reflection

I wanted to start off this post with the words, “I am a cheerleader,” but that would be in direct contradiction to my last post!  I am first and foremost a child of God, but there is one thing I am realizing more and more concerning God’s handiwork: I am a cheerleader by His design.  (I am also recognizing how crazy I was to climb to the top of this stunt during a cheer routine done on a concrete parking lot.  Who does that?)

At the age of five, the wonderful world of cheering was opened up to me when I joined an older squad as their mascot.  I guess I was more of a junior cheerleader, but whatever my role, I definitely remember standing alongside the older girls and cheering at the basketball games.  I gave eight additional school years to the sport (some consider it only an extra-curricular activity) and found a great sense of purpose in cheering, yelling, dancing, jumping and teaching others to do the same.

I sometimes reflect on my childhood, and on one of those occasions,  I asked the Lord, “What was that all about?  I loved cheering more than anything.  Was it all vanity?”

He answered, Renee, I made you a cheerleader, but you are to cheer my Name and my fame.

What an answer!  I had prepared to hear the Lord tell me that I had spent the majority of my childhood misguided.  Instead I learned, once again, that He uses everything to bring Him glory.  His answer made my heart leap for joy because I had already resolved to live by the truth found in Isaiah 26:8.  My mission is to walk in His ways, wait for Him, and to have His name and renown as the desire of my heart.  In short, I am to cheer His Name and His fame.

A few months after that conversation with the Lord, a friend called to ask if I would like to come speak to the ladies group at her church.  She told me that she had described my giftedness to the ladies by saying I am God’s cheerleader!  She asked me if I thought that was funny, but I responded saying it made perfect sense!

Today, I am thinking more on the notion of  being God’s cheerleader… My purpose is to see Him on display and to cheer His victory.  But that’s only part of it.  As any good cheerleader knows, we are most effective when we can elicit the same excitement from the crowd.  I simply am not content to give God all my praise while I turn my back to those who are watching and waiting.  No, I will face you, tell you how great He is, and invite you into this experience of giving perfect praise to a perfect God!

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His Name (Psalm 29:2).

bought the lie?

Think about your life, purpose and passion, and finish this sentence:

I am _________________.

Some of you probably lied in your word choice.  Why do I say that? Because I see with the eyes of God the value of our lives as defined by Him who made us.  He formed us in the womb (Ps. 139:13), and He says of us, “You are my child” (2 Cor. 6:18).  God gives the potential for each person to remain in this identity from the time of conception and throughout all eternity. It is an identity that never changes for the believer.

What is the other option?  We, having been formed by God, can choose to live a life ignoring His desire to be our Father.  We cannot, however, choose to live a life void of God, because to be on this earth is to be in the awareness of the Creator.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse (Rom. 1:20).

Children of God, we need to understand the importance of our identity.  We need to make sure it is not a secondary identity to something else… something lesser.  If we fill in the blank above any other way, no matter what level of passion we feel toward that identity, we have bought the lie.  You and I want only to optimally view ourselves in the same light as our Eternal Father sees us- “I am a Child of God.”

“I am the #1 Giants fan.”      It’s only temporary.

“I am a great cook.”              It’s only temporary.

“I am a Republican.”            It’s only temporary.

“I am a wife.”                         It’s only temporary.

“I am a CEO.”                        It’s only temporary.

“I am a tennis player.”        It’s only temporary.

“I am a Presbyterian.”         It’s only temporary.

The following scripture found in Romans 1:25 probes my heart: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator- who is forever praised.  Amen.”  I don’t know if I can express myself clearly enough, but to define ourselves apart from the truth of God is idolatry.  It is He who formed us out of His desire for relationship.  In that relationship, He formed a covenant to never fail as a Father in bringing us to Himself.  And there is only one way to the Father- Jesus (John 14:6).  Jesus is the demonstration of God’s covenant of love to us.  He gave His one and only Son as the sacrifice for our sin, so that we can declare, “I am a Child of God.”

Let’s not allow anything to take priority over the one true and eternal identity.  To live our lives with our greatest pursuit replacing the pursuit of relationship with the Father, is to find out one day that it was all in vain.  All the other pursuits in life are lesser gods.  May your life and mine be among those to bring glory to the One True God in Heaven who calls us His own.

I am a Child of God.

If you are what you do, then who are you when you don’t?    -GW Dameron

healer

If you have not ever heard or worshiped to the song “Healer,” please check it out!  I’ve tweeted the link to the video, so scroll down to my Twitter in the bottom right hand corner, and if it’s not listed there, go to the Twitter page, and you will find it!  It is an anointed song that ministers faith and a thankful heart.  This has been my experience over the past few years, but Sunday night, I had the great blessing of singing the song lyrics with others in worship led by Planetshakers, the originators of “Healer.”

As soon as we started to sing, I knew something was going to be different.  I went into the Lord’s presence with a resolve to be healed-  in my mind.  Never before have I been inspired to sing the lyrics with a focus on my mind, but lately, I have been bombarded by thoughts from the enemy in his effort to destroy the work of God in and through me.  I am in a battle that requires my constant vigilance concerning the sanctity of my thought life.  So I cried out to the Father with faith and determination to win the battle for my mind.  I believe He is my Healer, and I know that I was set free from destructive thought patterns that very night.

Yesterday, as my son and I revisited special moments from the Sunday night service, he shared with me the history of the song.  Four years ago, the songwriter of “Healer” revealed that he was in need of deliverance from pornography addiction.  It is a very involved story with many details that caused a lot of upset, but the truth of the matter is, he was sin-sick (Psalm 38:4-8) and needed a Healer.

This is when I realized, I worshiped with a fresh approach to this song, (with a focus on my mind) because I was in the presence of those who sang the song with the anointing for such healing.  Planetshakers band members KNOW this song is about deliverance from strongholds that begin in the mind!

Just thought I’d share another taste of God’s goodness today!  Check out the “Healer” video!

grace like an ocean

I just got back from a wonderful four days in the Outer Banks of North Carolina where I spent some time in the refreshing waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  Tame waves, water clarity and extra wide sandbars gave me the confidence to venture out alone.  I was amazed at how close I was to the dolphins and the fishing yachts.  I felt like I was far from the shore and far from other swimmers, but I could still touch the bottom, so I just enjoyed my beautiful solitude and found the freedom to sing praises to my King.

Do you ever think about how incredibly small you are in an ocean?  That’s the image the Holy Spirit is asking me to share this morning in regards to your need and God’s grace.  Found in the anointed song lyrics of “How He Loves,” is this truth:  If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.  My friend, just because your problem is monumental in regards to your ability to tackle it, does not mean that it is also difficult for the Lord.  Even if you feel as though your life adds up to one huge heap of NEED, His grace is like the ocean, and it swamps you a billion times over!

The enemy has been very crafty in leading God’s children to believe that His grace flows like a leaky faucet.  Maybe you’ll get hit by a drop of His goodness, or maybe you won’t.  That was the mind-set of a crippled man at the pool called Bethesda whom Jesus encountered on one of His visits to Jerusalem.  The Lord simply asked the man, “Do you want to be well?”  His trickle-grace belief caused him to reply that if only someone could help him get to the water when there is an obvious stirring from an angel, he would be healed.  He didn’t understand that He was talking with the One who had told the waters of the earth where to draw their limit and let there be land!  Had he known that this is the Son of God, He would have immediately responded, “Yes!  I want to be well!”  There is just no tapping out the God of all grace, and like every other time that Jesus encountered a need, He healed the invalid.  (John 5:1-9)

Consider Psalm 103:1-5-  “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.  Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Five short verses declaring the grace of God.  The word all is used four times.  That’s not a leaky faucet with a trickle of grace, folks.  That’s an ocean of grace!  There is more than enough.  See yourself submerged in that ocean, and declare the above truths over your life.  The imagery and the spoken word will increase your faith, a key component for receiving your miracle.  I see many recordings in the New Testament scriptures of Jesus’ attraction to those with bold faith who sought Him out in their time of need.  He would make comments about their faith, saying things like, “Never have I seen such faith in all of Israel.”  My favorite exclamation of Jesus is one where his  excitement is noted:  “Woman, you have great faith!”   Finally, we repeatedly read, “Your faith has made you well.”

I have been asked by other Christians, “How do you know if it really is the will of God to heal?  How can you explain what happened to ______?”  One thing I know- God’s Word is eternal, and there is no falsehood in Psalm 103:3.  It is His will to heal!  The character of Christ is readily on display in the gospel writings, and He consistently was moved by compassion to heal every need.  He completed the work of securing abundant life for all who are harassed and helpless.  He went to the cross bearing unfathomable suffering, He died, and He rose again.  Your need?  His grace is already made available to you.  Ready to get into the ocean?

like a child

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it (Luke 18:17).

The above quote begs the question, “How then will the sophisticated enter the kingdom of heaven?”  You know, the refined, the cultured, the learned, the “suppress all emotions and appear calm and collected” crowd- How will they enter?

Jesus contrasts the self-righteous and the pure of heart in this passage of Scripture, and immediately I am reminded of King David.  At the time of the successful return of the ark of  God into Jerusalem, David worshipped with all of his might before the Lord.  He led the processional of priests with loud exaltations and dancing. Let’s take a look back at the scene described in 2 Samuel 6.  Michal, David’s wife, scorns him for his abandonment of sophistication and sarcastically says, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when He appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel- I will celebrate before the Lord.  I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.  But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.              (2 Samuel 6: 20-23).

Interesting…  the one who despises another who freely worships His God with child-like abandonment is herself unable to conceive a child.

Imagine that you are at an outdoor concert and a little tot goes up near the stage and dances with all his strength.  What do you and other concert attendees do?  You stop and watch him enjoy the music.  You smile and laugh because his freedom is so attractive.  The refinement that we adults express restrains us, and so we live vicariously through this little one with no inhibitions.

Are you ready to break forth or are you content to remained imprisoned?  I say, break forth!  Let the Holy Spirit move you to sing, dance and shout like King David did.  Let the Holy Spirit move you into the kingdom of God- like a child.

if… you will die, but if… you will live

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:13).

Chapter 8 of Romans deserves the believer’s focus and meditation!  It is the solution to Chapter 7 where we read and empathize with Paul’s weakness of doing what he doesn’t want to do and not doing what he does want to do…  If we stop reading there, it appears all hope is lost and we are stuck in a continual cycle of falling to the temptation of fleshly desires.

What are we to do?  Two things:  1)  ASK the Lord to give revelation regarding any partnership with the enemy’s work of destruction through misdeeds of the body.

There are so many manifestations of gratifications of the flesh, and 2 Timothy 3:2-5 identifies behaviors and heart attitudes that lead to a life surrendered to the flesh:  “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- having a form of goodliness but denying its power.”

2) Put to death the misdeeds of the body.  This is not a work of mental strength, nor is it realized through physical endurance.  It is by the Spirit.  It is the all-surpassing power of the Holy Spirit that enables the believer to see the plot of destruction mapped out for their lives and to turn from it.  We all have cooperated with Satan, but we also all have the same invitation to put to death everything that separates us from LIFE!

Here’s the cherry on the top:  When we get over ourselves, meaning, when we conquer the battle within, we will lead the victorious life that Christ invites us into as stated in John 10:10.  Our goal in life is not to be self-consumed, but Holy Spirit-infused so that we live for the glory of God.

Father, I come to You now to hear You gently speak to my heart and to reveal any misguided partnership with the enemy of my soul.  Reveal to me now any thought pattern that I need to take captive, any attitude and/or behavior that I need to put to death.  I declare right now, by your Spirit, that those former ways no longer are a part of me for I cast them off, out and away from my life and back to the pit of hell from where they came.  In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen!

announcing

I’ve started another book entitled, Your Personal Exodus: It’s Time to Leave that God-forsaken Place, and I’m am thrilled with the season of discovery that is before me.  On the morning that I received the download from the Holy Spirit, I excitedly went to church and shared with Wayne, a friend and youth ministry intern, and he said he will definitely be reading that book.  Bursting with euphoria, I exclaimed, “Everyone will read it!”  This makes me laugh, because I know it is not in myself that I place such confidence- I just get really happy when God chooses to do something special through me.  So here is just a taste of what promises to be a good read when finished:

“Raw dependence upon the Lord is a rare experience because so often we refuse to esteem the plan and provision of God above our own ability to succeed without Him.”

(Sometimes the Holy Spirit gives me a “belly punch” statement of truth.  I write this out of personal experience.  I’m sure I am not the only one who has asked the Father, “Can you give me another chance?”)

Please tuck that little morsel away and savor it for a while… I’ve got approximately 30 chapters to write before Your Personal Exodus can transfer from my hands.  And, say a prayer for me that I keep in step with the Spirit!  God is faithful and He IS the God of second chances!