devotions

Famous or a Follower?

1 in 4 millennials believe that they will be famous by the time they're 25. This is a sobering statistic that I read in Rebekah Lyons' Instagram feed a few weeks ago as she quoted a data point from a panel at Q Commons. The thing that is most alarming to me about this data is that it is just as prevalent inside of the church as it is outside of it. With the level of comparison to other's lives that we have at our fingertips these days, it's easy to lose sight of our purpose and get caught up in wanting to be known. Our gifts, talents, abilities and calling are irrevocable (Romans 11:29), but they are still just that - gifts. We didn't create them, nor were we the giver of them. We simply received them from God, which now makes them our stewardship responsibility to ask Him what He wants us to do with them and who He wants us to become to carry the weight of them. A lot of times that's a moot point. 

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We become enamored by our abilities, or that of others, and then usually without conscious intent, the gift and calling become our identity instead of wrapping our identity in the One who gave the gift and calling in the first place.

When Jesus asked Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow Him, He wasn't enamored with their gift and talent in the area of fishing, nor was He projecting on them their impending future abilities to raise the dead, preach, prophesy, start a church, or heal the sick. He was interested in one thing - their ability to FOLLOW HIM. They didn't set out to become famous men who were known as Jesus' disciples... Their hearts were stirred and at once they chose to FOLLOW him.

Our true teachability lies within a heart that is willing to follow Jesus anywhere, anytime, no matter the cost.

Matthew 4:18-22 NLV

18 Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee. He saw two brothers. They were Simon (his other name was Peter) and Andrew, his brother. They were putting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. 19 Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” 20 At once they left their nets and followed Him.

21 Going from there, Jesus saw two other brothers. They were James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were sitting in a boat with their father, mending their nets. Jesus called them. 22 At once they left the boat and their father and followed Jesus.

My heart breaks when I watch truly gifted and talented people unwilling to FOLLOW Jesus anywhere and do anything He's asking them to do. Hey, I've been there! A lot of times we are actually trying to lead Jesus (or others in our world) to what we want and desire and then asking Him/them to bless it or make it happen. Sometimes we'll even say "God said" and demand that our dream come true now, without walking through the due process to become the person that could even sustain or walk in the God dream. Let's all take note and learn from Joseph (Genesis 37) so that we don't have to make our own mistakes! Prematurely shared dreams can (not always) plant seeds of immaturity in our hearts that can grow and create foes that lead us into seasons we never saw coming. Instead, it's wise that we ponder certain things in our hearts like Mary the mother of Jesus did right after she had given birth in Luke 2:19. I can't be certain, but I can imagine that she was wondering what her life was about to look like as she raised the Son of God.

The Rich Young Ruler is a heart breaker. He seemingly did everything right his whole life except this one thing - actually choosing to die to himself, let go of everything and FOLLOW Jesus. He was invited into relationship with the Savior of the world, and then walked away because the cost was too great to follow. He did count the cost; he just wasn't willing to pay it.

Mark 10:17-22 NIV

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’[a]”

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

There is a cost to following Jesus, and so often we're not willing to pay it because we treat God like our genie in a bottle. Simply put, it does take sacrifice. It does take us picking up our cross and following Jesus as we die to ourselves and live our lives in Him. We want God to bless our good deeds but we refuse to live a life of getting to know Jesus, following Him wherever He leads us no matter how uncomfortable or unglamorous it may be. We seek another "prophetic word" without stewarding the ones that have already been given to us. We want the prophetic word to come to pass in our lives without asking God what He wants to do in us to sustain it, or who He wants us to become to walk in it.

Out of the 12 disciples, how many can you name? Now if you named all 12 off the top of your head, you're my hero. Have you ever noticed of the 12 disciples that not all of them got a book named after them in the New Testament? How many of them were Jesus' closest friends? The answer is 3. Not all 12, but 3. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that not all of them were famous, or even well known.  Not all of them even got to see the most vulnerable and powerful moments in Jesus' life like the Transfiguration or raising Jairus' daughter from the dead. But each and every one of them had met Jesus and they were important to Him. The knew Him and more importantly He knew them. He had called them by name to follow Him and somehow they knew He was worth following to the death.

How willing are we to follow Jesus even if we're anonymous for the rest of our lives? How honest can we really be in answering that question? Can your gift, talents and abilities still be used if no one sees or pats you on the back?

I get it, I really do - we want to be important, noticed, loved, significant... We want our lives to matter. But when we meet, and I mean truly meet and connect with The One who loves us in all of our anonymity, pain and shame - we'll follow Him to the grave because He thought we were important enough to die for.

So who's this really about? You, or Him?

Do you want to be FAMOUS or a FOLLOWER of Jesus?

Moving WITH Compassion

It's one thing to have compassion. It's another thing to MOVE with it. When compassion is awakened in us, do we just allow it to produce feelings within us, or do we allow it the power to move our hands and feet towards it's intended direction?

Compassion fatigue is real with so much pain up in our face and accessible on our electronic devices at all times, but I would actually call it compassion disassociation.

Disassociate: In psychology, the term dissociation describes a wide array of experiences from mild detachment from immediate surroundings to more severe detachment from physical and emotional experience. The major characteristic of all dissociative phenomena involves a detachment from reality, rather than a loss of reality as in psychosis. 

Paul with our Sponsor Child who's name is Ever in Honduras this week
Paul with our Sponsor Child who's name is Ever in Honduras this week

When we detach from our worlds reality to protect our hearts from the pain we see, we risk disassociation and loss of compassion. Even worse is losing the loss of moving WITH the compassion that is placed in our hearts.

Jesus was MOVED WITH COMPASSION. Those 3 words cannot be separated if we are to be effective in our compassion.

Matthew 20:34Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.

Matthew 15:32And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, "I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way."

And right after he felt compassion for the people, he demonstrated through his disciples how they can move with compassion even if they don't have much to give by feeding the 4000 people (plus women and children) with 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish.

So what do we have to give when compassion knocks on the door of our hearts?

Am I perfect at this? Absolutely not. I get overwhelmed just like the person next to me does but sometimes, and I hate to admit it, to a crippling level. I simply don't want to play into the enemies trap by not moving WITH compassion because I'm not sure what to do with my hands. I want to do something, anything really however small or large it may be. He (the devil) would love to see us all cornered, impotent, full of compassion yet unaware of what to do.

A couple of weeks ago after church in our Downtown Community right across from the NY Stock Exchange, my son Zeke and I walked passed a homeless man. We stopped, had a conversation, prayed with him and then went to go and find Alex who is a part of our Liberty City Team. On a weekly basis, Alex invests in a group of men at the NY Rescue Mission so I really wanted to connect them. As we looked for Alex, Zeke - moved WITH compassion, grabbed 3 small apples that were on the table in our lounge and carried them out to this young homeless man. As I watched my son place the apples in his hands, I saw compassion in action. Zeke wasn't thinking, "Well it's only a few apples and not the keys to an apartment, so let's not give them to him." No. He felt compassion and moved on it. Simple.

Compassion: Sympathetic concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

Let's all consciously work on our concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others to MOVE us into action.

Whatever lies before you, ask God what you can do - and then do it. Even if it only looks like 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish. In the hands of God, thousands could be nourished and cared for and you may never know this side of eternity.

Let's not be crippled by compassion, but moved by it.

P.S. 

If you want to do something in regards to the refugee crisis in Syria, you can give here through Messenger International to the A21 Campaign's Freedom Container Project for refugee's at the Greek boarder.

This freedom container is equipped with the following:

Ten water taps Six showers Solar Power LED lighting Mirrors A hot-water boiler Water filter for drinkable water Drying racks for 50 items of clothing Human trafficking prevention information posted throughout the container

Thank you William Booth

Call me strange, but I love a good warning. Especially a warning that opens my eyes and causes me to cry out to God for the solution. This particular "warning" from William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, an honored general who has gone before us, has opened my eyes and won't leave me alone.

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“The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.”  - William Booth - Founder of the Salvation Army

This whole quote is enough for each of us to meditate on until its so deep within us, that we can’t help but be moved to action to see this changed in our lifetime.

When I look around the church today, I do see this. But more than seeing the problem that faces our generation, I see hope. I see the answer. It is in God and His inexplicable love, and it is within you and I. Christ in us the HOPE of glory! We can change this. But we have to wake up.

So often I see Christians who are saved but not free. Saved but unactivated in their faith. Saved but not empowered. Saved but in countless ways tolerating their pain and chains as a normal part of life. Saved but lacking the knowledge or understanding of their God given authority… I see Christians “doing” Christianity without actually following Jesus Christ. We’re willingly following Jesus to heaven, but refusing to get out of our Christian high towers. Instead we're filled with opinions (that we freely give behind the safety of our computers), but often times those opinions lack the knowledge of the word of God, or are void of any action to actually live by the "convictions" we've so freely shared with the world. At times we've hemmed ourselves in with the safety of our Christian surroundings (I've been guilty of this), while we're beckoned to be freedom facilitators that see His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. That my friends is an uncomfortable life... A life truly crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20). One that calls us out to understand our position of “royalty” and authority is given for the sake of others.

"23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." - John 14:23-24 NIV

Notice it says "obey my teaching", not "quote my teaching",  or"know my teaching better than anyone else", it simply says obey, and then the promises follow. We can quote scripture, know scripture, use scripture out of context, have an opinion about scripture, but until we live it and live in it, there is a point of inactivity in our faith. And I would go so far to say that we're acting as disobedient kids.

I want to focus on one part of this quote for this particular article, and that is salvation without regeneration.

Regeneration is to be renewed or restored back to our original purpose. We were never meant to only be saved. Don't hear what I'm not saying, salvation is the point of entry, and the greatest, most mind bending miracle into our new life with Christ to which everything He has is ours. This is the front door into the palace of our new life. This is adoption into the greatest family ever! What a position that we live from!

From the point of salvation, we have a mission of renewal and regeneration of ALL things. First to be renewed and restored in our own lives (because WE ARE a new creation, this is not semantics, it is our reality), and then to facilitate the same thing in the lives of those around us, and the atmospheres we occupy - to be saved AND free, and then give what we have away.

We are each called to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), and see the kingdom of heaven infiltrate earth (Matthew 6:10)whilst we occupy the planet. We don’t just sit here and occupy till Jesus comes back for us, we are facilitators of the freedom and power of the Kingdom of Heaven. And we have been given all authority from Jesus to do so, and are enabled by the gift and the power of the Holy Spirit to execute the mission.

We are at war and we win. So we must fight accordingly.

"There may be breaks between battles but it doesn't mean the war is over. You can take that time between to nap, or, you can take it to re-equip. Victory is yours, it's just a matter of how long you want the battle to go on before you take it." - Kris Vallotton, Spirit Wars

Salvation WITH regeneration is our responsibility. Satan will try everything in his power to usurp (take a position of power or importance illegally or by force) what has been freely given to you. Don't allow him the pleasure.

If you're okay with going to war, freedom and restoration are yours. And then you have the privilege of giving it away to all you meet.

So thank you William Booth for going before us and opening our eyes. May we take heed and make an eternal difference on earth while we're alive.

So you want to be fruitful?

Fruit... Maybe we don't consciously think about it too much, (or at all), and maybe this sounds like a statement from Captain Obvious, but fruit is a sign of health from a life giving tree or vine. We landed on the island of Capri this last Saturday, and as we drove up to our hotel, there were vineyards and lemon trees everywhere. It's breathtakingly magical here, so much so, that it seems as though we were dropped straight into a romantic movie set. Our journey took us up the island to 'Ana Capri', and as we drove, on the side of the road, at fruit stands, shops, and entry ways into many of the restaurants, were trays of some of the biggest lemons I have ever seen in my life - some of them nearly the size of my head! Everything here seems to be in season, and flourishing beautifully.

When you or I look at a tree, and see that it's full of fruit in due season, we know it's a healthy tree, planted in good soil, pruned at the right times, watered, cultivated and nurtured by its owner. We are much the same as a fruit tree, or vine - either bearing fruit in the right seasons, or drying up and withering away due to lack of connection to the TRUE vine. If the latter is your portion, it's critical to ask yourself just what you are connected to.

Success in life = Fruit. Not achievement, big numbers, status, being known, or even faithfulness. Yes, some of those things might be considered fruit, but hopefully, our achievements, status, and faithfulness (ect.) to Jesus bring the right, lasting fruit. If we are truly successful in life, we will be known as, and be remembered once we're gone, as true disciples of Jesus Christ, and the proof will be in the pudding, or in keeping with the analogy, the fruit. You will live a life with nothing to prove, and nothing to hide, whilst enjoying the process of being a follower of Jesus Christ.

In John 15, Jesus draws this parallel as an illustration to make it clear and obvious to us how to bear fruit in our lives.

John 15:1-8 NIV 

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

We all want to bear fruit, but when the Kingdom process commences, we want to bear fruit another way... Or Maybe that's just me?!?! We can see from John 15 that it's a choice to remain. Remain in Christ, in the true vine... Not in our thoughts, or our safe places, but in Christ. And when The Father starts the cutting off and pruning process, take it as a compliment. He wants MORE for you. He even cuts back the good stuff so you can bear MORE of it. And if  certain things are being cut off of your life, take a look at them. Maybe they weren't bearing fruit in the first place. Our Father knows what we need, when we need it. We just have to trust Him and trust the process.

Stop for a moment and take a look at the fruit in your life? Do you see any? Are you aware of your season? Are you being pruned to bear more fruit in certain areas? Are things being cut off that aren't bearing fruit?  What have you been remaining in, or connected to? Because apart from Jesus you can do nothing, and He strongly says that the things that we do apart from Him are like a branch that  withers and is thrown into the fire. Harsh, but true. So often, we remain in the muck of our situation rather then repent, turn from our ways, and step back into the arms of Jesus. Maybe we're remaining in the negative prophesies that someone spoke over our lives that are just lies, and it's time to come back into agreement with the truth. Sometimes we remain in, or stay connected to people or environments that don't cultivate truth in love, and instead we're seeing bitterness, un-forgiveness and anger as a withering branch in our lives. Maybe there are thought processes you are allowing to germinate in your mind, that are becoming unhealthy thought patterns, that have sunk into your heart, and come out of your mouth as a belief system.

I would say, if any of the above are true, it's time to make some changes...

  • It's time to take thoughts captive and make them obedient to the mind of Christ. Even moment by moment if need be... But be transformed inside and out by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2) You have to consciously do this.
  • It's time to trust God and allow things to be cut off that we have been holding onto, that have caused a withering effect in our lives.
  • It's time to change our relationships and environments to be connected to the one and only true vine - Jesus Christ.
  • It's time to come into agreement with the truth of the word of God, and break agreement with lies that we have allowed to become a part of who we are. Lies are not our inheritance. Everything that Jesus has is. (John 16:15)
  • It's time to be pruned in areas where maybe we've become prideful, because of the harvest of fruit that we have already seen, and God is saying... "There's MORE!". Pruning brings humility, and allows us once again to see who The Farmer is that cultivates our lives.

Why is bearing fruit so important? Why does this even matter?

"This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15:8 NIV

Because it shows who's we are. It glorifies our Father in Heaven without us even speaking a word. Those in your family, workplace, neighborhood, in your sphere of God given influence will see what a TRUE disciple looks like, and will want to have what your having.

Your Worth

How many of us have struggled with our self worth? Since I can't get a show of hands, I'll answer for you; all of us. Last night our family had a movie night. We watched Frozen (I mean, how could you not? It was released on DVD yesterday!), sang our hearts out as if we were in the cast, all whilst eating ice cream and tons of popcorn. All of that was fun, but the moment that got me was after the credits had already begun to roll. Paul swept Finley up into his arms and danced with her... He danced with her like they were the only two people in the room. She giggled with delight as her handsome prince swayed to the music, kissing her and holding her tight. This is one girl that will always know her worth.

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andiandrew.com

Maybe for you, growing up things were less then perfect and this image strikes a cord in your heart that brings pain. The truth is, things are less then perfect in our house, but our kids know that they are loved.

Love is the framework that we live our lives in. It's what we surround our kids with, so that they know even if they screw it all up, or if we as their parents screw it all up, our lives still fall in the framework of love to be mended and put back together. Love is our motivator, love compels us to forgive one another, it brings understanding and compassion to each other. It brings about miracles... And ultimately love connects us to God, because God is love.

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andiandrew.com

I wonder what framework you live your life in? Is it love, or is it fear? Is it hatred or shame? Is it self doubt, or pity? Or is it striving and laboring for your worth? Maybe you find yourself grasping for your worth in what others say about you, or to you, about your accomplishments or achievements? I tell you what, you will wear yourself out striving for the rest of your life if you can't just find rest in God's love.

His love is readily available to heal you, restore you, deliver you, save and rescue you, and make you whole. His love is here right now waiting for you to let go of your own ways and find yourself in His. His love is relentless, unswerving, uninhibited... His love is after you.

His love is so un-relenting that He wasn’t content to sit on His throne in heaven and watch you be tortured by the enemy. He had a battle plan that would destroy the works of the devil. He put skin on and became like us.

John 1:14 ESV14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

And the Message version puts it this way:

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andiandrew.com

John 1:14 MESSAGE“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”

We've got to try to wrap our mind around the fact that Jesus left his heavenly throne to become like one of us. God in flesh. He was born into adversity and trial in the wilderness because his parents were rejected for lack of room at the inn. Life was not easy for Him, and it didn’t start out easy. It wasn’t the cushy life of a king as many would suppose for the savior of the world. The first place He was to lay down his head was a manger full of straw... a place where animals came to eat their food. It wasn’t a sterile, clean immaculate environment fit for a king... it was full of sheep’s dung and dirt... He bowed low and humbled himself to become human, to be like one of us... The word became flesh and dwelt among us... He understands us: He felt the pain of loss when his friend Lazarus died, He actually wept in the moment He stood outside his friends tomb. He celebrated at feasts, hung out with the rich and the poor, the sinners and saints. He was tempted and He overcame. He felt rejection as one of his closest friends, turned on Him. He felt grief as He prayed in the garden asking God if there was another way to save all of humanity, yet still went through with it and suffered pain on the cross for the joy that was set before Him... Us. He was fully human and fully God.

He completely understands you, feels you, gets you, knows your struggles, trials and pain… Will you let Him in?

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andiandrew.com

Amy Carmichael said - “There is no need to plead that the love of God shall fill our hearts as though He were unwilling to fill us... Love is pressing around us on all sides like air. Cease to resist it and instantly love takes possession.”

He is willing... He is waiting.

The truth is Jesus love for you is un-relenting now matter how you feel, what you do, or where you go. You are the object of His love, the apple of His eye, the joy that was set before Him. You are the reason He lived, died and rose again. His love is on the move...

Just like this picture, God wants to heal you, pick you up in His arms, spin you around and tell you how much He loves you. It is already finished in His mind, He only waits for you to reach out and say you want it.

Cease to resist His love... And watch it take possession of your heart.

You're worth it. 

A day with Joyce

When I woke up monday, it was just like any other day. I had a cuppa coffee, read my bible, snuggled, wait… More like wrestled in my bed with my kids, ate breakfast, and then took my babes off to school in the snow.  Yes, in this outfit…. To Jesse’s absolute disgust! I was cold, so I put pants on, and a hoodie over my night gown and voila! I look like a million bucks! I am handing out fashion tips right now (I mean it is the end of fashion week) and that one was for free...

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andiandrew.com

Sometimes I think he’s a teenager trapped in a 6 year olds body. He looked up at me with his face all crinkled and said…

“Mom, whos taking us to school?” Desperately hoping I’d say his father.

“Well... I am.” I said with a big cheesy grin just waiting for him to give it to me…

“Are you wearing that?”

“Um, YEAH. I thought your friends might think I was really cool.” Of course after saying this line, I followed it up with a very awesome dance move to display the beauty of my outfit. I just can’t help it.

In the greatest teenager voice he could conjure up, shaking his head with great disgust; “No mom. No.”

“Well, I am going to wear it (awkward silence), but don’t worry… My coat's long enough to cover it all up.”

“Oh, good.” Relief set in, and my other kids rolled their eyes with smiles on their faces, and then we were happily off to school. Is it just me, or is it just so fun to embarrass them!?!? Or at least pretend I’m going to.

I came hope, played with my Sammy boy, showered, finished packing and got ready to go to West Palm Beach Florida to have a meeting of a lifetime with a woman I’ve looked up to since I gave my life to Jesus. I was preparing to sit in a room with 30 other women from around the USA who would gather and ask Joyce Meyer questions about how she has lived such a breathtaking life thus far. Chris Cain, (her amazingness), organized the whole thing because Joyce is her “Spiritual Momma”, and invited each of us to be invested into by her personally. It truly was building up to be a day I’d never forget.

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andiandrew.com

I brought the beautiful Janelle with me who is just a breath of fresh air to be around.

We jumped on the plane ready to go, and it was your average plane ride. Nothing to report is always a good report when it comes to flights.

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andiandrew.com

Once we landed, we taxied it to our hotel. The moment we arrived, we dropped our stuff, took off our boots and winter gear, put on our flip flops, and ran to the beach just in time to see the sun set.

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andiandrew.com

That night I went to a dinner with some of the other women that were there to meet with Joyce the following day.  I am amazed at what God is knitting together amongst his women in this nation, and on the earth. We live in amazing days… Days that those that went before us dreamt of… And now it’s our turn.

The next morning I was up early and ready to go… Janelle and I had breakfast with some of the girls. It was eggs benedict for me and coffee. One must always have coffee to start the day.

Then into the room with Joyce. Oh my goodness… I pinched myself and it hurt. Officially not dreaming.

To be honest, I’ll never be able to describe how I felt, or what took place. I was just grateful to be there, to have a moment in my life that never in my wildest dreams could I have thought would happen.  She did however start with the most hilarious quote, which is worth sharing. She only found out last week what a ‘selfie” was, and to this she said:

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andiandrew.com

Too funny! Ironic really with my ugly reality selfie up above... (Thanks for making the quote look pretty Rebekah Lyons, stole if from your Instagram feed.)

Every word she spoke was dripping with wisdom and the fruit of a life lived connected to The Father. They are words that I will hold dear and close to my heart all the days of my life. I am still processing the fact that every line she spoke was like a “proverb from Joyce”. Not a word was wasted.  It was so simple, and so profound all in one moment. She is a woman who truly lives what it’s all about.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Six Hours with Joyce, and then it was done. Six Hours that have impacted me and changed me forever. Six hours that I'm determined will bring fruit in my life and not be wasted. Six hours that I am forever grateful for.

Within those six hours I sat sandwiched between two woman that I fell in love with. Rebekah Lyons who lives in New York, (yes!!!), goes to Trinity Grace Church Tribeca, wrote an amazing book called “Freefall to Fly” and was just a part of the first ever IF:Gathering. And Havilah Cunnington, the flipping passionate prophet woman of the earth, lover of all people, from Bethel Redding. I’d have to write a whole article devoted to sitting between those two… Needless to say, divine appointment.

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andiandrew.com

Dinner that night was again filled with wonderful, purposeful conversation with two of my fav ladies Oneka McLellen and Margurite Reeve. Legends… absolute legends. And Chris…Well thanks crazy lady who knows everyone on the planet and just loves bringing us together so we can keep on changing the world. Yeah… Thank you. Sheesh! That night I slept hard, fast, and peacefully. It was a day I will never forget.

Janelle and I were up early the next morning to catch the sunrise and have a quiet time before we were off to the airport and back to the snow. His glory truly did appear before us as the sun came up. Wow. Just wow.

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andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Back to the airport with delays and cute old people everywhere. We could have written a sitcom with everything we experienced at that airport. And then back home to the prize…. My husband, my kids, my church family, and my city to go and live out everything that was imparted.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

There’s a few conclusions I came to sitting in that room with all those phenomenal women and traveling with the one and only beautiful in every way Janelle. Women - we need each other. Men - thank you for loving us and believing in us… We will continue to make you proud and honor you along the journey.  God is doing something so powerful with his women… It’s explosive, it's catching fire. The walls are falling down, we are uniting as one, girded in Jesus, with one cause. The women are rising up. The women have found their voice. The women are free.

And of course the best part of the trip... Coming home to this.

andiandrew.com
andiandrew.com

Series: Control Freak - Article Six

SERIES TITLE: CONTROL FREAKARTICLE SIX: WALKING IN YOUR NEWFOUND FREEDOM

I feel like as I write these "Control Freak" articles, that I am talking about someone else because of the deep changes the continue to take place in my life.

andiandrew.com

andiandrew.com

Remember, this is one step at a time... You’ll look back one day as  you embark upon your journey to freedom and be amazed at what God has done as you consciously align yourself with your new revelation. Once the moment of freedom takes place, you have a spiritual stewardship responsibility to run in the revelation that’s been given. Otherwise, you’ve opened a door to allow “the roaring lion to devour” again. The word says that “the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) After you get free, you have to get good at saying “You may not.”

1 Peter 5:8 AMP

8 Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.

While we were in Africa, we got to watch a lion feeding take place.

[embed] http://vimeo.com/84310983 [/embed]

It was extraordinary and frightening all at the same time. Let’s just say I am glad there was a fence between us and the lions. After we watched the feeding take place, our group went over to another pride of lions that hadn’t been fed yet to get some pictures. They're truly majestic animals. We had our 6 year old son Jesse with us who was by far the smallest person in the group. We started to notice that one lion in particular (the dominate male) would not take his eyes off of Jesse. Wherever Jesse walked, this lion went. And when Jesse would crouch down, he would fiercly roar and try to get through the fence to devour him. We did a little experiment and had Jesse run up and down the fence just to see if the the lion would follow him. And sure enough, the lion ran wherever Jesse ran. This lion was hungry and was pining to get through the fence to feast on my son.

[embed] http://vimeo.com/84310820 [/embed]

As a mother, my hackles went up just watching all of this. I went into protection mode. Even though the gate was there, I was ready to step in front of my son and be dinner for this lion. He was literally going to have to step over my dead, devoured body before he could touch my son.

Revelation 12:12b NIV says: "But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury,because he knows that his time is short."

The devil especially hates free people. So be on your watch, and tell "the roaring lion" where to go.

What I understood as I watched this lion in Africa try to get to my son, is that he went after who he thought was the most vulnerable. When you step into your new found freedom in any area of your life, there is a level of vulnerability that you walk in and it’s just wisdom to be aware of this. You’ve just opened you’re heart up to God, to let Him do major surgery. That’s the moment that the enemy loves to begin to ‘prowl around’ to seek if he may devour you and steal the seed of freedom that has been planted in your heart. When you don't allow it to be stolen, it will grow and bear great fruit. For that to happen, above all else you’ve got to guard and protect what God has done within you.

Proverbs 4:23 NIV "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

Just imagine how God feels when the enemy prowls around you... He get’s angry! He is so passionate about you. The enemy literally has to ‘step over’ God’s one and only son Jesus dead and resurrected body to get to you. Just read Psalm 18 to see just how fierce God is to protect you when the enemy tries to come after you.

So how do you protect the seed of newfound freedom within your heart? You’ve got to let LOVE in.

andiandrew.com

andiandrew.com

His perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), and control is rooted in fear. If this is true (and it is), then you'll need love as the salve to heal every part of a recovering control freak… You’ve got to step into it. Once a moment of deliverance or freedom takes place, it’s not surprising to begin to sense fear trying to knock on the door of your heart… Fear that things will spiral out of control, so you have to take over again. Fear that you won’t be protected or covered, so you go back to your old ways and control situations with anger to self-protect. Fear that life won’t turn out how you dreamed or imagined, so you’ll work hard without God’s grace to earn and control every circumstance in your life.

Anyone tired from just reading that? I know I am.

Instead, we have to CHOOSE to REMAIN in His love. It's a daily, sometimes moment by moment choice. Remember in the last article when I talked about CHOOSING to cultivate The Fruit of The Spirit instead of choosing to control ? I said...

"I choose to exchange the fear that binds and controls with the LOVE that casts out all fear"

Just like love is a choice sometimes in marriage (It's more than a feeling), it's a conscious choice to remain in the Fathers love. To believe that we have the capacity to love... Whether that's to love others, or to love ourselves because He first loved us. You have to allow a great exchange to take place. To hand the fear over, and receive the unending love that covers all, and causes you to overcome.

When you know you're loved, no lion can devour you... The 'accuser' cannot touch you.

John 15:9-11 NIV

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

1 John 4:18-19 NIV 

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us.

So let love in, and step into the newfound freedom that is yours to fully walk in all the days of your life...

andiandrew.com

andiandrew.com

Series: Control Freak - Article Five

SERIES TITLE: CONTROL FREAKARTICLE FIVE: Getting Free...

andiandrew.com

andiandrew.com

To get free, I needed to go back to where it all began. Where did this door open for the ‘control freak’ to come in and operate in my life? I asked the Holy Spirit to take me on a journey, and to be honest, I was a tad freaked out... but at the same time buckled in and ready to go.

One thing I knew for sure... no one is born a control freak. One becomes a control freak.

Somewhere, something happened to me that caused me to think that controlling my environment kept me safe. Somewhere fear crept in, I was the target, and control was the fruit of my fears. And after it crept in, it came at me in different ways, compiling the amount of control I would exert to feel safe.

I ignored it for years, but I know where the door was opened. It crept in in the form of abuse at the age of 3. And after that, it just kept rolling in. If I couldn’t control what happened to me, then I would control my immediate environment in order to feel safe. As I grew up, it came in the form of broken relationships where I engaged my whole trust in someone that I thought would be my savior. This, in turn, crippled me from putting my whole trust in God. So if a person or a situation would let me down, fail, or hurt me, there were new reasons to lash out and control my personal world.

finleycountry

finleycountry

Somewhere along the journey, a subconscious lie came in and I told myself, “I can do a better job than God. I can take control of my life.”

For me, the number one way control manifested itself in my life was anger. And a close (very close) second to anger was a compulsion to keep my house, and the humans that lived in it, in perfect military order.

The funny/not so funny thing is is that control isn't even in the nature of God. I was a little bit bummed when I realized it wasn’t a fruit of the Spirit since I was so good at it.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that old song that goes “God is in control”, but the truth is, He left you and I with one big thing that still baffles me: choice. He has given us the beautiful and oh-so-annoying gift of free will. And why is it annoying, you ask? Because it leaves absolutely zero room for a victim mentality. You can’t blame anyone when you have the free will to forgive, let go, and live in freedom. He doesn’t even force you into relationship with Him; it’s your choice to let God in or not. You were created to be in relationship with Him, but until you acknowledge that... He stands at the door and knocks.

fambridge

fambridge

Maybe it seems strange, but I got free when I realized that even the person who abused me at the age of 3 had the gift of free will from God too. They had a choice to treat me with love, or mistreat and hurt me. Unfortunately, that person chose that latter, which affected my life greatly until I realized I needed to engage my free will to forgive them. Forgiveness let me out of my cage of torment and control (Matt 18:34-35). This is the most powerful weapon you have in attaining freedom from control. Forgiveness is what Christianity hinges on. Our engagement of forgiveness (receiving and giving it) are foundational and fundamental to living free in any area of our lives. From there on out, I had to make choices that aligned with my newfound freedom. The responsibility for my freedom was and is on me to execute with the knowledge and revelation I now walk in.

After the chains fell off, the seemingly obvious things all started to hit me:

  • I can’t control my husband.
  • I can’t control my kids.
  • I can’t control other people's decisions.
  • I can’t even control what people think or say about me (I can make choices to have a good reputation but I can’t control others opinions no matter how hard I try)

And the more I try to control those things, the more I feel out of control and lack any semblance of peace.

BUT, here is what IS in my power to choose and cultivate in my life:

  • I choose to exchange the fear that binds and controls with the LOVE that casts out all fear.
  • I choose to have JOY and LAUGH at the days to come no matter what season I’m in or what circumstance I face.
  • I choose to pursue PEACE in the midst of the good, bad, ugly and crazy hectic times in my household. The Prince of Peace came, and Peace is my inheritance.
  • I choose PATIENCE when all I want to do is respond in anger and control my environment.
  • I choose KINDNESS when my first reaction is vengeance, anger, hatred or frustration (Yes, even this pastor can be given to strong and unhealthy emotions).
  • I choose to focus on the GOODNESS in my life, and not blow out of proportion the things that have gone or are going wrong.
  • I choose FAITHFULNESS on the days I want to throw in the towel and move to a deserted island all alone where no one can talk to me.
  • I choose to cultivate GENTLENESS when my initial reaction may be brash or harsh. It is in my power to choose.
  • I choose SELF CONTROL, because it’s in my power to do so. I am not God’s little puppet. I am His friend. And friends don’t control one another.

Galatians 5:22, baby! I can CHOOSE to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in my life.

Along this journey, I've realized that God is a lot better at doing His job than I am... And I realize that people have a free will to hurt me, but I have a free will to get free.

Have you ever heard the quote:“Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you react"?

To walk in forgiveness, I want to encourage you to read Matthew 18:21-35. It's the parable of the unmerciful servant. It shows how God so willingly and easily forgives us, and expects us to do the same to those that owe us a debt they can never pay. We owe God a debt that we can never pay Him, yet through salvation and forgiveness of our sins He releases us of our debts freely. As you read this, you'll notice that we're the ones that are actually in prison until we forgive. Forgiveness releases you, and sets you free.

Forgiveness brings recovery and healing to an ailing control freak. Forgiveness and repentance change everything. It’s the key to our freedom.

So now what???

Step 1: Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where control has had an open door to enter your life. It will probably look different than my journey, but when you’re ready, God will reveal it to you.

Step 2: If it’s necessary, choose, as an act of your will, to forgive those who have hurt you and owe you a debt they cannot pay. Repent of your sins in holding onto that debt and ask God to cleanse you of all unrighteousness. Read Matthew 18:21-35 for revelation on forgiveness and repentance and the power it has to set you free.

Step 3: Willingly cultivate the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22in your life, and begin to make choices that align with your freedom.

Below is a prayer you can use to engage forgiveness as an act of your free will. It’s the canceling of a debt, a heavenly transaction. Even if you don’t feel like anything happened, believe that a heavenly exchange took place. Don’t let the enemy steal your seed of freedom.

jessefreedom

jessefreedom

LORD, TODAY AS AN ACT OF MY WILL I CHOOSE TO FORGIVE _____________________  FOR HURTING ME. SPECIFICALLY I FORGIVE THEM FOR _____________________. I CHOOSE TO RELEASE THEM FROM THEIR SIN AGAINST ME AND I CANCEL THE DEBT THEY OWE ME AND I RELEASE THEM INTO YOUR HANDS. I RELEASE THEM FROM ANY JUDGEMENT OR CRITICISM THAT I HAVE HELD AGAINST THEM AND I TRUST YOU TO DEAL WITH THE SITUATION AS YOU SEE FIT.

IN THE NAME OF JESUS, AND BY THE POWER OF HIS BLOOD, I ASK THAT HE SEAL THIS HEAVENLY TRANSACTION. AND BY THE POWER OF JESUS' BLOOD, I CANCEL SATAN’S AUTHORITY OVER ME IN THIS SITUATION AND IN THIS MEMORY.

GOD, I ASK THAT YOU FORGIVE ME FOR STANDING IN YOUR PLACE AND TRYING TO EXECUTE JUSTICE. I THANK YOU THAT YOU FORGIVE ME LIBERALLY AND COMPLETELY, AND I CHOOSE TO EXERCISE THE SAME FORGIVENESS TO THOSE THAT OWE ME A DEBT THEY CANNOT PAY.

Series: Control Freak - Article One

SERIES TITLE: CONTROL FREAK

ARTICLE ONE: Hello, my name is Andi Andrew and I am a recovering control freak.

But seriously...

sam

sam

I have 4 kids and live in New York City (Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, to be exact; 4 stops from Manhattan) and there was a day a few months ago where I was 4 days late. Yes, 4 days late for my lady friend that I get to see every 30 days or so. I nearly had a heart attack. I am NEVER late AND I ALREADY have

4 KIDS IN NYC WHILST PIONEERING A NEW CHURCH. YES I AM YELLING!

I started to think of all the ways we could do this,  manage this, or make it work. I sat there and thought of how we had spoken of maybe adopting in the future (maybe) so what is 5 if it’s a possibility in the future anyway??? But really, I was just keeping my impending panic attack at bay.

All I could hear was Adele singing over me “Rolling In The Deep” and I went and got a paper bag to breathe into. A few days passed, and sure enough, I WASN’T pregnant. The alarm was well and truly false, but it made me consider the journey I have been on for the last 11 months to give up the reins of control in my life. The journey I am still on.

Ever since I had my blue-eyed, blonde-haired, big-headed, gorgeous, joyful, inquisitive, baby boy Samuel in September of 2012, it all changed. Why, you ask? Because like I said earlier, he was my 4th child. He is by far the easiest of my babies... slept through the night at 3 months, loves having his siblings all up in his business, and even when he is crying, he tries to smile because the kid is just happy.

Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 2.48.21 PM

Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 2.48.21 PM

Having 4 children and living in New York, you get looked at like either an alien or “the nanny” of the children you are toting around on the subway, because surely you wouldn’t do that on purpose??? Well, we did do it on purpose and we’re glad we did, challenges and all.

So why did this beautiful baby boy push me straight into the deep end? Because, simply put, I have control issues. When I had Sam, the “control freak” that has always been inside of me became freakishly obvious and reared its ugly head when he was born. I was trying to control everything in my sight including the people that I loved because baby #4 kicked the crazy meter over in our household... I couldn’t keep a thing clean for more than 5 minutes! It didn’t help that I had a bout of the shingles (yes, the thing that elderly people get, OR highly stressed people with a strand of the chicken pox virus lying dormant in their system like me... and this was not the first time I have had the shingles, which added insult to injury!). I started to realize that if I kept on this pathway, I was going to consistently & deeply hurt those that I loved in ways that I never really wanted to. I wanted to be consistent at loving them... not hurting them. It was all pointing to deeper issues I had never fully dealt with.

Something had to give...

I used to pride myself in the fact that I was able to control my circumstances, to keep a clean house anally clean. I would never miss an appointment or double book myself. I used to make dinners and think through menus for our family. I mean, the menus were nothing special, and taco night made an appearance every week, but at least it happened weekly. I used to relish grocery shopping and organizing drawers and cupboards. I used to compulsively organize my children's toys as I put them away. The order made me feel safe.

Something had to give... something did. My beautiful baby boy’s birth pushed me over the edge into the greatest change in my life.

I was no longer in control... so who was?