Naked Beauty

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Imagine for a second you are naked. Completely exposed, Nothing hidden.

How would you react if you were seen like this by a stranger? I’m sure most of us would try to cover ourselves or hide. We may feel shame or embarrassment, awkward or uncomfortable.

On the other hand, how would you respond if you were seen like this by your spouse, someone who knows you intimately? Hopefully, the exact opposite. There’s no shame, awkwardness, or fear of rejection. Rather than hiding, there’s an inviting. This is the beauty of intimacy. 

Now imagine it’s Jesus you are standing before naked. Every deed you’ve ever committed, good and bad, laid bare for inspection. How do you respond? Are you hiding or inviting?

Your answer reveals a lot about your relationship with Him. If you’re hiding, take comfort in this: nothing is hidden from His sight. He sees everything about you, even the dark places, yet still He calls you altogether lovely. The sin isn’t lovely, but who He created you to be is absolutely… breathtakingly… lovely.

And He invites you to draw near to Him.

How do you respond? When we receive His invitation and, in turn, invite Him to come closer with nothing hidden between us, He brings light into all our dark places. This is repentance. And in our vulnerability, Jesus smooths out all our rough places, perfects all our weaknesses, and purifies all our blemishes.

This is your true beauty.

I absolutely love that He sees all of me and loves me anyway. But it’s more than that. The exposing is sanctifying. The revealing is making me holy just as He is holy. The inviting is creating intimacy between me and my Lord.

Nothing is hidden from Your sight.

Wherever I go You find me.

You know every detail of my life.

You are God and You don’t miss a thing.

You know me…

…You’ve memorized me.

Hebrews 4:13

Empowering Word for the Weary…

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If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll try to make you
busy, tired, and/or distracted.

It seems many followers and dedicated lovers of Jesus are just plain old worn-out. Has this been you in this past season? I, for one, can totally relate. Especially as school is coming to a close and life has become super busy.

As I was praying for people battling this weariness, God revealed to me three different pictures. In the first picture, one was stuck in quicksand. The more they struggled, the more they sank. In the second picture, one had been traveling and came up against a large brick wall in their path preventing them from going forward. In the third picture, I saw a marathon runner. They’d been running a very long time and had become thirsty and weary.

You see, the enemy’s tactics are to sink you, stall you, and prevent you from crossing that finish line. But the hope of glory is this: If the enemy is trying so hard to wear you down, then there must be something incredibly amazing for you just around the corner! Also know this: Your making is in the wilderness!

It’s in this season where you are going to realize the supernatural strength of God as you rely upon Him. God is inviting you to a place of rest in Him. REST IS YOUR WORSHIP! As you cease struggling and start abiding in His presence through your worship, you will encounter a fresh anointing from Abba, your heavenly Father. It’s in the ENCOUNTER with God where you will be EMPOWERED to overcome all obstacles. It’s in your worship where you’ll be pulled out from the quicksand. It’s in your worship where hindering walls will crumble. It’s in your worship where you’ll get your second wind to keep pressing on.

What looks and feels like a trap the enemy has confined you in, is really a cocoon God will use to transform you in! And as you break free, you will begin to fly into all the possibilities God has in store for you!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” –Galatians 6:9

5 Steps to Overcoming Adversity and Becoming Unstoppable

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A baby learning to walk doesn’t think, “Well, I tried that and it wasn’t for me.” Instead, they get back up when they fall and, with those chubby, wobbly legs, they try again.

There’s no shame or hurt pride or fear of failure. They see Mommy and Daddy walking and they are determined to do it too. And, boy, once they start walking, all parents can testify that there’s absolutely no stopping them!

These first steps are only the beginning of adversity we encounter throughout our lives. There’s always going to be something in our path that we must overcome. If not, we’re not moving or maturing.

There are times when things get really hard. It’s not a hill in our path, it’s a mountain and we can’t see on the other side to determine whether its worth the climb. So we plop ourselves down and set up camp at the foot of our mountain.

Have you ever experienced this? Are you on a campout right now?

You know, these campouts are relaxing at first. It’s comfortable and easy. We know exactly what to expect day in and day out. But do you ever dream about what’s on the other side of that mountain? Do you wish you had the courage and strength leave your campsite and climb that mountain?

Sure it’s scary. But you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength! Here’s five steps to inspire you to do that thing you are called and chosen to do: 

STEP 1: DARE TO DREAM

Everything starts with a dream. Consider Abraham, a rich man with no heir. The word of the Lord came to Abraham and He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be” (Genesis 15:5).

Holy moly! Not only does God encourage us to dream, He inspires the dream! Not only does God show us the impossible, He equips us to do the impossible!

God has so much planned for your life. You have such purpose and destiny! Before He formed you in your mother’s womb, He knew you. Before you were born, He set you apart (Jeremiah 1:5).

A BIG God created an INCREDIBLE you for ASTOUNDING things!

So, what’s your dream? Are you wanting to start your own business, write a book, get out of debt, have a better marriage, go back to school, start an orphanage? Dare to dream!

STEP 2: TRUST GOD

When your dream is bigger than you, that’s when you know it’s from God. Trust and know that when God declares a thing, it will come to pass. Remember, if it were easy, everybody would do it, but take courage in knowing God has appointed YOU to do it. And whom God calls, He equips!

Man says, “Show me and I’ll trust you.”
God says, “Trust me and I’ll show you.”

Hallelujah! We serve a God who can move mountains!

“I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…” –Philippians 1:6

STEP 3: GET MOVING 

You’ve written the vision and made it plain, now run with it! But don’t expect to get there tomorrow. Even an experienced marathon runner endures much planning and training before race day. Schedule things out and set small milestones along the way. Then relish in that sense of accomplishment you feel when you reach those milestones.

“There are dreamers who don’t work and workers who don’t dream. There’s no hope for either.” –Joyce Meyer

“I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus…forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the size of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:12-14

STEP 4: SEEK GODLY COUNSEL

Talk to somebody who’s already been there and done that. What did they do to get there? Learn from their mistakes as well as from their successes.

Ask God for divine connections and divine appointments. Where would Elisha be without Elijah? Or Timothy without Paul? Find a godly mentor that will speak truth into you even when it’s not what you want to hear; someone who will keep you accountable, pick you up when you fall, and be your biggest cheerleader.

Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. 

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” –Proverbs 19:20:21

STEP 5: BE THANKFUL IN ALL THINGS

I am certain that the key to success is a grateful and thankful heart. No matter where you are on your journey there’s always something to be thankful for.

Thankfulness causes reflection upon things God has helped you overcome in the past. When you praise Him for these things, it builds your faith that He’ll do it again. Your thankfulness is a gift to Him. It turns His hand of favor toward you. It opens closed doors and breaks the power of the enemy.

“Thanksgiving brings us into the manifest presence of God and connects us with what He is doing and saying in the midst of our circumstances.” –Bill Johnson

“Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!” –Psalm 106:1

***

These five steps aren’t the ‘be all, end all.’ But they will certainly nudge you in the right direction. And believe me, the mountain is always worth the climb!

I pray God will reveal His plans to you, bring your dreams into alignment with His, and pull your mountains down low. I pray your heart of thanksgiving will build your faith in Him and make you unstoppable! And I pray for courage to take that first step. He’s got you, dear one! God Bless!

 

Enter in: Remembering the Cross

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Since January, 2014, twelve acres have been under construction in Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. For three years people have pondered what lies behind those walls, blocking off the hidden land from public view. Whatever those walls contained, we knew it was big and exciting, especially since Disney was behind it.

Well, we won’t have to hold our breath much longer. The big reveal is set for May 27, 2017, where Pandora – The World of Avator will become open to the public. Disney describes it as ‘a real world experience‘ where you can ‘interact directly‘ with the rainforest and ‘ride on your very own Banshee.’ I’m excited to say, my family and I will have the opportunity to experience Pandora ourselves in June.

ENTER IN

“And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split…” –Matthew 27:51

For centuries, the Jewish people could only wonder what lied behind the temple veil. Only the high priest could enter beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement to offer a blood sacrifice on behalf of the people. The veil – made of blue, purple, and scarlet material and fine twisted linen (Exodus 26:31) – was roughly 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, and 4 inches thick. It separated the people from the most holy God (Isaiah 59:2).

But when the ultimate offering had been sacrificed – Jesus Christ, Son of the living God  (Hebrews 9:11-14) – the veil was torn from top to bottom. Only the hand of God could have accomplished such a feat. Only the mind of God could have envisioned such a perfect plan of redemption.

All barriers between man and God were removed in one final breath. All people, both Jew and Gentile, have full access into the Holy of Holies. God no longer dwells in temples made with human hands, but now He dwells in our hearts (Acts 17:24).

And now we can have the confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19). We can experience Jesus ourselves and interact directly with the living God! We can approach His throne with boldness and commune with Him intimately!

So, why are you still living in the outer courts pondering what’s on the inside? You have access to His Presence anywhere you can bend your knees in prayer. As we remember the cross this weekend, remember to enter within the veil, where Jesus entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever (Hebrews 6:20).

It is Finished: Remembering the Cross

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“When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.” –John 19:30

What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished!“?

This was not a statement of defeat, but rather a declaration of triumph.It is finished,” three word in English, one word in Greek – “TETELESTAI.” Derived from the greek word “teleō,” it means to complete, accomplish, finish, or pay off. We may use this same terminology to say, “I’ve completed my dissertation paper for graduate school.” Or, “I crossed the finish line of my first marathon.” Or, “I just completed the Dave Ramsey plan and paid off my last debt.

In all these examples, there’s a sense of fulfillment or accomplishment by finishing that which was set out to do. There’s also a sense of purpose and intention in completing the task. It didn’t get finished by accident or by half-hearted effort, but there was a plan that was strictly adhered to from the beginning.

The five illustrations outlined below sum up what Jesus meant when He uttered “TETELESTAI” on the cross:

  1. ILLUSTRATION OF SERVANTS/SONS – A servant would report to their master, “I have completed (TETELESTAI) the work assigned to me.” Or a father may send his son on a mission and the son was not to return until every step of the mission had been completed.
    • John 17:4 – “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do.
  2. ILLUSTRATION OF PRIESTS – A priest would always examine the animals brought to him for sacrifice. Only those animals spotless and without blemish were acceptable for the offering. When one such animal was found, the priest would say, “TETELESTAI!”
    • John 1:29 – “The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming to him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’
    • 1 Peter 1:18-19 – “You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”
  3. ILLUSTRATION OF ARTISTS – Frank Boredom writes, “When the painter or the sculptor had put the last finishing touches to the vivid landscape or the marble bust, he would stand back a few feet to admire his masterpiece, and seeing in it nothing that called for correction or improvement, would murmur fondly, ‘TETELESTAI!'”
    • Hebrews 10:12-14 – “But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from the time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
    • Hebrews 1:3 – “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” 
  4. ILLUSTRATION OF MERCHANTS – During the days of Jesus, when a promissory note was paid, the one holding the note would write, “TETELESTAI” across it. Also, when someone had a debt and it was paid off, the creditor would write, “TETELESTAI” on the certificate of debt signifying that it was paid in full.
    • Romans 6:22-23 – “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 
    • Colossians 2:13-14 – “He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” 
  5. ILLUSTRATION OF PRISONERS – When a Roman citizen was convicted of a crime, he was thrown into prison. A “Certificate of Debt” listing all his crimes was nailed to his cell door so that anyone passing by could know what he had been accused of and the penalty he was to serve. When the prisoner had served his sentence and was released from bondage, the indictment was taken down and the judge would sign the indictment and write “TETELESTAI” across it. The freed prisoner would keep this as proof that his sentence had been served and that charges for those crimes could never be brought against him again.
    • Isaiah 53:6 – “But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”
    • Romans 8:1-2 – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” 

POINTS TO PONDER

  • Are you living like “it is finished” (TETELESTAI)?
  • Are you walking in freedom or still in chains of bondages?
  • Are you trying to earn your salvation or have you accepted it as a free gift?
  • Do you feel shame from your past or do you approach His throne with boldness?
  • Have you forgotten the significance of the cross?

CLOSING PRAYER

Father, I thank You for loving me so much that you would send Your only Son into this world to die so I can live. What love is this, Lord? I stand amazed at Your goodness and mercy and grace. Father, forgive me of all my sins. Wash me clean from all my iniquity. Thank you for removing my sin as far as the east is from the west. Thank you for eternal life. Thank you for Jesus Christ. May I never take the cross for granted. May I never become calloused to the price Jesus paid for me. May I always remember. And may I always share the gospel of the cross with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

Come to a Place of Resting and Soaring and See Where Holy Spirit Leads You!

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If you were to ask Jesus one question what would it be? 

A recent survey published in USA Today asked participants this very question. The highest percentage wants to know: “What is my purpose here?

Wouldn’t we love for God to give us a life planner dated from birth to death outlining all of our goals and destiny appointments for our God-given purpose? Or maybe even a to-do list where we could check things off as we accomplish them?

Hmmm… where’s the fun in that though? The adventure? I think if we had all the answers at our fingertips, a Mapquest route of our life so-to-speak, it would suck the life out of life. Right? Lol! 

There’s excitement in not knowing what’s around the corner. A sense of expectancy stirring inside as we approach something meaningful, something bigger than ourselves.

Jesus Encounter

Recently, I had a vision encounter with Jesus during a Sunday morning church service. Jesus took me to a place I have written about several years ago in a story I titled, “The Journey,” (see story below for reference). We were lying on mossy ground, looking up at the sky, my head resting on His arm.

There was a moment where Jesus said, “Ask me anything you want.” Immediately I sit straight up and one question after another starts spilling from my mouth, mostly about what the future holds for me and my family.

 Jesus responds by gently pulling me back down to that place of rest next to Him, settling my anxious heart. He spoke to my spirit saying, “Look up.” And He pointed to the heavens above. He showed me a big cloud, high in the sky.

He said to me, “Look how the wind, blowing as a gentle breeze, is moving and directing that cloud. That cloud is you and the wind is the Holy Spirit. As long as you stay weightless, not allowing the worries of this world to weigh you down, you will soar high like this cloud.” 

“You do not have to fret regarding where you are going. Just rest and just soar and then the Holy Spirit will direct you to where I want you to go. And when the Holy Spirit fills you, you will shower down upon the land exactly where I’ve positioned you. You will pour out what the Holy Spirit is pouring in.”

“And people will recognize that I am in the cloud. Others will begin following the cloud, just as the Israelites followed the cloud by day, and I will lead them into their promises.”

“All you have to do is rest in Me and soar!”

***

Do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span?

And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.

But if God so arrays the grass of the field, that is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?

…But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.                                                      –Matthew 6:25-34

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The Journey

by: Michelle Halloran

I am on an exciting journey to a thrilling destination. He’s not taking me to the destination by any luxurious method of travel like an airplane or a car. But I’m traveling by foot. He wants me to feel the terrain in the journey, to see the sights along the way, to feel the sun on my back and the elements in the air.

He’s walking with me the whole way, pointing out the flowers in the field we are passing and the deer drinking from the river brook. I may walk through the desert, but He will give me drink so I will not faint. And I may walk through rich vegetation, partaking the fruit and honey of His sweet provision.

Or I may spend days just resting in Him. His hand will be my pillow and He will take this time to whisper His love for me and I will whisper back my love for Him. He may carry me some on this journey when I can’t muster the energy to take another step.

But the journey is beautiful! The journey is exciting! The journey is a time of teaching and great revelation. The journey may be long, but it will be so fulfilling. I may just get so caught up in the journey that I forget about the destination, but He will keep my eyes forward and my feet on the path…

The path that leads me to myself and the bridegroom.

Lifestyle Christianity: Are you Living it or just Professing it?

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Photo via Court and Classroom

Casual Christianity causes casualties.

Think about it. These are those who profess with their mouths they are Christians, but their lives look just like the world they are called out of.

By definition, the word casual means ‘relaxed, loose’ or something ‘done without much thought’ or ‘not regular or constant.’ 2 Timothy 3:5 defines casual Christians as those who hold on to a form of godliness, but deny its power. Do you see how damaging this is, not only as a stumbling block for others, but the biggest casualty is actually the casual Christian himself.

God didn’t call us so we can be casual Christians just barely getting by. God has called us to be lifestyle Christians. Listen! If casual Christianity causes casualties, lifestyle Christianity imparts LIFE!

Jesus is life and when we live for Him we are living an abundant life!

Romans 8:6 says “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” And in 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul says, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.” To ‘be ready always’ is to make Christianity your lifestyle. It’s not just a profession from your mouth, it’s who you are in your heart.

I would love to share with y’all 3 testimonies of lifestyle Christianity from the past couple  weeks. Please know, I’m sharing this not to boast in myself because I’m still a novice in stepping out into evangelism, but I’m sharing this to boast of Christ. I’m sharing this to encourage you to acknowledge the Lord in ALL your ways! You with me?

So, the first testimony occurred at the gym this last Saturday morning. We had just finished an hour and a half class and I was heading out the door when a lady stopped me. So, I recognized this lady from a REFIT® class I used to teach. My last class was a couple months ago, but she goes on to tell me, with tears in her eyes, how much a prayer I prayed for her after one of my classes really had ministered to her.

Now, I vaguely remember praying for her, but I have no recollection at all of what I prayed. But two months later, it was still near and dear to her heart. So much so, it still brought tears to her eyes. Awesome, right!?! Praise Jesus!

All God is looking for is a yielded vessel He can speak, work, and move through. 

The second testimony from this week was from my 8 year old son, Elijah. He’s been reading this book by Shawn Bolz called “Growing up with God” which teaches kids how to hear God’s voice. Well, Sunday, lo and behold! Elijah comes home from church telling us how he heard God speak to him.

The next day, he’s still so excited, he comes home from school and wants to post a video on Facebook sharing his testimony. Y’all, I had been doing laundry all day and still had not taken a shower after my workout that morning. And he’s wanting us to do this video now! Again, we have to be ready in season and out (I think my version that day read, ‘we have to be ready with make-up and without!’ LOL!).

But would you know! His video has had over 7000 views?!? The author of the book picked up Elijah’s video and shared it on his Facebook page. Incredible! This was his very first testimony ever and over 7000 people heard it!!! Psalm 132:12 says, “If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne forevermore.”

Lifestyle Christianity rewards are here and now and forevermore!

The last testimony I’ll share happened just today. I was in the checkout line at my local grocery store and a young girl was checking my groceries. I noticed the bagger boy was kind of flirting with her and she was desperately trying to ignore him. So, to help a girl out, I started making conversation with her. I found out she had just received her Master’s in Occupational Therapy and that she was getting ready to move to out of state to look for a job.

So, I just start praying blessings and favor over her and that God would open up doors of opportunity for her. Side note: do y’all realize, we don’t have to take someone by the hand and close our eyes to pray? Prayer is not a demonstration. God is. Right? So, she’s there scanning groceries and I pray over her just in normal conversation.

After I prayed she stops scanning and starts pointing her finger at me grinning. She says, “That’s how I know you! I knew you looked familiar, but couldn’t figure it out till you started praying.” Trying to add two and two together, I look at her and ask, “So, I’ve prayed for you before?”

She’s gleaming ear to ear and says, “Yes! You prayed for me before I took my last set of exams! And I scored 40 points higher on that test than I did the one before that!”

Haha! Did I remember that? Not at first, but vaguely after she started relaying details. But the point is this:

I want to be known as the woman who prays in the checkout line! I want to be known as the mom with no makeup on who helps her 8 year old share his testimony on Facebook! I want to be known for showing the love of Jesus everywhere I go!

Have I got this all figured out? Absolutely not! But I do know all I need to do is follow the One who does have it all figured out. All it requires is boldness and obedience. This is lifestyle Christianity! Lifestyle Christianity imparts LIFE! And this is living, y’all!

This is living!!!