Tag Archives: reality

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.”

Justice Born Today

“You are so good, You are so good to me… Your loving kindness is everlasting”

God’s expression of love to us is never ending. God’s love is NOT like earthly banking. In an earthly account, you spend money and the balance goes down. It takes time to make more finances, the balance increases, and then you can spend again. God’s love account for you never diminishes, not even one “penny”.

You can withdraw and withdraw from this account all day long, everyday, and never reach the bottom in a million years! We do not have to live in a way that diminishes how we receive from God.

The enemy wants us to believe that God is stingy and we have to prove that we are “worth it” before God blesses us in some way. Sometimes fear doesn’t let us fully enjoy blessings because we believe that around the corner is a problem coming our way. This is called the “fear of sudden disaster” and we are instructed in the Word (Proverbs 3:25 and Psalm 91) to not fear sudden disaster. Fearing sudden disaster is a JOY STEALER and Jesus wants us to be filled with JOY.

His lovingkindness is EVERLASTING and it NEVER runs out.

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Lion of the Tribe of Judah, release your angelic messengers to come make war today with the things that steal joy from Your people. Release Your Justice! Open the way for Your people to receive the fullness of what You paid for on the cross. Help us receive the fullness of what You have for us.

Bring us into Your Reality

Help us stand in Your Reality

We want to live in Your Reality

You’ve said a lot about who You are

You’ve said a lot about who we are

And we won’t settle for less.

Reader Questions: Partnership with Holy Spirit

“How do I work with the Holy Spirit and what does it looks like to be led by the spirit and not my flesh?” 

I love this question because it starts from the place of relationship… how do I work WITH (not “for”) the Holy Spirit. This is a subtle but very important difference and shows an essential paradigm shift. In our self-sufficient humanity, we sometimes look at the Christian life as an act of obedience to God out of gratitude for everything He has done for us. When we think this way, we fall into a trap of trying to “pay back” a debt that we can never pay back on our own (atonement for our sins)!

IDENTITY

Choosing (and learning) to walk in the Spirit is not first about OBEDIENCE but IDENTITY. For saints, ones redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and now considered royalty in God’s Kingdom, walking in the Spirit is the most natural thing. In fact, walking in the Spirit is our truest nature. When I believe that I am who God says I am, it becomes more natural to walk in the Spirit.

What does “walking in the Spirit” mean?

In my understanding, walking in the Spirit means being sensitive to perceiving and then responding to whatever Holy Spirit says. In the most concise language I have so far, it means to “listen and obey” or “perceive and respond”.

 *Sidenote: I call Him “Holy Spirit” instead of “the Holy Spirit” because for me, it helps me remember that He is a person and not an impersonal entity. I think of His name as being “Holy Spirit”. People don’t call me “the Dani”… they just call me “Dani”. Small difference but it is helpful for me. Holy Spirit is not necessarily a person in the sense of being just like a human being, but He is a person in the sense of having a “personality”- thoughts, emotions, and capacity to act.

Just like you, Holy Spirit has times and places where He feels welcomed and times and places where He feels stifled. The Word says to not “quench” the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). Have you ever felt like you were in a place where you were not welcomed or heard? Holy Spirit knows what that feels like. We can learn to create spaces/opportunities, and learn to cultivate “space” within ourselves where Holy Spirit feels at home.

PARTNERSHIP WITH HOLY SPIRIT 

Being Mindful of His Presence:

My first favorite thing about Holy Spirit is the reality that HE IS ALWAYS WITH ME. Someone told me once, “Holy Spirit loves to be carried around by you.” I love that! It reminds me that I am a carrier of the Presence of the Living God, by default a releaser of LIGHT and POWER wherever I go. What a PRIVILEGE to be a carrier of the PRESENCE. I desire to be increasingly attentive to this reality of His constant Presence. The truth is, His Presence is the MOST REAL THING. More real than the ground I stand on, more real than the breath in my lungs (thanks for putting that in words, Jonathan David Helser!). One of the ways I do this is say these words out loud: “I am with You.” I don’t ask Him to be with me… He already is! It’s ME that needs to tune in again and again to the reality that He is ALWAYS WITH ME.

Knowing what He is Like:

Holy Spirit often moves in ways we wouldn’t expect- He is infinitely creative! He is FUN! He brings peace, clarity, and understanding. He likes to LAUGH and He is WILD! He likes to snuggle and He likes to dance and run in open fields. He likes to walk in forests and sit under waterfalls. He likes to tell us about who our Father is and what our Big Brother is like. He loves to reveal Jesus. He is HOLY and He is jealous for us to walk in the fullness of our royal identities. He convicts us of sin and even stuff that isn’t sin but just isn’t beneficial for us- He does this because He doesn’t want anything to come between us and Him. He is the COMFORTER and the LIFE OF THE PARTY. Ha!

When we know what He is like, it is easier to partner with Him. We learn to expect the unexpected. He has really good ideas and loves to share them with us! Read John 14 through 16 to learn more about what Holy Spirit is like.

Ask Him Questions, and Listen:

Holy Spirit is counselor, teacher, helper, and the One Who guides us into all truth. How awesome is it to have a 24/7 counselor! Not only did Jesus spare us from sin and death, but He gave us an AWESOME Present… His Constant Presence! You can ask the Holy Spirit about anything and everything. It is good to ask Him about specific things you want to know. It’s good to ask Him for whatever you need. It is also good to ask Him about what He is thinking and feeling, He wants to share these things with us because He is our Lover and Friend.

One of the things I do is write down things I feel like Holy Spirit tells me- things from His word, dreams He gives me, pictures of interacting with Him, and little phrases of encouragement that I feel He whispers to my heart. I don’t always write everything down, but I hope to get more and more faithful with this. It is such an encouragement to look back and see how God has answered prayer and just read about the history of our romance together.

Hope this is a good start to answering the question of what it looks like to walk with Holy Spirit.

Looking forward to more questions!

-Daniella

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

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 IV)

Getting back from the retreat in February, the thing that changed the most was how I spent time with God. Early in the morning, I would worship with music, dance, create things, go for walks, paint my nails, sit quietly, read, or write. I would just wake up and say “Holy Spirit, how do You want to spend time together this morning?” I felt a lot more freedom to do different things and not feel like my time with God had to look a specific way or be a formula. God likes to speak to us ALL the time, whatever we are doing!

The theme of what God was speaking to me about in these mornings, especially for March, April, and May, was His love. He was speaking to me (and still is) about His mother-love and His father-love. I would sit with Him and ask Holy Spirit to speak to me about these things, and He did! Isaiah 49 is the primary place where I meditate on the mother-love of God. Romans 8 is the primary place where I meditate on the father-love of God. The Lord was speaking to me about His possession of me, how my primary identity is “His.” Before I am a woman, before I am a sister, daughter, friend, mother, worship leader, pastor, teacher, or even my own, I am His. And if you follow Jesus, You are first His, too!

On my birthday in April, the Lord began speaking to me very clearly about His very literal adoption of me and all of His children. When we become Christians and choose to follow Jesus, our family of origin changes. The verse that He highlighted is John 1:10-13…

  “He entered our world, a world he made; yet the world did not recognize Him. Even though He came to His own people, they refused to listen and receive Him. But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God; He bestowed this birthright not by human power or will but by God’s will.” 

The amazing thing about this change in our family of origin is that it causes love to INCREASE! As we are united more and more with Perfect Love (God), we will love one another rightly, both within our biological family and our spiritual family (and if your parents and siblings are Christians, then they are ALSO a part of your spiritual family!). We no longer “love”  just with human sentiment, but with the very love of God (and there really is no other REAL love besides the love of God). We no longer “love” from a place of selfish ambition, fear, or control, but from selflessness, joy, and freedom! When we recognize that every person on the earth was made in the image of God and belongs to Him first, it helps us honor and care for each other differently than if we think that people (even our own children) FIRST belong to us. We all FIRST belong to Him, and THEN one another.

Knowing that we first belong to our Daddy God takes so much pressure off… of everything! It takes the pressure off me to have to feel like I know everything- my Daddy put His Spirit in me to be my perfect teacher and help me know just what to do in every circumstance. It takes the pressure off me to have to fix everyone- my Daddy knows everyone a lot better than I do and He lets me know how to help the people He leads me to. It takes the pressure off me having to have my future perfectly planned- only my Daddy knows exactly what my future holds and His Presence is always with me as my Helper. My only “job” in my relationship with Him is to come to Him and to look to Him- and even then, Psalms says that He is the lifter of my head and my eyes. He is a VERY responsible Papa and He doesn’t overlook a single detail or moment of my life… or yours.

“IT IS YOUR JOB,” SAYS THE LORD, “TO BE LOVED OUTRAGEOUSLY… I WILL LOVE YOU OUTRAGEOUSLY ALL THE DAYS OF YOUR LIFE.”

THIS IS YOUR INHERITANCE.

All Things New (Part III)

Fast forward to the end of February this year…

I went to a women’s retreat in Colorado with 2 friends, Lisa and Breanna. At this retreat, the Lord shifted big things inside all of us! The Lord spoke many meaningful things to me during this time through pictures, dreams, words from Him through His Spirit, His Word, and His people.

The day after the retreat, I was asking the Lord to condense everything that He showed me in that time and He did! He released the reality of these promises in my life:

1. I am CLEAN– He showed me that He had washed me and I was COMPLETELY clean in Him! “Who can possibly ascend the mountain of the Eternal? Who can stand before Him in sacred spaces? Only those whose hands have been washed and hearts made pure, men and women not given to lies or deception.” Psalm 24:3-4

2. I am COVERED- He showed me that there is more than enough room for me to dwell inside of His Shepherd’s cloak, and that I never have to leave that place. I am COMPLETELY welcomed, protected, wanted, and covered by Him. When I think of this promise I picture being small compared to Jesus and running with Him in open fields under the covering of His Shepherd’s garment. We are running together with bare feet, I can feel the wind and warmth of His robe moving all around me. And we are laughing, too.

3. I have SOMETHING TO OFFER-  He showed me that I am called to be a LIFE BRINGER. Wherever I go, I get to release His life through me. What I have to offer, because it is from Him and is His, is COMPLETELY good.

These promises are simple (but profound) realities, and are things I knew before. There are infinite layers of KNOWING, and He gave grace for these truths and promises to hit deeper places in my heart. He spoke precious things to my heart during this retreat, and my heart felt like it was reborn in many ways. When I got back to Iowa, my sweet husband said with a smile, “You look DIFFERENT!” I replied (with a smile), “I FEEL different!”

Since coming back from the retreat, our living room has heard a lot more music, felt a lot more dance parties, and seen a lot more of me early in the morning. More EXPRESSION, more PLAYFUL, more FREEDOM! God is breaking boxes, flipping minds, shifting paradigms, and making everything new!

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.

 

Children of God

Romans 8 is a “fully loaded” chapter of the New Testament. WOW! This is one of my mom’s very favorite chapters, too, so it’s neat that we have that in common. The main themes are some of my very favorite things… walking in the Spirit, being adopted by God, and the LOVE of God.

When a child is born, everything changes. The child gets a new name, the family grows and expands, love is not divided but multiplied!

“You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, ‘Abba! Father!’ as we would address a loving daddy.” v.15

This adoption does not involve the legal system, but it is infinitely more binding than legalities. The adoption of us into the family of God involves the Spirit, the witness of the saints, and the blood covenant of Jesus. Things in the Spirit are really MORE REAL than things in the natural.

Here is another passage from Romans 8:

“For all of creation is waiting, yearning for the time when the children of God will be revealed. You see, all of creation has collapsed into emptiness, not by it’s own choosing, but by God’s. Still He placed within it a deep and abiding hope that creation would one day be liberated from its slavery to corruption and experience the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that all creation groans in unison with birthing pains up until now. And there is more; it’s not just creation- all of us are groaning together too. Though we have already tasted the firstfruits of the Spirit, we are longing for the total redemption of our bodies that comes when our adoption as children of God is complete- for we have been saved in this hope and for this future.” v.19-25

First of all, this passage blows the box that creation is inanimate and passive- creation actually has longings! How amazing! And what does creation long for? It longs for humanity to know and step into the reality that we are dearly loved CHILDREN. It doesn’t say that creation groans for the “priests” of God to be revealed, or “leaders”, or “apostles”, or “perfect Christians.”

Why would creation long for humanity to know that we are children of God? I’m sure there are many reasons, but one I felt the Holy Spirit highlight to me has to do with Malachi 4:5-6.

“Keep watch. I am sending the prophet Elijah the prophet to you before the arrival of the great and terrible day of the Eternal One, and he will return parent’s hearts to their children and the children’s hearts to their parents…” 

The essence of  this verse is that before Jesus makes His second, final, and permanent return to Earth- there will be widespread relational redemption- specifically the hearts of the generations turning in love towards one another. When creation sees the children of God being revealed, it is a sign that the return of Jesus and it’s liberty from decay is JUST AROUND THE CORNER!

It is my desire to hasten the day of the Lord. One of the primary ways I do that is seeking to maintain a heart posture of surrender before the Lord, saying, “Here is my heart, do what YOU WANT to do with it! Turn my heart and let it be in complete alignment with YOUR WILL.”

“We are weak and do not know how to pray, so the Spirit steps in and articulates prayers for us with groaning too profound for words. Don’t you know that He who pursues and explores the human heart intimately knows the Spirit’s mind because He pleads to God for His saints to align their lives with the will of God?” Romans 8:26-27