Devotionals

Calming The Storm Within

I was talking on the phone one evening a couple months ago to a mentor and mother in the faith who said these words to me,

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"The accuser is NOT the author of your life story and legacy!”

Boy, did I need to be reminded of this truth.

Once again, those words shook me awake to the reality of just how easy it is to entertain a negative, toxic thought for too long until it grows into a viable life option. It was only when I confessed out loud the sneaky whispers that the enemy had planted in my mind (that I'd willingly entertained and actually considered!) that the turnaround came.

This can happen to any one of us. These thoughts start like a small seed and, if left to germinate, grow into a plausible reality. The moment we bring them into the light, they're robbed of their power. I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but the accuser does not get to derail you, destroy you or take you out. Allow Jesus to be the author of your legacy as you continue to live a life enfolded in His arms. He will never leave you, forsake you, accuse you or lie to you. Trust Him. 

When we don't deal with the storm inside of us, It's virtually impossible to confront the storms churning outside of us. 

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In Mark 4:35-41, after a huge day of teaching, Jesus and His disciples pushed off into the darkness to go to the other side of the lake to an area where pig farmers lived, a place considered unclean according to Jewish custom. On the way there, they were confronted with a demonic storm, but all the while Jesus slept, completely peaceful within, aware of His authority and unafraid of what was churning all around Him. "38 But Jesus was calmly sleeping in the stern, resting on a cushion. 39 So they shook him awake, saying, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to die!” (4:38-39) The disciples lost their minds, allowing fear to take over. How often are we just like them, running around the boat of our lives, mad at Jesus for sleeping, yelling extreme statements like, "We're all going to diiiiiieeeee!!!!! Don't you even care about me, Jesus?"  I've been there.

I was there 2 months ago. 

As my mentor reminded me that the accuser is not the author of my life story and legacy, I woke up to the demonic storm coming at me. The words straight out of Jesus' mouth to His disciples after he calmed the storm leapt off the page and dove straight into my heart, “Why are you so afraid? Haven’t you learned to trust yet?” (4:40b)

Haven't you learned to trust yet?

In that moment, Jesus and I went to a scary place together. A place I had been trying to avoid for years. A place where I hadn't yet learned to trust Him. It was only then that peace and healing could come as I recognized my lack of trust and my deep need to rest in the bow of the boat with Jesus. You see, there was no storm in Him, but there was in me. He knew how to calm the storm within me so that I could then confront the storms that churned outside of me. 

Partnership with the Prince of Peace, even in the midst of chaos, confusion, destruction, pain and trial, will cause us to walk in and live from a place of rest, authority and confidence even when it doesn't make sense. This is the peace that surpasses all understanding that the author of Philippians spoke of, and it is your portion.

So if you're ready, ask yourself, "Why am I so afraid? Have I learned to trust Jesus in this area of my life yet?"

Take some time to pray, journal, turn on some worship (try "Surrounded" by Michael W. Smith - for real, click the link...) and re-read Mark 4:35-41. Ask Jesus to reveal the truth to you, and why you can always trust Him fully with your life. 

The Cost of a Critical Spirit

I shocked myself. The negative words sputtering out of my mouth, declaring the worst over my circumstances and identity were detrimental to my mental, emotional and physical health. I found myself saying things that I rarely say, things like, "I hate that I'm like this." "I don't like myself." "I hate that I feel everything." "I hate that I want to quit and feel so depressed lately." "I'm an awful leader, incapable of inspiration or strategy." "Why do I even try?" "I wrote a book about freedom, but feel like a phony - how can I be in such a dark place of discouragement and be free, much less tell others how to be free?" 

 Celebrating 15 years of marriage...   

Celebrating 15 years of marriage...

 

Thank goodness I said them in front of my husband, who reversed the curse of my words and declared the truth over me. I sobbed in his arms. These were the early hours of our 15th anniversary on Australian soil. 

Soon after my cathartic sob session in his arms, I got a text from a dear friend who was praying in the States for me. She said, "As I prayed this afternoon, this is what I sensed. Please feel free to disregard anything if you don't feel it's right so, the word 'witchcraft' came to me and I felt like there were some things that needed to be broken off. Witchcraft can mean anything as simple as a curse or negative declaration spoken over somebody or something. I had this sense that things have been said, or even people have agreed in their hearts with statements that are not true and you have been feeling the impact. I believe it is a critical spirit. I feel like it's trying to strangle any growth from happening"

She was right on. Cue more tears. Criticism. I had partnered with lies aimed at myself and our church. I had begun to criticize myself, speaking lies over my life and the endeavors I've been entrusted to steward. As I came out of my emotional fog, I realized I was deeply critical of myself and ready to surrender to the darkness. The cost of a critical spirit is great. It poisons the hearts of those who dish it out, and does the same for those who ingest it as truth. 

Destructive criticism is far different than constructive feedback.

One tears down from the sidelines, while the other invests and builds with a sense of ownership, partnership and relational reciprocity. We all know the "feedback" we've either been given or dished out that hasn't been with the intent to build anything. The ultimate cost of this is destruction and it takes its toll on the heart of the giver and of the receiver. 

I think of the times I've hurt my husband and children while operating in a critical spirit with words that lacked encouragement or eternal life. I think of the times I've been so high, mighty and "right", assuming others motives while judging those with a critical spirit in church leadership or just others in general who do life differently than I would.

I have brought division. Death.

I have been a part of the problem. I don't win, and it doesn't build anyone or anything. Repentance and humility are the cure and according to the Apostle Paul, living a cheerful life, without complaining or division among ourselves is key -  but that's easier said than done. 

The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 2:14-16 TPT,

"Live a cheerful life, without complaining or division among yourselves. For then you will be seen as innocent, faultless, and pure children of God, even though you live in the midst of a brutal and perverse culture. For you will appear among them as shining lights in the universe, offering them words of eternal life."

I desire to be a shining light in the world we live in today. But I have to choose to live from the abundance that is already within me, given as the gift of the Holy Spirit. I have to choose to break agreement with the ways of culture and instead transform culture with words that drip with Kingdom life and love.

My friend continued with a prayer in her text message that literally delivered me as I sat on the stairs up to our bedroom of our Airbnb in Sydney. Maybe you too need to be set free from the criticism of others? Like I did, maybe you need to repent of a critical spirit? May this prayer transform you and set you free.

"In the name of Jesus, I command the critical spirit to flee. You have no right to reside here and you must go now! Father, I thank you that your blood has already paid the price and taken care of our freedom, our LIBERTY. We are free. Andi [insert your name here!] is free. God, as all that is not of you gets chased out of the door, I invite your Presence to invade in a deeper, more tangible way that surprises and explodes like only you can. I pray for a turnaround in circumstances, hearts and spiritual climate. Fear, anxiety and negativity would be no more but JOY would be activated and where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Thank you God for all that you are doing, seen and unseen. We are ready and waiting for you to blow our socks off!"

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. - Proverbs 18:21 ESV

Seen or Significant?

Do we want to be SEEN and validated publicly or SIGNIFICANT, even if only anonymously?

Both, probably. I mean, who doesn't want to make a difference in this life while having people tell them along the way that they're doing an awesome job? Oh, and whoever "they" are - they can feel free to tell other people too!

I was sitting at LaGuardia Airport last week at my gate, worship filling my ears while reading my Bible, when an unlikely verse jumped out at me:

Matthew 26:18 NIV "He (Jesus) replied, Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'" 

A certain man.

No name, no fanfare, nothing about his apparent relationship or background with Jesus, yet extremely significant. He was named in history but didn't make a name for himself.  He was known by the Teacher, and that was enough.

This certain man's house was where the Lamb had His last supper to fulfill the Passover - death passing over life - the life we all need to truly live was within His blood and the final sacrifice about to take place, once and for all. This certain man's house was the place of communion before the crucifixion. Did this man know who Jesus really was? Was he a Pharisee, a teacher of the law that connected the dots and realized that "the Teacher" was the Messiah that they - Israel - had been waiting for? Had he & Jesus met on several occasions, so many times so that at the mention of "the Teacher", this "certain man" offered up His home to be the location for a significant moment on the road to the cross? 

What we do know is that at the mention of His name, this man opened the doors of his home. At the request of the Teacher, he didn't hold back. It also appears that he didn't push for his name to be written down somewhere so that history could remember him for his great hospitality during what seemed to be a covert mission, harboring a controversial figure in his household for one of the most significant meals of all time. This man was audacious and obedient. He made room for Jesus - literally.

So, am I making room for Jesus, or for myself?

I have gone through seasons of wanting to be seen, validated and known by the multitudes. I have wanted my ego stroked and my gifts validated. I have wanted to be seen with the cool kids (whoever they are) and the right crowd (again, whoever they are) to feel a sense of importance. I have had positions of authority and the things of this world that I thought made me a significant person taken from me. I have fallen off of my pedestal more times then I'd like to admit and have crawled back onto it like a moth to a flame, while gripping it for dear life, hoping that standing on it would make me feel better again - even if just for a fleeting moment. All of these things point to a deep longing in me to be seen, known and loved. These places in my heart can only be healed and validated by Jesus.

If the Teacher comes to me and asks me to open up my home and life for a significant purpose, would I do it? Or do I first need to post about it, be seen doing it and therefore negate the power of its beautiful, anonymous significance in all its ordinary glory? What if history were only to record a moment where "a certain woman" opened her home to the lost, disenfranchised, broken and hurting? Or where a "certain woman" loved her husband and children well? What if that's it? Or what if there is nothing at all? Am I content with NO historical mention of my life after I leave this earth? No St. Andi Andrew day for the public to remember my greatness? Am I okay with that? Some days, yes, but some days... no.

The truth is, deep down, the older I get, the more I simply want to be known intimately and loved unconditionally by the One. This means not always being seen or known by the multitudes. Can we be truly known and loved by the multitudes anyway? Spoiler alert - no. 

Are we content to be un-named in history, but still significant in it? There is so much peace that comes when we realize how deeply known and loved we are. Striving falls to the wayside and a holy satisfaction descends upon our hearts and lives. When I am truly known by the One, I can be used for significant moments and often unseen purposes because I trust His direction and plan for my life. What's so beautiful (and painful at times) is that in this life that is a long obedience in the same direction, my motives are constantly checked and purified along the way. 

So, let's take a moment and ask our hearts, "Do I want to be significant, even in anonymity, or do I want to be seen and validated publicly?"

"God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares. See if there is any path of pain I'm walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways - the path that brings me back to you." - Psalm 139:23-24 The Passion Translation
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Stepping Out Of Shame

Shame destroys intimacy. It could be shame that lingers from your past like decaying remnants of death reminding you of who you used to be. There seems to come a stench of fear with shame, rotting away the hopes that you’ll never get to live fully in your purpose. Maybe it’s shame surrounding lies and rumors that have been spoken about you and believed by the multitudes? The way they look at you when you walk into the room, makes you suspicious that every “knows” and is talking about you even if they’re not. Shame is mean like that. It could be sexual shame that you find yourself wading through as you once again look at pornography just one more time. But after it’s all said and done, the blanket of shame covers you as you settle under the weight of it. It could be shame from the abortion or abortions you’ve had and are riddled with fear to tell anyone because you believe you deserve hell for what you’ve done. You don’t. There is a love that desires to connect with you in the darkest crevices of your life. A love that can heal you and set you free.

Shame destroys and deteriorates our connection with God, and in turn our connection with others. Shame is one of the biggest hindrances to true and lasting intimacy. Intimacy between us and God and intimacy with others. We were created to be in connection and in loving community and family. It has never been good for us to be alone but we have to be willing to step out and take risks to walk in freedom.

The woman with the issue of blood risked it all and left her shame at the door of her isolating home when she went out into the crowd to find Jesus.  She had been secluded and cut off from society for years, ridiculed and alone because levitical law commanded it to be so as not to make anyone else unclean. When she heard that Jesus was in town, the one that had been called “The Great Physician” she was in such a place of desperation for her healing, that she was willing to risk ridicule, not to mention making others unclean to get clean herself.

To go from captivity to freedom, we have to get to a place where we are like the woman with the issue of blood and say, “I don’t care what the cost is, I don’t care what people think anymore, I will do whatever it takes to get free from this bondage.” Then, we need the tenacity to push through and touch Jesus even when others tell you to give up.

Mark 5:25-34 NIV

“25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

She had been isolated for 12 years. It is no small thing to have an issue of blood, AND for 12 long, grueling years! According to Jewish Law (Leviticus 12:1-8; 15:19-30), when any woman was bleeding she was unclean and impure, whether that be due to her monthly period, the month of bleeding that occurs after birth, or hemorrhaging like the woman with the issue of blood. She couldn’t have sex with her husband (if she had one) and she had to be isolated from society and regular fellowship. She could not worship God in the temple and if she was walking around in public she would have had to declare that she was unclean. This would have been extremely embarrassing, isolating and humiliating. People probably knew her in her town as “that woman” who has “the issue”.

Maybe like the woman with the issue of blood, who was separated from society and isolated from God’s presence, you feel isolated and alone in your shame. For this woman, the symptoms of blood loss would have been exhausting and would have left her physically weak, anemic and fragile, and very possibly spiritually dry. The endless sickness could have made her feel overwhelmed and alone on the journey and the same could be true for you in what you’re facing.

She had spent all her money trying to find healing. It says she “suffered” at the hands of many doctors and only grew worse. So, not only was she broke financially, but to add insult to injury, she only got sicker as each year passed. She needed true healing and not another band-aid. In the area where you need to be free from shame, are you going around from person to person “spending” all that you have receiving band aid solutions that aren’t fixing the root of the problem? Maybe you’ve been let down so many times by people that you find it hard to push through and trust God? Because the only thing that can bring you true healing is to reach out and touch Jesus.

Touching the hem of His garment is extremely significant in this story. The woman with the issue of blood didn’t just reach out and touch any part of Jesus, she reached out and touched the “hem of His garment”, also known as the tallit, or prayer shawl. These were the fringes or tassels required to be on the 4 corners of all clothing on Jewish men in accordance with God’s instruction in Numbers 15:37-41.

The tassels were to remind the Jewish people of God’s Commandments. They were tied into 613 knots to remind them of the 613 laws of Moses. 365 “Thou shalt not” laws and 248 “thou shalt” laws. The tassels were in full view for everyone to see as a constant reminder to walk in God's ways, to stay on His path of righteousness. 

When the Jewish men would be deep in prayer, they would take this prayer shawl and cover their heads to be covered in the Presence of God. The shawls are white and blue, the same colors as the Israeli flag. The white represents heaven - the dwelling place of the Lord, and the blue represents the Holy Spirit. When worn, they are covering themselves in the presence of God.

The Tallit also represents authority. Remember how King David, before he was king, cut the hem of Saul's garment in the cave and was “conscience stricken” for doing so? Because it was an act that represented him cutting off the authority of His King. When Ruth laid herself down at Boaz's feet, she placed herself under his “Tallit” or his “Authority” to submit herself to him.

When this woman who had lived a life of shame and reproach for 12 years reached out to touch Jesus, she didn’t just grab what was at arm's length because there was nothing better to touch. She was going to make this count if she was going to go out into the crowd, risking making others unclean by physically touching them as she pushed through to her healer. She also risked making a Rabbi unclean by touching him. Somehow, I’d like to think she knew the significance of touching His tallit. When she reached out and touched it, she reached out for all it represented - all the promises and commandments from The Word of God, God’s covering and His presence, and all of the authority of Heaven and earth that Jesus was covered in as God’s Son. The tallit represents God’s Commandments, the presence of God and God’s authority!

And when she touched Him IMMEDIATELY He felt Power go out of Him. When you reach out and touch Him, it doesn’t just affect your life in miraculous ways, He feels your touch too. He turns his face to you, acknowledges and adores you in your public shame, heals you and commends your faith in Him.  He says to her; “Daughter, your faith has made you well” or “Your TRUST in me has made you well.”

And, if not the biggest thing to note, He calls her DAUGHTER. Not “woman with the issue of blood,” but daughter. He didn't speak to her issues and shame, he called out her true identity.

Some of you may not trust God with your healing - spiritual or physical, but can I encourage you today, like the woman with the issue of blood, step out and do something bold even if you risk looking like a fool - that act alone counteracts shame. He is approachable in every circumstance and there is no condemnation in Him, only love. 

Hearing God

"Mom, how do you know if you're hearing God or not?"

There I sat, in one of the greatest discipleship moments of my life. This beautiful son of mine is a thinker, a creative and has an amazing analytical mind that causes me to sit back in awe and wonder at the creation God has made. I stopped to listen to the Holy Spirit for myself on how to instruct and lead my son into connection with a living, breathing, all-powerful God. The one that knit him together in my very womb. The God who threw the stars up into the sky, yet cares when we ask him for a parking spot. Yeah, that God. The one and only God. The one who pulls us close, stands so near, at times waiting for an invitation to invade our space.

What was I going to say? After a few moments of pensive silence, I jumped in.

"Well babe, He speaks in countless ways. You only need to pay attention. Sometimes, it comes as a thought, other times, a whisper. Some people even hear Him as you hear me speak to you now. Sometimes, a picture flashes before your eyes and you see what He is saying. Other times it's a knowing or a feeling that's so deep you can't shake it. And His words... Oh His precious, priceless words. Written down so that we would know the sound of His voice when He calls us. When you read His words, you grow familiar and know the sound of His voice. You also know when it's not His voice, because His words and His way are deep within you... Does that make sense?"

"Yes." He said with a nod and a far off look in his eyes.

"Want to practice listening?"

"Well... Okay..."

We sat there together. Listening. Saying what we heard and felt and thought and saw. We practiced sitting in His presence... 

I love that now on several occasions, this son in particular will tell me what he feels/thinks God is saying to him and he's accurate most of the time as things come to fruition before his very eyes. It's fun watching all of our children grow in connection and relationship with the one that loves them more than I could ever comprehend. With the one who gave them the very breath in their lungs. 

So what about you?

How do you hear God? Do you hear Him? Do you want to hear Him?

Here are a few tips...

1.) Read His Word Daily

To know the sound of His voice when He speaks to you, you've got to know how He speaks. Confusion can easily come into our lives if we're not aware of what He would or would not say and how He would or would not speak.

I sit with people all the time that say things like, "Oh I don't have time." I don't know about you, but I am madly in love and I can't believe that I get to read His words inspired straight from heaven. I GET TO see how Jesus lived and watch how the apostles walked in His resurrection power. I love reading all my inheritance letters realizing more and more each day who I am and what I can step into. I don't have the time NOT to read His words. And the more I do, the more I walk in alignment with them, but at the same time, the more I realize how much more I have to learn. I have a desperate need to draw closer.  

2.) Practice Listening

I do this with my kids sometimes. Not all the time - I wish I was that spiritual! It's a lot of fun at bedtime to just sit and ask what God/Jesus/Holy Spirit is saying to them. It can be profound and just plain fun!

One idea would be getting a journal or having a place where you write down what you feel/think or hear. You could write it out on your computer or log it away in your mind, if you're able to retain knowledge in that way. My mom tends to draw pictures of what she see's or hears which. Over time, look back over it and see what it says, then begin to ask some questions. 

- Is it in alignment with how God speaks in His word?

- Has any of it come to pass? Or is this for another time?

- Are these promises for someone else or another generation to come?

- How can I pray?

- Is there anything I should do with these words or are they simply personal and for relationship?

Sometimes you'll get it utterly wrong, but don't be afraid to fail! Failure is a part of learning. Just laugh and keep going for it!

3.) God Speaks To You How You Can Hear Him

Every single one of us is a complete original, and God loved designing exactly who you are. Don't compare your lane to someone else's lane and don't compare your relationship with God to someone else's.

My husband used to believe the lie that I could hear God better than him because I'm more of a feeler and instinctive personality whereas he is highly analytical, strategic and profoundly creative all at the same time. The truth is, he hears God differently than I do. 

I remember when I wouldn't let him say the line anymore, "I know you hear God more than I do...." I started to reply to him every time, "You DO hear God."

For about a six month period he would start out some of his sentences by saying, "I'm not sure if this was God or my thought but..." and often times, it was straight from heaven. Over the years, I have watched my analytical, strategic, creative genius of a husband step into realms that challenge me and my relationship with God. He is a juggernaught and I am amazed at his walk with God. 

So just be you.

Maybe you see pictures or hear an audible voice. Maybe you get a gut feeling and can't shake it or times it feels like a whisper in your heart. Maybe you see incredibly detailed visions, or see the spirit realm as if it was as real as the physical realm. Maybe it's reading the word of God and having it come alive to you in the season you find yourself in. Maybe it just comes to you and drops out of your mouth in the form of profound wisdom... Whatever you do, don't compare - be you and walk in relationship with your Creator. He likes how He made you, and He wants you to hear Him.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

 

 

 

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?

LOVED People LOVE People

When Paul and I were first married, I remember a particular time where I was SO mad at him. We lived in Maroubra, a beach in Sydney, Australia at the time. That particular morning I was taking a walk during the sunrise and praying which was my ritual at the time. I was venting to God and spouting of all of the justifications for my anger when the Holy Spirit cut me off. "Andi, I only require you to love Paul as much as I love Him."

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andiandrew.com

I remember yelling at the air, head tilted towards the sky, "THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE!!!"

And Jesus replied, "Yes, but loved people, love people."

It is impossible to love others and serve others unless we first let ourselves be loved. It is impossible because we need Jesus love in us, permeating our lives to love others.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. - 1 John 4:19-21 NIV

As verse 19 says in 1 John 4, we have the ability to love others because we ourselves are first loved.  What is the premise for this love? How do we receive it?

"7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." - 1 John 4:7-12 NIV

Now to some of you this may seem elementary, but let's go there anyway. To receive this love, we must be born of God, or "born again". God delights in hitting the restart button of your life, that's why it's called being born again. When we receive Him, we get to start over! We are made new and the slate of sin is wiped clean! God made it possible for us to receive His love by showing His love among us through His Son. God took His word (John 1:14), wrapped it in flesh and sent it to earth in the form of His Son, Jesus. He was here, in flesh and blood and He felt what it's like to live, love, and overcome.  He gets you. He feels you. He's walked a mile in your shoes.

Now a big key comes next in verse 9 of 1 John 4,"He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him."

That we might live THROUGH Him. At first we receive Jesus as a conscious decision, but then what? Sometimes we have no idea how to live our lives THROUGH Him. What does that even mean?

Take a pair of glasses for example, when you put them on, you can see clearly again as you look through their lenses. Well to live a life with 20/20 vision, you need to put on Jesus and live your life through Him.

How?

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andiandrew.com

Well a few simple tips would be to start by reading the whole book of John - this guy loved Jesus something crazy. He walked as a son and a friend knowing he was loved and intrinsically part of the family.

Next I would suggest reading through 1 John and 2 John. In particular study chapter 4 of 1 John. Dig deep. Ask God to show you how to live IN His love and THROUGH His life.

Practically you could also order a "Journible" online (I got mine on amazon), and I would recommend the book of John or the Journible including 1, 2 and 3 John if it's a deeper revelation of love your seeking. It's an amazing and simple journal where you write out the word of God on one side of the page and then write your revelation on the other page.

How great would it be for your 2016 to be a year marked by love?

Loved People, love people and make the love of God known.

Responsibility = Your Ability To Respond

A week and a half ago I was in South Africa and couldn't sleep. It wasn't the jet lag, it was this particular line that kept repeating itself in my mind and heart,

"Responsibility is your ability to respond. Responsibility is your ability to respond. Responsibility is your ability to respond..."

Around and around it went. It seemed as though the Holy Spirit was trying to bore something deep inside of my heart. I shot up in my bed, "Okay! I hear you! I'm responding! What do you want to say to me?"

For nights on end, God began to download several things to me, but all of them going straight back to the position of our hearts.

God has made you powerful. Powerful enough to reject or receive Him. Powerful enough to walk with our without Him. Powerful enough to respond to Him and His words or not. It comes down to your free will and what or who your will is submitted to, your way or Gods way?

You see, our heart issues and the state of our heart is completely our responsibility. Often we'd like to blame those around us, circumstance, upbringing, our environment and even God, for not flourishing in life, but the honest truth is that we are responsible for the state of our hearts. Out of the abundance of the heart, our mouths speak - so what's been coming out of your heart? Whatever bubbles out of your mouth is telling of what is deep within you.

Our hearts are likened to a garden that we have the responsibility to tend to. Don't believe me? Well, take Jesus at his word then.

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Matthew 13:3b-9 &18-23 NLT“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. 5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! 9 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. 20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. 23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

The purpose of soil in agriculture is to receive and cultivate the seed until it grows into it's intended matter and serves it purpose on the earth whether its vegetation, trees that produce oxygen, food, etc. Well, if our heart is likened to soil, then it's purpose is to receive the seed that God scatters amongst us through His word, messages you hear, time with Him listening to His voice, Godly leadership, and so on. The state of our heart determines the wellbeing of the seed and it's ability to produce 30, 60 or 100 times the DNA that is within that seed. God wants to entrust you with more, but you have a responsibility to tend to your heart.

If we wallow in unforgiveness, bitterness or offense for too long and don't deal with issues that God has  been allowing to come to the surface for weeks, months, or years (because He gives us the grace to deal with them in season), our hearts will begin to harden and we'll begin to self-protect. Then, when "seed" is thrown out into our lives, we will despise it and reject it, not understanding all that God wants to give us.

“Offense makes a terrible house guest. It evicts what you previously valued and invites in what before you would never have entertained.”Charlotte Gambill

When we cultivate and take responsibility for our hearts, God can entrust us with more. Often we just have to wake up to the ability we have to respond.

We can respond to life with:

  • Forgiveness - Cancelling a debt that someone owes you spiritually, physically, mentally or emotionally that they will never be able to pay you.
  • Repentance - Turning from our way and truly submitting our WHOLE lives (not just our big toe), to God.
  • Gentleness - To be gentle is: "not harsh or severe." Are you able to respond to life in such a manner?
  • Patience - “The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset.” - Um, yeah. We're all working on this one.
  • Love - It is the standard at which Jesus gave His life for us and the standard we are required to give to one another.

You have the ability to respond:

  • To His goodness - It's His goodness that leads us to repentance, rather than rules, law, expectations or regulations.
  • To His invitation - For relationship, more, a flourishing life.
  • To His call - Don't feel like you have a call? Just respond to Jesus' famous last words and you'll change the world with that calling, "Go and make disciples!"
  • To rise up - Whether you feel like it or not, it's your responsibility.
  • To His love - I always say "Loved people love people," so will you let God love you because he longs to have every part of your heart?
  • With what God gives you - Everything you have is a stewardship responsibility, so how will you respond with what He has placed in your hands: children, money, gifts, abilities, time, family, relationships, etc.?
  • To what happens to you - This one is hard because so many difficult, painful, and awful things have happened to many of us, hardening our hearts, yet God still gives us the ability to soften our hearts. Facing the pain and choosing to forgive is always key, even if you don't feel like it.
  • To God's word - He has given us so much through His word, but how will we respond to it?
  • To fear - Yes, fear. Will you let it rule you or will you respond with faith and love?

And so much more!

Abraham's response to his wife Sarah’s negativity and unbelief in the seeming delay of God’s promise of a son landed them with an Ishmael, before they had Isaac. One child represents their way, the other child represents God's way, and both had to do with their response.

In your life, are you producing Ishmael's or are you allowing God to bring about the Isaac’s? Are you willing to take the time to cultivate your heart and bring about the good things God is trying to produce in your life that will have a lasting generational impact. You are responsible.

You have the ability to respond, so how will you use your freedom?

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andiandrew.com

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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andiandrew.com

“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.