A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Faithfulness of God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Faithfulness of God. Show all posts

June 5, 2024

"Everybody Wants the Mountain; But Nobody Wants the Wilderness"

The title of this blog is a quote by Pastor and activist Jonathan Tremaine Thomas, who appeared on the docu-series, Jonathan and Jesus, which records a pilgrimage of faith by Jonathan Roomie, who stars as Jesus in The Chosen. The comment is made in response to a conversation the two had regarding what it's like to experience a season of testing in your faith.

First, I want to clarify what it looks like when you're in the midst of a mountaintop experience. For many Christians, the subject of faith is academic -- we intellectually know all the theological language about faith ... it is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). We can also go through the motions of getting baptized and doing all the religious sacraments that we are asked to do as evidence of our faith. But all this can be a cerebral understanding of faith [or head knowledge]. God seeks a heart understanding of faith. 

To have a mountaintop experience requires that we have a very real encounter with the living Christ. It is a moment of revelation and supernatural disclosure from Heaven, where our spiritual senses are overcome with the reality that He is near; that you are feeling His touch and absolutely know [and are convinced] that He is with you and for you. It's like the experience Moses had with YHWH on the mountain; coming face to face with the knowledge that Jesus is truly your Savior and the King of the Universe.

For some that happens easily and quickly; for others it takes diligent practice of your faith -- lots of prayer and studying of the Word; seeking daily communion and relationship with the One who Saved you. Whether your mountaintop encounter happens quickly or slowly and gradually, it will happen, if you are consistent and persistent in seeking it. But here is a truth that you must discern whenever that blessed encounter happens ... everything that God anoints and approves, He tests. And that's when we often will find ourselves undergoing our wilderness experience.

So, what does that look like? It's interesting to me that both experiences are often linked. After enjoying your spiritually transformative experience on your mountaintop, you may suddenly find yourself in a period of intense isolation and trials. Think of the Israelites, who having been set free from 400 years of slavery and bondage in Egypt, suddenly found themselves being tried and tested in a desert-like wilderness. They were to take possession of the Promised Land, trusting God to provide a way for them. But through their doubt, unbelief and lack of faith, their disobedience led to the wrath of God and a punishment of 40 years of wandering in the wilderness until that unbelieving generation died off.  

The Bible also tells us that Jesus, Elijah, Job and Paul were among many other Biblical figures who experienced their own wilderness experiences. And it can look different for different people. Personal struggles can come in the form of temptations, personal loss, physical attacks, and extreme isolation. You can experience profound burdens upon your body, soul and spirit. It is a severe testing of your faith and you are forced to surrender to God, relying on [only] Him to mature you and grow you in your walk with Christ. As Paul says, when you find yourself in your wilderness of testing, you will "be hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed". But if you can surrender to the work that God wants to do in you, your life will be a testimony that it is the unsurpassed power of God [in you] -- and not by your own power -- that He accomplishes a renewal and strengthening of your faith and accomplishments for His Kingdom.

I can personally testify that as wonderful and joyous as the few mountaintop experiences have been to grow my faith, it is the wilderness episodes that have had the most dynamic effect. I experienced a particularly trying time when I spent seven years in what I call my "most personal and difficult wilderness encounter with God". I have shared it before on this blog, but I hope that this latest depiction will resonate with someone and they can learn something from my experience. 

God had ordained the steps of my husband and myself after we married, and sparked a desire to know more about the Word and what our relationship with the Lord should look like. He led us to a small group of older, faith-filled Believers in a big church in Austin, where we found the discipleship and equipping that we were desperately seeking. I cannot say that we were anywhere close to gaining the maturity in our faith that God desired, but we were growing in our knowledge of the Lord and His heart for us to step into our purpose for His Kingdom on earth. Just as we were feeling confident that we were "going places" in our faith, we found ourselves moved to 129 acres west of San Antonio in a small, rundown farmhouse that needed lots of repair, and totally isolated from everything that had fed our "comfortable" lives.

We not only found ourselves in the middle of nowhere, but removed from everything and everyone that had provided all of our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs... no big grocery stores, no movie theaters or bookstores, no church family, and what felt like solitary confinement away from God, Himself.  We tried the small country church in a nearby town, but the rigid, religious spirit in that church only served to make me feel even more alone. I was also confronted by fear, doubt, and unbelief that we would be able to prosper in this place. It was right after September 11th, 2001 and our financial situation was dire, to say the least. My husband was beginning his career as a professional artist, still in the phase of "paying his dues", and we struggled to pay the bills each month.

I praise God, to this day, that He gave my husband a firm faith that never doubted that God would take care of us. I, on the other hand, was struggling to remain established and settled in my faith. I fought against doubt and unbelief and the whispers of the Liar that I couldn't count on God to be my Jehovah Jireh. Yet, each time that God provided and a painting sold, I would praise Him and believe in His goodness towards us -- until the next month when things got tight again. I never doubted that we were following the path He had set before us, I just found myself trying to solve our lack of resources myself, instead of trusting that He would not abandon us. But He never gave up on me! I would stumble, then renew my commitment to trust Him, and with every step backwards, I found His grace to take two steps forward in my faith. And then one day, after fervent prayer and telling Him I was tired of the doubt with which Satan tempted me, and I wanted to let it go for good, I heard [in my spirit], "If you will be faithful to Me, I will be faithful to you". 

From that day forward, it has been a journey of surrendering to Him and trusting in Him. And I can now say that I know my Jehovah Jireh [the God who provides]!  I don't just know about Him, but I surrendered myself and allowed my spirit to be put in a place where I had to meet Him in order for my faith to survive. My wilderness journey lasted 7 long years, but I wouldn't trade it for anything! It's where I learned to live in quietness, solitude and intimacy; a place where I heard Him speak to me and received His reassurance that He has me and will never let me go. Yes, the Mountaintop is a glorious place to be; full of the magnificence, splendor, joy and wonder of being close and connected to Almighty God. But the Wilderness offers the opportunity to fight for that relationship and grow in your identity in Christ in order to understand that God-ordained testing comes when you have been approved for His purposes. His goal is to refine you, strengthen you, and prepare you for a life of service to Him. My advice is to enjoy the mountaintop, and embrace the wilderness. He will meet us in both places! Hallelujah!

Psalm 63:1    O God, You are my God; with deepest longing I will seek You; My soul [my life, my very self] thirsts for You, my flesh longs and sighs for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.                

June 14, 2023

My Testimony: "Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me"!

If you're of a certain age, you might remember that comedy hour of country songs and humor, called HeeHaw. The title of today's blog comes from one of their theme songs sung by residents of Kornfield Kounty, lamenting the sad state of their lives. "Gloom, Despair, and Agony" was a comedic poke at the imaginary problems of simple country folk. But more and more, it's becoming the theme song for the lives of millions of Americans, as they face an uncertain future filled with fear, anxiety, and worry.

Let me begin by saying that, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I have had to overcome my own struggles with these three spiritual adversaries and the havoc they can cause in pursuing a contented and prosperous life. It didn't matter that I knew all the Scriptures that told me that Jesus had not given me a spirit of fear, or that the Bible tells us we will endure sorrows and sufferings so that we might follow in the steps of our Savior, overcoming as He did. They did not defeat the thoughts that continued to repeat themselves over and over, keeping me in a state of instability and what the Bible calls "an unsound mind".

It wasn't until I was 40 years old, and spending some time caring for my father after his multiple bypass surgery that I understood the "spiritual mechanics" of my inability to find peace and a deeper measure of faith. As I laid in my bed, I could hear my father moaning in anxiety and worry over his health and the absence of my mother, who had passed away a few years before. At a very minimal level, I began to see where my own fears and worry about the future had originated. I was able to see his pattern throughout my childhood, and into adulthood, of worrying about finances and the unforeseen battles of life. I was just like my dad! 

But I also realized that I had accepted Christ as my Savior and Deliverer, while he had not. And I recognized that other members of our family -- aunts, uncles, and cousins -- also struggled with worry and anxiety, brought on by fear. Some were believers, some were not; but I didn't want to be like them! It would be years until I understood the Biblical concept of iniquity. And it was through my pursuit of a more intimate relationship with Jesus that I would hear the voice of my Heavenly Father which changed the course of my life. I can also look back now, and see the narrow path He led me and my husband on; a path He had carefully laid out since the foundations of the world. 

Ever since we made the decision, early in our marriage, that my husband would follow the unconventional path of a professional artist, using the talents we acknowledged came from God, Mark never doubted or worried. Even during the years of "paying his dues" and building his career -- the years of wondering if we could pay our monthly bills -- he always [simply and  resolutely] trusted God for everything. Me, not so much! I was still struggling with the trifecta of my old adversaries: worry, anxiety, and fear. It wasn't until I found myself in what I call my "seven years in the wilderness", that I submitted to God and asked Him to help me trust Him. These were the years where I found myself isolated on 129 acres, about 90 miles west of San Antonio. Without the distractions of our lives in Austin and Houston, I was faced with lots of time for meditation and contemplation. They were the years when our struggles were the most difficult, and the years my fears were the most prominent, yet they were the years that I made the most forward progress in my faith.

As I said, I had had enough of living in the shadow of the spirit of fear, and I knew my constant worrying had to be getting tiresome to my husband, although he always patiently pointed me towards trusting Jesus. Then one day, I had this profound thought. It wasn't the audible voice of the Lord, but what I had begun to recognize as His thoughts that He revealed to my mind. I heard, "If you will be faithful to Me, I will be faithful to you". Wow! What a promise! Did I have enough faith to trust Him to fulfill that vow? Could I finally let go of my earthly father's voice in my head telling me that I had to work hard to control my finances; that it was all up to me?

I'm not going to tell you that it was easy. There were many times in the ensuing years that the Enemy tried to shake my confidence in Jesus and the Father; times of struggle, wondering where the next art sale would come from to pay the looming bills. And you know what? Every time God delivered on His promise! With each divine testimony He gave me, I was learning to trust Him and not succumb to the doubt and unbelief that the devil so desperately wanted me to pick back up. I was building a history of trust with God! Even to this day, the one who got thrown out of Heaven tries to convince me that I can't trust the One who has so faithfully provided all that I need in this life.

And as I trusted God for my earthly essentials, He showed me that my husband and I could be trusted to receive greater revelations of His sovereignty in the world. And He anointed us with a ministry that has allowed us to share how He overcame our own wounds and insecurities. Because we became yoked together in trusting Him to guide us to the purpose for which we were created, we are able to see the ways that the Enemy disrupts the lives of others and builds obstacles to the discovery of their purposes for His Kingdom here on earth. One of the biggest is that iniquity in family lines that I mentioned was so prominent in my own. And I want to give you a quick synopsis on its effects, so you can break it off yourself and your family.

I want to point out both Exodus 20:5-6 and Deuteronomy 5:9-10. [Whenever God confirms His commandments again, we know this is an important precept that He wants us to get!]. They both read: You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those [generations] who love Me and keep My commandments. It is important that the body of Christ understands this spiritual principle. INIQUITY is when a sin [as in my family's case; worry and not trusting God], moves beyond a one-time occurrence, which can be confessed and repented for, and it ends. When that sin then moves into open rebellion [knowing it's a sin, but it is continued to be practiced], and is still not confessed and repented and stopped -- then it becomes embedded in the actual DNA of the family line. 

You can apply any sin to iniquity ... think of families who will say, "we're just a family of alcoholics'. Substitute any sin in that sentence -- adultery, molestation, pornography, pedophilia, lying, greed -- you get the picture. And interestingly enough, it will go three or four generations, until a righteous member of the family declares, "It stops with me"! In my case, I was the third generation, and recognized the sin of worry and stopped it. But I see it in some of my nieces and nephews, the fourth generation, because my siblings are still blinded to the iniquity in our family bloodline. And if it doesn't get stopped, it will continue unimpeded.

So, I want to summarize my testimony and speak my heart ... Don't let "Gloom, Despair, and Agony" become your theme song. Yes, the world is exhibiting lots of reasons to give in to these corresponding spirits of worry, anxiety, and fear. But if nothing else, I hope you heard how I overcame them with the help of the Lord. If, like me, you have become tired of living in a constant state of instability and not trusting the Lord, submit to Him; surrender and tell Him you are ready to be faithful to Him, choosing to believe [even in the midst of your doubt and unbelief] that He will be faithful to you. 

Take it from me, you CAN TRUST HIM! Never forget that Jesus tells us, "In Me, you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world". And that word tribulation encompasses all your trials; all your struggles, all the injustices perpetrated against you; anything that you worry about or are tempted by. And you "may" have the peace you long for -- it's up to you. But will you trust Him to be faithful to you? Start building that trust today, as you take the first step in being faithful to Him. It will change your life and set you on the path you are destined for!

2 Chronicles 16:9    For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth so that He may support those whose heart is completely His...



November 7, 2022

Oh, The Depth and Power of Jesus's Faithfulness!

Today, the focus of this post is testifying to the overwhelming passion Jesus has for those who belong to Him. As most of you know, the Lord has called my husband and me to participate with Him in helping to set the captives free. For the last ten years, we have embarked on a journey with Jesus to places and people we would never have foreseen in our lives before Him.

Why us? The only answer my spirit has been able to discern is that He knew the purpose for which He created us, and when the time was right, He called us into service. To be honest, looking from the outside in, no one would have picked us! But He knew ... He knew first of all, that we would say "yes" to His invitation. He knew we would remain patient during the three years He sent the Holy Spirit and the anointed people to equip us and train us up. He knew that we would be strong enough to withstand the doubt, unbelief, and judgment from our religious brothers and sisters. And He knew we would be bold enough to step into the unknown territory of the Enemy to which He would lead us.

Believe me, we did none of this out of our own strength! We had to learn to sit our souls down in order to let our spirits rise up and hear from the Lord. But, oh what rewards there have been as we have matured in this calling! And I write all this to encourage and fortify your faith. It is important you know that we have been introduced to people who have experienced the most horrific childhoods that have led to adulthoods lived in constant torment; people who, according to the world's yardstick [and the Church's], have committed every sin, blasphemy, and offense that would qualify them as irredeemable (unable to be redeemed, restored, or recovered). 

Yet, we invite Jesus to overcome the judgment and condemnation they've received from "the religious" members of the Body of Christ; to counter the lies the Enemy has told them since the doors of sin were opened in their childhood; and to restore them to their original purpose that the devil tried to kill, steal, and destroy. And He shows up!!! We have worked with people who believe the lie that Jesus can never forgive them for the molestation they endured; for those they, in turn,  have molested; for the promiscuous years; for the homosexual urges and experiences; for the bestiality; for the drug use and addictions; for the adultery; for the pornography; for the witchcraft they've engaged in; for their agreement with Satan ... and so much more. 

Yet, every single time, Jesus appears to their spirit and hears their confession of forgiveness for those who have wounded them and hurt them (including themselves). And because they have forgiven, He can forgive them. And then He shows His faithfulness to keep His promises to bind up broken hearts; to comfort all who mourn for their sins and the sins committed against them; to give them new garments of righteousness; and to open the prison doors to those who are in bondage. 

We have been privileged to witness glorious testimonies of what Jesus does in the Spirit for those whom He loves and died for. Countenances literally change -- skin tones go from ashen gray to rosy and glowing. Eyes go from dull and dead to bright and shining. Tears flow as the person understands they have been transformed from Satan's Despised to Jesus's Beloved. They now lay claim to the Authority and Power that Jesus has bequeathed to them. They no longer wait for Jesus to come rescue them, but know He has given them the key to their own freedom... the authority to close the spiritual access points to a sinful nature, and the power of His blood to seal those portals permanently shut. The result is generational iniquity is canceled, and new stories are written in God's Book of Life. Future generations will know the love and favor of the Lord for following His righteous path. And their inheritance in Heaven will be significant. 

As I finish this declaration of Jesus's extraordinary and supernatural faithfulness, I want you to know that it extends to each one of us ... me and you! There is nothing we have every said or done that He cannot forgive and redeem us, IF we are willing to confess our sins, forgive those who have hurt us -- just as He forgives us -- and surrender our lives to His righteous ways. We have been given the keys to His Kingdom, where Freedom flourishes and God's will is the ruling principle [to know what He has put in us and how to use it]. The world and our Enemy is trying to convince us we are guilty, shameful, inadequate and unworthy. But I'm here to tell you that Jesus is just waiting for an invitation to conquer those lies and establish His truth as the ruling principle in your life. I have heard and seen Him demonstrate and confirm every promise stated in the Bible. And they are not just words in the Bible... He is the Living Word and the embodiment of all those promises! He can heal your pain and torment! Believe it!

#jesusheals #thebiblespromises #thefaithfulnessofgod #ourpowerandauthorityinchrist

Deuteronomy 7:9    Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.