quietly and do not do anything that can be interpreted as treachery. No gossip, no slander, and no stirring up dissension. If you can’t do this, then you need to take a serious look at the condition of your heart and check the spirit you’re operating under because it is not of God.

Loyalty isn’t blind obedience, and it isn’t a naive belief that your leaders are perfect either. Those who are loyal, know the areas of weakness and position themselves to assist in those areas.  Your leaders have a difficult job to do that often involves making tough decisions. It’s impossible for them to please everyone, to keep everybody happy at all times, and that’s not their job anyway. They are called to seek the Lord, to communicate the vision God has given them for the ministry, and to lovingly lead the way. Your job is to love, support, and co-labor with them. If you truly love and support them, you will also protect them.  “If you want to get to them, you’re going to have to get through me first!” You will not entertain any kind of gossip or back-biting. In fact, those who would try to accuse and slander your leaders would know better than to say one word to you.

Recommended Reading:

  •  2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 15; Hebrews 13:17; Romans 12:17-18; Ephesians 4:29-32; Proverbs 11:13; 1 Corinthians 3
  • Loyalty by Bob Sorge
  • A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards

 

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Savor Every Moment

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In the beginning of my last post, I had expressed that I was going to be blogging less this summer and hoped to post every two to three weeks. Apparently, I took a month-and-a-half hiatus instead. Now I am back, ready to write, and there’s something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time. So here it is…

QUIT TAKING THE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE FOR GRANTED!

Forgive me for shouting, but I’ve been holding this one in for a while. I guess it all started in mid-June when my mom had a health scare. She had been retaining fluids, evidenced by a 20 lb weight gain in about a week’s time, so she went in for some tests. The doctors found that some of her heart valves were not functioning properly and some leakage was happening within the heart. An exercise stress test was ordered, and the results were not good. The doctors actually had to stop the test because her heart rate began to slow down instead of increasing as it should when under stress. The next step was an angiogram to determine if there were any blockages. Thankfully, no blockages were found and everything turned out well. Through all the testing, it was discovered that my mom has a congenital (from birth) heart condition called myocardial bridging.

At some point while my mom was undergoing all of this testing I had the following thought: “What if I lose her?” It was a very scary and sobering question. Honestly, I didn’t dwell on it for very long. It wasn’t something that I was ready or willing to face, and I wasn’t going to entertain any kind of negative thinking. I’m fortunate to have some great friends who prayed with me. Following this scare, I kept thinking about two female friends of mine. They are not related to each other, but they both profess to be Christians and both have something else in common. Neither of them are speaking to their parents. I kept thinking about these girls and praying for them. I also kept resisting the urge to contact them in lengthy diatribe about how they needed to stop acting like big, bratty, spoiled babies and start communicating with their families again. (See Ephesians 4:31-32, 6:1-3)

Working through disagreements with people is certainly not easy or comfortable, but problems don’t get resolved by ignoring them. If you are one of many people who has been fortunate enough to have somebody (or several people) in your life who has always been there for you, it’s very easy to have the expectation that they always will be. However, just because somebody is always there – whether it be a family member, roommate, or friend – doesn’t give you any excuse or right to push them aside like chopped liver on a plate full of more exciting treats. You should relish every moment that you have together – savor it! Life is short, time is fleeting, and nobody is guaranteed tomorrow. You rarely know when it’s your last moment with somebody. So, it’s important to really invest in the people that God has placed in your life. James 4:14, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

I know what some of you are thinking… “But Angela, I do invest in people. I invest in people all the time, but I’m being taken for granted all the time! I don’t want people taking advantage of me!” Well, I have a simple response for for you. Here it is: Suck it up, and deal with it. I know this may sound harsh, but just bear with me and I’ll explain. First of all, nobody can take advantage of you. It’s simply not possible. You are responsible for your own behaviors and you are responsible for what behaviors you will put up with from others. If you think that you are being taken advantage of, that means that you are aware of a behavior from someone towards you that you do not like, but that you have allowed. If you are aware of it and you have allowed it, then are you really being taken advantage of? I think not. It’s time to take responsibility for your part in it all. No more excuses, no more pointing fingers, and no more martyr complex. Pray about the situation and figure out how to deal with it.

Secondly, I understand how you feel. I actually have a couple of people in my life right now that I have been investing in for quite some time with seemingly “no return” on my investment. Does it hurt? Yes, sometimes it does. Am I frustrated by it? From time to time, yes, I am. So, why do I do it? Because I have spent time in prayer over it, and I am certain that for right now, at this time in my life, I am called into relationship with them. I am also certain that in pouring myself out, I have absolutely nothing to lose and only everything to gain. Personally, I am the type of person who likes to talk things out. I want to confront a situation head-on and get right into the thick of it, regardless of the mess and discomfort, because I feel that in doing so, we’ll come out on the other side with a stronger relationship. However, every time that I have prayed about my particular situation, even though it is natural for me to confront, I have felt that the correct course of action is actually the opposite. So, as difficult as it can be for me, I confidently move forward in these relationships in a non-confrontational way, because I know that I have heard from God.

Take some time to pray about your situation and ask the Lord how He would have you deal with it. Maybe He would have you talk with them, maybe not. Just be obedient to follow through with whatever He guides you to do, even if it’s not what you’d usually do.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:18

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First Things First, Practical Priority

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It has been a few weeks since my last post, and I must apologize to my faithful readers. Summer fever has seized me and all I want to do is spend time outside at the lake and in the sun. Here in Minnesota, summer tends to be short, so we make the most of it when it’s here. I don’t anticipate my “fever” subsiding anytime soon, so I will be blogging a bit less frequently as I enjoy this season. Instead of weekly posts, I aim to post every 2 to 3 weeks. Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let me get to blogging and tell you all what’s on my mind and what I’ve been up to lately.

Today is day 66, of a 90 day book study that I’ve been doing along with several of the gals from church, “Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be.” (I’ll post a link at the bottom of this page for anyone who is interested). The study is about living the life of a “Proverbs 31 woman” and focuses on a different topic each week, such as godly habits, healthy eating, financial planning, household management, and retirement planning, among several others. It’s much more of a practical book than a spiritual one, which is partly what I don’t like about it and partly why I think it’s good for me to read it. You see, the spiritual excites me; so it’s not difficult for me to focus on spiritual things. In fact, most of my reading is spiritual in nature. However, I often find the practical to be quite boring. Because of this, I tend to neglect some practical things that really should warrant more of my attention. By participating in this study, I’m forced to focus on some areas that normally wouldn’t even occur to me. Is it fun? Not always. Good for me? You betcha!

I’ll be completely honest with you… I have absolutely no plan or desire to implement all of the author’s suggestions. I’m simply taking what I feel is for me and leaving the rest behind. That’s how I believe all studies should be approached. What has been so good about this, is that in thinking about all the different weekly topics, I have evaluated my priorities and made some changes. Obviously, the spiritual (my relationship with God, spiritual disciplines/growth) remains my first priority; but I’ve made room for some of those less exciting, but still important practicalities. Some of the more interesting things that I’ve been exploring lately are physical fitness, learning about developing multiple streams of income and investments. I have also evaluated my priorities pertaining to my involvement in various ministry activities, and how they correlate overall with God’s call on my life. One of the areas where I made some changes was in my creative ministry outlets. I re-prioritized according to what I feel called to the most at this time. Things may change, but for now, they are prioritized as follows: 1) writing, 2) singing/music, and 3) art/crafts.

Prioritizing these areas was a big step for me because I’ve always had a sort of tug of war going on inside with my affections and commitments concerning these three areas of the arts. Now that they’re clearly prioritized, my commitments are unmistakably defined. If a conflict arises, there’s no longer any confusion about which gift to practice. I’ll just focus my energies on the area of greater commitment. Simply put, that means writing (writers group, blogging, working on my books) trumps singing/music (band practice, guitar, piano) which trumps art/crafts (painting, drawing, crafting). Choosing writers group over band practice (in the event of a scheduling conflict) may not always go over well with the rest of the band, but it is really freeing for me to know where I should be focusing my energies. So basically, all of this re-prioritizing has really helped me manage my time more effectively. If you haven’t evaluated your priorities in a while or examined the way you spend your time – especially as it relates to the call of God on your life, then I would encourage you to do so. It is certain to help you make the most of the time you’ve been given.

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16

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Secret Dreams and Exposure

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I dream of casting out demons.

I dream of raising the dead.

I dream of fluently moving in healings, miracles, signs and wonders.

I dream about these things, not only figuratively, but literally. When I close my eyes at night and succumb to sleep, I move in a power and authority that I have not yet experienced while awake. The sheer volume of the dreams along with the deep ache I feel, the longing for these things to be happening right here and right now, has led me to believe that this is part of my calling. This dream, this desire in me, is not a new one. It has been there for years, but I’ve barely spoken of it, even with my closest friends. I confess that I’ve been secretive about this and I don’t want to hide anymore. So, here it is, in writing:
I believe that I am called to cast out demons, raise the dead and work all kinds of miracles, healings, signs and wonders. I believe this is part of what God has for me to do.

Why have I kept this to myself? I will tell you. As much as I know that certain people may read this and think I’m crazy, that’s not the reason. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been accused of being crazy for what I believed to be God’s will, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I can also say that in persevering beyond the hurdle of cynical naysayers, I have never regretted my obedience to God. So why the secrecy? Here it is in one word: pride. I haven’t been as open about this dream as I am about virtually everything else in my life because of my own pride. (If this isn’t quite making sense yet, just hang in there with me, because I promise you, it soon will). 

I stated earlier that in my dreams I move in a power and authority that I have not yet experienced while awake. That’s the clincher. I’m not doing these things yet, so I keep the dream to myself. Why? Because I’m afraid that it might not come true. What if it never happens? What if I’m wrong? What if I pray and the demon doesn’t flee? What if I pray and the dead are not raised? What if I pray and nobody gets healed? What if nothing ever happens at all, and I’m just a huge failure? Now do you see it? That’s pride. The source of the fear, the source of all the questions is pride. Is it as obvious to you as it is to me, that the question that lies beneath all the others is, “If I’m wrong about this, what will everyone think of me?” Pride is concerned with appearances, wanting to “save face” and preserve reputation.

That being said, there’s another question that should be addressed. If God has really called me to cast out demons, raise the dead and work all kinds of miracles, healings, signs and wonders (and I believe that He has), then what’s the hold up? The answer is simple: me. I am the reason. I am the only thing standing in my way. Two weeks ago, on Sunday, May 20, I received a prophetic word during our evening church service. (I wrote about it in my last post). Part of the word addressed things in my heart that I desire to do but haven’t been able to do – that God wants to take me there, but it requires walking in a higher level of trust. When I heard this, I immediately thought of healings and miracles, because it’s absolutely true – I need to trust more. I wish that knowing this was enough to fix the problem, but it’s not that simple. I don’t know how to make myself trust any more than I already do. I need God to get me there.

As much as I know God’s desire is to move through me in powerful and amazing ways, there is a part of me that feels extremely unqualified and doesn’t see why He would ever choose me to do anything. Like the father of the possessed boy in Mark 9:24, I have often prayed, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Again, the root of my unbelief is pride, because if I really knew in my spirit what I know in my head – that God moving through me has nothing to do with my qualifications, but rather with my willingness to be His vessel – this would not be an ongoing battle. I continue to pray for people, even though most of the time, I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. Sometimes, people get healed. Sometimes, they don’t. I’m always surprised when they do. I want to get past this. A good friend once prophesied over me that God’s grip on me is so tight that He is guiding me even when I don’t realize it, in the little day to day decisions that I think are insignificant. It’s encouraging when He gives me a glimpse of this.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been meditating on scriptures about trust and healing, and I’ve been asking God to teach me how to trust more. Last week, while cleaning my bedroom, I had the desire to read some Andrew Murray. Since I have several of his books, I looked at the collection on my bookshelf, and one stood out to me, “Humility.” So, I picked it up and started reading it again. Sunday at church, we had a guest speaker, Mark Anderson, who ministered on healing and miracles. He preached, imparted, and released us all to pray for those in need of healing – and people got healed. It was a great weekend! Can you guess what his main message was about? If you guessed “humility,” you are correct. Humility was the foundation of everything he taught. It was so encouraging and confirming to realize that God was already leading me in this direction. I love when He does this!

I could easily keep writing, but this is long, so I’m going to wrap things up by explaining why I shared all of this in the hope that it has been mutually beneficial. First, I shared because I wanted to expose myself, putting my issues out there in the open, because I know that the sins that bind us lose power when we bring them into the light. I believe that in sharing all of this, I will find freedom. Secondly, I know that I’m not the only person who struggles with pride and the issues that spring from this insidious root. I also know that I’m not the only person with hidden dreams. If you see yourself in what I’ve written, my prayer is that my frankness will encourage you, giving you the nudge that you may need to come out of hiding and step into the light – that you too will find freedom.

 

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Life Without Walls

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Monday was my birthday – my 36th birthday. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but I really am 36 years old. Most single ladies around my age are not so quick to share this information, but I don’t feel the need to hide it. Why should I? Is there some shame in the fact that I’ve lived another year? Of course not. Should I feel bad that (as far as I’m aware) the man amazing enough to win my heart hasn’t found me yet? No way! I know that he’s looking, and I know that when he finds me, we’ll both be blessed. I admit, there are times when I wish he’d hurry up already; but overall, I’m really happy with my life. So, why would I hide my age? Okay… I will also admit that being born with fantastically youthful genes doesn’t hurt my confidence at all. However, even if someone didn’t think I was turning 24 this year instead of 36 (yes, this actually happened), I still don’t think I would hide my age. Now, I’ve completely gone off on a tangent, because this post isn’t even about my birthday. It’s actually about Sunday, the day before my birthday.

Sunday was an incredible day for me. It was incredibly difficult, incredibly emotional, incredibly healing, incredibly validating… incredibly amazing! I woke up that morning with some things on my mind that I hadn’t really thought about in many months. I struggled with these thoughts and the corresponding emotions, on and off, all day long. You see, something happened one year ago, in the beginning of May, a couple of weeks before my birthday. A difficult season in my life, a year-and-a-half marked by trauma, finally came to an end. (I won’t give details here. Only God completely knows and understands what happened; and I intend to keep it that way. Although, I’m sure a few of my closer friends have an idea).

Some seasons are particularly stormy. Relief comes when a hurricane ends, but then it’s also time to deal with all the aftermath. In my case, that meant facing and confronting my own feelings of hurt, fear, anger, and betrayal, so that I could receive some healing. As scary as it was, I jumped in with both feet; and progressively, over time, things got better and better. I didn’t even think about it anymore – until Sunday that is. Sunday, I remembered. In retrospect, it would have been better for me to remember the theme of the previous Sunday’s message, “Don’t Look Back” – because maybe then, this wouldn’t have been such a struggle. Maybe then, I could have more easily mustered the strength to shut down the unproductive thought-spiral that I found myself spinning around in.

As I looked back at the past, I came face to face with my unresolved pain. I thought about friendships that were damaged in the storm, specifically a few that still have not been fully restored to what they once were. I was angry that I had experienced this, and I blamed myself for being too trusting. I thought, “I didn’t come here with any walls up, but maybe I should have. Maybe if I wasn’t so welcoming… Maybe if I wasn’t so open and trusting, then I wouldn’t have had to go through all of this pain. Maybe it would be better – smarter – if I just put up some walls. Then maybe I won’t ever have to experience something like this again. Who is going to protect me, if I won’t protect myself?” At that moment, I had pretty much resolved to try to build some walls of protection around myself. This truly grieved me, because it’s really not like me to shut people out. If anyone wants to know something about me, all they ever have to do is ask. I’m pretty candid about things, for the most part.

As much as I wanted to forget everything, I just couldn’t shake it. I prayed something like, “God, You know what I’m struggling with today. I need Your help. I need to hear from You. I need a word. Please help me!” When I got to church in the evening, I threw myself into worship, determined to break free. After worship, Heidi delivered a prophetic word for the congregation. It was all about tearing down walls and repenting for walls that people have between each other due to offenses. When she said, “There is no excuse for having walls,”
I knew that God was telling me, “NO – You are not allowed to build any walls. So, don’t even try.”
 
I received the message, loud and clear, and repented for wanting to protect myself rather than relying on God for protection. After Heidi spoke, Femi preached. Then this man, Greg, came forward who had prophesied over Heather R. and Leah the previous Sunday. He said that he had a prophetic word for “the young lady who was sitting next to Leah last week” and he asked who that was. As I raised my hand, I could hear Leah’s voice from the balcony, “It was Angela!” 

Greg began by saying that he prayed for me all week long, spent at least 20 hours in prayer over this word, and that he wanted everyone to know that he doesn’t take this lightly because “it’s someone’s life.” He spoke with such seriousness that I began to get nervous. I didn’t know this man, had no idea what he might say, and was half bracing myself to receive some kind of public rebuke; but the word that he delivered spoke into my situation perfectly. There was a lot to it, but here’s the basic gist of it all… He spoke of trauma that I experienced, and God’s desire to heal me from the remaining wounds. He spoke of the kind of trust necessary to go to the places I want to go in God and do the things I want to do – that God wants to take me there, but I need to walk in a deeper level of trust. He spoke of restoration – that God is going to restore all that the locust has stolen. And he spoke of adventure – reminding me of something I once felt called to, and reawakening a dream in me that I had long given up on. It was exactly what I needed. God is so good! I went home that evening refreshed, encouraged and with a new resolve to trust more and live a life without walls.

I challenge you to examine your own heart, and ask the Lord if there are any walls that need to be torn down. If you’re walking through a difficult season, or struggling with something, don’t hesitate to cry out to God for help. He loves you, and He knows exactly what you need.

“The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love him.” – Psalm 145:17-20a

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Reunion

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Tuesday, something amazing happened – something wonderful and quite unexpected. Doors of communication, that had been locked shut for nearly two and a half years, opened up again between me and my sister. (For background, see this post). Over the past few days, we’ve talked a couple of times on the phone; and I can’t even begin to express how excited I am that we are back in contact with each other. As far as I’m concerned, this is a miracle!

Over the years, I have hoped and prayed with faith that one day we would be reconciled. I have hoped and prayed for our relationship to be restored. I didn’t know when it would happen; and there certainly weren’t any signs of encouragement to grab onto. Even so, I waited expectantly, knowing that this day would eventually come. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb 11:1).

I’m not saying that the waiting was easy, because it certainly wasn’t. In fact, there were times when it was not only frustrating, but very discouraging. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” It is heartbreakingly difficult to keep believing for something when all the signs seems contradictory. Even so, that spark of hope that was in me could not – would not – be extinguished. Whenever I felt weary, as if the hope in me had begun to grow dim, I would simply pray about it. The Holy Spirit would breathe on me and my hope would ignite, burning brighter than before.

I am overjoyed that we are finally talking again! It’s an amazing feeling. This got me thinking about God and His feelings. If I’m this happy and this excited about being reunited with my sister, then I can only begin to imagine the elation that God must feel when one of His wayward children returns and is reconciled to Him. I recently happened upon the following scripture. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom 12:12). This is an exhortation to believers; but what stood out to me about this verse, is that these are all character traits of Christ. As believers, we have received the Spirit of Christ; and as we continually allow His Spirit to lead us, we become more like Him (see Rom 8:10-11). Another thing that struck me as I read this, was that it seems to be a sort of “recipe” for cultivating patient long-suffering.

  • 1. “Be joyful in hope.” – Be happy, cheerful, positive about the things that you have hope for.
  • 2. “Be patient in affliction.” – When it seems like you may lose hope, when it hurts, when you’re in pain. . . Submit. This is hard, but don’t fight it. Just relax and wait.
  • 3. “Be faithful in prayer.” – Keep communicating with God throughout the whole thing. He will sustain you. He knows exactly what you need. Ask for His help, and trust Him to come through for you. God knows how to fan the flames of hope in you and ignite your heart better than anyone else.

So, no matter what you may be going through, I’d like to encourage you to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.”

 

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Finding Your Voice

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Yesterday, I worked as a para with a 10 year old, autistic boy. I occasionally sub for his usual para, and this was my third time working with him. It was track and field day at school, so we got to spend a few fun hours outside in the sunshine. We had a great day together; but every time that I work with this boy, I find myself pondering what it would be like not to have a voice. You see, in my first sentence, I omitted one very significant detail: he is completely non-verbal. He doesn’t speak at all – not a word.

Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking that his speech delay means that he must also be mentally delayed, because nothing could be further from the truth. Mentally, he is at the same level as other boys his age. He is very bright and quite capable of completing his fourth grade assignments with very little assistance. The fact that he’s unable to talk doesn’t mean that he can’t communicate; it only means that it’s more challenging for him than for most, because he can’t use words. When he wants to say something, he sometimes uses a program on his ipad, but more often than not, he gestures and makes noises. Even though he can’t speak, he has a voice. He just hasn’t learned how to use it yet.

As someone who loves words (both written and spoken), I know that I could never imagine what it must be like for him. I wonder if he feels trapped inside of his own body when he’s unable to express his thoughts and ideas. I think, “It must be like living in a nightmare.” Then I realize that I’m wrong to think this, because it’s all that he’s ever known. What seems like a nightmare to some, may simply be a way of life for another.

I wonder how many “normal” people – with full speech capability – still haven’t learned how to use their voices? How many people have been trapped inside of their own bodies by fear and insecurity unable to effectively communicate their thoughts and ideas? How many of these people are blood-bought believers in Jesus Christ? Are you one of them? If you are, then I encourage you to spend some time alone in God’s presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to take control. Ask Him to bring you into a greater revelation of God’s love, and to break off the fear and insecurity that has been ruling over you. Ask Him to show you who you are, who He created you to be. Stop comparing yourself to others. Let God define you, and drop any labels you’ve been wearing that He hasn’t given you. You were created special and one-of-a-kind. There is no other “you” in all of existence. So, hold your head up and confidently be you.

Everyone has a voice. Everyone has a unique story weaved into the fabric of eternity. Everyone has something of great worth to share, to give, to impart that will enrich the lives of those who receive it. Everyone – yes, every one. Even you.

You have a voice.

Your voice is valuable.

It’s time to start using it.

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Crossing Over

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This weekend, Firestarters (the ministry I’m a part of) is having a special “Washed: Retreat Weekend” with worship meetings, acoustic coffeehouse sets, personal prophecy sessions, and various arts workshops. It began last night, and will continue until Sunday evening. So far, I have been having a blast! God is moving and speaking among us in so many ways, which always excites me.

This afternoon, I participated in the writers’ workshop, and we did a writing exercise in response to the following prompt: “I am crossing over…” It was inspiring to hear all the different writings that were created and shared as a result. It’s very powerful when writers join together in the Presence of God with the intention of creating under the influence of Holy Spirit. God breathes on us imparting inspiration, revelation and authority to the creative written word. This can be life changing! Today, as we spent time writing, Holy Spirit did something amazing. In response to the prompt, we all ended up writing prophetic declarations over our own lives. This is what I wrote:

Crossing Over – By Angela Garcia

I’m crossing over into the land of promise

Moving into the place where dreams receive body, breath, and spring to life

Drinking in the sweet nourishment of each word He has given me

Landmarks and milestones along my journey

Peering into the distance

Looking ahead

Gazing at what appears to be far off

With the knowledge that often times things are much closer than they seem

I am stretching

Reaching out

Open-handed

Open-hearted

Full of expectation and exhilaration

As I touch “what is to come”

And pull it into “the now”

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Provision in Transition

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Last week, I wrote about transition and shared about changes happening in my life specifically in the area of employment. I mentioned working three different jobs: the first with few hours, the second one that would end soon, and a new one that I was uncertain about keeping.  Since then, much has happened, so I’ll give a quick update. The first thing is that job number two has indeed ended. Next, I was offered two jobs this week – one that I had applied for and another that came by way of a professional connection. I accepted the former, and turned down the latter not wanting to take on too much at once; however, there’s an open door there for me if anything changes. God is so good!

So far, this transition has been unusually smooth. Everything has been happening so quickly and easily that I can scarcely believe it. I’m not complaining, but I really expected it to be much harder. You see, about three and a half weeks ago, God gave me some revelation about provision, which has only been expanding since then. He will often illuminate scriptures, bringing new insights to light only days before I’m tested with an opportunity to practically walk them out. In this case, it was three days. I really love when God uses this method to teach me. Although, I usually don’t realize it until the moment has arrived, it’s like He gives me a “heads up” about something that will happen and prepares me for it. Then hopefully, when I’m faced with it, I can implement what He has taught and pass the test.

Provision is one of the ongoing topics that God has been teaching me about over the past few years. Slowly but surely, I have been learning that everything I receive – whether it’s blessings, gifts or money earned – it all comes from God. I am not my own provider, God is the one who provides and cares for me. As important as it is to have a job, be responsible and pay my bills, it’s even more important to be obedient to do the things that God has called me to do. As a child of God, I don’t ever need to be afraid that my needs might not be met, because there is absolutely no lack in His Kingdom. I know that I can trust Him to take care of me, because He is faithful. 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

 

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Transition Time

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Last week was the first time that I did not get around to posting since I started writing this blog in November. So, I apologize to you, my readers, for skipping a week. I was simply too exhausted. Right now, I am in the midst of employment transition. So, last week, I put in an extra 17 hours of work – which would have earned me overtime if they had all been for the same employer, but they weren’t. They were split between three different jobs. One job, that I really love, I’ve worked at for two years; but it doesn’t provide enough hours. My second job, where I have worked for one year, will soon be ending. My third job, which I just began last week, is a “fill-in” position, so I’m not sure how many hours I’ll actually get. I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to keep that job either. There are a few other places I want to check out first before I decide.

A few years ago, my job situation would have had me completely stressed out, but not today. I’m completely at peace, knowing that God will provide what I need at just the right time. This is something that I’ve learned through experience. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth every uncomfortable moment. You see, ever since my move to Ottertail, Minnesota in July of 2008, my employment situation has been in virtually a constant flux. There just aren’t as many jobs here as there are in South Florida or Nashville. So for the first time ever, I had difficulty finding employment. I’m sure that the time of my move, on the cusp of a recession, didn’t help matters either. During my first two years, I spent more time unemployed and job hunting than I actually did working. Even when I’ve had “stable” employment, it really hasn’t been “steady” employment because the hours have constantly fluctuated. So, I’ve grown accustomed to living in a state of transitional employment; and I have learned and am still learning to wholly rely on God as provider.

  • Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

I must admit that my job situation is partly one of my own making. It’s the result of a choice that I have made not to place finances over the call of God on my life. If I really wanted a “steadier” job badly enough, I know that I could find something working evenings and weekends. I also could have accepted a promotion offered to me over a year ago, and I’d be spending over 40 hours a week working in Fergus Falls. I turned it down, because I know that God didn’t bring me to Ottertail to spend all of my time in Fergus Falls. I know why I’m here; and I prioritize accordingly. Firestarters is a priority. Being in Ottertail is a priority. Money is a necessity of lesser priority. So, I continue to “pass” on any employment opportunity that would deign to take precedence over the ministry and keep me from where I know I should be.

  • Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Most people don’t like change very much. We are creatures of habit, preferring the familiar to the unexpected. We tend to fear the unknown. So, times of transition can be unnerving and disconcerting. This is precisely why they are so important; because it is during these times that faith is challenged and growth is produced. Transition forces us out of the familiar and positions us to place our dependence on God. We can try to go it on our own, but doing so is fruitless and only produces anxiety and stress. As we choose to rely on God and place our trust in Him, we make room for Him to move in our lives. Consequently, we become encouraged and excited when we see God move on our behalf. As a result, our faith is increased. It’s a wonderful cycle of forward motion in the spirit, because as our faith grows, we choose to depend on God even more.

  • Ephesians 3:12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

 

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