Monday, October 31, 2011

A Christian Witch: One girl's testimony by Kristine McGuire


His Amazing Grace ~ My Testimony
Kristine McGuire

I was raised in a traditional Christian home.  I accepted Jesus as my Savior at Vacation Bible School when I was six years old. However, there were other influences in my life. I was aware of the unseen world around me. And I was absolutely fascinated by the occult. Ghosts, witches, mediums, psychics, haunted houses.
I wanted to learn about it all.
Growing up, my greatest ambition was to be a fortune teller (or a missionary in Africa. Go figure). My friends and I would pretend to be psychic or read each others palms. We would have “séances” at birthday  sleepovers, tell ghost stories, try to conjure the face of “Bloody Mary” in the mirror, or levitate each other with our fingertips.
As a teenager I started reading the Bible myself. I learned that God has warned against all of the mysterious, magical things I enjoyed. I loved God. I didn't want to offend Him, so I stopped participating in occult games and seeking psychic experiences. The problem---the desire remained. Even as I devoted myself to God, went to a Christian college, met and married a Christian man, there was a longing deep within me to explore those hidden occult interests.
My husband and I were very active in church. As a child I knew a relationship with God was based on His mercy but some how over the years I lost that vital understanding of my Savior. I forgot His mercy. I listened to others who suggested to be a "real Christian" you had to follow certain rules, live a certain way, to be godly. I became legalistic, replacing a relationship with God for religion in a quest to be “perfect”.
Over the years, I became angry. When life became difficult I was confused. All my efforts (prayer, reading scripture every day, attending church) seemed to be ignored by God. My family wasn't prosperous despite doing all the correct things or saying the right words.  Unable to live up to my strict demands of perfection I became depressed. I stopped reading the Bible and gave up on prayer. Church became a rote exercise. My relationship with my husband became strained as we struggled under unrealistic expectations.
I first learned about Wicca in 1995. Spiritually hungry, I began to study anything I could find which would answer the questions which were swirling in my mind. I found a book, drawn by the promise of understanding magic from the title. It wasn't until 1999, when I came to the conclusion that Christianity wasn’t working for me, that I took the information I learned about witchcraft and goddess worship as my own.
I began searching the Internet for information, joining pagan message boards, and befriending those with like minds or who could answer my questions. I studied mythology. I learned about herbs, crystals, colors, as well as divination techniques such as the tarot and pendulum.
For the first year I hid my mystical practices from my husband. He was going through his own emotional and spiritual struggles. I attended church, taught preschool in a Christian daycare. 

{I wore a convincing Christian mask.}

Eventually, I left my marriage and the church. I believed I had found freedom.
Over the next several years I worshipped the goddess, explored psychic development, and became a Claire sentient Medium. In 2005 I added ghost hunting to my ever expanding list of occult interests and activities.
And yet, despite my willful disobedience, God was not about to let me go easily. The Holy Spirit was always there, reminding me of His presence, convicting me of my sin. More than once I worried I'd made a mistake.  I would waffle between Christianity and witchcraft, throwing away all of my books and witchcraft supplies. If only there had been true repentance.  I tried to be a “good Christian”only to return to the Craft a month or so later.
You see, I still loved the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I wanted to be able to worship God but practice witchcraft. So I decided to bring my past faith into my current practice. I began culling from both Christianity and witchcraft, keeping what I liked from each while leaving the rest behind.
I became a Christian witch.
While creating my own unique (and hidden) spiritual path, I went back to church. Five years after our initial separation and several attempts to fix what was broken, my husband and I reunited. He had gotten his life and faith straightened out. He knew I was practicing witchcraft, working as a medium, and going on paranormal investigations. He decided to love me where I was and pray.
I believed I'd found my answer. I discovered other Christians who were “synchronizing” their religious beliefs with  mysticism as well. I was content for the first time in years.
God had other plans.
My husband was away, working in Georgia for eight weeks, when I got the call from my ghost hunting team. We were doing an emergency investigation a few days after Thanksgiving 2007. My job, as a medium, was to go into the environment and give a reading. No prior details, other than the address, would be given. I would conduct a videotaped walk through of the area. The team would hold "vigils" in the areas I had designated as supernatural "hot spots". 
That particular night I sensed a very hostile spirit in the home. I recognized it as demonic (what I called at the time "inhuman") spirit being. The team experienced some odd activity in the area where I sensed this presence most strongly. At one point during the investigation, I commanded the spirit to leave in the name of Jesus.
The team I worked with was very serious about paranormal investigation. Everything we did was from a desire to help people experiencing frightening or unexplainable events. We went in to every location armed with digital recorders, cameras, and other equipment. When an interesting EVP (electronic voice phenomena) was recorded the team leader would send it to me.  A few days after the Thanksgiving ghost hunt, he emailed me an audio clip from the investigation.
Donning my head phones I played it.
Over the two years I worked with the team I heard a number of interesting EVP's from our investigations. Whispers recorded when no one was in a room. Strange knocks or taps on walls.
I can honestly say I've never heard anything quite like what was on this particular audio.
The file began right after I commanded the "inhuman spirit" to leave the house in the name of Jesus. I'm recorded saying "You're uninvited!" after which the team leader quipped "You can't follow me home."  Suddenly you hear what can only be described as an angry shriek followed by a loud thump. Honestly, it's one of the weirdest things I have ever heard. As I sat there, listening to the audio clip over and over, I was completely stunned. Believe what you will, but I knew  I was hearing a demon scream in response to Jesus name.
I was as self deceived as a Christian could be. Jesus was still with me. Even coming from my lips, the authority and power of His name could still make demons scream and flee. It was as if a veil had been placed over my head all those years and someone had suddenly yanked it off.
My husband is a professional audio engineer. He tested the audio file. There was nothing fake or anything he could explain to account for the strange scream. I spent the next day or so reading my Bible. I read all the verses about witchcraft, mediums, consulting psychics, divination. I read  Matthew 6:22-23 (NLT):
“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!"
I got down on my face before God and repented of everything, praying for hours, weeping, confessing, and rebuking demons I'd allowed into my life and family. God's mercy delivered me. My life is centered firmly in Jesus Christ. And I thank Him every day for His amazing grace.

Kristine McGuire is a Christian inspirational speaker/writer, sharing her testimony and encouraging others in their walk with Christ. She is a wife, mother, and Biblical Counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors. Kristine is a featured columnist for Positively Feminine. Her book, Escaping the Cauldron, will be published by Charisma House in Fall 2012. Escaping the Cauldron is a personal memoir and Biblical study recounting Kristine's journey from committed Christian to witch, medium, and ghost hunter for eight years until restored to faith in Jesus Christ. You can connect with Kristine at: Kristine ReMixed, http://www.kristinemcguire.com on Facebook: 


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wiccans: Questions and Answers with Marni Arnold


 
Q1: What was so alluring about Paganism/Wicca that enticed you to leave your Jewish roots to follow that path?

What was alluring to me was the control I was led to believe I had; to find the answers I never could get from any family, friends or respected teachers or Rabbi's about God, His ways, or the many "why's" of life. If no one else, even God Himself, wasn't going to answer me - I was going to find the answers on my own. I also deeply desired to find myself, felt that since Judaism wasn't providing me with the tools to help- and the books I was picking up on Wicca and Witchcraft were providing such answers - it was easy for me to embrace it as truth.

Q2: What was your first Halloween like as a practicing Wiccan?

My first Halloween, or Samhain (sow-en, is how it's pronounced - as it is Gaelic for "summers end"), was celebrated with a small coven (group of Pagans who practice together exclusively) that I had helped develop. We had a typical Halloween party for all kinds of people who attended - even those who weren't Pagan - but, in a back room of the house was a room set up for a particular ritual in which people could choose to participate in if they so wished (it wasn't forced upon them). It was a ritual that at first deeply spooked me, but then I found myself becoming comfortable with it because I didn't want to be afraid - even though I was.
  Q3: Did you worship Satan at all in your time as a Pagan?
No. The majority of Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches don't embrace the concept of a devil, or even Satan himself. However, in working with the side of life that God demands we stay away from, for it is very real; it has great potential to lure people into a life that works with a more negative, dark side that can easily lead one down the path that literally rides the border of hell itself. It has a lot to do with intent and motive.

{The reason God desires for us to be as far away from this part of life is because our human natures aren't designed to handle the spirit realm in this capacity}.

Q4: You mentioned in our private interview that Wiccans typically desire to dispel negativity, but did you find the lifestyle you ended up leading to be a lifestyle free of strife? In your experience, what was the personality culture within the various groups you were engaged with?

Very good question, Jessica - and the answer is a profound no.

For the most part, most Pagans strive to live as far from negativity as they possibly can. They don't welcome it into their lives willingly - however, it doesn't mean that negativity never finds it's way in at times. In my case, however, I constantly seemed to run into people who had deep power control issues that caused great negativity, and therefore it caused great strife in my life which kept feeding my desire to control my environment and discovery for answers even more.
 
Q5: Tell us about the illness you mentioned in your testimony, the week you decided to give up working with the Pagan public a year prior to your salvation?

I was violently sick to my stomach for five days due to the deep negativity that pierced through me while in the last public ritual I was in as a Pagan. My husband and I chalked it up as a spiritual attack, because it was the only reasonable explanation due to the fact our doctor couldn't even pinpoint why I was so sick.
 
Q6: At what point after you left the coven that night did you accept Christ?

One year, to the date. Dec. 21, 2002 - I left the ritual as sick, and burdened, as I could be in my life. And unbeknownst to me, I found myself at a Christmas Cantata on Dec. 21, 2003 in a Church accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Q7: I want to run some global statistics by you. What is your gut reaction to this fascination with Witchcraft in our world?
1,000,000 monthly searches for the term "Wicca" via Google.
40,500 monthly searches for the term "Wiccan spells" via Google.
3,350,000 monthly searches for the term "Witchcraft" via Google.
7,480,000 monthly searches for the phrase "How to be a Witch" via Google.

Honestly, it doesn't shock me at all. The reason is because of the immersion I was a part of with this life. I lived this life for six years, and I met many people who you would never think would be practicing Pagans - even right here in the Bible Belt, where I live.

The allure of control, positivity, finding what works just for yourself, and making a religion that works within your own life view is very attractive. With a world that seeks to always control people, that is filled with negativity, and religions that seem (on the surface) to be extremely restrictive - it's easy for the human mind and heart to wander into ways that offer a seemingly easier way to live which already matched the ideals we hold within our minds and hearts. Paganism holds that kind of attraction to a good majority of people - Christian and non-Christian alike.
 

Q9: What advice would you give anyone interested in the supernatural world?

That with as much light, positive, beautiful and fantastic ideals that promise a life that is easier than the one you live now - question it highly, and don't accept it as truth.

Life has a great amount of darkness in this world, and it comes at us from all different angles and avenues trying to break us down to the points our absolute breaking points. Yet, it's in these breaking point moments where we have an absolute decision to make - do we rely on ourselves to make our lives right, or do we turn our lives over to the only One who can make them right; Jesus Christ?

Q10: What has God shown you since you left Paganism and became a Christian?

That a life lived without Him is no life at all. It's merely a facade of a life...an idea of what we think it can or is supposed to be.

Life is only found in Christ, for in our creation by our Father's hands, there is only life found in the creator of our lives; not the natural state of this world. Certainly, we are born (naturally) into this world, but our bodies...minds...hearts (physical, beating ones)...they aren't what (or even who) we are. Our true identity, our seeking out of who God truly is and the answers we so desperately want to know about Him and so much more, are only found in one place...Christ.

Q11: If there is anyone reading this today, who was where you were then, what would you say to them?

Know you are not alone. Though the Church at times can be a cold place for those redeemed of a life of Paganism, due to so many just being undereducated (or not even educated at all) within the Church, your life...your testimony...your voice in telling your testimony...it all matters. God deeply desires for you to "come out of the closet" again to reveal His glory in your life, to offer hope to others who are either dabbling with, or deep in practice of, the Pagan ways. It's our job to help educate those in your community and beyond about the realities of Paganism and Witchcraft, and why it needs to be avoided.
 
"Marni Arnold is a happily married wife, and stay-at-home-mom to one son - whom she home schools - in Charlotte, NC. Attending Liberty University Online for her Bachelor's of Science in Religion, she is also an author whom is working on her first book and blogs at RelevantBrokenness.com. Her professional background is in EMS/Fire, and comes from a very diverse spiritual background as well. Marni enjoys reading, meeting with people over coffee, music, movies, autumn days filled with leaf tossing and laughter, as well as art, science and historical museums."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Wiccan Religion: An interview with Marni Arnold


Halloween is just around the corner. Now that the 21 day study on {X}pecting God's Radical Provision is complete, I thought we could talk about something a bit different, but appropriate for this time of year. Witches. Pagans. Witchcraft. How to be a witch. These terms produce thousands, sometimes millions, of hits on google each month. The fact is, on a global level, we are fascinated with the supernatural. This fascination leads both Christians and non-Christians down dangerous paths. Yes, you heard me right; there are even Christians who are secretly practicing witchcraft. Over the next 4 days, we are going to explore this topic with two women. They have given me both their testimonies and done a Q & A session with me. I'd love to introduce you to, my friend, Marni Arnold. 

How He Loves Me by Marni Arnold

The words from John Mark Macmillan song "How He Loves" rings through my head when I'm asked how He rescued me from the miry spiritual life I was leading nearly 8 years ago as a practicing Witch.

It's a difficult question to answer, because how He rescues any of us from any area of our lives is an absolute miracle.

My story is no greater than the one who found salvation at 6 years old in a small Baptist church all because of an altar call.

My story is no greater than the alcoholic who found Christ at the bottom of the bottle and realized they needed Him more than another shot.

My story is simply one more way God simply gets to show off His glory and love. It's one that reveals that He is willing to reach down into the filthiest, most putrescent areas of life and pull out of it the brilliant gem that He needs to have reflect every facet of who He is.

It so happened He did this for me all starting the night of Dec. 21, 2002 where I found myself in the midst of my last public Pagan ritual welcoming in the season of winter. This night is burned into my memory so I will never forget His answer to the very first prayer I wholeheartedly prayed to Him.

During the ritual, I felt so disgustingly ill that all I wanted to do was throw up. I felt negativity unlike any other in my life course through my body, and my heart and mind were rejecting it with all their might. Hatred, jealousy, anger, lust...all these things went through me easily as a well sharpened blade.

Then looking upon the cold, crystal clear night sky sparking with glitter - but only seeing faint images of the brilliance due to the black swirling cloud that hovered over the ritual circle like a bad storm only made things worse - I desired to be so distinctly separate from it all. God granted my prayer immediately when I spoke in my spirit to Him, "God, get me out of here now!"

He did just that...but, He didn't let me escape consequences of my decision to be in that ritual. For five days, I was physically ill without any medical explanation. Upon my husband and I discussing the matter together, we were convinced I had indeed experienced a spiritual attack of some kind, and my body was purging the poison of it.

How God did what He did that night, I will never know...but He did it. And He continued to pursue me throughout this next year, until one night when I decided to visit a friend's Church with my husband.

We had gotten around a group of business men and women, during 2003, who were Christians - and God did some overtime on me to grab my heart. He knew I loved Christmas music, even as a young Jewish girl, and the day we visited at this Church, an invitation to a Christmas Cantata was put out to the congregation. I grabbed a hold of the invitation, and attended...and upon arriving, He began to soften my heart, prompting my spirit to meet Him up at the altar that night. I had no idea what I was really doing when I walked up...but I knew I needed to be up there.

When a woman in a choir robe came to me and asked me if I needed prayer, and I looked at her confused, her response was, " Are you ready to receive Him?" Immediately, my heart melted into the form of tears gushing from my eyes. At this moment, I embraced Him into my heart and life...and have been walking to know Him better since.

Upon walking out of the Church that night, it utterly took me by surprise when I got into my truck to call my husband to inform him of my decision when I noticed on my phone the date.

Dec. 21, 2003.

One year exactly from the date I left my last Pagan ritual like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders trying to bury me alive, He rescued me and redeemed me completely.

I couldn't have orchestrated this story any better myself even if I tried.

My life...the story He's given me to tell...is nothing but the sheer grace of His love that reached down into the vileness of all I had done, was doing, and would yet do...and pulled me out of it all. He took the weight of that cold Dec. night in 2002, along with everything else, and breathed life into me.

I'm eternally thankful to Him for that moment...and every other moment He's given me to live for Him. It's not been the easiest of journey's....but it's one I wouldn't exchange for anything.


"Marni Arnold is a happily married wife, and stay-at-home-mom to one son - whom she home schools - in Charlotte, NC. Attending Liberty University Online for her Bachelor's of Science in Religion, she is also an author whom is working on her first book and blogs at RelevantBrokenness.com. Her professional background is in EMS/Fire, and comes from a very diverse spiritual background as well. Marni enjoys reading, meeting with people over coffee, music, movies, autumn days filled with leaf tossing and laughter, as well as art, science and historical museums."

Day 21: God's unchanging character

I don't pretend that these 21 days have been easy. I know that you've asked God some very difficult questions. So have I. We often struggle to get back to "normal." And sometimes that is just not possible. But, I believe in a God that makes new normals (streams in the desert). I know that because of Jesus in my life, I can press on until He returns. Isn't that the one singular hope that we can stand on when everything else feels like it's falling a part? I think so.


 Sure, our feelings will always exist to confirm the enemies plan for our lives. Yet, as we mature in Christ, and put on the helmet of salvation, God can deliver us from mighty strongholds that have tripped us up for decades. I challenge you to take up the armor God gave you. We can't control people or circumstances, but we can control ourselves. Think of Job, was he not living in God's favor when his house literally collapsed with all his loved ones inside?  He was actually doing everything right, and tragedy (great tragedy) still came into his life. Yet, God delivered Him and restored him. It would be foolish to think that Job never mourned those losses again, the story ends at his redemption. However, as humans, we know that he probably hurt forever. Yet, Job still lived and prospered in the land of the living. Job gave honor and glory and praise continually to His Father in Heaven. Job knew he lived in a fallen world, but that had nothing to do with God's character.

{He knew that God was good, when circumstances were not.}

These days we live in are difficult, and I truly believe that time is short. I believe I will see Jesus in my lifetime return. I wait for that day. But, we must be ready ourselves. We must not allow Satan to derail our emotions, our circumstances, and wreck our ability to witness to those around us who don't know Christ yet. We must anticipate daily, we must {X}pect His Radical Return and let the truth of His return keep us obedient and strengthened inside. I pray that God will bless you immensely; that you will feel His amazing grace. Thanks for coming along on this 21 day journey.

{Jessie K.}

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 20: When all feels lost


This week, my new friend decided to believe again after years of searching. It had nothing to do with this study. Or me. It had everything to do with the God of Redemption. The One, who redeemed her and walked beside her through her questions. He counted every step and comforted her through tragedy and loss.

Today, I choose to believe in the Holy God of Redemption; through illness, and kid raising, and trying to be a Godly wife, and waging war against the fear of never feeling normal again.

I choose.

Belief is a choice. When all feels lost, and our belief feels dead and in the grave; there is Jesus.

The One that defeats death and will return one day for his own; those sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. {Ephesians 1:13 & 14}

Sometimes we have to give ourselves room to feel. Our country doesn't have much time for feelings. We don't have time for hurt, because bills must be paid and meetings scheduled. But, God sees over all that toiling under the sun.

He sees you. 

He sees your struggle to make out his footprints in the sands of time. In the space that has gotten filled up with questions and tragedy and fear.

El Roi. 


I am expectant despite what I see, because He sees clearly. Despite what I feel. I have hope.

 My hope is found in Christ. 







Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 19: When your own expectations breed bondage

My first year of marriage, I picked up a tiny compilation book written by the wives of some well-known pastors. I honestly don't remember the name of the book or much about it at all, except for one section. 
One of the wives talked about "unmet expectations" in regards to marriage. She said that marriages collapse so quickly because our expectation of marriage is glamorized, and when those media driven expectations are not met, we question our decision. Most people default to "well I guess I didn't marry the right person" or "he/she changed once we said 'I do.' It's the only thing I remember from the book.

{The expectations we place on others can be the sole reason we don't ever have peace or live the abundant life Jesus purchased for us on the cross}.

Here are some scenarios for you to consider:

1. You think someone doesn't like you, so you put up a wall every time you encounter them. Your expectation is that they don't like you, so everything they say is taken out of context.
2. You were in an abusive relationship, so you believe that all relationships will be the same. You expect abuse instead of love.
3. Your mother criticized your weight your entire life, so inadvertently you pass on those unhealthy behaviors to your children. You expect that they will be criticized in the same way you were, so out of fear, you micro-manage their weight and before you know it, you've passed on the same rejection to your kids. 
4. Your own mother stayed home, had the house spotless, and dinner cooked every day when you came home from school. You expect your wife to do the same, and when she doesn't, you argue.
5. Your love language is touch and your spouses is time. You expect him to hug you and hold your hand and he expects time from you. Both of you feel unloved because you give love the way you want to receive it. 
6. You feel like you never receive the work promotion you deserve. You hop from job to job, and always blame someone else for a lack of acknowledgment. Finally, you get your chance at a promotion that would change everything. You begin to tell the interviewer about how grateful you are that someone is finally taking you seriously because of your past victimization in the workplace. You find out you did not get the job, because they felt that your attitude hindered your ability to produce for them in the future. 

 If God has given me one profound revelation in regards to my life, it is that my own expectations can breed bondage in my life. It's not always about someone else, but often about an expectation within my thinking. We have the responsibility to realistically evaluate the expectations we place on those around us. We must view every situation in light of the Bible,  and based on what is true, lovely, and right. If we wear our past like an old backpack, we will surely bring it with us everywhere we go. 

Today, I want you to truly think about the expecations you place on others. I tried for a long time to develop a friendship between me and someone I felt should have both loved me and been my friend. It was very painful. Then, one day God asked me to release that person to Him. I had been praying fervently that God would either forge a friendship or set me free from the bondage of needing acceptance from that person. I have to say, it worked. I no longer "need" that friendship. If God creates one in the future, then that would be great. But, no matter what happened, I needed release from the expectation of friendship I had placed on that person, from the need to be accepted, and all the rejection surrounding the situation. And God showed up. I pray that today, God shows up for you. I pray for your release from bondage in Jesus Name.

{It was for freedom that Christ set us free therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery}. Galatians 5:1

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 18: Living Water


Once we have re-planted our belief into good soil. It's time to cultivate it. When I struggle with unbelief, I don't always deal with it properly. Identifying your unbelief and re-planting in good soil will do you no good if you skip this step: Water it with living water. Feeding on God's word crowds out a spirit of unbelief. It is only through the truth of scripture that we grow in faith and unbelief takes a backseat. Why?

{Because confessing a scripture directly linked to your area of struggle is the proper way to wage war in a spiritual battle}.

{We cannot win spiritual battles if we wage war with earthly weapons}.

 Here are some ways I have unsuccessfuly tried to uproot unbelief in my heart:

{1} Ignore it.
{2} Get man's opinion instead of God's.
{3} Try to resolve it in my own strength.
{4} Read books written by men instead of saturating myself in God's promises.

Listen to the story you probably know as The Woman at the Well. Her first encounter with the Son of God sent unbelief spinning on its' heels. First, Jesus wouldn't have even acknowledged her (or according to her belief he shouldn't have) and then, he proceeds to tell her things that nobody knew. Tonight, I want you to dig into this story. I've listed through verse 10, I challenge you to keep reading. Watch this woman's "belief" system get radically changed by the Son of God. 

John 4:1-10

Jesus and the Woman of Samaria
 1Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John2(although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples),3he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4mAnd he had to pass through Samaria. 5So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field  that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
 7A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." 8(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)10Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 17: {X}pecting Good Fruit from Bad Soil

I want my life to be pleasing to God, however, sometimes I go my own way and fail miserably. The desire to have the abundant life that Christ promised me is something I'm always reaching for, but I don't always have. Why is this? Sometimes believing God for radical provision has less to do with our desires and/or belief and more to do with the soil our faith is planted in. When we give our hearts to Christ, He changes us and the Holy Spirit indwells us. We can want to do God's will, and believe He can do it, and still live in defeat. We remain powerless and still expect God to supernaturally intervene, when in actuality He is waiting on us to re-plant in good soil. God has called us to "come out and be separate" from the world. Your environment, the foundation in which your faith rests, may be the reason you never experience breakthrough in your life.

{We cannot expect good fruit from bad soil}.

Last year my mom was insistent that my dad plant her a garden. And he put it off. She told him that the place where he wanted to plant the garden did not have good soil. She asked him to get new dirt. Fresh dirt. Then, one day, she came home and the garden had been started...in the old, deficient, nutrient poor dirt. And you can only guess what happened - the garden was never a garden. It never produced. 

Sometimes we get frustrated with ourselves because of our doubt, our lack of belief, or our questions about a circumstance we face. The answers are not always easy, but sometimes God is trying to get us to re-plant our faith in good soil. What can that mean for you?

You have questions about Christianity. New soil might mean...reading the Bible first-hand.

You feel disconnected from God, though you know you're a Christian. New soil might mean...you get involved in a Bible study.

You might have an addiction to drugs & alcohol, and you want freedom. New soil might mean...new friends that aren't tempting you.

You might be sick and want wholeness. New soil might mean...eating food God's way.

You might have a broken marriage. New soil might mean...turning the television off and devoting one hour of attention each night to your spouse.

Today, I want you to test your soil. Think about it. What does your environment look like? Have you planted your faith by the streams of living water? Can you grow where you're planted?

{And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its' leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers}. 
Psalm 1:3
Listen to the parable of the sower and ask God to show you what to do next. 

{When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road}.
Matthew 13:19

{And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises  because of the word, immediately he falls way}.
Matthew 13:20 & 21

{And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful}.
Matthew 13:22

{And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty}. 
Matthew 13:23

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 16: The Prayer that Changes Everything


I was on a walk with a friend a few years ago. I was barely hanging on. My health was so bad, I had not really been out of the house much that week. As we walked, I tried to hide my desperation, but it was a struggle to remain composed. We talked about little things while my mind tried to follow her conversation. My doctors were confused as to why I was sick every single day, and so was I. I didn't understand why I couldn't get an answer. Why the doctors themselves had no direction or idea? They would just send me home and I was miserable. Finally, she asked, "So how was your week?"  I struggled to give an answer, "Not good; the doctors just can't figure out what's wrong with me and I don't know what to do." That was the only sentence I could squeak out without totally falling apart. She didn't give a response, her phone rang and she was off to a more enticing event. I sat there dumbfounded on the street. I felt so isolated in my illness- this mysterious thing that choked life out of each day. And my only friend, didn't make time for a few sentences. I walked on alone. Or was I?

I cried the rest of the walk and unleashed some bitterness that had been building towards God. I had served Him to the best of my knowledge and I couldn't even make it 5 miles down the road to Wal-Mart. I had triplets to raise, a business to run, and obligations. It just seemed so unfair. I felt so abandoned that day when I prayed this prayer:

{Lord, why can't I get breakthrough in my health? No one seems to understand the pain I'm going through and You seem so far away. One of my only friends doesn't even care. Lord, I can't see, but You can. Please, bring the truth about my situation to the surface. Don't let it remain hidden. If I am separated from you, because of something I am doing wrong; show me. Your word says that "the truth sets us free," so send your truth. Do not let it linger or be hindered any longer. Do not let me live in darkness in regards to my health}.

God didn't drop the answer instantly into my lap. However, what I do know is that after I began to pray that prayer daily, breakthrough and diagnosis' from doctors began to pour forth. After praying the same prayer for a few months, I had been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, adrenal fatigue, and major hormone imbalance. I continue to pray that same prayer over my life each and every day. 

{Lord lead me in truth, bring truth to my situation}. 

I believe that God honors those who earnestly seek Him. When you seek truth, you find Jesus. When you find Jesus, you find God. 

Jeremiah 29:13 says: 
{You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart}. 

{It's the prayer that changes everything}.

{It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things, He knows what is in the darkness and the light dwells with Him.} Daniel 2:22

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 15: Waging War and Pressing On

{For by wise guidance you will wage war, And in abundance of counselors there is victory.}
Proverbs 24:6

You will wage war on this Earth. If you belong to Christ, Satan will not sit idle while you raise up Godly children, raise up God's name, or raise up churches or ministries for the kingdom. He will seek you out for destruction.

{Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. } 
1 Peter 5:8

When I lived in Dallas, I lived and breathed the book, "Freedom from Fear" by Neil T. Andersen. In the book, Neil gives a picture of Satan's plan for the life of a believer. I have never forgotten it. Anytime doubt tries to overthrow my belief in Christ's ability to change my circumstance, his example reminds me to press on. 

He gives the analogy of walking down a city street with sky-scrapers towering above you. He says, "Imagine if hanging out of every window above you are Satan and his legions. They throw things at you, hurl insults, scream, and attempt to capture your attention. He says, "If you belong to Christ, they can't have your soul, but if they can have your attention and your mind, then they will have victory over you." He talked about how so many of us stop moving forward. We stop and argue with them. We debate them. We get so pre-occupied with our surroundings that we do exactly what they hoped: we stop moving forward. They can't have our soul, but they can have our time, our effort, our peace, and any other ground we are willing to give them.

The finish line is up ahead. 

Don't stop. Keep believing. Keep expecting God's radical provision. Keep telling the devil where his place is: under the feet of Jesus and eventually in the lake of fire. Wage war wisely with the sword of the spirit. Wage war in the abundance of counselors- with the men and women of God he has placed in your life to help you in your time of need.

 For I know there is victory in Jesus. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

{X}pect God's Radical Provision: Choose this Day

My eyes tell my brain how to feel sometimes. Yet, faith in Christ works contrary to what we see. Faith is believing the unseen. If we continue to believe the lie that our current circumstance, what we see, is a predictor of our future, then we will continue to live in defeat.


{Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth. Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert."}
 Isaiah 43:18 & 19

Marriage is not easy. Sometimes the initial feelings we have for our spouses make us think that a lifetime together will indeed be simple. But, merging two lives is never simple. Yet, it is a union designed and blessed by God. He wants us to have victory in our marriages. He wants us to live under His provision as couples, and he knows that feelings are circumstantial. But, true love, rooted in Him can last a lifetime. 

I believe that God deals with us each on a personal basis. My relationship is unique with God and so is yours. He knows how to speak to me and He knows how I listen best. He knows our failures and He loves us despite them. What has he told you to do in regards to your marriage? Has he told you...

{To get on your knees and pray}.
{To stay, despite how much brokenness you feel}.
{To take your family to church}.
{To be obedient in an area that He has instructed}.
{To be silent}.
{To speak up and choose your words wisely}.
{To take courage and believe that He is good}.
{To quit feeling guilty over your spouses personal choices}.

There is no spouse that is perfect. We are imperfect, flawed beings. But, we have made vows to God. We must honor them to the best of our ability. You might not have a choice. When someone abandons you, they will be accountable to their actions. You must be accountable to yours. In the aftermath of destruction, we all have a choice to make. 

{We cannot let the choices of any person determine our worth & value in Christ Jesus}.

Your life counts. God sent His Son so that you might know love; so that you might know Him personally. We can't control the way others lives, but we can choose this day whom we will serve. 


Saturday, October 15, 2011

When Your Marriage Falls Apart


I have many Christian girlfriends experiencing hardship within their marriages right now. Most of them are Christians. Some of their spouses are Christians too and some are not. It is devastating. Over the last year, countless women (strangers and friends) have reached out over the Internet and told me their story. In these cases, although I know there are men who are often abandoned as well, these ladies have stories that could reprint like carbon copies. It's as if you could swap out names for the leading lady in their very real drama, and the story would be the same.

"He's cheating."
"He's changed his mind."
"He doesn't want more kids now that he's seen how difficult raising one is."
"He promised to change, but he lied."
"He just walked out- no explanation."
"He doesn't want this- he's got an "addiction to women."

Now, we all know these problems run deep and this topic could stretch into a full book itself. But, where does that leave my sweet friends? Most of them have been forced into single motherhood because their husbands just don't want to honor their commitments.

It's hard being the listener in some of these situations. The "fairness queen" in me wants to hurl some biting insults at the offending spouse (although we know that would do nothing).  I have wanted to tell my friends "You can do so much better, let God bring you someone else- just go quickly." Yet, as I have done this study God has shown me that I don't have much belief in His ability to change the spouses heart. It's hard, cause haven't we been taught, "Once a cheater, always a cheater?"

Every relationship I talk about is in a different phase of destruction. Some ladies I really feel in my heart have been forced to move forward, and I believe God will honor their right choices. Others, are in the deep throws of negotiations and arguments within their marriage, and although the friend in me says "you can do better," the belief tucked away in my heart knows that God can change hearts. No matter how stubborn we can be, God can change people. It's who He is. Heart-changing is the business He is in.

It is difficult as a Christian to face divorce. Especially, if you feel that you have done everything right, and have been deeply wronged. I have only lived this feeling through my friends in regards to marriage. Although, I completely understand what it's like to be mistreated in relationships, when you are kind and you get stabbed in the back. It happens every day in friendships, families, and business relationships alike.  The sting of betrayal is a wound that runs deep, and I firmly believe that it is those wounds that only God can heal. I have been betrayed many times, and yet I have been freed emotionally and mentally from them over and over again. The Enemy wants you to think that you will never be free from your hurt, but God is mighty to save. He is more powerful than the situation that has been thrust upon you. I know many women whose marriages have been redeemed by the Lord, and I know many women that despite being abandoned have done awesome things in the Kingdom of God because they honored God with their commitments.

{"...For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on Thee."} 2 Chronicles 20:12

{Lord, meet these men and women who are hurting on the battlefield. They do not know what to do, but may their eyes be fixed on you. Lord, you are a God of redemption. The entire reason we will live with you in Heaven, is because of the redemptive story you set in place through your Son, Jesus. Redeem these marriages. Change the hearts of all parties involved; those who need to come to repentance and those must forgive unthinkable actions. Lord, make our marriages vessels of honor. Make our marriages new in Jesus' name. Amen}.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 12: Believing God and the Proof You Want

The last two days have been hard for me. My feelings have wanted to carry me down paths of the past. Down roads of chronic illness, of hopelessness concerning my health, of pain- yet I have this hope in Jesus that has held me up. Sometimes, our feelings make it hard to believe. Do you think it's ironic that when I talked about believing in God's supernatural healing a few days ago, that I had two of the worst days in regards to my health?  No. I do not believe that is a coincidence. I believe that the Enemy who has spent years stringing together a web of destructive thinking in our minds knows our weaknesses. He also wants the gospel we cling to to look foolish to those who don't believe in Christ. He also has a plan for our lives; it is a plan of destruction and death. He wants the name of God to be drenched in weakness instead of power. The Bible says that he goes before God and accuses us day and night.


{And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of Our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night}. 
Revelation 12:10 

He may know where I am weak, but through Christ I am strong. I can stand on God's promises no matter how I feel and it's not just ritual. It's power. Some people want proof, but no matter what facts you give them, only God brings revelation. I was going to move into the subject of marriage today, but felt that God wanted me to show you what He showed me this morning.

{And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong}. 
2 Corinthians 12:9 & 10

The proof we so desperately want, that God can take care of our needs, our loved ones, our health, our relationships, and our provision has already been provided. He sent Jesus to die for us and he did not remain in the grave. Can a dead man raise himself up? I sure can't. You can't. But, God can. And that is the foundational proof we must stand on no matter what we see or feel today.

{Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead"}. 
Acts 17:30 & 31


Thursday, October 13, 2011

{X}pect that He is Mighty to Save

Sometimes it's hard to put belief into words. When I began to seek out scriptures on belief for today, I felt that no other story could tell it better than the Biblical account of Saul's conversion (who later is given the name Paul). Saul wanted nothing to do with Jesus Christ. His knowledge of the Law was great, but his heart was hardened to the notion that Christ was the Son of God.
Until the day that God intervened in his life in a dramatic way.

{Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who art Thou, Lord?" And He said, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do." And the men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one. And Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank"}. Acts 9:1-9

{You might know a Saul. You might be a Saul.} 

I am praying for the "Saul's" in my life. I'm asking God that He bring truth to their hearts and minds. I am asking God to remove the scales of unbelief from their eyes so that they might see Jesus for who he is; the resurrected Son of God. Let's trust Him for the provision of salvation for our loved ones and to remove the shackels of unbelief off of us as well. 

{"...Brother Saul, The Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he arose and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God"}. 
Acts 9:17-20

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 10: {X}pect God's Ability to Save

The weakening of America, the volatility in the Middle East, massive Earthquakes, corrupt governments, devastating tsunamis and strange weather patterns...
...all point my mind to the second coming of Christ. 

{And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes on the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send for His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other}. Matthew 24:30 & 31

Although this is exciting for Christians, it is also scary. We all have people in our lives that do not acknowledge Jesus as their personal Lord. It breaks my heart. I am afraid for them. Unlike some popular opinion, I don't know any Christian who says "I want others to be like me." We know we are messes ourselves. We know that we are in desperate need of God. We are imperfect and sometimes that spills into our lives in such a way that harms our witness instead of helps it. Yet, at the end of the day- we are sinners saved by grace. We need Jesus for everything. When I was 20, I spent that year in a dark pit of depression and despair. I know that God allowed me to taste a small portion of the desperation that will be in Hell. Hell on Earth will not compare with the literal place God has prepared for Satan and the angels who rebelled against Him in the beginning of time. It's not meant for you and I, but God gives all of us free will. No matter what kind of life we have lived, salvation is offered to us freely. We can't earn it, manipulate it, or inherit it. It's a choice.

{For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works that no one should boast}. Ephesians 2:8 & 9

To be quite honest, there are many in my life that I have prayed for for decades. My belief in their salvation has waned. I tend to shoulder the burden of the salvation of others on myself at times. I forget that it is God Himself that sends his Holy Spirit to draw people unto Himself. It is my job to pray. It is my job to encourage, to help equip, and to speak truth to those who God has asked me to help. This blog is my responsibility, a platform God has given me, to teach what the Bible says.

Several months ago, I blogged HERE about my grandmother. I had given up on her ability to be saved simply because she had lived her entire life as an unbeliever. Yet, God showed me that A) He was listening to our prayers B) It is never too late, no matter how long a spirit of unbelief has been present, and C) The Holy Spirit can break through years of unbelief. God draws us, digs up the layers of unbelief, and grows us so that our lives are good. So that we can be FREE...

If you feel comfortable, leave the name of someone you are praying over. I promise to pray over each name and let's believe God together for their salvation. Time is short and it is his desire that no one partakes in the wrath that was and is meant for Satan.

{The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentence}. 2 Peter 3:9