Feeling called to pray?

I have been feeling led to get a message out there about prayer and last night, instead of having a normal service with worship, prayer, then preaching … it was ALL worship and prayer with a powerful move of God!  During this service, I had a vision of thousands of women gathered together forming what was to become a prayer platform as God began to draw men up through this platform.  I was impressed that God is raising up Holy men of God and these men would be not only sustained, but shielded and protected from the prayers of the bride of Christ.  REVIVAL IS COMING!!

How important it is for us to realize the importance of our own individual prayers!  This vision really impressed upon me that when we pray, we aren’t just putting something out there that may or may not happen … we are putting out requests to Almighty God and He is directing our hearts to pray the prayers that need to be prayed to unlock doors and pull down walls!  These prayers are the very tools God is using to tear down strong holds!

Not that I’m an expert on prayer, but I do feel I have a few things that I can offer to assist those who may be looking for some prayer tips.  I don’t believe in formula’s because truthfully, prayer and worship for me has always been about relationship.  As a wife, I can tell you that I need to connect with my husband.  I see my worship and prayer with Jesus the same as my need to connect with my husband.  If I don’t get that connection time in, things just aren’t flowing right ….  I get cranky, off-balance, and not at all in sync.  The funny thing is that once I get that one-on-one connection time with my husband, I’m like a little school girl talking about a mile a minute.  I’m in my happy place.  It is exactly the same with Jesus.

What I have found is that the more that I spend this one-on-one time with Jesus, the more He has opened my eyes to see how my silent prayers are important.  He has shown me the importance of being alert and paying attention to the move of the spirit and discerning the message being heard … and this is no matter where I am at.

Specifically in church or a group function, He has taught me how to pay attention to the person on the platform and understand how vulnerable a position it is.  Our pastors, preachers, evangelists or anyone taking the place on the platform need our prayers to minister effectively.   Jesus has taught me to pay attention to the environment of the church and notice my surroundings.  He has shown me how there is so much happening in the spiritual realm and if we are in tune with Christ, we can assist the process in going much more smoothly through prayer which will in turn, get out the message God wants to be heard.  And not just before the service, this is throughout the service as well.

It’s amazing how He works too.  Jesus has this way of tying things in.  I see it happening all around me!  I am watching how He somehow takes what seems to be chaos and on a dime, will turn it to complete order!  Everything in sync!  He is an awesome CEO!  This is the great part of being in a relationship with Him versus simply showing up to do His work though.  I’m not just an employee for His kingdom showing up and putting forth my best efforts, I am part of His body!  Maybe I am crazy, but wherever I’m at, I notice the things around me and I just can’t help but be in awe of what He is orchestrating!  THIS is what I am a part of?  How can I can I not be completely honored to be part of such a magnificent creation??

You know, Jesus has taken the time to teach me how to be effective in prayer and other gifts because of my relationship with Him.  When you begin to transition from simply praying prayers to really having a conversation with Jesus, it takes on a life all its own!  Jesus will lead you and teach you and it may or not be the same lessons He taught me.  But He WILL teach you.  He will begin to open the gifts in your heart.  He will teach you how to be effective in those gifts too!  The best part though, is that you’ll be scrambling to do the work of God with excitement and soon … the work of God isn’t work at all!  It’s being a part of His kingdom and understanding how everyone should have this!  Joy like this is something that was only meant to be shared!

Praying was never meant to be a chore.  It was meant to be connection time with a mighty God who humbled Himself to come to US and say … I want a relationship with YOU!  Wow!  Yes!  Your voice matters!  If you belong to Christ, you are a part of something wonderful!  I believe that my vision is absolutely prophetic and it will be Your voice that is part of that shield/platform of prayers that will be used to sustain the Holy Men of God that Jesus is raising up!  YOUR voice matters!!!

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The Healing Place

A couple of years ago, I attended a ladies retreat where there was a tongues and interpretation.  The room was filled with 2000 ladies.  I recall that despite that there were so many women in that room, I knew in my heart of hearts, that the message spoken was for ME.  Of course, when God speaks to the body, the message is for everyone.  Maybe its pride, maybe it’s arrogance, or maybe it was really just something that spoke in my soul that said .. I want this.  I want this message to be mine.  The message spoke of listening, really listening, to the ladies on the stage because God said … they had been to the healing place.

Of course, at the time, I didn’t really know what that meant.  What exactly was the healing place?  Was it a specific location?  Could anyone go there?  Was there a cost to go there?  Where do you even begin? …. So many questions and not many answers left me with a deep-seated desire to get to this place.  Despite that I was Holy Ghost filled and blood bought … despite that I had spent many hours at several alters pouring my heart out to God … despite that I had spent hundreds of hours in prayer … there were still things inside of me that I just couldn’t get away from.  I’m not even sure I can accurately put my finger on it other than to say that there were holes in my heart that hurt.  Things in my life that haunted me that while God knew, I somehow didn’t know how to let go of.  Some people put up walls and call it being free, others put on a smile and hide the hurt, I seemed to be plagued with my hurts seeping through at the altar behind unspoken words and sobs as my soul begged for mercy.  This was a couple of years ago.

I sought pretty hard for God after that.  I wanted the healing place.  I wanted to know what true freedom really is.  I found out that healing and freedom were none of the things I thought they were.  I thought that once I had reached that place, that it would be nirvana.  I thought that I would finally be able to walk around and not feel insecure.  I thought that I would finally be able to feel the joy non-stop instead of continuously having life frustrate me with challenges.  I thought I would always be able to handle every situation with a smile and calm and know that it was real instead of feeling that I was hiding behind a wall of pretense.  Nope … the healing place was none of those things.  Neither is freedom.

We had a guest preacher in today that spoke of the healing place.  He didn’t call it that, but that’s exactly what it was.  I’ve been there now, so I know.  He was talking about the healing place.  It’s the place where we are confronted with all kinds things that we never expected.  It’s the place where we are forced to face some of the most dreaded things in our lives.   It’s the place where you life seems to be falling apart.  It’s the place where you are certain, you can relate with Job.  It’s the place where you find out people will fail you .. even family.  It’s the place where you find the world will fail you.  It’s the place where you find out that yes, the church too will fail you.  It’s the place where you learn …. complete dependence on Jesus.

But it’s not just learning about being let down.  It’s also learning about trust and confidence in God.  Not just in God, but His ability to restore.  His ability to rebuild what He had just torn down.  His ability to work in others and regain your trust in those who may have let you down.  It’s about learning to depend on God for finances and health and trusting that even if it doesn’t look like you thought it should, God’s got it all under His control.  It’s about learning to fear the power of God and not take it for granted.  And somehow, through all of this, at the same time, He pulls you in closer and lets you see HIS heart.  I’m sorry, but if you want to be close to God, there is absolutely no way to do it without jumping in the fire.  You can get close and feel His heat, but until you allow the fire to consume you .. you will never get to the place where you see Him standing in the flames with you.

Please don’t be afraid of the healing place.  Please don’t be afraid or refuse to go through the valley.  If you look at your circumstances and think you might be there, please be encouraged.  It’s a frightening place but this is the place where you learn to discern the hand of God.  This is the place where you learn to discern God’s touch.  If you are looking at the fire and have been afraid to jump, be encouraged, He’s at the door waiting for you to ask Him to lead you through.

This is the place where you learn that God will truly never leave you nor forsake you.  There is so much beauty there!  There is so much that God wants to salvage from that place!  But He will only salvage those that want to be salvaged.  He will only rebuild those that choose to go through this process.  We, the church, have been blessed so much.  It’s time for more of us to be willing to enter in to the healing place.  There is a world out there crying out to God to show them just how real He is.  There is a world out there crying to see Him alive in others.  There is a world that wants to know the true blessing of serving a God that is alive and holy.  And there is a God who wants to guide you through this place to show you just how beautiful it really is … just how MUCH there is to salvage!

The healing place is where God teaches you to close your eyes and listen with your heart …… it’s only then that you hear the lost souls crying out.

Jesus Wept: A love story

The deeper my relationship with Christ gets, the more I appreciate what He’s done and IS doing for me.  This weekend, I was reminded of how there are times, I don’t always respond in a way that is pleasing to Him. It’s interesting because when I mess up, I know it.  If it’s a mistake, I fess up, clean up, and move on.  I take responsibility and understand that mistakes will happen.  Jesus still loves me.

Well, there are other times when, it isn’t so much a mistake that I make; I would categorize it more as negligence.  Admittedly, I am at times negligent to my responsibilities as Christ’s bride.  Times when I get caught up in my own selfish reaction or feelings.  Kind of like Mary and Martha did in John 11, when they lacked faith and blamed Jesus for Lazarus’ death.

Ugh … not an easy thing to admit .. but there are times when perhaps, I react selfishly .. when I feel my needs aren’t being met by a loved one .. or overreact to something that really isn’t that big of a deal .. maybe not watching my tongue because I’m ‘having a bad day’ .. or perhaps even not being careful of what or whom I share with.  Sigh .. there really is no justification for my behavior in those moments.  I’ve literally just given over to my flesh and am creating a mess.  A mess that literally, only Jesus can clean up.  Often, I’m not even aware of the damage I’m doing because I’m too focused on ME.  After reading this particular passage this weekend, I have a better understanding that Jesus really does get upset with us when we do things like this.  It’s something that I have to come to grips with, I’m not always at a place where I am going to be pleasing to my bride-groom.

Oh how I realize my need for Him!  How did Jesus react to the unbelief He encountered?  The Word tells us He was troubled in His spirit and groaned within Himself .. but how He chose to handle it … He Wept.  I can only imagine how it must feel for Him to not have His disciples on the same page.  Here, He spends time loving, healing, sharing, caring, and even letting these ladies in on what He has in store and how do they react?  Disbelief .. lack of faith .. negligent .. completely contrary to what He’s trying to accomplish .. yep .. we do a pretty good job of mucking up His plans.  Yet still, He loves us.

What amazes me …  He doesn’t freak out on Mary, Martha, and the Jews that lacked faith.  He dealt with His spirit by weeping .. showing us how to seek His face in times of trouble or frustration .. then He continued on His path and completed the miracle.  His reaction was nothing but pure love!  He gave Mary and Martha room to grow.  The good news is, He really is all about mercy and grace.

I can’t help but feel that the stories we read are constantly Him talking to His bride trying to get her to see that He really is all about mercy, if she would only look in the mirror and realize just how much room He gives her to grow.  If we could just realize that He would like us to give the same in return, to others.  If we could just realize how much He withholds His wrath from ALL of us because He wants to include ALL of us!  Will He have to draw the line some day?  You bet.  But today, it’s mercy .. it’s grace .. it’s Love.

And even when we don’t ‘get it’ … still, Christ loves us.  He continues to draw, continues to gently correct, continues to withhold His wrath, continues to teach, continues to lead .. continues to love.

If only we truly understood how much He really loves us ..  All of us.  The Bible .. it really is the greatest Love Story ever written.  The best part, you and I both play an important role .. and Jesus is going to show us each how to play our part.  He really is an awesome God!

A higher calling …

I am in awe of Jesus!  I am truly in awe!  Recently, He has impressed upon me to study holiness.  Truthfully, this is a revisit for me.  But this is the wonderful thing about God, He knows our understanding, He knows our circumstances, He knows why we make a particular decision too.  He knows us!  The cool part is that He takes us where we are at and will open our understanding along the way based off our own lives.  In the Good News Version of the Bible Isaiah 28:10 tells us, “He is trying to teach us letter by letter, line by line, lesson by lesson.”

As I was studying, I recalled some of the things that had been taught from the past, but this time, there was something that changed my understanding to what I was researching.  The thing that changed my understanding was … my own experiences of trying to walk with God.

As I studied the word holiness, I recalled how I’ve acted and responded over the past several years since I’ve known God.  While my intention is always to do right by God, truth-be-told, I have failed over and over again.  Not always, but certainly enough times to make me realize that I’m kind of, well … a mess.  The place that He’s called me to work most is in my home, with my own family members.  This is the very place where it seems that I am the messiest.  We tend to put our walls down and let everyone see the ‘real’ us at home, don’t we?

Anyway, as I was studied this, I recalled distinct moments where I knew how I should respond, but I didn’t ‘feel’ like responding the appropriate way.  Maybe I was mad or hurt and perhaps even justifiably so.  In those moments where I felt justified, I have to admit that I was hell-bent on doing what was right for God; using my circumstances to justify my sour response as taking a stand for Christ.  Thankfully, God’s grace covered me through all of this because my heart was truly in the right place of doing what was right for God.  However, it was time to open my understanding because ultimately, God does expect us to grow and change and produce fruits of peace and gentleness, humility and love, to name a few.

I have certainly felt those things a time or two through the trials I’ve experienced, but not quite as often as I would have hoped.  This study helped me understand that something was missing in my equation.  I was trying to accomplish something for Christ, but I’ve been doing it all on my own.  I’ve been working hard, really hard, and it’s resulted in me feeling run down, wore out, and wondering when the peace is going to get here.  I’ve been a slave for Christ.

At this point, I can’t help but recalling a sermon in which a woman stood on stage and shared that, ‘she chooses to be lovely for Him.’  I realize, that this is what it means to walk in ‘holiness.’  It encompasses our thoughts, our actions, our words, our clothing, and especially how we respond when things are difficult … everything!  I thought I understood this before, but I thought simply living my life for Christ meant that He would accept me the way I am and correct me along the way.  After all, He knows me and created me.  And you know what, He has.  However, He’s now calling me to something higher .. He’s wanting to deepen my relationship with Him.

Walking in holiness encompasses taking an active position of making changes He reveals to me.  It’s taking the understandings He’s giving me and acting on them.  It’s taking the work out of relationship and making it an act of love instead of merely an act of obedience.  I love Him and I choose to do my best to paint a picture of loveliness for Him.  Certainly there are times when it’s harder than others.  Certainly at times, it goes against what I want or feel like responding.  Certainly there are times when I know I appear to be hypocritical.  And certainly, I will fail and not produce the picture of loveliness that I wanted to paint for Him.

But that’s the beauty of holiness.  It’s a process.  I’m certain there are things that He has yet to reveal to me regarding my understanding even now.

The beauty of holiness is that out of love, I want to be pleasing to Him.  I want to be lovely … for Him.

After all, Jesus is coming back for a bride, not a slave.  🙂

This is Your Life

It’s strange how hearing a comment directed to someone else can hit you like a brick.  In this new year, I started with a promise to myself to press on, challenge myself, and move onto whatever it is that God wants and expects of me.  So when I heard my husband make a comment to one of his children, it side-swiped me in a way I didn’t expect.  The comment was, ‘This is your life.’

Of course, he was pointing his child towards Jesus and his point was simply to say .. what you see is what you get.  You can’t do this alone.  You need God.

For me, it meant something completely different.

I already have God.  I already have a strong relationship with Him.  Not that we can’t all stand to have a reminder or two to get back on track, but it would be just that, a little reminder.  Forgive me for being real here, but it turns out, life isn’t much different with God as it was without God.

I’m referring to the problems and challenges that I had before.  I still wrestle with insecurities and I find that I still have a list of faults that I’m working on improving.  My children are still rebellious at times, I still have debts, arguments, get mad a time or two, and well … life still happens.

I’m not really sure what I expected.  However, admittedly, I often find myself seeking inside wondering when I will have that big God moment where He speaks audibly telling me exactly what it is I’m supposed to be doing.  My husband’s comment was like that voice telling me to simply … live your life.

I can only imagine that it had to be similar for the Israelites in the Wilderness.  God rescued them and performed miraculously wonders proving that He was for them only to put them … in the wilderness for 40 years.  Sure, God was still caring for their needs, but boy, life sure was different.  They were rescued to wander around aimlessly?  We look from the outside and say they brought it on themselves, but if you think about it, we do the same thing.  At least I know I do.

I’ve got all my needs met.  God constantly provides me with manna from Heaven.  I always have just the right word when I need it and it never comes from a source I would have expected.  And what’s my response?  To complain that I’m wondering around in circles waiting for some direction to the supposed ‘promised land.’

After my husband’s comment, I thought, what if this is it?  What if there is never any BIG call other than to simply do what I can where I am at?  To simply move forward?  What if nothing out of the ordinary happens?  What if I am expected to simply ‘live my life for God?’  What if there is never any ‘Moses’ moment for me?  What if I was called to be one of the unmentioned disciples?

Wow!  Talk about a reflection!  I had to confront that Passion I feel inside and truly face  … dare I say it … pride.  Do I chase God’s work for His glory or mine?  Not to say that I don’t think we should do great things for God.  However, I honestly believe that we neglect the bigness of simply being a reflection for God.  The bigness of being one of the unmentionables.

I also think we forget that living life is a miracle itself.  How difficult it is to live life and NOT focus on the problems?  With God, we have a new perspective and living daily, being content with where He has put me, with a smile on my face, or getting back up each time I fall is a BIG deal.  This IS being a light.  It does make a difference because those around me who don’t know God have a reference point to see, the right way IS towards God.

I don’t think it means that I have to give up on the Passion that I feel to do something great for God.  I think it means facing up to just how big that job really is.  A kingdom isn’t built on just a few souls, it’s built on a whole lot of people doing little things daily which amounts to a whole lot of light reflecting God’s glory.  Not my glory .. God’s glory.

So this is my life.  Turns out I’m okay with simply living it.  If I never get to be a Moses, a Mary, Ruth, Paul, or David, well … that’s okay.  I’m a Dionne.  My part is not mentioned at all in the Book on your shelf, but it turns out, there’s another book that I am found in and well … that’s the one that really matters.

I’ve got Big things to accomplish.  Love that needs to be given.  Laughs that need to be had.  Fights that need to be fought.  Tears that need to be shed.  Struggles that need to be faced.  Faith that needs to be shared.  I’ve got a life that needs to be lived!

Turns out, the promised land is     ….    Life.

Reflecting on Expectations

This last Sunday, Pastor gave a great message.  It was one on reflection.  It was one of those messages where God is diving deep into your heart revealing some un-pleasantries that were hiding in a dark crevice tucked behind a bunch of justifications.  Since then, I’ve been doing my best to confront this particular dust ball head on.  Today, I realized that perhaps what I’ve really been doing is hanging on to expectations.

I don’t think it’s bad to have expectations.  As a matter of fact, they can help people.  Expecting good things is well … a good thing.  But I’ve found that personally, when my expectations are repeatedly returned with disappointment, I tend to go in what I would refer to as, hibernation mode.

Maybe it’s because I’m not really sure how to handle the situation.  Actually, I know that’s part of it.  I tend to look at what I can do differently so I tend to withdraw believing that it’s best to think on it before reacting.  Problem is, the repeated disappointment results in growing distrust and disgust that, unchecked, seeps out as sarcastic anger.

I had the revelation that the real problem I was contending with was holding onto expectations that I should really just turn over to Jesus.  I’m not quite sure that this will solve my dilemma, but I do feel as though it’s a good place to start.  I also feel it’s a much better option than attempting to simply manipulating myself or anyone else into believing that things are ‘just fine.’

Perhaps the distrust that I experience has more to do with the expectations I put out rather than a real trust issue.  Turns out however, that I can not deny the fact that distrust ultimately means a lack of faith in God’s ability.  I would never willingly say that I didn’t have faith in what God can do, however the repeated issue of distrust tells me … yep, there’s a malfunctioning wire that needs correction.

Ugh .. the double-edged sword of cleaning up your heart.  Feels good when it’s done, but dang .. it’s a lot of work to get there.

I’m not completely sure how to sort out all these expectations quite yet.  Turns out I’ve a heap of them that have been collecting for some time.  Maybe in the end Jesus will tell me that there are a few I should keep, but in the mean time, I really need His help to determine which ones to toss and which ones to give Him for safe keeping.

Oddly, just talking about the job is making me feel better already.  I’m okay with a little work.  Especially if it means cleaning up that sess pool that was seething at me in the mirror the other day.  Yikes!

Speaking of reflections, turns out it was a good thing I put that reminder on the mirror to not forget my smile.  🙂

The risk of investing everything

The other day, I made a comment to a young lady telling her that her boyfriend was worth the investment.  I didn’t put a lot of thought to the comment, it just came out because I believed it.  After I said it though, it really made me think about relationships between a man and a woman.

The young man I was referring to is someone very near and dear to me and someone whom I have always seen great potential in.  From the very start, I have seen the man who God wants him to be.

Of course, this is a young couple who are both growing and maturing, figuring out who they are in relation to themselves, each other, and I would venture to say, even God.  As I watch and pray for them, I can’t help but see the importance of investing in the person we are with .. not just the relationship.

I’m amazed as I watch this young man grow and see him maturing.  I have watched him grow from almost indifferent towards his girlfriend to being just that .. invested.  No longer is it just a relationship for the sake of relationship.  It’s something more.  It’s a realization that the other person has taken hold of a place in your heart that no one else can or ever will fill.

What a hopeful thing to see!  When we are invested, we are willing to go through a thing or two.  When we are invested, we have something to fight for.  When we are invested, we allow God to show us the person we love through His eyes instead of our own.  When we are invested, we are willing to bear our hearts, even when it hurts.

I believe this is one of the key factors to really good marriages.  Marriages shouldn’t be just a matter of convenience or filling financial and physical needs because it’s some sort of contract.  Marriage should be an investment in a person that God chose for me.

Unfortunately, I’ve been through divorce and didn’t realize these things in my previous marriage.  I fell into the trap of believing that marriage was about our individual happiness.  Mostly, I didn’t have God focused eyes to help me see the things I could not see.

While I’m not proud to say I’m divorced, I am thankful the situation ultimately led God to open my spiritual eyes.  I’m also thankful that God had someone in mind for me because, being the gracious God He is, He would give me a second shot at marriage.  God would teach me the importance of not just being committed to a marriage, but being invested in the man He has chosen for me.  What a difference investing in the man versus the marriage makes.

Why?  Because now that I invest in my husband versus my marriage, I’ve been given a glimpse of the bond that God truly intends between a man and woman .. and I realize just how valuable that bond truly is!  It is something to desire and strive for.  It’s beautiful and it’s worth every bit of effort and ugly thing you have to go through to get it.

When you are truly invested, you have everything to lose .. yes.  But on the other hand, when God is the one leading the investment, you have something that is priceless to gain … a type of love that only God can create.

I love my husband.