Category Archives: Church Life

The Believer’s Fight

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

It can sometimes feel like there is a lot to DO to follow Jesus. If I want to be a “good Christian”, I need to…pray, read my Bible, go to church, volunteer, be generous with my money, be friendly all the time, have my life together and not need anything, serve all the time, and (fill in the blank with your own definitions).  …Exhausting! The aforementioned things aren’t bad in and of themselves, but when they are performed out of a sense of duty or obligation, it is religion, and religion brings death.

Religion is the outward form or appearance of righteous living, but doesn’t necessarily indicate that there has been true interior transformation.

Some read the Scriptures daily because they are proud of themselves for being so disciplined. If they miss a day of Bible reading, they feel bad about themselves (condemnation) and their relationship with God. This is religion and it values form over relationship.

Some read the Scriptures daily because they love encountering God and learning about who He is through the words of the Bible. If they miss a day of Bible reading, they know that the Father is faithful even if they are not always faithful (no condemnation) and they start up again the next day. This is living connection and it values relationship over form.

Here’s the thing about these examples…it is great to read the Scriptures daily! What matters here is the place on the inside where actions are flowing from.

Everything we do flows out of a belief we have on the inside.

A person may have a value of treating others kindly. He might say, “I believe that it is right to treat people kindly.” Then, when someone is unkind to him, he responds unkindly and feels justified in his behavior. His actual internal belief has just been revealed in his actions, which is, “I believe that it is right to treat people kindly, except when they don’t treat me kindly, then I have the right to treat them unkindly.”

This type of scenario happens all the time, and we know what it is…hypocrisy! Everyone hates hypocrisy, and to some degree, we are all hypocrites. What then can we DO? How do we fight hypocrisy in our own lives?

I feel like the Father has shown me a new way of waging war against this internal battle lately. A way to battle that is much more fun than introspection and much more effective than behavior management.

Before I get to the specific battle method, I’m going to break down the Scripture at the beginning of this post…

“We live in the world, but we don’t wage war as the world does”- We know how the world wages war, with physical weapons and physical violence- this is not the methodology that will be successful in the type of invisible battle that Christians have (because we know from the Scriptures that our enemy is not flesh and blood). This is why…

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”

“On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” The weapons of the Believer seem foolish and weak to the world, but they actually have divine power. Some of our weapons are 1. The Scriptures (called the sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 5:17) 2. Declarations of Praise (Psalm 8:2) 3. The word of our testimony and the blood of Jesus (Revelation 12:11 where believers overcome the devil with these 2 things). All of these things are…WORDS! (Except for the blood of Jesus, but it is “applied” through our words when we pray and speak it out.)

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Arguments, pretensions (a claim to something) and thoughts are made up of WORDS!  These are internal realities and beliefs that then express themselves externally.

The truth is, we can’t help but leak on the outside what we really believe on the inside. “From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

The primary battle of the Believer is that our internal world (beliefs, thoughts, emotions) would line up with the reality of who God is. This is why our battle is to demolish arguments that are “against” (or opposed to) the “knowledge of God” (the truth about who God is).  We use TRUE words (the weapons mentioned above) to demolish UNTRUE words.

So, here is my new strategy:

When a thought comes into my mind that causes me to feel arrogant or fearful or irritated, I stop and ask, “If this thought is true, then what does it say about my Father?” Or, “Who is the enemy trying to get me to believe that my Father is?”

For example, let’s go back to our friend earlier who has a belief that it is okay to treat people unkindly if he is treated unkindly. “If this belief is true, then what does it say about the Father?”

This belief says that the Father is not able to defend me, I have to defend myself with angry words.

This belief says that the Father is not able to justify me, I have to justify myself before people.

This belief says that the Father is not protecting me, I have to protect myself by being defensive.

All of these things are against the knowledge of God…they’re just NOT who He is! I get to tear down these false beliefs by proclaiming (even literally out loud), “My Father is a Defender, He is the One who justifies me, He is my Protector, my refuge is in HIM! I don’t find my security in other people’s opinions about me, I find my security in being His dearly loved daughter! (see Psalm 18)

When we spot hypocrisy in our own lives, the enemy likes to get us swirling around in the disappointment of our failure. We get caught up in ourselves and what WE did wrong and what WE need to do better. It becomes all about…me, me, me, me, me.

But under the surface, the enemy is trying to distort the way that we think about our Father.

If the enemy can tear down and distort the way that I think about the Father, then he takes me out at the same time.

Being made in the image of the Father, if I have a distorted view of who He is, then I automatically have a distorted view of who I am. 

Who we believe the Father to be is the most important thing about us, because only in knowing Him rightly can we know ourselves rightly. As we believe more and more that we are indeed His beloved sons and daughters, our external life reflects the peace, security, joy, freedom, and love of simply belonging to Him.

As the people of God, our song is simple and childlike, and it literally shakes the heavens when we proclaim “I am His and He is mine.”

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Jesus the Just Judge

Teaching notes from my message about Jesus as our Righteous Judge.

Jesus the Just Judge

Daniella Dau

To “Judge”:

to form an opinion or evaluation of something after careful consideration. To decide the worth of something.

Matthew 7 misconception… “Do not judge”… context is about judging fairly and not judging prematurely. “Take the plank out of your eye so you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” There still is an evaluation, but it is done with a right heart and with full consideration of the circumstance, not a snap judgment.

A just judge is neutral, fair, and unbiased. A just judge considers all the evidence, not leaving anything out or overlooking anything.

What does God see when He “carefully considers” people?

1. He sees us, the person that He made and loves.

2. He sees our actions, thoughts, and attitudes. He sees the roots of all of these things,

    not the surface appearance, but the heart behind why we do what we do.

3. He sees if we are covered by the sacrifice of His Son, or not.

Hebrews 10:11-18

11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. 

15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:

16 “This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”

17 Then he adds:

“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”

18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

The Work of the Cross

1. Condemns

A. God’s enemies- satan, the chief enemy, and those who rebel against Him

B. Our sin- forever removed, forever forgotten

2. Justifies

a. Partakers of the New Covenant

3. His joy in receiving our sin

A. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

B. Story of St. Jerome

Living as Overcomers

“They overcame him (satan) by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” Revelation 12:11

  1. The blood of the Lamb

God made Him who had no sin to become sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). We don’t argue with the enemy about our “own” righteousness, we just say, “Take it up with Him.”

       2. The word of our testimony

This is the proclamation of our faith in Jesus and the power of His blood. Our “testimony” is like us testifying before a judge… THE JUDGE. All the evidence is laid bare, the evidence includes our failures AND His great love demonstrated on the cross.

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It is GOOD NEWS that we have a Judge! We have a place to take the wrong things that have been done to us, and we have a place to take the wrong things that we have done. At the cross is where the great exchange happens: death to life, ashes to beauty, depression to a garment of praise.

“It’s time to let go.”

Anointed with Joy

Last week, my friend and brother in the Lord, Stuart, spoke about Psalm 45 at IHOPE House of Prayer.

Psalm 45 is a “wedding psalm” and has a lot of language about Jesus being a warrior bridegroom and His people being a bride. This “bridal paradigm” of understanding our relationship with Jesus (individually AND corporately) is SO important to the church being strengthened and standing in her rightful identity. Here are a couple of the foundational aspects of the church’s relationship to Jesus being like the earthly relationship of a husband and wife:

The mutual sharing of everything. A husband and wife both have full access to every part of one another’s life. EVERYTHING Jesus has is accessible to us and we choose to make EVERYTHING we have and are available to Him. He is SO amazingly humble to receive our brokenness and sin as a GIFT to Him (more on this later).

Being equally yoked. This concept is AMAZING to me, that Jesus invites us, His Bride, to be EQUALLY YOKED to Him. He is able to do such a transformative work in us that we will be able to love like He loves and do what He does. This, of course, is only possible by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in us. CHURCH, listen up! WE ARE A PEOPLE OF HIGH PRIVILEGE! (And BTW, being privileged doesn’t mean we are arrogant, it should mean that we are the most humble and thankful of all the people on earth.)

Back to Psalm 45…

One of my favorite descriptions of Jesus is Psalm 45 is this one:

“You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” vs. 7

Often times in our life, we feel most joyful when things are “going our way” and our life’s circumstances are favorable. This is a very shallow understanding of joy and especially a very shallow EXPERIENCE of joy. We are invited to something much deeper, and much more STABLE than the shallow joy of having a comfortable life.

Let’s consider the above verse in more depth…

First of all, in your mind, picture Jesus DRIPPING WITH JOY!  Being “anointed” means being covered, drenched, in oil. This picture of Jesus totally rocks our view of how Jesus has sometimes been portrayed in media… the somber fellow staring out into the distance, people around Him wondering what He is thinking but afraid to ask Him. NO! Jesus is SO PERSONABLE… and, He is FUN! People loved to be around Jesus, and kids felt comfortable running up to Him… we all know that kids don’t run into the laps of grumpy and somber looking people. The disciples weren’t sure it was appropriate for children to be playing with Someone so important, but Jesus said “let them come to me.”

And why is He dripping with joy? Is it because He is ignorant of the pain of the world or turns a blind eye to suffering?

Here is a great mystery… That Jesus sees and comprehends the depths of suffering and injustice and still ultimately remains in JOY. He HATES wickedness, yet He isn’t grumpy or condemning. He LOVES righteousness, but He isn’t arrogant or religious. WOW. Jesus, there is no one like YOU!

Because Jesus is in perfect alignment with His Father, He is filled with joy. Because Jesus loves righteousness and hates wickedness just like His Father, He is anointed with JOY!

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JESUS, Joyful One! I LOVE YOU! Help us, Your Bride. Bring us into alignment with You and Your Father. We want to be with You where You are- and You are in the place of JOY! Bring us into Your reality. Help us stand in Your reality. Give us a the HIGH view You have of Your Father’s ability to redeem and restore so that we aren’t unnecessarily weighed down by the shifting sand circumstances of daily life on the earth. Help us have eyes to see YOUR BIGNESS compared to ANY problem or pain on the earth. And bring Your Kingdom quickly, so suffering will end. Things aren’t okay on the earth without You, Jesus- so please come home soon. The Spirit and the Bride say “COME, JESUS!”

Set Your Mind

“Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.” Philippians 4:8

Here in the Western church, we may not face the same type of physical persecution that threatens our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. But make no mistake, the battle for our minds, though unseen, is not without violence. It takes fierceness, endurance, and pure FIGHT to set our minds again and again and again on what is reality.

“Since you have been raised with the Anointed One, set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2

Notice the past tense of that verse… “you have been raised”. What does this mean? It means that RIGHT NOW, in the Spirit, you are seated with Christ in the throne room of God. Paul is reminding the church of Colosse again that their PRESENT REALITY is that they are seated in heavenly places. This is wild! Because this is reality RIGHT NOW for followers of Jesus.

Here is another charge from Paul concerning our minds:

“Do not allow the world to mold you into its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind.” Romans 12:2

How does this transformation take place? It takes place by the power of the Holy Spirit as we partner with Him and choose again and again to set our minds on Him. It is the daily journey of a thousand “yes’s” to Him. It is in the turning of the glance of the heart. Looking to Him for everything, in everything. You were made for this. You were made to gaze on Beauty Himself and be held in perpetual Love. No matter how mundane life is on the outside, this Reality is available if you will choose to set your mind.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.” Philippians 4:8

In His Grace,

Daniella

Holy Daddy, I release GRACE GRACE GRACE for our minds to be set on You perpetually! Come, help us great Helper! Come and be the Lifter of our Eyes, come and be the Lifter of our Minds. We need Your help to look up. Thanks that you are a Loving Papa and You love to help us.

Truth and Love

I used to believe that love and truth were 2 different things. But I also believed they were connected because the Bible teaches us to “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)

I thought that “speaking in love” was about saying “nice” words all the time, but then I read the words of Jesus and found that He spoke pretty sternly sometimes and even made divisive statements. My definition of Love needed to change.

I thought that “speaking the truth” was about being in alignment with what Scripture says, but then I read the stories of Jesus interacting the the Pharisees. The Pharisees knew the commands of the Old Testament and they quoted them, and Jesus told them that their father was Satan because of their unbelief. My definition of Truth needed to change.

These are the boxes and the false definitions that I held about groups of people:

I used to think that some Christians cared more about “truth” than “love”. These “truth Christians” weren’t concerned with how their words came across because they were “right” and that is what is most important to them.

I used to think that some Christians cared more about “love” than “truth”. These “love Christians” weren’t concerned with personal holiness because they were “free” and showing “love” is what is most important to them.

All those quotes around words are because the “truth Christians” weren’t really living in TRUTH and the “love Christians” weren’t really living in LOVE.

Those boxes and definitions I had were all wrong. There are not “truth Christians” and “love Christians”. It’s not my job to group people up and put them in boxes in order to try to make sense of things.

I don’t have all of this LOVE and TRUTH stuff worked out, but here is what I understand so far…

1. Love and Truth are like 2 sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other.

2. Love without Truth is just human sentiment.

3. Truth without Love is just information. Information doesn’t set people free, but Truth does (John 8:32).

4. Jesus said He is the Truth. Truth is a person (John 14:6).

5. God is Love. Love is a person.

-Dani

Changing it UP

Hi!

Yesterday I decided it was time for a change around here, so I chose a new blog template. Recently I had a time with the Lord where I was asking Him to direct my thoughts and imagination. I was in a drab room and He came and brought His light and made everything feel fresh and clean. So, this template change is a symbol of that. Fresh. Clean. Balloons (JOY!) going UP UP UP!

I find that changing up my “atmosphere”- my work space, home, and even blog- are helpful and tangible reminders of the work that God is doing on the inside of me. As a creature of habit (aren’t we all?), it is good for me to not get too comfortable being in the same place. I mean the same place spiritually, emotionally, mentally, relationally. I want to keep growing and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g, even when it is uncomfortable. It often is uncomfortable, and even sometimes painful.

One of the things I have experienced this year many times is the feeling of pressure building, things shifting on the inside. Sometimes these moment feel like difficult times in interpersonal relationships, or feeling really busy on the inside, or a restlessness, or a longing to hear the Lord answer a specific question. When those moments of tension build and are at their highest, breakthrough is right around the corner. It really is- because He is a good Papa, and He brings breakthrough and resolve. He is the One who changes hearts, and He is the ONLY ONE who makes things grow.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:36

“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:7

Let Hope Rise,

Dani

 

Checking In…

Just wanted to say “hi!” and that I haven’t forgotten about the blogosphere… even though posting clearly hasn’t been 0n my top priority list lately! I have been soaking up some new things lately, so I wanted to share.

One of my top priorities lately has been reading… books, journal articles, and listening to interviews and podcasts. I have been researching and preparing to help equip some midwives with heart preparation in their line of work. I have a real passion to see women healthy in body, soul, and spirit. I have enjoyed being present for the births of one of my friend’s children, and I look forward to being a support to other women as the prepare to be midwives and mamas. I have been finding that my heart comes alive when I think about helping women and their babies (and my teacher’s heart comes alive, too!). A couple of the resources I have really appreciated so far are this book and this article.

Another thing that I have been pressing into lately is the reality of Jesus as THE KEY for everything. He is really the One Thing needed. I love the simplicity of being able to come to Jesus with anything and everything and asking Him questions… and listening for His response. He always has the solution… HE IS the solution. I found a simple key at an antique store and I have been wearing it on a necklace as a reminder of this reality. I have been soaking up a teaching from Heidi Baker that highlights this truth. If you have never listened to a teaching by Heidi Baker, I encourage you to! She is so fun and authentic, and she has great stories! Check out parts one, two, and three.

 

Thanks for your faithful following!

Love,
Dani

All is for Your…what?

There are a lot of words the Bible uses that are not common in our everyday American vernacular. One of those words is “Glory”. What exactly is God’s glory? The Bible uses it, we sing about, and even pray about it, but what IS it?!

After searching around a bit, I came across this AMAZING article by John Piper about the Glory of God. I’ll share below 2 quotes that really struck me and let you check out the full article HERE (I found it VERY helpful!).

The term “glory of God” in the Bible refers in general to the beauty of God’s manifold perfections. It is an attempt to put into words what God is like in his magnificence and purity. It refers to his fullness of all that is good. The term might focus on his different attributes from time to time like his power and wisdom and mercy and justice because each one is awesome in its magnitude and quality. But in general God’s glory is the perfect harmony of all his attributes into one infinitely beautiful being.

“The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

Also, enjoy this song about the Glory of God!

 

Horizontical Living

God has been teaching me this year about the inextricable connection in relationship to God and people. Try as we might, we cannot separate the health of our relationship with God from the health of our relationships with the people around us. I have heard it described before that our relationship with God is directionally “vertical” and our relationships with one another are directionally “horizontal”. Describing our relationships with God and people this way is not a “wrong” picture or metaphor, but for me, it has become more and more inadequate. For a long time in my life, I pictured relating to God as something separate from my relating to people, and that I could only do one at a time- jumping back and forth between the “vertical axis” and the “horizontal axis”. Then a new word came into my vocabulary… “Horizontical”- the merging of relationship with God and people (I’m pretty sure it’s not in the dictionary).  🙂

This word is also insufficient, but it has helped me to close some of the distance in the way I think about relating to God and people. Any one word is insufficient to attempt to describe the things of God, that’s why Jesus used many stories…”The Kingdom of God is like a garden, and it’s like a wedding, and it’s like a master who entrusted His servants with His estate…”

While an individual’s relationship with God is a unique and separate thing from a relationship with another person (e.g. I would never say that my relationship with my husband is my relationship with God), the health of those two relationships are inseparably connected. Here are some things that the Bible has to say about our relating to God and man…

“Anyone who claims to be in the light (walking rightly before God), but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness (walking outside of the the way of God).” 1 John 2:9, NIV

We know the most important commands in the Bible, on which all the law and prophets hang, are to love God and love people…

“If someone claims, “I am in intimate relationship with Him,” but this big talker doesn’t live out His commands, then this individual is a liar and stranger to the truth. …Anyone who says, “I live in intimacy with Him,” should walk as Jesus walked.” 1 John 2, 4 & 6, The Voice

These passages humble me in an instant and remind me that I am poor in Spirit. Poverty of spirit is the realization that I can do NOTHING good apart from my connection with Jesus. As the words on the Waverly Vineyard church wall remind me every time I am in the building… “‘I am the vine, you are the branches’… apart from Me you can do nothing” John 15:5.

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Jesus, I NEED YOU! WE NEED YOU! It is our confession that apart from You we have no good thing. We are NOT good on our own, and other people are NOT good on their own. We are dust and ashes without You. With You we are the Beloved Children of God! With You we are heirs of the Kindgom of God! I release Your JOY and ASSURANCE over each one of the family of God. Strengthen us with might in our inner man that we might be led by Your Spirit in everything.

All Things New (Part II)

* It will be really helpful to read “Part I” if you haven’t already.

When I got back from that conference over New Years, I pressed into learning more about the love of God. I work at a House of Prayer, and the primary theme of the Prayer Movement is “the First Commandment as first place.” Intimacy with God, loving God, the knowledge of God- these are all things talked about, prayed about, sung about- all the time! I began pressing into 1 Corinthians 13, the classic love chapter. I asked the Lord to give me fresh eyes and heart to receive what He wanted me to from this chapter. It is easy as Christians to get overly familiar with the words of Scripture and miss the opportunity to let them pierce us in new ways. I used a website to start digging into the Greek and discovered a broader understanding of 1 Cor. 13.

And I was pierced. As I read words like “Love is not self seeking…  Love is not proud… Love does not boast…” a deep awareness of my heart began to well up and I realized how desperate I was for MORE of the real love of God to take up residence in my heart. A realization of spiritual poverty came over me- the heart level understanding that without Him I really have NOTHING GOOD (Matthew 5:3). I thought I could do a pretty good job on my own (even as a Christian!!) without Him. Yikes! As all of this conviction was coming up in my heart, there was no harshness or condemnation from God towards me. There was a grieving and a sadness, but it was a feeling that made me run TO God and not FROM God.

I would then enter into that place before the Lord of holding my heart before Him and mediating on the realities of His love. In these times with the Lord, I would not fixate on the “lack” of my heart, I would fix my eyes on the One who is Manifest Love- the One who is the VERY DEFINITION OF LOVE (see the video below). When my heart would become discouraged with my own lack of love, I would lift my eyes again, and again, and again. And until I see Him face to face, every time I am discouraged, I will lift my eyes again, and again, and again.