Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Consider the Loving-Kindness of the Lord

With everything going on today, anything with the title “The Lord delivers men from Manifold Troubles” sounds super appealing. As I began to read Psalm 107 I began to wonder if this current world pandemic, social distancing, quarantine trial is God’s mercy in disguise as every single person has been forced into hiding?

Did this quarantine happen so we could be hidden and have time to seek our purpose, figure out life, understand what we were created for? Have we been hidden so He can heal our broken and bleeding hearts, eliminate our fears, choke out our anxiety, remove the toxic from our life so when it is over we can start a new normal, a more healthy normal? Is He hiding us so we can rest? 

I often forget that the times I’m most satisfied with my life are the times I am more closely connected with God. This year I have been so busy running around working, paying bills, trying to find matching time slots with friends to be social, serving others, etc, that I made very little time with God. As I transitioned into quarantine I found myself deeply unsatisfied, overwhelmed, and exhausted. In my search for satisfaction I was suffering from major FOMO making sure my schedule fit with as many social events as possible, all the while neglecting my broken heart and missing out on opportunities to heal and process loss from 2019.

On the evening of my "38 will be great" birthday, March 12, during my birthday dinner, the world began making plans for a drastic change. Everyone’s phone kept going off with updates about COVID19. It seemed like every half hour people were getting notifications about borders closing, Disney closing, schools closing, etc. People were being advised to begin making plans for social distance and prepare for a quarantine. I kept pushing away the dreadful thoughts of quarantine and being alone with my wandering mind.  "How will 38 be great like this?" I said to myself.  

Fast forward to today, April 5, now I’m in this place where I have all the time in the world and I’m unbelievably satisfied and surprisingly sane. I used to fear being by myself because of all the places my mind wanders. After spending this time with God, praying, journaling and meditating on His word I have been able to gain control over those wandering thoughts. I’m FREE!!! 

During this quarantine He has enabled me to cut mental and emotional ties in some unhealthy relationships that had already been cut physically. I have been able to work through unforgiveness and bitterness due to neglect and brokenness. I’ve had time to pray for my enemies and God has begun to help me see them as He does. I’ve started working on flaws in my character and begun applying these lessons to situations in my life. 

God is transforming my negative thinking into positive thinking and He is removing those unhealthy relationships I should have walked away from a long time ago. His word is healing and His promises are delivering me from destruction. I’m finally being delivered from the destruction of the thoughts in my mind and I feel like my soul is finally moving in a healthy direction.


So how did I get here?  As I pondered the same question, reflecting over the past year, I was lead in my bible to Psalm 107.  It is a scripture someone gave me for my birthday and I decided to read it.  


PSALM 107



Two times in Psalm 107 it mentions that when we cry out to the Lord He saves us from our distress. The first time it says that after He delivered them, the people gave thanks, sacrifices and singing to the Lord for his loving-kindness. This summarizes the work God began with transforming my mind last year. Gratitude was a huge component in leading me to a mind of peace and worship got me through each new trial as I applied the lesson.

The second time Psalm 107 mentions that the Lord saved the people from distress it says, “the people were glad for the quiet” and “He guided them to their desired haven.” This applies to me today, right now, in quarantine. For the first time in my life I am no longer terrified of the quiet. I believe that God is guiding me and growing me during this season, in preparation for giving me the desires of my heart. 

So great. I’m conquering the terror of quiet and fear of being alone with myself but the problem now is I look at the land in front of me and around me and it’s dry and seems hopeless for cultivating dreams and desires. Like literally, I keep walking forward and the view of dry land stays on the horizon. I think to myself, “ How is this promise possible when the land is dry as far as I can see?” 

Following the passages of being saved from distress the Psalm 107 mentions that God can transform any situation to its opposite. He can make water spring from that dry land. He is the Creator of the world, taking what was void and formless and giving it life. If He can transform formlessness into the world I see today and transform my negative wandering mind, then he can take my dry circumstances and cause them to be fertile as well. 


APPLICATION



So here is my encouragement for you. During this time of quarantine, when you might be afraid, or your plans have started to crumble, or you are bothered by your negative mind, pursue your Creator. Rest in His hands. Abide in His love. Your doubts and fears don’t scare Him. When the timing is right those who are hungry for His Truth will be established by Him, in the land He has prepared for them. This is just a season, it will pass. But make the best of your time with Him in this season. You might never have this opportunity again. 

Trust that God keeps His promises and realize that if you have a dream or desire it more than likely came from Him. Once you reach that land you will gather a fruitful harvest as you pursue your dreams and desires. He will protect you from loss and what you do loose wasn’t meant for you in the first place. 

We may be in a season of affliction, but He "sets the needy, who put their trust in Him, securely on high away from the affliction." This doesn't mean we won't be affected by the pandemic or whatever trial we are in. What it means is we can go out with joy and be lead forth with peace because we know He has our best in mind. The situation may affect everything around us but when we are secure in him it doesn't affect our heart and mind. He is the creator of our life and author of our life’s story. I know for me It’s already been so wonderful. I can just imagine how my dreams and desires will thrive exceedingly beyond anything I can think or imagine in this new land.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Misunderstanding Brings Opportunity

If we are going to be engaged and connected human beings in this world we are going to need to understand we will be misunderstood as well as misunderstand others. It’s just part of life in a broken world with broken people. But we also need to understand that we have the choice to try and understand or not. My goal is to try and understand and if that is your goal too we are going to have to listen more, pray more, and talk less.

The worst distance between 2 people is misunderstanding. Being misunderstood by people whose opinions you value can be painful. Most people only understand from their level of perception and pride refuses them the opportunity to BE understanding, or even open to something they might need to realize. Why? I have no idea. But I can no longer be responsible for how people perceive me. If they want to understand, they will try to understand. But if they don’t want to understand, it’s not necessary for me to waste my time trying to explain. I will always be perceived as something I am not by that person until THEY CHOOSE to understand. 

But what I’ve realized this time around is the beauty in being rejected, unseen, misunderstood, and unsupported by people. It has taught me to rely on God for everything and I have had more peace in the midst of these current rejections and misunderstandings than I’ve ever had before, because I believe God is going to use them for something absolutely wonderful. He and I have had so many incredible journeys together but honestly, throughout my past, I’ve missed out on a lot of blessings during the transition of moving on because I have chosen to wallow in the pity of my problem and become bitter instead of focusing on the new opportunity that is on its way. 

Embracing this current transitional time with surrender has allowed me to experience God coming through for me in ways I never expected possible. He has taught me lessons I’ve managed to skip over my entire life. Here is one example. 



STORY TIME:


On a Sunday back in November, a few days after an extremely uncomfortable conflict situation, God brought me back to a story I have heard thousands of times growing up in church; the story of David and Goliath. (You can find this story in 1 Samuel 17). As the pastor read the scripture and began his sermon my eyes got stuck on verses I have never paid attention to before (vs. 26-31). God had His own personal sermon prepared for me that morning as I began journaling what I felt he was showing me. 

In verse 26-31 David asked a question and it was misunderstood by his brother with a very demeaning response. The brother’s questions of David’s motives were not fair when all David was doing was inquiring about the situation. Even the other soldiers and King Saul doubted David’s ability to fight Goliath because of their small thinking. But that didn’t stop David from fulfilling the task God had for him because he saw things from God’s great big perspective. 

David walked away from the judgement and misunderstanding and continued to pursue the task of battling the giant. He knew his enemy wasn’t his family or nation. He didn’t allow for their opinions to discourage him and keep him from fighting the real enemy. Because his focus was in the right place he brought victory to God, God’s people, himself, and even those who misjudged him. David fought Goliath his way, the way he had been lead by God to fight; even though people doubted and wanted David to fight their way. David was sure he knew the way and followed it. 

So I want to close with this, if you are feeling misunderstood and discouraged hang in there. Look at misunderstanding as an opportunity to learn, grow, but most importantly to move forward into the next phase of your journey. God knows the truth of your situation better than even you do. He will get you out of it one way or another and when He does, move on with grace, respect, and dignity, even if that person doesn’t deserve it. Don’t get self righteous by trying to defend yourself. Don’t get bitter by trying to fight back. FORGIVE, LOVE, TRUST GOD, FOCUS on the task He has for you. He will fight for you and you will win that battle against your Goliath and anyone else who opposes you. “JUST IMAGINE” the possibilities when you let go, let God and allow Jesus to take the wheel.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Is Peace Possible?

PEACE: This was my word for 2019. When God gave me this word He said, “I’m going to give you peace like you have never experienced before.” So I was looking forward to a relaxing year.  However, I should have known better when the scripture He gave me to go along with this word was Psalm 37. Criticism, financial setbacks, potential homelessness, judgement, conflict, and misunderstanding were regular daily events in my life this year. And somehow I have managed to find peace and keep my joy in the midst of all of them.

You see, what I have learned to understand is that peace is NEVER the absence of problems or conflict. Having peace in your life means YOU are the way you should be, even when everything around you is not as it should be. 

Now you may be asking how is this possible? Well first I recognized that fear plagues my life and keeps me from having peace, keeps me from having joy, keeps me from prospering.  When I abide in God’s perfect love His love gives me the confidence I need to live, even in the face of trouble. God is my refuge and strength. If I can learn how to abide in God’s love I can begin to weed out fear in my life and in doing so have peace because His perfect love cast out fear.  

  Second, I recognized that I need to stop trying to feel validated by the things and people in this world.  Life has all these expectations you and I will NEVER live up to! Peace is absent from my life when I fight against what I was created for by trying to live up to expectations that were never meant for me! God who created me, and created the day that I am living, knows what I was created to accomplish in life. “God is closer to me than I am to myself.” (Augustine)  He is within while I am outside myself. When I ask God to make himself known from where He already resides, my heart; that affirmation and validation from God will give me the ability to obtain the peace I am looking for, the peace that is my inheritance as a child of God. One prayer I prayed regularly this year is “God, show me my heart as YOU see it.” Not how I see it, or how the world sees it.  God is not asking me to be the best ____ the world has ever seen, He’s asking me to be the BEST ME the world has ever seen. The person He created me to be. 

Third, I recognized the importance of developing an attitude of GRATITUDE by choosing to glorify and praise God every day, REGARDLESS.  Gratitude goes with singing and praise and is the gateway to the dwelling place of the Lord. It is a response to God’s steadfast love.  Every day/season/situation has a purpose, so thank God for it. If there is something going on in my life, there is a reason for it. Gratitude opens up the gates of God’s blessings so I can see His wonders, even when it feels like the world is coming against me.  Gratitude has built my faith this year. It has helped me trust and wait because I remember all God has done and that He can do it again. Gratitude magnifies God’s power instead of my problems. It empties me of my sorrow and fills me with joy, life, and contentment.  

There is so much more I can say but if you are reading this, and you REALLY want to experience peace, you are going to have to begin practicing it for yourself, and begin searching for it yourself in the Prince of Peace.  No one and nothing in this world can give you the peace you are looking for. These things I have listed are just some tips to get you started. So I want to end with this, don’t wait for peace, choose to walk in peace. I have made it a habit of getting on my knees every morning and SURRENDERING the day to God. Walking in peace means following God for the outcome He created me for, NOT LEADING GOD to the outcome I want for my life.  Commit your way to the Lord and allow God to guide you! Don’t be hasty but trust that God will go before you and allow Him to do so. When life starts to overwhelm me thats my sign to step back and pray, watch for God to work and be still ("pause and abide"). God is good at being God so it is OK to trust Him. Will you give it a try?


Here are some scriptures God used to teach me the things I wrote above.

Psalm 37, Luke 2:10, Joshua 1:9, 24:15, 1 John 4:16-18, Philippians 4:7, Romans 3:23-24, Isaiah 26:3-4, Zechariah 3:6, 4:6


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Solitude Soldier No More


Imagine you are watching the movie Braveheart and it gets to that famous Battle of Stirling scene.  The Scottish were outnumbered 3 to 1 by the English army so already the odds were against them.  But they were fighting together; fighting for freedom.  

What would you think if you were watching that scene and William Wallace did nothing to stop the discouraged Scottish soldiers from leaving the battle? What if there was no famous "FREEDOM" speech, but instead William Wallace went alone to battle the English army in that scene?  Would you find William Wallace stupid? crazy? arrogant?  Would you turn it off?  Would you be curious as to why he felt like he needed to battle alone instead of recruiting to stay?  Who would ever make a movie like that?  Who would ever fight a battle like that alone?


Well today God opened my eyes to see that this ridiculous scene of battling alone has been me the past 9 years.  I have been battling for the freedom of souls lost to darkness and the freedom of souls in captivity to injustice but haven’t asked people to pray with me and for me.  I’ve been severely injured from this battle too and that’s probably why I hid in Montana for 2 years doubting everything I ever believed or experienced.  

This morning God revealed to me why I have been barely surviving in ministry since I began full time in 2010. The reason I say I am battling alone is because I haven't asked people to partner with me in prayer, the most powerful weapon I posses, to battle in places I cannot physically see.  I've asked people to join me in other ways but prayer should have been the first partnership I extended to those who wanted to come alongside me in this ministry because "PRAYER PRECEDES ANY MOVEMENT FROM GOD" (Guil).  My mentor Merrie says, "If I desire to see anything happen here in this natural realm I need to get it started in the spiritual realm first."



I’ve seen God do so much already so I can’t even imagine what He will do now that I‘m inviting people to join me in prayer.   When I’ve come together to pray with others I’ve seen God move in incredible ways, but then in my own life and personal ministry I’ve been wondering where my breakthrough is.  I’ve literally depleted everything to 0 and taped out every resource.

Reflecting back on this week I see how things were leading up to this moment. I had a friend ask me what she could do to help me and I was literally shocked.  No one has ever asked me that.  It took me 2 days to think of a way she could help me.  A few days before that, in a quiet time, God spoke these words, “If I am ever to be raised up it must be by the Hand of God.  God can do nothing for me until I get to the limit of my possible.”  I wondered what “my possible” looked like cause I felt like I had already passed that limit.  But now I see God was getting my attention to invite others to join me through prayer. 

All this time I have thought if people wanted to help they would ask.  But I realized that people do want to help.  When you don’t ask for help people just assume you got it all figured out and they don’t ask how they can help or how they can pray for you.  I hear all the time “Rachael you are so independent.” But I honestly don’t feel independent.  On the outside it looks like I am independent but people don't see the sorrow and desperation I am facing on the inside, desperately dependent to partner with people.  But not wanting to bother them to get a job done I just did what I had to do (how prideful).  I was just doing what I thought I needed to do to survive and help others but what I needed was a community of people coming alongside me, praying with me and for me.



So I implore you today, if you would like to partner with me in prayer, and become a regular champion of this fight for freedom, please send me a message and let me know.  It's a matter of me not only needing you but wanting you to champion this fight with me.  I’m not really sure how to go about this new partnership but I’m sure the Lord will lead and I welcome any ideas to communicate these prayer requests. 

Maybe you too find yourself in this same situation.  If this is you then I encourage you to reach out and ask for prayer.  You can even reach out to me.  Just please don’t battle alone anymore! 




Friday, July 19, 2019

Peace from Childlike Faith


How awesome is childhood? I mean think about yours for a moment.  For most of us childhood was peaceful, easy, carefree when you compare it to being an adult.  (When I say childhood I mean like 11 and under). As an adult I often find myself admiring the joy of children and find their freedom, innocence, humor, and way of thinking refreshing.  But it wasn’t till recently that I realized what it takes for them to be able to live that way.  

I was discussing this with a friend at Lake Eola a few weeks ago and it was in this conversation that God opened my eyes to this incredible AH! HA! moment of child like faith that I have been pondering all month.  After a month of pondering this I firmly believe that the carefree life of a child is possible for me and anyone else who is an adult Christian.  I love this quote from Ravi Zacharias, “The tragedy with growing up is not that we loose childishness in its simplicity but that we loose childlikeness in its sublimity.” 

When you are a child life is free to be innocent, joyful, carefree because mom and dad take care of EVERYTHING!  Not one need is left ignored, as the children are fully dependent on their parents.  Children also feel safe because their parents protect them.  Children are also free to be curious.  They have a lot of questions, as they desire to grow in wisdom of how things work around them and why things happen.  A good parent won’t be upset to answer those questions but will have the wisdom necessary to answer them in a way the child can understand.

These same characteristics spill over to me as an adult walking in my Christian faith.  So many times I try to take care of things on my own and I get worried or stressed when money is tight one month.  Or I put an alarm on my house cause I’m worried about being robbed.  Or I buy extra insurance on expensive gadgets or my car cause I’m worried about them being damaged or being stolen.  And worries about life and things just keep adding up and distracting me from fulfilling my purpose because I'm so obsessed by them and for what reason!!?  I fear losing things that I will loose anyway when I die cause they won’t go with me into eternity.

But the reality of my faith is that God is my good Father and I must live like a child to receive the inheritance He has for me (Matt 18:3) Just as everything I owned as a child belonged to my parents, everything I own as a child of God belongs to Him.  It is necessary for me to live fully dependent on Him so I can focus on JUST LIVING, (actually living). I can have confidence that He is watching over me, protecting me and will provide.  When I am actually living a life that is fully dependent on God I can truly live in the peace and freedom of the call He has placed on my life and be available to help others when needed. 


But check this out!  Jesus also says “whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”  (Matthew 18:4) Did you see that?  People who humble themselves like a child, fully dependent on God, curious to ask Him questions and grow in His wisdom, are considered greater in the kingdom where we spend ETERNITY!!  They trust without questioning, simply and gladly believing His word without doubt.

And then Jesus says, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me” (Matthew 18:5).  I’m really not sure the theological context of this verse but as I prayed this is what I believe the Spirit was revealing to me.  In all my years of sharing Jesus with people I can honestly tell you I have much more success when I’m depending on God fully instead of myself.  When I’m not acting all “super religious and super righteous” but just being genuine like a child.  When I’m not trying to persuade people with my fancy words of wisdom rather instead just living a simply, generous, carefree life in the call He has placed on it.  I’m more successful in my call when I am living fully dependent on Him.

So I end with this, A CALL TO GENEROSITY as a child of God.  Live simply so others might simply live.  When God blesses you however He chooses; be it with time, knowledge, finances, or material possessions, don’t use it as an opportunity to raise your standard of living but rather an opportunity to raise your standard of giving.   Good parents teach their children to share.  God is a good Father, and He blesses us as His children because He desires for us to share with others in an attempt to grow the Kingdom.


Friday, June 21, 2019

So Much To Be Thankful For

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             Psalm 23 is a chapter in the Bible that is very familiar with Christians all over the world.  I myself memorized it at the age of 5.  So when I decided to make gratitude a habit for this month and focus on gratitude from a biblical standpoint, I was a little perplexed that this was the first place God lead me to study.  I didn’t really understand but His Spirit encouraged me to look at this chapter from the lens of gratitude!  I was completely blown away at the affects gratitude can have on my life from this chapter after doing so.  Here is what I found.


Verse 1 - GRATEFUL FOR THE BLESSINGS IN FRONT OF ME

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

            When I have an attitude of gratitude I’m not stressed about obtaining the material things I want because I’m focused on how God, my Shepherd, has provided for all my needs.  I notice amazing things going on in my life when I am grateful instead of noticing the amazing things going on in other people’s lives that I want but don’t have.  When I focus on my wants I miss the blessing right in front of me.  God has already taken care of my needs. 


Verse 2 – GRATEFUL THAT I DON’T HAVE TO FIGURE IT ALL OUT

“He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.”

            He leads me to the provisions, to the open floodgates where my supply is never ending.  He wants to meet my needs, desires, and wants but I must step back and allow Him to do so.  I need to stop getting ahead of God by thinking I know the right direction to the ample supply He has for me, and start following Him there. 



Verse 3,4 – GRATEFUL THAT GOD TAKES CARE OF IT ALL

“He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil,
 for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

            Living righteously isn’t boring!  Trust me!  If you know my life story you know I am evidence of this.  In fact, living for God is an adventure because God’s power can and will do incredible things in my life when I let it!  He is a big God. 

            But I haven’t always lived righteously.  What I’ve noticed since being right with God again is the incredible peace I have from this restored relationship.  I don’t have to worry about anything, my needs, my enemies, my failures, my social status or my reputation.  He takes care of it all and He vindicates me.  I don’t have to worry about my future, death, evil, or sadness even though those things will come my way.  He promises to always come to my rescue. 

            He allows those things to come into my life so I see my need for Him and relinquish the control I’ve given myself over my life.  This world will hurt me because it is broken.  But I don’t have to allow the brokenness of this world to break me because I can look with gratitude on every season and circumstance.  By doing this I am able to see how He is working and how I am growing and learning.  With that gratitude will come a restoration of my soul out of the ashes.

  
Verse 5 – GRATEFUL FOR HAVING ENEMIES

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

            It is easy to show kindness or gratitude towards those who love me, but what about my enemies?  David wrote this Psalm and he had many enemies.  People he thought he was close to tried to kill him or take away his rightful God anointed position.  But God always took care of David.  His cup was never dry and he learned many things from the hardships his enemies caused him.  When I am in the midst of my enemies I have a heightened awareness of my fears, doubts, and what is going on around me, I’m more self-aware.

            When God delivered David’s enemies over into David’s hands he chose to allow God to vindicate him instead of vindicating himself.  Planted in the house of the Lord the righteous man will flourish regardless of what is around him.  The enemies of the Lord will perish. 


Verse 6 – GRATEFUL FOR THE PROMISE

“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

            Gratitude is the gateway to the dwelling place of the Lord.  It’s the gateway to being blessed.  It’s the gateway to love, acceptance and many good things in life. 


               So I end by asking this question, what are you grateful for today?  Today I am grateful for God’s truth and how He desires to reveal it to a willing heart that’s ready to learn and open to change.