A Not So Merry Christmas


I’ve always loved Christmas.  It’s my favorite time of year.  I love decorating my house, making Christmas gifts and goodies, listening to Christmas music starting at Thanksgiving, spending time with family and Christmas traditions.  I love the lights and the beauty of the season.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year…at least it used to be.  Things have changed in my little world, and I know there are others just like me.  This year Christmas has been hard…really hard.  As a person who has struggled with severe depression in the past, it has really taken me by surprise this holiday season that it has reared its ugly head again.  If you have depression, you know it’s not something that ever goes away.  It may subside for a while, but it can show up at the most unexpected times.

 

For me, it shows up when I’m very busy, stressed, unable to fix something, or when I’m feeling unloved or unappreciated.  This Christmas was the perfect storm of all of these.  Some of it was self-inflicted, but a good majority was brought on by other people and situations.  It’s been a hard season, to say the least.  I know I’m not alone.  I’ve talked to so many who feel the same way or I’ve seen their posts on Facebook that allude to the same feelings.

 

Christmas comes with certain feelings, expectations, and traditions.  When those get messed with, it’s not easy to deal with.  For some it’s the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a diagnosis, a rift in the family, or a myriad of other possible scenarios.  There is a certain peace and comfort that comes in the way things have always been.  There’s a certain expectation that it’s the way things will always be.  Change is hard, especially when it is forced upon you with little regard to your feelings.  It comes through the natural progression of life, but it also comes through the selfish actions of others.  No matter how it is brought about, it is painful.

 

I don’t really have any answers for you.  I just wanted you to know that if you are feeling that loss this year, if the tears have been flowing a little more freely than usual, or if you have that heavy feeling in your chest…me too.  As, I sit here now typing this message to you, my heart hurts, my chest is heavy, and the tears are brimming in my eyes.  The feelings are real and raw.  Life can be a cruel beast!  The circumstances may vary, but the feelings can be the same.  Unfortunately, this time of year seems to exacerbate them.  I can swing from pure joy to extreme sadness.  One small thing can flip the switch.  You’re not alone.  I feel your pain.

 

This I do know…this is a season.  This too shall pass.  I will learn some valuable lessons during this tough time and will hopefully set different expectations for next year.  God is still good and I can still find comfort in knowing that this season is about His birth.  No matter what expectations have not been met this Christmas, it does not change the fact that I am truly and fully loved by Him. If I had been the only one on earth, He still would have come for me, and He loves you just the same.  The King of Kings, Lord of Lords, creator of the world and all of the universe, loves us!  He gave up all of His majesty to become one of the least of us.  God came down here for us.  People will always fail us or leave us, but He never will.

 

I have felt unloved, but He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”  I’ve felt unappreciated, but He says “I have seen the time, effort and love you’ve put forth to others. Well done, you’ve loved well.”  I’ve felt stressed, busy, and out of control, but He says, “I’ve got this.”  He has seen my tears and says, “One day, I will wipe away all of your tears.”

 

His message is the same to you.  “I see you.  I feel your pain.  I save your tears and I hear your prayers.”

 

So…Merry Christmas, dear friends.  When joy seems to be just out of reach this season, no matter how hard you try…me too!  Know you are loved!  Prayers for you, that joy will show up in some amazingly unexpected ways!

The Pregnant Bride

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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!

Why Vote?

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Many people believe that their vote does not count.  I also once believed that, but after doing some research, I came to the understanding just how important each vote is.  I found that we have a little over 22,000 voters in Wabash County, Indiana. Of those voters, only about 25 percent showed up four years ago for primary voting. Therefore, every vote counts for you and 3 other voters that forgo their right to vote.  The state of Indiana is rated 40th in voter turnout, with only a 19 percent voter turnout in the entire state. That increases the power of your vote even more!

While knocking on doors for my County Council campaign, I’ve also come to realize that for every door I knock on there seems to be 10 that I don’t. This means that either they are not registered or they are registered under another party. Knowing the demographics of our area, it’s pretty safe to assume that a good majority just aren’t registered. This is unsettling. 

We live in a representative republic. As a citizen of the United States, we are given the privilege to participate in the process of selecting our leaders.  It’s not just a right, it’s a responsibility. The future of our nation is in our hands. The apathy of the American people has placed us into the situation we are in now. It has allowed a select few to have too much control and with that control, they have systematically removed more and more power from the people. 

I talk to many people that say, “I just don’t like politics,” or “I know nothing about politics.”  They choose to stay uneducated and uninvolved because they don’t think it matters, but I assure you, it does. The future our children will have, their opportunities, their ability to thrive and survive, are directly related to how we vote right now. Our country did not get into the financial and moral mess it’s in overnight. It is a result of years of apathetic non-voters and uneducated voters who have allowed corrupt and unaccountable politicians to remove the American Dream one brick at a time. Now we are standing around looking at each other and wondering how it happened, what we can do to stop it, and how to begin to reverse the damage. 

It starts with you.  It starts with one educated vote.

It’s going to be a long road back, but it’s worth the fight.  It’s worth the blood, sweat, and tears it will take to preserve this once great nation for generations to come.

If you live in Indiana and you are not currently registered to vote, the process is easy.  Contact your local clerk’s office or register online at www.indianavotes.com

You must be registered by April 4th.  If you will be 18 years of age by the November 8th election, you may still register to vote and are eligible to vote in the May 3rd Primary. 

Early and absentee voting opens April 5th.

Exercise your right to vote, future generations are counting on you!

Lorissa Sweet

Candidate for Wabash County Council At Large

www.facebook.com/lorissa4council

This is Why I Run!

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Several months ago, I wrote a blog post Battle Cry “It’s Time Christians”.  I wrote of an experience I had with God.  It was a message He gave me during a time of prayer.  After months of wrestling with all He told me that night, some of which was too personal and frankly scary at the time to share, I have been moved into obedience.  It’s taken months for me to come to grips with what He has called me to do.  Honestly, it was a calling I did not want.  As I wrestled though, I went to scripture and found that person after person in the Bible were given assignments they did not want.  Each person dealt with those assignments in different ways, but I did notice a pattern.  Most of them when given the assignment were not eager to be obedient.  It also took them some time wrestling with God and coming to grips with what He was asking them to do.  Moses made excuses, Sarah laughed, Jonah ran, Elijah hid, Peter denied…and I argued.

I’ve had many “conversations” with God over these last few months.  Let me just tell you, we serve a very patient and compassionate God.  He knows our hearts and He knew mine.  He knows my weaknesses and insecurities.  He knows my doubts and graciously walked through them with me.  I still have some to be honest, but I am confident that He is in this with me and will be by my side the whole way.  It is amazing how connected you can be to God when you truly seek Him.  These last few months have been like a roller coaster and I keep leaning in and holding on.  No matter the twists and turns that have come my way, He is keeping me on track.  There have been moments of apprehension, anticipation, thrills and excitement and I know the ride is just beginning.  There’s a long way to go, but I’m resting in the fact that I’m just along for the ride and He is the one in control.

If you didn’t read my previous blog post that I mentioned above, let me give a brief recap.  I watched a movie with my husband called “Fury.”  It was a WWII movie about and American tank crew in Nazi Germany.  The depravity of the human race weighed heavy on my heart long after the movie was over.  As I went to bed, I cried out to God in the heaviness of my heart.  As I poured out my questions to Him and tried to understand, I finally asked, “What can I do about all this?”  (Just FYI-Don’t ask God this question, unless you are truly prepared for the answer!)  In the stillness of my heart I heard, “Politics.”

Let the argument begin… “But I don’t know anything about politics.”

“I will teach you.”

“I don’t know anyone in politics.”

“I will introduce you.”

“But, what about my family?”

“I will take care of them.”

“I don’t want them to get hurt.  Politics can be brutal.”

“I love them even more than you do. I will protect them”

Every question, every concern was lovingly answered, but I still wasn’t convinced.  I shared my experience with my husband and with a friend.  Both were very encouraging to me, but also had lots of questions.  As the next few weeks and months went by and the questions and seeking continued, God began to change my heart and my perspective.  I made a deal with God.  I’m not sure if this is allowed…non-the-less, I did.  Here was the deal…If you open the doors, I will walk through them, but if you close the doors, I will stop.  And He did.  The doors that have opened and the people that I have met has been, well…life changing.  I never would have guessed I would be on the path that God has placed me.  The doors continue to open and I continue to go through.  I am walking in obedience; one day at a time and one door at a time.  I don’t know where this will end up honestly, but with God at the helm of this ship, it’s bound to be an adventure.

Me and Amy in Senate Chambers

Over the last few months I’ve spent multiple days at the State House, a building I had never stepped foot in before.  I’ve stood in assemblies of people praying, singing and standing for religious freedom in the atrium of that great building.  I’ve walked the halls, sat in committee meetings, sat on the floor of the House of Representatives during session and learned the ropes of a representative spending the day with my Representative.  I sat in the seat of a Senator in Senate Chambers, as I witnessed the proceedings of the first reading of SB344 and SB100 and prayed for the preservation of religious freedom.  I’ve walked alongside my friend Amy as she has fought tirelessly and lobbied for the Heartbeat Bill in Indiana.  I’ve sat and talked with representatives, senators, councilmen and other candidates not only voicing my opinion about certain bills and issues, but most importantly listening, learning and getting advice.  God has certainly been opening doors and so I keep walking through.    People have even been contacting me and offering to help.  God is good and faithful, there is no doubt about it!

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So, what does all of this look like for me right now?  I am currently running for a Wabash County Council, At Large seat.  There are three seats coming up for election.  I am one of five Republicans running and there is one Democrat.  Three are current councilmen.  I know I have my work cut out for me.  It’s going to take a lot of time, resources and commitment, but with God on my side I can’t lose.  I don’t mean that I know I will win the election.  What I mean is…if He has called me to this and I am obedient in answering the call, no matter the results of the election, I win!  Will it be easy? No!  Will I get a little stressed out at times?  I imagine I will, because I already have.  The good news is…no matter the outcome, I am walking in confidence that this is the path to which He has called me.  God willing, if I win this election, I will serve for Him.  I will do my best to represent Him in the halls of government locally and who knows, maybe at the State House someday?

As I look into the eyes of my children and all the kids that I influence in my everyday life, I can say with confidence, “ I am doing all I can to preserve the future of this county, state, and great nation for you and future generations.”  I may be but one small cog in a great machine, but I will do my part.  I will fight for my values which are my faith, my family, and my freedom.  If we can preserve our right to live out our faith in all areas of life, promote traditional family values, and protect our constitutional and God given freedoms, then we have done well for future generations.  They deserve to enjoy those freedoms as we have and I want that for them.

girls at state house

Teaching, mentoring and growing the next generation is intertwined in all aspects of my life.  It’s who I am and what I’m called to do.  The funny thing is that I didn’t even realize it until I started examining this new path.  I’m a mom of two girls who are almost twelve and fourteen.  I have been and am currently a host mom of two exchange daughters from Germany.  In my seven years of owning my own business, I have employed and invested in seven girls ranging from Jr. High to college students.  I’ve been involved in our church’s youth group as a leader and helper for the last four years.  Serving on Faith Quest, which is a teen spiritual retreat weekend for the last eight years has given me the opportunity to speak into the lives of countless teens and watch them grow into adults, marry, and have kids of their own.  I can’t think of anything more rewarding that investing in the lives of the next generation.  Now I have the opportunity, God willing, to help preserve their futures in the halls of government and will be able to say with confidence and sincerity, “I did all I could to preserve a good future for you and generations to come.”

So when people ask me “Why are you running for office?” this is my answer.  I am running for office because God called me to do it.  One day in the future I will stand before Him.  When He asks me what I have done with the gifts and abilities He has given me, I want to be able to say, “I was obedient in the tasks You gave me and completed them for Your glory.”  My greatest desire in all that I do here on earth is to one day hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  And this is why I run!

 

In His Service!

I Choose Hope!

 

Hope

When you look around today, as a Christian, it’s difficult to not lose hope.  It’s easy to get discouraged.  The states of our world, nation, state, and even our families are dismal at best.  We are living in a time when things seem totally out of control.  Hate, intolerance, and offense are words heard daily and usually aimed at us.  People have different ways of dealing with all that is going on.  Some people rant and rave, but put no action to their words.  Other people placate and try to be the devil’s advocate.  Yet, still others bury their heads in the sand and hope that when they come up for air it will all be better.  To tell you the truth, I’ve spent time in all of these camps at one time or another.  If we don’t directly feel the effects of those things around us, it’s easy to let someone else fight the battle or deny the battle even needs fought.

At the beginning of every year, for several years now, I’ve taken the month of January to do some soul searching.  This year is no different.  I like to look at the upcoming year, set some goals and get back in physical and spiritual shape after the chaos of the holidays.  People may attack the New Year in different ways, but for me fasting and prayer seems a good way to start.  So as I was lying in bed praying and thinking on all the negative things swirling around me, the Lord was gracious.  He put some new thoughts in my head about the situations we seem to be facing.

So this year, I choose hope.

Let me explain.  It is really easy to get wrapped up in all that is wrong in our world; both locally and globally.  It’s human nature to gravitate to the negative.  Any news outlets or social media sites are filled with all that is wrong.  What we as Christians often fail to remember, and what the Lord so graciously reminded me of, is in Nehemiah 8:10, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.”  It may look as if we are losing the battle, and honestly, I think we are, but there is hope.  Our God is still on the throne.  Jesus is still sitting at His right hand.  Nothing that is happening here on earth surprises them.  Oh, I do think it saddens them, but They know all things.  There is nothing new under the sun.  They are sovereign and They know the entire plan.  So, I find peace and rest in that.

I also draw hope from those Christians around me that I see doing great things.  I draw hope from the mother of four, who for the last 13 years has selflessly fought on the front lines for religious freedom.  Even in the midst of constant criticism and attacks, she presses on.  I draw hope from a loyal friend who is fighting tirelessly for the unborn, even in the midst of naysayers who tell her it can’t be done.  I draw hope from a small country church whose numbers are dwindling, yet when given the opportunity to sign a petition for religious freedom, nearly every person signed.  I find hope in a county councilman who believes in our county and that we can make America great again by building from the ground up, starting at the county level, building on Biblical principles.  I find hope in that I still live in a school district that is not ashamed to speak the Word of God or sing songs about Jesus in their Christmas program.  I find hope in my children, who see what is going on in the world and can look at things through untainted eyes and clearly know right from wrong.  I draw hope from those who are in seemingly impossible circumstances, yet by the grace of God press on.  God chooses the most unlikely and seemingly under qualified to do great things for Him.  So, I have Hope!

I don’t know what this year will bring to our world, our nation, our state or in my family.  In my plan, the way I would like to see things go; there would be lots of changes for the good.  Luckily for all of us, I’m not in charge, because I would mess it up!  But I know Who is in control and He’s got this!  He’s got all of it, down to the smallest detail.  I plan to do my part.  He does not call us to be spectators.  Actually, the part He has called me to do scares me to death, but I am resting in the fact that in my obedience, He is in control and He will get the glory. I found this verse today and it seemed so fitting.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.  We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”  Hebrews 6:10-12

We do not labor in vain.  God sees our efforts.  Our rewards here on earth may be few, as a matter of fact, they may seem like a curse at the time, but I look forward to our eternal rewards which can never be taken.

I have a feeling that this year will be nothing like I expect or want, but I’m going to try to be ok with that.  I know who holds the future and He holds me in the palm of His hand.  We may not win the battles here on earth, but I know Who wins the war!  He is coming soon to take us home, where we will stand in victory.  So, no matter what this year brings, I choose HOPE.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”  1 Peter 3:15-16

By living in the strength of the joy of the Lord, I hope that I can share that HOPE with others.  What about you, friend?  Joy and Hope aren’t just for Christmas.  I think it’s time we show the world where our Joy and our Hope come from-JESUS!  Will you choose HOPE, too?

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Choosing Hope!

Where Were You When They Took Our Freedom?

Where were you

Are you a Christian?  I don’t mean the “Ya, I believe in God” or the “Ya, I go to church” Christian.  I mean a true, Bible believing, I live my life for Christ and I stand on His promises-type Christian.  I want to know…where are the Christians?  If you are a true Christian, do you feel it?  Do you feel the shift in the atmosphere?   Do you feel the shift in society, our state, our nation and our world?  Do you feel the great divide that is happening?  I do!  With all of my being I feel it!  And as I talk to other true believers, they feel it too.  It’s scary and it’s invigorating.  Some days it’s downright discouraging and other days it fills me with hope and expectation.

In Matthew 25:31-46, it talks about the final judgment when the Son of Man comes to judge the inhabitants of this world.

Verses 32 and 33 say, “Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on his left.”

I know these verses are talking about the end of times, but I’m seeing evidence of this happening right now.  All you have to do is look around, pay attention and you can see that our world is spinning out of control.  The news is filled with stories of wars both abroad and at home.  Some of those wars are taking place right in our homes.  Especially here in America, this once great nation, founded on the principles of the Bible, is crumbling at the foundation.  Where once the Bible was the ultimate authority on everything; laws, rulings, marriage, and life; now it’s the voice that screams the loudest, no matter how wrong they are.  It is these things that are being debated that are now separating the sheep from the goats.

It is not my place to judge how you stand on the issue of religious freedom, marriage, abortion, refugees, war, education, taxes, and the list goes on.  It is God’s place to judge where you stand on them.  His Word is very clear.  There are no mistakes, it is infallible.  There is no room for new translations that skew the Truth to be what you want it to be.  Personally, this is where I base my judgment.  It’s not my opinion, it’s God’s Truth, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the final Word.  There’s no room for compromise.  And here is where we separate the sheep from the goats.

Again, I ask…where are the Christians?  There is a remnant.  I talk to some of them almost daily.  There are still those who see the crisis of this world and are willing to stand against the tide and not just apathetically sit in the church pews on Sunday.  I think people have the wrong view of Christ in the Bible.  I think they see Him as passive and weak.  He was anything but!  If you look real closely, Jesus picked His battles.  The only battles He backed away from were personal attacks.  He did not feel the need to defend Who He was, but what He did defend was His Father, the principles for which the Father sent Him to earth and the people who could not defend themselves.  Therefore, I believe we must do the same.  We must fight for the things of the Father, which are written in His Word and for those who can’t defend themselves.  It’s not a fight of hate.  Jesus offended a lot of people, not out of hate, but out of love.

My daughter asked me the other day, “My friend wants to know, if we are Christians, aren’t we supposed to love everyone.  And if so, what’s the big deal about baking a cake?”  I love that she is asking that question.  Jesus often answered questions with a question, so I did the same.  “If you were doing something that was wrong, bad for you, or was causing you injury, would you want me to support you in doing that and or help you stop?  For instance, if I knew you were having sex with your boyfriend (which we do not support, based on our Biblical beliefs), would it be right for me to invite him over and send you both to your bedroom?”  Of course her answer was, “NO!”  This is my point exactly.  We continued to talk about how I give her limits and step in and say “no” when she is doing things she shouldn’t because I love her.

We love people, therefore we don’t participate in things that support or condone destructive, sinful behavior.  It’s really that simple.

A time has come where the sheep and goats are being separated.  There’s no longer time for lukewarm Christianity.  There’s no longer time for pew sitting when the doors are open at the church and living as the world the rest of the week.  There used to be a saying, “Get off the porch or stay home.”  My sentiment is “get out of the pew or stay home!”  I’m not saying that going to church is bad, please hear me.  We need to continue to gather together for love and support and to hear the Word of God.  What I’m saying is… if that is all you are doing, what good are you for the Kingdom?  Maybe that sounds harsh, but the lost are not coming into the church buildings.  The battles for the foundations of our nation, built on the Word of God are not being fought in the pews.  The battle for the lives of the unborn and now the incapacitated won’t be won by sitting in the four walls of a church.

It’s time for Christians to go to the battle front.  The time for apathy and ignorance is over.  It is far too costly.  It’s cost us prayer in schools, it’s cost the lives of millions of unborn babies, it has cost the sanctity of marriage, it has cost the Word of God being taken from the halls of government.  Should I go on?  Right now, it’s costing us religious freedom.  What does that look like?  It means that Christian business owners lose their businesses, our daughters are subjected to boys in their locker room showers and bathrooms, Christians in political offices are removed from their positions or arrested, Christian agencies are forced to go against their Christian beliefs or close, and again, the list goes on.  We can’t fight these battles from the pews.

God has given us the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions(Luke 10:19), not hide in the pews.  Why are we not using it???

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” -Romans 8:31

Please Christians…wake up!  Stand up!  Suit up with the armor of God!  The battle is raging on all fronts.  The battle cry has been sounded!  Where are the Christian soldiers?  Where are the prayer warriors?  Where are the children of God who are willing to stand on the Word of God and not back down?  We need YOU!  I need YOU!  There is power in unity of the body.  This battle is not about you and me.  It’s about the generation we are raising and the generations to come.  If we lose these battles, these children will grow up in a very different world than we did.  They will not be able to live out their faith in the public square, they will not be able to stand up for their faith without persecution, and their rights will be stripped before they ever even had them.

When they ask, “Where were you when they took our freedom?” what will you say?

I see evidence daily that Christ is coming soon.  My very being longs for His return, but if He should tarry, my heart breaks for the world that will be left, if we don’t act now.  Souls are at stake.  Our time is short; we must be living out our faith in real practical ways, not cowering in the pews until His return.  How will He find you?  If you say you are a Christian, yet you don’t see the urgency, might I suggest you may be a sheep following the wrong shepherd?  If that’s not the case…you may just be a goat!

Following His Lead,

“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,

Battle Cry! It’s Time Christians!

Statue of liberty

Several weeks ago, I had a life changing experience.  It was the first step in many to come.  God shook me to the core and called me to action.  I can’t even tell you what it entails yet or what it is going to look like, but He spoke and I must obey.  I will give you a glimpse of how He moved that night.  He would not let me rest, so at 1 am I got up and I wrote it down.  I had not read what I had written until just minutes ago, but it is profound for me.  Sometimes I have the privilege of sitting at this computer and letting God write the words with really no recollection or input of my own, it seems. This was one of those times…and this is what I wrote…

 

Tonight, I watched the movie “Fury.”  It was about a tank crew in Nazi Germany, in World War II.  It was a very gruesome, violent movie.  It was full of blood and gore and profanity.  I don’t enjoy these kinds of movies, but the reality of the events really stirred something in me.  As I crawled in bed, I cried out to God.  I didn’t know what else to do.

The questions I have for Him are endless.  Why have you not stopped the violence?  How can you look around and see all that is going on and not just wipe us out?  My heart hurts as I look around and see the atrocities that are taking place all around the world.  Why have you not sent Your Son to stop all of this?  Why have You not come back?  Deep in my soul, the answer came…”For the one.  I am not willing that any should perish.” The answer is, we as Christians have not done what we are called to do.  I am talking to myself.  Maybe I’m talking to you, but we Christians, as a whole, have not gone into all the world and preached the gospel.  We have not searched for the lost souls that are wondering aimlessly, with no hope and introduced them to the Savior of the world.  Our job is not getting done…and so He waits.  My heart longs for His return, so that my children do not have to suffer the things to come.

Around the world people are dying daily for their faith, as the world turns away and pretends they don’t see.  Babies are being ripped from their mothers’ wombs and sold for their parts under the guise of freedom of choice, while a man is being threatened for his life for killing a famous lion.  Laws are being passed that allow men to enter women’s restrooms, to protect a few from offense, while many others’ safety is being threatened.  The Biblical standard by which all marriage is based has been cast aside for the perverted pleasure of some, while the masses will suffer in the aftermath of the ruling.  It’s a sick, twisted; upside down world we are living in.  Lies have become truth to so many, and Truth has become bigotry.  There is no longer absolute Truth, but what each individual declares as their own truth.  If our truth is not God’s Truth, then it’s a lie!  We have no authority to change the absolute Truth of God’s Word.  We have no authority to make laws that are contradictory to what His Word teaches or says.  Lawmakers may think they have the power to overrule what the Bible says, but they do not have the authority, and when they choose to take their power and abuse it in such a way…there will be consequences.  A time is coming very soon in our nation, where every person will feel the effects of a small number of people who chose to go against God and His laws and make their own.  His hand of protection and blessing will be removed, and we will suffer.  Around the world others are already facing it.  Why do we think we are immune?

We have a president and people in power who think that they can redefine our national heritage and delete the history of our nation.  They are leading our children like sheep to slaughter and indoctrinating them with lies in our schools.  We feel powerless to do anything to stop the corruption.  We rant and we complain.  We hate the things we see happening.  We shake our heads and disagree with those who have chosen this path, yet we do nothing to change the course of what is happening.

It’s time we take this country back!  It’s time we strip those in power, of their power, and appoint people with values and common sense.  It’s time we stand on their porches and pound on their doors and make them lose sleep over the decisions they are making.  It’s time that we make our voices heard, not just on our computers, but in their faces.  It’s time we drop to our knees and ask God to forgive all of us for our part in the mess we are in, because we are all guilty.  We are guilty of turning the other way instead of standing for what is right.  We are guilty of being passive and keeping our mouths shut instead of speaking out against the injustices and wrongs.  We are guilty of electing people into office who have no business being there, because we are afraid to put ourselves into those positions.  Father forgive us for our apathy as we allowed our nation to fall further and further from You and now cry out because it is a mess!

 

I must confess, this scares me to death!  These words are bold and abrasive, but true, non the less.  “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind.  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our LORD…” 2 Timothy 1:7-8a.  So, I will be bold and I will obey and I’ll let God take care of the rest.  How about you?  What is God calling you to do?

Getting Off the Hamster Wheel

Do you ever feel like a hamster running on a wheel, running as fast as you can, but never getting anywhere?  In today’s fast paced world, you would be an oddity if you said, “No.”  I’ve been feeling this way for quite some time now.  I look at my schedule and shake my head.  There doesn’t seem to be any open spots for anything, but I look at what I have to do and there just doesn’t seem to be anywhere to cut.  It’s not that anything that I’m doing or have scheduled is frivolous or a waste of time.  They are all things that need to be done, so I keep on running.

However last Tuesday, I finally hit a wall.  You see, for the last year, we have hosted an exchange student from Germany, Tessa.  It has been a wonderful experience and she became my third daughter.  On Monday, she left to return home to Germany.  The week before we went camping for the week to spend some quality family time together before she left, without all of the distractions of home and everyday life.  It was a wonderful week, except for the constantly reoccurring thunderstorms.  But as anyone who camps knows, preparing for the trip and unpacking after the trip are both a lot of work!  We returned home on Friday evening in yet another thunderstorm, so most things were left in the camper until we could unload in dryer weather.  Saturday was a whirlwind.  We had to unpack, do laundry, make food for a carry-in after church on Sunday, and did I mention I was having an open house for our exchange student after the carry-in and I had to go set up and decorate.  Also, in the mix of the day, I had to go to the post office to pick up a package from Tessa’s mom before the post office closed and go get groceries to restock the fridge and pantry after being gone for a week!  Needless to say, I was burning the candle at both ends.  Sunday consisted of a day of church, the carry-in, open house and then finishing packing Tessa for her trip home, with lots of goodbye’s all day long.  It was a late night getting her ready to go and an early morning the next day taking her to the airport and sending her off.  It was exhausting emotionally and physically.

This brings me back to last Tuesday, when I finally crashed.  I cannot remember the last time I purposely scheduled myself a day off with nothing to do and Tuesday was no exception.  I had an appointment that I needed to go to, but had failed to write the time down on my grooming calendar, so I didn’t schedule any grooming appointments for the day.  When I checked the time, it wasn’t until 4pm.  God works in mysterious ways.  He knew I needed to rest.  I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  I ended up cancelling my appointment and vegged out all day long.  Usually, I would feel guilty for sleeping in and then curling up on the couch with a good book for the day, but that day I felt no twinge of guilt.  God had called me to a day of rest.  He had orchestrated it, because He knew in my humanness, I wouldn’t have done it for myself.  I needed that day of rest more than anything.

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps. 91:1

I wrote all of this long story to say: God calls us into times of rest.  Sometimes we just need to take a break.  Even God rested on the seventh day after creating the world and all that is in it. Genesis 2:2-3 Why do we allow society to feed us the lie that we don’t have time to rest, because there is too much to do to take a break? It’s simple really.  We have an adversary that knows if he can keep us running, he will wear us out and we won’t have the energy to do the work God has for us.  When we are worn out and tired from a life of stress and busyness, we are much less effective at serving God.  I believe God was speaking to me loud and clear on Tuesday, when He told me to rest.  Matthew 11:28 came to mind that day.  “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

So, if you’re like me and you have been running on the crazy hamster wheel of life, maybe it’s time to take a rest.  You will be far more productive in your walk with Christ if you do.  Your time of rest may not look like mine.  Maybe yours is longer than a day.  Extroverts may need to recharge with others, where introverts, like me, need to be alone.  It doesn’t really matter what it looks like, it’s just important to take time to recharge.  If your batteries are on empty, God can’t use you to your fullest potential.  He desires so much more for you than a life running on empty.  So, take time to rest and see what great things He has for you!

Resting in Him,

Lorissa