faith

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter 8, The Real Fight, part I

One of the greatest lessons I learned upon my return to Christ February 2000 was that my fight is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities and the evil in heavenly places. Wow, what a revelation for me! I no longer had to fight for what’s mine, no longer did I need to justify myself (past, present or future); no longer did I need to beg people to realize the life-altering transformation that was happening to me. There was no longer a need to defend my honor because the only honor worth defending was that of Jesus, the Christ. The only way to defend His name was to live righteously, holy, humbly, and with utter denial of self.

I now know that, if I have an enemy, it is not the person but the evil behind their actions. Knowing this basic truth of where my enemy actually lies (in the spirit-realm), I can rest knowing Christ is the only proper weapon of mass destruction. No more do I need to hate anyone, be bitter against an oppressor, be angry and vindictive against someone who has broken my heart, and so on. In fact, by identifying the real enemy, I have the utmost mercy for the offender. I can easily pray for those who curse me, bless those who hate me, and give to those who steal from me. No more do I weary myself over those whom I love that are walking in bondage in some form or fashion.

Once it really hit me and buried itself in my spirit that it is absolutely no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me, it changed the entire paradigm of my existence and how I view everything, good and bad. All too often God’s people battle fellow man, for whatever myriad of reasons, and in the process they weaken themselves in all the wrong ways. They stress and strive in their natural man to convince people they need to repent when, unknowingly, they turn people away from that very Christ because of their level of stress, anxiety, nagging, control and manipulation. Love changes people. Rest and peace in the midst of any chaos is proof positive of Christ’s reality.

Fighting one another, constantly in battle with friends, family, co-workers, enemies, or whomever, is not the path to freedom – for you or for them. As we will discuss later, the work of God is complete through Jesus. Since Jesus’ completion of defeating Satan and death, we have no fight, only to surrender to the One who is already victorious. At the risk of oversimplifying, this is the honest truth. I’ve learned (and continue to learn) how to daily surrender people and situations. In so doing, I have rest even when I don’t like what I see or feel. I battle, but only through releasing the blood of Jesus in each and every climate I encounter.

For example, if I’m praying for an addict, I pray this way: “Father, in the name of Jesus, I stand in the gap for __________. I pray for Your blood to cover __________ from the top of his or her head to the soles of his or her feet. By Your power, I thank You that they are delivered from the hand of the enemy. Allow Your righteous right hand to cover them in their weakness. I thank You that Your hand is not so short it can’t reach where they are. By Jesus’ blood, I command the demonic spirits and the generational curse of addiction to be loosed from their assignment over __________.” This is releasing the blood of Jesus and casting your cares upon His shoulders. You cannot carry it.

In fact, because I have weakened myself unto death, I recognize a dead man cannot battle – he’s dead. If I’m dead (metaphorically speaking), Christ, who is my new life, causes me to be victorious even when I cannot see, taste, hear or feel it. It’s done. My warring is through the blood of Jesus, not the flesh; it is not of self-power but of Christ’s. My battling comes with ease in spirit, even when it isn’t necessarily easy for the outward man.

Learning how to battle the enemy through spiritual warfare versus fleshly warfare is a phenomenal element I was missing all my years growing up in a standard denominational church. First, one must begin with taking control of self and all the worldly thoughts that flood our minds day in and day out.

***

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12, NAS).”

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20, NAS).”

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him (James 1:12, NAS).”

 

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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It’s been 7 ½ weeks since I last wrote because Sophia has been very ill. Shortly after the April 4th blog, she was admitted into the hospital 6 days; it is 2 hours away making the struggle a bit more intense. Test after test, lots of pain for Sophia and many trips back and forth to her specialists (also 2 hours away), they ruled out leukemia and Crohn’s disease, to which I am eternally grateful. Notwithstanding, we’re awaiting other tests to figure out, not only what it isn’t, but what it is. We go to her endocrinologist next week to explore other issues.

In the midst of it all, I must admit, I became wearier than ever before, spirit, mind and body. So much so that, on one occasion when my dad called and said “There are a lot of people praying for her”, the thought crossed through my mind, “for whatever good that’ll do”. I was shocked that even entered my mind, truly. I am a person of faith, nay, great faith. Christ is my life through and through and I make no bones about it. Regardless, that vile thought of faithlessness flitted right in and right back out. At that moment, I realized just how out of spiritual sync I had become. There are times in this life which, left unattended, have the power to utterly crush us. Watching your child in pain 24/7 years on end is one of those times. However, when I heard those words in my own mind, it called me to take notice of my spiritual condition.

Upon further investigation, I found I had been excessively agitated, frustrated and altogether ill at ease all the while begging God, pleading to Him to heal my child. At that moment, I became aware of the ponderance of the situation. I am well aware that, when someone is begging God for anything, they have either lost sight of the nature of God or they never grasped it at all. I was the former. It was then I positioned myself to repent, recalibrate my relationship with Christ and move forward in power and confidence in His purpose.

Our God, the Great I AM, is loving, kind, longsuffering, forgiving and merciful, among many other astounding characteristics. As His child, His bride, His ambassador, I know without question I never have to beg. I am to function in obedience which lends itself to His authority so as to utilize His power in any situation. If when I am not seeing things alter immediately while spiritually sound, I can rest in His ultimate plan. Before the foundation of the Earth, God devised a perfect plan for my life, Sophia’s life, and the life of every human ever to enter the Earth. I trust that plan. I believe in the greater heavenly good no matter how things feel or appear in the moment.

 

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

II Corinthians 5:7: We walk by faith, not by sight…

Romans 5:3-5: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

When All My Strength Has Failed

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Chapter 7, Content in Weakness, part II

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (II Corinthians 12:10, NAS).”

“For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God (I Corinthians 2:2-5, NAS).”

“We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor (I Corinthians 4:10, NAS).”

***

Most people, including the majority of mainstream Christians, view strength and weakness incorrectly. Even the most devout of believers think they can somehow be strong enough to overcome their dilemmas with working or praying harder when all that is required is rest. We seem to perceive weakness as bad and fleshly strength as good. At the heart of the matter, that thinking is backwards.

Above we read in several texts that only in our weakness can the strength of Christ prevail through us. It is when we are strong in the earthly sense that we, inadvertently, block the power of God. For me, it wasn’t until life went terribly wrong and my own strength failed that I was able to see God for the first time with clarity and intimacy. It wasn’t until I was stripped of family and friends that I was able to say, “I cannot do this, this thing called life.” Growing up in a common denominational church, I was certain I had great spiritual maturity by the time I graduated high school. It was because of this warped perspective that I could not hear the voice of God or receive His admonishment or direction.

I didn’t think I was boasting; I merely saw it as a fact that I was mature. After all, I was no less mature than the spiritual “elders” surrounding me. As it turned out, we were all spiritually weak because we thought ourselves so strong and wise. As we read above, our faith definitively and without question cannot reside in the wisdom of men. Our only strength comes from recognizing our irreversible weakness. When I think I’m something or somebody, I fail to see Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection abiding through me.

Paul writes in I Corinthians 4:10, “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor.” This man was anointed of God to write the majority of the New Testament, yet he made himself a fool for Christ’s name’s sake. Too many want to boast in their righteousness, power, strength, authority, ability, or things of the like and, in so doing, they miss the power, presence, strength, authority and the glory of Yahweh.

Weakness is the best place to be if you want to experience the move and presence of Yahweh. When God’s people begin to understand and accept this simple concept, we will be better equipped and “well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” People throughout denominational churches proclaiming the power of God are still operating with the power of their flesh and don’t realize it. They may have good intentions but by utilizing their natural strength, they’re omitting God. Often people are operating in soul-power as was used by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. I discussed this in detail in Looking for God, so I won’t elaborate here. Holy Spirit power ruling all our natural abilities and soul is the only power from which God’s people should draw. I highly recommend Watchman Nee’s book, The Latent Power of the Soul for further insight on this subject.

 

 

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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I’m baffled it’s already been three weeks since last I blogged, but that’s how it goes when you have a child who is perpetually dealing with various illnesses. I’m writing today just to share my heart. I think, no, I know there is a misconception floating around that those who are followers of Christ are never down, never upset, bothered, or affected by their surroundings. As a Christian author and minister, I teach with voracity how to overcome the obstacles of life and I purpose to live that which I preach to others.

Notwithstanding, people of the deepest levels of faith have bad days. Just because we function in absolute trust in the Lord does not mean we’re bubbly and overflowing with positivity like we live in a bubble. The bottom line is, there are days I cry or rather, days I want to cry but literally have no opportunity to do so. There are days when I am just shy of being overwhelmed by the situation. Case in point, Sophia has been throwing up 11 or 12 weeks to date. In that time, I’ve attended multiple meetings with the school, an attorney, doctors, and the superintendent in the attempt to fight the school system so as to keep them from calling truancy (which was successful), dealing with losing our insurance due to Michael having lost his job of 20 years the end of December, attempt to pay bills with money we do not possess because his new job won’t render any real money until May, run back and forth to MUSC (2 hours away) for multiple doc appointments, run a household as well as minister to others.

With all that, I have zero time with my husband – ZERO. Frankly, I miss him. He’s working long hours so as to build a sales clientele and, by the time he comes home, we try to spend time together as a family and then everyone passes out. We have lost all our saving paying for doctors and medication along with the loss of his job. In our nearly 16 years of marriage, we have had 1 vacation and that was a trip to the beach with two two-year-olds…not what I would call a vacation as that is a lot of work! Life is hard enough with a normal setting with healthy kids, but life with a chronically ill child – I have no words. I cannot properly express the exhaustion, sorrow, and altogether madness of dealing with the day to day. No one could possibly understand other than someone in these shoes.

Here is the “so what?” No, we are not to remain in a funk or depression as that is not of God. We are not to spread our sorrows to any listening ear. Yes, we are allowed days where we can admit to the difficulties. Confess there is a present struggle to someone you can trust who won’t be judgmental and will lend godly counsel as needed. Sometimes we simply need a friendly ear and prayer.

God is faithful. God is good and great and kind and merciful. Above all, God is loving. Knowing this, I am sustained. Knowing this, I am at peace. Knowing this, I can push through the worst of days. Knowing this, I maintain the Living Hope, which is Jesus Christ. Knowing this, I can allow myself a moment to cry or even a moment to be frustrated without beating myself with guilt for having a bad moment. The best of people can have the worst of days. Cut yourself some slack and then allow the hand of God to raise you in spirit, soul, body and mind. He is faithful.

I Peter 1:3-4: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.

When All My Strength has Failed

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Chapter 7: Content in Weakness, part I

No Shame in Weakness:

“So the last shall be first, and the first last (Matthew 20:16, NAS).”

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God (II Timothy 1:8, NAS).”

“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:13, NAS).”

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God (I John 3:21, NAS).”

***

There have been times in the last many years with all the suffering we’ve endured with mine and Sophia’s health that the “righteous” have shunned me. At my weakest, they accused me of hidden sin, unrepented sin, demonic oppression, and more. I knew I had “done all” as directed in Ephesians 6:13 so I didn’t allow myself to buckle in shame at their negative words.

Spiritually, we prayed, declared healing, repented of everything we knew, bound away spirits, released Holy Spirit, pleaded the blood of Jesus, broke generational curses, anointed with oil, and had elders lay hands in prayer. Physically, we took the proper meds and saw the appropriate doctors. I literally knew of nothing more to do spiritually or physically. When the accusations came and “friends” departed, I stood unashamed before God, man and demons. God had previously spoken to me of the forthcoming period of trials and false accusations so I was as prepared as one could be. All I could do was stand unashamed expecting great and mighty things on the other side of the suffering.

I also knew God was not allowing this to be quickly removed so as to temper, humble, and refine me and my household. I refused to be ashamed though there were weak moments when I questioned, “Am I doing all I am called to do in order to expedite healing?” Though I have never been prone to guilt and shame, believe me, there were moments when false accusations would bear down on me trying to make me go into hiding from embarrassment.

The Father always kindly reminded me this life offers plenty of trials and tribulations, but they are God’s tools to refine, perfect, and grow us in love, faith, perseverance and hope. As I mentioned in chapter three, perception is reality. With a heavenly reality, I could with ease pull myself together and refuse the condemnation coming from the brethren. I stand patiently in His Word knowing the first will be last and the last will be first. In other words, the last are the weak but, when God raises them from their weaknesses strengthening them as upon the wings of eagles, they will become first. Don’t let shame hurl you into depression. Firmly and confidently expect the unexpected because God displays His goodness when it seems most unlikely and impossible.

If my heart does not condemn me before God in whatever is happening, I do not need to allow condemnation from man to overwhelm me. I am not ashamed of the Gospel and I purpose to walk in all His ways. Knowing the fact that Holy Spirit forewarned me of treacherous weather which would be a lengthy process to navigate, I reject shame, guilt and condemnation. That which God is orchestrating, I will not allow anything or anyone to knock me over in guilt or feelings of inadequacy. I take up the armor of God and stand against the currents of life. Suffering of many forms comes to all who stand with the Lord. Keep your heart clean and the rest will resolve itself in due season.

With a God-visual, I can weather any storm and not be shamed in my weakness. I don’t have to buckle when naysayers accuse me unjustly. I check myself, then I stand unwaveringly knowing the excellent outcome is not only forthcoming, it’s already complete in the spirit-realm. My faith is in the Father. In fact, because God prophesied this was coming, I can recognize the growth which was required in me. The only way to usher such growth was through the stormy gale. For where I am weak, He is strong. No one can become content in weakness unless there is weakness present. Content means no shame and no pride; there’s only ease in the process.

 

When All My Strength has Failed

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Chapter 6: Becoming Base and Foolish, part II

We’ve seen famous athletes who are suddenly taken out of the game because of an injury and they’re completely lost having no idea how to be anything other than an athlete. We’ve witnessed the filthy rich turned to rags for one reason or another. The actual foolish, at the core, are those who think themselves wise. The authentically wise are those who place no value on anything of themselves. If you are in a situation where you have come to the end of yourself, recognize God is at hand. He earnestly desires you to humble yourself before Him so He may bless you doubly. Don’t think yourself so great that, in your weakness, you believe God has wronged you. Do not boast in your greatness assuming God owes you something.

Don’t despise becoming the base things of the Earth. It is there you will find the righteous right hand of God and all His mercy and grace. With everything my family has endured with mine and Sophia’s physical maladies, along with diminished wages from Michael’s job over the years, I am continually humbled to witness and experience first-hand the awesomeness of such an amazing God. It isn’t that Yeshua immediately manifested His healing, which I believe will happen any day, the restoration of finances, which I believe will happen any day, or that everything suddenly became perfect. No, it is a matter of watching God produce the impossible! Countless amazing God-only things have happened along the way. They confirm always that God is God; that He is in love with me, with my family, with my enemies, with the naysayers, and with His magnificent creation that I could never deny His sovereignty.

This is how foolish I am and I praise God for it! I believe. I expect. I wait upon the Lord when people or circumstances would shout loudly, “There is no God!” God avenges those who make themselves base for His name’s sake. those who lose everything and anything so as to gain eternal life.

Lose to Gain:

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11, NAS)

Philippians reads, “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus.” Knowing Christ is only attainable through loss – total loss – because it isn’t about more information, it is about intimacy with the Savior. There is nothing more valuable in this universe. One can only know Christ Jesus through death just as it was for Adam. To know, in the deepest sense of the word, is to to immerse completely into something or someone. Comparing it to human relationships, when a person falls deeply in love, one can say they die to themselves or they lose themselves in the other person. They “lose” themselves for another.

The person in love will do anything to get the object of their affection to reciprocate their love. Being in love is often referred to as painful. “Love hurts,” people say. It is painful because those who were once very independent become dependent on the other person. People have been known to commit literal suicide when their love is not returned, and human love pales in comparison to the pure love of Yeshua. We need to be dependent upon Him and independent of self. This is “becoming base”; becoming as nothing so as to gain everything of value.

Counting everything you are and possess as loss is, hands down, the epitomy of becoming as nothing for the sake of Christ.

Encouragement for Parents with Chronically Ill Children

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EncourageWordleCaring for a chronically ill child requires dealing with the school system. I must say that, after six years of Sophia being on homebound, it is still very tricky to handle the school without unleashing a merciless verbal assault on someone; this would come easily to my natural man. It isn’t just the home office but each and every teacher as they are all different people with varying personalities and modes of operation. This year, Sophia’s freshman year, has been the worst dealing with the homebound committee. I have battled against a homebound assigned nurse giving false information leading to the rejection of homebound tutoring as well as false information making things appear one way when they were altogether another. I have had to battle all school year just to attain the proper accommodations for Sophia so as to be able to accomplish her work while in and out of school.

As recently as last week, I had to make a call to both the superintendent as well as a friend on the school board. The homebound board was refusing to grant Sophia homebound hours when she was out three straight weeks. They cited that, because her days were previously excused, they would not accept the newly submitted backdated homebound form so as to get the necessary tutoring to cover those three weeks. When I finally received a call from the head of homebound after she must have received a call from a superior, her response was, “Oh, so all you need are the homebound services? We thought you were requesting her days to be doctor’s excused and they already were.” This was a lie as she knew exactly what I was requesting. Honestly, I cannot for the life of me understand why the school system uses the motto “no child left behind” when they’ve proven time and again they couldn’t care less about my child or her education. There are times over the last 6 years where I have lost my temper in utter frustration listening to them flim-flam their way through the litany of excuses as to why they cannot provide this or that. They love looking good on the surface but, underneath, in my opinion, it’s all about reputation and money.

I say this to say that walking with God and having to confront the school system is challenging at best. As if it isn’t enough having to wrangle with the doctors and their ever changing assessments of what’s going on any given occasion and having to care for my sick child knowing that, in the moment, I can’t do anything to ease her suffering, insult is added to injury having to deal with the school threats of calling truancy if I don’t immediately comply to their system.

I find myself having to regularly and specifically apply God’s Word to my life, my attitude and my overall posture when dealing with the school system at large. I perpetually call myself to accountability so as to not lose my tempter with someone merely delivering a message. I must remind myself they are people too; that the individuals with whom I am dealing are just that – individuals – they are not the system itself. I long to be perfect as Christ is perfect, but there are moments when I lose sight of Holy Spirit, if even for a moment, and have to force myself into obedience to Christ. I surrender each instance to God so I do not become what I hate – a fleshly, worldly, loudmouth mom going off on a tangent. As tempting as it is and as easily as that would come to my natural man, I must resist.

These are some of the lessons within the lessons drawing me closer unto the bosom of God. Choosing to resist temptation at all costs is vital. Though I fail from time to time, God is faithful. I remind myself all things DO work together for good for those who love God and I am in love with God.

James 1:13-16: When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear bothers and sisters.