Tag Archives: Spirit

Learning to Honor Emory

Image04Emory at 27 weeks on the inside!

For those readers who know us personally, you know that it is almost time for our first child, Emory Favor, to be born. I have carried him in my body for 9 months, and in my heart for 24. I first heard Emory’s name in late 2011, but in some ways I have known him long before then. I have known him, I know him, and I will go on knowing him in new and deeper ways.

As it’s almost time for “E Love” to be on the outside, I want to share some of how Ben and I think about Emory and his life.

In November of 2011, I heard the Father speak Emory’s first and middle name as I was waking up. I heard this not audibly, but clearly as though it were, and I knew right away in my spirit who this was, our child. I wasn’t familiar with the name “Emory” so I looked it up and found that the name means “Home Strength” and that the particular spelling I knew it was happened to be the traditional male spelling of the name. This first encounter with the knowledge of Emory communicated many things to me:

Firstly, that Emory already existed in the heart and imagination of God. Emory’s first “home” was not my womb, but with his Heavenly Daddy, where he was completely safe, known, and loved. Emory’s origin is not simply 23 chromosomes from me and 23 chromosomes from his Daddy; Emory’s origin is God, just like every single human being. When the Lord called the young Jeremiah to be a prophet, He said to him,

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

 Secondly, Emory’s life was intentional and designed and planned for a particular time in history. The timing of Emory’s coming into the world and his body being knit together in my body (whoa!) was intended for a particular time.

Acts 17: 24-27 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.'”

Thirdly, that even though Emory would start out his life having a very small body, he wouldn’t necessarily have a small spirit. Emory, like all humans, has a body, a soul, and a spirit. These components of us are distinct but still united to make us a whole human being, similar to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit being distinct and yet one. I have a personal belief that the different components of us are not necessarily always at the same level of maturity. For example, a baby in the womb has a physical body that is in very early stages of development, yet his or her spirit can be very perceptive of what is going on in the spiritual realm. We know that in the womb, John the Baptist’s spirit perceived the presence of “in-the-womb-Jesus” and it caused John’s body to leap inside of Elizabeth! In another example, a person can have a more developed physical body and be quite immature his or her thinking and emotional intelligence, and even have a spirit that has not yet awakened to knowing the Father. With Emory, I knew that Ben and I did not just have the responsibility of caring for Emory’s physical needs, but also intentionally nurturing his spirit and soul by speaking blessing over him and talking with him about what was going on in the outside world.

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole being- body, soul, and spirt- be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

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

 

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.

New Song

These are a couple of truths I have been clinging to lately:

– The Holy Spirit, the very PRESENCE and PERSON of God dwells within me.

– The Holy Spirit is my constant helper. I don’t know how to do everything, I just need to know how to ask Him for help.

– As I am yielded to God, I MUST TRUST Him to keep me within His boundaries, within His hand.

Here are the lyrics to a song that I wrote today, inspired by the above truths found in John 14 and Romans 8.

 

“I have a constant Helper, I have a Steady Strength

You are able to keep me, You are able to hold me – in the center of the storm

Keep me in the center of Your Love

Keep my feet dancing with Your Spirit”

 

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

 

Favorite Friday

I want to share a fun website that I found a couple of months ago through a link that Jimmy Canali shared on Facebook.

Remember Jimmy? He’s the grace jar guy at Ecstatic Expression.

Well, Jimmy shared about NASA’s picture of the day website. “Each day, NASA puts up a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.”  I love the beautiful images that are posted on this site- they remind me of the vastness of God and the power of His creativity! Here’s a little sampling of some of the beautiful images that they put up.

This is the image for today, May 25th.

This image is called “In the center of Omega Nebula”

 On my birthday this year, this was the image put up- I LOVE all the sparkles!

 I use the images on this website to ask the Lord to show me new parts of Him. The beauty and vastness of some of these images helps me to literally see God’s hugeness and His “out-of-the-box-ness”. Come on, Holy Spirit, keep busting open the boxes that we try to contain you in!

Spiritual Mothering and Fathering: I

This past weekend, I was privileged to share at IHOPE and the Vineyard about something the Lord has been speaking to me about lately- spiritual mothering and fathering.

I have been blessed to be spiritually mothered and fathered by many people in my life. Some of these relationships were just for a season, others have been and will be over many years, some are for a lifetime. My first and most “life-long” spiritual mother is my own mom. She passed on to me what she knew about God– taught me how to pray, taught me by her life example that God is a part of every part of our lives- she showed me that being a Christian means having a real and growing relationship with God.

As I have been mothered and fathered spiritually, I have also mothered others. As Christians, we are all both spiritual children and spiritual parents. We ALL start out on the same playing field- children of our Heavenly Daddy. So, we are children. We are raised up by those who have gone before us. We pour out into those around us who are hungry, broken, and journeying with Jesus. So, we are parents. As we pour out, we are still encouraged and strengthened by the Spirit of God and godly men and women. So, we are children. We are both! Spiritual parenting is both cyclical and directional.

I have A LOT of thoughts about this topic, so to get the conversation started, I will just cut to the chase and tell you what I really think about spiritual mothering and fathering:

The reality is this: EVERY Christian is called to spiritually mother and father those “younger” than them (sometimes this is an age factor, sometimes it is a spiritual maturity factor).

The requirement is this: pass on WHAT YOU HAVE. Pass on the wise and Spirit-led counsel you have received from others, from the Word, and personal revelation God has given you.

You don’t have to be a superstar Christian to spiritually parent. You don’t have to even be a “good” Christian to spiritually parent. We realize that the phrase “good Christian” is an oxymoron, right? We are Christian precisely because we AREN’T good apart from God. We have much better spiritual clothing than our own “goodness”- we have Christ’s righteousness. I say that to preface this exhortation: DON’T YOU DARE DISQUALIFY YOURSELF from being a spiritual mom or dad. The younger generation (in age and spiritual maturity) NEED you. If we don’t rise up as spiritual parents and name the younger generation, someone else will- the world, the enemy, and humanity’s own perverted and distorted view of who we are without God- THEY WILL NAME the younger generation if we don’t do it. It is a parent’s job to name children and call them to the fullness of their true identity in Christ.

The enemy is more than willing to make children his own and name them. Are you?