Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Resolutions and Whatnot

Top 10 BEST Moments/ Events of 2008:
(Not in any particular order)

10- Honduras Trip!
9- My big move to Georgia
8- Getting engaged to a wonderful man
7- Getting married and having a wonderful and beautiful wedding.
6- Getting my first apartment, and decorating it and making it our home.
5- Living with the Sipple's and getting to know them well!
4- Getting to know the entire Bradfield family very well.
3- Becoming more at home at my new church, PCF, and getting to know my new church family.
2- Getting a job as an art director for Alpharetta Magazine, and being able to work from home.
1- Falling more and more in love with Phil, and with the Lord

Top 10 Worst Moments or Events in 2008:

10- Having no job for half of the year, and struggling with money
9- Missing my friends and family, and being homesick
8- Drama with old friends (coughJoecough) and having very little support in my decision to get married
7- Coughing through my wedding ceremony. :(
6- Feeling lonely a lot of the time
5- Phil and I both losing our jobs in the same week
4- The economy getting worse and worse
3- Feeling inadequate, unworthy, and useless...basically listening to lies.
2- Seeing my ex's wedding photos.
1- Realizing that graphic design is not for me, and worrying about what I need to do with my life to make an impact on the world.

Top 10 Goals/ New Years Resolutions for 2009:

10- Losing at least 10-15 pounds
9- Working out and running at least 3 times a week- just getting in shape
8- Eating healthier, cutting out fast food and sweets
7- Be more consistent in spending time with God/ reading scripture/ praying
6- Getting a second job and paying off a lot of debt- paying off both credit cards as well as Phil's car.
5- Being more intentional about making friends and getting to know people
4- Trying to figure out my giftings and developing them
3- Working at my marriage, and learning how to treat each other better, as well as becoming more one with each other.
2- Experience Atlanta a little more, and see more of the city
1- Enjoy life and have fun!!! Have a better attitude and perspective about things, and learn to be content.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I've been thinking a lot about....

Giving and receiving.

A few days ago, I received an email from one of my mother's old friends (from elementary school!) and it was a Christmas greeting. It really tugged on my heart a bit, so I am going to post part of it:

"Cold, Crisp Days of Winter—The promise of snow—Memories of wishing and hoping for that which we thought would make our lives complete (One year a red bicycle, another year a fast and cool looking slot car—the best was a guitar). Memories of trying to make others happy with the gifts we bought or made (Being nine or ten years old and counting up aunts, uncles and cousins, then dividing that sum into about $12.00 and then shopping for 59 cent gifts).

We make a journey in life from childish expectations of Joy being delivered to us on Christmas Eve to the point where we put pressure on ourselves to deliver Joy to others during the Christmas season. I suppose that is worth the celebration. Many of us first received the gift of giving through Christmas. After all the wishing for what we wanted, we learned that it’s all about the giving—Our parents, siblings, grand-parents, aunts, uncles and friends gave us what we wanted not only because it made us happy—it made them happy too. What a great reason to celebrate.

We celebrate the ultimate gifts of Hope and Joy through our celebration of Christmas. We wish each other happiness and merriness and Peace. We celebrate life through the celebration of the birth of one child, born two thousand years ago and through that celebration we learn to give. What a great celebration. I wish you not only a Merry Christmas but a great celebration of giving." - Paul Waldner

In reflecting on past Christmases, I realize that in other years I have been much more excited about the season than I am this year. This year, I had only enough money to buy presents for about 4 people- all family members, and they are all receiving a picture frame with a picture from our wedding. I had a blast in picking out the pictures and frames, and really put a lot into the few presents I could give. I remember as a child, I'd work so hard at painting ornaments or making mix cassette tapes as gifts because I had no money to buy actual presents. I loved watching the joy on people's faces as they opened what I'd worked so hard on, and each year I felt like I had better and better gifts to give. I actually remember the year that I first started to feel like giving really was better than receiving.

This year, I have little to give, my excitement is dimmed....but I still feel blessed.

My good friend Farrah recently shared a story of how she went out of her way to give a small gift- a good tip to a hairdresser, and she found exactly the same amount of money in the street. To her, it was a reward for the gift she gave so willingly.

It is a good lesson to learn to give and to find joy in giving as well as receiving. It is also good to learn to give without expecting anything.

In the past, I have given the church a tithe, expecting God's blessings to be poured out on me. In the past year, I have spent time questioning God's goodness because of the fact that I have been faithful in tithing, and yet have not found a good job yet. It has been hard for me to give when I have not received...especially when I have no money!

Today I was reading in Philippians, one of my favorite books because it is so encouraging and uplifting. I read this:

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
-Phil 3:7-11

And later, in the next chapter, he thanks the Philippians for the monetary gifts they sent him to continue his ministry:

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. -Phil 4: 11-19

There is something about giving and receiving that makes people feel blessed. It is not about possessions or "keeping up with the Joneses" or getting the latest gadgets. Receiving is not just about opening presents on Christmas morning, but joyfully accepting a gift from someone which in turn, brings them joy. Over the past year, I've felt blessed most by the people who have given to me without expecting anything in return. They are the people who brought me into their homes and loved me like their own out of pure selflessness.

I think one thing I have been learning this year is how to trust God for His faithfulness in giving blessings, even when I have not been seeing those blessings tangibly.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Three people now have told me that I should make a list of things that I am blessed with, or that I love about life, and then a list of things I need to work on or that worry/bother me. So I am setting about that task, trying to keep in mind the good things God has done in my life these past few years.

Things I love/ blessings in my life:

1- God, obviously.
2- Phil, who loves me and I him.
3- Our apartment and the freedom we have to just be ourselves at home in it.
4- My family in New York, and my in-laws who I have a pretty great relationship with.
5- My part time job, even though it is not what I really want to be doing, it is something.
6- Friends that I have reconnected with, even if they are far away.
7- My health, and the health of my family.
8- Opportunities to do things like go on a mission trip to Honduras this summer.
9- All the things I have to look forward to in the coming years.

Things I need to work on or that worry/bother me:

1- Facebook stalking who I need not be stalking.
2- Diet and exercise. I have gained 30 pounds over 3 years. I gain and lose weight a lot- I go through cycles where I am smaller and then heavier. I want to just be consistent, perhaps in the middle...but most of all maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
3- I need a second job, in order to keep the bills paid and to not be lazy.
4- My relationship with God is lacking.
5- My relationships with my brother and sister are fading.

There is most likely more I could add, but I am satisfied with a shorter, more concise list.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fun with Wordle

I came across this fabulous website called "Wordle"- and I made these:

Try it here:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ramblings about how much I've changed this year....

I feel like God is taking me into the desert and stripping everything off until I no longer resemble the person I am, and have been. I am living a drastically different life than I was a year ago. A year ago, I was living on Long Island, working in NYC, getting up every morning at 6 am in order to get to work at 9 am and then not getting home until around 7 pm (about a 12-13 hour work day), at which time I was exhausted and ready for bed. I'd party on the weekends, every Friday night was a drinking night, and happy hour was a normal occurrence for me after work. Not that I'd get drunk on a week night, but that I'd at least go and fraternize with my co-workers once in a while in the Village, over cheap but delicious margaritas. I still do the margarita thing once in a while (by our apartment, there is a place that does $1.50 margaritas on Thursday nights!) but I no longer drink with the purpose of getting drunk.

That is the least of the things that have changed in the past year. I have moved from a city I love and have a heart for, to a place that is like the wilderness to me. Although we are 15 minutes outside the heart of Atlanta, Fairburn has nothing but residential areas and a small Mexican grocery store. The little downtown area which consists of a pizza place, an antique store, a coffee shop, and a thrift store, in no way comes close to the excitement, the stir, the energy of Manhattan- the city I felt was home. Even Atlanta, the largest city in the South, feels empty and desolate. The only places worth visiting are places I cannot afford.

I went from a working day of 7 am to 7 pm, to virtually no work at all. The only work I do is from home, and I end up getting out of bed at 10 am or later, and going to sleep pretty early too (most days with a 2 hour nap in there, as well). How have I come to be able to sleep so much? I'll tell you one thing- I am no longer tired all the time anymore, at least physically. But inside, emotionally, I am tired.

I am tired from all this change. I went from being single to married within less than a year. I used to date around a lot, practically using men for a night out on the town. I went out with guys I wasn't interested in, only because it meant a free meal and night out. I knew it was wrong and unfair, but didn't see much harm in it (until I hurt people's feelings...oops). I went from that to being a married woman who never goes out, hasn't gone out for dinner with my husband in who knows how long. I stay at home and cook and bake and cook and bake, and cook some more. With too much time and too many baked goods, I've gained 12 pounds in only 4 months. There is a gym in our apartment complex, and do I use it? No. Do I tell myself every day that I will go? Yes. Even as I type, I am in my gym clothes, ready to go, prolonging it because I have zero desire to work out.

Last year I had a solid group of friends that I saw on a weekly basis. We'd get together at least once every weekend, and most week nights too, unless I was on the phone with Phil. I had many friends- Long Island friends, college friends, church friends, city friends, and work friends. Now, I have only about two friends that I actually see once every few months. I keep in touch with a few people, but it is not the same. There really are not many women in Phil's church that I spend time with, and being that I have no job or school, I have not had much of a way to make friends.

Phil and I have also grown and matured in our relationship in this past year. We have gotten into more arguments and fights than I can count, and yet, we have also grown closer. But as my cousin Carolyn predicted, the little things I once found endearing are now the very things that get on my nerves the most. We used to talk all day and night on the phone when we couldn't be together, but now that we are, we do our own thing most of the time. We can be content sitting on our separate sides of the apartment, with our separate computers, doing different things for hours and not speaking a word. However, there is an intimacy that has developed, an intimacy that I believe can only really be found in marriage (or at least living together and doing all the things that married people do- not only physically, but for example, sharing a bank account...or a bathroom). Phil and I in many ways have grown closer, but we are less infatuated with each other, less enthralled with each other. Last year I was so completely and utterly in love, and my thoughts revolved around Phil. I still get excited when I know he will be getting home soon, and I think of him during the day, but in part that is due to the fact that I am lonely most of the time.

Another thing that has changed is my relationship with God. In many ways, I know Him more (or at least understand more about scripture, the Holy Spirit, and spiritual gifts), yet in other ways I know Him less. I spend less time with Him than I have in years, putting Him on a shelf yet again. A year ago, I trusted Him more than I ever had in my entire life. I spent hours basking in His presence and just writing prayers in my journal. I am back to a place of distrust, or at best, trusting Him but not really giving Him full control. I am back to never even giving reading scripture a second thought. I am back to disliking church. I still love God, but something in me is not as excited about Him as I once was. I think I cling to God in only the most desperate, needy times. I am getting back to that place of desperation, but for some reason, I haven't turned to Him to help me through it. The only thing I've been able to do is complain to Him.

I have gone from a place of contentment and happiness to a place of discontentment, sadness, loneliness, and even depression. In truth, I do glamorize the past and forget things that were not wonderful, which is why journaling and blogging help me out so much. When I look back and read about things that I was frustrated with a year ago, I realize that those things are not a problem for me anymore...and that a fresh wave of new problems has risen.

Last year I did something that was helpful to look back on. I wrote what my goals were for 2008 and reflected on 2007. I am going to do that again, but in a separate post closer to New Years. Here were my goals for this year from last year:

Top 10 Goals/ New Years Resolutions for 2008:

10- Move to Georgia and experience life there
9- Find a new job that I love, make friends with my co-workers, and enjoy what I am doing
8- Start running on a daily basis with Phil, and run a 5K and 10K race
7- Be more consistent in spending time with God/ reading scripture/ praying
6- Move into my own apartment after I have a steady job/ income
5- Create a do-able budget, and start a 401K plan
4- Get a car- either a Toyota, VW, Nissan, or something reliable
3- Make wise, Spirit led decisions in my relationship with Phil- whether or not we decide on engagement or marriage, it doesn't matter, what matters is that I follow my heart and I follow the Lord.
2- Make lots of new friends in Georgia
1- Enjoy life and have fun

I have only accomplished three of the things on here- #s 10, 6, and 4. The rest need to be included in my resolutions for next year.

I have grown and changed this past year, but I also feel like part of me has shrunk back and dissolved into someone I don't desire to be. I feel like I don't know myself anymore. I feel like I don't know what my goals are or what I am living for anymore. I feel less inspired and less excited about life this year. It shouldn't be that way, considering I just got married and I have a God who loves me more than I could ever really know. I think I am just confused about what my purpose is and what I am here for. Am I here in GA because God has a plan for me here, or just because I made a choice to move here? I know God always has a plan for us...but what if by moving here, I stepped out of God's plan and now He can't use me? I don't feel like He is using me. Phil thinks He is, but I am having a hard time seeing it.

I wish I knew what my purpose here is, and what I am really accomplishing with my life (if anything).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

J.I. Packer on "The Christmas Spirit" (from Knowing God)

We talk glibly of the "Christmas spirit," rarely meaning more by this than sentimental jollity on a family basis. But what we have said makes it clear that the phrase should in fact carry a tremendous weight of meaning. It ought to mean the reproducing in human lives of the temper of him who for our sakes became poor at the first Christmas. And the Christmas spirit itself ought to be the mark of every Christian all the year round.

It is our shame and disgrace today that so many Christians - I will be more specific: so many of the soundest and most orthodox Christians - go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord's parable, seeing human needs all around them, but (after a pious wish, and perhaps a prayer, that God might meet those needs) averting their eyes and passing by on the other side. That is not the Christmas spirit. Nor is it the spirit of those Christians - alas, they are many - whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the submiddle-class setions of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themsleves.

The Chistmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor - spending and being spent - to enrich their felow humans, giving time, trouble, care, and concern, to do good to others - and not just their own friends - in whatever way there seems need.

There are not as many who show this spirit as there should be. If God in mercy revives us, one of the things he will do will be to work more of this spirit in our hearts and lives. If we desire spiritual quickening for ourselves individually, one step we should take is to seek to cultivate this spirit. "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich" (2 Cor. 8:9). "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5). "I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart" (Ps 119:32 KJV).

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Re-design of Portfolio Items

Here are some packaging designs I created tonight while I was waiting for Phil to get home. I really need to work on my portfolio, and make it look more modern and better. During college, I sometimes slacked off, or did silly designs to make people laugh, thereby not taking some assignments seriously. I wish I did take more of them seriously, but now is the time when I can work on my portfolio and make it stronger. Comments anyone?

I really have not kept up with this blog as much as any other I've had. I did the xanga thing for over 7 years before a crazy stalker (aka my dad) inspired me to shut it down and delete all the posts (although, I did treasure them, therefore I printed them all out and kept them before I destroyed the site). I haven't kept a blog in a couple years, and I am slowly getting back into it, but the fact that very few people read this makes it hard for me to keep it going.

I love reading other people's blogs, and today I discovered a golden nugget that I should have discovered many years ago when I first heard of it: You say what categories you are interested in (design, photography, philosophy- to name some of mine) and you click "stumble" and it takes you to random websites that might interest you. I love it. I am going to start a fabulous collection of photos that I found interesting or cute. Here are some:

My nephews came over last night for dinner and Spiderman 2. Phil showed them photo booth, and they LOVED it, and fought over who would get to sit right in front of the camera. They laughed so much. Here are some of their photos:

Lastly, I am dog sitting right now for a cute little dog who decided to pee on my bed this morning. He is not allowed in our room (because he peed on the bed once before) but Phil opened the door to come in and say goodbye to me this morning, and in a flash, he jumped up onto our bed. Phil said "NO, BO!" and the little dog got scared and leaked a little on the pillow and sheets. Then he proceeded to hide in the bathroom behind the toilet. I just ate a piece of steak in front of him and gave him ZERO! HAH! That ought to teach him (though, sadly, it won't).

Here is Bo when he is being good and cooperative:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This is Home

I've got my memories
Inside of me
But I can't go back
Back to how it was
I believe you now
I've come too far
No I can't go back
Back to how it was
Created for a place
I've never known

This is home
Now I'm finally
Where I belong
Where I belong
Yeah, this is home
I've been searching
For a place of my own
Now I've found it
Maybe this is home
Yeah, this is home

Belief over misery
I've seen the enemy
And I won't go back

Back to how it was
And I got my heart
Set on
What happens next
I got my eyes wide
It's not over yet
We are miracles
And we're not alone

And now after all
My searching
After all my questions
I'm gonna call it home
I got a brand new mindset
I can finally see
The sunset
I'm gonna call it home

Now I know
Yeah, this is home

I've come too far
And I won't go back
Yeah, this is home

I really like this song. For the past year (almost), I've been struggling to make Georgia my home. I have been trying to find my niche, my place here in terms of friends, a church family, work, etc. I know this song is actually about redemption, but it can have a double meaning. To me, I sometimes get sad and wish I was home in New York. When I express that to Phil, he says, "you ARE home." Sometimes it is hard for me to accept that this is my home now, because I am a NYC girl to the core. However, I do feel that I have come so far (in life, and in my walk with God) and He is changing my mindset about living in Georgia.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New iMac and Photo Booth!

I got a new computer today after over 6 years. It is a beautiful 20 inch iMac, 2.4 giga hertz (whatever that means) and a gig of memory. So, its not the best or most expensive Mac out there, but it is a beauty nonetheless, and I love it. I had fun with Philip playing with photo booth, too. Hehe!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Questions about Marriage/ Love/ Hormones/Divorce, etc.

I used to wonder why people said the first year of marriage was the hardest. Now, I am starting to understand why.

How do two completely different people become one? How can two people get on the same page? How do two people love each other for years and years, even after the honeymoon phase is over?

LeRoy sometimes said to us during premarital counseling, "Falling in love is God's way of tricking us into having babies." Like, God wanted the earth to be populated, and so he created those hormones that makes us feel like we can't live without one another, so then we have to get married and have kids, etc.

Obviously, he was joking when he said it, but there is some truth to it, I think.

People fall in love and then get married. Then, when they fall out of love (or at least stop having those "in love" feelings- feelings like, "I can't live without this person") and they are married, they need to choose to love the person. But why would those "in love" feelings go away?

I found this information on a website called "Can't Help Falling in Love":

The feeling of love begins with an infatuation phase and then turns into the attachment phase when the two people become more involved with each other. (3) In the infatuation phase, a person feels exhilaration when they see the person, an intense passion for the person and a yearning to see their lover. (3) "The euphoria or elation that accompanies infatuation can cause lovers to crave 'staying in love'." (3) Along with a heightened nervous system, there are hormones that are released.

One of these hormones is dopamine, which is also a hormone that is involved with addictive behavior. (3) When a person feels in love, they are activating their pleasure centers in the brain, which are rich in dopamine and blood flow is elevated. (8) Since dopamine is the hormone that makes a person feel an "erotic high" when they see their lover, (5) eventually the person will become addicted to feeling that "erotic high" and when it is taken away, they will go through withdrawal. Dopamine also causes a person's heart to race; pupils to dilate and a slight perspire. (4) Since dopamine is a natural endorphin, which acts like heroin or morphine when someone takes those drugs, it causes the body to respond by relaxing the body and kills pain in high doses but in low doses it cause the body to feel unpleasant, which could be related to the depressed feeling when someone falls out of love or loses a lover. (6) (7) Also, when there is a continue presence of a lover, there is a gradual increase of dopamine, which also cause the horrible feeling when we lose a lover.

Another hormone involved with the feelings of love is phenylalanine (PEA), which is also a natural endorphin that affects mood and attachment. "One study of 33 people who were 'happily attached and feeling great' found that all had increased PEA levels." (3) Researchers have also found that high levels of PEA increases sex drive and is believed that this might be the hormone of libido. (4) The body also becomes tolerant of PEA like dopamine once the body has been exposed to it for long periods of time. (3)(7)

The last hormone involved with love is oxytocin, which is also an endorphin and has an opiate-like effect. (5) "Oxytocin is another chemical that has recently been implicated in love. Produced by the brain, it sensitizes nerves and stimulates muscle contraction. Scientists speculate that oxytocin might encourage cuddling between adult women and men." (7) Since oxytocin acts as a natural tranquilizer, it allows for a woman to become more sensitive to other's feelings when present. (6) Oxytocin is released during sexual experiences as well as when lovers touch, because it activates cell-surface proteins in the nucleus accumbens, in the brain, which causes the release of dopamine. (3) So with this release of dopamine, the person feels a euphoric high.

So God created our bodies and our hormones to be this way... So essentially, LeRoy is correct!

What happens when these hormones go away and we are still in a marriage where we don't feel "in love?" What happens when it becomes much more difficult to choose to love the person, and loving them is an every day choice and feels more like a chore than a privilege?

Why didn't God create our bodies to have those hormones going forever, convincing us that we are always in love?

I think God wanted it to be hard. Not necessarily hard, but...not necessarily easy either. Maybe He knew we wouldn't desperately need Him if our lives (and especially our love lives) were easy and perfect.

Phil and I are still in the very early stage of learning how to function as a married couple. Some of it has been quite fun, and other parts of it have seemed downright hopeless. I have come to learn from the counsel of friends, that this is all completely normal. What a revelation! Thank GOD it is normal!!

I read a really great article by this evangelist guy, whose name I forgot. He was talking about how marriage is not sacred anymore, even among Christians, and that part of the reason was the divorce laws that came into effect in the 70's ( no fault divorce- the part that says you can get divorced solely because of "irreconcilable differences"). Basically, because you can't agree on something, you can get divorced. What would America look like if that weren't the case?

God never intended on marriage becoming what it has today. But God also never intended for a married couple to stay in love forever.

So, what does a healthy and godly marriage really look like?

I never had much of a good example to follow...and any marriage I saw from the outside was just that- an outside perspective. What goes on behind closed doors, I will never know. The real issues are hidden. So I need to learn for myself, I think. Along with solid advice, testimonies from others, and God's voice speaking into my marriage.

At 2 months in...I am still learning. I wonder when the learning phase ends, or if it never really does.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Last Night's Dream

In my dream I was in the library, researching. I took out two huge books, without knowing what they were about. I brought them upstairs, which was a whole different place. I started looking through them, and someone appeared wanting to know what they were about. I opened them. One was a history of the Olympics. Out of the book fell newspaper clippings and other things. The other book, I think, was on fairy tales. When I showed the person, he seemed to get hostile and said, “I don’t think you should have these.” My intention was to bring them back but the scene changed.

Some other people and I were in a large house, upstairs. I didn’t know whose house or why we were there, except to visit. We were getting ready and changing. We then went into this room for lunch. There was a long table, and a lot of people sat at it. There was a man who was in charge. He got the attention of the room, and he asked, “Who went to China?” No one answered. He looked angry. He asked again, louder and angrier, “WHO WENT TO CHINA!?!?!” People started to gather their stuff and get up to leave. All of a sudden, a huge tornado/ whirlwind came and started to destroy everything. We knew the man in charge was the one bringing the destruction. We all frantically scurried around, trying to find a way out. Things were violently exploding and being demolished around me. I ran for the stairs and made it down safely with some others. But when I got downstairs, I knew someone was missing- my mother. I called around for her to see if she was with the other people….she wasn’t. I found a bathroom downstairs, and went in. It was like a public bathroom with stalls. When I got in there, my mother opened the door of the bathroom and came in, wearing gauze on her head. She looked traumatized and worn. “Are you okay?” I asked. She looked at me wearily and said, “I was the one who went to China.”

Then I knew. The man upstairs was my father (although he didn’t look like my father- he was a very old man, small bone structure, and with white hair), and he hurt my mother. I knew we had to get out of there to safety. He could come after us. We needed to buy plane tickets. All of a sudden, there was a machine where you could buy plane tickets. I got in line, and when it was my turn, someone else typed in all the information for me. They then told me, “you need your credit card to make the purchase.” I didn’t have it on me…and then I remembered that I had left it upstairs in my purse, which was a maze (and also left in complete turmoil). But I thought about all that was in my purse- credit cards, my social security card, my lisence- everything I needed. It would not be simple to replace those things. I stood there, weighing the options and for a minute, I rationalized that I could always cancel my cards and get new documentation. But then, I decided against it. I was going to go back upstairs. I was quiet as could be, sneaking back upstairs. Noone was there. I looked in the large dining room for my purse, but it wasn’t there, and then I realized it must be in the room where we were getting ready. I snuck back in there and found it under the bed. When I found it, I started running quickly through the maze of hallways, looking for the stairs. But things change in the house, doors appear and staircases move their spot. I finally found stairs, but I wasn’t sure if they were the same ones. When I looked back, there were all closed doors behind me. In the dream, I was aware that they were all closed doors to bedrooms (even though they hadn’t been there before). I knew one of them was a door to the hallway, and one was a door to where my father was. I decided not to chance it, and turned back towards the staircase. I made my way downstairs, and things changed again. I was in a weird lighted tunnel, that had blue and red light waves shooting through it. I was with two other people who were also trying to buy plane tickets and escape. They were using their high tech cell phones to buy plane tickets. One of them handed me his phone to let me us it to buy a ticket, but I didn’t want to because I didn’t know how to work the thing. I just wanted to use the ticket machine. Then, before I could say anything, the guy and girl started to fly down the tunnel. I was left with the choice: be left behind, or fly with them. I thought, “if they can fly, I must be able to as well!” So I lifted my feet off the ground, and flew! I saw the atmosphere of the tunnel looked thick, and there were what looked like small white specks. I figured that something in the atmosphere was keeping us up. Then, we flew up a hidden staircase, where there was a hidden door on the ceiling. It was dark, and the three of us were trying to open the secret door. I recognized the girl as a girl I used to work with in NY, and the guy was my fiancĂ© (but it didn’t look like Phil, I don’t even think it was Phil). I was suddenly aware that the guy used to date the girl, but that I had come into the picture and stolen him from her. I wondered if she was jealous. Then I woke up.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Art of Hearing God

The Journey into Revelatory Ministry: Hearing God, and doing something with it

In terms of different churches, we agree on everything that each other says, but we disagree on terminology!

There’s a lot of abuse when it comes to hearing God and doing something with it… We need to learn how to hear what God says and put it to use, not only for ourselves but also for others.

The Audible Voice of God:
Father, glorify your name!"
Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
Jesus said, "This voice was for your benefit, not mine.
- John 12:28-30

If God spoke audibly today, right here and right now, would everyone hear it? Some people would hear nothing at all, and some would hear it without understanding, and some would hear it and understand.

Why do some of us hear God differently? Mostly, just because we’re human. It’s our nature to hear things differently. We’re individuals, and we see things differently b/c we all have different perspectives and worldviews. Also, God speaks differently to different people. It is also based on how our relationship with him is functioning…where are we at with God, and how is our relationship?

His voice could sound like many waters, like a raging fire, a loud thunder, or a still small voice. To hear Him in a still small voice, is to hear Him personally.

How we hear God, is somewhat dependant on the walk we’ve had with Him. We could be in a corporate setting (someone else is saying what God is saying to the church) or in a more personal setting (we are alone, or someone comes to us and tells us what God has just for us).

As we begin to study the word, we realize that God is still speaking to His people. We then have an experience, whether it’s in a church setting or at home. We could possibly have a good or a bad growth experience from this. A bad growth experience is when someone has done something so ridiculous that we know its not from God. We something eject things we’re thinking into what others are saying…this can lead to a bad experience. Confusion can lead to disbelief (we think, “it must not be real, I don’t want to experience it”). A good growth experience occurs when someone speaks into our lives, and we know it bears witness to our hearts, it makes sense to what is taking place, it seems valid. We acknowledge that it is real and we have a desire to understand it and use it in our lives. As we begin to walk into revelatory ministries, we realize that we are just like everyone out there: a beginner, an immature baby in what we are speaking or saying. We are born immature, and that is how it’s supposed to be. However, we are born to learn, grow and develop. It helps us to grow closer to God when we mature. We want to be a people who take either type of growth experience, and use it, and recognize it for what it is, and press on. We want to have a desire to increase in hope and faith. The first step of maturing is realizing we don’t want to stay a baby, we want to grow and learn.

“When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” – Ancient Chinese proverb

When you’re ready, God will bring the right person who will pour into you and speak into your lives.

There are three pillars of revelatory ministry:
What is a pillar? It supports a roof. What supports and hold up revelatory ministry?

1- Revelation and the Church: Fuction is more important than a title:
He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
- 1 Corinth 14:4

…and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
- 1 Corinth 12: 23-27

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
- Eph 4:11-15

The local church is a fundamental part of the body of Christ!!!

Some people think that the church revolves around them. However, we are ALL supposed to hear from God, and the church is supposed to revolve around Jesus, NOT the people who claim to hear from God. The Holy Spirit says, the only job He has is to point people to Jesus. It’s a problem in the church for people who are scared of revelatory ministry. People don’t want a function in the body, they want a title (prophet). Then they think they are entitled to something (respect, etc). We are really not entitled to anything…everything we have is a gift from God. Revelatory ministry in the church is a function, not a title.

God uses the church, as immature as we are, to accomplish His purposes. Some people really don’t want to be a part of the body, they just want to be important. If we are like this, God won’t want to use you. God recognizes that everybody is equal. If we function in our gifting and call, as long as we’re advancing the kingdom, we are equal, and God is interested in it.

Prophetic ministry is used to encourage and edify the church, and to cause growth!

If you think of revelatory ministry of seeing, the revelatory person would be like the eyeball. If we take the eyeball out of the socket and sit it on the table, how much will it see. Lets assume that it still sees….how much use will it be if it can only see? It will dry up and die. It needs the body, the tear ducts, the eyelid, the eyelashes. We need the neck, to turn and look over to other areas (the eye can only see so far without the head moving). The eye needs the brain to tell it where to look. When the eye is plugged in, however, and its in the socket, and its part of the body, it is of so much value and it is so important- because it is functioning how it is created to function. It can then bring great value to the kingdom.

2- Revelation and the Man- Character is greater than the gift:
…till what he foretold came to pass,
till the word of the LORD proved him true. (aka tested him)
- Psalm 105:19

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
- 1 Corinthians 13:2

The Man= a human vessel that God can use for whatever He chooses. God wants to mature and grow people and give them greater character and integrity. Character is greater than the gift of prophesy. Revelatory people are not perfect; they are still growing.

The issue of character is overlooked especially when it comes to hearing God. Sometimes people think that because they have learned to hear from God, that that says it all. They ignore and discount the fruit of the spirit. Scripture says we will know other believers by their fruit. Fruit will bear witness that a person acts like the One they are speaking for. Our worth is not based on what we know; it is based on acting like the One we know. Character development can be the single greatest enhancement to our gift. Likewise, the lack of character is the single greatest hindrance to our gift. If we are faithful, God will give us more. We need to focus on our character, and not on the gift- because the gift is something God gave to us. Character development involves every aspect of our lives- especially in terms of integrity (work, marriage, ethical issues, taxes, etc). What is happening in my marriage or at work, has an impact on how people see me, and that in turn, has an impact on how people see God!!!

How many of us could put ourselves into the place Samuel put himself into? He was one of the most prophetic people. He wasn’t concerned about what people said or thought about him? He was concerned with his own integrity and with representing God well. Samuel was focused on character, and not gift. He had his priorities right. He made a point to show what was important. People knew they could trust him because they saw God in him. Character sets the ceiling for our gifts.

If you are seeking to hear more from God, if you want to be used by God, and to hear from Him and use what He tells you, He is going to test your character. God will use other people’s weaknesses and flaws to reveal your weaknesses and flaws.

The greater the gifting, the greater the challenge and the test.

3- Revelation and the Gift: Process is not instantaneous:
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
- 1 Samuel 2:26

The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD.
- 1 Samuel 3:19-20

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
- Luke 2:52

Revelation is a process, its not instant. There are no mature births whether in the natural or in the spiritual. We need to learn to walk in the fruits of the spirit. Those things will bring us to a place where we are able to hear God. How many people can plant an seed of corn, and then the next morning, can find an ear of corn? None of us! We need to grow in our understanding of the gift,

There are four steps to grow our understanding of the gift and to communicate well:
Revelation (dreams, visions, etc), interpretation (understanding), application ( who, what, when, where?) , and proclamation. It doesn’t matter that we have the revelation, we need to learn how to communicate it well to others. Maturity means we must consider: timing of this proclamation, who we say it to, what is the proper protocol, what is God’s protocol, what is the nature of the way I am supposed to tell someone, have we discerned if people are ready to receive what I have to say? What we need to do when we hear something, is to pray about it and ask God what to do with it.

Too many people who hear from God have a Sampson mentality instead of a Samuel mentality. Sampson didn’t guard his character well, and his ministry as well as his life, ends. We, like Sampson, think that we’ve got it, we’re strong, we can handle it….but if it kills us, there is no benefit. Samuel, on the other hand, kept representing God well, and sometimes people listened and sometimes they didn’t…but Samuel hung in for the long haul. God wants to do something that has life, and can bring everlasting change.

Even Jesus had to grow and mature…(see Luke 2:52). When we embrace the character changes that God is working in us, then we are embracing the growing process of God enhancing our gifts.


The Four Quadrants:
There are two factors: the reception of the word, or the God factor, and the risk factor, or the human factor. Our ability to interpret, imply or proclaim what God is saying may be deficient because of our emotions, or just because it is difficult to hear God in the first place. The way we interact with people is a risk factor, because we can be too timid or shy to tell someone what God is saying. You also don’t want to say too much- proverbs says only a fool tells everything they know. You need to be careful and discerning when making a proclamation from God. There are also spiritual factors included- your beliefs in doctrine, theology and prayer. As we grow closer to God, our beliefs and opinions change. Our thought processes about spiritual things have an impact on us. We don’t want to let our theological biases distort the way we hear things.
Financial views on money and material goods can affect your ability to hear from God- when we have too much or not enough, these things can have an impact on us. If we try to hold onto our money or do things that we want to do (even in opposition to God) because we think that it is smarter financially, we’ll come to realize that God is in control of all the money in the world, and that will make things worse on us financially. There are also risk factors concerning temptation- the four G’s: gold, guys, girls, and glory (aka, money, temptation relationally and sexually, and pride).

Anointing: God grants higher levels of authority and anointing to certain people. Does that mean some of us are of greater value in the kingdom of God? No.

1- High Risk/ Low Anointing:
There are a lot of human factors and issues going on in one’s life, but they don’t have that much responsibility placed on them by God. When they get something from God, they go on the attack- they are so caught up in human issues, but they don’t have much to give. These types of people usually choose judgment over mercy. They are rebellious, walk in lawlessness, and demand more from others than from themselves. They have a history of being asked to leave churches.

2- High Risk/ High Anointing:
There are a lot of human factors, but they have a tremendous gift where they really hear from God and have a lot of responsibility. However, they are still in attack mode, and want to correct people and point out what is wrong in others’ lives. They have a short prophetic life expectancy. They won’t have much to give, because God will take away their anointing and they will burn out because of their own issues. They are like shooting stars. They think God needs to take on their own opinions instead of them taking on God’s opinions. Their character flaws show up and become evident. God wants the high risk factors to diminish- so He lets them into the light, so others can see and help that person to change.

3- Low Anointing/ Low Risk:
There isn’t much human factor risk, and there isn’t much spiritual risk. This isn’t what God wants for us, but people get comfortable here. They fail to speak or do what they hear from God, because they are scared of men, scared of being wrong, scared of risking things for God.

4- Low Risk/ High Anointing:
High anointing means you are walking at the height of anointing that God has given you- you aren’t comparing your gift to others’ gifts. For this type of person, mercy triumphs over judgment, and kindness leads to repentance. There is a lot of evidence of fruit of the Spirit. These people are comets- bright, brilliant, have a long tail. They have a long ministry life expectation. They believe character is greater than gifts. They have a great prayer life. They walk in factors where they avoid human risk factors. They have a lot to give to the church. This is the quadrant we want to be in.

The truth is, we spend time floating between quadrants. We know our circumstances will shift us between these quadrants. However, we want to target being in the low risk/ high anointing quadrant. We need to guard ourselves from human risk. Even if a person falls from a low risk/ high anointing, they can still get back to that place, especially if there is a lot of support from the church.

We can guess which one other’s are in based on other things going on in their lives- are we able to hold a job? Are you punctual, efficient, have good ethics? How is their marriage and the other relationships in their lives. How do they respond to others when it is inconvenient? How do they treat their children? Don’t look at people and try to place them and let that turn into judgment or criticalness (because that then tells us we are the ones with a problem). Having accountability will help you determine where you are at- you need someone else to ask you those questions, and tell you where they think you fall (you need someone you can trust).

This calls us to pray for people to change and move into a different quadrant.

The Revelatory Maturity Continuum:
How do we hear?? Do we think everything we hear is from God? As we grow, there is a greater percentage of what we hear being from God and not from men. If we get into God’s presence and spend time in the Word, we are transformed, and we hear more from Him. It is also easier to understand what words are from God, and which aren’t. Also, the more we understand God, the more we realize how much we didn’t know about Him, and the less words will come from our own soul and our own perspective because we will mature. The more time we spend with God, the more we realize we were in diapers. The more time we spend with Him, the more worthless we realize we are- or at least the more worthless we realize our own opinions are. As we mature, there is an evident decrease in the words we give from our own perspective.

There is a progression that takes place. We move from sons and daughters to young men and old men, and then to servants. There are three phases: called, trained and commissioned. The “called” phase happens rather quickly. We can see this phase in the life of Samuel:

The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel.
Samuel answered, "Here I am." And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."
But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." So he went and lay down.
Again the LORD called, "Samuel!" And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."
"My son," Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down."
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD : The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."
Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
- 1 Samuel 3:1-9

This is a good picture of what it looks like to be called. We don’t know what the heck is going on! We are just striving to do our best. God points out that he has chosen us and has something for us to do. Our response needs to be, “Here I am Lord, what do you want me to do?” God has a call for each person- a purpose.

The training phase is more difficult- probably the most difficult phase. It is a long, arduous, and life- long journey. There is a lot of learning to do about how to be affective and efficient.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
- James 4:10

When you humble yourself, God will lift you up. NOT when God humbles you, but when you humble yourself. In this phase, God will pull out all the hindrances and the things that need to be plucked out. How long does this training process last? Your ENTIRE LIFE!!! God says He wants you to be like his son- that is a high standard! It takes our whole lives to even try to get close to that point!!

Take the elk for example. When they fight each other, the one with the stronger antlers is the one who will win. It doesn’t actually matter about the fight, the thing that is important is what happened before the fight- what they eat to make their antlers strong, and the training they have. This is the same with us- the battle is not as important as the training. We need to put the effort into training and equipping. Many are called, but few are chosen. This is because a lot of people don’t want to pay the price and die to themselves. We will have failures, but they shift us to where we need to be in the training process. People don’t want to take the time to learn from their failures and keep the training progressing forward, especially because it takes a lot of time and because we need to humble ourselves:

An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end.
- Proverbs 20:21

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
- 1 Peter 5:6

Our goal should not be walking in training in order to get to what He has for us, it needs to be walking in relationship with God because we love Him and desire Him that is our focus.

A Dark Night of the Soul:
You’ve probably been there before- a dark night, a place of desolation and wilderness that God takes us into to make us fruitful.

Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
- Hosea 2: 14-15

God also took Jesus into a desert place for 40 days in order to prepare him. He wants to move us from our agenda to His agenda. If you give a dog a long leash, he will have a lot of independence and do what he wants to do. If you give a dog a short least, the dog’s master is in control and the dog will do what his master wants him to do. God will put us on a short leash to train us to how He wants us to be.

A seed will never grow unless it falls on the ground and dies. We won’t grow unless we die, and let God grow us. In the dark place, everything we try to do is chaos, and whatever we try to do fails. God puts us into this place so He can take ownership of it, invade our lives and restore them. He wants to give us blessings, but not the ones that we expect, the ones we need.

In this place, its almost like God is concealing Himself. It is like a game of hide and seek. There is so much joy when we find God (like finding someone in a game of hide and seek). It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to seek it out. Acts 17 talks about how we grope for God. God conceals Himself during our dark times so that we will seek Him with all of our heart. God will give us insight as to who we are, and who He wants us to be. This dark night brings death to our soul, and to our selfish ambitions. We only stand because of His support. During the dark night, Satan tries to condemn you with lies about your past and your failures…you can become consumed with the mistakes of your past. But we need to admit that we are not capable and able on our own, but because of who God is. This season is when we change our attitude, and its not because we want to, but because God wants us to. God wants to become our hiding place, the place we run to in order to get freedom from the enemy. He wants us to press in deeper. He whispers into our ear, and we have to listen for Him. Then he will ask you to act. It is a good time to act, but a hard time to act, because our confidence in ourselves becomes destroyed. At the end of the storm, when the victory comes, we know that God is the one who has accomplished the victory. We now have God’s agenda. The storm was not a punishment, but a process.

Examples of this- Joseph being betrayed by his brothers, Moses in the desert, David running from his enemies, Jesus in the desert, etc.

What is our response to this season? We can learn to worship and give thanks when we don’t feel like it. We can draw near to God, and take on His agenda and His perspective. Take the story of the velveteen rabbit: he becomes ripped apart, torn up and thrown out…but in that, he becomes a real rabbit.

Private Victories and Public Victories:
God is looking for private victories in order to correlate to public victories. You wont have public ones unless you have private ones. We need to strive for private victories= the grains in the sand that is used to make concrete, which builds a strong foundation and can withstand a lot of pressure. After concrete is poured, it needs to set. There are times when God wants to set in place what He wants done- these are times of waiting in the Lord.

A lot of times, when we fail, that is the greatest time of growth, because we have to work up to fixing our failures. We sometimes fear change b/c we think that there is a possibility of failure. Past failures will breed a fear of failure and open the door for the enemy to attack. A history of private victories will set you up to expect a victory, so even in the difficult times, we know that we will win, and the enemy can’t get in. Private victories are rewarded by God, but they need to be kept to yourself, or else God won’t reward you, b/c you have already received recognition if you have shared them with others. Just as we keep hidden our private victories, we can keep hidden our private failures.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
-Matthew 6:6-8

Private victories are small acts of obedience that are only seen by God.

But Samuel replied:
"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
- 1 Samuel 15:22

Living a life of obedience sets us up for victory. Obedience leads to righteousness. Private victories inspire a growth of faith.

Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.
- 1 Samuel 17:36

David killed a lion and a bear (private victories) before he killed a Philistine!

Consistency is important in private victories- its not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We need to continue the race that we’re running. Your private victories must outnumber your public victories!!!

Reticular Activating System:
This is where we begin to understand what God’s voice sounds like! We all have a filter, and when we get information, God is going to filter in what He wants you to hear. The Holy Spirit is our teacher. What we focus on is what we become. If we focus on spiritual things, we will be more like the Holy Spirit, but if we focus on worldly things, we are going to be worldly. We need to have a KINGDOM PERSPECTIVE!!! The more we know the living word of God, the more we are able to do what God wants us to do.

See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
-Isaiah 48:10

When we go through trials, God is getting the garbage out. Proverbs says, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” The word of God will reveal what is of the Spirit and what is of the flesh in our hearts. Our peace is as deep as our focus on God.

Faith is the junction between hope and expectation!!!

Stimulus and the Moment of Choice:
Do we react based on our Spirit (wisdom, communion, conscience) or on our Soul (mind, will, emotions)?
We should count to ten before we react with our soul… we need to reacts with our spirit. We need to filter our responses.

Prophetic Time Periods:
Theres never been a period in time when God hasn’t been talking through prophets.

Psychics= people in Satan’s camp who have a gift of knowing things… there is a spirit of divination, but it is NOT from God. The enemy is trying to mislead us and he uses a semblance of truth where he can. They have a real gift but their satellites are tuned in the wrong direction. However, most of them are hungry for truth (whether they are afraid of it or not).

Knowing God’s Voice:
The key to knowing God’s voice is by spending time with Him- this will give you confidence. We know God’s voice in three ways: How He comes to us, the relevance of what He says, and fruit it produces in us. Some people wait until they are desperate for God until they ask Him to speak. These people need to learn to seek God in both good and bad times. God will never force entry into your heart. He is a gentleman!!! God meets us where we are, especially in our times of need. He cares about supplying and meeting our needs- no matter how small.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. This verse has been misconstrued over time. The Greek word for “give” means “assign.” This means God will assign us the desires of our heart, He will assign what we desire. It doesn’t mean He will give us whatever we want.

God speaks to us in our circumstances, and He speaks to us differently according to our maturity levels. He won’t speak to us in high and lofty measures. He might speak to us in a way that causes us to dig deeper into things, but He won’t overwhelm us with complexity.

God is consistent- He speaks to us in consistent self-established ways.

God doesn’t speak to us with condemnation, but with conviction. Conviction is hopeful- there is hope for us to change. Condemnation leaves us with hopelessness. There are two forms of condemnation- the first one tells you that what you’ve done is awful and horrifying. The second, tells you what you didn’t do that you should have done. God will show you how to see people the way He sees people. God will not show you their flaws in order for you to condemn, but for you to become sensitive to the love he has for others’ in their hurting conditions. God will not cause you to judge others. He will cause you to have compassion and love with correction (speaking the truth in love). He will also cause us to want to pray for the person who is in need of correction, and intercede on their behalf. God also wants to show us what people can be, what their potential is, instead of what they have done wrong.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
- Matthew 9:36

We know we are hearing God’s voice if our faith is strengthened.

Practical tips for delivering a Word:
- How to give and receive a word: You need to believe that God wants to speak, and to speak through you. Paul tells us that we should desire spiritual gifts, and especially to prophesy. The Holy Spirit will give us peace about what to say. If there is no peace, then you need to wait until you do have peace about it. Physical sensations – such as a rapid heartbeat, knots in our stomach, intense heat, etc, should not be the reason to give a word. Those may help us when we are immature, but God doesn’t want that to be how we hear Him. He wants us to come to a point where we are sensitive to His voice, not to where we hear Him through goose bumps.

- When and where to give a word: We also need to wait on the right timing to give a word- we don’t want to give a word too soon, or too late. The best thing to do to know when to give a word, is to ask God or ask a pastor (go to someone who is a spiritual authority)! We are all responsible to spiritual authority to make sure the word is from God- we should never say a word that the pastor or elders told us not to say. Sometimes we need to wait until we have confirmation that it was a word from God. Most words are given to us, not to share with everybody, but for prayer and intercession.

- What should be included or excluded from a word: Don’t judge the validity of a word based on how you got the word. A still small voice is just as important as if an angel visited you and told you to give the word. We are to convey the word from the Spirit as it was told to us, and include an interpretation of what we feel we are hearing the Lord say. Our goal is to convey what we hear and then let the Holy Spirit deal with it. God wants us to deliver a word in our own voice and vocabulary- not in King James Version old English! We also need to be careful of our tone when we give a word- we want to be careful to convey the attitude of God. Don’t ever violate scripture when giving a word- God will NOT ever go against what His word says- if you do this, you are wrong. Stop when a word is delivered, don’t try to add more to it. More is not necessarily better! A word from God should bring hope, help, life, encouragement, etc. It should NOT condemn or destroy someone.

- The Approach you use is important: If someone comes to you and asks for a word, there is more favor than if you have to go to that person.

- God uses imperfect vessels: However, He will confirm a word in a person’s heart that it was really from Him. We learn from our mistakes, and God will keep teaching us how to give words. We might say something incorrectly, but sometimes people hear the word incorrectly, too. Prophetic things require a lot of understanding. (See the story of Agabus in Acts 11). Also, if we give a word that is incorrect, we need to go back and correct ourselves and repent that we were wrong. Never tell people that they are the reason that the word didn’t come to pass- that they didn’t have enough faith. A good thing to do when you give or receive a word is to write it down, because people’s memories are imperfect.

- God wants to speak through you!

Characteristics of the Right and Left Brain:
Right Brain: musical, verbal, empathetic, sympathetic, demonstrative, artistic, creative, flexible, spontaneous, etc- these people are usually better at dream interpretation

Left Brain: Logical, factual, rational, hypothetical, methodical, detailed, controlled, systematic, academic, linear in thinking: these people need to try to use their right brain in dream interpretation.

We can all look at things and see them differently. We can be more compassionate and careful with the way we communicate things from God when we realize that people see things differently.

Spirit Rule Versus Soul Rule:
We are fully human at conception, we are given a soul- mind, body, etc. Before salvation the spirit is weak and dormant. Our spirit is trapped, hidden, covered in the thick, dense, hard soul. At salvation, God’s “sperma” (Greek word, seed) comes into our soul, and our spirit life begins. Soul life changes into spirit life. We have a new birth- re-conception. Born again, or born from above- means the beginning of our spiritual life. Our “spiritual DNA” changes, and we are able to recognize other believers. Your spirit begins to radiate the light of God. Some people have such hardened hearts, that it is difficult for God to get in and allow change. If the spirit is not leading you, you’re being led by the soul.

Fellowship of the Spirit:
Be humble
Be hungry
Be teachable- look for people who are mature that we can grow with them and learn from them.
Have a broken and contrite spirit

God starts with small things, and gives us more responsibility as we grow and mature.

Fellowship of the spirit occurs with two people.

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
- Acts 2:42- 43

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
- Phil 3:10

The Role, Purpose and Function of the Church:
In an immature prophetic perspective, everything (pastor, evangelism, staff, elders, worship, etc) revolves around the prophetic person. This is not reality. The role of the church: we are to be the bride of Christ, and to train people up while our husband is away (Christ). As a church, we can’t just let people accept Christ and then leave them to fend for themselves… we need to train them up!

Our purpose in the earth is to rule and reign the earth, to destroy the works of the enemy. As God’s children, we are to bear God’s name, honor Him, minister to each other and build each other up, and bear witness to what God is doing in our lives and around us.

The five- fold ministry is when the body of Christ is the center, the foundation, and the prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and apostles are all part of the body. Prophets are there to build up the body by equipping them for ministry, and edifying them.

We are a light to the world… if our own personal light went out, would people notice? If we disappeared from the church, would they notice? It is important that they would notice, because it means we are functioning as a necessary and vital part of the body! We need to ask ourselves, is what we’re doing bringing unity, or sowing discord?

Revelatory Ministry in the Church:
Revelatory people sometimes forget to serve the body, thinking that their only job is to tell people things that need to be done, and not necessarily doing it. Revelatory people have a responsibility to strengthen the church.

Unity verses uniformity…is unity without conformity. As a body, we can be unified without conforming to look and function like everyone else.

We don’t want God to not be able to use us because of something that we have done that discredits us. For revelatory people, they need to learn to relate well to the rest of the body. When a revelatory person is rejected by a pastor (for example, the pastor asks that person not to share a certain thing with the church because it won’t be received well) they need to make a decision: are they going to take offense and try to protect their gift, or will they try to protect their character by reacting well to that rejection?

We are to proclaim and demonstrate the kingdom of God- “repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” We are commanded to spread this message, which carries power with it. The five fold ministry (not a biblical term, but it is described in Ephesians 4:7-13) works with the body to build up the church, and spread God’s word to the nations.

Revelatory people sometimes have a lot of strongholds (like anyone else). Some that are common are: pride, prejudice, defensiveness, selfishness, manipulation, isolation, and others.

The Road to Revelatory Servanthood and Authority:
We sometimes struggle with the road to authority being paved with service. There are steps that we need to take to be able to serve the church properly. The first step is the recognition for the need for credibility (revelation, accuracy, and consistency). The second is the development of character (love, integrity, and maturity). The third is the recognition of the need for favor (from God, which is a gift!! You also need to have favor with men, which requires the right timing). The three most important factors of authority are credibility, character, and favor!!

There are major hurdles for young, revelatory- gifted people. Sometimes we are called, but not yet commissioned. It takes time and patience for us to get to where we are called to be. Sometimes God tells us things that we need to wait to share, and it needs to be kept between the Lord and ourselves.

There are also some deterrents to attaining spiritual authority: questionable accuracy, incorrect interpretations, insubordination (not being submitted), etc.

The God-ward Meditation:
God wants intimacy, and He provides many avenues to get into His presence. If our relationship with God is right, then our relationships with others will be right as well. Meditation on God’s precepts and ways brings success! Success might not look like what you expect, but we will have an understanding heart (like Solomon). Meditation also decreases the amount of sin in our lives because we get close to the heart of God, and meditation teaches us not to sin.

Lectio Divina (Holy Reading): Listening to the Divine One:
This is the ancient practice of praying the scriptures!! Sometimes praying out loud is more powerful, because the words get into our spirits.

Spiritual Authority:
All authority is established by God, moves through Him and is due to Him. God authorizes every activity that takes place. There is no authority that has NOT been appointed by God.

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
- Romans 13:1

When God is about to do something, He will give authority to lead. God wants to be able to bless all authorities.

What about the authority of Hitler and of the Third Reich? It is Satan who is responsible for this, for devolving things into anarchy and chaos.

Violating God’s authority structure will cause you to lose authority- such as Satan, who fell because he tried to exalt himself. We also violate this authority when we slander a leader’s name.

Satan is not afraid of us spreading God’s word if we are not doing it under the authority of Christ.

When we don’t understand authority, we “kick against the goads.” Our character needs to be conformed to God’s in order to have authority.

There are many types of authorities within the church: rulers, elders, overseers, etc.- these people are not more important than anyone else, but they do have authority.

Two principles that can rule your life: God’s authority, or Satan’s rebellion. You can’t have both ruling you at the same time. Honoring authority is one of the most difficult things God has required us to do. Obedience is greater than sacrifice. Sacrifice was what gave the Old Testament Jew life. However, obedience was a greater sacrifice to God. Leaders fail sometimes and make mistakes, but God also sets them as leaders, and we need to respect that.

One good example of someone responding well to authority is David, who refused to take Saul out and kill him, even though Saul was not a good leader. David waits for God to deal with Saul, and David stays out of the way. God honors David for respecting poor authority.

Lawlessness- a spirit of lawlessness occurs when we attack one of God’s appointed leaders in the church.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Advice I got from women at my bridal showers...

1. Sometimes you just need to agree to disagree. In a loving way. – Tami Burr
2. Always remember to kiss him goodnight. – Mom
3. Talk about everything, don’t go to bed angry, and when in doubt, just laugh. – Suzy Haner
4. Work as a team. That is what makes a marriage work. – Aunt Suzie
5. A good marriage is like growing grapes- the more you give the more you get. – Nana
6. Just let go- in the grand scheme of life it probably doesn’t matter. – Laura Kealey
7. Recognize the things you can change, the strength to accept the things you can’t.
8. Communication is critical- prayer more so- you are about to enter the most exciting and wonderful time of your life. God bless you! –Sue Martin
9. Pick and choose your fights.
10. Have fun! Make time for dates, vacations, and quiet evenings together. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of life get in the way of connecting! Eat dinner together regularly! – Kim Statzer
11. Your husband is always right. – Grandma
12. Don’t fight over little things.
13. Don’t go to bed angry with one another. Tickle his feet and blow in his ear. It clears the air every time. – Lynne Jones
14. Bloom where you’re planted. – Aunt Lanie
15. Date – often.
16. Words of wisdom- Hide the remote! – Marie Metz
17. Be an encourager to Philip. He’ll love being praised and know he is loved. – Lyda
18. Never go to bed mad. – Trudy
19. Always dance together, at least once a night! – Kathie
20. Love, above all else. Keep God in the center always.
21. Don’t “stuff it” because “it” will pop up later and will take hours if not days to unravel- “communicate.” - Suzanne Parish
22. Don’t break up!! –Julia
23. Have an affair with your spouse before someone else does! –Sandy Prichard
24. Don’t ever start taking out the garbage.
25. Don’t forget even hot dogs look good by candlelight. – Mason Erikson
26. Love is a choice. When things get a little tough always choose to love.
27. Have patience with one another. –Titi
28. Remember- the woman is always right!!!
29. Never give up! No matter what.
30. Laugh often.
31. Never go to bed angry with each other. Use the words “I’m sorry” freely.
32. All the cute things he does now…will be annoying in ten years. – Karilyn
33. Keep short accounts and forgive quickly! – Deborah
34. Make him spoil you. You deserve it.
35. Never take one another for granted.
36. Compromise is the key to success and a loving relationship.
37. Learn something new together. Salsa dancing perhaps?
38. Have more than one child.
39. Always remember to keep the communication lines open! – Cindy Perkins
40. Keep working at it- it’s worth it!
41. Always be available and always participate (or as much as you can).
42. Pick your fights..don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Say “I love you” every night at bedtime. – Gail Turner
43. No matter what! Don’t give up, don’t quit, just stick with it. Time and years together, no matter how difficult, will make best friends, sweet lovers, and good companions in the later years.
44. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb- that’s where the fruit is! – Farrah
45. Congratulations on the beginning of the rest of your life. Never feel like divorce is your only option. God always has a good solution when problems seem so overwhelming. Right now you are so in love but as cares of life begin you will not always feel that way. So remember God has the answer. – Leigh Ann Needham
46. Plan and follow through with romance. Men don’t do this well but love to participate. He cannot read your mind. Tell him what you need and want. The man is the head but the woman is the neck to turn the head. You’re responsible to help guide. He needs you! – Laurie Brookes
47. Always be joyful, and talk things over. Talk at the dinner table instead of quietly eating. – Mama (Sarah Anne Pearl)
48. Marriage is fun. Remember that, even when you have kids and have to grow up quickly. Make sure you both spend time together and just be kids yourselves! Also, try and take part in one of Phil’s hobbies. It shows him love and you will be surprised with what you learn and how much love it shows him! – Tina Jones
49. They told me to keep it clean, but…Always kiss him good morning and good night. Touch as much as possible. Hold hands while watching tv or strolling in the stores, etc. The rewards will last a lifetime. – Heather
50. Don’t let arguments continue. Go to separate rooms and pray- not that he would see your point of view, but that you would see God’s view. Say “I love you” at least once a day and make up your own love signals. – Alida Lewis
51. You have an anointed and powerful role in your new family. As a “keeper at Home” – a keeper of the door- sensitive to what is going on in the natural and the spiritual. Your sage wisdom and prayerful intercessions will help powerfully direct and keep your family kept in the plans, purposes, and blessings of the Lord. And always remember… You are very loved!!! And carefully chosen for this awesome task in loving your husband and children- and advancing God’s Kingdom in your home and beyond! – Sandi Haner
52. Be holy and blameless and radiant. Laugh till your belly hurts. Know that you are loved. – Cinelle
53. Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be given to you (allelu, alleluia). – Vanessa Novak
54. Whenever you get upset and freak out on him remember he is a great guy that puts up with all your crap! – Kim
55. A couple that prays together, stays together! – Farrah
56. Hug every day and you will be happy forever! – Jen
57. Be silly, dance when there’s no music, take lots of pictures, be adventurous, keep your child- like heart playing.
58. Dance naked in front of the mirror, if you must.