The Fire of Heaven in the Heart of Youth

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I’ve been in a dry spell.  The news all around me takes a toll on a spirit.  Busyness keeps me from digging into the wellspring of Jesus and His Word.  Pure discouragement keeps me from going to Him in prayer.  All excuses, I know, designed by the enemy to keep me from being who I am in Christ and from being productive for His Kingdom.

 

This week, I had the privilege of going to our Brethren Youth Conference with our youth group.  We took 18 youth and 5 advisors.  I didn’t want to go.  In the midst of my busyness and discouragement, going away for a week when there is so much to do was the last thing I wanted.  Even on Sunday, I was still trying to think of reasons not to go, but all week long the Spirit had been calling me to a time set apart with Him.  So with much reluctance, I went, knowing that there was something special waiting for me there.

 

Light bulb moments from the Spirit revealed to the youth!

Light bulb moments from the Spirit revealed to the youth!

 

God is a Good Good Father!  I was reminded over and over this week, when seen through the eyes of untainted youth.  I’m not saying they are not aware of the darkness around them.  You would have to live in complete seclusion not to be aware of the evil and perverseness that prevails all around us.  What I’m talking about, is being untainted by the church and religion.  There is a pureness of faith and worship that those of us who’ve been around awhile tend to lose.  Everyone knows the world is bad, but those of us that have been in the church awhile have been exposed to things that have also tainted our view of Christians and the church.  It’s sad, I know.  We allow the bad actions of fellow believers to twist our view of Christ and who we are in Christ.

 

This manifests in all kinds of ways.  It looks different for different people, because it has affected us in different ways.  It may look like standing in church not singing the songs, or singing with little or no regard for the words coming from our mouths.  It may mean never displaying any source of Christ in our lives outside the walls of the church.  Possibly, it’s a lack of reading the Word or praying.  Maybe it’s just doubting the power and authority given to us by the Holy Spirit and refusing to acknowledge the gifts we have been given.

 

All of these things have manifested in my life at one point or another and sometimes all at once, I’m sad to admit.  This week though…I was reminded, refreshed and revived!  I was reminded that God is Who He says He is, and I am Who HE says I am.  Watching the pure worship of youth pouring out their praise to God refreshed my soul.  Practicing new ways of blessing others, praying for them, and sharing our stories revived my spirit.  For these youth, that are not yet jaded, all of these new ideas seemed like a natural way to serve God.  They soaked it up like a sponge and were eager to try all of these new things.  It didn’t seem weird to them.  They didn’t look around wondering what others would think of them.  For them it was a new revelation, a new way to see God, experience Him and walk out their Faith in a real and tangible way.

 

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”  1 Timothy 4:12

 

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Pure Worship-hands raised and hearts open!

We really could learn a lot from this new generation.  When the world around us seems to being going straight to Hell, literally, take heart.  There is a new generation of young believers that are taking a bright light into the world.  They have been empowered with tools that will change our world.  A new identity has been revealed to them as Sons and Daughters of God, full of hope, power, authority, and passion.  I witnessed them sharing their stories with each other.  They built each other up with prayer, encouragement, and blessings.  It wasn’t forced upon them.  It was introduced to them, and they grabbed hold and ran with it.  They felt the transforming power of the Holy Spirit inside of them.  Gifts were revealed and used.  Just like you and I, they feel the darkness closing in, but given a light to shine, they are all in!

 

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”  Acts 2:17

You may not have had the blessing of witnessing the transformation of these youth, but take heart in knowing that it happened.  In a world full of darkness, it only takes a spark to bring the light.  There is more than a spark in these youth…there’s a fire! Do what you can to fan the flames.  Christ may come tomorrow, but if He should tarry, there is hope in the next generation.  There is power and authority given by the Holy Spirit and it is manifesting in the lives of our youth!  Praise God!

“Go to Hell, In the Name of Jesus!”

victory mountain

This past weekend, I was blessed to serve on a women’s spiritual retreat.  I attended this retreat 13 years ago and it was life changing for me.  Unfortunately, I was under the delusion that this was the end of my spiritual troubles.  I truly believed that I had left my baggage at the foot of the cross and now Satan had to leave me alone.  I had experienced God in such real and amazing ways that weekend and being young in my faith, expected smooth sailing once leaving that mountain top.  Little did I know that my enemy knew where I had been and was waiting to pull the rug out from under me, when I least expected it.  Over the years I’ve found that after mountain top experiences, often come the lowest valleys.

This weekend, as we were in the chapel, I was praying for the ladies that were experiencing this weekend for the first time.  I was praying for them to really let go and let God have control of their lives.  I was praying for release of those things that were hindering their walk with Christ.  During that time of prayer, I was reminded of the struggles I had when I returned home from my weekend all those years ago.  I had returned unwarned and totally unprepared to deal with the attacks of the enemy.

So, as I sat and prayed, I felt impressed by the Spirit to share the reminder and give a warning to those leaving this weekend on a spiritual high.  I wasn’t quite sure who the message was intended for, so I shared it with the girl sitting beside me.  She agreed and said she had experienced that before as well.  After the service, I mentioned my thoughts to the pastors.  To which one replied, “So when do you want to share about it?  God gave the message to you, not me.”  I was not expecting to share with everyone, I was simply asking if it was going to be addressed before the weekend concluded.  Next thing I knew they were lining up a time for me to share the thoughts that the Spirit had impressed upon me.  It would be the following morning.

That night, long after everyone else was in bed, I was praying and writing the words the Spirit laid upon my heart.  I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to turn out, but figured if the Spirit spoke, I should listen and obey.  The next morning, when the time came I was shaking from head to toe, totally scared out of my mind, but confident that God was in control.  As I began to speak, the Spirit took over.  This is the message He gave me…maybe not word for word, but something like this.

“Ladies, we have had an amazing weekend thus far.  I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve spent the weekend in the lap of Jesus, my Savior.  We have be truly blessed.  We serve a wonderful God and this weekend, I believe we have walked on Holy ground.  There is still more to come, but soon we must leave this sacred place.  We will leave this cocoon and return to our worlds.  I don’t know what you are returning home to.  You may be returning to family, friends, work, school… life, but we are also returning to the adversary of our Lord.  Trust me…he knows where you’ve been.  He knows what you have done and he’s not happy about it.  He knows what you’ve learned and the power you have been given, but I guarantee he is banking on you not using it.

1 Peter 5:8 says, “Stay alert!  Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.”

There is power in knowing our enemy.  He knows us, he knows our weaknesses and he will exploit them.  But guess what girls…our God is bigger!  He’s greater and He wins!!!  And the same power He used to raise Jesus from the dead is in us!!!

In Luke 10, Jesus and his disciples had been traveling and spreading the gospel.  He appointed 72 other disciples to go two by two ahead of Him into every town and place he was about to go.  In verses 17-20 it says, ‘The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”  He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Girls, He’s given us the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions.  Use it!  When Satan brings up your old junk that you dealt with here and left at the feet of Jesus…Use it!  When Satan stirs up dissention in your marriage and family…Use It!!  When Satan tries to steal your joy, ’cause you know he will…Use It!!  Get ready for the battle ladies.  It will come.  He loves to try to knock us off the top of that mountain.  Some of my biggest trials, temptations, and personal defeats have come shortly after a mountain top experience, such as a BWOC weekend.

But when that time comes and Satan tries to do what he does best…you have the authority to get all up in his business and in the name of Jesus tell him, “Get out of my house!  Get out of my marriage!  Get out of my job and get out of my head!!!  I am the daughter of The King!  Your time is short and I know the end of the story!  MY GOD WINS!!!!”

And all God’s people said, “Amen!”

You may not have just returned from a spiritual retreat or been on a mountain top experience, but our enemy is the same.  He comes only to steal, kill and destroy.  You too have the power and the authority to tell him where to go.  Use it!  Don’t let him steal your joy.  Our God is greater!  It’s high time we as Christians and children of The King, stop living in defeat!  It’s time to tell Satan to “Go to hell, in the Name of Jesus!”  The battle has already been won!  Praise Jesus!  Let’s start living victorious!!

Living in Victory,

Praying Your Journey

Prayer ONe

I recently had a conversation with a group of teen girls who said that they have a hard time focusing when they pray.  They begin praying and then their minds take them off on rabbit trails.  I can so relate to that problem.  My mind has a mind of it’s own, and rarely are they going the same place.  It can be extremely frustrating to begin praying and ten minute later come back to your senses and realize that your prayer took an unexpected turn about ten seconds in, and you’ve traveled through a ten year time span of memories and thoughts in the ten minutes your mind was wondering, and non of it had anything to do with the prayer you started with.  Phew!  That wore me out just typing it!  Often that’s how I feel when I pray…completely exhausted and unattached from praying in run-on sentences.

Since becoming a Christian back in 2001, I have kept a journal.  I’m not consistent, but I wish I was.  I enjoy going back and reading the past journal entries, even if sometimes they are difficult to read.  But the most meaningful entries, are the ones where I cry out to God.  They aren’t just posts about what I did that day, but the cries of my heart to God.  Often times, I have forgotten what I had been praying about at a particular time in my life, but when I read through my journal it is so evident how God walked me through those times.  I see answered prayers and threads of things I still struggle with, but see that God has made improvements.

“Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.  I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.  If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.  Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me.”  Ps. 66:16-20

Journaling has been the single most important way for me to track my relationship with Christ.  It keeps me focused when I’m praying, because I am writing my prayers down.  It also gives me a record of God’s goodness and faithfulness through the different times and trials of life.  Rereading the entries gives me a chance to thank God for the many answered prayers that I have taken for granted.  Because our prayers are often not answered in the time frame we expect or the way we desire, I have found that the journaling of my prayers helps me see the hand of God more clearly at work in my life.

“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.  Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.”  Ps. 116:1-2

Back in 2006, I began a journey.  I was given the book “David” in the “Personal Reflection Series,” by Beth Moore.  It started me on a path I did not expect.  The study really spoke to me.  It wasn’t just Beth’s personal insight into the life of David, but it was my personal reflection throughout that was specifically impacting for me.  At the end of each day’s lesson, Beth has you write a prayer about the topic of that day.  She begins the prayer with some scripture and you are to finish it.  I wrote daily from the cries of my heart, but it wasn’t until later, when I reread those verses that I truly saw the value of them and the power of God at work in me.  I have since done the “Paul” and currently the “John” studies by Beth Moore.  It is still the power of the prayers that have moved me to share this.

When I began my blog, I had a tab included Prayer Journal.  It has been on my heart to share some of these prayers with you.  I have shared them personally with a few people and the feedback was very positive.  I’m hoping that you will be inspired by the words God placed on my heart and that you too may start a prayer journal of your own.  I’m hoping to make this a regular part of my postings here at “Groomed by God,” so please let me know what you think.  If these posts help you or inspire you, I’d love to hear about it!  As I bear my heart, I hope it touches yours.

Today’s prayer is still significant to me in this time of my life, even though it was written nearly 8 years ago. As I seek to serve in ministry as God calls me, I don’t exactly know what it looks like, but I want to get rid of anything that would hinder me from following where He leads.  Maybe you can relate, so pray with me…

“Lord, give me things to accomplish for You, and allow me to “put-off” those things that are hindering me and making progress for Satan and not Your Kingdom.  Help me to recognize the things in my life that are stumbling blocks and that keep me from growing in You.  Purge those things for good and keep me from returning to them.  Give me Your strength and Your will to accomplish what You have planned for me and those that I love.  In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”

Praying God gives you good works to accomplish today and that you too may be inspired to write them down!

The God of Little Things

Last week, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness in the little things.  Often times, we think that God is too busy for the small details of our lives.  We feel silly or like we shouldn’t pray for those little things that only matter to us.  I used to think that way, but God has shown me over and over that He cares about every detail of our lives, and sometimes we miss out because we are too afraid to go to Him about things we think are insignificant.  In Matthew 10:29-31 says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Our God is in the details, because He made the details. We just have to look around to see it.

My husband has been gone for over two weeks on a trip for work, so my life has been a little busy, to say the least, trying to keep up with everything going on at home.  Tuesday evening, I was in the middle of one of my trips running kids to different activities and noticed that one of my diamond earrings was missing.  I never take these earrings out and a little twinge of panic came over me.  I instantly began to retrace my steps of the day in my mind and tried to remember the last time I knew I had it in.  These earrings have sentimental value to me that means more than the monetary value, which made it even more heartbreaking that I had lost one.  You see, my husband is wonderful in so many ways, but romantic gestures and gift giving is not one of his strong suits.  He is also very frugal and doesn’t like to spend money on unnecessary things.  So, when I received these earrings as a gift from him to celebrate an important honor in my life, I was thrilled.  I was so touched that he had gone through the trouble to get me something so meaningful to commemorate a special occasion; without me telling him or giving any hints, I might add!  All that to say, I had to find this earring!

All week long I searched.  I looked in every possible place I could remember being in the days before I recognized it was missing.  I searched parking lots. I searched vehicles.  I searched businesses.  I searched the house, the shower, the closet, the garage…you name it, I searched it.  Days had passed and I prayed every time I would search for it.  I prayed whenever it crossed my mind.  My husband would be home in a few days and I prayed with all my heart that I would find it before he returned, so that I wouldn’t have to tell him I had lost it.

One evening I was taking a shower and again praying about my earring.  I was searching the drain one more time, just to be sure and I was reminded of a conversation I had had with some friends earlier in the week.  We had been talking about how so often God calls His people to remember in the Bible.  He had people build alters to remember what He had done.  He would tell His people to remember the times of His faithfulness.  We talked of how Moses reminded God of His promises.  And so, I began to remember and was reminded of two specific times that God was faithful to hear and answer my prayers for something small and insignificant to the world, but very important to me.

The first instance was several years ago when my oldest daughter was about five.  We had gone to Disney World that year and she had gotten a pair of Tinker Bell earrings.  They were her prized possession.  She loved Tinker Bell and it was her favorite souvenir.  She wore them constantly.  We had gone to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for a family gathering.  My parents live next door and my dad had made a train out of old plastic barrels and pulled them behind the four wheeler.  They rode that train all day long.  Shortly before we left, Hally came to me in tears of panic.  One of her prized earrings was gone.  She had lost it somewhere that day and could not be consoled.  The search began.  The probability of finding that earring in the acres of grass that the train had driven was slim to none.  We split up and began to search the property.  We searched and searched to no avail.  Finally, we decided all hope was lost and we needed to leave.  The look on my daughters face broke my heart.  I sent up a silent prayer to God.  “God, I know it’s just an earring, but to Hally, it’s a big deal.  I know it seems impossible, but please let us find her earring.”  We gathered our things and began to leave.  As we were walking through the garage going to our car, there on the floor was her earring.  She was ecstatic and so was I!!  Many prayers of thanksgiving went up to God!  It was a small lesson in His faithfulness in the small things.

Another instance came to mind as well.  The year after Hally was born, I went on a Christian women’s weekend retreat.  In many ways I was still a baby Christian and had only been walking with the Lord for about two years.  I was struggling with many things in my life and had no interest in going on this weekend, but God is faithful and He met me there in a very personal way.  The ways I experienced God that weekend are countless, but one experience came to mind.  It was a couple of days into the weekend and I was wanting to take a shower.  There were two showers for about 15-20 women and getting into the shower was hard enough, but hoping for hot water was near to impossible.  It was late at night and I was the last in line.  It had been a long couple of days and I longed for a hot shower to soak away some of the junk I had been wading through.  As I finally stepped into the shower, as I suspected the water was freezing cold.  In desperation, I cried out to God.  “If You can turn water into wine, surely you can make this water Hot!!!  Burning Hot!!!”  As soon as the words came from my mouth, I could feel the heat returning to the water.  Within a few seconds, the water was so hot I had to step to the side out of the spray and keep turning it down until it was cool enough to step back in.  Tears were streaming down my face as this was my first miracle.  It was my own, personal, miracle.  It was God showing me that He cared, even about something as insignificant as a hot shower.

So, as I stood in my shower remembering, I again cried out to God.  I reminded Him of the times He had been faithful in the little things of my life.  I asked Him again to help me find my earring.  “Father, I remember Your faithfulness.  I know that You care about the things that I care about.  You know that this is just an earring, but to me it’s important.  I don’t want to have to tell Jeremy that I lost it when He comes home, so if you could let me find it before he comes home I would be grateful.”  I turned off the shower and got out, continuing to pray as I went through my after-shower routine.  I went into the closet to get my pajamas on and I bent over to pick up a few things on the floor.  As I leaned over, there on the floor of my closet was the front and back of my earring within three inches of each other!  It was unbelievable!  Not only had I looked in my closet, but had been in and out of that closet multiple times a day over the last few days and never saw that earring.  Again, the tears began to fall and praises to my Father in Heaven went up. 

Everyday, I’m reminded that God is in the details.  I see it in the way He works out my crazy schedule so that everything gets accomplished.  I feel it in a song that I needed to hear at just the right time.  I recognize it in the beauty of creation all around me and the intricate details of every living creature.  I cherish it in that ten minutes of down time He gives me in the midst of a crazy day.  Just look around and you will see Him in the details of your day as well.  And when you do, say, “Thank You!”  The more you do, the more He will show Himself to you.

My friend, is there something in your life that you are afraid to ask Our Father in Heaven?  Do you think it is too small or too petty to ask for?  I want you to know that Our Father is a personal Father.  If you have children, you know what it’s like when something is important to your child.  It may be something totally insignificant to the world, but to them, it is everything.  Our Father knows what is important to us and He wants to bless us with the desires of our hearts.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that God is a genie in a bottle and will grant us our every wish, but when our desires are pure, He takes delight in giving them to us.  Our God is in the details and He is faithful in the small things,  so trust Him, because He cares.  All you have to do is ask. 

Blessed in the Small Things,

Lorissa